February 27, 2010

Going Green...Where Do I Start?

You can Google "going green where to start" or anything like that and you'll find tons of great ideas for getting started... but here are the first few ways I'm starting to switch over and my "next steps" to keep going green.

1. Using reusable grocery bags - I found that I forget to take these with me unless I keep them somewhere I'll see them often, so I keep them down under my kitchen sink or in my car between the seats (not in the trunk, since I don't get into the trunk before going into the store, and I'll forget them until I'm in the check out lane).  This seems like such a common way to go green that you hear everywhere... but since I've started doing it the habit is easier to keep because I can carry so much more in these bags, and on my shoulder... it's actually better for me and for the environment... cool!

2. Change light bulbs to energy saving light bulbs - I saved up all the extra dollars I was saving in coupons and sales in our grocery budget and bought two packs of CFL bulbs at Sams for $11/8pk.

3. Buy the "Top Foods" organic (as much as possible) - I'm all about buying sales... planning meals and grocery lists around weekly sales.  Here is a list of the top foods that I try to buy organic:

  1. Milk
  2. Peanut Butter
  3. Apples
  4. Bell Peppers
  5. Grapes
  6. Spinach/Lettuce
  7. Carrots
  8. Yogurt
4. Recycle all papers, plastics, and cardboards.

5. Use a dry-erase board, save a little paper - I keep two on my refrigerator, one is a calendar and the other is for notes to family, important numbers and my grocery list that I add to daily. Do not use this as your only calendar for important dates and times, one brush of the back or shoulder and half of your month can be wiped away!  Or just be sure that you place it strategically on your fridge out of the way of traffic.

My Next Steps:
  • Recycled toilet paper (pricing and researching a bit more right now)
  • Slowly replacing all baby products: lotions, washes, diaper creams, wipes, diapers, etc.
  • Then all of our shampoos, lotions, sunscreens, soaps, etc.
  • Cleaning with all non-toxic products (either homemade or store bought)
  • Create a more sophisticated recycling "center" in our home
  • Begin composting
  • Start a garden

February 26, 2010

An Unexpected Moment

"Thank you (Lord) for this rainy day that I can rest now in Your Presence - enjoy the peace of 'nap time'.  Linger in your love and grace awhile - knowing I'm in your hands. Savor all your goodness, all your wonderful ways.  Delight in your peace and soak in your rest.  I am so grateful for stillness like this that calms my thoughts, renews my mind, encourages my spirit and fills my soul.  I didn't expect a moment like this today... thank you for the pleasant interruption."
 - Amazed Momma 

February 25, 2010

Pangea Organics

Update: I finally received my purchases (pictured) and shared my thoughts on each at the end of this post.

I found a great new website, loaded with great deals and also some awesome links (to blogs and other great resources).  Enjoy checking it our for yourself at Organic Deals and Coupons.
One of the great deals I was able to take advantage of was an online sale at Pangea Organics.

I ordered:
  • 2 Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom Lip Balms
  • French Rosemary with Sweet Orange Facial Toner
  • Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom Body Lotion
  • Plus got 3 free samples of my choice
  • They snuck in a little piece of dark chocolate to "sweeten the deal"
All for $26.15 (taxed/shipped)!!!  That's all for the price of one regular priced Toner (which are 30% off right now)!

I think the deal is still going on click here to find out for yourself.  I'll update and let you know what I think about the products once I get them in!  What's even better?  I checked out Pangea Organics at Cosmetics Database and all their products are levels 0-3!!!  Safe products are what I'm most excited about replacing throughout our home!  We are slowly on our way!

Update: I love the lip balms, very mild scent (I like), really protects dry, chapped lips.  I enjoy the sweet scent of the toner, it is so refreshing.  I didn't know it was a spray, but I like that much more... you can even spray on your legs and chest, it's extremely refreshing.  The lotion has a mild scent (same as the lip balms).  My husband thinks it's nice, a bit "lemony."  My first impression was that the lotion has a slightly "watery" texture, not a thick, creamy lotion.  It soaks in quickly, and it's grown on me.  I've used it on my daughter's sensitive skin and it's already helped her dry skin/rash clear up!  My samples were Turkish Rose and White Tea Eye Cream which has really softened and moisturized my eyes, the scent is nice too.  Italian White Sage, Geranium and Yarrow Body Wash, I wasn't crazy about the scent but can't say why exactly except that's it's just not me.  It wasn't bad, or medicinal, but not really my favorite.  It also didn't lather quite as much as I like, but I wouldn't let that stop me from using a safer, lower-chemical body wash.  Lastly, I sampled the Himalayan Geranium and Pomegranate Balancing Oil.  I like how it felt on my face, soaked in quickly.  I'm not sure that I feel/see a huge difference after one use (of course), but I liked it.
I definitely think Pangea Organics products are good all around, but on the pricier/luxurious side.  I would recommend keeping eyes peeled for specials, coupons and discounts and then stocking up!  It's well worth the price, but I'm still trying some other options that are a little more budget-friendly.

February 24, 2010

The Barney Project

A few weeks ago in our small group we were all challenged with "The Barney Project."  I thought I'd share it with you and challenge you too!  It comes straight from Acts 4:36:
"...there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabus (which means "Son of Encouragement")."
Joseph was renamed Barnabus because he lived a lifestyle of encouragement.  The challenge is to start with two weeks (maybe just two days), and try to live a lifestyle of encouragement with everyone around you.

Here are a few more scriptures to chew over before starting the challenge:

  • Proverbs 12:25 "...An encouraging word cheers a person up."
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 "...So encourage each other and build each other up..."
  • Ephesians 4:29 "...Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement..."
Good luck ladies!  I'm starting by focusing with those I'm around most... my children and husband, then family and friends, and cashiers in the grocery store, even those tele-marketing calls... why not?!  Let's show everyone God's grace the Barney-way

February 18, 2010

Vinegar Hair Rinse and New Use for Coffee

Well this has been one of those weeks I haven't really had any time to try out any recipes, beauty or cleaning, but I did find some great sales on organic apples and oranges at Tom Thumb this week!  I was also able to try an apple cider vinegar rinse in my hair a few days ago, and wow!  It made my hair feel so smooth and clean afterwards, I could really feel it removing all the build up of products, shampoos, and conditioners.  I had heard about using vinegar as a natural hair rinse, you can keep it real simple, just mix a little vinegar (white or apple cider) and water and rinse through your hair after shampooing... or you can get a bit more luxurious, adding herbs or essential oils and one recipe even calls for "steeping"  up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

I also got a neat tip from my sister in law today.  She found a recipe for (inedible) dough that we used to make coasters.  The cool thing about it was it called for coffee and she had some expired coffee that was just going to get thrown out- great way to recycle/reuse.  We used hazelnut which left the dough with a delicious scent.  Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:

3 cups flour
1 cup salt
1/2 cup coffee
3 Tbsp oil
1 cup water (may need to add more for desired texture)
Mix together, shape, air dry or bake for 15 minutes at 325 then let air dry over night.

We added some cute gems and hearts for decorations, they didn't turn out completely flat and even, so we'll have to see how well they work as coasters, but my 3 year old had a blast!  We ended up with six coasters and two large heart shaped "trivets" (we put their hand prints in them and I'll probably use them as decorations) and a little left over dough still.  Thanks Janet, it was great fun!

February 10, 2010

Homemade Beauty Basics

Honey is great for oily or blemished skin because of it's anti-microbial properties that inhibt the growth of certain bacteria. For an easy and soothing blemish treatment, apply honey to your face and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water. (Sounds like a real treat!)

Olive Oil is an excellent moisturizer. It's also rich in polyphenols: antioxidants that check the spread of free radicals, as well as damage caused by sun exposure, pollution, smoking, and alcohol. Apply it to your hair for a deep conditioning mask; rinse thoroughly after 5 minutes. Apply it to your hands and put on rubber gloves to do the dishes for a fabulous hand mask. Scent it with essential oils.

Egg Yolk contains vitamins A, D, and E, plus essential amino acids, minerals, and trace elements in a form the skin can easily absorb and process. For a firming facial mask, beat an egg and apply it to your face with a cotton ball. Rinse after 15 minutes. (Just hold your nose!)

Lemon Juice is an excellent source of alpha hydroxy acids. Squeeze the juice of one lemon and apply to your face; leave on for 10 minutes (or as long as you can handle) for tightening and brightening effects. Rinse with cold water.

Avocados are high in vitamins and enzymes, and the oil in avocado skins beautifies your skin. Peel an avocado and gently rub the inside of the peel on your face. Rinse after 15 minutes. (You may be tempted to dip a few chips in your leftovers!)

Bananas, which are rich in potassium, make a great moisturizer for your hair and skin. Mash one and rub it on your face and neck. Rinse after 10 minutes.*

*Information found in Pregnancy magazine Vol. 11. No. 3, pg. 37.

February 8, 2010

Six Essentials to Becoming a Gracious Woman

A few weeks ago I went to a Pink Night at my church where Pastor Debbie Morris spoke on being a Gracious woman. It was one of those messages that you hear and it just pierces straight to your heart. You find yourself thinking about it for days afterwards. (It was that good!)

One of the points she made that has just stuck with me are the 6 essentials to becoming a Gracious woman. I thought I'd share them with you and may we all grow in all of these ways. I know I have a long way to go, and there are a few areas I know are going to be harder for me to get, but I keep praying that God will give me the strength to get better in all of these areas. May He give you strength as well!

1. Humility | Colossians 3:12-13
2. Gratitude | Ephesians 5:15
3. Self-Control | Proverbs 25:11
4. Tame Tongue | Proverbs 16:24, 25:15
5. Forgiveness | Matthew 6:14
6. Love (which is the motivation of grace)

Experience Grace | Reflect Grace | Extend Grace

First Non-Toxic Homemade Cleaning!

I spent about an hour gathering, and organizing all of my cleaning products today. I found a few empty bottles to clean and use for my homemade products and a small spray bottle I used for produce wash. I found a lot of products that I don't want to use anymore but kept them in the back of my cleaning basket. I don't want to throw away a bunch of stuff that can be recycled or should be disposed of in a certain way, so until I can research that a little more, I'm just tucking them away at the back.

First, I used a few homemade recipes from Frugal Wellness (a new found, awesome blog)! I found a bottle of Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild liquid soap on sale at Target this week, 32 oz. for $6.48. I also picked up a 4 pack of Flour Sack Towels, a reusable replacement for paper towels. I already had white vinegar in my pantry, and the only essential oil I have right now is Eucalyptus oil, so I cleaned my whole house with those few ingredients today!

All-Purpose Cleaner: I mixed 50/50 Water and White Vinegar, with a few drops of Eucalyptus (soon I'll be buying Tea Tree, Lavender, Peppermint and Jojoba Oils), and a squirt of Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Soap. I sort of mixed these few ideas from some of the recipes I've found online for homemade non-toxic cleaning products. I filled one 28 oz. spray bottle with this mixture and labeled it All-Purpose Cleaner.
Produce Wash Spray: I filled a 5 oz. spray bottle with 3 parts water 1 part vinegar and labeled it Produce Wash Spray (which I haven't had a chance to try out yet).

Then I cut one of my four flour sacks into 4 dish rags and 2 cleaning rags (a little bigger than a dish rag). I sprayed down both bathrooms first, toilets, tubs, sinks and counters. Then I cleaned the entire kitchen, and dusted the rest of the house before heading back to the bathrooms to finish up.

I am pleasantly surprised! I watched this homemade concoction wipe away sink scum, dried food on the stove and completely clean the toilets too! Wow! I almost couldn't believe that this could be healthy for my family (breathing in and touching), naturally anti-bacterial (lavender and tea tree oil would add to that as well), and clean too!

The only "con" is that the smell of Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Soap takes a little getting used to. I'm very excited to try the Lavender scent (I already have the Peppermint in a bar soap, smells so fresh!). I think having some better essential oils mixed in would help as well.

I am very excited! I'm planning to make my own hand soap, gel and baby wash in the next few weeks, as I slowly gather the ingredients.

*Revision: After cutting up one of my flour sack towels, I would advise that you either hand wash and line dry or hem the edges of your cut up towels. Mine ran through the normal wash and dry cycle and I spent about ten minutes cutting off all of the loose strings. Just FYI. =)

February 7, 2010

The Beginning of G.G.W.

I wanted to start this blog about my journey to becoming a Gracious Green Woman. I have been unable to think of much else these past few weeks. There's just been a stirring in my heart about becoming a better Woman, Wife and Mother in all areas of my life and I thought I would blog about my journey. I'm not sure where this will take me, but you can come along for the ride if you want. I'm hoping that from this record of my discoveries, questions, research, and trials and errors you will be able to grow as well, inspiring you to become a GGW or just simply learning from a few of my mistakes. I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on any of these topics. So feel free to share anything, anytime!
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