Sunday, January 27, 2013

How To Make Green Cupcakes!

     Every year my husband likes to have a groundhogs day party. I think he does it because no one else does it and it is outside of the norm. Every year there is a different theme. This year it is CUPCAKES! I mean who doesn't like a good cupcake? I think no one! Well we have been trying out a few recipes and  was thinking the other day, How can I make this less wasteful? We have been using preboxed items like flour, sugar, and other such items. I don't know why I didn't think of this before making my first batch but we can get all of those items from the bulk bins at Sprouts Farmers Market and not only get them cheaper but also without having to throw away all of that packaging.

     The other thing that I thought of and it was driving me crazy was the cupcake liners. How can you have a cupcake without a liner? Well I was at World Market and saw these amazing reusable silicone cupcake liners. I bought a bunch and love the idea that I will not be wasting paper every time I eat a cupcake. I have done some research and no one truly knows if they are 100% safe. It's just like plastic no one knew that it was harmful until recently. The only other thing is that if I don't need or want them anymore then I plan on giving them away to a friend or donating them as these are not biodegradable. I do feel these are better than paper and seem safe from research and the fact is they do not leave a taste or smell behind on the food. I also like that they are easy to clean.
     What I would really like to do is source all of my flour, sugar and other ingredients from local farms if I can. If not I want them from as close to me as possible. I feel that the less gas it takes to get ingredients the better. Gas is is such a terrible polluter. I would also love to support local farms! I can't wait to get started making my eco-friendly cupcakes!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Being Green and Foster Care

     As I shared we are now foster parents and I love it. I feel like I am really helping. We decided to go through Hope and Home to get our certificate. I just love them, they are so focused on helping kids.  I wish I could help every child that we get a call for but it is impossible. I am just going to do what I can. I didn't really know what to expect. I mean they prepare you as best they can but every child is different. We have a 14 year old with us now and it is going really well. We get along for the most part and he seems to be adjusting.

     I knew that whatever child we got in our home might have some issues with the way we do things. Turns out to be a little more than I thought. It is hard to be completely "green" with foster kids. They just don't get a lot of education on the subject. They eat more junk food which takes more packaging. They don't know a lot about recycling or using natural products. When he found out that I make my own laundry detergent he looked at me like I was crazy. He couldn't understand why I would make my own. I explained that I do it because it has only has 3 ingredients and that they are completely natural. I also said that there was the added benefit of saving money. He also thinks that it is strange that we use cloth toilet paper. He is coming around to the idea of it and it is not uncommon among anyone little alone someone that has not been exposed to any ideas of being environmentally friendly. The hard part is trying to get him to change his habits. Like putting things in the recycle bin rather than the trash. Being 14 years old he is pretty stuck in his ways, I know most teens are. I guess I thought this part of foster care would be the easiest but it's one of the hardest things. This goes down to my core. This is how we live and what we believe in. I am still trying to figure out how to instill some of these positive traits.

     I am thinking that after winter is over that maybe it will be easier. We can help clean parks and plant trees. Meeting with more groups that have people that believe what we do and getting him involved with the community could help rub some of this off on him. Education is the key. I wasn't exactly a "model" citizen to the environment before I was 24. I had to learn these things on my own. I have done a ton of research on the subject and came to all of my own conclusions. What really started me on looking into it was all the trash on the side of the road. One day I just starred at it as I thought to myself, "that just can't be good for the environment". Even when they have inmates clean it up, they use plastic bags and they just put it all in a landfill. Makes it look nice but doesn't help much. I guess for me it was more common sense but I have learned that sometimes people learn more by example.

It looks like he will be with us for a while so I guess my hope is that we can just be a positive example for him. If he learns how to be kinder on the environment whiles he here than great! I can't force anything on him. I wish it was easier so that we could nicer to Mother Earth but for now this is what I can do. I hope for now that she can forgive me.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Second Hand Can Be Cool

     When I was in grade school is was not cool to have second hand clothes. That is all I had because we couldn't afford anything else, not that I understood this at the time. I was made fun of for wearing the same pants everyday. I had 3 pairs of the same color blue slacks that were given to me. I wasn't wearing the same ones everyday they just looked the same. Needless to say kids can be cruel. When I got my first job my senior year of high school I spent almost all of my extra money on new clothes. I was able to dress like the other kids for the first time in my life. Now that I am grown I hardly ever buy new cloths and I feel great! I have a nice fashionable wardrobe that is almost all second hand. I have learned that you can go to a thrift store and get all the same brands of clothes that you could get from the mall. Even though my husband makes a decent salary I love thrift store shopping because I can look cool and help our planet. Our whole family gets most of their clothes second hand. I feel like its a waste not to.

     I think it is funny how some people react to the idea of thrift store shopping. The only difference between now and when I was a kid is no one knows I shop at thrift stores in less I tell them. People are still just as weirded out at the idea of shopping second hand. Some wont even fiddle with the idea of going with me but are OK with the idea of garage sales (which is essentially the same thing). I tell them whats the point of buying a 30 dollar outfit for my daughter if all shes going to do it grow out of it in six months and I can get something equally as cute if not the same thing for 2 dollars at a thrift store. Buying new is just such a waste. I know that there would not be second hand stores if some people people did not buy new but there is so much at these stores that they could have more people buying second hand.

     I feel like its is such a waste of money to buy new clothes. You are not helping anyone that way either. The only store I have heard of that gives back to the community is Target and that's 5%. As if they couldn't afford to give more. The Arc thrift stores mission "is to enhance the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families". After retail operations, 100% of their profit is distributed to the Arc Chapters, Advocacy Denver and the Association for Community Living, all here in Colorado. So not only do I get a great deal I know I am helping my community by shopping there. 

     I like to donate to the thrift stores as well. It makes me feel good to know that it's not going to a landfill. I keep a container in my dinning room and when it gets full of things we don't want or need we take it down to donate. It's also a tax write off so make sure you inventory it and get a receipt. We keep our house from getting clutter, help our landfill and help our community. It a win,win, win!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Essential Oils

     I Have to apologize to any one who read or used to read my blog. I am new at this and my husband and I decided to become foster parents. So with classes and a new placement I have been a busy girl. I am going to continue to blog about my journey. I have been doing a few new things that you may think is interesting.

     I Recently went to a seminar about what I thought was going to be about natural healing. I received a call from my midwife's phone number and it was her daughter on the phone. She asked if I would be interested in a natural healing I excitedly said YES! So I invited one of my good friends to attend with me. It ended up being a pyramid Seminar, We all know these types, the most popular I can think of is MayKay. Anyway I was a little bummed that is was more of a sales pitch. I did bring samples of my new Etsy store When Nature Calls where we are making and selling reusable things that you normally dispose of I thought it would be rude to leave so I stayed the duration of the power point and I found it really fascinating!

     I have never been fond of over the counter drugs. If I REALLY didn't need it I didn't take anything for it. Except when I was pregnant. I took a lot of drugs. I had Hyperemesis and pre-term labor. I listened to my doctors and thought that they knew more than me and what to do. I don't regret taking the meds as I am sure that I would have died if I didn't but I wish I would have tried more things that were natural before resorting to such strong medications. Sorry, I had to get that out. As I was saying I was intrigued by this seminar. They talked about how bad over the counter medications are and how we use them as a society way to much. They even talked about some prescription medications and how we get dependent on them and immune to them. Not to mention all of the side affects. I mean you know, you have probably seen the commercials of some lawyers lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company and they have a long list of side effects, if you are experiencing any of ....please give us a call we can help. Do not forget the long list of cautions and side effects they give you at the pharmacy when you get the prescription. How many of  us actually read those? Well apparently There is another way! A better way! A way that has no side effects, you don't need to go to the store every time and it costs significantly less!

     I have used essential oils around the house for a while but what I didn't know is that they can be really good for treating many health concerns and aliments. Also in general they are good for your mind and soul. I basically replaced my entire medicine cabinet. I love them they work the same as or better than any drug I have used in the past and I wish I knew about this when I was pregnant. This seminar which will remain unnamed was great because it turned me on to using essential oils the part that I didnt like is how the were trying to sell me their brand and how expensive it was. For example they have a 15ml bottle of frankincense for 93 dollars and I got my 30ml bottle for ten dollars. So I will not be promoting this brand as I think they are way over priced and they say that there oils are natural so they are not Organic as far as I can tell. 

    The oils have many uses and I had to get a book to get a better understanding of what each type of oil is used for and how to treat the symptom. I got "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils". This book tells you the history of essential oils, you can look up the symptom you are having and it will tell which oil to use and how to apply it and it goes into a deep description of the oil. In the last month I have treated headache, nausea, cold sores, the flu, acne, my husbands moods, cuts and sore muscles. I have treated not only myself but everyone in my family even the 1 year old. Of course I diluted it as her skin is more sensitive. Essential oils are derived from plants. Literally the oils from plants so this "medicine" is straight from the earth. You can't get more green then that. It doesn't take a factory to make them if you really wanted to you can even make your own. I love it and now I can't imagine my life without them and I can't see myself or my family going back. 

      Well if you are more like me and do not like over the counter medications and want or have been looking for something that is natural and works I recommend trying essential oils. Make sure you do a little homework first as you could harm yourself, a good example would be you really should not take internally but if you Google it you will see that some people do this. Stay tuned and I will be bringing more information on this topic. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Second Hand

We like to buy furniture second hand. My husband thinks I'm kind of funny because I will stock the Craigslist ads for whatever it is that we need. My most recent purchase was a living room table set. We got a great deal, practically new tables for 80 dollars. It took me about two weeks to find these. I love them! They really work with the Feng Shui of our house. 

Buying things second hand is a green way to decorate your house. You can buy all sorts of items and repurpose or refinish items to make them updated or match your own style. I also feel that it has made me develop my own sense of style while saving a ton of money.

We also love buying clothes at thrift stores, my favorite store is the ARC. They are a non-profit and their mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families by providing funding to support the Arc and ACL chapters in Colorado. They are so great and are stocked with something for everyone. They always have something that I will wear and always have sales. Their prices are the best. I don't think that I have paid more than three dollars for a shirt in a long time. 
I love going their to get my 2 growing girls clothes there. They grow so fast and get thing stained, I just don't see the point in buying their clothes new.

 I used to be embarrassed to go to thrift stores but not anymore. I think it's because people can be very judgmental and cruel. I would get some really interesting and disgusted looks when I told people where I got my clothes. Now I just don't care what anyone thinks. I am saving money and getting clothes that are stain free, cute and practically new. I get so many compliments on our clothes. The best thing it that a lot of the clothes are no longer in stores so you really are unique and can develop your own style rather than wearing something that everyone else has. Most sales are on Saturdays.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hairspray Rerecipe

I have tried several different hairspray recipes and talked about one I was using in a previous post. After using the one I made up for a week it became fermented. I really liked that hairspray as it worked great and smelled wonderfully but had a very short shelf life. I went back to the drawing board and tried a variation of the citrus hairspray which instead of putting the whole Orange in I just used the zest. Well this turned out the same worked and smelled great but still only lasted a week. After a few more trail and errors I came up with a simple recipe that does not go bad or ferment.

1 cup distilled water
3 TB sugar
5-10 drops Orange oil (you can use any scent)

Bring water to a boil then take off heat and sugar and stir until dissolved. Add Orange oil.

Presto, Done!

This is the easiest to make and works great with all day hold and smells great. I have had this made up now for over a month at room temp. and its smells like the day I made it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Light Bulb Upcycling

I had all these light bulbs in my garage from when we bought our new house. We replaced all of our light bulbs to energy saving ones. We were going to recycle them but never got around to it. Yesterday I googled what can be made out of incandescent light bulbs and got lots of ideas. My favorite was the mini vases. So I took them and strung them up on my valance in the kitchen. I wraped different colored string around each top to add a little something extra. Now I just need to add some plants that I can put in them. I can't wait. I'm also wanting to make more for presents. They look so cool and they were so easy to make!