Fig Sugar Body Scrub

Sugar scrup label photoAs you all know by now, I have a plethora of figs in the fall.  We can’t eat them fast enough or give them away enough!  And there is only so much fig jam I can eat, so I experimented with a variety of basic sugar scrubs adding in figs and came up with what I like to think is the perfect recipe!  I won’t give the secret recipe away but it only has three ingredients.  Figs, sugar and vanilla extract.  Yep, that’s it!  It’s the ratios and amounts that make all the difference and turn it into the perfect texture of a sugar scrub that smells amazing.

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Office Organization – Recycled Materials and Free!

Homemade file sorter with scrap fabric

Homemade file sorter with scrap fabric

I’ve been telecommuting more frequently now which 1) is amazing and 2) means I have to organize my home office.  I’m very fortunate in that I have a separate room with doors and a handmade office desk that my hubby built when we first moved in (before kids when we actually had time to do those types of home improvement projects!).   Continue reading

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Cupcake Holder Dilemma

So I was at Aldi recently and had a hardcore life decision to make.

Yes, it was good vs. evil.

Angel vs. devil.

One side of my brain vs. the other side.

This was calling my name:

This is a cupcake holder.

Made of plastic.

It was $4.99 on clearance.

And calling my name…

As a Mom to two young kids where cupcakes are almost a monthly requirement for some sort of school event or fundraiser, I really could use this cupcake holder.  But it was plastic…made from non-recycled plastic and sure it had a recyclable triangle on the bottom which means at the end of it’s useful life it could be recycled technically, but I really had a hard time with this because I promised I would stop buying plastic.

That is much harder to do than I first thought.

So I ended up putting it back on the shelf and walking away from it.  I reminded myself that I have cupcake pans and pretty dishes and containers I can use to transport and display them.  I reminded myself that I also have muffin/cupcake tins that came with a plastic cover that I can use to transport them.  Sure they aren’t as pretty but hey, you just take the cupcakes out of the oven, decorate them and put the cover on and voila, you are good to go.

So even though I thought to myself “yeah, but this means I can make even MORE cupcakes for the fundraisers”, I reminded myself that sometimes less IS more.

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Money out the windows

We have 23 windows.  That seems like a lot doesn’t it?  You never really realize how many windows you have until you start counting them.  Which I did today because we need to replace some of them.  Our home is only 12 years old so you’d think we wouldn’t need to replace windows already but if any of you bought a standard builder home like we did, you know they skimp on things sometimes.  Windows are one of those things.

So what do windows have to do with green living?  A lot actually.  It’s all about energy efficiency.  I don’t want to pay to heat up the neighborhood in the winter nor do I want to feel the guilt of wasting all that electricity (which in my region probably comes from coal or nuclear).  In the summer, you don’t really notice the heat coming in through the windows, but boy oh boy do you feel those drafts in the winter.  Just stick your hand by any of our windows and you’ll feel the cold air by the cracks.  Not to mention you can tell they are the thinnest, cheapest, standard windows a builder can put in and get away with it.

So it’s time to get new windows!  We had 4 major windows done a few years ago by Thompson Creek (local Maryland company) and were very happy with them, so we are getting the windows upstairs done by them too.  We had REALLY drafty windows in our family room and since the new Thompson Creek windows were installed we have noticed quite a big difference.  They are pretty expensive though so even though we wanted to do all our windows, we couldn’t afford to do so.  So we did those 4 “biggies” first since  we knew money was literally going out the windows due to the big cracks and other issues with them.  But now it’s time for 5 more windows upstairs.

Can I just say I’m so excited about this?

I’m not one to be excited about buying new things, esp. when I try to buy anything I can secondhand or recycle old things into new things, etc. but you just can’t do that with windows.  And as far as being “green” sure I can go and try to find some bamboo made windows or something like that, but I’m going to stick with a local company who actually makes them here locally, not somewhere in China, so GHG on transportation is minimal since they are being transported locally.  But I also found out from Tony Testa, our sales guy today, that Thompson Creek actually takes your old window and recycles every bit of it!  The glass, the vinyl, any metal pieces, etc.  That makes this green gal very happy.  That and the fact that they are having a 30% sale this month.  I may be trying to live as green as possible, but I’m also trying to live as frugally as possible.

So I’m curious, what do you do to try and minimize your home energy costs?  Any ideas or tips to share?

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Cloth Napkins

“You mean you are using cloth napkins like Avo (grandmother in Portuguese) did in the old days?” Yes, that is the reaction I got from my Mom when she visited our home and asked where the napkins were and I pointed her to these:

Hubby also poked fun when one day over a year ago I decided to “hide” the paper napkins and replace them with cloth napkins we already had lying around the house.  He was ok with it until the first time we had spaghetti for dinner.  One look at our kids with spaghetti sauce all over their face, hair, hands, and shirts and he said “no way are we using cloth napkins”.  Obviously I won that argument because it’s been over a year later and we are still using those same cloth napkins (with all spaghetti stains washed out).

I will admit, the particular cloth napkins I have are a thin cotton fabric and don’t soak up spills very well.  But I refuse to buy new ones because after all, I’m trying to be green here, right?!  So why would I go buy new ones when I have perfectly decent ones already at home?  However, with a young toddler under 2 years old that drinks from regular grown up cups but still spills every once in a while, these thin napkins can be a problem.  That is, unless you have a drawer full of these:

I bought these washcloths in a huge pack for about $3 when Baby Girl A was born.  As you can see, they are in pretty bad shape after 5 years of daily use…wiping two kids faces and hands after every meal, wiping spilled milk off the table, etc.  I’m sure I would have spent much more than $3 in napkins or paper towels over the last 5 years if I didn’t have these wonders in my kitchen drawer.  So not only am I avoiding disposable paper products but I’m also avoiding paying for those products that just end up in the trash (or possibly compost) bin.

What I can’t figure out is why aren’t more people doing this?  Tell me, why are you still using paper napkins or paper towels?  Is it just too hard to change the habit?  I know, habits are REALLY hard to change…I’m still working on some myself!  Is it the increased laundry that is overwhelming?  What is the toughest challenge in implementing cloth napkins in your home?  Perhaps we can help each other find a solution to our obstacles in living green day by day.

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