Archive for the ‘green living’ Category
October 15, 2014
I realize that summer is officially over, but as you may have heard it’s never going to end in Southern California. And with summer and hot weather, come my favorite household pest… the fruit fly.
There’s no one who can spoil a glass of wine quite like a fruit fly, is there? Not to mention their constant mission to speed the ripening and rotting of anything fresh left out on the counter. Which is like everything delicious during the warmer months of the year! Tomatoes, peaches, melons, figs. They all have to stay out and the drosophila just won’t leave any of it alone. But I have a solution that has changed everything. The fruit fly suicide bath.
Two ingredients, one jar, days of fruit fly free living.
Pour about an inch red wine vinegar into a jar. Add one drop of dish soap. Leave on counter, preferably near where they like to congregate.
It is GENIUS. The soap breaks the surface tension of the liquid, so the flies can’t sit on top of the vinegar. They are unable to resist the sour sweet rotting smell and sink directly to the bottom of the jar. I’ve been keeping a jar like this out on the counter since June. When I haven’t seen any in a few days I usually dump it out and wait for their return, then make a fresh batch.
I assume eventually things will cool off here, but in the meantime this keep things in the kitchen feeling much more civilized.
March 21, 2012
I put together a little round up of my favorite organic baby clothes for The Chalkboard Mag, and I figured since so many of you have wee ones and/or are expecting wee ones, you might like to see my top picks.
Since we don’t know the sex of bebé number two, there’s really no point in buying a bunch of clothes ahead of time this time around. EXCEPT of course when something I love is on super sale. Then I get a free pass. Plus there will be plenty of time for online shopping after the baby has made his/her arrival.
If she’s a she, I’ve got so many cute things bookmarked. I mean, obviously.
July 5, 2011
I’ve been meaning to post on One Love Organics for about 4 months now. I know none of you are surprised, given my recent posting frequency. But srsly, these products are amazing. Kendra (the Chief Creative Office of One Love) is a friend and generously gave me the entire line to try out in March. I’ve been using it since and I really really love it. Those of you out there who hate the idea of slathering your skin (and biggest organ!) with a bunch of chemicals in the name of youthful skin will love their products.
There are only 4 and they’re really all you need. Each one is multi-use, 100% pure, all natural, waterless, and comes from the highest quality ingredients. And they all smell so yummy in a very perfect, non-perfumey way.
I’m finally posting about them today because, (big surprise!), they’re in the Pop-Up Shop this week! It’s such a crazy deal, you guys. You can pick up their entire line for $118, which is 55% off the retail price. Or try a product or two to start. I love the scrub (use it every morning) and the balm (use it all the time!). We use the cleanser as our family face wash and to wash Dashiell’s hair and body. Cannot wait for them to come out with the family size soon. The balm works as a cleanser, a moisturizer, make-up remover, lip conditioner, even eye cream and a dewy base under mineral make-up. And I’ve used to for diaper rash too!
I know that I became much more concerned or at least conscious of the products we were using in our house after Dashiell was born, and I think it’s amazing that there’s a skin care line that the whole family can use. It’s natural, but doesn’t FEEL like you’re using a crunchy granola line from Whole Foods that doesn’t really work. It feels like you’re using high end products that really will keep your skin looking freshly-facialized. And my favorite part, which I will say again, there are only 4 products. Which means less crap in your medicine cabinet and less stuff in your life. I do love less stuff.
Did I sell you on it yet? If you need more convincing, you can see the post we did today on 100LC and you can check out One Love Organics‘ site where they explain why they are the most bestest line available.
I really really genuinely love this line. And I will personally be making a few purchases this week. Must stock up while it’s discounted, right? If you want to try it, you should definitely do it now while it’s on super sale in the Pop-Up Shop!
(Top photo by Bonnie Tsang for OLO and 100LC)
February 1, 2011
I thought I’d do a quick update on the diapering front. I get questions all the time that I answer individually, but I’m thinking there are probably plenty of people who don’t get around to emailing, even though they’re still curious.
Most importantly, it’s still super easy. Actually, it’s even easier now. Because, you know, 11 month olds don’t poop like 6 times a day.
Around 5 or 6 months Dashiell grew out of our size small Fuzzi Bunz and prefolds, so I bought a new set of One Size Fuzzis. We’ve used them exclusively since then and I love them. I know there are TONS of options out there for modern cloth diapers, but I really don’t feel the need to try any of them. What we have is working great and I have plenty of other things to obsess about.
Here’s the scoop on the One Size system. The leg elastic is adjustable so as your baby grows you let it out little by little, and each ‘Bunz comes with a second, larger liner for older babies. As I said we started using them at about 5 1/2 months so I can’t say for certain that they would be as excellent for the littlest ones, but it sure seems like they would. I think I probably ruined our size smalls with diaper cream (ack), so for the next babe we’ll probably just go for one size the whole way through.
We have 16 Fuzzi Bunz and it’s a fine number, though I think 20 would be ideal. Or 24. The more you have the less you wash and (conceivably) the longer each diaper lasts. It’s a significant investment to start, but totally worth it if they last you 2 years.
You can buy them 100 places online, including BabyEarth, Diapers.com, and the Fuzzi Bunz Store. Or any of these places listed on the FB site.
Other “accessories” of note:
We still use the toilet sprayer on and off. There are times I don’t touch it for weeks and other times I use it every day. I would probably suggest getting one if you’re in this for the long haul.
We have two diaper pail liners and the Thirsties is definitely better, but only because it doesn’t seem to retain the ammonia smell after washing.
And about the diaper cream. I tried using rice paper liners when I had to use cream when Dashiell was a tiny baby, but it managed to sneak it’s way onto the diaper anyway. At a certain point (can’t remember when) Dashiell just stopped getting diaper rash. Occasionally he still does and then I load him up with cream at night (in a disposable) and give him as much diaper free time as I can for a few days and he’s good to go. The best thing with Fuzzi Bunz is to avoid diaper cream altogether, but I know that’s not always an option.
Hope this helps!
September 9, 2010
In news from the semi-waste free kitchen front, I thought I’d share what we’ve been using instead of disposables. We haven’t developed the perfect set up yet, let me just warn you. But we’re heading in the right direction.
Napkins – stupidly obvious – you just use cloth napkins. This is soooooo easy, I can’t believe I didn’t make the change earlier. We’ve been using them for the most part for a few months, but cutting out the paper altogether is a breeze. I’ve been making my own, because they are just rectangular pieces of fabric and I can sew things like that, and it’s been pretty fun. Though kind of a lot of work, I’m not going to lie. Not the sewing per se, the ironing and pinning and pressing takes up all the time.
Paper towels – also incredibly easy once you make the commitment. I’ve had 3 dozen Unpaper Towels that I bought on etsy a year ago (when Joslyn posted about them) and now we’re actually using them with gusto. I just keep them stacked up on the counter where the paper towels used to be and toss them into the laundry when they’ve been used. A better system would be to have little “clean” and “dirty” baskets somewhere in the kitchen, but I haven’t gotten that far. I don’t think we’ll be going back to paper when the experiment is over.
OH HELLO! Athena Creates now makes little wooden bins made specifically for her towels. I’m feeling an etsy purchase coming on…
Plastic baggies – They are incredibly convenient, but I’m telling you, you can live without them. We’ve been using a bunch of different things but I do love our glass storage containers from Crate & Barrel. We have two sets and use them constantly. Plus I love the french terrine jars from the Container Store (my faves are not online, sadly) for things like baby food and cooked beans and the like. Obviously any glass jars will work, but I like to try to stick with those that are all glass and use a rubber gasket. It turns out the other kind (with the ring and lid) actually have BPA in the liner. Isn’t that shocking??? That’s another post altogether.
Freezer storage – This one is a little trickier. But for the most part, I use the same glass jars. You can actually freeze things in glass, with a lid that seals, as long as you leave enough room to accommodate for expansion. As in, if you freeze stock in a glass jar it will expand and break said jar if there’s not enough air space to start. Learned that one the hard way!
I freeze baby food in little jars, stock in big jars, and actually keep all of my grains, beans, and nuts in the freezer as well. I buy that stuff in bulk and because I’m paranoid about moths, just dump it into large glass canisters and store everything in the freezer.
For buying in bulk, you can use whatever cloth/muslin bags you have lying around and avoid the plastic bags altogether. (if you don’t have any, you could try these, these, these, or these.)
And, for your waste-free-ish kitchen, I cannot stress how great it is to have LOTS of tea towels at your disposal. I’m partial to pretty ones of course, but the workhouse of tea towels is still the simple white and red one from IKEA. They’re $0.49 each. I probably have at least 30.
Now, the problem areas.
Foil. Haven’t found a solution. But you can buy recycled foil at the grocery store and then recycle it again after you use it.
Saran wrap. Sometimes this is kind of useful. Not sure if there’s a good alternative.
Freezer bags. In some cases nothing else will do.
And finally produce bags. Rachel uses muslin bags, but I’ve never felt like cloth produce bags actually keep things nice and crisp.
If someone has a good recommendation for any of these things, please share!
August 25, 2010
So things are going relatively well. We’ve had a few oops moments for sure, but overall it’s been pretty smooth. Mostly we’re trying to work out what the “rules” are. If the goal is to skip commercially packaged stuff, then can we buy things like cheese and bread from the farmer’s market? As long as the people selling said items are actually the ones making them?
The reality is that unless I want to spend literally every spare second in the kitchen with the stand mixer and food processor on high alert, we probably will need to supplement our homemade things a bit. Especially because I have work that needs to be tended too and projects other than our urban pioneer life experiment.
But I have been giving it a fair go! In the last week and a half I’ve made bread 3 times, see?
(Ends stored in these glass containers from Crate & Barrel. Highly recommend them as an alternative to ziplock bags.)
The sandwich bread was good, but the loaves too small for the pans I have. Next time, same recipe but only one loaf so they’re not so short. The rustic Italian peasant bread… left something to be desired. BUT I did make croutons using some of it and they were delish. The ciabatta was a wild success. Definitely making it again tomorrow (but must start the sponge today) for leftover soup.
I spent pretty much all day in the kitchen on Sunday making… ready?
Hummus (I will share my recipe eventually because I think I’ve honed in on a perfect version)
Tuscan white bean soup with kale (Should also share this recipe, because it is delicious)
Peach jam (We have a giant jar in the fridge and a few processed jars on the shelf for later)
Baby food (Pluots!)
Cesaer salad with charmoula tofu (tofu is NOT on the list, but it was a legacy block in the fridge and we couldn’t very well let it go bad. But I did make the croutons and the dressing)
And that’s just enough for two dinners and some miscellany. Those pioneer ladies, they really worked hard. So yeah, we’re in the process of evaluating our rules. And then last night we had 7 people for dinner. So we ordered pizza. Oops. But we don’t have a dishwasher! And while making quinoa burgers sounded good, the amount of clean up sounded bad. I did make a big chopped salad to go along with our pies. So, you know, we split the difference.
Some of you asked what we’re using instead of disposables in the kitchen. I will definitely do a post on our alternatives soon.
August 12, 2010
Perhaps experiment is a better word for what’s coming up around our house starting this week. But it’s definitely a project too.
Here’s the very quick backstory. On the way up to Yosemite, my parents and I (Brock came up a few days later), listened to No Impact Man. Have you heard of it? I saw an article about him in The New York Times a while back, but we just now got around to the book. On iPod. The only way to road trip, really. Anyway, he and his family spent a year making virtually no ecological footprint. In New York City. Which means, among many things, no paper products (toilet paper included), no non-human powered travel (including subways and buses), a worm composting bin in their apartment, and all sorts of other things that you have to be a real champ to endure. But it had me thinking about something that I’ve always wanted to try, but never do because, well, I don’t know why. I’ve just never gotten around to committing to it. So here’s the project:
We’re going to spend the next month with no disposable things in the kitchen, and no commercially packaged food. Of course we’ll be buying flour and essential ingredients… I haven’t found a way around that. We’re not milling our own wheat, after all.
But it means no store-bought bread, crackers, tortillas, canned beans, hummus from whole foods. I can only buy whole ingredients. Everything else we will be making at home. Exceptions include booze, coffee, and perhaps a bit of aged cheese if the meal REQUIRES it.
It sounds sort of silly when I see it written down, but it’s an extension of that Deborah Madison quote I posted a few weeks ago. It’s an effort to slow down when it comes to the kitchen. To only buy what we mean to consume and to really appreciate what it is we’re having for dinner. And to waste less. So much waste happens in the kitchen, doesn’t it? Paper napkins and towels, plastic baggies, shopping bags, uneaten food. It’s like No Impact Kitchen. Ish. Okay, LOW Impact Kitchen. Plus I’m secretly hoping it will make me magically lose the rest of my pregnancy weight (no chips and crackers, after all), and it might even save some monies. (No filling the cart at Whole Foods with all sorts of delicious pre-made treats.)
Plus it’s a fun way to force myself to try making things I rarely, if ever, do. Like baking bread, making crackers, maybe even making cheese? I hear fresh mozzarella isn’t that hard. And butter. Shoot. I forgot about butter. For baking and cooking I think we’re going to make an exception, but perhaps for eating on bread I will try making my own.
Doesn’t it sound like fun? I will be reporting in throughout the month with our progress.
Hope you all had a glorious weekend. We were prepping food for the week. AND someone got to leave for most of the day on Saturday to have lunch with her girlfriends. For the first time since February. Pretty big things happening around here. It only took six months, but my baby will finally take a bottle on occasion. Hallelujah.
August 11, 2010
Every month when I open the new Sunset I think, I seriously need to do a post on how much I love this magazine. And then I promptly forget once I’ve read through the pages and dog-eared half of them. I had to email myself last week to remind me to do this post.
In a few words, it’s pretty much a perfect magazine. And now that Gourmet is gone (though perhaps making a comeback?), it’s even better. It has most everything I love about life: food, gardening, backyard patios, home decor, living in California, little trips around the west, and a smattering of trendy ideas, like airstream trailers and gourmet ice cream shops. It doesn’t have any fashion or make up tips or relationship advice, thank god. It’s so relevant to my life at this moment, which is exactly what the perfect magazine should be. Yay Sunset! You’ve seriously stepped it up in the last year.
Let me show you around the latest issue:
It’s the national park issue, which couldn’t have been more perfect timing considering when I picked it out the mailbox we were just packing for Yosemite.
Best river float: the Merced, through Yosemite Valley. It IS pretty awesome, though we couldn’t partake this year with the babe. Here’s a little secret, the Merced is actually more beautiful up the in Yosemite backcountry, about a day’s hike out of the valley. But you can only enjoy it if you’re backpacking. One day we’ll backpack again.
Glacier… one day we’ll go there too.
An awesome little spread on repurposing found objects: a shutter succulent garden,
Sewer pipe planters,
And a gate made from old oars. Pretty genius.
A pretty, wine-racked kitchen.
A rustic cabin modern remodel. Yum.
A family of pioneer caretakers in Montana.
I love a good set of raised beds.
Gastrique. A balsamic vinegar, fig cocktail mixer. I will be making this at some point this summer.
Peak season recipes.
And party ideas.
Plus the Sunset website has all sorts of great stuff too. Like a summer canning guide (we all know how much I love to can), growing and eating tomatillos (yay! I have tomatillos growing out back), and a photo gallery of modern cabins.
I could go on, but I will let you explore a bit on your own.
June 16, 2010
Ahoy from the land of non-disposable diapers! A few of you asked how we were going with our diaper program, and I’m happy to report that we are doing most well indeed. They are so easy, you guys. So so easy. They are the same as disposable diapers, but you don’t have to throw them out! And you have to wash them. So as long as you’re up for doing extra wash, they are no big deal at all. And depending on how many diapers you have, you will wash more or less.
Here’s what we’ve been doing:
We have prefolds, but to be honest, we’ve been using them less and less. We’re pretty much 90% fuzzi bunz-ers and we love them. Now, I should also note that I am not a hardcore cloth diapering mom. Before Dashiell was born I mistakenly thought that you had to be either a die hard cloth diaper-er, or just give up and use disposables. Obviously not. We use disposables at night, (which is usually just one diaper), and I feel pretty okay with it. Anything to get the little love bug to sleep longer. “Through the night” is a phrase that we’ve stopped using around here because it seems sooooo far away. But longer. Longer is always good.
Also, when we go out of town (like last weekend), we bring disposables. We have taken cloth with us to my parents’ house for the weekend, but I can’t really deal with a bag full of poopy diapers at a nice resort for three nights. My rationale… I’m doing my part, people. And I think that’s pretty good.
We ordered all of our prefolds and covers and extra supplies from Green Mountain. They have everything and anything (except Fuzzi Bunz) that you could need in terms of cloth diapering. And they have detailed reviews of every product which is nice when you know nothing.
Our Fuzzi Bunz came from BabyEarth.com, but you can really order them anywhere. Last week I saw them on sale at Diapers.com, which is amazing because I feel like they are NEVER on sale.
For those of you just starting, here’s what we started with:
2 dozen newborn prefolds
3 covers (this, this, and this). The Imse Visme organic cotton being my favorite.
12 Small Fuzzi Bunz
Plus I bought 3 dozen cloth wipes, wool wash, 2 snappis, 2 diaper pail liners and a diaper sprayer toilet attachment thing.
The cloth wipes didn’t work for us. Dashiell’s butt is only happy with Seventh Generation wipes. I tried to go cloth, I did, but disposable worked better for us. Now we use them for other things around the changing table, like blocking mid-change pee from hitting the wall, etc.
Eucalan wool wash is great and super easy. Plus I have 2 sets of wool nursing pads that I wash with my wool covers. Highly recommend them! I wash them like once every 3 or 4 weeks, and they are nice and big, which is good because they look less obvious in clothes. Plus they’ll last your entire nursing career.
The toilet sprayer was good in the beginning, but now I’m too lazy to actually spray poopy diapers off. I just toss them into the bin and the “solids” (not that there’s anything solid about breastmilk poop), come off in the initial rinse cycle.
I’ve since added a few more Fuzzi Bunz and the next size prefolds. Not totally sure if we’ll keep buying prefolds actually, though they might be nice for summer since they breathe much better than the ‘Bunz, especially with a wool cover.
If anyone is curious about how we wash our diapers, here’s the drill:
Hot wash with 1 scoop of Charlie’s soap
So that’s 3 wash cycles per load, but I actually looked at our water bill and it’s only like $25 more per month. Which is much less than the number of disposables you’ll go through.
Hmm. Is there anything else you all want to know?
The main thing is, cloth diapering is so easy! It saves sooooooo much room in landfills and it’s so cute seeing your little baby in his big diaper and a T-shirt. There aren’t any eco-friendly diapers, as much as you want to believe there are. Even the “biodegradable” ones would only biodegrade if they were exposed to light and air in a huge diaper compost pile. But as well all know, they get wrapped up into air tight diaper genie bags and tossed into the dark recesses of a landfill, where they have about as much of a chance to biodegrade as your old laptop battery.
And ask Jora! It’s never to late to start. She started Little E on cloth when she was 5 months old.
One final note… if you do cloth diaper, keep in mind that bigger diapers = less room in clothes so don’t forget to pull out your cute stuff early so you don’t miss wearing it altogether. Dashiell has some 3-6 month things that barely fit with a Fuzzi Bunz, and he’s not even 4 months old yet. But actually, baby clothes sizing is a whole different post. It’s wildly unreliable. Dashiell can wear a 0-3 m sweatshirt from Gap and a 12 m onesie from Petit Bateau.
Okay, veering off topic. Please ask if you have any more questions!
August 18, 2009
I know I’ve been a baggu champion since their inception a few years ago, but I’ve always had one grievance: they’re not self-bagging. Meaning there’s a separate little bag for the big bag to fit into while you’re not using it and this is pretty much fine except that you have to be psychotically vigilant about keeping track of the little bag and watch the baggers at the grocery store like a mother hawk to make sure they put the little bag IN the big bag, NOT on the conveyor belt of some other place that I will forget to look before I leave the store. I’ve only thought about this a little.
And even if you are really anal about the little bag you eventually, inevitably end up with three big bags stuffed into one tiny bag and/or with loose unbagged big bags floating around backpacks and purses and kitchen drawers.
I still love baggu though.
But on a brief stop at the Patagonia sale on our little shopping outing over the weekend, I found this. The perfect bag. Engineered of course by the geniuses at Patagonia, who in the dead of summer can convince me that I NEED a new heavy weight capelline zip neck pull over for running in the coming winter. It was 50% off people and this beautiful deep scarlet red. But I didn’t buy it because I have strength.
They can also convince me in a short 10 minute tour of their store that I should forsake all fashion-forward dressing and just get back to my outdoorsy granola core, wearing keen sandals and technical fabric out and about on the streets of Venice.
Again, practicing my exceptional powers of reason and decent sense of style, I resisted.
But I didn’t even try to put up a fight about the bag. Look how cute it is with it’s tiny bag that turns into a little zipper pocket when expanded.
You can buy them in the store (in lots of pretty colors) or online.