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Archive for the ‘Green Living’ Category

Two ways that my husband proved we are soul mates today:

1) He is currently in Washington, D.C., on a student trip for spring break (lucky!), and today he told me that they were going to the Holocaust Museum.  Being a total history nerd, especially for WWII history, I was quite jealous.  (I also realized after I hung up that I told him to “have fun” at the Holocaust Museum.  Which was not the best thing to say.  Perhaps I should say “have a day of reflection, depression, and resolve?”).

Anyways, later he called me and told me that I got a gift from the Holocaust Museum – two books on the Holocaust (one on consciousness and how people were able to convert to Nazism and group think so easily, and another on Nazi propaganda).  He said he felt bad that I wasn’t able to come with.

And then I realized that my husband bought me two academic books on topics that he knew I would like from a museum of genocide.  He knows me so well.  I heart him.

2) He called me this evening while I was nursing Frankie and when I answered the phone, I told him to shush because I was watching Diane Sawyer’s report on the disgusting pink slime inside ground beef.  And then he told me that not only is he watching the same thing, but that he was calling to tell me about it.  Sigh.

Is it possible for love and marriage to be based on activist and research?  Cause I think ours is.

He was actually calling to tell me not to buy any beef except organic, grass-fed beef.  The report was eye opening.  I’ve heard of such things before, and knew that most processed meat was not good, but my lack of funding forced me to buy the cheaper stuff.  Lately, I’ve been revisiting some of the literature and research on food that I’ve read before, and I really want to detoxify our lives.  And beef is definitely a great place to start.

Pink slime is basically this nasty crap leftover after processing beef that the FDA says is OK to eat.  The stuff that used to get thrown out is now processed, washed with ammonia (!), and then frozen into chunks and added as filler to beef.  And, according to the report, there’s no way to tell what has this filler and what doesn’t – over 70% does and we don’t know it.

What’s more disturbing is that several scientists working for the FDA told them that pink slime is not safe, but the FDA (in cahoots with the beef industry) ignored them.  As my hubby pointed out, according to this logic, what’s the point of having science and research at all?  Let’s just go back to using leaches and witch burnings as a means of curing disease, and assuming the world is flat.  Why bother with things with logic and reason?  Let’s have the corporations decide!

Luckily for us, I’ve found a local beef provider at our local organic food store (Food Fantasies) that costs $5.99/lb.  Yes, this is more than our $3.99/lb on average Meijer beef, but it’s local, grass-fed, and organic.  And seriously, I’ll pay $3 a week extra to avoid the slime.  However, I’m starting to rethink my monthly craving of a cheeseburger, and what about meat sauce in pasta?  And my occasional Taco Bell?  I’m not even sure Taco Bell contains actual meat!  Will this make me a vegetarian when I eat out?  Or will my treats become even more spaced out?  Dude, sometimes knowledge is not a good thing, because I love me some Taco Bell crunchy tacos.

Here’s the video.  Watch it with someone you love.

Pink Slime

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Lately, I’ve been feeling stuck in the house.  That’s probably because I am literally stuck in the house.  Before we moved to Springfield, we got rid of our second car for a variety of reasons.  It was getting older; it didn’t easily fit a car seat, so we never took Frankie out in it; our new apartment only has one parking space; with me staying home, a second car wasn’t a necessity; and – the biggie – we wanted to save money.

Now, I agree with all of the statements above.  Heck, I think I even argued for those statements above.  But fast forward 6 months later, and I’m stuck in the house in the middle of winter and longing to walk around the mall or Target or the library or any place other than my living room.  Yup, I’m that stay-at-home mom. 

(I just realized that the savings with just one car extend beyond just insurance and gas; add my incessant Target shopping habit.  Why is it that you can enter Target for one thing and then leave with $100 worth of stuff you don’t need?  Target is a marketing genius: make everything just cheap enough and just stylish enough that it leaves the customer begging for more.  Oh Target, you devilish big box store, you).

Having just one car is probably one of the most eco-friendly things we can do as a family, however, and I do have to say that, despite the suckage aspect, I am proud of our decision.  Here’s a few tips I’ve come up with for others who are thinking of ditching the second car:

  • Plan, plan, plan ahead.  It’s not like I never get the car; but during the week, I have to drive hubby to work and pick him up in order to get it.  Right now, he’s schedule on Wednesdays and Thursdays doesn’t allow for it (he’s teaching day and night classes, so I would have to pick him up after Frankie’s bedtime, which wouldn’t make anyone in this family happy).  But I have way more access to the car on other days, and luckily he won’t be teaching at night every semester.  But these things need to be planned.  For instance, on the Tuesdays that I go to MOPS, I have to make sure that all 3 of us are up, dressed, feed, and ready to go by 8:30 am at the latest, and I need to make sure that I pick up hubby at the magical time of after nap time/before dinner/during rush hour and allow enough time to get home and make dinner before my two boys become ravenous beasts.  Just writing all that out exhausted me.
  • Do your errands all together.  To save time and gas, I try to make one day “errand day” (minus grocery day, which is Monday morning and takes forever – don’t ask). 
  • Order stuff online.  If you can’t get to Target, then bring Target to your living room!  Or Amazon!  Or any number of wonderful free shipping websites!  Don’t you just love exclamation points!  Sometimes things can be cheaper online – I order our disposable diapers (used for traveling and poo-related emergencies – again, don’t ask) through Amazon mom, and not only are they cheaper, they literally arrive in less than 24 hours. 
  • Live in a convenient location.  Hubby and I talk about this all the time.  Chalk it up to the few years we lived in the city, but we like to walk to stores and activities.  It’s a novel concept in the suburbs, but it really shouldn’t be.  Right now, we live within walking distance of a few places, such as restaurants, a video store, a bowling alley (not exactly baby friendly, but we plan to check it out someday), a park, and, if you go a little further, a couple of stores.  I’ve even walked to drop off our rent check.  Most subdivisions and suburbs are set up so you CAN’T walk anywhere, but if you plan it right, you can live within walking distance to the library, schools, and other locations.
  • Buy a bike.  OK, I have a confession to make: I am quite possibly the only eco-friendly person out there who doesn’t own a bike.  Forgive me Greenpeace, for I have sinned.  We’ve just been too broke to consider the purchase in the past.  But now that I’m sans second car, it’s looking more and more attractive. 
  • Take the bus.  Easier said than done in some areas, but here in Springfield, there’s a bus that goes down our street every day, all day.  I haven’t mustered up the courage yet to try it out, mostly because I’m afraid of how it’ll go with a two year old.  But one of these days, I’ll force hubby to take a ride for me and figure things out.  It might just be my ticket of stay-at-home boredom.

Of course, this is a huge sacrifice on our parts, and I will admit, it sucks.  A lot sometimes.  Like the time a bunch of my friends got together at the park and invited me and I had to say no because Tony was in Chicago at the time with the car?  Yeah, that day sucked.  But then I remember the money we’re saving, coupled with the fact that we actually can’t afford another car right now, nor do we need one, and I move on.  You can always come visit me, right?  Right?  Guys?

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Being green means being a little too serious sometimes.  Case in point: whenever I start to go off on a rant in front of my parents, explaining to them that Portillo’s needs to not use styrofoam containers, that parabens in their shampoo are slowly destroying their bodies, and that the no-sugar yogurt they bought is Satan, they usually look at me and say sternly, “Hey Greenpeace!  Lighten up!”

In the spirit of laughing at ourselves, here’s Sh*t Crunchy Moms Say (done in the spirit of Sh*t Girls Say – if you haven’t seen that video, please do yourself a favor and Google it now.  Yes, I used Google as a verb.  You’re welcome).

I think I’ve said about half of the saying on the video, especially the one about coconut oil.  Why is coconut oil so difficult to find?  And complaining about “Big Pharma?”  Love it.

By the way, when I told hubby about the video, his response was, “Crunchy?  What do you mean by crunchy?”  And I had to explain to him that some people refer to natural/green/holistic people as “crunchy,” which I think refers to a love for granola.  His response to that?  “Oh.  I guess so.”  Which also made me laugh.

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Over the holidays, we found out that my brother-in-law Jon proposed to his girlfriend Kristina!  So happy for them!  And of course, immediately after the engagement announcement, us girls started wedding planning.  It’s a part of our girly DNA.  Tony, Frankie, and I were asked to stand up, and while the wedding is not happening until the fall of 2013, I automatically had a thought: I will have to breastfeed in my bridesmaid dress.  Not Frankie (fingers crossed that he’ll be weaned by then!), but the future baby of mine yet to be born, but (hopefully!) born in the next two years (and hopefully BEFORE the wedding – no one likes to be a preggo bridesmaid).

Long story short, my Google searches for nursing bridesmaid dresses brought me to an awesome breastfeeding fashion blog Milkfriendly.  Let me first say, this chick is amazing.  She actually manages to make boobie-accessible clothing look good.  Damn good.  Definitely worth checking out. 

And, Milkfriendly’s writer, Maryam, is also the co-owner and co-founder of Green Your Air, a company that sells houseplants that help clean your house of nasty toxins and such.  Our houses are filled with all sorts of toxins – paint fumes, cheap wood furniture, and cleaning products, all that can off gas very dangerous chemicals into our indoor air.  The Green Your Air website offers more in-depth information and the scientific research behind this idea, which you can find here.

Oh, and I did I mention that the containers are adorable?  They would make a nice gift…hmmm, maybe for a future engagement party I will be invited to?  I especially like their baby gift idea – a mini plant in either a pink or blue planter.  Both my friend Kari and my sister-in-law Sam are pregnant with their third baby (and due about the same time!), and honestly, isn’t it hard to buy something for the experienced mom?  I mean, they already own all the necessities, and unless the baby is of a different gender (Kari has all boys and Sam has all girls), clothes are superfluous.  But I love the idea of a cute plant that actually does baby good.

If you’re interested in buying a plant, you can use the code MILKFRIENDLY until January 22nd to get 25% off.  Enjoy!

Update: Hello readers!  You can also use the code MARYD25 until January 22nd to get 25% off your plants as well!

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A new year!

2012 is officially here!  And yes, I am about 7 days late with that announcement.  And I haven’t touched my blog in weeks.  Yup.  Well, it’s time to start tackling my new year’s resolution #1: actually write on my freakin’ blog.

After the chaos of Christmas and traveling to Chicago and trying to see as many family and friends as possible and traveling back to Springfield and unpacking and trying to the little guy back onto some sort of sleep routine (aren’t you tired just reading all that?), coming back home and settling into 2012 feels refreshing.  But also inspiring.  This is it.  This is the year.  The year we get our acts together.  The year where everything has a place.  The year where I can actually find my SS card without shedding a tear at the piles of a paperwork.

So new year’s resolution #2: Get organized. 

And, lest I remind my readers (hi Mom!) of the purpose of this blog, new year’s resolution #3 is be greener.  We are already a shade greener than the majority of people – we recycle, we cloth diaper, I reuse containers.  You know, the easy stuff.  But there are some things that I think we could do much, much better.  Like more diy, eating more organic (or, rather, find room in our budget for more organic), and just in general being even more conscious of our actions.

And because I’m so anal retentive, I made cute little lists my year o’ organizing and year o’ greening:

Monthly Organizing
January Kitchen
February Living/Dining Room
March Office
April Nursery
May Outside
June Bathrooms
July Basement (finished)
August Basement (unfinished)
September Photos
October Bedroom
November Emergency
December Computers/Electronics

 


Organic Food DIY
January milk Diaper rash cream
February eggs Lip balm
March apples Toothpaste
April peanut butter Laundry detergent
May red meat Disinfectant wipes
June strawberries Window cleaner
July chocolate Shower spray
August coffee/tea Air freshener
September chicken Granola bars
October swiss cheese Deodorant
November mozzarella cheese Candles
December juice Christmas gifts

The plan is to tackle one thing at a time.  A problem I always have is that I get an idea in my head, go full speed ahead with it, get majorly burnt out, and then nothing happens.  So this time around, I’m trying to do one thing a month: organize and declutter one room at a time, add one thing organic to our diet, and make one thing from scratch.  It looks so simple on paper, right?  Of course, now that I’ve announced this whole plan to the internet world, I have to follow through.  Crap.

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Although it’s already a few days old, I have to share what happened to me this weekend.  As my title states above, it was The Worst Thing That Can Happen To A Green Mommy.

I contaminated my family.

On Saturday, I went out to breakfast with my dad and Frankie, and on the way back I decided to stop back at my parent’s house to do a little organizing.  Because I love to organize.  I’m weird like that.  Before moving, I plan on gifting my sewing machine temporarily to my mom, since it’s just collecting dust at my house anyways and I’m anticipating having to downsize.  Besides, there is way too much crap of mine from high school and college in my old room, and it’s in need of a little sprucing up.

Amidst organizing my old dresser drawers, I came upon the box of memorabilia that I grabbed after my grandma died.  Old lipstick, hankies, some jewelry, and lots of other misc. stuff that I kept as reminders of her.  Of course, a lot of it had to go.  Maybelline blue eyeshadow stick from 1974?  It had the consistency of sidewalk chalk.

One of the items was a box of 3 old-school mercury thermometers.  My reaction was, these are dangerous and need to go.  My mother’s?  These are great!  They don’t make them like that any more!  My reaction to her reaction?  Yeah, they don’t make them CANCER CAUSING any more.  Ah, the good ole days.

About 2 minutes later, I reached for the box of thermometers when it happened.  I dropped one.  And it broke.  And the mercury came out.

After uttering several curse words, I grabbed Frankie (OH MY GOD MY CHILD IS IN THE SAME ROOM AS LIVE MERCURY!!!!  I AM THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD!!!!), closed the door, and headed off to the internet to figure out what the *$&@ to do.  Of course, my mom is calm, laughing almost, remembering about she and her brother used to play with mercury.  Play with it, like it’s a toy.  My dad, also calm, saying that he’ll take care of it and it’s no big deal.

Me?  CALL THE EPA!!!!  THERE IS MERCURY HERE PEOPLE!!!!   WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!  WHERE’S MY HAZMAT SUIT?

Luckily, I had the wisdom to google (oh, what ever did we do before google?) and found on the EPA website how to handle the situation.  Surprisingly, panicking was not on the list.  But my dad and I did find ourselves on the ground, with a flashlight and exacto knife, trying to pry tiny beads of mercury out of the cracks in the wood floor and then grab the beads with duct tape for about, oh, an hour.  Finally, my knees started to give out and my dad had to finish the job.

Oh, and did I mention that during this time, an ant bit me?  Yup, that day got even better.

As I was looking up the EPA website for how to avoid a mercury pandemic in the house, I had my parent’s laptop on my lap.  And all of a sudden, I felt a burning, itching sensation on my upper thigh.  I thought it was from the laptop, but it kept getting worse and worse.  And finally, I had to pull down my pants in the middle of the family room to see what was going on.  Luckily, only Frankie was in the room, and he’s used to seeing me do such strange activities.

Low and behold, I find a small welt surrounded by itchy, red skin, and, oh yeah, A HALF-DEAD SQUIRMING ANT INSIDE MY JEANS.  Let’s all just realize what we’re dealing with: that an ant not only crawled up my leg, onto my upper thigh, and then bit me. 

And then I had to go find me some mercury.

In the end, I’m pretty confident that we found all the mercury, and from what I’ve read online, the amount in a thermometer is not a big deal.  I mean, you should still take it very seriously, but it’s nothing to freak out about.  As my dad pointed out, I probably eat more mercury in a tuna fish sandwich.  I’m not sure which is more disturbing. 

Although, seriously, how many of these lethal thermometers are out there?  For the record (MOM!), you need to safely donate mercury thermometers to the fire department (MOM!) for proper disposal (MOM!), no matter how good of a temperature they take (MOM!).

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Hubby has been on a diet lately.  Well, he’s always on some kind of diet, and the rules of each diet seem to change as often as the weather in Chicago.  After Frankie was born, he went on a no-carb diet.  And since the basis on our diet was rice and pasta, I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to eat.  And since I had a newborn perpetually attached to my boob, I figured that he could take over the cooking for a while. 

We mainly eat some sort of dinner consisting of a meat and sautéed veggies, whatever we have lying around.  I often add either pasta or brown rice to the mix, to help out with the I-can-eat-everything-in-the-house hunger that goes along with breastfeeding a 22 lb baby.  And I have to say that, since the basis of our diet is now veggies and not starch, hubby has lost about 40 lbs and I have successfully lost most of my baby fat.  (Not in the belly, sadly, which still looks like a deflated marshmellow and gives me a muffin top, but I am technically back to my normal weight).

Part of the diet that drives me nuts, however, is his daily morning regime of scrambled eggs.  I can’t complain too much, because almost every morning I get delicious scrambled eggs with cheese, tomatoes, and green peppers, but hubby isn’t exactly the quickest to clean up after cooking.  <sigh>  Long story short, after months of cooking eggs every morning and letting the egg remnants sit there and then scrap off the remnants day after day after day…let’s just say that the pan didn’t stand a chance.

(I love you sweetie!  Even if I just told the world that you drive me crazy with eggs).

Image from here.

The pots and pans set that I have was given to me by my folks several years ago, and it’s a nice Calphalon non-stick set.  I know, I know, there’s a lot of potential problems with Teflon and non-stick coating giving you cancer and such.  And I want to replace the set, one of these days when I’m not on WIC and trying to squeeze pennies out of thin air.  I figured that as long as the pots weren’t scratched, were fine, right?

Well, the egg pan had to go.  I took one look at it the other day and determined it had to go in the dump.  As much as I hate adding to the landfill, that pan was probably going to give us all tumors.  Of course, once I explained all this to hubby, he sort of freaked out and for a couple of days would randomly express concern that he was now cancer-ridden.  Which made me think that perhaps I need to tone it down a bit when I complain about environmental issues. 🙂

At Target the other day, we found the perfect solution: The Original Green Pan supposedly eco-friendly frying pan.  At $35 a pop, this was no cheap replacement, but I reasoned that hubby’s fears would be abated more easily with such a purchase.  Like other eco-friendly non-stick ware, this one is made from Thermolon, not Teflon, which means that all the nasty chemicals and petroleum are gone.

 

Image and lots of my info from here.

Most traditional non-stick cookware uses a synthetic product called PTFE, or PolyTetraFluoroEthylene.  However, at high temperatures, PTFE lets off fumes that can be toxic; birds have been known to die from it!  Another product in non-stick cookware is PFOA (PerFluoroOctanoic Acid), which the EPA has identified as a known human carcinogen.  Why these items are in products we use to COOK OUR FOOD WITH is beyond me.  Supposedly, Thermolon’s technology is much safer and greener, while still allowing food to slip right off.  I often wonder if such claims will be disputed in later years, but today, I think it’s reasonable to assume that it’s safer and better for the environment.

These pans are supposed to last longer and hold up better than all the others.  Ha!  We will put it to the test in this house.  More eggs, anyone?

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