Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jodi's Adventures In Natural Cleaning!

Raise your hand if your house is a little dirty after this weekend! Ok, well lucky for you that my friend Jodi has come to the rescue with tales of her adventures in natural cleaning. Jodi recently tried some homemade green cleaning recipes for her shower and oven (Hello! Oven!). Here is how it worked out in Jodi's own words:

pic #1 - some hard water stains on the floor in my standing shower. I covered them in salt and squeezed some fresh lime juice on it (cut a lime in half, squeezed it over the stains). Let it sit for 10 min or so.pic #2 - viola! scrub (with the lime rind), rinse with water, and gone!
pic #3 - My gross oven door on the inside (so embarrassing!!!). I did a little area to test my scrubbing solution and then took this pic to compare. I did a mix of 3/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup water. I let the mix sit overnight. In the morning I scrubbed. It was pretty caked on there, but it didn't take a TON of arm work to scrub it off. So in this pic you can see the corner I did the first night, and the rest of the oven door.
pics #4 and #5 - I then covered the rest of the oven door with the mixture, the next night, let it sit, and then scrubbed in the morning. In the 5th pic you can see it coming off as I scrubbed with the sponge.
pic #6 - the door now. It could probably use another coating of the mix on there to completely clear it off, but I haven't done that yet. You can totally tell the difference now.
Jodi deals with hard rusty water, a hunter husband, and three kids and is slowly but surely learning that even with all of that-maybe because of it-green works!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nature of Beauty (NOB) Black Friday Sale

Another great source for green beauty, The Nature of Beauty, is having a Black Friday Sale. Get the items pictured above free with any purchase of $100 or more. Even better-get free shipping all day Friday with the coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY"

Get beautiful, give beautiful, make it good for you and the planet!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Trillium Organics Black Friday Sale

Trillium Organics, home to a whole line of organic body products in different scents is having a big Black Friday sale. This would be a great time to switch over to some organic body care or give the gift of organic to a loved one. Friday only, save 33% on orders $100 or more with the coupon code "greenday".

Also check out the other specials they are running right now through December 16th.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Part 2

The Green Gift Guide is back with part 2. I hope you are enjoying exploring what's out there as much as I am!

I have told you before about the wonderful historic mint farm. Now in addition to getting your organic peppermint and spearmint oils, you can also get organic lip balm!

There is nothing in A Bushel and A Peck that I don't love. But since I got shorter hair (I donated 9 inches!) I really am lusting after these hair pins. They are on my wish list and I don't know many ladies that wouldn't love them.

And because I love A Bushel and A Peck so much I am including another item, which I personally wouldn't mind receiving this year. This apron is so beautiful you hardly want to get it dirty, but at least you'll look cute doing it.

I have mentioned how much I love tea before. So when I saw this organic Green & White tea set from Rishi's Tea I was sold. Especially considering that I just read an article on how drinking green tea can help your skin be beautiful. Yes, please.

It hasn't snowed yet here in Michigan, but it's only a matter of time. And I know a number of places have already seen some. So people are in search of boots. Planet Shoes offers this eco-friendly, yet stylish pair made from organic, reused, and sustainable sources.

One of the things I love about shopping for green gifts is the ingenuity one finds. Like this purse made from an upcycled cigar box! Brilliant and beautiful!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Going Philosophical On You

I have seen/heard a couple of things lately that have gotten me thinking. The first was about a study done a Michigan State University professor listing 17 steps every person (or family) can take to help make the environment a better place. (Blog post to come on this soon) I heard an interview with him in which he was explaining what a difference it could make in carbon emissions if everyone just did a couple of these things.

The second thing that caught my eye this week was an article in Natural Home Magazine (Yes, I got a subscription! Thanks mom!). The article featured, Annie Leonard, "Story of Stuff" creator, and her views on overconsumption and simplicity. In the article, she says, "Even if we could convince every single person to always choose the most environmentally responsible option-it isn't enough. We must get involved with organizations engaging for broader systematic change."

So these are two mixed messages right? On one hand, we can make such a difference if we take even simple steps and on the other, even all the steps done by everyone won't be enough. This is something I struggle with, because here at Green Gracious I give you really simple ways to make changes that will undoubtedly help the environment. The question is just, how much? When I read comments like Annie Leonard's, I'll admit, I wonder if it's even worth it to keep trying to get people to make even the littlest changes-to take any of the 17 steps.

And then I get a grip and remind myself of a few things:
1. The changes you can make to help the environment, also help you. Eliminating toxic products from our lives will save the Earth and us. Living more simply will save the Earth and your wallet. Eating less animals more veggies from more local sources will make you and the planet healthier.
2. It is these small changes in people that eventually add up to more drastic changes. A decade ago, almost no one knew the term climate change. Now there isn't a day that goes by that most people don't hear it. And people making changes in their homes will lead to them making changes in policy, systems, and expectations for society.
3. "Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed citizens to change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

In 2007, "The Story of Stuff" went viral and was seen by over 6.5 million people. Next year Annie Leonard releases her book based on the same concept. Despite her comments, she hasn't given up. And I won't either.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trying Out Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Let me share with you my Thanksgiving dilemma. It has nothing to do with the environment (except in the way that everything does, of course) but it is what brings me t0-gasp-cook! Every holiday we go to my mother-in-laws and my husband and brother-in-laws all succeed in turning back into 10 year-old boys as we prepare for company to arrive. That is stress I am bowing out of this year. But because I (gladly) won't be there for cleaning duties and will be arriving with others who are bringing dishes, I feel the need to contribute.

So this week I am testing out a couple vegan Thanksgiving recipes with the hopes of finding something I can make acceptable enough to offer to the meal. First up, vegan green bean casserole. This twist on the old favorite utilizes veggie broth, soy milk, and flour in place of cream of mushroom soup. This is not nearly as difficult as it sounds and, with the exception of preparing the beans, was very quick and easy to make. The end result needs a little more seasoning but Everett (the only other person in this house willing to eat green veggies) and I really enjoyed it. Add to that the fact that it is really quite healthy and I think we have a competitor! It would be even healthier if I could find a healthy yet yummy alternative to french fried onions...anyone?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Part 1

As we enter the holiday season, I thought it would be fun to start posting some green gift ideas in different price categories. Sometimes I think we just get so caught up in the shopping hoopla that we forget there are fun, eco-friendly ideas out there too! So with that I present you with the Green Gift Guide: Part 1.

Here you will find not only journals and sketch books made from hemp paper and ruled in soy ink, but the 100% recycled wrapping paper to present them in.

Powered by salt water and totally portable, these little clocks are perfect for those in your life who need a little more time.

No matter what you are giving, consider the wrapping. And then consider wrapping your gift in a reusable bag, like this one from Baggu.

I think that these are
1. Adorable 2. Look ultra warm 3. Are a relatively guilt-free way to wear animal products

Made from sustainable bamboo and recycled suede, felt, and wool. This jewelry looks good and does good. Get striking designs like the one above or these branches.

It's pricey and somewhat hard to find. But most of it is uber cute and it's made with the very sustainable hemp.

I am including a composter on the list because there are so many friends I know who live in the suburbs and would compost if only they had an "easy" way. This composter is that easy way and one of the best investments you can make for the Earth.

At websites like, Tis Best, you can purchase your loved one a gift card, the entire amount which will be donated to the charity of the recipient's choice.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Gift of Water

If you are wondering why you haven't heard from me in a while, I have two words for you-swine flu. Yup. While traveling to and from DC for a conference (and not taking great care of myself), I got the big bad and have been in bed barely able to function since. So hopefully I will be on the mend soon and back with a green holiday gift guide! Get excited!

In the meantime, I leave you with this. Before you buy anything (more?) this holiday season, I ask you to consider giving the first gift of clean water to those who really need it. Here I am day in and out trying to get us greener, and we sometimes forget that some people don't even have the most basic of earthly gifts, clean water. I know times are tight for all but just $10 is all they are asking for to really help save lives. If you can, please do.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

(Holiday) Lights Out

It's that time of year when we are getting out and putting away holiday decorations. Every once in a while you come across a strand of lights, like I did last winter and this fall, that is kaput. Please reconsider before you trash them. I found this great light recycling program (not too far from me in Jackson, MI) that you can send your lights into. This company takes the lights and recycles them for you. Best part is, if you include your email address, they'll send you a coupon for 15% off a new light purchase!

The program is open every year from the beginning of October through February. So collect all those misfit lights, send them in, and save a couple kinds of green!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Natural Home Products

I have been in need of some measuring cups. And I have tried the consignment store and Craigslist to no avail. So when I was at Target the other day, I decided to take a look at what they had. It was like a little present to discover these Natural Home measuring spoons for the same price as the other spoons being offered (around $14).

These spoons are made of at least 93% recycled stainless steel and natural (fast-growing) bamboo. They are from a line of products from "Natural Home" magazine. I quickly learned from the tag (the only packaging and printed on recycled paper) that they support safe and healthy work environments, fair labor practices, and environmental protection! And if that wasn't enough, a portion of proceeds goes towards American Forests to help offset the carbon footprint used to manufacture and transport the product! Seriously!?! Does it get better?

Well for you it does! Because you can now register to win the entire line of Natural Home products! Hop on over there and get registered. And if any of you happens to subscribe to this magazine I would love to hear about your experience. I think I am going to have to get myself on that list!

P.S. I tried to find y'all a link to purchase the spoons but it appears my Target carries the only set :( Ok, not really, but I couldn't find a link anywhere! So if anyone comes across one, please share!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Birthday Bird House

This past weekend I had the blissful opportunity to escape the land of men and boys that is my home and belatedly celebrate my birthday with some great friends. These dear friends, Julie and Debbie, tease me every year that they have so much trouble finding a present for me each year. Of course their shining personalities and loving friendship are plenty, but this year they went above and beyond and hit the jackpot.

They found this lovely birdhouse at a craft show. Look at it! There is nothing on it that isn't upcycled! From the Michigan license plate roof, to the belt and hook hanger, to the door knob perch, everything about it is PERFECTLY reused! Isn't it great? Has anyone else seen anything like this? Made anything like this? If you are looking to get something or give something like this, this holiday season, check out Etsy which has quite a few different versions to peruse.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Buy It Used Home Tour: Last Day Loft

On this last day of the tour, I will take you upstairs to our loft. This is about 300 sq. feet of space we use to hang out, watch videos, and as a spare bedroom. The daybed above was mine in my childhood home.

This couch was given to us by my dad and stepmom. The table and lamp next to it were swooped up that sale I mentioned on previous days. That was a good sale!
Finally, this chest is something I found on Ebay for $40. It houses all of our board games. It's the perfect storage/coffee table combo. You can find chests like this for sale at almost any thrift store in almost any style to suit your home.

Well, that's it for the tour. Hope you enjoyed!