Thursday, September 29, 2011

Product Review :: Organic Cotton Jeggings

I finally jumped on the jegging wagon.  Of course I did it eco-style.  I ordered the organic cotton jeggings from Gaiam (on sale now!).  They are super soft and comfy.  Unlike other leggings I have tried, they stayed put and did not roll down.  I am loving them with tunics, long sweaters, and tall boots this fall.  I love how they feel a little bit like I am wearing pajamas at work.  But most of all, I love that they are earth friendly.

What great eco-style finds have you picked up lately?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Home Remedy :: Anti-Acne Toner

I saw this recipe recently in Real Simple magazine.  I have been using it when breakouts arise and loving how it helps.

Tea tree oil + Aloe = Anti-Acne Toner

The anti-microbial properties of the tea tree oil plus the soothing of the aloe makes my skin scream, "Thank you!"  I just break a piece of my aloe plant and drop in a drop or two (you really don't need very much) of tea tree oil.  Simple, perfect, effective.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Product Review :: My Green Mattress

Reader Meredith A. kindly pointed out to me that while I told you that we ordered the Pure Eco from My Green Mattress, I never reported on how it worked for us.  We ordered the mattress because it was the most affordable of the eco options I could find (although if you know of another, I would love to hear about it).

The first thing I did when the mattress arrived (shipping was big bucks, but still brought us in under any other model I could find) was sniff it.  I am big on my nose letting me know if something is full of chemicals or not.  The less I use chemicals, the more attuned my shnoz gets when they are around.  The mattress smelled like it had been in a warehouse for a while, but not at all like chemicals.  I let it sit in the sun for a couple hours and even that smell was gone.

  1. Organic cotton quilted fabric
  2. Natural wool
  3. Organic cotton batting
  4. Yarn insulator pad
  5. Medium-firm innerspring

It has been smooth sleeping ever since.  My son loves the mattress and we have noticed a big decrease in the night time coughing.  Whether that's from pulling up the carpet or the eco-mattress, I don't know.  But I will take it!

P.S. A word on product review

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Post :: Fall Upcycling

My cousin, Sarah Rosen is back with a guest post on upcycling for fall decorating!

As soon as I turned the calendar to September I have had the bug to start decorating for fall. Not the Halloweeny stuff yet but fall colors.  As I started to think about packing up summer I was about to throw away the pool noodles that somehow made it through 2 summers but wouldn’t last a 3rd. What a waste! Then a light bulb went off and I cut about 3 inches off and got out my trusty roll of packing tape. Voila a wreath form! These things cost about $7 new and why create more waste when you can upcycle for free?  Have you ever heard the phrase “Say no to Styrofoam. The ozone is the only zone?”  That’s stuck in my head since high school so buying a Styrofoam wreath form feels like treason!  I had a skein of grey yarn, yup one skein what was I ever going to do with that? I was feeling the fall inspiration and started wrapping the noodle.  I have to admit I did get the idea for this wreath off my favorite site Pinterest so I knew it would need a pop of color.  The only thing I bought was 3 pieces of felt at .50 each to make some flowers.   I used my trusty glue gun to attach them and jazzed it up a bit with pearl beads left over from another project. I loved it so much, and had another pool noodle, that I decided to make one for my mom too.   This time I went with variegated yarn that I had bought years ago thinking about making a sweater but hated how it knitted up so I never used it.  Again the only expense I had was the felt. 
I kept 2 pool noodles & probably 2 skeins of yarn out of the landfill and ended up with 2 pretty cool fall wreaths!

Whew, now I had a fire under me to get a little more fall in my home. I was inspired this time by one of my favorite bloggers, Becky Higgens. She had decorated with pumpkins & gourds on candlesticks.  Off to Tiffany’s (aka Goodwill) I went. I didn’t find anything with a wide enough top to hold much so I improvised.  I bought a couple different sized saucers/desert plates. I spray painted the whole lot with hammered bronze paint. Broke out my ever trusty glue gun and attached the plates to the sticks and instant pumpkin holders. I was able to make 4 of them for less than $5! 
Again 4 ugly as sin candle sticks & 4 mis-matched plates re-purposed into something kinda cool to look at!
It has turned into an obsession of mine, what can I make this into instead of throwing it away?   My husband just shakes his head and says not again when I walk through the door loaded with my garage sale treasures.  He says at least its better than bringing home strays!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Guest Post :: My Cousin Upcycles

Thank you to my cousin, Sarah Rosen, for this lovely guest post on her upcycling passion and adventures!

When my cousin asked me to write something about re-purposing I thought it ironic since she’s the one who first inspired me. I mean I’ve always tried to be “green” but she showed me how easily I can take it to the next level.   I have always love crafting but when I took stock of all the “stuff” I had to buy to make the projects it was overwhelming. First of all there was so much waste, then the expense! So I started reading a few blogs for inspiration, which helped, then I found the mother load…Pinterest. Let me tell you this is pure eye candy.  Even the most uninspired can find inspiration there!
So armed with inspiration I then had to train my mind to let go of a things true purpose.  For instance a beautiful but broken picture frame didn’t have to head to the dump, with a scrap of plywood & a little chalkboard paint viola you have a picture perfect chalk board to match your décor!  You can’t even begin to imagine the things you can do with toilet paper rolls-snack packs, gift boxes, Wild Things figures, traffic signs for kiddos etc…

So I set out to my favorite store Tiffany’s (aka the Goodwill) looking for a microwave cart to re-purpose into a play kitchen. No such luck but I did come across a beautiful, if a bit beat up wood table with a shelf underneath (storage-bonus!) for $15! What are they crazy!?! So I scrapped the kitchen idea and started looking for ideas on a train table. I’m telling you just type something into the Internet and instant inspiration! I splurged a little on the soy-based paint, which is 10,000 times better for the planet/people/peace of mind than the traditional stuff. I made the stencils from a guide online. My total cost was just about $40. I don’t think I could have gotten this table originally for less than $140! My kids love it. I love knowing that I created something for them. Best of all it matches my décor!
OK that was a biggie but there’s lots of small stuff you can upcycle too. I’ve had a utensil caddy that I used once. A little spray paint to make it match (have you figured out I’m a matchy matchy gal yet?) and a little chalkboard paint to make it fun and now the kids have an art caddy.
I’m sure my kids are like most and love to paint/draw/create. Although we try to use the backs of mail ect. Sometimes they are a bit picky and want real paper. Now I save it all. I use if for giftwrap. I get more compliments, ohhs & ahhs then any costly paper I could buy. And the best part is people usually try to unwrap carefully so they can save it for themselves.  Oh and the bows and jazzy things you can make from holey t-shirts, junk mail, and plastic bags are endless.
So now that I have rambled on and on to sum up my favorite new pastime upcycling-have an open mind.  Forget what you are supposed to be seeing and imagine the possibilities.  Get inspiration. I always joke when people tell me I’m creative that I outsource my creativity but it’s true. Sometimes I make something exactly as explained sometimes it’s just the first seed that turns into something else entirely.  Then save your treasures. Keep a box in the garage for empty jars, toilet paper rolls, art, ect. You never known what you might need. Hit garage sales, Goodwill, your sisters closet!  And finally don’t not start because you don’t want to mess up. Most of the materials are cheap/free anyway so go for it!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Apologies

In case any of you were keeping track of these things, it has been a looooong time since I posted a blog here. I am sorry. Our family has been undergoing some big changes as I head back to full-time work after 5 years of being a stay-at-home mom. This is a good thing for us. I am doing something that I love and passionate about. I am a Volunteer Coordinator at a drop-in homeless shelter here in Kalamazoo, MI.

Unfortunately, the interview process, back to school, and back to work process left Green Gracious sorely neglected. Luckily, my lovely cousin has offered to do a couple guest posts on her upcycling adventures! And I hope to have some more soon on recent eco-purchases that have been using in my back to work transition.

I hope you are all well. I do miss more daily interaction with you. But regardless of the circumstance, my excitement to do good for our Earth hasn't stopped...I hope yours hasn't either.