Previously, this was a blog mostly to harass my poor friends and family with the details of my life. Don't worry-- that will continue. However, I'm also going to use this as a terrible forum for dialogue about green tips and eco-revolutions. Hopefully it will be helpful and entertaining...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pet safety

If you have pets, you should definitely consider ordering a free pet safety pack from the ASPCA, which is an awesome organization. The safety pack contains a magnet with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Management hotline and, most importantly, a sticker to put on your window that tells emergency personnel how many animals you have.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Drain Cleaning Solution

From my friend and fellow eco-warrior, Viki-- an eco-friendly drain cleaner and her review of it:

Drain Cleaner
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup baking soda
2 cups boiling water

Shake 1/2 cup baking soda into drain (make sure it actually goes down the drain, and doesn't just sit at the top). Follow with 1 cup vinegar. Wait 15 minutes. Pour 2 cups boiling water. Repeat as needed.

This worked very well in the kitchen & bathroom, and failed miserably in the extremely clogged bathtub drain. However, the bathtub has been an ongoing problem. We tried a professional strength chemical drain cleaner a couple months ago. It worked slightly better for slightly longer. For heavy clogs, a more physical approach (like snaking or plunging) is probably needed before pouring anything down the drain...

Overall, I would rate this as a very effective way to prevent plumbing problems, and plan on doing this monthly (or as needed) in other drains. The slight advantage of chemical drain cleaners definitely doesn't outweigh their cost & enviro impact.

Thanks to the Vikster!

Way to check your Facebook Privacy levels

With all the insanity over at facebook and their complete disregard for the privacy of their users, a way to quickly check all your privacy settings (provided, of course, by someone completely unaffiliated with facebook) would be lovely. Check it: . Easy as. Take good care of your internet safety, y'all.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Good Reads

Hey all,
Everyone should go join up at Good Reads, because we can be BOOK friends forever! And you can keep a fantastic record of all the books you read (and plan to read), write reviews of them, record quotes, and take a semi-addictive book quiz! Check out the neat new widget over on the right hand side of the my blog to see what I'm reading right now!
Go forth and conquer!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Green cleaning!

I realized I never uploaded my awesome green cleaning extravaganza recipes! The main reason for that was that a kit containing everything needed for this kit was one of my wedding presents to my best friend, Viki, and one of my birthday / starting college presents to my little sister, Marlie.

In case you're interested, each kit consisted of a home depot bucket containing:
  • Baking Soda
  • Washing Soda
  • 3 Spray Bottles
  • White Distilled Vinegar
  • Cloths (I used the ones from Trader Joe's)
  • Liquid Soap (I used Dr. Bronner's)
  • Tea Tree Oil
Without further ado, here are the "recipes" for cleaning your house eco-style:

General Cleaners

Simple Cleaner
Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge or cloth and use as a gentle non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen counter tops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens, and fiberglass.

Creamy Soft Scrubber
Pour ½ cup of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid soap to make a texture like frosting. You can also add in the juice of half a lemon for some extra cleaning power. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit. Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.

All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
Combine ½ teaspoon washing soda, a dab of liquid soap, and 2 cups hot tap water in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

Vinegar Dissolver
Vinegar can also be used to dissolve calcium build-up in coffee pots and dishwaters and generally cut through grease and soap scum.

Window Cleaner
Put ¼ - ½ teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and 2 cups water into a spray bottle, shake it, and use as you would a commercial brand. Wipe clean with newspaper or a 100% cotton cloth. The soap in this cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past. You can eliminate the soap after a few washings.

Cigarette Smoke Eliminator
To get rid of the smell of cigarette smoke, mix one-part vodka to three parts water, spray and let dry.

Kitchen Cleaners
Cutting Board Cleaner
Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and use to clean cutting board. The smell dissipates within a few hours. You can also rub with a lemon.

Lightly Lavender Antibacterial Spray
Pour 1 cup water into a spray bottle and add 20 drops of essential oil of lavender; shake to blend. Spray on the surface and let set for at least 15 minutes, or don’t rinse at all.

Quick Oven Cleaner
The best tip is to not wait to clean your oven when it gets dirty. An old stain is harder to clean. To clean oven stains naturally, sprinkle table salt liberally on the hot spill before your oven cools down. Allow the oven to cool. Grab a damp cloth and rub off the spill.

Oven Cleaner
Sprinkle water generously over the bottom of the oven, then cover the grime with enough baking soda that the surface is totally white. Sprinkle some more water over the top. Let the mixture set overnight. You can easily wipe up the grease the next morning, because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven. Steel wool also works to add a little extra elbow grease where needed.

Stovetop Cleaner
Add a few squirts of liquid Castile soap to 2 cups hot water. Apply to the stovetop, the burners, and the vent hood to cut through accumulated grease.

Plastic Dish-Washing
To bleach stains from tomato soup and other acidic foods on dishwasher-safe items, rub lemon juice on the spots, let dry in a sunny place, then wash as usual.

Garbage Pail Clean-Up
Sprinkle borax in bottom of garbage pails to fights mold and bacteria.

If the machine smells, sprinkle borax in the bottom, let it sit overnight, then wipe down with a damp sponge. No need to rinse; just run the next load.

Pots and pans
Rub borax into cookware with a damp sponge; rinse well.

Stove burner grates
In a dishpan, soak them in 1 gallon warm water and 1/2 cup washing soda for 30 minutes. Rinse and dry.

Stained teacups and coffee mugs
Fill with 1-part baking soda and 2-parts water; soak overnight; rub down and rinse.

Grills and barbecue utensils
To combat tough grease stains; dip a moist toothbrush in washing soda and scrub away.

Bathroom Cleaners

Simple Toilet Cleaner
Just spray on straight vinegar and wipe it off.

Toilet Cleaner
Pour borax in the bowl and let it sit overnight. Swish the bowl a few times with a toilet brush and flush the next day.

Daily Shower Cleaner
Mix 2 cups water and 3 drops tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Spray down your shower
daily and you don’t need to rinse it.

To combat mineral deposits, pour vinegar into a plastic grocery bag and knot the handles over the neck of the showerhead, securing with rubber bands. Let soak overnight. Rinse with water in the morning.

Floor Cleaners

Simple Carpet Deodorizer
Just sprinkle baking soda on carpets and let sit for a time before vacuuming.

Fancy Carpet Deodorizer
Crush up a handful of dry lavender and mix with a cup of baking soda, and sprinkle that over your carpet. If you'd like to use essential oils, mix a few drops of your favorite(s) in with baking soda (not enough to make it wet), and then break up any clumps and sprinkle that over your carpet.

Carpet Mist
Fill a spray bottle with water and a few drops of essential oil. Use to freshen carpet and upholstery.

Carpet Stains
After blotting stain with cloth, mix one teaspoon dish soap with one teaspoon vinegar dissolved in 2 1/2 cups warm water. Apply to stain and rub gently. Rinse with warm water. Blot dry.

Hard Floor Cleaner
Dissolve 10 drops of essential oil in 1/8 cup vinegar, add 1/8 cup plant-based liquid soap, and then dissolve this mixture in 1 gallon water in a bucket. Mop as usual. A citrus essential oil is one option.

To fight ants, use cedarwood essential oil. For ceramic and stone floors, eliminate soap (which leaves a film) and use 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of water. Don't use water on unsealed wood floors. Instead, combine 2 cups of vinegar with 1 tablespoon of olive or jojoba oil in a bucket. Spread a thin coat over the floor with a mop or soft cloth. Let it soak in for 20 minutes; dry mop to absorb excess liquid. Open windows to air out the vinegar smell.

Another Floor Cleaner
You can mop almost any type of floor with a solution of 1/4 cup liquid Castile soap and 2 gallons warm water. If the floors are greasy, add 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar.

Miscellaneous Cleaners
Furniture Polish
Mix ½ teaspoon oil, such as olive or jojoba and ¼ cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.

Tea Tree Oil Mold Killer
Combine 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups water in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. The smell of tea tree oil dissipates in a few days. You can also use lavender or close oils or make a grapefruit seed extract spray by adding 20 drops of extract to a quart of water. Also works for mildew!

Vinegar Mold Killer
Pour 2 cups white distilled vinegar in a spray bottle, spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing. The smell will dissipate in a few hours.

Laundry Boosters
Add borax to boost laundry power. Also, add up to a cup of baking soda to eliminate perspiration odors and even neutralize the smell of many chemicals.

Hope you enjoy!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hair Donations to the Gulf

If anyone out there is planning to get their hair cut, shave their dog, or throw out nylons, please consider donating these things to the hellish oil spill in the Gulf in order to help sop up the oil. For more info, check out the awesome website: Matter of Trust. You sign up and they email you an address to send the goods to. What's really cool is that they stockpile this stuff specifically for emergencies, so even when... in some far distant future... most of the oil in the Gulf is sopped up, you can still donate to help in (hopefully nonexistent) future catastrophes!

Cancer and Chemicals

So you know how I've been going on and on about reducing chemicals in the house-- especially toiletries and cleaning stuff-- it's nice to hear that the President's Cancer Panel agrees that *surprise* most of this "better living through chemistry" stuff is likely to lead to "better dying through cancer"... Okay, they said it in a more politic way, but still. PLEASE go check it out. It has some basic tips for reducing cancer risks-- like going organic and not microwaving plastic.

I think an important aspect of this is also reducing the huge amount of un- or barely- regulated chemicals in the home. For exactly that reason, when we move in a few weeks, I'm giving all my nasty chemical cleaning stuff to my housemate (ok that sounds bad, but really she's going to use the stuff anyways...) and keeping ONLY the good stuff. Ditto for my toiletries. Still working on Matthew...

Since if you're reading this, I love you, please go check out the report and consider following at least some of the advice. It can't hurt you, at least. At best, it could help you avoid cancer!


... as in literature... anyways...


I read "It's Me or the Dog", by Victoria Stilwell, one of my most favoritest people in the entire world, and I highly recommend it! It was a fun read, had gorgeous pictures, and had lots of great advice for dog owners. I feel very ready for the dog we're going to get. IN JULY.

On a more literary note, I finished up "Jude the Obscure" by Thomas Hardy. As with most Hardy novels, it's a bit slow, but really good. Especially in the beginning of the novel, there's an interesting motif about respect for animals and one of my favorite quotes:

“Be kind to animals and birds, and read all you can.”

Jude also focuses on what marriage means: culturally, individually, socially... This is the story that had pastors burning this novel and led Hardy to give up and write only poetry for the rest of his life. You can definitely see why it would have been so ground-breaking and shocking at the time... But keeping that in mind is difficult to do and I think that's the main reason I got bored for parts of the novel. Overall, though, definitely worth the read-- Hardy is just an amazing writer, as long as you just relax.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Hey all,
I forgot to mention-- I'm famous! Over at CraftLit, one of my FAVORITE podcasts that has both crafting AND literature (eeeeee!!!), we're reading Persuasion by Jane Austen. When Matt and I went to England last summer, we visited the Cobb (if you don't know why that's neat, why not join us at CraftLit and listen to Persuasion???) I took a bunch of pictures AND a picture of me pretending to be Louisa Musgrove (spoilers!), and I sent them to Heather, my hero and host of CraftLit. AND SHE PUT THEM ON THE WEBSITE. AND SHE TALKS ABOUT ME. I just need to be interviewed by Matt Lauer, and my fame will be complete. Check out the episode: and dooooo listen to CraftLit! It's really amazing, mostly thanks to Heather!

Save the Planet from your Bathroom

First off, check out the awesome new Google search of my blog at the right y'all (if you're on Facebook, you'll have to pop over to my blog to see the awesomeness in action)

One of my green goals of late is to green my bathroom and my toiletry routine. It started by getting rid of shampoo and conditioner and tossing those disposable pads and tampons for a Diva Cup.

Now I'm moving on up! Two really simple steps: use baking soda as face wash-- just get your face wet, rub some baking soda on, and then rinse it off-- and use natural bar or liquid soap-- I've been using bars from the Farmer's Market, but Dr. Bronner's is also fantastic. Dr. Bronner's is also great, because it can be used for everything from body wash to soap for hand-washing clothes to a general house cleaning soap. It's awesome. Check it out.

I've also been trying to find lots of DIY ways to save the planet... in the bathroom. One of the neatest things I've found is Egyptian Body Sugaring. It sounds a bit terrifying, but it's really just an early form of waxing that uses only sugar, water, and lemon juice. So it's completely biodegradable, contains no chemicals, and is overall as environmentally-friendly as whatever sugar and lemon juice you decide to buy. All you have to do is heat it up on medium heat and wait for it to get the soft candy temperature (I bought a candy thermometer for this, and I think it's pretty much required to do this right). Admittedly, this took about an hour-- so invite someone over or turn on an audio book. Then you pour it in to a jar (I used an old pickle jar) and wait for it to cool down a bit. Once it's at a comfortable temperature to put on your skin, use a butter knife to apply it in the opposite direction your hair grows, press a strip of cloth against it (I cut up an old sheet), and then YANK IT. It still hurts, sadly. But, as with waxing, it took about a month for it to start growing back in, which is amazing! It was definitely worth it taking a bit longer to initially get rid of the hair. Clean up is really easy-- I just poured boiling water over the strips of cloth (and anything that got sugar on it) and let it soak. The goo dissolves really easily! Then you can just chuck the strips in the wash! Ta da! Environmentally-amazing hair removal! Check out the full instructions here!

And, while I'm on the subject, I also made and used an amazing homemade sugar scrub! I am all about sugar in the bathroom, y'all. It's basically just coconut oil and brown sugar, but you can add some other oils in if you want. My skin felt moisturized for about 4 days, and utterly soft for a week or two. It was amazing.

Got any other awesome diy toiletries that are good for the planet???

Monday, May 10, 2010


Hey y'all,

For those of you who didn't hear, I passed my prelims! That means I'm an official Doctoral Candidate. Which means... I still don't know what I'm doing, but I'm allowed to keep doing it until I finish my research. Just kidding-- I have my dissertation relatively planned out now. And I know LOTS of places where it needs work. So that's awesome!

In other news, I'm nearly done getting together my very first paper :)

And in OTHER other news, we have a slight mouse problem. We found out about it when Annabel killed a mouse... and put it in our bed for us. Under the covers... I spent a lot of time telling here what a good cat she was between sobs.

All in all, what a weird 2 weeks y'all...

LOTS of environmental and craft abulousness coming soon. For real