Showing posts with label Green Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Green Living. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Dirt Tooth Powder: A Review for Those Tired of Toothpaste

What on Earth Is The Dirt?


I first saw The Dirt advertised on a website I was visiting and I was intrigued. I discovered it was a more natural way to clean my teeth than the Sensodyne toothpaste I'd been using for decades. I had never really liked all the chemicals it was putting in my mouth. The Dirt is different.

The Dirt Tooth Powder: A Review for Those Tired of Toothpaste
Get The Dirt Here!


Why Do I Like The Dirt Better than Toothpaste?


The Container: We could start with the tube. First, a tube is rather awkward to store. You want it handy, but it never really looks neat on the counter, even when you can stand it on its head. It isn't a great fit for a medicine cabinet, either. Then there's that old controversy about whether or not it should be rolled up or just squeezed. When you have old arthritic hands, either method can be a literal pain.

The Dirt container is just a little over two inches in diameter. It takes almost no space on the counter and the cap screws on and off. Easy-peasy! And it is also attractively packed. I prefer the three-month jar you see in my photo, but you can get a six-month supply in a little glass mason jar that also looks nice on a bathroom counter. Click through to the website to see all the sizes, flavors, and container styles for The Dirt, as well as a complete list of the ingredients.

The taste: The Dirt is clay-based and has all natural ingredients. The taste I chose is a pleasant but mild orange cinnamon spice flavor -- a bit like the original Constant Comment Tea I love so much. (By the way, Amazon has a great price on Constant Comment if you buy a four-pack.) I like the taste of The Dirt much better than the chemical taste of most toothpastes I've tried, including Sensodyne. If it makes a difference to you, The Dirt is also a Paleo tooth powder.




Remineralization: The Dirt helps remineralize your teeth. It also helps whiten them and it does this gently. There are more details when you click through to the product page. See link under photo below.

The Dirt Tooth Powder: A Review for Those Tired of Toothpaste
Get The Dirt Here!

How Do You Use The Dirt?

First you wet the toothbrush and shake off the excess water. I use the Waterpik Sonic Toothbrush that is part of this set.

I tilt the jar a bit so that I can easily dip the entire bristle surface into The Dirt. Then I gently dip the wet brush into the tooth powder and shake the excess back into the jar. Your brush will look a bit like mine in the photos. Brush your teeth as usual. When you are through brushing, rinse your mouth out with water to remove any remaining tooth powder from your mouth. While you're at it, use some of that water to rinse the tooth powder residue from the sink. Then enjoy how fresh your mouth feels. 

My Results

My dentist had told me when I was in college that I should use Sensodyne because of my receding gums that make my teeth really sensitive. At the time -- think back over fifty years -- there wasn't much else on the market to do the job. The Dirt wasn't around back then. I used Sensodyne regularly for all of these fifty plus years. My teeth are still sensitive and I still get cavities. Would it have been worse if I'd brushed my teeth with something else? Who knows?

In the four months I have used The Dirt I have not noticed my teeth getting more sensitive. I chose The Dirt because it is supposed to actually remineralize the teeth. I still need to see my dentist to see if my teeth have gotten any worse by changing. They don't feel any worse than they did before. But my mouth feels cleaner after brushing that it did before.

About a month ago I ran out of The Dirt and had to go back to Sensodyne while waiting for my order to come in. What I noticed was that my mouth got sore when I switched back. It's possible that I was sensitive to one of the chemicals in the Sensodyne. After a couple of days, though, the soreness went away.

What's Not to Love?


Actually, not much. One fault I might find is that the color of The Dirt traces still on my white sink after I brush are really visible. I take care of that easily with a quick rinse after brushing or a swish of a sponge. It doesn't stain the sink. It will, however, be likely to change the color of your toothbrush. You need to thoroughly rinse it after each use to remove all residue, but even then there still may be a tinge of color left.

The only other thing is that when you are almost out of tooth powder, it takes some creativity to get the entire brush surface covered with The Dirt. That's why slanting the jar is so important. If I'd thought ahead I could have taken care of that problem by reordering The Dirt before I ran out. Then I could have put what was left in the old container right onto the top of the new.

These are small inconveniences I don't mind  in exchange for the clean fresh feeling in my mouth after I brush using The Dirt. I hope you will try it for yourself. Why not order today while you're thinking about it?









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stop Littering: How to Keep Your Community Beautiful

Let's review how we might apply spring cleaning to the great outdoors and stop littering in the process.
Photo from southpaw2305 via Creative Commons 2.0 

It's springtime, that time of year when most of us do at least a cursory "deep cleaning" of our house, maybe even our yard, and call it spring cleaning. But what about the bigger picture? Could our surroundings, our communities, use some spring cleaning? How about the litter and other trash that's accumulated along the roadways and waterways since last summer? Let's review how we might apply spring cleaning to the great outdoors and help make, and keep, our communities beautiful in the process.

Take this quiz: You're standing at a bus stop with an acquaintence when she pulls a candy bar from her purse, opens it, eats it, then drops the wrapper on the ground. What would you do:
A. I'd pretend I didn't notice.
B. I'd ask her to pick up the litter and dispose of it properly.
C. I'd pick it up myself.
D. I'd ignore the wrapper. It's just a piece of paper, after all.

I'm not going to tell you how you should have responded, but I can tell you what I did when this exact scenario happened to me. It was many years ago, when I was a very young adult and hadn't yet learned to stand up for what I knew was right. Because of that, I have to answer "A" on the quiz. Even though I had been raised during the "Don't be a litterbug" generation of the 1960s and took that philosophy seriously, I remained quiet and pretended not to notice. Shame on me.

Where Does All That Litter Come From?


I think these days most people have a pretty healthy respect for the environment and probably would either pick up and dispose of the litter themselves or ask the person to pick it up. But if that's the case, where does all the litter that accumulates along our nation's highways and byways come from? Well, it starts out as just one piece of paper (like the candy wrapper mentioned above) or one water bottle, soft drink can, plastic bag, or fast food bag-full-of trash, and it accumulates.

Here's a video that I found quite interesting. These garbage trucks weren't just hauling trash to a landfill, they were losing litter along the way to the tune of an average 15 plastic bags a trip. Watch the video to see how quickly that adds up. (Happily, that problem in the Raleigh area has been resolved.)



Littering Is Illegal 


Cleaning up litter is an expensive proposition. Most states have laws against littering, but someone still has to clean up the mess. Chasing down drivers who throw trash out their car windows isn't the best way for a law enforcement officer to spend his or her time, but have you ever seen someone throw out trash and wish you had a badge? In some states, citizens are encouraged by road signs to report littering from cars. In Arkansas, where I live, the state uses the program as a positive approach, educating those driving through our state about fines for littering and the importance the state places on the subject. Hopefully the signs alone help people think twice before they throw that candy bar wrapper out the window.

Three Ways to Stop Littering (Litter Prevention)


1. Teach children to respect their surroundings by not dropping litter anywhere except in a designated litter bag or trash can. Pick up other people's litter if they miss (or ignore) the container. Participate in community or neighborhood clean-up events. Can't find one? Contact your local city or county. Many have websites and participate on social media to keep their citizens informed.

2. Keep litter bins and bags handy in your car, truck, and even your boat, at your campground, and at public parks and gathering places. Be sure to use a lid to keep the trash contained. Container getting over-filled? Close and dispose of the old trash bag liner and replace it with a new one.

3. If there's an accepted method of doing so, report littering. Some states have "report littering" phone numbers on signs along highways and byways. Some people honestly don't realize how quickly trash accumulates and the damage that it causes to wildlife, not to mention the tax money that it costs to clean up the mess. Education and prevention combine to create a better, cheaper choice. 

Resources To Help Stop Littering


Here are just a few links that I found when reading up on the topic of how to stop litter and littering. To find more that are relevant to you and your state, simply search "keep [insert your state's name] beautiful."


New River Gorge in the Author's Birth State of West Virginia - Photo in the Public Domain
A pristine New River Gorge in the author's birth state of West Virginia.
Can we each do our part to keep it that way?


~ Susan




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

13+ Best House Cleaning Tips to Make Spring Cleaning Easier Than Ever

Best House Cleaning Tips Reviewed


Turn dreaded chore time into not-so-bad time with satisfying, built-in rewards when you use these 13+ best house cleaning tips ever.
Do the words "spring cleaning" make you cringe? Does the mention of "Saturday chores" send your kids into hiding?

Never fear! With the house cleaning tips you'll find below, you'll learn how to turn dreaded chore time into not-so-bad time with satisfying, built-in rewards.

So get comfy as you peruse these 13+ tried and true, best house cleaning tips ever, provided by yours truly and some of my fellow Review This! reviewers.

How to Make Housework Less of a Chore


1. Set the Mood With Music. Listening to upbeat music keeps me groovin' while I'm movin', getting those kitchen chores done! The Temptations didn't sit still and neither do I when I play my favorite Temptations music while I'm cleaning the house or washing the dishes. It's amazing how much housework I get done during the 2 minutes and 45 seconds of "My Girl," cleanin' to the smooth rhythm, singin' along in my private kitchen karaoke.

Music is a great motivator. Why not make a game of it? Can you (or the kids) finish folding the laundry before the last note? See how many pots and pans get washed while "you do the things you do" (don't forget to sing along!). Before you know it, your work will be done and you'll still be smiling and boppin' to the beat. Try it. I think you'll like it!

2. Set a Timer. Imagine this scenario:

Mom: "Come on, kids, it's time to do chores."
Kids: "Oh, boy! We get to use the timer!"

I can't promise you that using timers and other fun tools will make your family excited about doing their chores, but it couldn't hurt. In fact, using minutes as motivation is something that is appealing to me as an adult having to do housework on my own, without the company of my now-grown children. Even adults like to play games, and games make chore time go by a lot faster. While the reward is getting to look around and see floors and tables shiny and clean instead of dusty or dingy and kitchen counters clear instead of cluttered with dirty dishes, the fun can be in the getting it done.

Dustmop slippers make quick work of dog hair and dust bunnies on hard surface floors.
The author's feet in her dustmop slippers.

3.  Use Fun Cleaning Accessories. Wish I would have invented dust mop slippers! They're great for hardwood, laminate, or tile floors and come in various styles with sizes to fit everyone in your family. I've tried them (those are my feet in the picture) and they work great for picking up dog hair and dust bunnies. My fellow reviewer, Barbara Tremblay Cipak, explains more in her review, How To Sweep Your Floor Without Lifting a Finger.




Clean Green! How to Make Housework Environmentally Friendly


4. Make Your Own Cleaning Products. Okay, so housework can't be all fun and games. If you're seriously concerned about cleaning with chemicals, make it a point to learn how to use "green" methods to clean all of the surfaces in your home, from floors to countertops and even clothing. Learning what's in the products that you use will really help push you along the road to getting those toxic cleaners out of the house for good!

When it comes to using chemicals and household cleansers, it's important to know what you're handling and to keep your family safe. One way to do that is with homemade cleaning products. For my favorite solution, read Best Homemade Tub and Shower Cleaner Recipe (http://www.lifeinout.com/2017/02/best-homemade-tub-and-shower-cleaner.html).

5. Use White Vinegar For Cleaning. In addition to my two-ingredient homemade bathtub cleaner, don't miss Bev Owens' White Vinegar for Cleaning Review for more ways to use this old-fashioned but very effective one-ingredient product that you probably already have in your kitchen.


Use the Right Tool For the Cleaning Job


6. "Honey, Where Did You Put The Extension Cord?" One of the best (though fairly obvious) pieces of advice I've ever heard about cleaning is to make sure the vacuum cleaner has a long cord, even if you have to use an extension cord, and plug it into an outlet in a central location. I used to have to stop and unplug and re-plug the sweeper halfway up the stairs. Is that silly, or what? When I discovered that I could just use the plug at the foot of the stairs and it would get me through three rooms and all the way up the stairs, well I wish I had a dollar for every time I didn't have to unplug and re-plug from then on!

My bObi Pet robotic vacuum cleaner speeds off to clean under the bed.
"Bobi" speeds off to clean under the bed.
That's part of what I mean by using the proper tool. Of course if you have a robotic vacuum cleaner (I love my new bObi Pet robotic vacuum cleaner), the cord might not be the issue. Another tool that I finally bought was a handheld vacuum cleaner for the furniture. I have lots of attachments for my upright, but to use them I'd have to get the long hose and add it to the short hose and find the furniture attachment. . . Forget all that. Now I have a wonderful handheld vacuum that I can use for all the furniture without lugging accessories around. This very affordable investment was a no-brainer.

7. Toilet Tools. Another excellent tip that I've learned is to have a set of cleaning tools and cleaner in every bathroom and on every floor of the house. There's no reason to run downstairs for the toilet bowl cleaner when you have a second bottle in the upstairs bathroom. A variation on the theme is to use a handy-dandy tote for your cleaning products and carry them from room to room as you clean. That works well, too. The cleaning tote is an excellent tool, just as important as what's inside.

I also keep a roll of paper towels in every bathroom, handy for quick wipe-ups when I just want to throw away the towel and not wash and reuse it. I actually like that better than keeping the roll in the tote since they're always right there when I need them (or when the cat throws up on the bathroom floor).

8. Cleaning Furniture. In recent years, microfiber fabrics have become popular for everything from clothing to furniture. Furniture upholstered in microfiber is comfy,  attractive and, actually, fairly easy to keep clean. Don't put off what you might think is a major chore. Read my article on Cleaning Microfiber to learn how to clean yours.

9. What's Better Than Microfiber? It's easy to find cleaning cloths made from microfiber, but my preference is a cloth with an even finer weave, something called Mirafiber. I use it for everything from cleaning mirrors and dusting the television and computer screens, to cleaning the kitchen appliances and the bathroom sink. Read my Review This! article, Best Cleaning Cloth? The Ultimate Cloth, to learn why I recommend it.

10. Cleaning Hard-to-Reach Places. Once again, reviewer Bev Owens comes to our rescue with a helpful review of one of her favorite cleaning tools in Review of a Telescoping Corner Broom.

11. Cleaning Grout. Some cleaning jobs are more challenging than others and when it comes to cleaning grout, sometimes you need to go the extra mile. If your grout situation has you stymied and you want a solution that will really work, Barbara provides information on the products and methods that her family used to successfully tackle their grout in her article, How to Successfully Clean Grout.


More of the Best House Cleaning Tips Reviewed


12. Got Kids? Review This! contributor Wednesday Elf has put together a compilation of house cleaning tips and tricks that are especially useful for people with kids. But don't take my word for it. Click through to read her A Review of Spring Cleaning Tips to learn more.

13. One Last Best Tip.  If you need help with housework, especially the big jobs, hiring a local pro or handy-person can be a very worthwhile splurge. To find help with house cleaning, yard and outdoor chores, window or carpet cleaning, floor refinishing and more, check out the new Home Services department from Amazon. While many services are only available in select cities, one of those locations might be near you and pros are being added to the service providers every day. Services are described in detail and price is determined up front based on your needs. It's easy to request a no-obligation estimate. Just use the link above or click on the graphic below.




Really, doing chores isn't so bad when you incorporate tried and true house cleaning tips such as these in your daily, weekly, or seasonal cleaning routine. So tell me, did you learn anything new here? Which tip is your favorite?

Happy Spring cleaning!


~Susan
Read more of my reviews.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

SLS-Free Toothpaste and Why I Brush With Tooth Soap

"I'm Going to Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap!"


Did your mom ever say that to you? I hope not, but if she did, she was actually onto something. In fact, after extensive research, I no longer use toothpaste. Instead, I brush my teeth with tooth soap!

SLS-Free Toothpaste and Why I Brush With Tooth Soap
Most of my life, I had a major problem with mouth ulcers. If you've ever had those white, painful sores on the inside of your cheek or lips that make it difficult to eat, then you know what I'm talking about. Several years ago, I started searching for a cause for mouth ulcers and I came across several articles about SLS in toothpaste. A good number of people like me were reporting that using an SLS-free toothpaste put an end to their mouth sores.

I was interested, in fact I was thrilled. But what toothpaste should I use? And where could I find toothpaste without SLS, one that was safe to use? My research continued.

SLS stands for sodium lauryl sulfate which is used in many products from toothpaste to industrial cleaners. Why? Because SLS causes a reaction in those products that makes them foamy or sudsy when they're used. But get this. It's also used as a skin irritant in testing of products made to heal skin conditions.

What about other potentially harmful ingredients in toothpaste? Did you ever wonder about the “Do Not Swallow” warning on the label or why many toothpastes say they are not to be used by children under six-years of age?

Many of the ingredients in toothpaste can be dangerous. For instance, there's silica. Medicinenet.com defines silica this way: “The chief component of sand and a substance responsible for lung disease and cancer.” Read the label on your own toothpaste and I’m guessing you’re going to think twice before you squeeze that tube tonight on your way to bed!

But back to SLS-free toothpaste and why I brush with tooth soap.

My research eventually led me to tooth soap which at that time was expensive and somewhat hard to find. Since then, I make an effort to put fewer ingredients that I can't pronounce into my body. A few of the "natural" alternatives for brushing that I've tried are these (prices are subject to change):

* The Tooth Soap brand is what originally sold me on tooth soap. Get a 4-ounce jar of peppermint shreds for $23.86 with Amazon Prime.

 * Squigle Tooth Builder, Sensitive, 4.4 oz Toothpaste, $9.50 with Prime. Ingredients: 36% Natural Xylitol, water, calcite, glycerin, poloxamer, cellulose gum, Methocel, calcium propionate, lactoferrin. I like this, but it doesn't make my teeth feel as smooth as they get with tooth soap. And it's expensive.

* Xyli-White Toothpaste 6.4 oz $3.99 add-on item. Ingredients: Water, xylitol, hydrated silica, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium coco-sulfate, carrageenan, tea tree leaf oil, peppermint oil, spearmint oil, papain, potassium sorbate. I've tried this and it's actually pretty good (discounting the silica on the ingredient list) and it's cheaper than most on this list but, again, it doesn't clean as well as tooth soap.

* Tom's Toothpaste. Tom's has a reputation for using natural ingredients in its products. Unfortunately for me, they use sodium lauryl sulfate as a dispersing agent, so I have to eliminate this product from my "recommended" list. Apparently there is a low-sudsing variety without SLS, so look for that and give it a try.

* Coconut Oil Toothpaste. I have tried brushing my teeth with coconut oil, fresh from the kitchen, and that wasn't a very satisfying experience, though your results may vary. Additionally, I tried a coconut oil toothpaste in a tube and had mixed results. Why mixed? Because since coconut oil is responsive to temperature, during cold weather it became partially solid and was nearly impossible to squeeze out of the tube, so I became very frustrated and quit using it until summer.

* Today's winner and my overall recommendation: Uncle Harry's Tooth Soap (peppermint) $8.99 for a 2-ounce jar, free shipping. This is something I found recently, started using it a few weeks ago, and I really like it! The price is right (those 2 ounces will last a long time), I love that it's a whipped formula and not a shred like the original Tooth Soap brand, and my teeth are getting much cleaner than they did with the xylitol toothpaste I previously used. Recommended!

You might be asking yourself, does tooth soap taste like soap? Well yes, it actually does. The Uncle Harry's tooth soap that I've been using contains organic peppermint essential oil so when I open the jar, it's the minty fresh smell that I notice. It doesn't take much soap to brush, just a dab on the tip of my toothbrush, so my mouth doesn't fill with suds and spread the soap taste to my taste buds. Plus, by now I've gotten used to brushing with soap and it doesn't bother me a bit. You'll get used to it, too.

Bottom line, I brush my teeth with tooth soap, always SLS-free, and my mouth ulcer problem has disappeared. I no longer wake up with an icky mouth and a coating on my teeth. Instead, my teeth feel smooth and clean after I brush. And, (did I mention?) no more mouth ulcers with SLS-free tooth soap! It worked for me and I hope it will work for you.

(To learn more about SLS, visit this page at Mercola.com.  It's a very interesting topic to research.)

--Susan Deppner





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Review of Spring Cleaning Tips

 

Especially Useful Tips for People with Kids

 

Funny Spring Cleaning Saying

Whether you need a way to help de-clutter or clean kids toys, or tips for getting your kids involved in Spring Cleaning, the Review This blog has a few suggestions.

One of the best ways to be successful with big cleaning chores such as Spring Cleaning is to get the whole family involved.  Kids can clean, whether they believe it or not!  One good hint, for major cleaning or just daily cleaning, is to get a small kitchen timer and have the kids 'clean their room' until the buzzer goes off.  They (and you) will be amazed at how much they can accomplish working against the clock. It becomes a game for them.


Toy Clutter Control



Organizing Toys
Kids Activities Blog


On the Kids Activities Blog, Holly has a wonderful article of 15 kid tested ideas for toy clutter control.


Toy Hammocks Save Space

Toy hammocks are wonderful space-saving ways to store toys off the floor, and a quick way to 'pick-up' and 'put-away' those toys.


Handmade Crochet Hammock for Stuffed Animals



Crochet Toy Hammock on Etsy

A crochet crafter in Virginia Beach, VA crochets toy hammocks for all those cute stuffed animals your children collect and keep forever.  Hang it next to their bed, so their special stuffed animals are still close but don't take up the space in their bed any more.  

Two sizes are available  (40 by 28 by 28 inches for regular and 50 by 34 by 34 inches for large).  A wide variety of color choices are available in her Etsy Shop called Just Yarning.



Green Cleaning Ideas


For those of you who prefer cleaning with environmentally-safe products, HubPages author Chen has an article on Green Spring Cleaning Tips using handy products such as baking soda and white vinegar. Products such as these are safe for even children to use while helping mom clean.



More Simple Cleaning Tips from the Contributors here on Review This!






  • And Bev has also found a telescoping corner broom which is terrific for cleaning those hard to reach those high ceilings and corners. 

 

House Cleaning Tips all in one Place


Available on Amazon

For all of us who live a busy life, house cleaning at any time is a chore.  This book of House Cleaning Tips and Tricks from Amazon has helpful hints and time-saving tips all in one place.  

Getting organized has never been easier.











Spring has arrived!



Putting off Spring Cleaning

Hopefully, this collection of tips and hints will give you a head start with your Spring Cleaning.  Or... you can enjoy putting it off until next year!






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

Re-use your food and stretch your food budget


Volunteers load a truckload of oranges
for local f
ood banks and pantries.
Learn how to donate at 
endhunger.org.
Wasted food is wasted money. Every time edible food is thrown in the garbage can, a few pennies get thrown away with it. Get more bang out of your grocery budget by reducing the amount of food you throw out. And, when you have extra food that you just can't use, donate to your local food bank.

This morning I sat for a few minutes and watched the Food Waste Ticker at EndHunger.org. The ticker showed that over 91 billion pounds of food have been wasted in the U.S. since the beginning of 2014. For every second that ticked by, I saw another 200 pounds of food being sent to our municipal landfills.

In February, 2014, the USDA released a report showing The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States. The report shows that in 2010, the US produced 430 billion pounds of food. Of this available food supply, 31 percent went uneaten. Think about the impact of this unnecessary food waste.
  • A total of 133 billion pounds of wasted food was sent to municipal waste facilities. Landfills collected over $2 billion from taxpayers and consumers to dispose of this food waste. 
  • If you purchased this 133 billion pounds of food from a grocery store, it would cost $161.6 billion.
  • It's not just money that is wasted. This 133 billion pounds of food waste coverts to 141 trillion calories. That's enough food to supply each person in the US with 1,249 calories of energy per day.

What can you do to prevent food waste?


Start in your own kitchen. There are many ways to get the most value out of the groceries you buy.
  • Look in your refrigerator before heading to the store for a quick dinner. Find ways to cook what you already have at home. The longer it sits in your pantry, the more likely it is that the food will go to waste.
  • Plan your meals before you go shopping and make a shopping list. When you're at the grocery store, only buy those items on your list. Resist the urge to impulse buy.
  • Don't buy more than you need. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
  • Reuse food scraps. Fruit skins can be turned into pickles and jellies. Vegetable peelings make a tasty vegetable soup stock. Stale bread can be used to make croutons.
  • Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are abundant during harvest season. Stock up on your favorites.

Our Favorite Food Saving Tips


It's 3 p.m. and your family asks, "What's for dinner?" If you haven't thought ahead, take a quick inventory of the food in your pantry and refrigerator. Even if you don't have the right ingredients for your favorite dish, it's always possible to substitute. Ruthi uses whatever leftovers she has in the refrigerator for a Chicken Not Quite Paella Surprise Recipe.

Winter will be here soon and that means soup season is just around the corner. Around our house, there's always a quart of homemade vegetable soup stock in the freezer and a quart of vegetable peelings waiting to be cooked into stock. We save so much money when we Recycle Food Waste and Make Soup Stock.

When our favorite fruits are in season, we buy extra to freeze. Frozen fruits are are perfect for smoothies and ice creams. On the FoodFAQs blog, Regg and I share directions for how we freeze fruits without adding any extra sugar.

If you like watermelon, don't throw away the rind. Instead, try out this Recipe for Quick Watermelon Rind Pickles.

End Food Waste and Stop Hunger


Do you have food to spare? Not everyone is so fortunate. In 2012, 15.9 million children lived in food insecure households, homes where there is not enough nutritious foods for those children to grow up strong and healthy. Donate your excess food to your Local Food Bank.

Please help put an end to food waste.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stop For A Moment And Think Green

There is so much that each of us can do to save our planet and make this world a better place for each and every one of us. All it takes is to stop for a moment and Think Green.


Recycle Green Languages Text Poster

Before you toss that garbage into the trash, stop for a moment and think green. Could that useless piece of garbage be turned into a priceless treasure? Our Sesame Street friends at Oscar's Junk Band have a lot of fun creating music from items others have thrown in the trash. Stop for a few minutes and listen to their tune. What Bob thinks is a broken broom handle, Oscar turns into a rotten, terrible, junky song. It's all about recycling and recycling is good!



Oscar isn't the only one that thinks creatively. In Paraguay, kids living next to a garbage dump are Making Musical Instruments from Trash. They triumph over the tragedy of poverty by finding the good buried beneath the waste.

Turning trash into treasure isn't the only way to protect our fragile environment and protect Mother Earth. It's easy to reduce our impact on the environment with these 8 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. It's as simple as using cold water to wash clothes, turning down the temperature on the heater, and turning off the lights when no one is in a room.

   Fragile Earth Conservation Educational Chart Poster

Next time you're about to throw something in the trash, stop for a moment and Think Green. Could that piece of garbage be put in the recycle bin instead? Could that old CD be turned into a crafting project? Is that old sweater in good enough shape to donate to a thrift store? Think green and turn an old broom handle into a musical instrument. Oscar did!

Please help save our Mother Earth. She's fragile and she needs our help.

Until next time, Think Green!

Coletta




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nature's Easter Eggs


Photo Credit: Natural Easter Eggs
You can color me green in terms of lifestyle, but healthy living is really a lovely palette of so many beautiful colors.  With Easter just a few days away, I’ve been considering how I want to apply the colors of the rainbow to create this year’s dyed eggs.  As I searched for holiday decorating ideas, I took a few scenic detours and started reading about chickens and their eggs.  When it comes to making gorgeous shells, the chickens are already several steps ahead of me.  I don’t even need to break out the dye.

As one who is on a quest to grow all of my own food, I currently have a fascination with raising backyard chickens.  My goal is to start with three laying hens this spring.  Along with the search for construction plans to build a chicken coop, I am thoroughly enjoying what I am learning about the different breeds of chickens. 

Did you know you can look at a chicken’s earlobe to potentially determine what color of egg she will lay?  I've not personally checked any earlobes to test that little tidbit of chicken trivia, but you can learn more by watching the short video clip presented in the first article linked below.  Wouldn’t it be fun if we had a similar way of seeing what our future children might look like?  But I digress. 

As I was saying before I interrupted myself, I now know why chickens produce different colored eggs, as well as which breeds to buy if I want to have delicious Easter eggs every day of the year.  Do you know which chickens lay blue, pink, green, or brown eggs?  I do now thanks to several interesting Squidoo articles. 

With the countdown to Easter, let’s have some fun by going on a virtual Easter egg hunt.  Read about Nature’s Easter Eggs and a very doable DIY backyard chicken coop.

Do you raise backyard chickens?  Have you built a hen house?  If so, I would love to read all about it.  Why not write a feature article or review of your top backyard chicken product.  I might even reward you with a basket of your favorite Easter candy.  So what will it be?  Mini robin's eggs?  Peeps?  Did I mention chocolate?



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Operation Sunbeam


Solar Oven (Photo Credit)
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a spy.  How I loved all those top-secret codes and 007 spy gadgets.  Of course, one of my favorite TV shows was Mission Impossible.

Today, my mission, which I have chosen to accept, is far different from those Jim was offered over the course of the series.  Though the overall operation has changed, there are still zeros in my aspirations.  These days I am working on zero waste and zero emissions—perhaps the Ground Zero of those seeking the ultimate green lifestyle.  Just imagine how our world would be different if everyone accepted that mission.

I recently wrote a review of a book, Cooking Green, about how we might each reduce our cookprints (our kitchen’s carbon footprint).  In that book, author Kate Heyhoe compared our ovens to Humvees because of their horrible waste of energy.  She really got me thinking about how I might create greater efficiencies with my cooking.

Kate mentioned that the closest we can get to zero emissions when baking is to use a solar oven.  That thought has been bouncing around in my brain for several days now.  Intrigued with the thought of building and using my own solar oven, I have been a woman on a mission. 

First, I gathered up resources for learning more about solar cooking.  A topic search of web pages led me to many excellent resources.  I’ve since checked out solar cookery guides and cookbooks from my library and have conducted a number of Internet searches.  These combined resources have only increased my enthusiasm for making my cooking as green as possible. 

Curious?  Your mission, which I hope you will accept, is to take a minute or two to explore the potential for tapping into the greatest underutilized power source on the planet (sunshine).  I encourage you to think about the possibilities by visiting How to Make and Use a Solar Oven.  Don't delay.  This link may self-destruct in 30 seconds.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cultivating Green



Window Farm Photo by Josh Kalish
In a world of constant change, there are some things that remain with us over the course of our lives.  In my case, two of those enduring things, which aren’t really things at all, are a love for words and farming.  Since I was a young girl, I have had an abiding need for planting words and seeds.

Though I live in the country now, that wasn’t always the case.  For much of my life I lived in some of the largest urban centers in our country (Chicago, Houston, and San Antonio).  I never imagined living or thriving while surrounded by vast acres of concrete.  It seems one does adapt when necessary.

As Squidoo’s Green Living Contributor, I often receive comments on my articles from those who yearn to live as I do—off the grid, in the country, surrounded by wide, open spaces.  I often hear it said that it isn’t possible to live green at the moment.  Sometimes it is a matter of needing to be near family or work.  These green yearning souls have set their own longings aside, having deferred their dreams (perhaps indefinitely).

What I have learned, though, is that urban farming is not only entirely possible, it is a hugely popular phenomenon that could ultimately be one of the most important movements of our generation.  Without much more than eight square feet of light, these city dwellers, known as “window farmers,” have found a way to cultivate their green (both an inner and outer greening).

This week, as I read Paradise Lot, a book about two plant geeks who converted a desolate city space into an abundantly thriving garden of Eden, I thought of others who have created their own means of cultivating green wherever they happen to dwell.

My friend Dawn Rae shows you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.  She gardens in a big city apartment. LindaJM presents the possibilities of Window Farming 101.  Kari Spencer, of the Micro Farm Project, demonstrates how she turned her small urban yard into a true showcase.

As I sit here by the window tapping away on my laptop, nurturing little wordlings, still just tiny sprouts, I am cultivating the kind of green that makes my life a garden paradise.  How will you cultivate your green today? 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Writing Power


I’ve been thinking a lot about energy lately while composing a new Green Living article.  As I have gone around the house testing various appliances with my Kill A Watt monitor, checking how much power they need to do their thing, I began to think about the amps drawn upon when I am cranking out articles, reviews, and blog posts.

Many of my appliances, such as my refrigerator, are energy stars (as in Energy Star appliances).  They didn’t achieve that status by burning through tons of power over the course of their machine lives.  These are lean running machines.  Just as world class runners have honed their craft to achieve an economy of movement and an optimal use of their body’s energy, so too writers work to find the kind of flow that produces while drawing upon precious resources.

When I was a long distance runner, my breathing and running rhythm didn’t kick in until I had covered three miles.  At that point, the running began to feel good… almost effortless.  My heart, lungs, and muscles found their synchronicity.  They pumped as one. 

If I quit running before mile four, I missed out on the naturally released endorphins that produce such an incredible feeling of “rightness.”  It’s the only way I can think to describe it.  It’s called the runner’s high because of the sense of intense wellbeing that envelops one after a good run.

There is a “writeness” that exists for authors, too.  If we write our way into that place where our mind, heart, and life energies merge, it is possible to experience the writer’s high.  Sometimes we get there without expending a whole lot of energy.  It can feel effortless at times.  There are those days, though, when we may not hit our flow until mile five, or seven, or ten.  The thing is to keep writing.  There is always that breakthrough mile where it begins to feel incredibly right.

Whether you are a new writer or a pro, I encourage you to become an Energy Star.  Writing every day makes us lean, powerful writing machines.  Just as I became a better, stronger runner when I started training with a partner, I encourage you to draw strength from the many talented Squidoo writers.  Have you joined our team?  We’d love to write alongside you and cheer you on toward your next writing milestone.  See you at the starting line.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Golden Rule


I Live What I Write - This is Real

As the Green Living Contributor for Squidoo, I often go in search of articles and reviews to feature.  My ultimate goal is to promote exceptional content energized by a writer’s real world engagement with a product, subject, or lifestyle.

When it comes to green living, I have found an endless number of online marketers hitching their stars to the sun.  It is truly unbelievable how many individuals attempt to sell solar power systems and photovoltaic panels.  Almost none of them have ever used solar power.  They have no expertise in this realm.  I spend no time on web pages that represent empty selling.

A few years ago, when I first delved into online publishing, in addition to writing with authority and establishing credibility, I learned another very important lesson:  Offer at least 20 things of value before asking for something.  It’s the Golden Rule of marketing and connecting in meaningful ways with others.  

The 20 things of value may take many different forms.  You might offer valuable information in the form of blog posts or complimentary e-books.  Or, the gift could be an honest review that won’t lead to a sale (because you knew the product was not all that it was promoted as being).  An outstanding tutorial is always valuable, as is a professional video or Podcast.  You earn loyal followers, and eventual sales, as a result of your generosity and legitimacy.

A quality blog offers the perfect opportunity to give first.  The same is true of Facebook or Google+ communities.  One of the reasons I am establishing new Green Living hangouts and circles is to be in a position to connect generosity to genuine interest and solution-oriented offerings.  As we come together in these places, and bring something worthwhile and meaningful to the interactions, our capacity to be seen and heard expands in ways that will generate good energy.  That energy, like the sun’s power, may be harvested in due season.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

10,000 Shades of Green


As Squidoo’s new “Green Living” Contributor, I have a dream of pioneering an entirely new kind of online ecovillage.  Together, you and I, along with other kindred spirits, can build something uniquely vibrant that has the capacity to make a real difference.

We hear a great deal these days about living green, but what does that really mean?  It means something different to each one of us.  I like to say there are 10,000 shades of green.  Though my shade of green is off grid green, not everyone has the desire or immediate capacity to take that leap.  And that is okay.  Be your own shade of green.

When I first made the decision to live more sustainably, I had a lot to learn.  Come to think of it, I still have a lot to learn.  That is the best part of finding my inner green… growing every day.  The thing is, it is much more rewarding to grow together.

What if we thought of our online interactions as a form of human photosynthesis?  Being bathed in the light and energy of those who care about leaving the world a better place is one way we increase our own green.  One hour of sunlight makes a huge difference to a plant.  Just imagine the power of one when it comes to shining your light in a way that greens up the planet.

I invite you to bring your green.  Be the photosynthesis you wish to see in the world.  Tell us your story.  Review the green products you use and love.  Share a tutorial that shows us how you do green.  You can start by taking a moment to visit our new village green.  While there, if you haven’t yet become a Squidoo member, please take a few seconds to join.  It’s one more way of increasing your green.

As Tom Bodett always says, “We’ll keep the light on for you.”  In this case, it will be the light of your new Squidoo friends.  Welcome home.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.