Monday, September 8, 2014

Spotlight on Buying Local: Ronnybrook Farms

A staple purchase from my local farmer's market has always been milk from a local dairy farm called Ronnybrook Farms located in Ancramdale, NY, roughly 1.5 hours south of my home. An ad in my town newspaper delivered a mind-blowing revelation: they deliver. To your door. Hallelujah!
On Tuesday mornings, both my boys literally jump for joy when they see the big white truck with the black cow embossed on the sides. I can't help but get giddy, too. Everything is so delicious. Milk, butter, eggs, honey, and locally available items (such as jams and apple cider to fresh berries and apples) are delivered to my door by the friendliest delivery guy I've met, Jim. He's the guy who responds to all your on-line orders; I was astonished to learn that he was "that guy." (Normally, there is no name-to-face recognition these days. Not here!) My boys love the milk and all their products, and I love knowing that it's not only made and produced locally, but it's safe and healthy for my entire family. Thank you, Ronnybrook Farms!

Want to learn more? Check out this YouTube video!

Clothesline drying

Recently, I started hanging our clothes outside to dry. I'm not sure why I waited so long, given the weather in NY has begun its shift into autumn. I just love the smell, it saves money, and the environment.

What I want to know is: How much money does it really save? I found an article to help figure out that calculation: Keep in mind, your energy usage may differ based on the number of loads you do per week, and if your dryer is gas or electric.

While it clearly doesn't save a ton of cash (maybe ~$12/month), every little bit helps. It's helping the environment by not using fossil fuels such as natural gas (what we have) and showing my kids just one more way to lead a simple, green life.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Product Review: Light Mountain Natural Hair Color

As a Mamma to young children, I have a very limited amount of "me" time. It's a must that beauty regimes are easy and fast!

What is Light Mountain Natural Hair Color? It is a henna-based natural home hair color made without chemicals. 

Product Details

While my kids were napping one afternoon, I dove in. What I didn't get was a bunch of squeeze tubes with easy applicators. What I did get was a packet of henna that resembled an over-sized bag of instant pudding mix with a green tint and a pair of disposable gloves. Yikes.

The instructions say to mix the packet of dye with water in a bowl (not a metal bowl, mind you) and let it sit before applying to your hair. After doing so, it turned into a yogurt-like consistency, but I was by no means tempted to eat it. It smelled like wet grass.

Staring into the bowl of goo, I wondered how I was supposed to get this onto my hair without making a huge mess. First, I slathered petroleum jelly on my skin around my hairline so I wouldn't inadvertently dye my forehead/ears/etc. Next, I dug in with my gloved hands and smeared and smooshed it all over and into my hair. It smelled bad, it oozed, and it overall made me uncomfortable, so needless to say, I was looking forward to washing it out. When that time came, not only did I have to rinse two or three times, followed by a double shampoo, I had to clean my shower and all the towels immediately following the application because of the huge mess it made. I was a little frazzled trying to do all this whilst my kids were sleeping.

I don't plan on using this again.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Clean your microwave the natural way

1/2 cup water 1/2 cup vinegar
Cook in microwave for 10 min, wipe down with a microfiber cloth

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Green clean kitchen floor

The floors in my house get dirty fast with two little boys, especially the kitchen. My boys are young, so they are flinging food everywhere at mealtime. "Mamma, I'm done (...fling plate on the floor)!" I tried various green cleaning solutions the floor and didn't have much success: a solution of Dr. Bronner's just seemed to wipe the surface clean and made it somewhat greasy; I mixed baking soda, super washing soda, and citric acid together to make a paste, and while it seemed to work well, it needed a lot of elbow grease. Then I tried the cleaner I use on my kitchen sink: Bon-Ami. (It received an A from the EWG's site, so I know it's safe for my kids. And it's only $1.19/can at my local market!) What a great job! My husband even remarked that it looked as though the light was shining on only the clean part of the floor. If he noticed, you can take it to the bank that this stuff really works.

Note: I have textured linoleum in my kitchen (clearly the builder did NOT have children), so it required a little extra elbow grease. Don't use this on wood floors.

Here's the scoop: get a bucket, a good scrub brush, rag, and rubber gloves. Sweep or vacuum the floor to get the big pieces off. Fill the bucket with warm water, put on the gloves, and working one small area at a time, wet the floor and sprinkle the bon ami on the wet floor. Follow that with a generous scrubbing with the brush. When all the dirt has been removed, wipe it down with the rag, rinsing it in the bucket of water when needed. Wipe it down as many times as needed to remove the residue from the Bon Ami (it contains limestone, and other ingredients that you won't want kids/pets to ingest). Change the water as often as needed. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Product Review: Diva Cup - Menstrual Solution!

For years, there has been one revolving question during that time of the month: "Is there any way I can reduce the waste generated from using all these pads/tampons?" If I could feel a little less chained to the bathroom, that would be even better.

Like millions of internet readers, I clicked onto Amazon's marketplace to see what lay hidden on their myriad of virtual shelves. My scrolling fingers led me to The Diva Cup; a silicone cup that sits in the vagina, collects menstrual blood for 10-12 hours at a time, and is reusable. Many, many reviews were positive, but there were a few that downright terrified me describing instances where it became stuck. I sought the advice of friends to get some real-to-me feedback. A girlfriend gave top-notch reviews of the cup, some never head of it, while others encouraged me to try it, taking my side in hoping it would be the great solution I was seeking. I added it to my virtual shopping cart, and it arrived a week or so later in an attractive package. I tucked it onto the shelf my bathroom. Then I waited. 

Tonight is the first night I'm trying it. I waited until nighttime because that's when I actually have a few minutes to spend alone in the bathroom without my little ones running/crawling around, and asking what the heck I'm doing. 

The cup is prettily packaged in a small cardboard box, with a clear plastic display window. It came with a daisy Diva pin that could also clearly be seen from the window in the box. I guess I'm supposed to wear it - and from a marketing standpoint - hope that people stop to ask me what my pin's all about. I'm not sure that will happen. It also comes with a cotton drawstring storage bag. That's a nice touch. Now I won't have to worry about where I'll put it when I'm not using it.

After removing the cup from the packaging, which can all be recycled by the way, I washed it and my hands very thoroughly, bringing my new cup and directions to the bathroom. The instructions are simple, and offer two methods to insert the cup. I followed version #1, folded it in half, and had no problem at all. I can't feel anything, and that is exactly what I was hoping for. 

Night one: I awoke at about 3am to nurse my son, and felt like I was leaking. I was too tired to mess around with it, so I removed it, cleaned myself up, used a pad, and went back to bed.

Day 1: I didn't have time to try the cup again until my kids were taking a nap. I re-inserted using the same method as last night. I didn't hear a clicking sound as described by other users when the cup is inserted correctly, but it feels snug to me. The directions say you can slide your finger around the cup to make sure it has opened up fully, and it has, so now I wait.

About 2.5 hours later, I felt it begin to leak. I removed it right away and found it filled to the brim. Now I know why it leaked the night before: it was full. Apparently, I bleed more than I thought I did. 

Every two hours or so, I repeated the process, finding that as the first full day of my period went on, there was a lot less blood and I needed to empty it less.

Day 2: I feel very comfortable with the cup, and it has gotten much easier and more comfortable the more I use it. When I do things that would have normally caused that familiar gush of blood, I no longer worry if I'm going to leak all over and have to sprint to the nearest bathroom. 

Day 3: The verdict is in: I vow never to use pads or tampons again. I highly recommend this product to any woman looking for freedom from tampons and pads, and a healthier solution for you and mother earth. I will be recommending this to family and friends. Thank you, Diva Cup!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent - Recipe #3 (store-bought ingredients)

After returning from vacation, I realized too late that we were running low on cloth diaper detergent. I didn't have time to mail order everything I needed, so I searched for ingredients that would be safe to use and friendly on my bottom line. The EWG site shows that Oxiclean Baby is safe, so I dug around for a Babies R Us coupon, since I know that's one of the few places that carry it. 

For everyone who doesn't want to mail order anything or get it in bulk, this recipe is for you, too!

To fill a 3 lb oxiclean baby tub (holds 12 cups total):
2 cups oxiclean baby
4 cups super washing soda
4 cups baking soda
-Use 1 Tbsp per load

3 lbs Oxiclean baby = $4.99 ($9.99 without coupon), or $0.05/oz
55 oz Super washing soda = $2.99, or $0.05/oz
13 lbs Baking soda = $6.59 (bought this at BJ's), or $0.03/oz

Recipe makes 80 oz at $2.96, and costs $0.02 per load
365 x $0.02 = $7.30

Bottom line: It works great! I add 1 tbsp to any regular load of laundry that's particularly soiled and everything comes out clean and smelling, well, clean. If you wanted to add scent, you could add essential oil to the powder, or add a few drops of essential oil to dryer balls. 

Tip: Mix everything outside, or in a well-ventilated area. Mixing these powders makes a cloud of dust that shouldn't be breathed in.