Saturday, December 13, 2008

Top 10

Even though we don't live there anymore, we still own a home and will always be connected to our cohousing community. I'm pretty excited to report that the community was rated #4 in Natural Home magazine's list of Top 10 Green Cohousing Developments!

ps - my camera is broken (over-exposing all the images??) so I haven't been very motivated to post lately. I like having photos with my posts!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Have You Heard About the New CPSC Law?

I don't really have time to compose a thoughtful blog post, but I wanted to get something up about this subject. I haven't really even had time to research and process this information. I'll try to get a more organized post done soon.

Apparently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Congress have just passed a law which requires ALL MAKERS of CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS in the US and importing to the US to have their products and components tested by a CPSC-certified, third-party testing laboratory FOR LEAD CONTENT.

On Feb 10, 2009, all businesses which do not comply with testing will be in violation of federal law, guilty of selling banned products and subject to fines and jail time. This will affect Etsy sellers, crafters, wooden and organic toy companies, baby carriers, ect.

Here are several links for you to consider.

National Bankruptcy Day

Handmade Toy Alliance


Reportedly a hearing has already been scheduled for this coming Wednesday that may delay or significantly change this law with respect to this problem.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Charity Month

I am going to attempt to devote the month of December to blogging about giving and charity. About mid-way through the month, I'll do my charity giveaway like last year. I'm really looking forward to the responses.

I feel very fortunate that our family is in a position to give regularly. And while we aren't donating enough to have a wing of the hospital named after us (maybe someday... *sigh*), it does feel good to donate what we can. I've heard that the more you give, the more you feel you have. I believe it.
It is very important to me to instill an attitude of giving in my children. I want them to learn to be giving with their money, their time and their energy. I want them to be thoughtful and empathetic. I don't really have a game plan for passing along these values, but here are a few examples of what we do:

- Tell them every time we give money, "Who can lick this envelope for me? We are giving money to the college where mommy went to help students that don't have enough money to pay for college."
- Take the children to donate food at the food pantry regulary (I'll blog about this sometime this month).
- Give to programs to which children can easily relate like Toys for Tots
- Plan to encourage children to give their own money (we are going to start allowances in January so I'll blog more about our plan once we start)
- With guidance, let the kids pick out household items such as outgrown clothes, old toys, etc. to be donated to charity or friends. "These shoes don't fit you anymore. Can you think of someone that we could give them to?"
- Let the kids help when making baked items or dinner for someone in need. Make sure they are with you when you drop the food off.
**The photo is from one of our visits last March to a local food pantry. I can't believe how much my kids grew since then!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sticky Situation

For our first holiday season in Colorado (2005), my friend Gretchen gave all the moms in playgroup a jar of homemade lemon sugar scrub. It was probably one of my first experiences with homemade beauty products, and I was an instant fan. I still remember how good I felt after scrubbing with it in the shower. Gotta do a lot of exfoliating in this dry Colorado climate!

The following year (2006), I decided to make and give the same lemon sugar scrub to many of my friends and family. I like to get me holiday shopping/making done early, but Gretchen warned me not to make the scrub to far in advance so it wouldn't spoil. Mid-December I made up a big batch. My jars didn't look nearly as cute as Gretchen's jars, but it did get rave reviews from some of the recipients.
Fast forward to a month ago when I am unpacking a bathroom box after our big move. I happened across an extra jar of the sugar scrub that I had made for gifts almost two years earlier (I made a few extra jars for those "emergency" gift situations!). I was tired and stressed and thought that a good scrub in the shower would surely rejuvenate me!

Before I go any further with my story, I need to add a disclaimer that at the time I mistakenly thought that I had made the scrub last Christmas (10 months earlier) not two years ago. It wasn't until afterwards that I calculated the actual time that had passed. Although my guess is that the outcome would have been the same at 10 months as it was at 22 months!
So there I am in the shower all ready to scrub. When I opened the jar, it had a bit of a funky smell to it. I should have heeded the nose warning and stopped there. But I am not one to waste, so I thought I would use it anyway. The scrub didn't come out of the jar very easily and had a bit of a funny, sticky texture. But did I let that stop me? Oh, no! I proceeded to scrub my arms and my legs with a glob of stinky, sticky sugar.

Then I went to rinse it off. And it wouldn't come off. At all. Not with soap. Not with more scrubbing. Not with more soap. Not with really hot water. Not with rubbing alcohol. On my arms, legs, and hands! I was stinky and sticky for two days while it slowly wore off. Even my clothes got stinky and sticky. And when I tried to wash the remainder of the scrub down the sink? It stuck to the sink. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck

So make your own products, but use them up before they go bad!

Check out the current December issue of Martha Stewart Living for some great homemade beauty recipes - Body Scrub , Lip Balm, Bath Snowballs, and Bath Fizzies!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Green Beauty Guide

I've written before about making my own self-care products so when I had the chance to review the book The Green Beauty Guide: Your Essential Resource to Organic and Natural Skin Care, Hair Care, Makeup, and Fragrances by Julie Gabriel, I jumped at the chance. I knew I was going to love the book even before I read the first word. Flipping through the book for the first time, I could see recipe after recipe for making your own products.

The book starts out discussing many of the ingredients found in commercial products - both the good and the bad. I knew to avoid many of these ingredients already but admit to occasionally straying when tempted by a pretty label or smell. After reading in depth about the effects of some of these ingredients, I vow to stay on the straight and narrow.

I've already mentioned all the amazing recipes. There seemed to be a homemade recipe to replace every beauty item in my bathroom. I haven't actually tried any of the recipes (same old excuses I always use: busy with kids, the move and the holidays...), plan to try most of them. Another great thing about the book is that the author recommends store products for those of us who occasionally are a bit too overwhelmed to make our own products.
My only complaint about the book it the author's recommendation to use bottled water over tap water. Admittedly she recommends filtered water first and suggests using water in glass bottles, but I don't like to see any encouragement of bottled water. However, since I know that most readers of this blog are already conscious of avoiding bottled water, I won't let that stop me from recommending the book.
In fact, I sorta didn't want to blog about the book because I plan to give a few copies away as gifts this season (hint, hint: if you are one of my family members and think I might be giving it to you, don't go out and buy one for yourself!!)
Tomorrow I'll share a funny story about one of my homemade beauty products!