Sunday, December 5, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

When did it become winter all of a sudden? Brrr.....

Lately, I've been obsessing over how delicious the food on Kath Eats Real Food looks and sounds. So yesterday when Matt and I took a trip to Trader Joe's and Kroger, I set out to track down the ingredients for this.

Some I was unable to find, but I decided to work from the base and add in ingredients I thought would be tasty together. Here's what I came up with (for one large bowl):
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 3/4 banana (I ate the rest)
  • 1/6 cup of oats
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup organic vanilla yogurt
  • 1 heaping spoonful natural peanut butter

After blending, I sprinkled Trader Joe's cranberry maple nut granola on top.

Looks a little strange, but so delicious. Even Jozy thinks so...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Free Greenery

Last weekend I was dropping off the trash on my way out to run errands, when I came across this...

just sitting next to the Dumpster!

At about 7 feet tall, this faux tree probably retails for about $100. (That's just a guess, but faux plants aren't cheap. I usually buy mine from Goodwill.)

What a find! Somehow, I managed to cram it into the back seat of my sedan car (with the top hanging out the window) to get it home. I did end up ripping off a branch trying to get it out of the car (where you can see a gap in the middle), but it's not a huge deal.

We gave the extra branch to the cats to play in, so everyone's happy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho!

It's been about a year and a half since I've been out "in the real world," "working for the man."

Immediately following college graduation, I took an unpaid internship for which I had to commute an hour each way. Don't even get me started on this economy — and yes, I am sick of the phrase.

After moving back home with my parents around the same time the internship ended, I found a full-time job working for a direct mail marketing company in the production department. While I was grateful to have a job (with a salary, benefits and paid vacation), it was never the best fit. It was a stressful environment, and I wasn't doing work that was in-line with my long-term career goals. Aside from these cons, the schedule was not at all flexible.

In July, I took advantage of a new opportunity — social media strategy for a startup internet company. I've really been enjoying the work I do there and feel more fulfilled in my work than I have since finishing college. Tomorrow I officially start full time, meaning five days a week in the office. For the past few months, I've only been in the office three days a week, plus some working from home on other days. Some "me" time is definitely what I needed after my frustrating first year out of college!

While I'm excited to take on more responsibility and play a larger role in the office, I'm certainly going to miss being able to sleep in, cuddling so much with my cats and mid-day runs. It's going to be quite an adjustment in my schedule. However, my schedule is much more flexible here — if I need to come in late or leave early, it's no big deal because I can make up hours on my own time. Plus, more hours will certainly be a good thing come payday!

Working for a startup has its own set of pros and cons, but I'm eager to see how we grow, and to have a part in it. Cheers to the future!

Monday, November 15, 2010

America Recycles TODAY

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted on here. I wanted to break my silence though as a friend/coworker pointed out to me last week that today has been labeled "America Recycles Day."

I think I've made clear my feelings toward recycling in the past, so I won't ramble on. But I wanted to share this website and its resources should you be interested in getting more information. Keep America Beautiful has lots of tips about why recycling and beautification is important and how to get started with small steps.

If you choose, you can also complete the America Recycles Day Pledge and start making a difference in your community. Here is what the pledge entails:
  • I pledge to find out what materials I can and cannot recycle in my curbside recycling program.
    (Or in my case, facilities in the area.)
  • I pledge to lead by example in my place of work or school by recycling.
    (I'm in charge of my office's recycling. I brought in a box and simply ask coworker to place recyclables there instead of the trash, and I take care of it when it's full.)
  • I pledge to recycle my used batteries, cell phones and other electronic waste through a take-back program or e-waste facility near me.
    ( is a great resource for finding places to recycle electronic waste. As I mentioned in an earlier post, most Target stores, now have electronic waste recycling bins.)
  • I pledge to tell five friends that recycling is one of the easiest things they can do to reduce their carbon emissions.
    (That's where you come in. I'm not sure how many readers I have, but I just want to get the word out. )
I know it's impossible to be perfect. But even if there's just one thing you can do differently to help out our planet and your community, why not put forth the small effort? Happy America Recycles Day!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This and That

It's been only a couple weeks since I snipped the mint down to its roots and re-potted it – separately so it wouldn't kill my flowers in the same basket. And it's already broken the surface (pictured above)!

I'm so happy I didn't kill it. I know mint is hard to kill, but I really thought I might in the process of moving it. Success!

On the other hand, I've failed miserably at my efforts to meditate every day. I might have set my sights too high. I meditated twice in the last week, so if I can just get myself to do it more, I'll mark it a success.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just Breathe.

As my friends and family well know – I can become stressed out easily. Stressors include a sink full of dirty dishes, my phone constantly flashing at me, a full inbox, a long to-do list, etc.

I love my cats, and as much as they can help relieve my stress, they also can cause some of it – knocking things over, getting into the trash, attacking on me when I'm trying to eat.

Getting myself to relax and not think about everything I need to do is difficult, but necessary.

I used to meditate more frequently, and it's something I intend to take up again. There's something about sitting there, focusing on your breathing and simply being.

Of course, when I try to clear my mind, I'm flooded with thoughts of things I need to do, memories, and other randoms. Never know what's going to come to me.

I meditated for a short time this morning and was actually able to get past most of my thoughts and let go. But meditation – I believe – is something that takes practices.

So this is me stating publicly my intent to meditate every day for the next week and see where I am then.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Organic Fruits and Veggies on a Budget

This morning I was watching "The Doctors" on ABC, and they were discussing organic fruits and veggies – when to pay the extra for organic.

I try to buy organic when I can, but being on a limited budget, I can't always justify it.

Turns out, some non-organic fruits and veggies have been found to contain more traces of pesticides and others.

According to The Doctors, it's more important to buy the following items (dubbed "The Dirty Dozen") organic because they usually have thinner skin and are harder to wash:
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Bell Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes
 And because it's still important to get plenty of fruits and veggies in our diets, if we can't buy everything organic, the following items (named "The Clean Fifteen") are generally less tainted due to a thicker skin:
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Mangos
  • Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Honeydew Melons
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplants
  • Cantaloupes
  • Watermelons
  • Grapefruits
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Kiwis
I thought that this info was pretty interesting. Though unfortunately for me, most of the produce I buy fits into the first category.

Source: The Doctors, ABC 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Herb Garden

For my birthday in May, Matt gave me a flower planter with flowers, ivy and mint in it. I'd been meaning to add some more herbs to the collection and really get my balcony garden going.

Today, I took advantage of the holiday by hopping over to Trader Joe's and picking up some basil and oregano to add.

All the pots came from my parents' garage – they were sitting around collecting cobwebs.

Since May, the mint had strangled the ivy. I didn't want it to get to the flowers too, so today I re-potted it. Hopefully it'll grow back quickly so we can continue to use it. (Great for use in Pimm's!)

We chose basil and oregano since we can see ourselves using them in cooking. I'm also looking into trying to grow spinach since we eat a lot of it – so growing our own would actually save a lot of money.

As soon as I acquire more potting soil and get the new herbs re-potted, I'll have a solid start on my little garden! :)

P.S. We decided on Maggie for the kitten's name!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Name That Cat

We got a new kitten yesterday! She's incredibly cute and sweet. A month or two younger than Jozy, they look a lot alike, but this one is slightly smaller still.

We can't come up with/decide on a name though. Here are some of the ideas we've thrown around:
  • Georgia (but call her Peanut) – like from Dead Like Me (plus Georgia peanuts)
  • Dylan – like Bob
  • Nessie – Loch Ness, guess who?
  • Maggie (I'd say Maggie Mae a lot)
  • Fiona
Also open to other suggestions! Thoughts?

I think Jozy's feeling were a little hurt at first, but they've been playing a lot and even napped together. Hopefully in a few days they'll start being really good friends!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Paint Décor

I'd grown tired of having such a bland wall over the bed, so I painted a tree with leftover paint from the living room wall.

Monday, August 16, 2010

All Cats Go To Heaven

I vanished from here for a while, but it's been a tough time since my last post. Last time, I was so excited about my newest baby kitten. I was excited to introduce Jozy and Sandy so they could get to know each other and be sisters.

Unfortunately, Sandy didn't make it through the week. She was recently spayed and slightly sick when I brought her home, but she kept getting worse. I took her to the vet several times, gave the medicine she was prescribed. But her little body just wasn't strong enough.

When I took her to the vet the last time a week ago, I didn't know I would be leaving without her. I knew she was in bad shape, and I honestly worried she wouldn't make it through each night leading up to it.

The vet told it to me straight, and though I wasn't surprised, it was still difficult to hear. I knew I couldn't let her be in pain anymore, and I could tell she had given up.

It's been a sad experience. Thankfully, Jozy (who was also sick) is feeling much better. We do intend to adopt another kitten before too long. This time, though, it'll be from a person or from the vet where I've been many times recently.

As much as I'd like to try to save another kitten from the shelter, I can't go through this ordeal again. At least we have one happy pound kitty – Jozy is sleepily purring next to me as I type.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kitties, Kitties Everywhere

I've always been an animal lover. My family has had cats as long as I've been alive, and now Matt and I have two of our own.

Top is Jozy and bottom is Sandy. Both came from the Fulton County Animal Services. We chose to adopt from a shelter — somewhere where the animals weren't already in a somewhat pleasant situation. (Jozy was 1 of 4 in her cage, and Sandy was 1 of 5.)

Adopting a pet is no small decision — they require a lot of attention and care. Vet bills and animal medicine (read: sans insurance) are no laughing matter! But when adopting, most places will spay/neuter the pet before the leave to help with overpopulation.

I'm so happy to have a couple of sweet, furry companions now!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The New Sack Lunch

It's no secret that taking your lunch to work or school rather than eating out saves you a lot of money.

I have a suggestion that will save you even more money — and reduce waste!

Many of us haven't had a lunchbox since elementary school. Sometime in middle school it became totally uncool to have what was clearly a lunch packed by your mother.

But now that we're adults, it's time to break out the old lunchbox. OK, maybe not the exact same one. There are plenty of fashionable options out there, including lunch totes and monogrammed bags.

Don't stop there! It's also important to pack your sandwich, chips, fruit, etc. in reusable containers. I got a set of two plastic containers at Target – one for my sandwich and another for chips. There also are washable fabric bags available at various places online (try searching "reusable lunch sack" on Etsy.

This takes a small investment at first, but you'll never have to buy paper sacks or sandwich bags again!

Monday, July 26, 2010

What does "natural" mean anyway?

One of the most frustrating things when is comes to buying organic and safer products is not knowing whether the products you're buying are actually what they say they are.

The food industry has specific requirements for labeling. However, cosmetics can use the terms "organic, natural and pure" as they see fit. The only way to know a product is really organic is to look for a USDA label.

Here is a guide to USDA labeling.

You can find more information about organic products (and fake organics) here. Scroll down a little to find more about specific brands that comply with organic standards.

And as always, it's a good idea to read ingredients when shopping. Because even if, like me, you can't afford to buy exclusively organic products, you can still support those made with mostly organic ingredients and those without toxins.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Say No To Foam

I'm just as guilty as the next person when it comes to using Styrofoam to package to-go boxes. I frequently am unable to finish a restaurant meal, and most places will bring you one of these boxes to take the rest home.

One of my favorite fast food restaurants (Chick-fil-a) uses Styrofoam cups for fountain drinks. I've heard some people rave about the benefits of these cups keeping drinks cold/hot longer and absorbing condensation.

But Styrofoam contains toxic chemicals that can be absorbed by food (especially when microwaved!). Not only that, it is made with petroleum which is a major polluter. This oil based product takes at least 500 years to biodegrade!

Glass and plastic bottles are also terrible in terms of amount of time to break down, but at least they can be recycled.

So what can we do about it?
  • When I go to Chick-fil-a, I take my own reusable water bottle (cause I really don't need to drink soda anyway). If you order your meal without a drink, you do save that money.
  • Pay attention to which restaurants use paper products rather than Styrofoam for to-go boxes. And try to choose these if you know you're going to have leftovers.
  • If you know a restaurant uses Styrofoam, plan ahead. Take a friend and share a meal. Good company and no waste!
Further Reading: Polystyrene Foam Report

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I don't know about you, but I seem to collect stacks and stacks of paper. Receipts, junk mail, grocery lists, credit card bills.

Clutter is frustrating, so why not try to go as paperless as possible?

This article offers a few tips. Though mainly aimed at small businesses, some of this advice can be applied to a home office.

If you choose to store important data in digital form, I recommend a secure site online. That way if anything ever happened to your personal computer, the information would not be lost.

It's important to sort through the piles and figure out what you actually need to keep — maybe for tax purposes. That receipt from Wendy's? Not useful in any way. But before tossing it, check to see if there's personal information that needs to be shredded.

If possible, recycle useless paper.

To cut down the amount of paper, most credit cards and utility services offer paperless bill options. I take full advantage of these — it's so much easier to receive the bill via email and go directly online to pay it. No stamps, no envelopes, no checks.

Hassle free and saving trees. Now if only it were less painful to pay those bills...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bare Necessities

I am over high water bills. I have no idea how this bill has been so high, so I've been trying to devise ways to reduce water use.

I already turn off the water while brushing my teeth. I only do laundry once per week. My main water usage weakness is showering.

Especially during the summer when I feel the need to shave my legs nearly every day.

Don't worry, my plan isn't to quit shaving.

Instead, I've started shaving my legs before showering. How do I do this without running the water and no razor burn? you might ask.

I've found that I can fill a cup with water, and use water from there to splash onto my legs and dip my razor in.

Granted this doesn't greatly reduce shower time, but every little bit helps. And I figure each little bit should add up over the month to save water and reduce my bills.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Award Time

I'm accepting an award from Amanda at chai am woman — a really sweet lady who blogs about her family, her cute outfits and her new path in life as a hair designer.
She actually tagged me last week, but I have such difficulty thinking of little tidbits about myself that it has taken me until now to get this post up. Here goes:
  1. I was in Girl Scouts until 6th grade. I think many of my environmentalism tendencies have to do with what I learned through that experience. You know, leave a place nicer that you found it. And I still miss camping trips.
  2. My paternal grandmother was Russian but born in China. She met my grandfather when he was stationed there in the Marines. I wish I knew more of this story, but I don't. She spoke five languages, but her kids only ever learned English fluently. Therefore, I only know three Russian phrases: "Good night," "I love you," and "dog poo."
  3. I have a tendency to watch movies on TV when I already own them. Then I get mad at myself because I could just pop in the DVD and skip commercials. But I still watch every time.
  4. My diet mostly consists of cheese, hummus, fruit, spinach, cereal and natural cheetos. I should probably try to mix it up more.
  5. I love animals; I've always had a bunch of pets. Currently, my family has three cats and two dogs (and both dogs are puppies). I miss them all, and I'm hoping to adopt a cat of my own soon.

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Celebrate Independence from Pollution

    Fireworks are pretty and they're fun to watch -- I get it.

    But that doesn't change the fact that every 4th of July, the air becomes a little more polluted all across the country as we celebrate our nation's birthday.

    In order for them to shoot into the air and explode into beautiful colors, fireworks use pyrotechnic chemicals and gunpowder.

    When the show finishes you can always see that lingering cloud of smoke -- that is pollution. We have enough smog here in Atlanta that we don't need to add to it.

    So celebrate with friends and family. Go to the pool, lake or beach. But think twice before putting on a fireworks show.

    There's no better way to show love for your country than by not contributing to further pollution.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    A Bow On Top

    My boyfriend and I both had birthdays in May. Along with our gifts, we also received gift bags and tissue paper.

    Rather than toss them into the trash, I've started a gifting collection. There's nothing wrong with reusing bags (just check for hangtags and make sure there aren't any names already on the bag).

    You can reuse unsoiled tissue paper, for that matter. I smoothed out the wrinkled paper, and neatly folded it into a box.

    Now we're ready to go for upcoming celebrations!

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    What are you wearing on your face?

    These days, most women wear makeup of some sort. Unlike the foods we eat, many of us do not pay attention to the ingredients of products we use on our skin. So how do you know what you're putting on your skin?

    Skin Deep is a cosmetic database where you can look up specific products and find out what is in them and how dangerous these ingredients might be.

    For instance, CoverGirl Classic Color Blush, Natural Glow has a hazard score of 8 (out of 10). According to Skin Deep, this is one of the worst blushes on the market. It claims ingredients have been linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity and allergies, aside from just plain ol' irritation of the skin, eyes and lungs.

    Like I said when I wrote about ingredients in shampoo, I am no scientist and I don't have a lot of knowledge about what some of these ingredients can do. But I do know my skin and health are not anything to take for granted.

    Last month, I took a trip to Sephora with my friend Shannon. She is a recent convert to "real" makeup (which you can read about here), and I decided to investigate my options for more healthy/eco-friendly makeup.

    I ended up buying a Bare Escentuals bareMinerals foundation starter kit. For $60, it included a sample of foundation primer, three brushes, two shades of mineral foundation, warmth face color, a mineral veil and an instructional DVD.

    Although, this makeup probably isn't perfect either, it has less of the "bad stuff." I also have noticed an improvement in the texture of my skin since switching, and that works for me.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    What's Cookin'?

    Tonight, many people (myself included) will go out to eat rather than slave over a stove after a long week at the office. But when it comes to selecting a restaurant, what factors do you take into account?
    • Proximity? (to your home or whatever activities your evening holds)
    • Cost?
    • Type of food?
    • Vegetarian-friendly?
    But what about corporation? Are you more likely to choose a chain or a local restaurant?

    Not too long ago, it really didn't make a difference to me. These days I'm frequently pulled toward independent restaurants. These tend to be more locally supportive and less uniform.

    For example, Leon's in Decatur, Ga., has signs inside the restaurant boasting from which local farms its ingredients originate.

    Why does this matter? When you eat locally-grown foods, you are supporting your local economy. These foods also required fewer resources to get to you.

    Think globally, act locally, as they say.

    (Don't worry Chili's, you're probably my favorite chain.)

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Good To The Last Drop

    Are you a roller? Do you squeeze from the top or the bottom?

    No matter how you extract your toothpaste, it is in your best interest to get as much out of it as possible. Same goes for other products. I know it can be difficult to get that last little bit out of those containers. But you’ll save yourself money over time as well as reduce waste.

    I’ve been “out” of toothpaste for two weeks, yet I’m still able to get enough out to brush my teeth twice per day. Just because something is almost gone doesn’t mean it needs to be replaced right away. Though it never hurts to have your next one ready to avoid running out when your current product finally bites the dust!

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Used > New

    Since moving into the apartment two months ago, we hadn’t had a dining room table. Furnishing even a small apartment is expensive!

    However, that was the last major item on the list, so I’d been searching Craigslist for an attractive, yet cheap table to no avail. (Side note: Some people think their junk is worth way too much.)

    Turns out one of our friends who is about to move was planning on trashing her table with seating for six (the sixth is being used as a desk chair). What luck!

    I love the current color, but I’m planning to paint the teal areas black so it will better match our other furniture. The apartment is now fully furnished with plenty of seating all around. And I feel good about reusing something that would have ended up in the trash!

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    When To Buy Organic

    As someone committed to living more environmentally-friendly, organic foods are a natural step. I didn’t think I’d be one of those people unless I suddenly had lots of extra disposable income.

    Well, I don’t have spare funds lying around, but I am making an effort to buy more organic.

    Here are my determining factors when deciding between regular vs. organic:
    1)      Not a huge cost difference. I don’t mind to pay a little extra (say less than $1), but I cannot afford to pay too much more than usual.
    2)      Organic produce seems more authentic. These are crops you know are directly from the earth, so the less tampered with, the better.
    3)      It could just be my imagination, but organic fruits (at least the bananas and strawberries I’ve tried) seem to have MUCH more flavor.
    4)      Trader Joe’s and most farmers markets offer many organic products at nearly the same price as non-organic alternatives. Plus, at a farmers market, you’re supporting local farmers.

    I may not be able to make sweeping changes, but I can do my part to support quality produce.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Grab A Cold One

    On Saturday, we had some friends over to kick off the first day of USA's involvement in the World Cup. Rather than buying a bunch of six-packs and producing lots of glass and aluminum waste, we opted for a keg — Sunray Wheat Beer from Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, Ga.

    Not only did we eliminate packaging waste, our guests used actual glasses rather than Solo cups (we aren't in college anymore, after all). Sure this means a few more dishes, but far less trash went out the door.

    Next time you're having a significant-sized gather, consider a keg, preferably from a local brewery.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010


    I'm a little embarrassed to admit I generally use a hair dryer every day. Even knowing what energy suckers they are.

    When I shower before work, my hair usually has not had time to dry before I'm out the door. Hair dryers are also extremely helpful for styling.

    Not this week.

    I am on vacation at the beach, and I'm also taking a vacation from my hair dryer. It's so great not having to be anywhere at any specific time. So I'm enjoying letting my hair dry on its own.

    Now if only there was something I could do about the humidity.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    BYOC — Bring Your Own Cup

    It's summer, which means I nearly always prefer iced coffee to the regular brew. Problem is, making iced coffee myself is complicated and requires planning ahead. So it's usually something I pick up from a coffee shop — meaning disposable cups.

    Not anymore!

    Starbucks now sells reusable iced coffee cups (they also work for frappuccinos), and they look just like the original! Plus Starbucks offers 10¢ discounts when you bring your own cup (this includes travel mugs for warm beverages).

    Let's just say I bought my cup ($12) a week ago and have used it four times since. My bank account may not be too happy, but I'm sure Starbucks is. And at least I'm not using a new cup each time!

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    "Everyone needs an Alice"

    This is my parents' cat Alice. This post isn't actually about her, but isn't she cute? She loves the camera, if you couldn't tell.

    As I mentioned in my previous post, while searching for the final ingredient for the laundry detergent recipe, I stumbled upon the site,, and have since become addicted.

    I used to hate shopping for basics at the store: toilet paper, toothpaste, deoderant -- ugh. gives me the opportunity to shop for all of these things and more from my personal computer -- with free shipping -- and green options! Can you sense my obsession?

    The only downsides I've noticed:
    1. After your first order (which they use to hook you), your shopping cart must have a minimum of six items before you can place an order. 
    2. Obviously with shopping online, you don't receive your purchases instantaneously, so you have to plan ahead a little. So far, though, my orders have arrived in 2-3 business days.
     I have experienced many more positive points:
    1. Product reviews and descriptions so you can compare and see what you're buying
    2. Prices lower or comparable to discount retailers such as Walmart and Target (especially when it comes to environmentally-friendly products)
    3. Alice keeps track of what you've purchased and you can set reminders to reorder
    4. A wide range of products and brands to choose from
    5. Ability to sort by "green" products
    6. Some items are marked with instant coupons, which are automatically deducted when you place an order
    Here is a breakdown of my most recent order:
    • Green Laundry Dryer Balls (2 in the package): $7.99
    • Ultra Green Facial Tissue (1 box): $1.99
    • Earth Friendly Bathroom Tissue (2 packages of 4 rolls): $2.79 each = $5.58
    • Naturally Fresh Deoderant (1 stick -- I'm a little skeptical of this, to be honest. We'll see.): $3.99 - $0.25 coupon = $3.74
    • EconoGreen Kitchen Garbage Bags (box of 30): $4.99
     From all my bragging, it's obvious I've been very pleased since finding this website. I fully recommend giving it a try and seeing if this service can save you the hassle and gas from making so many trips to the store.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Suds for your Duds

    For the first few weeks of living in the new apartment, we didn't have a washer and dryer. However, after running out of clean clothes and doing some laundry at the parents' house, we gave into convenience and rented a set.

    Because I spent eight months living with my parents, I never once needed to buy detergent or dryer sheets. But I happened to have just enough laundry detergent left for two loads from my previous apartment.

    During this transition time, I remembered I had bookmarked a post from Dometic Cents about homemade laundry detergent.

    The recipe she found here is very simple:
    • 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
    • 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
    • 1 bar grated Ivory soap
    Obviously the ivory soap was easy to find (about $2 for 3 bars*). I was surprised to find 20 Mule Team Borax so easily -- it was on the aisle with other laundry detergent (about $4 for a 76 oz box*). Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda was a little more difficult. I ended up doing a search and finding a 55 oz box for $2.99* from the fantastic online store Alice.

    About a week ago, I attempted to make half a batch so I could do laundry right away. Turns out I didn't have a cheese grater. So one serrated knife and a several hand cuts later, I had enough detergent to do some laundry. 

    It worked! My laundry came out smelling fresh and clean.

    I have since acquired a grater and made a full batch with plenty of ingredients to spare for the future. And thanks to Domestic Cents, I also have a recipe for dishwasher detergent (which uses some of the same ingredients) once my current supply runs out.

    Side Note: All the packaging for my ingredients is paper-based. No plastics. And each will last much longer than buying new detergent all the time. Less waste! I simply store my supply of homemade detergent in a reusable container. And, of course, stick with cool water to avoid using that extra energy when washing clothes.

    *Revision: Added approximate prices of ingredients

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    A Hippie Mecca

    Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took Friday off work and traveled to Asheville, N.C., for a few days. I had been to Asheville once before with my family, but hadn't spent any time in the downtown area.

    We opted to stay downtown where we could walk to most restaurants and pubs.

    The main thoroughfare of Asheville is only slightly larger than that of Athens, Ga., where I spent four years during college. These two small cities have a great deal in common: many old brick buildings, a largely liberal environment surrounded by conservative areas.

    However, Asheville appears to have a much larger hippie-to-fratty ratio. I saw far more white people (men and women) with dreads than I did Polo shirts. Asheville also has many breweries within the city (a major draw for my boyfriend).

    I wish it was more common here in Atlanta for shops and restaurants (though there are places) to take pride in locally-produced items.

    Overall, I had a wonderful weekend getaway complete with meandering through a farmer's market, hearing a drum circle, browsing vintage shops, visiting breweries and indulging in some delicious meals.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Dangerously Cheesy!

    I have always been a Cheetos girl. There’s just something about the cheesy, crunchy goodness that is so addicting.

    I credit Cheetos (particularly the paws and twists) as one of my favorite snacks during an overweight stage in my childhood. 

    Once I lost weight and became healthier, I switched to the baked variety. Sure they kind of taste like artificial cheese on cardboard. But I’m OK with that. I still pick these up from time to time.

    But ever since I discovered Cheetos Natural White Cheddar Puffs, I’m hooked. They don’t taste like cardboard. To me, they taste just like a white cheddar version of the original flavor should. Plus, they don’t turn your hands orange.

    They certainly aren’t worse (calorie-wise) than any regular chips I’d be eating with my lunch. And I feel slightly less terrible when I consume half a bag in one sitting like I did yesterday after buying a new bag. This is why I generally pack a set amount in a reusable container to take to work.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    It's all green to me

    I’m still trying to figure out which direction I want to go with this blog. I know that may not be too comforting to you if you’re reading this, but I’m trying to be upfront here.

    Originally, I planned to share tips on ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Problem is, I’m still working on this myself. (I mean, sometimes I forget to take in my reusable bags when I’m shopping.)

    If you’re interested in tips, though, check out It’s a great resource, and I think I’ve read every post.

    Sure, I can share little things I find along the way (like keeping my green bags in the pocket behind the driver’s seat doesn’t always mean I’ll remember to take them with me). But overall this consists of mundane activities, such as buying shampoo and trying to make laundry detergent (which I’ll be doing soon).

    What I’m getting at is that I’m going to make this blog more of a personal narrative. Don’t worry, not overly personal. But more about my personal struggle to live a “greener” life – cause it is a struggle. It’s not easy to change life-long habits.

    FYI, I ended up with some Trader Joe's shampoo and conditioner at $2.99 each. It’s not labeled “organic” or “natural,” but the ingredients are primarily organic fruits – no scary stuff. That’s way more affordable than those $8 bottles of Burt’s Bees and other brands. Love you, Trader Joe’s!

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Tip: BYOB

    Grabbing lunch out? If you're planning to get cup of water to go with it, why not bring your own?

    Rather than using a paper or styrofoam cup, a plastic lid and a straw, bring along the reusable water bottle you should already be drinking from to keep hydrated throughout the day. Plus, it's free.

    Happy lunching!

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Green-Colored Glasses

    Habits are hard to change.

    I'm accustomed to going into a store, purchasing basically the same things I always buy — paying attention to what's on sale — but overall, the products don't vary too much.

    In my effort to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, I've started paying attention to ingredients in the products I use. Many are things I do not recognize.
    I've been using Pantene Pro-V shampoo. Reading the list of ingredients reminds me of high school chemistry. Suffixes such as -ate and -ide populate the list. Chemicals.

    OK, it's not exactly shocking there are chemicals in my shampoo. I certainly don't claim to be an expert on chemistry, and to be honest, I don't know where these chemicals come from or what effects the have on me or the environment after they wash down the drain.

    Maybe they're harmful. Maybe they aren't so bad.

    Either way, I'd feel better buying products I know are safe. Unfortunately, these tend to cost substantially more.

    My shampoo supply is getting low, and I'm trying to figure out which eco-friendly brand I can find for a more affordable price.

    The other day, I was at Walmart looking through the natural "beauty" products. Each bottle of shampoo for various brand was about $8 — about double the price of Pantene Pro-V, in a much smaller bottle.

    Although I don't mind to pay a little more for "natural" and "organic" products, more than double the cost is not going to fit into my budget.

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    Tip: Gimme 5

    Because so many places do not accept No. 5 plastics for recycling, Whole Foods and Preserve implemented a program called Gimme 5. Many of the stores around the country now have drop-off bins where you can take these difficult items.

    Once your used packaging is gone, Preserve turns them into household products, such as toothbrushes and razors, sold at a stores near you! How cool is that?

    It's great to have a place working for a program like this. And it benefits Whole Foods too by getting us in the stores. I know anytime I've been to Whole Foods, Earth Fare and Trader Joe's, I always get distracted and end up buying more than I intend. I love that these stores promote organic foods and eco-friendly products, but as someone on a limited budget, I hate the higher prices that come with them.

    If you can resist making extra purchases (or even if you can't), it's great to be able to find a local drop-off point.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Incentives for Recycling

    As long as I can remember, stores such as Publix and Walmart have had bins near the front door for returning plastic shopping bags for recycling. Target has taken it a step further, with many locations implementing more complete in-store recycling stations. The one closest to my apartment has separate receptacles for plastic shopping bags, glass/plastic/aluminum and one for used electronics.

    I had already been drinking the Target Kool-Aid, but now I keep a full pitcher on hand cause I'm hooked.

    A more complete listing of Target's "Go Green" initiatives can be found here. I know these large box stores get a bad rap (and with good reason, since they generally drain surrounding resources), but I realize they aren't going anywhere. They're just too freakin' convenient!

    A 5¢ discount every time you use a reusable bag. A $1 credit toward a reusable bad for turning in five plastic bags (through a partnership with TerraCycle). Gift cards for trading in old electronics (through a partnership with Next-Worth). Plus on Earth Day last week, stores gave out free reusable bags — I got mine!

    But at least this particular chain is taking some major steps to look out for the environment. Walmart is coming around too: stores around the country are carrying TerraCycle products thru Thursday, when the experimental program concludes. (Maybe I missed it, but Walmart didn't seem to do nearly enough advertising since I just found out about it while researching for this post.)

    Likely, these are places you already shop so it doesn't require too much effort to take in recyclables — especially when there's a reward involved.

    Monday, April 26, 2010

    Tip: Earth911

    Not too long ago, I discovered the website Earth911. Since not all of us have the luxury of curbside collection services, it's a great resource for finding local recycling centers and drop-off points for a variety of materials.

    Whether you're looking to get started recycling, have recently moved to a new place or are traveling, you can find a convenient place to dispose of your recyclables.

    A couple months ago, I was on vacation with some friends in Florida. I convinced them to set aside their beer bottles and cans, and on the last day I looked up the nearest bin. My boyfriend and I dropped off a bunch of bags — without even leaving the island — that otherwise would have ended up in the trash.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Tread Lightly

    For the past five months, I have been blogging once a week over here about style on a budget. You can still find me there at least once a wee, but I’m starting this new blog to focus on another passion of mine — environmentalism.

    I haven’t set broad, incomprehensible goals for myself, such as “save the rainforest” or “stop global warming.” What I have set out to do is focus on my own day-to-day behaviors and how I can gradually decrease my footprint on the Earth without breaking the bank.

    Ever since it has become cool to “go green,” lots of new products have popped up to aid in this effort. While I think it's great that its now trendy to be environmentally conscious, it sure can be costly to buy organic products and install solar panels on your roof.

    Instead I’m more interested in the little things. Where can I easily drop off my recyclables? Where can I recycle number 5 plastics? What are some affordable eco-friendly products I can switch to without drastically altering my lifestyle or bank account? What can I make or buy used vs. buying new? Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

    My goal is for this to be a place where I can be open and informative, with you the reader, about my journey toward a more efficient lifestyle. What works, what doesn’t. A product review here and there. And how-to guides I find interesting. I want to focus on affordable environmentalism — but hopefully avoid being dull or preachy.

    I’m always interested comments, suggestions and recommendations, so don’t be afraid to speak up!