Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: The Teal Deal





Today is all about teal accented by warm neutrals and a cool powder blue. Funny how these things work out because I didn't plan it that way. I just threw on a few of my favorite and most comfy pieces that seemed appropriate for today's unseasonably warm weather:

handmade earrings by Rainbow Sugar // designer knock-off babydoll hoodie (purchased pre-trend, thank you very much!), shrunken by me (#dryerfail) // oversized French designer cardigan (thanks Kate!) // extra-long sleeved tee // sweater dress // sweater leggings // leg warmers strategically covering my tiny ankles which would otherwise be accentuated by my supercomfy soccer-mom style Colombia sneakers. The two new-ish things are the Urban Expressions teal purse and the clear umbrella from Modern Love (thanks Richard!).

I am modeling in Craftland with my awesome co-worker Amy, in purple skirt and snazzy leopard print flats, and my fabulous friend ALF, in the cozy hat and deep plum jacket. I love these girls! They are my two best friends in Providence.

Last week I didn't share what I wore on Wednesday because I was out of town and had no one to photograph me. I did snap this picture of myself in the tiny bathroom mirror. Looking at it again, I don't think it came out that bad.


This outfit was practically free! I'm wearing: my ex-roommate's cast-away turtleneck (more teal!) // Patagonia sweater found in a free box in Prospect Heights  // American Apparel skirt (thanks Liz!). I purchased the black leggings, grey knit knee high socks, white and blue stripped earrings, and the Afro wig.

I love how the stripes in the earrings play off the stripes in the sweater. I also love blacks and greys paired with color. I could do without the big pockets on both the sweater and the skirt, but hey, when in Rome (or whereever you're vacationing), wear what you've got packed!

Check out what other bloggers wore today and share your style at The Pleated Poppy:
pleated poppy

Okay, I'll be back with more green cleaning content tomorrow. Hugs!

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was entertaining. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

I Bathed in Chile Peppers! Austin Natural Soap Review

Austin Natural Soap Chile Pepper Soap

My Texan neighbor gifted us two bars of soap from Austin Natural Soap. I was excited to try them because they are fragrance-free, vegan, never tested on animals, and handmade in small batches with all-natural ingredients including supermoisturizing oils.

Austin Natural Soap also has the great sense of humor you'd expect from something coming out of that city. I mean, check out this bar of soap:

Austin Natural Soap Broke Back Mountain theme Cowboy Soap!

Yesterday, I tried the Chile Pepper Soap with Southwestern Jojoba Oil and loved it. It was non-irritating, as the label promised, even on the tender bits. (Phew!) It was also indeed very moisturizing. Jojoba oil is actually a wax that is easy for our skin to absorb because it is most like sebum. (Sebum is the oil our hair folicles produce which protects skin from bacterial infection and reduces the natural water loss from the skin.) Yay for this beneficial oil being in this awesome soap!

I haven't tried the Cowboy soap yet but I look forward to taking it for a ride.

Connect with Austin Natural Soap: Website // Facebook

Have you tried Austin Natural Soap? What's the strangest soap you've ever used?

I shared this blog post on Tidy Mom's "I'm Lovin' It" blog link party. It's my first time joining and it's a lot of fun-- especially all the cool Valentines Day projects! (Big hello to all the new visitors from there!)

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Green Winter Visit to NYC: Part 2

I'm back home in Providence, but I wanted to share more of what I did in NYC with you all.

Shambhala Yoga & Dance Center: Located just two blocks from my old apartment in Prospect Heights, Shambhala is a wonderful place to groove and move with the diverse and friendly faces in the community. I took JourneyDance with Jeanine, where we danced through the root chakra.

Vegan pastries from The Cinnamon Snail

Cinnamon Snail: I had a love fest at this awesome vegan lunch truck when it stopped near Union Square on Saturday morning. The servers were superfriendly and warm even though the weather was frigid. I tried an assortment of sweet pastries and they were just as delightful as the service. I can't wait to find them again and try their acclaimed breakfast and lunch offerings which include things like fig pancakes, maple hickory BBQ tempeh, hot Thai tomato vegetable soup, and ancho chili seitan burger. Follow them on Twitter to find out where they are parked and what the daily specials are.

Angelica Kitchen: I worked here forever so this place tastes like home. Nothing beats their Dragon Bowl Bargain for lunch (and dinner- yes, it's that huge): superfresh organic, vegan, local, seasonal steamed veggies, rice, beans, and tofu, served with dressing (get gravy), soup, and house baked bread with spread. (I'm nuts about the southern-style cornbread with carrot spread!) If you get there early, you might find yourself lucky enough to catch a "still special" (a discounted version of leftovers from yesterday's special). Visit their website for menu with daily specials.

Owl and Thistle General Store: I stopped in this sweet shop on Crown Height's ever-evolving Franklin Ave after getting chai a few doors over at Little Zelda. Owl and Thistle sells mostly green and/or local products including Raganella herbal goodies, Sea Grape soaps, and Pepper Press letterpress cards. They also supported the Vegan Book Swap 2.0 so I love them! Check out their website for hours, info about events like sewing classes, or to shop the best of Brooklyn online.

I took this photo of a Maoz Sandwich months ago. I did not have the same level of discipline/ forethought to photograph these things before eating during this trip.

Maoz Vegetarian: It's just falafels, but then again it's not. They are soooo exceptionally good! I went here twice in one week. They'll try to upsell you with $1 add on's like fried eggplant and hummus or splurges like fries, but the spread at the salad bar is so lux you don't need them. Best lunch under $6 in NYC! Maoz is global, so check out their website for all the locations.

My mom's dog, Cocoa, posing with cocoa. Ha ha!
Billi, the cat I was cat sitting, posing atop my agenda. She is making it clear that cuddling her should be my priority!

Visiting Family & Friends: It's no surprise that NYC has fantastic shopping and eating, but the best thing about visiting is catching up with loved ones. Thank you to everyone who had me over for hugs, food, and schmoozing with your kids! I love you!

Have you been to any of these places? What's your favorite thing to do in NYC?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Green Winter Visit to NYC: Part 1

I am having the best time being a tourist in NYC even though I''ve lived here my entire life (until just 7 months ago). Here are some of the greener things I've done over the last few days:

I bought an Afro wig! It's acrylic, not so green, but a cute indulgence!
Pure Yoga: You don't need to be a member to visit Pure Yoga. You can take a workshop. I came to the Upper West Side location for JourneyDance class with the founder. I stayed for a little chillout on the comfy couches and in the steam room. Afterward I ate at Peacefood Cafe (all vegan) for the first time. It was okay, but next time I'll stick to my favorite local spot: Josie's. It's not all veg, but they have lots of tasty, hearty, and organic vegan fare.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts at MOB

Maimonide of Brooklyn (MOB): Interesting vegan deliciousness, that manages to dodge being crunchy, served in a clean, hip, and friendly environment. Brunch on weekends. Read more about them on their website or on Yelp.

Oh My Heavenly Hair Red Room Luxe Salon & Store: On my way to MOB, I was drawn to this natural hair salon that also sells their own line of herbal vegan hair and skin care products. The owner Debra was radiant, friendly, and forthcoming with tons of knowledge. I'll share an interview with her here soon! I also purchased some goodies for my mom, so I'll have her report back with a review here on the blog too.

Century 21:  If you don't mind getting fist and elbows with tourist, you can find some deeply discounted good stuff here. I spotted a rack of vegan handbags by Urban Expressions. I bought an awesome teal purse for $44 (the SRP was $70). I also saw lots of bamboo kitchen utensils, bamboo socks, organic cotton basics. Fun! I go to the financial district location, but other locations can be found on their website.

Champs: I met a friend for brunch at this bakery/ diner that manages to be popular despite the dirty bathroom and long waits. Once I ate my Buenos Dia Salad (flavorful tofu scramble, smoky tempeh, avocado, tomatoes, creamy chipotle dressing served on a plush bed of greens), I understood what all the fuss was about. Check 'em out on Yelp.

Sustainable NYC: I used to work at this shop that sells "eco-friendly versions of everyday products and gifts" so it's not really new-to-me, but it's totally worth mentioning. They've got everything from cards handmade by African lady artisan cooperatives to espresso drinks made with fair trade coffee roasted in Brooklyn. When I visited, I bought some awesome ecojot notebooks and econuts soap nuts and ate a yummy bowl of lemon chickpea soup. (Can't make it to NYC? You can buy gifts online at their website too.)

Discovered a new use for coconut oil: I shaved my legs with coconut oil for the first time and OMG! My legs are so smooth, even though I used a cheapo bic razor. I will never buy shaving cream again! During this trip, I've used coconut oil as: mouthwash (via oil pulling), body lotion, hand cream, conditioner, and shaving cream. Hooray for not needing to pack tons of personal care goodies! (Check out more uses of coconut oil here.)

Walking: I have done lots and lots of walking in the cold. I am sure I've lost 5 pounds in just 5 days. Walking is so superhealthy!
 
What have you been up to this week? What's green to do in your city? 

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Check Out Your Green Resource

"Your Green Resource" is a weekly exchange of links to blog posts focusing on green, natural, frugal, and healthy tips and ideas. I just discovered YGR last week, but it's currently in its 68th week. (Whoa!)

Image via SortaCrunchy.net

I love all the creative tips that are being shared! A few of my favorite links this week include:

Your Green Resource is hosted by: Stacy at A Delightful Home, Emily at Live Renewed, Mindy at Creating Naturally, Rebekah at Simply Rebekah, and Beth at Red and Honey. You can visit either of these blogs to join in on the fun; see what's there and share a green-themed post from your own blog.

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Please like Olivia Cleans Green on Facebook, join my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog posts (by RSS or email) to keep in touch and discover more creative green homemaking tips.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Four Fantastic Pot & Pan Scrubbers

Burned cheese sauce, omelets, burned oil, crusty oatmeal... Whateves. They're no problem for these fantastic, all-natural pot scrubbers that you probably already have in your house.

Coffee

Image via the internets. Wish I had captured this in action before I gave up coffee.

Brew coffee at home? Reuse about 1 TBS of the spent grinds to scour your omelet off your stainless steel pan. Coffee grinds keep for several hours so you can use them later to remove other stubborn food from pots and pans. Just make sure you toss them out (or compost them) at the end of the day or else they'll be moldy. Also beware: This will dye your sponge, dish rag, and any other fabric it touches sepia.
This is my all time favorite scrubber! I've used coffee grinds to clean up a variety of burned, crusty food from stainless steel pots and pans and they always work brilliantly. It's so great, it's the thing I miss the most now that I've stopped drinking coffee regularly.


Pine Needles

Omelet meet Pine.

Pine needles have scour power and release a delightful smell. I saved a few branches of our Christmas tree before I tossed it out (making potporri) so I happened to have a lot on hand. You can pull pine needles off the branch, but it's no problem if some are still stuck to a little twig. That will help scour too! It takes about 2 TBS/ half a small handful to scour a pan.
I tried this for the first time today. It worked well to clean up my boyfriend's omelet pan and a pot that I used to cook burn vegan cheese sauce in, though I should note that I pre-soaked the cheesey pot in warm water while I ate breakfast. It isn't the best scrubber but it works well enough. Compost the pine needles when you're done with them.


Baking Soda + Dish Soap + Heat

I damaged this pan, but I also fixed it thanks to Melissa Maker's strategy.

This tip comes from Melissa Maker at Clean My Space. Check out her video and blog post for full details. It is more of a process than a one step fix, but it's a fantastic, low effort way to clean superdurty burned pots and pans. It requires no soaking, so this is great for when you've got company coming over or need to leave town right after you do dishes. It's also the easiest way to clean up burned oil. I imagine it's also safe for pans with non-stick coating so long as you use the soft side of the sponge in the final step.
Confession: This summer while apartment sitting, I badly burned a fancypants All-Clad pan while re-heating seitan cutlets. (Notice a pattern? Yes, I burn food. That's why this is a cleaning blog and not a cooking one.) I tried baking soda and a scouring pad: Fail. I added Ecover dish soap to baking soda and used a scouring pad: Fail. I tried Ecover soft scrub: Fail. Then over Christmas, I apartment sat in the same home and found the same pot was still burned. I tried this along with a scouring pad. Success! And it was so easy!!!
I've used Melissa's method with both Ecover and Seventh Generation brand dish detergent, so I don't think the brand of detergent matters much.

Plastic Produce Netting



This is an easy one. Save the plastic netting that comes with your onions, oranges, pistachios, potatoes- you know the kind, it's usually bright green or red...and  wrap it around your sponge. (The more times you wrap it around the sponge, the more scrubby it will be.) Use this to scrub pots. It's good at removing chunks of food from pre-soaked pots of burned rice and oatmeal.  Obviously plastic isn't natural, but it's a great way to reuse what would otherwise be trash. It's also reusable for as long as you want to keep it. Just remove the netting from the sponge and soak it in equal parts vinegar and water for 10 minutes every now and then to clean it.


Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Joining What I Wore Wednesday

I've been silently loving The Pleated Poppy's What I Wore posts and link parties for months. Today, I decided I shouldn't resist the temptation to jump in any longer.

This is what I wore today:

Rhody Snow Day Stylin' at the end of my shift at Craftland. Photo taken by Devienna <3

DIY Natural Cleaning Wipes

The lovely new-momma Jessica of Krrb recently asked me if I had any tips for making natural cleaning wipes. I'm a spray and wipe kinda gal, so I didn't have any.

I did end up trying this eventually. Here's a picture to prove it!

I took to the internets in search of DIY tutorials that readers loved and discovered one at Homemade Ginger: cut up old cotton t-shirt + diluted Dr. Bronner's + old wipes container  = cleaning wipes. Brilliant! Lots of Ginger's readers suggested adding antibacterial tea tree oil to keep the wipes from getting moldy. That seems like a good idea!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Clean a Refrigerator

I cleaned my fridge on Sunday. Cleaning the fridge is one of those things I love to whine about and struggle to avoid procrastinating on, but once I get going I realize: a) it's not that hard, b) it doesn't take that long, and c) the benefits are way awesomer than any I might have gained from sitting on the couch watching football for an extra thirty minutes.

When was the last time you cleaned your fridge from top to bottom? Can't remember. Maybe you should do it now. If you just went grocery shopping you get a pass to wait until next week, but do it then.

Here's how to clean a refrigerator the fast and green way.

This isn't my fridge. It belongs to vegan iron man, Rich Roll and is part of Well + Good's Refrigerator Look Book Series. I'm pretty sure all their participants clean their fridge before W + G comes over. They're always so clean!

Monday, January 14, 2013

How to Organize IKEA Hardware & Instructions

Hooray! Our new dining table and chairs just arrived. No more eating on the couch bent over a little coffee table. We're classing it up in 2013!

In case you are planning to buy, or recently purchased, furniture that requires assembly using weird bits and tools, I've got two tips that will help you keep things organized.



Save the weird tools and keys.
Put the tools in a sandwich baggie, jar, or other sealed container and label them. Store this with the rest of your tools.

Save the assembly instructions.
I store mine in a box with other manuals. It's true a lot of manuals are available online, but what if you move into a place before the WiFi is set up? What if searching the internet for your exact model makes your head explode? Always think ahead!
If it makes sense for you, save the bits in the box along with the manual. You can pack them all together in one big ol' smug freezer baggie of preparedness.

Bonus tip for later!
When disassembling a bookcase for a move, save all the shelf nubbins (that's the scientific name for the metal pegs that hold the shelves in place) in a ziplock baggie and use packing tape to stick it to the case unit. The nubbins will be supereasy to find when you are setting up the bookcase in your new digs.
If you loose any keys or bits, you can contact IKEA customer service for help getting a replacement, but why not avoid the drama.


Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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Friday, January 11, 2013

How to Keep Rubber Gloves Smelling Fresh

Rubber gloves are great for keeping your hands moisturized and protected when cleaning, but their smell can be a major turn off. You know- that funk they get after you wear them a few times.

Everyone says you should just turn them inside out after you use them, but let's be real- that's a total time consuming pain in the ass! (Does anyone actually do this?)

Here's a two step way to keep them fresh that is supereasy and likely to get done!
  1. After wearing, sprinkle some baking soda into your gloves. It neutralizes odor, absorbs moisture, and kills bacteria. You can also use natural powdered deodorant.
  2. Hang them (upside down/ fingers facing floor) to dry in a well-ventilated area. Keep out of direct sunlight, which can damage your gloves.
And if you're feeling fancy, mix up this herbal glove freshener.

Make a powder to keep your rubber gloves fresh.
  1. Combine about 3 T baking soda with 2-4 drops lavender essential oil. (Like baking soda, lavender is antibacterial. It also simply smells great!)
  2. Transfer to a clean and dry empty glass spice container with shaker top and sealing cover. You can also use a tight sealing container with a metal top. Just hammer holes into it using a nail. To seal container when not in use, cover the top with foil. This is important, otherwise your powder will be absorbing the funk of your house and not really be useful for your gloves.
  3. Store the powder in the same area, or at least the same room, as you do your gloves so that you actually use it.
I reuse a travel-sized candle tin to store my glove powder.
My rubber gloves hang to dry from clothespin attached to a bread tie wrapped around my microwave cart. Self-high five for rigging this one!


Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DIY Natural Toothpaste & Tooth Powder

Today I ran out of toothpaste so I decided to make my own since it's less expensive, easier than walking to Whole Foods, and fun!

DIY Tooth Powder

Homemade Tooth Powder

This supersimple recipe was inspired by Toxic Beauty Blog's tutorial Say No to Toothpaste... Make Your Own.

  • 4 T baking soda
  • 1/2 T sea salt
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix everything together. Store in a jar.

To use: Wet your toothbrush. Pour a little powder into your palm. Scoop it up with your toothpaste bristles.

I love this powder! It left my teeth and gums feeling supervibrant and cleeeeean! I will definitely finish this entire jar and perhaps make more.

DIY Toothpaste

Homemade Toothpaste
 
I slightly adapted a coconut oil and baking soda based toothpaste recipe I discovered at Artistta blog.
 
  • 5 T baking soda (scrubs and neutralizes funk)
  • 3 T coconut oil (anti-bacterial and could protect you from gingivitis)
  • 2 T hydrogen peroxide (disinfects, use less or none if you'd like a thicker paste)
  • 1/2 T peppermint extract* (optional)
  • 30 drops of SunnyDew (blend of Stevia leaf extract and chrysanthemum flower/ natural sweetener. use more or less, to taste.)
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil* (freshness and flavor! Use more or less or a different extract, to taste)

Mix everything together, tweaking the proportions of everything to suit your taste and consistency preferences. Store in a tight sealing jar in a dark cabinet or drawer to protect the potency of the peroxide. If you have a dark jar, even better.

To use: Scoop some out with a spoon and apply to your toothbrush (or you could dip your toothbrush directly into the jar, which I think is gross).

While it's good enough to use as is, this toothpaste recipe is still in it's tweaking stage as far as I'm concerned. I think I'll leave out the peroxide and peppermint extract next time, as the consistency is too runny for me. It's a little hard to keep this paste on the toothbrush.

Do you have a great natural toothpaste or tooth powder recipe? Do you trust homemade dental care products? Share your recipes and thoughts in the comments! 

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Better Life Cleaning Products Review & Giveaway

Through the magic of Twitter I discovered Better Life, a company run by two dads who make natural cleaning products that boast "unmatched safety, unbeatable performance." I was superexcited about the product line because they are truly green: "GMO free, cruelty free, made in the USA, fragrance free, sulfate free and petroleum free." Good stuff! I also admire their fun, light spirit. Anyone who puts an image of someone reading on a toilet on their packaging knows the way to my heart!

So yeah, I kinda developed a crush on Better Life and asked if they'd send me some products for review. They did. Yippee!

Even the Kitchen Sink, what-EVER, & I Can See Clearly, Wow!


I Can See Clearly, WOW! (natural glass cleaner)
No one is allowed to touch the three mirrors in my house without feeling my wrath and I clean them weekly, so I can't say that they posed much of a challenge. Still, I was pleased with this product. Paired with newspaper, it dried fast and didn't leave any streaks. Good enough.

Even the Kitchen Sink (natural cleansing scrubber)
I'm not much of a soft scrub gal, I prefer powder cleansers, but I was curious about this product. Post-breakfast and lunch, my stainless steel kitchen sink was durty (yes, that's dirty with a "u" for extra nastiness) and this got it clean. It also rinsed fairly quickly and easily without leaving residue. I'll say this product lives up to its name.

Durty sink

Clean sink!

What most impressed me about Even the Kitchen Sink was its performance cleaning my grungy toilet bowl that has been stained since we moved into this old house. ETKS is viscous enough to shoot out of the bottle and into that treacherous area under the toilet bowl rim. Basically, I used it like a regular toilet cleaner and managed to get a good coating of the stuff on the stained area and have some slide down into the bowl. After I cleaned my entire bathroom, I brushed the heck out of the toilet and the stains were significantly reduced. I am keeping this stuff near my toilet from now on!  (I'm not including pictures of my toilet because that's just wrong. Sorry!)

what-EVER! (natural all purpose cleaner in Clary Sage & Citrus)

I love what-EVER!
This product is the money shot! For me, having a good all-purpose cleaner is key and what-EVER is amazing!

Stovetop before

Stovetop after, with barely any rubbing
Garbage cabinet floor before. Ugh!

Garbage cabinet floor after little effort. Ah!


Toaster with fingerprints.
Stainless steel toaster getting it's shine on!
  • what-EVER doesn't leave any reside. None! My tile countertops, my appliances (stainless steel and plastic), my stovetop-- everything is shining!!!!! 
  • what-EVER cleaned my grody stovetop which was covered with oil, tomato sauce, and oatmeal that boiled over.
  • what-EVER cleaned the stainless steel kettle that was on said stovetop and pretty much covered with the same things except more of it. (I only clean the poor thing about once a week and it's always on my stovetop.)
  • what-EVER cleaned under my sink where I store my garbage bin so it cleaned up all the stuff that's missed the garbage since I last cleaned under there (whenever that was).
  • what-EVER was wonderful in the bathroom too!
  • what-EVER smells great gently and naturally thanks to plant essential oils, instead of knocking you over the head with faux fragrance. It's also available scent-free.
I basically spent most of my afternoon cleaning because it was so fun and easy to use. Also because I was looking for something dirty enough to stump it. I never found anything. It truly surpassed my expectations. what-EVER is the best all-purpose cleaner I've ever used, store-bought or homemade, hands-down!

In summary, all three of the products were easy to use and cleaned the surfaces they promised to clean without any bad stuff or much elbow-grease. The bottles were easy to handle. I was also impressed that the products arrived with minimal packaging. Just product bottles, two spray nozzles, and two balled up wads of paper to keep things from shifting around. Very eco-friendly! I totally plan buy a few bottles of what-EVER and try Simply Floored natural floor cleaner too. I'll let you know what I think of it! (Update: Simply Floored is awesome and super convenient to just squirt and wipe with a damp microfiber mop.)

So you want some too, right? Okay! Better Life wants to send the same products I tried to one of my readers. Woo hoo! Feeling lucky? Enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Connect with Better Life: Website // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Is Your Man a Mess in the Kitchen?

I just stumbled upon a blog post titled "A Man in the Kitchen Equals a Mess". My knee-jerk reaction, was "Heck yeah! Tell it, sister!" followed by my PC reaction, "That's a sexist generalization."

Sometimes you wanna strangle the cook instead. (Image via Food Channel Shop)

Truth is, I've only lived with one man in my adult life, and yeah, he's a mess in the kitchen. A loveable, well-meaning mess.

I learned my lesson a few years ago when I asked him to make me dinner for my birthday. He prepared a delicious, elaborate meal and an even more elaborate mess! Every dish and pot in the apartment was dirty. Food and packaging was everywhere. I refused to clean on my birthday, so I left the mess for the next morning. I didn't sleep well because it drives me crazy to go to bed with a dirty kitchen. I then spent the next day cleaning for almost two hours. (We didn't have a dishwasher then.) Argh!

Is your man a mess in the kitchen too? If so, here's my advice to make life a little less stressful:
  • Let your guy cook for you, but make sure it's something simple and easy to clean up. Salads, sandwiches, and re-heating things are good for that.
  • Offer to cook with him so that you can keep things under control. Put stuff back in the fridge. Throw stuff in compost bin or trash. Mix up things that might splatter.  He'll think you're being supersweet and a great assistant-- which you are-- but you're also secretly doing damage control.
  • Ask him to clean up after himself. He will totally half-ass it, but that's less the work for you to do later. 
  • Keep tools and products he likes to clean up with in an extremely visible and easily accessible spot in the kitchen. 
  • Ask to eat out on your birthday, anniversary, and other special occasions.
  • Remember that you love him.

Before anyone gets angry at me, I wanna clarify that I understand gender has nothing to do with how tidy or messy a person is. When working as a residential cleaner, I cleaned two insanely dirty apartments and both were occupied by one person-- one by a guy, the other by a gal. So I can't say one gender is messier than the other. Still, I have noticed that cleaning responsibilities tend to fall upon women when they're coupled with men. #realtalk

If you're the messy one in the relationship, theKitchn has 3 practical tips for cooking without making a mess.

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

Stay connected: Free Gift // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // YouTube
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Green Alternatives to Plastic Food Storage Containers

Plastic food storage containers pose serious health risks and pollute the environment. (Read yesterday's blog post for more details.) Good news is we have plenty of healthy, eco-friendly alternatives that will keep our leftovers fresh and protect our lunch from getting smashed. Here are a few:

Pyrex Glass Containers

This Pyrex 10-piece set is on sale now for just $15!

Pyrex makes a variety of food storage containers. Besides being healthier, these glass containers are easier to keep clean (you can put them anywhere in the dishwasher), they don't absorb food smells or colors, and they can go from the oven to the fridge to the microwave to the dishwasher. Easy!

Pyrex Premium Glass Lids is the only storage product with an airtight and leak-proof glass lid! Their website boasts "a contemporary and sleek lid design that is 100% oven safe, and offers increased durability and greater food visibility than plastic lids." The one downside is they are a bit pricier: You can buy a set of three 2-cup containers on Amazon for $25.

We just purchased a set of nine assorted Pyrex containers with supertight leak-proof plastic lids that are BPA-free. They were only $32 on Amazon. You can't put the lids in the oven, but that wasn't priority for me.


Mason Jars

Weck Jars (Image via Williams-Sonoma)

Though made for home canning, mason jars are great for storing liquid leftovers like soup and sauces. The wide mouth jars are good for chunkier leftovers. Sadly, the standard lids have BPA in their lining. Ugh! There are reusable BPA-free plastic lids though. Ahhh! Green Depot sells Weck canning jars with glass lids (and rubber rings). So does Williams-Sonoma. These are 100% plastic-free. Hooray!

Metal Containers

Klean Kanteen Canisters coming this Spring! (Image via Klean Kanteen.)

Since you can't see through them, metal containers aren't ideal for storing leftovers in your fridge (unless you're willing to commit to labeling each container with a post it or painters tape). But metal food storage containers are just as easy to keep clean and fresh as glass, while being lighter and more durable than glass, making them the perfect containers for school lunches, trips, hikes, and other times you wanna brown bag it.

Klean Kanteen just announced they'll release a line of leakproof, 100% stainless steel food canisters this Spring. I love, love, love their water and coffee bottles, so I can't wait to try these new products! Extra excited that the line will include vacuum insulated canisters too! They were chosen by National Geographic to be part of the Gear of the Year 2012. Making them even more badass is the fact that they are designed to make shopping for bulk foods supereasy. They have space on the lids for you to label them with the bulk ID number using a grease pencil or marker. I'm guessing they've got the container weight printed on them too. Hooray for not having to take plastic bulk bags or remember to wash resusable ones! Klean Kanteen canisters are dishwasher safe! Woo Hoo!

Lunch Bots Trio Stainless Steel Container. (Image via Lunchbots.)

Lots of other companies already make stainless steel food containers. EcoLunchbox makes 100% stainless steel bento style boxes in several sizes. Lunchbots makes a variety of stainless steel containers, including several with different compartments and insulation.

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Please Don't Eat the Plastic!

Are you putting your healthy food in unhealthy containers? (Image via Align Life)

You've probably heard that plastic food and drink containers might not be that safe, but do you know which containers and why? Some common plastics are known to release harmful chemicals into our air, foods, and drinks.

BPA (bisphenol-A) is a chemical that's been getting a lot of media attention over the last few years. It is found in PC (Polycarbonate) plastic #7 which was used for baby bottles until the FDA banned it last July. It's still found in other food packaging, including metal can linings and clear, hard plastic containers (like 5 gallon water jugs) and eating utensils.


Phthalates are found in PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic #1 which is commonly used for soda, water, and cooking oil bottles. You're probably okay using soda and water bottles once, but repeated handling, exposure to sunlight, and other heat exposure (like hot water washing or being left in a hot car) breaks down the plastic and encouraged the release of chemicals. As for the safety cooking oil, plastic is a made of oil (petroleum) and oil absorbs oil, so there is probably plasticy chemical goodness in any oil that came out of a plastic container.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride, aka Vinyl) plastic #3, which is commonly used for condiment bottles, cling wrap, as well as teething rings and toys (*ftw?!!!!*), can leach phthalates too. PVC also leaches lead and off-gases toxic chemicals. Bonus!

BPA and phthalates are both potent hormone disruptors that are increasingly linked to health effects like brain and behavior changes, cancer, and reproductive system damages.

PS (Polystyrene, aka Styrofoam) plastic #6 is commonly used for meat trays, as well as hot food and drink containers. It can leach carcinogenic styrene and estrogenic alkylphenols. Yummers!

Our plastic in a dead seagulls belly.

All plastics are forever, like diamonds, except in a much more despicable way. So even the safer ones like #2, #4, and #5 are piling up in landfills and mucking up our oceans. Wildlife, who now have a hard time distinguishing between plastic and food, are eating it. This is obviously unnatural and unhealthy for them and for any carnivorous creatures who end up feasting on them.

Learn more about the connection between plastic and health:
Healthy Child, Healthy World: Be Wise with Plastics
Environmental Working Group: Pick Plastics Carefully
PlasticAlbatross.org

Sorry this post is such a downer! Of course, I would never just leave you guys with bad news without also offering steps you can take to help improve things. I'll be sharing alternatives to plastic food containers tomorrow and will continue to offer tips for reducing plastic use at home on this blog, so please stay tuned! In the meantime, please visit My Plastic-free Life, which is super encouraging and has lots of resources.

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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