theCOZYgreenCOCOON

Headed towards back to the basics living.


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“Do,Do,Do…Looking out my back door…”

Sometimes….like when it’s really windy, (like today), or when I have a headache for the third day in a row (like today) & I’m sad because of a recent death of a loved one (like today) and I’m seriously considering just crawling back in bed and calling it a day (Wah! Okay, thanks for letting me complain and get that out of my system.) I remind myself that life doesn’t have to perfect for it to be good-really good.

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Case in point, DH and I went for a drive on Monday-just to see what we could see in our new neighborhood and found some great places to hike or have a picnic in the nearby Sandia Mountains.

This is about 20 minutes from our house.

We had no idea that you could see so far except at the peak. The peak of the Sandias is actually fairly well-known. It can be reached by car or the tramway-the longest aerial tram in the world.

View from the peak. This is about another 10 minutes up the mountains.

Also we found that New Mexico DOES have running water-sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Running water! It does exist!

And our labs couldn’t have been happier! I think they were seriously considering diving in!

It was a great day!

And I feel blessed to live in an area where I really enjoy the scenery…lookin’ out my back door.

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Goodbye Toilet Paper. Hello…family cloth?

OMG! Somebody went there! They went and they used a piece of reusable cloth (officially known as a family cloth)  instead of using disposable TP! And it wasn’t me ladies and gentleman. But apparently, this practice is becoming more and more common. There is apparently even an annual challenge held by the Crunchy Chicken blogger to try out cloth TP for a week. (I will advise you that her language/topics are not always G rated though in case that kind of thing concerns you.)

To explain further, the family cloth is  named such to avoid confusion with cloth baby wipes and “mother cloths” and the like. Basically it just means that a reusable/washable material such as a t-shirt is cut into strips and stacked near the toilet. It’s then collected in a covered wastebasket next to the toilet. Some people use it all the time, while others continue to use disposable in certain “messy instances.” I will not give further explanation on that. I’m sure you can use your imagination just fine (=

To be fair there are other alternative ideas worth considering. The first and probably the easiest (including convenience & no ick factor) would be to switch to recycled toilet paper. Reputed to be only a few cents more than typical name brand TP but also not as soft. If you use the cheaper store brand/value brands then I’m afraid the jump in price might give you sticker shock but I bet their wouldn’t be as big a difference in softness. There’s also the bidet, rather popular in Europe-who only use about half the TP than most Americans do btw. (The average American uses over 50 pounds of TP per year! That’s quite a bit if you think about how light toilet paper rolls are!)  There’s also what is known as a washlet,like this one from Toto. Basically its just a toilet seat that you add to your current toilet but it’s got some interesting features.

The Toto Washlet.

To be honest, this is one topic I really hadn’t planned on even bringing up. I feel like I’m pushing the envelope already in some ways. But then I came across this post over on Apartment Therapy: Re-nest and I just knew I had to say something and get people opinions on this! My first instinct is to just say no.Leave me to my normal TP habit.  But I read an interesting comment posted by one reader of Apartment Therapy. They said that the concept of using disposable TP is actually considered antiquated in some parts of the world and that bidets and the like are actually considered more sanitary and are able to give you that fresh feeling. Hmmm…. could America actually be behind the times (pun intended)?

Would love it if you shared your thoughts-but also understand if you don’t. It IS  rather personal choice I suppose.


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The Keys to Attracting & Keeping Wildlife in Your Yard

Do you love butterflies like me? What about birds? I have so been digging them this year! Or have you ever watched hummingbirds only a few feet from your window when making their morning rounds? There’s nothing quite like it. If you haven’t experienced it or maybe your just wishing to see more of these gorgeous little creatures then read on! It’s really easier than you might think!

Let me back up just a bit. Last year, I purchased plants said to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Butterflies were my focus and the birds just a bonus. So I was surprised when I spotted a few butterflies here and there but the  hummers were regular customers. I had no clue as to why. Turns out I  only had one piece of the puzzle. Apparently I had provided nectar to attract the butterflies but provided no host plant for butterfly caterpillars to eat from and provide shelter while cocooning.The hummingbirds on the other hand had found shelter and water in my close neighbors yards and so their habitat was complete with the plant food I was providing.

According to the National Wildlife Federation there are 5 main elements you need to provide in order for wildlife to call your yard home. BTW, your yard can be anywhere from several acres to a small urban back yard. Wildlife is everywhere and always looking for refuge. And depending on the specific elements provided and your location you can get different animals-anywhere from butterflies & birds to snakes or bats! Oh,my! Here’s the 5 elements to provide if you want to see more wildlife:

(See You Tube for some great short videos.)

If you want to take it a step further you can actually become an official “Certified Wildlife Habitat.” And there’s no big rigorous inspection-basically just scout’s honor that you’ve provided a home for the animals. I think this would be really fun if you have kids! For $20 you get a certificate and sign that you can post showing you are official. You also get a years subscription to National Wildlife Magazine and several other bonuses. (No,I don’t get anything for  mentioning them I just think it’s a fun idea.) I haven’t joined yet-our new rental house is missing a couple of elements before that can happen. I’m excited to get started though! Butterfly milkweed here we come (=


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Happy Earth Day!

Wow, it’s Earth Day! The first thought that comes to my mind is planting a tree. It just seems so elemental somehow. But the truth is there are lots of ways to celebrate Earth Day. I think the point is just to take the time and realize how valuable our planet is. When you think about how everything just works so well together And then when you stop and realize that not only is the Earth functional in keeping us alive, but it’s also beautiful! Really, what a gift!  And what better way to show appreciation for a gift than to say thank you.To maybe find a small way to give back.

My original plans involved hitching a ride with my husband in to his work today and then pick up a darling little sapling and get it in the ground before sunset. Well, THAT didn’t work out. So, I’ve decided instead to repot a rosebush I was recently given as a gift. I’ve never grown roses before and honestly don’t have a clue what they really need to thrive. So I’m going to take some time today to educate myself on how to try to not kill this pretty little pink flowering bush because although it wasn’t my first choice I do think every plant has its purpose. A rosebush is still a plant that provides oxygen just like that little tree I had in mind. Not to mention it really is quite pretty!

If you’re just not the gardening type I’ve thought of a couple other ideas that seem just as important to me to honor the gift we have in this planet we call home.

  • Think of one not so earth friendly habit you have and then how you could improve it in the next week. Go through the steps, find ways to make it practical. Earth Day is great but there are 364 other days a year that count too. Maybe it involves buying a few reusable hand towels to try to use less paper towels. Maybe its making a sticky note to turn the water off while you brush your teeth or wash your face. Or maybe adding a timer on your next shopping list to help you take shorter showers. Whatever your goal is-big or small-it all counts!
  • With May just around the corner that means Mother’s Day gifts, graduation gifts, and gifts for  birthdays and weddings too! Instead of just your usual go-to gift why not look for earth-friendly gifts. Maybe it could become your new go-to gift. I have to tell you about this great link to some earth-friendly vendors I found on Etsy. Beth over at Petite Planet recently shared it with her readers. I find it rather difficult to find a group of crafters that are eco-focused so that basically I can shop without worry. If you’re interested, here is the link. They’re offering all sorts of discounts, some through today others through the 29th.
  • Join the National Arbor Day Foundation. National Arbor Day is actually coming up on April 30th. When you join your membership pays for 10 FREE trees! Yes, they are small trees, but really how can you complain about them-it only costs $10! Cheap, cheap, cheap! Now you’re not just planting one tree-you’re planting multiple (= Oh and if you don’t want the hassle of planting them-they will donate your trees and have them planted for you-so easy!

Got any more ideas? What are you doing for Earth Day today?


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Butterflies-Blog Specimen No. 2

Well, so far I’ve counted three super-dainty pure white butterflies flitting around our yard.  I’ve been trying to snap a picture of them to share with you but inevitably as soon as I put my camera down, one will just flutter on by and is gone in a heartbeat! (That’s alright though,I’ve got all summer!) I just love watching them dance around each other. I once read that if you could hear the sound a butterfly makes while flying, you would hear giggling and laughter much like children at play! Seems fitting somehow.

And while I unfortunately don’t have a pic of the most recent ones seen around my house, I do have a picture of this really cute butterfly craft from Junie Moon. These could be made just to celebrate spring with your kids or you could create one, like Junie Moon did, in honor of an exhibition at the Houston Holocaust Museum. It’s scheduled to debut in Spring 2013 to remember the children who died during the holocaust. There are to be 1.5 million put on display. Wow! Can you imagine! That is so many! I’m sure it will be beautiful! And then when you think about how they represent real people! I know it seems sad! I don’t like to write about sad things-butterflies seem happy-I think that’s why I like the idea though. Children always seem so happy and carefree like butterflies. It seems like a happy beautiful way to remember something that could be really depressing! ( I do hope your still smiling-right?!)

According the museum’s website they have collected approximately 400,000 so far and are still accepting submissions until June 30, 2012. The submissions can come from individuals as well as organizations. I’m thinking about sending in one myself to honor part of my family heritage. If you’re looking for an idea to get you started, this tutorial provided by Junie Moon might make a good starting point and then you could put your own spin on it. I just love how it’s layer upon layer of butterflies-overall butterfly shape, butterfly patterned paper and butterfly cutouts in its wings. For crafts in general, you could probably take this idea and create a flower-overall flower shape, flower print and then flower cutouts too-or what about  a piece of fruit, or animals? The possibilities are endless really. Hmmm, think I’m going to have to get crafting-my fingers are starting to twitch!


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An Easy Eco-Friendly Way to Save on Baby Gear

This is from last years' sale-I would guesstimate it was at least twice as big this time or more!

They call it the Mother Load Sale. They aren’t lyin’ either! Rows and rows of seriously cute gently used baby & children’s clothing, toys, bedding and the whole list of baby gear all gathered in one spot. It was an eco-minded, frugalista’s dream come true let me tell you.

I’ve really been struggling to try to  balance my desire for nothing but the best organic chemical-free items for my baby and what my budget will actually allow. It’s a constant tug-o-war. For instance, I really love these Organic Nursing Covers but I think I could make them for less than $10 using this really easy looking tutorial over at Prudent Baby. The fabric wouldn’t be organic but does it need to be? Will I use this item often enough to make the extra $20-25 worth it?

Or what about organic baby clothing? If you’ve looked at prices lately you know that organic clothing is usually twice if not more for the same item. Yes, you usually do get what you pay for but if it’s not there in the budget, it’s not there in the budget. So, I’m currently working on a list of baby gear items that IMO are worth going ahead and paying top dollar for and other items you might be okay to compromise just a little on.

I also think there has to be other alternative ideas to just organic vs. chemical laden items. So that’s where the Mother Load Sale comes in. I love the idea that if I can’t buy something organic, especially clothing or other fabric covered items  then at least I can buy gently used pieces that have been washed many times and hopefully have some of the original chemicals removed. I like to think of it as one more step between my baby and the dreaded toxins. (Insert ominous sounding music here.) It’s also great because when you think about ‘Reducing, Reusing, & Recycling”  this fits two out of the three categories. Waste is reduced because one man’s trash becomes another man’s treasure. And resources (such as money & materials) are not being wasted but rather reused in a beneficial way for both parties (the seller and the buyer).

So armed with my parents and oldest sister we set out Saturday morning (along with several hundred other women) to find ourselves some good deals to outfit the baby on the cheap-nothing like making your dollar stretch as far as it will go-Oh, I love it! Here’s some of our finds:

Graco Activity Center, very good condition, purchased by Grandma & Grandpa for $25. Brand new retails for ~$65. Savings: $45

Fisher Price Crib Aquariam. Retails for $35, scored for $15. And it works perfectly! Savings: $20

Board book, such a cute story! Retails for $.01 used on Amazon but you have to pay $3.99 for shipping! Scored for $3. Savings: $.99 but not dealing with shipping and no wait is priceless (to me)!

Sweet baby blue knit hat. The cheapest hats I've found on Etsy retail for $10. Scored for $2. Savings $8 (not including shipping.)

Super soft vintage baby blanket. Similar ones retail for ~$30 on Etsy. Scored for $3!!! Probably my favorite find of the day! Savings:~$27

Here's a closeup of the blanket-just in case you were curious.

I also found a couple of items for my ever diminishing wardrobe.

Pretty cotton sundress from Maternity Motherhood. I refuse to give up comfort for style right now. This fits the bill! Very similar dress retails for $25. Scored for $8. Savings $17.

Pink Motherhood Maternity Top. Retails for $15. Scored for $5. Savings $10.

We also found quite a few other items in great condition but that’s way too many pictures to load! And I’m wouldn’t want to bore you to tears or have you dozing off on me! (We go for perky alert smiles around here!) Have a great day (=


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How to Make Reusable Toss’n Wash Handkerchiefs

***A friendly warning: Don’t read this while eating!***

Sneezing? Runny nose? Itchy eyes? Sore scratchy throat? Yeah, me too. Apparently 2/3 of the country is in high allergy alert today. My neighborhood is one of them. And my nose knows it! In my quest seeking less dependence on disposable paper products, I am so glad that I finished up my reusable handkerchiefs yesterday. I have used them several times already and each time I do I feel a little more self-sufficient. I know-it’s a small thing, but just think of how much tissue or toilet paper would be saved if everyone went to reusable hankies.

Are you imagining those embroidered hankies that your grandmother carried or those hankies folded just so in your grandfathers back pocket? Well, I’m not talking about those-not exactly. At the risk of providing TMI here, let me just say I have absolutely no interest in carrying around a virtual booger rag. No offense to anyone who does, but that’s just not my style. I prefer to go with a more in-the-middle sort of approach.

The hankies I’m going to use are reusable and washable but they are much smaller than a traditional handkerchief. My plan is to use them while at home, storing them in a pretty basket until I need one, then tossing it directly into a wash pile after ONE use. This way I avoid all things crusty as much as possible while still satisfying my earth-friendly conscience.

You could definitely make these from scratch using really cute scrap fabric. I don’t really have a lot since I haven’t sewn all that much (yet). The material I do have is home decor-not exactly the kind you want rubbing up against your delicate skin 20 times a day! So, I started with some inexpensive men’s handkerchiefs. I would have preferred all cotton but these are a cotton/polyester blend. I figured I could compromise a bit here since I am going to be reusing them and saving trash from the landfill. Here’s a simple tutorial but I’m sure you can easily come up with a method that works for you.

Step 1. Start with a clean, pre-sewn handkerchief. A little wrinkling won't hurt but doesn't make for as pretty a picture-too late I already cut them all before I reviewed my pics!

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Step 2. Fold into fourths. Or if you prefer fold fabric into six even pieces. Using either your hand or an iron make creases for each fold to use as cutting guides.

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Step 3. Cut the material using pinking shears to make for no sew hankies. You can always use regular scissors and sew around the new raw edges. Pinking shears just make for less work and quicker finished results.

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I originally started with a package of 12. I cut some into 4 pieces, others into 6, so I’ve got approximately 50-60 hankies now. I figure at this rate that should last me about a week and I plan on washing them with my other whites so there’s no extra laundry to do. IMO not bad for a one time investment of about five bucks! Would love to hear if you try this!