theCOZYgreenCOCOON

Headed towards back to the basics living.


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I’m so excited…..I just had to share.

(Squeal) I’m so excited…and motivated…and pumped! I don’t know if you remember what my new year’s resolutions were, but one of them was to eat healthier and also another was to make bread once a week. Well…it looks like I am going to be able to head in that direction thanks to an awesome gift from my brother, a great bread book, and a link from a great friend which has lead me to another link and then another link and another and another….! Need I go on?

Any guesses what this is???

Up until about a week ago I had really been struggling trying to accomplish anything other than taking care of T. And I refuse to drop breastfeeding if its in my control. (That’s a whole different post and I will go there someday, but not now.) Now don’t get me wrong I think its a super important job and I love it with all my heart but I’ve really felt like other things, important things, have just been neglected. I’ve just been overwhelmed to be honest. How in the world can I keep my kitchen clean? How can I get all the laundry done and put away? Things like that. I’ve just felt such a strong pull to get my household in order in terms of food and health and cleanliness and yet not forget to enjoy and celebrate the special moments that are oc

curing before my eyes. I know these moments will go by so fast and I can’t get them back.

So I’ve been asking God to help me to find a way to accomplish the things that need to be done and just let the other stuff go when needed, and also wisdom to know the difference.It wasn’t long before I found Flylady and then a very good friend sent me the link to Kitchen Stewardship (I will be featuring somethings I try out from over there soon. Can you say homemade yogurt or whole wheat tortillas  and yummy warm soups?!?) Although they might seem insignificant sometimes, I do believe God cares about even the little things in our lives. The sudden influx of inspiration and links and connections has convinced me of this.  I hope you’ll join me as I explore them all here on my little blog. We’re going cozy and self sustainable and efficient!

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One Word Wednesdays

The power of words has really been hitting home to me lately. I believe I have already found a theme bound to reoccur in my life around the word “movement.”  Then as I was reading a new to me blog, AlieEdwards.com, I noticed that she posted her word for 2011,”light”. I got a little excited. Lots of  people think there are words that fit their lives for a period of time? Wow! Actually, I know Joyce Meyer would agree with me too. She stresses the power of words in her sermons. “And God said…” and that’s when things really began to happen at the beginning of time.

And so I’m going to start doing One Word Wednesday posts. Maybe just a quote, a definition or a picture. Something simple to just remind me about how big of an impact one little word can have on our lives and on others and share it with you. I hope you will share any that you come across that have meaning or impact on you. (=

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This week I’ve been thinking about resolutions. There were 12 different definitions listed on dictionary.com, but four of them seemed the most relevant for what’s been on my mind:

Resolution (noun)

1.a formal expression of opinion or intention made
2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.
3. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.+

+Could that last one explain why so many people don’t keep their New Year resolutions? Do we lack firmness of purpose in our mind from the outset????
Here are the resolutions I’m considering for 2011. Notice I said considering not resolving. Not sure I can take these all out at once (hey I’m just being honest with myself, I know I don’t have mental resolve right now),but they are definitely on my “let’s try this out list”:
  1. Bake bread every week. (More details on this later).
  2. Craft time every day-even if its just for 15 minutes. I love to craft and I’ll take what I can get.
  3. Develop a household routine. I’ve been reading flylady.net and I’m trying out some of her baby steps.
  4. Exercise  regularly/ eat healthy. (I need to get down to details on this one still. I’m starting out with just drinking more water and trying to eat at least 1 vegetable or fruit at each meal.  Yep that’s how far off I’ve gotten over the holidays. Eating 1 vegetable or fruit is an improvement. Sad I know.

Oh, and if you’re really feelin’ the power or words too, you might want to check out this workshop that Alie Edwards is doing too, called One Little Word. I’m thinkin’ I just might have to sign up for it. I’ve been so wanting to get back into my scrapbooking….


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Waiting on Baby

September 20th. My baby’s due date. It has come…and gone. And since I’ve been MIA the last few days I’m sure some of you wondered if my little girl finally made her appearance into the world. Nope. She’s still all snuggly and warm in her personal human incubator (i.e. ME). And so  DH and I are here just waiting and trying to keep ourselves busy. Not too exciting really.

Now don’t get me wrong-there are still dishes and clothes to wash and put away. But  there are those moments-the ones where you think ” I need something to do”-after all I thought I would be knee deep in new baby land and made no plans for this week-and yet I’m not motivated to start any sewing or crafty projects. I just know I’m gonna start one and then go into serious labor and not finish it for 6 months. If ever. I’m one of those people that needs energy from a new idea to get projects completed. So….what does one do while waiting for a baby that so obviously is not in a hurry to join the rest of us in the world?

I love the idea of this magnetic fridge calendar. Would have to modify it a bit for my lifestyle. But love the concept.

Well, I have been blog hopping and surfing the web and in the process I’ve came across a few ideas-just little projects mind you-that I’ve  tried out and thought you might be interested in-you know, in case you ever need something to distract yourself and still try and feel productive.

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Project: Reusing Glass Jars

Not that this is a new idea to some of you. But I’m a procrastinator when it comes to actually getting those food/product labels off so that the jar actually looks pretty. So I’ve been saving them all up in a cabinet waiting for the perfect time to get them all spruced up. Thursday was that day.

Some tips I picked up:

  • For gummy type labels try holding your glass jar in your lap with a towel and then using your blowdryer to heat up the label and slowly peel the label off. Usually this will get the label off in less than five minutes and in one piece with no sticky residue left behind. So awesome!
  • For the other types of labels-you know the ones that must have been attached with never to be removed, hard as cement glue, try soaking the jar in soapy hot water for 15 minutes  then use a  heavy-duty scrubbing sponge and some serious elbow grease to remove the label. This will take a few minutes I’m not gonna lie but the results are nice.
  • If you still have some sticky residue left after either method, try putting a thick coat of peanut butter over the sticky residue and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then come back with a heavy-duty sponge and scrub away the stickiness. (Kind of the same concept as Goo Gone minus the petroleum-yay!)
  • If you want to take things a step further and really make your jars pretty try following this tutorial from Design*Sponge. Talk about pretty lids-see the picture above!

Project: Super efficient and Organized plastic bag storage

I know plastic bags are so not earth friendly. But no matter how hard I try I still seem to end up with more than I need. And they keep trying to take over my laundry room. So when I ran across this technique for folding them at A Lil Bird Told Me, well, my OCD tendencies came out and I my heart skipped a small beat. Seriously. If you must have some plastic bags why not store them neatly and make them that much more portable. Right??? I mean I’ve already thought of a couple of good uses for them. In my purse/bag so if I make a run to the store but don’t have my reusable shopping bags I at least won’t be using MORE  plastic bags. And then what about the glove compartment as trash bags for the car or as hair covers when it rains and you forget your umbrella. This is crucial for me as I am blessed with super frizzy hair and constantly fight the “I stuck my hand in an electric socket” look. Hehe!

Project:Organize the freezer or fridge, and then since you’re on a roll why not organize your pantry too!

Lately I’ve been making and freezing meals in preparation for the baby girl to arrive-and then just sticking them  in the freezer wherever they fit. A recipe for frost-bitten lasagna if I ever heard of one, but that was my method. So last Thursday after cleaning jars and folding plastic bags I tackled the freezer and fridge. Gave them a good wipe down and then did some serious sorting. Next, I’m off to do the pantry. I was totally inspired by this pantry redo over at House of Smiths. I thought I was organized before I saw this redo.

Not even close.

There’s also a really nice redo over at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia. And check out this slide show of cute pantries from Country Living magazine.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Hopefully next time I’ll have a sweet little baby girl to show off. She’s going to get here eventually (=


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The Nest, Part 3-It’s Finished!

Paper sack door wreath. Total Cost: $3. Oh Dollar Tree, how I love thee!

Aaaaahhhhh! (Sweet sigh of contentment.) I have finished the baby bird’s nest-finally! It seemed that every time I thought I was done-I would find one more little thing to do-and then another! But, I think-this time, it’s really done! Just in time too since I’m due in a little under a week. Not that it actually means something mind you. I haven’t seen any sign that this little girl is planning on making an appearance anytime soon. My only comfort is that my midwife has promised the latest I would give birth would be October 3rd. Sounds far away but at least I know by Christmas I will have a new little one to coo over anyways.So without further ado let me show you around her newly completed nest.

The paper sack wreath is really easy-but really time consuming.  If you like keeping your hands busy while you watch TV then this could be the project for you,, While I love the results, it takes a LONG time to do! Want the full how to? Check out this great tutorial over at Maryjanes and Galoshes.

 

Desk turned changing table. Makes for tons of storage and lots of longevity!

Any guesses on her name??? Please play fair, if you  already know it  don’t give it away-we’re excited to announce it ourselves (= Want to see how I made the subway art? Click here. Interested in a closeup of her clothes hamper? Go here.

Future nursing station. Books & burpcloths.

Talk about easy nursery decor. The picture frame art is just made scrapbooking supplies and the nesting doll was a gift from my aunt & uncle when they lived in Ukraine. The poetry book is a copy of the book my mom had when I was little-I used to love reading it in junior high.

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Crib skirt and pillows sewn from Riley Blake fabric. All of the baby girl’s fitted sheets are organic cotton. Yay for no chemicals!

Isn’t this  hand sewn sock monkey awesome?! He was a gift from my cousin Cher-xoxo!

Fabric Rosettes to embellish a pillow.

Quick & Easy Pillow dress-up made from leftover ribbon from another project.

This rocking chair is one of my favorite pieces. I was rocked to sleep in this by my own mother. Now it’s been repainted by DH and I made some coordinating fabric cushions for it.

The nursing stool. You know how much I love words so of course I had to use some good ol’ mod podge to embellish this nursing stool with flower names.

DH sanded, stripped, painted and slaved over this now beautiful chest of drawers. He did such a great job! Love you honey!

 

And of course her room would not be complete without SEVERAL butterflies! Does this collage look familiar? I blogged about making one of these after I saw this tutorial.

 

Well I hope you enjoyed the tour! It seemed like it took forever to do but now I think that might be a good thing because at this point…..all we can do is wait…..

 

xoxo, Rachel


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Petroleum Jelly Concerns

Petroleum Jelly. Brand name, Vaseline. You know, that whitish yellowy slippery goo that gets slathered on people’s cuts and burns, dry cracked lips and chapped noses. It’s everywhere and in many cosmetics here in America. It was listed as one of “4 skin helpers every baby should have” recently in American Baby magazine. (I will leave my growing dislike for their product recommendations for another day.) Actually, to quote the magazine it said:

“Try: Vaseline or Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Why: They’re the best  (and safest) remedies for dryness. ‘Nobody is allergic to petrolatum,’ Dr Berk says. ‘It has been the favorite of most pediatric dermatologists for years.’ “

This actually had me chuckling to myself. While this statement might be technically true-an allergy is defined as the body’s MISGUIDED reaction to a foreign substance that is usually harmless-it certainly doesn’t give an accurate full picture of some of the concerns related to petroleum jelly (pj).

When I first read the above statement my first thought was “Are they serious? Petroleum jelly is related to petrolatum-not good.” But I really didn’t know any more than the fact that it wasn’t considered “natural.” So I did some research. I was a little surprised and somewhat reassured as well as concerned with what I was able to find.

Besides the fact that pj causes a barrier to be formed on the skin and doesn’t let the skin breath and toxins are not able to get out, there are apparently two big concerns related to pj. One of the biggest concerns with pj is not with the petroleum jelly itself but rather the manufacturing process. While being processed  petroleum jelly is open to contamination from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, common contaminants known as PAHs, which have been linked to breast cancer. Um, hello, no thank you, I’ll pass on that one.

Another big concern is how the pj is used. It is in many of our products in America. I specify America because it has actually been banned in cosmetics in various countries including Europe. The problem is that its known it should not be consumed internally, but when you put pj in lipsticks and baby lotions and other cosmetics you can see how it would be hard not to consume it internally. Um, yuck!

So, if your alert antenna just went up a little like mine did and your thinking why not just avoid the whole possibility to begin with then there are a couple of ideas to get you started in that direction.

  1. First, begin with reading the labels on your cosmetics and try to purchase those that have natural ingredients listed such as shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil and olive oil.
  2. There is also a product called “Un-petroleum Jelly”. Made of natural ingredients you might want to try. You can get it here through Amazon.com
  3. I also recently found a book called “Better Basics for the Home.” It’s loaded with “recipes” for making natural homemade  concoctions so you know exactly what you are using on and in your body and in your home. Here’s the recipe I found for homemade non-petroleum jelly:
  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 1/2 ounce of beeswax (find it online here or at a natural/herbal type store)
  • 12 drops of grapefruit seed extract (find it online here or at a natural/herbal type store)

To Make: combine the oil and beeswax in a double boiler and place over medium heat until the wax is melted. Remove from heat, add grapefruit seed extract and mix with a hand or electric mixer until creamy.

This takes about half and hour to prepare and stores for about a year in a glass jar with a lid.

If you try this I would love to hear about it! My plate is pretty full these days with projects to complete before DD is born so I will probably start with the Un-Petroleum Jelly sold online and then when I have more time-maybe when I run  out of that-I will try my hand at making my own.Will have to let you know how that turns out!

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So here’s to lowering the risk of breast cancer for all women, self-sufficiency and the satisfaction of knowing that knowledge is in fact power.


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Calendula Home Remedy for the Whole Family

Doesn't this picture almost make you wish it was fall time?

I can’t believe its been almost two weeks since my last post! Life has just been, well, life! I was gone most of last week and into the weekend to visit my old hometown and my in-laws who we’re throwing DH and I a wonderful baby shower! It was so great to see family and friends! We received some amazing gifts and I will have to show you some of the more eco-friendly ones we received later on. (The cord that connects my camera to my pc has gone MIA so no pictures are getting uploaded until that valuable piece of equipment turns up, unfortunately!)

For now I wanted to share this “radiant remedy” that I found in the June issue of body+soul magazine. The baby home remedies I recently posted about had me really excited to pursue some home concoctions that the whole family could use to try and avoid unnecessary chemicals.This particular recipe is great to use on various skin conditions like burns, bruises, cuts to help prevent infections. You can also use it as a moisturizer for dry skin. It takes about a month for it to be ready so if you get started now, it would be ready to carry you into the cooler fall/winter months coming up. I know, I know, its still 90 degrees outside but my coming little one has me nesting and getting prepped for things farther ahead than I normally would. Besides dry skin and cuts and bruises are bound to happen anytime of the year.

Here’s how to make your own:

Step 1. Place calendula blossoms in a quart size jar. Mmmmm, just imagine how great these are bound to smell! Make sure the blossoms and jar are COMPLETELY dry because any moisture will lead to mold. Blossoms can be purchased online at zackwoodsherbs.com or frontiercoop.com as well as others.

Step 2. Pour extra-virgin olive oil or sweet almond oil over the blossoms until they are completely covered. Seal the jar, and place in the sunniest spot in your house. Let it sit until the oil turns golden, about 4 weeks.

Step 3. Use a mesh strainer, to strain the liquid into clean dry bottles or jars. If you want very refined oil use a cheesecloth along with the mesh strainer to get out every last bit of stray flower.

Step 4. Label and date the oil. One of my favorite parts is that it can last up to a year!  So you get a similar shelf life to a chemically derived product (can you say Neosporin?) giving you plenty of time to use up your home remedy.

So pretty and so useful!


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Office Chair & Card Table Makeover

I needed a space to call my own. You know, a space where I sit down and the creating happens-or doesn’t happen-and then I can get up and walk away without putting anything up-and return an hour or a day or days later and pick right back up where I started. So I searched Craigslist. Nothing. Or at least nothing I would pay the asking amount for. And then I tried used retail stores like Goodwill & the Salvation Army. Nothing. It was rather weird actually. All the Goodwill stores in my area are mysteriously out of furniture. No desks, no tables, no couches. Hmmm…are people wiseing up to the resale value of their goods? Or perhaps the economy is just causing people to hang on to their stuff instead of whipping out the plastic and replacing every last item in their home. (No judgement here, been there done that, drank the kool-aid myself.)

So that pretty much left me to work with what I already had. Probably the best eco-friendly solution I suppose but definitely involved a little….creative thinking. What’s that saying? “Necessity is the mother of all invention”, I think it is. So here came the world’s dreariest card table and a rolling desk chair that I have wanted to ditch for a couple of years now along with some fabric & spray paint and voila! At least something that makes me smile when I see it! Want to try something like this yourself? Here’s what I did.

Office Chair  & Card Table Makeover

Supplies/Tools:

  • 1 yard pretty fabric of your choice
  • 1 can of spray paint in your color of choice
  • a screwdriver or drill
  • Staple gun
  • Chair in desperate need of some sprucing up
  • Depressing card table lookin’ for love

How to:

1. Figure out where all the screws are located on your chair. Using your screwdriver or drill take the chair apart only in the parts where you need access to the fabric. In my case I had to remove the back and the seat because the screws were keeping the plastic backing attached to the fabric in order to hide the one million staples keeping the fabric on.

You can see it needs a little love, right?

2. Pry  the plastic backing away from the fabric covered cushion.

You may or may not need a butter knife to help you out here.

3. Lay your cushion on top of your new fabric choice. Cut out enough fabric to leave approximately 1″  extra fabric on all sides. You want to give yourself plenty of fabric to work with. You can trim the excess later.

4. Begin gathering  and stapling your fabric to the chair cushion. Start with one side of the cushion and then complete the opposite side, being sure to pull the fabric taught as you go. I like to check my progress as I’m going just to make sure things are on track. Then do the same thing with the other two sides.

5. Now that you’ve finished stapling go ahead and trim any excess fabric. Get as close as you can without loosening the fabric you’ve just secured. You want to remove as much excess bulk as possible so that when you put the cushion back together it will still fit snugly inside or next to the backing.

6. Complete the same process for the chair seat cushion.

7.Spray paint the plastic parts of the chair. If you really want to protect it from dings & scratches make sure you use a clear sealer afterwards. (Or have your amazing hubby paint it for you , like I did.)Sorry I didn’t get any pics of this part. I think I was just too anxious to put it all back together (=

8. Reassemble the chair.

9. Do the happy dance because it looks so cute compared to before!

***To  complete the card table makeover you are basically going to follow the same process. Did you know that a card table can be taken apart VERY easily? I didn’t until I started this process. I always assumed that the top was glued on. Mine wasn’t. Only some very removable screws were holding the top to the base.

Just flip your table over, grab your drill, cut your fabric and get to stapling! Spray paint the table legs. Let dry. Reassemble, and you’ll go from this…

to this…

Promise me you're only looking at the table & chair right? Not all the craft project stuff already covering it, right?

***I’m linking up to the linking party over at Sew Can Do this week!***