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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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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Wash. Dry. Fold. (Repeat.)

Basket: $5 from a local thrift store. Liner: $0 addtl. It's leftover fabric from other nursery projects. If you can sew a pillowcase, you can make the liner just add a one half the width of the basket to the length to accomodate the basket's circumference.

A tisket. A tasket. It’s my baby’s new laundry basket!

And it’s surprisingly empty. But not for long I suppose. This last weekend I started washing all my baby girl’s fabrics.

  • 3 Loads of baby clothes
  • 3 Loads of Diapers
  • 3 Loads of Blankets
  • 1 Load of Baby Bedding (and there’s more bedding to come)

Phew! Glad that’s done! Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining, just a bit surprised. That’s a lot of laundry! But I keep reminding myself that I won’t have to wash all her clothes all the time, and the diapers don’t have to be washed separate from now on. (More to come on the diapers later.) So with all that laundry I think it’s important just to bring up the laundry detergent I’m using.

With children it’s known that they soak up way more chemicals per pound than adults do. So a gentle  detergent is especially important to help avoid unneccesary chemical exposure.

And no, it isn’t Dreft.

Although highly marketed to mommies, Dreft actually contains the same ingredients as Tide. Both are petroleum based. They are  made from the same company, so are you really surprised? Sounds like a marketing ploy to me. Keep in mind that Dreft has perfumes in it-something that babies can be sensitive to so if you are really concerned about baby’s sensitive skin you need something free of perfumes and fragrances too.

The great news is that there are so many more options out there that when Dreft was first introduced.  More companies are not only trying to formulate detergents geared towards baby’s and kids sensitive skin but they are also doing so with the environment in mind. Aha! Now they had me interested. So what did I choose to try for my baby’s clothes???

Seventh Generation Baby.

Now I have to admit after I read how Dreft and Tide contained the same ingredients I got to wondering if Seventh Generation Baby actually had different ingredients than their regular detergent. So I looked it up online. All the ingredients for their plant based products are readily available. That’s one of the things I love about this company. They don’t seem to try and hide information about their products. From what I could tell the main difference with the “baby” formula was the lack of perfumes and fragrances. I also noticed that they have a “Free and Clear” formula. Now that looks like the same thing as the baby detergent. Hmmm…next time I go detergent shopping I just might  see if their is a difference between the “baby” and “Free & Clear”  formulas as far as price is  concerned and try it.

So of course now that I’ve addressed my baby’s needs I have to tell you about the great environmentally friendly potential that this product has. According to the manufacturer of Seventh Generation, if every U.S. household replaced just one bottle of 50 oz.  2x concentrated petroleum based laundry detergent with one bottle of Seventh generation plant-derived product,  over 185,000 barrels of oil could be saved. That’s adds up to a lot of oil! It could heat and cool 10,600 homes for a YEAR!

I’m just sayin’! And did I mention that if you sign up for their newsletter online you can print out some pretty decent coupons????


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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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Welcome to the Jungle-er, my garden!

So I came across this picture a few days ago:

This was taken way back in March.

I remember how concerned I was. Would I get anything to grow? What would I do with all that room in there?Well, I guess nature has its way of taking care of somethings for you:

I had never tried growing squash before-they definitely needed some more room, don't ya think?! Notice the cucumber plants struggling for sunshine down at the bottom.

Almost ready for pickin'!

We’ve also had great success with green beans this year!

Yum!

The onions, cabbage and cucumber, melons, and tomatoes show great promise but aren’t quite there yet. But what really has my interest is the pumpkin….

Run, run for your lives! (At least I'm pretty sure that's what I hear all the other garden plants screaming!)

I had never tried to grow pumpkins. My good friend, Rachel suggested I plant them on a small hill outside the garden and that the pumpkin would cover the entire thing. Well, I got a little nervous-we had some gopher interference a couple of months ago, so I put them in the garden. Next to the watermelon and the cantaloupe. Can’t see them? No? They are in there-somewhere- just a growin’ away!

I honestly thought pumpkins would take forever to grow. But there is one big guy who just couldn’t help but take off…..

I'm so excited! He must be a foot or two around.

Then I noticed several more smaller ones starting to grow. I was so suprised how soon they we’re popping up so I went back and looked at the seed packet. “Fruits can reach 6 ft in diameter. Excellent for prize pumpkins!” OMG! Note to self: READ THE SEED PACKET NEXT TIME!”  (LOL!)

But hold on! That’s not all. I was reading one of the many blogs I like to peruse  a few days ago and I saw where this lady had stood her children next to these gigantic “mammoth” sunflowers. She was saying how every year they just kept growing back taller and taller. The first year they we’re approximately 12 ft and now this year they we’re about 20 feet high. I went out to the garden. I stood there for a couple of seconds and gazed at the sunflowers studiously shading my cantaloupe and even part of my gigantic pumpkin plant. Could it be? I quickly waddled over to my seed packets just to check. My eyes grew big. Yep! I had bought mammoth sunflowers! They are about 6 feet high so far. I keep looking for the flower head but they just keep growing-and growing! LOL!

How much taller are these guys gonna get???

Seriously, next year, I have got to do better space planning! If not, I’m afraid my little girl my get lost in there and not find a way out (=

Hope you are all enjoying your summer harvests!


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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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Organic Baby Remedies

After a walking migraine for almost 3 days straight (seriously would not wish this on my worst enemy) I think I can finally see well enough to tell you about this great little article I found recently in the August issue (can you believe I just said August!) of Babytalk magazine. Btw, Babytalk magazine is a free magazine that touts itself as “straight talk for new moms.” That would be me folks.  I would say it’s somewhat similar to American Baby magazine but I feel that the articles are a bit more informative and less commercially/mainstream, which I happen to love.

So trying to be as green a mama as possible, and firmly believing that some of the ways and practices of our ancestors are worth reconsidering, I perked right up when I saw the title “Grandma’s Home Remedies.” I perked up even further when I saw that physicians ( namely the infamous Dr. Robert Sears, author of “HappyBaby: The organic guide to Baby’s first 24 months” and “The Baby Book“) had been consulted for their take on the different remedies and gave the logical explanation behind the remedy. Love! Knowing that if I tried these remedies whenever they might strike in the future that I wouldn’t be exposing my DD to possibly unneccessary chemicals-love, love, love!

***Please note I am not a physician, nor an expert  on treating babies (obviously, I am going to be a new mom). If you decide to try these remedies, you do so at your own risk and the outcomes are your sole responsibility. Okay, now that I’ve protected myself in our sue happy american society, lets move on shall we?

Without further ado, here are a couple of my favorite ideas that I plan on trying if and when they are needed.

“Don’t Hold the Onions.”

  • Concern: Your child has a fever and the next dose of medicine isn’t for a couple more hours.
  • Grandma’s remedy: Cut an onion in half and place each half into one of your child’s socks. Put the socks on your child, with the cut sides against the soles of your baby’s feet. Leave them on for a few hours or until the fever breaks.
  • What the doctor said about this: Onions are part of the allium group so it has anti-inflammatory and other medicinal properties so it makes sense that this could help, and honestly how could it hurt? (Other than the fact that it might stink!)

“Go for the garlic.”

  • Concern: Child is tugging on her ears, and a trip the pediatrician confirms she has an ear infection.
  • Grandma’s remedy: Place a drop of warm garlic oil into the child’s sore ear.
  • What the doctor said about this: He actually recommends this to his patients since the AAP recommends waiting and seeing with so many manufactured antibiotics in order to avoid the child building up a resistance to them. Garlic is actually a natural antibiotic, it helps the infection as well as the pain. Dr. Sears specifically recommends using mullein-garlic oil eardrops as a first line of defense (available at herb-pharm.com). For a baby you place one drop in the ear (2 drops for a toddler) after you warm the bottle under your arm.  Let the oil sit for about a minute or longer if possible and then let it drain out naturally. Repeat 3 x a day until symptoms are gone. Then follow-up with your doctor.

Sounds interesting,huh? Would love to hear if you try these and they work as I assume I won’t have the opportunity for at least a few more months. I doubt I’ll have the guts to actually try them out until my DD is at least a few months old and I’ve gained my “mother legs.”  (And it seems that so many things are not recommended for a newborn’s system that I feel a bit paranoid about trying them too early.) But I am so excited that natural remedies are gaining more spotlight. It just makes sense to me that God would give us things in nature to help us.

Have you tried any other home remedies that worked for you? Would LOVE to hear them!