Monday, March 31, 2014

Vegan Recipe - Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup

I'd like to introduce you to Joy (a.k.a. Joybee) and her fabulous blog, Joybee, What's For Dinner. Joybee shares all kinds of recipes on her blog: pasta, fish, beans, beef and, my favorite, Vegetarian. The recipes are diverse and delicious. I found Asian inspired dishes, curries and tacos. One of my favorite collection of articles falls under the heading of "Tutorials" (under "Recipes"). One can learn how to make cold brewed tea, roast garlic, and shape a free-standing loaf of bread.

Joybee, What's For Dinner is a terrific blog. I hope you'll check it out!

Joybee has graciously allowed me to share one of her recipes with you. It is yummy!!

Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup

Makes 2-3 entree sized servings

Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup


1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp red chili powder, or to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 tsp tamarind concentrate (optional)
2 cups chickpeas, precooked
1 13.5 oz coconut milk


  • Heat oil in large pan. Add cumin seeds and stir until fragrant and seeds begin to crack.
  • Add ginger and garlic. Cook until they become fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  • Add cauliflower and spices. Mix well and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add water/vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes (or until the cauliflower is soft).
  • Add tamarind concentrate (if using) and chickpeas. Cook until heated through.
  • Remove from heat, add coconut milk, and blend until smooth. (I prefer an immersion blender. If you use a regular blender, I recommend blending in small batches and be sure to vent the top so that it doesn't explode.)
  • Return pan to heat and cook, on low, until the soup is heated through.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with toasted cumin seeds.

The original recipe can be found HERE.

If you have a vegan recipe which you'd like to share, please contact me HERE. And for all the recipes we've shared so far, be sure to visit our recipe page using the tabs at the top of this blog ... or by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Photos

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:

Were you able to give up paper towels/napkins last week? I haven't used them for years. Instead, I pick up pretty cloth napkins at second hand stores and use old shirts and towels as cleaning rags (items which are no longer fit for their original purpose). I will admit that, in the beginning, there was a certain "ick" factor using cloth to clean up particularly nasty messes (if you have pets, you'll know what I mean). With paper, I could simply wipe up and toss. With cloth, I need to rinse out the mess. But, I got over the squeamishness and now have no problem with the process. I feel good about banning paper towels from our life ... we save money and we protect the environment. Win-Win!

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Leah joined us this week ... Hi, Leah! In No Paper Towels she shares how she used to use cloth but slipped off the bandwagon ... however; her reasons are valid and understandable. The amazing thing is, even with her valid reasons, she is taking up the torch, once again, and using cloth. Now that, in itself, would be a great effort ... but Leah is upping the ante and has decided to bake her own bread, make her own ketchup, peanut butter, and vegan cheeses. Why? Because that will cut down on plastic packaging. And she's saying "NO" to printed receipts. Way to go, Leah! You inspire me!!

Lois gave up paper towels a long time ago. In Change the World Wednesday, I’ve Got This, she talks about how she transitioned to cloth and offers some great tips for eliminating other paper use in the home.

Argentum Vulgaris bought two rolls of paper towels, two years ago. He's just started to use the second roll. Can you guess what he uses them for? Find out in Change the World Wednesday – 19th Mar. Want a hint? This popular meal is judged by how messy it is ... the more messy, the better! Figured it out yet?

Clare joined us and shared this: "I've got a full-of-tips article on paper towels which also includes a free Cheat Sheet ( I don't use paper towels, saying "no" to printed receipts seems to cause chaos where I live, and I haven't bought wrapping paper in years as I re-use what I receive. So, I'll work on reducing toilet paper (again) - there's always room for improvement. And a couple of times a year I eat pork spare ribs in a restaurant. They're messy so I use a few paper napkins, I'll ask for a bowl of lemon water instead. Thanks for making sure we improve each week!"

Deborah accepted the challenge and said, "Happy Wednesday! I am so excited to participate in this week's Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Paper Towels Challenge. I have reduced my use of paper significantly by paying bills online, getting online subscriptions, sending email instead of paper mail, etc. Reducing paper towel usage is the I will be addressing this week.We save old t-shirts and cotton clothing to use as cleaning rags. I will share my thoughts, experiences and suitable alternatives to paper towels soon." True to her word, Deborah came back with an update. Here it is: "Regarding the paper towel challenge': i usually use paper towels in the kitchen for wiping up messes and sometimes as a large napkin when eating. I stopped using paper towels in the kitchen and used dish towels and dishcloths to clean up the kitchen. I used cloth napkins while dining and enjoyed that experience immensely. Cloth napkins are durable as well as elegant. I am hooked on them. I tore up some old, tattered undershirts to use as cleaning rags for cleaning spots around the house. Crumpled newspaper was used to clean my glass tables and mirrors. All in all. I did not miss paper towels at all! I plan to continue to replace paper towels with greener alternatives." Fabulous, Deborah!!

The Gardening Daily gave CTWW a nice mention. That paper also includes a ton of great articles on gardening.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @EcoMom_DeForbes
- Eco Home Challenge: The coffee table we use was rescued from the trash and refinished 15 yrs ago.

From @pberk
- Micro-steps turn into miles!

From @ProAmUSA
- It's Change the World Wednesday. Here are some things we can all do to help our one & only planet Earth

From @smanuel1123
- don't use papertowels I will further reduce diaper wipes...Wish me luck.. Some messes are yuckier than others!

From @TheRiverWanders
- I keep one roll of paper towels for hairball season (4 cats here) :)

From @lschreurs
- YES! I hate when I see people buying a 24 pack of paper towels. just use a reusable cloth and wash it. Such a waste

From @GiveTreeGifts
- An Easy Way To Go Green - Reduce Paper Towel Consumption
- Good for the budget and environment!
- Throwing In The {Paper} Towels! Jillee
- Stop Using Paper Towels | 1000 Thrifty Things
- Kick your paper towel habit!
- A crafty way to replace paper towels... Rolled Kitchen Towels-Tutorial
- We use cloth napkins and cloth towels in our house. Rags made from old tshirts are used for really messy cleanups. #Thrifty

From @EcoExpert1
- Wonderful short #video on using paper towels in restrooms #TED #waste #green #environment #CTWW

From @OfficialCWerner
- My #ctww

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@a_kiasi @allnaturalkatie @amcconsolidated
@aussierichluck @barrydarrdixon @beakunz
@beatepdx @biculturalmama @biggreenpen
@bike2power @bstoneblog @carinaatan
@cellomomoncars @chargeenergy2 @clothaddicts
@collegegogreen @conservationm @counselorholley
@crazykids6 @debsmikdav1 @decor8yourlife2
@dehelen @dieselelephants @drifterjournals
@eco_novice @ecoexpert1 @ecomom_deforbes
@ecothrifty @ecwrites @familybetty
@freshcleanersaz @ginavalley @givetreegifts
@goodblogposts6 @graceonline @green_vibes
@greeningforward @groovygreenlivi @guayaba
@hardknoxfirst @healthfulmama @herbgir1972
@jnjgogreen @judithglynn @kitlane
@krmbalclothing @laalicia @ladyladuke
@lorcadamon @loridennisinc @lschreurs
@mamapoolecooks @marikokoloco @marjoriemcatee
@mimibarbour @mindfulmomma @momfindsout
@momgamerwriter @museumoflitter @newtonjose
@officialcwerner @ourfavadventure @pamela_o_plays
@pberk @perithelabel @pinkladyapril
@proamusa @rachfmphillips @rckweddings
@realityarts @robpolka @rulesofgreen
@ruralmoms @sayhaytomeg @sensuouspromos
@smanuel1123 @soulfullab @spafloating
@susanheaney @theriverwanders @theworld4realz
@treesgroup @turningclockbac @violetsbuds
@wencdj @wheeliesmom @yfnjman
@yourorganiclife @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

The word "disposable" means "designed to be disposed of after use". Think about that ... an item is created, purposely, to become trash. The intention isn't to reuse it or provide a long product life cycle, but rather to use it (typically once) and then add it to the garbage stream. In my opinion, the concept is disrespectful. Not only is it wasteful, it disregards the value of natural resources and jeopardizes the health of planet and, ultimately, our lives. A simple paper towel may not seem that important. But add it to all the other disposables in our world and we have a huge problem. Once again, a small action has a large impact.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

Before we get started, I have exciting news to share. I was invited to write an article for That post has been published! WhooHoo! If you have a few minutes, please hop over and read Reducing Energy Use - The Rest of the Story.

Earth Hour on Reduce Footprints
Earth Hour
March 29, 2014
8:30 pm (local time)
This year, Earth Hour falls on Saturday, March 29th. It is designed to raise the world's awareness and renew our commitment to our planet.

In previous years, we have participated by turning off our lights for the designated hour. Let's raise awareness again ... with a CTWW twist! Here's your challenge ...

This week, in honor of Earth Hour and to raise awareness, please take photos of what you, personally, are trying to protect. Perhaps it's a beautiful spot in nature that you particularly love. Maybe you are protecting the clean water which comes out of your faucet. It could be a photo of a river, a favorite tree, an animal, or the sky. The idea is to share, visually, your reasons for living green. You can post the photo on your blog or, if you wish, send them to me (HERE) and I'll include them in next week's post (put "CTWW" in the subject line so that I'll be sure to see the email).

OR ...

If you'd rather not do the photos, please observe Earth Hour by turning off your lights for one hour beginning at 8:30 pm (your local time) on Saturday, March 29, 2014.

Grab your camera and let's go! Are you with me? I know that you are!

Sneak Peek: Spring might officially be here but someone forgot to tell Winter. Monday's post will warm you up!

Until then ...


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Living Off The Grid - Survey Results

Our last survey asked whether or not we could live off the grid and, if so, what electrical devices we could live without. Here are your answers:

Which of the following items could you
live without (select all that apply)?

Prioritize energy use to live off the grid.

  • Hot Water
  • Hair Dryers and Hair Care Products

I drew the following conclusions from the results:
  • Microwaves are unnecessary (almost all participants said they could do without them).
  • All items received at least one vote suggesting that living completely off the grid is a realistic concept.
  • Food preparation and storage are higher priorities than "creature comforts" (like heat, air conditioning, and a TV).
  • Being connected, via the Internet, is almost as important as the ability to cook and refrigerate our food.
  • We are twice as likely to do without a clothes dryer than a washer.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a woman who is living off the grid, and has done so for the past year. She lives in a simple cabin, in the forest.
Firewood to heat a home.

Nature provides for most of her needs. A rain cistern provides water for washing (drinking water is hauled in). Rain barrels collect water for the vegetable garden. Her property provides wood for heating her home and for cooking.

She managed to stay warm and comfortable through a very cold winter and shares that it was the best winter of her life. I asked her what made it the "best" and she said, It is total freedom.

I realized, as we spoke, that living off the grid is about prioritizing our needs, living in harmony with nature, and accepting some inconvenience.

In today's world, there are many ways to reduce our dependence on municipal utilities. We can install photovoltaic panels to completely, or partially, provide electricity. Wells can provide our water and it can be heated via solar panels. Eco-friendly septic systems can decompose waste and return clean water to the environment.

We can comfortably remove ourselves from the grid completely, or we can opt for reducing our need through hybrid systems. The choice is ours.

Backing away from municipal services offers us sustainability and independence from the high cost of utilities. It reduces the stress placed on the environment and will be especially important as world populations grow. Yes, there may be some inconvenience involved but it seems a small price to pay for the enormous benefits.

Sneak Peek: Tomorrow begins another thrilling Change The World Wednesday challenge. See you then!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Do you need aspirin for that headache?

Have you ever seen one of those commercials which advertise drugs "guaranteed" to cure whatever ails you? They sympathize with our pain and tell us that the use of their product will help us lead a pain-free, productive life. Taking the medicine is always easy ... just pop a pill and, like magic, we are smiling.

A headache can be cured without aspirin.
A headache is trying to
tell you something.
The problem is, popping a pill for instant relief often prevents us from looking at the cause of our discomfort. It can cover up, rather than cure, a problem.

Am I saying that we shouldn't use medications? Not at all! I firmly believe that there is a place, and a need, for medicine. But, many times our discomfort can be relieved in a simple, natural way.

Here are some of my favorite natural remedies:


A headache is trying to tell you something. Perhaps you haven't had enough sleep or have waited too long to eat. It might signal tension or that you aren't breathing deeply enough. Here are a few things to try before taking an aspirin:

  • Drink a glass of water (headaches are often caused by dehydration).
  • Eat something (even a small amount can cure a headache if it's been awhile since your last meal).
  • Take 5 slow, deep breaths (it can release tension and change your mood).

Upset Stomach

An upset stomach can signal a serious issue and, if it continues for more than 24 hours, one should consult a physician. Often, however, it's caused by a virus, flu, or something we ate (as Scrooge says, "an undigested bit of beef"). These cures might give you instant relief:

  • Cure a stomach ache with peppermint.
    This sweet treat can
    ease stomach aches.
    Let a peppermint candy slowly dissolve in your mouth (peppermint calms and numbs stomach muscles so that the flow of bile (used to digest fats) is improved and food can travel more quickly through the body).
  • Drink a cup of ginger tea (ginger has antispasmodic, anti-nausea, and digestive properties). Note: This is not recommended for children under two years of age.

Bee Stings and Bug Bites

Spending time outside usually means bug bites. Unless one is allergic, bugs bites and bee stings are more painful than anything else (seek immediate medical help if you are allergic to bee stings). After removing the stinger, use these tips to relieve the pain:

  • Apply mud (dirt mixed with water) directly to the bite. Let the mud dry and then wash off with cool water. Works every time!
  • Apply ice (ice reduces pain and swelling ... be sure to wrap the ice in a cloth to avoid direct contact which could damage skin tissue).
  • Pour a little vinegar directly on the affected area. If it doesn't work, try the next tip.
  • Use Aloe for burn relief.
    Every home needs Aloe!
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the bite.
  • Cut a leaf from your Aloe plant (you all have Aloe plants, right?) and apply the gel directly to the bite.


Minor burns or sunburns can be treated effectively and naturally. Try these ideas:

  • Apply cool water to the burn to reduce the heat (do not use ice because it will damage the skin tissue).
  • Dab Witch Hazel on the area (Witch Hazel is an astringent and has been shown to give long-lasting anti-inflammatory relief).
  • Place tea bags (soaked in water) on the affected area (tea contains tannic acid which eases pain).

Our bodies offer us many clues to health. Discomfort signals a problem which can often be prevented or cured naturally. Medicines do have a place in a healthy lifestyle but it's best to try to understand the cause of a problem, and fix it naturally if possible, before finding instant relief with over-the-counter drugs.

What are your favorite natural home remedies?

Sneak Peek: We asked if you could live off the grid. Tomorrow we'll reveal your answers!

The information presented in our holistic living series is not, and should not be used as, a substitute for medical advice.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Guest Post - How to Create a Zen Garden

How to Create a Zen Garden.
Your home is your sanctuary.

You need a space – no matter how small – where you can find peace.

That space can be tiny (about notebook size) or huge (several acres). A Zen garden can fit anywhere.

But the theme is always the same. Simplicity.

Creating a Zen garden is easy if you follow these 6 steps.

Step 1: Decide on the scale

Do you want a small desktop Zen garden? A corner of your outdoor yard or garden? All of your garden? It can be wherever works best for you.

A Zen garden is traditionally made only of sand and stones. Larger gardens have trees or small plants as well.

Just remember that there is a little maintenance involved in an outdoor Zen garden. You’ll need to water any plants, weed, and rake the sand to remove debris and animal droppings.

Step 2: The Fun Part! Design your garden

Before you start work on it, plan how you want your garden to look.
How to Create a Zen Garden
For example, a simple rustic Zen garden might use old railroad ties for the frame.

Remember that your frame must support at least two inches of sand.

Google “photos Zen Garden” for some design inspiration.

Step 3: Gather your tools and equipment

If you want an indoor Zen garden, you’ll need:
  1. A sheet of plywood for the base.
  2. 4 pieces of lumber for the frame (or buy an old picture frame (at least 2 inches / 5 cm thick) from a thrift store – then all you have to do is fill it!).
  3. Wood screws or nails and wood glue or string.
  4. How to Create a Zen Garden
  5. Sand – it should be 2 inches / 5cm deep. Measure the length x width x height of your frame, to determine how much sand you need. Buy small bags at a local pet shop of aquarium supply store.
  6. Small stones.
  7. A wooden sand rake.
For your outdoor Zen garden you’ll need:
  1. Plastic sheeting for a “groundsheet” to protect your Zen garden from weeds.
  2. Lumber to create a frame for the garden – you need to contain the sand to keep it looking sharp.
  3. Wood screws or nails and wood glue.
  4. Sand – it should be 2 inches / 5cm deep. Measure the length x width x height of your frame, to determine how much sand you need.
    How to Create a Zen Garden
    Buy it from your local quarry or landscaping centre.
  5. Rocks of an appropriate size for the garden. Consider old, mossy rocks, or rocks with interesting colours, shapes or textures.
  6. Plants and trees if you wish. Consider moss, evergreens, shrubs and xeriscape plants like Mountain Laurel which don’t require much water.

Step 4: Prepare the area

Indoor garden: find a flat surface and cover it with newspaper or plastic to help contain the sand while you work.

Outdoor garden: remove any existing grass, plants, weeds or other items from the area.

Step 5: Build and Fill

Join your corners together. For smaller gardens wood glue may be fine, or reinforce if necessary with nails or wood screws.

How to Create a Zen Garden
Fill the garden with sand. Decorate with your chosen rocks and plants. Place them off-centre and partially submerged. Never clutter your Zen garden.

Also consider space for candles or a stone lamp, so that you can enjoy the stillness after dark too.

Step 6: Enjoy

Enjoying your Zen garden is easy. Sit down beside it and simply enjoy the peace and simplicity. Rake it to create pattern and lines. Use long, curving strokes to represent water ripples.

Find quiet, solitude and peace in its simplicity.

Make visiting your Zen garden a daily ritual.

Clare Delaney lives green on a tiny tropical island. Get a fabulous free ebook “Live Well, Live Green” from her site EcoFriendlyLink, and get a daily green tip of the day as well as up-to-the-minute environmental news by following @EcoExpert1 on Twitter.

Sneak Peek: Join us on Monday when I'll be sharing some of my favorite home remedies and cures.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

17 Tips For Spring

Eco-friendly tips for spring.
Spring is HERE!
Welcome to the first day of Spring!! I'll bet that you thought it would never get here, right? I had my doubts! But it's here and it's time for our annual spring tips and ideas.

If you're moving into Autumn instead of Spring, you might be interested in Eco-Friendly Tips For Autumn.

Eco-Friendly Tips for Spring

  1. Spring is traditionally a time to tackle those big cleaning jobs. Instead of using toxic chemicals, opt for more earth-friendly cleansers. Check out How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit for ideas and recipes.
  2. Clean out closets and drawers and donate usable items to a charity, thrift stores or post them on FreeCycle.
  3. Take a look at air filters and wash or replace them as necessary. And don't forget the filter on your dryer ... it needs regular washing as well.
  4. It's Spring! Time to plan a vegetable garden.
    To avoid over watering,
    group plants with the
    same watering needs together.
  5. Plan a vegetable garden. When considering which veggies to grow, consider heirloom varieties which help to preserve biodiversity. Consider natural pest control rather than toxic pesticides (click HERE for more information and be sure to click through to the natural slug control as well). Is your space limited? Consider a container and/or vertical garden. And, rather than commercial fertilizers, start a compost pile to nourish your garden.
  6. If you'll be landscaping your yard, opt for native plants which don’t need as much water and fertilizer.
  7. Check the air pressure in your tires. Warmer temperatures affect tire pressure and improperly inflated tires lowers fuel efficiency.
  8. As the weather warms, consider walking or cycling instead of driving. Or, choose the bus/train for your travel needs.
  9. Dry clothing outside to save energy.
    Dry clothing outside to save energy.
  10. Dry your clothes outside rather than use the dryer.
  11. Sweep your patio, deck or walkway instead of using an air blower.
  12. Use a push mower instead of a power or gas mower.
  13. Switch the direction on your ceiling fan to cool (here's a hint ... when you stand under the fan you should feel the air blowing down on you).
  14. When the fireplace is no longer being used, close the damper.
  15. Check the batteries on smoke detectors and make sure they are working properly (okay, it's not a "green" tip but ... it's important).
  16. Remove your shoes upon entering your home to reduce exposure to pollutants.
    Shoes carry pollutants into the home.
  17. Remove your shoes upon entering your home.
  18. Open the curtains and let the sun shine in (it'll help clean your air) and open the doors to let in some fresh air.
  19. Speaking of curtains, adjust them as the days warm up ... open them in the early morning and after the sun goes down ... and close them during the hot parts of the day, especially when the sun shines directly on your windows.
  20. Here's a trick for cooling your home on hot days ... rather than use an air conditioner, try using a portable fan ... during the cool morning & evening hours, set the fan in a window and blow in fresh air. When it gets too hot in the house, turn the fan and blow the hot air out. You'll be amazed at how well this works.

Spring is a great time to brush off our "green routine" and renew our commitment to the earth.

Renew your commitment to the earth - live green!
It's our home!

What Eco-friendly tips do you have for spring?

Sneak Peek: Our very own Clare, of EcoExpert Blog, will be joining us tomorrow. She has something very special planned for you. "See" you then!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Paper Towels

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:

Last week's challenge was a real "eye opener". We've had our furniture for a long time so it is, simply because of its age, Eco-friendly. When it was purchased, however, I didn't know about the chemicals used in foam cushions or that varnish contains pollutants. I never thought about the origin of the wood, whether the fabric was harmful to the planet, or where the pieces were manufactured. And, I bought brand new pieces rather than shop for second-hand items. Even though I am more Eco-conscious today, I haven't thought much about furniture. This challenge changed that and raised my awareness. I have no problem buying "used". For anything new, I'll definitely be thinking about the things I've learned this week and will shop accordingly.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

One of your articles, from our two-outfit challenge, got mentioned in The Ilona E Daily. Was it yours?

I'd like to welcome Eco Chic Sense to CTWW. She shares this comment: "I'm an eco-friendly interior designer located in NYC and I love your next challenge! If anyone needs help or further advice on how to furnish your home in an eco-friendly way.... feel free to reach out to me. Also, if your looking for further insight- check out my blog, Eco-Chic Sense, with great tips and techniques on how to design your home in an eco-friendly way."

Argentum Vulgaris (AV) recently bought two new items for his home. They are typically made with a lot of plastic but AV was able to search out more Eco-friendly versions. In Change the World Wednesday – 12th Mar, he talks about his purchases, where he stands on light bulbs, and shares an analysis of his home furnishings.

Welcome to DWhiteCreations. She says, "I had been on the fence about rayon, not any longer...thanks for the information".

Alicia joined us and shares this, "Well we have got the light bulb thing down really well but the home furnishings I am embarrassed to say we need improvement on. I am blessed that my husband has built us some tables and a cabinet from recycled wood. He even made us some tables from left over hardwood flooring that are really cute. We have a few pieces of furniture that was handed down from both sets of parents. Otherwise we have bought the rest of the furniture without thinking very Eco Friendly. I decided a few months ago that I am going to do my best to start buying lamps, tables and other furniture off of Craigs List. There is such a wide variety there that I think it is going to be easy to find the things I want. A lot of the things we use in the kitchen are Eco Friendly but I am making a real effort to change to more sustainable and recycled products throughout the house. This is a good challenge to make us all aware about what we are using in our homes!"

Those of you who know Lois know that she lives minimally and is a super-star in the upcycling arena. She's also constantly looking for ways to improve. In Change the World Wednesday, A Recap, she analyzes her decor. She points out what works, areas for improvement, and how she saves money in the process.

Why are second-hand furnishings Eco-friendly? Check out Aimee's (aka EcoGrrl's) comment: "Ha - never saw last week's post but couldn't have participated as I was in the garden so there's no way with how scrappy I get and having to visit clients :) This week - yes! I have a 10 year old leather (don't cringe!) sofa & chair that I am dying to replace that I'd bought at Z Gallerie as my divorce present to myself. Problem is that the cushions can't be removed so I can't restuff them, so will ultimately have to sell it on Craigslist or donate to Community Warehouse. As far as finding a replacement, to stay green and in a reasonable budget (all the eco sofas I've seen are $3-5K minimum, it's scary), I'll probably to go to a consignment store, so over 2014 I'll be checking out those stores instead. While a consignment or similar second-hand sofa won't necessarily be made of eco-materials, it'll have zero carbon footprint because no new materials will be made. As for the rest of my house, I'm a minimalist, so I don't have much else beyond the same bookshelves I've had for 15 years and the coffee table is one my fiance built for me out of a repurposed media cabinet :) "

Melanie joined us and shared this: "My husband and I have switched all of our lights to energy efficient bulbs. We've also taken time to insulate our house well to insure energy efficiency to reduce the amount our heater/ac runs. As for decor & furnishings, much of our house is filled with upcycled, reclaimed or repurposed items-- such as our tables, cabinets, and shelves just to name a few. A lot of our decor comes from eco-friendly handmade small businesses as well. We are doing what we can, and learning more, to be eco friendly!" By the way, Melanie is celebrating the 3-year anniversary of her shop, Violet's Buds, and on Thursday, March 20th, she'll be a hosting a wonderful giveaway. Prizes include Eco-friendly products from a bunch of great companies. So mark your calendars and check it out!

Clare accepted the challenge and said, "It took us a while with the light bulbs - we rent a rather quirky house and every light fitting seems to use a different bulb, aargh! Anyway, we finally finished that project last year. Home decor - hmmm, definitely not 100% on that! Our main lounge furniture is on its 3rd re-cover / refurb so that qualifies as "well-used" I think. But we have bought a couple of new things since moving here - when you're in a new country you don't know where to source things. Now we know where to buy 2nd hand, altho' very limited. Thanks Small for this challenge, you've got me working on this one! I've got a blog post with some tips on eco-friendly storage and even some really great-looking furniture made from - wait for it - cardboard! See it here:".

Mary stopped by our aerator challenge and said, "Great post! So thrilled to see people being responsible and taking action. Thanks for sharing."

Via Triberr, Alaiyo shared this comment: "This is a topic I've wondered about. Thanks for writing about it!"

Deborah and I have been chatting, this week, about how she could participate in CTWW. She embraced the concept and shared this about our last couple of challenges: " Hi All, Looking back at the last 7 days, I had no problem wearing two basic black items which are a loose black cotton knit top and black cotton knit harem pants. They are comfy and easy to keep fresh with a quick wash while I am showering at night. I am currently studying sustainable fashion design and ecofriendly textiles, so my next big challenge in the clothing arena is to research cost-effective sources for hemp clothing which is considered more environmentally-friendly than even organic cotton. I will be blogging about some of my favorite hemp clothing resources and options very soon. I also wrote a post about the topic of toxin fashion: Are You a Fashion Victim? "10 Healthy Reasons to Avoid the Toxic Side of Fashion & Wear Organic Clothing" --- which you might find of interest. With regards to the sustainable home decor challenge, we have switched to CFL bulbs in our home but I am now doing more research and considering replacing CFLs with LEDs as they burn out. LEDs have some significant advantages over CFLs are are considered safer. I will be writing more about the benefits of LEDs soon. The subject of eco friendly decor is one of my favorites. We are working on replacing old furnishings in our home with ecofriendly ones as they wear out. An eco friendly mattress is probably our most important next purchase so I plant to research the best options and write about that soon. We also need a new shower curtain so I have been researching eco friendly ones. It is amazing how expensive some of them are, so I am looking for the most cost-effective green options and may try to make my own hemp shower curtain. More to come on that project... It is critically important to reduce exposure to the harmful materials and toxins in many of our home furnishings and building materials. It is vital to our health that we improve our indoor air quality. I wrote a few blog posts about some eco friendly home furnishing options including: 8 Great Way's to Make Your Kitchen Greener" -; "Green Your Decor with CB2 Recycled Home Furnishings" -; and "AfroChic Ecofriendly Home Collection" I am trying to apply the green principles of reuse, repurpose and upcycle as much as possible so a number of green DIY projects are planned in the coming months. Thank you so much for sharing Reduce Footprints' valuable and inspiring green content and Change the World Wednesday Challenges on the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop! I appreciate it!" Speaking of the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop, Deborah gave CTWW a nice mention in this week's "hop". Check it out ... and add your posts to the list!

Sunflowers & Edibles gave CTWW a nice mention and included at least one of your tweets. Be sure to browse the rest of the paper ... some of our favorite "greenies" have been featured.

Mrs. Green stopped in and said, "I hope I'm in time SF; I had a lot of fun with this challenge and I invite you and your readers to come and sit on my (secondhand) sofa with me :)". I accepted Mrs. Green's invitation, took my shoes off at the door, left my glass of red wine in the kitchen, and entered Chez Green's lounge. It was a lovely visit and Mrs. Green was quite candid about the origins of her furniture. Her invitation includes you ... she's a delightful hostess ... so head over for a visit.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @GiveTreeGifts
- Guide to Buying Green Furniture
- Green Furniture
- Eco-Friendly Furniture - Demystifying Shopping for Sustainable Home Furnishings
- CHEMICAL-FREE FURNISHINGS: Being mindful of chemicals in the products you furnish your home with can...

From @laalicia
- love this use of old tires

From @pberk
- RT @SimpsonDoor Cool ideas for re-using everyday items for home decor @renovate_ideas:

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@2kidsandacoupon @a_kiasi @allnaturalkatie
@angelosurmelis @anitaadamsnc @aussierichluck
@barrydarrdixon @beakunz @beatepdx
@befeld13 @bg_garden @biggreenpen
@bike2power @billindursky @bstoneblog
@clothaddicts @collegegogreen @conservationm
@convetit @counselorholley @davidquickbooks
@debsmikdav1 @decor8yourlife2 @dehelen
@designlifenet @dieselelephants @ecoexpert1
@ecothrifty @etsnetworksinc @familybetty
@familyfocusblog @francisphyl @frederickbrooke
@ginavalley @givetreegifts @green_vibes
@greenforu @greeningforward @greensmart
@gregorspeaks @groovygreenlivi @guayaba
@halliegrace2 @healthfulmama @herbgir1972
@herbspecialist @janmoran @jnjgogreen
@johannamhaack @kaitlingarder @karensromance
@kayelleallen @kgimson @krmbalclothing
@laalicia @ladyjcmuses @ladyladuke
@larlegal @leslieveg @lorcadamon
@loridennisinc @lschreurs @lu_and_ed
@madeinusablog @mamapoolecooks @marcelajersey
@marikokoloco @marjoriemcatee @mimibarbour
@mindfulmomma @momfindsout @momgamerwriter
@monicapedersen9 @nikidanforth @nolafusion
@ourfavadventure @pamela_o_plays @pberk
@perithelabel @perkins0039 @phebeohyes
@pinkladyapril @proamusa @rckweddings
@realityarts @reginald_chan @rozdb
@rulesofgreen @sensuouspromos @sfcouncil
@shannongrissom @sophie2978 @soulfullab
@spafloating @storylinepr @tbasecomm
@tbaseedu @theurbannatura1 @theworld4realz
@treesgroup @turningclockbac @tweetpegasus
@vintagejunk_fm @violetsbuds @walruswinks
@wencdj @wheeliesmom @whopaysthepiper
@whywelovegreen @withinyourhands @yfnjman
@zaidabeauchesne @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

I am reminded, once again, that everything has an environmental cost. Furnishing our homes is, for many people, about comfort and beauty. We enter a store with color schemes and styles in mind, looking for pieces which reflect our tastes and personalities. Each piece has a history. Perhaps the wood was sourced from the rainforest. Maybe the brilliant colors were created using harmful chemicals. And that comfortable, overstuffed chair has probably been treated with fire retardants. Knowing the environmental price of our decor changes the game. Our beautiful furnishings don't seem quite so comfortable when they have been created using non-Eco-friendly materials and methods. It is said that ignorance is bliss. I say that ignorance is dangerous. Let's make it a point to know the facts ... and live accordingly.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

Eliminate paper towels for Change The World Wednesday.
Can you give up paper towels?
We've had a couple of hard challenges, so let's tackle something a bit easier. Well ... easy for some! Here you go ...

This week, do not use or buy any paper towels or napkins. Instead, use cloth napkins and cleaning rags.

OR ...

If you never use paper towels or napkins, please review your paper use and determine if there are other ways for you to conserve. Can you use less toilet paper? Could you say "no" to printed receipts? What about printer paper, gift wrap, magazines and catalogs ... can you give them up? Choose at least one area where improvements could be made.

OR ...

If you've basically eliminated paper from your life, please share your tips and ideas for doing so.

Are you up for this challenge? I know that you are!!

Sneak Peek: Are you ready for Spring? It starts tomorrow!

Until then ...


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is your laundry detergent natural, toxic free, and Eco-friendly? #Review

Celadon Road Lavender Laundry Detergent Review
How many ingredients are in your laundry detergent? Go ahead ... go count ... I'll wait!

Got it? Okay ... what's the verdict?

Mine, Celadon Road's Lavender Laundry Detergent, has six ingredients: sodium bromate, soda ash, coconut oil, clay powder, vinegar, and essential oil. It is made in the USA and was originally created to ease the suffering of a child's eczema which was aggravated by commercial laundry products. It is safe for skin, clothing, and septic systems. It is not tested on animals and comes in a reusable container (the company offers refills which come in bags). Since it only requires 1-2 tablespoons per load, the 32-ounce container will handle between 32-64 washes.

My friend, Amanda, sent me the laundry detergent to try, along with two other products:

Celadon Road Odor Eliminator Review
Odor Eliminator
Celadon Road Stain Remover Review
Stain Remover

These products came in 2-ounce containers (also refillable), perfect for "on the go" needs. They contain natural, plant-based enzymes which eliminate odors and dissolve stains on contact.

So, how do these three products work?

The laundry detergent has a lovely, light scent. I have a top-loading washer so used two tablespoons for a very full load. Our clothes came out beautifully clean and fresh. They actually felt soft which is something that never happened when I used commercial brands. During the wash cycle, I peeked in and noticed that there were no suds. Why is this important? Because suds are created using synthetic chemicals and are designed to reassure consumers that something is "happening". Similar to the addition of whitening agents, suds are merely a trick. One wonders why, if products are effective, there's a need for the addition of toxic chemicals to convince us that our clothes are clean. It's something to think about!

I gave both the odor eliminator and stain remover a brief trial. I used both on an old pet stain. The odor was removed leaving a clean, citrus scent. The stain remover lightened the stain but did not remove it completely. I believe, however, that both of these products would work best if used immediately after the "event". Patience is also necessary as the products are sprayed on and then should be allowed to dry. I was impatient and didn't allow the area to dry naturally.

I enjoyed all three of these products and gladly recommend them. They did the job well without hurting us or the environment.

You can buy Celadon Road products, from Amanda, by visiting her site HERE.

Want a free 2 ounce stain remover? Amanda is graciously offering Reduce Footprints' readers a "freebie". How do you "cash in"? Just visit our SPECIAL OFFERS PAGE for details.

Connect with Amanda on FACEBOOK, OZOSHARE, and PINTEREST.

I received Celadon Road laundry products in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinion of the products reviewed.

Sneak Peek: Curious about how the CTWW Gang met the Sustainable Decor challenge? Tomorrow we'll take a look at their results and unveil a new challenge.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Vegan Life - Eating Out

My Vegan Life - Eating Out
Dietary restrictions make
eating "out" a challenge.
For the most part, going vegan has been easy. We cook at home using fresh, whole ingredients and create delicious meals. But every once in awhile, we enjoy a meal out ... and that presents a problem.

Not everyone understands the meaning of "vegan" or even "vegetarian".

Eating out presents a challenge to vegans.
Restaurants aren't always vegan friendly.
Many people assume that "meatless" simply means "without beef". In restaurants, a server may tell you that a vegetable soup is vegetarian even though it has been made with chicken broth. Things liked fried potatoes or hash browns might be cooked in butter or on the same griddle with bacon or sausage. Even an innocent salad may arrive at the table with a milk-based dressing or sprinkles of cheese.

Restaurants aren't the only challenge. Dining with friends and family can be especially difficult.

Dining with friends and family may be difficult for vegans.
Dinner invitations may prove
challenging to Vegans
I am extremely lucky! My family understands our food choices and, when we visit, they not only cook wonderful dishes which are completely free of animal products, they enjoy the meals with us (although we have "caught" them sneaking out for a "meat fix" on occasion ... love you, Mom!).

That hasn't always been the case when visiting friends. We were once invited to a special dinner where the hostess make a huge effort to prepare a gourmet meal without meat. Unfortunately, she used a lot of butter, milk, and cheese. At another friend's home, a salad "buffet" was served. Sadly, the only ingredient we could eat was the lettuce. The most extreme case was a friend who simply chose not to include us in a holiday get-together because he didn't know what to serve to vegans.

Eating out is definitely a challenge but there are ways to make it work. Here are some ideas:

    Buffets are good choices for vegans.
    Buffets offer many choices.
  • Dining at a restaurant

    • Choose independent establishments and, even if you don't see vegan options on the menu, ask if they can cook something for you. They are usually willing to accommodate food preferences. Restaurant "chains", on the other hand, are much less likely to make ingredient substitutions.
    • Ask specific questions. Does the soup contain fish or chicken stock? Are vegetables cooked with a piece of ham or dressed with butter? If the server doesn't know, they will typically go and find out. If they don't offer to do so, choose something else on the menu.
    • Browse the menu's side dishes and appetizers. A "dry" baked potato can be the focus of a meal. Chips and salsa are a great alternative to nachos. And a bruschetta made with fresh tomatoes, basil, and olive oil makes a stunning main dish.
    • Choose restaurants that are vegan/vegetarian friendly. They understand "meatless" and will offer wonderful menu selections.
    • Consider buffets. They offer a variety of food choices including salad bars, fresh fruit, and pasta without meat-based sauces. But again, when in doubt about how things were cooked, ask questions.
    • While most restaurants will offer something acceptable, there are certain types of establishments which are more difficult. BBQ, Seafood, Steak, and fast food restaurants typically offer few, if any, vegan options.
    • Ethnic foods tend to be very veg-friendly. Consider Indian, Asian, and Mexican establishments.
    How does a Vegan handle traditional holiday meals?
    Traditional holiday meals
    can leave Vegans hungry.
  • Dining with friends and family

    • Let your host/hostess know about your food preferences ahead of time.
    • Decide, before arriving, what you can and cannot accept. Are you willing to eat a bit of dairy? Can you make an exception for a desert made with honey? Having a plan will allow you to make gracious decisions rather than frustrating both you and your host.
    • Offer to bring a dish (ensuring that there will be at least one thing you can eat).
    • If the menu is "iffy", eat a light meal before going so that you won't be hungry.
    • Dinner rolls, salads, and raw vegetable "crudites" are usually safe bets.
    • Be gracious and appreciate any efforts made on your behalf.
    • Try not to focus, or bring attention, to what you're not eating. This is not the venue for a serious discussion on vegan ideals.
    • Remember that dining with friends or family is more about enjoying their company and less about food.

A vegan lifestyle doesn't mean we have to give up the pleasure of dining with friends and family. Nor does it mean avoiding restaurants. With a little preparation and thought, eating out can be a fun, satisfying experience.

What are your tips for eating out?

Sneak Peek: How many ingredients are in your laundry detergent? Mine has six! Tomorrow I'll reveal the brand I'm using.