Monday, January 30, 2012

Even More Ways to Use Coconut Oil

photo by Chiot's Run on flickr

Insect repellent / rust remover / deep conditioner / body moisturizer / aftershave

Is there anything coconut oil can't do? Besides clean my house and file my taxes, that is. Ok, it's not a miracle oil, but it sure is handy. I found even more uses of coconut oil today in Apartment Therapy's post of "15 Non-Edible Uses for Coconut Oil, yes these are new-to-me ideas on top of what is already listed in Crunchy Betty's "A Millionish Uncommon (and Not So Uncommon) Uses for Coconut Oil."

Since it's also been almost two months since I started using coconut oil as a moisturizer and deodorant (with baking soda and cornstarch), I thought I would give you an update.

Thumbs up:
  • Coconut oil is a kick ass moisturizer - Not only does it smell great, but my skin feels moisturized all day, without being greasy.

  • Popping popcorn - Popcorn popped in coconut oil is de-lish.

  • Athlete's foot - Ok, I'm sure you're thinking TMI, I don't wanna know about your icky feet! But I'm only telling you this because we're friends. My feets tend to get itchy, red and hot, but since I've been applying coconut oil on them daily I haven't noticed any of these issues.
Thumbs down:
  • Lip balm - It's great for about five seconds but it's absorbed almost instantly. I prefer lip balm with more staying power, so I'm sticking with Burt's Bees on this one.

  • Coconut oil/baking soda/corn starch deodorant - I mentioned before that this stung a little, but it chafed a whole LOT. I kept up with it for a few weeks, despite it being pretty messy, but the day the skin on my pits peeled off was the day I stopped using this. Maybe I'll try adding some coco butter next time a' la Crunchy Chicken's recipe. Or maybe not.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

No New Winter Clothes Challenge

It all started with wanting some new clothes. But when I went to my go-to stores, not only could I not find any clothes I really loved, I hated the majority of the styles on the racks. It took me over an hour combing the JCPenney racks several times to find $35 worth of stuff so I could use up a year-old gift card.

Thrift stores are no help either, because for whatever reason I completely lack the ability to find anything worth wearing at thrift stores. I can find other purchases, purses, glassware, just not clothes.

So instead I started shopping my closet and you know what? Now that I'm not allowing myself the luxury of running to the store when I get bored with my wardrobe, I find I'm being a lot more creative with what I already own.

It's not like my tiny 1940s closet was overflowing with choices to begin with. Clothes shopping has always been more like a torture endurance test than a fun activity for me. Even so, over the years I've ended up with perfectly fine clothes and accessories that I've ignored. I've found the forced constraint of using what I already own has inspired me to mix and match in new ways. And I'm actually liking it.

So far this winter I've only added two scarves (one was a gift from my mommy), a sweater and a long sleeve t-shirt to my wardrobe, and that's where I'd like the acquisitions to end. At this rate, I'll be well under the 29 new items of clothing that the average American buys each year.

So the next time you grow bored with your wardrobe, why not try a forced no shopping ban instead and see what happens?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: Living the Good Life

I really enjoyed reading Living the Good Life: Simple Strategies for Sustainable Living by Linda Cockburn.

The book is about Linda and her family's six-month experiment to not spend a dollar, not on bills, food, transportation, entertainment, etc. Part personal diary, part instructional manual on the need for sustainable living, Cockburn successfully manages to combine the best of both "save the planet" type books into a single tome.

I read a few of the Amazon reviews of this book, where some readers complained because the facts and stats included in the book are Australia-centric. This didn't bother me in the slightest. Although the facts for my country may be different (since I live in America undoubtedly they'll only be more grave), the picture painted by these stats are still meaningful and enlightening. Cockburn also sprinkles helpful recipes, from meals to homemade wine and beer, to cleaning potions, throughout the book.

One of the things that makes this book so inspiring to me is that this family managed to live sustainably and grow most of their own food on a typical urban-size plot of land. This is a much more realistic of an endeavor for most, resident of min hus included, than moving to a secluded plot of acreage as many have done for sustainability experiments. Granted, I think this would be challenging to impossible to accomplish without at least one household member staying home to dedicate their time to gardening and other needed projects, but that's still more doable than uprooting one's entire home and life.

Cockburn also has a blog, although it's no substitute for the book, so one can follow her adventures online as well.

Rating: 4.5/5.0, highly enjoyable and recommended.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


One of the reasons living more simply appeals to me so much, is that implementing its principles has helped me loosen my addiction to stuff. And yet, just when I start making progress on one addition, another one comes galloping along to take its place.

Case in point: Pinterest. This week I finally created an account and, dear god, I can't stop pinning things! If you're thinking, what the hell is Pinterest and how could pinning things to virtual bulletin boards be so addicting?, I totally understand. That's exactly what I thought, before I signed up. I mean seriously, I've spent hours every evening since looking at pretty pictures and "pinning" them to my own boards.

Maybe it's my weakness for pictures of pretty home decor, or the fact that we've been talking about finally redoing the kitchen (still not definite yet tho) and Pinterest makes it easy for me to organize my inspiration. Or maybe it's just my addictive personality. But seriously, I don't need another internet addiction. Le sigh.

Seems I'm not the only one around here with a new addiction. Alex the cat has recently developed his own mighty fierce addiction to boxes. I present exhibits A and B, your honor:

He's been laying on one of these two boxes constantly for the last week. Seriously, what is it with cats and boxes? Or cats and being weird?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Biggest Green Change? Diva Cup

Warning: Boys, this post discusses body functions, and specifically periods. You have been warned.

I can't believe I haven't gotten around to writing about my biggest green change of 2011, namely switching from tampons to a reusable menstrual cup.

I distinctly remember that my reaction to reading about a blogger who had made this green switch was, ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! But the more accounts I read of people who had happily made this switch, the more I became willing to try it. Until finally, a few months ago I went to Whole Foods, bout a Diva Cup, and promptly went how to try it on old Aunt Flo.

If you too are on the cautious side of the fence about trying a reusable menstrual cup, I'll warn you that you need to be patient because there is definitely a learning curve. Then again, there was a learning curve to using tampons as well, but that was so long ago, my memory of it is dull and foggy. Except for the day where I had to call my grandma to come pick me up from middle school because I was convinced my tampon was lost somewhere in there. But I digress.

First, let's get the visual issue out of the way. As another blogger wrote, it is a bit disconcerting to see exactly what goes on down there. But you'll get over that just as quickly as you did all the other gross activities you deal with during, you know, life.

Then there is getting the darn thing in in the first place. It was a challenge. On the first try I think I spent 30 minutes or so trying to get it in there and placed correctly. The second try brought tears to my eyes and resulted in a 24 hour moratorium. By the third day, however, I had it down and things have went more or less smoothly ever since. There are a million ways to insert the cup (although I find the simple C fold works well), which you can view here. There is also more information than you'll likely ever need about the world of menstrual cups here.

The Review
Besides the breaking in point, I'd give the Diva Cup two enthusiastic thumbs up. I now find it more comfortable to wear than tampons. It's also more convenient since you can wear it for up to 12 hours, with no leak issues (depending on the volume of your flow that is). And when you add in the reduced waste and purchasing issues, well, what's not to love?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quick Tip: Decluttering Christmas

The title of this post might be a little grandiose, but if you haven't packed away the holiday decorations yet, take a few moments to go through your decorations and see if there are any you no longer love.

I used to feel like I should hold on to all of the decorations I had in case I ever wanted to use them again, since I had the storage space. But now my thinking has changed. Unused, unloved decorations take up space, time and effort the same as any other clutter. Ask yourself when you last used the items you're storing but didn't put out this year. Has your color scheme or tastes changed? Are there items you no longer love? Isn't it time to let them go?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012!

Its beginning to look a lot like the holidays are over. The decorations at min hus have been packed and put away. My living room looks super huge minus a large blue tree. I'm hoping that Alex, the big, old fuzzball, won't be too depressed now that his great love, the fake tree, has been put away for another year. I have a feeling he'll be spending much less time in the living room with me. *sniffle*

You want to do what with my box and my tree?

And, oh yeah, I have to go back to work tomorrow after 11 blissful days off. Le sigh. The mere thought of going back to work makes me a sad panda, but that is a post for another day.

Besides the whole work thing, I don't mind seeing the backside of 2011. Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out, biaatch.

It seems like everyone is talking about resolutions now, and doing year end reviews. The idea of either makes me feel very meh. Are you a resolution-setter? Me? Notso much. During the years I have set goals, my birthday has always felt like a much more natural time to do so. This year, I don't have any resolutions or goals per se, but some guiding principles I'd like to try and adhere to:
  1. Spend less - My expenses are fairly low and my tastes are far from extravagant, but I would still like to be able to save more. Hopefully this year, by tracking my spending carefully, and buying less of my wants (specifically clothes, beauty and hair products and alcohol), I'll be able to do so.

  2. Eat less crap - The boy and I are trying to buy and eat much, much less processed food, and hopefully lose a few pounds in the process.

  3. Waste less - An alarming amount of the produce and fresh food we do buy ends up in the compost pile instead of our tummies. We hope to fix that by paying more attention to what needs to be used, and when.

Here's hoping that 2012 is kind to us all.


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