28 March 2010

Granola Tendencies has moved

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to annouce the launch of www.SheenaLaShay.com. A one stop place for ALL of my blogs to live. Granola Tendencies has been moved there as well and that is where all future updates will go.

26 March 2010

Earth Hour



Have you ever heard of Earth Hour? Tomorrow will mark the third anniversary.

On the official Earth Hour website, it says

On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations. Learn more about how Earth Hour began, what we’ve accomplished, and what is in store for 2010.

It's a very simple collaborative project being done around the world and I will take part as well. I've spoken before about wanting to take "Elective Blackouts" and I'm going to use Earth Hour as my first official one.

31 US cities have signed on at this time to participate and New York is one of them.

While the event only last an hour, I'm assuming what I have planned will take a little longer. First, I will be unplugging everything in the house, except the fridge and stove. I will turn everything off; my laptop, my cell phones, my ipod. I will light candles. I have so many, you have no idea. And I will be doing a few creative things. I plan on finishing up the current book I'm reading, "Food Inc." Have you seen the movie or read the book? I plan on writing my book review for So Long a Letter and starting book four of the African Dispora Challenge that I am currently a part of. BrownGirl Speaks is a very cool woman and if you have a moment to spare you should roam around her website. I have a number of journal entries that I need to write and create in my collage art journals. I also want to take this time to purge many out dates files and projects in the various boxes in my home.

I'm not sure if I'm going to take pictures of the whole process because I really just want to be completely unplugged.

This reminds me of two weekends ago when New York had that horrible storm. I was with Mr. Officer at the time and while we were home relaxing, Mother Nature threw a big temper tantrum. The entire fence in his backyard came crashing down. A number of trees were knocked over and leaning dangerously over the house. An electrical wire snapped and was live and sparking just waiting to start a fire and then he lost power.

And when I say he lost power, it was if the earth stopped spinning on its axis and a MAJOR jerking motion happened as the earth came to screeching halt. If you've read before about Mr. Officer and I, you will know our practices are very different. Therefore, the power shutting off in his house could actually be felt. At any moment there are multiple tvs on, multiple radios on, a number of phones beeping and chiming, a billion lights are on and EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS plugged in. You just have no idea. (Perhaps I should see if he can rise to the challenge and turn his lights off for an hour)

I burst out laughing. It was the first time in four years there had been stillness and quiet and darkness in his house. And I loved it. I think he was almost short of a panic attack. Just what would he do without his music. "You know," I said, "If the power went off in my apartment, I might not even notice for a week or so." He remained silent. "It's just that I so rarely have things on and I probably wouldn't know something was wrong until the food started to smell." He refused to say anything. I took it as my cue to be quiet as well.

When he did visit my apartment for the first time he immediately said, "Its too dark in here. Turn the lights on. It's too quiet, where is the music, the tv. Oh this isn't going to work. I'm bringing in a flatscreen tv and its going right here." I just rolled my eyes.


Are you planning on participating in Earth Hour? Will you be a part of an Earth Hour event? I'm looking for one in New York. Know of any?

25 March 2010

World Water Week

Did you know it was world water week? Tapped has been sending me daily emails this week and I find them very refreshing. (No pun intended.) I first mentioned Tapped back in October of 2009.




This commercial always gets me every time.




  • Instead of using bottled water...buy a brita pitcher or brita faucet.

(Actually I have an extra brita pitcher that I friend gave to me because my other one was in storage for three months. Does anyone want a free brita pitcher that's been gently used? You'll have to buy another filter though. First person to email me their address at SheenaLaShay at gmail dot com will have one sent to their home!)

  • Use a reusable water bottle. My favorite one is my (RED) one from starbucks. By using it I'm supporting (RED) and discontinuing my use of bottle water or plastic cups.

24 March 2010

Mobile Boarding Pass

In select US airports you can now board your United Airlines flight via your smartphone instead of the traditional printed boarding pass. How cool is that? One less thing to print off.

Should you have to print,
  • print on 100% post consumer recycled paper.
  • print on scrap paper.
  • print double sided.
  • print with a eco-font.
  • print with GreenPrint.
  • print after you have done a thorough spell check.

21 March 2010

Homemade Fruit Dip

I love eating strawberries with fruit dip cream cheese. Yum Yum. The picture below is from Cafe Lashay where I wax about my love affair. (Side note...Sly, how many freaking blogs do you have?, you may wonder. No worries. In the next week, my new website will premier where you will be able to find all five of my blogs plus more in one location. I can not wait. I've already seen drafts from my friend and the amazing designer and its looking great!)



The fruit dip cream cheese that use for my strawberries has an average cost of $4 to $5 dollars. Is that expensive? Maybe. Seeing as to how I eat every drop and never waste an ounce compared to other food that I waste, perhaps its not as expensive as it seems. Still, if I can find a way to save a dollar so that it can be invested into something else, I'd love it!

I decided to make my own fruit dip since Wholefoods did not have the store bought brand I'm used to buying. Keep in mind this recipe isn't "organically sound." The ingredients are not all natural. I suppose what's sustainable about this recipe is the economics of it all.

Ingredients
  • Fluff
  • Whipped Cream Cheese
  • French Vanilla Yogurt (I did use stoneyfield since I believe in his all natural business)

Preparation
  • Spoon two large dollops of fluff into a small mixing bowl.
  • Spook one large dollop of whipped cream cheese into the same mixing bowl.
  • Spoon two(ish) sort of spoonfuls of yogurt into the same bowl.
  • Stir until its all blended together.
  • Dip fruit and enjoy.
This dip tasted the same as my store bought brand and it was much cheaper.

Does anyone know a more organic way that I can create this dip because "Fluff" isn't going to help my body any time soon?

17 March 2010

Soy Veggie Bacon...Um, No.

“Yes, I’ll have a non-fat, decaf latte, please. Oh, what the hell? Look, make it a full-fat mocha with extra whipped cream. What the hell, put a slice of bacon on it!” ~ Dr. Frasier Crane,  Frasier



The absolutely hardest part about being a vegetarian is foregoing BACON. I love bacon. Real bacon. Not turkey bacon. But the artificially infused apple hardwood smoked thick cut bacon. YUM freaking YUM. I am not a huge meat eater by any means necessary. I could go weeks without any meat and not even realize it. But I love bacon. In the past I've gotten veggie burgers with bacon! They waiter always looks at me funny when I request it. "You know the bacon isn't vegetarian," they say. "I know," I say licking my lips.

And listen...the tofu or whatever fake version there is, it just does not compare. AT ALL! 

Yesterday when I ordered a veggie burger for lunch, I had to force myself NOT to add bacon on it. And today while ordering a salad, I had to catch myself when listing the ingredients to add. "Cucumbers, Carrots, Onions, Tomatoes, Bac... I mean...um...well...just nevermind."

Some things are easy to give up. Other things take practice until they form into a habit. And then there are still some things that you will never get used to but willingly make the sacrifice for a cause bigger than you.

I just read the mini chapter in Food, Inc titled, "The Dirty Six; The Worse Animal Practices in Agribusiness" and if my own will isn't enough to stop me from eating bacon, all I have to do is remember that mini chapter. A separate post will come soon in regards to this book. Watching the movie is a must but then reading the book gives even more depth to the movie.

What is or was the hardest thing for you to give up in order to live a more sustainable life?

16 March 2010

Fourth Floor Walk Ups



Now that I live on the fourth floor in a New York walkup, I am more inclined to SIGNIFICANTLY decrease the trash that I generate. I have never been this inspired before! Just saying. What ever needs to be your motivation, let it be. 

These four flights of stairs also make me questions EVERY purchase. I mean seriously! I've been purchasing a few things for my new apartment and in every store, I ask myself, "Do I really want to carry this up the stairs?" And while I live by a budget and am an eco-conscious shopper, this reasoning has given me about 5% more pull towards eco-conscious shopping. :)
I ask myself how I can creatively grocery shop so that I only have one bag and it contains all that I need.I think about the fact that everything I bring up those stairs, will eventually have to come back down. And you just have no idea the decrease in products and things going into my home and the decrease in the waste that i generate. I mean, every container, every piece of paper...I just keep thinking, "But I'll have to carry it downstairs if I throw it away."

What are you random motivations that also line up with sustainable lifestyle choices? For example, I hate artificial light. It makes me sick. It sucks my soul away and drains my energy. UGH! Therefore I rarely turn my lights on. Hardly ever during the day and only sometimes in the evenings. I work with as minimal artificial lighting as possible. I'd rather light five candles than flip a light switch on. That's just my natural inclination. What's great is that without even trying I'm consuming less energy and keeping my electrical bill low. There are many steps each person has to take towards living a sustainable life. Its nice when some of your everyday habits don't even need to be changed.

Vegetarian for Three Weeks and Counting

I haven't eaten a single piece of meat, including seafood for three weeks now. It hasn't required that much intentional effort since I ate very little meat to begin with.

I went to an amazing Indian restaurant with my great artist friend, Jantira and I was able to order a completely tasty, SPICY, fulfilling meal with all vegetarian options. I went to the Spice Market with Amber and again, we were able to order a huge meal to be shared and it was completely vegetarian. I want to do reviews of both those restaurants soon!

At work, I'm often faced with challenges regarding my eating. It's harder to eat organic here and when lunches come it, we often just grab what's there. This time though...like yesterday, I just made sure I was intentional. Veggie Burger and Cajun Fried. In reality, I shouldn't even be ordering that. In actuality, I should be bringing my lunch each day because then I'd know my food came from the local CSA and its organic and sustainable.

(It trips me out that things can be organic but not sustainable. Or things can be natural but not organic. Or things can be environmentally sustainable but not culturally sustainable. I'm reading the book version of Food Inc and there is a section where the guy talks about heirloom tomatoes and he talks about what use is it to have an organic tomato, if the people who picked it are being mistreated, underpaid, and put at risk. So sure I eat organically, but is it sustainable environmentally and culturally? This freaking rabbit hole keeps getting deeper.)

As is, I have maintained a completely vegetarian eating regime for three weeks. Next week, after completely moving into my AMAZING apartment with the BEST KITCHEN ever, I will venture into a week of veganism. I did it once last year. The hardest part was not putting cheese and sour cream in my vegetarian gumbo. And after that, perhaps a week of raw food. I've been toying with that idea for YEARS! I even dated a raw foodist once. But I haven't taken the plunge. After finding the amazing blog , Raw on $10 a Day, I have renewed hope. I can't even begin to tell you about the amazing cheap recipes this woman concocts. Basically, I'm going to have to do a post just on her and her blog! Maybe I can even get her to do a granola interview.

The best vegetarian dish I've had in the past few weeks. Hmmm..the avocado, onion radish salad from the Spice Market and their stir fried asparagus with lotus root and lily bulb. God, you just have no idea!

What is your favorite vegetarian dish?

By the way...its a little hard being a vegetarian when you don't like mushrooms or eggplant. I personally kidn stand either.

15 March 2010

Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner

I am a bit anal about cleanliness. On top of that I'm extremely organized. It makes for a perfectly run house. If I was a wife and mother, I'd get an award for House Manager of the Year! :)

One of my favorite things about my last three apartments has been the wood floors. If I don't own the place, carpet scares me. Therefore I have been lucky enough to have wood floors.

Let me tell you my method of cleaning my floors.

First I sweep the floor.
Second, I sweep the floor. Again.
Third, I dry swiffer it. (Yes, swiffers are not eco friendly, but if you know a none-gross alternative, let me know. I've asked Eco Mama and she's looking into it too!) I dry swiffer after two floor sweeps because the broom doesn't pick up everything.
Fourth, I wet swiffer.
Fifth, I use a wood cleaner.

Yea. That's how I "sweep" my floors once a week. And even still, I feel like there's crude on the floor or something. I need to stop wearing shoes in my apartment completely!

With this method, you can easily see how un-sustainable that is. Right now, I'm not willing to change the whole swiffer section. Finding a cloth type thing and touching it and washing it grosses me out. Plus I'd need a whole load of cloths to wash to justify washing one. I could never mix it with my regular laundry. Yuck!

The part I'm willing to change, if the wood cleaner. I want a homemade recipe. And seeing as to how anal I am, you do know, it has to be exceptional.

On Ehow, they had a simple recipe for Wood Cleaner.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • 1 gallon of water
  • A few drops of your favorite essential oil (I threw that in there)

Preparation
  •  Mix ingredients together
  • Dip sponge mop in cleaning solution
  • Squeeze until mop is almost dry
  • Rinse mop out frequently (while cleaning)

 Another recipe on EHow, explains a Tea Wood Cleaner.

Ingredients
  • 10 tea bags
  • 1/2 gallon of water.

Preparation
  • Same as the vinegar and water mixture, except let the tea steep until very strong.
This tea wood cleaner would be great, if I didn't love my tea. Seriously, the tea i drink is an investment. It would make the light of heart faint. I don't want to use it to clean my floors. Its a great idea to use one thing for many different purposes. I currently use my conditioner as my shaving cream. No, its not the luxurious men's brand that I used to use from The Body Shop. But its effective and moisturizing. But the idea of putting my high quality tea on my floors. That's just not going to work.

After a couple searches, I think I'm going to use some sort of combo of vinegar, water, lemon juice, castille soap and essential oil to create my perfect wood floor cleaner. We will see what happens.What I love about this mix is that all the ingredients are already in my pantry. I don't have to purchase a single thing. Don't you just love that.

A simple google search yields tons of recipes. As I often do, I'll find something, mix it up a bit and put my own spin on it. I'll let you know how it turns out. How do you clean your wood floors? What essential oil should I add to the mix so my apartment doesn't smell like vinegar? Or is the vinegar so powerful, that adding essential oils would be fruitless?

13 March 2010

simplehuman and simple people


 Are you aware of simplehuman products? I really enjoy them. The quality is impeccable. The aesthetics please me. The efficency to make my life at work and home, saves time. It's an organizational lover's fantasy. And considerings the quality, the cost is relative.

I just purchased another product by simplehuman and it made me wonder what their sustainable standards are. I've started becoming REAL picky about where I buy things from. I put aside convienence to make a statement with my money. "Oh you suck as a company, then you won't ever get my money again," I say to them in my head. People are going to always buy stuff. (Listen, I'm all for creating my own products, but unless you know a good way to 'create" a toilet brush cleaner", the I have to buy it. And until I have a massive garden, I have to buy food. And so it goes. Since I have to buy, I perfer to be an eco conscious consumer as much as possible.)

As I purchased two more simplehuman products for home..this puts me at 5 things, I wondered who they were as a company. I know they promote recycling like its nobody's business and they also promote public health safety.
But what are the conditions of their factories? What are the workes exposed to? What do they do with their waste water? Do they use all virgin materials? What kind of food do they serve in their breakrooms? What is their carbon footprint? It would be great if this company where completely sustainable. Then I wouldn't even hesistate to purchase some of their most expensive brands.

"Green" has been the it term for the last few years. I am grateful for that because its made my professional research much easier since everyone wants on the bandwagon. But being "green" is more than eating organic fruit and drinking from a cup made of corn.

Living a life of sustainability touches every aspect of your life. Are you an eco-conscious eater? Not just vegetarian or farm raised meat eater. But do you eat locally and in season as well? Are you an eco-conscious shopper? Do you know how much energy is required to maintain your life?

Listen, I think its cute that everyone wants to recycle now. But I think it would be beyond powerful if everybody raised their level of consciousness a little higher than that.

This isn't meant to demean anyone. There are aspects of my life where the level of my tree-huggingness is so high, I'm practically makes salads with the leaves. And then there are other areas of my life, where I'm the one with the chainsaw just hacking away.

Are you conscious of how you live? I'm afraid many people are not. And that's scarier than an ocean full of trash.

11 March 2010

No Impact Man: The Documentary



The No Impact Man Documentary is available for "Watch Instantly" on Netflix. I will be watching that tonight.

Have you ever heard of him before? If not, google it. And the next time it rolls around, consider partcipating in the No Impact Project week. I did and I learned a lot about myself. 

10 March 2010

Alikay Naturals - Product Review

The philosophy surrounding the maintenance of my hair changed a few months back. This is personal growth for me.

I started wearing my hair natural instead of chemically straightening it so that I could become even lazier. I thought if I wore my natural curls, I wouldn't have to actually do my hair. I could just wake up and go. That's the perfect world. I never ever have to touch my hair. Unfortunately that's not realistic unless I just completely shave my head and trust me, considering how godly Erykah Badu looks, I'm always tempted to go there.

Over the past year, I've learned just how important it is to take care of my health. But I also placed semi importance on taking care of body. Health...brush teeth, wash face, stay clean, eat right. Blah Blah Blah. Taking care of my body...hmmm, I'm not sure of the right terminology. It's the sort of thing of using body butter to moisturize my skin. That sort of thing. (Not particular about my health but not as superficial as makeup and clothes) As much as I was moisturizing my skin, I was just saying whatever to my hair. I wouldn't wash it for weeks. (Not as gross as you think.) I hardly ever added moisture..not even water. I wore it big and puffy and just never took care of it.

Now, I at least moisturize it and keep it pinned away 5 to 6 days out of the week. I'm not infactuated with styling, although I see amazing styles by women. I'm not infactuated with color, hair type, length or anything like that. Those things mean nothing. But keeping it healthy, moisturized and clean...that's simple and important to me.

For the last few months I've been intentional about moisturizing my hair. Mostly this just means adding water each day. I've been intentional about cleaning it. One a week I have a whole routine. And with that, my hair has thrived. I style it less, keep it pinned back and hardly let it wild out...but I know each night that its healthy just like my skin and such.

I've been in the market for some organic, natural and perferably homemade products for my hair. Therefore, I've been scouring the internet to find a shampoo, leave in conditioner, deep conditioner, detangling conditioner, and moisturizer.(Eventually I've make my own but I don't have the time right now.)

I found Black Onyx World. More specifically Alikay Naturals Hair Products.

Black Onyx is a young lady who makes these hair products herself. She also makes jewelry. A lot of it looks amazing! I am impressed with the sheer variety and volume of her stock considering these are homemade. After watching many of her youtube videos.in which you see her using her products and you see the results, I was convinced I should try this. (Note to self, one thing may work for one person and not another.)

This is Black Onyx below. I think she has creative styles and her hair is healthy. My hair will never be styled like that because I don't know how to do that and I'd never pay someone else to do it but my hope is that it would be healthy.



 My products arrived last week. I ordered her Black Soap Shampoo. Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner. LemonGrass Deep Conditioner. Shea Yogurt Moisturizer. and Betoninite me Baby Clay. (The clay was just an impulse. I've seen people use it and thought it might work. I haven't tried it yet.)


First Impression

The presentation was lacking. I know when you purchase products in the store, more often than not you are paying for the pretty little containers more than the product itself. I get that. I sometimes willingly pay more for something because it is packaged attractively. I know its a small thing and has little to do with the product itself but as a consumer and creator, for me presentation plays a significant roll. But the lack in hers was not enough to deter me. I saw it from the website and knew what i was getting myself into. But I wish she'd do a little more to make the presentation and packaging of it better.

The cost. I pay an average of $6 for my shampoo or conditioner. I splurged and paid over $15 for an Aubrey Organics deep conditioner but it is worth it. So cost is really relative. $2 more for her shampoo than my store bought organic one is fine...especially considering its homemade. But if you are on a tight budget maybe some other product is better for you.
  
Aromatic Qualities. Smell is important to me. I have posted in other blogs about my personal offense at crappy hand soaps in people's bathrooms. I'm snooty like that. I wear Marc Jacobs or Prada perfume and then I come to your house and you want me to wash my hands with Apple Spice scented soap. Oh my goodness. That is just gross to me. Its one of the unreasonably horrible things about my personality but if I don't like a certain scent, it might as well go straight to hell. So....Alikay Natural's. The lemongrass leave in conditioner and the honey and sage deep conditioner gave my nose an orgasm. Seriously.  The black soap shampoo didn't really have a smell. The shea butter yogurt moisturizer. It's no fault to her but I do not like the smell of shea butter. I love cocoa butter as a base scent to build off. But most naturals bow their heads before shea butter. So I tried it. And it was hard to keep putting it on my hands and then in my hair...because I really do not like the smell of shea butter. I'm going to assume that her other concoctions have just as much power of seduction with their aromas.

Quality. You know how you feel a product and it feels right.Or something is too chunky. Or too soupy? The shea butter. Along with not liking the smell, I didn't like the texture. I prefer creams in my hair. Butters can go on my skin. The shampoo...I just didn't know what to make of it. I couldn't tell if it was working or not. I think if it had a stronger smell, I'd know if I evenly dispersed it throughout my hair since its so concentrated and so soupy. Maybe i'll have to add my own essential oils to the rest of the bottle.


Quantity. I think the size and proportions relative to the cost are good. I wonder if she has a detangling conditioner. That would be more telling in regards to quantity since I go through a LOT of that.

Effectiveness. That is still pending. I used all the products last night. My initial reactions. I couldn't tell if the shampoo was effective. It needs a stronger smell to reinforce that its in my hair, if that makes sense. The deep conditioner seems effective..although I mixed in another deep conditioner too. My hair is THICK. The leave in conditioner is fine. Although for it to be as effective as my own concoction I need to actually mix it with other things like rosewater, vegetably glycerin, essential oils and water.  The shea butter...well, my hair is still pinned up right now. I'll know tonight the effects of it when I take my hair down to twist it tonight. I'm hoping that it works.

(Although I must say, using something once, may not be the best way to judge its effectiveness. I've been using my new regime for a few months and it was only until a few weeks ago that I noticed the huge difference in my hair. I'm going to have to use these products for a few weeks to even begin to know the true effects on my hair.)

Transparency. This was probably the area I had the biggest conflict with. While Alikay Naturals is a homemade natural product line, almost each product I purchased had a "special blend," or "secret blend" of natural ingredients. At this point in my life, I'm uncomfortable NOT knowing what is going in or on my body. I think its important that no matter how big or small the company, you as a consumer have a right to know what you are purchasing. Perhaps there are different rules for people who sell their own products from home, but even still there should be some sort standard. Since I purchased a number of the products, for now, I will continue using them. However, I'm not sure I could buy more of her products knowing that I don't know each ingredient. I'm sure she wants to protect her recipes, but I want to be an informed consumer. However if you don't mind not knowing, this could be the product for you.

I will post photos soon as well as keep you update to date with the effectiveness of this product over the coming weeks.

Would you purchase a product that had "secret ingredients"? Do you have any recommendations for homemade products being sold by entrepenuers? What scents do you love or hate? Do you have a hair care regime?

09 March 2010

The One Time its ok to Bite the Hand....Buddha's Hand.


I was doing some grocery shopping and perhaps because I'm reading Food, Inc. as my book of the week, I felt the need to be even more conscious of what I purchased. I decided I wanted to purchase fruit that was in season so I turned to google to find some answers.

The best website I came across was EPICURIOUS. com


I use Epicurious for many of my recipes at Cafe LaShay and therefore I trusted their site. What separated them from many of the other websites I came across was that they listed by month and by location what was in season. Sure, a mango may be in season...but in season halfway across the world. So I wanted to know what was good for this month and for New York. I didn't get many options but that's not the point.

For New York, it said that the growing season is currently dormant and that I should opt for items from storage such as apples, pears and root vegetable. (Side note, I'm currently looking for a CSA to participate in in Brooklyn and am excited!)

While searching for seasonal, local fruit I came across some things I had never heard of. Have you ever heard of Buddha's Hand?



I didn't read too much on it yet. I couldn't tell you where it comes from or if its even available in the US but I just loved the name. It's like saying "God's Hand." "Jehovah's Hand." "Allah's Hand" "The Divine's Hand" or something like that. Who wouldn't want to eat it. Its one of my goals to try a fruit I've never even heard of. Depending on the availability and location of this fruit, maybe I'll be biting into Buddha's Hand.




Do you consider the season and your location when shopping? Do you find the choices limiting? Have you ever heard of Buddha's hand and do you know more about it.

08 March 2010

Homemade Toothpaste and Other Products

In October of 2009, after dropping over $80 on facial products at the Body Shop, I realized I needed to make a change. I wrote of my musing about this in a post titled. Natural Products vs. Homemade Products.  Everyone has their opinion on which better. Natural Products, Homemade Products, Unnatural Products.

Is it better to use Neutrogene to wash my face? Yes to Carrots? Or my own Homemade Face Wash?

I can't answer that for you. I can only inform you of why I decided to make my own natural products.

I wanted to decrease the amount of things I purchased.
I wanted to spend less money on products.
I wanted to treat my body better, more naturally, and gently.
I wanted to generate less trash.
I wanted to know EXACTLY what was going in or on my body.
I wanted to take control of my life.
I wanted to live a simplistic life.

Another added benefit towards creating and making my products was a sense of empowerment! That feeling was amazing.

So if you prefer to use products seeping with chemicals and things you can't pronounce, use it. Plenty of functioning healthy people do. If you prefer to use natural products from sustainable vendors, do that. And if you prefer to make your own products...email me so we can swap recipes! Because that's what I'm interested in.

Currently, I am looking for the best recipe for a homemade toothpaste and mouthwash.

I feel as if I've mastered my face wash, toner, exfoliant and mask. After mastering it, now I've been playing around with scents and consistencies and such. More recently, I've been playing around with mouthwash recipes and so far I haven't discovered anything that is amazing. Some of the recipes I've tried were listed in a previous post.

The problem is I can't get the scent that I want. And if I'm going to be swishing something around in my mouth for more than thirty seconds, I need the scent to be pleasant. When I tried making my toner, at first I was taken aback by the smell of witch hazel. Eventually the smell grew on me....essential oils help! (Which by the way, now that i use them for EVERYTHING...I need to find a wholesaler that sells them by the bulk! Any suggestions?)

So with my mouthwash...I can't get the taste right. I want a winterfresh type of taste. Hmmmm.

I've also changed my "toothpaste." Most recently I was using J/A/S/O/N's. That was a switch from a lifelong attachment to Crest. I had tried Nature's Gate, which has amazing hair products, but their toothpaste and deodorant...not so much!

Now I've tried just baking soda dipped in water or mouthwash to brush my teeth. And my teeth seem clean and I'm pretty sure my breath is fresh but I just want more. And perhaps a little flavor..since again, its going in my mouth. I came across a seemingly simple toothpaste recipe that I plan on trying. I found the recipe on  Fat Free Kitchen.


Ingredients
  • Baking soda (5 teaspoons. This serves as your whitener)
  • Salt (1/4 teaspoon. This serves as your antiseptic.) 
  • Vegetable Glycerin (5 teaspoons. This serves as your base) 
  • Peppermint, Spearmint, Pudinhara essential oil (10 drops. This gives you fresh breath)

Preparation
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Adjust the quantity of glycerine to get toothpaste consistency. Store in a wide mouth bottle. 
 This recipe is so simple. It also yields itself towards having the right consistency. And I keep those ingredients in the house readily. Remember my Sustainable Guidelines ? Now while those guidelines are geared towards products I purchase, they can also work for products I make. In addition to those guidelines.....

The homemade products that I make must... .
  • Contains ingredients that I readily keep in the house such as oatmeal and honey and essential oils.(I know I'll have to buy a few things I don't normally keep such as rosewater or glycerin...but there are many other uses that I'll find for them. And isn't that sustainable...to have 100 ways to use oatmeal?)
  • Is simple to prepare. (Five steps or less. I don't want to spend five hours creating a face wash that has forty ingredients. I don't have time for that. Even if I had time, I don't want to spend time doing that.)
  • It eventually works once I use it. (If after trying the homemade recipe the results are not as effective, it's not gonna work.)
 I found another toothpaste recipe to try as well. This recipe came from Christian PF. 

Ingredients
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (Is it really okay to use this? My dentist uses this to whitenen her teeth and it just seems really weird to me. I'm going to have to google this and find out more. Does anyone know?)
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Stevia
Preparation

  • Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into a mixing bowl
  • Add a dash of salt
  • Add 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • Add 1 drop of peppermint oil
  • Add a dash of stevia (more if you want it sweeter)
  • Mix it all up until it becomes paste like. You may have to add more hydrogen peroxide to get the right consistency.
I am running out of toothpaste now, so I will try these recipes this weekend.

There are a few other products I'm looking to make from scratch.
  • Deodorant. I found a good recipe on SimpleMom I believe.
  • Shower Gel. I cannot find one for this. Yes, I could use soap but I love the texture of shower gel. My mother found a vendor who makes it and is shipping it to me some time soon. The vendor who even made it said a prayer over it and though I'm not a praying woman, I like that my shower gel has been blessed. I think that's holy.
  • Ultimate All Purpose Cleaner. Yes vinegar and castille soap and baking soda and all those wonderful things are great cleaning agents. But what I want to do is make the ultimate perfectly scented all purpose cleaner and I've been playing around with some recipes.
  • Body Butter. I LOVE body butter. Lotion, Creams and Oils don't really do muchf or my skin. But some how my skin has a love affair with body butter. Specifically the Coco Butter Body Butter from the Body Shop. Yes there are a BILLION recipes for Shea Body Butter but I really DO NOT like the scent of Shea Butter. I like the scent of cocoa butter. Any good recipes that you know of.
  • Facial Moisturizer. This is the last thing on my list to make my facial products complete.

Do you know how I can create a winterfresh flavor using essential oils for my homemade mouthwash? What do you use to brush your teeth? Is hydrogen peroxide safe?

06 March 2010

Granola Happenings

 This week on Granola Tendencies...


    - The Battery that Almost Exploded 

    - A Week of Vegetarian Meals

    - The Spice Market restaurant review

    - Homemade Dish Soap

    - Homemade Mouthwash

    - Alikay Naturals Product Review


     

    05 March 2010

    Sugar and Coffee

    I've pretty much given up coffee completely. Since December of 2009 I've only had two coffee drinks. I've also given up most forms of sugar even raw. I only use raw sugar for cooking and/or baking.
     


    I sweeten most things with agave nectar. Mainly my African Nectar Mighty Leaf tea. Because I've come to love agave nectar so much, I won't even use honey. Honey only comes in handy for baking, cooking, and homemade products now. Now if I run out of agave, I'll just have my tea by itself. Eventually I won't even need the agave nectar anymore!

    I can't remember the last time I purchased granulater sugar. I like that. And the coffee that I still have in the house...that's just used for my Brown Sugar Coffee Body Scrub.

    Taking coffee and sugar out of my daily nutritutional intake...adding more fruit, water, and vitamins, I've noticed my body feels lighter. Things are processed better. I wonder how enlightened I'd feel if I went completed raw. Perhaps I'll try going raw for just one day and then vegan for a day, just to note the differences.

    Do you notice a difference when you eat only vegetarian meals versus raw meals versus vegan meals? How often do you drink coffee? What do you use to sweeten your drinks and foods?

    04 March 2010

    "My Elective Blackout"

    I came across this article in Real Simple a long while ago and I LOVED it. My goal is go on a couple elective blackouts this year as long as my schedule allows. If I'm working on a show, that's not possible but if I can, I want to have a weekend of candles.

    Click each picture for a larger view. It is worth reading the article.

     




    What do you think about the article?

    03 March 2010

    The Uniform Project

    Have you ever heard of The Uniform Project? I first learned about it through one of my favorite websites.
    One of the comments I wrote about the website was....
    1. Posted by Sheena - 06/13/2009
      I actually really like the project. Even if its not completely sustainable, or someone has done it before, or there are better ways to go about doing it….I really like it. Its creative and inspires me to think of ways in which I could simplify my wardrobe. I won’t wear the same dress for a year but it makes me realize I can do a lot more with all the pieces in my wardrobe. So if this has prevented me from buying another dress because I’m thinking of new ways to wear the ones I already have, then unclutterer has succeeded in being helpful to me. Plus the girl is just so adorable and while some of the outfits are crazy, many of them are just too cute! I want that black dress!

      First, I must mentioned the woman behind the Uniform Project has the same name as me, SHEENA! Yea!


      One of the reasons for this project is to raise money for school children. But I like the sustainable implications. Can you take one dress from your wardrobe in wear it in seven different ways? After following The Uniform for quite some time, I was inspired to look at my clothes in a new way. Perhaps if I layered things or added accessories I could find a new way to wear something.

      And it works.

      But first, back to Sheena from U.P. Here are some of my favorites of hers. (Look at her site and see some of her creative or crazy outfits. I can't believe it's almost been a year!)

       

      My favorite is the one with the hat! So so cool!
      Eventually the black dress which can be worn both ways will be for sale. I will definitely be purchasing it. Sheena borrowed friends accessories until her site became so popular that people were donating accessories for her to try.  At one point, she asked that people stop sending accessories. She even had an event where she put the accessories up for auction to raise more money.

      So with her encouragement I have tried mixing things up with my clothes.


       
      This white dress has been in my closet for over a year with the price tag still on it. I was never able to wear it to work because its spaghetti strapped and the cut is pretty low. And I just never had an occasion to wear it during the summer. But after some creative layering, its not one of my favorite things to wear to work. Now I need to try it with some other color than black!

       
      One of my favorite dresses but because its sleeveless, its limited to certain seasons. Or not! I add a long sleeve tshirt, leggings, and even knee length socks with boots. And now I can even rock the dress in the winter!

       
      Another sleeveless dress that works for the winter by adding a long sleeve tshirt, leggings and boots.

       
      And one of my favorite shirt/dresses..Its more a shirt at this point. But with leggings it doesn't matter. So with this one I went color crazy. Green leggings. Orange leg warmers. Brown boots.
      But sometimes I wear the shirt with jeans.
      Or just with brown leggings and boots.

      But even still, that's three different outfits.

      So I encourage you to mix and match.

      Right now I am living out of three suitcases while the rest of my belongings including my clothes are in storage somewhere in New Jersey. I'm pretty much stuck to the three suitcases and I really don't want to buy more stuff. Therefore, I've been trying some pretty different looks with the clothes that I have. Who knew layers, leggings, and accessories could give you a whole new look.


       

      Associates at work actually thought this was a new dress because of the belt. And I wear the dress a lot. A least once a week but this time with the new accessories I was frequently asked if this was a new dress!
      When you can't find anything to wear do you shop for something new, borrow from a friend, or try old clothes in a completely new way? Any ideas for other ways and colors and styles I can try to make my limited wardrobe fresh and new. (Also do you notice a theme...I love dresses!)

    02 March 2010

    Homemade Apple Crisp

    Awhile back I made homemade apple crisp with some apples from work. Rather than throwing them in the garbage. I've also brought bananas home and made banana oatmeal cookies too.

    Here is the video I made.


    After making my video, I felt bad that I didn't look for a more organic way to make my apple crisp. So I searched for a healthier version to try in the near future. So I'm going to be trying this one soon.

    01 March 2010

    Electrical Overload


    I recently moved to New York for a job relocation and while I'm still getting situated, I'm staying in corporate housing. I am grateful for the benefit of corporate housing. It ties me over until I find a home. It's close to work and pretty much at the center of everything. The apartment comes fully stocked since most of my belonging are in storage and so I am able to survive until I find my future home in Brooklyn.

    The first thing I noticed when I arrived was all the things plugged into the walls.
     

    This is a partial view of the kitchen. It's pretty nice. Lots of room and counter space. But let's count what's plugged in.

    1. The fridge
    2. The stove.
    3. The microwave
    4. The dishwasher
    5. The toaster
    6. The can opener
    7. The coffeemaker

    SEVEN THINGS! Just in the kitchen. Remember my old lovely apartment?

     

     At any given moment throughout my ENTIRE apartment only THREE things remained plugged in. The fridge, the stove and my internet router. Even the lamp featured in the photo was only plugged in when in used. Which was rare because you see how much light i get in my apartment!

    So seven things for just the kitchen. Well, I immediately put the can opener, toaster and coffee machine in the cabinet. I haven't used any of those things since I moved in.



    Now what you can see in this picture...
    8. Floor lamp
    9. Table lamp
    10. Ipod/Radio player

    What you can't see...
    11. Flat screen television
    12. DVD player
    13. Cable box
    14. Router
    15. Desk lamp
    16. Telephone
    17. Heater/Air conditioner

    Oh, I forgot to mention
    18. Telephone in kitchen
    19. Telephone in kitchen (yes there are two. One that connects me to the doorman)


    AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!


    Now on to the bedroom.
    20. One nightstand lamp
    21. Another night stand lam
    22. Heater/Air Conditioner

    What you can't see.....
    23. Another television. (A television in the bedroom. AAAAAHHHH!)
    24. Cable box.
    25. Yet ANOTHER telephone

    And while its not plugged in there is a hair dryer in the bathroom.

    25 things plugged in at all times! Are you serious! I can't even imagine what the electricity bill is! This isn't even counting the other things that you plug in every now and then. My phone chargers. My laptop charger and such! WTF!

    I was excited to have received a $15 electricity bill in my old apt and now...holy crap. Luckily I don't have to see the electricity bill.

    I've unplugged as many things as I can and have even considered moving the television in the bedroom into the closet but since its not my place I'm a little hesitant to make changes like that.

    I find that its challenging to live a sustainable life when you don't have control. Like when I go home to visit my family, I eat what's presented to me. I'm not going to impose my lifestyle on them and change how they shop. And since this isn't my own apt, its just challenging. But I do what I can.

    For the first few weeks I had a great deal of trouble sleeping. Part of me believes is due to this electrical overload. I can't wait to have my own apt again where the only things that are plugged in will be my fridge, stove and router.

    How many things do you have plugged in?

    28 February 2010

    Sunshine Award

     
     I was recently given the Sunshine Award by Shelagh at Every Small Thing. Her blog is one my inspirations for sustainable living on a personal level. I think she is very articulate, creative, and amazing! And while I can explain how to live a life of a single person in the city with a sustainable approach, Shelagh shows how to do that with a family. She has so many practical steps and I like her writing voice. I read her daily!

    The purpose of this reward is to highlight bloggers who bring sunshine into your life. A little sunshine is needed right now when most of the US has been or is still covered in snow. My google reader is full of blogs that I read all the time and these are some of the  people who bring sunshine into my life.

    Brooklyn Green Team. -This blog consist of a team of volunteers who do pretty cool stuff around Brooklyn. Long before I moved to New York I was following their blog for inspiration, ideas and support. Now that I'll be moving to Brooklyn soon, I'm glad to have a resource for my new york life.

    Green Girl Meets All American Boy - She doesn't update her site any longer but its still worth looking at her post. I loved her blog and it served as inspiration for my relationship. 

    Her Green Life -I love reading about individual's efforts towards leading a sustainable life and she does a great job towards documenting her efforts.

    Edible Aria -His food and recipes and pictures...oh my goodness..it makes me want to lick my computer screen or fly to Austin just to try his food.

    Maura. Life After -This is my dear friend Erin's blog and she used to write about her daughter's struggle with cancer and now she writes about life after Maura. And while the subject might seem difficult, it is a beautiful blog full on inspiration. I hope she writes a book one day!
      
     Joel, Sly and Erin

    Jantira K -This is another friend of mine. She's one of the best artist that I know. I don't even know what else to say about her. She was featured on Granola Tendencies. 

     
    Sly and Jantira K

    A Survivor's Thoughts on Life - She is one of the few people I have found who write about abuse and those who survive it and thrive after it. Her post are insightful, difficult, honest and encouraging and I think she is simply amazing. 

    The 365 Project - My friend Hannah is an amazing photographer among many other things. I love her daily photos especially ones with lots of color or ones about her cats.

    Sly and Hannah

    Chelsea Does 101 Things - This is an artist I've worked with on a couple different theater productions and she does all sorts of wonderful things but this blog of hers is SOOOO amazing. It makes me want to do similar things.




    EcoMama's Guide to Living Green - Eco Mama has already been nominated but she gives me sunshine so I'm still featuring her too. I love her reviews and reccommendations. I love the foods that she tries. I like it all. Most of the sustainable things I've purchased recently have been because they were featured on her site!

    Every Small Thing -  And Shelagh. She's received it already but still I think she shoul receive it again. I LOVE LOVE LOVE her blog. I wish she were my neighbor. We'd be great friends! I know it.

    Who inspires you and brings sunshine into your life?

    Fruit Loops has Fiber

    Back in October I wrote about Kellogg's latest commercial where they spoke of Poptarts containing real fruit. I was slightly enraged with their lies and marketing scheme geared towards children to endorse their product in a greenwashing manner.

    I recently saw their latest commercial.



    I wrote before.....
    First off, it always annoys me how so many toys, snacks, and all around products are geared towards children and not the adult who's buying the item. The commercial above is for a child to see and then beg their mom in the grocery store for.

    Now the kid will say, "But mommy, it has fiber!"

    How about giving your child granola and adding a spoonful of ground flaxseed with mixed berries. Or giving them granola with organic milk topped with blueberries or raspberries.

    I acknowledge that it is uber expensive for a typical family to feed their children on an organic diet. I know. The part in Food Inc, featuring the family who had to decide between fruit or chips was heartbreaking. I get it.

    But its just annoying.

    A friend of mine babysits for a family that only feeds their daughter real food. She grew up eating avocado mashed up rather than McDonalds. One of her favorite foods is squid and not hot dogs. I'm sure she even knows what flaxseed is. :) Her babysitter told me the story of how when she was about two, her and her friends were talking about what they were going to eat for a snack. One kid said, "A hotdog." Another said something else just as blah. And then she said, "Noki."

    What do you feed your children for breakfast?

    Organic Natural Breakfast

    A few months ago I watched Food Inc. To say that move shook me to my core is an understatement. Watching that movie reminded me of when I watched Friends of God and Rosie O'Donnell's Gay Family Cruise. After seeing those two documentaries, in addition to having some life changing experiences, my "religious" perspective was shook to its core and I went on a two year journey of self discovery and spiritual enlightenment. Watching Food Inc, also reminded me of when I read and saw The Laramie Project and Angels of America. After experiences those two pieces of art, in addition to having life changing experiences, my paradigm of thinking of same sex orientation was forever changed.

    Watching Food Inc, altered my view of food. I felt it in my gut! For a few years now, I've "wanted" to change my eating habits. Its pretty healthy but I could stand to be vegetarian/vegan/raw. I could stand to be more intentional about consuming only organic or natural foods. I could stand to eat more fruit. I could stop snacking on certain foods which have no nutritional value. I even bought a lot of cookbooks on eating raw, vegan and vegetarian. I even once dated a raw foodist! But nothing worked.

    Then I saw Food Inc. Have you seen it? It's available to watch instantly on Netflix, if you have a subscription. Shoot, even if you don't have a subscription, I'd give you my login info just so you can watch it. It's that important. I started taking notes while watching it. I'd post those later. I bought the book too. It's next on my reading list. I had my entire family watch it over Christmas too. At some points, my mother cried. I understood the sentiment too. But I'll talk more about Food Inc. later.

    Because of Food Inc, I've changed a lot of my eating habits. But I still have a long way to go.


    My daily breakfast intact now consist of one of two things.

     
     On the weekends, I eat cereal.

    Right now I haven't found a specific brand of cereal that I like but its always some form of granola. I'm really liking this AgavePlus Granola right now. I then add a spoonful or two of ground Flaxseed. And I've completely switched the milk that I consume to almond milk.

    I'm not a heavy milk drinker. I only consume it when adding it to something. Before Almond Milk, I drank 2% milk. I have a homemade recipe for almond milk that I will start making. I plan on doing that when I move into my new apartment. (I'm in temporary housing right now as I continue to transition. Just recently moved to New York!)

    So when I'm home, this is what I have for breakfast. And i tell you, I feel like a treehugger eating it. But its good. And I notice that my body feels better. I respond better to almond milk than any other kind. Plus, I DO NOT like soy milk. Ugh!
    When I am at work, my breakfast is something completely different. One thing I lack in my daily nutritional intake is FRUIT. I don't like fruit, except mango. So I hardly eat it. But I've found a creative way to get me to consume fruit.


     
    Smoothies!!!
    Yum. Yum. I love smoothies. Jamba Juice has received too much of money. And the fraps at starbucks receive too much of my money too. And I doubt either is as oganic as it could be.

    Just about every morning I make a fresh smoothie at work. It consist of...
    Fresh and Frozen strawberries
    Frozen mangoes
    Half a banana
    100% pomegranate juice
    sometimes a splash of orange juice
    Ice
    Half a container of vanilla yogurt


     
    Mix it up and drink up!
    Yummy. Natural. No extra sugar. Just fruit, yogurt, juice, and ice!
    I have no clue how many servings of fruit I add to my intake by drinking it.

    I usually have half a banana and half a cup of yogurt left, so I eat that too.
    This is a great way to start my day.


     Sometimes I make way too much so I freeze the rest and later on I have a homemade sorbet and its just as good too!

    What do you consume for breakfast? Do you have suggestions on various fruits I could add to my smoothies? Have you seen Food Inc?