ECO BED LINENS


Viva-terra, and not only is it environmentally friendly, it’s beautiful. A cooperative of 50 artisans in northwest India hand-prints the cotton by carving patterns into wood blocks, dipping them in natural color and then pressing them onto the fabric. Their website has a great video on the process. It's art for the bedroom, and I think so much more personal than choosing bedding from a big box store. I love it paired with that bed, remember this?

LINEN CHAIR MAKEOVER

Last year I found this chair at a local thrift shop. I could tell it had classic lines and it could turn into something special. I remembered a chair that I saw in a New York showroom, and after doing a little digging I found the image below. I used this chair as my inspiration.

This was my inspiration chair

Before
The original condition of the chair wasn't bad- excuse the bad phone snapshot, I almost always forget to take a before photo- its springs and joints were all okay. I lightly sanded the wooden parts and painted those first with a primer, then once coat of white latex paint was all I needed to update the wood.
Now the hard part- - re-upholstery. I didn't remove the original fabric because I didn't want to have to deal with the insulation-like padding that can be put into old chairs. Instead, I carefully measured and cut each piece and started on the back of the chair.
Using a combination of strategic folding and staples I secured the back piece, then the two side pieces. I used nail heads to secure the fabric wherever it met the wood. Then I secured the front of the chair the same way, stapling along the roll that is at the back of the chair I was able to hide all staples. Finally I tucked the fabric for the seat in and stapled it underneath the chair. (The piece of wood along the front of the seat unscrewed so I removed it until the fabric was stapled around the bottom).

After
Breakdown of supplies: I used linen to reupholster the body of the chair $2.14 a yard, I also used a staple gun, some nickel nail heads, and leftover paint from another home project.

QUINOA STUFFED PORTOBELLOS


A few years ago, while waiting patiently for John to grind his natural peanut butter at the grocery store, out of my boredom, I discovered something called “Quinoa” in the bulk food section. I had never heard of it, and wasn’t even sure how you would prepare it. I researched it a bit and found that Quinoa grains were actually seeds from a goosefoot plant, and they contain amino acids like lysine. They also contain more protein than any other grain, and they have good quantities of calcium, iron, and phosphorus. I also discovered that it is pronounced “Kin Wa,” like a fool, I had been calling it “Key-Noah” – go figure. Once I had "discovered" this miracle food I figured it would be fitting to make a meal with it, and see if they hype was worth the taste. This is what I chose to make: Quinoa Stuffed Portobellos. I love this meal now, and it have become a comfort food for both of us.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup(s) quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 pound(s) brussels sprouts
  • 4 teaspoon(s) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 teaspoon(s) fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 cup(s) frozen corn
  • 3 ounce(s) feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In 2-quart saucepan, combine quinoa and 3/4 cup water. Heat to boiling on high; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, trim and halve sprouts. In an 18-inch by 12-inch jelly-roll pan, toss sprouts, 2 teaspoons oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper to evenly coat. Roast 10 minutes.
  3. While sprouts cook, brush mushrooms with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Finely chop thyme and add to medium bowl along with corn, feta, cumin, and cooked quinoa.
  4. When sprouts have roasted 10 minutes, push to one side of pan and arrange mushrooms, gill side up, on other side. Divide quinoa mixture among mushrooms; roast 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

SEPHORA NATURAL MAKEUP


Today my mascara gave up on me. Its really my fault for trying to drag it out this long- but fortunately it inspired me to share some eco-friendly beauty products. Whenever I get low on a beauty/makeup product I go online and do a bit of digging. When I discovered Sephora had a line of makeup that was natural I was pretty stoked- because I already use a lot of their products. I love Sephora because they have such great quality makeup and they aren’t unreasonably priced. Just look for the green “Naturally Sephora” label. Click the images to see prices and ingredients.




TREND SPOT: THE CLUTCH

I have been noticing a trend lately: The clutch purse- a must have for every woman’s wardrobe! This fun, fashionable accessory is jumping out of evening wear and making a strong statement during the day. The clutch can say a lot about you; I'm chic, simple, and I know what I need. It can be a great accessory that lends you a fun pop of color, or a subtle elegant handbag. Check out these lovely ladies via Pinterest.







Here are some great options Earth-friendly options, I am crushing on the green, maybe for a Birthday gift!

BUYING FOOD IN BULK


With hundreds of items to choose from, buying bulk food gives you the chance to buy pantry staples and try new foods while saving money and reducing wasteful packaging. My favorite part- putting all of the food into glass jars and seeing how organized and beautiful it can all look.

Your budget
Buying in bulk is economical. Your local store, or co-op enables you to share in the same kind of bulk buying with even greater advantages — like great selection and no-minimum purchases. When you shop the bulk section of your natural foods co-op, you can purchase the amount you need. Most products (herbs and spices especially) are much less expensive per ounce than their prepackaged versions; after all, you’re not paying for all that packaging and advertising! And there’s no need to pay for what you won’t use. Instead, you can choose exactly what you need, whether it’s just enough tarragon to try that new salmon recipe or enough oats to make a jumbo batch of granola — without any waste.

The environment
Speaking of waste, it takes enormous resources and energy to produce all of those cans and boxes and cartons and labels — almost all of which wind up in our landfills. Even recyclable food packaging takes energy to produce and recycle (and some of it still ends up in landfills). You’re making a significant environmental difference by buying in bulk — especially when you reuse your own containers and bags.

Your health
In addition to economic and environmental advantages, buying in bulk feeds tendencies to eat more healthfully– because they offer the opportunity to expand your healthful recipe repertoire. You can try quinoa or currants, adzuki beans or pine nuts or any item that’s new to you before you commit to stocking up on it. (You’ll often find a wider selection of items in bulk than on the prepackaged shelves, too.)

Tips for Buying in Bulk
Once you’re in the bulk aisle, look to see what items you usually purchase in packages or cans that you can now purchase in bulk. Explore a bit, maybe trying one or two new items each visit. Here are just some of the kinds of products you’ll most find in the bulk aisle: dried beans, cereals, flours, grains, herbs and spices, nut butters (you may even get to grind your own), oils, pastas, sweeteners, teas and coffees (Fair Trade),flours and other baking staples, and snacks.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS


If you think that you can’t enjoy a Vegan dessert then you have got to try these peanut butter cups. Alicia Silverstone has a great book, The Kind Diet, and this is one of the great vegan recipes. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s so worth it! These are great for parties, or just for a great movie night treat.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12

1/2 cup(s) of Earth Balance butter
3/4 cup(s) of crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
3/4 cup(s) of graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares
1/4 cup(s) of maple sugar or other granulated sweetener
1 cup(s) of grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips
1/4 cup(s) of soy, rice, or nut milk
1/4 cup(s) of chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts

Steps

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. (If You Care makes unbleached liners made from recycled paper.)
Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well.
Remove the mixture from the heat.
Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan.
Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.
Top with chopped nuts.
Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.
They are great soft, but even better a little firmer!

* If you do not have the non-dairy products you can substitute the ingredients, But this recipe is a great way to try eating kind, especially if you are flirting with becoming a vegan/vegetarian.

A RECLAIMED BED


After moving into a new apartment a few months ago, I have been on the lookout for a bed/headboard. I spent a few long nights on Pinterest looking up reclaimed headboards, but all I could come up with was image after image of wooden pallets cut up and pieced together. While I love me a good pallet furniture piece, I wanted something more high end. And one day out of the blue while searching for some eco-friendly linens I discovered this bed. (click images to view source) A few short weeks after that I stumbled upon another bed (below) with very similar qualities, but the best part is that both are made from reclaimed wood. I love the dark tones of the first bed, it is much more my style. I would pair it with some grey and white printed linens, and a simple pop of color on a throw pillow. The second bed would lend itself well to some vintage linens, I can see it with an antique quilt. Or how about some colorful bedding like the set below found here. Which one do you like better?


THINKING GREEN: BEAUTY


Finding truly natural, nontoxic makeup and personal care products can be difficult. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how bad the chemicals in makeup and beauty products can be. While it is unrealistic to throw out all of your old beauty products, it is good to note which ingredients can harm both the health of your body, and the health of the environment when you go to purchase new products.

6 Beauty Product Ingredients to Avoid

· Petrochemicals are chemical products derived from petroleum. Examples include petroleum jelly, isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol, methyl alcohol or methanol, butyl alcohol or butanol, ethyl alcohol or ethanol (often used in skin astringents and perfumes or colognes).

· Sodium laureth/lauryl sulfates and other sulfate-based detergents
Examples include sodium lauryl ether sulfate; sodium laureth sulphate; sodium lauryl ether sulphate (most commonly used in shampoos, shower gel, bubble bath) It is basically a cheap ingredient that makes things foam, but has been shown to cause irritation on animal and human test subjects

· Propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol, along with various ingredients formulated with PEGs and PGs. Examples include ethylene glycol (used in firming lotions) and propylene glycol (found in everything from deodorant, mascara, baby powder, after shave and more).

· Formaldehyde & paraben preservatives
Examples include butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben (found in sunscreen, shampoos, shaving gel, toothpaste and more) In June 2011, the US National Toxicology Program has described formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen,"

· Synthetic dyes
Examples include anything with F&DC preceding it, usually followed by a color and a number. (F representing food, D&C representing drugs and cosmetics), other color additives, including caramel, lead acetate, manganese violet, and more.

· Artificial fragrances
Avoid most perfumes/colognes, which legally aren't required to list ingredients to protect their trade mark.

THINKING GREEN: FOOD

A year and a half ago I lived in New York City while I was doing a design internship for school. I resided in some dorms that did not include a kitchen. So I had to be creative when it came to meals, prior to that time I had made a commitment to eat foods that were more “natural” and less processed. While there are benefits to this type of diet I was finding it hard to follow when I only had a small mini fridge and microwave to supply my meals. I remember one night wishing I had some bananas- at 8:30 pm in China town it is not easy to find bananas. But there are a few rules that I stick to in regards to preparing meals- now that I have the luxury of a full kitchen this isn’t so hard.

7 Words & 7 Rules for Eating By Michael Pollan

1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" Pollan says.

2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.

4. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions -- honey -- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.

5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry," Pollan says. "Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"

6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. "Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?" Pollan asks.

7. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

These tips are great when you are starting to change your dietary habits. My biggest challenge wasn’t changing the foods I was eating but eating out less. Not only was the food not as nutritious but I was generally using a car to get there. The best ways to be “green” with food involve making a lot of things from scratch, and growing the foods you can on your own. If you don’t have a yard you can try a kit like this to grow in a window, or purchase some plants from your local nursery. Farmer’s markets are another great source of produce if you can’t grow your own. In the end its about being good to the environment and being good to your body. And remember not everything that says “organic” is better, always check the label!

THINKING GREEN: FASHION


Most of us don’t know where our clothes come from, even though the label on everything we purchase is required to tell us. It isn’t uncommon to see things coming from India, Malaysia, or China. These clothes not only take more fossil fuels to get to us, but can also be produced in harsh environments where regulations on workers are not in place. In many cases these clothes are more affordable, but they pay a heavy environmental cost. Important things to be aware of when trying to buy “green” include clothing that is made in America, uses organic cotton or linen, uses recycled material like polyester or rubber, and products that are made using less energy (water, electricity, etc.) There are many brands that carry affordable options that are more environmentally friendly.

Five of The Best New Affordable Mainstream Fashion Lines

American Apparel has incorporated sustainability into their business model. Creative Reuse, an accessories and intimates collection made entirely from re-purposed and excess fabrics, shows how they see inspiration even in the scraps.

H&M is launching the Conscious Collection, a new ongoing collection for women, men and kids made with eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, organic linen, recycled polyester, and Tencel (a biodegradable cellulose made from wood pulp).


Makers of the original blue jeans, Levi Strauss & Co. has been an innovator in creating eco-friendly denim, using organic cotton and natural indigo dyes. The new WaterLess Jeans line reduces water use by an average of 28% per pair (up to 96% for some of the 12 available styles) and represents the brand's commitment to turning blue jeans green.

The organic men’s and women’s casual wear brand has brought eco fashion to the masses through a limited-edition Loomstate for Target collection, and other collaborations with Vans, Bloomingdales and Barneys.

Zoe&Zac, the first collection to offer affordable green footwear for under $30—no kidding!—enlisted the help of Eco-model Summer Rayne Oakes, to help design collection that currently includes both footwear and bags made with eco-friendly materials like recycled rubber and hemp.

THINKING GREEN: INTERIOR DESIGN

A lot of people think that being green or environmentally friendly means you have to have sacrifice beauty for something rustic looking, but that isn’t the case anymore. With the eco movement gaining steam around the country many high-end lines offer greener solutions, and many new companies who cater to the green scene have sprouted up all over. Buying new from companies like these is always an option, but re-using old pieces is where you can make just as much of an impact. One of my favorite hobbies is to re-purpose old furniture and accessories that I find at thrift stores, antique shops, and flea markets. Most thrift store finds will need new upholstery, paint, or hardware. Whereas antiques and flea market finds are usually in the condition you want, and don’t require any restoring or repairing.

Antique Chair via 1stdibs

If thrifting interests you there are many great sources these days to find antiques online. 1stdibs is an online antique shop with inventory that is always changing. And ebay has many great buys. If you are looking for a specific piece Google searches can sometimes be fruitful, but all of these options will most likely need to be shipped to your home which results in packing material and fuel. I recommend looking local first, you will be supporting your local infrastructure, as well as negating the need for shipping altogether. Local options beyond thrift stores, and antique shops include, Craigslist, or the classifieds section of your local newspaper. I have found some great deals on local furniture that I have re-purposed.


#1 I found this chair for $8 dollars at a local thrift store, I painted it white and purchased the green bamboo print at the same shop a few weeks earlier for $.50. It adds charm to a chair that was rather bland before. What a deal!

#2 This chair came from a very small thrift store a few blocks from my home, it was brown and had chipping paint. I painted it to match chair #1 so I could use them in my dining room.

#3 This option came from the same shop as chair #1 and was neon orange when I spotted it. It has been painted blue and green and I have used it as an outdoor chair. I got it for a steal which makes it even sweeter!


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