Inspiring DIY projects, beauty recipes and advice to green your daily routine.

Posts by Nicole

Eco Fashion at Style Week Pittsburgh

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Eco Fashion at Style Week Pittsburgh

Going green isn’t easy and for many reasons fashion is one part of my life where I haven’t made much progress. For one, defining eco fashion is challenging. When you see a fashion item labelled as eco-friendly it could mean recycled materials, reused materials, organic materials, a sustainable manufacturing processes, a local- or hand-made product, the ethical treatment of workers or all of the above. To make it easy the definition of eco fashion I’m shopping with is that an item can meet any one of the above conditions. It’s also been difficult to find eco-friendly fashion in a variety of styles. Until recently I’ve only been able to find eco-friendly clothing lines offering boho, hippie, hiker or yoga style clothing. Other issues I often have is size. I’m on the smaller side at 5’2″ with a petite frame and many designers don’t make clothes in my size. Luckily, the landscape of eco fashion is changing quickly, both locally and online, thanks to small business owners who are trying to “do the right thing” and a greater acceptance of and desire for eco fashion. Last week Style Week Pittsburgh hosted many events around Pittsburgh, but the Saturday afternoon boutique crawl in Lawrenceville stood out as the “greenest” so decided to go exploring here’s some of the gems I discovered. Style Truck Locate the Style Truck via Twitter or Facebook. Style Truck is a mobile boutique carrying fair-trade and eco fashions to neighborhoods in and around Pittsburgh. Owner Jackee Ging traveled frequently for her previous job and that experience informs her selection. Style Truck offers versatile fashions, that can be dressed-up or down, in materials that pack well so you can travel light and don’t have to iron. The collections found in the Style Truck mostly come from small companies with ethical manufacturing processes because Julie does not want to support the horrific working conditions that lead to accidents like the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh last year. This past weekend the Style Truck was full of colorful tops, beautifully patterned dresses and trendy items like soft pants. I bought an Escapada Living color block top for $36 (on sale with a 10% Style Week discount). This is more than I would normally spend for a top but it’s something I can wear to work or on a weekend, and supporting a small business owner selling fashion with a conscience is a major bonus. Phoenix 3627 Butler Street Pittsburgh, PA 15201 My next stop was Phoenix, an upscale consignment boutique. Buying on consignments fits into my definition of eco fashion because items are given a second life instead of being sent to a landfill. This was my first time at Pheonix and I was impressed by the selection, organization and quality of the clothing. I was able to find items in my size easily and nothing I took off the rack to try on had any defects. The prices were very good too. They had a “dollar” rack with items for $4, $6 and $8, anything 1 month old was 25% off and 2 month old items were 50% off. I have expensive tastes and while working at a high...

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Blueberry Vinegar: How To Make And Use It

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Food & Recipes | 0 comments

Blueberry Vinegar: How To Make And Use It

For blueberry season I wanted a few new recipes to go along with my favorite vanilla blueberry jam recipe from last year. My search for something different led me to a blueberry vinegar recipe from Put ’em Up! Fruit by Sherri Brooks Vinton. It’s super simple and the resulting vinegar can be used to make light, summery dressings for the rest of the summer, through the fall. Blueberry Vinegar 2015-03-06 16:31:01 Easy to make, this blueberry vinegar only takes a little patience while you wait for the blueberries to infuse into the vinegar. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 15 min Prep Time 15 min Ingredients 2 cups blueberries 2 cups white vinegar 2 cup sugar Instructions Sterilize a 1 quart mason jar by placing the jar in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the jar from the hot water bath and add blueberries. In small pot bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Pour the mixture into the jar over the blueberries and place a large square of wax paper over the mouth of the jar and then screw on the lid . This will prevent the lid from rusting. Shake the jar and place it in a cool, dark place for a week. Continue to shake the jar daily. By Sherri Brooks Vinton A Green Routine http://agreenroutine.com/ For my dressing I mixed 2 tablespoons of good olive oil, 1 tablespoon of blueberry vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey and salt and pepper. I was lucky enough to have a blood orange infused olive oil on hand, but a splash of juice or a teaspoon of zest from an orange, lemon or lime would also add the taste of citrus. I poured this over a seasonal salad of baby greens, plums and slivered almonds. How will you use your blueberry vinegar?   Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Review: Powerslayer Kit from Velvetwire

Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Review: Powerslayer Kit from Velvetwire

Find out if the $79 Powerslayer Kit is worth the money. Powerslayer is an eco-friendly software driven charger that powers off when your device is charged.

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Green-er Gardening: Repair A Garden Hose

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in For Your Home, Lifestyle | 0 comments

Green-er Gardening: Repair A Garden Hose

I needed to replace the nozzle on my garden hose, but it had rusted to the brass coupling and no amount of rust cleaner or brute force would separate the two. If you have a rusted or leaking coupling, there is a very quick and inexpensive way to repair it so you don’t have to send your hose to the landfill. To replace the coupling on your hose you need a: utility knife, screwdriver, male connector and coupling repair clamp.   The repair is as easy as: cutting off the end of the hose with the utility knife, slipping the clamp over the hose, inserting the connector and tightening the screws to secure the clamp. As quick and easy as this project is, there are a few lessons that I learned and would like to share. First, measure the width of your garden hose before you head to the hardware store. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming home with the wrong parts. Second, spring for the more expensive metal clamp style. There are many types of hose menders. The style I used is $6-10, but it’s the easiest to apply, creates a secure seal and will last longer than plastic fittings which are $3-5. Bonus Tip If it’s the opposite end of your hose that’s leaking, you probably need a new washer. Take the existing washer to the store with you to make sure you get the right size replacement.   Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Homemade Eczema Salve Recipe

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 4 comments

Homemade Eczema Salve Recipe

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend about her 5 year old niece who suffers from painful eczema that covers her back. She’s had it most of her life and doesn’t complain about the pain anymore, but she flinches whenever someone hugs her or pats her on the back. I didn’t know much about what causes eczema or how to treat it, so I went looking for information to find a way to help. What I learned is that eczema is a chronic skin condition that results in dry, cracked skin which is often further irritated by bacteria that gets into the rash when scratched. It can be hereditary, or it can be caused by everything from diet to stress to allergies. Unfortunately, it’s not curable, but it is managable. The best way to manage eczema is to be kind and gentle to your skin by: wearing cotton or other soft fabrics. taking warm baths with colloidal oatmeal. patting, instead of rubbing, yourself dry after a bath. using gentle cleansers. moisturizing regularly. used a gentle laundry detergent. In previous articles, Kim and I have discussed how many commercial products use strong antibacterial chemicals and petrochemicals that strip your skin of its natural oils and coats it with chemicals that don’t allow your skin to breath and recover. The chemical fragrances often added to both personal products and cleaning products can also be very irritating to the skin. Anyone with skin problems should be reading labels and leaning toward more natural, gentle products. My research and a conversation with a local woman who makes personal products led me to two recommendations for this little girl. The first was to try Grandma’s Lye Soap or, from the same company, Secrets of Suzanne’s Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Soap. At the time I had been testing out Grandma’s Lye Soap to write a review and, from experience, I knew how gentle and moisturizing their all-natural soap is. My second recommendation was to use an eczema salve made with shea butter, coconut oil and tea tree oil. The shea butter and coconut oil act as moisturizers and they nourish the skin. The coconut oil and tea tree essential oil are also antibacterial and fight the infections that make eczema outbreaks more painful. Tea tree oil is also a very safe essential oil. It can be used directly on the skin, without dilutions and is safe for children. I made the eczema salve for the family and got a heartfelt thank you from the little girl because it helped so much. For everyone interested in the salve recipe, I’ve posted it below. I don’t know if the family switched soaps yet. They had used natural soaps in the past but stopped when the local soapmaker they bought from closed the business. Get More Help Managing Your Eczema If you want more information about eczema, visit the National Eczema Associations website. Also, as luck would have it, Grandma’s Lye Soap contacted us recently because they also want to help children with eczema by sharing their soap with those who may need it but might not...

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Homemade Rhassoul Clay Face Mask Recipe

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 7 comments

Homemade Rhassoul Clay Face Mask Recipe

Rhassoul clay is unique because it’s rich in magnesium, silica, potassium and calcium. The magic of rhassoul clay is that it exchanges its minerals with the toxins in your skin to clarify and condition it, so it’s both a cleanser and rejuvenator. Here’s a rhassoul clay face mask to rejuvenate, soothe and tone your skin.

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Product Review: Waring Pro Vacuum Sealer

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Food & Recipes, For Your Home | 5 comments

Product Review: Waring Pro Vacuum Sealer

Long, cold, snowy winters like this are often followed by the best fruit and vegetable seasons. Last year was my second year with a CSA share and buying produce in bulk for canning. Taking my learnings from the year before, I did a much better job of storing the extra food. Two years ago, berries I didn’t can were frozen for baking or smoothies, while the excess of vegetables were mostly frozen to cook with later in the year. I froze everything the cheap way, by putting the food in freezer safe bags or containers, packing them tightly and removing air to prevent freezer burn. This worked well until I opened the bag or container, removed the first portion and closed it back up. Then I would do it again and again. Each time more air would get in and ice would eventually build up in the container. I knew I needed a vacuum packer so, last year, I went shopping. I’ve been a fan of Waring Pro since I bought their immersion blender a few years ago. Frustrated with all the bad online reviews for immersion blenders (most are said to be cheap and break quickly) I searched for a company that makes kitchen products in the U.S., assuming they would be a better quality. That’s how I discovered Waring Pro. I’ve been very happy with the immersion blender, which is used constantly and works perfectly. So buying a Waring Pro Professional Vacuum Sealer was a no-brainer. Waring Pro Vacuum Sealer Review The price of the vacuum sealer ($66.99 on Amazon) is comparable to other vacuum sealers but this one comes with some major advantages: It’s a professional model so it will withstand frequent, consistent use. It’s a pistol, which takes up less counter space than the more common countertop sealing systems. The bags are BPA free. The bags are reusable so you can open a bag, use a portion and reseal it. This is the best part because I don’t have to waste time sealing individual portions or be wasteful throwing away single use bags. After my first year using the product, I’ve been thrilled with it. Tips For Freezing Food The taste of food that was frozen properly at peak flavor offers a little taste of summer in the dead of winter. Here are some tips for making the best quality frozen food with your vacuum sealer: Fruits and vegetables should be ripe. Food should be washed and dried. When freezing soup or other liquids, stand the bag up while sealing and store on a paper plate in the freezer in case there is a leak. For soft food, like raspberries, freeze them on a cookie sheet first so they don’t squish when you vacuum pack them. When you’re using a portion of the food, immediately reseal and place the bag back in the freezer. Eating locally is rewarding, but it can be challenging. We hope this review and these freezing tips will help you get the most out of your garden, CSA share and...

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Grandma’s Lye Soap – Giveaway & Coupon

Posted by on Feb 19, 2014 in Skin & Hair Care | 26 comments

Grandma’s Lye Soap – Giveaway & Coupon

The nice folks at Grandma’s Lye Soap sent us some soap to review (it’s awesome, read on). Plus, they’re offering you the chance to win their winter skincare gift set and a coupon for a free bar of soap when you try their soaps. Good luck and enjoy! About Grandma’s Lye Soap As the name implies, Grandma’s Lye Soap was first made by Grandma in 2002. Today, she and her husband make a whole line of natural products. They never use detergents or additives, their product base of food grade lard comes from the U.S. and they make all of their soaps in the U.S. Is lye soap harsh? Lye corrodes metal! I’ve heard from some people who are afraid to use lye soap because lye is a corrosive material. Or they’ve had a bad experience with a lye soap or heard from others who had. So let’s set the record straight: it’s impossible to make soap without lye though it’s fair to say not all soaps are made equal. As a side note, many commercial “soaps” are made with chemicals and petroleum byproducts, they do not use lye but they are also not a real soap. A well-made bar of lye soap is great for skin and most will not find it harsh at all. Lye soap has three main ingredients – lard, water and lye – which combine to form glycerin, a substance naturally found in the skin. Glycerin is a cleansing agent – it removes dirt and oil – and it helps your skin attract and retain moisture. Usually, when someone has a bad experience with lye soap it’s because the ingredients in the soap were not mixed in the right proportions and the chemical reactions during the sopanification process did not complete, leaving lye behind. If there’s lye left in the soap, the user will find it harsh. When in doubt, smell or lick the soap. Soap that burns your nose or “zaps” you on the tongue has unprocessed lye and should never be used. Is lye soap environmentally friendly? Yes! Lye soap is all-natural and biodegradable as long as no chemicals, such as artificial fragrances, have been added to it. How good is Grandma’s Lye Soap? In January, I received a free trial sized 2 ounce bar of Grandma’s Lye Soap (original). The bar was small and I wondered if it would last long enough for me to give it a fair review. I had also been enjoying the homemade body wash I had been making and, being partial to body washes over bar soap, I was curious to see how they compared. I’ve been using the Grandma’s Lye Soap for about a month now, and it’s been bitterly cold in Pittsburgh with temperatures frequently below zero and not usually above freezing. This type of weather really dries out your skin so Grandma’s Lye Soap was put to the test to see how gentle and moisturizing it could be. The bar itself has a very mild, soap smell,...

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