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Coconut Oil Does Triple Beauty Duty

coconut oil beauty treatments

Coconut oil is quickly becoming my FAVORITE ingredient in my beauty routine!  Yes that’s right.  Not only can you cook with it, but it is great for soooo many other things.

I have also found Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil which smells incredible!  If you like the smell of coconuts.  Which I do.  It’s $5.99 for 16 oz.

If you are looking for more natural replacements for body lotion, eye makeup remover and eye cream, I have ONE Do-It-Yourself product that will do the trick.  Yes, ONE

Coconut Oil Triple Play

1/2 cup Coconut oil
1/2 tsp Vitamin E (optional)


1. Place the coconut oil and vitamin E in a bowl.  Vitamin E oil is used as a preservative.  however, if you don’t already have some, don’t bother to go buy some.  Coconut oil has a pretty long shelf-life as is.   

2. Whip it (Whip It Good!  I couldn’t resist!)  with an electric mixer.

3. Whip until it is like whipped cream or frosting (about 5-10 minutes).

Place in a pretty (free) jar and you are done!  Fancy up the jar with a cute label and this would make a great gift!  I have actually had friends ask for it.

You could add essential oils if you like, but I like the smell of the coconut.  I have been told by the fabulous woman whom I go to for facials that coconut oil is excellent for your skin!

When I get out of the shower, I put this on my body as a moisturizer.

When I remove my eye makeup at night, I put a small amount on my eyes or on a small flannel cloth and wipe the make-up away.  A little remains which moisturizes that delicate skin around your eyes beautifully.

Not only is this better for your skin, but the price is unbeatable.  That $5.99 jar of coconut oil will last a year at least!

Now, the coconut oil may melt.  Mine did this summer.  But I don’t really mind using it in the liquid form.  It may harden in colder months and you’ll have to scrape at it a bit.  But it melts quickly with the warmth of your hands.  
Do You Use Coconut Oil for Anything?  What’s Your Favorite Use?

This post has been shared at Homesteading Link UpSimple Lives ThursdayYour Green ResourceHealthy 2day WednesdaysFrugal Days Sustainable WaysFrugal Tuesday Tip,  Works For Me WednesdayHome is Where the Heart isWhip It Up WednesdayTiny Tip Tuesday, Weekly Link Up Party, Natural Living Mondays, Wellness Wednesday


Making the Switch to Glass Storage

As you might know, as convenient as plastic is, it is harmful to us and the environment.  If you aren’t already convinced of this, take a look here.

Reduce Footprints current challenge is

This week refuse to use plastic wrap (aka cling film, cling wrap, glad wrap, etc). Instead, choose Eco-friendly, safe ways to store food. And, as always, we’d like to hear all about your efforts.
Or …

If you’ve already banned plastic wrap from your life, please review your food storage methods to see if there’s any room for improvement. For example, if you’re reusing plastic containers to store food consider glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers instead (old plastic containers may leach harmful toxins into your food). If you use aluminum foil to cover your food, consider covering food with an inverted plate, a lid from a casserole or pan, etc. And, please tell us about your efforts.

But replacing all the plastic storage items you have collected over the years could be daunting and expensive!  It doesn’t have to be!

I stopped buying plastic wrap a few years ago.  It wasn’t as difficult as I thought.  But as I think back, I took this step several years into my green journey.  I was LOOKING for things to reduce and change.  So, depending on where you are, this may be easy or difficult.

Before I made this step, I made sure to set myself up for success.  I stocked up on plenty of other storage containers (with lids) so I wouldn’t be looking for the plastic wrap.  At first I used my stand-by plastic containers.  Then I slowly converted to glass. I watched for sales and bought 2 sets of  Pyrex glass storage containers with lids (affiliate link).  I still kept foil in the house for those rare occasions.  Foil is expensive!  So I reached for it sparingly.

Inexpensive Glass Options

Reuse glass jars you buy food in!!!! My best discovery.  Total light bulb moment.  Like spaghetti sauce, salsa, pickles, applesauce.  They are free and come in so many shapes and sizes.  I figured I would do this until I stocked up enough on “real” containers from sales or yard sales.  After a while, I didn’t want to give up my free jars!  Why should I?  They worked great and they were “free”.  I learned from my trip to the recycling plant, that glass gets crushed and sits for a long time before it can be reused.  So, to reuse it at my home was a much better option.  I keep them all in the basement.  I save them ALL! At some point or another I am looking for a particular size and there is it.


Where to find cheap glass storage for food

Where Else To Find Them  Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to look.  I found these babies at our thrift store Savers for about $2 each.  Don’t pass them up because the rubber ring is dried out or missing.  You can buy replacement rubber rings at kitchen stores and hardware stores (during canning season) for about $3 for 4.  I even saw them 4 for $1 at The Christmas Tree Shop this past spring.

 Glass storage for food - CHEAP! Mason jars are another inexpensive glass storage option.  A case of pint jars are about $11 – less than $1 a piece.  I use them in the fridge and the freezer.  They come in a wide variety of sizes and are plentiful during spring and summer.  You can find them at hardware stores, Target, Walmart, or online (affiliate).  I saw them sold singly at The Christmas Tree Shops this past spring as well.  Update 7/20/12:  I was at Bed, Bath and Beyond yesterday and they sell cases of mason jars at about the same price as elsewhere, BUT you will use your 20% off coupon to get them even cheaper!



I saw this HUGE beauty of a  pickle jar at the grocery store.  It stands about 14 inches tall.   We like pickles, but not enough to eat almost 2 lbs of them.  I keep thinking of when I would possibly use all those pickles JUST so I can have the jar!  Anyone know any pickle recipes?


So Many Uses

I like to store as much of my food in glass as possible.  So I use these glass options for both cold and pantry storage.  They look so cute too!

In the freezer for stock, soup, homemade baked beans and cooked dried beans are just a few ideas.  Make sure you leave plenty of head room – I usually leave at least an inch to be on the safe side.  Just like the plastic storage, make sure you label them.


how to reuse glass jars
For the pantry, I put all of my dried fruits, homemade granola, various chocolate chips, dried beans….
how to reuse glass storage

Now I certainly have not cast plastic out of my house for good.  I still have plastic baggies for certain uses.  We do have reusable cloth bags that we use a lot, but there are certain things I just can’t seem to get away from.  So there’s my plastic confession.

What is your favorite non-plastic storage?  Do you still have some plastic?



My Reusable Bags Are In My Car… Again!

Reduce Footprints is currently doing daily challenges.  Here is yesterday’s:

Reduce the number of plastic bags you use by getting a fabric or reusable bag for shopping. Although plastic bags use 70% less plastic than they did 20 years ago, most are still made from polyethylene, a non-degradable plastic. If you live near a brewery, you can obtain 15-20 gallon durable, synthetic grain bags which breweries usually throw away. These can either be used as garbage bags or rinsed out and re-used to take trash to the dump.
I think one of the biggest issues with reusable bags is forgetting them!  It took me almost a full year to remember to bring them into the store every time.  I am so glad I kept at it.  
Benefits To Using Reusable Bags

Plastic bags are not healthy for the environment.  The problem – plastic never goes away! If it ends up in a landfill, it can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. Even then, it actually photo degrades which releases toxins into the soil, air, and water. Lots of plastic makes it way to the oceans (heard of the Pacific Garbage Patch). In the oceans, plastic bags can strangle animals or they mistake plastic bits for food. Not such a healthy meal.

Save Money.   Many stores give discounts – Target, Whole Foods, and Stop and Shop give you 5 cents per bag. Roche Brothers give 5 cents for their bags to Children’s Hospital.   Make sure to ask at Target, they often forget.

Easier to carry.  My 5 reusable bags are usually enough to hold groceries for my family of 5 for a week.  It is so much easier to carry in 5 sturdy bags from the car than the 10 floppy, wiggling all over the place, twisting around your fingers plastic ones.

    How To Remember

    Location, Location, Location.  Put the bags where you will see them.  Mine are right next to me in my car.  Maybe a convenient place for you is with your keys.

      Convenience.  A few years ago, I won this great Esse CarryAll Tote for my reusable bags.  All of the grocery bags and produce bags fit nice and neat inside and make it so easy to carry.  You don’t need to spend  a lot of money on something like this if you don’t want to.  Use another tote bag to store your reusables.  Think about buying ones that fold up compactly so they aren’t floating around your car.  Another idea is to use a carabiner clip like this to hold your bags together.  You can then clip the bags to your grocery cart.

      Esse CarryAll Tote
      Carabiner Clipped bag

      Always Have One.  I have a  compact reusable bag in my purse at all times.  Carry them in the car, purse, backpack, briefcase, whatever.

      Shop At Stores That Encourage Reusables.  When I first started bringing my reusables, my grocery store was giving 5 cents per bag.  It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough of a trigger for me to remember.  Now they have signs all over the parking lot “Did you remember your reusable bags?”

      Notes.  Place a note in the car, on your shopping list or as you leave your house.  Got Bags?

      There’s An App For That! As I was writing this post, I thought there must be someone out there writing an app for this.  And there is!   The Grab Your Bags app is coming soon for the iPhone according to their website.  I didn’t see it on iTunes though.  

      Just Keep At It!  Like I said, it took me almost a full year.  Just keep trying.  It will become second nature.  I never leave my car now without thinking – do I need a bag?

        There are other ways to reduce one-time bag use.
        Produce Bags
        1. Don’t take a bag.  You don’t always NEED a bag. Throw that lemon straight into your shopping cart. Carry your one or 2 items out of the store in your hands or another bag you are already carrying.
        2. Use reusable produce bags.  Many online and retail stores are now carrying produce bags. I purchased mesh draw-string bags at a dollar store at 4 for $1. Or reuse the same produce bag a few times.
        3. Reusable bags are good for more than just the grocery store.   Keep a compact one in your purse. Bring your reusable bags to the Mall, Target, any store!
        Did you remember your bags?

        Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation from Esse for this post.  The opinions expressed in this post are my very own.


        How To Recycle Everything

        This past Wednesday Reduce Footprints put out another Change the World Wednesday Challenge:

        This week create a recycle bin for all the non-curbside recyclables – batteries, CFL bulbs, misc. plastics, etc. – and then find out where to recycle them. 


        Or … 

        If you’re already a recycling “guru”, please tell us about your toughest items to recycle and how you’ve managed it. And, of course, any tips and ideas you have for recycling would be wonderful!

        I already have a spot in my closet for “clothing to donate” and another spot for “plastic grocery-type bag recycling”. 

        In doing the de-clutter challenge last month, I came to the conclusion that I need a few more spots for non-curbside recyclables.  For me, these include:
        • miscellaneous broken electronics
        • gift cards
        • greeting cards
        • completely beat up shoes that no one could ever wear (we end up with more of these than you’d think!)
        Although I love to talk about recycling.  I have to point out that it is the 3rd R in  Reduce, Reuse , Recycle.  Still a good one, but the higher on the list you can go the better.
        OK, back to recycling….
        Over the past few years, I have compiled quite the list of how to reuse or recycle various things.  some of these options are actually reuse, which I feel better about.  
        So here is my list of odd things you CAN recycle – beyond normal curbside recycling.  I have listed what I have found local to Westford, MA, but also, where I could, gave an idea of how to find a place close to you.  I can’t stress enough that if you have curbside trash/recycling pickup, get in touch with your local municipality for information on recycling.  Trash pickup costs big bucks and they are very eager to encourage recycling where they can to reduce this budget.
        Note that some of these items, especially electronics, can be recycled at large national chains that can be found across the country.
        Athletic Shoes – If you have any type of athletic shoe that has completely come apart (we have a few of those), the Nike Reuse-a-Shoe program will re purpose them into play surfaces.   If you don’t have one close to you, ask shoes stores.  Some around here will recycle them for you.
        Alarm ClockBest Buy will recycle numerous electronics.
        Appliances, small (breadmakers, blenders, hand mixers, curling irons, irons, hair dryers, etc..) – Anyone who lives near Westford, can recycle these items at one of our 3 Electronics Recycling events.  There is a $1 fee per item.
        Appliances, large (Washers, Dryers, Refrigerators, ovens, etc…)  There are several options in Westford based on whether you would like someone to pick up can drop off.  These items have a  lot of valuable metal to reclaim.  Search your local area.  You are bound to find something.
        Alkaline (Single-Use)  –  NOTHING IN MA.  According to MassDEP, they can be thrown in the trash.
        Button Type – They contain mercury.  Check Hardware stores or your local Board of Health.  In Westford, they can be brought to Ace, MacKay’s and the Board of Health.
        Lithium Batteries – considered household hazardous waste.  in Westford, you need to wait for a household hazardous waste event.  Some locations have them more frequently.
        Rechargeable batteries –  Radio Shack, Best Buy, call2Recycle locations  in many hardware stores
        Books– Check your local library.  Ours has book sales 4 times per year and accept many booksReading Tree is another organization that accepts all kinds of books.
        Bicycles – A Boston based organization, Bike Not Bombs, collects bikes to send to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean or are used domestically in their youth programs on bike safety.   If you are not in the Boston area, check here.
        Brita Filters  – Every WholeFoods recycles Brita filters through the Gimme 5 program.
        Cables, connectors and wires– including chargers – Best Buy
        CalculatorsBest Buy
        Carpeting – small area rugs can generally be donated to charities.  Installed wall-to-wall type carpeting is a lot more difficult for the consumer to recycle.  Ask your new installer if they can recycle your old carpeting.
        Carseats(expired) – The options are limited, but I think more recyclers are understanding that they can do something with that big hunk of plastic.  You will most likely have to disassemble it yourself and take the fabric, metal and plastic to various places, but it’s worth looking into.    I recently heard form one of our local charities that this was one of their largest sources of trash.  They then hooked up with a local recycler who can accept them!
        CDs/DVDsBest Buy
        CFLs– Because of the mercury content, these should never be put into the trash.  Most hardware stores and larger stores such as Home Depot will recycle these.  In Westford, Ace and Mackay’s accept them.
        Clothing– Again, if they are wearable, check out a Salvation Army, Goodwill or other charity.  There are fabric recyclers.  New England Clothing Recyclers is one such company.
        Cosmetic Tubes or jars – Origins Makeup Store locations
        Digital Cameras and Camcorders – Best Buy
        Digital Photo Frames – Best Buy
        Electronics (Computers, Monitors, TVs (Tube < 32”, Flat Panel LCD, Plasma, LED), Modems/Routers/Hubs, Memory cards, Pedometers/Heart Monitors, PC game controllers, Video Game Consoles, Shredders, Software, Speakers, DVD/Blu-ray player, E-readers, GPS (portable, in-dash and outdoor), Stereo Receivers, Turntables, Two Way radios, VCRs, Webcams)
        Electronics can also be brought to one of Westford’s 3 electronics drop off events.
        DVDs – Best Buy
        Eye glasses – The Lions Club has collection boxes in many locations or ask a local eye glass shop or eye doctor.  In Westford, locations are located at the JV Fletcher Library, Nab One Stop, Roudenbush Community Center, among others.
        Fans – Best Buy
        Gift Cards – Best Buy
        Greeting Cards – Any greeting card can be sent to St. Jude’s for repurposing.  
        Hearing AidsHelp the Children Hear gives hearing aides to children who cannot afford them.
        Inkjet cartridges – Staples, you will receive $2 to use at Staples.  Many schools run fundraisers recycling used inkjet cartridges.  They are also accepted at Best Buy.
        Linens – If your linens are not candidates for reuse by a charity, look into animal shelters or your local animal control.  They often need old blankets, towels and other linens for the animals.
        Mercury Thermometers and Thermostats – Because of the mercury, they need to be disposed of properly.  In Westford, we can take them to our Board ofHealth in the Town Hall.
        Motor Oil – Try returning used oil where you bought it.  In MA, whoever sold oil to you is required by law to take back up to two gallons of your used oil per day, without charge, provided you still have the sales receipt.   If you don’t have your receipt, try your local Fire Station.
        MP3 Players – Best Buy, Target
        Packing Peanuts – Most delivery type places like UPS will take these.
        Pizza Box – Some recyclers will accept pizza boxes without too much grease.  THIS IS VERY RECYCLER-dependent, so ask, it could ruin lots of other recyclables.  Even if you can’t recycle greasy boxes, you can recycle part of it.
        Plastic bags  Plastic bags can be recycled at most grocery stores.  I use reusable bags mostly, but there are so many more items that can be recycled  big “Plastic Bag” bins at local grocery store. Check you local grocery store.  In our area, Hannaford and Stop and Shop accept any bag labeled #2 or #4.   I have found this on carrot bags, grape bags, toilet paper wrappers, bread bags, produce bags, cauliflower wrappers and more.  Check PlasticBagRecycling.org for more information in your area.
        Plastics #5 – If your local recycler does not accept these, they can be recycled at Whole Foods via the Gimme 5 program
        Professional Clothing – Many local organizations will accept professional clothing, to donate to men and women applying for new jobs. In Lowell, MA, Suitability provides this service.
        Prom Gowns – Many local organizations will take prom gowns or other formal gowns and redistribute them to local young ladies who cannot afford.   In our area, Priceless Prom Gowns provides this service. 
        Sporting Equipment Many Boy Scouts Troops do sporting goods sales for usable equipment, Play it Again Sports is a national company that buys and sells used sports equipment.   When the sports equipment is beyond usable, there are 2 companies that will make your old equipment into chairs, wine racks and more.
        Telephones – Mobil, cordless, corded phones are accepted at Best Buy.  Cell phones are also accepted at call2Recycle locations in many hardware stores.
        Toys (Small) – Small toys are accepted at many charities such as Salvation Army and Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS).  In our area, BBBS will pickup from your home or you can bring them to Savers in Nashua, NH.
        Toys (Large) – The only options I have found are to give away to a friend or on Freecycle or sold at yard sales.
        Vacuums (Upright/canister, robot, brooms/stick) – Best Buy
        Wine CorksAll Whole Foods locations collect natural wine corks in conjunction with Cork ReHarvest.  update 1/7/2014: Unfortunately, Whole Foods is no longer participating in this program.  I’m still looking for alternatives.  In the meantime, try your local liquor/wine store.
        Yoga MatsRecycle Your Mat will recycle your used up yoga mat.  You can find a location near you or ship your mat.    
        Other Non-Recyclables – There are over 40 random items that can be upcycled through a company called TerraCycle.  These include chip bags, granola bars, used writing instruments, candy wrappers, toothbrushes and more.  To learn more about the program, look here.  If you live in Westford, MA area, check out the UpCycle It! program which collects many of these items and raises money for the Westford Public Schools.
        I still can’t seem to find a place for leftover paint!  Anyone?  I think I will need to get creative and use it for craft projects.

        Have you found any other odd items to recycle?




        Struggles with Going Green


        Each week Reduce Footprints presents a challenge to her readers called Change the World Wednesday.  This week’s challenge is to:

        This week, please share road blocks to green living. For example, perhaps you’d really like to compost but don’t. We’d like to know why. Maybe you don’t recycle … let us know why. We’re looking for all the reasons for NOTadopting a green activity. If you’re not struggling with any road blocks at this time, then please share ones which you’ve heard from others. For example, one of the most common reasons is that it’s too expensive.

        Then …

        Take a look at the road blocks shared and offer solutions. For example, to people who say green living is too expensive, we might share examples of how green living is actually frugal. The idea of this challenge is to help us all find solutions and “bust” all excuses for not living green.

        I know that I am not perfectly green by any means.  There are lots of things, I’m sure, that I don’t do and maybe should.   What has been bothering me most lately is when I give in and do the not so green thing because of what someone else may think – including my children.
        I wrote an entire article on how to Have a Green Halloween.  In it I talked about costumes and how not to buy a brand new one each year.  I was all set with this one in early October.  My oldest daughter found a great Spanish Dancer costume at a yard sale.  It was an old dance costume, well made and $1!  My son decided he wanted to be Frankenstein.  Great!  I went to Savers (it’s basically a huge indoor yard sale) and found a blazer for $4.  I figured he could wear jeans and a T-shirt.  I would figure out how to use old wine corks for those head bolts and just needed to look into some eco-friendly face paint.  Two down, one to go.  My youngest daughter decided she was going to be a witch and wear her sister’s old costume.  Yeah!  I did it!!!!
        Then, the two younger kids changed their minds.  Less than 2 weeks before Halloween.  I sort of brushed it off and thought I could convince them to go with the original ideas.  No dice.  My son now wanted to be a Ninja.  Daughter #2 still wanted to be a witch but now refused to wear her sister’s costume.  Ugh!  Now what?!  Do I “force” them to wear the other costumes?  How do I explain this to them so they want to reuse another costume?  Why do they think a new, cheaply made costume is so cool?

        I ended up giving in and bought 2 costumes.  I consoled myself by remembering that my kids love to play dress up.  These costumes would be used many more times. And when they were done, I could donate them to other children to use.

        Update: I meant to explain a little more on why I gave in.  As I re-read this, people may think my kids were being bratty and I gave in because of that.  Not the case.  For my son, he rarely asks for anything and is quite happy, most of the time, with whatever he is given.  So when he expresses a real opinion on something, I want to listen to him and honor that request when I can.   As for my daughter, she is the younger of 2 girls.  As soon as she could express herself, she has copied her older sister on everything.  As flattering as people might think this is, her older sister did not this flattering.  Much tension over this exists.  So, when she does express her own interests, no matter how small, I like to recognize and encourage her to be her own person.  Now, I probably could have found a way for them to be what they wanted without buying brand new costumes.  I did try, but couldn’t find used ones and I am not terribly crafty so making them myself wasn’t going to happen.  So there you go!

        There are lots of things my kids do that others may not – we use cloth napkins all the time (even for school lunches), they recycle, upcycle, have reusable water bottles and snack bags, etc.  At times though I don’t want to risk alienating my children or making them feel they are sacrificing just for my ideas.  Of course, I hope these also become their ideas, but they may not.

        As far as what other people think, I don’t want to become that person.  I rarely tell people about environmental issues unless asked.  I don’t want to come off as preaching even though at times I am biting my tongue.  Every soccer season I cringe when the parents in charge of the snack bring out the individual drinks and individually packaged snacks for everyone.  I can’t help but do the math in my head – X teams in the town, Y games per season, then multiply this by all of the towns in the state, country – how much plastic is being used on fields each Saturday morning.  And that’s just one sport!!!!   What is wrong with a big jug of something to drink and their reusable bottles (which most kids bring).  The communal snack, well, it can be muddy and maybe not the greatest idea for each kid to be grabbing into a bowl, but there has got to be a better way.  Each year I say I am going to suggest that kids bring their own bottles to refill, but I don’t.  I didn’t play sports as a kid so I have no idea what was done then.

        I am, by nature, much more private and non-confrontational.  So putting myself out there is not natural for me.    But at this point in my green journey, I feel like I should be more active in educating people and pointing out things they could do or at least do them myself and hope that some will follow.  For now, I do it in this blog and Greene Westford column – sort of passive.  Maybe that’s enough?????

        Any suggestions?  How do you deal with other people?


        Change The World Wednesday – Lemons


        This past week’s Change the World Wednesday challenge was:

        This week make a conscious effort to waste no food. If you need some ideas on how to accomplish this, please read the article referenced in the previous paragraph.
        I really try to do this on a regular basis, but it doesn’t always happen.  Reduce Footprints had a related challenge a few months back.  The challenge was to use up whatever food you have before buying anything more.  I made some really great meals out of my leftovers.  In order to reduce your food waste, you really need to start upfront – planning before you go buy food.  For me this means making a menu for the week and looking ahead at what will be leftover and what I can do with them.
        When I started thinking about this challenge, I saw it in in a different light than the first challenge.  Let’s see if I can use parts of food that I would normally compost or throw out.  I found so many things that Americans (especially) throw out that could be used.  Too many for one post!  So this post will concentrate on uses for lemons, especially the peels which are often composted or tossed out.  Don’t toss those lemon peels – or any other citrus peel.
        Citrus zest/peel (the colorful part of the outside of citrus) has many health benefits and shouldn’t be tossed.  Before you squeeze your lemon, lime, or any other citrus, zest it.  The zest is great for you – high in antioxidants, killing cancer cells and inhibiting tumor growth.  It’s where the essential oils of the citrus are.
        For Cleaning
        • Use to clean the microwave – Add lemon rinds to a bowl half filled with water and cook on high for 5 mins.  The steam created will loosen any crud making it easy to wipe away.
        • Freshen the Garbage disposal – Send spent lemons down the garbage disposal to freshen them.
        • Use to scrub greasy messes – Use a juiced lemon, add some salt if you need more of a scouring action – be careful with Granite or Marble.
        • Infused Vinegar – use the peels to infuse plain white distilled vinegar with lemons awesome scent and cleaning power.  Fill a glass jar with lemon peels then fill the jar with white vinegar.  Let this sit for 2 weeks.  Strain and use as a cleaner.
        For Eating
        •  Make Limoncello – This is an Italian lemon flavored alcohol.  There are many recipes on the internet.  This would make a great gift.
        •  Make zest – You can zest a lemon, dry the zest on a towel then store in a jar.  You can also freeze the zest.  Use any where you would use fresh zest or lemon.
        • Make  Lemon Powder – Make the zest above, dry it thoroughly, then grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestal.  You can also peel the zest with a vegetable peeler and roast the peels lightly, then crush into a powder.  Use the powder anywhere you would lemon juice. 
        • Preserved lemons –  Preserved lemons are whole lemons preserved with salt.  Preserved lemons are used in many Moroccan dishes.  This can also be done with limes.
        •  Candied lemon peels – These sound really yummy!  They can be eaten like candy or used as a garnish.
        •  Lemon infused Olive Oil – Lemon infused oils are delicious and a great way to use lemon peels. 
        • Freeze the used halves, then use when roasting fish or chicken.  I always place lemons inside the cavity of a chicken.  It just gives such a good flavor.
        For Beautifying
        • Make a sugar scrub – Mix 1/2 sugar with finely chopped lemon peel.  Add enough olive oil to make a paste.  Use in the shower as a body scrub to soften your skin.
        • Soften Elbows – Add some salt or baking soda to a lemon half.  Scrub elbows to soften.
        There are so many more out there.  Next step for me is to set an up easy way for me to save the zest so I can try some of these.  

        *Top picture used under Creative Commons by Mowie Kay/Flickr.

        This post is part of Frugal Days Sustainable Ways.



        Green Your Summer Vacation

        Reduce Footprints Challenge this week is:

        This week, head over to Zero Waste Week 2011 and commit to at least one activity which will reduce waste away from home. Be sure to come back here and share your commitment. The same rules will apply as always … if you write about it and/or tweet about, you’ll be honored next week. After committing to an activity, keep track of your progress because we’ll be talking about our successes next week.

        For this challenge, I have “recycled” an article I wrote for Westford Patch back in June which listed tips for greening your vacation.  I have reprinted it here.

        Summer means vacation! Making your vacation more environmentally-friendly does not mean you need to bike to your destination or even find a green hotel!
        Although those certainly would do it, there are simpler things you can do wherever you go.
        Before You Leave Home

        • Turn your hot water heater to “vacation” (or down low). Just remember to turn it back up when you return. When I had an energy audit, the auditor told me this makes sense to do anytime  you are away for more than three days. 
        • Set your thermostats up  so you aren’t cooling  your home unnecessarily. 
        • Unplug everything you don’t need running – TV, coffee maker, toaster, stereos, microwave, cable box, etc. Anything with a clock or remote control continues to use electricity even if you are not using it. I recently discovered that a cable box can draw almost as much electricity even when it’s turned off.  
        • Stop your newspaper. No sense in just recycling it when you get home. 
        • Driving? Make sure your car is tuned up and your tires are at the correct pressure to get the best gas mileage possible. 
        • Bring reuseables such as water bottles, snack bags and grocery bags. This way you can pack your own snacks or even lunch, saving you money on eating out. You will also be saving the packaging of single serve items. Bottled water is super expensive especially at vacation destinations. You can refill your water bottles for free most anywhere. And remember that grocery bags can be used for any purchase. 
        • Flying?  You can bring an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it on the other side. 
        • Another tip for flying – instead of printing your boarding pass, see if your airline has a mobile boarding pass application that allows you to use your phone for your boarding pass. 
        • Instead of buying new books, magazines or DVDs, go to the J.V. Fletcher library or borrow from a friend. 

         At Your Destination

        • Look for recycling bins at amusement parks or other attractions. 
        • Find out the recycling options. Ask the hotel or property agent. Recycling rules vary greatly. You may need to separate your bottles from your paper. 
        • If you are in a hotel, take advantage of their programs. Most hotels will offer to conserve water by not washing your towels everyday. 
        • You already have your water bottle so no need to buy bottles of water. 
        • Turn down the AC/heat and shut off lights when you leave. Hotels are now starting to install devices connected with your key that will automatically shut the lights off when you leave. You may not be paying for these directly, but we all are paying for it in the end.
        • Try to resist the tacky souvenirs that will break quickly and be thrown away. I know this is difficult with children. Hats, T-shirts, even a great picture make fantastic souvenirs too.   

        You may be great at recycling at home, but going to a new place may throw your routines off. Little steps. Pick one thing – maybe bringing your water bottle.  I bring mine everywhere because I find it so convenient and I drink more water this way.  Always a good thing.  
        Most importantly, have a great time!


        Change The World Wednesday – Clean Out The Pantry

        Last week, Reduce Footprints’ weekly challenge was this: 

        This week, use what is in your cupboards, pantry, freezers, etc. before buying new food items.  

        I am usually very good about making a menu for the week and shopping from that menu.   It really helps reduce food waste and we eat so much better.  I started this about 7 years ago when I had 3 children under the age of 3 and started dreading 4pm when I would need to start thinking about dinner.  We ended up eating horribly and I was stressed every day at the worst time of day!  So I started making up a menu for the week.  I’m not saying I spent hours on this.  In the beginning I spent maybe ½ hour.  When I had time and energy I would look for a new recipe to try.  It’s to the point now, where I could probably throw together a menu in about 10 mins, check for what ingredients we need and I’m out the door.  It makes the week go so much smoother too.  I can look ahead and plan an easy slow cooker meal for busy days or plan to use leftovers in another recipe.
        This challenge could not have come at a more perfect time for me.  In the summer, my meal planning goes out the window.  So over the past few weeks, I have been shopping randomly without a plan.  We have lots of food, but nothing really to eat.  Know what I mean!
        I went through the frig, freezer, pantry and other storage places and figured out what I could make from it all. 

        What we ate this week

        Roasted Chicken, potatoes, frozen peas – Night one was pretty easy.  I had a frozen chicken from my meat CSA that we hadn’t used yet.
        Homemade BBQ chicken pizza with some of the leftover chicken.  I always have frozen pizza dough and mozzarella.  You can actually freeze shredded cheese with great results if you plan on using it in some sort of melted application – lasagna, mac ‘n cheese, pizza…  When I make this pizza, I use BBQ sauce instead of marinara and usually add caramelized onions.
        Quinoa, black beans, corn and tomato salad – Used up some extra black beans I had from another recipe earlier in the week, leftover corn on the cob and one lonely tomato from the garden.   This was awesome!  I remember a friend of mine making something similar years ago.  I used this recipe loosely but improvised in some places.  I will definitely make this again!  Lime juice was the key.
        My Fake Lasagna Bake – Think the ingredients of lasagna but all mixed together  instead of layered neatly.  Didn’t have ricotta, so I mixed together penne, the rest of a jar of spaghetti sauce, defrosted and drained spinach, pink beans I found in the freezer, 2 cans of diced tomatoes (about to expire), and mozzarella left from the pizza.  I also added sauteed onions and garlic for flavor.  My parents happened to stop by and I served it to them.  My Mom asked for the recipe!
        Overnight French Toast – Loaf of cinnamon raisin bread from the freezer(honestly have no idea how long it was in there!) , last of the eggs, and some cream leftover from another dish.  Basically you layer the bread in a 9 x 13 buttered pan, mix the eggs and cream together and pour over the bread.  There needs to be enough egg and milk to cover the bread.  Let it sit overnight then baked for about 30 – 40 mins in a 350 degree oven.  The kids loved it and the bread tasted great soaked with the cream, eggs and covered in maple syrup.
        Iced Tea – Apparently I have lots of tea!
        Homemade “Chex” Snack mix – Used up some stale pretzels and cereal in this one.  Everything crisps up nicely.  I have been making this for a while.  Here is my basic recipe.  You can easily substitute with whatever you have on hand.  It’s a great way to use up stale cereal or other snacks.  Or things your kids didn’t like.
        Quesadillas – No tortillas so I made them with some help from my friend Sally.  So good!  I also pulled out some salsa and a few veggies – lunch! 

        To prevent leftovers

        Although this challenge was a great opportunity to use up some things, I like to plan a little more so that I don’t end up with lots of leftovers.
        Make a plan for the week – This one really works for me.  It makes shopping and making dinners so much easier.  I also found I was spending less on food.  Guess why?  I was thinking about how much we actually eat in a week instead of throwing a bunch of stuff into my grocery cart.  Some of which would get thrown away because I had no real plan for when to use them or I bought too much.  I can also think ahead and pick easy dinners (like in the crock pot) for busy days.   If I want to try a new recipe that means I need to buy something I normally don’t use (like fresh herbs) I can look for another recipe to make within the same week to use up that ingredient.
        Plan for the leftovers – I don’t like leftovers.  Reheating the same meal to eat again, yuck!  This way I can think about how to use what is left in another recipe.  This is where the pizza and pasta recipes and other tips below come in handy.

        What to do with leftovers

        Pizza – I make homemade pizza almost once a week to use up leftovers.  Two of my favorites are:  1)  BBQ chicken with some caramelized onions 2) Turkey burgers with feta, Kalamata olives and  sun-dried tomatoes. 

        Pasta – I got this recipe from my Italian hairdresser.  I mix eggs with some milk – maybe 4 eggs with about 1 cup of milk.  I have also used evaporated milk, cream and half and half.  Once the pasta is done, I drain it, reserving some cooking liquid, and put it back in the pot.  Over low heat I add the egg and milk mixture and cook it gently stirring constantly.  When it’s almost done I add tons of Parmesan cheese and whatever veggies I have.   It’s sort of like a pasta carbonara without the bacon – unless I have leftover bacon!  Or ham or anything else like it.
        Search the Internet –  You can find recipes for almost anything.  I really like
        www.allrecipes.com.  It has an ingredient search feature so you can enter the items you have and recipes using those ingredients come up. 

        Use Your Freezer – If you don’t use it by the next day, freeze it!  I do this with a lots of meats then use them on pizza or in soups later.  Here are some others to try:
        • Freeze bananas for smoothies or banana bread.
        • Fresh herbs – try drying or freezing them.  Freezing works well for most green herbs (rosemary, thyme, dill, parsley).  Basil can also be frozen but requires a little extra effort.  You can make pesto and freeze that.  Or chop the basil and add it to a little water and freeze in ice cube trays.  I have done this with Rosemary and it’s great!  The Rosemary isn’t as powerful as fresh, but not as mild as dried either.
        • Wine – Freeze for use in cookingI have not tried this myself, but I really should.   Tried it!  Love it!   I love cooking with wine, but when I open an entire bottle for that ½ cup, I almost never finish the bottle.
        • Greens – You can’t freeze greens, but you could add to smoothies and freeze those.


        I am going to keep this challenge going a little longer.  I need to use up some odd things I have picked up along the way.  I have some curry paste, capers and hoisin sauce, among other things, that I have yet to open!  Anyone have recipes for those?

        Update: Nov. 29, 2011 –Fried Rice is a new addition to my “Use up the leftovers” recipe collection.  I sautee whatever veggies I have left with some garlic.  Add to scrambled eggs, rice and soy sauce.



        Change The World Wednesday – Homemade Granola Bars

        OK OK, yes I know it’s actually Monday.  I am writing this in response to Reduce Footprints Change the Word Wednesday (CTWW) challenge from last week.  Here is the challenge:

        This week, make your coffee or tea at home. Getting coffee/tea out every day not only costs a lot but also generates a lot of waste. Make it at home instead. And don’t forget … both coffee grounds and tea leaves are great in the compost bin.

        Or …

        If you don’t drink these beverages or always drink them at home, choose one other food or beverage, which you typically buy at either a restaurant or grocery store, and make it yourself at home. And, of course, we’d like to hear all about it!

        I almost always make my coffee/tea at home, so does my husband.  We compost the grounds and tea leaves.  We use one of those “gold” reusable filters.  I even buy loose tea and fill reusable tea bags.  However, we get coffee out every Sunday morning.  We don’t use reusable mugs.  Bad, I know.  I will work on this one.

        It does somehow taste so much better when they make it.  It must be their machines.  If you do get coffee/tea out a lot, try to reduce the impact on the environment and your wallet.    Instead of committing to making your own at home ALL the time, reduce slowly over time.  Start with once a week.  Or bring your own mug.   Many places, like Starbucks, will give you a discount for bringing your mug.

        I have actually already been working on the second part of this challenge.  Granola bars are our downfall!  We buy these by the case.  It kills me.  I know they are not good for you, even though I try to buy the healthiest ones I can.  And the packaging waste!  Again, we upcycle the wrappers, but still.  Reduce is the best option.


        I started playing with recipes last week.  I have a couple that are very promising.

        Chewy Granola Bars – I found this one on allrecipes.com.  Here is my version:

        3 cups rolled oats
        1 1/2 cup brown rice crips (these can be difficult to find,  regular rice krispies could be used as well)
        1/2 cup whole wheat flour
        1/2 cup flour
        1 tsp baking soda
        1 tsp vanilla extract
        1/2 cup butter, softened
        1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
        1/2 cup honey
        1/4 cup chopped almonds
        1/4 cup chopped raisins
        1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

        1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan.
        2. In a large mixing bowl combine oats, flours, baking soda,vanilla, butter, applesauce, and honey.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.
        3. Lightly press the mixture into the pan.  Bake at 325 for 18 to 22 mins. or until golden brown.
        4. Let cool for 10 mins, then cut into bars.  Let them cool completely before removing from pan.

        These are pretty good.  They are a little more cookie-like in texture.  But I like that they didn’t have as much sugar (the recipe actually called for honey) or butter as other recipes I saw.  They are crumbly though. Need to work on that.  You can add any mixture of dried fruits, nuts, or chocolate for the last 3 ingredients. 

        There is another recipe for granola bars that have peanut butter.  They are promising, but need to be tweaked as is.  They were way too sweet even though I didn’t even add the chocolate chips.  I love the peanut butter and the texture.

        This post has been submitted as part of Frugal Days,Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable.com and Snacktime Saturdays.

        Have any recipes to share?  


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