All Diapers, All The Time

Oh life. It has a-changed. Of course it’s to be expected, but it’s severely cut down on my blogging in a way I didn’t expect. I still have lots of pics, but not a lot of time to write anything but stream-of-consciousness, if that. And not much time to upload said pics. I’m debating switching to Tumblr (now that I’ve figured out what it is) but until then…

The cloth diapering routine is going swimmingly now. We switched to AIOs in May and dropped the diaper service (and prefolds and covers!) around the same time. I am the proud owner of around 48 Bumgenius FreeTimes which are just about as easy as disposables (except for the constant wash, dry and repeat cycle). Love!

IMG_5971

At night we are still doing disposables. I really want to change to hemp doublers and the like but for now we have a routine and it’s hard to make yourself break out of it. We are however, using Bambo diapers.

We went through a ton of “green diapers” in an attempt to find the best one for us. During this time I lost a lot of trust in 7th Generation, primarily because of how greenwashed their diapers are. I cannot of been the first one taken in by their “brown” diapers – thinking they were “natural” (i.e. not chlorine bleached because they were brown). But in fact, 7th Generation actually DYES their diapers brown. What the heck?

Image Source: Babble.com

In addition, 7th Gen diapers are not biodegradable or compostable, are not made with all-natural materials, and are not super absorbent. They are, however, chlorine, fragrance, and latex free.

I found this huge review of tons o’ diapers on Baby Gear Lab which ranked Earth’s Best as one of the best in terms of “green-ness” and affordability, but it never worked out well for us. They fit strangely on our girls and did not absorb as well as the reviews on Baby Gear Lab said. That, or my girls are heavy pee-ers because they leaked through nightly unless we changed the diapers again before we went to sleep. Which meant that we needed to wake them up, and who wants to wake a baby up? And…sure the diapers might be greener, but using 2 diapers (each) per night vs. one doesn’t seem very green to me!

Image source: babycheapskate.com

So we ended up trying out the most expensive and supposedly most-absorbent disposable diaper on the review list, Bambo. But it’s also the only diaper in the world with the Nordic Swan Eco-Label (the official sustainability ecolable for the Nordic countries). The Nordic swan is a “voluntary license system where the applicant agrees to follow a certain criteria set outlined by the Nordic Ecolabelling in cooperation with stakeholders. These criteria include environmental, quality and health arguments. The criteria levels promote products and services belonging to the most environmentally sound and take into account factors such as free trade and proportionality (cost vs. benefits).”

According to Abena (the manufacturer of Bambo):

  • Only wood pulp deribed from sustainable forestry is used.
  • Zero chlorine is used in the bleaching process.
  • No chemicals/compounds from the Substances of Very High Concern are used.
  • No know substances that are harmful to health or the environment, such as:
    *Phthalates
    *Organotins (MBT, DBT, TBT)
    *Heavy metals
    *Chlorine
    *Formaldehyde
    *Colophonium
    *AZO-pigments
    *PVC
    *Any chemical or compound that is known as locally irritating or sensitizing.

In addition, Abena says it adheres to requirements on resource consumption, placing criteria on factory emissions into the air, water and land, and they do not use an optical brighteners, skin care lotions, perfumes, essential oils or odor eliminators in their diapers. They have designed an AWESOME absorbent core (I can attest to this!) with less SAP (the gel like stuff that is responsible for absorption in disposable diapers) by using a new wheat starch absorber.

Image Source: thriftyniftymommy.com

Overall, Bambo is 80% biodegradable. It supposedly is easy to deconstruct for easy composting, but who does that in reality?

The big elephant in the room is the price. I buy them off Amazon for approx. 40 cents each, whereas Target diapers go for about 6 cents each! Huge difference, but I am justifying it because we use only 2 per day (overnight). Besides, Earth’s Best diapers are about 30 cents each so it’s not THAT huge a difference.

Still, I would prefer to go cloth all the way, and as they get older I will probably go for it. I love that by using my AIO’s until the end of the year they will have paid for themselves. That means from 11 months old till they are potty trained, I will be saving tons of money by continuing to use these. Plus, I can resell them for probably half their original value after we stop using them. Win win!

So my crunchy life is filled primarily with diapers right now, and formula and breast milk. Such interesting stuff, ha! But I’m hoping we are starting off on the right foot and that I can teach my children about the choices they make in this life – the effects upon their own bodies, their own communities, and of course, the Earth. Fingers crossed!

Now, who am I kidding? I need Tumblr for the brevity, because I don’t have time for these long posts, but I can’t keep it short!

 

Cloth Diapering Begins

This past week was a poignant one for me, as nearly every other day was supposed to have been a baby date. Tuesday the 12th was a possible induction date, followed by 2/13/13, a date I’ve though about since last June as I thought it was such an awesome day for a birth date (I love the number 13!)  Then Friday the 15th came, the day a c-section was scheduled for when the girls were both breech. And finally, Sunday the 17th – that magical 38th week mark that was our “technical” due date that we were given way back when. Our “official” due date, March 3rd, 2013, was never going to happen once we found out there were twins.

It’s so crazy to think about that this is the week these girls were supposed to come into our lives. They are 3 weeks old today, and it feels like it’s been months! They are officially out of the preemie size – both in clothes and diapers; I can’t believe it happened so quick. 3 weeks going on 30!

The cloth diapers from our diaper service were dropped off today and the Thirsties I ordered should be here on Wednesday! I’m very excited to get started and away from the disposables (7th generation) that we’ve been using. Even the few weeks that have passed have made me cringe with the amount of diapers we’ve thrown away.

bagofdiapers

140 cloth diapers ready to use!

 

I have a few wool covers I purchased earlier and yesterday I finally opened them.

Loveybums

Loveybums

I love Loveybums because they’re a family owned and operated business located locally – in western Massachussetts! Each diaper came with a little packet of lanolin, and I dissolved two pea-sized bits of lanolin in a small tub of tepid water, and then soaked the wool covers for 15-20 minutes, before gently wringing and using a towel to press water out of them, then hanging them to dry. The lanolin will act as a wetness barrier (sort of “waterproofing” the cover) so it’s important to do before using.

IMG_5589

This is a great site on how to lanolize!

I prefer wool because it’s a more natural fabric, as opposed to the PUL (more plasticky fabrics that most diaper covers are made out of). But when I realized how few newborn covers I have, I went and ordered 8 Thirsties of different colors to fill out the rest of my newborn diaper stash.

Thirsties diaper cover

 

I’ve heard great things about these – and hope they do the trick!

Nursery Paint

T-minus almost 3 months to babies and we’ve finally finished painting the nursery! This has been an 8 month process, as we took our slow time doing research, taking down the baseboards, priming, taping, and finally painting.

In our trek towards CrunchyTwins and a green nursery, we went on a search for non or low VOC paint, and came across Mythic Paint. Mythic Paint ONLY makes zero VOC paint, no other products, so I was reassured that they must take this seriously since they have nothing else to fall back on.

A lot of companies make zero VOC paint, though, so what made Mythic Paint stand out to us? Mythic is one of the very few paint companies that makes colorants also free of VOCs. With paints at Lowe’s or Home Depot, the base paint may be low or zero VOC but as soon as you want it in certain color, VOCs are added along with the dyes to create a VOC cocktail on your walls. But Mythic has over 1000 color combos, all without VOCs. Awesome.

We decided on an aqua palette for the room (based on this gorgeous nursery I found on Apartment Therapy) and picked up a couple of gallons at the only seller of Mythic Paint in our area, Green Conscience, in Saratoga Springs, NY. I love that store!

We decided to paint two walls of the room a lighter aqua, and the other two a darker aqua. We were able to have Green Conscience match Benjamin Moore’s “Tropicana Cabana” (the darker aqua) and Behr’s “Cool Jazz” (lighter aqua) shades beautifully.

Frog Tape works so much better than blue tape for painting clean lines! It’s more expensive, but so worth it.

We loved the Mythic Paint for coverage and easiness. It goes on easily and sticks to the wall, not your roller. We could have been done in one coat of paint (after priming) but a second coat made the colors pop a bit more, which we wanted.

Finally painted!

\

If you don’t live in this area, you can find a dealer near you at website’s Dealer Locator, or you can order the paint online.

Next up in Project Nursery: flooring!

Sick

Ugh…just when things had started to calm down a bit, I was hit with a horrible cold that knocked me off my feet. I literally went to bed just fine on Wednesday and woke up sick on Thursday. Friday was even worse, but I made it through work and allowed my hubby to force echinacea tincture down my throat (I’m the crabbiest “patient” ever) before calling it a “stay in bed” weekend. I’m not even sure when the last time I did that was.

I didn’t even get out of bed yesterday. My view most of this weekend has been of this:

Thank God the Olympics are on TV! That gave me umpteen hours of stuff to watch yesterday as I drifted in and out of consciousness, surrounded by my pillows and tissues.

Despite how sick I’ve been, I can tell it’s just a really horrible cold, since I’ve actually been REALLY hungry!! And when I’m feeling under the weather and pouty about it (like I said, not the best “patient” at all) I really want comfort food. Yesterday, I wanted Kraft mac ‘n cheese something fierce! K took pity on me and bought me a microwavable single serving.

Oh man, it hit the spot. Just what I was craving.

I turned over the container to find a #5 Plastic recyclable symbol on the bottom of the cup.  Polypropylene – which can be found in some baby bottles, yogurt and deli-takeout containers, as well as reusable food and drink containers. It hasn’t been found to leach, and is recyclable in many (though not all) areas.

This is the first individual Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese I’ve eaten out of but I’ve definitely eaten out of individual soup containers before! It’s nice to have the serving size portioned out in advance for you, but when I think about the amount of extra plastic that gets dumped in the landfill, I cringe a bit.

Want to know more about the plastics in your life? Check out the How Well Do You Know Your Plastics button to the right of this page to learn about recyclable plastics by number!

Hawthorne Valley Farm Store

The hubs and I headed out to Hawthorne Valley Farm down in Ghent, NY on Saturday to partake in a Camembert cheese-making class! More on our cheese class in another post, but I wanted to write about their farm store, which we checked out after the class as well.

Image from www.animalwelfareapproved.org

HVF is a 400-acre Biodynamic® farm that produces organic foods from their 60 dairy cows, vegetables, bakery, sauerkraut cellar, and supposedly much, much more. We didn’t have much time so we weren’t able to get a full tour of the farm or the store, but it seems to be a very well-rounded operation.

I had no idea Biodynamic® was a copyrighted term, and even though I’d heard of the term before, didn’t really know what it meant. According to HVF:

The concept of Biodynamic farming was introduced by philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner in 1924. In a series of lectures, he presented a holistic view of agriculture based upon a healthy farm, one with the right balance of plants and animals with sensitivity towards healthy soil life. While the mixed-farming approach predates Steiner’s ideas, he pioneered the view of an ideal farm — a Biodynamic farm — as one that can “produce everything it needs from within itself” and becomes a “self-contained individuality.”

Some basic tenets of Biodynamic farming include:

  • The creation of a living “farm organism” which is in a stable ecological balance between land, plant life, animals, and human work and consciousness
  • The importance of creating a healthy soil life for the health of the whole farm
  • The use of compost as the basis of fertility
  • The application of special sprays and preparations to enliven and balance the farm organism

While I don’t know if I agree completely with the concept of Biodynamics®, I can get on board with the general idea of balance and goal of healthy soil life. While I don’t believe anything or anyone can be wholly self-sustained, more reliance upon one’s own efforts (or the farm’s, in this case) is something I agree with.

The farm store is a modern, supposedly green-building (though I do not know what makes it green) that is a combination high-end grocery store and local co-op. It looked great! The first thing I saw, walking into the store was a board proclaiming their local produce (they had more local items than just this, though).

Most of these farms are too far south (east?) of me to patronize regularly, but it was nice to see some names I recognized from Honest Weight Food Coop!

We briefly looked over the non-local products of the store (they sell San Pellegrino pompelmo for cheaper than anywhere I can find it near me!), before hunkering down in the dairy section. Having just come from the cheese cellars after our cheese-making class (yes, I realize this post should really have been done after a post on the class), we loved seeing it all in front of us.

You better believe we purchased some. It made a rather tasty mac and cheese dinner this past week!

Then we found the raw milk.

I have been dying to try raw milk FOREVER. I was really surprised at how many NYS Certified Raw Milk suppliers there were in Columbia County relative to where we live in Schenectady County! As a former NYCer who never spent a day of her life on a farm before starting our “journey” nearly 3.5 years ago, the thought of drinking something untouched since it came out of a cow seemed like an amazing experience. I know, all you farmers out there, feel free to laugh at me!

The difference in milks

So you have raw milk. And then there’s pasteurized milk. And homogenized milk. Do you know the difference?

Homogenized milk is almost always also pasteurized, and is most of the milk you find in your regular supermarket. (Granted, you CAN find just pasteurized, non-homogenized milk, but it’s not as common).

Usually when you milk a cow, the cream rises to the top and settles there (hence where the phrase, “cream always rises to the top” comes from!).  Back in the day there were a lot of outbreaks of illness due to unsanitary farm conditions, and when milk began to be sold large scale there was a need to keep it relatively safe for the masses. Louis Pasteur’s invention of the process of pasteurization allowed the milk to be heated to certain temps to destroy bacteria in it, but pasteurization didn’t take hold in this country until decades later.  It also most certainly saved many lives because of it.

Homogenization is a step further, where milk fat proteins are broken down by forcing them through screens or tubes at high pressures to keep the milk from separating and the cream from rising to the top. Some experts say that the body can’t digest the cream (milk fat proteins) in this way and so the fat gets absorbed into your body, but there are arguments for any against that theory. Despite much personal research on the subject, I don’t really understand the benefits of homogenization. If anyone knows, please feel free to educate me!

We normally buy pasteurized but non-homogenized milk from Battenkill Creamery. The difference in taste from homogenized milk is unbelievable. So I really wanted to try raw milk, which Battenkill doesn’t sell. I’d seen the cows and the farm, I knew where this milk was coming from, so I was excited about HVF’s milk.

My first sip was amazing. It was like drinking cream, so rich and …well, creamy. That’s when K pointed out I probably poured most of the cream from the top of the container.  Oops! But it was like I could taste the grass the cows ate (ok that probably doesn’t evoke a good taste in your mind, but it was so sweet). The milk on the whole was delicious.

My thoughts on milk follow my thoughts on most other food – the less processing the better. I’m really glad we no longer buy homogenized milk. I will buy raw milk in cases where I know my farm/farmer – I want to be able to judge the hygiene and the conditions the animals are kept in for myself.  I probably won’t buy it very often. HVF keeps their raw milk for 24 hours before selling it, and even though I can’t remember the specific facts related as to why, it has to do with any e-coli in the milk disappearing within 24 hours or being “eaten” by other “good” bacteria in the milk within those 24 hours.

One day I want to drink milk right out of a cow. Well, it can hit a bucket first. :)

We were starving before we left so we picked up a couple of small pieces of pizza, since we knew how good the cheese was. Upon first glance, I thought it had beets on it, but after tasting it I think it was sauerkraut! What an interesting (and good!) combination! It’s definitely not a combination I would have thought of but a great way to incorporate their sauerkraut cellar, which seems to be a big hit at the farm. The cabbage was so crispy, the sourness very light and the cheese sharp – I would recommend it!

Awesome Shower Cleaner

I’ve posted several “green cleaning” recipes and on The Chemical Revolution in blog posts past.  Tonight I have one more to add. I did some searching on the web for some improved “shower scrub” recipes to clean my shower and tub and came across this one in the comments of a blog.

Tub Scrubber from Clean House, Clean Planet, by Karen Logan

Mix together:

  • 1 2/3 cups baking soda
  • 1/2 cups liquid castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint)
  • 1/2 cups water

Add:

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

I also added 10 drops of lemon essential oil and 25 drops of tea tree essential oil. Both have anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties, and tea tree oil is also a fungacide and deoderant.

Stir until smooth. To keep, pour into a shampoo bottle so you can squeeze out onto your sponge or cloth. If the mixture becomes to thick, dilute with more water.

This mixture is great! Not only does it clean the tub/shower, it also cleaned my sinks and faucets! The trick is to not leave it on long enough to dry. Just spread on, scrub, and wipe off!

For my mirrors (and for windows as well), mix together equal parts of water and white vinegar. Spray and wipe. Streak free shine!

Try it out!

 

 

What’s in Your Orange Juice?

There’s nothing better than a nice tall glass of OJ. At least my husband thinks so. He swears drinking OJ every day keeps him healthier because it wards off colds. I don’t know about that. I know Vitamin C is good for you but I’ve also warned him about all the SUGAR in OJ, especially since he drinks enough to have to buy 128 oz. of the stuff at BJ’s nearly every week. I mean, come on, there are only two of us in this house. Luckily, I have recently broken him of his habit.

All over the news in the last month has been headlines regarding the halting of shipments by the FDA of OJ because at the time an unknown juice company (later identified as Coca Cola) had alerted them to tests of imports of juice from Brazil contained carbendazim, a fungicide.  Brazilian companies use the chemical on its citrus, but it’s banned in the U.S. Therefore, even though the amounts were low, any amount found in OJ was considered illegal.

All of that is scary enough (interesting how the FDA knew of this issue in late December but the media didn’t pick up on it until mid-January, but that’s another story for another time, I guess), but even before that, K has put down the orange juice glass – most of the time.

That’s because when we were Florida doing some citrus picking ourselves, we learned that “100% pure orange juice” is indeed, not quite 100% orange juice.  I suppose if we had ever thought about it, how do the big juice companies ensure a product that tastes exactly the same every time, no matter what time of the year? But we never had thought about it, and were shocked when we read this:

That incredible flavor comes from a “secret ingredient” that premium orange juice companies are not required to put on their labeling. (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/orange-juice-moms-secret-ingredient-worries/story?id=15154617)

That’s right, there is a dirty secret in your glass of orange juice that has been well-kept until recently. Although the carton says “not from concentrate,” that juice probably sat in a large vat for up to year with all of the oxygen removed from it (http://consumerist.com/2011/07/oj-flavor-packs.html). This process allows juice to be preserved and dispensed all year-round, even when oranges aren’t in season. Taking out all the oxygen also gets rid of all the flavor, so juice makers add flavor back into their products using pre-formulated “flavor packs” that are full of chemicals. (Fact over Fiction)

One of our oranges from FL

 

According to Fact over Fiction, citing Aliissa Hamilton in her book, “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice,”  juice companies hire flavor/fragrance companies to create these “flavor” packs that make each brand taste a little bit different (so there’s a reason why I always preferred Tropicana over Minute Maid!) and make it tasted like it was fresh-squeezed.

Most companies, including those within international markets, have their own trademark flavor of choice. For example, have you noticed that the OJ from MinuteMaid has a signature candy-orange flavor? In the US, manufacturers of these chemical packs emphasize high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor this because it’s a flavor they associate with fresh, juicy oranges.

Companies like Tropicana and Minute Maid do a lot of advertising leading you to believe that their oranges are straight off the trees – heck, Tropicana’s logo design features a straw stuck in an orange! But unfortunately, the commercial orange juice we’ve bought for years is as far from fresh-squeezed as it could be. 

How do the companies get away with calling it 100% OJ? According to Civil Eats, it’s because the flavor packs are technically derived from orange essence and oil reconstituted in unnatural ways by the fragrance companies.  It’s technically 100% orange, just like plastic is technically “natural” since it’s made from petroleum.

We want to get close to our food, and learning this put the kibosh outright on K continuing to drink OJ by the gallon. While in FL we bought a huge bag of orange “seconds” (the ones that don’t look so great on the outside but are perfectly tasty on the inside) to make fresh squeezed OJ for ourselves that lasted the month of January. After that, we’ll probably head to the store to find organic oranges to squeeze from now on, even if they’re not direct from FL. There’s no way we’ll ever have a gallon of OJ in the fridge again, as cost-wise, it doesn’t make sense. But that’s ok, remember those little glasses of OJ we all had when we were kids? There’s a reason why 4 oz. of OJ is a serving size. First off, it seems to be the amount of juice you get from one fresh-squeezed orange.  Secondly, we just don’t need to sugar (and calories) of any more. We all know that actually eating an entire orange is so much healthier.

If you want to drink commerical orange juice IN SEASON, you can find it during the months of June and July only, when Florida’s Valencia orange juice is truly in season. Otherwise:

The rest of the year, whether you buy Minute Maid’s “from concentrate,” or Tropicana’s “not from concentrate,” you’re drinking a mixture of Florida juice, some or all of which has been stored from previous seasons, and juice shipped from Brazil, which conveniently grows oranges when Florida doesn’t. Even the Florida based company Florida’s Natural, which is owned by a cooperative of Florida growers, imports Brazilian concentrate for its “from concentrate” juice line.

Caveat emptor.

1001 in 101: #47 – Have a spa day

For my birthday last year, my in-laws gave me a wonderful present: a big gift card to Complexions, a day spa on Wolf Road in Albany. I’d never heard of it before, but when I checked out the website, I was really pleased to read about their commitment to the environment. It’s the first spa in the U.S. to earn the Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED® rating system for new construction.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design  and the certification rates the design, construction and operation of green buildings.  It has four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum, so receiving gold certification is pretty darn good!

The spa also touts their environmental commitments on their website:

• Complexions Spa estimates to save more than $10,600 annually in utility bills with its energy-efficient measures. The greenhouse gas savings is estimated at 56 tons annually, the equivalent of the co2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly seven homes for one year.

• Complexions Spa was one of 13 recipients of the Energy STAR small Business Award in 2008. The Energy STAR Award is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program recognizes businesses that implement policies and operations that result in drastic reductions in energy use and negative environmental impact.

• High-efficiency, double-pane, low-e, argon-filled windows are used in a sunroom. The windows have a lower solar heat gain factor and low thermal transmittance.

• High-efficiency, roof-top units with a cooling Energy Efficiency Ratio of 12.5 were installed. They have an annual Fuel Utilization efficiency of 82% and the equipment is Energy STAR qualified.

• Complexions compliments its sustainable building practices by purchasing all of its energy based on its generation by renewable resources such as wind and hydro.

• The spa purchased all Energy STAR and energy-efficient appliances that includes refrigerators, washers, and domestic hot water heaters and computers.

• The spa reduces its water use with low-flow toilets and faucets.

• The outside landscape design uses drought resistant plants which require minimal watering.

• Complexions added an energy recovery ventilator to recapture the energy of the exhaust air. This helps reduce the amount of energy needed to heat or cool the outdoor air to the desired space conditions.

• Energy demand is reduced by the installation of high-efficiency lighting and lighting controls. The lighting design has reduced energy usage to 0.4 watts per square foot, plus many of the work rooms have light sensors to save more energy.

• VIP parking is available for guests who drive a hybrid car and parking spaces are available for bikes.

• When the spa was being built (re-opened in May 2008), they diverted 75% of construction waste from going to the landfills.

• During construction they utilized recycled materials including recycled steel, cork flooring, carpet and flooring tiles made out of recycled tires, ceiling tiles, and doors all contained recycled material.

• All paints, wallpaper and adhesives had to have no VOC scores. All wood used in cabinetry came from forests certified through Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests.

• All cleaning supplies, laundry detergents and paper supplies come from eco-friendly sources.

While some of this may read like a bit of greenwashing (I’m not sure how accurate the energy savings really are or what the VIP parking really does, as there’s plenty of parking and the lot is not that big) the effort to incorporate green practices is very appreciated by me.

I debated using my gift card over a longer period of time to make it last, but finally, a month after my birthday, I decided to “blow” it all on one magnificent spa day. I’d never done multiple treatments in one day before, and it felt so luxuious. I decided to call it “Chelle’s Day O’ Relaxation.” For the whole week before I was so excited for this one day.

With any “service” you buy at the spa, you can use their sauna, steam room and relaxation lounge. I’m not a fan of the sauna or steam rooms myself, but I got there early enough to enjoy a little relaxing with my Kindle beforehand.

Like most spas, there’s a little bar area with organic teas, fruit, fresh-baked cookies, and water to enjoy as you relax.

I decided that if I was going to partake in a “day of beauty” I was going to get the works, from head to toe. So I started with something called the “Eclat Cocoon,” which is described as “a luxurious facial treatment using warm basalt river stones to relax the muscles and introduce deep hydration that naturally smoothes the skin and restores the complexion’s youthful, healthy glow.”

I enjoyed it very much, but have enjoyed “regular” facials just as much, so I don’t know if I would go out of my way to ever get it done again.

Next, I was onto a massage. I chose the Anamai, Body Reviver.

Strengthen your body and feel empowered with this unique healing art of massage thought to have traveled from India to Thailand 2,500 years ago. A combination of acupressure, gentle stretching, and an oil massage is applied to your body to release blockages and tune your energy flow. Meanwhile, warm herbal cushions filled with therapeutic ingredients placed onto your back and neck; infuse their healing powers into your system. This treatment helps to reinforce your immune system, reduce stress, improve posture and enhance your vitality.

This was fantastic. I wasn’t quite sure if I would like acupressure, but as a person who absolutely loves a massage (I know so many people who don’t I almost feel like a freak, ha) I LOVED acupressure.  It’s a form of Chinese manipulative therapy that kneads, presses and rubs the areas between the joints “to open the body’s defensive (wei) chi and get the energy moving in the meridians as well as the muscles.”

That, combined with the regular massage and the herbal cushion they used – wow, I was in heaven. Those herbs were so fragrant I asked afterwards what combination they were because I wanted to create it on my own. That’s how good it was. The cushion was filled with:

That would require quite a compilation on my part, so I have yet to do so, but even today, I still remember that wonderful smell.

Now that my head, face and body were relaxed, I decided to finish off with my first experience of reflexology. Reflexology is defined as “a natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears and their referral areas within zone related areas, which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflexes without the use of tools, crèmes or lotions, the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.”

To me, it felt like a nice foot massage. And when it was over, it felt like every (appropriate) point on my body had been massaged out and I felt great!! Now, if only I could do it every month!

But all in all, it was a wonderful day, and something I had always wanted to do. Let’s check this one off the list.

 

Oyster Pan Roast

K and I are back in the Great White North (ok, not so white this year, yay!) after a wonderful vacation in FL that was far too short. On our way back, we ate lunch at a lovely little place in Nassawadox called the Machipongo Clam Shack, nicely situated right inbetween the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo Source: http://tedlehmann.blogspot.com/

It was our last chance to get fresh, fresh seafood for awhile, and we made the most of the opportunity. We both tried a delicious cream of crab soup and steamed clams, while K tried a fried oyster sandwich. All of it was fantastic.

Machipongo Clam Shack also sells fresh seafood, so we picked up a pint of freshly shucked seaside oysters to bring a little bit of the sea home with us. It fit well in the cooler we had brought with us to Florida and was helping us bring freshly squeezed OJ home in!

Now that we’re back, K decided to use the oysters in an oyster pan roast, the same delicious roast that we LOVE from the Grand Central Oyster Bar we keep going back for.

GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER PAN ROAST RECIPE: (Adapted from Arthur Schwartz’s New York City Food: An Opinionated History with Legendary Recipes)

Ingredients for ONE SERVING (double for more!):

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp to 1/4 cup oyster or clam juices
  • 8-10 oysters and or small clams
  • 1 generous tbsp of chile sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of celery salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 toast points cut from 2 slices of bread
  • Sweet paprika

Directions:

In a 1-quart saucepan, or in the top of a double boiler over boiling water, combine the first group of ingredients. Stir briskly and heat until the mixture simmers around the periphery and the oysters or clams begin to curl around the edge.

Pour the mixture into a bowl lined with the toast points. Top with a pat of butter and a liberal sprinkling of paprika.

Eat immediately.

Trust me. You won’t be able to wait.

 

 

Baking Soda Bags

Baking soda is cheap. There are so many wonderful things to do with it, from baking to cleaning, to garden sprays and laundry detergent. There’s also the perennial favorite: sticking a box of baking soda in the fridge and freezer to absorb odors.

The boxes I used to put in there used to read: Change every 3 months. But over the last few years I noticed that Arm & Hammer had changed that to every 30 days. Did the baking soda formula change? Was there a particularly bad crop of baking soda that led to this? Um…no. Just an increased savviness in advertising by A&H.

Photo Credit: consumerist.com

Ok, it appears I’m about 3 years too late in noticing this but I still refuse to change my baking soda any sooner than 3 months, no matter how much the box tells me otherwise.  I bet it could even go longer than 3 months (and oftentimes I let it, since I just forget to change the baking soda period. Guess my fridge can’t smell that bad!) I’ve stopped buying boxes altogether. We buy our baking soda in bulk now, as we go through so much of  (more for cleaning than anything else) and buying those separate mesh boxes just feels like a waste. So I thought to myself, I could do better than that!

So my baking soda bag was born. With some natural muslin I had left over from a previous purchase, as well as some butcher’s string, I quickly sewed two small drawstring bags.

Fill with baking soda and attach a tag with the next date the baking soda should be changed. I cover the tag with tape so the humidity in the fridge/freezer doesn’t “wilt” the paper. The muslin is breathable enough to allow the baking soda to absorb odors, yet tightly weaved enough not to let any powder ooze out.

When it’s time to change the baking soda, it’s still good to use for some things. We sprinkle it into the cat’s litter boxes, and you can use to clean out your garbage disposal, if you have one (we don’t). Then gently wash the bag, line dry, and it’s ready to be used again. Everything gets reused. Love it!