Honey

DIY: Natural Honey Face Wash

Sometimes I smear honey on my face. Some people seem to believe this is a strange thing to do, but those people are wrong. It’s an amazing thing to do. Here’s why:

  • Honey gently removes dirt and impurities from your skin without removing the skin’s natural oils.
  • Honey has natural antibacterial properties that calm inflammation and help clear and prevent blemishes.
  • Honey is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs the moisture in the air, and helps skin stay hydrated.
  • Honey is a good source of antioxidants, helping to neutralize free-radicals on the skin.
  • The slight acidity of honey promotes tissue healing and regeneration.

In short: it makes your skin all glowy and super soft. (And tasty, I suppose, for as long as it’s actually on your face.)

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From the Vault: An Earth Day Rant

In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, I occasionally republish previous work here. Today seemed a good day to revisit this Earth Day post of yore. Originally published on April 22, 2010 at Green Legume

April 22nd is Earth Day. Sadly I know many people who scoff at Earth Day; who bristle at the idea of their children’s teachers talking to them about environmentalism; people who think that practicing conscious consumption and reducing waste are silly wastes of time. Their reasoning?

They don’t believe in climate change.

Pardon me, but that is an entirely illogical justification. Don’t believe in climate change? Fine. I happen to disagree with your interpretation of scientific data, but whatever. For the sake of argument, let’s just say you’re right and climate change is a bunch of bullshit thought up by Al Gore and a bunch of conspiring scientists.

Okay? Okay.

Now explain to me how that excuses you from your obligation to act responsibly with regards to your consumption of resources and resulting waste. Your  disbelief that the global climate is changing does very little to obliterate the literal mounds of evidence that humans are wreaking havoc on the environment.

Take, for example, the gray whale that died at Arroyo Beach in West Seattle recently. An examination of the whale found “more than 50 gallons of largely undigested stomach contents consisting mostly of algae but also a surprising amount of human debris including more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, surgical gloves, sweat pants, plastic pieces, duct tape, and a golf ball.”

Do sweat pants in a whale’s belly need to cause the global temperature to rise in order for you to feel alarmed? Are you so entrenched in your opposition to the very idea of climate change that you can’t see the myriad other reasons to reduce waste and tread a little more gently on the earth? Reasons like, I dunno, SWEAT PANTS INSIDE A WHALE’S BELLY perhaps?

Consider this:

Americans generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste each year and recycle only 1-2% of it. (That plastic, as you know, is made from OIL, a limited resource.) An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped in the world’s oceans every year. Thanks to our throw-away culture we’ve inadvertently created the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating “island” of mostly plastic debris reputed to be roughly the size of Texas.

We are an exceedingly wasteful people, and our feigned blissful ignorance of the mess we’re making is irresponsible, disrespectful, lazy and, quite frankly, dumb. If everyone in America simply separated the paper, plastic, glass and aluminum products from the trash and tossed them into a recycling bin, we could decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills by 75 percent.

That’s just recycling. Imagine what we could do if we went a step further. Because, while recycling is great and all, it’s not a perfect solution. The process of recycling uses a fair amount of resources itself, and many things can only be “downcycled.” Take those plastic water bottles, for example. They’re downcycled into lower grade plastics, which doesn’t curb the demand for new plastic for new disposable water bottles.

Imagine if, instead, we followed that much repeated recycling mantra: “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” It’s simple, really. Step One: Reduce your consumption of new “stuff.” Instead of buying case after case of disposable plastic water bottles, purchase one or two reusable vessels and you’ve suddenly found yourself at Step Two: Reuse the stuff you already own. And then, when that stuff has finally outlived it’s usefulness, then recycle.

It’s really not that hard, I promise. Buy second hand when possible. Use reusable cloth napkins instead of disposable paper ones. Pack your lunch in a reusable lunch bag instead of a paper one. Use glass storage containers instead of plastic baggies; canvas totes instead of plastic or paper grocery bags. Use the same tea bag for multiple cups of tea. Save pretty paper and ribbons to reuse as gift wrap, just like your favorite grandma used to do. Don’t buy a new iThing every time one is released, just because Apple makes you think you need it. The list could go on and on, and the best part is, most of these little changes take virtually no more effort on your part.

The fact is, humans (Americans, in particular) are behaving like greedy house guests in the home of Mother Nature, taking more than our share of the bountiful dinner she provides, and then insisting on taking the few remaining leftovers home with us as well. We leave our trash on her front lawn, burp toxins into her central heating and cooling system, and finish off by taking a colossal shit in her swimming pool.

So while I encourage all of us to consider every day to be Earth Day, one day is a good start. Even if you don’t believe in climate change.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

There have been some things in the making that I wanted to share here but couldn’t because they were super secret gifts and I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s surprise. But now Christmas has happened and surprises have been had and sharing can happen safely once again. So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from this Christmas season.

The Homemade Stuff

We tend to be one of those families that makes a good portion of the gifts we give. But 2013, as I’ve mentioned before, has been a particularly difficult year financially. So this year, nearly everything gifted to an adult was handmade. It’s definitely more time consuming (especially when the kids are hand-making gifts too), but I kind of love the excuse to get crafty. And, from a parental standpoint, I also love seeing the extra thought and care the kids pour into the gifts they make with their own small hands. Here are the best of the best this year (if I do say so myself):

Feather string art by Riley

Feather string art by Riley

The last two years, Josh has gotten me a new piece of artwork. I started referring to it as a tradition, in the hopes that doing so would ensure that the practice continued and more and more art would find its way to my walls. This year, though, Josh and I agreed to skip buying gifts for each other and instead focus on the kids. But no need to mourn for my naked walls: Riley came to the rescue with the feather string art he made for Josh. THE TRADITION LIVES!

You know those art projects your kids make that you love with all your heart… and maybe also think are completely atrocious? This is not one of them. Good job, Kid.

Full disclosure: We completely, 100%, unabashedly ripped off the feather design idea from Design Curiosities.

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My mom loves Dickens. My mom loves Christmas stories. It should come as no great surprise, then, that my mom loves A Christmas Carol.

A million years ago, she got me a copy of A Christmas Carol for my very own. I remember the apartment we were living in when I got it, which would put me at 7 or 8 years old – so that’s a picture of a 30-year-old book right there.

A few years ago, I noticed that the binding was breaking and the pages were beginning to fall out. The hardcover was otherwise in pretty good shape, and the pages had a nice old-timey feel about them, so I set the whole thing aside with the idea that I would find some clever way to repurpose it someday. Then I saw this. And then, obviously, my mom got this for Christmas:

Book_Open

As an extra stroke of awesome, my copy of A Christmas Carol included lots of illustrations, both color and black and white, which lent themselves beautifully to becoming gift tags. And then I used a bunch of popsicle sticks and hot glue to turn the hard cover into a box to organize the tags (which, admittedly, is kind of a tacky way to make a box, but I was given strict instructions to not spend money and we already had the pospsicle sticks in the back of a drawer somewhere, so…).

Book_Inside

A black pen to write “To”s and “From”s and a hole punch at the top, et voila! A gift tag box set made from one of my mom’s favorite books. Good job, me.

Full disclosure: I kind of (totally) stole this idea too. I saw something similar on Pinterest, and tried to follow the links through to the original poster, but it just sort of dead-ends after some random Tumblr, so… just go here.

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Owl

I think this guy is my favorite of all the gifts this year. He’s a delightful take on a scarecrow, made from old crap I found in my basement. His name is Moby, and he’s meant to be hung in the garden to scare away the birds. His body is an old Moby CD (hence his name), and the sun reflecting off its shiny side is supposed to discourage birds from approaching. This is just a thing I’ve read, so I can’t say whether it actually works or not. I’ll check in with my mom in the spring and let you know if Moby is adequately doing his job. If not, at least he’ll look cute hanging out there.

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I like his caster talons the best.

Again. Stolen idea.

The Store-Bought Stuff

But not everything was homemade. I received some pretty awesome (store-bought) gifts that I’m super excited about. My faves:

(Spoiler alert: they’re all books Probably no surprise there.)

9780143112723

So… maybe you should keep it to yourself if one of your favorite gifts is a grammar guide? OR you could fly your nerd flag high and proud. I choose the latter. Plus, it’s an illustrated edition of The Elements of Style and it’s AWESOME. So, shut it.

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9780807014295

This has been on my list of books-I-must-read ever since I realized that everyone I know who has read it uses the same two words to describe it: Life. Changer. Man’s Search for Meaning is part memoir and part psychological theory. It chronicles Viktor Frankl’s time as a prisoner in concentration camps during World War II, and uses his experiences there as a sort of case study for his logotherapy theory. I think. I’ve only just started reading it, so I’m probably describing it terribly, but that’s the basic gist. It’s a bizarre thing to say I’m excited to read a horrific Halocaust tale, but you know: Life. Changer.

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I’ve wanted to read Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison since before the Netflix show was a thing. I realize that’s a terribly hipster kind of thing to say, but it’s true. Plus, I’m not saying it to prove my superiority over you (hipster), I’m saying it to demonstrate that I’ve wanted it for a long time and so I’m really excited to finally have it (book nerd). There’s a difference. Anyway, I’m guessing you already know what it’s about, but just in case you don’t: it’s Piper Kerman’s memoir of her time in a women’s prison, after her conviction for drug smuggling and money laundering.

And, for the record, I love the show. Crazy Eyes is my favorite.

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9780977648139

This is my new 5 Year Diary. It’s not huge, like you might expect a 5-year diary to be. Instead, there’s a day on each page, and each page is divided into five sections. You write in the first section the first year, then start over again the next year by writing in the second section, and so on and so on. Cool thing number one: as you write in it each year, you can read what you wrote on the same day in previous years. Cool thing number two: there’s only enough space to write a few sentences in each entry, so it’s not an overwhelming undertaking to journal daily. So far, some of my entries have taken the whole space… and others have said, simply, “Wine!”

There is a time and a place for soul-searching, introspective writing exercises. And there is a time and a place for writing exercises that center entirely around what type of alcohol you most recently consumed. Now, I have a place for the latter. And it is delightful.

So tell me, what fantastic things did you give (or receive) this year?

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This post’s song: My Favorite Things by Avila

 

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Disclaimer: Some links that appear on this page may be affiliate links. That means I will get a very small amount of money if you should happen to click one and buy something. However, I would never in a million years link to anything that I didn’t sincerely think was super crazy awesome. Also, I feel compelled to encourage you to buy local and independent whenever you can so, for example, I would support picking up any one of the books I mention at Elliott Bay Book Company (or your favorite independent book seller) instead of Amazon – despite the fact that it directly and negatively affects the coinage making its way into my pockets. Ethics before profits, yo.

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Out with the Old, In with the New

And lo, we have arrived. Twenty fourteen. Which, among other things, means that Josh and I have been engaged for two years now. We should probably add “get married” to our list of things-to-do this year, yes? Yes. Let’s work on that. But that’s not all. I’m still trying to be more intentional about the way I spend my time, and so I like to make some resolutions every year that line up with my free time priorities. Here’s a list of what I’d like to accomplish this year (in addition to matrimonial knot-tying), along with a quick report on how 2013’s resolutions went.

Eat Food

2013 Resolution: Limit ordering take-out to once per week.  I was pretty successful here, at least during the week. The weekends? We still ate out a lot. BUT we were eating in the restaurants rather than taking out. So I totally nailed this one, technically speaking.

2014 Resolution: Resurrect the garden. Josh put in raised gardening beds in 2012, and then we had an unusually unsunny summer and our yield was kind of sad. So we showed the sun who was boss by not bothering to plant anything in 2013. And that year, when we had no seedlings poised to benefit from it, the sun shone and shone and shone all summer long. Because the sun is an asshole. This year, we’ll make some modifications to the beds and try again. We will plant. We will harvest. We. Will. Eat!

Be Green

2013 Resolution: Make a batch of homemade deodorant. Done and done. And it works GREAT. The recipe is here (my most popular post of 2013, so I guess that means you guys like it too). I made one batch, and it lasted me the entire year.

2014 Resolution: Homemade shampoo. In addition to 2013’s homemade deodorant, I starting washing my face with oil. Both changes were wildly successful (and saved money to boot). I already use eco-friendly shampoos, but this is the year I’ll be brave enough to test out some homemade recipes. I’m mentally preparing myself for the terrible hair days ahead – and you should too, since you’ll be subjected to the photodocumentation.

Make Stuff

2013 Resolution: Pick a project and make it. Success! I made some things. Mostly to give to other people for Christmas presents, but that still counts.

2014 Resolution: Make 6 lovely things, at least one of which requires a sewing machine. I don’t have anything specific in mind yet, so I just gave myself a quantity of made items to work toward. I will consider them lovely if I want to show them off when they’re complete. This may not mean that they actually are lovely, but good enough to inspire shouts of “Hey World, look what I made!” should count for something.

Get Out

2013 Resolution: Have one adults-only outing every month. Fail. Fail. Fail. Oh, did I suck at this one. I’m trying to recall how many times Josh and I had something even sort of resembling a date night, and I can only think of two: one in February (a concert) and one in December (a play). I also squeezed in a couple rushed coffee dates with friends, but all in all it was an abysmal year for adult time.

2014 Resolution: One. Adult-only. Outing. Every. Month. I’m just re-upping this one.

Read Books

2013 Resolution: Finish reading two fiction books and one non-fiction book. Nailed it, plus extra credit. Books finished in 2013:  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

2014 Resolution: Don’t buy any new books. That sort of feels like an anti-resolution, but I have stacks of books I already own that I haven’t read yet. I’m trying to get through that stack before adding to it. I am still perfectly willing to accept new books as gifts, however. Just so we’re clear.

Learn Stuff

 2013 Resolution: Learn to open a bottle of champagne, for chrissakes. This was the first resolution to get marked off my list, since I opened the New Year’s bottle of champagne precisely one minute after 2013 began. I’m pretty certain I’ve since forgotten how to do it, and I’m entirely certain it still makes me shriek because I’m convinced the cork is going to take my eye out. But still, I’m considering this one complete.

2014 Resolution: Participate in a writing workshop. Along the same lines as the champagne, I’d originally resolved to learn to use a drill. But, really, I know how to use one, I just don’t know how to use one well. (My drill holes are always wobbly and drunk looking.) I just need practice, and that’s a lame resolution anyway. Instead: a writer’s workshop. I already signed up for this YEAR-LONG one, before I had time to think too much on it and lose my nerve.

Get Involved

2013 Resolution: Finish my PTA Legislative Chair position off strong. Done. It was a semi-strong finish, at least. And then I started a new term as the Legislative Liaison at Riley’s new school. So there.

2014 Resolution: Bring the kids along. We’ll do some sort of volunteery thing as a family. A beach clean up. A weeding party at a park. Organize donations at West Side Baby. I don’t know exactly what yet. But we’ll figure it out, and do it. All of us.

Raise Citizens

2013 Resolution: Teach Avi new songs and guide Riley through a summer service project.  Done and done. Avi learned most of his new songs at preschool rather than directly from me, but it still counts. And Riley raised and donated over $400 to World Wildlife Fund to help endangered gorillas. Because he’s awesome.

2014 Resolution: Have the kids complete one Good Citizen Deed each week. This has been a trickier project to put together than I anticipated, but I’m giving the kids 52 assignments to complete throughout the year. The assignments vary from simple (pick out a can of food at the grocery store to donate to the food bank) to more involved (research a topic important to your community and write a letter to your state reps about it). All of Avi’s are pretty simple since, you know, he’s only 3.

Be Well

2013 Resolution: Complete three workouts/week. Didn’t happen. Me and exercise just aren’t getting along regularly right now. I squeeze it in when I can. I know it’s important for my physical health. But you know what? So is sleep. And on those rare days that I have a little extra time to spare, sleep wins. Moving on.

2014 Resolution: Go to the doctor(s) and write one day/week. I haven’t been to the doctor in a long time. I’m overdue for a pap, breast exam, glaucoma screen (family history there), glasses that actually correct my eyesight. And the dentist? Haven’t been there in over a decade. Don’t give me that look. I’ve had the shit shitty shittiest insurance that only medical emergencies have been dealt with. But now? Obamacare, yo. I can finally afford this. And for my mental health, I vow to get myself away from children once a week for some focused writing. Wish me luck on that one. I’ll need it.

Life List

2013 Resolution: Go to the dentist. Nope. No money. Shit insurance. We’ve covered this.

2014 Resolution: Give new life to an old piece of furniture. I have piles of old furniture in the basement that I refuse to sell/donate/take to the dump, because I am convinced I can rehabilitate them. This is the year that I try, at least once.

Lighten Up

2013 Resolution: Ride in the Fremont Solstice Parade. Yeah, the naked part.  I did it! I did it! I did it! It was fun. You should do it too.

2014 Resolution: Yell less. Like, waaaaaaay less. This one’s for you, Avi.

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This post’s song: Best Year by Elk and Boar

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