“You want me, baby, I dare you, try and tear me down”

OMG, I updated my WordPress theme! I have been wanting to change it for a long time, but never got around to it (see also: the frequency with which I update this blog!). Lots has changed in the last 8.5 (OMG!!) years – it’s way easier now to install and customize a theme. Why did I wait so long?!

While I’m in an updating mood, let me tell you what’s been going on lately. I had my band concert at the beginning of the month. It was fine. Usually there is at least one piece that I’m really excited to play, and even if I don’t like all our selections at the beginning of the season, several more will grow on me. However, that never happened this spring. So I guess it went well, I just didn’t particularly care :o/ Afterward, GG and I took my grandmom out for dinner, which also counted as her Mother’s Day celebration, because I couldn’t coordinate a time with her and my mom to celebrate.

The following weekend, GG and I were supposed to go to this bacon festival, but it’s been postponed until October! (Based on feedback about another bacon festival that took place the weekend before, it sounded like that was a good idea, so they could have enough time to better organize the event.) Then it turned out that my brother was going to be in town on Mother’s Day, so I did end up seeing my grandmom, and my mom, when we all got together for hoagies.

The weekend after that was opening day for our local farmer’s market, plus it was the day of the compost bin and rain barrel sale for our county, so I went with GG and finally got my compost bin (I’ve wanted one for a few years, but was never able to go to the sale)! And we hit up the farmer’s market and checked out some new vendors. On Sunday, MB and I went to New York to see “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” with Neil Patrick Harris on Broadway! She called me after her birthday party to tell me that some of her coworkers had given her a pair of tickets, and I started telling her about the show and what a great time she and A would have. Then she was like, “Actually, he doesn’t want to go… so do you want to go with me?” Um, yes! Besides the craziest blister I’ve ever gotten, we had an awesome day! The weather was perfect, we picked up some gourmet macarons before the show, the show was amazing, we got dinner afterward at a neat Belgian restaurant, and everything worked out with getting the train to and from NYC. Loved hanging out with my chicklet for the day!

So now we’re coming up to the end of May already, which I can’t believe! My goals for Memorial Day weekend are to put my office back together (I’m reorganizing after getting a new desk and rearranging the furniture a little, but I think it’s going to take a little longer than I intended…) and finish some freelance design work (which might also take longer than intended, because I am missing a key piece of info from my client, who is now on vacation). Other than that, I am just relaxing, because June is going to be crazy!

Natural Shampoo

When thinking about writing this post, I just kept thinking of Tally Hall’s “Natural Ketchup” sketch. “Can you put it on French fries?”

Anyway, this post is about shampoo. As I was running out of my normal shampoo and surprisingly did not have any more stockpiled away, I thought maybe I should switch to something more organic, and less likely to give me cancer with all the chemicals. There are a lot of options out there, and I didn’t really want to waste time and money trying a bunch of stuff, so of course I turned to my friend J for advice. She has been doing the all organic thing since her kid was born a few years ago, and recently announced that she has switched out all her chemical-laden beauty products for natural ones. (Except I think she still gets acrylic nails? Whatever, I’m not judging.)

J recommended the shampoo and conditioner from Organic Excellence, which are also highly recommended by one of her favorite bloggers, The Glamorganic Goddess. This stuff is not cheap! But, they all said it is the best. J even gave me a couple almost empty bottles so I could sample it for myself. I tried it out for a week. The first day or so, I didn’t really notice a difference. After that, my hair started feeling dirty when I was fresh out of the shower. Like it was second-day hair. By the end of the week, I just felt gross. I considered using this stuff every other day, alternating with my regular deadly shampoo, because even 50% less chemicals would be an improvement, right?

But I decided to try one more option. When I asked for shampoo recommendations at my favorite green living message board, someone suggested Nature’s Gate. Guess what – there are about a million Nature’s Gate options, I learned when I got to the store. The first thing I noticed is that there is a second line, Nature’s Gate Organics, so I decided to just look at these products. I ended up choosing the Lavender and Aloe “for all hair types” shampoo and conditioner, and I’ve been using it for several days now. I love it. It was rated a 5 in the EWG database, and its score comes mostly from the fragrance it contains, but it is the last ingredient in the list. And I’m sure this product is still better to use than regular shampoo. Anyway, if it kills me, at least my hair will look good…

The Organic Dilemma

A couple weeks go, the LivingSocial deal of the day was a discounted delivery from Suburban Organics. I didn’t purchase the deal, but did look into the company. I’ve been looking to join a CSA for a while, but could never find a good one – all the ones around me were too expensive for what you get, or had inconvenient pick-up times and locations. So this place looked awesome! They will deliver to your home (or office, or wherever you like) on your delivery day, and there are lots of affordable options for delivery sizes, and you can customize your orders if there’s something you don’t like or are allergic to, etc.

They list some of the local farms they get the produce from. Then I wondered, what do they do in the wintertime? According to the web site, they ship in a lot of produce from the southwest and Mexico. So here is the dilemma: is it better to do what’s good for you, and eat organic produce year-round; or to do what’s best for the earth, and eat local produce year-round, even if it means you might be getting some local but not organic stuff?

Summertime HABA Reviews

Alba Fragrance Free Mineral Sunblock: For the past couple of years I’ve really been trying to be good and wear sunscreen on my face and any exposed skin (especially on sunny summer days). The main thing that kept me from doing this consistently was that I hate the smell and greasy feel of sunscreen. Plus then I heard that maybe the chemicals in most sunscreens are worse for you than potentially getting skin cancer! So I was extremely happy when the Alba sunscreen I picked up (just got it to try because it was on sale) turned out to be chemical and paraben free, and didn’t have any kind of greasy feeling at all! It’s a little thick at first, but once you rub it in you can’t even tell you have it on. I went and stocked up while it was still on sale :o)

The Body Shop DeoDry Roll-On Deodorant: This is another product that totally exceeded my expectations. I heard about it when it first came out – an aluminum- and paraben-free deodorant that really worked! Of course, it was totally sold out everywhere. When The Body Shop near me finally had it in stock, they didn’t have the scent I wanted (Chilled & Breezy), and they didn’t have the stick form. So I got Fresh & Floral in a roll-on. Wow! First of all, the scent is not “flowery,” it’s just nice. And the liquid dries right away, and then you don’t have to worry about white smudges on your clothes. It really does last all day, though in this heat and humidity there were a couple times where I reapplied before going out for the evening. I got one for GG, too (in the Cool & Zesty scent), and it’s even strong enough for a man. Plus, the roll-ons are refillable – save the environment and some money!

Avon Frizz Control Lotus Shield: I’ve been using this for a couple weeks now and am so happy with it! Even on non-humid days I have a halo of frizz around my head, so you can imagine how bad it would have been these past couple weeks that we’ve had like 99% humidity here. But my hair is sleek and soft and nice but not flat! And it really does last at least two days (even through washing it). A tiny amount is plenty, and the product is kind of thick and goopy feeling at first, but once you get it into your wet hair it’s not stiff or anything – and in fact, I think it helps hair dry faster. The true proof it works: on Saturday night we had dinner on a riverside deck and it was probably the most humid meal of my life. On our way home, GG asked me if I was using something different in my hair, because even he noticed that it wasn’t as frizzy as it should have been in that situation! Also, it smells great!

Goody Spin Pins: I got these a while ago and they are awesome. I’ve never really been able to get regular bobby pins to work for me, so for buns and updos, these work great! Especially now that it’s so hot and I just want my hair up off my neck, it’s so easy to just twist in the two corkscrew pins, and my hair’s not going anywhere. At first I thought they wouldn’t really work for me until my hair got longer because it seemed like the buns were small and tight, but I think the trick is that you need to gather it more loosely. The pins will really hold just about anything, so I can even just ball my hair up without really twisting it into a bun, and it’ll form a nice messy bun. I wore them for a lot of my hot, humid band concerts this summer, and around the house when I’m working and just want to keep my hair out of the way.

* HABA is retail-speak for “health and beauty aid” – basically anything you’d pick up in the lotion/toothpaste/shampoo aisle of the supermarket or drug store.

Going Green with “Unpaper”

Today I read this blog post on going paper towel free, and I definitely think we could do this. We hardly ever use napkins, first of all, so it wouldn’t be hard to switch from paper to cloth. And the non-paper towels look great if you just have a bunch to rotate through. GG said he would like to continue using paper towels for his painting work, and I’d like to use them to pick up cat puke so the whole thing could just be thrown away… But other than that, I’d love to be a paper towel-free household! We could even take that stupid paper towel holder off the wall…

The Etsy shop linked in the post is sold out at the moment, but I found many more who sell (even specialize) in the birdseye cotton towels – search for “reusable paper towels” or “unpaper towels.” I’m just bought a bunch today! (If I had a serger I’d make my own…)

However… I don’t think we’re ready to make a family cloth-level commitment…

A White Roof is a Green Roof

After the Snowpocalypse this winter, with its ice dams and leaking walls and all that, I called my favorite roofer to see if he’d be able to seal our roof (he’d kind of mentioned this when I called him about the dams). He came over and climbed up on the roof and said it was actually in pretty good shape, and had probably been replaced in the last ten years. But there were problems with the metal stuff around the edges, and where the gutters connect to the downspouts, and that’s probably what caused the leaks.

So last week we had all that replaced, and they also sealed everything by giving us a white roof. GG had actually wanted to do that for a while, so he was really excited that the roofer recommended it. I guess we’ll see for sure how it works this summer – hopefully the house will be noticably cooler!

Also while they were up there, the roofers removed the giant antenna that came with the house. I’d thought it was a radio antenna and asked around to some local radio groups if they knew what it was and if anyone would want it, but we actually found out that it was for TV and nobody would want it. So they just broke it up and we’ll put it out in the trash this week. Yay! That thing made me so nervous – I was always afraid it would eventually blow off in the wind and fall onto a car!

Farewell, giant antenna!

Bad Movies, Bags, Birthday

Last night was our third (I think) “Bad Movie Night.” This time we had an animal theme to our movies, so I served all animal-named foods: cream cheese penguins, gummy bears and fish, animal crackers, pigs in a blanket, ants on a log, and buffalo dip. I was worried because GG ended up inviting a lot of people (in addition to the folks I had already invited), but luckily none of his friends showed, so we had a comfortable group of about ten people, and everyone had a place to sit and there was exactly the right amount of food. We watched Gatorface, which was awesome and perfect for making fun of, and Karate Dog, which was also a bad movie but somehow didn’t lend itself to as much joke-making as Gatorface.

Today I went out to Target and discovered that they are giving out a free reusable shopping bag with your purchase! Not sure if it’s just for today or this weekend, or all month in honor of Earth Day. Also, you get $.05 off your order for each reusable bag you bring, and the one they give you counts as one of the bags, so I got $.10 off since I had also brought my own bag. I hope that’s something they’ll continue, and isn’t just for Earth Day. (It’s a nice bag, too – cute pattern, and it’s made of recycled plastic bottles.)

Leaving soon for my imaginary nephew’s first birthday party! …Better wrap his gifts!

The Story of Stuff

I finally saw The Story of Stuff tonight, after wanting to watch it for a while. Wow, so short and simple, and really I knew a lot of this already, but it was eye-opening. Even though I try to recycle or give away whatever I can, I can see that “need to replace” mentality acting on myself. And I’ve felt for a long time that I have too much “stuff.” (This is why I love Freecycle – I can get rid of things I don’t want or need in my life, without feeling like it’s going to waste or to a landfill.)

Anyway, I’m already taking reusable bags with me almost every time I go shopping (not just food shopping), including reusable produce bags. I recycle whatever I can, including things that can’t go in the regular recycling (I have stashes of batteries, CFL bulbs, and #5 plastics sitting around to be dropped off at certain locations). And even regular recycling is kind of an inconvenience for us, because our town doesn’t recycle, so we collect everything and take it to our families’ houses when we go over. I just feel like I could be doing so much more. Something to work on, I guess. Maybe I will make “use less stuff” a 2010 resolution.

I am drinking out of a Hydration Vessel as I write this.

I got a KOR ONE Hydration Vessel (no, it’s not just a water bottle) a couple weeks ago and have been bringing it to work. It’s very pretty, but it has a couple flaws. For one thing, it’s a weird size and shape and doesn’t fit in most cup holders. It’s also kind of awkward to hold and drink out of. Then there’s the “KOR Stones,” which I don’t really understand, but they’re inspirational little sayings that go inside the lid, so you see them when the bottle is open. They’re actually just circles of paper. It came with a few that you could choose from, so right now my bottle reminds me to “laugh often,” but apparently they’re going to sell other options. Seems kind of pointless to me, especially if they’re trying to reduce waste. On the plus side, the latch works well and the lid stays up and out of the way when you flip it open. And it’s BPA free.

Yesterday morning GG alerted me that the hose for our refrigerator ice maker was leaking. It did this a few years ago so we put in a new hose, but then we stopped using the ice maker until recently when GG decided he could go for some ice in his drink. Last time it leaked because there was a problem where the hose connected to the fridge, but this time the hose itself was cracked. So he is getting a new hose today and will hopefully be able to replace it tonight. (He also shut off the water and cleaned up the leak all on his own, which impressed me!) Also I need to stop at the library on my way home and pick up Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, which they’re holding for me. (Yes, another book I saw mentioned in relation to the Duggars.) Expect a review soon, maybe.

Today is kind of rainy and yucky, but tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day, so I talked GG into going up to visit his mural, and then going to dinner at one of our favorite places there. Looking forward to that! And I still have to get my act together and plan our vacation activities! I have tons of information on things to do, I just have to organize it. Every night I sit down with the intent of getting it all into a spreadsheet (and then some sort of schedule), and then I don’t touch any of the info.

Things I am Liking Right Now

In lieu of Linky Thursday this week, I’m posting this list of things I’m liking right now. (Which is pretty much the same as a Linky Thursday, just more retail-oriented and a little wordier.)

RuMe Reusable Totes: I posted these in a recent Linky Thursday, but now I can speak from experience because I am now the proud owner of a six-pack of these great bags. They’re very strong, you can fit a ton of stuff in them, and you can fit the straps over your shoulder! They definitely feel well-made, and they’re easy to fold back up into a tiny packet you can fit in your purse.

Delight.com: Actually, I love just about everything on this web site! Tons of eco-friendly, well-designed items. In addition to those RuMe bags, I just bought Mothers’ Day gifts for my mom and grandmother on here! I love that they go beyond the brief description of each item, and pretty much write a whole blog post about it.

For Goodness Face Antioxidant Skin Moisturizing Lotion: Avon’s mark line is marketed to teens mostly, but I love so much of the stuff! This lotion is great – not only is it SPF 30, it keeps my face feeling moisturized all day without feeling greasy at all. The only things I don’t like about it: it smells like sunscreen (you’d think with blueberry and dark chocolate ingredients, they could’ve made it smell a little tastier), and the container is this strange kind of dispenser where you press down on the top and the lotion kind of erupts out, which seems like a gunky mess waiting to happen if you don’t wipe it clean every time.

Petal by Cynthia Rowley: Speaking of Avon products, I am totally digging this perfume. It’s designed to be the “child” counterpart to Flower, but I really like it for myself! Very light and a little sweet, they say it’s lily of the valley but GG and I think it smells exactly like honeysuckle.

Cynthia Rowley’s Whim line for Target: Pretty much this entire collection is adorable. I got this cooler yesterday, and I might go back for some of the dishes and serving pieces (like, this tray I’ve pretty much decided I need to own).