Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

This beautifully illustrated children's book by Simms Taback tells the story of a master recycler. I am constantly looking for ways to teach my daughter the value of reusing things. She loves to read stories together, so Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, a Caldecott Medal book, was a brilliant addition to her bookshelf.

In the book, a hole appears in Joseph's overcoat, so he makes a jacket out of it. The overcoat gets smaller and smaller as the story goes on, but Joseph makes good use of every last little scrap of it. In a culture that equates "new" with "good," I like that Joseph Had a Little Overcoat promotes a more frugal and simpler lifestyle.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Need a facial? Don't spend any money; just open your pantry!

I've been trying out beauty product recipes that I've found online and have come up with some basic guidelines:

  • Olive oil is a fantastic skin and hair moisturizer. Yes, it will make you smell like an Italian restaurant, but you can use it at night and wash the smell out in the morning.
  • Regular granulated sugar makes a fabulous exfoliant. Simply add it to your face or body cleanser for a very effective scrub. Salt works, too, but I prefer sugar because salt will sting if it gets into an open wound or is rubbed over dry, delicate skin.
  • A handful of oatmeal, mixed with just enough water to make a thick paste, makes a wonderfully gentle exfoliating scrub.
  • Honey has anti-microbial properties, so it works great as a masque to avoid getting pimples, especially after a good exfoliation.
  • To scent your oil-based beauty products, just buy a little bottle of an essential oil that you like and add one drop at a time. Be careful, though. A tiny bit goes a long way and too much can severely irritate your skin.
  • Many oils also have anti-microbial properties, making them good for acne-prevention, too.
  • Coffee grounds mixed with oil or chocolate syrup makes a lovely-smelling, very coarse scrub. It's great for waking up in the morning, but is probably too coarse for sensitive or delicate skin. Not good for facial skin!
...and some things to be careful of:
  • Petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) may seem like a great base for a scrub or skin masque, but it can dehydrate delicate skin, so I wouldn't recommend it, unless you're making lip products.
  • Do an allergen test on a small patch of skin several hours before you use anything new. You don't want to spread something all over your face, only to find out it gives you hives!
  • Keep all of this stuff - especially the essential oils - away from your eyes. If it accidentally gets into your eyes, call your doctor immediately for instructions.

I've started using my own facial scrub a couple of times a week, consisting of 2 tbsp of granulated sugar, enough olive oil to saturate and cover the sugar, one drop of lavender oil and one drop of clove oil. I get dry patches on my face and this really seems to help, without causing acne like the store-bought deep moisturizers can. I've just had to try them out to see what works for me. Let us know what works for you! :-)

Free Furniture

An elementary school in St. Louis was throwing out a few old desks. I took this one home and spruced it up for my daughter's room. She even got to help!

First, I scrubbed all of the rust off with a wire brush. Next, I wiped all of the dust off with a wet rag. I covered the wooden parts with plastic shopping bags and taped them in place with painter's tape (masking tape would work too). I painted the metal with rust-blocking spray paint, then waited for it to dry before removing the plastic bags.

Once that was done, I sanded the wooden parts with 120 grit sandpaper then wiped it down with a wet rag. I covered the metal parts with the plastic bags, taping them in place again, and painted the wood with a green spray paint. It only took a couple of hours and now she has an adorable place to do her homework!

Resourcefullness is next to Godliness.

Growing up in a Midwestern working-class household, wastefulness was the eighth deadly sin. If I were asked what I learned from my mother, "Waste not; want not," would have been at the top of the list. I was lucky enough to have been raised by three generations of strong, resourceful women, all of whom have run households on very tight budgets and have taught me how to do the same.

"Green" has become the buzzword of the decade; everybody is going green. In my opinion, green living can be defined as resourcefulness and reduction of waste. The great thing is that this kind of green living will save you money, too! And who couldn't use a little more cash? My family and I benefit from the wisdom of my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother on a daily basis and I created this blog to share that wisdom with you.

Please feel free to share your green living, cost saving ideas with the rest of us!