where green living, parenthood, and interiors intersect

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Musings

I successfully played it low-key all holiday season and am enjoying a warm Christmas Eve in my little house with a few presents left to wrap and a peacefulness in my heart. Aside from one Amazon.com order, I made most of my Christmas presents or just didn't give any. Experiences like babysitting and coffee dates made up a majority of my gift list.

My parents got wind of my household's Christmas tree debate and delivered a potted tree two weekends ago. That settled that. We decorated with the few lights and ornaments we had on hand, and made a few more to fill the admittedly greater amount of branches than we've ever had to adorn.

My son and I stamped pine trees on the craft paper that fills my monthly delivery of Shaklee products that I'd been saving since October; not a penny was spent on wrappings and trappings, nor did a tree tumble down needlessly just to cover our gifts.

My son's class had a gingerbread house-making party and it was definitely one of the highlights of the past week for both my son and I. My son loved it so much that he put in a last-minute request to Santa for another gingerbread house and, despite kits being sold out far and wide, one of 'Santa's helpers' unexpectedly left one on our doorstep this morning. Santa sure is resourceful!

We started our day today by taking toys and clothes to Salvation Army, filled its middle with a stop at a sports bar to watch the Jets get defeated, and ended it with a simple dinner and batches of homemade chocolate chip cookies. I guess you could say my focus has been much more on the "merry" than the "Christmas," a tradition I plan on keeping next year and beyond.

Our homemade wrapping paper project

A real Christmas tree without the landfill guilt!!

Gingerbread house-making party at my son's class.

One of my crafty gift efforts: a magazine rack that I sanded, painted and decoupaged with images of owls.

Our homemade chocolate chip cookies, thanks to Teddy S.!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Short Water Pitcher Filter Story

I changed the filter in my Get Clean® Water pitcher last night and was shocked to see the rusty colored yuckiness it had successfully kept out of the last 80 gallons of water I consumed (the image above features the old filter and a brand new unused one side-by-side).

I have lived in Long Beach, New York for two and a half years now and have certainly noticed that the bath and toilet water run a little brown every so often, but I had never noticed this at the kitchen tap. I decided I needed to learn exactly what this discoloration could mean, since recently published water quality tests in our town had shown no violations in copper, lead or iron levels (although they are present in every sample tested which is why I'm adamant about filtering my water). I hit the internet to learn more and, according to this report on the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection website, orange or brown water simply means rust, either within my home's pipes or in the town water mains. It is also likely that the metal compound that's rusting is Iron. Because the discoloration in my home is inconsistent, it is likely in the town lines and there's probably little I can do about it. According to Livestrong.com, low Iron levels commonly found in drinking water do not pose a toxicity risk, and usually only cause the aggravation of stained bath fixtures or wash loads, as well as a metallic taste in unfiltered drinking water.

But I'm of the "better safe than sorry" mindset and will continue to filter the nearly 200 ounces of water I drink every day. Of additional concern is that for the 2+ years that I used a Brita filtration pitcher, I never saw a collection of such sediment, making me extra glad I switched over to Shaklee's pitcher, which is certified to reduce 3 times as many contaminants as Brita or PUR systems and the only pitcher filter on the market that removes lead when present. I popped the new carbon filter into place, poured myself a glass of water before bed, and slept a whole lot easier.

While supplies last, Shaklee is offering A Year of Cleaner, Healthier Water, which includes a BPA-free 10 cup Get Clean Water Pitcher, Refillable Filter Housing Kit, and a Water Filter 3-Pack, all in a free gift box at the special price of $117.65 (or $99.95 for members).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Color: Cobalt Blue

As my Christmas spirit is forced into high gear by my six year old, I wanted to turn away from the blur of reds and greens for a moment and focus on one of my favorite colors, and also the hue associated with the even faster approacher Hanukkah holiday: Cobalt Blue. Cobalt is bold and intense but not totally without the soothing properties of the blue family. Like all blues, it is also incredibly versatile but makes especially good partners with light neutrals and its warm color wheel opposites like a pinky salmon and rust orange. Whether you're dusting off your blue decorations and Menorah in preparation for the festival of lights or just a fan of the hue like I am, please read on to see the many facets of striking Cobalt Blue.

Images above:

1. A stunning high-gloss entryway from Elle Decor.

2. Pops of Cobalt Blue in a sea of white and light neutrals found on cococozy.com.

3. Accents of Cobalt Blue again, but this time against loads of complimentary orange hues (from Decor Pad).

4. I love the way this kitchen is pulled from the blue and white china held in its colorful cabinets (from Attic Mag).

5. A vignette from an all-Cobalt bedroom, found on StudioTen25's blog.

6. This image on That Bohemian Girl proves that Cobalt Blue makes a beautiful backdrop for virtually any hue.

7. An inspirational post on The Design Traveller showing the more dramatic side of Cobalt.

8. Another collage of blues found on Interiorly.

9. A Cobalt Blue sofa is the signature piece in this eclectic living room, found on Tile Tramp.

10. A simple yet festive Hanukkah table setting found on the Cote De Texas blog.

11. Ginger Cobalt Side Table from Crate & Barrel.

12. Set of 20 Shatterproof Christmas Ornaments in Cobalt Blue from Meijer.

13. KitchenAid's Artisan Mixer in Cobalt Blue available on Amazon.

14. Creatures A-Z Print in Cobalt Blue by Bond and Noble, available from Garrendenny Lane.

15. Recycled Glass Cobalt Blue 15 1/2" Star Dish by Traders & Company, available from Amazon.com.

16. Blue leather Howell Wingback Chair from Anthropologie.

17. Blue Wood Mantel Clock from West Elm, also available in 3 other colors.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Etsy Love: Baby Green Shop (again!)

When I first highlighted my own Etsy Baby Green Shop, it was a brand new venture. Now that I've had some sales and posted new vintage items and baby baskets, I'm really starting to feel like part of the Etsy family. And just last week, The Huffington Post took notice and featured one of my new parents gift baskets. Ah, validation!! Their Gifts For A New Mom slideshow features 9 ideal Etsy finds for new parents, with one of my gift baskets as the opener.

An example of one of my baby gift baskets complete with a natural wooded toy, a handmade organic cotton baby bib, and two all-natural baby care products from the ShakleeBaby line (baskets start around $50 and all have customizable one-of-a-kind options).

One of my newer vintage additions: a half dozen 1960's Shafford 'Primitive Collection' Dessert Plates.

This is a $30 Holiday Gift Basket that I made on request that is appropriate for just about anyone from co-workers to teachers. It includes an Enfuselle Lip Treatment SPF15, a Meadow Blend Soap-Free Cleansing Bar and an Herbal Blend Multi-Purpose Cream, all from Shaklee, in a gift-ready basket.

This Holiday Spa Basket is $60 and includes a luxuriously moisturizing Enfuselle Spa Shea Butter Cream, an all-natural Enfuselle Moisturizing Shower Gel, and a Loofah in a brown fabric bathroom organizer caddy.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reclaimed Wood Part 2

Last week, I put the spotlight on reclaimed wood tables fit for a season of holiday feasts, but in my searches I found so many inspiring applications of re-used timber for every surface of the house that I just had to share some of them.

Reclaimed wood kitchen counters from Natural Home and Garden.

A reclaimed wood clad wall found on House to Home/Living Etc.

The lobby of the Metropolitan Planning Council boasts a beautiful salvaged gate on the wall and reclaimed wood ceilings.

Beautiful reclaimed tongue and groove Ash flooring and vintage furnishings in an eco-friendly Flatiron loft I designed.

Salvaged sliding barn doors found on Apartment Therapy San Francisco.

Another barn door makes a natural backdrop for a modern baby's crib and the perfect mounting surface for lights (found on The Lil House That Could).

Reclaimed wood abound in the guest rooms of the Portland Ace Hotel.

A custom reclaimed wood grow light by Custom Made.

A table lamp made of reclaimed printing wood blocks, found on The Designer Insider.

A rustic reclaimed wood kitchen island found on Fresh Home Ideas only gains more character with nicks, scratches and stains.

This perfectly balanced bedroom features a reclaimed wood barn door painted a bold yellow and salvaged wood tagged with the word love as a headboard.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Color: Pine Green

I know, I know, it's getting a little ridiculous that I keep infusing my eco-principles into my Monday Color posts, but we all must draw our inspiration from somewhere, right? And I have mentioned a few times that I seem to be running out of colors to feature.

The hot topic around my house right now is whether or not to get a real Christmas tree. I'm opposed of course. Not against buying a tree that was farmed and cut for that purpose, but because of what happens to it after we enjoy it for a few weeks. Drive around most neighborhoods in early January on garbage day and you'll see piles of discarded trees bound for the landfill. That's not cool. But my six year old son wants a tree, so I'm obligated to at least consider the options. Real tree with roots and all that can be planted after the holidays? An artificial tree many feet taller than the puny one we had all the years we lived in the city that can be used again and again? A cut tree that we take to the chipper or other appropriate recycler in the new year? Or something 100% tree-free and totally creative? Of course I'm leaning toward the latter, but not having much luck swaying my little boy.

So, I'm just going to go ahead and embrace the mighty pine tree today, at least for this post (and because I may soon be welcoming one into my home). The green that I most associate with conifers of the Northeast where I'm from is a cold dark green with a tint of blue-gray in it, like the Douglas Fir, one of the most common species grown as Christmas trees. Pine Green has been an official Crayola Crayon color since 1949 - I did not know this! While other shades of green seem to be more popular in interiors, Pine Green is still a comforting, easy-to-live with hue. Read on to see more.....

Images above:

1. This bedroom found on Interior Design Styles features deep Pine Green painted woodwork with a lighter green and white palette throughout, complimented cheerfully with pops of salmon.

2. A deep Pine Green on lower cabinets lightens in the medium-toned backsplash and pales to a mint green on upper cabinets in this retro-country kitchen.

3. A dark Pine Green wall with turquoise swirls is balanced by bleached wood and lots of white.

4. A cozy dressing room found on housetohome.co.uk.

5. A deep green has an old-world feel on these floor-to-ceiling library shelves (from Katy Elliot).

6. Stunningly rich green tiles in a master bathroom look opulent but yet earthy (found on Attic Mag).

7. Pine Green is a classic home exterior trim color too.

8. Fine Little Day's Gran Wallpaper is available in 6 different color ways.

9. To add a little country kitsch, how about this Pine Tree End Table from Cottage Surroundings?

10. The Mason Jar Snow Globes from Anthropologie have an extra-nostalgic appeal.

11. A clever D.I.Y. holiday door mat from the geniuses at A Beautiful Mess.

12. A reproduction-style mailbox spray painted in Pine Green, as found on Country Living.

13. Glittered Christmas Tree Candle from Z Gallerie.

14. A modern pine print on the Marimekko Manty Green Gift Wrap from Crate & Barrel.

15. Colonial Mills Braided Poly Rectangular Rug in Dark Green; it's synthetic but that means it can be used indoors or out and the braided construction gives it textural interest.

16. Holiday Tree Coasters from Paizley Polkadot's Etsy Shop.