Check out my new book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, available from Amazon.

2012 Silver winner in the Health/Medicine/Nutrition Category of the Independent Publishers Book Awards

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Environmentally unfriendly regrets

We all makes choices in our lives, including some that aren't very environmentally friendly, in spite of our best intentions. There are costs, availability and other things to consider, especially if we prefer one thing over another. Or we just plain like it.

So, today I thought I'd list some of the choice regrets that I've made (and still make) and wish I hadn't:

1. The bunk bed we bought that is made out of particle board and is probably off gassing more formaldehyde (and who knows what) than I'd like
2. The cheapo patio furniture from Walmart online that lasted 3 seasons before it exploded
3. Draino - I keep trying alternatives, but nothing unclogs our sinks
4. X-14 - The mold in our shower just doesn't go away without it
5. Driving to work 3 days a week, because the bus just doesn't run often enough during my work hours

What are your regrets?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gardening therapy

Click me for slightly bigger imageWe've been having some seriously crappy weather the last month or so and I've been so totally unmotivated to work out in the garden. But, last night I went out and finally planted my potatoes and weeded my pumpkin patch, which is coming along nicely.

Last fall I put two rotten sugar pie pumpkins on the lawn and let them disintegrate as an experiment of sorts. A few months ago, I covered the pile of seeds that was all that remained with an inch or two of compost. I then bordered the area with some crappy metal fencing to keep it from getting mowed over and now I'm looking at a ton of little pumpkin plants that I hope will take over the yard soon. I probably will need to thin them soon, but in the meantime, I'll let them get a little more hardy.

Speaking of hardy, I've been putting my tomato plants outside for two hours every day to harden them off. I'm hoping to plant them in the next few weeks and send them off on their own. I've been totally negligent with all the rest of our plantings, mostly because we'll be gone for a chunk of the summer and I didn't get my motivator working.

I'm not too sure how my apple trees are doing since they are post-fertilization but pre-fruiting as far as I can tell. They may need to sit a year out after being manhandled last summer. However, my olive tree is going nuts and I'm expecting a ton of fruit this year. Assuming it doesn't keel over in our absence.

In any case, I went out in the yard in a funk, but came back in feeling much more happier and such. Do you use gardening as therapy or does it feel like more of a chore or is it both?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Homemade diaper cream

I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning around the house lately (which is why I haven't been posting much the last few days) and, while I was going through some of our cabinets, I noticed that I had a few tubes of diaper cream lurking around from ages ago. That's right, a couple of Desitin tubes were still making their presence known even though it's been years since they've seen daylight.

Aside from the nasty smell, I wondered what ingredients I was subjecting the sensitive nether regions of my children to when they were babies. The more offensive ingredients included petroleum based ingredients as well as a variety of parabens, which are used as preservatives, but are known endocrine disruptors. At the time, I didn't know any different, but I wouldn't want to use it now.

So, what's a parent with a sensitive baby bottom to do? Well, you can make your own cream. Here's a recipe based on the one I found in the book, Do It Gorgeously: How to Make Less Toxic, Less Expensive, and More Beautiful Products.

Homemade Diaper Cream
2 tablespoons organic olive oil
2 tablespoons castor oil
1 teaspoon beeswax
1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
1 teaspoon zinc oxide*
5-10 drops lavender essential oil

Makes approximately 2 ounces

Gently heat the oils and the beeswax in a small bowl set over a pan of boiling water. When the wax has melted, remove from the heat. Let cool 5 minutes and then add Vitamin E, zinc oxide and essential oil. Pour into glass jar and refrigerate to solidify. Store in a dark, cool spot (1 month shelf life; 3 months in the fridge).

*You can find zinc oxide from Essential Depot at Amazon.com.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nontoxic wrinkle cream

Looking for a natural wrinkle cream that doesn't cost an arm and a leg or an eyebrow? Well, I think I've finally found my fountain of youth. In a rather haphazard way.

I decided, oh about ten years ago, that I should probably start really taking care of my facial skin to help ward off signs of premature aging. I dutifully began a regimen of department store brand cleansers, moisturizers, anti-aging lotions, sunscreens, scrubs and the whole ball of wax. At around 30, I figured that my head start would help me out tremendously and I'd be looking fresh as a daisy well into my 60s.

Since then, I had dropped some of the products and really just stuck with moisturizers, anti-aging lotions and microdermabrasion type products with a healthy dollop of sunscreens. I mostly stuck with Estee Lauder products and even branched out to La Mer for a while, which was quite lovely.

Over the last three years, I noticed a considerable aging of the skin around my eyes with a lot more dark circles, which I contributed to the immense amount of stress in my life and so I quit some of the anti-aging products and started using a Retinol SA based product on the areas that were showing more wear and tear. I have to admit, I saw some extremely amazing results - my skin looked years younger. But, I still saw wrinkles around my eyes that weren't there before and just chalked it up to aging.

Then, early this year, a few things happened. I started having an allergic reaction to a product I received for review and the Retinol really aggravated it. So, I stopped all commercial, chemically-laden products cold turkey and switched entirely over to nontoxic products to solve the problems I was having. Which meant that I was relying solely on coconut oil (from my soap making and beauty product stock) as my moisturizer.

I've been using coconut oil morning and night as an all over facial moisturizer, particularly heavily around my eyes since mid-January. In addition, I got rid of all my toxic makeup and switched over to Gabriel cosmetics. I've noticed two things.

The first is that the circles under my eyes have lessened quite a bit. I'll chalk this up to less irritation and probable allergic reaction to the chemicals I've been exposing my facial skin to over the years. It certainly isn't because I'm getting more sleep since I've been getting a lot less lately.

The second thing I've noticed, and I honestly can't really believe this myself, is that the wrinkles around my eyes have all but disappeared. Seriously. I've been trying to figure out what the deal is, but my theory is that my skin is recovering from the toxic chemical burden which has halted the aging, and the coconut oil is providing enough moisture and plumping to make the wrinkles that I do have less visible. From what I've been reading, coconut oil helps in preventing premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.

For what it's worth, I'm sold. It's been incredibly effective for me and it's super cheap and, most importantly, it's completely nontoxic. I don't have to worry about a hodgepodge of chemicals being slathered on my skin. Plus, I use it for pretty much everything now. Moisturizer, makeup remover, deodorant base, soap and any skin treatment I'm experimenting with.

I can't say that others will have the same results as I have, but it's worth a try. I never would have gone this route if I hadn't had a reaction to a product that I couldn't pin down and had to stop using everything potentially toxic that touched my skin.

For those of you who are worried that coconut oil will cause your skin to break out or be too greasy, well, let me tell you I have combination skin which is oily in spots and I haven't had an increase in acne. The coconut oil goes on oily, but is immediately absorbed into the skin. That said, I haven't tried the type of coconut oil that is found in the grocery store, just the kind for soap making, so I don't know if there's a difference.

Image courtesy of bizior.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Seattle Green Festival

I am, allegedly, going to be at the Seattle Green Festival on June 5th at 5:00 pm since we'll be presenting the pilot episode of Mission: Sustainable to all those eco-minded individuals who will be in attendance. I'll be there with cast and crew.

I'm not sure what all I'll be doing at this point for the presentation but, at the very least, you can stop by and chat if you want to meet up. Or talk about Dry Humping It next month or any other random topic.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dry Humps Challenge 2010

Dry Humps Challenge 2010Water Conservation Challenge
This water conservation challenge is not for the faint of heart. This is not a challenge where you switch from using plastic water bottles over to stainless steel bottles. It's not asking you to turn off the tap while you are brushing your teeth. I'm not challenging you to do these things because I know you are already doing that and much more, right?

So, what is it already? Well, this challenge is requiring you to live on the same amount of water the average African uses.

Before I get started explaining what this means, here are a few water facts:

• Less than one percent of all the water on Earth is freshwater available for human consumption
• 3.9 trillion gallons of water are consumed in the United States per month
• An American taking a 5 minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day
• The average American household consumes about 127,400 gallons of water during a year

I know many of you are going to argue that you don't use that much water. And, the readers of this blog probably don't. But, let's do a daily comparison between American usage and African usage:

• The average American individual uses 100 - 176 gallons of water per day
• The average African family uses 5 gallons of water per day

I bet you use more than 5 gallons a day per person, let alone per family. The largest problem with water accessibility across the globe is cost (we spend considerably less on water than in other nations) and cleanliness.

We take for granted a tremendously important and necessary resource and literally flush it down the drain, pour it onto lawns and otherwise let it run dry. Most of the rest of the world doesn't have this luxury. The fact that we can just turn on the tap and have literally acre feet of clean, drinkable, cheap water is a pleasure few of us consider beyond our water bill.

So, here's the challenge. I'm going to let you cheat a little and have more water than your average African, but if you want to do 5 gallons per household, it's up to you. It's going to require you do a little bit of homework and a bunch of estimating to achieve this, but here goes:

What's the challenge?
During the weekend of June 12th - 13th you will use 5 gallons or less of water (that's per person per day). This includes all water used in bathing, cleaning, flushing, food preparation. Plus everything else you turn on the tap for.

Why should I do it?
To be a part of global water awareness and to protect our freshwater resources. Not only will you gain an appreciation for how little water the rest of the world depends on, but hopefully you'll also appreciate the fact that your water is cleaner, cheaper and easier to acquire than in the developing world.

Just think about accessibility: every day more than a billion people make a three-hour journey on foot just to collect water. As for cost, the average Honduran spends 25% of their income on drinking water. The average American spends .5 percent of his or her income on drinking water. [source]

And, just because water is cheap and easily accessible doesn't mean that we should use it extravagantly. Hopefully this challenge will help convince you to conserve water in the future not just from a resources perspective, but also from a financial one.

How do I prepare?
In preparation, you'll want to know (but it's not necessary if you don't use any of the following):

1. How many gallons of water your toilet flushes - alternatively, you can use waste water to flush the toilet by pouring it into the bowl to flush
2. How many gallons of water per minute your shower head puts out - alternatively, you can skip the showering and just wash the important parts using a cup for rinsing as a measurement
3. If you plan on doing laundry, see if you can find out how many gallons of water your washing machine uses. Otherwise, hand wash with your water allotment.
4. Same issue with the dishwasher as with the washing machine.

You'll need to measure the amount of water you are drinking. You should be drinking about a half gallon of water a day. And water used to make coffee, tea, etc. all should be accounted for.

Remember:
128 ounces = 1 gallon
64 ounces = 1/2 gallon
8 ounces = 1 cup

How to sign up?
Well, if you are ready to pledge to my water abstinence program during Dry Humps 2010, leave your name in the comments of this post. If you feel like this is an important experiment and want to share it on your blog, you can grab the widgety thingy by using the code here:

<a href="http://www.thecrunchychicken.com/2010/05/dry-humps-challenge-2010.html"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_8ndgSYbdkZ0/S_GefVt2A7I/AAAAAAAADfc/Lne9OM7N_KE/dryhumps2010.jpg" alt="Dry Humps Challenge 2010"/></a>

Image courtesy of Water.org

Monday, May 17, 2010

Squatting in the red tent

"Feminine protection": it has such a dubious double meaning to it. I'll refrain from ranting about that one for now.

Anyway, I was thinking the other day that I hadn't hosted a DivaCup Challenge recently and I figured it was probably not a bad thing since, for some reason, I got it into my head that everyone already used one.

And, then, I realized that I must have been smoking crack or something because it seemed unlikely that everyone already used one since most women have never even heard of the damn thing. Call it temporary environmentally insanity.

In any case, that got me a wonderin'. What the heck are women using these days for "feminine protection"? And by that, I mean you.

What the heck are you using?

1. Conventional tampons (plastic, cardboard or no applicator)
2. "Green" tampons (made from unbleached and/or 100% organic cotton)
3. Conventional pads
4. "Green" pads (made from unbleached and/or 100% organic cotton)
5. Reusable menstrual cup (DivaCup, Mooncup or the Keeper)
6. Disposable menstrual cup (Instead)
7. Sea sponge
8. Reusable cloth pad (LunaPads, GladRags, etc.)
9. Other
10. Nothing - I squat in the red tent

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oil spill emotions

I haven't been discussing the oil spill debacle in the Gulf of Mexico, mostly because I've been practicing my head in the sand routine since there's not a whole lot I can do about it and because it's so depressing. There are so many issues at play here that it's difficult, if not impossible, to summarize all of them in this post, but I wanted to check in and find out how you all are handling it.

In addition to the environmental devastation, trauma to fish, sea mammals and everything up and down the food chain, there's the economic disaster that will result. You can't put a price on the toll this will take.

So, in addition to how you feel about this tragedy, how are you dealing with it? Do you find comfort in knowing as much as possible or do you find it easier to ignore the problem? Or do you think it's just not that big of a deal, we'll get it cleaned up and life will go on as usual?

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thermometer lady takes off a tad more

It's been a while since the thermometer lady , aka Daisy Dukes, has had anything new going on. Well, we had a day of good weather and, even though I doubt it got as hot as thermometer lady is claiming it got, it did give her an opportunity to strip off a few more items from her recommended outfit of the day. I think she's overestimating the temperature just so she can show off her new boobs and recent bikini waxing.

Who knew that I should have been dining outside in a bikini? And no shoes? I'm not sure how much more she'll be taking off as the weather gets hotter, but make no mistake, I'll let you know!

For a recap, here's what she wears when it's:

71 degrees
69 degrees
54 degrees

Since I always get asked, if you are interested in getting your very own personal hootchie, you can buy her at Amazon. She is a model from the La Crosse Technology Wireless Weather Station Agency.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spices as medicine

I've been having more migraines than usual lately, so my mom brought over an article from an AARP Magazine that mentioned the effects of ginger on migraines. The article also mentioned the research behind a few spices that improved brain health and I wanted to share it with you guys. Plus, I'm throwing in some other health benefits found for each of these as well.

Even though I highly value western medicine, I also believe there are a lot of curative properties in food and spices so, when there is the opportunity to explore using edibles rather than synthetic chemicals with side-effects (known and unknown), I'll stick to the food-based ones thankyouverymuch. Plus, the environmental impact of growing ginger, garlic and the like is minimal in comparison to manufacturing pharmaceuticals and dealing with the health impacts of drug side-effects.

Ginger
Studies done at the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Missouri have shown that more than 80% of migraine prone patients with mild headaches who were treated with a combo of ginger and the herb feverfew managed to ward off their migraines. After two hours of taking the herbs, 48% were pain free and for another 34%, the pain stayed mild.

Ginger doesn't just help fight migraines, motion sickness, morning sickness, nausea and heartburn, it also does a number on cancer cells. A study done at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found that ginger powder induces cell death in all ovarian cancer cells. A different study also has found that ginger may slow the growth of colorectal cancer cells.

Saffron
If you are feeling depressed over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, you might want to think about saffron instead of a pharmaceutical anti-depressant. In 2007, University of Tehran researchers discovered that a dose of saffron works as well as Prozac in treating mild to moderate depression. It was found that 30 mg of saffron per day was just as effective in treating depression as taking 20 mg of Prozac.

Research has also indicated that saffron may inhibit cancer formation and shrink existing tumours while enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Other studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of saffron may help prevent atherosclerosis.[source]

Turmeric
Did you know that the rate of Alzheimer's disease in India is 1/4 the U.S. rate? Researchers at UCLA think they know why. They did a study in mice that showed that curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric and gives curry that distinctive yellow color, broke up brain plaques of amyloid beta. Amyloid beta is the abnormal protein buildup that is significant in Alzheimer's patients.

Adding more turmeric to your diet might help stave off Alzheimer's in the future. If you are not too worried about dementia, you might be interested that the spice is also used as a treatment for arthritis and has been shown to be effective in preventing some kinds of cancers and killing cancer cells in some studies.

Garlic
Garlic has long been known for its many benefits, but it may also be helpful in fighting brain cancer. A 2007 study in the journal Cancer cited that garlic compounds eliminated brain cancer cells. The organo-sulfur compounds that are found in garlic have been identified as effective against glioblastoma, a brain cancer that generally delivers a death sentence with it.

To take advantage of any potential anti-cancer benefits from garlic, researchers suggested that you cut and peel a piece of fresh garlic and let it sit for fifteen minutes before eating or cooking it. This time allows for the release of an enzyme (allinase) that produces the anti-cancer compounds.

If you are interested in pursuing the health benefits of these, but don't like the flavors, you might want to look into the supplements that are on the market, but be careful of too many false claims and look for brands that are well known and trusted. You don't want to end up with a capsule full of filler.

Photo by istockphoto.com/artlinegraphics

Seattle hoop making party

I know a bunch of you are on Facebook where I've announced this a few times, but I wanted to let the rest of you know that I'll be hosting a hoop making party sometime in the next couple of weekends and wanted to find out who all is interested in joining us.

I've been going hoopdancing crazy and am enjoying the challenge and exercise that spinning a simple hoop both on and off the body can entail. Unfortunately, those cheap hoops you get from the toy store don't work well for the adult body - you really need a custom sized hoop. They are easy to make yourself, which is a good thing, since otherwise you have to order them online.

If you live in the Seattle/Puget Sound area and are interested in making your own hoop, I am hosting a hoop making party since I have all the tools and whatnot. I'll be asking for a $10 donation to cover the cost of supplies and most likely my husband will be using this opportunity to make something delectable. So far, I have about 6 people interested but if I get a bunch more reponses, I'll most likely hold a couple sessions. I'm thinking of holding the first session the weekend of the 22nd-23rd of May.

Also, if you are new to hooping and if the weather is clear, I can show you some basic techniques after we finish making them.

Anyway, let me know if you are interested by either leaving your name in the comments or sending me an email at crunchychickenblog@gmail.com.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Green Mother's Day gifts for the old lady

I've been seeing posts touting good suggestions for green gifts to give your mom for Mother's Day that have less of an environmental impact than traditional gifts. Unfortunately, most, if not all of the suggestions, just don't satisfy if your mother is an elderly curmudgeon.

I can just hear the complaints about the très chic Zulugrass jewelry and those sassy organic ballet flats. "How am I supposed to fit these things over my bunions? Plus, they don't have enough arch support. Are you trying to make me fall and break my hip again?" And, "You know I can't clasp this bracelet by myself!"

A weekend away at an organic spa won't fly with the old lady if she prefers to spend her days staring out the window, keeping an eye on the neighbors. For many, gift giving is wrought with insinuations and full of complaint landmines waiting to explode.

So, what do you get the crabby old lady who has everything? Since she's going to yell at you either way, you might as well get her something practical. And green. Here are my top five green gifts for the cranky old mom:

1. Homemade Ben-Gay: Soothe those arthritic hands with this homemade joint and muscle pain relief ointment made out of castor oil and chili oil. Mix 1 part chili oil to 10 parts castor oil. If she suffers from constipation, she can take a swig of it while she's at it. Just make sure you give it to her in an easy to open container. And leave a clear path to the toilet.

2. Nighttime organic cloth diapers: Speaking of toilet, don't stock up on synthetic, plastic lined adult diapers for Mom. Instead, spring for a set of comfy organic cotton cloth diapers for those nighttime accidents that leave both Mom and Dad grumpy the next day.

3. Give the gift of pearly whites: Instead of letting your mother soak her chompers in traditional denture cleaners, give her a gift basket filled with natural denture cleaners: vinegar and baking soda. The vinegar is an effective killer of microorganisms and helps to soften plaque. The baking soda gives it that Efferdent appeal. Throw some peppermint oil into the mix to mask the vinegar smell and taste. Or not. The pucker might suit her personality better.

4. Sustainable Cane: Skip the plastic cane and swap out her drugstore stylin' for a gangsta cane made out of reclaimed wood or a product that is Forest Stewardship Council approved. Just stay out of cane length's reach when she spies that Snoop Dogg handle bling made out of recycled glass.

5. Organic granny panties: Nothing screams GILF like a good, old-fashioned pair of granny panties. But, mom's sensitive old lady parts shouldn't be exposed to the likes of Lycra and other unbreathable fabrics. A nice set of breathable, organic cotton granties might just cheer her up and improve her mood. Throw in a crotchless pair and Dad just might get lucky for Mother's Day, too.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pee powered battery available

Treehugger recently reported that there is a battery that runs on urine and has the ability to create enough of a charge to power a laptop for over four hours.

Designed by a South Korean company, the MetalCell, which also runs on salt water, uses magnesium plates which react with sodium to generate a small amount of electricity.

This portable device is designed primarily for military use or when electricity is in short supply. The standard MetalCell model costs about $200.

So, if solar or wind isn't a viable option and you need a portable battery, you might want to keep an eye out for this. I say using it power my laptop would help mitigate the global impact of all this blogging and Facebooking.

Would you be willing to use your pee to power your iPad, phone or laptop?

LinkWithin