Happy Birthday Carlos!

Carlos had a birthday this weekend!  I am sure he wouldn’t mind if I told you his age.  He’s 3 x 4 x 2 x 2 -8!
He’s wearing one of his gifts given to him by his ever so loving mom and dad. This really cool sweater/shirt is made by Patagonia.  We have a Patagonia store downtown, and to tell you the truth I haven’t been in there in quite some time!

Their cool tag resembles the region in South America.  Not sure if I’ll ever make it down there in this lifetime.  Maybe when I am reincarnated into a Red Wiggler, I’ll have the chance?!  That’s silly and doubt that’ll happen.

Here’s the other tag which was attached to the shirt.  Patagonia created the Common Threads Recycling Program.  The tag reads “At Patagonia, we take back worn products and and recycle them into new products via our Common Threads Recycling Programs.”   Click here for the link to their really cool site which gives way more info than I can type at the moment!

Safeway’s Bright Green Products

I am often on the hunt for environmentally friendly household products.  If you ever saw me, you’d laugh because I spend a good 5 minutes scouring the shelves and reading the labels.  Ingredients and PRICE have a lot to do with what I buy.  I love the environment, but I love my cash, too.

These are Safeway’s EcoFriendly products from their Bight Green line.  On the left is TP and the right is a glass and surface cleaner.

Here’s my review:

TP:  I don’t mind the TP, but my kids do!  They think it is tooo rough, especially on their nose.  I will buy this product for my bathroom and look for a new recycled TP for the kids.  Any suggestions????

Glass and Surface Cleaner:  This product is awesome, especially on stainless steel appliances.  It doesn’t leave streak marks like my other EcoFriendly products.  I will buy this product again!

Check out their website for a detailed list of their ingredients and other products!

Dream job! One of many in my mind, but this one has captured “the NYC in me!”

I Love NYC!  The energy, the people, the culture, the movement, the history, the noise, the architecture ……amazing!  I grew up on Long Island and as a child would visit the city often.  Our field trips involved train rides to see plays and visit museums.  We didn’t have gadgets to keep us occupied.  We had our friends!  The excitement of the city kept us talking on the outbound ride, and the sheer exhaustion from all the sights and the clickety clack of the train lulled us to sleep on the ride home!  I consider myself lucky to have experienced NYC as a kid and even luckier that I have the opportunity to return every summer.

At least once a week, I visit NYC via the web.  I look at web cams, visit the museums, check out plays, and look for something interesting!  Today while searching, I found the Brooklyn Bridge Park, a park working towards sustainability.  They feed their trees and shrubs organically, and are also working on creating composting areas as the park grows.  I am guessing the green trash can is used for collecting compostable waste, such as banana peels or apple cores.

As they are updating existing structures on the park grounds, they are saving most of the material.  This material is then reused and transformed into another structure.  Maybe it is turned into a park bench where someone can sit for hours admiring the city’s skyline!  I hope to plop my behind on one of those benches and admire the urban environment!

So Brooklyn Bridge Park, if you are looking for a die hard New Yorker and one that loves Red Wigglers, give me a shout on the Worm Hotline.  I’ll recognize the area code, and will answer in a worm beat!

My Vegas souvenirs! One’s environmentally friendly and the other eh…not so much!

Souvenirs, souvenirs, souvenirs!  I always have fun picking out special gifts for my family when I go on vacation.  2 of the 4 gifts are not pictured above. Not that they aren’t worthy of a photo op, but they have nothing to do with the substance of this post. The 2 missing are t-shirts.  Ana was happy to get a Spongebob t-shirt, and Max smiled when he got his red Vegas t-shirt! Max loves red and Ana adores Spongebob.  Who doesn’t love Spongebob?! Anyone?

The other two gifts are on opposite ends of the environmental spectrum.  The mini slot machine/bank is Carlos’s gift which has now turned into a  family gift. This was the best $29 spent.  Yes, I said $29!  I was in a Vegas Haze (lol) and didn’t look at the cost when I was shopping. When the clerk rang up my total, my jaw dropped.  $29 for a bank!?!? That’s crazy, but I was toooo tired to return it or even speak or moan or groan!  My jaw just remained open in shock as my credit card was being swiped!  When I got home and gave Carlos the gift, he put in a quarter, pulled the arm and I was transported back to Vegas!  This One Armed Bandit rang and lit up like it’s big brother! Wooohoo way to go Vegas Gift (trap) Store!  I know this toy will lose it’s attraction as all toys do and will end up in the landfill as another abandoned toy!  But who knows?! I hope to keep it for a long time ….. uh huh, yeah right.

The reusable shopping bag from Envirosax is so cool!  During our day at the Canyon Ranch Spa, we were given a $20 voucher to use at their spa and clothing store.  My girlfriends picked this out for me while I was busy basking in the steam room!  I am not a shopper what so ever and let them use my credit.  They came back with the bag and some lotion.  Unfortunately, I have no idea where I put the lotion (sorry biatches).  In my haste to catch my flight with an hour of “sleep”, I think I left it behind along with my over played Usher cds..boohoo!  (Carlos is happy though).

I am very happy to have packed the shopping bag.  I have many, many reusable shopping bags, but this one is the prettiest and the most functional.  As you can see from the picture, it folds up to the size of a fist and can be placed in a purse.  This is a cool feature because it’ll always be handy when shopping…..Unless you are like me and forget to put it back into your purse when you are finished unpacking your goods! Hey, life happens…..

Reusable shopping bags are awesome.  They are more durable than paper and plastic bags.  You can always sew any rips or tears, but that hasn’t happened to me.  My bags are over 2 years old, and they look as if they are brand new.  They are also washable which is another cool feature!

I am in favor of the ban on plastic bags.  There are many other options.  My girlfriend Kristi is sewing her own reusable shopping bag!  Little a has made her own shopping bag!  All it takes is some durable fabric, needle and thread.  A sewing machine would speed up the process, but if your watching a movie you can always whip one up in less than 2 hours!  Give it a try!

So these two gifts are cool, functional and fun!  I think I’ll have the most expensive reusable shopping bag in Bend and the most expensive, plastic bank too!

One step at a time

I am not a girly, girl for sure.  I have my moments where I dress up and put on some extra make-up, wear some heels and go out on the town.  For the most part though, my daily make-up routine consists of some blush and mascara.  If I am going out to dinner, I may add some lip gloss and a touch of eyeliner and call it good.  Honestly, I don’t know how to wear makeup and frankly I don’t care too much for it!  It takes time and a steady hand to put it on, and it takes a lot more time to get it off.

Oddly though, I love the spa.  At first, I could take it or leave it, but after my facial at Jinsei Spa I crave it often!!!! Jinsei is literally right down the hill and within walking distance. In September, I finally used my facial gift certificate from my super loving Carlos and kids.  They were so awesome and gave me this treat for my birthday in June.  I was holding off until the kids went back to school so I could spend a lot of extra time enjoying the amenities without having to rush to pick them up or drop them off.   I arrived about 30 minutes before my appointment and was escorted to the locker room.  I changed into a super, comfy robe and headed to the steam room.  That was heaven and definitely a mind and skin cleanse. After about 15 min, I drank some delicious cucumber and lemon water in the Relaxation Room while waiting for my facial person to arrive.  The music was calm and the lights were dim.  I was truly relaxed. Summer arrived and we strolled to the facial room.  Boy, when she opened the room, the aroma was delightful. Again, I was in heaven and wondered, “Why don’t I do this more often?…then I answered myself “Cause it costs a lot of $$”

I hopped up on the super, comfy massage table and assumed my position. Summer began by shinning a bright ass light on my face to do her pore examination.  She then asked, “What types of products do you use?”  I started to laugh inside and began my quick internal monolog “Products?! I don’t use products” …..I then told Summer I use Ivory Soap and body lotion.  She took the news really well and schooled me on those products and of course recommended the Arcona line.  Internal monolog…..”yeah, yeah, I am sure this costs a butt load of money.  I am fine with my 99% pure Ivory Soap and Oatmeal lotion”.

But as she started her facial routine, I noticed she was taking some time on my cheeks and schnozzzz.  She told me she was going to do some extractions to unglogg my pores.  Not that I have zits or anything, but I have noticed the pores on my nose were rather large.  As she was squeezing the heck out of my nose and as tears were streaming down my face, she explained what was going on.  Basically, the soap has dried my skin and the lotion has clogged my pores.  She recommended the “Arcona Basic Five for Normal Skin”.  She explained all of the ingredients, but unfortunately there are too many for me to remember so I copied this directly from the website…..

We believe everyone’s skin can and should look beautiful at any age regardless of their history. We believe lasting beauty comes from within and understand that whatever you put on your skin, goes into your body. Therefore, we use only the finest quality, all natural ingredients in products that penetrate deep into the cellular layers of the skin to effect real change, resulting in glowing, healthy skin at any age. We at ARCONA are dedicated to offering the highest quality, most effective skin care for both home and professional use. Enzymatic-based ingredients in ARCONA products include high concentrations of antioxidants, plant lipids and extracts, sea vegetables, essential oils, vitamins and minerals. Our ingredients are processed and products manufactured according to state-of-the-art, chirally correct technology. ARCONA products do not contain petrochemicals, binders or fillers, chemical stabilizers, parabens, sodium lauryl sulphates, perfumes, dyes, or any other caustic, toxic ingredients. There is no scientific evidence that such additives support more than a brief, cosmetic change in the skin, and there is proof that these substances clog the pores and block the restoration of healthy, balanced skin.

After she completed the facial, I got myself dressed and met her in the lobby.  During that time, I debated about the Arcona line…..”should I or shouldn’t I?, yes or no?…is it worth $80?..is my skin worth $80? Yes it is!”  So I decided to go for it!   Well now after using this product for 4 months, I am hooked!  I love the aroma, the routine and the results.  My skin does look clearer and my pores less clogged!  I am happy to recommend this product because there are no parabens, dyes, or perfumes. I am trying to embrace a more natural lifestyle with my household and food products.  I have also embraced the fact that I am somewhat of a girly, girly when it comes to my facial cleansers.  I am willing to spend the time on the routine to make my skin smoother and my pores less clogged.

What are VOCs?

Little a loves to paint, sew, draw, cut, glue, run, skip, hop, sing, skate, snowboard, twirl, run, skip, hop, paint, sew, paint, run, bike, and paint some more.  She could possibly do all of these activities in one day.  No joke, this kid is on fire every single day of her life.  She has more energy in that little body than….I will sound a bit cliche here…but more than the Energizer Bunny!  So for a while now she has asked to paint her room.  We finally dove into the project a week ago and are still doing some minor touch ups.  We let her have full reign of the colors…not one color but two.  Carlos, the creative one, has a Pantone color book and let Little a flip through to pick her color.  She decided on a very, very bright blue and green!  I kept my mouth SHUT.  They left to get the supplies while I moved the furniture.  I had confidence in her selection because she’s Little a, the mini creative one!

They came home rather quickly with a bunch up supplies.  I realized they went to the local hardware store rather than the mega one.  Carlos was pleased to show me his selection of paint.  Pure Performance by Pittsburgh (Go Steelers…was rooting for the Jets..NY baby…but went to Penn State so will support the Steelers) Paints is in their line of Ecological Solutions.  I was happy to see this because painting stinks, and sometimes the smell gives me a terrible headache.  As you can see on the can, there are Zero Vocs and minimal odor.  So off they went to tackle the room.  Little a was so excited she could barely talk.  Carlos told me later, while painting she said, “Dad, I am so happy to have you!”  Dang that little girl can grab your heart and squeeze it!

Max and I worked on the closet doors in the garage (even those were painted!)  While in the garage, we listened to some music and chatted about Science and paint and video games and Science and molecules and video games and the song on the radio and video games.  Max loves video games!! I love Max!

The room wasn’t completed that night so Ana got to sleep on the camping mattress on the floor in our bedroom.  She was cool with that!  The next day while the kids were at school, Carlos and I finished the room!  It looks cool!  The walls are blue and there are green shapes on one wall…..pictures to follow.  I actually love it sooooo much!

So…..What are VOCs and what’s the deal?  VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds!  Yuck that sounds awful.  I did some research and this is taken directly from the EPA’s website…

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors.  VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

The website lists the side effects in more detail but basically it effects your eyes, nose and throat and can make you dizzy.  Check out the site.

Some paints are plant based and all natural.  I’m not completely sure about Pure Performance.  It is made from 100% Acrylic Latex.  Doing the research on line, a lot of the sites mention the resin within the latex could be plant based and some say they are synthetic so I am still researching this fact…..very vague.  I would highly recommend this paint not only for the low odor and no VOCs, but for it’s high quality!  It covers well and cleans up without a problem.