Friday, September 23, 2011

GreenPan Frying Pan Giveaway (9/28) [Giveaway]

Check out the giveaway for a non-toxic frying pan at Yours To Win.  You can win an 8" Commercial Frying Pan with the following features:

  • PTFE-free and contains no silicone-oil
  • PFOA-free
  • no toxic fumes, even when overheated
  • 60% less CO2-emission during application of Thermolon non-stick coating than PTFE-containing cookware

Ends 9/28

My New Toy - Coffee Press [Review]

I finally bough a coffee press!  I found a Palm Restaurant Coffee Press at Marshall's.  I made my first batch of coffee this morning and I am loving the easy process of pressing coffee.

[Review] The Palm Restaurant Coffee Press features double-wall glass exterior, a glass handle, and a removable rubber base.  The double-wall glass keeps the water hot longer and the rubber base prevents the press from sliding around on the table.  My only concern is the thin glass handle, which I could see snapping off if I hit it against something.

The coffee press holds 3 cups of coffee - three small cups of coffee.  Think European, not American sizes.  The size is perfect for when I'm working from home and do not want to turn on the 12-cup coffee maker.

The plunger design brews coffee to enjoy immediately, usually within 10 minutes, so you should buy a pot to suit your requirements.  Since this is a not a coffee maker with a heated bottom, the coffee will become cold if you make more than you will drink.

The process is easy.  Put the coffee in the bottom, pour hot water on top, let it sit for 5-10 minutes depending on your preferred strength, and then push down the plunger to "press" the ground to the bottom.  I like my coffee stronger, so I let the coffee "brew" for about 10 minutes.

Green Note: The only energy expended on this process is the energy used to heat the water in the tea kettle.  Other green aspects are using glass, a reusable container, no coffee filters, and not keeping the coffee pot on for 2 hours.

Emergency Prep: I am always thinking of alternate ways of approach my daily routines and chores without the use of electricity.  You never know when the power is going to go off.  I cannot function without coffee!  The coffee press is going to be more useful than a coffee maker, especially if I have some way to heat water (gas grill, InstaFire, coals, etc.)

Disclosure: I purchased this product on my own. This review is not sponsored by any company or individual other than me. This product review is based on my own personal experiences with this item and is completely honest and objective.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mommy Living the Life of Riley - Say NO to Plastic Bags

Today, I bringing you my post at a wonderful blog that I follow and just started writing for - Mommy Living the Life of Riley.  I am writing about eco-friendly and green living.

Are you buried in plastic grocery bags? Are the bags overflowing out of a container that is supposed to keep them organized? Or, do you stuff one thousand bags into another plastic Kroger bag until it bursts?

This was my life for a long time. Half of the area under our sink was full of plastic bags. When I opened the door, the bags would fall out. I did not know what to do with them! Throw them away? No, that is wasteful! Recycle them? I never remembered to take them to the Kroger recycle bins. The pile just kept growing!

Read more at:

Dishwasher Problems - Potential Solution

I am still looking for a solution to the cloudiness on my dishes and glasses that have been through the dishwasher cycle.  I am a fan of Tropical Traditions products.  I was excited to find out they have a dishwashing powder and that Roxanna Jolly raved about its effectiveness.  I hope I win!

Ends 9/24

Playing Outdoors with my Family

Even though the warm weather of the summer is over, we can now enjoy the cooler weather that is perfect for outdoor activities.  Playing outdoors with my family not only includes the fun activities, but also exercises such as hiking, running, and cycling.  I would like to share some of the outside activities that we enjoy with our immediate and extended family.

One of our favorite activities as a family (and as an extended family) is to travel down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a long weekend.  We usually rent a chalet close to the Smoky Mountains National Park. The best part of the trip is all of the hiking trails that are available, for free!  When we travel with our 3 year old twin nieces, we usually pick out the easier trails like the short distance trails and the paved trails.  The girls really enjoy being outside because they can pick up leaves and sticks.  This is also a great learning opportunity.  What better way to discover nature than in a forest full of sticks!

When we babysit our nieces, we love playing with them in the back yard.  We usually go around the yard and look at all of the plants.  We touch and feel the plants to understand the differences.  Their favorite plant is lamb's ear because it is so soft.  One time, we picked up walnuts in our back yard and hit them with a hammer to see what was inside.  Even though the girls are allergic to nuts, they still enjoyed sitting on the porch and hitting nuts with a hammer.

My husband and I usually enjoy running and cycling outside.  We really enjoy seeing the beauty of leaves turning colors this time of the year.  If you do not particularly enjoy running and cycling, then you can always go on a nice walk after dinner.  Getting outside and enjoying nature, whether you are walking around in your backyard, or getting dirty on the grass with your kids is the best way to enjoy this time of the year.

>> What do you enjoy about this time of the year?  Do you play outside more because of the cooler weather?  If so, then take the pledge at Clorox2 Play 2Day Pledge hub,  At this website, you can learn more about the healthy benefits of playing outside with your kids.  You can also learn how to get those grass stains out of the clothes!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Clorox2® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Old Family Recipe for Pickled Cabbage [Cooking]

As I'm sitting here typing on my laptop, I smell the cabbage fermenting away in the opened jars sitting on the dining room table.  I see the bubbles coming to the surface, indicative of the fermentation process occuring within each jar.  The light green color of the cabbage, mixed with the orange color of the shredded carrots, looks so appetizing.  Only a few more days until I can enjoy this home made treat.

Sauerkraut is a term that is popular in Cincinnati, a city known for its big German heritage.  Sauerkraut directly translates to pickled cabbage.  Here is what Wikipedia says:

 is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc,Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus.[1][2] It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.

I never liked Sauerkraut.  The only pickled cabbage I ever eat is my dad's.  My great grandma taught him how to make pickled cabbage, but he hadn't made it for 15 years. That's a long time!  I called my dad a few days before the weekend we would be visiting and told him that I wanted to learn how to make pickled cabbage.

We spent 1.5 hours cutting up 5 heads of cabbage, shredding 2 pounds of carrots, salting and massaging the mixture, and stuffing it into jars.  I loved that we were able to do this together because it allowed for us to bond.  This time gave my dad an opportunity to pass down an old family recipe.

One head of cabbage and 2 regular per 21 oz jar.
Canning & Pickling Salt.

  1. Remove the core.  Chop cabbage into very fine, long pieces.
  2. Clean and shred carrots.  
  3. Add carrots and cabbage to the bowl and mix.
  4. Add two pinches of salt (just a little more than you would put for a salad).  
  5. Massage the cabbage and carrots, squeezing and rubbing it together.
  6. Taste cabbage for saltiness (you will feel  the saltiness on the top of your mouth).  If not salty enough, add a small pinch of salt.  If too salty, add more cabbage/carrots and massage again.
  7. Put cabbage into container of choice, glass jar, or enameled bucket with lid.
  8. After one or two handfuls, push down tightly to pack the cabbage in (can use fist). Cabbage will begin to give off liquid.
  9. Leave one or two inches of room at the top.  The fermentation process will give off liquid and gases, which both need room.
Leave jars open for 3 days at room temperature. Put dish underneath for any dripping.

After three days, try cabbage for acidity. If ready, then put the lid on and store in the fridge.  Can also store outside if cold weather (temperature colder than in the fridge).

Next Recipe to Try
: Grandfather's (maternal) pickled cucumbers.

>> Have you ever pickled or fermented anything yourself?  Have you ever passed down any old family recipes?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cloudy Film on Dishes from Dishwasher

Background:  I used Cascade powder for a long time.  For the first year and a half of living in our house with our new dishwasher, I used Cascade powder.  When I began switching to less toxic cleaning products, I bought Whole Foods 365 Brand Automatic Dishwashing Detergent, Citrus scent. The dishes were clean as always.  I was happy that my green dishwashing detergent was working!

Potential Root Cause:
  I decided to use a few sample packs of Cascade gel packs that I had to save the 365 Dishwashing Detergent.  I used about 5 sample packages, about 4 gel packs in each.  Still good!  Dishes were getting clean!  Once I finished the samples, I went back to the 365 Dishwashing Detergent.  That's when the problems started!!!  The dishes were clean, but they had white, cloudy film on them. I began researching why there was cloudy film on my dishes from the dishwasher. My research showed the following potential issues:

1. Hard water - maybe, but the dishes were fine for 1.5 years, until I started switching among detergents/gels.
2. Too much/little detergent.
3. Gels - supposedly, gels are bad for dishwashers.  Using gels and then going back to detergent is awful!
4. Dishes too clean prior to dishwasher - rinsing too much food off and the detergent has nothing to work with.
5. Rinse aid.

Solutions Tried (and mostly failed):

1. Run the dishes through the dishwasher again - dishes still cloudy.
2. Scrub the dishes with baking soda - the cloudiness came off.
3. Scrub the dishes with a wet rag - the cloudiness came off.
4. Use less/more detergent - dishes still cloudy.
5. Add rinse aid (including Ecover Rinse Aid) - dishes still cloudy.
6. Run a light cycle with water - dishes still cloudy.
7. Run a light cycle with 1 cup baking soda, then another light cycle with 1 cup of vinegar poured in the bottom - dishes still cloudy.
8. Remove as much of the current rinse aid (not an easy thing to do) as possible, and add white vinegar to Rinse Aid Container - dishes still cloudy.
9. Run the cloudy dishes through the rinse cycle, once water starts filling, open door and add 1-2 cups of white vinegar, let the cycle continue - the cloudiness came off without me having to scrub each dish.  I ran the rinse cycle again to make sure the vinegar was rinsed, but this is not necessary.  This was the best method to get the cloudiness off in one swoop.  The light cycle finishes with some heat and the dishes mostly get dry (Heated Dry is not used), but the rinse cycle does not.  If I let the glasses dry on their own, there was some spotting, but it was much better than the cloudiness.

Update: Most recent attempt was not as successful as the first.  I am using less dishwashing powder. The initial dishwasher light cycle improved by 50% at the most.  Then I did the rinse with vinegar and got 25% more removal, for a total of no more than 75%.  I am still left with 25% cloudiness.

Solutions To Try:

The root cause still has not been determined as to why there was cloudy film on dishes from the dishwasher.  I did find a way to get the cloudiness off quicker, but running a light cycle, then a rinse cycle is not very economic or green.

Several root causes may be at play here.  I will continue with the following solutions:

1. Run hot water in the sink closest to the dishwasher before starting the dishwasher to clear the pipes of cold water and to ensure the dishwasher gets only hot water. --> Need to retry.
2. Use vinegar as a rinse agent if the cloudiness is caused by hard water (if you place a cup in vinegar for about 5 minutes and the cloudiness is gone after rinsing, then the potential solution is hard water).
3. Switch to a different detergent.
4. Start a light or rinse cycle, wait for the dishwasher to fill with some water, open the door and pour in anywhere from 1 cup to 1 gallon white undiluted vinegar.  Restart the dishwasher, wait 60 seconds, then stop it.  Let the solution sit for several hour or overnight.  Let the cycle finish.  --> In progress.
5. Rinse the dishes less before putting them in the dishwasher. --> Need to retry.

>> What have you found to be the greenest and the most economical way to get your dishes clean?  Do you have any homemade recipes?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

WonderMill Electric Grain Mill (10/1) [Giveaway]

Over the past year, I've been researching Emergency Preparedness and have begun doing a few things here and there.  One aspect of Emergency Preparedness is short and long term food storage.  Storing grains and grinding them when you need to use them is better for Emergency Preparedness and for your health.  Take Time to Smell the Rose is hosting a giveaway for a WonderMill Electric Grain Mill.

Ends 10/1

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