Monday, January 11, 2010

Things I Will Start Doing to Save the Planet: Recycle All Paper and Cardboard

OK, if I am going to list the things I won't do to save the earth, I figure I should actually make some changes that would help. So my first change is that I will start recycling all the carboard and paper that passes through my home.

You may be wondering why I haven't been doing that already. Good question. My reason is pure laziness. Though maybe a bit lazy than you may be assuming.

My apartment complex does not have decent recycling facilities. I have seen paper out there blowing away free in the wind. Not good. So it became easier to just throw it all in the dumper where it was safer to stay then to risk it blowing away in our horribly inadequate recycling bins.
Now I could fight an unwinnable war with the management of this building, but I like my sanity. Trust me, I KNOW it is unwinnable.

Instead I plan to collect my paper recyclables and drop them off on my parent's lawn the night before pick up day. Our recycling is paid through our taxes, so I won't be incurring any extra charges for my parents.

So, this will take a bit of extra effort on my part, but is completely doable.

As a side note, my parents only live about 1/2 mile away so the drive over there won't negate too much the benefit of recycling.

NOTE (January 26, 2010):

I have been collecting all cardboard and paper for 2 weeks now and it has it's ups and downs. My main problem is I don't have a system of designated containers to collect the stuff. For the first week it spilled over my kitchen table. Now I have it collecting in a cardboard box I can recycle as well. But I need a system. PLEASE tell me about your system in the comments section. I need ideas! The up side is that I rarely have to take out my garbage. Without all that paper and cardboard boxes clogging up my garbage bins, I have very little actual garbage. Now if only I can come up with a sanitary way to compost in an apartment with no patio!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What I Won't Do To Save The Planet #2: Get Rid of My Car

The second thing I won't do to save the planet is give up my car. I know this is a very controversial topic, but I live in the middle of NOWHERE. Really, I do. Statistically there are more cows in our county than people.

I do carpool as much as possible and I actually drive very little since I currently work at home. Unfortunately most of the places I have to drive are not close. I drive an average of 60 miles a trip. But I only do that 1-2 times a week. So I probably drive less than most people.

If I didn't have a car, I couldn't go anywhere as there is no public transport.

I have a Toyota Corolla, a very efficient car and I take good care of it. I plan to buy a hybrid (or something better, if there is something) next time.

I do all I can to make my car efficient and environmentally friendly. But no, I won't get rid of it, even to save the planet.

Feeling Human Again

Well, I think I am almost 100% better. Well, about 75% at least. I had a sinus infection and a left ear infection. I healed myself in about 2 weeks without oral antibiotics. I did take ear drop antibiotics, though. Ear infections shouldn't be screwed around with. I once waited to use western medicine and I was rewarded with some of the worse pain I have ever experienced and I blew an ear drum, which thankfully healed and my hearing was fine. But I didn't want to risk it again.

I did quarantine myself as much as possible. Which was easy since I live alone and work at home. When you take oral antibiotics you "sterilize" your body systemically and are safer to be around others. When healing naturally, you still have plenty of germs to spread around, so be careful.

So, what methods did I use that don't require a doctor's visit?

1.) Drink plenty of hot liquids. Water, tea, fruit juice, fruit drinks, warm gelatin or broth based soups. Hot liquids help thin mucous secretions and drain mucous secretions faster. Cold liquids like iced carbonated beverages slow the draining of mucous secretions. Chicken noodle soup has been shown to be better at thinning and draining mucous secretions. Remember to hold your head over hot, steaming liquids while you drink. (Quoted from Ask The Dietician)

2.) Eat/drink good, healthy foods with plenty of vitamins, esp. Vit C. (such as oranges, fruit juices, chicken soup, green tea, herbal tea, mangoes, tomatoes, broccoli, whole grain bread, miso broth, jello made with fruit juices instead of water, etc.) You will want to consume as many liquids as possible to keep your mucous thin.

3.) Only eat or drink what your tummy can tolerate if it is upset. If you are nauseous, chew candied ginger (which you can make yourself... see below) or drink ginger tea (commercial or just a fresh hunk of ginger with honey and lemon in hot water.) Cola syrup (available over-the-counter) also works well. Just a plain antacid may work as well.

4.) Make/use a heating pack to hold on a painful ear, a swollen gland, or a sore nose.

5.) Make/buy saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages hydrated and to prevent bloody noses. (To make saline: boil 1 cup of tap water. Add 1/4 teaspoon to the water. Let cool.)

6.) Take an over-the-counter allergy pill daily
(such as Claratin. Benedryl will also work but will make you sleepy.)

7.) Sleep as much as possible.

8.) Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap to prevent the spread of the cold virus or upper respiratory infections. Use the paper towels you dry your hands with to turn off the water faucet and open the door to bathrooms. Research has shown that aerosol (sneezing), direct hand-to-hand contact, door handles, pens, light switches, TV remote controls, faucets, telephones and toys are mostly responsible for increasing exposure to the cold rhinovirus for up to 18 hours at room temperature after a person with a cold has touched them. Touching your eyes or nose after touching an infected surface will increase the likelihood of your getting a cold. Use of alcohol hand sanitizers is effective at reducing exposure to the cold virus during the cold season. Keep your distance from people with a cold. (Quoted from Ask The Dietician)

9.) Wash all eating or drinking utensils in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher after each use. Use glasses and silverware once then wash to limit the spread of the virus. Remember to wash the bathroom drinking cup too. If you are too sick to wash dishes, use disposable dishes, cups and silverware. (Quoted from Ask The Dietician)

10.) Sneeze into your sleeve rather than a disposable tissue or handkerchief to limit the spread of the cold virus. (Quoted from Ask The Dietician)

11.) Take ibuprofen every 4-6 hours to reduce the inflammation in your nasal passages and throat.

12.) Take Excedrin Sinus Headache to help with sinus pain.

13.) Suck cough drops or hand candy to soothe a sore throat or a cough. Sugar-free is the best as sugar has been proven to make a cough worse.

14.) If you develop a fever and/or body aches, see a doctor. You may have the flu.

ADDITION: It always seems that I forget something... Anyway, three more ways I got healthy.

15.) Eat raw garlic. It is hard to do and even a bit traumatic, but it works. Garlic has been proven to be anti-viral and eating it raw can kill those viruses growing in your throat. If you chicken out, you can always take garlic pills though they aren't as potent.

16.) Make sure you are taking a multi-vitamin and Vitamin C. When I am sick I like to take 2000 milligrams of Vit C spread out over the day. Don't worry, you can't take too much if you only take it for a short period of time. Your body just excretes the excess in your urine. But over the long-run you shouldn't take more than 500 milligrams/day. Having the proper vitamins and minerals when sick will strengthen your immune system and help make up for nutrients you are missing by having a poor diet when sick.

17.) Eat cheese. Specifically Camembert or Brie. Their rinds are sprayed with penicillium mold (the mold from which the antibiotic penicillin is derived) which is still alive when you eat it. Of course, you must eat the white rind to get the benefit. Actually, I can't find any proof that there is any benefit. But I am always looking for an excuse to eat good cheese!

NOTE: Antibiotics don't work for viruses (such as a cold or flu). They should be used for bacterial infections only. Do not use antibiotics you have left over. All the pills prescribed should be taken, so you shouldn't have any left over. They also do not keep well and you may be taking them for the wrong thing.

Candied Ginger
1 large hunk of fresh ginger
Peel all the skin off the ginger.
Slice the ginger into small bite-sized pieces.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and gently simmer the ginger pieces in it until they are tender (about 30 minutes.)
Drain off the water.
Measure the cooked ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar.
In the same saucepan, add the ginger and sugar with 1-2 Tablespoons of water.
Boil the mixture until the ginger turns translucent and the liquid is almost evaporated.
Reduce the heat and cook until the liquid is almost gone.
Toss the ginger pieces in sugar.
Lay them out on a plate and let them dry.
They keep indefinitely.

Some people have wondered why I would want to go through this instead of just going to the doctor. I have been thinking that over. What did I gain by avoiding western medicine (for the most part?)

+ I avoided the 20 minute one-way drive to the doctor. Not a long trip, but who has extra gas these days?

- I didn't save any money skipping the doctor or by not getting any meds because I have good insurance and neither would have cost me anything. Well, maybe a $1.10 co-pay for meds. But I spent $7 for the over-the-counter allergy medicine, so I lost money there. I also bought cough drops, but I would have bought them either way.

+ I helped save the environment from the excesses of medical and pharmaceutical waste. I also saved it from the antibiotics I would have passed into our sewer system.

- I felt sick for much longer I probably would have on meds. Though I may have also had a viral infection and antibiotics wouldn't have helped that.

+ I am secure in the knowledge that if the Apocalypse occurs I will be able to heal from simple infections on my own.

+ I have a better understanding of my body and my illness. Instead of just throwing meds at my sickness, I listened to my body and figured out it's needs.

Would I do it again? Probably.


NOTE: My mother, who has her B.S. R.N. and is the head of student health at a private boarding school, looked over my list for accuracy and officially added her stamp of approval.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What I Won't Do To Save the Planet #1

As I mentioned, I just finished the book Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson. I was quite moved by it. She calls herself an eco-cynic, enjoys alcohol with gusto and picks on hippies quite liberally. Just my kind of eco-book.

But going through her list of 366 eco-changes she made for a (leap) year made me realize that there are things I would never change, even for the planet and the future of man-kind. So I thought I would start sharing them here. Of course, I will be sharing the changes I do and will make, but this is more fun, isn't it?

So first change I would never make even for the health of all creation? Sleeping Naked. Never, ever. I love comfy pajamas and have a neurotic fear of being found spread-eagle across my bed, naked. So the earth will just have to put up with my extra laundry and need of more resources to make cloth, etc.

On the green side, I wear my PJ's more than once before washing and I wear clothes I have recycled from my daytime wardrobe. Old turtlenecks and t-shirts that are too raggy to wear in public or have an irremovable stain work great for sleeping. Of course, these days I am sleeping alone and don't care how attractive my nightwear is.

Oh, If you are wondering, I am feeling better though I still can't really hear out my left ear. I'll post my natural remedies soon.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Change Isn't All Bad

I just finished the book "Sleeping Naked is Green", which is based on and by the creator of the blog, Green as a Thistle. It was quite inspiring, both in an environmental way and a blogging way. Because of it, I have decided to implement more green ways into my life and I have decided to blog more.

I do lots of stuff that I would find interesting if I found it on another blog. So I have decided to expand this blog beyond it's original intent. I plan to blog about the green changes I will be making, the crafts I do besides beading, general inventiveness that needs to be shared, as well as more personal stuff such as my journey learning to speak Mandarin, my hobby of drinking beer, and anything else I need to get out of my head.

As of right now, I am sick. I believe I have a sinus infection and a left ear infection. I am trying to combat these the greenest and most natural ways I can (though this ear infection may drive me to the doctor in the end.) As it is taking all my energy to write this much, I will post again soon about how I am avoiding the doctor and meds. And hopefully by then I will have raw data on how well these methods worked.

One thing I can post is my down-and-dirty ear warmer. Heat on an infected ear helps tremendously, but though I have been meaning to make some homemade warmers, I haven't gotten to them with the bustle of Christmas. Then this evening I was practically crying from the ache on the left half of my head. I was desperate. Ingenuity kicked in and here is what I created. It isn't pretty, but it works wonderfully!

(Sorry about the horrible photo. I recently got a new computer (really I just inherited my late-husband's) and lost my normal photo-editing software. My friend Pat keeps telling me Photoshop is wonderful, but I have yet to see anything that makes me believe it. Anyway, I feel too horrible to keep screwing with it.)

Take a handkerchief, thin cloth napkin, thin washcloth, or other piece of relatively thin fabric. Lay it across the opening of a bowl (to keep the rice from going everywhere). Measure in 2/3 cups (or so) of rice. Gather up all the sides and corners of the fabric. Using a hairband WITHOUT METAL ON IT (I guess you can use a latex rubber band, though it won't stand up to microwaving well. Sorry I can't test it as I am allergic to latex), tightly wind the band to close the opening, gathering it into a little bag. Leave some room in the bag for the rice to move so you can smoosh it against you. Microwave it for 1 minute. Trust me, that will make it hot enough. All done!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Summer's Over

This year, I spent my summer weekends driving 2 hours North to the tourist-town of Sturgeon Bay in Door County, Wisconsin. My good friend Dave invited me up to sell my jewelry at the local Farmer's/Craft Market on Saturday mornings. He was selling his handmade upcycled garden ornaments and home grown produce and thought I could make some money there as well sharing a booth with him. I did make a bit, but mostly just enough to cover my expenses. Even with my Corolla, gas isn't cheap! But I had a great time and am sorry it is over.

Here is Dave standing behind our table. These pictures are from my first time there. My displays improved over the summer.

The plates are Dave's upcycled garden ornaments. He takes old dinnerware and glues them to copper fittings which fit onto recycled copper pipes. They are staked into the garden. Some are purely decorative. You can see some he adds wording to. Others are made from pitchers or bowls and can be used to feed or water the birds.

Here I used my business cards to hold pairs of earrings or hairclips. Later I started using professional earring cards and a homemade display rack. The plastic beaded bracelets were to attract the kids. It worked well. At 2 for a dollar, I sold quite a few.

Here you can see the button hairclips I was selling. I will be posting a tutorial here on how to make them, so gather those buttons!

This was an early morning sky on my drive North. I had to get up at 4 am to reach the market in time. That is something I WON'T miss!

Here is Dave and his father, Ken, standing in front of Ken's Granery Antique Shop. This farm has been in Dave's family for generations. At one time is was both a working dairy farm and an apple orchard.

The market actually goes until the end of October, but I cannot make the remaining ones. So now I am turning my attention back to my online sales as well as the Christmas gifts I need to get started on. Summer squash has made way for winter squash. The last of the fresh sunflowers are currently dying in my favorite vase. Autumn is here, and if last weekend is any indication when we got snowed on at the market, Winter will be here before we know it. Though I was busier than usual with the trips up North and often even staying until Sunday evening, I feel that for the first time in years I have actually experienced Summer. The long drives along Lake Michigan, the days standing in the sun chatting with people, the long walks on Dave's property, harvesting in Dave's garden, the time picking pebbles to make jewelry from on the beach. For once I was a part of the season instead of my usual hiding indoors at my workbench. I have always assumed I would hate person-to-person selling. I am not good with people. I get nervous and jittery. But I learned something. I can learn to relax and just chat with people. PEOPLE, not customers. I know it sounds sappy, but this Summer I really connected with the Earth and with other people, ones both close to me as well as strangers. I feel enriched for that. I honestly can't wait until Spring.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Well, It's Been Awhile

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted. Much has gone on, not all of it relevant to this blog. But one thing that has happened is that I have decided to go back to school. I want to become a Certified Bench Jeweler. That means I would work more with metals from now on and would probably get a job doing repairs and custom work for a jewelry store. I am hoping to go in the fall, but funding is still very much up in the air so we shall see.

I have been doing a lot of metalwork, including trying to learn to solder well. I have made new work in that area. Not all of it good. But I am coming along.

I have posted new Etsy auctions and will be posting more over the coming weeks. Fun stuff, not necessarily bead related. Items such as vintage button hair clips, custom made monogrammed handkerchiefs, buttons made from recycled bottle caps (see pics following.) Coming up are really cool pendants made from recycled bottle caps, sterling silver earrings of my own design, my beading patterns including new ones, kits to bead tiny beaded dolls (see following pics), and stuff from a general destashing of my studio.
Next time I plan on having a new free pattern for you as well. So keep watch!

Currently for Sale:
To purchase these items (and more!) go to

Custom made monogrammed handkerchiefs. You get 5 hand embroidered cotton hankies in your choice of colours and styles.

This is how your custom made monogrammed handkerchiefs are delivered to you.

Here is a dyed shell button hair clip. Perfect for summer!
This is a vintage button hair clip. Very stylish!

An example of a metal vintage button hair clip being worn.

Five buttons made from recycled bottle caps. Great for the environment, fun for you! Perfect for a funky clothing addition, wacky scrapbook embellishment, or whatever else you can think of! Other beers available. These have great colours and fabulous artwork.

Coming Attractions:

This is a kit for a mini-beaded doll that is a bug. In the kit you get everything you need to make one except needle, thread, and scissors. They are easy and lots of fun! Various colours will be offered. Don't you just adore those googly eyes?
Here is another mini-beaded doll kit in the shape of a star!

This is the original mini-beaded doll kit. Various colours available and I even have tiny cat faces if you like!

Past Work:

Just for fun I thought you'd like to see the final version of the beret and neck warmer I made my Mom for Christmas. I used Lion Brand Homespun yarn in Antique. I wove in a matching cotton ribbon on the beret and used vintage buttons on the neck warmer.