Oh the drama of permanent coffee filters

I was excited when I got the new coffee machine because I was going to use permanent coffee filters instead of paper ones. I had even read the Amazon reviews and found that the Mr. Coffee filter worked well but the Medelco filter had holes too large and made weak coffee. The day after we bought our new cofffee machine I logged on to Amazon to order the Mr. Coffee filter and was horrified to find that it was out of stock! I checked every day for a few days to see if it would be re-stocked but it never was. I also went to local stores, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. but they did not have the size I needed (4-5 cup basket filter).

I looked all over the internet to find other brands of 4 cup permanent coffee filters and finally ordered what appeared to be a no-name filter from some anonymous online store. It took 2 weeks to get here! When it did, it turned out it was a Medelco! Doh!

And the reviewers were right, the Medelco made weak coffee. It was pretty bad. The day I received the Medelco filter in the mail, the Mr. Coffee filter went back in stock on Amazon! Oh, the irony.

Before I was able to go ahead and order the Mr. Coffee filter, we happened to go by Green Living this weekend. There I found canvas coffee filters in many different sizes, so I bought one. So far, I really like it. It makes great coffee. It does say that it lasts only about a year instead of indefinitely. But, I can buy it locally and I think that maybe organic cotton or canvas might take less energy to produce and there fore be more renewable than something bad of plastic and vinyl and metal.

Homemade veggie/produce wash

I have been so impressed by Mel’s success in spending only $200 on food for a whole month, and also convicted that here in our family we have been woefully over our (very generous) budget in the food and eating-out categories. I had to come to the painful realization that all the organic items I’ve been buying have really been taking their toll on the ol’ wallet, especially now with food prices rising.

I discussed with Mel and Mica that it is hard for me to consider the idea of going back to buying conventional vegetables. We all had a good laugh about that, since apparently the term “conventional” vegetables is only something seen at Whole Foods…which is yet another reflection on how much time I spend in specialty organic shops.

I decided that if I need to buy conventional (non-organic) produce, I really want to take extra care to get as much of the pesticide residue off as possible. I have heard of products like Fit produce wash, but I think that spending $7/bottle on this wash would probably cancel out the monetary reasons for buying non-organic produce in the first place. I was pretty sure that I could find a recipe for a homemade wash, and here it is! I really like that there are 2 versions: a soak and a spray.
Last night after we went grocery shopping for the week I filled the sink with the soak version of the recipe and put a bunch of produce in it. I didn’t let it soak for a whole hour, probably more like 30 minutes, but I feel like it probably did help. At least I feel better about it and I am hoping it might even extend the fridge life of some of the produce. If you get a chance to use it, let me know how it goes!

Skin care – giving up and getting help

This year has been The Year of Fixing My Face. When I turned 30, my face freaked out. I had been using Arbonne and loving it, but when I turned 30 everything stopped working suddenly and my face thought I was 13. (Ironically, when I was 13 I actually had great skin.) I decided that I am too old for severe acne, that is what dermatologists and health insurance are for, so I went to one.

I’ve been on the Retin-A, Duac, and an oral antibiotic for a few months and they’ve been working great so far.

Aside for half my face peeling off if I use anything too harsh to wash it.
Yes, that. That can be embarrassing. It has happened twice.

Meanwhile, I have run out of Arbonne and was trying to slowly replace it with other things. This became more complicated with the added risk of half my face peeling off again if I choose something too harsh for the cocktail of things I’m smearing on my face right now.

To add to the confusion, one of my friends is now selling Mary Kay, I am a Sephora Beauty Insider , another friend recommended Bath & Body Works skin care products, and of course there is always the Beauty Hacks section of BlogHer and I am addicted to Glamour and Real Simple magazines. I feel like I need to balance what people say works for them, and what is eco-conscious…
Then there is, again, the possibility of half my face peeling off…AAAAGH!!!

Finally, just as I did when the acne first popped up (no pun intended), I gave up and decided I need to pay someone to just tell me what to do. So I called the dermatologist again and found out that they have skin care consultants at their office I can go see who will help pick out products for me that will work with my meds. I was so excited!!!

I went today and it didn’t take long. She told me that Neutragena and Cetaphil are actually really pretty great for my super-medicated skin and in conjunction with those for moisturizers she gave me a cleanser from SkinCeuticals and a chemical-free 45 SPF day cream from Elta MD.

I know what you are thinking…are these green products?! Do they have parabens? Do they test on animals, are they vegan? As far as I can tell, no parabens. I need to do more research on that. I cannot tell if they test on animals or if they are vegan, even after visiting the web sites. But you know what is interesting is that they are both manufactured here in Dallas. Carrollton and Garland. Does that give me credit on the “buy local” side for local vs. organic? I don’t know. But I do know that something like a 100 gallon jug of Cetaphil was $11 at CVS. Compared to the tiny bottle of Arbonne moisturizer I’d been paying $79 for…sounds pretty great!

Requiem for Arbonne…I will miss the yummy smell, but I also learned from my skin care consultant that if I can smell something I am putting on my face, it is probably not going to react well with my Retin-A. So, here goes. I’ll let you know!

Clorox GreenWorks Bathroom Clearner – thumbs up

Ever since we moved into our house last October, I have had trouble with stubborn hard water stains on the shower stall door in our guest bedroom. Previously, I would have used some Tilex or Lysol products on it, but since I’ve been replacing our cleaning products with greener versions, I haven’t had any soap scum removers in the house. They are full of toxic chemicals that go into our sewage systems and damage our lakes and rivers. For us specifically, we live right next to White Rock Lake, which no one can swim in because it is so polluted by those same checmicals.

For the soap scum, I have tried Thieves Oil, which is my absolute favorite product for cleaning the tile floors, but it is pretty much useless against soap scum, even at 100% concentration.

Iit was time to find a middle of the road between the old faithful non-green products and the green ones that aren’t too effective. After a lot of label reading at various stores, I settled on Clorox’s GreenWorks Natural Bathroom Cleaner.

So far, it works well. It just took a few squirts onto the soap scum and it went away. However, when it comes to the bathtub, it still needs scrubbing help from scouring powder. It’s fine on tile and shower doors, though.

It’s important to note that while it is “natural” and biodegradable, it’s still not as natural as it could be – it does contain some chemicals. However, the other high-powered soap scum removal product I was looking at in the store that claimed to be green also had a warning “use only in a well ventilated area and do not inhale”. WHAT?? How can that be healthy??

A new (greener?) coffee machine

When the old coffee machine died, we did a lot of research on a new machine. We were torn between the pricier, fancier models and the basic kind. In the end, I just couldn’t see spending $150 on a coffee machine. So we ended up with this Black & Decker 5 Cup Programmable machine with a stainless steel carafe.
Here are a few things that I hope will make this a little bit of a greener machine:

  • Permanent filter – I actually haven’t been able to find one in the local stores, so I’ll order it online. I have been waiting to get one of these but didn’t have one for the old machine because it was a #2 filter I knew the minute I invested the money in it, the machine would break and I’d have to buy a new one for the new machine anyway.
  • Stainless steel carafe – This should solve the issue of breaking the carafe in a few years and having to buy a new machine again because I can’t find a replacement carafe.
  • Auto-off – my old machine didn’t have this and many was the time I would come home and find fried coffee glued to the bottom of the carafe because I forgot to turn it off. Theoretically, the auto-off should be electricity-saving. Although it could definitely be seen as a safety feature in my case 🙂
  • Small serving size – this is just like my old machine, it makes only a very small amount of coffee at a time. We considered a machine that makes larger amounts of coffee but distributes it in smaller doses. In the end, I felt like the larger machine was just a waste of power and water and coffee grounds, since I’m the only one in the house that drinks coffee. When we have folks over, I just make several pots. Although I think I might invest in a nice carafe for those times, especially for Thanksgiving this year.