Tuesday's Green Tip - Eco-Me

Want to make your own cleaning products, but need a little boost to get going?

Check out Eco-Me - a company who provides you with the tools to make your own cleaning products. They also have kits for body and baby.

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Cookout with friends - burgers, hot dogs, italian sausage, baked beans, broccoli salad, brownies, cookies and lemonade pie

Monday - Barbeque pulled chicken, corn and green beans

Tuesday - Leftover hot dogs, macaroni & cheese, peas, pears

Wednesday - Chicken Soft Tacos, pears

Thursday - Eggplant Parmesan with whole wheat pasta

Friday - Date night!

Saturday - Farmer's Market - TBD

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Sustainable Saturday - Biodegradable Plastic Bags

So earlier this week I discussed how easy it really is to start a compost. Now we can't compost everything that is waste . . . so what is the best earth-friendly way to deal with trash that must go to the landfill?

When making your decision regarding how to dispose of your trash, consider this: conventional plastic bags are made with petroleum which may eventually break down, but it will never truly go away. When exposed to heat and light the plastic breaks apart into tiny particles which infiltrate our soils, bodies of water and are ingested by the fish we eat.

Here is the info you need to know when it comes to biodegradable plastic trash bags . . .

Find out exactly where your trash goes: does your city compost garbage or does it truly go to a landfill?

If your city does compost garbage your best bet is a bio-based trash bag. Bio-based means its made from corn, sugarcane or potatoes.

If your trash goes to a landfill consider using bags made from recycled plastic or synthetic biodegradable plastics. Synthetic plastics mixed with additives allow the plastic to break down when exposed to light, heat and oxygen. If they are buried underground they may not break down as nothing biodegrades 100 percent in an air tight landfill. Bags made from recycled plastic would be the preferred option.

Tuesday's Green Tip - Method at Big Lots

Big Lots has Method (Rt. 23 and Lazelle in Columbus) this week and there are many great deals to be had. I purchased the Method, 32 load, Free & Clear Triple Concentrated Laundry detergent for $3.00!! I also purchased Pink Grapfruit All Purpose Wipes for $2.50. There were also air freshners, dryer sheets, hand soap, dish soap, all purpose cleaners and a variety of their holiday scents as well.

Now I have said previously that I was phasing out purchasing cleaning products in lieu of making my own . . . and I am still doing that. However, there are some products which I will continue to purchase like laundry detergent, hand soap and dish soap from companies like Method and Seventh Generation.

Tuesday's Green Tip - Composting UPDATED

Composting is probably one of the easiest Green tasks that we do at our house. When I first began composting our food scraps almost two years ago, I thought it was going to be a daunting task. Many times I joked about how I had added yet another task around the house by attempting to compost.

Turns out composting actually reduces our weekly waste by quite a lot. We put all of our fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds and filter and egg shells in our compost. We have built a outside compost bin using wood from recycled pallets. We have used this compost to fertilize our garden in the past and will use it to fertilize our lawn this fall.

UPDATE: Check out today's post on The Green Parent for more detailed information on composting as well as a compost tumbler giveaway!

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Baked Penne & Smoked Sausage *Family Favorite*
Monday - Breaded chicken tenders, sweet potato fries and green beans
Tuesday - Judlah (lentils & rice) served with plain yogurt and pita bread
Wednesday - Mexican Casserole *Family Favorite*

1 lb. Cooked ground beef or turkey
Spanish Rice packet
Peppers (green, red or yellow)
Mexican Cheese
Tortilla Chips

Cook ground beef/ turkey. Place meat in 13x9 casserole dish with corn and peppers (sometimes I also add tomatoes or really whatever I have on hand that sounds good) and mix together. Place in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Place chips on top and cover with cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

Thursday - Leftover Buffet
Friday - Italian Fettuccine Pie
Saturday - Farmer's Market Shopping - TBD

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Sustainable Saturday - Saving some Green

Want to go Green, but don't want to go broke doing it?

Replace the toxic household cleaning products in your home with environmentally cleaners that you can make with common household items!

Ingredients to get started:

White Vinegar
Baking Soda
Lemon Juice
Essential Oils
Olive Oil
Spray bottles made with recycled plastic

How they work:

Vinegar and lemon juice cut grease
Baking soda cleans and deodorizes
Borax cleans, deodorizes and disinfects

Sink and Tub Cleaner

1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Baking Soda
3 tsp Lemon Juice

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Flush toilet once to wet
Sprinkle 1 cup Borax
Drizzle 1/2 cup Vinegar
Let set for an hour, then scrub with a toilet brush

Window & Glass Cleaner

1/4 cup white Vinegar
1 quart warm water
Lemon Juice
Tip: Use newspapers to clean windows.

Furniture Polish

2 parts Olive Oil
1 part Lemon Juice
Apply with a soft cloth

Fabric Softener

Add 1 cup Vinegar or 1/4 cup baking soda to final rinse

Oven Cleaner

1 part Vinegar
4 parts water
Spray on cool oven
For tough spots use baking soda as a scrub

Happy Cleaning!

There was a whole lot of green outside our son's bedroom . . .

After several long days with two kids and no power, I am happy to report that power has been restored!! Unfortunately most of our neighborhood has not been so lucky and many are still without. As good neighbors, those with power are running extension cords across the street to those without.

Here's how the damage at our house stacked up: two tree branches fell on our house, forunately we got away with one shingle that needs replaced and some scratched up siding. Could have been a lot worse . . .

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Chinese take out b/c we didn’t have power
Monday - Burgers, tater tots and green beans – all cooked on our gas grille outside due to not having power.
Tuesday - Pork chops w/ homemade applesauce and french fries
Wednesday - Mexican casserole

Cooked ground beef or turkey
Spanish Rice packet
Peppers (green, red or yellow)
Mexican Cheese
Tortilla Chips

Cook ground beef/ turkey. Place meat in 13x9 casserole dish with corn and peppers (sometimes I also add tomatoes or really whatever I have on hand that sounds good) and mix together. Place in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Place chips on top and cover with cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

Thursday - Leftover buffet
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Going out to eat

Our Menu Plan for this week will likely change as we do not have power due to high winds from Hurricane Ike . . . . we have been told power may not be restored until this end of this week!

Sustainable Saturday - The diaper challenge

Well it was a busy day on Saturday as we attended yet another wedding and I never got around to posting Sustainable Saturday. Then on Sunday we experienced the wind leftover from Hurricane Ike and lost power. As I write this we still do not have power and they are saying it will potentially be the end of the week before it is restored!! We actually watched a tree in our neighbor’s yard come down, literally 2 feet in front of us as my husband and I were walking down the sidewalk to check with one of our other neighbors. Then a short while later we saw our neighbor’s tree across the street be completely uprooted and fall over. I will have to post pictures. It was pretty unbelievable.

Anyways, without further ado, Sustainable Saturday – The diaper challenge.

Now we use reusable shopping bags, recycle faithfully and even have our own compost pile which is 35 some years old thanks to the previous owner of our house. But, I am ashamed to say I have never put either of my children in a cloth diaper. That’s right, green as we may try to be, we use disposable diapers. Three years ago when my daughter was born, I searched everywhere for a cloth diaper service and found none. They had all apparently gone out of business in our area at one time or another. At that time I wasn’t really interested in purchasing my own cloth diapers and washing them myself as I was planning on returning to work full time. The child care center we had chosen had a pretty strict policy about not allowing cloth diapers. I explored the other viable options, Seventh Generation diapers and g-diapers both of which are more environmentally friendly, but both still disposable. I tried the Seventh Generation diapers, but quite honestly found them not to be very absorbent, etc. I priced out the g-diapers , but just couldn't bring myself to spend that much money on diapers.

Fast forward to today. Now almost three years into our parenting journey, we are still using disposable diapers. I have recently been researching our options once again. I received a list of products from a friend who is choosing to pursue a more environmentally friendly diaper. I have also spoken with the child care center that our children attend and they are now open to the idea.

I am now myself on a new challenge to find a better alternative to the ever popular disposable diaper. I am hoping to find success without busting my diaper budget, that will be the real challenge.

Brand reviews and a wealth of other cloth diapering info.

Brief description of the different types of cloth diapers.

The Diaper Hyena is a good resource too.

Buying and Eating Local

As you are planning your grocery shopping for the coming week challenge yourself to think about how you can Buy Local or maybe even plan for next year to plant a small garden!!

Why does eating local matter?

Purchasing from local farms/ companies isn’t just good for your taste buds, it’s good for your community, our economy and the environment at large.

The shorter the distance food has to travel from farm to table reduces fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions involved in transporting food around the country.

Supporting local farmers keeps dollars in your community and economy. It helps ensure that your State's agricultural traditions remain strong and keeps people working the lands that have been in their families for generations.

Eating local gives you access to fresher produce that does not need to be sustained by chemical or other enhancements to ensure a longer shelf-life.

Tuesday’s Green Tip – Bottled Water Waste

Looking to save a few dollars and be more environmentally conscience? Here’s an easy way to achieve that, don't purchase bottled water and use a refillable water bottle.

You can purchase BPA free bottles in addition to other great products from Greenfeet. We love our Teenie Weenie Greenie (and our Born Free bottles for that matter)!

Bottled Water Quiz

True or False?

1. Bottled water is healthier than tap water.
False. There is often no difference. Little is known about the health risks of water stored in disposable plastic (PET) bottles or the effect of additives over long periods at high temperatures.

2. Bottled water is safer than tap water.
False. The EPA sets more stringent standards for tap water than the FDA does for bottled beverages. Roughly 40% of bottled water is actually tap water.

3. Bottled water is convenient and portable.
True. But using a refillable bottle is just as convenient and less expensive.

4. Most plastic water bottles are recycled.
False. According to the Container Recycling Institute, only 14% of PET bottles are recycled. The rest end up in landfills or as litter. Millions of barrels of oil are required each year to produce and transport them.

5. The market for bottled water is growing.
True. The Beverage Marketing Corporation states that Americans spent more than $9 billion on bottled water in 2004 and that the product’s rate of growth was almost 10% per year for the previous 10 years.

6. The UN is addressing water issues in the developing world.
True. The UN adopted a resolution in 2003 calling this the “Decade for Water.” The Millennium Development Goals also have an objective to halve the number of people who lack reliable and safe drinking water by 2015.

7. Some bottled water is more expensive than gasoline.
True. Often selling for up to $2.50 a liter (which translates to $10 a gallon), bottled water is more expensive than gasoline.

8. My purchase of bottled water is unrelated to safer drinking water for the whole world.
False. The UN estimates that if the world took half of what it now spends on bottled water ($100 billion per year) and invested it in water infrastructure and treatment, everyone in the world could have access to clean drinking water.

Check out this article: Bottled Water Demand May Be Declining

Remodeling in a green way

In the About Me section I talk about renovating our 1960s ranch in a very green way. Here is a little peak of what our green renovations have entailed.

Paint - Sherwin Williams - Duration Home, color selections by Symhome mom

Flooring - Interface FLOR color sections and design by Symhome mom

This carpet square flooring system is super easy to install, literally a 2 1/2 year old can do it!

Shelving and Metal Panel Wall - designed and built by Symhome dad

Check out our website which is all about our house and will give you background into why and how. Symhome

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Eggplant Parmesan with whole wheat pasta, pears
Monday - Sweet & Sour Chicken with vegetables and rice
Tuesday - Barbecue Pulled Pork, corn on the cob and green beans
Wednesday - Chicken Quesadillas, fruit
Thursday - Leftover Buffet, fruit
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - We are going to a wedding!

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

During my adult life I have used many cleaning products. Should I even dare say that I have sprayed a certain Kitchen antibacterial cleaner on my countertops . . . that was years ago at a place of residence in which I no longer reside. I have tried many products mostly from Method (huge fan!) and Seventh Generation. Most recently I have been exploring making my own, but I will discuss that at length at a later date.

Symhome mom's favorites:

General cleaning - Method All Purpose Spray in Pink Grapefruit

Dish washing soap - Method Pink Grapefruit

Dishwasher detergent - Seventh Generation, although I will say I don't think it cleans all that well unless you pre-rinse. I have tried Palmolive's new eco + which is phosphate free although I will admit I have not done research on this product.

Hand soap - Method - variety of scents

Window Cleaner - Method with Method microfiber cloth

Furniture Cleaner - Method Wood for Good with Method microfiber cloth

Wood Floor Cleaner - Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner with Bona microfiber cloth - Bed, Bath & Beyond or Stanley Steemer

Bathroom Cleaner - Method

Toilet Bowl Cleaner - On going battle

Laundry Detergent - Method Baby, Method Free & Clear and Seventh Generation

Dryer Sheets - On going battle, Method Dryer Sheets and Bounce Free.

Method is always, always cheaper at Target even cheaper than buying directly from Method. Check out Big Lots for discontinued Method. Method is very design conscience and they are constantly changing bottle designs and changing fragrances. My favorite time of year to buy Method is after Christmas when they clearance it out at Target. I have noticed this past year though the clearance items go really fast! People are catching on to this great company!

I did notice in the store this week that GreenWorks has expanded their line of products. Please, please don't pay $3.49 for a GreenWorks dish soap when you can get a Method dish soap for $2.99. Method is a great company and we should be supporting them by purchasing their products! Along this line, I have also noticed that Windex now has a product made with vinegar. You too can make a product that will work for the bathroom, kitchen, windows and mirrors and save yourself a few bucks in the process.

All Purpose Household Cleaner:

1/4 cup white vinegar
1 quart warm water
Fresh lemon juice
A spray bottle (look for bottles made from recycled milk bottles - Delta Industries)

Seventh Generation Coupons click here

As for Method I have only ever seen one coupon offering and it was in the Rochester, NY market years ago.

Sustainable Saturday - Getting to Green

This week's Sustainable Saturday is being dubbed Getting to Green.

It seems like these days green is becoming a common term especially now that recycling has become more readily available and S.C. Johnson has launched GreenWorks cleaning products. Truly what does it mean to be green?

Being green can simply be trying your best to be as environmentally responsible as you can be. At our house we constantly struggle with what is the most environmentally responsible choice vs. cost.

Getting to Green is a way to see what you are already doing and what you could be doing better to be an environmentally responsible member of society. This list is by no means complete, but it is a start. As I continue to develop Getting to Green we will discuss many of the items in more detail. Like how do you get started with composting and what are the benefits? How do you make your own cleaning products? How do you find a buying club and what type of products do they sell?

Many of the items listed I have been doing for years (not my entire life . . . I am not Sara Snow!) I am learning and I hope you will join me along this journey as we are Getting (closer) to Green.

Today's Farmer's Market Trip

Like most Saturdays during the Summer we visited our local Farmer's Market. We purchased the usual fruits, vegetables and meat from our favorite vendors.

While picking out our cantelope I overheard one woman saying to another "I bought one of these last week and I am telling you it was the best cantelope I've ever had!" I thought to myself that I was very happy that this woman discovered how wonderful and fresh food is when you buy it locally . . . so far different from a lot of the foods available at the local grocery store which are trucked across the country if not across the world. I feel lucky to have such wonderful local food, readily available, at reasonable prices within our community.

Here are our purchases for the day:

A bunch of flowers
4 large chicken breasts
1 package pre-cooked barbeque pulled pork (heat & eat)
1 package ground chuck
1 package pork chops
1 package trail bologna
1 bag apples
2 large cantelopes
6 ears corn
1 eggplant
1 bag green beans
1 oatmeal dried cranberry cookie

Total spent: $45

We spent a little more on meat than usual, but we will most likely be unable to attend the market next week as we have a wedding on Saturday.


The Columbus Chamber of Commerce has launched GREENSPOT in an effort to encourage sustainability.

There are 3 key commitments in order for a household to be a GREENSPOT:

Commitment 1: Conserve Energy

Commitment 2: Conserve & Protect Water

Commitment 3: Reduce, Recycle & Reuse

Apply to be a GREENSPOT

We received our letter and window sticker informing us of our household having achieved GREENSPOT status.

It may seem silly for some, but it's nice to recognized for all the things we do at our house on a regular basis!

Does your City have a similar initiative?

As part of this week's Sustainable Saturday I will discuss simple ways in which you too can become a little more green.

Tuesday's Green Tip - Freezing Bananas

As I was preparing dinner this evening, I saw that I had a rather ripe banana laying on the kitchen countertop that was completely black on the outside. I immediately took the banana and placed it in the freezer and it made me think of a quick green tip to share:

For years I have been taking these overly ripe bananas and placing them in my freezer. Sometimes they go in as a whole banana, sometimes just the banana itself in a freezer bag. What do I do with these bananas . . . use them for breakfast! A common weekend breakfast is banana pancakes or waffles sometimes with chocolate chips or even blueberries. Those who have tried them, love them! A really great batch of banana pancakes or waffles are judged by whether or not they have enough banana flavor to not require maple syrup!

Banana Pancakes

2 cups baking mix (any brand, I follow directions on box)
1 egg
3 whole bananas (defrosted and mushed, they will be like liquid if they were super ripe)
Chocolate Chips or Blueberries

Banana Waffles

2 cups baking mix
1 egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 whole bananas
Chocolate Chips