Monday, April 20, 2009

Heat Wave, some cooling tips.

I'm a summer person, I much prefer the warm, even hot, weather.  I just am so miserable in cold weather.  I went to Seattle in June 6 years ago and I froze my ass off, it was in the 60's. 

That being said I don't like my apartment being hot, I like it to be comfortable, I'd say 78 or so is pretty perfect for me.  I refuse to use my ac because that is not really needed except in extreme conditions, plus I have no idea how old my ac unit is and it pretty much sucks and uses WAY TOO MUCH electricity for minimal output.  

So how do I keep myself cool, with fans of course but placement of said fans is key.  The windows in my apartment are all on the same side so I don't get good flow by just opening windows.  We are upstairs corner unit, out master bedroom is on the corner, gets very hot. 

Two years ago the complex cut down the big tree shading my corner bedroom so it tends to get MUCH hotter in here than it use to.  Since the tree was cut down we demanded a ceiling fan in our dining room and got one, that helps a lot since it is in the back corner of the apartment and otherwise there would be NO flow in that area what  so ever.  I have one big box fan I put in the window of the bedroom and point blowing OUT.  I then open the screen door to the patio, which is in the living room, and put a fan blowing IN in front of that window.  That gets pretty good flow and makes it comfortable to watch TV and/or hang in the bedroom.  I have found that the room that the fan points OUT in tends to be a bit warmer than the one with the window where the air is coming in. We don't use the bedroom for much besides sleeping so this doesn't tend to be an issue really.  

I only do the above with the fans at night or once it cools down.  Doing that during the day just draws all the hot air in, not comfortable.  During the day I try and keep the blinds closed and just have fans blowing on me if I get too hot.  Best option during the day is get out and do something somewhere else in the shade.  Our apartment is in the sun ALL DAY and it does get rather hot, especially since they cut down that damn tree that shaded our whole bedroom.  That use to be our escape, no escape in here anymore.  

The second bedroom is our "animal" room and is actually the most well adjusted room. It is surrounded by other apartments, the one adjacent is off set a bit so that bedroom is really in a corner hidden from most sun, except for the morning, but all my reptiles like the heat so it's their little sanctuary.  

I don't really have any other tricks, I drink lots of teas, usually at room temp of a little bit above, or if I have been doing something I drink a glass of iced tea.  Basically stay hydrated.  Looking forward too learning new tricks to keep warm, especially for my two poor black kitties, one obese and one long haired, they don't like the heat so much.  

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A few articles of interest

For some weekend reading:

Article on the Top 10 Greenwashing Companies In America.

Another read about CFL's and mercury: Should I Worry About Deadly Mercury In My CFL's? from Treehugger.

Finally a great new line of beauty products from green guru Danny Seo.
WholeEarth by Danny Seo. 

A neat chart to show how much water is actually used.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Loving my hair but AT WAR WITH MY SCALP

Up until I went "no 'poo" I was in a constant battle with my hair. I have very thick, coarse, and dry hair. I think I was probably ten when I decided I wanted to grow my hair long, previous to that I had quite short hair, pixie crop type cuts. Which I absolutely love but I have so much hair it was like a clown wig on my head, OK not that bad but it wasn't the ideal cut for my hair. From looking at pictures I still had short hair for at least half of middle school/junior high but it was getting longer because I clearly remember giving up on conventional methods of thinning my hair around age 12. Previous to that I remember trying thinning it with thinning shears, layered cuts, and I am sure much more.

To this day I have only had my hair cut by 5 people, my mom once a few years ago, me a few months ago, my husband a handful of times, Darla a million and one times probably, and a colleague of hers when she was busy having babies. Basically from my first hair cut Darla is the only one who has ever cut my hair and probably the only one besides myself who will in the foreseeable future. Back to the giving up on my hair at the tender age of 12. At that time we shaved the under almost half of my head and have continued it to this day. My husband is the one who shaves it for me now, he doesn't actually trust himself to trim the length of my hair. I think at the time I had barely shoulder length hair. It made it so much more manageable that was for sure but it was still HUGE hair, I always say I was born 10 years too late, I could have rocked the shit out 80's hair metal do and been queen of the world! HAHA.

Since that day I have been growing my hair, I did regular monthly trims so the growing was slow going but it was relatively healthy but I still battled with it. As you know I finally have the hair I have always wanted since going "no 'poo", if you don't know go check my previous posts. I can brush my hair, I can style it, I can just let it be, I can do basically anything I want with it because it is in love with me and I with it. All seems like a fairy tale until we get to my scalp...

My scalp is NOT happy with "no 'poo" and it's gotten really bad. I've been prone to dandruff my whole life never anything too bad, mostly because the thickness and color of my hair hides it extremely well. At some point in reading about dandruff causes I read that some think it can be hormone related, I can relate to that at certain times that is for sure, those days your hormones are working against you and then your head messes with you too, yeah definitely had those days. What finally pushed me to "no 'poo" was actually my scalp, I was sick and tired of the buildup I would get, a very thick waxy buildup. All was good for a while and then I had issues with baking soda and the hard water, terrible soap scum. I tried a different wash, flaxseed and while I liked it the first time I soon had issues with it, specifics can be read in a previous post. So I tried using apple cider vinegar rinse only, seemed to be working. Once winter started to change to spring my skin changed too including and especially my scalp. I got itchy, dry, and flaky, I changed the makeup of my lotion to be more moisturizing and that helped my skin. My scalp was on and off, some days it would be fine and others it would be flaking like crazy. When I went to Indian Wells for a week I started with really bad flakes and after one shower with soft water and only an apple cider vinegar rinse the flakes went away almost instantly, I came home and bought a filter for my shower head. Things seemed to be better, until a few days ago...

The flakes were really bad and then I was getting itchy, really itchy. Last night I showered and once my hair dried I took a close look at my scalp, it looked like extremely dry flaky peeling skin, so I gave myself a hot coconut oil treatment. I heated up some coconut oil applied it to my scalp with a dropper and massaged to my hearts content with my fingertips, I have always loved a good scalp massage. I was going to let it sit for a bit but got tired and then the morning got away from me so I did not get to rinsing it all out till this evening. I used a baking soda wash to make sure I got all the oil out, I did so with a lot more massaging, things were going good and then when I was done I glanced down at the water collecting at my feet, it was like an oil slick, which at first made sense but then started to baffle me because of the way it was clustering in tiny balls rather than a real oil slick looking way, so I took a closer look, it wasn't really oil it was more waxy, kinda like the build up I use to basically I have been building up all that on my scalp for who knows how long. It all seems to be gone now and my scalp feels pretty good and looks ok, a few flakes but not too many, I may do another oil treatment in a week or so.

Perhaps this can turn the tides and I can do my normal apple cider vinegar rinses and a monthly baking soda wash. I am quite reluctant to go back to conventional shampoo mainly because I don't want to hate my hair again. I am looking into some other sort of soap or wash but don't want to waste my money on a product I will hate or the hardest part is finding one that I can agree with the ingredients. I will not use anything with sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates even naturally derived ones. They cause extreme frizziness and are just nasty chemicals, the naturally derived ones are from palm oil and palm oil is basically what threw me WAY over the edge with conventional soaps and shampoos and basically everything.

I am on the fence with coconut oil, I did research it a bit and found it to be less of an issue but now that I am looking for alternative products again I am beginning to question that again. I think I need to find a coconut oil that is farmed in a responsible way and I think I found that in Jungle Products, the coconut oil I currently have is Spectrum which is organic but not sure about their farming practices. For more info about palm oil check out The Rainforest Action Network's (RAN) website and their Problem with Palm Oil section. The main issue for me is the poor Orangutan's, animals always get me and there is just no turning back.

RAN has a list of companies that have pledged to get their palm oil from sources that don't exploit the environment and people. Jungle Products is one such company and so is Dr Bronner's which I have been wanting to buy but was on the fence because of the inclusion of palm oil in almost all of their products. I have read that some people use it for shampoo and I would much rather use that than baking soda. I can't find a good source for baking soda, it is either Arm & Hammer which does animal testing or a plastic bag of it at the health food store. Not sure why I can't find a paper packaged non animal testing brand of baking soda. There is also the whole mining of baking soda which I don't actually know much about but mining is a four letter word to me and it was brought up on some blog by someone at some point.

And my journey with "no 'poo" and my hair and all that continues with twists and turns...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Water Quality

There is possibly something not quite right with the water in our master bathroom.  We are still having lint problems with our hair, and it has become noticeable on my husband and it wasn't before I mentioned my problem to him before and this is since we put the conditioner/filter on our shower.   

Since we moved in the toilet has been disgusting.  It took a year for me to realize it was CAKED in deposit (and poo) buildup and it wasn't just an old discolored toilet.  Once I realized that I was able to EASILY clean it. I turned the water off flushed it and bailed out as much of the left over water I could, I then dumped a bunch of vinegar in the bowl and closed the lid and walked away and went to bed or possibly work, I don't remember what time of day I did it.  When I came back the higher parts of the bowl were white not off white or yellow and with a bit of a scrub from the toilet brush the dark brown thick cakey nastiness at the bottom of the bowl was easily flaking off.  It was quite disgusting and I could not believe they let us move into the apartment with a toilet in that condition.  Unfortunately I did not think ahead enough to take before and after pictures so no actual proof of how gross it was.  

I have had multiple other problems with that toilet as well, I finally had to buy my own flapper for the toilet because maintenance would have to replace the flapper every 2 months because the toilet would start leaking again and wasting water and most annoyingly filling itself up in the middle of the night multiple times and wake me up.  The $5 flapper I bought has stopped the leaking and cost less overall than their .89 cent flappers they had to replace every 2 months but no they would just keep putting on crappy .89 cent flappers for years on end. Now even with regular cleaning the toilet gets nasty film growing on it every few days, it's really disgusting.  I'm glad it is just a toilet but with the issues we have been having with the shower water it makes me think that there is something wrong with the pipes that go to our master bathroom.  

We have a second bathroom and we use the toilet in there more than in the master but we NEVER use the shower because it is a walled in room, no window for airflow and we don't need to use it so we don't so we don't have to combat mold in there and the rest of the apartment since that is where the water would go.  The toilet is perfect, runs great even on their .89 cent flapper, stays nice and clean with minimal cleaning, toilets are one thing I don't stay on top of very well unless they are GROSS.  Sink works fine and shower does work because we use to have a roommate that used it years ago.  

So all that leads me to believe there could be some sort of issue with the master bath water supply.  I don't know where to go from here but the lint in our hair is unacceptable and the only thing I can think of it being is our water since we don't use any of the same products or "tools" on our hair.  The only thing that is the same with our hair is the water.  Maybe I should try showering in the spare bathroom a few times since I do it less frequently and am home after and can help facilitate moisture out of the room.  

Running water really is a blessing but can be quite a curse when it's not maintained properly.  My boss is having a second expensive issue with pipes breaking in just over 1 month.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I said I would write about the lotion I use and make and so now I am.  I just kinda made this out of stuff I had and not from a specific recipe I found anywhere. I did read this article on Oils for skin types on Care2 and I also read a post on Allie's Answers about Using Oils to cleanse your face and I just kinda experimented on my own from there.   I don't measure anything and change things up with every bottle I make but it seems to work just as well as the bottles of lotion I was buying before, if not better, I don't tend to break-out like I use to.  

My bottle right now contains Almond Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, and a bit of Vitamin E oil.  Like I said it works great for me at the moment, but I can already tell I am going to have to change things up for summer.  I started with just oils and I quickly realized it wasn't moisturizing enough so I bought Cocoa Butter to add too it.  This is the first bottle that I have added Coconut Oil to and I was a bit worried it might cause some blemishes but it didn't.  I think I might try some Shea Butter but I am not sure how that will mix in with the oils.  I also added Peppermint Essential Oil to the last bottle, has a nice cooling effect when applied, great for the summertime. 

These mixtures are not like bottles of lotions you buy at the store, you don't really get moisturizing effects out of them when applied to dry skin they are better used right out of the shower on damp skin to lock in the moisture.  I don't tend to suffer from extremely dry skin so I can't say it will work for someone who does.  I would assume if you have dryer skin or are looking for something more moisturizing straight out of the bottle Shea Butter might be your answer but I have not gotten myself any yet because it is not the cheapest stuff and what I have now is working fine for me.

Next up on my DIY beauty list is a sugar-coffee scrub, I already made sugar scrubs that were wonderful for a few friends at Christmas time and it will pretty much be the same but with added coffee grounds. Research has shown coffee rubbed on the skin can tighten skin for short periods of time and reduce the appearance of cellulite, what girl wouldn't love that, smells great too.  Seeing as I drink two cups of coffee a day I am not lacking on used grounds, usually they just go into my compost or under my pine tree but I am looking forward to doing something else with them.