Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Reuse All The Things!

Before we went to New Orleans I wanted to try chicory coffee so I knew what it tasted like (in case I hated it, which I don't).  Over the weekend I bought myself an aloe plant and was trying to figure out what to plant it in. And, voila! Plant, welcome to your new home!

P.S.  Cafe au lait and beignets 4 evah!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Zero Waste(ish) - Toothbrushes, pt. 2 - The Graveyard

This is my toothbrush graveyard. Which is actually a drawer in my laundry room cabinet. It's a wonderful cabinet.

So this is where toothbrushes go when they've come to the end of their useful dental hygiene days.  We use them to scrub in little tiny cracks and crevices; gout, around sink drains, chicken poo out of your pretty new work shoes because you forget to change shoes, you get the idea. And my wedding ring. But of course that's a separate/special brush that's only for my ring (when I remember which one it is - grody). ← You'd think I'd have figured this out a long time ago, but I haven't.

I just found out that the plastic ones, once they have no more practical household life left in them can be sent to a couple of different companies! I was feeling anxious about sending them to the landfill.
The one I've chosen is Terracycle - you can find out more about recycling your plastic toothbrushes here.

From their website:
"Did you know that a new toothbrush is 95% more effective versus a 3 month old toothbrush?*
Colgate has partnered with TerraCycle to turn recycled toothbrushes and oral care packaging into school supplies for the Kids In Need Foundation. This October, Colgate will donate upcycled backpacks, pens, and notebooks to schools most in need. Sign up now to recycle your old toothbrush and help contribute to this great cause!
*A worn toothbrush is less effective in removing plaque between teeth: A Clinical Investigation into the Effect of Toothbrush Wear on Efficacy, The Journal of Clinical Dentistry.

That makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside! 

There are a lot of options for the bamboo ones once they've scrubbed their last scrub.  The handles are infinitely reusable (plant markers anyone?) and, how cool is this, they're compostable! You'll have to remove the bristles before composting though.

Seriously, go out and get yourselves a bamboo toothbrush, you won't regret it!

P.S. One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the United States, creating 50 million pounds of waste annually!
P.P.S. Family, please be expecting these as Christmas gifts. Just sayin'.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Zero Waste(ish) - Toothbrushes

I have learned over the years, that "going green", "sustainable", "eco-friendly", and more recently "zero waste" is all about baby steps.

Pick one thing, reusable grocery bags,  or not buying bottled water and having your own reusable water bottles or, carrying around your a reusable coffee cup in your car, or even bulk shopping and focus on that. Make that one habit your normal and then pick the next thing and work on it to make it your norm. And before you know it, you're well on your way!

In our effort to be more zero waste(ish) we've been using bamboo toothbrushes.  More specifically toothbrushes from Brush with Bamboo. We absolutely love them! The first time you use it, it's weird because plastic toothbrushes have a bit of bend and these do not.

I draw a little flower on mine to distinguish between his and mine - get it, because my name is Poppy? I crack myself up.

We've been using Dr. Bronner's toothpaste because it doesn't have SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) in it. With my Sjogren's syndrome, I most definitely don't need anything drying in my mouth. I've found the toothpaste doesn't dry out my mouth which is super helpful. It takes a bit to get used to not having your toothpaste bubble up but, so long as they're clean, I don't need bubbles.

Just last weekend we went to the dentist and they said that our teeth cleaning routine is working perfectly. Yay!

But, the tube isn't recyclable and it just gets get to a landfill,  δεν είναι καλό.

So, when we're done with our last tube, I'll try making my own.  I've been scouring the internet for good recipes. Wish me luck, we've only got about a month to go.

Do you have any DIY toothpastes you swear by?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hot Cocoa

Hot Cocoa, I kind of love it a lot.

I wouldn't call it an obsession but I would say I am seriously attached to the sanctity of a good hot cocoa. There are so many wonderful childhood memories attached to the making and drinking of cocoa!

You know, I think cocoa is the gateway drug to coffee. Like, when you're a kid and you're at a restaurant and the grown-ups are having coffee after dinner and you want to feel all grown-up and chic, so you get a cuppa too.  

The next step up after cocoa are the fancy coffees, the cappuccinos, frappuccinos, mocha lattes, etc.

And then one day you graduate to coffee. 'Cause, you know, those drinks are expensive and plain old coffee isn't. I still haven't gotten myself to the black coffee stage mostly because I love cream and sugar too much to go there.

But, back to the cocoa.  In my drive to achieve hygge this past autumn and winter, I went a little cocoa crazy.  I bought all the big name brand mixes; with marshmallows, cocoa with only five ingredients, organic & fair-trade, flavored, extra marshmallows, super creamy- you name it I tried it.

I finally used up my stash and after using my last little packet, I was tossing it in the trash when I had a light bulb moment- I could probably save money and not create nearly as much waste if I just made the mix myself! 

I scoured the internet for some recipes and after trying more than is probably healthy, I found my mix and! All of the recipes out there are basically the same; sugar, cocoa, powdered milk. 

This is the one I've been using and it is deeeeeeeeeelicious!

2 C. Confectioners sugar
1 C. Cocoa powder
1/2 C. Dry milk

I actually had all of these ingredients in my pantry, why would I just randomly have powdered milk? Your guess is as good as mine. Such a win!

Just put everything in your food processor, or blender, or other mixy type thing and mix that bad boy up.

The first time I made it, it all fit in a quart jar, this time I needed a half-pint jar to hold the overflow. Huh. Well, I'll tell you a secret, I am mostly not a good measurer.  

Now, you can technically use water to make this but, I feel like you're shorting yourself if you don't use milk. So, do yourself a favor and use 8 oz. of milk with 3 tbs. of mix, that's it! 

When I've used up the ingredients that I already have, I will get them from the bulk food store and be even less wasteful!
Vive le cacao chaud!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Getting to a Zero Waste Minimalist Hygge Farmhouse

Do those things even go together?

In my mind they do.

While I was on a hiatus? A sabbatical? A rumspringa?- anyway, while I was away I became entranced by the Danish concept of Hygge, going zero waste and cleaning out my metaphorical and physical closets/cabinets to create a minimalist (ish)- I'm all about the ish around here, farmhouse. The minimalist but not austere farmhouse seems to be a bit of an oxymoron if you look around the web.

We've started some basic zero waste shopping and have very consciously started thinking about all of our purchases, not just food, and the packaging waste they create. Even my Beloved is on it! We were talking about mulching the garden beds over the weekend and he suggested having a landscaping company drop off a mountain of it rather than buy plastic bags from the big box stores.

The only problem thus far is the closest bulk food store is in Ann Arbor which is 30+ miles away.  It's close to where I work but at the end of a long day I usually forget and head home, only to remember 5 miles from my exit. I asked my Beloved if I could quit my job and start a bulk food store in Howell but he's not having any of it.

If you're curious, a quart size Ball canning jar weighs, .99/lbs and a pound of pasta, elbow mac or spaghetti noodles made "pot-sized", fits perfectly in one!

Just yesterday I reused a pickle jar and a candle holder that previously held a pretty 3-wick beeswax candle to plant some succulents.  My Beloved's aunt bought me a gift card last year to a local nursery and I finally found the time and the will to drag my behind up there.

Their new home

Reuse all the things!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Well, hello there!

How do you pick up after you've been gone for so long? I dunno' but, you know what I'm not doing? I'm not giving up on this blog.

So, last year was super not awesome. In fact it was down right craptastic.  The good news is that I came out on the other side of 2016 alive.

In August I had a non-aneurysmal perimesencephalic subarachnoid hemorrhage; a hemorrhagic stroke.

The day before my Beloveds birthday, in the wee dark hours of that Friday morning, I was awakened from a deep sleep by what felt like someone smacking me in the head with a brick.  I sat up, holding my head and literally said out loud to no one but myself, "a headache should never wake me up."  The pain was unreal.

I decided that since I was awake I may as well get up and go to the bathroom.  While in the bathroom I started to get nauseous and told myself I was overthinking the situation.  Just take deep breaths, Poppy and chill was my mantra.  I talked myself into getting two Tylenol out of the cupboard and going back to bed.

As soon as I got back to bed I became diaphoretic; the sweat was actually pouring off of me.  It was then that I tried waking my Beloved up by gently shaking him and saying "something is wrong. Something is very wrong".  He gently patted me on my arm and told me it was okay and to just go back to sleep.  Right.  He was right, I was overreacting.  It was probably just a migraine as I've never had one and who the hell knows what the symptoms are other than a terrible headache.

I rolled around in bed for a while trying to put my head and neck in the exact right way just so the pain would stop.  Nothing worked. I was a moaning, sweaty mess and my Beloved got up because he couldn't sleep due to my restlessness and that's when the vomiting started.

I sent a text to work telling them I was very sick and couldn't come in and tried to, with one eye open and my brain being crushed Google the symptoms of sudden onset headache.  The news wasn't good.  But, Google is NOT a doctor and I was overthinking my symptoms.  I asked my poor beleaguered hubby to get me a Sprite.  Maybe it was food poisoning from the Chinese food we had at a work meeting the night before.

Guess what.  Sprite did not help.

Three hours later, while my Beloved was getting ready to go to work, I decided that enough was enough and that I was going to call my mom and ask her to drive me to the urgent care. Thankfully I caught her before she left for the Y, she changed back out of her swimsuit and rushed over.

I slipped into a maxi skirt and t-shirt when she arrived and kept insisting that she take me to the urgent care, not the hospital even though the hospital was closer. It was just a migraine and I was going to feel like an ass because I obviously was blowing things out of proportion. As it turns out, they changed over from an urgent care to an emergency room, which is fortunate considering my diagnosis.

They got me back right away, the ER tech was pissed I had tried to drink some water on the way there and was frustrated with me because I couldn't stop vomiting (?).  The doc ordered a head CT and when I asked the nurse for something, anything, for my headache the petty woman rolled her eyes as if I was seeking.  Hmph.

I was dozing on the stretcher when the ER doc came back and shook me awake saying that I had a subarachnoid hemorrhage and they were going to transfer me to the U of M.  Silly, drugged up me, asked her "do I really have a bleed or do you just "think" (and I used quotey fingers here) it's bleeding?", she laughed at me and told me that she had already called for an ambulance to transport me and things would start moving very fast.

It was then that I sent a text to my physician scheduling cohort, Dr. T, who happened to be in the OR at the same hospital (I work for anesthesiologists) that day. It went something like this "hey! I can't come into work today, I have a subarachnoid hemorrhage and they're transferring me to the U."

He sent me a text back asking if I would like for him to pop down and I, blithely, without a care in the world said suuuuurrreeee, whatever, that's fine, okay! While I know what a SAH is, I was so muddled that I obviously wasn't thinking straight.

How these people put up with me, I will never know.

My mom had sent a text to my Beloved saying that they were transferring me and maybe he should come.  Then she started to Google what a subarachnoid hemorrhage was.  At that point she freaked a bit.  She sent a second text to my Beloved, who being a truck driver and on the docks hadn't heard the first text, saying that it was emergent and that he had to come.

Here comes the disjointed part - the ambulance showed up, they medicated me more, told my mom not to try and follow them since they were going to be using lights and sirens.  Random chattering with the paramedics saying I was fine if one could be fine with an exploding brain. I opened my eyes and I was in a room in the ER and there was my sister (how did she get here from Flint?). My mom and two aunts were also crowded in the room.  Doctors were talking to me, asking me things.  I closed my eyes and when I reopened them there was my Beloved.  Just him and I alone in the room.  He was crying.  My big, burly truck driver (I am crying right now, FYI) who I told not to worry. We joked that it definitely wasn't food poisoning and that's why there isn't an MD after his name. He always makes me laugh.

I signed papers, they told me about the different types of surgery they may have to perform on. my. brain. Then I was whisked away and all of a sudden I was in the coldest place in human history- interventional radiology.  I had an cerebral angiogram, an MRI/MRA and another CT.

There wasn't an aneurysm and they couldn't find why my brain had bleed but it did stop bleeding so off I went to the Neuro ICU.  No surgery needed.

I don't know how I got so lucky.  God was definitely there with me when my brain had a tantrum.

I stayed in the ICU for a week where they did an ultrasound on my noggin each day and woke me up every hour on the hour for neuro checks. The day before my discharge I had to have another angiogram. 

No bueno. During the first one they gave me conscious sedation as I had to follow directions, like don't breathe, don't swallow, etc.  Lemme tell ya, it hurts.  It feels as if lit matches are in your face & head.  So, when they said I needed the follow up one before I could go home my anxiety about the procedure went to DEFCON 2.

Y'all I had my first straight up religious experience, in that room while praying for all that I am worth. I lay there as still as I could make myself, with a catheter in my femoral artery running up into my neck they as were filling my skull with The Burning Liquid Of Death and it happened.  It brings tears to my eyes when I think about it (the religious experience, not the test. Okay, fine, the test too but not in the same way).

Anyway, I passed the second one with flying colors and somehow I am one of the lucky ones. I have no neurological deficits but in all their poking around in there they did discover I have a cyst in my brain! Awesome.  I have to have yearly CTs to keep an eye on this puppy and make sure it doesn't grow too much bigger and press on the wrong things.

I've had to do some serious in-depth, down in the weeds, exploration of my life and what I want from it.  And having a month off after being in the hospital for a week gave me that time. 

P.S. Fill out your Advance Directives, peeps! It matters!!!