Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Twice Creations Minimalist Upcycled Jewelry

Take a careful look at this photo.  Can you guess what the necklace is made from?


From a distance, it kind of looks like a Hawaiian puka shell necklace, right?  Now, look closer...


Would you have ever guessed that this necklace is made from recycled milk jugs?  That's right! Stefania from Twice Creations on etsy makes original, and not to mention beautiful and stylish, jewelry from recycled products, particularly HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic, making her pieces of work durable and non-toxic.  HDPE is commonly used as food storage, like milk jugs, making it less prone to Bisphenal A, or BPA, a harmful chemical compound used in the making of plastic products, such as the snack containers and sippy cups.  Considering Little Peanut is in his "putting everything I can get my hands on in my mouth" phase, I'd like to have him be around as much BPA-free items as possible, including the jewelries I wear when he's snuggled up to me. Stefania sent this necklace to me for review, which is absolutely perfect for the BPA-free reason alone.  Along with the necklace, she surprised me by including a pair of matching earrings.




This beautiful set pulls together any outfit, wether you're running errands in a tank top and jeans or attending a dinner party in a cocktail dress.  They make for great, sustainable accents that definitely start conversations.  The first time I wore them, I went to a baby shower, and they immediately grabbed people's attention.  Of course, many thought they were made with puka shells.  My friends were shocked when I told them that I was dressed up in recycled milk jugs!

Now, I'll be honest and say that when I first put the necklace on, the pointedness of the plastic squares poked at me and became a bit of a concern, but after awhile it didn't bother me anymore. I was also reluctant to wear the earrings, because I am allergic to anything that is not made from pure sterling silver or platinum.  Stefania only uses recycled silver, making her jewelry even more sustainable and Earth-friendly.  We conversed about this prior to her sending me her products, but she nonetheless, was very nice in sending me a pair as a gift.  As expect, one of the earrings did irritate my ears, but oddly enough, the other didn't at all.  Go figure!  If you are not sensitive to materials like I am, these earrings will instantly become your go-to pair for any occasion.  They are of simple design, yet eye-catching every time.

All of Stefania's pieces are hand crafted and made to order upon your request.  With that said, no two items will ever be the same.  Valentine's Day is coming up, so if you're looking for a special gift that makes you feel good about doing your part in supporting our planet and businesses that sell handmade products, look no further.  Twice Creations has many items to choose from, so you'll surely find one that is perfect for your Valentine.  Like Stefania says, "Diamonds last forever, and so does plastic." And this is one of the few times I'm glad it does!


Stefania also posts DIY ideas on her blog, offering projects like upcycled business cards.  It's always a treat for me to learn how to repurpose what I already have at home, making me feel content that I'm doing my part in lessening the trash that goes out.  Stefania is doing the same!

BUY:  You can purchase beautiful upcycled jewelry at the Twice Creations etsy shopUse the promo code "GHB12" to get 15% off your entire purchase! 

WIN:  Twice Creations is giving one (1) lucky The Green House follower their choice of earrings.  This giveaway is open to all residents WORLDWIDE.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win! You must complete the mandatory task first, then complete the other tasks to get as many entries as you'd like.  Good luck!  **If the Rafflecopter form does not show up, please refresh your screen, or click on the post title!


The Green House Disclosure:  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.  The products(s) in this review was provided to me free of cost for the purpose of conducting this review.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mixed Bag Designs Totes & Cases: Giveaway for Bloggers ONLY!

If you've been a follower of The Green House for awhile, you know that I am a huge fan of reusable bags, especially if they are made from recycled material.  I love going to the store and seeing people at the checkout line with their reusable shopping bags.  Whether they are stylish and costs more than my weekly grocery bill or just plain Jane in color and was a prize won in a giveaway, I'm glad that I am seeing more and more of them out there.  It's a great way to make people more aware and conscious of how detrimental plastic bags can be to our eco-system.  

If you are a blogger, and regardless if you write about living green, parenthood, or whatever else is on your mind, here's an opportunity for you to win 2 English Stripe grocery/department store bags, a black and gray striped iPhone 4 case, a black and gray striped neoprene case for 15-inch laptops, and a black swirl foodies bag - all from Mixed Bag Designs.


Long-wearing and great for carrying up to 50 lbs. of food, supplies, books, etc., Mixed Bag Designs makes their bags out of 10-40% post-consumer recycled materials and woven polypropylene, a very strong and durable plastic.  All of the bags, totes, and cases can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth making them convenient and readily reusable for any occasion, grocery trip, or errand.

Mixed Bag Designs offers laptop bags, iPhone and Kindle cases, organization bins, lunch totes, stationery, and much more.  Head on over to their site to find the perfect eco gift to give to family and friends.

If you are a blogger and would like to win some cool prizes from Mixed Bag Designs, head on over to Pocket Change to enter their giveaway.  Good luck!



eco-chic striped grocery tote and orange laptop bag at Mixed Bag Designs


orange laptop bag



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Healthy Cooking: Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

With the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, eating in and cooking wholesome meals is not always the easiest or most convenient task to tackle.  Healthy dishes do not have to be complicated, time consuming, or expensive to make.  I hope my Healthy Cooking recipes will help you choose to cook and eat in more often. Bon app├ętit!

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes is one of our traditional weekend meals that my husband and I take turns making for the kids.  It's an easy recipe to make with your own favorite fruits and toppings.

You will need:
  • 1 cup plain flour (we use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour)
  • 1 tbsp. organic granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. organic baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. organic sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten (we use cage-free brown egg)
  • 1 cup organic low-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. organic cinnamon
  • flaxseeds (we use Bob's Red Mill Brown Flaxseeds)
  • 2 organic ripened bananas, mashed
  • organic powdered sugar for sprinkling
  • local honey (or low-calorie syrup)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in beaten egg, milk, oil, and stir quickly until moistened. Add the mashed bananas and however much flaxseeds you would like. Mix well. The batter will have some lumps.



Preheat a greased or buttered (unsalted) pan over medium-high heat. Cook pancakes on the hot pan, using about 1/4 cup batter per cake, more or less depending on if you want smaller or bigger portion sizes. Cook for about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. The pancakes are ready to turn over when the tops have bubbles on the surface and edges appear dry and starting to brown.



Sprinkle with powdered sugar and honey. Feel free to cook with different fruits and serve hot with your favorite toppings. Serves 5. 


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Sweet Pea's First Plant

Two weeks ago, our 5-year-old daughter came out of her Sunday School class with a styrofoam cup filled with seeds and potting soil.  We have since transferred it to her pot of choice, and it is growing remarkably.  She definitely got her green thumb from her great-grandmother.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: First Organic Foods

Little Peanut starting his first foods this weekend.  He's the first of our three children to try Earth's Best Organic Rice Cereals.  I think Big Brother was a bit more excited.


Patiently waiting for the first taste...

He just couldn't get enough...

What did he think about it?  I'd say his face says it all!



Saturday, January 07, 2012

Save Our Planet Saturday: Eating "Green" Doesn't Happen Overnight...Or Does It?

Growing up in a Pacific Islander home, I was accustomed to walking in the kitchen and seeing nothing but non-American foods, spices, condiments, and snacks.  Our kitchen pantry was overflowing with rice and sweet flour; noodles of different colors, textures, and sizes; cans of quail eggs, sardines, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots; soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sweet and sour sauce; and those are just the ones you can see in the front.  The countertops were covered with bowls of bread, pastries, and snacks that barely had any English writing on them. And don't let me get started on the fridge and freezer.  I can't remember that appliance ever being empty.  On any given day, you can open it up, and there would be cooked jasmine rice, coconut juice, frozen egg rolls ready to be deep fried at a moment's notice, and a dessert favored by every guest we've had called halo-halo ice cream.  Needless to say, I was fortunate enough to never go hungry.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of a downside to all that goodness.  There wasn't a single low-fat, low-sodium, fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, organic, or all-natural food in the entire house. Okay, maybe the water, but who's to say that was all-natural?  Growing up in that home, I didn't know any different. And when I left the house, my apartment kitchen carried most of the same items, just not in the same abundance.  I started to shop for ingredients to cook other types of food as well, so Italian, American, and Mexican recipe cards were no strangers to my countertops. It wasn't too long after that I became obsessed with coupons and bought everything that was on sale without any rhyme or reason.  I continued the same habit even after I married my husband. When our first child was born in 2006, I became a stay-at-home Mom, and our biggest priority then was saving money, not eating healthy.  Our kitchen was filled with boxes of cereal, goldfish crackers, canned spaghettis, and Capri Suns.  Our deep freezer was never empty of chicken, ground beef, and boxed meals. The bathroom cupboards were filled to the brim with boxes of toothpaste, toothbrush packets, shampoos, hand sanitizers, and deodorants.  On one wall of the garage, we had stocked piles of laundry detergents, bleach, and multipurpose cleaners.  I could spend a whole day shopping for food and supplies that would last for months!  It was a weird feeling of accomplishment.

Then one day last summer, a couple of months before our 3rd child was born, we had an epiphany: we can't keep living like this!  For the last few years, we have been active in being Earth-friendly by composting, recycling, shopping with reusable bags, drinking from reusable cups, and carpooling, just to name a few.  So we asked ourselves, why can't we be friendly to our own bodies?  We walked into the one grocery store I never thought in a million years I'd shop at - Whole Foods - a market that sells only natural and organic foods and products.  My receipt for that first shopping experience came out to a little over $120.  I walked out with maybe three bags of groceries.  Had I gone to the big box store instead, my cart would have been overflowing and then some.  Getting home, putting up the groceries, and once again, looking over my receipt, I remember thinking, "Forget this.  We can't afford to eat right."  But after having eating a few days of organic meals, we almost instantly noticed a difference in how we felt.  Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it was all in our heads.  Whatever it was, it made us see food in a whole new way.  We have never shopped at the big box store ever again.  Everyone has their own priorities in life.  Everyone has a choice.  Half a year later, we are still living under one income, and  our priority is still the same:  shop only for organic, all-natural foods with little or no packaging and products made from recycled and eco-friendly materials.


These days, my kitchen pantry is not filled to the brim with food that will last for months on end, our deep freezer is now for sale, our bathroom cupboards are empty, and my husband has his garage back.  Now, we only shop every week for the things we need and care to eat and use, even if they aren't on sale.  We shop at the farmer's market for cage-free eggs and locally grown in-season produce.  And for the first time time ever, we have purchased organic rice cereal for Little Peanut to start eating next week.  




Our kids have gotten so used to seeing the word organic at our house that when we visit my in-law's, they sound kind of snobby when they tell them, "but this isn't organic."  I feel proud, but at the same time, embarrassed.  Most people still don't get us and what we're trying to do, and it makes it difficult when we attend dinners or parties elsewhere.  But everyone has their own values and beliefs.  We are not shunned for ours, just like we don't expect others to conform to our lifestyle.  We just ask them to respect us for the choices we have made.  

Our next step is to start using all-natural health and body care products.  We just recently bought the kids organic shampoo, body wash, and lotion from Earth's Best, and although the price made me think twice at first, I don't regret it now.  I know we made a choice that will eventually make a difference in the way our kids will live their lives.  And though this type of lifestyle is not considered frugal, it is less expensive to purchase only the things we need when we need them and being "almost" forced to eat in, seeing that there are only so many budget-friendly sustainable-responsible restaurants that offer organic foods on their menus.  In the end, the amount of money I set aside now for groceries, clothes, gifts, etc. is just about the same (if not less) as when I was using coupons and shopping for sale items only.  I would say that we're still living financially responsible on one income, but now with one more mouth to feed.  Go us!


Friday, January 06, 2012

Frugal Living Friday: Redecorating Your Home Without Breaking The Bank

When it comes to decorating, I would definitely not consider myself a guru.  I can't seem to put argyle and dots together and make it look like they are a match made in heaven.  But, I do love perusing through magazines, watching HGTV (when we had cable), and browsing through Pinterest to get simple and wallet-friendly ideas for my home.  And one commonality I've found with many low-budget decorating suggestions is to accent your rooms with unique finds from thrift stores, garage or estate sales, and online sites like Craigslist or Freecycle.

Add instant punch to a room with area rugs, paintings or curtains.  There is nothing like vintage, one-of-a-kind designs to add new color to your home.

Vintage Renewal Loft eclectic hall

You can also score some great fabric to give a whole new look to pillows and old chairs that still have a lot of life left in them.  Be on the lookout for awesome deals on little knickknacks that pull together the theme of a room or your whole house, like vases and candle holders, candy bowls that can also hold keys or post cards from far off lands, trunks and baskets that double as storage for blankets and toys, and old books that can add a little bit of history and culture to any room.  We have a thing for Hawaiian travel books that always seem to strike up a conversation whenever we have visitors.


This time of the year always encourages people to make changes in themselves and in their homes.  There's no reason those revamps have to cost an arm and a leg, right?  One of the easiest things you can do to give your rooms a facelift is to paint the walls and/or cabinetry with a new color.  Fresh, inexpensive flowers in a mason jar or a plant that cost close to nothing but can last forever with a little bit of love (and water, of course) can add the perfect touch to a plain white-walled room.

Just a reminder though if you are wanting to spruce up your living quarters - donate anything you no longer like and are looking to replace during your make-over.  The one thing you don't want to do when it's all said and done is to have redecorated your home with too much stuff.  



Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New Year. New Intentions.

Last year, I had a long list of things that I wanted to accomplish and attain.  Sadly, upon looking at those resolutions, I found that I didn't complete as much as I had hoped.  But I was happy to see that the most important ones, such as being more Earth-conscious and more financially responsible, were surprisingly "marked off" the list.  And since we as a family did so great with those goals, we decided to continue with the same ones for 2012.  Keeping my three blog missions (being green, frugal, and simple) in mind, this is what we "intend" to begin or to better for this new year:

Living GREEN
  • Continue to use cloth diapers and begin using cloth wipes on our Little Peanut.
  • Make my own baby food using organic produce.
  • Continue to use cloth wipes for cleaning (instead of paper towels) and begin using cloth napkins.
  • Remove all plastic and non-BPA-free household items and toys, and purchase only eco-friendly products.
  • Start a wardrobe consisting of only organic, fair-trade clothing that support and help Mother Nature.
  • Purchase and/or attempt to make our own organic and/or all-natural beauty and household cleaning products.
  • Continue to purchase organic, all-natural foods and avoiding eating out at places that don't offer them on their menus.
  • Continue to compost and recycle.


Living FRUGAL
  • Pay off ALL debt.  We are finally on the homestretch, and it feels great to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Buy only what we need when we need it, and not when something is on sale and ends up not being used, worn, or consumed.
  • Take advantage of any free or low-cost events for the whole family.
  • Give homemade or upcycled gifts.
  • Schedule indoor date nights, since we still have a baby who needs constant nursing.
  • Register the kids' extracurricular classes (i.e. dance, karate, soccer, etc.) at recreation or youth centers.


Living SIMPLE and ORGANIZED
  • Continue donating or recycling everything that is no longer being used or has never been used.
  • Remember that we do not need more stuff before purchasing more...stuff.
  • Continue to declutter the kids' clothes, shoes, toys, and books.
  • Enjoy indoor activities when the weather is not on our side (i.e. picnics in the living room, camping by the fireplace, dress-up, etc.).


I know a lot of what I've mentioned above belong under the other categories as well, but you get the point.  Now, I'd be lying if I said that that is all I'd like to accomplish this year, but they are the ones that I know we as a family can work together to achieve.  We'd also like do the following, but it'll take a lot more effort, time, and prayer for them to happen:
  • Lose weight by becoming more active again.
  • Schedule and keep yearly health related appointments.
  • Take our first (green and fully paid-in-cash) family vacation in years.
  • Read more books and magazines.  Watch less TV.
  • Complete all unfinished home renovations.
  • Visit an orphanage during the Christmas season.

I'm sure there are other things I've missed, but that is all that have come to mind as I'm posting this.  I know we may come across a lot of forks on the road and many unexpected roller coasters, but I also know that anything and everything is possible if you want it bad enough.  And we do! Good luck with all of your intentions for 2012!




Wordless Wednesday: Here's To A New Year Of Possibilities


"I don't need easy; I just need possible." (Bethany Hamilton, "Soul Surfer")



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