Happy Earth Day :)

In honor of Earth Day I’d like to share 5 tips/projects I do.  Not only are they frugal, but they also happen to be green :)

1) Homemade Natural Cleaners (I’ve made the All purpose and dusting spray.  I bought a variety pack of essential oils off amazon - I got the floral pack)

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I loved this cleaner, but its too expensive.  So I just re-used the bottle filled it with the “all-purpose cleaner”

2) Recycled Cardboard Kitty Scratcher (Had this scratcher going on 5 years now and the kitties still love it!)

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3) Recycled Jars

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We eat lots of peanut butter….

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Just a little fact:  First time using a recycled jar was when used to hide alcohol in them…

4) Re-purposed serving bowl as a flower pot

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5) Go dumpster diving! (Founds these two pieces in the sidewalk garbage pile)

Free Find #1

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All done up (Don’t mind the mis-matching dark wood sitting on top the “desk”.  We just didn’t have anywhere to put it….

This desk is actually one of those old school types, where you can lift the top up :)

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A little rustic character

Free find #2

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This used to be brick red.  I painted it simple primer and paint, the distressed it a bit with some sandpaper

Greek Yogurt Naan

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I made this a few months ago when I was really craving some bread.  I’ve adapted my version from this recipe on halfbakedharvest.com.  As you can see I only made a few minor adjustments and it turned out well.  Hope you enjoy it as much I as did!

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Greek Yogurt Naan

2 tsp active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tbs sugar or honey

4 cups all-purpose flour or 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

¾ cup water or milk

2 tbs butter (softened)

3 tbs Greek yogurt

Melted butter for brushing (may use olive oil)

Fresh cilantro or other herbs for topping

  1. Dissolve the yeast, 1 cup warm water and honey/sugar in a small bowl until frothy (about 10 mins)
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  1. When the yeast is ready add the water/milk, softened butter and Greek yogurt to the yeast mix.  Once thoroughly mixed add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients.  The mix will be quite sticky, but it should still form into a ball.  If  it’s too sticky to play with add a tbl of flour at a time until you can shape into a sticky ball.  Place ball in a greased bowl and cover  and let it rise in a warm humid area till double in size (about 1 hr).  I usually create a warm environment by putting a pot of boiling water underneath the bowl in the oven. Kinda of like a mini sauna for the dough :)
  1. After the dough has doubled in size, knead for a minute and divide the dough into equal balls.  Cover and let rise again for about 20 mins.  Take each ball and flatten out to about ¼ inch thick discs.  Now it’s time to cook!
  1.  Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Do not add any oil to the pan. Brush each side of the bread with oil, herbs of choice, salt and pepper.  Add to the hot pan and cover until you see large bubbles form on the top. (about 2 mins).  Once you see the bubbles flip and cook the other side for another 2 mins. Repeat until done!  Make sure to keep the fresh naan in a warm towel and serve immediately.  You can also wrap in plastic once it’s cooled and freeze for later, but I doubt you will have any leftovers…we sure didn’t.

Enjoy :)

*Note*  You can try cooking Naan on a pizza stone or cookie sheet in the oven, but I find it doesn’t steam and puff up as nicely as it does in a cast iron.

APT Hunting 101

I recently did thorough searching on a new apt and let me tell you…it suuuucked.  I even started 2 months early because best places get snatched up in less than a day!  My boyfriend and I currently live in a very spacious apt, with a doorman, and elevator.  Sounds wonderful right?  Well, we have a dog..and living in a high rise with a dog is not fun.  Especially when you’re boyfriend works crazy hours and YOU aka ME…have to take the dog out all the time.  Plus, we live across the street from a LOUD seedy hotel with people screaming obscenities during all hours of the night.  Not to mention we pay $1900 smackers a month.  Granted, location is great (only 10 min walk to the hospital where my boyfriend works) but we just can’t get over the noise, the high rise…and the fact we have no outdoor space.  Ok, now onto what you need to do when finding a new place.

1) Use different sites.  My recommendations are (Padmapper, Craigslist,, and Hotpads)

2) Use the least amt of filters possible.  Ex: I have pets and would have never found my place if I left the “pet filter” on.  Some users simply forget to select the “pet friendly” box and many times people will negotiate pets if they feel you will be a good tenant.

3) Negotiate lease time and rent.  You can negotiate lower rent if you stay for longer.  Try it.  It works most of the time.  We locked in a price of 1600 for 3 years with no pet fee!!!

4) Do a walk by.  If you live in the area check out the neighborhood and try to get a look of the place from the outside.  Sometimes, it’s not even worth looking at a place if you don’t feel safe or comfortable walking around the streets.

5) Try to find a realtor if you can.  They can typically negotiate better than you can and know of rentals before they are listed.

6) If you love a place, don’t wait.  You have to have a check in hand and tell them you want it.  Many times we lost out b/c we couldn’t make up our minds.  Ask for an application before seeing the place and have it filled out.

7) Make a spreadsheet. Sounds dorky, but it really helps make the decision process easier.  You can see the pros/cons and expenses all in one spot.  (If you aren’t good with excel and need a template, let me know and I can send one over)

8) Email ALL the listings you are interested in.  Ask questions, lots of them.  If I saw a place that looked promising I would ask about outdoor space, w/d etc. because they weren’t listed.  Turns out a lot of them had those features but just didn’t think to list them.

9) Beware of scams…if it’s too good to be true, it is.  I only had one encounter but I spotted it pretty quickly. Never put money down on a place before viewing it and make sure to do your research on the realtor/landlord to make sure they are real people.

10) NOTHING IS PERFECT.  Once you do find a place you will critique it no end.  Face it, there is always going to be something wrong.  Shut up and realize you are officially done with the search and you can look forward to moving into your new place.

Happy Apt Hunting :)

Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) – FAIL

UPDATE:

So I thought it was going well…for the first few weeks.  Then I noticed what a lot of others were experiencing.  I actually started to get clusters of acne along my hair and jaw line. It was getting pretty bad so I have given the OCM method a break :(  Sadly, I really wanted it to work!  It does work for some people  though, so don’t shy away.  I think it’s work a try.  I gave this exact recipe to my friend Sarah who has normal to dry skin and she says it’s amazing.  I think at some point I will come back to this and possibly try jojoba oil instead of the grape seed.  Until then….

I recently starting reading about this new method of cleaning your face with oil.  I heard it works well for most people that try it and it’s great for acne prone skin.  I’ve been breaking out more than normal so I decided to give it a try. I’ve done quite a bit of research on what types of oils to use for different skins types and this site from Crunchy Betty  and The Oil Cleansing Method were the most informative.

MIX

I personally have very oily combination skin (also prone to breakouts) and my skin is very sensitive.  That being said I decided to try the grapeseed, castor oil and tea tree oil mix.  I’ve been doing it for about a week now and so far so good.  I also started using a drop of tea tree oil on my face, and doing spot treatments.  Castor oil is pretty drying and I heard the 50/50 mix of Castor to other oil can be pretty harsh.  I’m using 3/4 parts grapeseed,  1/4 part castor oils, plus a few drops of argan  oil tea tree oils.  If you are going to add essential oils they say 1 drop of oil per tsp of oil is good.  I may play around with the grapeseed/castor oil portions on my next round.  I originally stored the mix in an old jam jar which proved to be disastrous.  Jar slipped out of my hands and into the sink :(  I was able to save  little of my mix at least.  That being said, I decided to purchase and more practical container at Marshals for $4.


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WASH

As for the “washing” part it’s a little more involved than the soap and water method.  First, take the oil and massage it directly onto your face without adding any water.  Do this for about 1 minute.  Next, take a hot wash cloth and drape it over your face for 30-40 seconds 2 to 3 times.  Be sure to rinse the wash cloth after each time.  The washcloths get dirty quickly so I only use the same wash cloth 2 or 3 times before I wash it.  If i’m slacking on doing a full load of laundry I just hand wash my washcloths and soak in vinegar.

RINSE

Once, your pores have opened up wipe off the oil and rinse with water.  I typically do this only every other day only at night.  Another method would be to hop in the shower with the oil applied and let the steam from your shower do the work.  Then I drape the washcloth over my face 1 or 2 times and rinse off.

RESULTS

As of now this mix is working well and my skin hasn’t really been shiny during the day at all, and I typically have really oily skin.  So bad that I would shine after 2 hours of applying mattifying powder and primer!  I’ve had a great experience so far and highly recommend giving it a go.