Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another 12 Months of Lent

Well, it's New Years Eve and the close of 2011 also marks the close of another 12 Months of Lent (December was my 36th month of Lent, woohoo!). My New Year's Resolution for 2011 was to devote more time and energy to this blog and it seems like it's paid off. Looking at the numbers, I posted 3 times as much as I did in 2010, more than tripled my monthly page views, garnered some new readers, and of course, was nominated by SHAPE Magazine for their Best Blogger Award (I still kind of can't believe that happened).

As I've written before in my yearly wrap-ups, this blog is truly such a positive and fulfilling endeavor for me and I really can't imagine my life without these crazy, self-inflicted challenges. This year I'll continue to devote as much time and energy to 12MOL as I can, and hopefully I'll be posting this time next year with a whole new list of milestones.

And although this blog is basically just a bunch of New Year's Resolutions spread out over the course of a year, this year I felt the need to set some more traditional resolutions which I accidentally designed into a wallet-sized format, whoops! There's the designer in me...

Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy new year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

DIY Face Masks

Although my last few posts might lead you to believe that I err on the earthy crunchy side, I'm definitely a girly girl at heart (an earthy crunchy kinda girly girl). My favorite color is and always has been pink (I was the proud owner of a pink Barbie Power Wheels Corvette when I was little), I love anything with ruffles, ribbons or lace, and I'm a huge fan of any sort of pampering: manicures, pedicures, trips to the hair salon, massages—you name it.

So, in the DIY spirit I decided to try out some recipes for face masks. I'm a huge, huge fan of the fresh face masks from LUSH (best store ever) and they're usually my go-to choice, but both of these are great fill-ins for when I don't have time to pick one up from the store.

Avocado Mask
from Whole Living Magazine

Mix half an avocado, one teaspoon honey, and one tablespoon plain yogurt until creamy. Spread on clean skin and let sit for 15 minutes. Then rinse with warm water, pat dry, and apply a simple moisturizer.

This one is my favorite of the 2. It's really easy to make and the texture was similar to one of my favorite masks from LUSH. I found that it kept for a few days too so I was able to get a few uses out of the recipe.

Kiwi Mask
from Whole Living Magazine

Puree 2 kiwis, 3 tablespoons plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon orange juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Apply to the entire face, leave on until dry, and then rinse well.

I liked this one as well, but my mixture came out a little soupier than I was expecting so the application was a little difficult (probably my own fault for not measuring the ingredients as well as I could have). The big perk of this mask was definitely the smell, mmm fresh kiwi...

And sorry, no picture of me with the mask on, maybe next time...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

DIY Home Cleaning Products

As I touched upon a few posts ago, I like to use natural, non-toxic household products whenever possible. While there are a few great brands out there that are my go-to choices for the store-bought stuff (I like Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and even Target's brand Method), let's face it—it doesn't get more natural than making it yourself. Even if your kitchen isn't a laboratory, you can easily keep you home clean and germ free with only a few simple ingredients, I promise.

A few years ago I bought the book, Better Basics for the Home, by Annie Berthold-Bond. In the introduction she tells her personal story of chemical poisoning (first by a gas leak and then by a pesticide), and her family's attempt to move away from chemical pollution. In her search for clean air, she quickly realized that in our chemical age, the contamination was everywhere, especially in the products that we use on a day to day basis. She put the book together to serve as a modern day guide full of the information that used to be passed down from mothers to daughters. In just over 300 pages she manages to cover it all from household cleaners, to skin and body care, to gardening, pets, and pest control. Sort of the bible of DIY natural home and beauty care.

While there are tons of awesome recipes in the book (everyone should own a copy, really), I'll just share a few of my favorite for simple household cleaning solutions.

First off, in the chapter on housekeeping she states that you can clean everything in the house with 5 basic ingredients. Keep these 5 on hand and you've got the base for most of the books recipes:

1. Baking soda
2. Washing soda
3. Liquid soap or detergent
4. Distilled vinegar
5. Antiseptic essential oil.

1. Antiseptic All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
from Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond

1 teaspoon antiseptic essential oil (thyme, orange, lemongrass, rose, clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, birch, lavender or tea tree)
1 teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons borax
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups hot water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to dissolve and blend the minerals.

2. Basic Floor Cleaner
from Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond

1/4 cup liquid soap or detergent
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar or lemon juice
2 gallons warm water

Combine the ingredients in a large plastic bucket. Use with mop or sponge.

3. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
from Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond

1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup baking soda

Pour the ingredients into the toilet. Let sizzle, then scrub. Flush.

4. To Brighten Clothing Without Bleach
from Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond

Add 1/2 cup lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide to the rinse cycle of your laundry. Another option is to add 1/2 cup borax or washing soda to the wash cycle.

5. To Clean a Clogged Drain
from Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond

Pour 1 cup washing soda into the water surrounding the drain, as close to the drain as possible. Within a minute, the water should go down. If this doesn't work, pour 1 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 3 cups boiling water.

Happy cleaning!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

DIY Cranberry Candle Jars

Ok, ok, so this might have been a more appropriate post last week, you know, before Christmas, but since I didn't even have time to wrap my Christmas gifts (that's what friends are for, thanks Sondra!), I just got around to putting these together tonight.

Um, easiest DIY project ever.

You basically just take a mason jar (luckily I have about 20 million), add some greens (I used pine) and a handful of cranberries, fill the jar with water, and drop in a floating candle (I ordered the candles from Amazon). Voilà, that's it!

Although I'm pretty sure these were intended to be made as a decoration for Christmas, I think they're pretty enough to be kept around for a few weeks longer. Hey, I make the rules here, right? Seasonal decorations it is!

On a side note, I hope that everyone has been having a wonderful holiday season. I've been very busy (I told a co-worker the other day, in all honesty too, that "I don't remember what I used to think about when I had time to think about things" haha), but have found time in between food comas to spend time with family and friends. Enjoy this last week of 2011 and stay tuned for more DIY projects to come!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DIY Toothpaste

Yep, you read the title right, I just whipped up a batch of my own homemade toothpaste. If you thought I was a weirdo for making my own laundry detergent (which turned out awesome by the way, my laundry came out perfectly clean and smelling lovely), than you should probably just stop reading now because DIY toothpaste definitely takes it to the next level of hippy.

This recipe also comes from Bust Magazine and like the laundry detergent, it only involved a few ingredients and was super easy to make. I just gave my pearly whites their first brush with it and I have to say, it looked like toothpaste, it felt like toothpaste, and it acted like toothpaste—my teeth feel just as clean as they do when I brush with the brand name stuff. Here's the instructions on how to make it:

DIY Toothpaste
From Bust Magazine

4 Tbsp. calcium carbonate (I ordered this online)
2 Tbsp. baking soda
Pinch of stevia powder (for sweetness, adjust to taste)
5-6 drops of an essential oil (peppermint, spearmint, rose, vanilla, etc.)
Vegetable glycerine (I ordered this online as well)

1. Combine the dry ingredients and essential oil in a small airtight jar.
2. Add a splash of vegetable glycerine and mix. Continue adding vegetable glycerine until you reach your desired consistency.
3. Put a dab on your toothbrush and brush away, that's it!

This recipe makes about a 3 week supply of toothpaste and will keep for up to a month. The paste will separate between uses so use your toothbrush to stir it up.

Paging Josh Rolnick, the only dentist I know, is this actually effective to use or is a mouth full of cavities in my future?

UPDATE: Here is the response I received from Josh Rolnick, DDS

"Unfortunately, I can't give my dentist stamp of approval. Although your toothpaste has calcium carbonate (a commonly used abrasive in toothpaste), it is lacking the most important ingredient, Fluoride. Your toothpaste may do a good job in mechanically removing plaque from your teeth, but it is not doing anything to protect the teeth from cavities. All ADA (American Dental Association) approved toothpastes have fluoride. Some toothpastes also have added ingredients with anti-microbial properties to kill the bacteria that cause cavities and periodontal disease. While this is certainly a very cool undertaking, I can't recommend using the homemade toothpaste. I recommend any ADA approved fluoride toothpaste."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

DIY Laundry Detergent

A few months ago Bust Magazine had a little piece on how to make your own laundry detergent. Since I'm kind of a hippy when it comes to household products, I was definitely psyched at the idea of making my own, eco-friendly, chemical-free version of the stuff that I usually get from the supermarket.

I made the following recipe this afternoon and I have to say, I felt pretty proud of myself when I finished. Although it didn't require too many ingredients and it was super easy to make, laundry detergent is definitely one of those things that you don't image being DIY-able. So not true!

DIY Laundry Detergent
From Bust Magazine 2011

2 cups unscented bar soap (about 1.5 bars)
Fresh herbs: a few sprigs of lavender, thyme or rosemary work great
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda (I ordered both online for about $3 a box)
10 drops of essential oil: bergamot, ylang-ylang, lemon, eucalyptus or lavender work great

1. Grate the soap (this is the most time consuming part).
2. Boil 4.5 cups of water and stir in the grated soap until it's dissolved.
3. Add the fresh herbs, borax, and washing soda and stir.
4. Pour mixture into a pail with 2 gallons of water and add the essential oil.
5. Let stand overnight and strain into a large container.
6. Use about a half cup per load of laundry.

And that's it! Mine is currently in the "sitting overnight" phase but I'll give a full report when I do my laundry tomorrow.

Grating the soap...

Boiling the ingredients...

My huge of bucket of detergent. Who's excited to do laundry? This girl!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

DIY Christmas Decorating

Let me first start by apologizing for my lack of DIY-ing this past week. I'm sure I don't need to preach to the choir here, but December has been crazy busy for me and I've had much less free time than I usually do. In my defense too, I'll also say that I had to order materials online for 3 of my planned DIY projects and they've been trickling in throughout the week, so I've been on a bit of a hold until their arrival (Update: All materials for 2 projects have come in and I'm just waiting for my floating candles which should arrive sometime this week).

In the meantime, I've been working on doing some Christmas decorating around the house and even though they aren't official DIY December projects, I thought I'd share a few photos:

The Christmas tree, yay!

My lovely orange slice ornaments. They look really cool when the light shines through them.

I had my mom gather some greens and pine cones for me from the Cape and I've been making little arrangements throughout the house.

The centerpiece on our coffee table. I got the mini tree from Trader Joes, too cute. Then there's cranberries, holly, and pine cones mixed in.

Coming up tomorrow, I'll be trying my hand at DIY laundry detergent and maybe even toothpaste if I have time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

DIY Project #1: Citrus Slice Christmas Tree Ornaments

I cut these instructions out on how to make your own citrus slice ornaments from Whole Living Magazine in 2008, way back when it was still called Body + Soul. Lord only knows why it took me 3 years to get around to making them (especially because it involves little money and effort), but I thought that it would be a nice project to kick-off DIY December with, especially since I'm getting my tree this weekend too.

Citrus Slice Ornaments
From Body + Soul, 2008

1. Cut four unpeeled oranges into rounds about 1/4-inch thick.
2. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 175 degrees for 4 hours.
3. Poke a hole near one edge with a needle and thread doubled twine through to make a loop.

Photo courtesy of

While they ended up looking really cool and the prep work was as minimal as it gets, I have to say, the bake time was kind of insane. Maybe I sliced mine thicker than I should have, but my little orange slices were in the oven for much longer than 4 hours—try 8 (a whole work day!). If you try this project at home, definitely follow the instructions on slicing (they recommend 1/4 inch) unless you want to monopolize your oven for an entire day.

I'll be sure to post photos of my finished ornaments after I hang them on my tree this weekend, eee!

Save Eat More Kale!

A few days ago I heard this piece on NPR called Chicken Vs. Kale: Artist Fights Chick-fil-A Suit. If you're not familiar with Eat More Kale, it's a small t-shirt business run out of Vermont by Bo Muller-Moore. He makes t-shirts and bumper stickers (I have one on my car) with the slogan "Eat More Kale" on them to promote the super food and support sustainable agriculture. When he tried to apply for a federal trademark over the summer, Chick-fil-A, a multi-million dollar fast food chain, accused him of infringing on their trademark, "Eat Mor Chikin." and demanded that he stop production and turn over all of his t-shirts to them. Chick-fil-A's "alleges that Eat More Kale confuses Chick-fil-A customers and dilutes its multi-million dollar industry." Are you serious? Confuse kale with chicken? Is that even possible?

Since it's clearly just a case of corporate bullying, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is on the case and set up the Eat More Kale Legal Fund, where people can buy "Team Kale" merch to help support Bo's legal fees as he takes on this corporate giant. is also hosting a petition that I encourage all of you to take a minute to sign:

Sign the Petition to Save Eat More Kale

I love Eat More Kale and I think that Bo's a great guy. When I did an Eat More Kale lent back in July of 2010, I wrote to him and he sent me a bunch of bumper stickers with a nice note back. It's absolutely absurd to me that Chick-fil-A is taking it this far and I really hope that all this does is boost Bo's business.

This is my favorite quote on the matter which comes from Gov. Shumlin:

"Don't mess with Vermont. Don't mess with kale. And, Chick-fil-A, get out of the way because we are going to win this one"

You'd better believe I'm ordering some Team Kale merch

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Will Always Love You Watertown and DIY December

Well, I Love Watertown month has come to a close and I have to say that it was pretty awesome—just like Watertown. Although pretty much every month is I Love Watertown month for me, November definitely took it up a notch. I finally made it out to some new local spots, I participated in a few community events, voted in our town elections, learned about Watertown's history, and just spent time out and about enjoying all of the ins and outs of this town.

Since I've already covered all the serious stuff, I thought I'd close the month out with a couple of bumper sticker designs that I revised for Watertown's sake (being a Graphic Designer really comes in handy sometimes). And Watertown, don't you worry, even though it isn't officially I Love Watertown month anymore, I will always love you.

And now on to December! After snipping out the millionth fun DIY project from one of my magazines, I decided that maybe it was time to actually make some headway on the stack of cutouts instead of just adding to the pile. So, this month I'm aiming to complete 3 projects a week, ranging from making my own toothpaste to my own terrarium. Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!