Monday, April 29, 2013

Is Commercial Heating Eco-Friendly?

Today, we live in an environmentally friendly world. Almost all electronic products that are manufactured today have a setting that allows us to use less energy than is normally needed, from our computers and tablets to our televisions and refrigerators. 

With this in mind we would expect that our heaters and air conditioners come with this setting as well, and there are some brands out there that do include a green setting with their products. However, there are some heaters and coolers that are specifically made to be beneficial to the environment. But are they as easy on our wallets? 

Evaporative Cooler Illustration via Wiki Commons

Evaporative coolers are the cheaper alternative to factory cooling. They use water evaporation in order to cool the air and require a source of water in order to run effectively. The common downside with evaporative cooling is that it raises the humidity in the room it is located in, but manufacturers have resolved this issue by adding a dehumidifier. Aside from that issue, evaporative coolers are not only cheaper than factory coolers, but they are easier to install and maintain. 

Solar Water Heater photo via Wiki Commons

Solar water heaters are an eco-friendly alternative to factory heating and is gaining popularity all over the world, especially in China. They do have some major disadvantages, however. Compared to a regular gas or electric heater, the price range on a solar water heater is a lot higher, and don’t work effectively during the winter, opting out to either run on gas or an electric booster. 

There are a huge number of people that make their own homemade solar water heaters. There are numerous articles and videos posted online that offer advice on how to build one at home, and it is fairly common to find D.I.Y. kits for solar water heaters online as well.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Filigree ...Victorian Jewelry

by Katy Green

Silver Filigree and Recycled Glass Pendant

Victorian filigree is back in fashion but it never went out of style because of the beautiful Victorian patterns that adorn everything from wallpaper to jewelry. 

Silver Filigree Rattle of Club
Queen Victoria Royal Collection
Presented to the Royal Nursery by Lady Charlotte Finch, 1763; her daughter; by whom bequeathed to Princess Augusta (d.1840); passed to Princess Sophia (d.1848); passed to Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester; by whom presented to Queen Victoria 1848.

To be fair, the first filigree pattern was from Etruscan period - artwork discovered in 530–480 BC. 

File:Ear-stud BM GR1980.2-1.42.jpg
First Filigree Pattern
 Etruscan period
Filigree also spelled Filagree, is a delicate detailed metal work for style for jewelry, usually made from silver or gold, comprised of tiny beads or a twisted thread like design. 
Victorian Filigree Wallpaper
in Tan and Black

Filigree Victorian Wallpaper
in Black and White
Most filigree designs resemble the same intricate patterns of lace (think crochet in metal).
Filigree was popular in Asia and Egypt as well during medieval times and of course the Victorian period up till the end of the 19th century.  Now, the filigree design is a staple in the steam punk movement  - all things interconnected and clock like with a precision to detail and design.

Shoptobegreen's love affair with anything Victorian is evident in these beautiful handmade up cycled Silver Filigree and Recycled Glass Pendant Necklaces available in multiple colors. The silver tone filigree tear drop pendant necklace is handmade with pieces of reclaimed antique and vintage glass taken from Wooded Habitats and it hangs on a 18" chain.  

We collected vintage glass from several eras, 1900 medicine bottles to 1940's beer bottles. 
Check out the Silver Filigree Collection below or click here to access

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Can You Make Your Own Solar Panels?!

by Mistie Dawn

The answer is yes. If you have some basic building skills and know your way around basic tools then you can make your own solar panels. I'm a proud Do-It-Yourselfer when ever possible. I believe it teaches you to appreciate the skills that you have and the work that goes into making things but so far I have been too intimidated to try building my own solar panels. I've seen every thing from using soda cans painted black, to black rubber hoses, all the way to making a more complex professional looking solar panel. Here is an example of the soda can panel:

Soda Can Solar Panel Photo Courtesy

Looks pretty simple but very crude. If you feel pretty confident in your skills and are looking to make a more complex solar panel this website is a great resource. It contains step by step instructions on How to Build a Solar Panel as well as a video tutorial which is great. This website has me excited about the idea of build my own solar panels. I now have another project to add to my home improvement list. 

How To Make A Solar Panel

Here is a picture of a finished DIY solar panel:

DIY Solar Panel Photo Courtesy of

I think I will give it a try this summer and come back here and post pictures. If you try it please share your pictures as well!

Featured Vendor: GB Proudfoots Natural Skincare

by Mistie Dawn

Natural skincare is a growing business. As more people realize that many of our every day household items contain harmful chemicals which can lead to skin irritation, chronic dryness, heightened allergies and even something as serious as cancer are causing people to make a switch. I love that there are a lot more choices out there for people looking for better alternatives and I like to try as many as I can. So far to date one of the best product lines that I have tried is the GB Proudfoots skincare products. All of their products are of the best quality and have a multitude of uses and are concentrated for extra strength. Let me share a few of my favorites with you.

For Pits Sake Natural Deodorant: Seen on TV's The Doctors

These VERY popular natural deodorants have been receiving a lot of buzz. Featured on numerous News programs, the TV show The Doctors, and on the Dr. Oz blog just to name a few. Why are they getting so much attention? Because they don't contain any toxic synthetic cancer causing chemicals that the average deodorants contain. Check out the list of deodorant ingredients to avoid compiled by Natural News. Also For Pits Sake works and is long lasting! Won't cause irritation and using natural antibacterial ingredients. For Pits Sake works so well that dermatologists have started recommending them to their patients.
Petroleum Free Lip Balm
I have tried many lip balms and am always disappointed because 5 minutes after putting it on I'm reapplying and reapplying. In fact my lips start to feel dryer than when I originally put the lip balm on. So what's the point?! Well this is the ONLY natural lip balm I've ever used which I apply once or twice and then don't have to reapply. My lips feel nourished and healed. In fact because you don't have to reapply constantly it last much longer than typical lip balms. Also these lip balms are petroleum, fragrance and chemically free. Try them. Your lips will thank you.
Essential Oil Body Spray great alternative to perfume
There is a lot of information coming out about the adverse effects on synthetic fragrances in skincare and cleaning products. Asthma and other allergies are negatively impacted by all these fragrances. Enters GB Proudfoots Essential Oil Body Sprays. They are fragrance free and contain only natural organic essential oils. Essential oils are used in many types of therapies to help heal and soothe. Whether you use them to freshen yourself, your home, pillows, or linens these are much healthier for you then any of the chemical alternatives and they smell great too! But always do your research before you buy to make sure essential oils are right for you.

Calendula Super Salve - a healing moisturizer
This Super Salve is a concentrated natural moisturizer (think of the equveleint of a 16oz bottle of lotion minus the water and alcohol) and skin healer all in one. Think super hydration + Neosporin. It's all due to the Calendula flowers infused into the formula, which has been used as a powerful healer for centuries. Use it on your tough dry spots or all over. It also works as a great anti-aging night cream. A tiny bit goes a long way. 

Liquid Soap Body Wash
This versitile old fashioned liquid soap comes in 5 different scents and makes an amazing natural body wash, hand soap, and foot soak. Made the old fashioned way with no synthetic chemicals and using the best essential oils. Feel refreshed and invigorated. Do you know what is in your synthetic body wash? Check out this infograph to find out.

Natural Styling Wax
Great for short hair styles. This natural styling wax hydrates dry hair, moisturizes the scalp, contains two ingredients that have been shown to stimulate hair growth, contains jojoba which can help relieve dandruff and is a great mustache and beard moisturizer. Contains no parabens or petroleum.  Forgo all the chemicals in your hair care and give this to someone you love.

GP Proudfoot family of products
I put a lot of time and thought in to every product I carry on I try the products before there added to my eBoutique. It has to be a quality made product that lasts and has a positive impact on you and the environment. But don't take my word for it try some of their products for yourself. You will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Victorian Bread and Butter Pudding is Green!

Bread and Butter Pudding

by Katy Green 

 Yes, I said it. We are not in a time warp:). 
We love the Victorian times at Shoptobegreen and we are concerned about selecting the right foods that won't contaminate our bodies.  Each one of us has a voice and we have buying power so we can make a difference in the choices we make but also how food is graded and sold to us. In addition, we also believe in using whatever we have in our pantry and not discarding food which contributes to pollution and waste. 
Okay, I am off the pulpit and back to my passion anything and everything Victorian. Victorian recipes are robust and heavy (lots of meat pies) as well as sweet and savory. 

We can convert any recipe to fit our organic obsessed nature without a lot of fuss. Creating a recipe from things you already have in the house is very green. 

The classic Bread and Butter Pudding, a Victorian treat is famous in the United Kingdom. The origin of bread pudding (sans butter) dates back centuries to Roman times.

"In the 18th century, (Victorian times) bread pudding gained a reputation as good food for sick people, probably because it was easy to digest. The primary use of bread pudding is to use up stale bread. Bread pudding is widely considered to be a "comfort food." Source: History of Bread Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding

Try Shoptobegreen's Victorian Organic Bread and Butter Pudding Recipe

  • 4 - 6 slices of Challah or Italian or French, Brioche any chunky bread (I make my bread in a bread oven so I use the slices that are days old). Use whatever bread you have in the house (don't buy bread for this recipe)
  •  4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  •  2-3 eggs (certified humane label) (more slices of bread more eggs so 6 slices = 3 eggs)
  • 2 cups of whole milk or coconut milk or 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of milk (soy might not taste as great) Whatever milk you choose it should have some fat for the flavor
  • A handful of dried currants or raisins or craisins (craisins are high in sugar so use less sugar) any dried fruit is fine or use rose water or orange water (see below). 
  • 3-4 tablespoons of raw cane sugar or  (some say 1/2 a cup of sugar but if you are including dried fruit which has a lot of sugar you don't need as much)
  • zest from half a fresh lemon (don't use lemon juice) if you don't have a lemon don't buy one unless you need it for something else.
  • Extra flair add: 1 teaspoon of Vanilla and/or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Lemon zest, rose water, or orange water, currants were used in the traditional Victorian Bread and Butter Pudding recipe. Salt is used in most of the new Bread and Butter Pudding recipes but it is not necessary since several of the ingredients already have salt included (butter, milk). For example, a 8 oz of 1% milk contains 130mg of Sodium!

  • Cut the crust off the bread.
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Butter bread slices and butter baking dish and arrange in whatever pattern in the dish in layering effect (similar to the way you would for lasagna)
  • Layer dried fruit between the slices
  • Use the crust to line the bread around the baking dish like border of  picture frame.
  • In a medium saucepan, scald milk,  2 tablespoons of  sugar, and cinnamon or vanilla. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk eggs and slowly pour hot milk over eggs, 2 tablespoons of sugar while whisking also add the lemon zest. 
  • Then pour egg and milk mixture through a strainer to remove any lumps. 
  • Get an additional pie plate or a deep baking dish and pour 1 inch of water into the dish 
  • Set the pudding dish into the water. 
  • Place the pudding into the oven to bake in the water bath for 20 minutes. 
  • Set your timer and then check with a knife by to make sure when you take it out the middle is not soupy. If it is let it bake for 5 minute intervals and then check. The best way to make sure it bakes within in the time frame shown is to make sure the oven is at 350 degrees when you place the pudding in it. 
  • Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving. 
  • The pudding will look like a souffle and will have a  light texture like a souffle. 
  • Add powdered sugar or ice cream when served. It is best served not too long after it is out of the oven.
  • Note: How to make Orange Water: 8 cups chilled water, 2 large oranges. Cut the oranges into thin slices (very thin - remove the seeds first before cutting). Add orange slices to water. Refrigerate 4-6 hours. You can also drink this water in addition to adding it to any recipe.
Enjoy. Comment and let us know if you have any recipes you would like us to post.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Salmonella in eggs...what you don't know!

Free Range or Bust!
Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans contract a food borne illness..that's.over 48 million people every year!

According to the CDC, there are 31 known food borne pathogens the most common deaths are from SalmonellaToxoplasmaListeria, and the norovirus…that's over 1,300 a year.  

Salmonella and eggs...what else is new?
No big surprise, we've heard this before... Salmonella is found on the outside and inside of eggs. To avoid exposure from the eggs, do not eat them or raw or cook eggs lightly. Hollandaise sauce, caeser salad dressing, cold souffles, chiffon  mousses, mayonnaise and contain raw eggs. Experts claim that less than 1% of the eggs tested contain Salmonella but it's possible it could be higher.

Buy eggs from a farmers market and ask questions and visit the farm (it's fun) so you can see how they treat the animals. If you don't have access to a farmers market, look for the Certified Humane label, Free Farmed, Certified Organic, cage-free, or free-range on the egg carton. Don't be fooled by the UEP Certified logo. 

Fresh eggs sinks and stale eggs float
 If you are wondering how salmonella is passed to the egg…it is stated in multiple findings that chickens carry the bacteria in their own bodies, and pass Salmonella to the yolk and white while the egg is forming in the ovaries. Chickens can be carriers for Salmonella without being sick themselves. Hens locked in cages are not safe and are more likely to contract diseases.

You can check if your egg is fresh by looking at the yolk or put the egg in a pan of plain water. If it sinks and rests horizontally, it's good. As the egg ages, the air cell gets bigger so it will either start to rise or float. Avoid eating old eggs.

Click here for Bad eggs: 10 ways to cut your salmonella risk

by Katy Green