Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rules For My Yearlong Shopping Ban

      I am banning myself from shopping for a year. Yep, that's right, come July 3rd, 2016, I will be able to shop again. But until then, I will not be allowed to purchase anything that goes against the rules! This shopping ban idea is heavily inspired by a similar plan adopted by Cait Flanders at Blonde on a Budget, so if you like this idea, check out her blog for more. So, let's dive in, shall we? 

     I have four main goals in mind that I hope to achieve as results of this shopping ban. First, I hope to consume less, create less waste, and tread more lightly on Earth. I also aim to gain new skills and a new degree of health by not ingesting processed and plastic-encased foods. I also want to become more resourceful - seeking out solutions to problems that don't simply involve buying something - and more mindful of what I consume. Finally, I want to learn to appreciate what I have and take my life's focus off consumption, appearances, and things. Without further ado, here are the rules: 

Things I Am Not Allowed to Shop For: 

- Most* processed/packaged/frozen foods

- Cosmetics and some hygiene products

- Clothes, shoes, and accessories

- Gifts for others

- Electronics

- Cleaning products and laundry detergent

- Books and magazines

- Basic kitchen supplies (plastic bags, tin foil, etc.)

Things I am Not Allowed to Buy New:

- Dishes, pans, pots, kitchen utensils

- Decorations/household items

Things I'm Allowed to Shop For: 

- Specific groceries: produce, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, meat, ingredients for recipes, and a few other things (sourced as locally as possible!)

- Medicine/pharmacy stuff

- Raw ingredients and DIY supplies. 

- Household appliances/electronics

     As you can see, this is basically a yearlong experiment in making as much of what I need as I possibly can. 

      I put an asterisk next to "Most processed/packaged/frozen foods" because there are some foods I will need to buy that come in packaging, like the occasional meat product and cheese, since I don't think I'm ready to make that myself. There are a few things in the gray area, like yogurt and peanut butter, that I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to make or not. I will also not be buying any basic kitchen supplies like plastic bags or tin foil (unless I do need them for a DIY, in which case they fall under the category of supplies) to practice cutting down on waste, which means I will need to find other ways to store my food! 

      I wrote "some hygiene products" down because I recently found a bunch of recipes online for shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and the like. I also already make my own deodorant and exfoliating scrub, so I'm going to challenge myself to make as much of my own hygiene products as possible. However, I'm not absolutely binding myself to using homemade toothpaste or shampoo if it doesn't get the job done right. Additionally, I will not be buying any cleaning supplies or laundry detergent! I have a friend who makes her own detergent, and I've read in a number of places that all you need to clean your house is vinegar, so I think this will be fairly easy. I'm also not buying any cosmetics for the whole year! This is not a huge deal, because I usually don't wear any makeup anyway. I will miss mascara, but I can live without it. 

    "Gifts for others" also made the cannot-buy list, for two reasons. First, the custom of gift-giving, to me, represents the deeply ingrained materialism in our society. Instead of spending quality time with each other, we give others material things to represent our connection. That doesn't fly with me. I'd rather give someone yummy food and a meaningful experience rather than just a thing. Secondly, being a Jack-of-all-trades, I'm crafty enough to make my own gifts. If I really want to give someone a thing, I can make that thing myself. Handmade gifts are also much more special because of the time and thought put into them, so I think they will be more well-recieved. 

     Now, how to keep myself accountable for this…. Well, that's what a blog is for! Aside from adding tutorials for all the DIYs and recipes I try and approve of to the blog, I will also be keeping a couple lists going on the tab I have added marked "Shopping Ban". One list will include things I want to buy once July 3rd 2016 rolls around, and one will be a list of things that seriously tempt me to break the shopping ban. I plan on doing an update post every once in a while just to let you all know how it's going, and that's when the lists will get updated too. The Shopping Ban tab will also link to all posts tagged "Shopping Ban 2015-2016", so you can see all my updates in one place. 

     Alright, well, that's all I have to say. Do you have any suggestions or thoughts on what I'm doing here? Have you done a shopping ban? How was your experience? Let me know down in the comments! And wish me luck!! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Vanilla Scented Sugar Scrub Recipe!

    It's a fine day to make a sugar scrub! As promised by my Instagram post this weekend, here's the recipe for a vanilla scented sugar scrub, as well as little note about why it's great to make your own! The recipe was adapted from Thank Your Body and the photo comes from The Novice Chef. Although this recipe is different from the one pictured, that is just about what mine looks like. One thing that's good to note is that this recipe is a scrub for sensitive skin, since that's what I have. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, try looking at recipes specifically for your skin type. Without further ado, here's the recipe:


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil (although avocado, olive, and almond oil also work)
2 Tbs honey
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract (you could also use 5 – 10 drops of your favorite essential oil)
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
To use:
Apply the sugar scrub to your face, neck and throat. For this you won't need much, only a scoop that's a bit smaller than a golf ball. You might even want to use some on your hands to slough off dry or dead skin. Be careful not to scrub vigorously. Use a circular motion and work the scrub into your forehead, cheeks, chin and neck. Avoid the eye area completely. This skin is delicate and should never be exfoliated with a scrub.
Rinse the face using warm water and finish with a nice cool splash of water to close pores.
Of course you can use this scrub on your whole body, too. Always finish with a cool rinse and pat skin dry with a clean towel.

    Here's mine if you missed my Instagram post (@thosegoodvibes95). I put it in an old cookie dough tub and made my own label from graph paper, markers, and packing tape. I keep mine in the shower for an easy rinse-off. 
Why It's Great to Make Your Own:

    Store-bought exfoliating scrubs are not created equal. Some use tiny pieces of apricot pit or similar organic matter (a la St. Ives, every teenager's favorite) as their exfoliating component, while others (ahem, Olay and Biore for starters) use tiny plastic beads to get the job done. The problem with that is that those tiny plastic beads wind up as water and environmental pollutants, and are very hard to keep track of. On top of this, both types of exfoliants, organic and plastic particles alike, come in disposable plastic bottles or squeeze tubes. This generates unnecessary waste, especially when you can make your own, out of ingredients you probably already have, and put it in a reusable (or reused!) container.
    Need some more reasons to make your own? This stuff is awesome. It smells super good, leaves your skin very soft, and you know what's in it and that every ingredient is safe to use on your body! What more could you want? Happy scrubbing!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Good Vibes Book Club: First Edition

      Summertime is an excellent time for me because I finally have enough time to indulge my inner bookworm! I know there are a lot of people out there just like me, so I thought I'd put together a little summer reading list of sorts. I've read all of these books and thoroughly enjoyed them, so I hope you will check them out (of the library, heh).

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Immensely humorous and quirky, the basic premise of this novel outlines the battle between heaven and hell. Representatives from both  realms (an angel and a demon, respectively) constitute the main characters, both tasked with watching over the Anti-Christ and preparing for the ensuing apocalypse. The book is absolutely hilarious and extremely offbeat and inventive, and the cast of characters includes colorful individuals, including witch-hunters, psychics, hellhounds, and regular suburbanites. I have a fierce love for this book and I highly recommend it :)

Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach
Originally published in 1975 amid the surge of the environmental movement in the U.S., this book's glittering optimism is fantastically inspiring. The book is set 20 years after Washington, Oregon, and Northern California have seceded from the U.S. to form a new nation, Ecotopia. They have been very isolated from the U.S. until the point when the book starts, as Ecotopia allows in one U.S. journalist, Will Weston, to enter the country and observe their way of life. Will is the main characters, and the novel mostly details his adventures and escapades in discovering Ecotopia, detailed through a mix of diary entries and journalistic reports sent back to the U.S. The world the author describes is radically different from ours and so imaginatively detailed, it feels real.

Non Fiction

All Natural by Nathanael Johnson
In this book, the author, who was brought up by parents who belonged to the hippie-esque crowd in Nevada City, California and had a strong preference for all things natural when it came to questions of parenting and lifestyle. However, the author has grown skeptical of his parents' beliefs and decides to compare natural and technological approaches side by side in this investigative book. His journey leads him all over the place, and the book follows suit, discussing subjects as diverse as midwifery, forestry practices, pig farming, and the benefits of raw milk. This book is extremely well-written and fun to read, and provides lots of interesting facts!

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan and K. Ruby Blume
This book is vastly informative, and one of my first thorough introductions to understanding sustainable living and how ecological concepts apply to human living. Chock-full of advice and step-by-step tutorials, this book is a practical handbook that is also immensely enjoyable to read. One of my favorite things about it is that it does not focus solely on gardening or the environment, but instead takes a more holistic approach and discusses human communities too. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has even a minute interest in sustainability, communities, gardening, permaculture, or all of the above!

Eaarth by Bill McKibben
This excellent book covers climate change, the impending effects, and how to deal with them. Backed up with a myriad of scientific studies and statistics, this book will get you extremely well-informed about climate change and what to expect in the coming years. If you're skeptical, I highly recommend reading at least the first chapter of this book! That aside, reading this book can be rather sobering, at least during the first couple chapters. Stick it out, it gets better at the end :) And when you're finished, be sure to pass it on to someone else!

Happy reading! Love, 
Photos: 1, all others found via google.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why I Sell Vintage Clothes (And Why You Should Buy Them)

      As you may know, I am passionate about where and how we get our clothes. So the fact that I sell my own variety of vintage and altered clothing may come as no surprise, if you understand why I do it. And if you don't, well, that's what I'm here to talk about! My motivation for selling vintage and altered clothes and encouraging people to wear them consists of several main reasons:

1. Some people don't have the time or skill to dig through piles and find something good, but something good is always there. I mostly hang out with people who will excitedly approach a flea market or garage sale without a second thought, so the existence of people who don't do this is actually a bit hard to imagine for me. However, I know you all are out there, and I want to make awesome vintage clothing more accessible to you. You deserve to be able to wear cute old stuff too, even if you don't have the time or skill to find it! Thrifting is a skill, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Need proof? Just google how many "how to thrift" tutorials exist on the internet. It takes a while to get good at it and understand where you need to look, and how hard, as well as how to evaluate an item and get familiar with values and decades. If learning all that intimidates you as it does some people, have no fear. Madeleine is here to help :)

2. Vintage clothes are beautiful, lasting, and well-made. Vintage clothes are wonderful because they are oftentimes extremely better made than their modern-day counterparts. Know what that means? A shirt that is vintage is likely to last twice as long as a T-shirt from H&M. That's a shirt worth your money!

3. Wearing and buying vintage is way more sustainable than buying new. I went over this in detail when I wrote about why I don't buy new clothes. The basic gist is that as long as you don't create economic demand through your consumption of new clothing, there will be less resources being used to produce less new clothing, which is great! Wearing vintage and altered clothing instead of new clothing results in less economic demand, less resources used, and more resources left over for the planet and the basic needs of other organisms!  If you've ever visited a thrift store, you can see that this country does not need any more new clothes made. There are enough clothes already out there to cover the back of every American, and then some!

4. Wearing vintage or altered clothing is original and awesome! One of the reasons I personally love thrifting is that I love finding pieces that just need a little bit of faith and someone brave enough to rock them. Better yet, I love using Etsy to put those pieces in the hands of those people! I also love the challenge of taking ugly and outdated items and altering them into cool pieces that someone will love to wear, and the fact that these pieces are either rare or one of a kind just adds to the cool factor you get from wearing them!

     Long story short, I believe that vintage and altered clothing are a more sustainable, stylish, and durable alternative to mainstream fashions and mass-produced clothing, and I want to make this alternative as accessible to others as I possibly can. Feel free to pop into my Etsy shop, or brave your local thrift store if you're the type to do so :)

Photos: 1, 2

Friday, June 19, 2015

Why I Stopped Using Deodorant (And Made My Own Instead)

      Today we're going to talk about deodorant, and how I don't wear it any more. Yep. Now if you're thinking "yuck!", hang on a minute! There are three excellent reasons why I don't use deodorant, so hear me out:

1. Toxins. The first reason I don't wear deodorant anymore is because it contains three potentially toxic ingredients: parabens, aluminum, and propylene glycol. Applying parabens and aluminum to the underarm area has been identified by some doctors as leading to risk of breast cancer. Propylene glycol is thought to be safe in small doses, but it is a neurotoxin that can damage your kidneys and liver. I'm not interested in toxins entering my body whatsoever, whether they cause cancer or not.

2. Packaging waste. Do you see how much plastic is wasted in each of those push up canisters deodorants come in? Nuh-uh. I'm not about to buy something that's mostly plastic, just to send most of that money to a landfill.

3. Money. I'm a college student, and a smart, frugal individual. I could buy natural deodorants that don't use toxic ingredients, but these cost more money than generic brands. Almost any way that I can save money, I will. Which is how I discovered a much more cost-effective solution….

You Can Make Your Own Deodorant!! 

    There are many recipes out there, but my personal favorite was introduced to me by one of my students this year. It only requires four ingredients (coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch, and essential oils) and it smells and feels delightful on my skin. I also love the fact that I can make a huge batch all at once and put it in a reusable jar to decrease packaging waste! Plus, I love knowing exactly what is in the things I'm putting on my body and skin.

     Another alternative is to simply stop wearing deodorant! I've heard it takes 30 days before your body regulates and stops needing deodorant to keep from being smelly. Whether this is true or not, I went without deodorant for over two months, and I don't think anyone noticed (or at least they were all too polite to say something).

    I encourage you all to try experimenting with your deodorant regimen. Who knows, maybe you don't even need it? I hope this little piece of advice helps you all lead happier, healthier, and more sustainable lives. Happy experimenting!

P.S. If you want more on this topic, I found this guy's experimentations with deodorant to be pretty entertaining, and useful!

Photos: mine, 2 (this link sends you to a wonderful tumblr archive of DIY deodorant recipes, just in case you want to look at other recipes!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summertime Link List!

     Heyo friends, here's a link list to get y'all started off right with some summer daze-inducing web-surfin' goodness. Confession: I've actually been working on this list for months. I don't really surf the web that much! But here is what I've found, so enjoy!

F Yeah Basset Hounds! is the freakin' cutest tumblr I've ever seen!!

- This Gilmore Girls-inspired reading list is awesome! (Totally watching it on Netflix right now)

- Guys, I'm pretty sure I'm an Anarchist Communist. Alright!

- Read a little folklore/history from Summit, the place I grew up!!

School's Out Forever by Tova on Rookie is a radical article about the author's story of deciding to leave high school. I love how she talks about self-teaching and learning resources! Makes me wish I'd left high school.

- Gala Darling's article Plug Into Your Weirdness is the most YESSSS thing I have read in a while. Who cares what other people think! Be you!!

- The artist Alejandro Duran creates art pieces from trash that washes up on the shores of Mexico's tropical reserve Sian Ka'an. The results are beautiful and frightening.

- Would you attend the College of Wizardry? Sounds way too fun!

- Isabel Hendrix is a badass self love superhero (among other things) and I love her blog! Check out her self-love tips.

- I love Cait's blog, it's all about minimalism! I can't stop reading her articles. My favorites are her story of letting go of 60% of her stuff and an article about her year-long shopping ban!

- The Best Song Ever is a comic on Rookie that I love reading. So many cute feels :)

- This video of 17 different British accents performed by one woman is mind-boggling. I never knew there were so many!

- Some Pinterest boards I've been enjoying lately include Dulce's, Alannah Grace's, and Gala Darling's. Great blogs = great Pinterests.

Calliope Bridge's talent is beautiful and awe-inspiring!

- I really enjoy Liz from Delightfully Tacky's Remix Archives series! It's nice to see someone advertising the fact that they wear their clothes more than once. She also does a Remixology series, which is along the same lines.

- This article on Urban Agriculture in the Bay Area is super inspiring. And local :)

- That article also mentions the Institute of Urban Homesteading. I sure would like to pay that place a visit!

- I found some awesome re-fashion blogs! Refashionista, Charity Shop Chic, and sew Amy sew all make me want to refashion my thrift store finds ASAP!

- Have you heard about the one person town in Nebraska?

- Look at these beautiful oil paintings of Disney princesses. Mulan is my fave.

- Speaking of princesses, Rejected Princesses is the coolest site ever, dedicated to historical women too badass to ever be cast in their own disney movie. This entry on Osh-Tisch (which means Finds Them and Kills Them in Crow) is about a Two Spirit shaman war hero from the Crow tribe! Awesome!

- Take Back Halloween is a site made to combat the whole "sexy kitty cat" trend prevalent in women's Halloween costumes. Lots of great ideas! Their about page is awesomely inspiring!

- Fairy Home on Etsy sells some of the zaniest, most interesting home decor I've seen in a while. This gives me some great DIY ideas :)

- An art student named Kate Powell was able to develop a huge social media following in high school. Her work is beautiful!

- The way this girl deals with man spreading is the literal best!!

Photos: 1, 2

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Literally the Best Cinnamon Rolls I've Ever Tasted: They Have A Surprise Ingredient!

You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. This cinnamon roll recipe will change your life. At least, for a few minutes. The secret ingredient is potato, by the way, and boy does it make a difference! The recipe and picture both come from Slate, and you can read all about why the potato makes these rolls so good on their site. Also, before we begin, I'd like to note that I did not use a ricer but instead grated the potato with a cheese greater, and it integrated just fine. Happy baking!
Surprise* Cinnamon RollsYield: 12 servings
Time: 3½ to 4 hours, mostly unattended
*1 small potato (about 4 ounces), cut into 1-inch chunks
1½ teaspoons salt
4½ cups flour, plus more for kneading and shaping
1 cup sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast or one ¼-ounce packet active dry yeast
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
Oil or butter for greasing the bowl and pan
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Put the potato in a medium saucepan with ½ teaspoon salt and enough water to cover it by at least 1 inch. Cover the saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook until the potato is very tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flour, ½ cup of the sugar, the yeast, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
2. Drain the potato, reserving 1¼ cups of the potato-cooking liquid, and put the potato through a ricer. (Discard the potato skin.) Add ¼ cup (½ stick) of the butter to the reserved potato-cooking liquid and stir until it melts. When the butter mixture cools to 100°F—about the same temperature as the inside of your wrist—add it to the flour mixture along with the riced potato and the egg. Stir with the dough-hook attachment of a stand mixer or by hand until combined.
3. Knead the dough with the dough-hook attachment of a stand mixer or by hand until it feels smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Grease a large bowl (it’s fine to use the same one you mixed the dough in), add the dough, and turn it over to coat it lightly with oil or butter. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, put it in a warm place, and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Grease a 9- by 13-inch pan with oil or butter. Punch down the dough, then transfer it to a floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into an approximately 8- by 12-inch rectangle. Spread the remaining ½ cup (1 stick) butter over the surface of the dough. Combine the remaining ½ cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle this mixture evenly over the butter. Starting from one of the long sides, roll up the dough as tightly as possible. Cut the roll into 12 one-inch slices and arrange the slices, cut side up, in the greased pan.
5. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, put it in a warm place, and let the rolls rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (At this point you can refrigerate the cinnamon rolls for up to 12 hours or overnight; let them return to room temperature before baking.)
6. Heat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the cinnamon rolls and bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth, then whisk in the vanilla. Let the cinnamon rolls cool slightly, then drizzle the icing over them and serve warm.