Reusing Jars Part Two: Beauty Treatments

This project and subsequent post is so overdue. You know what they say: “Sometimes life gets in the way”, and the past couple months have definitely thrown some curves at me. Now that the holiday dust has settled a bit, there’s time to pick up where I left off.

Originally, I planned to mix up this recipe to fill the jars from the first part of this post and give them out over the holidays. I realized though, in the last couple of days, these could also make cute gifts for Valentine’s Day. So, while my sweetie was cooking us breakfast this morning, I busted out the supplies and got to work.

My first step was to sanitize the jars and lids in the dishwasher to destroy any microbes that have lingered from the jars’ previous uses. Next I mixed and tested the scrub. I found that I needed a bit more coconut oil than the recipe called for, to create the consistency that I prefer. Otherwise, it was a bit dry and tended to crumble away. Once I had the mixture down, and the jars were ready, I redecorated the lids in appropriate St. Valentine fashion using scrap booking remnants and leftover Christmas ribbon.

I’m really happy with the finished product and am excited to present these to my loved ones. I’m also considering whipping up some body butter to pair with the scrub for a complete winter skin treatment.

St. Valentine's Scrub

Reusing Jars Part One: Halloween “Candles”

So we ended up with about ten of these adorable jars after a family member’s wedding in October. The brides had used them to package some delicious frosted pecans to give out as favors, and we managed to snag a couple extras. We ate them all almost immediately and were then left with the empty jars to reuse.

I have a final plan for these cuties, but in the meantime, I put them to use as non-flammable candles for a family Halloween party using some electric tea lights, a bit of spider webbing and some plastic insects and rodents. They were easy to make, safe to have around kids and pets, and set the mood well. Best of all, I can use the jars again for the final project, which may or may not have to do with holiday gifts. Either way, I’ll post their next incarnation here.


Wishful Wardrobe – Sweatshirts

I’m late to the fall fashion party, but in my defense it’s only been in the last week or so that we have finally felt any real chill in the DC area. Today, I am making up for lost time. The weather, while not terribly cold, is gloomy and overcast providing a perfect backdrop to peruse autumns sartorial offerings online. I am especially taken by the trend toward sweatshirts as a legitimate fashion element and not just something to throw on as I’m dashing out the door on my way to a youth sports event. There is nothing else quite as cozy and easy to layer as days get colder. I found a neutral, basic top from the H&M Conscious Collection and created three different looks using upcycled, vegan, or thrift shop items along with a couple basic pieces currently in my closet:


All Hallow’s Eve


My Halloween tribute to Christina Aguilera
with a Dr. Evil photobomb

I have a special place in my heart for Halloween. The eerie aesthetic has always been a draw, plus my oldest son was born so near to the holiday that I have spent most of the last 18 Octobers planning and executing some type of holiday/birthday event. In other words, I’ve had my fair share of crafting, cooking and creating all things dark and creepy. The downside is that like any other holiday it can get pricey real quick, not to mention wasteful (all that candy!) when I get carried away. So in the spirit (ha!) of sustainability, here’s a few links with ideas for celebrating Halloween without sacrificing those things that make the day so much fun.

Decorations: Who doesn’t love turning their yard or walkway into a festive display for trick-or-treaters or party guests? One of my friends – a teacher and veritable superwoman – along with her boys, made a horde of these monsters using plastic bottles and lined their driveway with them. Also super cute and simple to make using jars and acrylic paint, are these glass luminarias. For our party last year, we placed several sets of these spooky glowing eyes made from empty toilet paper rolls in the foliage behind our deck. We used glow sticks in lieu of the LED light and battery, and they turned out well. I definitely recommend borrowing a hobby knife, if you don’t have one, for an adult or older child to use when cutting the eye shapes. Scissors will work, but not as easily.

Pumpkins and Jack o’ Lanterns: If you find yourself with an extra, uncarved pumpkin, or even one that has already been cut into (a masterpiece gone awry, perhaps?), making it into puree for baking is easy. Just don’t use any carved pumpkins older than 24 hours. As for the guts, the more ambitious chef with time to shell seeds might like to try making pumpkin seed pesto, otherwise classic roasted pumpkin seeds, make a tasty, healthy snack. Once carved pumpkins are past their prime, they can be tossed right into your compost bin. No bin? You can find a location to dispose of your organic food waste here, or simply bury the shells in your garden to enrich the soil.

Costumes: I love all the other prep that goes into Halloween, but the dressing up is my favorite- whether I spend an entire month or just the final hours before a party working on my costume. Refinery 29 presents some ideas for piecing together a costume from the thrift store, but you may even be able to shop your own wardrobe. Your favorite television character, zombie bridesmaid (never a bride), or even “Carrie” could already be in your closet. For additional inspiration, try some tips in one of these You-Tube make-up tutorials also assembled by R29. (WARNING: The Jem and the Holograms make-up video included in this listing is extra awesome and may lead to the immediate and uninterrupted viewing of all Vintage or Tacky’s other tutorials.)

Candy: We always end up buying more candy than we can hand out, and our own kids bring in such a haul that it gets a little crazy. If you find yourself buried in Halloween treats, consider donating them to the troops. For those chocolate based favorites deemed too precious to part with, you can boost the nutritional value by melting them down to make a dip for fresh fruit or a recipe such as these banana pops. Unreal Candy and YummyEarth Organics offer some alternatives to the usual handouts for trick-or-treaters, plus a directory of fair trade chocolatiers can be found here.

Hopefully, you came across something in this post that you can use or put your own spin on. Would love to hear additional tips and ideas from others, too, so please feel free to share. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

The Connection Between Wildlife Trafficking and Terrorism

It’s impossible for me to comprehend the reality of living in a region where terrorism, animal cruelty, and animal cruelty-funded terrorism, is a way of life on such a large scale, but clearly this is one of the-if not the worst- scenarios when it comes to issues surrounding animal protection and conservation efforts. I can’t claim to completely understand the political and historical context in which these events occur, but animal suffering is a terrible thing and when it’s perpetuated to maintain a system of terror and oppression it becomes something even more horrifying. I think this piece by Chris Tackett at TreeHugger does a great job of breaking down how this sort of thing happens and illustrates the need to remember that animal issues are not always “just” animal issues-they are often human issues as well.

Notes from NYU sustainability conference: Cafeteria Culture

As I mentioned in the “welcome back” post, there was so much awesome and inspiring stuff to take in at the the conference I attended over the weekend, I thought I ought get started on these posts! First up is an NYC public school cafeteria recycling program that engages and empowers the students to participate in reducing their school’s waste while imparting important lessons about mitigating environmental impact. This video is fun to watch and says it all:

Welcome back!

Late last week I started toying with the idea of returning to this blog, which had been started a few years ago and then abandoned when my co-blogger and I both got ultra busy, and starting to post again. Then I attended an awesome –awesome– humane education conference at NYU over the weekend. It was so inspiring and there was so many cool things and ideas presented, which I really wanted to share, I felt certain that it was time to bring it back. I hope you enjoy!

Guest Post: Outraged Over Oreo

Many have heard the tragic story of Oreo the dog who survived being thrown off of a building by her owner and who was recently euthanized by the ASPCA. The ASPCA has been criticized for putting her down. The following is a response to some of the criticism from someone who loves animals and works with shelter dogs everyday…

First of all, euthanasia is defined as “easy death” and occurring in a “relatively painless way as an act of mercy”. The accusation that the man neglectfully, cruelly, and dishonestly, chose instead to kill Oreo using a drug called “Fatal Plus” (the brand name, not the actual drug name of Sodium Pentobarbital) is misleading and manipulative. You can be upset that the dog was euthanized rather than transferred to a no kill facility, but please, make your argument solid by representing facts instead of bias.

I take personal offense at the statement that large shelters are in reality staffed by those who would rather “perpetuate the violence and betrayal by killing”. As a staff member responsible for performing euthanasia, I can tell you that euthanasia is never easy, far from enjoyable and an unfortunate reality for many of these shelters.  We are an open admission shelter (unlike no-kill facilities). Which means, we never turn an animal away. Because we choose (and yes, it is a choice) to evaluate animals and not rehome -or allow the animal to spend the rest of its life in a kennel as can happen at no-kill facilities- for aggression, we are able to take in on average 65 healthy, behaviorally sound dogs and puppies per week. Dogs and puppies that were facing euthanasia at other shelters due to lack of space and resources. I agree that everyone has a right to their own opinion, but starting a smear campaign against an animal welfare organization due to a difference in philosophy only leads to a further lack of public support, ultimately resulting in more euthanasia decisions. Until there is not an animal shelter left in the country who daily faces euthanasia of perfectly easy and rehomeable animals, I will defend the decision to euthanize aggression rather than transfer to another facility. Once every behaviorally sound dog/cat/ferret/parrot/rat/rabbit has a home, then the animal welfare community should begin making those great strides in behavior modification and rehabilitation.

Quick Note: Soap, DDR and tiny computer thingys

This is old news for geeks and gamers already flocking to DigitalSoaps to procure clever hand-crafted soaps, but you should definitely check them out if you haven’t already. These gaming inspired soaps have become so popular that the creator had to cut back on working her “real” job-it’s no wonder with fun items such as Mountain Dew scented Nintendo NES soap and coconut lime verbena scented Space Invader soaps. Even more exciting is the fact that these products are made with no animal ingredients:

“The soap bases I use are natural and vegan – No animal products, animal testing, detergents, sulfates or sugar solutions. I’ve been obsessed with finding quality, great ingredient soaps. I found a high quality source of soap base and combined two interests: A love of all things geeky and a love of being clean.”

Awesome. In case you are thinking of giving these as gifts, order by December 5th if you want them in time for Christmas.

Looking for a fun holiday gift project? Even if you’re not a DDR fan, this handbag is pretty cool (it even says so right on it!) and not to difficult to make.

The creator of this bag, Liz McLean Knight, also makes cute jewelry out of computer hardware-not sure if she recycling old, used parts, but the point is that a person could if they wanted to-as far as I know anyway.