Do You Know What You're Wearing?

I've written some posts on occasion about matters that concern the environment and health, from doing a green sweep of household cleaning products to trying to add more healthful organic foods into meals. I've talked about recycling, upcycling and buying secondhand. Today I want to talk about becoming more conscious about the clothing we wear.

We're all aware, or should be, that our clothing and textiles are largely manufactured outside the U.S. Cheap labor and less stringent environmental and safety regulations all factor into the decision for companies to keep costs at a minimum, although that doesn't necessarily mean lower prices for us. It just means bigger profits for the corporations. But beyond the dollars that go out of our wallets when we make a purchase there are other costs you may not have considered.

Recently I was browsing through some clearance racks at a local store and found a nice half-zip top in the sportswear department. It was made of a performance type fabric that I thought would be a nice layering item for the cold winter. I wasn't focusing on much other than style, size, color and the great clearance price. That's probably what most of us look at. It wasn't until I got home and was about to remove the hang tags that I noticed two I had missed seeing in the store. I immediately knew this was one clothing item that would be getting returned.

As you can see, this piece of clothing has been chemically treated with built-in sun screen protection and built-in insect protection! I don't know about you but chemicals that are added to my clothing, that are already made out of chemicals to begin with, is just too much. Any protection I would be gaining from the harmful UV radiation or possible insect borne disease would only be mitigated by the chemicals I would no doubt be absorbing into my skin. And what those chemicals are I have no way of knowing. They may be carcinogenic or hormone disrupting chemicals. Do I want to hold a small child while wearing these chemical riddled clothes? What about when they are laundered? How much is leaching out into the sewers and contaminating our water and soil? The label on the top I bought says the insect protection is "proven". What exactly is proven? It doesn't say. It also says it "lasts through 70 launderings".  In other words, the chemicals eventually wash out and are rinsed down the drain and into the environment, as do dyes and other chemicals used in the manufacture of our clothing.

Just a few days later I saw an article about the Greenpeace Detox Campaign, and with it a video that left me sick to my stomach. Watch it and I think you'll be alarmed too.

The next time you go shopping for clothes I hope you will remember this. The next time you turn on a faucet and see nice clean water coming out I hope you will remember. Our choices do make a difference, not only for ourselves but for countless others around the world. We only have one world and we all have to share it.
I did a little further research into insect repellent treated clothing and discovered that the only repellent approved for use in clothing is permethrin, which has been approved and deemed safe by the EPA. According to Wikipedia permethrin "has low mammalian toxicity, is poorly absorbed through the skin and is rapidly inactivated by the body. Skin reactions have been uncommon." There are no known risks to using this to treat clothing including for toddlers, who may have oral contact with their clothing, or for pregnant and lactating women. It has also been tested to be safe for daily wear and all military clothing is now treated with permethrin.

It is, however, recommended that treated clothing be washed separately from other laundry. And although safe for humans the following points were made:

  • Permethrin is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic life in general, so extreme care must be taken when using products containing permethrin near water sources.
  • Permethrin is also highly toxic to cats, and flea and tick-repellent formulas intended and labeled for (the more resistant) dogs may contain permethrin and cause feline permethrin toxicosis in cats.[9]
  • Very high doses will have tangible neurotoxic effects on mammals and birds, including human beings.

You can read more at the EPA website and Wikipedia. As always, it is up to each of us to make our own choices and to be knowledgeable consumers.


Painted Cabinets Reveal

As promised, finally, a few photos of my repainted kitchen cabinets. They're not easy to photograph. Poor lighting, reflections and a tight spot to try to get in...not to mention trying to avoid letting you see the dirty dishes all piled up just out of the picture...ha ha.

In the end I'm fairly happy with how they turned out. Although in a few photos they may look streaky, especially when you click and enlarge the pictures, it's mostly reflections you're seeing. I'm on the fence about having kept the apron front white. I'll live with it for awhile before deciding if I want to paint it gray like the rest. Any opinions? Unlike the gray oil based paint I used a latex waterborne version for the white. It isn't supposed to yellow over time as the oil paint would. Although the same finish, satin, it doesn't seem to have as much sheen as the gray. I'd prefer it to be a bit shinier and smoother feeling. I'll see how it holds up over the next few months before making a final decision on what to use for the top cabinets. 

I kept all the original hardware. I thought about replacing the drawer pulls but in the end decided to keep what I had. Someday down the line when I might want to sell these they will be all original...except for the paint of course. I still need to put the "Geneva" logo tag back on the apron front too. You can see the holes where that will go. 

I am so anxious to get going on the walls! I'd be peeling that paper now but I know it will take longer than I think and with the holidays fast approaching we've decided to wait until afterwards. I can't imagine trying to cook holiday meals in a torn apart mess and the bright yellow walls that are under that paper. But one small item is ticked off my list at least. It's a start. Here's that list again:

  • Refinish the metal cabinets. (bottom cabinets done anyway...)
  • Tile backsplash over sink. 
  • Strip wallpaper, prep walls and paint.
  • Repair cracked ceiling and paint.
  • New lighting: Pendants over the island, sink lighting.
  • Properly vented range hood installed at correct height.
  • Paint the woodwork white?
  • New doors made for built-in cabinets.
  • Insulate built-ins.
  • New flooring.
  • New energy efficient back door.
  • Cabinets to make use of empty space above and around appliances.
  • Bifold doors for utility nook.

From now until Christmas I will be concentrating on food, gift making, decorating, entertaining and fun! Today I'm dusting off my sewing machine to get started on the gift making. I wish I could show pictures but it will have to wait...it's a secret for now. Have you started gearing up for the holidays? Are you going to be spending it in the midst of a remodeling project? How do you cope with that if you are? 


A Day in November

With November comes indoor time. Gone are the revolving back door rambles in and out of the house to the compost pile, to pluck something from the garden, to hang laundry on the line or just sit in the sun on the back steps with a cup of coffee. Going out is a little more involved. It requires things like shoes and socks and jackets. And pretty soon it will be even more of a ritual with boots, hats, gloves and layers. Trips out are planned. If I'm going out on an errand or walk I'll also take out the garbage, maybe sweep or shovel a bit of snow, or pick up the mail...as along as I'm already bundled up.

We had our first snow this morning. Just a dusting, but it's still lingering in the shady corners of the yard late this afternoon. A gentle reminder from Mother Nature that we shouldn't waste time getting ready for what is surely just around the corner. We still need to get out the snow shovels and equip the cars with their snow scrapers, brushes, and floor mats; find those boots, gloves, hats and scarves; dig out the down jackets from the back of the closet. There are still quite a few leaves on the trees, which is surprising considering all of them that are piled on the ground or that have already been raked! The days are growing considerably shorter too. At 3:45 this afternoon the sun was just grazing the rooftops of the houses to the west. 

It felt like a good day to do some baking. A couple days ago I roasted one of our Halloween pumpkins, envisioning a couple of yummy pumpkin pies in our future. A medium sized pumpkin yielded a grand total of nine ounces of pumpkin puree. Whomp whomp. Oh well, not enough for a pie. But enough for a recipe of pumpkin cheddar scones and some left over to make myself a pumpkin chai protein shake for tomorrow's breakfast. The scones were delish with my mother-in-law's grape jelly. You can see the bits of cheese that don't quite melt. Next time I think I'll add some grated apple to the recipe which would be great with the cheddar.

After that I spent a little time giving my dining room cupboard some fall styling. I like having the window blinds pulled all the way up this time of year so that I can enjoy the view of autumn colors. The oak trees are particularly beautiful in November. I didn't want anything that would compete with the splendor of Mother Nature so I came up with this rather neutral and simple color scheme.

Every item on these shelves is thrifted, with the exception of the teapot which I've had for years. I can't remember when I last bought any dish or decorative item new. Once I discovered the gold mine of stuff that is in thrift stores I never looked back. And with everything I already have I can usually just go "shopping" in my own cupboards and closets to get a new look. 

On the top shelf I have some of my favorite thrift finds ever! The Danish teak candlesticks! The carved bird art (Mexican I think) stays on the shelf pretty much all the time. I recently found the set of four ceramic shell dishes which are great for small plate appetizers. The acorn s&p shakers come out every year at this time to grace the Thanksgiving table. And finally the African gazelles...plural, see the baby?

Another new acquisition is this set of cups and saucers. Their fall colors and sunflower design drew me in. They're not vintage but I fell in love with them. I kept this shelf simple, pairing the cups with a set of antlers that I also found in a thrift shop. 

Finally, the bottom shelf has the inlay bird tray that also is a staple item on this cabinet. The chartreuse teapot and covered dish are the only pops of color here. We use the covered dish to serve our pancakes and french toast for weekend breakfasts . The little silver partridge s&p set adds a bit of shiny bling. 

I've been displaying these little pumpkins and mosaic tray on my coffee table for a couple weeks. I like how the pumpkins sort of mimic my tomato red pouf in the background. I had three but I noticed one was starting to get moldy so off to the compost it went. I might add in a votive or two and some unshelled nuts to fill in the blank spaces.

I have a couple little indoor projects I've started. Fall and winter is always knitting time for me. It's nice to have something to do while watching TV during the long evenings, which we tend to spend more time doing this time of year. Currently that would be watching episodes of Monarch of the Glen and Doc Martin. I have a little secret project on the needles. (I'm picking up my new prescription glasses tomorrow! Goodbye drug store cheaters.)

After the long drawn out cupboard project (pictures still to come...waiting for a good sunny day to get photos) I was in need of a small project that would give me some quick gratification. I have a little antique sewing cabinet that I inherited from my grandmother. For years it has been stashed in the attic collecting dust because I didn't have anywhere to keep it. I came across it again when we were looking for things to add to our thrift sale. It has a veneer finish that had seen better days. It was scuffed up and some of the veneer was loose and chipped off in places. The legs wobbled precariously and one of the feet had actually broken off. My husband glued the foot back on and I marked it for sale. Then at the last minute I changed my mind and pulled it out of the sale. A rehab project was born.

It has some neat hardware detail like the claw feet and lion head drawer pull. The dark wood didn't show them off to their best advantage. In the cabinet's new life it will be painted white with an aqua interior. Here are a couple before and in progress pictures. I can't wait to get this one finished.

What sort of things are you doing at home now that the days are shorter and cooler? Do you like to curl up with a book? Watch movies? Bake and cook? Sew or knit? Fluff your nest? Do indoor remodeling projects? Any or all of the above? Judging by these photos I need to spend some time working on my indoor photography. Drat you lack of natural lighting.