BPA Be Gone! 10 ways we’re kicking plastic to the curb.

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This article published by Mother Jones last week was a frightening reminder that we don’t know the whole story about BPA and how the chemicals in plastics affect us. It seems that even so-called “BPA-free” plastics are not safe. And I promise I’m not going all tin-foil hat on you. These allegations are backed up by some pretty significant science.

In fact, a lab called CertiChem ran extensive testing on 18 everyday plastic items from places like Target, Walmart, and Babies R Us,  and found that a quarter of the items “came back positive for estrogenic activity. These results mirrored the lab’s findings in its broader National Institutes of Health-funded research on BPA-free plastics.”

“CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin, had recently coauthored a paper in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It reported that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.”

This type of hormonal exposure is incredibly dangerous, and I want none of it. And while it’s unclear if we’ll be able to see or pinpoint it’s effects in our lifetime, this statement particularly affected me, and influenced our decision to make some drastic changes in what we use in our home:

“A chemical like BPA reprograms your cells and ends up causing a disease in your grandchild that kills him.”

Fuck. That. Noise. To that I say…

NOT IN MY HOUSE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

I fully support LN Smith‘s idea that “every dollar you spend… or don’t spend… is a vote you cast for the world you want.” And the world I want encourages companies to give a shit about the safety of me and my family. But not all of them will, so we’re spending our money on those that do, and trying to avoid shopping with those who don’t.

Here’s some of our favorite plastic-free gear for the kitchen, where minimizing BPA exposure matters most.

bpa-free glass stainless options kitchen bottles storage

1. 4-Ounce Jelly Jars: these are as versatile as they are cute. Just perfect for small batch jams, snacks, salad dressing, spices, pills, or individual portions of almost anything. Also perfect for traveling with. I put lotions, my homemade deodorant, and hair ties/barrettes in these little jars and pop ’em in my travel bag. Easy peasy, and all under the 4oz. TSA maximum for liquids!

2. Half Pint Mason Jars: we use these for canning, but also to store small-batch dry goods like popcorn, seeds, sauces, nuts, etc. They are also great for using as vases to hold flowers, or certain produce items that want to be upright. And a great size for loose craft items too!

3. Quart-Size (32-oz) Wide Mouth Mason Jars: Maybe the most versatile size of our collection, these are awesome for storing large-batch stocks, since they can be frozen. Or we store produce in them, with a small square of damp cloth, in the fridge. (Here’s an awesome guide on storing produce without plastic, for more ideas.) I also like these for keeping leftover dried pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, etc once the bag is opened. I keep my whipped coconut oil in one of these on my bathroom vanity for body lotion. I use them for storing our homemade almond milk. And, as you know, they’re the perfect size for making/storing my homemade laundry lube.

4. Half Gallon Mason Jars: oh, how I love my big daddies. These are brilliant for storing larger amounts of dried goods that we get in bulk – like flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, washing soda, borax, etc. Also great for brewing large batches of sun tea, or infusing waters.

5a. Flip and Tumble Reusable Produce Bags: these always come in my canvas tote with me to the farmer’s market, so I don’t have to use the plastic bags provided there. These have such a fine mesh they can also be used to pick up dried goods in bulk like rice. Then when I get home, I can transfer them to a jar for long-term storage.

5b. Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags: with a wider-gauge weave, these are sturdy as hell and hold produce like a mean m-fer. Also a staple for our weekly farmer’s market trips.

6. Snaplock Tempered Glasslock Storage Containers: tempered glass means they can go from the freezer to the oven and not crack on you, so these are multi-talented like crazy. We use them mostly for storing leftovers and packing Paul’s lunches for work, but they can also be used to freeze portions of stock or lasagna or whatever you like… ready to be reheated in a snap. And speaking of snaps, the lids are the most secure I’ve tried. They snap on and over the lips of all 4 sides for an air-tight and water-tight seal.

7. Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle: These guys come with us to the gym or out shopping, filled with water. Lightweight, unbreakable, and dishwasher safe… they’re perfect sports bottles.

8. Aquasana 18 Oz. Glass Bottles: We’re hardcore slaves to our SodaStream machine, but the plastic bottles are so no bueno. Since we haven’t found a great option to replace it yet, we’re carbonating the water in their bottles, and immediately transferring it to these sturdy glass bottles. I also like to use these for iced tea, when I brew a big batch.

9. Cuisinart PerfecTemp Stainless Steel Electric Kettle: RIP, Keurig. We barely knew ya. Yup, had the sucker for about 6 months, but decided there’s far too much heat and plastic involved to feel comfortable about it. So, we’re selling it and pulled Paul’s old stainless steel kettle out of retirement. It has variable temperature settings, heats up in seconds; and the kettle is cordless, so once it’s been heated, you can move with it easily.

10. Glass Bottles With Stoppers, 33 3/4 oz: We use these rarely, but they’re lovely for storing larger amounts of carbonated water. Especially if we have company and want a couple carafes on the table.

…and this is just the start.

Sure, the lids on some of those items are plastic, but their contact with what’s stored inside is so minimal, I don’t mind too much. And hey, baby steps right?

Pretty soon, those baby steps are gonna add up to quite a journey. And we feel pretty great about the direction in which we’re headed.



DIY Gold Polka Dot Wall. Kate Spade would be so proud!

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Not to brag, but let me brag. When I moved into Paul’s condo, he graciously insisted that I take the gorgeous master bathroom as my own – and moved himself into the guest bathroom on the other side of the house. What’s that saying? “A happy couple never has to fight about the position of the toilet seat?” or “A happy couple never has to smell each other’s poop?” or “A happy couple never has to negotiate over who showers first?”

It’s a beautiful concept. I love having my bathroom as a personal haven of hygenic privacy. I have a wonderful jacuzzi tub, and roomy shower, and enjoy luxuriating in one or the other on a daily basis. But, after it being solely inhabited by a single man for the past 2 years, it definitely lacked a woman’s touch. There was nothing on the clean cream walls, and my lady-heart was screaming for girlish decor.  It’s the only room in our home that I can completely control the look and feel of, and it took me quite some time to figure out what I wanted for it’s overall mood.

First, I found this vinyl wall decal at Target, and put it on the wall next to my vanity. I loved the luxe gold calligraphy, and thought it would set a good mood right off the bat.

Then I saw Jordan’s polka dot wall in her studio, and it struck me like a lightning bolt. I wanted gold polka dots on my bathtub wall, and I wanted them NOW. I’m a huge fan of patterns in general, but the dots get me every single time. It’s no secret that I worship at the altar of Kate Spade, and this idea is clearly very inspired by that obsession.

I was going to do potato-print dots, like Jordan did… but my friend Audrey found these vinyl decals from UrbanWalls on etsy for me. I loved the size and uniformity of them, and Paul loved the fact that they’re easily removable without having to re-paint, when we decide to move. So, I ordered up 2 rolls for a total of 100 four-inch dots for the affordable price of $77 CAD / $69 USD, and recruited a girlfriend to help me out on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

We started by cutting out each circle and roughly spacing them out until we decided what looked best. We measured the space from the edge of one dot to the next, which was about 3 inches. It was easy to just use the ledge above the tile to prop them up while we figured it out.

diy gold polka dot wall

Then it was as easy as peeling off the backing, sticking the circle onto the wall into the correct spot, and rubbing them with a straight-edged plastic (we used my Cast Iron scrapers) until they had adhered fully, and we could peel off the front. Since I wasn’t feeling particularly perfectionistic that day, we used the ruler to measure the first and last dots of each row or so, and eyeballed the rest. I chose to do alternating rows, so positioning the dots just above and between the two below was kind of a cinch. And behold! My DIY polka dot wall of glory!

Sure, there’s about two areas that came out a little wobbly and imperfect, but I really don’t mind. It reminds me that I made it myself, rather than hiring a decorator. And the effect of the whole wall is so beautiful and stylish, my heart is happy every time I walk into my bathroom! Look at how the light catches the gold on the dots, and how well the shade of gold complements our tilework!

DIY gold polka dot wall

diy polka dot wall before

All in all, we used 97 of the 100 dots. And if I ever get sick of them, or we decide to sell our place and move… all I have to do is heat the dots with my hair dryer to release them!

I’m so proud of my first big home craft, and love what a big impact it makes for under $70!

Stay tuned for more bathroom decor updates, coming soon!


Facing my fears: Getting good at business

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I’m packing up my virtual lunchbox and tightening my backpack straps… because for the first time in the 11 years since I got my Master in Fine Arts (which is not-at-all helpful in my current career as an entrepreneur, but quite helpful in my career as a writer), I’m signed up for The Wharton Business School’s (oooh, fancy!) MBA-level Introduction to Business Operations class through Coursera online.

The best part? Not only do I get a verified Certificate of Completion to enrich my resume and personal pride account, but the class, itself, is 100% FREE.

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GULP.

I so need this. I started The Broke-Ass Bride blog with not a single inkling that one day, it would become a business. To quote the Hova “I’m not a businessman. I’m a BUSINESS, man.” For years, the cart has been pulling this horse down the road of accidental entrepreneurship, and it’s high time I deal with my lack of knowledge and experience. And who better to turn to, than one of the most highly-acclaimed business schools in the country? But, as it so often goes, the hardest things are often (surprise) the hardest. And it takes a lot of energy for my artist-brain to cotton to business-mindsets. It’ll be a healthy challenge. That’s for certain.

I’m terrified. I’m excited. I’m anxious. I’m relieved.

It’s an eight-week course, taught via video modules that vary in length between 6-15 minutes each. I can watch them on my own schedule, in my own time. The teacher seems great – he’s really excited by the opportunity to teach virtual courses, and has some fun ideas about ways we can participate in the class at varying levels, depending on our personal interests. There is no obligation to buy any materials for the course, but there is a recommended textbook, which McGraw-Hill offers as an e-book for a reduced price of $30 (compared to $165 on Amazon for the hard cover) if you choose to buy it.

And, yeah, I chose to pay the $49 for the verified Certificate of Completion because it’ll help motivate me to not drop out because I’m scared or lazy or (most likely) both. It’s that carrot I need dangling ahead of me – knowing that when I finish, I get a shiny piece of paper that says “hey, you did this! and it’s legitimate!”

They also have courses in Marketing, Financial Accounting, and Finance that aren’t currently available, but I have Marketing and Accounting on my watchlist so I’ll know when they come up again. I think those could also really help me in my progress as a businesswoman. Numbers and I aren’t the best of friends. I could use the help.

Coursera has lots of other classes available from tons of other institutions, in all subjects. All free. So, theoretically, there’s something for everyone. I love that.

Wish me luck! I’ll let y’all know how it goes.