Archive for July, 2009

How I Clean: My Method

July 31st, 2009

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I’ve been running around the country doing a lot of fun projects and programs for Method Care, the eco-friendly cleaning supply company.  I’ve been a partner with Method for about 2 1/2 years now, although I’ve been singing their praises since—wow—2001.     All the products are environmentally-friendly, they use post-consumer recycled packaging for many of their products and the company is Cradle-to-Cradle certified.  

If you’re not familiar with Method, you should definitely check out the whole line at www.methodhome.com or in stores where it’s sold, like Lowe’s, Whole Foods, Target and Wegman’s Supermarkets.   There is a wide variety of products for almost every cleaning need you can think of, which leads me to today’s post.   Which Method products do I actually use and love in my own home? (Clearly, I can’t use EVERYTHING)! 

First, I love Go Naked.   For me, the true smell of clean is nothing at all.   And I love the fact these all-purpose cleaners are dye and fragrance-free, meaning I can spray away and clean up real messes and smell nothing left behind.   This is my daily product I use all over the house.

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My second obsession is the Method microfiber towels.   I can’t even remember the last time I bought paper towels, but these have definitely replaced all of them in my house.   Microfiber towels are a housekeeper’s secret weapon: they are millions of microscopic fibers knit together to make super-absorbent and super “grippy” (technical term?) towels.   They literally grip onto all types of dirt, grime, bacteria and germs…all using just water or some all purpose spray.    PLUS, they are machine washable, so you can use them over and over and over.

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For handwashing of dishes, I heart the cucumber dish soap. I know: I said I don’t like the smell of anything, but I will admit I do like the smell of this dishsoap whem I’m washing knives, cutting boards and my frying pans.   Anything that is not dishwasher safe, I actually enjoy washing them by hand with this product.

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This is a newer product that’s rolling into stores now: Smarty Dish.   Lots of those automatic dishwashing tablets have chlorine bleach in it.  When you open a dishwasher after everything is all steamy and clean and breathe in the steam, you’re actually breathing in chlorine gas.  Yuck.  Plus, bleach isn’t good for the environment.   And many companies add phosphates to their tablets to help soften the water.  Phosphates are bad for the environment after all the dirty dishwater drains down the drain and into our lakes and waterways; it sucks the oxygen out of these aquatic areas and kills off fish.      Smarty dish is free of chlorine bleach and phosphates and—for the record—it works.

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Finally, for laundry, I must have 6 bottles of Squeaky Green detergent in my cupboards.    It’s super concentrated, so a little tiny cap of it will clean a whole load of laundry.    I have super-sensitive skin, so I need something that will clean my clothes but not leave residue behind that can irritate my skin.   I find this does the trick.     And my little tip: if you’re only washing a few things and not a whole load, make sure you adjust the detergent accordingly.  I find even a half cap-full will do a wonderful job.

Now, if you’ve read this post carefully, I’ll announce something here: leave a comment which Method product you love and you just might win it.   Yes, today’s post is a quiet contest announcement.  I’ll pick 3 winners.

Contest is now closed. Congrats to Sally (Definately the micro-fiber towels. I’m on my out to get some of the cucumber dish soap. Haven’t tried it yet.), Amy (I love the microfiber towels!) and Sue (Great post! Thanks for all the information! I have my list ready – can’t wait to try the microfiber towels – and love the idea of different colors for different jobs. Can’t wait!).

This Week’s People Magazine

July 30th, 2009

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This week’s People Magazine’s “Great Ideas” section features my top eco picks for the home.   I had a great time working with the People Magazine team on this story and encourage you to check it out.

I’ve gotten lots of emails from readers asking about the specific products that are features and a few of the products not featured that they are dying to get their hands on.  So, I thought in an effort to help, I’d break it all down:

1. The recycled shag rug is manufactured by Mohawk for JCPenney under our Simply Green designation program.  It’s made from 100% recycled soda/water bottles, so it’s totally green inside and out.   In the photo, it is not a striped Simply Green rug, but three rugs put together.   And, yes, this photo is my actual living room.    The two club chairs are also from JCPenney and are called Boardwalk chairs under their Studio label.  I purchased them from the JCPenney Home store but I’m not sure if they are still in production or not.

2. The Wholearth Body and Room spray is unfortunately sold out at Anthropologie.com.    There may be a few bottles left in stores, so call ahead and ask.  

3.   The JCPenney willow basketsthat Stella McCartney used for her recent party in Los Angeles can be a little tricky to find at jcp.com (search for willow baskets or just click on the link in this post).     They are $24 for a set of two.

4.  And, finally, the bamboo blinds in the photo are also from JCPenney and, YES, you can still purchase them.  They are designed as eco alternatives for sliding glass doors, but since I have tall windows, I found they worked perfect for my windows.

One Day in Chicago

July 29th, 2009

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Last week, I was in Chicago for a few (glorious) days for some press interviews, a photo shoot and to spend some time with tech-savvy women with something to say at the Blogher conference with my pals from Method Care cleaning products.    Here’s what went down last Friday.

Running down Michigan Avenue, I am always surprised—in a good way—at all the installations and mini gardens the city has planted along way.    One year, I loved the rows of striped plants they installed outside the Burberry store, paying homage to the iconic Burberry pattern.   This year, there are art pieces randomly scattered throughout, like this multi-colored resin piece made from sample blocks of 3-Form material.    As you might recall, I’ve used 3-Form in the O Magazine makeover (June 09 issue) in actress Kerry Washington’s apartment.   I have boxes of square samples that I keep on hand for design work, but this might be a cool idea to make luminaries out of them.   Save that idea for later.

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Then it was to the Chicago Tribune for a photo shoot.    This was probably one of the nicest offices for a newspaper I have ever been to.   The style of the building is neo-gothic and was created in 1925 after the newspaper held a competition to create the most beautiful building in the world.    Here, the gigantic marble lobby walls are engraved with inspiration quotes and sayings.   

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At the Tribune photo studios, we were putting together a story how to “green” your bathroom.  I’ll post the story here at Daily Danny when it goes live at the newspaper’s website.    Next to the photo studio was a test kitchen, completely stacked with cooking books of every kind you can imagine.   That day, they were preparing heirloom tomato salads, fried chicken, and other summer treats for a story.   Many thanks for the kind cooks in the kitchen who let me snoop around and peek inside cabinets and drawers.  I always love looking around these testing facilities.

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Shooting my favorite bathroom products…  a sneak peek.   Lots of lighting and setting up to get the right shot.

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Then it was off to Blogher, where I helped lots of women detox their purses.  But before the event, I worked with two of my favorite Method partners—Anna Boyarsky and Rachel Goldberg—where we ran around like crazy people decorating the suite.   It was like a MacGyver-meets-Styling reality show: use whatever is in the boxes to turn a bland hotel suite into a party space.     My contribution: I filled the bathroom tub with water and floated our Method promotional sponges on top.    

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And a Method handsoap “tasting” bar.   Lots of flavor choices to clean up with here.

After the purses were detoxed and the organic cocktails were served, I then headed to Art Smith’s restaurant Table 52 for a good, long dinner with a friend.

And then I passed out.     Windy city?  More like WINDED city.

Christmas in July II

July 28th, 2009

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And the ho-ho-holidays continue here at Daily Danny.  

Last Sunday, I picked up this $10 vintage crate at the Golden Nugget flea market to use for the JCPenney Christmas in July event.   I decided to repurpose it as a quick housewarming gift basket, loaded with my Wholearth Beauty product, some homemade soy candles, rolled up Quick Dri towels and a jar full of…soap curls.

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Yes, soap curls.   Nothing is more gross than having lots of houseguests sharing the same bar of soap in the bathroom.  I know soap is designed to clean, but there’s something very germy about sharing a bar of soap.  So instead of wasting a large bar of soap for each guest, why not use ONE bar to create lots of soap curls?   

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Just run a vegetable peeler across a bar of soap, and you get tons of single-use slivers perfect for washing your hands…or use several slivers in the shower, too.    Tip: This really only works with glycerin based soaps (the clear kind) and not any other types of soap.   So, if you love Dove soap, for example, and try this, you’ll end up with snow flakes and not slivers.

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Now, speaking of gift cards, I do think giving a gift card is really the greenest gift because the recipient can choose exactly what they need.   There are millions of presents that are purchased every holiday season, wrapped up in paper, and then all rushed back to the stores on December 26th to be returned.   It’s a huge amount of wasted resources: paper, fuel (going back and forth to the stores), etc.   And this doesn’t include the gifts that get stashed in a closet, forgotten, and then are just tossed in the trash during Spring Cleaning days.

So, I had some editors at the event help me in making ornaments using gift cards using repurposed and recycled materials.  Above, you see the talented styling team (behind the counter) of Vanessa Boer and Kristine Trevino working away while teaching two editors from Parents magazine the fine crafting art of gift card ornament making.

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Just cut a snowman template, tape the card inside, and it “hugs” it in place.   Or make an envelope out of old cardstock (maybe from old holiday cards) fold over and decorate with office supply stickers like reinforcement and “dots.”    Be creative and have fun.

The simplest idea is to just take an old Altoid mint tin, cover the outside with scrap paper and fill the tin with a gift card (it fits perfectly). Tie up with ribbon and give.

Christmas in July

July 27th, 2009

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No, I have not lost my mind: Christmas in July.   I know, maybe some of you are thinking, “what’s next? Halloween in February?,” but here me out.     Each year, JCPenney hosts an event in NYC for magazine editors to come see the latest and greatest offerings of holiday gift ideas for their December issues.   Being a magazine editor myself, I’ve always thought it was strange to think Christmas in the heat of July, but with planning done many months ahead, we have to get into the mind-frame of Santa in the Summer. 

As the Green Living Partner for JCPenney, I decided to showcase two ideas to editors this year: to give the gift of gift cards and several unique ways to “gift” our JCPenney Linden Street Quick Dri towels.      Here are some pics to get you thinking about the holidays!

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First up: take two Quick Dri towels and fold them (without pins!) into an oragami towel dog.   Yes, it’s possible and not hard to do.      This is a cute gift to set-up if a friend or family member is visiting you this holiday season and bringing their pooch with them.  Why not greet the dog with some fresh towels, treats and a bowl?   Sure, HE won’t know, but the dog’s owner will.   Here’s a tutorial on folding towels into a dog:


Towel Dog FoldingClick here for more free videos

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Another idea is to create a Quick Firestarter Kit.  Fill a Simply Green JCPenney tote bag with rolled up towels and add rolled up newspaper filled with pine cones and dried rosemary all tied up with….um…string (sounds Christmas-y!).   Then make a homemade firestarter…..

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Just take a cardboard egg carton (important that it’s cardboard and not plastic/styrofoam), and fill it with dryer lint, and melted wax from an old candle.   I added candle wicks to each one for effect, but it’s not necessary.    To use: just tear off a section, throw into the fireplace and light.  Instant firestarter.  

More Christmas in July tips tomorrow, including the perfect housewarming gift and how to wrap a gift card in a fun and creative way.

Merry Christmas!  (ha!)