Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scent Free Remodeling

Space needing storage solution
Living scent free covers all aspects of your life. It doesn't only affect how a person reacts to fragrance in clothes, personal products, cigarette smoke, etc.  What if you need to remodel your home? Like me, if you are also chemical and fragrance sensitive, you have to consider the materials you will use. 

Are you affected by offgasing?  Off-gassing is the release of vapors that can be toxins, chemicals or odors from building products such as paint, glue, carpet, and types of wood used.  One of the chemicals that can have a high level of off-gassing is formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.  I found this OSHA Fact Sheet on formaldehyde interesting.  If you have an allergy or sensitivity to chemicals or fragrance what building materials you use matters. 

When I enter newly constructed buildings (even though the structures have been completed months past), I have headaches, breathing issues and the like. So I know that whatever the remodeling we do, I have to heavily consider what products I will use.  After all, I have to sleep here.  I know we have to tackle each project and room in sections.  This was an old house built in the 1930s; spatial proportions are limited.  For instance, there are limited closets.  When I say limited, I mean two (2) in the entire house.  So storage solutions are a prime concern.  

On the side wall, my husband made a wall hanging solution for coats/jackets.
This is the one of spaces needing an overhaul. It is under the stairs and a perfect place for a storage.  For some reason this beautiful buffet which I will paint (pictured below) was stored there.  
Buffet stored under the stairs.
If you have any ideas on how to make the most of this space, let me know what you think.  Currently, after removing the buffet, I stored my husband's bowling equipment, mop, vacuum cleaner, not well organized, but at least out of the way.   I also photographed a vintage drawer my mom used to store sewing patterns, fabric and notions.  It is too large for the sewing craft room so I was thinking to cut off the legs and use this as a bench under the stairs.  Before I cut the legs and paint, we have to do a dry run to see it will fit.  I would cover the bench with foam and material for seating when taking off boots and shoes.  

This space would still have the fit the bowling equipment, vacuum and mop.  Some of the bench drawers could be used for hats, flip flops, etc. 

I helped my husband on a paint job and we used a low VOC paint from Sherwin Williams.  This paint didn't cause a reaction so I know I will use again.  However, I will not be painting the space as there are other factors to consider.  Some of the current paint may have lead, flooring may have asbestos and that takes us to a another level of remodeling... so at this point this will not be a finished space, however, it must be usable.

Under the stairs current use

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Soy Free Chocolate Experiments

Mayday mayday mayday... abort abort!  The chocolate chips have soy, having a reaction.  Mayday mayday mayday! There is much contradictory information about soy, soya, soybeans, soybean oil, soy protein whether it is good for you, safe, not safe, affects phytoestrogens, it will make your head spin. With the assistance of doctor, I found that soy, in any form, and eggs to be a source of many of my chronic issues.  I am not anaphylactic, as yet, but I have an extreme intolerance that effects my thyroid and thus I become extremely lethargic.  I affectionately name that reaction "my soy-induced coma".  After awakening an hour and half later, I still have body aches and pain. 

With my egg intolerance it induces extreme gut pain and body aches. At the recommendation of my, then, doctor and the aftereffects of my body, I avoid them.  If I have eaten soy I have trained my family that when I say "I have to go to sleep", usually at an inopportune time, they let me go.  After all, I have no choice. I absolutely can not stay awake.

Realizing that at least 90% or more of processed food contain some form of soy I have resorted to cooking from scratch.  For me, even using canned soup in a recipe is no longer an option as the majority of the canned soup contain either soy or eggs. 

My recipe experiments resulted in successes and some failures. In California, it was difficult to find "ready made" food I can eat although ingredients were easier to find locally.  With the move eastward and in the middle of soybean and GMO cornfields, the natural ingredients are more difficult to find.  

I am grateful that Trader Joe's, a California based company, is 20 minutes away.  There is also a Whole Foods and Costco in the same area. Yeah! Saved!  Remember that whatever you purchase, read the labels.  Learn the soy derivatives, the hidden meaning behind the words on the labels. The Soy Allergy Group on Facebook has been a blessing.  Yes we all have different reactions, however this resource, because of their different reactions, has been invaluable. Another great source is Maya of Maya's Happy Place who lists many of the derivatives on her January 2010 blog post.  Here's the LINK.

Learning to make chocolate!
I found that "natural flavors" on the label is an indication their may be soy in the product. This is what led to the "mayday call" in the beginning of this post.  The chocolate chips I used to make the cookies, although the label did not state "soy", it read "natural flavors".  I've been using the other ingredients in my baking and cooking and didn't get a reaction. This was the only "new" ingredient, thus my soy induced coma ensued. 

I'm learning to make my own chocolate or use the Enjoy Life brand, which are soy free and processed in a plant without the top allergens.  I found this egg free chocolate chip recipe at Bunch of Cooks and tweaked it to my liking.  I found I needed to add chilled water (a few tablespoons) for the cookie to melt as I had hoped.  I also replaced the white sugar with organic sugar.  I use Wholesome sweeteners Evaporated Cane Juice Organic Sugar which I purchased at Costco in the 10 lb. size.  Since the first few batches I will change a few other things.  I'll keep you posted on my progress and watch that timer or it will be too crunchy. 

Chocolate Bites
In the above photo I was a trying a chocolate recipe.  The chocolate recipe from the Coconut Mama blog gave me hope and let me know anything is possible in the world of making your own chocolate. I like using butter to cut the bitterness of the Trader Joe's cacao powder.  I also like using Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Powder along with the Trader Joe's brand.  Trader Joe's powder is a finer power than the Navitas Naturals.  Together they make the chocolate a thicker consistency.  I'll keep working at it. A big thanks to Bunch of Cooks and Coconut Mama.  At least I know now I'm not limited in my search for soy free chocolate.  I'm having fun making my own.