Safer Shower

My shower curtain started to disintegrate. Yay! How happy this made me. Not. I was not pleased. However, this gave me an opportunity to get a more eco-friendly alternative without feeling guilty for swapping my old one out.


One of the biggest toxins no one talks about?  Vinyl. Polyvinyl chloride, PVC, (or as it’s more commonly known: vinyl) is a type of plastic that is rather toxic. It’s toxic during the manufacturing process, leading to the release of many chemicals into the air and water streams. It’s toxic when it’s in your environment, releasing chemicals that are harmful to reproductive organs, cause breast cancer, birth defects, and endocrine disruption. As well as being toxic after we finish with these products and dump them into the landfill where they will stay for millions of years, leeching more of these chemicals into their surroundings. The main ingredient in vinyl that is so terrible is one of the plasticizers that gives plastic that flexible characteristic: phthalates. There are two kinds of phthalates, ortho-phthalates and terra-phthalates. The adverse health affects of ortho-phthalates are more known and they are, although legal, increasingly more regulated by private companies such as Home Depot. Basically, although many companies and government agencies are aware of these horrific affects of this toxin (and the many other chemicals that compose vinyl), it is sadly, still not illegal. Vinyl is heavily used throughout the toy, construction, any many other industries.  My personal theory is that vinyl will become the next asbestos. But I am not a scientist, I’m just guessing. I may be way off, but until proven otherwise, I make efforts to avoid vinyl.


Basically, my old shower curtain was vinyl and I wanted a much healthier replacement. The LA Times even wrote an article on the toxins associated with vinyl shower curtains. We’re talking liver cancer, nervous system damage, nausea. I wanted something that I could breathe a little easier around! I hoped for a waxed organic cotton liner, but I had difficulty sourcing one in the short time frame I accidentally caused for myself (I tossed my shower curtain liners before actually purchasing new ones… oops!).


My search led me to Target where I ultimately purchased two of these Threshold Shower Curtain Liners  (one for either side of the clawfoot bathtub). At $18 each, they were not the cheapest liners. But they’re made of polyester which doesn’t release the type of vicious toxins that vinyl does.  Although I still wish I could find some in cotton, these made a good alternative for now. Next time I’ll do my research before tossing the old liners!


Shower Curtain Liner | Land of Laurel


As for how the polyester fabric holds up to water compared to vinyl, I have not noticed a difference! These new liners keep all the water in just as well as the more plastic-y feeling vinyl curtains did (an important thing when you have a clawfoot bathtub/stand up shower and wood bathroom trim!). Plus they look and feel so much better!


Polyester Shower Curtain | Land of Laurel


Overall, I am so happy with this purchase! The liners look great, I feel better about their chemical make up, and they’re just a little bit wider than my old curtains keeping more water in! The bathroom is coming along now (you may notice I’ve hung some art!). I’ll have some finishing touches to share and then I can call this room done!


Is anyone else terrified by the adverse affects of chemicals in vinyl? Anyone know where to get a good wax-coated cotton shower curtain liner?


Drought Tips: Easy Ways to Save Water

Happy Earth Day! How are you celebrating? A walk? A hike? Instagraming your favorite sunset picture? I wish I could get out there and go for a hike. But, alas, I am sick! I caught an annoying cold this weekend which has me locked inside with lots of tea and tissues. I wanted to do something to commemorate today though. So in celebration of Earth Day, I thought I’d share some of my favorite nature pictures and some some basic water saving tips and tricks!


Saving Water | Land of Laurel



  1. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. So simple right? You don’t need the water running, you’re not using it. I know some people may be thinking, “Well, duh.” But, you’d be surprised! Many people just leave the water running, a habit that can easily be broken.
  2. Use a tub, or plug the drain, when washing dishes. One of my roommates turns on the water when he starts doing dishes and leaves it on until every pot and pan is washed and all the dishes are put into the dishwasher. It drives me crazy! A typical kitchen faucet is regulated to use no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute of use and most average between 1.5 gpm and 2 gpm. That seems like not that much, but when you multiply it by 20 minutes of dish doing that adds up to 30-40 gallons of water! Try filling a bin with warm soapy water for washing and then rinsing in another bin of hot water. At the very least, turn off the faucet between dishes.
  3. Put the dishwasher to work! Dishwashers use significantly less water and energy than handwashing! So put down the scrub brush and fill up the dishwasher. That said, fill your dishwasher efficiently! Stack plates, bowls, and cups as the manufacturer intended so you can fit the maximum number of dishes. Avoid running the machine until it’s truly full. Using up precious dishwasher space with bulky pots and pans reverses the water and energy savings though, so go ahead and hand wash those.
  4. Get a shower bucket. We use plenty of water in washing. I am totally guilty of taking longer showers. But I stick a large bucket in the shower before I turn the water on and let it fill up while the water gets hot. I use grey-water safe products in the shower, so I keep the bucket in the shower while I wash. Then, I have a bucket of water to use in the garden or for my (many!) house plants. Guilt-free water for California summer plantings? Count me in!
  5. Thinking about getting a new hot water heater? Avoid Tankless options! Tankless water heaters, touted as great energy savers, end up causing huge overuse of water. My parents installed one at their home about four years ago and were shocked at how much more water they ended up using. Let’s face the truth, in today’s world, there is an expectation that you’ll turn on your tap and get hot water. With a tankless option, not only will you wait for the water to turn hot, but you’ll get frustrated by the amount of time it takes. Tankless hot water heaters do save energy, but unless you have a tiny one at each water source in your home, you’ll end up running that tap for 5 minutes straight until the water gets hot enough for you to wash your face. Instead, go for an energy efficient option with a tank and save the water.



And now, on a different note, here are some of my favorite pictures of Mother Earth:


This guy I took just last month in Oregon at Multnomah Falls. The lush greenery– everything covered in moss and ferns– mesmerized me. It was so gorgeous.

Multnomah Falls | Land of Laurel


This magical view is from the top of Thunder Mountain near Kirkwood, CA.  It’s a destination of many a hike taken from Two Sentinels, the camp I volunteer with each year. The white of the granite is such a contrast from the evergreen trees and blue mountain lake.

View From the Sentinels | Land of Laurel


This I took during an evening bike ride during my trip to Istanbul, Turkey. Some friends an I took the ferry to the Prince Islands for an afternoon. Everything on the islands was beautiful, nature unmarred (for the most part) by humans.

Istanbul Sunset | Land of Laurel


Finally, this image is from Majorca, Spain. I spent 4 or so days there in the Spring of 2012. The water and the rocky island captivated me. The water was so blue in some areas. I loved that the greenery clung to every last bit of rock possible before the cliffs plunged into the sea.



How do you conserve water? Do you have any tips and tricks? Are you out there celebrating Earth Day? Enjoy it!

Silver Succulents

I mentioned here that while Nicole and I visited in Portland, Oregon we stopped in at the Goodwill Superstore on the Southeast side. Wowza! If you live in Portland, go there! It was amazing! Huge! There were rows and rows of clothes and entire section devoted to books. Books organized by genre! I’ve never been to a thrift store with a) so many books or b) books this well organized! Only United Airlines strict carry-on baggage allowances kept me from buying a large stack. That and the fact that I recently spent $40 on used books (that’s like 30+ books!) at the Blackoak Books moving sale in Berkeley. Hello my name is Laurel and I am a book-aholic.


This Goodwill Superstore had an entire aisle full of sterling silver, priced extremely low. This is where Nicole and I got truly excited. I had the idea of buying one of the smaller silver pieces and filling it with succulents. Because how adorable would that be? The answer is extremely adorable! We both decided to get small, packable, objects. Nicole ended up with a creamer and I found this fantastic sugar bowl which was missing it’s top. Perfect, since I needed it to be topless for the succulents anyways. We were ready for our friendship succulent planters now.


Goodwill Sugar Bowl | Land of Laurel


At home, I unpacked my sugar bowl. It was still adorable. Yay! This was such a great way to upcycle something sad and unwanted into something cute and happy. Here it is next to Fred for comparison sake. The little sugar bowl is  about 5 inches wide from tip of handle to tip of handle and only about 3 inches high.


Fred and the Silver Sugar Bowl


I didn’t want to go out and buy succulents, because, why spend the dough when I can get them for free? Plus I need teensy tiny succulents. What did I do? I raided the driveway, which is lined with three varieties of succulents. I sliced off a few of the smallest off shoots from each variety and was ready to go!


I quickly popped a few small pieces of gravel into the bottom of the sugar bowl, added some potting soil, and gently stuck in the succulents. The sterling silver sugar bowl ended up being everything I imagined!


Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel


Not only was it super cute, but it was somehow playful and sophisticated. It makes makes me want to sip a hot cup of tea and speak in a British accent. Or should I say, “Ahhcksent?” Yes, maybe the latter is best.


I thought about polishing the sterling silver, but ended up deciding against it. Partially, because I am truly lazy, partially because I don’t have any silver polish lying around, but mostly because I love the patina it already has. The tarnishing is kind of beautiful and I love it, just the way it is.


As for the little mini-succulents– they were a perfect fit! I tried to find sprouts that varied both in height and size so there would be some movement. It worked out pretty dang well! My favorite variety are the little guys at the top that are tinged with purple at the tips. Anyone know what they’re called? I have planted several of them (there is even one in Fred). I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow crazy tall (like the one in Fred did), but until it happens, I’m not going to stress about it! I’m not sure why they grow so tall inside (maybe lack of sun?!), outside they get much larger and wider rather than growing straight up all skinny. I ended up bending the one in Fred underneath one of the leaves of the aloe vera, because it got so tall it started falling over. Crazytown!


Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Mini-Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel


Overall, I’m pretty psyched about this guy. My only issue is that now I want like fifteen more! I initially thought they’d look awesome on the window ledge above my bed. Then I tried to stick this little guy up there and realized that the window ledge in that room is shallower than elsewhere in the house. The little legs on the sugar bowl basically make it instantly attempt to catapult off the ledge. Don’t worry, I drop things so frequently that I am now fantastic at catching them. Some of the time. The sugar bowl is safe! RIP glass mason jar completely full of apple cider (I missed the fridge shelf yesterday afternoon…).


But clearly, I need to hit up Goodwill a few more times and pick up a few more sterling silver pieces to use as succulent planters. I can see them scattered everywhere in a house, sitting on top of stacks of books. Very English countryside. Very me. Especially the part about the books. Have you read Living History by Hilary Clinton? I read it several months ago and ironically what struck me the most about the book was a few simple paragraphs describing the interiors of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ home. Filled with books! You got it people, if Jackie O did it, then it is beautiful, timeless, and oh so classic. Or at least that’s what I plan on telling anyone who asks if I need as many books as I own. Because, yes, yes I do. They make me happy.


Anyways, my new little sugar bowl is too cute and I am excited to make a whole bunch more! They would make fantastic little gifts, don’t you think? Party favors, wedding favors, birthday gifts, I can think of so much more!


Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel



I’ve decided to stick this little guy on my nightstand for now. We’ll see if that’s enough light to keep him happy. Hopefully so, because who doesn’t want to wake up next to something that dang cute?!


Have you ever upcycled something into a planter? Have any advice on raising succulents? Know what varieties of succulent I’ve found from my driveway?