Interview: Alexandra Zissu co-author of Planet Home: Conscious Choices for Cleaning and Greening the World you Care About Most

On Tuesday morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Alexandra Zissu, co-author of Planet Home: Conscious Choices for Cleaning and Greening the World You Care About most, to discuss the importance of taking care of ourselves and our beautiful planet by making the conscious choice to live green. She is the author of The Conscious Kitchen and coauthor of The Complete Organic Pregnancy and contributes the “Ask an Organic Mom” column to Her stories on environmental topics and food have appeared in the New York TimesThe Green GuidePlentyCookieT: The New York Times Style Magazine,New York magazine, DetailsBon AppétitTeen VogueSelf, and Health, among other publications. She is also a public speaker and “greenproofer,” an eco-lifestyle consultant.   

  Picture 87

Candace Rose: You co-authored Planet Home: Conscious Choices for Cleaning and Greening the World You Care About Most, why is it so important for us to make conscious choices for greening and cleaning the world we care about – our home? 

Alexandra Zissu: "It's really important to make conscious decisions because we're all part of a shared "planet home" and so what I do at home affects you and what you do at home affects me and both of what we do affects the world that we share. If you make good solid decisions when you're shopping for products or you're just even cleaning your bathroom, you really can have great environmental impact." 


Planet Home


CR: This past weekend my grandmother had a reaction to something and it was affecting her skin. I went about looking for green products and everything I found on the shelf was very expensive. Is it possible for the average person on a budget to live green? 

AZ: "I think it is possible and I have two things to say about the expense of green products in a cleaning product. 1) A lot of the time with a green product all you need to do is buy one thing and it's multipurpose, so you wouldn't have to buy a bathroom cleaner and a kitchen cleaner and something you would use in your garage or your basement. Just buy one thing and then use it all over the place. Another thing is you can use much less of it. You don't really need to be oversterilizing any room and another thing that we talk about in Planet Home is we provide "recipes" for make your own products at home out of really inexpensive, simple, everyday household things like vinegar and water for glass or your mirror and also baking soda with a little bit of natural dish soap will make a scrub for your sink and your tub. These are just really simple, easy formulas that we talk about in Planet Home."


CR: What is the dirtiest thing in our home? 

AZ: "Often people think I'm going to say the cat litter or the kitchen sink but I actually think it's your own two hands. I think we've gotten into a situation where people are very worried about germs so they oversterilize their home when really unless somebody's been sick in the home, the home is just not really a dirty place. So really you just need to be careful to wash your own two hands with regular old soap and water. You don't need a fancy product that contains an antibacterial agent like triclosan, which you can read on the antibacterial ingredient list on any of those hand pump soaps so you would know what's in it."


CR: What cleaning tips do you have for the two dirtiest rooms in the home, the kitchen and the bathroom?

AZ: "Well people do perceive the kitchen and the bathroom to be the dirtiest places and certainly they are very high use rooms, so in them I really like to suggest that people use natural products to clean them, and again, you don't need to oversterilize or oversanitize. You certainly want to clean the places where your hands are touching, remember that your hands are the dirtiest things in any home so the fucets, the oven pull, the cabinet handles, just wipe those down and be careful. You can do this using any green product containing hydrogen peroxide or again you can just buy hydrogen peroxide (the 3%) in drugstores and dilute it. We explain how to do that in Planet Home. And if there hasn't been somebody who is sick in the house or your doing something like cutting a chicken in the kitchen and you'd like to use something a little stronger – a lot of the green cleaners, you can look for some with an ingredient called "thyme all". It's an antibacterial and it's made from the herb thyme, which is clearly very natural and I think it's a great way to disinfect."

21dmPbMtETL._SS400_3% Hydrogen Peroxide –


CR: There's been a lot in the news lately about plastics not being safe. What are some guidelines we should follow so we are sure to use safe plastic? 

AZ: "I think the environmental health community has done a great job of getting the word out through the media about how certain plastics contain hormone disruptors and others are just unsafe in terms of how they are manufactured and problems around the manufacturing plants, so we're all on high alert about which plastic is safe and which one is not safe. The number one thing you can do is to make sure that you are using a safe plastic is to not use it at all. You can use glass to store your food in. You can use stainless steel or lead free ceramic. These are great ways to make sure and then you won't have to worry about what plastic it is. If you are using plastic, you want to use number two, number four or number five. You will find that number in the little arrow on the bottom of the container and these are the ones that are considered most safe by the scientific community right now. Please don't ever put plastic in the microwave even if it says microwave safe, that's a designation for how hot it can be, not that it won't reach its chemical components into your food and I say that even with 2, 4 and 5


Picture 87Stainless Steel Bowls – Sur La Table

CR: It's important to recycle and most of the time we only think of bottles and cans, what about recycling electronics?

AZ: "I don't know about you but we got a couple things over the holiday season that were new electronics which is something I tend not to buy for myself, and I was very grateful for the present but I'm also very careful because I know that sometimes electronics contain things like led or toxic chemicals. If you toss them in the garbage, they'll wind up in a landfill where those chemicals will leach out and get into our ground water and eventually back into our bodies, so I'm very careful to try and find someone who does eCycling, which they really know how to take care and we list places in Planet Home (for eCyclers.) But before I would even send something to be eCycled I would call up a friend or even my daughter's preschool and say you have any use for this old iPod, do you have any use for this old computer that I'm not using anymore, because a lot of the time something that we're getting rid of in the electronics arena is something that somebody else can still use."


CR: Where can readers go for more information and to get Planet Home?

AZ: "There's a website and it's called"


Many thanks to Alexandra for taking time out of her busy schedule to share tips with us from Planet Home. I'm definitely guilty of microwaving plastic but have now made the conscious choice to never make this life threatening mistake again! How about you? 

An End To The Silent Killer Ovarian Cancer

    There are times in life when we're privileged enough to meet people who encourage us, inspire us and mold us into who we never thought we could be. In 2004 after transferring from a junior college to Sacramento State I was fortunate to take a journalism class with Professor, Dr. Leah Vande Berg. I was warned prior taking her class what a tough cookie she was, and that I should think it over. As someone who doesn't judge people prior to meeting them, I didn't listen to the jargon. I will never forget the first day of class when Leah told us that she had been battling Ovarian Cancer but was now in remission. She was so thrilled that her hair was finally growing back and was optimistic about her future. For the first time in a class I was comfortable debating others and voicing my opinions. While visiting during her office hours she assured me (despite what others told me) that "journalism is a noble profession." A few months later while out shopping, I ran into Dr. Vande Berg at the mall, when I told her I'd see her that week in class, she mentioned that she was going in for surgery, but would do everything she could to be back. I hoped and prayed that the cancer hadn't returned and that this was just a fluke. When I saw her in class that week I figured everything was okay, but unfortunately it wasn't. Leah mentioned that a Professor was going to be temporarily taking over the course, but she would be back.

    The last time she returned it was to apologize for dying as Dr. Vande Berg wasn't given more than a few months to live. Her husband, also a Professor on campus organized a surprise Christmas Carol for her. Many of Leah's students showed up in front of her home in November singing Christmas carols in her honor. Christmas lights adorned the front of their house as if it was the middle of December. I will never forget the look of glee and surprise on her face as her husband escorted her from inside their home. An empty chair was waiting for her on their sidewalk as everyone serenaded her. When I went to give her a hug, I didn't think she would know me by name as she had so many students. I was shocked yet impressed when she said, "Candi how sweet of you to come by." My mom made her one of her signature quilted Christmas ornaments in the color teal, in honor of what she was going through. It'll be six years on December 13 that she passed away, and to this day I have never forgotten nor will I ever forget how she strengthened this girl to become the woman she is today. God bless Leah and everyone else who has fought or is currently fighting this battle.

In her honor from now until the end of September I will be donating 10% from each sale in my etsy shop to The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.


Yesterday I was touched by etsians who shared with me how Ovarian Cancer has affected their lives. I'm truly honored to be featuring their work and how they're paying tribute to their mothers, friends and dear loved ones.

Il_fullxfull.173131541The kit includes a tea bag, a pen, a notebook, crackers, tissues, hershey hugs and kisses, life savers candies and “a little hope” poem (the poem is absolutely beautiful and is featured in her shop)

A Little Bit Of Hope Special Edition – Quick Kits

"10% of sales of sales from these kits are donated to The National Cancer Institute to the National Cancer Insititute (in your choice of cancer research) and another 10% to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance in honor of my mom." – Quick Kits



Sweetie Pie Design – Size 2T Gilda Sundress – Ready to Ship — 100 percent of the proceeds from this dress will be donated to further Ovarian Cancer research – by Sweetiepiedesign

"This Dress is named the Gilda Dress after the funny lady Gilda Radner who died too young of ovarian cancer in 1989. In an effort to further research and find a cure, 100% of the proceeds of the sale of this dress will be donated to " – Sweetie Pie Design


Il_fullxfull.172678608Ovarian Cancer Awareness Handstamped Sterling Silver Circle Keychain – Cindyludesigns

"$5 of each sale will be donated to the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Southwest Ohio" – Cindylu Designs


Il_fullxfull.158210866 Women's Teal Cancer Awareness Bracelet – Be Well Designs

"I am donating to the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance – " – Be Well Designs


Il_fullxfull.171135904 Ovarian Cancer Awareness Teal Flower on Black Dupioni Silk Wrapped Headband – LouLouTuTu

"50% of every headband purchased will be donated to help raise awareness and fund research to help stop this disease. Please visit for more information." – Loulou TuTu


Il_fullxfull.62131604 Teal Awareness Bracelet Ovarian Cancer – DiwaDesigns

"20% of the purchase price for each bracelet will be donated for cancer research. Donations will be made to the following foundation or you may specify the organization of your choice: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund For more info visit: " – Diwa Designs


Il_fullxfull.176586308 Brave Girl 5 x 7 Greeting Card Whimsical Mixed Media – JCSpock

"My friend and I have partnered with FORCE (Facing our Risk of Cancer Empowered)- – and will be donating 50% of the proceeds on all "Brave Girl" items to this non-profit organization which offers support, education, advocacy, awareness, and research specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. You can see my Brave Girl piece listed on their site:


Angel wing Annette's Angels Angelic Pendant – Annette's Angels

Angel wings toggle 2 Annette's Angels – Angel Wings Toggle Necklace – Annette's Angels

Heart Wings Regular Annette's Angels – Heart Of Wings – Annette's Angels

Annette's Angels gives 50% of each item sold to FORCE (Facing our Risk of Cancer Empowered) as well. 


If you'll be making any purchases at Amazon, Target, Nordstrom, Apple iTunes, Best Buy, among many other well known stores, be sure and visit Support Ovarian Cancer Shopping Alliance beforehand as they will donate (a percentage or fixed amount) to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance for every purchase made.

Forever Young

Monarch Butterfly on the butterfly bush, originally uploaded by candy_rose (Candace Rose Photography).


How to stay young

according to one of my favorite "tweeters" – Gayland Anderson

1) Throw out non-essential numbers such as age, weight & height. Let the doc keep track of them.

2) Keep only cheerful friends…Grouches pull you down.

3) Keep learning…computers, crafts, gardening, etc. Never let the brain idle.

4) Enjoy the simple things.

5) Laugh often, long & loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6) Tears happen. Endure, grieve & move on. Be ALIVE while you are alive. 

7) Surround yourself with what you love…family, pets, music, etc. Your home is your refuge.

8) Cherish your health. Preserve it, improve it, or get help.

9) Do not take guilt trips.

10) At every opportunity, tell the people you love that you love them.


For more information on where you can find Mr. Anderson, please follow his links!

Gayland Anderson's Blog

Gayland Anderson's Facebook

Gayland Anderson's YouTube Videos




Happy Valentines Day/Chinese New Year!

Old English Rose Bouquets, originally uploaded by candy_rose.


    Valentines day holds a very special meaning for me, four years ago I developed a cyst on my neck, and at first I was too afraid to do anything about it. When I finally shared with my mom what I had discovered, I had hoped she would say it was nothing, but much to my dismay, she told me I needed to have it checked out. The following day I was to see my esthetician for a facial when I showed her my neck. She made me promise her I was going to see the doctor, and was going to check on me to make sure I went.

    The next day was Valentines day, I remember freaking out in class, I didn't even want to be there. I just wanted to get it over with. I skipped my next class and went straight to the health center on campus. I for one have an immense phobia of doctors but I knew that I wasn't going to be able to rest until I had it checked out. I couldn't afford insurance at the time, but thankfully being a student I was able to see a doctor there for free. I just remember thinking I don't need another thing to worry about. Fortunately after thinking my heart was going to explode out of my chest (it was beating so fast), my doctor informed me that it was nothing to worry about and as long as it didn't grow any larger or become soft and grow a tail, I was in the clear. Thankfully it disappeared shortly thereafter on its own.

    People can complain all they want about being single or not having the perfect Valentine this Sunday, I for one am eternally grateful.

Happy Valentines day, and I hope you have a Happy Chinese New Year as well!