In episode #21 we are learning what to do when your child has multiple chemical sensitivities from Steph Duford. Steph Duford is from Wisconsin. Born and raised a Midwest girl. Her husband, Larry and her have a 5-year-old fun and enthusiastic son named Frank. Recently, after 16 years, she left her profession as a hair stylist to be a full-time SAHM (stay at home mom) and homeschool Frank. There hasn’t been one defining moment that has made her passionate about lifestyle and wellness but a compilation of many. Knowledge is her power. Steph loves to learn and research…often times to a fault. By personality, she is passionate, strong willed and determined. Her biggest tool has always been self navigation. At 1 year, her son Frank was diagnosed with multiple anaphylaxis to both food and environmental allergies…36 to be exact. He’s truly the bravest and most inspiring human she knows. It has been her mission to focus on healing him from the inside out and there really is no limit to how far her and her husband will go for her son’s health and freedom.
Along with many allergies, she’s also become well versed in chronic atopic eczema and multiple chemical sensitivity. The saying, “The best detective at work is the mother of an ill child” is 100% accurate! One thing she very much prides herself in is how her and her family create normalcy. They focus on experiences that can safely be improvised and work around limitations while still building childhood fun/memories. Steph’s mission is to share experiences that have shaped her in hopes to reach and help others. Her biggest satisfaction is helping others build a happier, healthier lifestyle for themselves and their families.
Have you been searching for the best organic pillow like I was? Well, if you have don’t worry, I’ve got your back! I’ve tested out many options and I’m here to report on my favorites. Finding a pillow shouldn’t be a hard process, but it can be if you don’t know where to start. I take the guess work out so you can find your perfect pillow, minus the toxic load.
So why should you avoid conventional pillows?
Well, for starters most pillows are either filled with polyester, or cotton. Polyester contains a toxic chemical ethylene glycol, most commonly known as the deadly substance in anti-freeze. Cotton contains harmful herbicides and pesticides- many are carcinogenic. If you think about the amount of time you spend sleeping on your pillow it adds up to a toxic load. Even memory foam pillows are a toxic recipe since they’re off gassing VOC’s(volatile organic compounds). As you sleep you’re breathing in all those harmful substances. These VOC’s have been known to cause a host of problems from irritation to the throat, nose, eyes, headaches, nausea, damage to liver, kidneys and nervous system, some of the organic compounds have even been found to cause cancer in humans. No thanks!
Besides the toxic load it puts on your body, investing in a conventional pillow also puts a toxic load and burden on the environment. The herbicides and pesticides are then thrown back into our environment where they end up in our streams, lakes and rivers. Then they make their way into our water streams. I think sometimes people forget that when you purchase something you are casting a vote for the kind of world we live in. Good or bad- it’s up to us to make our voice heard!
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As you can see picking up a new pillow requires a little more thought than just going to Target. Whenever I think about detoxing my home, I really have to stop and think about what kind of impact this will have on my health. In my opinion, pillows are pretty high on the priority list. Since you spend so much time sleeping, the toxic load of your pillow adds up. I want the peace of mind knowing what I lay my head on at night is not negatively impacting my health.
Something to think about…
I’ve seen “organic” pillows popping up in Costco or Target and other major retailers that aren’t necessarily organic. Allow me to explain. Marketers are catching on and realizing consumers want to see the word organic. So they’re putting organic on anything and everything these days. I’ll see “organic” pillows at these stores for $10 or $15- which isn’t possible if it’s truly organic. What they really mean is the cotton sheet encasing the fill of the pillow is organic but not the actual fill of the pillow. Which can be hard to know unless you’ve done your research. Bottom line: don’t be fooled by marketers and always ask lots of questions! If it seems to good to be true it often is.
So what materials should you look for in an organic pillow?
Organic Cotton- Make sure it is certified GOTS ensuring it has gone through testing to vouch for it’s pureness. Cotton is a firmer option, but not the firmest. More of a medium firmness.
Organic Wool- Naturally flame resistant and pest resistant. Also, naturally microbial. It’s also comfortable in the summer and winter because of it’s insulative properties. Some people can be allergic to wool, so something to consider.
Organic Buckwheat- These pillows are made from buckwheat hulls. They offer firm support for your head. They are great at circulating the air, which helps you stay cool throughout the night. They’re also naturally resistant to pests.
Kapok- It’s a natural fiber that comes from the Ceiba Tree in Central America. This is a vegan option for those who like a down pillow. It’s fluffy like a down pillow but plant based. It has an overall lighter feel than cotton as well.
Latex- Shredded latex is great for those who like a soft pillow. Your head will sink into these pillows. They will keep you cooler too. It is similar to conventional memory foam but without the toxic chemicals. It’s also mold and mite resistant, 100% biodegradable, and even antimicrobial.
Ok, now that you know the different types of materials to look for in a safe natural pillow, let me review the natural pillow options I’ve personally tried.
White Lotus Home sent me 3 different pillow options to try. They are store that offers pure and natural mattresses, bedding, and home furnishings all made in the USA. It’s your one stop shop to clean up your bedroom! When I was choosing my pillow options to try out they were so helpful. Walking me through the whole process and asking questions to ensure I had the best options for how I sleep.
I ended up with the Shredded Latex pillow for my husband, the 100% Organic Cotton pillow for myself and the Kapok Travel pillow to try out as well.
Shredded Latex Pillow- My husband LOVES this pillow! I’m not just saying that. He probably tells me at least twice a week how much he likes his pillow. He had been on me for while to pick up a new pillow. He’s a side sleeper and likes his pillow to have some softness with it, but still offer some support. The shredded latex pillow hit the nail on the head for him. He said he’s never had a pillow he’s loved more! The overall weight of the pillow is pretty heavy, it reminds me of a down pillow a little. What’s great about White Lotus Home is you can customize the fill amount. Just get a zippered case for the pillow when selecting the type of pillow and you’ll be able to take latex out if it’s too much. I love this feature! I did try my husband’s pillow too and I have to say I really loved it as well. It offers the support I like but still felt fluffy.
100% Organic Cotton- So this is the pillow I got for myself. It offers more of a firm support then the shredded latex. This is especially great if you sleep on your stomach. I don’t sleep on my stomach but I do like a decent pillow firmness. I used to sleep with two pillows before getting this one. I also got the medium fill because I knew I could always take some fill out if I wanted too. It felt a little firm initially so I did take some of the cotton out. Another perk of getting the zippered case! That helped a lot. Then I felt my head could sink more into the pillow and not be so stiff. It’s also nice because once the pillow flattens out a little, I know I can go back and add more fill that I took out.
Kapok- A great option for a side or back sleeper. This one felt light on the head and not as firm as the cotton. I like how it molded to my head after a while and didn’t feel as firm as it did in the beginning. It seemed more breathable than my cotton one too. The pillow we got to try was a travel pillow so it was a little harder to get an accurate idea of what a kapok pillow might be like since the pillow itself is smaller but overall I was happy with it. I think the next time I order one I would order a kapok pillow. I’ve been letting my 22 month old use the travel size pillow and she loves it! It’s the perfect size for a toddler pillow. The kapok pillows are also more budget friendly compared to the other two options above.
If you’re looking for a good quality pillow that isn’t going to off gas toxins I would definitely look into White Lotus Home. They really offer so many great options for natural pillows. I didn’t get to try out their wool or buckwheat options but they’re reviews look great for both of those pillows as well! What I love too about White Lotus Home is that each of their pillows comes in a smooth 100% organic cotton sateen pillow casing. You can know your pillow is doted on from start to finish! Use Coupone Code: GGG for 20% off your order!!
Have you swapped out your conventional pillow for a natural alternative? If so, what was your favorite pillow you’ve tried?
SO excited to chat with you all about the best natural paint! This post has been a long time coming. We moved into our new house in mid-November. This is our first home we’ve owned and we couldn’t be more excited to make it our own! We knew the first thing we wanted to do was paint it. Paint makes such a difference. We weren’t too fond of the color it was and wanted it to feel brighter and bigger. However, wanting a non-toxic home is at the top of my list and I didn’t want to compromise. Fortunately, after researching out natural paint alternatives I didn’t have too. I found Natura Paint by Benjamin Moore and was sold!
*This post is sponsored by Benjamin Moore, however, opinions and thoughts are my own.
If you’re unsure of what makes conventional paint so toxic, let me explain. Most paints contain VOC’s(Volatile Organic Compounds) gasses emitted from liquids or solids. They are known to cause a host of problems from irritation to throat, nose, eyes, headaches, nausea, damage to liver, kidneys and nervous system, some of the organic compounds have even been found to cause cancer in humans.
The largest factor is indoor air quality, which according to the EPA.gov is worst inside then outside-
Studies have found that levels of several organics average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. During and for several hours immediately after certain activities, such as paint stripping, levels may be 1,000 times background outdoor levels.
There are a number of other chemicals found in paint too besides VOC’s. Just a few are:
Thankfully, there are waterborne paints now, instead of solvents. Waterborne paints are such a great option for so many reasons.
Quick dry time
Less hazards and easy and safe clean up
They’ve been proven to perform in both residential and industrial buildings.
I must note that there is no perfect paint out there. Only better options. It’s similar to nail polish- even the best natural ones still contain chemicals. They have to in order to truly perform. Paint is in the same wheel house. There are a lot more “green” options out there now, but they also don’t perform or the colors are not aesthetically pleasing. When choosing the paint for our house, look, feel and overall performance was a huge factor. You may get a natural paint but if it doesn’t perform, then what’s it good for?
My friend Steph from @stephdufordlifestyle used Natura paint from Benjamin Moore and loved it. She is very choosy in what she uses in her home too- even more so. Her son has multiple food allergies and multiple environmental allergies. She also has severe MCS(multiple chemical sensitivities) and has to be extremely careful. She has painted two houses now with the Natura line and has loved the outcome in both! She also shared this tidbit I want to pass on to you as well. She told me they recommend those who suffer from MCS to first test out a small area on a piece of wood and see how you react or possibly take it in the car with you before doing a whole room or house. This way you know if you tolerate it first.
Here is a quote from her:
As someone who has a child who suffers from multiple food allergies and environmental allergies, plus having MCS myself I was extremely happy with the Benjamin Moore Natura product both times we’ve used it in our homes. It not only went on just like you would want paint too but it held up, and did not cause us any adverse reactions.
I love that the Natura line has zero emissions after 4 hours. It also has zero VOC’s, is 100% acrylic and is a primer in one. Plus, it has a quick dry time. Everything felt dry after a couple hours. What’s even more exciting is it’s asthma and allergy friendly too! Here is a quote on the asthma and allergy certification on Benjamin Moore’s website:
We created a paint that is scientifically proven to have a reduced level of allergens. The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program independently tests and identifies consumer products that are more suitable for those living with asthma and allergies. Natura earned the certification based on its odor, emission and VOC performance.
I love that it’s not hard to find or source Natura paint. Just head to any Benjamin Moore paint store and it’s there. Check out Benjamin Moore’s store finder here. They also have thousands of colors to choose from as well- another huge draw.
We chose the color Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace OC-65, Natura, Flat– a crisp clean white, similar to soft linen. We did our whole whole house in Chantilly Lace, except my daughter’s bedroom we did in Benjamin Moore Gray Owl OC-52, Natura, Flat. We also didn’t paint the master bath or the kid’s bath yet- still deciding, but we did paint the 1/2 bath on the main floor(I forgot to take a before photo but it was all mint green to give you an idea). We had all the walls in the house painted in the Chantilly Lace and then my daughter’s room painted in Gray Owl and then the baseboards and trim were painted with Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace OC-65, Natura, Semi-Gloss. I couldn’t be more pleased with the overall outcome! The paint looks just as you would imagine paint to look and brightened up our whole house. As you can see below, the before and after photos show the difference paint can make!
What the painters thought-
We hired painters to paint for us. With little kids, we knew we just wouldn’t have the time or space to do the whole house ourselves. Plus, our house has some really high vaulted ceiling areas and it would be hard to try and get them. The painters were excited that the paint was from Benjamin Moore. They said it was a quality paint and good choice. They had yet to use the Natura line from them. I asked for their feedback after painting and they said it was a great paint! They did go over some areas three times where it was a little darker from the previous paint but other than that they were happy with it as well.
The best part? I could hardly smell it at all! We stayed at my parents for a week while they painted and I would come check on it everyday and was always amazed at how little it smelled. Even when my mom came over she kept saying she could hardly smell anything! My nanny said the same thing. I was excited since the biggest concern going into a paint job for me is always the smell.
I really can’t recommend this paint enough! The quality of the paint, to the zero VOC’s, zero emissions after 4 hours, and asthma and allergy certification make this paint the best in my opinion. Check out all of Benjamin Moore Colors here.
Of course I couldn’t write this blog post without some before and after photos. The change is amazing! This is just the first part of my Detox Your Home Series. I’ll be sharing everything we do to our house as we do it, from products we get, etc. So many of you have asked how to do it, excited to finally share the process and tips with you. Plus, once were done I’ll be sharing the final photos of the house. We are still in the decorating phase and haven’t put anything up or gotten new furniture yet- it all takes time. Bottom line- I have so much more planned and can’t wait to share it with you!
*Note- I live in Washington where there are more gray days then sun, so the color doesn’t quite pop as much in my opinion. However, the before pics give you a good idea of how much brighter it looks! Also, I had the light on in some after photos and some I didn’t, so you could really see what the color looks like in both lightings. I did notice in the photos with the light on the Chantilly Lace color looks a little more yellow tinted.
Living Room Before-
Living Room After-
Girl’s Room Before-
Girl’s Room After-
Master Bedroom Before-
Master Bedroom After-
Bathroom After- (Didn’t have a before photo of this bathroom but it was all mint to give you an idea)
So what did you think? Leave me a comment below! Have you used Benjamin Moore Natura before?
I’ve rounded out my top picks for the domestic diva and created The Green Home Gift Guide for you! I’ve got picks for everyone. Gift giving just got easy! Stay tuned for more gift guides coming soon! Also, be sure to check out my green beauty sales roundup here!
Primal Palate Organic Spices I finally got some of these recently and I have to say they live up to the hype. They’re organic, gluten free, non-gmo, non-irradiated, whole 30 approved, and kosher. They have so many yummy blends! They even have AIP blends. Get your Primal Palate Organic Spices here!
Excalibur I got a dehydrator this year and let’s just say I haven’t looked back! I use this all the time from raw veggie breads, dried fruit and kale chips. I can’t recommend one enough. Get your Excalibur here!
Blendtec Love, love my Blendtec Blender! I’ve had mine for over 3 years and use it multiple times a day. It makes my smoothies so smooth, makes nut butters in minutes with the twister jar. I make sauces in it too- there really isn’t much it doesn’t do. Grab yourBlendtec here!
Cuisinart I’ve had my immersion blender for a year and I don’t know what I did before it. It’s perfect for soups, baby food, really so much. It’s so easy to clean too! Get yourCuisinart here!
Espresso Machine- My hubs and I have had this espresso machine for 7 years and we are sold! All the compartments are stainless steel which we love and it grinds the beans right before brewing ensuring the perfect espresso shot each time. Get yourBreville Espresso Machine here!
I’ve had a lot of people recently ask what I use to clean my house with. It may be because spring is here, and spring cleaning is looming over everyone’s head. I must say I’m a clean freak by nature. Ask my family, they’ll tell you-I can be a little OCD! Oh well, my house is clean. The spring cleaning bug has definitely bit me. I’ve been de-cluttering our place like crazy! My motto: If it doesn’t serve a purpose, toss it. Let’s just say I’ve given away loads of “stuff” these past several weeks and it feels so good.
In the spirit of spring cleaning, I thought I would share with you my top household product picks. Everything from laundry soap, window cleaner, bleach alternative…well, you get the point. I’ve compiled this list after over 5 years of testing out natural DIY’s, products and everything in between. I finally feel my list meets my standards and is worth sharing. I mean do you know how many laundry soaps I’ve tried in 5 years?! I think I know every DIY recipe out there. I literally changed mine every couple of months.
Oh and you all must know how toxic cleaning products are…if you don’t, trust me when I say you don’t want them in your house! Some of the most toxic ingredients live inside those bottles, and they’re horrible for you to breathe, touch and have around if you have kiddos in the house. Half the products now are loaded with so much fragrance to mask their smell that it practically knocks you off your feet! Artificial fragrance, in my opinion, is one of the worst things-I can smell it a mile away.
So I’ve compiled my little household list for a non-toxic/clean home. Trust me, you won’t even miss your old stuff!
Household Product Faves:
I wanted to give a brief introduction about e-cloth before I continue sharing their products. The basis of e-cloth is that it offers a chemical free cleaning experience using only water. It does this through micro fiber technology, proprietary equipment, and manufacturing techniques. I love their mission:
“Our aim is to supply the most effective, healthiest and most environmentally friendly cleaning products available at a good value to the consumer.”
*Also, with many companies on the market offering similar microfiber cloths and products, learn why I chose e-cloth here.
Where has this been all my life?! No really, I’ve struggled to find something that not only cleaned my dishes, but wasn’t a scotch brite pad that smelled like chemicals. Not to mention, I wanted something I could re-use and not throw away all the time. Well, the e-cloth Washing Up Pad came into my life, and has rocked my world! The gray side of the pad is for scrubbing stuck on food, and the other side is smooth and cuts through grease and grime. It’s made from cloth, versus some weird chemical smelling sponge material. The best part?! You just throw it in the washer when you need to clean it. Hello, how cool is that? Not only does this sponge work like a charm on all my tough dirty dishes, but it saves me money and is environmentally friendly. A win/win in my book! Get thee-cloth Washing Up Pad!
This cloth has been another winner from e-cloth. One side is more grainy and perfect for getting rid of residue, while the other side is smooth for polishing. Both sides remove 99% of bacteria just using water-I love it! I just spray some water onto the stainless steel, then use the grainy side to remove any residue(make sure you go in the direction of your grain so you don’t scratch anything). Then I would use the smooth side to polish. It did clean my stainless steel well, but it didn’t leave it sparkling like I wanted. I contacted e-cloth and asked what the solution might be to get the “sparkle” effect. They recommended the Glass and Polishing Cloth. So I got that, gave it a try, and bam-my stainless steel sparkled like new! The best part is it not only works for shining up stainless steel, but also for cleaning windows and mirrors. I would spray a little water onto my window or mirror and wipe away. No streaky residue. Are you hearing me people?! There was absolutely no chemical used to clean my stainless steel, windows or mirrors! Let’s just say I struck gold. I also used the Stainless Steel Cloth to clean my granite counters, and my countertops never shined brighter. I highly recommend these two products. They tackle so many cleaning jobs with no chemicals. Plus, no paper towel was wasted, just wash and re-use! Get E-Cloth 2 Glass & Polishing Cloth.
These two have been my jam as far as laundry detergent goes. I toyed a lot with making my own laundry detergent recipe. However, over the years I just got tired of having to make it…does that sound so bad?! Some things I don’t mind making, and who knows I might find another recipe I want to try again but for now I’m stuck on these two.
These really work and are clean! They are fragrance free which I love and are so easy to use. Just add one tab to the dishwasher and that’s it. My dishes come out clean and streak free. Plus, as I mentioned they’re super clean- chlorine free, dye free, phosphate free. Made with plant-based mineral ingredients and biodegradable. Get the Ecover Naturally Derived Automatic Dishwasher Tablets!
This dish soap recipe is my fave! It’s so easy to make-literally takes a minute, it’s so effective, and it’s toxin free! Plus, you’re going to save a ton of money, since you’re not buying it pre-made. The recipe uses Sal Suds from Dr. Bronner’s and love it. I also use it for cleaning my floors sometimes when I want a little soap. For the full dish soap recipe head to Live Simply’s Blog here!
I love this detergent! It really works and is completely natural-what more could you ask for? I love the whole concept of using soap nuts. For one they aren’t nuts, but are actually a berry from a tree, how much more natural can you get?! They’re a sustainable resource and grown organically easily, they’re great for sensitive skin, and hypoallergenic. Not to mention they’re 100% bio-degradeable, and completely safe for water systems. If you’re not sold yet, they actually use less water than conventional detergent, are safe for front loading washers, and they cost less per load too. They’re just a pretty amazing little berry!! How does it actually clean your clothes? It takes the saponin contained in the husk of the natural berry, and uses that to wash and get rid of dirt. Yes, even my husband’s stinky workout clothes smell good! My clothes smell fresh, not artificial and they are clean. I’m addicted to this stuff and almost out- it really is some good stuff. Buy it here!
I’ve been using Molly’s Suds laundry detergent for a while now and I must say I’m hooked. I’ve tried 3 different versions of their laundry detergent. Two powders and one liquid. They have a regular powdered scented version(scented with essential oils) and it’s great for my regular everyday clothes. They also have a sensitive version that is scent free and I use that for my baby girl and my toddler’s clothes, blankets, etc. The last one I’ve tried is their sport version and I use it for my workout clothes and my husbands-really gets the sweaty smell out of them! They also carry an Oxygen Whitener, laundry detergent for cloth diapers, wool dryer balls and they just came out with a regular liquid laundry detergent. Overall, I’ve been super impressed with the quality of their products. Buy Molly’s Suds All Natural Laundry Powder.
This stick is my most recent find and I’m addicted! It works so well! I’ve gotten a ton of food stains out of clothes, grease and even my baby girl’s breast milk poop-which in my opinion is one of the hardest things to get out. It’s so easy to use too. I just wet the stain and rub the stick into it and scrub. I rinse it out and then wash the clothes or whatever it is like normal. Everyone needs this in their kitchen! And it’s such a steal! Grab your Meliora Cleaning Products Laundry Stain Removal Soap Stick!
Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda, and White Vinegar
When it comes to cleaning my house I like to keep it really simple. I’ve looked at a ton of the “natural” cleaning products, and there’s always ingredients I don’t recognize off hand. Plus, when the job can be done at a fraction of the cost, and with simple ingredients I’m all about it. You can always find these three at my house: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and white vinegar.
What can’t these three do? I have yet to find out. I keep it simple when cleaning my bathroom. From the sink, tub, shower and toilet, they get the job done. I don’t put hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle because it is light sensitive, and starts to break down when exposed. That’s why you typically see it in a brown bottle. Oh and did I mention it’s around .99 a bottle? Yeah, pretty awesome. I just squirt it all around my tub, sink, toilet and counter and let it sit for 10 minutes. After I squirt it I always sprinkle on baking soda. This acts as a grit to help pick up more dirt. White vinegar I use similarly to hydrogen peroxide. It’s great for cleaning drains. I always put some essential oil drops around the sink when I’m done cleaning to help mask the vinegar smell. I clean my sink with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda too. Another trick I learned is to clean your cutting board with hydrogen peroxide. So many uses for it!
I LOVE this hand soap! Best organic, natural hand soap I’ve tried…hands down. I’ve struggled with finding a hand soap. It either wasn’t pure, squirted out weird or didn’t foam. This baby does it all, and has the best ingredients. Not to mention, it doesn’t dry out my hands! Everyone needs this in your kitchen and bathroom…trust me. They have them in several scents-they all smell good! $8.99 Buy it here!
Shark Light and Easy Steam Mop for Hard Wood Floors-
I use an electric steam mop from the brand Shark to clean my hardwood/non-carpet floors. I love this mop! It heats the water creating hot steam that kills 99.9% of germs. And your just using water…no chemicals! They say it’s safe to use on all sealed hard wood surfaces on their website. The mop comes with two reusable pads you can wash and just reuse. I’ve had mine for several years and have no complaints. $69.99 Buy it here!
I’ve also picked up a few other cleaning tips and some DIY’s if that’s our thing!
Bleach alternative- I found this recipe on the blog Live Simply. Check out Kristin’s blog-it’s awesome! She has so many great DIY recipes and they actually work. This one is gold! You just mix hydrogen peroxide, washing soda and hot water. I can’t take any credit for it though. I’ve just used it for everything and I’m here to say it works. I typically soak my stuff overnight, not that you need too, I just forget I’m soaking things sometimes…opps! I’ve found it works best for things when done right away. Don’t wait a month, and then decide you want to whiten something…know what I mean? I had these white tea towels that hadn’t ever been whitened, needless to say they were in bad shape. However, they did turn out pretty white with a good soaking…but just get on the soaking asap just for good measure.
Use the same towels for cleaning each time so there is no need for paper towels. I haven’t used paper towels for over a year until recently. I finally started buying them because with a 1 year old I was going through a crazy amount of laundry, not to mention I was ruining a lot of towels, and my husband was constantly on me about it. Sometimes convenience wins out. I buy Seventh Generation’s recycled paper towels and only allow 1 roll per week. We actually make it longer than a week most of the time.