• April 20, 2016

    Top 5 Ways to go Greener Right Now!

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    Happy Earth Day!  I love this day so much!  It’s an important day and a good reminder of the fragility of the earth and our part in that.  It’s an opportunity to search out new ways to use resources wisely and conserve what we do have.  So, I’ve compiled a list of 5 really easy ways we can make the world a better place and care for our home.   Now, go forth and challenge yourself to do these things on a regular basis!

    1. Use reusable cloth shopping bags

    This is a no-brainer!  Nobody needs hundreds of paper and plastic bags floating around their homes, so opt for reusable cloth bags instead.

    2. Frequent local businesses – grocery co-ops and farmers markets

    Shopping locally isn’t just good for local businesses!  By purchasing locally made items, you cut down on emissions from transporting things across the country and world.

    3. Ride a bike or take the bus

    Again, you can help cut down on vehicle emissions in your area.  If you bike, you can also get in some good exercise!

    4. Turn off lights, electronics, and faucets when not in use

    This is another no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t take this simple step!  If you already do this, take the next step and unplug things you’re not using!  Use a power strip with an on/off switch and shut things down when you go to bed every night.

    5. Bring your own travel mug on your coffee runs (some shops even offer discounts for this!)

    This can’t always be pre-planned for (I usually end up at coffee shops on a whim, not out of habit or planning), but if you do have a regular habit of going to out for your coffee, it’s totally do-able!

    Park

    If you already do some of these things, way to go!  You’re conscious of the Earth’s fragility and you’re making a difference!  Sometimes, though, we’re limited with what we can do (for instance, I live in a place where the bus doesn’t run and it’s too far to bike, so I have to drive to work), so I’d love to know what other things you do to live a green life!  Please, share your thoughts and strategies in the comments!

  • March 16, 2016

    Easter Eggs

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    Dying eggs is my most favorite Easter tradition and reminds me of quality time I had with my mom and a good friend of ours while I was growing up.  I don’t remember how my mom’s friend got involved, probably because her boys had outgrown the tradition, but she became an integral part of our celebration.  It has now been years since I last dyed an Easter Egg, but it’s such a beautiful tradition, so I decided to learn a little more about the history behind it all and try my had at naturally coloring some eggs!

    My research has shown me that, like Christmas, many Easter traditions were borrowed from pagan celebrations and repurposed into something new.  Eggs symbolize fertility and rebirth, so early Christians adopted them as a symbol for Christ’s resurrection.

    Understanding the coloring part of the tradition is a little less obvious as there are many different theories as to how it all got started.  Some believe eggs were decorated simply to beautify them in celebration of Lent coming to an end – eggs were not allowed during Lent.  Other’s believe Mary had eggs at the crucifixion and Jesus’ blood dripped on them – coloring them red – and so we color eggs red in remembrance of his sacrifice.  Other legends claim that Mary had the eggs with her and they miraculously turned red when she saw the risen Christ or, alternatively, when she told someone he had risen and he replied that Christ had no more risen than her eggs were red, so they turned red.

    Whatever the historical reason, I enjoy the tradition because it reminds me of home, of simple joys, and of familial closeness.

    Now, on the “show” part of this little show and tell!  *grin*  Because we try to eat cleanly and don’t buy dyes or foods containing dyes, we were determined to try and color some eggs naturally this year!  I didn’t have the time or desire to test lots of different recipes – frankly, I don’t even really like hard boiled eggs all that much – so we’re going to try good old Martha Stewarts recipes out and see what happens!  *grin*

    We decided to try to achieve pale yellow, light blue and chartreuse for our eggs.  There are a lot of other colors that require different ingredients and techniques listed on the website, so I would encourage you to check it out!

    Following the instructions given, we simplified them a bit and came up with the following:

    Pale Yellow: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 3 tablespoons turmeric to a boil.  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Turmeric

     

    Light Blue: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 4 cups chopped cabbage to a boil (add more water and vinegar in their correct proportions if needed to cover the cabbage).  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Cabbage

     

    Chartreuse: Use the dyes already used for pale yellow and light blue.  Soak eggs in the turmeric dye for 30 minutes and remove.  Then, place in the cabbage dye briefly – about 5 minutes.

    Coloring-Eggs

     

    Eggs

    Pro Tip: When removing the eggs from the color, pat them dry with a paper towel – don’t rub!  If you rub too much, the color will come off!

    Expect a bit of variation with your eggs.  I don’t know what makes the color stick or not stick, but some defiantly turned out better than others and they were all done the same.

    Cabbage, turmeric, eggs, and vinegar all stink, so try to plan your egg dying time for when you can have an open window!  Otherwise your house will stink and everyone will wonder what kind of mess you’re making for dinner!

    I hope ya’ll give this little project a try!  I was very pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy of the colors and how easy it all actually was.  Way more interesting and fun (as an adult at least… though, you could totally turn this into a mini science lesson for your kids) than the little kits you can buy!

    Easter-Eggs

  • March 2, 2016

    Bicycle Race

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    Ooooooh boy, I can’t imagine those ladies are comfortable riding their bikes.  But, hey, I’ve never tried nekkid bike riding before, so who knows.  *grin*

    Anyway…. I finally got my bike, ya’ll!  It’s so shiny!  I don’t remember if I ever actually brought up my bicycle dreams here or not, but it’s something I’ve been working towards since we decided to move.  You see, there is a beautiful park near our home as well as some fabulous restaurants and shopping all within walking/biking distance.  So… I’ve been dreaming and scheming for quite some time now!

    By-the-Water

    With the weather getting nicer every day, I decided it was time to take out my savings and bite the bullet.  Lucky for me, the bike I wanted went on sale at the same time I was ready to go and I got a screaming deal on it!  *patience is a virtue for a reason*  Also lucky for me, I have a coworker-friend who is super into bikes and her husband graciously offered to put mine together for me so I could save some money on the shipping.

    In-the-Park

    So, now it’s all put together and looking beautiful – I’m almost afraid to take it anywhere, lest it get scuffed or marred.  Of course, that doesn’t really stop me… but I do think about it every time I take it out.  I realized while we were putting it all together that I haven’t ever had a brand new bike… and I haven’t really ridden one since high school.  High school, ya’ll.  So I’m a little rusty.

    All this talk about my excitement, I’m sure you’d like to know more about this bike that has me so enamored.  First, she’s a Public bike.  I decided to go with a Public brand bike over others for several reasons: 1. style 2. quality 3. affordability 4. they had exactly what I wanted.  I did a year’s worth of searching and reading and pouring over reviews before landing on this one.

    Public

    The bike I got is the Dutch Step Thru C1 which means that it only has one gear.  I went back and forth a lot about one gear vs. 3 or more and ended up deciding on the one gear because of the terrain I’ll mostly be riding on – park and neighborhood only.  I don’t have any plans to take her on main roads or try to commute to work and there aren’t any major hills in my nearby area.  Once I get better at riding again, I might look for another bike with more gears and that can travel faster on main roads, but that’s probably quite a ways off!

    Bike

    And, one of the best things is, because I got the bike on such a great sale, I was able to also get some really amazing accessories too!  There’s nothing like customizing stuff so it genuinely reflects you as a person.  I have some other customization goals in mind… but I’m totally broke now… so it’ll have to wait.

    What was that about patience being a virtue, again?  ha!

  • July 22, 2015

    Essential Oil Bug Spray

    My family learned early on in my little life that bug spray does not agree with me.  The story goes that we were at a picnic with friends when I was still too small to be walking yet and someone picked me up.  Within minutes, I was swollen to the size of a watermelon and pink all over and it was all very scary and traumatic for my parents.  Once I was back to a normal baby size, they discovered that someone had sprayed Cutter bug spray and the transfer from them to me was enough to damn near kill me!

    So, most of my life, I have just had to deal with bugs unless I could sit next to a burning citronella candle whenever I was outside.  Lame, right?

    That has all changed now, though, since I discovered essential oils!  DoTerra sells a great blend called TerraShield that is made specifically to repel insects.  To make the bug spray, I combine 10 drops of TerraShield with water in a 4oz (glass!) spray bottle.  One application lasts about 5-6 hours so you don’t have to reapply a ton.

    If you don’t use DoTerra or want to try blending your own bug spray, I recommend using a few drops each of lemon, lemongrass, citronella, and eucalyptus with water in a 4 oz spray bottle.

    Give it a try and spend the rest of summer bug free!

  • February 25, 2015

    Essential Oils Carpet Odor Killer

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    My husband and I have two pets, a corgi and a cat.  We love them to pieces, but they both shed like mad and stink up the house if we’re not careful.  So, I vacuum once a week and use this odor killer as often as needed to keep the carpet clean and smelling fresh.  I imagine this same mixture could easily be used on furniture as well, if needed.

     

    Supplies2

    Ingredients:

    • Baking Soda
    • Essential Oil – You can use whatever oils you like depending on what you hope to accomplish with them.  For instance, Lavender is a nice smell in a bedroom to help you relax and sleep.  On Guard and Cinnamon will kill germs and yuckies that thrive in your carpet.  Lemon leaves a lovely, uplifting scent that feels really clean.

    Directions:

    • To make the odor killing mixture, combine a small box of baking soda with 5-10 drops of essential oil.  Mix thoroughly before beginning the cleaning process.
    • Run your vacuum over the carpet you want to neutralize.
    • Sprinkle the baking soda mixture over the whole carpet.
    • If your carpet is really stinky or has long fibers, work it in as much as you can.
    • Let it sit for a while – an hour or more if you can.
    • Vacuum it all back up and enjoy your fresher smelling house.

     

    Carpet-Cleaner

    Pro Tip:

    Ensure the oils you use are safe for your kids and pets before using!  Some animals, like birds, are extra sensitive to some oils and great care needs to be taken to ensure they aren’t hurt by your cleaning product.

    I keep my odor killing mixture readymade in an old glass jar.  Be sure to only use glass or metal containers when using essential oils – never ever plastic!

  • January 28, 2015

    Essential Oils: What They Are And Why They Work

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    I have talked a little in the past about using essential oils, but it has occurred to me that many people may not be familiar with them or why I would trust them.  I am certainly no expert, but I am learning and finding that each new oil or recipe I try is working.  With every story shared and every success I experience, I am becoming more and more a believer in these oils.

    And why shouldn’t I believe in their usefulness?  Essential oils have been used throughout history for healing, beauty, cooking, and religious ceremony.  Remember in the Bible when Jesus was born and the wise men brought him gold, frankincense, and myrrh?  Two of the three gifts given to the King of Kings were plant derivatives that were prized in that time (and even today) for their healing properties and religious significance.  People all over the world still use frankincense and myrrh today to treat ailments and worship God.  Frankincense and myrrh weren’t the only essential oils to be used in history, though.  In fact there is evidence of Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, Europeans, and Persians using various oils for their healing properties long before the advent of modern Western medicine.  If there is such widespread use throughout history, there must be something to these oils, right?

    Let’s look a little closer at how essential oils are made and why they work: Essential oils are extracted from their parent plant via steam distillation or cold pressing and marketed as concentrated oils by companies like doTERRA and Young Living.  The essential oils that we use to heal our bodies are present in plants to do that exact same thing for the plant!  Peppermint oil protests and heals the peppermint plant, see?  Not all plants have these properties, but the ones who do usually translate well for human use.

    But how do essential oils really measure up against modern medicine?  I am certainly not going to suggest that oils can or should replace medicine or surgeries for people who are needing those things, but essential oils may play a role in healing significant illness or injury – that decision is between you and your doctor!  For less serious things – a minor burn or stomach ache, for instance – essential oils can be administered instead of or alongside other, more typical Western medicines.  When using essential oils for healing, you can place the oil on your skin, breathe it in, or ingest it (depending on the type of oil).  The oils will be absorbed through whatever human tissue they come into contact with and enter the blood stream.  The oils will enter cells, including bacteria and viruses, and share their properties to support health and kill toxins.  Most man-made medicines are not as effective in crossing the cell membrane, so often times, the essential oil actually works faster and better!  Additionally, the oils are gentler on your system than medicines are, so if your stomach is easily upset by aspirin, you might want to try some peppermint oil instead to ease your headache.

    If you aren’t so sure about using essential oils in place of some medicines, consider using them for cleaning , beauty, and aroma!   Remember how plants that produce essential oils use those oils to protect themselves?  Well, this means that a lot of essential oils have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and protective properties.  This means that you can safely use many oils to clean your counters, laundry, and other spaces.  You can also create bath-bombs, body butter, lip-gloss, and other body care products.  There are tons of recipes out there and you can bet I’ll be posting more in the future here too!  And sometimes, you just want your home to smell nice without the fake smell many candles leave.  Using an oil with uplifting properties will not only make your home smell clean and fresh, but it can help elevate your mood and actually make you feel better too!

    Essential-Oils

    If you are interested in learning more or using essential oils in your daily life, I want to point you to my friend, Joanna’s, youtube channel.  She goes into more detail about these topics and can probably answer any questions you have!  She also has some nummy recipes!  Check it out, do your own research, and ask lots of questions!

  • June 18, 2014

    DIY: All Purpose Cleaner

    Last week I wrote about clean eating, so today I want to start a little discussion about clean cleaning.

    If you use store bought cleaners in your home, you are familiar with how sparkly and shiny they can make your home.  You are also familiar with the strong smells, headaches, expense, and danger associated with those chemicals.  I have never been able to clean my bathroom without both the fan running and the window open.  My kitchen is more open, so I have less trouble there, but then I wonder about the safety of eating food that touches my counters since I just wiped them down with chemical cleaners that tell me right on the label you shouldn’t ingest them.

    I’m thinking this might be a problem.

    So… I started doing some research.  It seems like there are a million and one ways to naturally clean your home.  Everyone has a different opinion and preference, but there are definitely some common ingredients that we can all agree on.  After taking it all in and talking with some good friends, I’ve come up with an all purpose cleaner that I feel good about using on my countertops.

    For this “recipe” you will need a glass spray bottle.  I include Essential Oils in my cleaner and these oils may have the ability to break down plastics and become toxic.

    Ingredients:

    • Water
    • Vinegar
    • Lemon Oil
    • Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Oil
    • On Guard Oil Blend

    Instructions:

    Fill your glass spray bottle half way with vinegar and the rest of the way with water.  Add 2-3 drops of each oil.  Shake well and get cleaning!

     

    I use vinegar as part of the base for my cleaner because vinegar is acetic (in fact, there is a more acetic cleaning grade vinegar on the market if you care to get that instead of the regular vinegar).  The acid in vinegar polishes metals, dissolves soap scum, kills mildew and mold, and removes some stains.  These properties make it very attractive for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens.

    Water is used to help cut the other ingredients.  It doesn’t necessarily help the cleaning process, but it does help the overall smell and usability of the cleaner.

    I love lemon to clean with for a few reasons:  1. It smells great!  Lemon is a natural mood lifter.  2. It is antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antiviral oil.  Lemon will kill tons of common household germs and gunk.  3. It works wonders on removing sticky stuff!

    Melaleuca oil is an even stronger antiseptic.  It will also kill bacteria, fungus, viruses, and other infectious germs.  Melaleuca has been used throughout history as a medical tool to help heal wounds and cuts… I use it whenever I get a blemish.

    On Guard is a special blend of oils that doTERRA makes and markets as a germ killing, health giving miracle mix.  And it is.  With orange, clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary, this blend of oils is magical.  This is shown to kill bacteria, mold, and viruses.  It also stimulates your immune system, protecting you from the very things you’re cleaning up!

    The first time I used this combination to clean my home, I noticed that I felt better when the cleaning was done.  My mood was good and my home smelled really nice.  I love the feeling of clean without the smell of fake pine and citrus.  Totally makes sense why chemical cleaners are lemon scented, though, right?

    As with anything you do, please be cautious when trying new oils and mixtures.  Essential oils are highly concentrated and may cause negative reactions if left on your skin or ingested.  For the most part, you’ll probably be fine, but do a little tester first to be sure.  And if you know you are sensitive to, say, cinnamon, maybe find something with similar properties to replace it.  The same caution goes for your pets.  This mixture should be diluted enough for most pets, but again, be mindful of how it may effect them.  I recommend checking out this website if you have questions about pet safety.

    And there you have it!  A simple, green, healthy way to save money and keep your home clean and germ free!

    *grin*

  • May 10, 2014

    Planting Day

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    Oh man, I am running a little late this week.  What day is it?  Saturday?

    *sigh*

    What can I say, I’ve been busy this week crying my eyes out over The Fault in Our Stars.

    So there.

    Seriously, though, if you haven’t read it yet, stop everything you’re doing and read it.  Maybe buy a new box of tissues first.

    But, real quick before you do that, let me tell you about the other thing I am SO excited about this week!  Today was planting day!  Last weekend, my hubby and I went out to the local gardens to buy some veggie plants so we can get our garden going.

    Usually, we try to get things planted as soon as we get them, but the weather has not been ideal for planting.  So, today when we woke up to sunshine and blue skies, we jumped at the opportunity to get some tomatoes in the ground!

    We’ve been planting tomatoes in our raised garden bed for 3 summers now and have always had pretty good success.  Last year, we tried a black heirloom tomato in a planter, but failed miserably.  So, this year, we decided to forget the fancy tomatoes and branch out and try for some eggplant.  I am so excited!!!  We are also trying out jalapenos this year, so watch for some salsa recipes this summer!

    Pepper

    I’m also happy to report that our strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are coming back stronger than last summer.  And, the plum and pear trees are starting to look promising too.  Hopefully we’ll get some good fruit this time around!

    Strawberries

    Blueberries  Raspberries

    I find so much joy each spring when we start everything new and fresh.  We got rained out towards the end, but our garden is planted and it’s going to be amazing!  It’s a great feeling to bring something to life and make your own food.  I know it probably sounds a little hokey, but gardening is something my husband and I really love, and take pride in.  Also, I just really love to eat.

    Now, if I can just find a tree that will make chocolate bars and ice cream….

  • April 23, 2014

    It’s Actually Pretty Easy Being Green

    Happy Earth Day!  I know I’m a day late, but that’s what happens when updates are only on Wednesdays.

    The more I think about it, though, every day should be Earth Day.  Not that grade schools should have “dirt” snacks with gummy worms on a daily basis (although, there are plenty of kids who would disagree with me), but that people should take care of the only planet they can (currently) live on.  I know there is talk of manned missions to Mars and planets that are super similar to Earth and all of that… but the money and manpower needed to reach and successfully inhabit another planet is too ridiculous for me to think about right now.  Also, what if I don’t want to move to Mars just because people ruined my planet?  Right?

    Right.

    But, there are more reasons to go green than just preserving the planet so I don’t have to move to Mars.  There are lots of people out there who disagree and think that making efforts to go green and live with less negative impact on the planet is a waste of time and effort.  They often think the only reason to go green is to prevent global warming, and that’s not even a thing they believe in anyway, so why should they change the way they live their lives?  Well, to them, I would first ask that we watch a video:

    Oh, Hank, you are so smart.  And if you still think Global Warming is bunk… whatever.  I’m not going to argue with you about it anymore.  There are still plenty of great reasons to green up your life!

    Going green will help you:

    • Save money
    • Save energy
    • Preserve non-renewable resources
    • Promote your health

     

    We’ve all heard the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” before, but you may be thinking that it’s too hard or inconvenient to live a more sustainable life.  Do not fear!  There are so many little things you can do to help make your life a little greener and your planet a little better!

    A lot of the idea behind being green is to use and reuse the things you already have and to be conscious of the impact you and your lifestyle have on your environment.  Here is a list of some of my favorite, super easy ways to make your life a little greener:

    • Shop local and fair trade (Hello farmers market!  Delicious, beautiful, super fresh food grown at the farm just outside of town?  Sign me up!).
    • Turn old things you already have into things with new purpose and life.  An easy example would be to use old canning jars for food storage (been on Pinterest lately?  This is trendy right now!).
    • Use reusable shopping bags.
    • Plant something (vegetable gardens, flowers, indoor plants, a tree in the forest… whatever makes you happy).
    • Turn your lights off when you leave the room.
    • Turn the water off when you’re not actively using it.
    • Walk, ride a bike, or use public transit.
    • Don’t waste paper – print on both sides or use the back of printed sheets you don’t need for scratch paper.
    • Use cloth instead of paper when you can – napkins, washcloths, etc.
    • Use homemade cleaners and laundry detergent.

     

    See?  Not hard at all!  And pretty soon, it all becomes second nature.  Plus, you’re saving tons of money, living healthier, and feeling pretty good about making the world a better place.