Natural Living

Why are you holding back?

My kids have been on a Frozen kick for the last few months. We are watching it, singing the soundtrack and playing with all the frozen toys…non-stop. Basically the soundtrack of Frozen is played daily and stuck in my brain forever. All drama aside, I was playing the soundtrack today in the car as we drove home in hopes to keep the kids awake and not nap in the car. During the song “Fixer Upper” I had a revelation. The song begins with “Whats the issue, dear? Why are you holding back..” Now the song is about love and relationships, I am not talking about that today. I am talking about why are you holding back from making changes that could ultimately lead you and your family to a healthier life. Think about it, what is holding you back?

When I first started on my health and natural living journey I let a lot of fears, anxiety and unknowns hold me back. Fear of failing, not being “perfect”, anxiety about cost or wasting money on failed projects, and uncertainty of time and effort needed to make the changes. Eventually I made the leap, it was a pretty big one, but it was worth every stress, anxiety and uncertainty. My first leap was starting cloth diapers with my first child. Now it was a lot to start as a new mom and although I don’t recommend such a big change while your life is also vastly changing. I am here to say you can do it no matter the size of the change. I do recommend starting small on your changes, check out some of my past posts on how you can start small.

And to prove I am not perfect (and I believe no one should be) here are some of my continuing fears I still need to embrace:

  • fermenting more foods (I have failed pickles and sauerkraut too many times to count)
  • Recycling (sure I recycle boxes and paper, but to actually wash a can, oh man I still can’t bring myself to take the time)
  • Zero waste (We have cut down significantly on house hold paper use, but I always seem to forget bringing my reusable bags for grocery shopping and such)

Take some time this week to brainstorm where you can make a change, and let me know if I can help you out. Want more information or tips on a specific topic comment below!

Natural Living · Recipies

All-Purpose Balm

One of my first recipes I posted on my blog was for my soothing balm. My soothing balm is a powerhouse for skin repair and moisturizing. But some people may find it heavy for all over body application, or may just want a quick but effective hand balm. If this description better fits your needs then let me introduce my All-Purpose Balm! This balm can be made in five minutes with just TWO ingredients! It is incredibly nourishing for your skin. I call this my all purpose balm because it truly is a multiuse product. It is great as a skin balm to keep near the sink to apply after washing your hands, or be used as your main body moisturizer. It can also be great as:

  • Nipple cream for breastfeeding moms (no essential oil)
  • Baby lotion (no essential oil, or 30 drops lavender)
  • Baby Booty Balm (cloth diaper safe, 30 drops lavender essential oil)
  • Cuticle repair balm (30 drops frankincense essential oil , or a blend of lavender and tea tree essential oils)

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All Purpose Balm

  • 3/4cup Shea Butter
  • 1/2cup Coconut oil
  • Essential oil (optional)*
  1. Measure ingredient into a glass bowl
  2. Melt over a double boiler on medium heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Take off heat once melted. If adding essential oils*, add now and stir.
  4. Store in a glass jar.

*Total drops of EOs added should be 50. My favorite oils to add are lavender, frankincense, or pre-blended oils like Plant Therapy’s Tranquil or Calming the Child. When putting in baby care products, I err on the conservative side and utilize less essential oils as noted above.

Uncategorized

The Dirty Secret in Your Cosmetics

Do you know what is in your cosmetics? When you look at the ingredient label of a product are you aware of what each ingredient is? In my last post I talked about simple steps to skin health. Today I want to help you improve what you put on your skin. What you put ON you skin is as important as how you care for your skin, these two go hand in hand. The ingredients in many of today’s conventional cosmetics contain harmful chemicals and byproducts that are not regulated by the FDS. The FDA website directly states, “The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market.”

The FDA has only banned 30 ingredients that are harmful in cosmetics in the United States. In comparison the European Union has banned over 1300 harmful ingredients. With so many potential hazards that can be found in cosmetics, how can we prioritize which ingredients to avoid? When researching hazardous ingredients I found that the EWG has shopping tips for safer products. I have complied a condensed list on ingredients that are my top choices to avoid below:

BHA -Butylated hydroxianisole can cause skin depigmentation and is a presumed carcinogen. Found in personal care products as well as food products and packaging.

Formaldehyde – a preservative that is a known carcinogen, asthmagen, neurotoxicant and developmental toxicant. Most commonly found in nail polish.

Fragrance– Federal law does not require companies to list ingredients. Can contain hormone disruptors and is one of the top 5 allergens in the world. Found in basically anything with a scent or even products listed unscented.

Oxybenzone– Linked to allergens, sensitization and irritation. Studies show it may disrupt the hormone system. Most Commonly found in sunscreens.

Parabens –Estrogen mimicking preservatives that may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders. Found in most products containing water, this is widely used in the cosmetic industry.

PEG– The problem with polyethylene glycol compounds is that they are most often contaminated with chemicals that are known carcinogens and may interfere with human development. Peg components themselves run the risk of skin irritation and toxicity. Found in condition agents and cleaning products like acne products and shaving creme.

Petroleum distillates –May cause contact dermatitis and “often contaminated with cancer causing impurities.” Most commonly found in mascara.

Retinal palimate/Retinyl acetate/retinol – May increase the chance of skin leisons when in the presence of sunlight. Cosmetic forms may also cause toxic levels of Vitamin A. Most commonly found in sunscreen and skin care products.

SLS/SLES– Sodium laurel sulfate and Sodium laureate sulfate are foaming agents that are most often containminated with known carcinogens and a known skin irritants. Found in a broad spectrum of products from shampoo to toothpaste.

Triclosan/Triclocarban- Antimicrobial pesticides that are toxic to aquatic environments. Most commonly found in soap and toothpaste.

The trend for cleaner/safer ingredients is finally starting to show in the market. But until more reforms are made, it is important to be informed as a consumer. Having a list of top ingredients you won’t buy if contained in a product is a great start. Hopefully if we as consumers are putting our dollars elsewhere the big product retailers will start to notice! If having a list or reading labels seems overwhelming as you begin, check out my post on the EWG, to download their app for easy purchasing power. Knowledge is Power, so let’s put the power of our health back in our own hands!

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Natural Living · Recipies

Simple Skin Care Tips

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As the desert summer quickly approaches, I wanted to share my top tips for protecting your skin. I haven’t always been focused on protecting and nourishing my skin. But as I move closer to thirty, and the lack of sleep from two young kids wears on me, I am ready to start taking baby steps towards repairing, protecting and nourishing my skin. I mean it is my largest organ so why the heck not! I have managed my psoriasis and chronic dry skin since high school and it has helped me become more creative and to research simple and effective ways to improve and support overall skin health. In addition to using quality, non-toxic ingredients in your skin care products I have listed my favorite simple steps to promote skin health.

Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

Your skin is made up of cells, and cells are made up of water. It is almost a no brainer but I know if your anything like me sometimes drinking water can be a struggle. When you provide your body with the proper hydration, you are not only aiding in digestion, absorption and excretion, you are aiding in circulation. Drinking adequate amounts of water will help improve blood flow, giving your skin a radiant more youthful glow. When you are dehydrated your skin can appear dry, flaky and dull. I recommend at least 2 liters of water a day, but in the summer months and if your exercising regularly (which you should do) I stick closer to 3 liters.

Cover Up

I am notoriously bad at remembering sunscreen! Like to the point that I regularly tell my husband what a bad mom I am because I constantly forget to put it on the kids and myself when we go to the park or for runs. But my goal this year has been to wear some kind of sunscreen on my face every day, and to keep some in my car so it’s ready to go and accessible for the kids. So far this year I have been doing a decent job at sticking to my goal! Woohoo! When it comes to sunscreens though, they are often filled with many chemicals and ingredients that are allergens and hormone disruptors. My go to resource for purchasing sunscreen is the EWG, their 2017 guide hasn’t been released yet, but their 2016 guide is a great start on safe products as we await the new guide!

Whole Foods

Switching to a whole food diet helps improve mental clarity, gut health and most importantly aids in nourishing your skin. Some of my favorite foods for supporting the skin are eggs, avocados, spinach and pumpkin seeds. Eggs are a great source of protein, which is needed for collagen production. Avocados are rich in omega fatty acids and vitamin E; which help contribute to moisturizing the skin and increasing the skin’s luminosity. Spinach is full of antioxidants that help clear and repair skin; it is also packed with water preventing dry flaky skin. Pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc and it helps protect cell membranes and maintain collagen production.

Exfoliate

Exfoliating the skin helps promote circulation, removes dead and dry skin cells, helps moisturize your skin more effectively and helps unclog pores and keep them clean. Simply dry brushing the skin before a shower is a quick and effective way to exfoliate. Or you can use a sugar/salt scrub in the shower to exfoliate.

 

I know these four steps seem simple, but they are very effective in promoting your skin health. Since it’s my latest obsession, and I wanted to help jump start your changes to healthier skin, I have included a sugar scrub recipe below!

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Lavender Sugar Scrub

  • 1cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/2cup oil (coconut, sunflower, almond, olive oil, or avocado)*
  • 20 drops of Lavender Essential oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried lavender (optional)

Combine all ingredients and stir. Store in an airtight jar. The oil and sugar may separate between uses simply stir before use!

*Use any kind of oil you prefer. In this recipe I used ¼cup sunflower and ¼ cup coconut oil.

 

Recipies

Snack Time

Sometimes I feel like my kids will eat me out of house and home. I do not know where my kids (who barely make it on the charts for weight) put all the food they eat! In our house we try hard to provide a balanced meal with fats/protein/veggies so that the kids don’t snack as often. But snacking is inevitable with growing kids, so we try to keep the snacks simple and healthy options. We give the kids pretty much free reign to apples/bananas and organic cheese sticks. But if I am preparing a snack or throwing something in my purse these are some of our go-to options:

 

Veggies and hummus-my kids love carrots, sweet peppers, cucumbers and snap peas

Smoothies- Usually a milk/kefir base with frozen organic fruit and a plant based protein powder added.

Kefir-this is a fermented milk product that is similar to yogurt, but has a more diverse range of probiotics

Oranges/Grapes (when in season)

Organic Cheese sticks (we love the organic valley from Costco)

Granola Bites

Chips and Salsa (Organic Non-Gmo tortilla chips with jarred organic salsa. If you want to avoid BPA you can certainly make your own salsa.)

Rasins, dried apples, dates or banana chips

Packets of organic applesauce

Homemade whole grain muffins (I don’t always make muffins but these are fun to mix up the monotony and I have heard they freeze well. This website is awesome for recipes!)

Homemade chia seed pudding (recipe below)

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Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

  • 2cups milk (whole milk or almond milk*)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4tablespoons of maple syrup
  • pinch of celtic sea salt
  1. Combine milk and chia seeds in a bowl. Whisk together.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and whisk.
  3. Cover and place in fridge overnight.
  4. Serve as is, or with fresh fruit, coconut chips, a dash of cinnamon or sliced almonds.

*Make Almond milk from scratch or if using store bought avoid brands that contain carrageenan. I prefer raw or organic whole milk.

 

What do your kids like for snacks? Have any quick fool-proof recipes or links to share, comment below!

 

Recipies

Granola Bites

Raising little kids means I often survive on multiple cups of coffee a day and lots of Jesus. Traveling with kids (even just to the grocery store) can seem like purgatory some days. I have definitely been the mom who has left her semi-full cart in the middle of the store with one baby strapped to her in the carrier while carrying the kicking and screaming toddler out the store. Since having my second child, I am slowly learning the art of pacifying two kids at the same time. One of my saving graces when out and about is SNACKS! Throw a few handfuls of food to the kids and most days I can get by with an hour or two of running errands. In today’s modern food world, snacks are often filled with excess sugar(often high fructose), gmo ingredients, hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. One culprit of snacking ease is the the granola bar. Something that looks so simple, is usually a sugar bomb, often containing as much as some candy bars. A simple remedy to avoiding the these artificial ingredients is looking for bars with minimal ingredients or making your own!

I will be the first to say that I bounce back and forth between buying organic bars due to sheer convenience and making my own in large batches and freezing them. If your not up to making your own here are a few of my recommended brands:

  • RX Bars
  • Lara Bars
  • Kind Bars
    • Look for bars sweetened by fruit or natural sugars like maple syrup or honey

I usually make a double or triple batch at once, so I can pull out a new batch from the freezer once we finish the one in the fridge. This does contain honey so please do not give to infants under 1 year of age. Agave syrup can be substituted for honey. The granola bites should stick together well at room temperature and not fall apart. These are also great for a pre or post workout snack for parents too!!

Granola Bites

  • 2cups Oats
  • 2cups coconut flakes ( I like toasted)
  • 1cup natural organic peanut butter or natural organic almond butter or sunbutter
  • 1cup ground flax seeds
  • 3/4cup chocolate chips, or raisins or cranberries
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Combine all ingredients in a standmixer, or large bowl if you do not have a mixer.granola3
  2. Mix on low, or with large wooden spoon until the ingredients are blended.granola
  3. Form into 1 inch balls. I use a cookie scooper and then roll in my hands.granola2
  4. Store in the refrigerator for 1 week or freezer in an airtight container for 3 months. Make  32 granola bites.

 

This Granola bites recipe is one that I have been using for probably over three years, I have it saved to my phone and have lost track of where it originated from. So, it is not my own developed recipe and if I could link to the original site I would have. But if you recognize this from a site please let me know so I can link to them! 🙂

 

 

Natural Living

Clean 15/Dirty Dozen

 

EWG guideWhen people begin to “go natural” or transition to a lower chemical filled life, organic food is usually a first change made. Buying organic can cause a rather large reaction to sticker shock when you go to the grocery store the first time. There are days when I see my grocery bill and I cringe. Thankfully my husband is very good at creating budgets and he has helped me cut down costs on groceries over the years. Before you make any changes I would definitely encourage a review of how much you currently spend weekly/monthly and then proceed with making changes to your buying habits. You do not have to increase your budget to buy organic, you just need to develop some savvy habits.

Fruits and vegetables are often the easiest foods to switch to organic. I think it is also one of the first places you should make a change in your buying habits. One of the biggest concerns with non-organic food is pesticide exposure and GMO seeds. Pesticides should be avoided because they are toxic by design. They have been linked to brain and nervous toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption and skin irritation. GMOs are “living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.” GMOs actually are restricted in over 60 countries, like Japan, Australia and the European Union. As found on the Non-GMO  project website, “A growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.”

Spending more time researching the side effects of pesticides and GMO’s can be alarming, but that does not mean every fruit and vegetable you buy has to be organic. The EWG develops a yearly list called the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. They have two lists: The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen, ranking produce that has the lowest pesticide exposure to the highest. Now the EWGs list is specific to pesticide exposure only, so if you are concerned about GMOs then buying organic is the safest option. When something is certified organic in the US it generally means that it does not contain GMO ingredients.

I definitely recommend utilizing these shopper’s guides to help you make better choices and to not over spend on produce that has low pesticide exposure.

 

 

References

https://livingnongmo.org/learn/gmo-faq/

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/faq.php

Natural Living

Mighty Fix

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So today has been a bit of a day… The kids are not napping, so instead I am on the couch while one terrorizes the living room and the other quietly watches Brave. No nap means no research session like I would normally do for my upcoming posts. Instead, I decided to drop a quick post on my Mighty Fix shipment that came in today!

The Mighty Fix is a monthly subscription service provided by Mighty Nest. Mighty Nest is an online retailer, “that provides you the ability to research, get advice and buy natural, organic and non-toxic products all in one place.” The Mighty Fix sends natural, organic or non-toxic products to your home each month through a subscription that is only $10! I have been getting this subscription service for almost two years! The retail cost of the full size products you receive each month varies between $10-$20. I have received everything from a set of three wool dryer balls, primal pit paste deodorant, thinksport sunscreen, and even glass/stainless steel food storage containers.

The Mighty Fix is unique because you can shop at Mighty Nest and add products from the retail site to your Fix shipment and receive free shipping on those products. When you sign up for a Mighty Fix you get member deals each month as well. They have products ranging from kitchen, wellness, green cleaning, baby & toddler, bath & body and more. The Mighty Fix is a fun way to learn and try new natural products for you and your home.

Ten dollars a month is two coffees at a coffee shop, cut down on two coffees and sign up for this subscription! I highly recommend this monthly dose of happy mail!

This Month I got Swedish Dish cloths. These cloths are made of earth-friendly wood cellulose and cotton. Each cloth lasts 9-12months and can be cleaned in either the dishwasher or washing machine (air dry). Plus they are biodegradable! I haven’t tried them yet, but I did get one wet and it feels like a hybrid of a normal washcloth and a super soft and thin sponge. I am excited to try it! The description card also comes with some sort of recipe each month either food, body or home care.

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**I do not receive any compensation for promoting this subscription, I truly just love it that much!

Natural Living · Recipies

Perfect Lip Balm

I guess you could say I am a little bit obsessed with lip balm. Confession…I have a tube of it in almost every room of my house and multiple in my purse! So I suppose you could say I am a lip balm snob.Since transitioning to cleaner products, I have had good and bad experiences with natural lip balm products. Some lip balms were great, but they cost was a small fortune for a tiny tube or pot. Others went on great but did not last; I felt that within 20mins the balm was gone and my lips still dry as ever. I began to search the internet for an amazing recipe but at that point I still had not jumped on the make your own products ship. I was nervous to say the least! These thoughts kept running through my mind. “The initial cost of products can be startling. What if I make something and hate it? What if I mess up the recipe and ruined the ingredients I just spent all this money on?”

Well after weeks of indecision, I decided to buy ingredients to make lotion and lip balm. The awesome thing about making most natural products is that you can buy 5-6 different ingredients and make multiple types of products! This lip balm recipe is so simple and works perfectly. It hydrating and moisturizes your lips while not being too sticky or greasy. I have tweaked this recipe to my liking, so I hope you do too! Give it a try I hope you won’t be disappointed!

Perfect Lip Balm

  • 2 tablespoons Beeswax pellets
  • 2 tablespoons oil (coconut, almond or sunflower)
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 1/2 tsp raw honey
  • 20 drops essential oil (peppermint, vanilla or lavender)
  • Pipettes
  • Lip Balm tubes

This lip balm can also be put into a pot or tin as well, but I would decrease the beeswax to 1.5tablespoons. You will also need a double boiler set up, I take a small pot with about 1 inch of water and turn the heat to medium. I make sure to put my ingredients in a glass bowl that will sit easily on top of the pot. Try to work quickly when transferring the mixture from the bowl to the tubes because it solidifies quickly, hence my limited photos. But if it does solidify before your finished, pop it back on the double boiler and melt again. Easy! Now off to the instructions!

  1. Prepare a small pot with 1inch of water, set heat to medium to bring water to a simmer. Also, open tubes and set caps aside. Ensure pipette is next to tubes.Blog2
  2. Measure out beeswax, oil and shea butter into a glass bowl that will sit easily on top of prepared double boiler.                                       Blog1
  3. Place bowl on top of pot, stir continuously until mixture is melted.
  4. Add honey and stir till honey dissolves. Take the bowl off the heat.
  5. Add essential oils off the heat and stir.
  6. Begin to transfer melted mixture to lip balm tubes with the pipette.
  7. Allow tubes to cool and replace caps.

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I hope that you take the leap and give this recipe a try! Here is a few extra pics of the kiddos helping while I made my lip balm, these kids love helping in the kitchen!

 

 

Natural Living

How Does Your Garden Grow?

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Spring has officially sprung this week! Although, here in the desert it’s been feeling like spring for quite a few weeks now, which means its only going to get hotter outside. Yuck! Our February rainstorms brought lots of March flowers, and it has been beautiful all throughout the desert. The picture above was taken near my house by my Father. (FYI he is an amazing photographer you should check out his blog http://www.mygrandpadude.com) Our family has been spending a lot of time outside in the backyard preparing our new garden the past few weeks thanks to the beautiful weather!

Growing up, I remember my paternal Grandfather and material Grandmother each had gardens at their homes. I remember all the fresh vegetables and loved watching/helping in their gardens. Having a garden of my own has been a dream since I was a child. When we bought our first home, we built our first raised bed garden, but unfortunately we sold the house and moved right before we would have truly began to enjoy the vegetables that were planted. Since we moved, I have been dreaming of my new garden! Just ask my poor husband who has been patiently listening to me say over and over, “When we build our new garden…. And don’t forget to put the garden into our backyard plans.” We are now in our new home and I have been anxiously waiting to start building. It’s taken me a few weeks to build the plots, and get them ready, but I finally finished our garden! Woohoo! I am starting out small with two plots and I hope to add another plot1 next year.

Starting a garden is something many people begin to do as spring comes and warmer weather starts. In addition to my childhood dreams, a part of trying to bring my family to a simpler life and become a bit more healthy and eco conscious, is starting a new garden. The added benefit beside cost and delicious produce is that you get to control what soil your plants are in, what type of seeds you buy and ensure that no pesticides are ever sprayed on your plants. A garden can be accomplished even if you have a small back yard or really no backyard at all. You can make a small potted herb garden, and grow a few smaller vegetables like carrots or peppers in a medium-large sized pot. Growing fresh herbs is probably the most satisfying result for me, the cost of fresh herbs at the store is outrageous, and they go bad quickly. Having the ability to go out your doorstep and snip a few herbs for dinner is very satisfying and delicious!

As a mother, growing our own vegetables and herbs means I get to teach my children where our food comes from. I also believe that children are more willing to try foods when they have helped in the process whether that is helping/watching as a meal is prepared or helping to grow the food itself. I tried my best to get the kids involved with the planting of the seeds, we did the whole Pinterest thing and grew some seedlings in egg shells! They helped me put the soil into the beds. And by “helped” I mean dig up and pull the soil out of the beds, or throw clay and rocks into the bed… But still they helped! Isabella did a pretty good job at helping me transfer the eggshell seedlings and both kids helped me plant a few new seeds right into the beds.

The garden has been a process but it feels good to be done. I am excited and hopeful for our vegetables and herbs to grow.

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I will try to keep you my readers updated on “How my garden grows!”

Have you ever planted a garden? Are you starting one now?

***And sorry for all the puns! I am in a punny mood! 🙂