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!

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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.

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.

 

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! 🙂

 

Natural Living

Start Small

When I first started researching a natural lifestyle, I quickly became overwhelmed. I started to have these moments of “How in the world are these ingredients ok?”, “How am I going to afford this change?”, “Do I have to throw out everything?” The sticker shock for natural products can scare people away very quickly. But trust me in this, PLEASE do not going throwing out your products right away! Look at natural living as a journey, everyone is at different stages and we all had to start somewhere. When you finish a product, look for something better to replace it. If you really feel like you need to make immediate changes for your health, start with two or three items of top priority. When beginning to replace items and searching the internet to decide what products are better than others, I became overwhelmed and fell into the “greenwashing” traps. Natural on the label, doesn’t always mean clean or organic.

I searched plenty of blogs and online resources when I  began my natural lifestyle, and by far my all time favorite site for choosing and comparing products is The Environmental Working Group. Their Skin Deep database allows you to search for your product by brand name and then it rates the ingredients on a 1-10 scale of hazard. One being the lowest hazard and up to ten with the highest hazard. It also lists available data on scientific studies for specific ingredients. I generally try to stick to an overall rating of 1-3 on the new products that I buy. Sometimes when searching for a company or product, it is not yet on the database. When that happens there is a Build Your Own Report at the top of the page so you can input the ingredients and “build a score” for that product. I have done this multiple times and it has saved me from buying products that were marketed “natural”, but in reality I would of been a victim of greenwashed marketing.

The EWG also has a Food Score Database and a Healthy Cleaning Guide. All three guides are on their website and their newly revamped Healthy Living App. When your out and about and you remember you need something, you can easily scan a product barcode and find where it rates on the scale. This has been a huge benefit when I am looking at new products because I often feel overwhelmed at my options. This App combining the databases has become my go to guide!

Here are some screen shots from the app, to show you some content and how easy it is to use!

I also want to talk about a new initiative the EWG has implemented within the last year two. The EWG Verified seal. When this was announced I was beyond excited! This seal means that a company’s products rate from 1-3 on their hazard score, the companys must apply for the seal themselves and provide all ingredient lists of the products they wish to verify. The verification is to aid consumers in making healthier choices for themselves and families, it is also giving accountability and responsibility to health living brands.  The verified products and companies have been my go to purchases these last few months, and the list of products and companies is quickly growing! The list can be accessed from the Healthy Living App or here.

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I hope that this information on the EWG resources can aid your transition to a more natural life! And remember do not be afraid to start with small changes, natural living is a  journey!

*all images and screen shots are from http://www.ewg.org and the healthy living app.

Natural Living · Recipies

Simple Saturday

As I sit on my couch relaxing, I have my windows open on this beautiful 70 degree day, and both kids are sleeping!!! Shhhh…its a small miracle! I am thinking about where my natural living journey began and where it is now.

 One of the many changes I began to make in our home towards a more natural environment was cutting out candles and conventional air fresheners. When it comes to home care products, many people (myself included at one time) are not aware of the harmful chemicals we are placing in our homes. Home air pollution  comes from harmful chemical cleaners and even simple things as candles and plug in air fresheners. WebMD has an article on how to purify your air and it states, “In one study, a plug-in air freshener was found to emit 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including seven regulated as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws.” I was shocked when I read this! With this knowledge I knew I could easily cut these chemical filled products out of our home. But what could I use instead? I began to research alternatives to candles and air fresheners, luckily I easily found out there are many alternatives when you utilize essential oils.  Essential oils are made by distillation through water, steam or mechanical process of natural material, resulting in the essential oil. Essential oils can be used to scent your home in multiple ways. My favorite way to utilize essential oils is with a diffuser. The diffuser uses water and essential oils, turning them into a vapor that suspends in the air.  Some of my favorite scents are Lavender, Lemon and Orange, Vanilla and Lemon (smells like a sugar cookie), and germ fighter which is a blend from Plant Therapy. If you do not own a diffuser, an easy alternative is using baking soda mixed with essential oils. The baking soda helps to deodorize, while the essential oils provide a nice light scent. I have included a recipe below.

diffuser

Baking Soda Refresher

  • One small Jar-I prefer a mason Jar
  • 1/2c baking soda
  • 15-20 drops of essential oil
  • coffee filter

Place baking soda in the jar and your essential oil of choice. Cut a coffee filter to cover the jar and secure it with the jar ring. Shake and Enjoy!

Refresh ingredients weekly or as need.