December 8, 2010

Ladies Goodreads: Christmas Jars

Jason F. Wright
Goodreads rating: 3.86 of 5
We decided to read this book for Christmas because it's fairly short and has a good focus for which to keep our thoughts during this Christmas season.

Sypnopsis of the Book
Where had it come from? Whose money was it? Was I to spend it? Save it? Pass it on to someone more needy? Above all else, why was I chosen? Certainly there were others, countless others, more needy than me...

Her reporter's intuition insisted that a remarkable story was on the verge of the front page.

Newspaper reporter Hope Jensen uncovers the remarkable secret behind the "Christmas Jars", glass jars filled with coins and bills anonymously left for people in need. But along the way, Hope discovers much more than the origin of the jars. When some unexpected news sets off a chain reaction of kindness, Hope's greatest Christmas Eve wish comes true.

Feel free to comment on things about this book when you've read it, like...
What was your favorite Christmas Jar story?
Do you feel that good deeds come full circle?
What are your thoughts and feelings about this book?

December 3, 2010

Why exercise???

Having trouble wanting to go workout? Sometimes we need to be reminded what the benefits of exercise are:

1. Brain power Booster- exercise increases a hormone called Seritonin in the brain, which improves mental clarity. Sadly, forgetfulness is improved , but not cured:)

2. Reduced Stress- Mood levels are improved when you exercise away your stress, allowing for your body to fall deeper in relaxation. It is the perfect distraction. Scientists have claimed everyone needs at least 30 minutes of relaxation each day.

3. Multitasking with exercise- you can always incorporate exercise in your time schedule. Summer is easy, biking or walking with family to destinations, but as winter is here try finding the stairs, not elevators wherever you go. Get a good exercise video for Christmas, there is something for everyone. You can still park farther from stores to burn more calories. And for those ready to brave the outdoors, skating, "snow walking" (finding trails and walking in your winter boots is actually very tiring, but can still be very pretty) and x-country skiing are always very active things. FEEL FREE TO POST OTHER IDEAS OF WINTER ACTIVITIES!!

4. Energy Booster- Endorphins are released very quickly into the blood, those are the "happy hormones" that help make you feel good, the rest of the day.

5. Builds Relationships- Find someone to workout with. When you have that added social support, you feel more motivated and accountable to your routine, friend or spouse you will also feel closer to that individual.

6. Prevent Disease- I don't have to tell you that the heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, etc, are less likely for those who lead a more active life. Research states that workout should be AT LEAST 30 minutes for 3 days a week, but recommended as much as 5-6 days for 30 to 45 minutes of activity.

7. Exercise allows rule breaking- Muscle burns calories more than fat, so for those that want to eat that cookie or bowl of ice cream, go ahead. That means that even after all the calories you burned working out muscle will keep burning calories while you sit at home and enjoy that cookie. Fat won't be so generous.

The first step to starting an active lifestyle is making a goal, start simple, maybe the video I posted, and then add a little more. You will see the benefits over a couple weeks, and should see a change in mood, activity, and life. START TODAY!!!

Abds done at home in 20 minutes.

I know many of us are less motivated to go the gym or wanna try to find a good workout video to help with our abdominal muscles. Here I have found a good link to a 15 minute workout to start you off. Pace yourself and add more repetitions each time. If you are still not sweating, proceed to my favorite, the plank series:

For those able to advance to the prone or side plank I have made available this link to show you correct posture. These moves can be done to strengthen your obliques, after working on your "six pack" muscles. I even like to hold a correct pushup position - the prone plank, and hold that for upto one minute, the last exhauster before stretching. ENJOY.

December 2, 2010

An Example of a Homemade Detergent

Thanks Dorinda Turner for your simple homemade detergent recipe you use.

4 cup water
1 bar of your favorite soap (we use Irish Springs)
1 cup of Washing Soda (we use Baking Soda)
1/2 cup of Borax (you can find it in the laundry detergent aisle)

Grated the bar of soap and add to the 4 cups of water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted (about an hour or 2). While soap is melting put a large kettle on another burrner and pour about 4 gallons of water in. get this water hot while working on the soap mixture.

Take soapy mixture off burner and allow to cool slightly

Add Borax and Soda, put back on heat for a few more minuted until everything is melted.
Pour the the soap mixture into the hot water in kettle. Stir until well mixed.

You can either pour in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid or I fill up gallon juice jugs that I have saved and rinsed out. use about 1/4 cup for a regular load or 1/2 cup for a large. the mixture will gel up so i shake my container before using or if using the large bucket just stir real well.

*Keep in mind that this uses Borax, which still is under debate on whether it's eco-friendly or not. (While borax is naturally occuring, it is toxic in large amounts and kills insects. Children should not ingest it. You'll need to figure out for yourself if you want to add this to your green-cleaning list. It sure can be economical though. Judge for yourself.

November 22, 2010

Celebrating Christmas Advent

I think most religions are misunderstood by those who aren't members of that religion....that's just the way it goes. But why remain ignorant of basic beliefs, especially if you know someone in a religion you don't know or understand?

There is good all around us, and it is important to be tolerant of all that goodness God have given us. Talk to someone you know about their religion. Find out about a tradition or holiday they celebrate. Rejoice in your commonalities and learn to understand one another.

Paul and I have decided to celebrate Advent each Christmas. It's based in Roman Catholic and German Lutheran roots, and as Christians is an excellent way to focus on the Savior during this Christmas Season.

You can read about it on wikipedia (, but basically Advent focuses on Jesus Christ being our Savior and Judge, by remembering both his birth (life, death and ressurection) as well as his second coming (yet to be). A candle is lit each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas, and normally includes scripture readings and a song.

Hence you may recall Advent Calendars to celebrate each day before Christmas. However many of those calendars seem less centered on the Savior.

Here are some helpful resources for celebrating Advent well:
A Description of the Advent Season
An LDS Observance of Advent
Printable Advent Calendar
Advent Calendar: small daily December activities

Find out more...
Official sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mormon Beliefs 101

Take a Quick 10-Question Quiz on Mormon Beliefs

November 12, 2010

Basic Body Care Info & Recipes

If any one is interested in a good website or book for understanding some of these basic natural ingredients you can use in face washes, lotions, lip balms, hair care stuff, you can check out or read Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles. They're pretty interesting and have made me want to start pampering myself with a few things I already have around the house.

A List of some ingredients and oils purposes: (esp for use in hair conditioners)
Softens skin (emollient)
Oats: calm skin aggravated by environmental influences, support cell rejuvenation, restore moisture balance, and help prevent further UV-related damage
Almonds: an emollient and for bleaching
Strawberries: Have a bleaching effect (great for teeth)
Jojoba oil is similar to sebum, which is secreted by human sebaceous glands to lubricate and protect skin and hair. Jojoba oil conditions hair and prevents it from becoming brittle and dull.
Avocado oil Softens skin, helps skin and hair retain moisture and fights the aging process
Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shinny complexion. Coconut oil prevents dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged air and provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair.
Honey is high in vitamins and minerals, and has wonderful benefits for the skin and hair. Honey is a good humectant and emollient, serving as a good moisturizer and conditioner. (also flavor and color)
Basil: Oily hair. Promotes hair growth, eczema, psoriasis
Bay: relieves scalp conditions and to act as a hair tonic
Yogurt: contains healthy probiotic bacteria and is wonderful for cleansing and moisurizing the skin.
Chamomile: Fine to normal hair. Gives golden highlights. Long known for it's calming and sedating effects as well as having anti-inflammatory effects for sensitive skin.
Grapefruit oil: Promotes hair growth, astringent for balancing oily skin and hair
Lavender: Normal to oily hair. Scalp treatment for itchiness, dandruff, and even lice! Controls oil production, reduces itchy/flaky scalp. Also, it is a relaxant, anti-spasmodic. tonic for the nervous system, antibacteral, analsgetic and antiseptic. It's a mood lifter.
Lemon: Oily hair. Gives golden highlights; treatment for dry scalp, dandruff, lice, and underactive sebaceous glands. Provides a cooling, refreshing and uplifting feeling as having bleaching, exfoliating and anti-viral properties.
Myrrh: Dry hair. Treatment for dry scalp, dandruff, lice, and underactive sebaceous glands
Orange Oil: Oily Hair. regulates the production of sebum, the hair’s natural oil
Peppermint: Dry hair. Promotes hair growth. reduces itching and irritation
Roses: antidepressant, astringent, cleansing, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, as well as aphrodisiac.

Basic Foot Scrub: 1/4 c cornmeal, 1/4 c. ground oatmeal, 1 T sea salt, water, few drops of essential oil (if desired: peppermint or lemon)

Strawberry Tooth Brightener: just mash (without green tops) and apply on teeth using toothbrush (as if you were brushing with toothpaste)

Soda and salt toothpaste (similar to the one I use): 1/2 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt (finely ground), 1 drop peppermint essential oil (for fresh flavor), few drops water. Mix all to a paste and dip tooth brush in; brush as normal.

Uplifting Cold and Flu Bath: 3 t jojoba oil, 3 drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, chamomile (And a bunch of others I don't have, so I just use these). Add all these at once to hot bath water while it is running.

Basic Lip Balm: 4-5 T almond or jojoba oil (or castor oil if you want extra shiny), 1 T beeswax, 2 t honey (unless you think you'll lick your lips a lot because of this), 10-20 drops essential oil of choice (opt. for flavoring), and 1/4 tube of your own natural lipstick (opt. for coloring). In a double boiler mix honey, oil and beeswax. Remove from heat and add essential oil and lipstick if desired. Place in shallow ise bath and whisk for 30-60 seconds until honey is incorporated and it all looks like frosting consistency. Then spoon into covered storage container and let cool for 2 hours before use. USe within one year (no need to refrigerate).

Oatmeal/Almond/banana Exfoliant, Cleanser and Mask: 1 T finely ground oatmeal (or 2 t ground almonds, or 1 2 inch chunk of banana), water/milk/cream. Combine oats and liquid to make a paste. Apply and let sit one minute (5 minutes if you use banana), then rinse. (Use water if you have oily skin, milk (or milk powder with water) for normal to slightly dry, and cream for really dry skin (or if you use the banana). If you want, you can keep a container of ground oatmeal with powdered milk in it, in your bathroom....then all you have to do is add water!

Cornmeal and Honey Scrub: 1 1/2 t cornmeal, 1 t honey, 1/2 t water. Combine all, allowing cornmeal to dissolve, and then apply on face. Let sit 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water. (Be sure to wear a shower cap, because this is sticky and can get in your hair...yuck). Do not try and store this mixture. And don't use this if you have acne or facial irritations.

Go ahead and try one and let us know what you think.... I haven't tried them all

November 10, 2010

No 'Poo Experiment

So...I've been slowly trying approaches to homemde hygiene--the latest being no shampoo. Well, I use baking soda with a vinegar rinse.

Why? You may ask.... Because there's a lot of stuff in shampoo nowadays that I'm not sure of and many contain harmful ingredients. The big hype is SLS being in shampoo. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is an inexpensive cleansing agent used in many skincare and home cleaning products for the removal of oil, dirt and residues--and is responsible for the suds and bubbles you see in cleaning products. Because SLS is a charged particle that attracts dirt, removing it from the pores and the surface of the skin, it causes irritation. So, for this reason, SLS is now being avoided in many professional skincare products. Whenever we use shampoo, we need to remember that what we are using gets rubbed onto and into our scalp, and therefore into our body.

I like to think of myself as not being a high-maintenance girl, but we live in a high-maintenance society...when it comes to commercialization and need for all these unecessary ingredients.

So...I decided I wanted something simple and effective for my shampoo, so I spent a few days googling and reading all sorts of blogs and posts, etc. about what others have done in their quest for no 'poo hair (there's even a wiki page under "no 'poo." (I didn't make that phrase up).

So far... It's been three weeks. There was a slight transition time for my hair to adjust, but it wasn't very bad. Basically you want to use 1 cup water with 1 T baking powder and scrub it into your hair. Followed by a 1 T apple cider vinegar in 1-2 cups of water as a rinse afterwards. With the goal being to only wash your hair about 2/wk.

I use a plastic cup and keep a jar of baking soda on my counter and a bottle of vinegar in the shower. That way I can put a T of soda in the cup right before I hop in. I add the water during the shower and mix and apply and then rinse. Then after the wash, I can pour some vinegar into the cup and add water; apply then rinse with cold water (this help close your pores and blanace out the pH levels of your hair).

However, if you do this, you just have to realize that your hair needs to adjust and will feel and possibly look slightly different. No one has noticed or said anything to me, but mine just feels a little different and it actually styles a little easier I think. I admit that sometimes it seems a little greasy, but I think that's when I don't do the vinegar rinse.

ADDED NOTE (since Megan's Comment):
here are some of my dilemnas I forgot to mention:
1. When I only used baking soda wash my hair was a little greasy and clumpy/heavy and there was either dandruff or soda residue like powder. I wasn't sure.
2. When I used too much vinegar, there was also greasy hair, though it was a more shiny and light grease than the baking soda.
3. Then I tried putting a little sugar in the soda wash to add a mild srubbing effect that wasn't too harsh (unlike salt) to help with the white stuff. Right now I'm trying to decide if that's what's helped the grease calm down, or if it's just because I reduced the amount of vinegar.

I've also read a lot about other things you can use in your hair, so that is what I'm currently experimenting with.I'll keep you updated...but here's a glimpse of some of the things: coconut oil, banana or honey ingredients in a some other interesting ones I can't recall right now. Or lemon instead of vinegar in the post-shampoo rinse.

**updated 12/10/2010
So far I've done this for 2 months and I just stopped. So, like I said in my post, if you do this, you have to realize that your hair will have a different feel and consistency than when you used typical commercial shampoo. This is because your hairs natural oils aren't being stripped away anymore. Due to this, my hair always felt a little greasy underneath. You couldn't always see it, but I could tell. And, since I recently cut myself some bangs, I noticed you could tell more with those. So it won't work for me right now. For now, I'm still experimenting, but no firm conclusions. I tried Dr. Bronner's soap for two days, but that didn't work. That may require another adjustment period...I'm not sure. I also spent a month or two trying redmond clay, but it dried out my scalp (during winter). But, I'd be up for hearing anyone else's experiences. I also tried coconut oil for conditioner, but it was was too oily and I couldn't get it out very easily.

So alas...back to square one. One day I've love to figure this out!

November 3, 2010

Weight-Loss Tip

It was about 2 1/2 years ago that I tried this and lost 20 pounds and have kept it off...because I actually changed my lifestyle forever. Don't give up though. Find a buddy to help do it with you and even when you feel like it's too hard, wait until your sweet day and you'll find yourself not wanting as many sweet treats at all! I had a withdrawal a couple times, but persevered and am glad I did...

So, this is what you do. Try eating healthy fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and NOTHING with added REFINED SUGAR Monday-Friday... only Saturdays and Sundays are your sweet/junk food days! A salad a day is what I did to cut back a little on the breads and it will help you to achieve your goal weight. If you do get cravings (which you will if you are like me), substitute a fruit like a banana to satisfy your craving. When you shop, go AROUND the store, not through all the aisles... and cook from SCRATCH, simple meals!

NO DIET will be 100% guaranteed, but I know that if you change your lifestyle one step at a will succeed. Try this helpful tip and you won't be sorry you did!

*written by Charise

October 27, 2010

What's a Food CO-OP?

If you're looking for more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet but don't want to spend a fortune on produce, you may want to consider participating in a Food Co-op.  BOUNTIFUL BASKETS is the name of just one of many that are located in many States such as; Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Washington, etc.  To become part of one, all you do is visit their website at  to reserve and pay for your basket online.  Then on Saturday, you'd pick up your produce at one of the offered sites located throughout your State.  So, for about $40-50 of fresh fruit and veggies you're only paying $15 plus $1.50 handling fee!!!  The thing you need to remember is that these Co-op's are run by volunteers so you'll need to volunteer every so often because that's how we get such a GREAT deal!  Try it a few times and I'm sure you'll not be disappointed! 
ORGANIC baskets are available at certain locations at certain times as well.  I try to get organic vegetables and fruits whenever  possible because they aren't full of pesticides and other toxic chemicals that are injested and put a greater tax on your liver over time.  So, you may want to try going more organic whenever possible!

What are the benefits of a CLEANSE???

  • SLIM  Loose weight
  • CLEANSE  Clean out old, built up lining and toxins that have hardened inside the intestinal wall.  It is said that some people have POUNDS of built-up "mucoid plaque" in their colon.  The surface area of the intestines with all their folds and crevices is said to be equal to the size of a tennis court!  Nutrients can now be absorbed through the wall into the bloodstream and carried to all the cells throughout your body, whereas before, much of the vitamins and minerals were wasted because they couldn't be absorbed through all that JUNK!  Toxins can now be easily absorbed into the intestine through the wall so they won't be recirculated through the bloodstream and cells.  Green vegetables cleanse the bloodstream which helps clean every organ in your body!
  • HEAL  Now that your body is cleaned out, keep eating right and your body will heal itself from any and all illnesses.  It can often take a long time to heal, but keep eating very well and your body will thank you over time!
  • ENERGIZE  Raw vegetables and juices give lots of energy.  Being rid of toxins gives more energy, and allows you to absorb the energizing nutrients from all the healthy foods you eat.
  • CUT CRAVINGS  As a result of absorbing much more nutrition than before, you may not crave junk food or overeat regular foods, therefore easily maintaining a healthy weight!  I have been eating healthier for about 5 years now and this is SO've gotta try it!!!
  • PRETTIER SKIN  Skin becomes more clear and wrinkles seem to firm up in the face!
  • BETTER BLOOD SUGAR   Blood sugar is more stabilized. 
  • GAIN CONFIDENCE & SELF DISCIPLINE  After cleansing and watching what I eat, I did notice that I was a happier person, not so impatient with my kids and people in general and I realized what is most important in life!
  • RELEASE EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE  There is a growing school of thought that people store emotions in different parts of the body, and the intestines can store a lot of old emotions.  Therefore releasing old baggage can also stir up and bring to the surface old emotional baggage that you may not have even been aware was inside you. 
  • ESTABLISH BETTER EATING HABITS  After cleansing out all the old junk and feeling so energized, clean and healthy, you have a greater desire to be more careful to fuel your body with energizing, health-promoting foods, and leave the JUNK behind!
  • EASIER EXERCISE   With less toxins, fat and pounds in your system, exercise is now easier and more fun!  Joints aren't as taxed like they were before, and arthritis may clear up from getting rid of the toxins in the joints.  It is also more fun to wear shorts and swim suits to exercise now that you are slimmer, firmer and trimmer!

Great Recipe for a Colon Cleanse... by: Jonell Francis

SPRINGTIME is the time to clean out your body...never do a cleanse in the winter...there is a time and a season for everything!

Exodus Cleanse Smoothie
1 cup Psyllium Husk powder
1 cup Apple Fiber
1/2 cup Bentonite, Orsa, or Green Clay powder
3 T Senna Leaf powder
2 T Cinnamon
2 tsp Ginger

You can find most if not all of these ingredients at any health food store (Good Earth is a great source).

Combine and store at room temperature.  The fiber and clay work together to absorb and peel off the hardened mucous matter off the intestinal wall.  Within 48 hours of the first day of the clense, you will get "the rope" either in one piece or in smaller pieces expelled from your body.  This is a victory and is well worth celebrating...YEAH!!!

DAY 1 Cleanse Smoothies-
Mix: 1-2 Tablespoons of the Exodus cleanse smoothie mixture with 1 cup of water and 2 Tablespoons frozen juice concentrate.  Stir and drink immediately before it thickens. 

* THE NIGHT BEFORE right before bed, drink 1 Exodus Cleanse smoothie.  Refill the glass several times to drink the residue and plenty of water. 
* DRINK A CLEANSE SMOOTHIE three times during the day.  Drink pure filtered water after and in between all day long. 
* HUNGRY?  If you still feel hungry, drink fresh vegetable juices or eat a little raw veggies.
* PM SPA TIME- Just before bed, drink a 1/4 cup of wheat grass juice (keep 1/4 juice for an enema)
Do an enema with warm water and a few cayenne granules or a little lemon juice.  Hold it long enough to massage your stomach to loosen things up inside before expelling (3-5 minutes if you can).
Then do an enema with 1/4 cup of wheat grass juice and hot water.  Hold it for 5-20 minutes or as long as you can.  Then take a nice hot bath! 

DAYS 2,3, 4 Juice Cleansing

* AM SPA TIME (same as Day 1)
* AM JUICING-  Make 2 quarts of sweet juice (5 lb. bag of organic carrots, 1 apple, 4 celery, or whatever you want to add).  Run the pulp through 4x adding a little water to make 2 quarts.  (This will probably last 1-2 days.)
Make 1 cup of green drink: a combination the sweet juice and green vegetables such as spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, a clove of garlic if you wish, etc.
* ALL DAY Whenever you are thirsty, drink a glass of sweet juice.  Drink water in between.  Hot Herbal Teas are also GREAT during a juice fast: chamomile, alfalfa, dandelion, red clover, echinacea, etc. 
* HUNGRY? Eat raw veggies if you wish, yet your body will cleanse a lot better with just juices.
* PM SPA TIME (same as DAY 1)

DAYS 5, 6 Work back into cooked food 
Drink vegetable juices twice a day. 
Eat more raw than cooked foods, including a salad for lunch.  Make sure you use a healthy cold-pressed olive oil organic dressing.  The extra virgin olive oil will help keep your system lubricated during the cleanse. 

IMPORTANT NOTES:  I do this cleanse, but I only do DAY 1, 2, and 3.  Then I work back into cooked foods on the 4th day.  Do whatever you can, but if you are bordering on obesity, I HIGHLY recommend you do it the whole 6 days to thoroughly CLEAN out your colon!  You may need some help from your husband or a friend for some motivational support because it isn't very fun, but SO rewarding in the end when you completely clean out your colon.  I also recommend you clean out your gallbladder and liver soon after so your body can flush out all the toxins your liver has had stored. 
DID YOU KNOW?  Your LIVER is the major FAT-BURNING organ in your body and if it is overtaxed with toxins, you will not be able to loose fat no matter how hard you exercise and no matter how healthy you are eating.  This is why I highly recommend you cleanse your body and then keep it as clean as possible by eating right and exercizing!  Please post any comments on how this cleanse worked for YOU!!!

October 12, 2010

Ladies Goodreads: Tuesdays With Morrie

Mitch Albom

Goodreads rating: 3.87 of 5
Mitch Albom rediscovered Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly 20 years ago, in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live.

What are your thoughts and feelings about this book?
Is there someone you can rediscover and learn from?

Goodreads 2010-2011 List

The Ladies Goodreads

Tuesdays With Morrie
Mitch Albom

The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver

Christmas Jars
Jason F. Wright

Sandstorm (1st in series)
James Rollins

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Betty Smith

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Malcolm Gladwell

Blue Bottle Club
Penelope J Stokes

Till We Have Faces
C.S. Lewis

The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio
Terry Ryan

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

or a shorter read...

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
John Boyne

The Killer Angels
Michael Shaara

Lizzy Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Gary Schmidt

The Help
Kathryn Stockett

The Undaunted
Gerald N. Lund

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens

Wholesome Baby Food

I found this cool website that teaches you all about what to feed your baby and when, and how to make your own baby food. And it's all wholesome! It's better than going out and buying a book (except you need to see the computer/recipe if you make some of the stuff).

For starting to Feed my 6 month old boy, I've been making large batches of food and freezing them in ice cube trays, then popping them out and putting into large bags that I mark with the month and year. They should last just fine for 3-6 months no problem. I did mashed bananas that I got discounted at the store because they were already ripe. I also baked our pumpkin I didn't carve from Halloween and then mashed that and froze in cubes. Not to mention steaming a bag of carrots and then mashing those (with a little water) and freezing them. IT's been great and a time saver in the long run.
When my baby is hungry I just grab a few ice cubes (each is about one ounce) and put them in a dish to microwave for 30 seconds. I have to make sure I stir well, so there aren't hot spots. But it's great for mixing foods too. I'll throw a banana cube in with two or three carrot cubes, un case he isn't use to the carrots. Or, I'll add some formula powder to the carrots instead...and thin out more with water if the consistency is too thick. Very versatile!
IF the cubes are a hassle, I've found avocado and banana to be super easy to just cut open and mash with a fork. But if you have time, steam some apples, pears, carrots, or sweet potatoes (I found a super sweet yummy hawaiian purple sweet potato that is delish!), and then mash with a fork. Super great! (I steam about 3 or 4 sweet potatoes for 30 minutes and then just turn off the stove and let them sit for awhile until I take them out. Then I just store them in the fridge for the week, whenever I want to pull one our and mash it).
Then, if you want to add even more, you can blend up some oats or rice and then cook in large quantities for the week. I grind a cup of oats and then add that into boiling water for about three minutes, adjusting consistency as I go. So, for breakfast I'll put a few spoonfuls of cooked ground oats with a banana cube, and now I'm starting to add in a strawberry. So fun.
Here's a recipe from that site I mentioned earlier, about homemade cereal. All you do is grind up brown rice (which is healthier than white) and mix it with water.
1/4 c. rice powder (brown rice ground in blender or food processor, or do the same with Oats)
1 cup water

1. Bring liquid to boil in saucepan. Add the rice powder while stirring constantly.
3. Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking constantly, mix in formula or breast milk and fruits if desired
3. Serve warm.
Now, this is if you even want to use rice cereal. Afterall, it's not a must. There are tons of people who think rice cereals are empty calories and just a way to get in the fortified iron, so they just start straight with veggies and fruits. (Which is why brown rice is a better alternative, but you shouldn't give it to the baby before 6 months, because it's not quite as easy to digest, compared to white.)
Another alternative is to use Quinoa, which is one of the least allergenic grains (actually not a grain, but grouped with them and full of protein and other nutrients).
There's also a group that believes in baby-led weaning, and they skip the pureed food and just start feeding their babies the appropriate foods which baby can feed himself (like banana or cooked/cooled mushy carrots, etc.). They believe that this helps the baby eat how much he wants, rather than the parents trying to get the baby to eat a specific amount at a specific time. Granted, they do say having an eating schedule is good, but they realize that it's a flexible time window where the baby has more time to feed himself until he's done. They also say that this helps the baby not worry about textures and such, since he never got use to only eating pureed textures.
I kind of like the idea, but I'm not sure how it'd work, so I'll need to try it sometime...We'll see. It's make cooking easier, but the clean up may be horrendous. Hmm...
Also, I have a dehydrator and the booklet suggests dehydrating bananas and apples and carrots, etc. You can do them in sticks, so baby can chew on them, or in pieces which you can then reconstitute later with warm water and then you have instant puree without losing nutrients or having to boil the foods. Fun idea to easy have stuff on hand and not having to go to the hassle of freezing ice cubes of your homemade purees, which is also an excellent option.

Exercise Basics

Physical activity simply means movement of the body that uses energy. For health benefits, physical activity should be moderate or vigorous and add up to at least 30 minutes a day.

Exercise can be broken into three areas:

•Aerobic activities – speeds heart rate and breathing and improves heart and lung fitness. Examples are brisk walking, jogging, and swimming.

•Resistance, strength building, and weight-bearing activities – helps build and maintain bones and muscles by working them against gravity. Examples are carrying a child, lifting weights, and walking. They help to build and maintain muscles and bones.

•Balance and stretching activities – enhances physical stability and flexibility, which reduces risk of injuries. Examples are gentle stretching, dancing, yoga, martial arts, and t’ai chi.

Here are some ideas. Pick a few and make a goal to start.(

Moderate physical activities include: •Walking briskly (about 3 ½ miles per hour)


•Gardening/yard work


•Golf (walking and carrying clubs)

•Bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour)

•Weight training (general light workout)

Vigorous physical activities include: •Running/jogging (5 miles per hour)

•Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour)

•Swimming (freestyle laps)


•Walking very fast (4 ½ miles per hour)

•Heavy yard work, such as chopping wood

•Weight lifting (vigorous effort)

•Basketball (competitive)

October 5, 2010

What and Where is a Co-op?

Co-ops are Co-operatives, where people pool together their resources to provide for a need.
There are lots of types of co-op and they are normally not-for-profits that just want to bring a service or goods to people, or bring people together.

I've done a search of Utah Co-ops to see what's available around here. I've only tried a few:
1. (available in cities all over parts of the West, check the location: AZ, ID, UT, WY, etc.)
Various assorted semi-local Produce Baskets you order the week before(and a few other food items, including organic option) and then pick up at a designated location.

2. (4892 S. Commerce Dr (300 W) and only open Th, F, Sat for limited hours)
Discounted food/essentials store- They get good deals from grocers for cheaper food and they don't re-sell for a high profit like most grocers. Their cheese is normally only $1-3! Which is awesome. and they have various options depending on the week. But, it is hit and miss, so don't go expecting amazing things all the time.(It's like shopping at the thrift store D.I., sometimes you find hidden treasures, but it's not always the same stuff). They do sell bulk diapers for cheap, if you're doing disposables.

This is an educational-type of co-op. You can sign up for free newsletters which connect you with helpful info on educational classes they offer on gardening, food storage, finances, etc. They generally do a class here and there about 4 times a month at one or two downtown SLC locations. But their website has some helpful info right on it. I found a pdf document of an S.O.S.(Sauce or Soup) recipe and a list of meals you can use this with (it's a pre-prepared flavoring packet you create)--great for food storage I think..I haven't tried it yet. (

Feel free too try them and post comments on what you've tried.

Here's a list of others I haven't tried:
The Community Food Co-op of Utah: Crossroads Urban CenterA self-sustaining food purchasing network along the Wasatch Front that brings people together for food, savings, and community.

Goal is to provide the best quality locally-grown and supported food for the best price (generally 30-50% grocery price. You order a basket of food for about $20 and then pick it up at a designated location. They have meat baskets and such too. The only other requirement is that you do 2 hours of service a month (for anyone, anywhere, but for the co-op if at all possible). They aren't fully organic.

How to Find Online Shopping Deals

I've just become a fan of online shopping for new things. I can always find a cheaper deal online than local (granted, buying local is still important and great, but some bargains are worth shopping online for).

When shopping for something, I'll always "froogle"/google search and click the left option "shopping," this allows google to just bring up items for sell that match as results of the search.

I also do a search on to compare what they have. If you're a Mom, you can do and get free shipping for qualified orders for three months or more benefits if you want to read about them. Or just regular purchases on their site can be shipped for free if your total order of qualified amazon products is over $25.

The third place I check is, which if you find what you want for the right price, has free site-to-store pickup. You just order it to the store and then pick it up inside the store at the back, pre-paid and everything. That's been nice.

I've realized that all the big stores/companies have websites with mailings and that if there's one store you love to shop at, you should sign up for the email list to a junk email account. Every once in awhile I'll check my junk email and find some great coupons for DownEast or Babies R Us or Lands End, etc....whatever store.

The other big thing to note is that when I order online from a big store, I try to always find something on sale, and with free shipping. I generally google coupon/promo codes for stores online so I get a deal. This has been so helpful for some things, less for others. A present I bought for Paul was from a site which normally cost more than a place like walmart or amazon, but a google search found this item discounted, and a promo code I found happened to save me 15% off the bill too, so I got two things for a savings of $6.50 for one and at least $11 for the other (off the lowest amazon price). Crazy good deal! Of course I had to pay shipping for this smaller site, but I still saved!

The one downside is that this effort takes time. IF you don't have time or patience to search for the best cost, or to wait for such deals, then this isn't for you.

There are also local coupons you can see. I know has coupons and such. And Smiths has their coupons online too....I'm not as much of a coupon person, so I can't tell you too much about that, but feel free to google coupon places around your local area if that's up your alley.
I don't normally love walmart, but occasionally I'll get something there if it's a steal of a deal.

September 24, 2010

Go Reusable

Everything nowadays is individually wrapped. Think of all that packaging in the dumps...! When you shop, think about buying bulk and passing on the individually wrapped items. Or buy bagged items instead of plastic. Or, ask yourself "What can I reuse around my house?"

You can keep them in your car trunk. Paul bought me 8 for Christmas. This is something simple that will save waste and unneeded plastic. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't ever take a plastic bag home with you...afterall, if you have some they're great to use around the house (like bathroom trash liners).

I bought a cute one on that you can wash when you wash your laundry (obviously I do cloth diapers, so you may not need this suggestion).

It doesn't hurt to give a quick rinse to your sandwich bags and such. I do throw out the ones we use to hold the cheese blocks though...because there's more chance for mold growth. But chips, sandwiches, etc., it makes sense. I'd try to stay away from one-use containers...they're a waste and fill up landfills like crazy.

Why? Why not use a lunch pail or the newer titanium or steel pails. I have a plastic sandwhich container I use for my sandwiches (of course it's plastic).

There's so much stuff you can buy that come in cool containers you can use again. We reuse containers of nuts for holding rice, flour, snacks, candy, etc. and just label what they are and when we put it in there. We also fill up old little spice containers with some of the seasonings from large bulk containers.

I always save my gift wrapping and ribbons. It's helped a ton when I just need something to tie onto a goody plate so it looks better. Tissue paper is really helpful for that too.

I have used an old dress, shirt, table cloth and wash rags to make some fun little pillows and baby toys and also a wall hanging. Sometimes you can get great creations from a cool material or pattern you have laying around the house. Plus, it's definitely cheaper.

September 21, 2010

Natural Fruit Fly Trap

Fruit Fly Trap
1 quart jar
1 piece of paper, rolled up into a funnel
apple cider vinegar
small slice of banana

Fill a quart jar with a 1/2 inch of apple cider vinegar and a small piece of banana. Roll up your paper into a funnel shape (larger at the top) and tape it in place. Place the funnel into your jar and make sure all the edges are secured shut with tape. You may have to adjust the size of your funnel to make sure it fits nicely into your jar. Place the jar where the fruit flies are flying around and let it go to work. You will be amazed at how well this trap works. The fruit flies will smell the fruit and climb inside, but for some odd reason they don’t fly back up the funnel to get out. When you have caught a good supply, place the entire jar in the freezer. After a short time that flies with die and you can remove the jar from the freezer and use it again without even removing the old contents. Use repeatedly until your fruit flies are eliminated.

As you can see in my picture, this easy trap is amazingly effective!


September 2, 2010

Baby Yoga!

So I checked out a Baby Yoga DVD from the library. It was pretty cute, and amazingly simple. At first I thought it was a crock, because the moves were so simple and almost cheesy, though cute too.
Then I checked out a book Infant Massage, by Vimala McClure and saw similarities. So I'm a fan...but the book really did a better job at explaning why you do the moves--the video didn't go into that good instruction.
Since then, I've started a morning and evening baby massage routine for Ethan that's focused on his belly, for his gas issues.
The book said to not do full massages until he's use to just the gas-focused moves.

Overall, I realized that infant massage can really provide a way for Mom (or Dad or sibling even) to connect with baby, and get the baby use to a routine so he/she can relax. It probably takes a week for the baby to get used to it. Ethan still doesn't love it all, and I can only do moves he lets me. But everytime I do the bicycle move he gets a big grin and relaxes now. I think it's helped him cope. It's all about doing what feels comfortable to the baby though, not forcing any of the moves.

I love doing his routine with him in the morning, once his nighttime sleep is over. I turn on some Dido music and I reapeat little phrases with each move, so he gets use to the sound as wel las the movement. I don't think the book emphasized words, but I think it's helped our sessions. I enjoy doing the routine and then doing superman at then end. IF I didn't think about massage, I probably wouldn't take as much time to regularly play with him in little fun ways like this.

The great thing about doing it to music, for me, is that I do it to the rhythm. Maybe he'll grow up to have good rhytm, eh? I'm not sure if ideal or not, but we enjoy it that way. I think I need to schedule in some regular dancing time too. :)


So I checked out a DVD at the library about reflexology: the study of how your hands and feet are mapped to the workings of your whole body. It's really interesting. Basically your body can get off-balance or sick and by applying pressure to certain areas of your hands or feet you can both tell where the ailment lies, as well as help to correct the imbalance (granted it takes time and knowledge and probably can't correct all ailments). But it really is cool. It reminds me of acupuncutre (not that I know much about that), and it has been practiced by Indians, Asian and Eqgyptians since long, long ago (how do you like that for my knowledge).

Paul and I tried it after I watched the DVD (Reflexology Massage, Dr. Ann Gillanders). I massaged his feet by giving them a ten minute warm up and then worked through the different parts, as listed on the chart (and how instructed on the DVD). I told Paul to tell me when the places on his feet hurt as I applied pressure. (He knew nothing of the correlated body parts).

The three places Paul mentioned that hurt on his feet all corresponding to ailments he was having: sinuses, Right tooth and eyes. Fancy that. IT was pretty cool. I decided that week to give him a full foot massage each night that week, focusing on those areas the most.

I'm not sure how much it actually helped, but I believe that if I knew what I was doing and was consistent in massaging his feet in those focus areas that it would contribute towards healing in those areas. I haven't tried the hand chart yet, but if it's as fascinating as the foot chart, then I'm all for trying it. I've posted a foot chart that also lists some ailments you could have and what areas on your feet to focus on for helping those.
Foot Reflexology - The Medicinal Arts

Now I don't think reflexology is a cure-all, but I believe that a basic understanding can help us supplement with other things we're using to try to cure our ills. At least take some time to look at the charts and play around with your massages to see if you can make them a little more applicable to the person you're trying to help.

Apparently even the ears have one!

Side note, there is something called iridology, which states that your eyes are also a map to the functionality of your entire body. I however do not like the fortune teller-ish sense this gives, but I read in a book called "The Eye Care REvolution" (I think it's called that) that helped me understand the benefits. Check out my post on it.

August 20, 2010

Top 10 Ways to Detoxify Your Body Naturally

(can't find the website this article is from)
Whether you know how to detox or not, your body knows how to detoxify.
As a matter of fact, a fit, well functioning, healthy body will naturally detoxify all day long, whenever you breathe out, go to the bathroom or sweat. The air you exhale and waste you eliminate through skin, bowels and bladder include toxins your body wants to get rid of.
Your liver, spleen, kidneys and lymphatic system all get rid of toxins that constantly accumulate in cells.
After the toxins and waste are expelled from your cells, you continue to detoxify your body naturally through various organs, such as kidneys (urine), colon (feces), skin (sweat) and lungs (carbon dioxide).

Top Ten Tips for How to Detox Naturally
Natural cleansing body detox starts with a good cleansing detox diet that fuels cells with the necessary nutrients to detoxify your body naturally.
While extreme body detox programs can be harsh or even detrimental, you can naturally detoxify your body with these 10 healthy lifestyle tips.

1. Eat a healthy cleansing detox diet. A natural body detox cleansing diet provides cellular nutrition to your trillions of cells. All cells require quality protein, essential fatty acids found in whole grains, nuts, seeds and olive oil and omega 3 fish oil from cold water fish like salmon, tuna and sardines.

2. Drink at least 8 daily cups of water. Pure, clean water helps flush out unwanted toxins. Drinking 2 quarts or more a day, preferably from glass bottles instead of plastic, is one of the best ways to naturally detoxify your body. Soft drinks, alcohol, black tea and coffee are no substitute. Try herbal teas if you want something hot. For flavor, add fresh lemon juice.

3. Improve elimination with fiber rich foods. To ensure that toxins don't build up in your system, include plenty of fresh vegetables, raw fruit, beans, whole grains and other nutritious high fiber foods for better elimination.

4. Exercise and stretch your body daily. Regular physical activity helps you to detox naturally. At least a half-hour of daily exercise and stretching will improve blood circulation, burn calories to break down toxins stored in fat cells and help you to excrete toxic residue through sweat.

5. Sweat for perspiration waste elimination. Besides daily physical activity, saunas and warm baths with Epsom salts or sea salt can be used to induce sweating and eliminate toxins and heavy metals.

6. Stimulate your skin to detox naturally. Massage can boost your lymphatic system to naturally detoxify your body. Drink water afterwards to increase toxin elimination. Dry brushing skin before bathing can also improve circulation and stimulate natural body detox cleansing.

7. Reduce toxins coming into your body. Whenever possible eat organic food and avoid food additives, high glycemic index foods, bad fats, stimulants, drugs and environmental chemicals.

8. Take natural cleansing supplements. All nutrients are important. But some particularly contribute to body detox cleansing. Focus on vitamins A, B complex, C and E, plus magnesium chromium, selenium and omega 3 fish oil. Also, green tea, milk thistle and garlic may be helpful.

9. Do regular deep breathing exercises. Deep, slow, conscious breathing periodically during the day releases carbon dioxide and toxic gases from your body as you exhale. It also allows oxygen to reach your tissues by circulating through your lungs, bloodstream, heart and brain.

10. Reduce stress with positive focus. Since hanging on to negative thoughts and feelings can be toxic too, it's important to focus on positive thinking and behavior. Even crying is a way to naturally detoxify. (Hence journal writing, prayer and scripture study too)

With these tips on how to detoxify your body and how to detox naturally, you can give yourself the gift of health, through natural cleansing body detox. You'll learn how to detoxify your body, all day long, everyday.

Which Plastics Are Ok?
Plastics are classified by their "resin identification code"—a number from #1 to #7 that represents a different type of resin. That number is usually imprinted on the bottom of your container; flip it upside down, and you'll see a recycling triangle with the number in the middle.

Here's a quick breakdown of plastic resin types:
#1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)Examples: Disposable soft drink and water bottles
#2 high density polyethylene (HDPE)/Examples: Milk jugs, liquid detergent bottles, shampoo bottles
#3 polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC)Examples: Meat wrap, cooking oil bottles, plumbing pipes
#4 low density polyethylene (LDPE)Examples: Cling wrap, grocery bags, sandwich bags
#5 polypropylene (PP)Examples: Cloudy plastic water bottles, yogurt cups/tubs
#6 polystyrene (PS)Examples: Disposable coffee cups, clam-shell take-out containers
#7 other (plastics invented after 1987; includes polycarbonate, or PC, and polylactide, or PLA, plastics made from renewable resources as well as newer plastics labeled "BPA-Free")Examples: Baby bottles, some reusable water bottles, stain-resistant food-storage containers

What To Buy:
#2 HDPE, #4 LDPE and #5 PP: These three types of plastic are your best choices. They transmit no known chemicals into your food and they're generally recyclable; #2 is very commonly accepted by municipal recycling programs, but you may have a more difficult time finding someone to recycle your #4 and #5 containers.

#1 PET: Fine for single use and widely accepted by municipal recyclers; avoid reusing #1 water and soda bottles, as they're hard to clean, and because plastic is porous, these bottles absorb flavors and bacteria that you can't get rid of.

PLA: plastics made from renewable resources such as corn, potatoes and sugar cane and anything else with a high starch content; although you can't recycle these plant-based plastics, you can compost them in a municipal composter or in your backyard compost heap.

Plastics to Avoid:
#3 PVC: Used frequently in cling wraps for meat, PVC contains softeners called
phthalates that interfere with hormonal development, and its manufacture and incineration release dioxin, a potent carcinogen and hormone disruptor.

#6 PS: Polystyrene-foam cups and clear plastic take-out containers can leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen, into food.

#7 PC: The only plastic made with bisphenol A, polycarbonate is used in baby bottles, 5-gallon water-cooler bottles and the epoxy linings of tin food cans. Bisphenol A has been linked to a wide variety of problems such as heart disease and obesity.

August 19, 2010

Homemade Diaper Wipes

As I was researching, I found this cool summary of what to use in a wipes solution and why? Here's a website too that have a bunch of different ways you can switch the ingredients for different recipes. (diaper wipes solution recipes)

These are the common ingredients and why they're included:
Oil: Helps the wipe glide across baby's skin and keeps skin soft
Soap: Cleanses by removing all traces of urine and feces
EO: (Essential Oil) Added for antibacterial and/or aromatherapy purposes.
Water: The main ingredient in each recipe, cleanses the diaper area and dilutes the other ingredients

Don't measure for this one, just estimate amounts:
2 squirts baby oil
2 squirts baby wash
1 drop Essential Oil
1 cup water (about)

You can switch baby oil for a veggie/fruit/nut oil that's good for the skin.
You can switch baby wash for Dr. Bronner's natural plant-based soap.
You can switch w/e essential oil you like (but some are risky for babies). I'd stick to tea tree oil for the dissinfectant properties, and lavendar for the calming/nice smell properties. One drop is sufficient for a cup or two...maybe two of tea tree oil though.

So I just use a little spray bottle and some wash cloths (or cut up flannel/old t-shirts I sew back to back for dual layer wipeage). It's really simple, since I cloth diaper anyway. I do keep a stash of disposable wipes for the diaper bag though, in case I need them.

August 6, 2010

Homemade Oven Cleaner

Just make a paste with baking soda and water. Spread a bit on baked on gunk. Let sit and then scrub off. Repeat if necessary. It also does a great job on scrubbing grease off the inside of the oven window.

July 27, 2010

Drain Cleaner Recipe

1/2 c. baking soda
1/2 c. vinegar

First pour all the baking soda down the drain.
Then follow that with the vinegar.

supposedly it's that simple...

Home Bathroom Cleaners

Here are tips for what to use for these following needs in the bathroom:
1. disinfectant: isopropyl alcohol
2. porcelain/glass cleaner: lemon juice
3. air freshener: 1/2 c. borax at bottom of trashcan
4. drain cleaner: 1/2 c. baking soda, then 1/2 c. white vinegar
5. Toilet bowl: borax and lemon juice
6. scouring powder: baking soda or dry salt

** (for 1001 uses)

Lavendar Salt Glow Recipe

1 c. fine sea salt
2 c. almond oil
15 drops lavender essential oil

Use on face or feet, etc.

Furniture Polish Recipe

1 c. olive oil
1/2 c. lemon juice (smell)

*Really that's all you need...crazy huh?

Carpet Freshener Recipe

4 c. baking Soda
20-35 drops of each essential oil (lavender, eucalyptus and rosewood)

*vaccuum after 15 minutes on carpet
**store in glass jar

Natural Home-made Home Cleaners

Baking Soda and Vinegar are awesome. I've mentioned before that there are two great books by Vicky Lansky that share many uses of them. Here is a list of a few home-made cleaners to get you started in removing old commercialized, toxin-laden cleaners from your home. Look up the following recipes I've posted as separate recipes: (post title is same title listed below, but they're under the "trial" link)

1. Window-wash
2. Carpet Freshener
3. Lavender Soft-scrubber
4. Lemon Floor Wash
5. Lemon Furniture Polish
6. Drain Cleaner

These eight items make up the basic ingredients for nearly every do-it-yourself cleaning recipe.
Baking soda: provides grit for scrubbing and reacts with water, vinegar or lemon by fizzing, which speeds up cleaning times
Borax: disinfects, bleaches and deodorizes; very handy in laundry mixes
Distilled white vinegar: disinfects and breaks up dirt; choose white vinegar over apple cider or red vinegars, as these might stain surfaces
Hydrogen Peroxide: disinfects and bleaches
Lemons: cut grease; bottled lemon juice also works well, although you might need to use bit more to get the same resultsOlive oil: picks up dirt and polishes wood; cheaper grades work well
Vegetable based (liquid castile) soap: non-petroleum all-purpose cleaners
Washing soda: stain remover, general cleaner, helps unblock pipes; should be handled with gloves due to its caustic nature. Washing soda is usually found in the laundry aisle of grocery and drug stores.

Don't forget to pick up an empty spray bottle at the hardware store, and keep those old rags and used toothbrushes for wiping up and scrubbing.

All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.

Another alternative are microfiber cloths which lift off dirt, grease and dust without the need for cleaning chemicals, because they are formulated to penetrate and trap dirt. There are a number of different brands. A good quality cloth can last for several years.

Air Freshener: Commercial air fresheners mask smells and coat nasal passages to diminish the sense of smell.
• Baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes absorbs odors around the house.
• Having houseplants helps reduce odors in the home.
• Prevent cooking odors by simmering vinegar (1 tbsp in 1 cup water) on the stove while cooking. To get such smells as fish and onion off utensils and cutting boards, wipe them with vinegar and wash in soapy water.
• Grind up a slice of lemon in the garbage disposal.
• Simmer water and cinnamon or other spices on stove.
• Place bowls of fragrant dried herbs and flowers in room.

Bathroom mold: Mold in bathroom tile grout is a common problem and can be a health concern. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using shower.

Carpet stains: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water.
For fresh grease spots, sprinkle corn starch onto spot and wait 15 - 30 minutes before vacuuming.
For a heavy duty carpet cleaner, mix 1/4 cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours. Vacuum.

Chopping block cleaner: Rub a slice of lemon across a chopping block to disinfect the surface. For tougher stains, squeeze some of the lemon juice onto the spot and let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe.

• Plastic food storage containers - soak overnight in warm water and baking soda
• In-sink garbage disposal units - grind up lemon or orange peel in the unit
• Carpets - sprinkle baking soda several hours before vacuuming
• Garage, basements - set a sliced onion on a plate in center of room for 12 - 24 hours

Dishwasher Soap: Mix equal parts of borax and washing soda, but increase the washing soda if your water is hard.
If you want to use a commercial dishwashing soap, try Nellie's All-Natural diswasher powder, which contains no bleach or phosphates.

Dishwashing Soap: Commercial low-phosphate detergents are not themselves harmful, but phosphates nourish algae which use up oxygen in waterways. A detergent substitution is to use liquid soap. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the warm, soapy water for tough jobs.

Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. For stronger cleaning power add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use non-aerosol spray bottle. (This is not an antibacterial formula. The average kitchen or bathroom does not require antibacterial cleaners.)
To disinfect kitchen sponges, put them in the dishwasher when running a load.

Drain Cleaner: For light drain cleaning, mix 1/2 cup salt in 4 liters water, heat (but not to a boil) and pour down the drain. For stronger cleaning, pour about 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, then 1/2 cup vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction can break fatty acids down into soap and glycerine, allowing the clog to wash down the drain. After 15 minutes, pour in boiling water to clear residue. Caution: only use this method with metal plumbing. Plastic pipes can melt if excess boiling water is used. Also, do not use this method after trying a commercial drain opener--the vinegar can react with the drain opener to create dangerous fumes.

Fabric softener: To reduce static cling, dampen your hands, then shake out your clothes as you remove them from the drier. Line-drying clothing is another alternative.

Floor Cleaner and Polish:
-vinyl and linoleum: mix 1 cup vinegar and a few drops of baby oil in 1 gallon warm water. For tough jobs, add 1/4 cup borox. Use sparingly on lineoleum.
-wood: apply a thin coat of 1:1 vegetable oil and vinegar and rub in well.
-painted wood: mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon (4L) hot water.
-brick and stone tiles: mix 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon (4L) water; rinse with clear water.

Most floor surfaces can be easily cleaned using a solution of vinegar and water. For damp-mopping wood floors: mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water. Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil; shake to mix.

Furniture Polish: For varnished wood, add a few drops of lemon oil into a 1/2 cup warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Cloth should only be slightly damp. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and finish by wiping once more using a dry soft cotton cloth.

For unvarnished wood, mix two tsps each of olive oil and lemon juice and apply a small amount to a soft cotton cloth. Wring the cloth to spread the mixture further into the material and apply to the furniture using wide strokes. This helps distribute the oil evenly.

Laundry Detergent: Mix 1 cup Ivory soap (or Fels Naptha soap), 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads. Commercial natural, biodegradable laundry detergents are also now available online and in select stores.

Lime Deposits: You can reduce lime deposits in your teakettle by putting in 1/2 cup (125ml) white vinegar and 2 cups water, and gently boiling for a few minutes. Rinse well with fresh water while kettle is still warm.
To remove lime scale on bathroom fixtures, squeeze lemon juice onto affected areas and let sit for several minutes before wiping clean with a wet cloth.

Marks on walls and painted surfaces: Many ink spots, pencil, crayon or marker spots can be cleaned from painted surfaces using baking soda applied to a damp sponge. Rub gently, then wipe and rinse.

Metal Cleaners and Polishes:
-aluminum: using a soft cloth, clean with a solution of cream of tartar and water.
-brass or bronze: polish with a soft cloth dipped in lemon and baking-soda solution, or vinegar and salt solution. Another method is to apply a dab of ketchup on a soft cloth and rub over tarnished spots.
-chrome: polish with baby oil, vinegar, or aluminum foil shiny side out.
-copper: soak a cotton rag in a pot of boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 cup white vinegar. Apply to copper while hot; let cool, then wipe clean. For tougher jobs, sprinkle baking soda or lemon juice on a soft cloth, then wipe. For copper cookware, sprinkle a lemon wedge with salt, then scrub., A simpler method is to apply a dab of ketchup on a soft cloth and rub over tarnished spots.
-gold: clean with toothpaste, or a paste of salt, vinegar, and flour.
-silver: line a pan with aluminum foil and fill with water; add a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Bring to a boil and immerse silver. Polish with soft cloth.
-stainless steel: clean with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar, or olive oil. For stainless cookware, mix 4 tbs baking soda in 1 qt water, and apply using a soft cloth. Wipe dry using a clean cloth. For stainless steel sinks, pour some club soda on an absorbent cloth to clean, then wipe dry using a clean cloth.

Mold and Mildew: Use white vinegar or lemon juice full strength. Apply with a sponge or scrubby.

Mothballs: The common mothball is made of paradichlorobenzene, which is harmful to liver and kidneys. Cedar chips in a cheesecloth square, or cedar oil in an absorbent cloth will repel moths. The cedar should be 'aromatic cedar', also referred to as juniper in some areas. Cedar chips are available at many craft supply stores, or make your own using a plane and a block of cedar from the lumberyard.
Homemade moth-repelling sachets can also be made with lavender, rosemary, vetiver and rose petals.
Dried lemon peels are also a natural moth deterrent - simply toss into clothes chest, or tie in cheesecloth and hang in the closet.

Oil and Grease Spots: For small spills on the garage floor, add baking soda and scrub with wet brush.

Oven Cleaner: Moisten oven surfaces with sponge and water. Use 3/4cup baking soda, 1/4cup salt and 1/4cup water to make a thick paste, and spread throughout oven interior. (avoid bare metal and any openings) Let sit overnight. Remove with spatula and wipe clean. Rub gently with fine steel wool for tough spots. Or use Arm & Hammer Oven Cleaner, declared nontoxic by Consumers Union.

Rust Remover: Sprinkle a little salt on the rust, squeeze a lime over the salt until it is well soaked. Leave the mixture on for 2 - 3 hours. Use leftover rind to scrub residue.

Scouring Powder: For top of stove, refrigerator and other such surfaces that should not be scratched, use baking soda. Apply baking soda directly with a damp sponge.

Stickers on walls: Our children covered the inside of their room doors with stickers. Now they are grown, but the stickers remained. To remove, sponge vinegar over them several times, and wait 15 minutes, then rub off the stickers. This also works for price tags (stickers) on tools, etc.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, pour into basin and let it set for a few minutes. Scrub with brush and rinse. A mixture of borax (2 parts) and lemon juice (one part) will also work.

Tub and Tile Cleaner: For simple cleaning, rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water. For tougher jobs, wipe surfaces with vinegar first and follow with baking soda as a scouring powder. (Vinegar can break down tile grout, so use sparingly.)

Water Rings on Wood: Water rings on a wooden table or counter are the result of moisture that is trapped under the topcoat, but not the finish. Try applying toothpaste or mayonnaise to a damp cloth and rub into the ring. Once the ring is removed, buff the entire wood surface.

Window Cleaner: Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with 1 liter (qt) warm water. Use crumpled newspaper or cotton cloth to clean. Don't clean windows if the sun is on them, or if they are warm, or streaks will show on drying. The All-Purpose Cleaner (above) also works well on windows. Be sure to follow the recipe, because using too strong a solution of vinegar will etch the glass and eventually cloud it.

Tips for cleaning:
Exchange Indoor Air
Many modern homes are so tight there's little new air coming in. Open the windows from time to time or run any installed exhaust fans. In cold weather, the most efficient way to exchange room air is to open the room wide - windows and doors, and let fresh air in quickly for about 5 minutes. The furnishings in the room, and the walls, act as 'heat sinks', and by exchanging air quickly, this heat is retained.
Minimize Dust
Remove clutter which collects dust, such as old newspapers and magazines. Try to initiate a 'no-shoes-indoors' policy. If you're building or remodelling a home, consider a central vacuum system; this eliminates the fine dust which portable vacuum cleaners recirculate.

Use Cellulose Sponges
Most household sponges are made of polyester or plastic which are slow to break down in landfills, and many are treated with triclosan, a chemical that can produce chloroform (a suspected carcinogen) when it interacts with the chlorine found in tap water. Instead try cellulose sponges, available at natural foods stores, which are biodegradable and will soak up spills faster since they're naturally more absorbent.
Keep Bedrooms Clean
Most time at home is spent in the bedrooms. Keep pets out of these rooms, especially if they spend time outdoors.
Use Gentle Cleaning Products
Of the various commercial home cleaning products, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and oven cleaners are the most toxic. Use the formulas described above or purchase 'green' commercial alternatives
. Avoid products containing ammonia or chlorine, or petroleum-based chemicals; these contribute to respiratory irritation, headaches and other complaints.
Clean from the Top Down:
When house cleaning, save the floor or carpet for last. Allow time for the dust to settle before vacuuming.

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