Eco-Friendly Living

Silver Sky Imports Singing Bowls

Have you ever heard of singing bowls?  They are incredible.  There are different kinds of singing bowls, too:  Zen singing bowls, Tibetan singing bowls, and Crystal singing bowls!  They are used not only to make music, but to provide relaxation, therapy, meditation, and healing.

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Silver Sky Imports is a unique online marketplace that offers unique handicrafts from Tibet and Nepal, including the Antique Singing Bowls. What a beautiful, peaceful, SAFE way to meditate and to find stress relief! I love that it’s (obviously) all natural, and it’s not something you need to ingest. You can use it over and over again, and I know my son, who has autism and anxiety, would absolutely cherish a product like this!

Silver Sky Imports also offers accessories for these bowls, and accessories for your peaceful home. From Himalayan salt, to statues, to crystal pyramids, to Harsani soap and more, there is something for everyone seeking peace and harmony in their lives.

Take a look at the Antique Singing Bowls and more!

 

 

*This is a sponsored post. The opinions are mine alone.

10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

Happy Earth Day!!

 

I’d like to think that I try to celebrate Earth Day every day, simply in the way I live and the choices I make.  I’m SO, SO far from perfect, but I do believe that the few changes I’ve made are making a difference…at least I like to think that. :-)

 

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to share with you different things you can do at home to help the environment, and your wallet.  Getting rid of toxins in the home is a great first step to take, in my humble opinion.  And so, here are 10 different things you can do/make at home to help the earth:

 

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  1. Make your own homemade, eco-friendly Laundry Detergent
  2. Pay your bills online…it only takes a few minutes per bill to set up, and once it’s done you’ll cut down on envelopes used, statements printed, postage purchased, and gas used to drive the mail.  Another bonus is that you can set up automatic bill pay and not have to even think about it anymore!
  3. Buy local whenever possible.  This is becoming easier and easier to do, as more and more local companies are popping up in grocery and retail stores.  Produce, meat, honey, and so much more can be bought locally…if you’re willing to take the time to seek them out!  Like the other tips, buying local provides benefits in addition to helping the planet.  (See Benefits of Buying Honey Local)
  4. Make Homemade, Eco-Friendly bug repellents.  Spiders hate and avoid the scent of peppermint.  Planting marigolds in your garden will ward away pests that might otherwise mess up your tomatoes.  No need to bust out 100_2695-768x1024the chemicals when ridding your home of insects and other pests!
  5. Make an eco-friendly All-Purpose cleaner with vinegar and orange peels!
  6. Reduce, Reuse, and Recyle.  We’ve all heard this one and are familiar with the concept, so let’s just do it!!  From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Website:Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is just the first in a series of steps that generates a host of financial, environmental and social returns.
    • Reuse glass and plastic bottles as planters by filling them with dirt and planting herbs or vegetables for your own indoor garden. Large coffee cans, empty milk jugs, old clay planter pots and plastic buckets can all be used successfully as plant containers.
    • Newspaper can be used to wrap birthday gifts or crumple newspaper to create packaging material to keep items protected when shipping. Reuse plastic bags to line trashcans or to pick up pet waste. Avoid purchasing items that are over packaged.
    • Paper or Plastic? How about a reusable tote? They are inexpensive and help to reduce the production of plastic and paper bags. Opt for a reusable water bottle as opposed to one-time-use plastic bottles.
  7. Plant a tree.  If you want to save money while saving Mother Earth with your trees, then buy yourself a fruit tree. If you don’t have a lot of room, or don’t want a huge tree, get yourself a dwarf. You’ll be provided with fresh fruit year after year. What a fantastic investment!
    My family has 8 fruit trees, but 6 of them are pretty young and don’t provide enough that we have excess at harvest time. My grandfather, however, has fully mature trees, and last year I was able to pick over 50 lbs of apples for canning. Think of all the yummy apple pie fillings, applesauces, apple butters, and apple syrups you can have when your fruit trees grow up! Plant a tree!
  8. Eat more veggies, and less meat.  I cannot deny that I’m a meat lover.  I like meat!  I have decided, however, to not consume meat at lunch, and I’d like to start doing a meatless meal at dinner time each week.  Want to know the HUGE eco-impact it’ll make?  Check out these stats.
  9. Pick up Liter – Make it a fun family activity!  My kids and I will sometimes go on a walk around our neighborhood, or to the local school’s playground to play, and we’ll bring along a plastic grocery sack and gloves to pick up liter on our way.  It’s a small, easy thing that can help beautify the area around you!
  10. Make your own personal care items.  From homemade hair lice treatment, to homemade chapstick, to homemade sugar scrubs, you will cut down on packaging and toxins, in addition to giving your wallet a break.  It’s a win-win-win!

 

Make-Your-Own Body Moisturizers – 10 Recipes!

I’ve really, REALLY enjoyed the adventure of making my own products.  Not only am I saving money, which enables me to provide better for my family, I am producing higher quality products without harsh chemicals.  I can feel better about what I’m doing, for the earth, for my pocketbook, and for my family’s health!  It’s a win-win-win!

 

Thank goodness for Pinterest, right?  Without that fabulous invention of a site, I’d never have found so many great recipes and ideas to try.  Let me tell you, these recipes are GOOD.  I have personally tried many, and look forward to experimenting by trying them all eventually.

 

And so, without further ado, allow me to share with you 10 of my favorite recipes for Homemade Body Moisturizers…lotions, body butters, and more (photos are from the corresponding websites):

 

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Solid Lotion Bars

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The Whip:  A Homemade Moisturizer

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Homemade Cocoa Body Scrub and body Butter

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3-Ingredient Homemade Moisturizer

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Homemade Organic Body Butter

Coconut Body Butter

DIY Coconut Body Butter

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Homemade Moisturizing Hand Creme (this one has a lot more ingredients than the rest)

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Homemade Moisturizer

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3 Simple Recipes for Homemade Moisturizers and Sealants

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Homemade Moisturizer Recipe

Make Your Own Spider Repellent

A few weeks ago, I brought my son’s mattress into my bedroom for a “sleepover”.  As we were curled up in bed reading stories, a SPIDER came crawling onto the bed!!  It was as terrible as you might imagine…screaming, jumping, pounding the spider, LOSING the spider and panicking because, well, DID WE GET IT??

Eventually we found the dead sucker and vacuumed his remains up and tried to get some sleep.

 

Two days later, I was in bed, waking up from pleasant dreams.  Upon opening my eyes and looking up, I saw DIRECTLY above me, a spider DANGLING ON ITS WEB, coming down!!!  Holy cow, I don’t even remember what happened next, and that is not an exaggeration.  Next thing I remember I was on the ground with the blankets all around me.  I must’ve rolled or army crawled out of bed or something…whatever I did, it was quick!  I managed to kill this one without screaming since I had sleeping kids, although I did wake up one of the kids with an exclamation of “You’ve GOT TO be KIDDING ME” once I was safely out from underneath the evil thing.

 

Okay, so…I didn’t think I’d EVER be able to sleep again.  It was too darn traumatizing.  I made a mention of it on facebook, and got all sorts of advice for “bug bombs” and spider killers.

As much as I hate spiders, I hate using harsh chemicals in my home even more, so off to the internet I went in search of a natural spider remedy, deterrents preferably.

Before we get to the actual recipe I adapted, allow me to explain my oh-so scary spider picture. :-)  I swear, nearly every website I went to had a huge picture of a scary, terrible, evil looking arachnid staring at me, and I could hardly focus on the tips/tricks/recipes, because I was so horrified by the dang pictures.  So I thought I’d give y’all a graphic that hopefully won’t keep you up at night.  Unless you really HATE bad art….in which case I apologize.

 

I had heard that spiders avoided peppermint, and after further research, I feel confident that this is the case.  A few articles mention that they also don’t like citrusy things either.

After reading a few recipes, I came up with a combination for myself. It has worked beautifully!!

I gathered my stuff and put it all together.

 

  • 1 20 oz spray bottle
  • 1 quick squeeze liquid hand dish soap
  • 10 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 15 drops peppermint essential oil
  • water

Fill the spray bottle nearly to the top with water.  Add one quick squeeze of hand dish soap and the essential oils.  Put the lid on and gently swirl the mixture together (I didn’t shake it because I didn’t want it bubbling up).  Lightly spray around areas that you are concerned about:  Windows, doorways, corners, beds (in my case), etc.  I spray once a day.  Not only is it supposed to deter spiders, it smells fantastic.

 

I’ve also found that this mixture works well as a general cleaner too!

 

 *Update 07/2014 – I have since gotten more lazy and have used just the peppermint and grapefruit oils in with water and it has worked just as well!  Peppermint by itself works awesome also, but my son hates the smell, so we add the citrus to help.

*Update:  It’s been 18 months, and I have seen only ONE spider in the bedroom where I spray.  (It was after we’d been out of town and so I wasn’t around to use my spray.) Yippee. :-)

 

Here are some other great natural remedies:

-Tea Tree (Melaleuca) essential oil

- Catnip oil, borax, and other options

- Chewing tobacco (I kid you not)

- Lavender, lime, or lemon essential oils

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Treatment for Head Lice

Well, now that school is back in session, I’ve already received a notice from one of my children’s school that there has been a reported case of head lice.  Never a fun note to get.  Fortunately, all in my household have remained lice-free, but the recent note reminded me of 3 years ago when we were not so lucky in avoiding the spread.

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I remember rushing to the store immediately after discovering my daughter had caught the nasty little bug, and buying the expensive, chemical-laden treatment.  But hey, what else was I going to do?  I remember the treatment not doing a bit of good, except to dry my poor daughter’s hair out terribly.  I remember buying ANOTHER treatment, and having no luck again, meanwhile we were airing out the house of the very strong chemical smell.  I remember being SO frustrated!!

 

 

Refusing to buy a third harsh treatment, I turned to the web for ideas.  Oh, how I wish I’d done so earlier!  By this time, my daughter’s lice had spread to me, and it had gotten quite bad.  We had rid her bedroom of clothing, toys, and everything, really, and the poor kid was practically confined to that one room to prevent any further spreading.
We tried a few homemade treatments, all of which worked BETTER than the stuff we’d purchased at the store.  And so, as I take a stroll down memory lane, I feel the desire to share some of the many ideas for getting rid of head lice with you:

 

Listerine.  The article here explains the process very well.  We personally did not try the Listerine treatment, since we didn’t happen to already have the product on hand, so I can’t share any personal testimonials, but it’s definitely a better option to look at than the other commercial stuff!

Mayonnaise - We did the mayonnaise, and although it worked for me, it did not work for my daughter.  She hated the smell, but hey, it’s mayo!  Like I said, the treatment worked for me, and though I smelled like egg salad for awhile, I was very happy to have those little bugs gone!

Olive Oil - Olive oil was what finally did the trick for Munchkin!  The smell was less invasive than the mayo, but I made up for it by making her use a vinegar rinse along with it.  The instructions suggest leaving the olive oil and shower cap on for up to 8 hours.  We kept our caps on overnight, so it was on for at least 9 hours.  I didn’t care; it worked!!

 

With all of these treatments, it’s important, crucial to remember follow up!  You may find a product smothers the lice, but the eggs may still be intact.  After picking the nits (eggs) out, you may discover a few days later that you missed a few.  Follow up your initial treatment every few days for a couple of weeks to ensure that the eggs are given NO chance to hatch, and if they do, that the lice have NO chance to mature and lay more eggs!  It’s a royal pain, but it’s SO incredibly important.

 

Other ways I’ve read about to get rid of lice (but not tried) include using Denorex, essential oils, and baking soda .

 

For more information on what exactly head lice is, go here.

Get Pee Stains Out of Your Mattress – Homemade Cleaner

If you’re a mom like me, you’ve likely dealt with your fair share of wetting accidents on the bed.  If you have a pet, you’ve likely dealt with the same darn thing (though hopefully not on the bed!!!).

 

My youngest does NOT want to be potty trained.  He’s 5 1/2 years old, has autism, and has just not wanted to follow through with potty training.  He’s got a fear of any toilet that isn’t ours at home, and has a panic attack when we try to get him to use public restrooms.  Come to think of it, he does the same thing about half the time at home, but I think it’s more because he’s afraid he’ll miss something at home, than a fear of the toilet itself.  Little stinker (literally)!

 

Anyway, I’ve cleaned up SO many accidents.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to keep up on the smell.  With each accident, it seems that the smell gets a little worse.  I’ve tried the whole vinegar thing, using baking soda on the mattress, essential oil mixes, and more.  I’ve spent $30 on one single bottle of natural cleaner.  NO LUCK.

So, when I found this recipe on pinterest, I didn’t think it’d work, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try:

 

 

8 ounces/237 ml hydrogen peroxide 3%

3 tablespoons/14.29 grams of baking soda

1 drop of liquid hand dish washing soap

Mix all ingredients into the spray bottle and use within 20 minutes.  Do not attempt to store the leftover solution. because it will leak out of the bottle.  The mixture only works if you use it immediately, because the cleaning byproducts are active for only a short time period.  You should see the stain lift and disappear within 5-10 minutes.  Once the mattress dries, if a baking soda film remains, then simply wipe or vacuum it off.

 

My thoughts on the recipe?  I felt like it worked better than anything else I’ve tried.  My son’s mattress isn’t nearly as smelly, although I would like to do another batch again.  I haven’t tried it on pet stains.  I also tried it on a pillow, but I didn’t feel like that worked, so I decided to suck it up and stick it in the laundry.  I now have a lumpy pillow, ha ha!

This is a recipe I’d recommend.  Seriously, it worked better than the $30 bottle of stuff I bought!

Homemade Chapstick/Lip Balm

One of my goals for the self reliance journey was to learn to make chapstick.  I just happened to run out of the store-bought stuff a couple months ago, so the timing was perfect.

 

It’s really simple, really fun, and really rewarding to do, in my opinion.  Well worth the effort!  The bonus is that you don’t need many ingredients, and they are all natural.  You can easily make a totally organic chapstick.

 

So, here’s the basic info.  Because I’ve recently discovered other bloggers posting my recipes (and sometimes even pictures, which is weird, cause I suck at picture taking) without permission or linking back to me, I’m not going to share the exact recipe that I use.  I’ll give you the basic idea though, and this’ll get you a great chapstick!  (I’ve made minor adjustments to my own lip balm.)

 

You want equal parts of the following:

  • Beeswax (preferably organic, locally harvested.  I get mine locally at Cox Honeyland)
  • African Shea Butter (I bought mine from Amazon.com)
  • Coconut oil, Sweet Almond oil, or jojoba oil
  • chapstick tubes

(If you do about 2 Tbsp of each of these ingredients, you’ll be able to fill 10 or so chapstick tubes.)  Melt all the ingredients together in a double boiler over simmering (NOT boiling) water.  When it’s all melted through, you can add organic scent, if desired.  Pour into chapstick tubes and let cool.  It’s that simple!

 

Now, my chapstick isn’t the “pretty” white, because I opted to buy the raw shea butter, raw organic beeswax, etc.  If you want the white you will have to buy the lighter version of those products.  I personally prefer it as unprocessed as possible.

 

As I searched for recipes, I came across a lot of great ones, but the ones that I used to create my own are:

Easy Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

During the Christmas season we had a lot of oranges given to us as gifts, and we also happened to buy a bunch of them, since that seems to be the time that oranges are so dang cheap!

If you eat a lot of oranges, you can save the peels and make a nice, easy, homemade cleaner for your home.  Eco-friendly and affordable.  (I’ve posted about this before, but wanted to share again.)

 

Put the peels in a quart-sized canning jar.  Pack them in until the jar is nice and full.  It took me a few days.

Natural Orange-Vinegar Cleaner

Once you’ve got the jar nice and packed full of orange peels, pour some white vinegar over them.  Fill the jar completely.

 

Once you’ve done that, you’ve just got to wait!  Put a lid on the jar, let it sit for 7-10 days, and then you’ll strain the mixture.  Put the strained liquid in a spray bottle and fill the remaining of it with water.  You’ve got a citrus-scented cleaner that will disinfect, deodorize, and clean!!:-)

Make Your Own: Homeade Liquid Hand Soap

 

I’ve always preferred liquid to bar soap, but honestly, I’ve always used bar soap because it’s cheaper.  Now that I have kids I’ve  found that they wash their hands much better with the liquid…it’s easier to squirt a little out and wash it off, there isn’t a slippery bar to grasp, and frankly, they’re more likely to get enough soap on their hands when it’s liquid.

My son, in particular, does much better with liquid soap.  It’s what they use at his school, and one of his autistic traits is that he wants things the same.  ALL TH E TIME.  Using bar soap causes more meltdowns than I would have ever thought possible! :-)

So I decided to try and make liquid hand soap from the bar soap I have on hand.

I found this recipe from Savvy Housekeeping.  It was the simplest one I found, and had a lot of positive reviews, so I decided to give it a shot.

 

My thoughts?  I personally love it.  Initially after making it, the soap had a “snot”-like consistency, and that was gross, but I whipped it around in the blender and that helped.  I’ve also found that the texture has improved as the days have gone by.  My husband and kids have all given their stamp of approval, and so I consider it a HUGE victory, and something I’ll continue to make.  I love the simple fragrance to it,  I love how much cheaper it is than store bought, and I love that it uses less packaging since I’m reusing the same bottle over and over!!

 

 

If you use bar soap and have no reason to switch to liquid, this may be a fun experiment when you’ve used up your bar and only a sliver remains….what a great way to keep from letting those go to waste!

 

Here’s the recipe, straight from Savvy Housekeeping (I’ve included my personal notes in blue):

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soap flakes
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp glycerin (I used a “heaping” tablespoon, and I found it at Walmart in the pharmacy section.  It only cost me $2.31 for the entire bottle.)

Grate the soap.  Use a cheese grater, and get to work.  I found that 1 bar of soap made a little over a cup; I ended up using about 3/4 of a bar.

In a large pot, combine 1 cup soap flakes, 10 cups water, and 1 Tbs glycerin. Turn on medium-low heat and stir until the soap dissolves. This took about 3 minutes for me.

Let the soap cool completely, then pour into the containers using the funnel.  I used quart canning jars, since that what I have on hand.  This makes so much that I filled a few of them, and just have them stored under the sink in my bathroom for when the bottles need a refill.

*I’ve read through many comments about this recipe, and it seems that Dove soap does NOT work well…so you may want to steer clear of that brand.  The reason is probably that Dove is a moisturizing soap, and so it doesn’t dissolve the same way a typical non-moisturizing soap will.

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Buying Honey Local

On Christmas I had an interesting conversation with my mother in law.  She asked my thoughts on the “whole honey from China thing”.   I confess, I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about.

She went on to explain to me some things that she had read and seen on the news, and showed surprise that someone like me, who cares about all things environmental, would not be educated on this topic.  Well, I felt a little foolish over that one.   So…I decided to educate myself, and wanted to share with you what I found!

Of course, you probably already know that honey is a great food storage item.  It lasts practically forever.  Honey is an amazing item to keep on hand.  But oops, now I’m going off on a tangent…back to the locally grown discussion:

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I found multiple articles discussing problems with honey being shipped from China.  In an article written by Debbie Hadley, an about.com guide,  in some cases the honey is diluted with water and/or corn syrup, and we, the consumer, are being ripped off.  Please notice, she says in SOME cases, not in all!!

Did you know that in the late 1990′s a bacterial disease spread through beehives in China?  Well, how do you treat a bacteria?  With antibiotics, of course.  Now there is concern over antibiotic contamination in honey.  Another reason to try to buy local.

Now, I don’t have a thing against China, or any other location, for that matter.  There are many benefits to buying locally, though, and as I strive to live more self-reliantly and eco-friendly, I will continue buying local.  Here are some other benefits to buying honey locally:

 

  • Honey is a powerful immune system booster.   It actually contains bits and pieces of pollen. Allergies can arise from continuous over-exposure to the same allergens. Eating a couple of teaspoons-full per day of honey made by bees working in the area where you live for several months prior to the pollen season will often prevent allergic reaction to the pollens it contains.  *This is not to suggest that local honey will replace allergists. (Source)

 

  • It has been proven that raw honey has many antibiotic properties. For years, people have consumed it for nausea and gastritis. It is also known to prevent the formation of ulcers, and certain kinds of cancer. So, as you can see, trying raw local honey to treat your allergies certainly would not hurt, in fact, it could help you with a number of other ailments. The best part, there are virtually no side effects, unless you are allergic.  Try to get the local honey that is closest to home. Immunizing yourself to allergens that you are never exposed to carries no benefits. (Source)

 

  • Buying honey, along with just about anything else, locally, also reduces your carbon footprint and supports your local economy.  And why not support your neighbors if you can?