Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How I Go About Cleaning

When I first started learning about household chemicals, I got rid of everything I had in the house.  Armed with recipes for homemade cleaning products, I mixed, stirred and shook together all sorts of things. After lots of trial and error, I decided that I had to keep things really simple or I just didn't want to do it. So I'll share with you some of the ways I use natural, nontoxic things to clean my house.

Vinegar is my go-to cleaner.  I put it in the rinse cycle when washing clothes.  Every load of dishes in our dishwasher has about 1 cup of vinegar in it, making every load come out sparkling clean.  (This is quite a feat since we have hard water.)  I mix vinegar, distilled water, and essential oils together to make an all-purpose cleaning spray that gets used for pretty much everything around here. I spray it on my kitchen floor for a quick mopping, spray my kitchen sink and countertops with it, and I clean the bathroom with it. Vinegar is great for hard water stains.  Yes, it is a bit strong smelling, but I don't care. It dissipates and I know that it isn't filling my home with harmful chemical fumes.

The essential oils I use the most are lavender, tea tree, and peppermint.  Lavender and peppermint in a spray bottle with some distilled water make a great freshener for your curtains, furniture, etc.  As to brand, most people I know use Do-terra essential oils (info here) and a few use Young Living (info here).  I personally think that there are other brands out there that are less expensive and are still acceptable to use for cleaning.  If you really hate the smell of vinegar and don't mind spending more, Young Living has an essential oil cleaner that you mix in a spray bottle with distilled water.  It is called Thieves and it makes your house smell like cinnamon and other holiday spices.  I have to admit it is lovely, and I have it when I can afford it.  Here's a link for Thieves Cleaners.

Another must-have is Borax, which has been around forever. It, too, has multiple uses, including cleaning bathtubs and toilets, and is an ingredient in most homemade laundry detergent.  At one point, I would mix up my own "soft scrub" cleaner using borax or baking soda, but now I just spray down my toilets, tubs, and sinks with my all-purpose spray.  I let that sit for a minute while I do something else (there's always something else to do!), then I sprinkle borax in the toilet bowl and tub and add a little squirt of Dr Bronner's Castile Soap.  After a good scrubbing, everything is nice and clean.  No nasty chemicals.

Baking soda is also something I use often. Many times I'll sprinkle baking soda and salt in my kitchen sink and then scrub it down with a half of a lemon.  Baking Soda can also be used in place of Borax when scrubbing the bathtub. It is also, as most of you already know, great for removing odors.

Everything I buy is effective, non-toxic, and budget friendly. Most things I buy at Costco, which means it comes in large quantities.  The Borax and Dr Bronner's are at Target or Whole Foods. Our natural foods stores here have the Dr Bronner's soaps in bulk, so you can take your own containers and refill them. That's a great thing!  For the baking soda, etc, I bought big glass jars that I labeled and put in my laundry room cupboard.

I hope this will encourage you and help you to get started! Let me know how things are going!!!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Clean As You Can Get It

I had no idea it would be so difficult to figure out what to write about healthy living on a budget and seem to be having a bit of a problem gathering my thoughts into any kind of order. So I have decided to just begin here...

Healthy or clean living is, for the most part, about chemicals...and trying your darndest to avoid them. Now, I know some of you out there are going to say that it is impossible to avoid chemicals and you would be absolutely correct.  In our world, chemicals are most certainly a part of life. To me, it just makes sense to do all that I can to keep my family's exposure to them as low as possible. In the words of my beautiful friend, Tacoma, "Well, the way I see it, every chemical that we can avoid is lessening my family's chances of sickness, disease, and cancer."  Exactly.  What better reason could there possibly be than this??!!

Toxic chemicals are found in food, water, soil, air, everyday household cleaners, personal care products...and the list goes on.  I cleaned houses for a while to bring in some extra cash for our family and it literally made me sick.  After a few months, I realized that the burden on my body from all of those household chemicals was too great to ignore.  This is the reason I started researching and learning, which prompted me to throw out every chemical I could find in our house.  I am the personality type that jumps in with both feet.  If you are new to all of this "natural" stuff and find it to be overwhelming, take baby steps if you need to, making one simple change at a time.

Lifestyle change #1:  Clean out the cleaners. Thankfully, doing this also helps your budget. It costs me next to nothing to clean my house now.  You do not have to go and buy a bunch of "green" cleaners. No more trips down the cleaning aisle at Target!  In fact, none of us can even stand those aisles anymore. You will discover that, once you've been free of chemical fragrance for a while, you won't be able to stomach them.  It's very interesting.  Jay told me a couple of months ago that he was near an opened box of Tide detergent and he couldn't handle the smell.  It will literally make you feel sick after a while. I want to hold my breath while walking by Bath and Body Works at the mall or the candle aisle at the store. Bizarre, huh!?

"But what about the germs?" you might ask.  Well, I personally think we've all been sold a bill of goods about disinfecting. If you are worried about your house not being clean enough, check out this documentary about one family's journey into the world of living without all of those chemicals. You can view this for free on Netflix, if you have it. Lots of good info.
And here are some great websites to help you start your own journey...

Thoughts? Questions? Feel free to ask. I started making big changes a little over 3 years ago and haven't regretted it once.  It's comforting to know that I can clean my house without creating a chemical soup for my family to live and breathe in. For a while it may seem difficult or strange, but it will soon become your new normal and you won't even have to give it any thought.  Check out the websites and the documentary and get started!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In the Meantime...

I've been thinking a lot about the ways that I cut costs to make our home a healthier place for my family and have to admit that I've had a difficult time figuring out what to blog about first.  So in the meantime, here is an inexpensive, healthy way to start your day.

Every morning I drink a warm water/lemon/cayenne pepper/apple cider vinegar concoction.  I know, it sounds weird and icky, but it truly isn't.  If you are thinking this is NOT something you want to drink, start with just the warm water and the juice of 1/2 lemon.  Remember to drink it with a straw so the lemon doesn't sit on your teeth.  Believe it or not, it is really good for you.  The lemon alkalizes your body ( I know, it seems like it would be acidic, but it isn't) and aids in digestion. 

If you are brave enough to try the cayenne pepper, start with just a teeny bit.  You'll find that the longer you drink it, the more you tolerate the heat and you can start adding more.  There are lots of health benefits from cayenne pepper, including helping regulate blood sugar and aiding in digestion. I'm sure you understand what I am talking about when I say that this concoction gets things moving in the morning. :-)

Most people think that drinking apple cider vinegar is just nasty.  I understand.  It is definitely different.  I promise, though, if you start by just adding a little bit and gradually increase it to maybe a tablespoon or so, you'll have a better chance of not hating it.  By the way, the healthy goodness of raw apple cider vinegar is well known and documented.  Check it out for yourself. I always buy Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar because it's made from organic apples (non-organic apples are full of pesticides!) and it isn't filtered, so it has all of the "stuff" from the apples.  They call it The Mother.  I don't know why.

So there...healthy habit #1.  I begin every single day with this drink and have for quite a while. Sometimes in the summer I change it up a bit and leave out the cayenne pepper, add fresh mint leaves, and drink it over ice on a hot day.  So good!   Let me know if you try it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Healthier Life...On a Budget

I am asked quite often how we can afford to feed our family a healthy diet full of organic veggies, fruits and meats.  Over and over I have people telling me some version of this, "We would eat healthy food, but we just can't afford it."  In fact, I've heard it so many times that I've lost count, prompting me to decide to craft a few blog posts about making healthy, inexpensive changes to diet and lifestyle.
Having parents who had raised me to know about things like using food as medicine or the benefits of alternative therapies, I feel blessed to have had a head start and a knowledge base that I might not have otherwise. My parents were "organic and crunchy" before it was hip to be so. We had chickens, a garden, and homemade everything...even mayo. Even now, I'll tell my mom something I learned or decided to try making and she'll say to me, "Oh yes, sweetie, I used to make that when y'all were little."  She's a wonderful resource. I am very, very grateful to always have the support of my parents when I am trying to give my family a healthier way of life. They believed in me through 3 pregnancies, home births, homemade baby food, battles with pediatricians over vaccinations and antibiotics, and treating sick kids with herbs and homeopathy. Love and thanks to you, Beebo and Pappa, for raising me to think outside the box!

So for all of you who have emailed me, commented on posts or messaged me on Facebook, I will write a few posts to try to help and encourage those of you who truly think there is no way you can afford to change the way you eat and live.  You can do it...I promise!

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”  ~Jim Rohn

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oh, Boy...

 I read an blog post today about being a brave parent that made me think about the guys in my life.  I have often been asked how I can bear to "allow" my guys to do all of the various activities that they love to do.  My reply is always the same.  When they leave the house, I pray for them.  I honestly, and with all of my heart, can say that I trust God to take care of them.  So I pray and then I let it go.  I do not worry.
 Yes, we have had many injuries that range in severity from minor annoyances to major breaks and bonks on the head. There is also a rule in our house that I adhere to and so must they.  It goes as follows..."If you are going to go out and do all of these stupid dangerous things, then don't come home complaining, bitching or moaning.  Man up and deal with it."  I admit that I drafted this bill and voted it into law.  Perhaps it was more of an executive order. :-)

I do not understand them, but I know that both of them look at Kyra, Maddy and I with looks on their faces that tell me they are wondering what in the world we are about.  So the feeling is mutual.  We don't relate or understand, but we accept and love the other.  It's all part of the whole family, male-female thing. 

 Besides...my guys are fun.  Rarely is there a day that Shelby isn't laughing at something.  If you can listen to his laugh and not laugh yourself, something is wrong with you.  He is goofy and fun-loving.  One of my favorite traits of the hubby is his sense of humor.  Jay just makes me laugh and I admit that there are times when we both totally weird out and think we are soooooo funny.  Guys are good for those sorts of times. A good example?   While in Seattle, we went to see the Fremont Bridge Troll.  What did Shelby do?  He stuck his head up the troll's nose, of course.  Admit it, that's funny.

So, what to do about those boys?  Love them, laugh at them, accept that they aren't girls and aren't going to act like girls, try not to let them see your eye rolls, and the most important thing....pray like crazy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Living Outside the Box

2013 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  To celebrate, our local library hosted a reading of her work.  Excerpts from Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion were read by a group of about 7-8 people. It was delightful fun!  The girls and I were, I'm quite certain, the youngest in age of anyone there, with Kyra and Maddy being the only teenagers in the audience.  :)

It makes me smile inside to have daughters who aren't typical teens.  Such a fun mixture of geeky, talented, beautiful, crafty, brilliant, and kind.  Some days they sit around drinking tea and knitting lovely things, usually watching something nerdly like the BBC's Sherlock or Merlin.  They are adept at channeling their inner old ladies, enjoying Shakespeare, reading at coffee shops while sipping snobby organic fair trade coffee (dark roast, of course), upcycling thrift store finds, hosting geeky parties for their friends (such a party is happening at our house tomorrow), reading and re-reading Harry Potter, baking, sewing, taking photos, or painting. Other days you might see them do something completely the opposite--like shooting a gun, riding a dirt bike, fishing with Jay, or hiking through the woods.  Ha!  I love them! 

Both of my girls have their own sense of style, not caring what the "normal" trends are for most girls their age. Naturally lovely, they don't care too much (or in Maddy's case, at all) about make-up.  It makes me happy.  Kyra is my little bohemian with a heart for the poor and downtrodden.  Maddy has a keen sense of justice and a wonderful heart free of judgement and condemnation.  It has been incredible to watch them as they are discovering who God created them to be and are seeking His path for them. These girls will do great things.

I suppose I should point out that they aren't perfect. Just in case you were wondering. :)  I am constantly giving them the Mom Lecture about their rooms, which seem to always look like something barfed yarn, clothing, books, water glasses, and who-knows-what-else, all over the place. Certainly there are days when they have to be reminded to get busy and do their schoolwork. Having three girls in the house, there are emotional days and grumpy days, days when we'd just as soon be 100 miles away from each other. You know how it goes.  I'm pretty sure it's just the same as any other family. Thankfully, those days are far outnumbered by good ones.

I am one blessed mama.  Thank you, Jesus, for granting me the honor of being mom to these amazing young women.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sorting Through the Hype

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions.  I do, however, always have to hit the restart button after all of the holiday indulgences.  It's truly amazing how crappy you feel after consuming all of the sugar, carbs, wine, and just generally less-than-healthy food.  After too many late nights, I am typically exhausted as well.  So begins the post-holiday reboot.

With all of the health trends, superfoods, exercise fads, etc, it is really hard to figure out what's best.  I've decided that there is no one path to health.  We all have different imbalances, nutritional needs, and lifestyles. Always researching and reading, I am usually up for trying new things.  Unfortunately, some of those things end up being a waste of time, money and energy.  I guess that's how we learn.  There are a few things, however, that I've figured out work quite well for me personally.  I'll share them with you and I would love to hear the things that work for you!

I believe good, clean food is the best thing any of us can do for our health and well-being. I am very particular about what I buy and prepare for my family.  The first thing I did after New Year's Day was get the sugar out of the house.  Sugar, regardless of what form it is in (carbs and grains included), is really harmful to your health. It is not surprising to me that so many of us get sick after the holidays.  Every bit of sugar we consume lowers our natural immunity, making us susceptible to all kinds of yuck. I feel my best when I limit carbs and cut out other sugar completely.  Well, except for the occasional square of really dark chocolate. :)

Foods that I include in my diet are farm fresh local eggs, pastured cultured butter (like Kerrygold), greens (raw and cooked, also in smoothies), good grains like quinoa, lots of roasted roots (especially this time of year), slow simmered soups, organic veggies and lots of hot tea.  I am a big believer in eating for the different seasons.  We pretty much exist on salads and fresh, raw vegetables in the summer.  Once fall and winter roll around, we start wanting warming foods like roasted vegetables and soups, and lots of different teas.

While I am not a believer in taking a hundred supplement pills everyday, I do realize that there are just some things we don't get from our food today. Three things that I do include in my diet everyday are probiotics, fermented cod liver oil (info here), High Vitamin Butter Oil (info here) and coconut oil.  I believe completely in the benefits of healthy fats, having discovered how much better I look and feel when good fats are a daily part of my diet. The only non-food supplement I am currently using is a transdermal magnesium oil spray.  It has worked wonders.

We all know exercise is crucial.  I personally am a hater of the treadmill, so when I discovered Peak Fitness (aka HIIT) a few years ago, I was sooooooo happy.  I absolutely cannot run long distances on the treadmill. It is torture...boring, boring, boring. High Intensity Interval Training is the best thing ever.  20 minutes, 3 times a week. Yes!  The rest of the week I do rebounding or yoga.  I suppose if I were to make a resolution for working out it should be to include more weights...also not my favorite thing.

One of the best things I've done for my health in the past few years is to include different kinds of energy medicine.  I never do any kind of workout without first doing the 10 minute Energy Routine (here) plus a few other exercises I've learned from my mom.  You may think it's crazy and a bunch of bunk, but it makes a huge difference in my ability to work out harder and longer.  (I've also used it to balance my hormones and get rid of premenopausal symptoms like night sweats.)  My dad is in his 60's and never misses a workout. If he does, we know he is really sick.  When he started doing energy medicine to stay balanced and healthy, his daily pushups started to number in the hundreds.  Yes, you heard me correctly...hundreds.  My daddy is quite the studly one, huh. :-)  By the way, if you do yoga, you are doing energy medicine.  Just sayin'...

Well, this is all I can think of for now, not to mention this post is really long.  Thanks to any of you who actually make it to the end!  :)  I really would like to hear what works for you.  Love to learn new things!