Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Reflection & Resolutions

The last day of the year is a great day for reflecting on and making peace with the year that has passed. It's also a great time to set intentions for the following year.

My major accomplishments and milestones of 2013 are:
  • I joined Soka Gakki International and started practicing Nichiren Buddhism.
  • I enrolled in the health coach training program at Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
  • I stopped taking birth control (after having some really awful side effects) and learned I can have (mostly) clear, acne-free skin and feel happy and balanced all month without it.
  • I finally wrote an eBook on green cleaning.
  • I co-hosted my first food swap ever with RI Food Swap and co-hosted a vegan book swap in Boston with Jamie Hagen (our first for New England, but the fourth of all). 
  • I got love from an additional 330 Facebook page fans. I was hoping to reach a total of 1K in 2013. Doesn't look like it will happen, but I'm so happy and encouraged by the community that is happening there. At one point, I think 87 people were "talking about" my page. Wow!
  • I recovered from my addiction to doughnuts, and sugar in general. Doesn't sound huge, but it's a big deal for me. It's nice to not be controlled by food cravings.
The biggest milestone of 2013 was an internal shift. I stopped wishing I was different than I am- to be faster, less sensitive, less detail obsessed, and more independent.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Meatless Monday: 5 Resources for a Vegan Diet in 2014

Whether you're interested in going whole (soy) hog and adopting a vegan diet in 2014 or just wanna incorporate more plant-based meals in your weekly menu, it's good to have some support. Here are five resources that can help.

Cooking with CSA
Sarah and Peter have created a fun community centered around their seasonal, gluten-free, kid-friendly recipe subscriptions. Join their club and not only will you get five wholesome, totally do-able vegan recipes and a shopping list sent to your inbox each week, but you'll also get weekly cooking demo videos and access to a private Facebook group where you can get more support. All that for as low as $8/month! Get more info and learn how to join here.

Kris Carr
If you like a little glitter and magic blended into your green smoothies, Kris Carr is your gal! 10 years ago, Kris healed herself from cancer using a plant-based diet and an unapologetically positive regimen of self-love and has been on a mission to heal the rest of the world since. I love her book, Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It!. It includes a "21 Day Adventure Cleanse" that goes well beyond just recipes, but is an experiment in living large. Check out KrisCarr.com to join the Crazy Sexy Wellness Revolution.

The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia
Shopping for ingredients to make wholesome recipes can be overwhelming at first-  ("What's Qwin-O-Wah?"), especially if you've been eating a standard American diet your entire life. Rebecca Wood's  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia makes it easy to learn how to select, prepare, store, and use more than 1,000 familiar and unusual foods. There's also info on how to use the foods to maintain and improve health. I think it's pretty handy for when you've gotta explain to a skeptical spouse why you're serving a particular food.

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm Hosting The Artist's Way Group Online

Feeling blocked? Yearning for more creativity in 2014? Join health coach Melissa Danielle and I for a free virtual Creative Cluster of The Artist's Way beginning Sunday, January 5th.

The Artist's Way is Julia Cameron's spiritual workshop aimed at freeing people's creativity. She describes it as "for anyone interested in living more creatively through practicing an art; even more broadly, anyone interested in practicing the art of creative living." Through her best-selling book, she's empowered millions of people to cultivate their creative selves.

It takes about an hour a day to do the activities in the book, which are spread out over a 12 week period. Each week, you"ll begin by reading a chapter which focuses on an aspect of creative recovery. During the course, you'll begin each day with morning pages, three pages of flow-of-conscious writing to clear your mind. You'll also treat yourself to a weekly Artist's Date, a fun solo outing nurturing your creative, sensual self. There are eight other tasks to complete each week. While you needn't do all of the tasks, Julia Cameron recommends doing at least half. At the end of the week, there is a quick check in.

Read why I'm doing The Artist's Way.
Read why Melissa is doing The Artist's Way.

Beginning January 5th, Melissa, I, and fellow creatives will meet live via Google Hangout for twelve Sundays 7pm-9pm, sharing our experience with the activities and supporting each other to nurture and embrace our creativity. In between, we’ll connect with each other in our private Facebook community.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas! Check out my book for free!

I hope you have a lovely day today and tomorrow, whether or not Christmas is your thang.

I'd love to gift you a sample of a few pages of my eBook, Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning. The 10 page preview includes information about how conventional cleaning products affect your health and three awesome, easy recipes to get you started cleaning green.

My Approach to Health and Wellness

©2013 Integrative Nutrition Inc.

I practice a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that I look at how all areas of your life are connected. Does stress at your job or in your relationship cause you to overeat? Does lack of sleep or low energy prevent you from exercising? As we work together, we will look at how all parts of your life affect your health as a whole.

My approach is not to dwell on calories, carbs, fats, and proteins. It is not to create lists of restrictions or good and bad foods. Instead, I work with my clients to create a happy, healthy life in a way that is flexible, fun and rewarding.

Together we’ll work to reach your health goals in areas such as achieving optimal weight, reducing food cravings, increasing sleep, and maximizing energy. As we work together, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the food and lifestyle choices that work best for you and implement lasting changes that will improve your energy, balance and health.

Here are some concepts that we will explore during our work together:

What Do Health Coaches Learn at IIN?

I'm receiving my training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program.

A few people I'm learning from at Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Clockwise from top left: Joshua Rosenthal, founder and director of IIN; David Wolfe, raw food evangelist; Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD and plant-based diet advocate; and Deepak Chopra, holistic health/New Age guru.

I am studying over 100 dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and innovative coaching methods with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts. My teachers included Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; Dr. Deepak Chopra, leader in the field of mind-body medicine; Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center; Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University; Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating; and many other leading researchers and nutrition authorities.

Monday, December 23, 2013

What is Health Coaching?

Have you ever received good advice that you were unable to follow? Has your doctor ever recommended a lifestyle change that you found to be unsustainable? Have you ever wanted something in your life, but found you couldn’t achieve it alone?

Health Coaches are knowledgeable advisers who provide ongoing support and guidance as you set goals and make sustainable changes that improve your health and happiness. As your Health Coach, I will listen carefully and help you to navigate the world of contradictory nutrition advice to determine what changes are necessary for you.

Your personalized program will radically improve your health and happiness. Together, we will explore concerns specific to you and your body and discover the tools you need for a lifetime of balance.

Meatless Monday: 7 Healthy Car Snacks

The best thing about the long drive in a Zipcar to my boyfriend's mom place is the snacks.

My favorite car snacks used to be Tias, Newman-O's cookies, nuts, and bananas. Not terrible, but sometimes I'd have a sugar crash and feel lethargic by the time we reached our destination. Also, while nuts and fruit is good, corn chips and cookies are pretty high calorie/ low nutrient, which is not really a good thing when you're eating for recreation.

Now that I'm studying to become a health coach, I find myself yearning to eat a little bit better while we travel this holiday. Here are seven healthier snacks I plan on packing into our feed bag. They're easily portable, tasty at car temperature, and easy to pop into your face.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to Disinfect Without Chemicals

You don't need dangerous chemicals to kill germs. Here's how to disinfect bathroom, kitchen, and other surfaces naturally:
  1. Cleaning and disinfecting are two different processes. Some products both clean and disinfect, but they must be done separately.
  2. Not everything needs to be disinfected, but good spots to pay attention to are toilet seats and flushes, the floor near the toilet, handles to anything, door knobs, cabinet and drawer pulls, light switches, and other things that are touched often. Also disinfect counter tops and cutting boards after preparing meat and seafood.
  3. Do not disinfect marble or stone surfaces. Germs can’t grow on those surfaces and the disinfectant is likely to damage the natural stone.
  4. Always clean before disinfecting. Remove debris and scrub/wipe surface with a cleaner. Rinse if necessary.
  5. Spray surface with a disinfectant. DIY options include the “It’s tea time sucka” cleaner (the recipe is in my book), undiluted vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. If you prefer store bought cleaners, Seventh Generation makes a wonderful line of botanically-powered disinfecting cleaners, including Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner in Lemongrass Citrus.
  6. Leave on the surface for 10 minutes.
  7. Wipe clean and dry with a different cloth.
What's one area of your home you always make sure to disinfect?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Wanna keep nerding out about creative green living? Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
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Consider supporting this blog by shopping via my Amazon shop or buying my green cleaning eBook. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WIWW: Dressing for The Artist's Way

I'm co-hosting a virtual creative cluster for The Artist's Way with my dear friend, health coach Melissa Danielle (aka The Bad-Ass Blender Woman) starting Sunday, January 5. Would you like to join us?

What is The Artist's Way

In case you've never heard of it, The Artist's Way is a best-selling book written by Julia Cameron. It's a guide to living a full, happy life as a creative person. I think this review by Amazon explains it best:
With the basic principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Julia Cameron leads you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.
This book links creativity to spirituality by showing how to connect with the creative energies of the universe, and has, in the four years since its publication, spawned a remarkable number of support groups for artists dedicated to practicing the exercises it contains.
Having done the The Artist's Way twice, I can say it is intense, if nothing else. It asks questions and requires activities that dig into the soul. Doing so, I pulled out the beautiful parts (Universal Truths I'd learned to deny to fit in) that made me cry. I also discovered some grubby, twisted roots (limiting beliefs) that were scary to look at but required examination too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Best Hand Soap for Cold Season

Germs, germ, everywhere germs. Well, not really. Still, we should probably do our best to keep our hands clean so we don't pick up the latest cold or flu bug going around.

This means reaching for the best bottle of antibacterial hand wash, right? Wrong! There's no evidence that washing with antibacterial soaps decreases our risk of catching the cold or flu. Also triclosan is a pesticide that is the active ingredient in most antibacterial soaps.

Here's what the FDA says about triclosan:
Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
So the FDA is still studying whether triclosan is safe or not. Good news is you, me, and the kids who are our future get to be test subjects. Hooray!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to Make an eBook for Free

Last week I self-published my first eBook, Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning. Since then, a few people have asked me how I did it. Making an eBook isn't complicated and it can be totally free.

I got great guidance on how to do it from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. He wrote an amazingly helpful and FREE eBook called, eBooks: The Smart Way. I highly recommend you check it out and subscribe/follow Pat Flynn everywhere on social media. In addition to being brilliant, he's also one of the most pleasant internet personalities sharing this kind of information.

Here's an overview of what's involved in making your own eBook:

Pick a topic. 
  1. Choose something you either know a lot about or something you'd love to research. Your book should solve a question or problem for others. Alternatively, it could also fill a need or desire, especially if you're an artist or poet.
  2. Identify your audience. Who are you writing the book for? Get a clear picture. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Much Oil is in Your Food?- VIDEO

Watch (Fo)odometer to learn about the petroleum needed for conventional food processing, production, and packaging.

Some interesting things I learned from the video:
  • 10% of the energy used in the U.S. (100 billion gallons of oil) is used to grow food.
  • Add the energy used to process, market, and refrigerate this food and it shoots up to 17%.
  • Conventional tomatoes are picked when hard & green so that they can survive the average 1569 mile trip to storage warehouse. They are gased with hormones (synthetic, petroleum-based ethylene) to "ripen." (More on that here.)
  • Supermarket foods cost 50% more than those purchased via CSA.
  • 21% of the money goes to farmers when we purchase conventional foods. 100% of money spent on a CSA farm box subscription goes to the farmer.
This video reminded me of why eating locally-grown, unprocessed foods is so important,  just as important as choosing organic foods.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Simplest DIY Brown Sugar Body Scrub

This natural bath product goes from kitchen cabinet to Christmas tree in 10 minutes!

Buy one crappy tube of exfoliating "sugar scrub" at the drug store and it'll be something like $5. A jar of the real stuff can cost you $15 and up, especially if it's marketed as "natural", even if it's still got unhealthy synthetic fragrances in it.

I was inspired by this recipe for DIY Lavender Vanilla Sugar Scrub at Livin' the Crunchy Life to make a dozen 4oz jars for myself and my co-workers with mostly organic and fair trade ingredients for less than one jar of fancy stuff costs. I quadrupled the recipe for maximum gifting. 10 minutes from start to finish and I had gifts for everyone. Tis the season!

I'm not big on bath products, especially food ones, cuz I don't like taking the extra time to clean up the mess in the shower and oil makes me paranoid about slipping and falling to meet my early demise by DIY. Still, I enjoy using this every so often because it leaves my skin feeling moisturized and nourished right out of the shower.

You'll need:
  • 2 to 2.5c fair trade white sugar
  • 2 to 2.5c fair trade brown sugar or more white sugar
  • 1c your favorite plant-based oil. Olive oil is great if you have friends with nut allergies (and if you're just deciding to whip this up last minute like I did). That's what I used. Coconut oil isn't a good choice this time of year since it's cooling.
  • 40 drops (or less) of 1 to 3 kinds of your favorite combo of essential oils. I used lavender and found the molasses in the brown sugar took over the show in a mostly yummy way but there was a little riff between it and the lavender. Maybe next time I'll use something more complimentary like clove or cinnamon essential oils. If you stick with only white sugar it should surely smell more like the essential oils you use.
  • 2 to 3 handfuls of lavender flowers. A classy (optional) touch! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Meatless Monday: Epic Vegan Breakfast Sandwich, Pumpkin Smoothie & More

I've eaten a lot of good food lately and drooled over even more good food via the Internets. Here's a compilation of a few of the tastiest tasties I've oogled and gobbled today.

Baby eggplant.

Roasted Eggplant
I love eggplant and the simplest and healthiest way to enjoy it is roasted with a little olive oil. (Okay, steamed is healthier, but who really steams eggplant?) My grandma used to always fry it. I followed these instructions from Tori of The Shiska Kitchen. I then covered my eggplant with salt, black pepper, mild Spanish paprika, and lotsa lemon juice. Yummy cold, room temperature, and right outta the oven. It was just as good as fried eggplant.

Raw CraKaCa Salad
I basically followed the recipe for Lacinato Kale Salad with dried cranberries, cashews, apples, and curried dressing from Vegan Miam. I first made this on Thanksgiving. (I even included it in my Thanksgivukkah recipe roundup.) Yesterday I made it again and tweaked it a little. I changed it up by soaking raw cashews in water for a two hours before adding them to the salad. (I find nuts tastier and easier to chew that way.) I also remembered to buy cabbage this time around (such a great crunchy addition) and left out the curry because my guy hates curry. I think I like the flavor better without curry too! This made the most amazing bestover power lunch over quinoa.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Green Cleaning eBook is Here!

I'm proud to finally present to the world my first book! Meet Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning.

My house is dirty (ironically), my hair is BANANAS, and I ate veggie dogs with months-old frozen onion rings for dinner last night, but the book is done. It's out there and it feels great! I'm a PJs-by-9pm kinda gal but I uploaded the book to E-junkie at 3am last night and I was doing a happy dance.

It is amazing how energizing it is to complete a project or meet a goal! I feel free. I feel like I can do anything now.

Not meeting goals is the exact opposite feeling. My original deadline for the book was in October. I didn't prioritize completing it so- surprise- it didn't get done. I'd been feeling a slight drain on my energy and self-esteem since then. I have a dozen other things I'd like to accomplish this year (and we've only a few weeks to go), but a little voice in my head whispered "But you didn't even finish your book yet." It was a cross between an excuse to postpone those other projects and a nasty dig on my potential. Not completing this one project was endangering my ability to grow. I had to take action.

Friday, November 29, 2013

10 Things to Do Besides Shop

I used to buy things I didn't need.

Sometimes I shopped because I felt great and wanted to celebrate. I found $100 tucked away somewhere. I lost weight. I aced an exam. I was dating a hot new guy. I found something brilliant or beautiful for supercheap.

Mostly I shopped because I didn't feel good. I was lonely, bored, or aimless. I wanted to skip a meal. I was anxious because I had spare time between appointments. I wanted to have some reason for working long hours at a job I hated.

Call me un-American but I'm just going to go ahead and say these are all terrible reasons to buy stuff. Shopping for any reason other than the need to use the item or service you're purchasing is like scratching your head because your foot itches. It's just plain silly and doesn't do any good. I'm grateful that I learned this before I acquired mountains of crippling credit card debt and crap I don't need.

If you use shopping as a way to manage your moods, like I used to, here are ten healing and empowering things you can do besides shop. They all work really well for me.

  1. Get tea with a friend. Allow yourself to be healed by the lovefest that is hanging out with your best girlfriend or even someone amazing and new that you'd like to know better.
  2. Write and snail mail a thank you or just because note to someone you really appreciate. Who has time for handwritten notes these days? You do! That is when you don't waste time shopping!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to Brighten a Coffee & Tea Stained Mug

I love this mug. If you visit my house and I serve you a beverage in this mug, it means I love you too.

Ever since we started cleaning my mug in the dishwasher, I noticed it doesn't look as bright. The insides are have a dull brown tint. It is certainly not guest worthy.

Fortunately, I know of two easy ways to brighten up a coffee or tea stained mug without chlorine bleach or harsh chemicals.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

DIY Upcycled Christmas Tree Potpourri

At the start of the year, I made this easy natural potpourri using upcycled bits of my Christmas tree (collected before composting the rest of it) along with other seasonal kitchen scraps and spices. You can get a head start making Christmas tree potpourri by collecting scraps from a tree salesman or using the bits that will inevitably fall off your tree as you transport it into your home.

This recipe makes a small batch of potpourri (about a quart). Triple or quadruple the recipe and put into vintage-feeling mason jars to make fantastic holiday hostess gifts.

You'll need:
  • two branches from a small Christmas tree
  • dried clementine, orange, and/or tangerine peel (Hang peels to dry or just leave on the counter for a few days. I know from experience that both work equally well!)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • a small palm full of whole cloves
  • 2 cotton balls or pads
  • lemon essential oil
  • pine or cedar essential oil (I actually used Wondercide, a cedar oil natural insect repellant. It was great to get some off-season use for it!)
  • medium brown paper bag 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Meatless Monday: Healthy Holiday Eating Tips & A Vegan Eggnog Recipe

Last week, I attended Shira Hirshberg's Surviving the Holidays workshop at Momentum Fitness in Providence, RI. Shira is a registered dietitian with lots of practical tips for mostly healthy holiday eating. Here's what I learned:

Don't let the liquids fool you.
Drinks contain calories but not many nutrients. When you arrive at a party, drink plenty of water to first satisfy your thirst. Later move on to non-alcoholic beverages (sparkling grape juice contains 160 calories for 8 oz) and booze (vodka cranberry is 183 calories per serving) more selectively.

Work the room.
This is a two part strategy. First, survey everything in the buffet. This will help you make an informed decision about which things you'd like to eat and in what amounts before you start loading it up. The second part of the strategy is to stand at least an arm's distance from the snack table to prevent mindless snacking.

Get your plate right.
At least half of your plate should be high-nutrient, low-calorie veggies like leafy greens (kale, collards, salad greens) and green beans. The veggies part of the plate is unlimited refills section so go wild. The other two quarters are protein (beans or tofu) and starch (winter squash, sweet potatoes, peas, rice, millet, bread, pasta).

A healthy holiday plate

Thursday, November 21, 2013

5 Ways to Reheat Food Without a Microwave

Whether you have broken up with your microwave to protect the nutritional value of your foods or just to save counter space, you shouldn't be condemned to a life of cold leftovers. Here are some simple ways to warm food without nuking it.

Use steam to reheat foods that were originally cooked in water or steamed. It's ideal for rice, quinoa, pasta, dumplings, and plain veggies. Don't steam foods you want to be crispy or saucy foods.
Place food in a bamboo steamer or stainless steel steam basket. Put that into a saucepan or pot that has about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water. Using medium-low heat, allow the steam rising from the boiling water to heat your food. Most foods will heat in just a few minutes using this method.

Reheat beans, soups, gravies, and saucy foods that don't need to be crispy in a saucepan on the stove top over low or medium heat. Warm cereals like oatmeal can be reheated the same way, but you should stir often and add a splash of water or your favorite milk to keep it from burning.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to Clean Stinky Uggs Boots

I was reading Leslie Reichert's book The Joy of Green Cleaning and discovered this treat for winter feet: Ugg Boot Deodorizer.

All you need is baking soda, corn starch, and your favorite essential oil to make this all natural boot freshener.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meatless Monday: Gluten-Free, Vegan & Kosher Thanksgivukkah Recipes

Thankgivukkah, the first and only Thanksgiving and Hanukkah of our lifetime, is coming soon! Use this guide to prepare yourself to host guests with various health, ethical, and religious dietary restrictions. Learn the restrictions of gluten-free, vegan, and kosher diets. Enjoy a cornucopia of delicious seasonal holiday recipes that celebrate the abundance available to an intersection of all three groups. 

What is Gluten-Free?
A gluten-free diet (GF diet) is a diet that excludes foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, and rye. Oats may also sometimes contain gluten because of cross-contamination in processing.

Foods made from grains and grain-like plants that do not contain harmful gluten include: corn (corn flour, corn meal, grits); rice (white, brown, basmati); amaranth; buckwheat (kasha); Montina; millet; quinoa; teff; and sorghum. All meats, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, legumes (including soy), nuts, and seeds are also gluten-free in their natural, unprocessed forms.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hot Pink, Hot Dog & Hot Phone Bill Savings!

It's not Wednesday anymore but I still wanna share what I wore yesterday with you. It's been pretty cold here so no more outdoor photos. Welcome to my living room!

I'm wearing a sweater with a run in it that I "fixed" last year by stitching a patch of felt behind the hole. (Still strong and even hipper now!) And the hat and boots I will not remove until March.

We have a special guest at my house this month: Meet my mom's dog, Cocoa! She's staying here until my mom feels better. We're happy to have her. (Ok, maybe not our cat Lucy.)

Hat: Handmade by Nirvana Designs in Nepal via Exit 9 // Hair: chunky two strand twists, which used to be more of a pre-style for me, a prelude to a twist out or smaller twists. Lately, I'm starting to love wearing my hair like this all week. // Earrings: "Mali" by Laurel Burch // Sweater: Express // Tee: H & M // Skirt: Silence + Noise // Leggings: F21 // Boots: DSW

In other news, my Verizon smart phone contract ends tomorrow so I signed up for Skype. For $7 a month I have a phone number people can reach me at when I'm online or connected to WiFi or leave a voicemail for me when I'm offline. I can also make unlimited calls to US & Canada.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Unlazy Natural Acne-Prone Skin Care Routine

I haven't been very proactive when it comes to skin care, but I'm now determined to overcome my struggle with acne. Here's a brief history of the things I've tried.

The Oil Cleansing Method
Yes, I rubbed oil on my skin to correct acne. Seems silly but it works for so many people. My skin didn't look much different after a month. (I blogged my before and after.)

Birth Control Pills
I've been taking Ortho-tricyclen off and on since I was 19. The hormones always successfully clear my skin within weeks. I look amazing! Sadly, as soon as I stop taking them, the acne returns in about a month.

I'd prefer not to take birth control pills because I have a family history of cancer and cancer and extra hormones are besties. Still, sometimes people do stupid things for immediate solace and I am no exception.

Weird thing is this year each of the three different types of birth control pills I tried (ortho tricyclen, ortho tricyclen lo and ortho-cept) caused me to have a million side effects including 21 EFFING DAYS of menstruation every month for 8 months!!!

About two months ago, I finally had enough and stopped taking the pills. Of course, my zits came back. I decided to get unlazy (to borrow my friend Savi's term) and put some effort into keeping a simple skin care routine and see what happened.

Here's what I do now:

Friday, November 8, 2013

12 Germ Fighting Essential Oils & DIY Purifying Spray

Here's a list of a dozen germ fighting essential oils. They can be used in an aromatherapy diffuser or in a DIY air and surface purifying spray.

Non-toxic homekeeping heroine, Annie B. Bond explains how to make a germ-killing disinfecting mist by adding 4-8 drops of essential oils to 1 cup of water. You can spray hard or non-staining soft surfaces with it or mist the air. This makes a wonderful alternative to potentially harmful Lysol products, most of which have significant skin damage, development, and respiratory hazards.

A diffuser dispenses the essential oils into the air. Aromatherapist Joan Apter recommends beginning by diffusing oils for 15-30 minutes a day. As you become accustomed to the oils and recognize their effects, you can increase the diffusing time to 1-2 hours.

Before using this list, I recommend reading Germs: Understand and protect against bacteria, viruses and infection, just to get clear on the differences between those things. 

Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum) is anti-infectious, anti-bacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral and antifungal.

Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) is antiseptic and antibacterial.

Clove (Syzgium aromaticum) is one of the most antimicrobial and antiseptic.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus lemon and eucalyptus radiata) is anti-infectious, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant and anti-inflammatory.

Lavender is anti-bacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal.

Lemon Oil (citrus limon) is anti-bacterial.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flixuosus) is highly antifungal.

Myrtle (Myrtus communis) is antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal.

Pine is antibiotic and antiseptic.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is antiseptic and antimicrobial.

Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternafolia, ericfolia or quinquenervia) is anti-bacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal.

Thyme oil (Thymus vulgaris) is anti-bacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal.

Purchase essential oils and diffuser at Mountain Rose Herbs via my affiliate link to earn e-Hugs!

Reference: The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Wanna keep nerding out about creative green living? Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hard Water 101: What it is, How to Tell if You Have it & How to Live with it

Hard water literally means water that is "hard" or difficult to create lather or suds in when using soap or even detergent. This is cause by higher mineral content in the water. Folks who live in mountainous regions or use well water usually have hard water, but according to Borax website, over 85% of homes have at least slightly hard water.

Jolie Kerr, The Hairpin's Ask a Clean Person columnist offers this wonderful description of hard water:
Hard water contains a high mineral count. It's not harmful to humans, though it is harmful to machinery in that those minerals build up, leaving what's called "scale" or "fouling" — colloquially, we often refer to it as scum. Hard water also doesn't play as nicely with soap as does soft water, resulting in a distinct lack of lather without the aid of a water softener designed to reduce the calcium, magnesium and etc etc etc minerals that are found in hard water.

A sure way to know if you have hard water is to contact your local municipal water supplier. (Find them via Google.) They should have a water quality report on their website or available by request. They could probably answer your hard water question over the phone too.

Hard water can't affect your health but it can make life a little difficult, especially when you're trying to wash clothes. Borax website explains: "When you add detergent to hard water, some of the detergent combines with the calcium and magnesium granules that settle to the bottom of the washing machine, where it washes harmlessly down the drain without cleaning your clothes."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guide to Naturally Fabulous Fall Hair

Guest post by Joanna Puciata, founder of http://healandglow.com/.

From pool, to sun, to chemical treatment (and here I mean shampooing and conditioning, not just coloring), straighteners and curlers, your hair is probably screaming bloody murder. Add to it humidity or cold temperatures, and your once beautiful hair seems in need of a major makeover every day, no matter what you do to it.

All the blondes suffer from the "sun-dried syndrome." The luster is gone, the color becomes grayish and every strand seems to be going in different direction unless you torture your hair with anti-frizz conditioner, styling product, heat resistant product, serum and finally a hair spray. Oh, don't forget the flat iron...

Brunettes? Not really sure, but I take it you probably suffer too. Extreme humidity coupled with heat and cold from constant air conditioning or cold temperatures with dry, heated air puts you far away from the Hollywood gorgeousness.

So what can you do to revive your hair?

1. Nourish yourself everyday. When you eat consciously and purposely every cell in your body becomes healthier and more beautiful. That goes for skin, hair and nails as well. Your outside body parts are a reflection of your lifestyle habits. Mineral depleted body produces weak, easily breakable, dull hair. Eat well and the hair becomes bouncier, thicker, and stronger.

2. Take care of your liver. Liver toxicity is responsible for weakened immune system, skin break-outs, slowly growing hair. Each year your liver accumulates about 5 pounds of toxins just from the cosmetics you use. All the parabens, sulfates, fragrances, colors doesn't just get rinsed off with the shower water. They get absorbed through the skin and into the liver where they sit patiently waiting for a detox and fiber.

3. Establish a Weekly Beauty Routine. Remember what I always say; having a spa experience once in a lifetime is great and quickly forgotten, but doing small things consistently every day or every week is what brings you the desired results. And the only way to be able to afford that is to do it yourself using simple pantry ingredients.

  • Make a small investment and buy an inexpensive heating cap. The heat will open-up the hair shaft allowing for deeper and speedier conditioning.
  • Use organic shampoos and conditioners, skipping all those chemicals. Make sure to read the labels. If you are sensitive or allergic to something you eat, you will also be affected by it in a cosmetic form. (Learn about the ingredients in products you use via EWG's Skin Deep cosmetics database.)
  • Look around for an organic hair stylist in your area to color your hair with gentler colors.
  • Treat your hair. For each treatment put plastic wrap around your head and go about your business for 30 minutes or better yet use the heating cap and relax. Wash as usual.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Rich Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fresh Pears from Cooking With CSA

Guest post from Sarah & Peter of Cooking with CSA, a kid-friendly plant-based, gluten-free seasonal recipe subscription service.

Today we’re sharing a recipe that is gluten-free and vegan… but don’t get scared off!

Gluten-free does NOT mean: weird, gross, boring, dry, plain or hard to make! It DOES mean: no wheat (all species), barley and rye.

Some people are allergic and some people- like us- just feel better when we avoid it.

This cake is so delicious we know when you make it you’ll come find us and tell us how good you think it is. The best part about this cake is there is no frosting. The reason that is a good thing is because:
  1. Frosting is a pain in the butt to make!
  2. Frosting is super unhealthy
Rich Chocolate Cake with Fresh Pears

Continue reading for full recipe.

Friday, November 1, 2013

How to Keep Headphones Neat & Untangled - VIDEO

I've decided November is all about making my life less complicated and more organized. To this end, I have two things to share:

Firstly, I am now posting my blog related videos on my personal YouTube channel along with my nerdy home movies. Starting now all my videos will be shared there. It just makes sense for me to use one account instead of wasting time logging in and out of different profiles. (Don't worry, I won't remove any videos from the Olivia Cleans Green channel. I just won't be adding any content there going forward.)

Secondly, I posted a new video: How to Keep Headphones Neat & Untangled. No more pulling your headphones from your purse in a jumbled mess! You can also use this wrap for the USB cord.

What choices have you made lately to simplify your life?

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Wanna keep nerding out about creative green living? Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

That Sugary Treat is a Trick

Sugar is bad for me, you, your kids, your neighbors' kids, everybody. You don't need me to tell you this. But I am reminding you of this, especially today on Halloween, because I want you to make informed choices. Keep reading to find out why it's bad for us and to learn how to reduce sugar in your diet.
When you eat sugary things like candy and snacks or savory things made with refined or simple carbs (white potatoes, white pasta, white rice, white bread), your body breaks it down into something it can understand and use- glucose, a source for energy.

Your pancreas responds to glucose by creating insulin. Insulin moves the glucose into cells to be used as fuel. Good job, insulin!

The downside is if you've popped a ton of candy corn into your face, you've got way more glucose than your cells need. The insulin then just turns the extra glucose into fat so you can use it later.

Fat is your body's way of carrying around a doggie bag. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, you'll probably never have an emergency where you need those leftovers.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do You Blog Your Hobby?

I just scheduled my first class, Blog Your Hobby, at Learning Connection in Providence, RI. Here's the description:
Have you been dreaming of sharing your crafty creations, culinary adventures, or fabulous fashion with the world? You need a blog! During this class, you'll use the simple Blogger platform to create and launch a free blog that lets your passion shine. You’ll also learn how to create compelling content and use social media to attract readers. (Register here)
I don't know about you but I'm so looking forward to this! I love the philosophy of local peer education. I love that I'll be empowering people to put themselves out into the global community where they'll be able to educate and inspire others by being their authentic selves, just doing what they love. It will be so rad!

My Blog Your Hobby class is designed to enable anyone who knows how to use internet to create a blog. During class we will cover:
  • What is a blog?
  • Building a blog
  • Creating a post
  • Creating a page
  • Understanding social media
  • Using social media
  • Integrating social media with your blog
  • Connecting readers with your content

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cranberry Pear BFF Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Most of us are no stranger to the pear-cranberry connection. Every autumn, we begin to find it in pies, granola, stuffing, even cocktails. It's the t-shirt and jeans of cool season foods: pretty darned awesome but so classic it can easily be taken for granted.

But this a combination to truly be grateful for. Pears have a tremendous amount of fiber and aren't too shabby with the vitamin C either. Cranberries have high concentrations of vitamin C, dietary fiber, manganese and vitamin K and help prevent UTIs.

Let's celebrate the combination of sweet and tart with this warming cranberry pear steel cut oatmeal that will make you fall in love with the pairing all over again.

Friday, October 25, 2013

How to Hand Wash Garments the Easy Way

I loathe washing garments by hand. For this reason, the clothing in my wardrobe falls into three categories: machine washable, things that officially aren't machine washable but I put in the wash anyway, and sports bras.

Oh sports bras! I only own two. I could buy more, but I don't enjoy undergarment shopping so that leaves me with three other choices:
  • Go braless some days. (Hello itchy nipples!)
  • Wear the same skanky bra. (Ew!)
  • Don't exercise more than twice between laundry sessions.  (I'm studying health & wellness so I know that's not the best idea.)
Okay, I guess there's a fourth option: Wash my sports bra by hand. My inner child wants to throw a temper tamtrum at the very thought of it. At least she used to. That was before I cracked the lazy girl code for hand washing. Wanna know my secret?

Hand wash delicate garments in the shower.
(Click here to tweet this "secret"!)

Seriously. I don't know about you but I love a long shower after I exercise. When I hand wash my sports bra in the shower the reward is built into the chore. So fun! Plus, I was gonna take a shower anyway and it takes two minutes extra at most.

I just rinse the sports bra under water. Then I squeeze liquid soap onto it. I use my tea tree face soap, which is nice because it's got antibacterial (and therefor funk fighting) properties. I rub the soap into it a little. Rinse. Squeeze out the water. And finally hang it from the shower head to dry. (If you're washing something super delicate that can't be squeezed just roll it in your bath towel and squeeze that to remove excess water before hanging.)

Do you love or loathe hand washing? Would you wash your clothes in the shower? 

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Wanna keep nerding out about creative green living? Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to Load and Clean a Dishwasher

I'm super persnickety. One area of my life where this manifests daily is in the loading of the dishwasher. I like to strategically arrange the dishes and bowls so that every centimeter of space is maximized. I officially do this to save water and energy, but a big reason is because it's just plain fun!

I wish my plates were this colorful! Image via SmallNotebook.org, specifically the great post: 5 Tips to Improve Your Dishwasher.

Personal quirks aside, there is somewhat of a real science behind loading the dishwasher. Seventh Generation's blog features awesome tips on how to load a dishwasher.

My favorite tip is: "Don't prewash dishes! The enzymes in dish detergent need a place to work, and food particles provide the work site."

That's great news because unless I've had previous problems with a specific food I just scrape off any food remains before putting the dish (into the perfect spot) in the dishwasher.  My dishes almost always come out clean so clearly that tip is spot on. (Pun intended.)

When my dishes stop coming out clean or the washer smells a little funky, I know it's time to clean the dishwasher. Here's a simple, green way to clean your dishwasher:
  1. Start with an empty dishwasher.
  2. Wash the drain attachment in warm sudsy water. (I never do this because my dishwasher drain thingy doesn't come out.)
  3. If the utensil basket is attached to the door, remove it and clean behind it. Also, use an old toothbrush to scrub food out of any nooks. Replace basket.
  4. Throw 1 cup white vinegar into the dishwasher. 
  5. Run the dishwasher on high heat, deep cleaning setting.
  6. Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda over the floor of the dishwasher. 
  7. Let it sit overnight.
  8. Run the machine once again.
  9. You've now got yourself a clean machine! 
I learned this process from Melissa Maker at Clean My Space. Check out her How to Clean Your Smelly Dishwasher video. Don't you totally just wanna hang out with her?!

And, cuz I care, here are some non toxic ways to keep stainless steel dishwashers clean and shiny.

I use Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Powder. I'm happy to know it scored an A on Environmental Working Group's Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Check out EWG's safety ratings of various dishwasher detergents to see how yours stacks up.

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Wanna keep nerding out about creative green living? Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WIWW: What I Wrote Wednesday

Today's guest blogger is 7 year old me. This is what I wrote in my diary on December 27, 1986.

An exclusive look into my diary. Hee hee!

I love the sun! But that has nothing to do with I'm write. I lik when me and cupcakes play ball, play house, play dress up, and ressul. Cupcakes likes a cocaspanya But Cupcakes dosent know I'm writing this and who ever heard of a talking reading dog. Nobody so Let's not Bhodir Bother.

I'm impressed by my cursive!
That was the second entry in my diary. The first was written on Christmas but didn't give the best impression of my mother so I figured I'd skip that one.

I will, however, share my "diet food" recipe from the Christmas entry. It's actually still really yummy! (I'm rephrasing it so it's easier to understand.)
  1. Stick a candy cane into a lemon half so that the juice ends up on the candy cane. 
  2. Suck it and enjoy the seriously delicious explosion of sweet and sour!
Did you keep a diary when you were a child?

This post was inspired by Charlotte of Chartreuth's adorable entry, "My first blog." 

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Wanna keep nerding out about creative green living? Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I am amazing! (So are you!)

Say it with me, "I am amazing!" How about adding, "I love and accept myself exactly the way I am right now."


Why not?! You are amazing and superloveable! And apparently self-love is a key ingredient in reaching personal fulfillment.

I didn't come up with this. Louise Hay has been helping people heal traumas and enjoy life by prescribing daily affirmations of self-love for decades. So have many other self-help experts.

While all that self-love stuff can sound kinda ridiculous, last night Nick Ortner of The Tapping Solution pointed out what the opposite of self-love sounds like:

"You suck. You're dumb. You can't do anything right. Why do you even bother trying? You know you will fail."

That's pretty supereffing ridiculous! Most of us wouldn't say that to anyone else. Unfortunately many of us have said these things to ourselves. I know I have. Some especially bad days it's been my entire inner dialogue.

Nick says this abusive dialogue makes it difficult for us to achieve our goals. He compared it to baseball. When a team is playing at their home stadium, they are cheered and encouraged by the energy and love of the crowd. They are more likely to win. This is the home court advantage. The "away team" is at a disadvantage because most people are booing them and wishing for their failure.

No person is perfect. We all make mistakes and bad choices, big and small. One key to success is to make the courageous step to recognize and accept our imperfections. We must then give ourselves love and support while we move forward towards our goals.

If we fail to move on with self-compassion and instead choose beat ourselves up, we are truly wasting time. Jeering ourselves also increases stress which, in addition to being unhealthy, makes it harder to think and get things done effectively and efficiently.

We've got to acknowledge we all have unique gifts and deserve the pleasure of sharing that with the world. Let's be loving, forgiving, and encouraging to ourselves so we can make it happen!

Do you treat yourself like you are the home team or the away team? What's one way you can commit to cheer yourself today? 

<3 Here are some free tapping (EFT) audios from The Tapping Solution to help you relieve stress. <3 

Thanks so much for reading this blog entry! I hope it was helpful. Wanna keep nerding out about creative green living? Let's stay connected: Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin' // YouTube
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