Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm back!


I know it's been a while since I've posted....and I do apologize for neglecting my new little hobby....I hope you'll forgive me!  I decided to revamp my blog a little to give it some more structure and organization (two things I love in life!).  If you're new to this blog, welcome.  I'm mainly trying to share things I've found to be fabulous in the areas of food, creativity (a.k.a DIY and Homemade goodness), and simple living.

I have enjoyed posting and I do home you'll continue reading.  In an effort to use my new 'Pages' I'm posting about a wonderful thing you may or may not know about...Soap Nuts.  They are really great and the info about them is under the 'Natural Cleaning' page.  Please feel free to send me links that you like or even share my blog with others!

Happy reading!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Produrre: Produce

Today's blog is in the theme of one of my latest loves: PRODUCE! The name is in Italian in honor of my sis Hannah!

I recently have been loving fresh veggies and fruits and wanted to share a little of what I've learned through this affair! First, it is the best possible thing to crave when prego, as (generally speaking) most things in this category are very low-cal and super packed with goodness. This year is our first year with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share from a local organic farm. It has been quite an adventure as we go to pick up veggies and get to pick herbs, strawberries, and peas. I am surprised each time at the difference in quality from the store and pleasantly surprised with the significant difference in taste and freshness.

Growing up in KS I learned a lot about gardening and farms through friends of ours and through some gardening adventures of our own. We grew lots of yummy veggies with friends and went to pick veggies or were given veggies from other farms as well. I learned as a child to enjoy eating fresh food and to prefer that over processed stuff (good job Mom!). However, I also learned that, when purchased in the store, fresh stuff is expensive.

In the last two years (and while living in Costa Rica before that) I learned to cherish the goods of seasonal foods. Eating what is in season and in doing so paying less and getting fresher foods. In the US we are used to getting whatever we want whenever we want it! As a result our supermarkets are made for our every convenience. This sometimes includes foods that have traveled farther in their lifespan than I probably ever will in mine! One has to begin to question what is put into these little delicacies to make them last through such a trip and how is it that they are still fresh for an entire week in my fridge after purchase?

I do not presume to have all knowledge on such topics, but here I want to share some info about pesticides and other things that are added to fresh produce to make them last. First, you may already know that most things in the produce section (and beyond) of your grocery store have been coated with a wax or barrier of some sort for preservation.

"Fresh fruits and vegetables coated with some type of wax include citrus fruits, apples, pears, bananas, apricots, melons, avocados, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, rutabagas, squash, peppers, eggplant and potatoes. Waxes used for this purpose range from the familiar paraffin to beeswax, rice bran wax and carnauba wax extracted from the young leaves of the Brazilian palm. Even dried fruits may be coated with a layer of wax or oil to retard further moisture loss." (

This process allows little enough oxygen to keep the produce from rotting too quickly, and just enough to keep it from going bad because of the coating. This isn't altogether bad, if we knew what exactly is used in these waxes. The process itself is not one that is harmful to us, however many companies refuse to be transparent about what's in their waxes or coatings keeping us from knowing what we are ingesting. Some are coated in animal-based waxes, which are not necessarily great for eating, so just something to consider. In an effort to avoid these you can either be very diligent about washing (multiple times with an organic produce spray or soap) before eating, or buying from a local selection that does not concern themselves with such things, e.g. farmers market, etc.

The other concern with produce is pesticides and their toxic residue that are absorbed by the plants and food. In the case of pesticides knowledge is power. The FDA holds that they are safe in small quantities, however there are many studies that dispute this, finding that they could possibly be linked to problems ranging from ADD to cancer. I personally would rather reduce my exposure whenever possible. These is a list (or many lists I should say) of veggies and fruits that have higher levels, sometimes even retaining 40-60% of the pesticides and then ones that are relatively low and therefore not as vital to eat pesticide-free.

Here's my version of that list:

“Dirty” (produce that is high in pesticides if not bought organic)

1. Peach

2. Apple

3. Bell pepper

4. Celery

5. Nectarine

6. Strawberry

7. Cherries

8. Kale

9. Lettuce

10. Grapes

11. Carrot

12. Pear

13. Potato

14. Spinach

15. Cucumbers

16. Winter Squash

17. Green Beans

18. Cantaloupe

19. Apricots

“Clean” (produce that does not absorb many of the pesticides if bought non-organic)

1. Onion

2. Avocado

3. Sweet corn

4. Pineapple

5. Mango

6. Asparagus

7. Sweet peas

8. Kiwi

9. Cabbage

10. Eggplant

11. Papaya

12. Watermelon

13. Broccoli

14. Tomato

15. Sweet potato

16. Cauliflower

17. Brussels Sprouts

18. Banana (be sure to clean the skin before eating!)

(Made in part with info from

I would like to add that eating a fruit or veggie free of pesticides does not necessarily require buying organic. If you are in a conventional grocery store you can assume that if it does not say 'Organic' it has been exposed to pesticides in some quantity (usually large). However, if you go to a farmers market or farm stand you can speak to the people who work at the farm and find out if they use pesticides with their plants. The process for a farmer to be certified organic is quite extensive, so many of them do not have the time or funds to be able to be certified. In any case if they can tell you that they do not use any pesticides or that the particular crop you are buying is pesticide free that is better than nothing!

I won't get into any other types of foods today, but keep in mind that any animal protein you eat (chicken, turkey, beef, etc) also has in it whatever was fed to that animal, so pesticides have a role there as well. If you choose to buy locally for these things I suggest asking the farmer what he/she uses to feed the livestock or consider buying from a puritan community who are typically against using anything unnatural (chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, etc.) in anything they grow, eat, sell or make.

So, happy eating! Tomorrow my goal is to share some super yummy seasonal recipes that I have tested and love. Please sign in and comment (or email me) if you have one that you'd like to share!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Naturally Healthy

Hello all!

Sorry for the delay in my first blog, I have had a cold since the day after starting this little site, so life has been a little crazy. In light of my recent illness I thought what better topic than safe, healthy, ways to stay or get better when there are germs everywhere! This isn't exactly cold season, but apparently in our house the germs got confused.

So often when we are sick our first desire to just get better FAST. Not that this desire is wrong, but often it is a little far fetched, especially if you want to do things more naturally. There are tons of get-better-quick promises and schemes out there from the medicine side of things, but these are not always the best option. Before you go crazy thinking I'm totally against conventional medicine, I do occasionally take Tylenol (that's all that's allowed to us Pregos), and I have been known to get desperate and down some Day-time/Night-time cold meds. However, as that is not currently an option for me and baby-in-utero, I have been trying out some new things and some have been quite helpful.

First, when you have sinus/head congestion sort of sickness it is imperative to keep your nostrils moist, this fights against the spreading of germs and inhibits their growth. You may have seen those handy little contraptions called Neti Pots on the market, those do just that. When I first heard about them I was discouraged because they sound wonderful, but they do cost money, and money was not something I had in plenty at the time. I found, however that I had three extra nasal aspirators (the things that suck the nasty stuff out of the baby's nose) - so I decided to use a clean one for my own make-shift neti pot experience.

I started with a small bowl about half full of warm, but not hot, filtered water (you can boil water if you do not have a filter, just PLEASE let it cool before using!), and a small amount of sea salt. I would say if you have about a half cup of water you should only use about a half teaspoon of salt. You don't want too much burning, but you can experiment some with more or less. You then lean your head of a sink tilting 90 degrees to the right (your ear should be parallel to the sick) and spray a steady stream into your left nostril. This stream should run out the other nostril, but if you are already severely congested it will drain out the same side. Be sure to breath in through your nose as you do this (kind of like snorting it in), so that you get it deep into your sinuses. If some runs down your throat just spit it out. Repeat on the other side. This is excellent to do at least twice a day, and really even better if you start doing it a few times a week while you are healthy as a preventative measure.

The other issue I faced this past week was a severe sore throat. Now, the combination of sore throat and clogged nose does not make for good sleep (and usually produces snoring, which disrupts everyone around!) or breathing, so this issue I find is harder to be patient with. However, there are some good, safe ways to ease the pain and make it more manageable as your immune system does its stuff! A few of my favorites are following:

1. Gargle!!! :) This is probably what your mom made you do as a child with a sore throat, and if not, I am jealous. Gargling is particularly unpleasant when you are pregnant and have a super high gag reflex! There are two really good solutions to use for gargling. 1. Good old salt water - some kind of combo of about 3/4 cup warm filtered water and 1 tablespoon salt will do the trick (I never measure, just eyeball it and hope that it's not too disgusting!). 2. This is my new one I just found out about and it worked wonders! Warm filtered water and apple cider vinegar. The ratio is the same at the salt water mixture, but the vinegar apparently kills the bacteria on contact (or so I've been told). This second mixture seemed to help me more than the first, so I would suggest trying it!

2. Hot tea - this is a much more pleasant way to deal with a sore throat. There are teas out there that are natural or Organic that treat sore throats in particular, but I found one courtesy of my good friend, that worked wonders for me. If you have access to a farm or farmers market (or even some grocery stores have this herb) buy some fresh Lemon Balm. This is a wonderful herb! Boil about two cups of water on the stove with 6-8 washed Lemon Balm leaves in the water. When the water boils cover the pot and take it off the heat. Let the tea steep for about 10-15 minutes. When it is done steeping squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the pot and put 2 tablespoons honey in. This is probably two small mugs worth, or one enormous mug! Enjoy. Lemon and Honey are both excellent, natural helps for a sore throat. Mint tea is also a good choice along with green tea or chamomile! (herbs are important to buy organic when possible as they are often treated with pesticides and other nasty stuff just like produce).

3. Hot milk - usually people say that milk is something to avoid with mucus, although I am in no way a medical professional, my research has produced many such professionals saying that this is not necessarily the case. As in any profession not all medical personnel agree on such things. I, however, have tested and had great results with warm milk while dealing with such a sickness. My favorite combination is a mug of warm milk (warmed on the stove if possible, but be careful to stir frequently and do NOT boil!) with 2 tablespoons of honey. Another wonder-worker is warm milk with a teaspoon or two of tumeric (an herb that apparently has wonderful immune-boosting power). I would not suggest using sugar, as it tends to not aid much in the immune category and is generally not all that good for you.

4. A spoonful of honey - yes, it does help the medicine go down (hehe), but if used in moderation can also do some wonders for immediately (and temporarily) soothing a sore throat. Just fill a small table spoon with honey and eat it. Pretty simple. It's wonderful right in the morning when sleeping with your mouth hanging open all night has left you super dry and sore. Again, as honey is a sweet and lovely treat, it may be tempting to do this frequently, but please use in moderation as it is not something you want to be eating my the spoonful all day long!

One last thing that works wonders for sickness is a little oil called Tea Tree Oil. I grew up hating this stuff, because it seemed like my mom used it to fix all ailments I ever had, however now I truly appreciate it and hope to one day cause my children to hate it as much as I did! There are many ways to use this oil from directly applying it an open wound, to mixing it with water, baking soda and lemon juice for a wonderful disinfectant. I do not have time to get into them all here, so I will tell you the way I used it for my purposes this week. It is wonderful to use in a steam bath (bowl of boiling water - you sit over it with a towel making a tent over your head, close your eyes and breath alternating through your nose and mouth. Use about 6-8 drops of Tea Tree Oil in a medium sized bowl of boiling water). Also in a regular bath. I used about 8 drops of Tea Tree Oil and 3-6 drops of Grapefruit oil in a fairly warm bath - keeping the curtain closed to try to keep in the steam and just breath! It is refreshing and also very helpful with the sore muscles that may accompany your ailment. *I feel the need to mention that these are essential oils and should also be purchased in their purest form as such and not as any other concoction (such as massage oil, body oil, etc).

My last thoughts about sickness are this: if you do indeed want to try to be more natural then remember that our bodies are made to fight sickness and let them do their job! If you are generally fairly healthy and a cold will not send you into the hospital, then patiently let your body do its work and just think how super strong your immune system is getting in the meantime! REST as much as possible. Try to relax and do not attempt to continue life as normal. Give yourself as much time as necessary to recover. I am in no way assuming myself to be a giver of medical advice, so please do not use this blog as such! I would love to hear your solutions to cold issues as well!

Until next time,


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why am I doing this?

Dear friends, family, and readers (at least the imaginary ones that I hope to someday have):
This blog is a first step in sharing what our life has been about in making some serious changes in how we do things. We have been transitioning throughout the last few years (and really the influence started WAY before that) into a more natural lifestyle. I don't say 'Organic' persay, because while that's a part of it our motivation is not to eat/drink/slather on things that only have 'Organic' printed on the label. It is about living a more natural life. Doing/eating/drinking/wearing,etc things in their more natural state.
I looked up the definition for 'Organic' today and found that is means (thanks to :
adj: of, relating to, derived from, or characteristic of living plants and animals. [also] developing naturally.
This is what our life is about. Participating in a more natural state of life. Right now it involves a one-year old, mama, dad, and baby-in-womb. So, welcome to our journey! I will use this blog to give support, suggestions, advice, and to just share as we walk and learn on this natural journey. I will do my best to give you the best info available, but I am not perfect and I am always learning new things, so please feel free to fill me in on some discrepancies you may see in the midst of my writins.
Thanks for reading and I hope to add lots of new and fun info in the future (starting tomorrow!)