DIY Homemade Handy-Wipes

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Ditch the hand-sanitizer and those old-fashioned lemony Handi-Wipes.  I've got a super simple, frugal and chemical-free way to clean those sticky fingers and loads of other messes! Yup, make your own wipes!  And it's way easier than you think.

DIY Homemade Handy-Wipes

Supplies:

1 tbsp

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap

2 drops Tea Tree Oil

1 drop Lavender Essential Oil

1/2 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

1 Cup Water

Small Baby Wash Cloths

Water Tight Container

Instructions:

So pour all ingredients into a water tight container.  I used a square glass container with a lid.  Seal your container and shake until all your ingredients are well mixed and bubbly.  You'll notice that I didn't indicate how many wash cloths to use.  This really is dependent on the size of your container and the thickness of your cloths. I think I used about 20 or so, but I wasn't really counting.  Start by folding your cloths so that they fit into your container. Then stack one on top of the other until you can't possibly fit anymore in.  Now if your cloths on top are bone dry, you may need to add more of the wipe mixture.  Just simply mix up another batch and add just enough to the top to ensure the cloths are damp.

Then seal with your lid and leave on the counter.  These cloths work wonders for sticky hands and faces on kids and grown-ups.  Just keep them away from your eyes.  I have even wiped off my table, counters and stove top too. All you need is a little bucket or wet bag to store your used wipes before tossing them in the laundry.  And you can even throw a few in a Ziploc bag in your purse for your travel wipe needs!

The combination of soap and essential oils cleans beautifully and the little bit of almond oil helps keep your skin soft.  The tea tree oil is antibiotic, anti-fungal and antiseptic so it's perfect for all kinds of dirtiness. And since I already had a ton of wash cloths hanging around from our diapering days, these homemade Handy-Wipes cost next to nothing to make! Plus you'll be helping the environment and avoiding lots of nasty chemicals.

10 Amazing Uses for Castile Soap



Are you cupboards overflowing with bottles and jars of cleaners, soaps and other concoctions?  Why not replace just about everything with one amazing bottle?  Yup, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap definitely is miraculous!  I don't know why, but I only recently made the switch and I can't believe the never ending uses for this soap!
Citrus Orange Castile Liquid Soap - 32 oz.
Castile Soap is made from  plant oils and it's gentle on you and the environment because it's free from harsh cleansers, artificial foaming agents, petrochemicals or chemical anti-bacterial agents.  And since liquid Castile Soaps are made from plants, they're vegan and also biodegradable. So ya, it's pretty amazing stuff and you'll be surprised by what you can replace in your house with just one bottle of this magic soap!


10 Amazing Uses for Castile Soap


  1. Body Wash - a little goes a long way.  I keep a container of diluted version in the shower and it lathers wonderfully; leaving my skin clean & soft.
  2. Car Wash - it leaves a great shine from hood to trunk.
  3. Dog Wash - yup, good for your fur babies too!
  4. Dish Detergent - again, a great cleaner for your after dinner messes
  5. Hand Soap - fill up your old foaming hand soap bottles with a diluted version and you'll be amazed by this all natural cleanser.
  6. Shampoo - yes, I've used it head to toe and it works on all your parts!
  7. Multi-purpose Cleaner - again, dilute a bit of this fab soap and you can clean just about anything
  8. Fruit & Veggie Wash - add a drop or two into a full sink and get those veggies clean!
  9. Baby Wash - yes it's even gentile enough to use on your kids. Dr. Bronner's does make a kids version that's unscented, but my girls do just fine with the citrus.
  10. Bug Spray - so you can clean just about anything, but you can also use it to get rid of pests in your garden.
If those aren't enough reasons to get you to make a switch (or to at least try) Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, then how about the fact that it's Fair Trade, Non-GMO & not tested on animals! Oh yeah, did I mention that it's also a great price! Way cheaper than all those other bottles under your sink!


Have you got a favourite Castile Soap use? Share it here! I'm always on the look out for more ways to use this incredible soap!


 
Disclaimer: Big props to Dr. Bronner's for their amazing soap! I am not affiliated with Dr. Bronner's & I wasn't compensated for this post.  I just really love their soap!

All-Natural #DIY Fruit-Fly Trap

My name is Jen and I have a Fruit fly problem.  It all started with that bunch of bananas and now with the messy kids and dogs, they seem to be all over the kitchen.

Does that sound familiar? Well, currently we have had quite the fruit fly party in our kitchen.  I find the summer is tricky with the plethora of fruits and veggies available and within a day you can become easily overrun by these tiny pests.  But don't fret, I have found quite possibly the easiest and likely most effective way to get rid of those annoying bugs.

Are you ready?!


All-Natural DIY Fruit Fly Trap
Ingredients:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Water
A glass
Plastic Wrap

Instructions:
Place equals parts of Apple Cider Vinegar and water in your glass.  I used about a 1/3 of a cup of each...maybe...but it doesn't really matter. Cover glass with plastic wrap.  Poke a few holes in the top of the plastic wrap.  Place in known Fruit Fly hangout and wait.

Kinda gross, but lots of little flies swimming in the vinegar

Yup, that's it.  Within just a few minutes I had Fruit flies circling the glass.  The beauty is they can find a way in, but their brains are too small to find a way out.  So eventually they get too tired and fall into the vinegar.

On a side note...yes the trap is quite effective, but in order to completely rid your kitchen of fruit flies you will also need to get rid of the offending food.  So whether they came in on a bunch of fruit or you left an empty beer bottle on the counter, they will continue to reproduce.  So make the trap, clean the kitchen and then you're set!


Cheers,
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3 Natural Ways to Keep Your Yard Mosquito Free

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So our bitterly cold and long winter didn't seem to affect our mosquito population here in Ontario.  In fact, they seem to be worse than ever.  Our new yard is full of beautiful cedars and evergreens and lots of other favorite hangouts for mosquitos.  We even have drain that runs through our property that I'm sure is like the neighbourhood gathering spot for those tiny blood suckers.

Even in broad daylight they have been eating us alive.  So much so that we haven't been able to spend time in our new backyard.  So I began my mission to find some natural ways to get rid of those bloody pests.

3 Natural Ways to Keep Your Yard Mosquito Free

Dry Things Out - Mosquitoes like to breed in standing water.  So keep your yard nice and dry to they don't have a spot to get jiggy with it.  Keep an eye out for kids toys, buckets and pots that are full of water.

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Get Lemony - those little vampires don't seem to care for Citronella and Lemon Balm.  So stock your yard full of these yummy scented plants.  Keep them in planters or put them directly in your gardens.  I just planted a line in front of our cedars and have some giant ones in pots on the deck.  You can even rub the leaves to get some of the fragrant oil  to help keep those biters away.

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Just Like Vampires - our last resort is Garlic Oil. Yup, just like how Vampires don't like garlic, apparently neither do mosquitoes.  I've purchased some pure Garlic Oil (99.3%) from our local feed store to treat our yard. You spray the perimeter, trees and bushes and the mosquitoes will hit the road.  And yes, your property may smell incredibly delicious, but the garlic smell disappears in a couple hours but it's repellent properties last much longer.  You'll have to stay tuned for my review, but I can tell you there were quite a few people in the feed store picking it up.

Have you got a favourite natural way to keep from getting eaten alive? Please share!

We got Worms!

Family size Worm Composting KitYup, it's true...we've got worms!  But in a good way...really! Please meet the latest addition to our family - a lovely family of Red Worms complete with their own little cedar cottage courtesy of Wood Worm Farms!

Why you ask?

Well, not only do I think it's kind of cool, (yes I'm a nerd) but it's also a very effective way to compost indoors.  Did you know worms can consume their weight daily? They eat half bedding (carbon) and half food scraps (nitrogen). Generally speaking, 2 lbs. of red wigglers will recycle 1 lb. of organic matter in 24 hours. That's pretty amazing!  We have plenty of food scraps here so I thought it would be a great experiment to see if we could maintain a happy healthy worm farm.  Whatever we don't feed to the worms will still be sent to our outdoor composter.


And did I mention that the worm castings make amazing fertilizer.  The castings can be added directly or mixed with potting or garden soil as a soil amendment. Castings make nutrients easily available to plants and can be used as a top dressing for indoor or outdoor plants.  You can also make Casting Tea for your plants & lawn. Simply add 1-2" of castings to your watering can or rain barrel. Allow castings and water to "steep" for a day or two, mixing occasionally. Water plants as usual. The resulting "tea" helps make nutrients already in the soil available to plant and you'll end up with some very happy & healthy flora in your yard.

We recieved our Wood Worm Farms kit in a couple of days in the mail.  I had been drawn to them as their kits are made from untreated spruce; most I had seen online were made of plastic.  How great is it that once the farm has lived out its life, it too can be composted? The worm farm came fully assembled and was quite easy to set up. The hardest part was waiting to feed them for the first time.  After the little Red Wigglers have been placed in their new home we had to wait over a week for them to get comfy before feeding them.  Our worm farm is in the office in the basement and our pets really have no interest in it whatsoever.  It's a little cooler and damper than the rest of the house, but still in plain sight so I don't forget about them. 

Our little wiggly homestead is doing well, no funky smells or fruit flies.  Yippee!  And if you peek under the lid you'll just see some happy dancing worms.

So stay tuned as I will be updating you on the status on our farm as the months go on. And I'm excited that we should have lots of fantastic castings before the Spring is here.  And my plan is to show you that it can be done, even in the suburbs, and is a great way to help Mother Earth and your gardens.
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Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge from Wood Worm Farms for the purposes of this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tip Tuesday: Keep Calm and Compost On!

We've just had our first true snowfall here at the homestead and I thought it would be a great time to confer about compost.  Now many people compost through the Spring & Summer but think it's completely ridiculous to continue through the cold winter months.

Why would anyone want to trudge through the snow to through their coffee grounds in a big frozen compost bin?

So here's a few tidbits to get you through the cold compost season:
  1. Frozen compost = less stinky compost.  Without the blistering heat of the summer your compost pile will stay fairly funk free and you won't have to battle with flies or critters either.  No smell means no animal compost divers.
  2. The freeze/cycle of the winter actually helps breakdown all your scraps.  So once the Spring arrives all your winter contributions will breakdown into beautiful black earth much more quickly.
  3.  Don't don your skis for every eggshell and carrot top.  Have your kitchen scrap bucket but also have a larger pre-compost bucket strategically located closer to your house.  A large pail with a lid or garbage can works well.  Then you only have to hike through the snow drifts once in a while to toss your scraps onto the compost pile
  4. Because your house is usually cooler in the winter, your indoor bin is less likely to be a breeding ground for fruit flies and other unsavoury characters.  But be wary of bananas.  Those peels are a paradise for fruit flies so chuck them into the outside pre-compost bin ASAP to help to ensure a bug free home.
  5. Don't toss all your yard waste.  Keep your leaves, pumpkins and mums and add them to your compost heap.  If you have the space take some off your neighbours hands too! You'll be in for a treat come the Spring with lots of lovely compost for the gardens!
 So don't let the snow scare you aware from the composter; your yard and the environment will thank you!

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 photo credit: kirstyhall via photopin cc

Thrifty Thursday: Buy Less; Barter More.

According to Wikipedia, Barter is a system of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money.[1] It is distinguishable from gift economies in that the reciprocal exchange is immediate and not delayed in time. It is usually bilateral, but may be multilateral (i.e., mediated through barter organizations) and usually exists parallel to monetary systems in most developed countries, though to a very limited extent. Barter usually replaces money as the method of exchange in times of monetary crisis, such as when the currency may be either unstable (e.g., hyperinflation or deflationary spiral) or simply unavailable for conducting commerce.

For me, bartering is just a better way to acquire things you need or want while helping the environment and feeding your soul.  I really dislike spending my hard earned money on things.  So instead of buying them and forking over my dough to a giant corporation, why not trade my skills or items for something that I want?

Bartering is making a huge come back and it's not just for scoring a great deal at a garage sale anymore. A quick Internet search and you can find lots of local bartering sites where you can list the goods & services you are offering and what items you are looking for.
 
Trading goods and services is not only frugal, but also earth-friendly.  One man's junk is another person's treasure is so true.  If you survey your house, how much stuff do you have that's collecting dust and you don't use anymore? Rather than pitching it out because it's out of style or you don't have a use for it anymore, why not trade it for something you need?  It keeps so much out of landfills and also make people happy!

There's something I find fulfilling about acquiring some object without having to spend money.  Or when you see the look on someones face when they finally found what they were looking for.  A lot of times we find ourselves without much cash, but we have so many other things we can offer.  I will happily trade goods or services with someone; cash doesn't have to be king!

So next time you're looking for something why not try bartering for it? Whether it's tools or exercise equipment; or you need a painter or some home repairs, trade some of your amazing talents or unused items instead!  You'll be glad you did!

Check out a couple of these local barter sites - and start shopping....errrr, I mean trading!

Swapsity - a social enterprise that champions modern online and offline barter in Canada.

U-Exchange  - Barter for what you want!

Happy hunting,
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photo credit: irina slutsky via photopin cc

Fashionable, Sustainable & Comfortable: American Flora Product Review

Running to take the kids to school, then groceries and errands and then Pilates class or a quick jog...just a regular busy day.  No time for a bunch of wardrobe changes, but you want to be comfy and stylish. So what do you wear to combat all your daily to-do's?!

American Flora is a line of active wear that emphasizes a woman’s true femininity, athleticism and beauty. They create boutique high-performance garments inspired by a  passion for dance and the beauty of our natural world.  Their smart design and extensive use of eco-friendly Repreve® fabric ensures each piece in the collection provides the ultimate combination of luxury, comfort and performance.

Recently, I had the pleasure of trying out a few of these amazing pieces.  The first thing that really grabbed my attention was simplicity and sheer beauty of their pieces.  I also was immediately drawn to their total green integration, from material to manufacturing. Each of their garments is made with recycled Repreve® Polyester fabric – the greenest, most comfortable performance fabric on the market. Their pieces are designed to move, to never bunch, pull or snag.

And yes, it can be worn backwards!
So I put the Jasmine Tank Top to the  test.  I've always found with any of my athletic wear that I'm always fiddling with it during my activities.  Tops riding up or bunching and twisting or something rubbing in a weird spot.

First up was jogging.  I wore the tank under my running jacket and hit the pavement.  When I first had it on I wasn't sure what to expect.  The tank hit just to my hips, but I've been used to running with long tops as they always ride up on me.  So I was really hoping I wouldn't flash my belly while out for a morning jog.  I was quite surprised when I didn't spend most of my time tugging at the tank.  It stayed perfectly in place.  And I was really impressed with the fabric itself.  It was so soft and supple and it managed moisture and heat very effectively.  I wasn't soaked or cold from sweat when I returned and there weren't areas that rubbed or irritated me. 

I then took my tank to Pilates class to see how it would perform.  And again, I was impressed.  There was no bunching or pulling and I was comfortable and able to enjoy the class without having to worry about constantly adjusting the top.

Finally I just wore it around the house, running errands and doing a few chores.  Just because it's athletic wear doesn't mean you can't use it for other things.  It was a great look paired with jeans and with a little cardigan over top I was ready to run around town.  I even threw on some shorts later in the day and cut the grass!

Overall, I'm quite impressed with American Flora's pieces.  They are functional and comfortable, but I love that they are extremely versatile.  How great it is to be able to hit Pilates class and then throw a sweater on and do a couple errands without looking like you just came from the gym?  I don't have a lot of closet space so having items that serve multiple functions is key for me.

American Flora sent me a few other samples from  their line to check out.  The leggings are amazing!  I've never had ones that I wasn't constantly hiking up so I'm thinking these will be on my wish list.

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And the wraps....OH MY!  Online they look like hand painted silk scarves, but they are actually made from the same amazing Repreve® material.  They are gorgeous, wearable pieces of art.  Designed by some very talented New York artists, the wraps are multi-functional and a must have wardrobe piece.  I can totally see myself by the pool using this as a cover up or as a shawl on those cool summer evenings and its perfect for travelling.  Scarf, shawl, towel, cover up...the possibilities are endless!

American Flora has really done a fantastic job combining fashion with practicality and beauty and keeping their business green.  So try some on, I bet you'll never want to take it off!
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Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge from  American Flora for the purposes of this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tip Tuesday: DIY Apple Crumble Face Scrub

Recently I had the pleasure of collaborating with Michell Pino from Skana Spa in upstate New York for this latest DIY installment. Think of cool, crisp days, leaves falling and the smell of grandma's baking.

In celebration of the start of Fall, treat your self to a little decadence at home with our Apple Crumble Face Scrub.

Apple Crumble Face Scrub

Ingredients:

1/2 of an apple (well mashed, with skin, no core or seeds, or unsweetened applesauce would work too)
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons olive oil (you could also use sweet almond oil or melted coconut oil)
pinch of cinnamon

Instructions:

Leave the paste for 5 minutes in the bowl until oatmeal becomes soft and then gently (many people scrub a little to aggressively which can irritate skin) exfoliate your face massaging it for 1 or 2  minutes. Rinse with warm then cold water.  And voila!  A homemade, healthy face scrub that smells divine and tastes delicious!

I love incorporating oatmeal as its soothing to the skin and acts as an inflammatory. I also like it because it works well for a variety of skin types and does not cause irritation. The honey has astringent properties and also helps increase your skins healing abilities. The apple has a large quantity of anti-oxidants so it helps to keep your skin looking younger.  It also helps to balance the oil production and is great for hydrating.

Trying this scrub, I found it to be very soothing and hydrating.  My skin felt toned and moisturized and my pores and wrinkles (shhh...don't tell anyone) seemed to be minimized.  It is a little messy, so make sure you do it over the sink.  The recipe made enough for both me and my hubby to give ourselves a mini facial.

Before and After
Looking for more Autumn inspired beauty treatments?  Visit Skana Spa and check out their always tantalizing seasonal Spa offerings.


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Tip Tuesday - Do You Know What's in Your Dryer Sheets?!

Do you use dryer sheets or fabric softener?  You may want to rethink that decision after reading this.  I haven't used dryer sheets in over a year and I never used fabric softener (mainly because I was too lazy to add it to the wash).  Why did I ditch the dryer sheets?  Well there's a few reasons...

1.  Fragrances - I have mild asthma and usually it's kept in check fairly easily.  But an attack can be brought on just by a smell or scent.  Strong perfumes or colognes will start me coughing in a matter of moments and same goes for dryer sheets and detergents too.  Not to mention that fragrances can contain 10's to 100's of chemicals, most of which are trade secrets and are known to be allergens and toxic.

2.  Toxic Chemicals - In order for you to enjoy long lasting fresh smelling clothes, dryer sheets are coated with a slew of noxious chemicals.  They coat your clothes when heated the dryer covering them in a toxic film.  And how lovely is this...your sweet smelling clothes then transfer those nasty compounds to your skin throughout the day and then they are absorbed into your bloodstream.  Ewwww!  No thanks!  And not only do they pollute your body, when you're dryer is running all those horrible substances are venting outside into the environment and adding to our pollution problem.  Check out this list of some of those awful chemicals that your dryer sheets are dispensing:
  • Benzyl acetate:Linked to pancreatic cancer
  • Benzyl Alcohol:Upper respiratory tract irritant
  • Ethanol:On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
  • Limonene:Known carcinogen
  • A-Terpineol:Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  • Ethyl Acetate:A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list
  • Camphor:Causes central nervous system disorders
  • Chloroform:Neurotoxic, anaesthetic and carcinogenic
  • Linalool:A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • Pentane:A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

Wool Dryer balls by RubyJune
3.  Wasteful -apart from being completely toxic and disgusting , dryer sheets are disposable and generate entirely too much waste.  And add to the fact that they really don't do a very good job and they just end up in the landfill; I would say they are a waste of time, resources and money.  Why not opt for a more eco-friendly solution for drying your clothes?
  •  I love hanging my clothes on the line.  A breezy day is great for softening your clothes and the smell is divine.  
  • Weather not cooperating? Why not use an indoor drying rack?  Awesome in the winter to add a little extra humidity to your home. 
  •  And what about vinegar? Add some to the rinse cycle to soften fabric and eliminate cling.
  • Woolly Balls...do you have any?  I do!  And I make them too! Wool dryer balls are a natural, eco-friendly way to eliminate static, soften your clothes and improve your dryer's efficiency.  Bonus!

So scrap the softener...ditch the dryer sheets.  Your body and your wallet will thank you!

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photo credit: mysza831 via photopin cc