Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Looking Like a Lobster

Summer is finally here, and for me that inevitably means sunburns.  I am naturally pale, and thus prone to burns.  I seem to get at least one bad one each year, and this year I (hopefully) got it over with early.  I have used this natural remedy for a sunburn since even before I got bit by the environmental bug, and it works.

My burn in all its glory.

Miracle workers.

There are three steps to relief:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar - Apply to skin with a cotton ball or even a soft cloth.  The malic acid in apple cider vinegar reestablishes skin's pH which counteracts the burn.  This will prevent blisters and peeling, and the pain relief is nearly immediate.
2. Aloe Vera - After the above, I slather on aloe vera.  It can relieve pain and inflammation and is moisturizing.  I am still using up the container above, but you do not want it to be green, it should be clear.  Also make sure it is alcohol-free.  The best option would be to have an aloe plant that you can break open as needed.
3. Heating Bag - We definitely will not be heating this up.  I put mine in the freezer for around 15 minutes and then just lay it on the burned areas while I'm on the couch or laying in bed.  This is just because it feels so good.

It is important not to use creams or ointments.  They trap the heat inside of the skin and actually make the burn more susceptible to infection.

Next time I'll remember to use more sunscreen!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Put Your Best Feet Forward

Brad and I went shoe shopping this last week, and I was excited that he too has now hopped on the TOMS bandwagon.  If you are unfamiliar with TOMS shoes, they created a one for one movement.  With every pair of TOMS shoes you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoe to a child in need.  There are so many different styles from slip ons to lace ups to heels and more.

I was happy to purchase (and this is the reason they are on my blog today) "earthwise" shoes.  These shoes are considered sustainable and as an added bonus, vegan friendly.  The shoe is made from either pesticide-free cotton or a unique twill featuring hemp and recycled plastic bottles.  Then the sole is made from recycled rubber.


Giving children the new shoes they need and taking it easy on the planet.  What could be better?

I encourage you to check out this video about TOMS and their mission and see the good they are doing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On the Other Foot

With summer comes bare feet.  Unforunately, one weekend I spent a little too much time in my bare feet.  After spending an afternoon walking on hot pavement around Kelowna, my feet looked like this...

Oh, and this is after I washed them twice.

By the time I got home, I could hardly stand on my feet.  Ugh, just looking at that blister makes me cringe thinking about it.  They ached even while I was laying down.  I knew I had to do something to soothe my feet.  I looked through EcoBeauty and 1001 Natural Remedies for foot soaks, but I didn't have all of the ingredients for any of them.  There was no way I was leaving the house again, so I made my own up.

I've moved to a new website! Head on over to Heartful Habits for the chamomile and lavender foot soak recipe. Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Adventures in Horticulture

Plants look nice of course, but did you know some can actually purify the air in your house?  In March I was offered a spider plant, and after being told it could absorb indoor pollution, I jumped at the opportunity.  It was just tiny then, and since has grown wonderfully and even been put into a larger pot.  The spider plant was also appealing to me because they are easy to grow, tolerant of neglect, and still thrive in many different conditions.

Spider plant sitting in the window sill.

The spider plant (or Chlorophytum comosum if you want to be technical) removes:
-over 96% of carbon monoxide which is highly toxic to the body causing symptoms ranging from headaches to death
-formaldehyde, which disrupts the functions of the body and is a known cause of cancer, at a rate of 560 micrograms per hour
-xylene, which causes headaches, dizziness, confusion, and so on, at a rate of 268 micrograms per hour

The huge amount of carbon monoxide in particular that it can remove makes it especially useful in kitchens with a gas stove or living rooms with a fireplace.  I just love the idea of purifying with plants.  What could be more natural?

Unfortunately, the outdoor plants are not doing as well.

Zucchini plant

Bean plant

Any suggestions as to what is wrong with them or any ideas for what to do to help would be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I have always had a hard time drinking enough water.  As a child and teen I didn't like the taste of it, but I'm getting over that since I know it's good for me.  Now my problem is that I just don't think about drinking water, especially when I'm not at home.  Here is some information about why it is so important for healthy living to drink water.

-regulates our body temperature
-protects our organs and tissue
-helps the liver and kidneys flush out waste
-lubricates joints
-dissolves nutrients and minerals to be absorbed by our body
-carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells

It is clearly important to keep hydrated!  To help me remember, I decided to design and make a water bottle carrying case.  I am not a very adept sewer (Is that even a word?), so I actually made this up as a I went along.  I apologize in advance if any of my instructions are poorly written or my techniques blatantly wrong.  Here's how I did it.

There is a liner fabric and an a outer fabric.  For the liner I chose nylon because it is durable and resistant to water.  The outer layer is just cotton.
Measure the height and circumference of your water bottle and add an inch when cutting fabric to leave room for seams.
Pin and sew what will be the top edges of your fabrics right sides together.

Fold fabric over along the seam made in the step above.  Then pin, right sides of the outer fabric together, to the circumference of your water bottle.  Sew along this edge.

Cut out a circle for the bottom and pin.

Sew the bottom on (hardest part of me), and turn right side out.

It fits!  Put the case piece aside.

Cut and pin fabric for the strap to desired length and width right sides together.  I used a purse strap as a guide for the size I wanted.

 Action shot!  Sew the strap.

Turn inside out.  I simply used a pencil to get it started.

Sew straps to the inside of the case.  I sewed a square with a diagonal line through it for strength.

Ta da!  Ready to go.

I have already used it when going out since making it.  I find it so handy to be able to sling over my shoulder on a walk, tie onto my bike handle for a ride, etc.  I also think it would be an excellent idea for kids so that they can each carry their own water bottle.  It truly is simple (If I can sew it, anyone can.), so I hope you try it out if you're interested.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's the Thought That Counts

As of this year, Brad and I have begun changing the way we think about gifts, especially for one another.  If we actually need something, we buy it if we can throughout the year, and we don't see the use as much anymore in having a lot of "things" just for the sake of buying each other a gift.  This is part of why we have begun opting a lot more for homemade gifts, as you know, and even donation gifts.  We hear about it more it seems at Christmas, but there are so many great organizations that have gift catalogues or online donations you can make in someone's honour all year around.  From World Vision to Care Canada to Heifer International to Free the Children to the World Wildlife Fund, there are options for most anyone.

One organization that really stood out to me is Changing the Present.  I love their name, and the website is great.  You can browse through all sorts of different causes, the categories including basic needs, community, environment, heath and safety, and opportunity, to find one that will be meaningful to your particular recipient.  They are even divided up into price ranges, recipients, and occasions.  Prices start at just $1!  You can check out some of my favourite causes here.

Since Brad is into technology and saving the environment, I chose a related gift for him as a graduation present.  (He just graduated from UBC-O with his Bachelor of Science. I'm so proud!)  His gift was installing a solar cell for arrays on the roofs of apartment buildings with the nonprofit organization Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future.

I think these are great gift ideas for the person who has everything or people who are particularly passionate about a certain cause.  It's also a way to reduce consumerism and consumption of "things" and "stuff" we don't really need and help others and our planet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Home Grown

Lately I am so thrilled with our garden!  Brad and I were quite concerned for a few weeks.  It seemed as though everywhere else we looked, plants were sprouting up.  Everywhere except at home.  Then we got the beautiful, hot weather this weekend, and our garden has practically exploded.


A row of beans.

One of three zucchini plants that have popped up.


At first we didn't know what were weeds and what were our vegetables so we left everything.  Now that they are getting bigger, we figure the similar looking ones growing in rows are probably the vegetables.  We still aren't sure about the lettuce.  Does that look like lettuce to any of you?


Today is the day to honour and celebrate the oceans that surround all of us on this planet.  Why should we?  Here are some reasons.  The world's ocean...
-generates most of the oxygen we breathe
-helps feed us
-regulates our climate
-cleans the water we drink
-offers a source for potential medicines

This has got me thinking about what I am putting down the drain, sustainable seafood choices, ditching plastic bags, and protecting aquatic life.  Hmmm...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Paper or Plastic? Neither, Thanks.

It was long ago that I switched over to reusable cloth grocery bags, and I think a lot of others have too.  One thing that I continued to feel unhappy about though was the produce and bulk bags.

At first I was going to make a cloth produce bag something like this...

...but I quickly realized that wouldn't be suitable for bulk items.  Another concern I had was the added weight of the bag at the till when purchasing my items.  I then considered sewing something out of mesh, but I didn't want it to stretch and it would have to be a very small mesh.  Then the other day I came across Earthwise bags at Nature's Fare.  A dream come true!

Mine in use at home after a shopping trip.

This is Earthwise's Reusable Mesh Produce Sack.  For about $3, I got a pack of 3 bags which is perfect for my average shopping trip.  As you can see, they can hold quite a lot and have a drawstring top.  The mesh is not stretchy so it would be useful for some bulk items as well, and it is incredibly lightweight.  I am thrilled to have found an inexpensive solution to my issue.


Happy World Environment Day!
Today is World Environment Day (June 5th every year), and this year the focus is on our forests.  I was especially luckily to attend church this morning outdoors in the woods and go for a short hike afterwards.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Better Peanut Butter Cookies

Along with other more natural food items I have been converting to, one of those was peanut butter.  All natural peanut butter is 100% peanuts, nothing added.  I brought it home and opened it.  It looked a little different, but I proceeded to try to spread it on my celery sticks anyways.  I took one bite and... yuck!  I can't stand the stuff.  I didn't know what I was going to do with the brand new, hardly used tub of all natural peanut butter.  Luckily for me, a coworker only eats all natural peanut butter and had an excellent recipe for healthy-ish peanut butter cookies.  Here's how it goes.

Healthy-ish Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 c butter                                    1 egg (free range for bonus points)
1/2 c sugar                                     1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c brown sugar                          1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c natural peanut butter
3/4 c whole wheat flour

Cream together butter and sugars.

Add egg, vanilla and peanut butter and stir.

Mix in dry ingredients.

Drop onto cookie sheet in spoonfuls, and bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.


Holy moly, these are good!  I served them at a get together last night, and I had compliments on them from others too.  The best part is that you can't even tell that they're made with all natural peanut butter or whole wheat flour (so you can trick kids or husbands too).  They just taste like delicious peanut butter cookies.  Now I have a use for all that natural peanut butter, and I don't feel so guilty eating all these cookies.  I recommend this recipe to anyone.

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