Category Archives: Going Green

Essential Oils for the Win

I’ve been interested in essential oils for almost a year now. I have friends who use them and the researcher in me has read just about anything I could find about them.

Several months ago, I knew I wanted to start using them, but I was not sure exactly which ones I should start with. We had lavender, tea tree, and peppermint that we used to mix into our deodorant but we had not used them for any sicknesses or anything. Over the course of the last year we have been incredibly healthy (yay!) but that meant no real chance to start. And even if we did get sick, how would I try out oils I had not bought yet?

Well, this week we have had quite the round of sickness. Little C had a fever and developed a cough and he’s too young for any sort of cough medicine. Thankfully, I have a new friend who sells essential oils so I messaged her to see if she had a respiratory blend (called Breathe). She was awesome enough to deliver it to our sickly household and she also brought me small samples of Basil and Rosemary to try for his cough.

The next day the doctor told me that Little C also had an ear infection on top of the cough. I grabbed some garlic oil (not essential oil) drops from them and they also recommended using the Basil/Rosemary blend behind his ear.

Last for the Little One, he ended up with diarrhea and vomiting from some unknown bug. Another friend brought me a sample of a digestive blend (called Digest Zen) to try out on his belly.

To top things off, Big C started complaining about his ear and even had a hard time napping because of the pain. We did give him a dose of Advil because he woke up mid nap and I wan’t sure what oil to use right then. When he woke up, I used the same Basil/Rosemary blend on his ear and also put in the Gaia Kids Ear Drops.

And don’t you know? All of our issues are gone! Each one resolved within a day or two!! Obviously, I hate that the boys got sick, but I had been needing a chance like this to dive right in and I am totally blown away. I was interested, but definitely still a skeptic at heart. Not any more!

Here’s what we did:
*All oils were diluted with a carrier oil, especially since they were used on the kiddos.
1. Peppermint on the feet (covered by socks) every 30ish minutes to bring down the fever.
2. Next Day: Breathe on the feet for the cough and the Basil/Rosemary blend on the chest and around the back of the ears. (Make sure essential oils do not get in the ear canal.) Also the Gaia Kids garlic ear drops.
3. Repeat Day 2 routine. We reapplied the oils 3-4 times over these two days.
4. After Little C threw up at night and then had water diarrhea in the morning, I used Digest Zen on his belly and feet that afternoon. His next poop was partially solid and by the next morning it was no longer diarrhea at all. This was the most dramatic improvement in the shortest time and fewest applications!
5. We also used the immune builder/germ fighter called On Guard on the boys’ feet and my wrists while they’ve been sick.
6. For Big C’s ear we used the Rosemary/Basil blend and then we also used the On Guard blend around his ear. He stopped complaining of any pain during the first day.

Other than 2 doses of Advil for Big C because I don’t believe I have an oil that deals directly with pain, no traditional medicines were used. Little C had fever, cough (croup sounding), diarrhea, vomiting and an ear infection. We did not use a single traditional medicine and his symptoms went away faster than I would have expected from the traditional medicines. I am so excited not to have to pump his perfect little body full of drugs!

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Sugar Detox Wrap Up

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So we did it. 21 Days with no sugar and very limited carbs. It’s been a little over a week since we finished up, so I thought I’d share my findings.

It was actually much easier than I thought. It turns out if I have a real plan (a book to follow), and someone to do it with me and hold me accountable, I’m pretty good at following a set of yes and no rules. The biggest challenge was actually all of the fruit the boys ate. Not being able to eat a blueberry or a slice of orange or even lick my fingers after slowly feeding it to the Little One was pretty tough.

Here’s a breakdown of my ‘results.’

  • I still feel like I crave something after meals. This has pretty much always been a dessert or snack or something sweet. 29 years of habit can’t be broken in 21 days. BUT I don’t feel like that something has to be sweet. That is a huge win!
  • I do still want, desire, crave sweets in general. I like ice cream and cake. I’ve indulged in a few treats out and they aren’t as good as they used to be. However; I have to fight the habit to have something every day or I will just fall right back into my old habits.
  • I like things I didn’t before. Green apples are actually pretty good. Sauerkraut makes a great topping for sandwiches. Almond butter is actually good instead of the sad alternative topeanut butter. My palate has definitely changed.
  • Paleo/grain free/sweetener free desserts are actually a decent substitution – if you find the right ones.
  • Coconut butter is a legitimate dessert.
  • In the first 4 days, I lost the 5 holiday pounds I had gained.
  • I noticed a distinct difference in how bloated I looked and felt.
  • I don’t crave bread at all. Just ice cream 🙂
  • I feel empowered that I actually am capable of cutting something out that I thought I couldn’t.
  • I improved ten fold in the kitchen.
  • Green smoothies are the bomb. (Spinach, almond milk, frozen banana slices, almond butter, coconut milk)

So what do we do now?

Well, we definitely aren’t going to be sugar/grain free forever. We have been working on our eating anyway so this was a nice boost.

  • We don’t feel the need to buy bread anymore and even the boys don’t need to have sandwiches. Romaine hearts are a perfect substitution.
  • The green smoothies are sticking around. Especially since both boys love them!
  • We are all more adventurous eaters. Even Little C has tried more new foods in the last few weeks than at any other time in his little life.
  • We are going to try to follow a paleo diet for the most part. (Except cheese and milk mostly)
  • Instead of trying/worrying about organic veggies, we are going to be better about the meats we buy. If only we had room for a chest freezer! I’m learning that the advantage of better sourced meats is way more than the veggies. And since we don’t have the budget to do both, we are going to switch gears slightly.
  • We are working to incorporate more veggies! I’ve realized our biggest hurdle is just not knowing how to prepare them. So my recipe goal is now to focus on good veggie recipes. (Broccoli and brussel sprouts last night were a huge success! A 2.5 year old that likes broccoli and a 15 month old that eats brussel sprouts? Awesome!)
  • We currently have our first ever batch of kombucha and of sauerkraut fermenting away. We’ll see how that goes.
  • I hope to keep sugary and carb heavy foods out of the house. Then I only have to avoid them while out and about.

If you are looking for something to help you reset your taste buds, give you a general starting point for a new way of eating, or just to challenge you to cut out sugar, I would highly recommend it. Diane Sanfilippo actually has full meal plans, but I like to do it my way (shocking, I know). I am much better at just having the list of foods I can and can’t eat and making my own meals. I did use many of her recipes, and I genuinely liked every one I tried. The desserts aren’t quite that, but they worked really well while we couldn’t have any sugar and I may make a few of them again.


Budget Friendly Green Tips for the Home

I love to research, I love to teach and since I write a blog, I obviously love to share.

Here are my top tips for being budget friendly and trying to be a little green. These are some of the things we actually do. Which means they are cheap, easy, and they work. Because we don’t have time for anything else.

1. Making our own deodorant.

Coconut oil + essential oils + cornstarch (arrowroot powder) and baking soda. I do leave out almost all of the baking soda because it really irritates my armpits. It doesn’t bother Damien at all. He loves tea tree and peppermint in his and I use only lavender since peppermint oil can reduce my milk supply. It is not an antiperspirant, but the deodorant works great. And Damien loves it. Which means it must really work.

2. ‘Make’ our own foaming hand soap.

We buy Dr. Bronner’s soap in the big bottles and mix it with equal parts water and a little bit of olive oil (to keep the pump working smoothly) and it works great. I’ve heard of adding tea tree, but that would take more effort on my part. We just reuse a foaming pump from one of the store green brands after we finished it.

3. Cloth diapering.

I know it’s not for everyone, and my intimidation factor with starting was super high, but after 2.5 years, it has been so worth it! We’ve spent well under $1000 to diaper two kids. And once you get started, it’s not nearly as big of a deal as you thought. Just a little time spent learning about it and how to properly do the laundry will save you thousands of dollars PER KID!

4. Cutting out processed foods, especially snack foods like granola bars.

I’ve always been under the impression that eating super healthy has to be more expensive. While it is definitely true that fruits and veggies are costly (especially if you buy organic), I have noticed a drop in our grocery budget when I stopped buying things like granola bars. They are often not very healthy at all and the cost adds up quickly. Same with junk food snacks like cookies, chips, and ice cream. They are often very expensive and it’s easy for me to overindulge. If I buy apples, they may cost a little more, but I’ll go through them more slowly.

5. Breastfeed.

Well, the obvious answer here is it’s free! And it’s the exact formula God made. You can’t really go wrong with that.

6. White Vinegar

This stuff is amazing! It’s the best toilet bowl cleaner I’ve ever used, it removes soap scum like nobody’s business and it removes hard water buildup on things like faucets. They should empty the cleaning aisles and just stock vinegar. Seriously. And to combat the lovely aroma, just save citrus peels in a mason jar, fill with vinegar, let it sit for a few weeks and voila! citrusy vinegar. It also works great as a laundry stain remover and just a general counter/table cleaner.

7. Make our own soda water (and not drink soda).

We finally(!!) made ourselves give up soda. It took a while, but we grew to like just plain soda (carbonated) water. Once we knew we liked it long term, we wanted to stop buying the bottles from the store since it can actually be more expensive than soda if you’re not careful! I researched the SodaStream and each liter would only cost $0.25. Since we were paying double that, and sometimes more, we grabbed a machine on Craigslist with two of the CO2 cartridges which saved us even more. We have been using it for a few months now and it’s awesome. It not only works great, but we get to use our better tasting filtered water and it is so convenient to never really run out. We can always just make more in a few seconds. If you like soda water or even want sodas without high fructose corn syrup, I would totally recommend the SodaStream.

I’m looking to add more things to my hippie green list, but we add things in slowly. We do use natural products in the shower, but have not gone the no-poo super cheap way yet. I plan on trying it out in the coming months. Right now we use shampoo and conditioner from the Honest Company thanks to special coupons and other discounts. Another thing I’m hoping to try is oil cleansing for our face and trying activated charcoal for teeth whitening. I would also love to try un-paper towels in the kitchen.


Sugar Detox

Food is a tricky thing.

We have been trying to eat better for months now. We have made great progress in some areas and are still working in others.

We try to eat mostly real food and have cut out most processed foods.
We try to cut back on carbs and refined sugars like breads and pastas.
We have mostly adopted a Paleo eating style although we have not cut out whole milk, cheese or yogurt (except for Little One).
We have switched out the oils we use for either coconut oil or real butter.
We have stopped drinking soda of any kind and swapped it for just plain carbonated water.
We use organic foods when we can, but focus primarily on the foods the boys eat.
I routinely try to eat foods I didn’t use to like and I’m beginning to like more and more of them.
We are trying to learn how to cook more at home.
We are both still completely addicted to sugar and carbs. (I actually mean ADDICTED. I can’t quit without some help.)
We still struggle with eating out because of its speed and convenience.
I know the last one flies in the face of our other eating habits.
We want to raise our boys to have a healthy relationship with food and to enjoy healthy foods.

So… starting tomorrow, Monday, January 6th, we (Damien and I) are going to begin a 21 Day Sugar Detox. I’m excited and nervous. We definitely need this, but it’s going to be tough. Especially since we’ll have things we can’t eat in the house for the boys. And Damien has access to amazing yummy treats almost every day at work. But we can do anything for 21 days. 3 weeks is nothing!


Why Cloth Diapers Make Me a Better Christian

Ok. I’m totally joking, but I am curious about something.

Does being hippie (ie: using cloth diapers, reusable shopping bags, and eco friendly products) have any bearing on my faith or vice versa?

I grew up in a town that isn’t quite what you’d call environmentally friendly. The most common vehicles are gargantuan trucks, pulling out a reusable grocery bag will get you the strangest looks, people insist on having green lawns even though the record temperature is 130 degrees, and Toyota Prius’ are like an endangered species. I have to admit that I love big trucks too, but you get my point.

In contrast, I now live in super-hippie-ville. If you DON’T bring a reusable bag you are given a weird look, people driving big trucks are often confronted in parking lots for being evil, people tend to let native plants grow (although things actually grow here without a ton of water), and there are so many hybrids it’s crazy.

Right before I got pregnant a new friend mentioned that she cloth diapered her kiddos. I looked at her like she was a crazy person, but since we were planning on starting a family soon, I asked her about it. She assured me that it was pretty easy and wouldn’t be a big deal. When I found out I was pregnant I started researching them and not only is it easy, they are cute! To be honest I decided to cloth diaper for the savings and a little bit for the environment. I have continued to cloth diaper because it really is pretty easy, but also because so many people told me I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it.

As I’ve entered into the world of cloth diapers I have become greener in other parts of my life. I even made my own deodorant! When I go home to visit I have to be careful not to be judgmental because of how un-green people are. So…does all of this have anything at all to do with being a Christian?

1 Corinthians 4:1
Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Often the Bible talks about us being good stewards. Whether it be of money or our talents or the “mysteries of God.” I believe this has to do with our world too. I’m not so concerned about global warming or any other such problem. (I believe that the earth is warming up, I just don’t believe that man can really affect change on an entire celestial body.) However; if I am supposed to be a good steward that should include every part of my life. I make an effort to be ecofriendly because that’s how I can take care of this amazing planet that God gave us. I like that cloth diapers help reduce waste in landfills because I want to keep God’s creation beautiful for all to enjoy not because I’m some hippie who thinks the world is coming to an end. I think it would be wise to evaluate some of our behaviors and see if we are truly being good stewards of God’s creation.

I think people on both sides of the eco-debate should be less judgemental of each other and instead focus on what they are doing to make a difference.

What do you think?