I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oil Pulling

Today I am starting to experiment with Oil Pulling. I have been reading about it for months, and as with most unusual practices, I've had to stew with this one for quite a while before giving it a try. First, a little information about Oil Pulling:

Excerpts from This Source include:

"The official definition according to Wikepedia is, “Oil pulling or oil swishing, in alternative medicine, is a procedure in which the practitioner rinses their mouth with approximately one tablespoon of ordinary cooking oil for 3-20 minutes, and then spits it out. This procedure is typically performed daily.”"

The benefits? According to this source, oil pulling helps with the following: "This form of alternative medicine according to Dr. Karach, who has done many studies on the efficacy of this treatment, is a miracle cure for almost any disease in the body...According to Dr. Karach the list of diseases that are cured from Oil Pulling are endless. “The Oil-therapy heals totally headaches, bronchitis, tooth pain, thrombosis, eczema, ulcers, intestinal diseases, heart and kidney diseases, encephalitis and woman’s diseases. Preventively the growth of malignant tumors is cut and healed. Chronic blood diseases, paralysis, diseases of nerves, stomach, lungs and liver and sleeplessness are cured.” (Emphasis mine) 

Hm. Really? I don't know about all that. But hey, what's the harm in trying it, right? I figure the worst thing that can happen is you feel a little goofy, right?

What I did: I took one tablespoon of coconut oil (various sources recommend various oils. I had this one on hand) and I put it in my mouth. First impression? Ugh. Gross. But I persevered. I have seen recommendations for varying lengths of time. I lasted about 6 or 7 minutes I'd guess. I swished, I swashed, I sloshed, I salivated. And I spit it out. It went into the trash, as according to sources it can clog your sink or toilet. I studied it. The resulting liquid is supposed to mean something. Let's see what I can find on that:

This website claims that you want to end up with a "thin, white foam" and that if it is still yellow, you haven't done it long enough. Well, seeing as I used a white oil, my results are not going to match these. This website recommends another, so I'm off to check out This Source. There is a ton of information on that site, plus a lot of feedback from people trying this and that. Check it out if you're interested. 

So, I'll give this a go for a while. One thing that would be a challenge for me is that Oil Pulling is supposed to be done first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. Yeah. The first thing that enters my mouth in the morning is coffee. Period. So today's trial was post coffee and post breakfast. But it did result in me brushing my teeth afterwards, a practice I really must get better about in the mornings. So..... I will post if and when I notice any changes at all due to the oil pulling. 

I would love to hear from you. Have you tried Oil Pulling? What did you use? Why? What, if any, results have you noticed? How long have you been doing it? Share in the comments below. Thanks!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Family Cloth, aka Reusable Toilet Paper (yup, really)

Do you use toilet paper on a newborns butt? Why not?

Is it because newborns have especially tender tushies? Maybe. Is it because toilet paper is really rough? Maybe. Is it because newborns sit in their "output" exposing sensitive skin to harsh substances? Could be. It's probably all of the above. But the fact is, I have never met a soul who used paper on their baby's butt, from birth until potty training, and not even then in some instances.

So why do we use paper? Well, I guess the answer could seem obvious. Paper can be used once, and flushed away. It couldn't be simpler. And the idea of having to use something that then needs to be stored (ugh) and then cleaned (double ugh)? Preposterous!

Or is it?

Maybe a little pros and cons thinking is in order here.

Toilet Paper:


Single use
Relatively inexpensive
Available everywhere


Costs money
Runs out
Rough on the skin/contains harsh chemicals

Family Cloth:


No lint
Never runs out (as long as they are cleaned frequently)
Can cost nothing


Need to be stored and cleaned
Possible initial cost

This is just the stuff I've come up with off the top of my head. I'm heading to the internet to do a little research...

Toilet Paper...

This website lists the added benefits for toilet paper: Easily disposable, Avoids direct skin contact, Decoration (some folks like to get fancy with the end of the t.p.), and Luxury (colors, patterns, additives such as aloe, medications or scents)

This website states that toilet paper is made using BPA and BPS. From the website, "BPA has estrogen-like effects on the body, acting as an endocrine disruptor and interrupting our hormonal signals. It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, thyroid dysfunction, obesity and birth defects." This ingredient has been replaced, according to this article, with BPS, which also allegedly has estrogen-like effects. Yummy! According to this report, recycled TP (that is, TP made from recycled paper) can actually be more contaminated with this stuff, and recommends TP made from virgin pulp. Screw the environment. (Alas) 

Ok, let's see what we can find out about Family Cloth...

This blogger lists a number of benefits of using family cloth, including "It's free, Never run out, No lugging home large packages of TP, Gets you cleaner, It's green, No clogged Toilets..." and others. 

This blogger feels that she can't get as dry using cloth. She also was beyond despair when she accidentally dropped the cloth into the toilet and had to go fishing for it. (ew) 

If you're like me, any concept so different what we've become accustomed to is going to take some time to adjust to thinking about, let alone trying. I have replaced paper products with cloth in every other area of my home. Paper towels, dinner napkins, nose cloths, cleaning cloths, even products for that time of the month. (That one took a long time to even enter my head as a thought, it was so repelling. Even longer to become an idea. But once I switched I never looked back. I wondered, in fact, what took me so long.) So why not toilet paper? The fact of the matter is that I still have the drawer full of cloth diapering cloths I used on my kids, and still use them to help my child out when necessary. 

So I decided to give it a go. It so happens that I have a room full of fabric to play around with, as I happen to enjoy sewing. But it would also be easy, as others on the net have pointed out, to cut up old flannel sheets, knit t-shirts, whatever you have. Or you can go to websites like Etsy (you must register but it's free) or others and purchase them. (Etsy is all hand-made) I grabbed some knit fabric (someone online noted it as a favorite for comfort) and started cutting out 7"x7" squares. One of my kids caught me in the act and asked if she could cut them for me. Absolutely. =) She cut out a bunch (maybe 20?) and I placed them in 2 bathrooms. The children are not, at this point, terribly interested in my experiment, which is fine. 

My initial findings: I have been using the cloth squares since yesterday evening. My first thought was that yes, one does feel the damp when using the cloth as is. I was not enjoying that, so I have been double folding them since. Ok, that is better. It makes for a much smaller square, obviously, but for #1 (which is all I'm trying this with for the moment) it works ok. The cloth does not absorb as quickly as TP does. Of course TP soaks up fluid like a dry sponge. So you have to be ever so slightly more patient. No biggie. But I might experiment with different types of cloth. I'm wondering what French terry would be like. (ooh lala) The cloths are, without question, softer than TP. Now I will note here that I am not one of those who spends more to get that super soft, 5 sheets per roll TP. I buy the single layer, 1000 sheets per roll type. Not luxury TP, but it lasts longer, and like many of you, I'm on a budget. So..... I'm gonna keep it up for a bit, and see how it goes. I know me, and I know that if I get lazy and run out of them, I'll default back to TP until they become restocked. But with a big enough stock of them, in every bathroom, that should not be an issue.

So, have you experimented with Family Cloth? Would you be willing to share your thoughts? Enquiring minds! 

Update: I am here to admit that using family cloth lasted me approximately 1/2 of a day. The main issue? My cloths are not absorbent. Why I do not know. But I quickly got tired of getting wet where I wanted to be dry, and not dry enough where I needed that. So I started to cheat with TP. And quickly I wasn't bothering with the cloths. I think the next trial, and I will give it a go again, will be to try different fabrics for my cloths. But this will definitely be a gradual switch-over, if at all. For the sake of all the "good" reasons to do so, I'd like to switch over. But so far it's not love. I'll let ya know...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Taking ME out

While driving in the car today, I had a brainstorm. A thought storm. I was thinking about life events. And my perception of them. And how some things just hurt, on and on and on. And I had an idea. A way of changing my own way of seeing things that have happened to me, around me, involved me. If I take myself out of the spotlight, it changes the focus of the event. For example, instead of saying, "I can't believe that happened to me." (Whatever the situation might be) Try saying, "I can't believe that happened." The first sentence, "I can't believe that happened to me" immediately identifies a victim. Yourself. And that, for me anyhow, results in feeling sorry for myself, wanting to nurture poor me, and to wonder, endlessly, how that could have happened. Why. The second sentence identifies an event. Yes, one that I was a part of. And yes, one that resulted in confusion and possibly hurt. But it changes the focus. Instead of immediately identifying myself as a victim, it identifies a situation, an event. It's objective, rather than subjective. And I don't know about you, but a objective situation puts me in a position of wanting to figure it out. To study it. To see what could have been different, or why it might have resulted in what it did. A much less pity-me, helpless, endlessly confusing situation. Does that make sense?

I think about being a mom, and the times when I try to comfort my child, who has been hurt or confused by something in his/her life. Such as another child at school saying something unkind, or acting in a way that seems wrong or different to my child. I find myself trying to explain to the child that while yes, the behavior is out of the norm for this reason or that, there might be a reason the other person is acting in this way. I ask my kids to keep in mind the typical behavior of that child. And to compare this behavior to what they know of their typical behavior. And to understand that something might be going on in his/her world that is causing them to feel off. To try to make objective what is so easy to make subjective. Understand that the other child's behavior probably has very little to do with them. So easy to say, right? But do we do that for ourselves? Hardly. If someone acts unkindly toward us, are we not quick to think unkind things, and to wonder how the heck they could act that way to us? To US? I do. Sometimes.

I had a friend who acted in such a way that it has baffled me for over a year. I felt victimized. I felt hurt. I felt targeted and dispensable as a friend. I have not been able to make any sense of it, and the confusion around it has not diminished. Today I decided to try thinking about it in this new way. Instead of thinking, "How could she act this way toward me?" I changed it to "How could she act this way?" I took the ME out of it. And it changes the situation. It does. It makes the behavior, the action, about her. Not about me. No, it doesn't change the fact that due to her choices our relationship changed, and there have been hurt feelings. But, it makes the focus of the situation, in my eyes, completely about her. And that makes it easier for me to swallow.

Try it with anything in your life. "Why is my child acting like such a brat to me today?" Instead, "Why is my child acting like such a brat?" That makes the behavior about the child, not the parent. Then the parent can start to think about the behaviors as a problem to be solved. Something that can be worked on and possibly fixed. It takes the victim out of it. It actually returns your power, if you think about it. Instead of thinking something like "Wow, poor me having to put up with this" it could become "I have an opportunity here to help this little person sort out what is bothering him/her." Empowering.

You find out you've been laid off from your job. Instead of thinking "How could this happen to me at a time like this?" try "The company has had layoffs." Objectified. It changed your role in the situation from victim to participant. Much different. I think.

As a parent, we learn that children fair better when they feel in control. Right? A child who is told that he/she must do A B and C might rebel against that idea, but is less likely to fight it if given the choice of doing A, B or C first. That child feels more in control of the situation, and is less likely to fight it. It is the same with adults. You have several tasks you need to get done. If you must do them in a certain order, perhaps you feels begrudged. If you can choose in what order they get done, you feel more in control and better about it. Instead of it being "I have to do all of these things" try "these things need to get done".

I dunno. I like the idea of changing my thinking around things. Maybe this comes automatically to some people. For me it does not. Not that I go around feeling sorry for myself all the time. I don't.  But I have been lately. I have a hard time understanding some situations, and I do sometimes wonder why such and such has happened to me. And I have trouble letting go of things that I don't understand. I was going to say something here along the lines of "And life has thrown a lot at me lately." Oops. That's old speak. New speak would be something like, "There have been a number of challenges lately". So I'm going to try it. I'm going to take recent life twists and turns, and I'm going to "take the ME out of it". I hope by doing so I can put ME back in. Know what I mean? Feel in control again. Feel more confident about life events and what I can do to look at them as issues to be addressed and not so much as boulders on my shoulders. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea...

Today I am thinking about the ocean. Why? Because I am in the middle of a large family "fest" that I organized....by the sea. Why here? Because the ocean calms me. When life troubles me, it is where I want to be. So I started to wonder just what it is about the coast that soothes. This is what I have read:

From  http://karen-a-ledoux.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com:

Beyond the physical healing powers of the ocean, can it also heal our souls?  If you’ve ever listened to meditation CDs you’ll notice that they are often accompanied by the sound of waves crashing into the shore.  It is a rhythmic and relaxing sound that helps to slow down your energy level and become more receptive to a relaxed state of mind.  Some believe that, like a tuning fork, it sets your internal system back to its natural peaceful state.  Our psyche is hijacked by caffeine, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies), fast music, rushed schedules and other external stimuli.  This is why it’s common for people to take vacations by the ocean because we crave that feeling of peace we so often lack in our daily lives.  - See more at: http://karen-a-ledoux.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/blog/2011/07/the-healing-powers-of-the-ocean#sthash.snnpCXha.dpuf

Uh huh. What else?

From DrVolpe.com:

...Research dates back to the early 1900s and was conducted by French biologist and self-taught physician Rene Quinton. In analyzing the composition of human plasma and that of ocean water, and superimposing the two, Quinton observed that they are virtually identical – the only real difference between the two being that ocean water is three times more concentrated than plasma.
Quinton attributed this difference to the fact that, since life originated in the ocean millions of years ago, seawater has become more concentrated. His conclusion was that we all still carry original ocean water in our blood. Human (and animal) plasma, in his view, is a “marine environment.”
Hm! Interesting! 
From True North by Tom North:
The ocean has therapeutic effects. From just being on the shore listening to the waves, feeling the sea breeze, smelling the salt air and becoming exhilarated by the negative ions created there, to utilizing the healing qualities of sea salts, seaweed, algae and minerals, the ocean has healing power. It even affects our brains, emotions and mood.
Yup, yes and uh-huh. 
Whatever it is, however deep or shallow (so to speak). it works for me. When life overwhelms me, the ocean calms me down. The water heals my skin. The air fills my lungs and makes me feel as if I am getting closer to whole again. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Onion Juice or Garlic Oil For Earaches - Trial

My daughter (8) is telling me that her ear hurts. She has had earaches twice before, and we have treated it traditionally, by heading to the doc, spending $30.00 on the visit, then heading to the pharmacy for antibiotics.

I am not against this plan, of course. Medications are important when we need them. But first I'm trying this:

Onion Juice!

I have read online that garlic infused in olive oil and the juice of an onion (not together) can quickly and effectively take away the pain and irritation of an ear infection while the body heals. I'm gonna give it a try.

I have found, from online research, that people have different ways of cooking and preparing the onion. I chose to keep an onion whole and in the skin, and bake it for 35 minutes at 350*. I would say that it could have cooked longer to get softer, or at a higher temp. But we made do with this. I cut the onion into pieces and squashed them to release the juice. I collected the onion juice in a small bowl, and let it cool. I then (after doing so to myself to show my daughter she wouldn't turn green and start foaming) used a spoon to gently drip some onion juice into the hurting ear. I have read that it's good to let the juice sit in there for several minutes, and I got about 2 or 2 1/2 out of my daughter before she insisted that she needed to get up and drain it. (She wasn't crazy about the experiment, so I was willing to take what I could get)

I had planned to ask her once an hour about her level of discomfort. Less than half an hour after putting the onion drops in, she informed me that her ear was not hurting anymore. What? Regardless of this report, it always takes time to kill an infection, and we have agreed together to repeat the process three more times today (so that would be morning, noonish, 4ish, then before bed.) Then maybe once in the morning for good measure.

I would be very pleased if this works! If you have any experience with this process, positive or otherwise, I'd love to hear about it.

Update: We treated dear daughter's ear with onion juice four times yesterday. This morning, she said that her ear was hurting. So I decided to abandon the onion juice and go for the garlic in olive oil treatment, as I have used garlic to treat other infections in the past with great success. This time, I looked online, and followed this preparation:

Put 1/2 cup of olive oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Peel and smash two cloves of garlic. Put it into the olive oil and microwave on high for 15 seconds, or until hot. (The directions I read said 30-60 seconds, but mine was plenty hot after 15 seconds. Use your judgement on that.) Mix and wait until the oil cools down. Drip 1/4 teaspoon or so into the ear. (While the person lies on his/her side with the infected ear up.) Use a rice bag or rice in a sock that is gently dampened and heated in the microwave - or a warm damp cloth to cover the ear, and wait. The directions I read said to "put on a 30-minute movie" but I wasn't going to get 30 minutes out of my daughter. After 10-15 minutes she drained the ear. I asked her about 2 hours later how her ear felts, and she said it felt great. I will give her this treatment again one more time today if she'll let me, and assess tonight and in the morning.

Update: It is two days later. Yesterday, I asked my daughter a couple of times throughout the day how her ear felt. Each time, she told me that her ear felt fine. After a day out and about, she took a bath, submerging the ear several times, and continued to feel fine after that. I will ask her again this morning when she gets up.

Second Update: I asked her several times yesterday how her ear felt, and she has continued to give positive reports. So garlic in olive oil it is! By the way, I did give her a second dose of this that day. So four doses of onion juice, no change. Two doses of garlic oil, no more pain or discomfort. Was it the combination of the two? Hard to say. But if this comes about again, my plan is to try the garlic oil only.

I hope this works for you! Let me know!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Health Benefits of Asparagus

I have been craving asparagus, my favorite veggie, for days. Today I am eating it for lunch. While munching away, I decided to do a little research on the health benefits of asparagus. Here is what I've found!

*It is full of fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, E and K, and chromium, a trace mineral.
*It is rich in glutathione, a compound that helps to break down carcinogens and free radicals.
*Asparagus is packed with antioxidants. (Again, good against free radicals)
*It delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12 to help fight cognitive impairment.
*It contains the amino acid asparagine, which acts as a natural diuretic to help reduce excess fluid and salt in the body. (Good for those with edema and high blood pressure)

Info. source www.EatingWell.com

Here's a fun benefits list from another website:

1 - can detoxify our system
2 - has anti-aging functions
3 - is considered an aphrodisiac
4 - can protect against cancer
5 - reduces pain and inflammation
6 - can prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
7 - reduces the risk of heart disease
8 - can help prevent birth defects

An added benefit is that asparagus is on the "safe to eat non-organic" list because it is low in pesticide levels. Ideally, all foods should be organic when possible, but when they are not, asparagus still makes the shopping list. =)
And.. I love the taste. While asparagus can make urine smell very strange, there is no ill effect of this. So eat up! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent. Easy!

I have been using this home made dishwasher detergent for a couple of weeks now, with excellent results.* No more running out of detergent and having to make a special trip to the store. Just keep a few simple ingredients in stock, and you can whip up a batch whenever you need it. So simple and inexpensive.

I found this recipe here. I am spending more and more time on that website! Lots of good info.


Mix into an empty coffee container or similar

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Citric Acid
1/2 Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon per load does the trick. I have not yet come across citric acid in a grocery store, and have been using Kool-Aid lemonade flavor (sugar-free) instead. *Without the addition of phosphates, it is common to see a film on dishes after the cycle is complete. Adding more citric acid, or vinegar as a rinse aid, should help remove the film. The film is especially evident with hard water.

Look in the canning section of your local market to see if they carry citric acid. If not, it can be found online. Do an internet search for substitutes if necessary.