Updates

Hey there, I thought it was time to look back at a few posts and share some updates with you. Today’s post includes a success, a failure, and a modification.

The Failure :

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I made a space for native bees, and they never came! I was really bummed, because I was so excited to have Alex, our little bug lover, watch the bee activity all summer. I was also hoping to share updates with you all summer, oh well. Fortunately, the bee house is in great condition, so I took it down for the winter and will hang it again next spring. I’m going to try a different location.

The Modification :

 {warning : dirty glass walls ahead!}

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That’s an close-up of what I did, but let me take a step back and explain. When we lived in PA, I had great success keeping my orchid happy, healthy, and blooming. Then we moved to dry (dry,dry) Colorado, and it became such a struggle. I finally got the conditions right in our rental last year, and then we moved into the new house.

After moving, I was keeping the orchids in a corner of the living room. They were getting plenty of light, but they were dry. I tried to stay on top of watering, and I even added a big pan underneath that I filled with water to try to raise the humidity level in the air around them. Unfortunately, it was just too dry.

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Lemon Foot Scrub

Lemon is our ingredient of the season! So far we’ve used it in a bucklein barsin a savory pasta, and in the shower. Oh, and there are a couple of lemon popsicle recipes! This is also one of our many essential oil posts.

Hands down, one of our favorite perks at the beach is the outdoor shower. We love it for clearing away the sand after a day at the beach, but we also love to bring sand INTO the shower in the form of scrubs. Today’s lemon, sugar, and sand scrub is the perfect zesty indulgence as we’re looking to make the most of these late summer days.

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Clothes Moths : Our Common Household Pest

Today we mention the use of essential oils to deter moths. If you’re interested in more essential oil posts, check out our archive. It’s also National Moth Week! Want to know the difference between moths and butterflies?

While we love moths and try to live in harmony with nature, there’s something we just can’t come to peace with, and that’s moths eating our clothes (and yarn!). Since it’s moth week, it’s the perfect time to discuss the ugly underbelly of the moth world, as we like to think of them, and offer suggestions for keeping your house free of these pests.

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If you’ve never suffered through infestations from these moths, count your blessings. On the other hand, if you have had the displeasure of trying to eradicate these moths from your house, we’re here to commiserate, and to share our strategies for keeping our closets moth-free.

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DIY Mineral-based Sunscreen

Now that we’ve moved to a higher altitude, I think about sunscreen year-round, but particularly in the summer when we are spending more time outside and wearing shorts and t-shirts. Additionally, I’ve started to have an internal debate about my use of sunscreen, because while I use it every day to protect my skin from aging, I’m starting to think that a little bit of tanning is Ok and even good for my health by naturally increasing my Vitamin D levels. Do you know about the negative health concerns associated with Vitamin D deficiency?

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The other concern I have while using sunscreen are the chemicals found in many over-the-counter products, especially since I’m still nursing little Luc. The problem is that a number of the chemicals in certain sunscreens can enter your bloodstream and some act as or disrupt the natural hormones in our body. The Environmental Working Group provides a detailed overview of both the chemicals and minerals used in sunscreens and the toxicity concerns associated with each. So, what’s a person to do? Read on to find out a little bit more about sunscreens and my current solution…

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Summer Face Oil

We’re exploring the many uses for essential oils for both our home and body. You can see our archive of essential oil posts here. liveseasoned_summer2015_faceoil8-1024x768 copy

Oh my skincare routine has changed throughout the years, and I only wish that I was as gentle on my skin in high school as I am now. Back then I thought my skin was too oily and would never have dreamed of actually applying oil to my face to moisturize and nourish it, instead, I would be drawn to any cleanser that promised to dry out my face. In reality, I’m guessing that all of those harsh, drying products likely irritated my skin, stripped it of its natural oils, and caused it to over produce oil in order to try to hydrate my face and reverse the damage I was doing. Jump ahead ten years, and I slowly came around to the amazingly beneficial characteristics of plant oils for the skin. Jump ahead another couple of years, and I’m now adding some essential oils to my basic routine.

I like to shy away from the camera when it comes to our posts, but if any post calls for a headshot, it’s this one! So I’m putting my face in focus for this post, and hopefully it will stand as a record that I can refer back to when looking at how my skin responds to a few years of essential oil use. I should also mention that I really believe that healthy skin starts from the inside. So while I’ve found these skin oil potions to be effective, I also make it a point to drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables.

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Natural Bug Sprays

This is part of our ongoing series on using essential oils for home and body care. You can see our archive of essential oil posts here.

We’re celebrating Pollinator Week around here with a series of pollinator-related posts. When you grab a bottle of bug spray, I’m guessing that “pollinator” is not the first word that you think of, instead, it’s likely “mosquito” “f-ing mosquitos”. Am I right? But guess, what?! Mosquitos are pollinators!

Pollination aside, we will never grow to love the pesky mosquitos, ticks, and fleas. Today we’re sharing a natural, non-toxic bug spray. I find that this works well when the mosquito populations aren’t too high, but I admit, there are still times, particularly in the swampy waters at the shore, that I have to use something containing DEET. What this spray lacks in DEET, it makes up for in its beautiful scent, and in the ability to personalize (there are so many mixing options below!).

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Mold & Mildew Shower Spray

This is the first of a multi-part series on using essential oils in the home and on your body. Excited to make some potions? We already have some essential oil uses in our archives, and you can see our introduction to essential oils here. Also, lemons are our ingredient of the season. You can find more lemony-fresh posts here.

Moving into our new house, I had one thing on my mind when it came to the showers : keeping them clean! Let’s be honest, they are never really squeaky clean, but I wanted to be sure that they stayed free of mold and mildew. We have three showers in the house, and they are all tiled and have glass doors, so there are a lot of grout cracks and door crevices to keep my eye on.

With the limited time I have, I knew I wouldn’t be in there scrubbing them each week, so I was on the hunt for a mold and mildew prevention spray that I could use between deep cleans. I found just what I was looking for in my new favorite cleaning resource, The Naturally Clean Home. That is a great book for anyone looking to rid their cleaning routine of chemicals, and it’s particularly helpful if you’re new to many of the natural alternatives as she provides a great overview of what the common ingredients used throughout the book.

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Today’s recipe uses two essential oils and a citrus extract. All three ingredients are powerful antimicrobials, helping to kill mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungus. All of the nasty stuff that you don’t want growing in your shower. Water is used as the diluting agent, because at full strength, the oils and extracts would cause damage to your skin and possibly to some of the surfaces in your shower.

Ingredients & Materials :

  • spray bottle, 16 oz or larger
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 drops citrus seed extract (commonly sold in health food stores as grapefruit seed extract)
  • 2 tsp tea tree oil
  • 4-6 drops lemon essential oil

Mix all ingredients together in the bottle and spray on a wet shower surface (a great time is immediately after you shower), paying special attention to cracks and crevices, especially those that are in the darker corners of your shower. I like to give the bottle a good shake before each use, just to be sure that the ingredients are well-mixed.

While this spray does an amazing job of deterring mold and mildew, and even killing the little colonies that start to grow, I’ve found that there are time when I have to add a bit of scrubbing to completely eliminate some spots. When I have them, I love to use magic erasers for this job. I find that at times they are even better than a traditional scrub brush at getting into small crevices and completely removing all signs of mold and mildew.

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When it comes to this potion, I always use the grapefruit extract and tea tree oil, but will vary which other essential oil I’m using depending upon the season. I’ve used peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender in the past. If you do experiment, I would recommend sticking with an essential oil that has some antimicrobial properties, but off course, you could always add a few drops of other essential oils if you like their aroma.

Now, do yourself and the planet some good : ditch the bleach cleaners and start crafting your own shower spray with essential oils!

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Using Essential Oils

This is the first of a multi-part series on using essential oils in the home and on your body. Excited to make some potions? We already have some essential oil uses in our archives.

Wherever I can, I’ve been trying to eliminate chemicals from our home, and introduce more natural alternatives, whether we’re talking cleaning products for the bathroom, cosmetics, or even pharmaceuticals. What I’ve found again and again is that essential oils are often recommended as a natural source for ingredients in many of my replacement recipes. The world of essential oils is vast, and I’m just starting to really explore all that these oils have to offer, but I thought it would be fun to start a little series this summer where I share with you what I’m learning and the useful resources I’ve found both online and off. As I’m just starting this series, I think it’s important to note that even if you’re buying high quality essential oils, while these are natural products, if used incorrectly they can be just as dangerous as manufactured chemicals.

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In this post I wanted to cover some basics about essential oils, focusing on what they are and a few examples of how they can be used. At the bottom of this post I share some of the resources that I’ve found particularly helpful. And we couldn’t end the day without a recipe, so in a second post this afternoon I’ll share one of my favorite potions for keeping our shower clean and smelling fresh.

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Dandruff Shampoo. seriously.

You are now well aware that Sarah and I like to mix our own cosmetic and beauty products, which we jokingly refer to and tag as potions. So far we’ve shared the gamut from dry shampoo to pore strips to deodorant along with the more mundane (yet totally sinus opening and skin smoothing) body scrubs. Just to add fuel to the fire, I recently learned that my local herbal apothecary offers classes in mixing your own salves, balms, perfumes, and more. It looks like our potion blending isn’t going to slow down anytime soon! But today I’m going to share a potion that’s a bit less glamorous ~ homemade dandruff shampoo. 

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I moved to Colorado and my head turned into a blizzard. Why? In general terms, dandruff is caused when the skin cells on your scalp grow and die off too fast. In some people it coincides with the dry air of winter, in others it may be compounded by stress, and commonly it’s due to the fungus malassezia. The fungus requires fat to grow, and so it’s commonly found on our scalps, where we have plenty of oil producing sebaceous glands.

In my case, I would like to blame the outbreak on a change in my body chemistry after becoming pregnant, or Colorado’s dry weather, but if you ask Sarah, she will quickly laugh and tell you that I’m a great host for fungus*. We won’t go into detail, but being the great host that I am, I have some experience treating the fun-guys, and every time I’ve turned to tea tree oil. A vast number of studies have shown that it’s a great fungicide and has proven effective in treating a number of different fungal infections on and in humans (everything from dandruff to toenail fungus to athlete’s foot). You’re starting to get grossed out, aren’t you? How about some cute mushrooms to return you to your happy place?

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Since tea tree oil is powerful in its concentrated form, you want to be careful about using it at full strength (and some people are extra sensitive or allergic, so test your sensitivity if you’ve never used it before). An easy way to use tea tee oil as a cure for dandruff is to mix it into your shampoo. As little as 5% tea tree oil is enough to do the job. Rather than mixing it with each shower, I like to make up a large batch using 5% tee tree oil and 95% Dr. Bronner’s crazy magic amazing wonderful liquid heaven. As you can see in the photo, I put it in its own labeled bottled and am good to go.

I’m sure you never get dandruff, but if you happen to run into a stranger with flakes, now you have a homemade and totally effective potion to share with them!

 *If you’re interested in learning more about the fungus world, Sarah’s been reading Mycophilia by Eugenia Bone. She’s been raving about it and has me excited to read about the fungus among us. 

Mushroom image from createnature.com.
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Minty Fresh Deodorant

Mint is our ingredient of the season. We love to use it in drinks, both alcoholic and not, in salads, both savory and sweet, and in the shower!

There couldn’t be a better time for this post. Why? Because it’s about deodorant, and I bet you’re getting your smell on by late afternoon this summer. And because this recipe requires coconut oil, which is sure to be in a liquid state on any given 80+ degree day, making mixing easy!

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Now, to back this truck up, today we’re talking about making our own non-toxic, totally biodegradable deodorant that’s safe for your body and smells great too! I’ve been using this exact recipe for close to four years now and feel no need to go back to the store-bought stuff.  You may already have the ingredients in your house, but if you don’t, they are relatively cheap* and each have other uses in your house/kitchen. Finally, it’s always fun to mix up a potion, particularly one that you can personalize with your favorite scents!

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