Monday, October 27, 2014

No-Sew Reusable Dust Wand

There is a microfiber cloth that sits in my rag bin week after week as the Swiffer duster wand gets all the love. I actually feel that the microfiber picks up more dust but I'm able to reach more places (being a shorty) and maneuver the wand more without having to move objects. However, the waste this produces isn't very green- economically or ecologically. The trick was finding a way to put the microfiber onto the duster wand. The only problem- I don't sew. Like, at all.

The solution: using the same method as a no-sew fleece blanket.

What you will need:

  • 12 in. by 12 in. microfiber cloths
  • 1 duster wand with a tab to hold the cloth in place (shown in photos below)
  • sharp pair of scissors
  • 4 straight pins

Start by folding the microfiber cloth in half and place the wand directly in the middle. Slide the cloth underneath the tab to hold in place. (The generic brands will more than likely have this tab over the name brand.)

Using four straight pins, pin both layers along the wand. This will hold the fold in place when you start to cut the strips.

Take the wand out and make five cuts up to the straight pins. Depending on what side you start on the first or last cut will be along the fold of the cloth. Do not cut all the way across. You will have 2 layers of five strips on each side of the cloth.

Double knot the strips that are directly on top of each other, working down the row. Then do the same on the other side.

Take out the straight pins and slide the wand back in, securing the cloth in the tab to hold in place. Give it a good shake to get all the loose microfiber particles off from the cuts or you can wash it first before use.

Meijer has a six-pack of microfiber cloths for $5 that will last for years, even with multiple washings. The generic brand of duster refills would cost me $10 and only last about a month with disposables that drain the wallet and add to our increasing waste problem. This reusable dust wand is the best of both worlds: more green for the planet and more green for your wallet! Now all you have to do is wave your wand and watch the dust disappear.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Upcycled Loot Bags

This past summer I read The Zero Waste Lifestyle by Amy Korst. I love to read but for those of you that don't- this is a quick, short read and a complete eye-opener to what our waste-habits are doing to this world. She also had some really neat ideas to help cut back on your trash output. Since reading this book, I have been trying to reuse and even upcycle what would normally be trash and/or recycling. I even created a way to reuse the endless forest of empty toilet paper rolls that are forever sprouting on the top of my toilet tanks (because no one in my family seems to know where the recycling bin is).

It turns out empty toilet paper rolls make a perfect shell for a loot bag container. Just add some paint, sparkly tissue paper and curled ribbon and you have what looks like a large piece of candy that houses the real deal inside.

  1. Start off with the empty toilet paper rolls, two colors of paint of your choosing, a straight edge paint brush, craft paper or newspaper to cover your workspace and masking tape.
  2. Wrap a piece of masking tape around the very middle of the roll so the ends overlap.
  3. Make two more masking tape rings on either side of the first one, leaving the width of masking tape of space between each ring.
  4. Paint the exposed roll in the color of your choice. Take off the tape as soon as either side of the tape has been painted. If you wait until the whole roll has been painted then the paint will come off when the tape does. Found that out the hard way (a few times) then it finally sunk in to take the tape off before starting the next level.
  5. Once all the masking tape has been removed do any touch ups to your first paint color and let dry completely. You could use painters tape but I didn't have any narrow enough for this project and I wanted to make these from items already on hand. For the second color use a straight edge brush and carefully paint along the first color on the roll. A steady hand is a plus but the straight edge brush will help keep you straight... enough. Again, let dry completely before going to the next step.
    The suckers are from Glee Gum and are just like blow pops but without the artificial colors! Whole Foods has them.
  6. Stack the candy on the tissue paper so that it will be able to fit into the toilet paper roll. Tightly roll the tissue paper up and gently push it into the toilet paper roll so that you have even amounts of extra tissue paper coming out both ends of the toilet paper roll. I had to give a couple of hard wiggles and shoves but it all ended up fitting. Tightly tie the ends of the tissue paper with ribbon, close to the toilet paper roll. Curl the ribbon and cut off any excess tissue paper. You want the end result looking like a wrapped piece of candy.
  7. Using lettered stamps and an ink pad, stamp each child's name onto the roll.
And now you have a cute, unique and upcycled loot bag! Reducing and reusing is rewarding on so many different levels: environmental, personal and economical. Before you throw out- think about what else it could be. You might just amaze yourself.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Maple and Sage Whipped Dip

So a certain organic, sprouted chip company introduced a pumpkin cranberry tortilla flavor this past month. They are insanely delicious and even a huge Costco size bag does not last more than three days in my house. I must be a chip snob because I just can't wrap my head around not dipping a tortilla chip. These were also being served at my kids' birthday party and chips without dip is like Bonnie without Clyde. Where's the fun?

Multiple recipe searches later I realised that what I looking for didn't exist. How in the billions of recipes online I couldn't find a maple syrup and sage savory dip is beyond me. Why maple syrup and sage? I don't know... it just sounded like a good idea with pumpkin and cranberry.

Cream cheese as a base was a solid choice in my opinion because messing up cream cheese and maple syrup is a hard thing to do. Not that I couldn't, mind you, just that the odds were stacked in my favor. You can definitely use a non-dairy cream cheese but since this was for a party I used the real stuff. For the savory aspect, I thought a small shallot sautéed in a little butter would complement the sage nicely. I whipped up all of the above ingredients in the stand mixer for about 6 minutes and son-of-a gun, the dip was really good. (Of course it was- right? Or I wouldn't be sharing this with you.)

The ingredients in color:

Maple and Sage Whipped Dip
Living Life Granola
8oz package of cream cheese or non-dairy substitute
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 small shallot, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon sage powder
Scant amount of butter

*Please use organic ingredients when you can.

For best results, let the cream cheese come to room temperature.  Meanwhile, sauté the shallot in just enough butter to not let in stick on the bottom of the pan. Do not let it burn- 2- 3 minutes should do it.

In a stand mixer bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, maple syrup, sautéed shallot and sage. Whip on medium speed for 6 to 10 minute or until desired consistency is reached. Best served right away but can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

If you do store the dip in the fridge, make sure to let it soften a bit before you use or your yummy chips will break off in the dip. This dip would also be great on baked sweet potatoes or in a pumpkin soup. Be creative and have fun. If you come across a really scrumptious combo, please share below!

Linked with Simply Natural Saturdays.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Daily Habits to Naturally Detox

As knowledge of our increasingly toxic world is growing, so too are the number of detoxifying programs being marketed to consumers. The fact is, though, that the amazing human body you are walking around in is completely capable of naturally detoxing itself. We have the skin, liver, kidneys, colon and lungs working in some capacity in this endeavor. The best way to create a toxin-free inner environment is to limit toxic exposure in the first place. Eating organic whenever possible, drinking filtered water, using home-made cleaners (or safe store-bought ones), getting at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and staying away from processed grains, sugar and artificials will go a long way in keeping your internal detox system in tip-top shape.
However, there are some benefits to giving our detox organs a helping hand that can yield some great results in mood, mental clarity and physical well-being.

Drinking Water

Water is part of every function of the body including the removal of toxins. Even being mildly dehydrated puts stress on the kidneys and can cause constipation. If you wait until you feel thirsty to drink you are already dehydrated so make sure to bring water with you and drink it throughout the day. The type of water you are drinking will also determine if you are helping your body remove toxins or are actually adding more to the load. In our part of the world, we are lucky in that we don't have to worry about bacterial contamination. However, the chemicals that are being dumped into our water supply to combat potential contamination is causing a whole host of other health issues, in addition to all the industrial and agricultural waste as well. Bottom line: invest in a water filter. Check here to find your local water contaminants and the best water filter for your area.


Through sweat the body eliminates salt, drugs and various other toxins. By utilizing the largest organ- the skin- it takes the pressure off of the liver and kidneys to do all the dirty work. As most of us don't have access to a sauna or steam room and we are supposed to be getting 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day, getting sweaty to your favorite work-out is the perfect alternative. Make sure to be well hydrated before and after your sweat session otherwise it will not be as effective.

Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is a European practice of brushing the body with a natural bristled, long handled brush. This simple yet effective exfoliation technique stimulates the lymphatic system that is the body's pathway for removing toxins. It also stimulates the sebaceous glands (oil glands) that will help naturally moisturize the skin in addition to improving blood flow and circulation to the area. Super bonus on this one: it helps to diminish cellulite, ladies! I can actually attest to this- dry brushing is amazing. Take a few minutes before a bath or shower and starting with the bottom of your feet, brush towards your heart with gentle pressure. Brush the abdomen in a circular, clock-wise direction and don't forget in between your fingers and underarms. Skip the genitals, breasts (for women), neck and face. It's also a good idea to wash the body brush in mild soap once a week to keep it clean of dead skin debris.

Eating Algae

No, really, it's not as disgusting as it seems. Just throw some dried powder in your smoothie and call it a day. There are tens of thousands of different kinds of algae but spirulina and chlorella are the best known. Their chlorophyll content beats the pants off of other leafy greens which means they are potent detoxifiers. Chlorophyll is able to remove heavy metals from pesticides, environmental toxins or radiation from the body. It also is very alkalizing by balancing the internal pH. It is believed that disease cannot develop in an alkaline inner environment. Spirulina is so ancient that it actually doesn't have a hard cellular wall so the body can easily assimilate it unlike chlorella that needs to have the cell walls cracked or it will pass right through your system without being utilized. Look for broken cell wall on the packaging before you buy chlorella.


Our digestive organs require huge amounts of energy in order to break down food. By refraining from eating solid food for a certain period of time, that energy can be directed towards repairing and healing the body instead. Rats and humans have been shown to have longer life expectancies when their calories are restricted. Fasting has also been reported to make the senses sharper, the head clearer and feeling more energetic. There are many different ways to fast. For my own every day purpose I do not eat anything after dinner but continue to drink water or herbal tea until bedtime. Upon waking in the morning I will drink 12 oz of fresh juice. My current juice recipe is 1 cucumber, 2 large carrots, 1 - 2 inches of ginger and 1 apple. Juicing is great due to all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes being absorbed by the digestive system right away without having to exert a lot of energy to breaking down solid food. A smoothie for breakfast is also easy on the digestive system. Drink plenty of water or herbal tea until lunch when a normal solid meal can be eaten.

Basically, how I incorporate all this into my day looks something like this:

  • Wake-up and make my juice. 
  • Do thirty minutes of exercise, making sure to drink water throughout. 
  • Before showering, dry brush (make sure your skin is dry before doing this).
  • Make a breakfast smoothie including chlorella powder. 
  • Drink tea and water until lunch. 
  • Lunch as usual.

This is what I have found to work with my schedule and that is how I am able to stick with it. Waking up a good ninety minutes before my kids helps too (like immensely). Go with what works for you, although, everyone should be drinking plenty of filtered water! Remember to not purposely fill your body with toxins and not freak out over the ones that do get in... your body's got it covered.


Weil, Andrew, Natural Health, Natural Medicine: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Print.

Tourles, Stephanie, Organic Body Care Recipes: Storey, 2007. Print.

Morris, Julie, Superfood Kitchen: Sterling Epicure, 2012. Print.