Happy Gram 1: Dolphin Rescue

This is the first post in what will be an ongoing dose of things that make our hearts smile. These are the things we all need to see more of – people doing things to help others, both our fellow humans and members of the other species we share our planet with. I wonder what would happen if the news focused on things like this instead of all the bad that happens in the world.

Natural Deodorant Recipe

Homemade DeoderantAfter trying store-bought all natural deodorants with no success, I decided to try my hand at a homemade version again. While I have been trying to eliminate anything un-natural from my diet and products, I must admit that shampoo and deodorant are two holdouts that I have had trouble replacing with any amount of satisfaction. The main issue concerning natural deodorants is this: most of them just don’t work. If anything, in my experience they almost make you smell worse than if you skipped using deodorant altogether. I have had success making it on my own in the past, but I had issues with the idea of using an oil instead of a deodorant stick. Shouldn’t be too bad of a transition in reality, it just needs to soak in before you put on your clothes (and I can be impatient), maybe this will force me to take the extra step and actually moisturize every day (mind races with lotion recipe possibilities)!

This recipe calls for just a few ingredients – coconut oil, lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil. The best part of this recipe is that it actually works, and it works better than store bought deodorant in my opinion. You will need a sterile container to hold the mixture – a small jar would work best since in warm weather (or a warm bathroom) this would leak out of a traditional deodorant container. Mix 1/2 cup of coconut oil (in liquid state) with 20 drops of the lavender essential oil and 4 drops of rosemary essential oil. Pour into the jar and allow to set up. That’s it!

Caution: Don’t use essential oils if you are pregnant, have epilepsy, hypertension or any other medical issues. If this is the case, try using coconut oil by itself as a deodorant since it does have antimicrobial properties on its own. While essential oils are natural, they still have powerful properties we need to be mindful of. You should research each oil carefully for any potential side effects before putting it on your skin! Never put essential oils on the skin without diluting!

Beagle Freedom Project

***CUTENESS ALERT!*** This video from the Beagle Freedom Project shows the first moments of freedom for nine beagles released from a laboratory after a lifetime of being used as test subjects. I wish these babies the best of health, luck and love in their lives ahead. I hope that in their remaining years they can receive all the hugs, kisses, treats, and grassy playtime with their human and puppy friends that they missed while in the laboratory. I wish (I wish, I wish, I wish) that animal testing was prohibited worldwide. I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish. Until this is a reality, the best we can do is to verify all the products we use are not tested on animals and spread the word so others become aware and do the same.

To the folks at the Beagle Freedom Project: Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you do, you truly do make the world a better place!

The Basics of Organic Gardening

Organic Gardening - The 5 Basics

Organic food can be extremely expensive to buy, and it is disheartening to hear about guidelines that allow certain chemicals to be used on organic produce (defeats the purpose, and extremely misleading in my opinion). We are hoping that this summer’s crop will greatly help offset the cost and give us peace of mind that what we are eating is truly, completely organic.

Image courtesy of visual.ly

Our New Garden Tower

Garden Tower ProjectWe ordered a garden tower from the good folks at gardentowerproject.com a few weeks ago. The weather here in Chicago has finally gotten to the point that it seems safe to move our seedlings outdoors, so today was planting day! Set up was super easy, although you should definitely try to get it in it’s final spot before filling it with soil and water as it can become quite heavy (my mistake – I will have to let it dry out a little once the plants are established so I can move it). I think this will work great though! It fits more plants than we could otherwise grow in a huge garden plot and will use just a fraction of the water. I love the fact that we can use it to compost as well. These would be a wonderful way to expand the usability of a greenhouse too. Overall I am extremely happy with this purchase and highly recommend it!

I can’t wait to see how things fill out once the plants settle in, some of the poor things are still in shock from being transplanted. Our pepper seedlings seemed to separate quite well, and even if only a portion make it to maturity, we will still have a massive pepper crop this season. We also have several tomato seedlings, cabbage, collards, pumpkins, squash, and a bunch of herbs that over wintered indoors. I think that because we do have the ability to move the tower indoors for the winter I will try starting a new batch of seedlings to grow in the autumn. We are very pleased with this find!

Butternut Squash Pancakes

Butternut Squash PancakesIngredients:
1 lb butternut squash
3/4 cup gluten free flour
4 eggs
3 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
coconut oil for cooking
Optional: 2 tbsp amaranth

Puree the squash (pre-cooked) with all of the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Cook as you would for regular pancakes and enjoy!

Whitening Teeth With Turmeric

For those of us who enjoy our coffee and tea on a daily basis, undoing the stains caused by those drinks usually involves the use of harsh chemicals. While I don’t recommend using turmeric to whiten you teeth if you have crowns, caps or fillings that could potentially get stained (which I do have), for those who don’t have these issues, it seems like a far safer alternative to commercially available tooth whiteners. This reminds me to look up information on using oil to whiten teeth – as I don’t think that would cause any staining issues for those of us with any after-market teeth parts.

Bell Pepper Seedlings

Bell Pepper SeedlingsI planted a bunch of bell pepper seedlings we had saved from a few peppers last year.  I wasn’t expecting to see quite this level of germination!  Next time I do this I will need to spread them out better.

It appears that we will be eating a ton of peppers this summer!  I just hope that the garden tower I ordered gets here soon so we can start moving all of our seedlings to a more spacious home.  Great to see that these germinate so well though.  As a beginner gardener I still have much to learn, but being able to grow your own food is very empowering.

Now I just need to figure out how to separate these little guys without harming them.  Hmmmm.