May 022015
Freshening up your home

Freshening up your home, furniture and carpets without chemicals

When thinking of freshening up your home many automatically turn to the sprays and liquids on the shelves. After all, these are the ones we see when we go shopping and these are the ones we see and hear advertised. And many people may not even realize that there are alternatives and you can freshen up your home without harmful chemicals.

It’s possible to freshen up your home, furniture and carpets with just a couple of natural ingredients that are readily available and don’t cost a lot to buy. These are vinegar and baking soda. Baking soda can be sprinkled onto carpets and then vacuumed up. It can absorb odors and when mixed with vinegar will remove stains. I once spilt some red wine on a cream carpet and it was a very large and very red stain. I’d never used vinegar or baking soda on this before and wasn’t sure it would do the job but it was all I had in the house and it was brilliant! It worked like magic and the stain completely disappeared with no trace. Baking soda can be used to remove odors in the kitchen and mixed with vinegar for cleaning surfaces, sinks, ovens.

During the cold of winter it can feel like the indoor air gets stale and congested with all the doors and windows in our home tightly shut. Instead of reaching for air fresheners or plug-ins to freshen your home and give a pleasant aroma I would recommend firstly opening windows whenever you can, to get air in and circulating. This will break up any stale air, get energy moving and flowing and disperse odors. Fresh air is usually all you need to freshen your home but if you like to smell something then why not try using organic essential oils? You can also use these to encourage different atmospheres such as invigorating, uplifting, or calming and relaxing. If you have a yard or garden or even pots and like growing your own herbs and flowers then you could make your own potpourri. You can also use plants indoors to freshen the air – spider plants in particular are good for cleaning and improving the quality of air indoors.

I hope this has given you a few ideas for how to freshen up your home, furniture and carpets without using chemicals and that you enjoy using them and feel the benefit.

About the Author

Jill Graham is a professional psychic tarot reader, energy healer and life & soul coach assisting you to move you past blocks and obstacles to creating and living the life you truly desire. Available wherever you are in the world via skype, email, or phone. (10% introductory discount for Ravenhawks readers)

Apr 272015
aromatherapy for dogs

Dogs have an acute sense of smell. Their nasal passages are much larger than humans and their sense of smell is 50-100 times greater. Aromatherapy for dogs is safe and therapeutic if utilized correctly. When using aromatherapy with your dog, make sure to use a high quality,  pure essential oil.            Synthetic oils contain chemicals which can be toxic to your animal. Even though an essential oil is pure and natural, it does not mean it is safe to use with your canine. Keep the size of your pet in mind. Use smaller dosing for smaller dogs. Essential oils are highly concentrated substances, therefore it is recommended to dilute oils in a base or to use a hydrosol when working with animals.

Kristen Leigh Bell author of Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals recommends avoiding the following essential oils: anise, birch, bitter almond, boldo, calamus, camphor, cassia, chenopodium, clove leaf and bud, crested lavender, garlic, goosefoot, horseradish, hyssop, juniper (she uses juniper berry), mugwort, mustard, oregano, pennyroyal, red or white thyme, rue, santalina, sassafras, savory, tansy, terebinth, thuja, wintergreen, wormwood, and yarrow.

Recipe Blends for Dogs

*Note these recipes are for dogs only. Do not use the recipes on other animals. Some essential oils that are safe for dogs are toxic to other animals such as cats, which metabolize essential oils differently than dogs.

All Natural Decyl Polyglucose Shampoo Base

Combine 4.5 ounces distilled water (135ml), 3.2 ounces decyl polyglucose (95 ml), ½ teaspoon xanthum gum powder (2.5ml), ½ teaspoon cider vinegar (2.5ml), grapefruit seed extract 1ml, rosemary antioxidant extract 1ml. Recipe makes 8 ounces (240ml) of shampoo base. Decyl polyglucose is easily obtained online.

Skin Soothing Shampoo for Itchy and Allergic Skin-

Add 2 drops geranium, 6 drops rosewood, 6 drops lavender, 1 drop roman chamomile, 2 drops carrot seed essential oil to 8 ounces (240ml) of a natural shampoo base such as the one listed above. One tablespoon (15ml) of finely ground oatmeal can be added for further relief.

Calming Shampoo-

Add 3 drops valerian, 2 drops vetiver, 4 drops petitgrain, 3 drops sweet marjoram, 2 drops sweet orange essential oil to 8 ounces (240ml) of a natural shampoo base such as the one listed above.

Flea and Insect Repelling Shampoo-

Add 4 drops clary sage, 2 drops citronella, 8 drops peppermint and 4 drops lemon to an 8 ounce (240ml) bottle of natural shampoo base such as the one listed above.

Tick Repelling Shampoo-

Add 2 drops geranium, 2 drops rosewood, 3 drops lavender, 2 drops myrrh, 2 drops opoponax and 1 drop bay leaf to an 8 ounce (240ml) bottle of natural shampoo such as the one listed above.


Bell, K. L. Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils and Hydrosols with Animals.

About the Author

Juniper Wyndfyre is a shaman/healer, Reiki Master, intuitive reader, soul guidance coach and laughter yoga leader and teacher living in New Mexico. She enjoys helping people heal, laugh and live the life of their dreams. All services are available long distance via phone or computer. To reach Juniper call 505-862-9343, email or visit her website

Apr 192015

Dizzy spells and headaches, begone. Be kinder to your health and the environment with these safer paint choices for your interior decorating

About the Author

Houzz Contributor. I cover topics ranging from decorating ideas, product picks, Houzz tours, and interviews with designers and architects, to the monthly home maintenance checklist. My favorite pieces to write tend to center around the emotional aspects of home and savoring life’s simple pleasures. Learn more, and follow my adventures in creating a warm and cozy home at

This series demystifies ecofriendly design and explores simple, easy ways to go greener at home. This week we’re taking a look at five ecofriendly paint companies.

Why choose ecofriendly paint?
Traditional paint products are made with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release toxins into the air as the paint dries, potentially causing health problems and damage to the environment. Some people also experience headaches and dizziness when using traditional paint. The federal government already regulates VOCs in paint, but the new ecofriendly paint products on the market go a step further with reduced levels of VOCs. To learn more about VOCs, visit the Environmental Protection Agency‘s website.

What is the difference between low VOC and zero VOC?
Paint that is labeled “low VOC” contains less than 50 grams per liter, while those labeled “zero VOC” or “VOC free” claim to have no measurable VOCs at all.

The Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Company has been mixing up real milk paints in a range of rich colors for more than 30 years. Their paint is completely nontoxic, VOC free and safe for use on children’s items. And yes, it is actually made with milk.
The original formula was meant for use on porous surfaces (like unfinished wood or masonry), but the company recently began offering a version that works for walls. It does take a bit of extra work, as the paint comes in powder form and you must mix it up yourself, but nothing else compares in terms of green credentials.

Apr 182015

Enliven your landscape with pots and containers

About the Author

Courtney Olander:Houzza Contributor: Courtney Olander is the landscape and custom container designer behind Olander Garden Design. Her designs reflect a contemporary and thoughtful touch that not only compliments the architecture of her client’s home, but incorporates their lifestyle and personal aesthetics.After a 10 year career as a trend researcher, she has a particular interest in staying abreast of new trends in the landscape and outdoor living industry, including; design, materials and new plant introductions.Living in several metro areas on the West Coast, including – Vancouver BC, Seattle, the Bay Area, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, she can’t help but be drawn to all things “West Coast style”.

Placing a planted container near the front door is an excellent way to create an inviting entry experience for guests. A pot on a back patio adds color and interest and helps to draw you outside. However, there are numerous ways pots can be incorporated into the landscape beyond the front door and the back patio. Here are 10 ways to use pots to enliven your landscape.

6. Soften or brighten a blank wall or fence

1. Use a single vessel as a focal point in the landscape. Place a pot among plantings to draw the eye out into the landscape. Here, a light gray container framed by lace leaf Japanese maples in a contrasting dark hue creates an intriguing vignette.

Tip: Select a large vessel for extra drama and impact.

2. Cluster pots in a planting bed. Select a series of pots with similar shapes, color schemes or surfaces to create a lively grouping that breaks up a planted bed. The surface of the pots — whether smooth, rough or shiny — not only will provide interest in a planted bed but will also give the eye a place to rest.

Tip: The pots don’t all have to match, but at least one of the elements listed above should tie them all together.

Apr 172015
Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort

Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort Part 2 in our around the world in 80 Eco Spas Feature

Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort

Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination for its beautiful beaches rivaling that of the well-trodden sandy shores of Rio de Janeiro. But if you are in search of an off-the-radar eco-friendly resort and spa, Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort may fit the bill.

Kiaroa Eco-Luxury ResortA six-hour drive from the Bahia capital of Salvador and a far cry from the busy beaches of the north, Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort sits in front of an unspoilt beach on the Marau Peninsula, a narrow strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Camamu Bay.

The Marau Peninsula is a unique microcosm of tropical isolation where you can still find unpopulated beaches, virgin rainforest,Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort and sparkling surf. The landscape is characterised by pristine white sandy beaches, coconut groves, Atlantic forest reserves, mangroves and traditional communities of fishermen and boat builders.

Kiaroa Eco-Luxury ResortIdeally located between a deserted beach and the tropical Atlantic forest, the Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort blends in perfectly with its environment. Its décor is typically tropical and its 28 suites and bungalows offer guests all the comforts of a five star resort. The refined and individual décor of each room invokes in turn, Bali, Thailand, Africa and Bahia, and they all possess a view of the magnificent Bay of Marau.

When it comes to relaxing, the Armonia Spa offers a dry and wet sauna, heated swimming pool for Watsu therapy, gym, and whirlpool with chromotherapy.

The environmentally friendly Kiaroa Eco Luxury Resort, named after a black pearl found in the region, works harmoniously with the local community Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resortfocusing on sustainability. Kiaroa is an APA (protected area), and it was entire built according to government standards for sustainability.

Kiaroa Eco-Luxury ResortThe energy applied in water heating is solar, furniture and artefacts around the resort are made by local artisans, the wood used in the construction of the hotel and rooms originates from reforestation areas.

Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort is an ideal location for couples and any city dwellers seeking a secluded sanctuary. Even the neighbouring areas are idyllic. The nearby village of Barra Grande, has only about 500 inhabitants and is a true place of peace and tranquility.

The Maraú Peninsula itself is not short of romance either. According to local legend, every couple that first meets at the Maraú Peninsula or travels Kiaroa Eco-Luxury ResortKiaroa Eco-Luxury Resortthere to spend time together will never break up. As the story goes, many moons ago the Indian Saquaíra and warrior Maraú lived happily in love until Camamu appeared wooing Saquaíra taking her away in his canoe.

Desperate, Maraú asked the God Tupã to embellish the place so that his love would come back, but though he was heeded, the beautiful Indian never came back. Before he died, Maraú asked Tupã for a special favour: that all couples that met at the place where he had lived with his beloved or travelled there, would never separate. Kiaroa exists exactly where Tupã supposedly granted Maraú’s wishes.

Pictures: Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort

Huria Choudhari is a journalist, creative warrior and intuitive counselor. She writes about music, fashion and lifestyle for Life & Soul Magazine: Having carved her journalism career in news and current affairs, Huria is a truth seeker. Applying that very same ethic, she also offers creative coaching and intuitive counselling services to help others discover their own truth. Get in touch with Huria at or


Apr 142015
Eco Spas

Eco spas are fast becoming a welcome alternative on the spa landscape. More and more spas are opening up the world over which go much further than offering organic beauty products and serving organic food. Greener by design, eco spas now have in-built in facilities to reduce the amount of energy and water used, and use alternative water treatments for cleaning swimming pools. We travel the globe to find you 80 eco spas to whet your appetite for a vacation that brings healing to holidaymakers, without a serious impact on the environment. Here’s the first in our series…

Fivelements, Bali, Indonesia

Eco SpasBuilt on sacred grounds along the banks of the Ayung River, Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa, Bali is a healing and wellness destinationEco Spas deeply rooted in the philosophies and traditions of Bali, nurturing harmony among spirit, human and nature. Designed by Balinese architect Ketut Arthana with these principles in mind, this eco spa has been constructed using primarily renewable materials, mainly bamboo, like that of a traditional Balinese village.

What you get is an idyllic, luxurious eco living space that is in harmony with its surroundings. With just seven villas, each boasting private balconies Eco Spaswith extensive views of the surrounding lush greenery, this lavish five-star hotel is ideally suited for those looking for the ultimate relaxing retreat. With decent sized villas, Fivelements is also perfect for families in need of some healing and downtime.

Raw foodies will love the carefully prepared vegan and vegetarian menu. Healing treatments, based on ancient Balinese healing methods, are administered by native traditional healers drawing on ancient wisdom.

Eco SpasTreatments work to balance the body’s five elements whilst clearing negative energy from the body. Other activities including yoga, martial arts and meditation take place against the river landscape.Eco Spas

With a strong emphasis on maintaining the balance within its surroundings, Fivelements respects water resources by storing rainwater and using it for irrigation, and supports village waste management, tree planting and local organic farmers.

If it’s an all round “feel good” vacation you are after from root to tip, from the inside out, Fivelements may just be the prana your body is searching for.

Pictures: Fivelements

Huria Choudhari is a journalist, creative warrior and intuitive counsellor. She writes about music, fashion and lifestyle for Life & Soul Magazine: Having carved her journalism career in news and current affairs, Huria is a truth seeker. Applying that very same ethic, she also offers creative coaching and intuitive counselling services to help others discover their own truth. Get in touch with Huria at or


Simple Pleasures: 15 Ways to Welcome Spring

 Conscious Living, Home and Garden  Comments Off on Simple Pleasures: 15 Ways to Welcome Spring
Apr 112015

Officially spring is here, below you will find a few of the 15 ways to welcome spring to your home and garden. For those who just had more snow do not despair. Gets some hints on how to brighten things up when we can truly welcome spring temperatures.

Embrace the season by lightening up, freshening up and connecting with nature

Houzz Contributor. I cover topics ranging from decorating ideas, product picks, Houzz tours, and interviews with designers and architects, to the monthly home maintenance checklist. My favorite pieces to write tend to center around the emotional aspects of home and savoring life’s simple pleasures. Learn more, and follow my adventures in creating a warm and cozy home at
After we muddled through what was a particularly bleak winter in some regions, finally being able to greet spring is a genuine pleasure. Here are 15 ideas for welcoming spring into your home — from bringing nature in to digging in the garden beds.

Give your living space a quick color makeover. Leave the warmer, deeper hues of winter behind and embrace a light, spring-inspired palette. Remove heavy window coverings in favor of matchstick blinds or lightweight curtains. Paint the walls (or just one wall) pale aqua, spring green or crisp white and invest in a few new accessories in the same color family.

Let the fresh air in. After we’ve spent a winter hunkered down indoors with the heater on, the air inside our homes can get stale. On a nice early-spring morning, open up all of the windows in your house and let the fresh air flow in.

welcome spring
Plant fresh herbs. A few little pots of herbs in the kitchen window make a fragrant (and useful) display. If your sill isn’t wide enough, consider installing a simple rail with s-hooks, as shown here, to hold small pots.
Apr 072015

So it is April. What do you do in your yard and garden this month. For some spring gardens are blooming but for those of us in the Great Lakes and the upper East coast we are still feeling a bit of a chill and it is possible we will see frost even snow before the month end.  Check the links below to see what you can do in your region in April to help your spring garden bloom.

Get the guide you need for gardening in your U.S. region, with tasks, climate-appropriate plantings and more

Author:Annie Thornton  Houzz Editorial Staff

Colder climates may still be shrugging off winter, but most gardeners are excited to be back to work by April. Dry summers in California and the American Southwest call for drought-tolerant plantings and water-wise practices. Butterflies signal spring’s return in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere, while flowering native trees make their presence known in the Northeast. In Texas and the Southeast, warming temperatures mean everything from herbs to vegetables to annuals can be sown from seed. Here’s what to do in your garden, by U.S. region, this April.

Find your April garden checklist:
California | Central Plains | Great Lakes | Mid-Atlantic | Northeast
Pacific Northwest | Rocky Mountains | Southeast | Southwest | Texas

Spring Gardens

Great Lakes. “Butterflies make their first appearance in April, such as this painted lady on squill (Scilla siberica),” says Illinois garden coach Barbara Pintozzi. “Leave bare small areas of slightly depressed soil in the garden where butterflies can drink from mud puddles. Allow some native violets (Viola sororia) to remain in the lawn for frittilary butterflies to use as host plants.”

Punta Cana Dominican Republic

 Conscious Living, Punta Cana Dominican Republic, Travel  Comments Off on Punta Cana Dominican Republic
Apr 022015

Turquoise Oceans and White Sand Beaches Punta Cana Dominican Republic

punta cana

A turquoise ocean and fine white sand palm lined beaches glisten for miles as the plane approaches the runway. Warm tropical breezes, lush green vegetation and friendly people greet me upon arrival in Punta Cana Dominican Republic. A small group of local musicians play lively traditional music as I disembark the gate.

The Dominican Republic located on the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola is one of the most economical and popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. Ethnically the population is of mixed European and African American descent. Native to the island, the Taino people were nearly decimated after the arrival of Columbus. A small amount of Taino ancestry does exist today. The native language is Spanish and the national sport is baseball. The upbeat and light rhythms of merengue and bachata are national music forms.

Punta Cana on eastern tip of the Dominican Republic has had enormous growth in the past 10 years. A plethora of all inclusive hotels, condominiums, restaurants and activities are available at reasonable prices. During my recent stay I soared atop the jungle and above fields of grazing cows in an 8 zip line adventure within the mountains an hour from the coast. The Dolphin Explorer Adventure Park close to the Punta Cana airport takes small groups of up to 10 people to play with dolphins. Everyone is allowed to touch, swim and work one on one with these gentle and intelligent beings. My favorite time was when Maya and Maraca placed a nose on each foot and swam forward lifting me like superman out of the water.

Boat adventures include motorboat, kayak and catamaran cruises. A well-organized full day tour to the island of Saona starts with a sunrise pick up by motor coach through small villages littered with schoolchildren, butcher shops and meandering dogs. A drive past the famous shrine Basilica Catedral de Nuestra Senora reveals unusual architecture. Its grand arch towers skyward above the heart of the city of Higuey. The harbor of La Romana is filled with boats departing for Saona. My cruise included open bar with an abundant flow of Dominican rum beginning at 9am. The isolated and beautiful island is inhabited by 500 people who make a living catering to visiting tourists. The tour included a delicious buffet lunch, swim time and a stop at natural tidal pools.

Stepping out of the day to day routine into a fresh place and culture can lead to new ideas, beginnings and healing of mind, body and spirit. Punta Cana is a relatively easy and non-intimidating destination for new or experienced international travelers offering both the comforts of home and the culture of a developing nation.

Juniper Wyndfyre is a healer, intuitive reader, soul-life coach and Laughter Yoga leader and teacher with a passion for travel residing in New Mexico. All services are available long distance. To reach Juniper visit or call 505-862-9343.

Mar 252015

So we have had a few nice days in March and it feels like spring is almost here. Don’t rush out and begin your spring garden cleanup just yet. There are some beneficial life forms living under those leaves keeping warm and they are not ready for you to yank their covers of just yet.  If you live in the north east or in the Great Lakes area you know there will be quite a few nice days followed by some really cold days and even more snow.  Check out the article below for when the best time to begin your spring garden cleanup. Let those little guys  that are using your mulch and leaves sleep in a little longer.

There are many positives to staying out of the garden, especially for wildlife.

Author:   Houzz Contributor. I own Monarch Gardens, a native plant garden consulting and design firm. I’m the author of several books, am a board member of the prairie conservation group Wachiska Audubon, and write for Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. I have a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska and dig in Lincoln with an award-winning 2,000′ space that’s been featured at Garden Design as well as Fine Gardening. I present nationally on native plants, climate change, sustainable design, and wildlife — find me at Great Garden Speakers. We hope to expand to a boutique nursery and arts residency in Nebraska. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at Monarch Gardens.

Stuff is sleeping out there. Speaking of hollow stems, many insects, such as native bees, have spent the winter maturing in the comfy confines of stems; they were laid as eggs in the summer or fall, then they emerged and are now resting adults ready to come out when the heat returns in mid- to late spring. Exposing them to fluctuating weather conditions may do great harm.

Spring Garden Cleanup

And what else is sleeping? Butterflies and moths and spiders and other native bees may be in the soil or just below the leaf litter. Many species overwinter as adults and take shelter in the natural detritus of the garden — you don’t want to walk on them.

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