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. www.healinglieswithin.com (10% introductory discount for Ravenhawks readers)

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 http://www.lolalina.com/.

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.

Jan 022015
 

Learn how to recycle your Christmas tree and reap benefits for the environment

Houzz contributor Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist, freelance writer… More 

It seems like a rather sad ending for a beautiful Christmas tree to be lying at the curb, stripped of its holiday finery, waiting for the garbage truck to haul it off to the nearest landfill. That is the unfortunate end awaiting many Christmas trees once the holidays are over. But there can be a different end for your tree, one in which it serves a useful purpose that will benefit nature.

Natural Christmas trees, as opposed to artificial trees, continue to be a popular holiday choice, with proponents claiming that there is something about the natural shape and fragrance that can’t be beat.

Now, maybe your natural tree can’t be put away in a box and saved for the next Christmas season once it has been taken down, but thankfully your old tree can be recycled for a variety of uses. Many municipalities collect Christmas trees and use them to improve soil, create paths and stabilize waterways, among other things. Read on to see ways your Christmas tree can find new life. Some you might already know and incorporate in your holiday traditions, but others might be new.

Green ideas for Yule 2014

 Conscious Living, Environment, Green ideas for Yule 2014  Comments Off on Green ideas for Yule 2014
Dec 142014
 
Green ideas for yule

Green ideas for Yule celebration

Yule is also known as the Winter Solstice which occurs on the 21st December, although this year the date will be 22nd December. It is the time of year when the days start to get longer again and we have the promise of light and the return of life. It celebrates the birth of the sun god who is the child of the goddess. At Yule the Holly king gives over his rule to the Oak king.

One green idea to celebrate Yule is to use holly and ivy and mistletoe for decorations. As evergreens, they symbolise the ongoing circle of life. You can also use pine cones, nuts, berries, twigs and branches to decorate – taking care to select ones which have fallen naturally to the ground. You might want to make an evergreen wreath for your front door and if you’re creative then fashion decorations for around the home. You could maybe use salt dough to make hanging ornaments or use an orange to represent the sun and decorate it.

Yule is a time for reflection, for nurturing and for renewal so to celebrate you might like to give thanks for all that is in your life including the people and relationships. Take time to sit quietly and really experience the gratitude you feel. You might like to do this at sunrise or sunset or maybe use candles to represent the four elements of earth, air, fire and water and feel your connection to the earth. You could use red and green candles and pray for the well-being of our planet as you light them. You could also use candles to represent people you love who can’t be with you in person to celebrate Yule. An old tradition for celebrating Yule was wassailing, which translates as “be well”, “be whole”, “be healthy” where a cup of drink is used to toast each other. A green way to celebrate Yule could include gathering with friends and family and sharing stories by the fire or by candlelight: you could read from books or poems or even watch a film or you may have those who write their own or you may simply choose to each choose something from your own life that you are grateful for and wish to share.

If you choose to enjoy a meal with family and friends to celebrate Yule then a “green” way to do this is by using local, organic produce. If you want to give gifts then there are lots of green ways to do this such as non material gifts: a massage, a subscription to a magazine, sponsoring a child or an animal, planting a tree, a donation in someone’s name, going an errand, giving your time or skill. You could also buy gifts from local artisans at craft fairs which support the local community or re-cycle an item or buy from a thrift or second-hand store. Cards could be hand-made using re-cycled paper or you could send an e-card.

However you choose to celebrate Yule may it be a blessed one.

Jill Graham is a professional psychic tarot reader, energy healer and life 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. www.healinglieswithin.com (10% introductory discount for Ravenhawks readers)

 

Prepare your house for the winter

 Environment, Prepare your house for the winter  Comments Off on Prepare your house for the winter
Oct 262014
 
Prepare your house for the winter

Now is the time to prepare your house for the winter here are a few tips

As we move from the autumn to winter equinox and the nights start to grow longer, now is the time to prepare your house for the winter.

As the temperature starts to dip, one way to prepare your house for the  winter is to make sure you retain as much heat as possible. This can be done by having effective drapes at the windows: possibly considering blackout or thermal type linings which can provide extra insulation. If your outer door opens straight into your home without any porch or hallway then you could maybe put up a rod and hang a drape over that door too. If you enjoy being creative and have any scraps of material or old clothing that can be re-cycled then you could make a good old-fashioned door stopper to stop cold winds blowing under doors. And remember to close doors to rooms when you’re not using them! Also, if there is one room that you mainly use then you can keep that warmer than the others; if you have central heating then having valves in each room to control the temperature means they can be easily adjusted. If you have the outdoor space and either own your own home or it’s ok with your landlord then you could plant shrubs or trees around the perimeter or near the house to act as a wind shield and shelter your home.

In order to reduce the amount of heating that you need and still be able to keep warm, then several layers of clothing – particularly organic cotton or wool – creates pockets of insulation, which keeps you warm and toasty and you can add or remove layers as necessary.

It’s likely that you will mainly have the windows closed in your house for the winter to keep out the cold. However, if you’re then looking for ways to freshen the air and remove nasty niffs then remember to check the ingredients in any air fresheners as you don’t want any toxic fumes to linger in the air. Instead, consider using essential oils with a candle burner and choosing a fragrance that you enjoy and that is good for your health. Or why not make your own potpourri with some favorite herbs? You could also introduce houseplants to the room which will also improve the air quality. If you find yourself feeling irritable or low in mood or perhaps with a sniffly nose or sore throat then you might want to also check any furniture polish you’re using to see if that might be causing or exacerbating your symptoms. Some furniture polish sprays contain toxic chemicals and with the windows closed you may feel the effects more. You could easily make your own polish with some jojoba or olive oil mixed with a few drops of lemon or apple cider vinegar. The same goes for candles. It can be lovely having candles in your house in the winter but you might want to check what is in the scented ones and ensure that they are made from natural ingredients.

Jill Graham is a professional psychic tarot reader, energy healer and life 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. www.healinglieswithin.com (10% introductory discount for Ravenhawks readers)

Sep 252014
 

Skin friendly products that are environmentally responsible

skin friendly products

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and so it makes sense that we would want to protect it and take the best possible care of it.

There are a large amount of products that come into contact with our skin: most obviously are soap, bubble-bath, shower gel, talc, moisturiser, make-up, make-up remover but there is also washing powder and conditioner that we use to wash the clothes that we wear.

I am sensitive to chemicals and now only use organic products which are the ones that are the most skin friendly for me. It is a matter of personal choice what products you use but it is fair to say that in order to make the best possible choice for yourself you need to be informed about what is in your skin care products and how they have been produced.

Some products contain a high amount of toxins and man-made chemicals. If you look at the list of ingredients on the products that you buy it will tell you what they contain, but unless you have the relevant knowledge and information you won’t know about the possible effects on your body. Wouldn’t you prefer to buy and use a skin product that is environmentally and skin friendly, from a company that doesn’t use anything that it believes could cause you or the planet harm? Such companies exist and their labelling will explain that it doesn’t contain synthetic chemical ingredients that have been found to have a toxic effect on humans or animals but instead the ingredients are actually there to bring benefit to your body.

What should you look out for in environmentally and skin friendly products? They should contain ingredients that haven’t been tested on animals, are 100% vegetarian and have no artificial fragrances or additives. Other things to look for are that no pesticides or herbicides have been used at the ingredient source and no GMO plants. The products that are environmentally friendly may involve re-using and re-cycling, minimal packaging and sustainability, not taking more from nature than she can afford to give.

There are labels that you can look out for that can help you to know whether a product is environmentally friendly and skin friendly. These include labels that denote certified organic ingredients such as The Soil Association, USDA, NOP, Ecocert, and Skal. Other labels give you more information about how an item has been produced. These include “FairTrade” which is about sustainability, decent working conditions and fair trading terms and conditions for farmers and workers in the developing world; “Fair for Life” which is about fair relations between seller and buyer; “FairWild” which promotes the sustainable use of wild-collected ingredients and “Ecocert Fair Trade” which supports rural industries and protects biodiversity.

Jill Graham is a professional psychic tarot reader, energy healer and life 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. www.healinglieswithin.com (10% introductory discount for Ravenhawks readers).

Green carpeting

 Conscious Living, Environment, Green carpeting  Comments Off on Green carpeting
Aug 042014
 

Green Carpeting for the environmentally friendly home

green carpeting

When considering providing carpeting for a home, the material that most readily springs to mind is carpet!  But were you aware how many chemicals can be in many synthetic carpets? Or how far the materials might have travelled? A new carpet can off-gas toxic fumes from chemicals such as formaldehyde for several months.  If I go somewhere that has a newly laid synthetic carpet which has been glued into place then my chest tightens, my eyes sting, I get a headache and I feel sick very quickly.

Luckily there are several “green”, environmentally friendly alternatives that are more healthy for us and our planet.

If you like something warm and soft under your feet and prefer carpet, then have you considered natural wool carpet that is free from toxic chemicals?  Wool is naturally anti-static, anti-flammable and stain resistant and you can get wool carpets with a natural jute backing.  In order to ensure that you do truly have green carpeting you need to check that no toxic chemicals are used to fix it in place.

Another green carpeting idea is cork tiling using cork which comes from the cork oak tree.  The tree isn’t cut down and the bark re-grows within 3 years.

Or how about wood flooring?  If you’re getting wood flooring then look out for the FSC logo so that you know it comes from sustainable wood sources and again make sure that no toxic glues are used to adhere it in place.  You can get wood flooring made from wood taken from trees that have fallen naturally rather than being chopped down or wood from reclaimed flooring. 

Bamboo flooring is another green carpeting alternative as bamboo grows fast and is a reneweable source of carpeting.

Then there’s linoleum; not synthetic vinyl but true linoleum which is made from flax and linseed oil. True linoleum is stain and water resistant so ideal for kitchens and bathrooms and it’s also good for areas of heavy wear.

A final green carpeting idea to consider is tiles.  You can get tiles made from ceramic, natural stone, slate and various recycled materials and thin tiles that take less energy to fire.

So if you’re looking for green carpeting ideas that are healthier and kinder to you and our planet then enjoy exploring some of the options available.

 

 About the Author

Jill Graham is a professional psychic tarot reader, energy healer and life 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. www.healinglieswithin.com

 

Jun 122014
 

Stay cool. Stay green. with environmentally friendy products this summer

 environmentally friendly products

 

Most of us tend to be creatures of habit and stick with what we know and follow familiar patterns and habits.  This is probably especially true when it comes to our living environment.  When you last went shopping for cleaning products did you look at the different options available and read the labels or did you reach for the same product you bought last time?  Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with following a pattern – especially if it is one that is helpful but to act from habit unconsciously can limit our perspectives and options.  Were you aware of just how many environmentally friendly products are now available?

I love discovering new things and was amazed at just how many environmentally friendly products are around to help make my home healthier.  I have sensitivity to quite a few chemicals and paints and washing powders in particular can give me headaches and make me feel sick and generally unwell.  So I am delighted that there is a vast range of products without toxic chemicals including eco paints that can be used to paint the house inside.  Also carpets made from wool.

I’m particularly pleased that you can buy organic mattresses and organic cotton sheets because we spend a lot of our time asleep in bed.  Sleep is vital to refresh and rejuvenate us and allow us to actually function and yet many mattresses have many chemicals in them from things such as flame retardant substances and so we are breathing these in whilst we sleep and likely absorbing them through our skin.  A healthy body may be able to deal with this but if your immune system is impaired or you are unwell then it’s just one more toxic burden on an already overloaded body. Did you know that you can buy mattresses made from wool that are naturally fire retardant?  And that wool is an excellent temperature regulator and draws moisture and excess heat away from your body in the summer.  Cool!  You can also get natural latex mattresses which are free from foam and petro-chemicals and which disperse heat thus making them cool and comfortable in the summer.  Organic cotton sheets and pillow cases are made without toxic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and so are gentler and kinder on your body, allowing it to repair itself as you sleep.   You can also get organic clothing made from cotton and bamboo.

The range of products available for cleaning our home seems to have increased and there are so many options available.  If you’re lucky enough to live near a shop that sells environmentally friendly products then it may well be worth a trip to see just how many things are available.  If you don’t live near a shop then maybe if you have internet access you can find somewhere online:  there are companies that are dedicated to ethical products and have done all the research and sourcing for you, simply presenting you with a range of options.  There are products to clean your dishes, your kitchen, your toilet, bath, shower, clothes, remove stains and limescale.  Not only are there a range of washing powders without harsh or toxic chemicals but you can get laundry balls which clean your clothes without detergent.

Many everyday cleaners that we may be using leave sticky residues and contain toxins that we breathe in on a daily basis.  By choosing environmentally friendly products you are not only choosing something that can be kinder to you and your family but by containing biodegradeable ingredients that breakdown to natural byproducts then they are kinder to our wildlife and rivers.

I have even found food bowls for pets that are made from environmentally friendly materials.  You can also get water powered clocks and solar powered remote controls for your tv.

So next time you visit the shops and reach for that familiar item, maybe take a moment to look and see what environmentally friendly products are available.

 About the Author

Jill Graham is a complementary therapist offering healing and empowerment to move you past blocks and obstacles to creating and living the life you truly desire via psychic tarot readings, energy healing, holistic life coaching, advice and guidance and emotional connection. Help wherever you are in the world via skype, email, phone. www.healinglieswithin.com

 

 

 

Green Activities

 Conscious Living, Environment, Green Activities  Comments Off on Green Activities
Apr 252014
 

plant-158798_150Now that Spring is here and the weather milder we feel more like exercising and getting outdoors. So what green activities are available to us?

Walking is something that most of us are able to enjoy. We may walk to work or to go to on errands or to visit friends but how often do we walk just for the sake of it and take the time to notice Green activitieswhat’s around us instead of focusing on where it is we are going? I’ve noticed a difference in what I observe when I’m driving and when I’m a passenger and it’s the same with walking: when I have the intent to be aware of my surroundings I have a much richer experience. I’m lucky enough to live by the sea and at this time of year I enjoy watching the flowers and shrubs start to come into bloom and noticing the different colors and scents. I also look out for the small creatures that are now venturing forth. There is a short period of time when tiny caterpillars make their way from one side of the cliff path to the other, ants go about their daily work and small lizards bathe in the sunshine. I love to pause on my walk to watch them. Even though I may go on the same walk the experience is never the same because of the ever changing world around me: even the sunsets are different each day. The skies can show pinks, oranges, reds and all shades in between and in varying combinations, shot about with black or blue, stretching far out into the distance. The air has a different feel according to the time of day and the weather and as the season progresses. Each day brings something different to enjoy.

In my neighbourhood there are also several organised walks that take place, some of which are centred round wildlife such as butterfly or moth walks – depending on whether it’s day or evening – and deer and badger spotting. So you have the opportunity to walk, get fresh air, connect with the creatures around us and also to socialise and make new friends.

Cycling is another green activity which can be enjoyed. If you don’t own your own bicycle then many areas have them available to hire for varying periods of time. As you can cover a little more ground on a bike than on foot – depending on your level of fitness and your bike’s capabilities – then it’s possible to explore a little further afield. Cycling is great for building up general strength and fitness, although I always have to remember to take it easy the first time I go out after the winter, to allow my body time to adjust and prevent aching muscles!

Another green activity that emerges in my area in the warmer months is yoga on the beach. This makes a lovely change to being indoors in a studio and lets you get fresh air in your lungs and enjoy a lovely view at the same time. Some places hold yoga classes in the local park so it may be worth seeing if there is anything similar in your neighbourhood.

So if your body is calling you to get outdoors then look around your area to see what green activities are available to you to explore.

About the Author
Jill Graham is a complementary therapist offering healing and empowerment to move you past blocks and obstacles to creating and living the life you truly desire via psychic tarot readings, energy healing, holistic life coaching, advice and guidance and emotional connection healing. Help wherever you are in the world via skype, email, phone. www.healinglieswithin.com

The green spring clean

 Conscious Living, Environment, The green spring clean  Comments Off on The green spring clean
Mar 072014
 

Winter is over and the spring equinox is with us.  The skies are blue and feel fresh and full of anticipation and new energy.  What better time than to clean our homes andgreen spring clean our bodies – ready for a new start?!

Spring cleaning your home in an environmentally friendly, green way is easy.  It can be cheaper and certainly much more healthy for us, our home and our pets.  A basic spring clean is easily accomplished with just a few basic ingredients that are readily available.

Your green spring clean can start by using a damp cloth to clean away dust.   Cleaning can then be done for most areas using the basic ingredients of lemon, vinegar and baking soda.

green spring cleanWhite vinegar both disinfects and deodorizes so by mixing with water in equal parts you can spray onto most surfaces.  By testing a small area first you can ensure that it is working for you.   Vinegar is good at removing stains caused by hard water and for getting toilet bowls sparkling clean. It also makes an excellent window cleaner for removing smears and spots.  Use a cloth to wipe the vinegar/water mix onto your windows and then scrunch up newspapers to finish off and get a nice gleam and sparkle.

Baking soda mixed with vinegar or lemon into a paste can clean surfaces and ovens.  I use it to great effect to get rid of grease on the oven base after cooking.  Baking soda on its own can be used to get rid of smells – by placing in the fridge or microwave or by sprinkling on settees or carpets and then vacuuming up.

Once you’ve cleaned your home then opening windows to allow clean air to come in and circulate and remove stagnant air will make it feel fresh and easier to breathe.  green spring cleanIt’s an easy thing to do and can make a huge difference. You can also introduce plants that will assist with purifying the air:  no need for artificial toxic plug in air fresheners.  Spider plants, ferns and peace lilies are good plants to use for this and spider plants in particular are fairly hardy and easy to grow and take care of.

Once your home is feeling cleaner then it’s time for the green spring clean for your body!  Why not start the day with hot water and lemon instead of coffee or tea?  It will help to bring your body more into balance and reduce any sluggish feelings.  Cutting back on caffeine, sugar and alcohol should also make your body more alkaline than acidic which will leave you feeling healthier.

As part of your personal green spring clean check out your personal cosmetics – you may be amazed at just how many toxic chemicals they contain.  By cutting down on the number that you use and replacing them with organic alternatives then you are reducing the stress on your body at having to detoxify.  Our skin is the largest organ in our body and will absorb what we put onto it into our bloodstream. If you think of the amount of products you probably use in the course of a day – bubble-bath, shower gel, soap, deodorant, moisturizer, hand-cream, talcum powder, toothpaste, cosmetics, fragrance – then by ensuring that as many as possible are toxin free you are likely to feel healthier.

green spring cleanWash your bedding and again, check what you are washing it in – there are chemical free washing powders available that are healthier for your skin and body. I have chemical sensitivity and washing powders are the worse culprit for me.  There are some which cause me to have difficulties breathing, my chest tightens, I get a crashing headache and start to feel shaky and sick.  Other people can experience rashes or itching on their skin.  There are powders and liquids that don’t contain toxic ingredients or you could use soap nuts which are natural and organic and you can get them from renewable sources that don’t harm the environment.

With the days lengthening and buds appearing on the trees now is the perfect time to start that green spring clean, sprucing up our homes and tending to our bodies and feeling new energy and well-being.

 

About the Author:

Jill Graham is a complementary therapist offering healing and empowerment to move you past blocks and obstacles to creating and living the life you truly desire via psychic tarot readings, energy healing, holistic life coaching, advice and guidance and emotional connection healing.  Help wherever you are in the world via skype, email, phone. www.healinglieswithin.com

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