Baking Soda… Have we met?

This post for my domestic divas out there who want environmentally safe multi-tasking products at their fingertips! Baking Soda, also known as Sodium Bicarbonate, (NaHCO3) has been around since the 1800’s.  It’s most recognized as a leavening agent to help with the ‘rise’ in baked goods. It’s also a mild, yet effective cleanser, but  it’s not just for household use; here’s a list of uses that just might make you say “Whaaaat???”

  •  Antacid – Did you know that medicines like alka-seltzer gets the effervescent (fizzing) action from baking soda? It’s ‘fizz’ that is said to settle the stomach from minor bouts of nausea and heartburn. As always, used discretion and consult a healthcare professional for any prolonged discomfort. DO NOT USE if you suffer from any serious conditions like ulcers and such.
  • Kitchen cleanser – If you have expensive, non-stick cookware, or delicate materials like granite or stone, baking soda is the ideal cleanser. Tough enough for stains without harsh chemicals or damaging abrasives.
  • Toilet Bowl cleaner – This can double as a neat science trick for the kiddies! Combine a 1/2 cup of white vinegar with a 1/2 cup of baking soda directly into the toilet bowl…. watch the fizzing action! (and no, it won’t explode) Let it sit for 15 min. while you get some coffee, then come back to casually swish and flush… it practically cleaned itself!
  • Jewelry cleaner – I discovered this by accident. I’m a serial lotion-slatherer – the thick stuff – which leaves my rings dull, dull, dull. (I’m never smart enough to take them off) One day, I scrubbed my pots good with baking soda, and upon rinsing and drying, I was nearly blinded by my normally-dull rings. They were sooooo shiny! It’s been my go-to ring cleaner ever since.
  • Toothpaste/breath freshener – This is pretty well-known, as a toothpaste is manufactured by Arm & Hammer. I’m a fan!
  • Carpet & vacuum freshener – Do you have pets? This is essential for all those pet-parents out there! Sprinkle baking soda liberally on your carpet, wait 15-20 min, then vacuum up! It instantly refreshes the carpet and the vacuum, especially when dealing with potentially stinky debris like pet hair.
  • Drain cleaner- Baking soda eliminates accumulated germs and odors in kitchen and bathroom drains. This is more preventative, but still effective with clogs too. Tip 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by boiling water or 1 cup heated vinegar for tough odors and/or clogs.
  • Exfoliant for face and body – This is my FAVORITE use! Tough enough to clean out those pores, and get rid of dry, dead skin, leaving the skin baby soft… gentle enough to use every day! At least I do. Use it in your bath, scrub up in the shower… so invigorating! Store it in a snazzy little container, like this bamboo spice box with a magnetized lid (something similar –bedbathandbeyond.com):

  • Laundry booster – Baking soda boosts your laundry detergent’s cleansing abilities by regulating the water’s ph; keeping it from becoming too acidic, or too alkaline. In a ph-regulated environment, the laundry detergent’s much more effective on stains and odors. Learn more about ph here.
  • Fruit and Veggie Cleanser – Whether you buy organic or inorganic produce, a good wash in a sink of cold water and a 1/2 cup of baking soda will leave your goods squeaky clean! Try it sometime!

So, instead of spending tons of $$ on multiple cleansers and fresheners, make the investment of about $5.00 on a rather large box of baking soda.

You’ll get waaaay more bang for your buck!

Meditation Persuasion….

Are your days longer than you’d like, and your patience, shorter? Are you having problems focusing on a task? Are you overwhelmed?  Am I beginning to sound like an infomercial?  If so, Meditation may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Consider the following information:

For  Spirit

Meditation is an ancient practice, said to date back at least 5,000 years or more. It is a widely-revered spiritual discipline  used as a way of evolving one’s spiritual self and connecting to the Divine. Although meditation is a derivative of yoga, the practice itself has transcended over time and is embraced by other cultures and religions, as the intention remains the same as the literal definition of yoga – the union of mind, body, and spirit with the Divine.

For Beauty and Health 

The physical benefits of meditation are extraordinary!  The ritual of deep breathing and stillness of mind brings you:

  • invigoration of bodily functions through the intake of oxygen through deep breathing
  • Improvement of focus, clarity, and creativity
  • the reduction of overall stress, which often affects personal appearance
  • a heightened sense of happiness and wellbeing

Meditation is also said to affect one’s physical appearance. Remember, joy and contentment radiate from the inside, out. It is logical to relate your inward happiness to outward attraction.

Your Sanctuary is also uplifted:

To truly submit yourself to meditation, it’s ideal to establish a air of calm and serenity. This means dedicating a room, corner or space to this discipline, adorned with candles, comfortable pillows or seating, and essential oils or incense such as sandalwood, a traditional aromatic widely used in to promote relaxation and spiritual connection.  And it makes your house smell heavenly! *no pun intended*

Meditation is a conduit of positive energy, meant to enlighten, enrich, and improve our quality of life through connecting to God and The Divine. This is just a quick introduction to what could prove to be an amazing lifestyle change!  No matter what your religion or personal beliefs may be, the benefits are transcendental.

For further reading on Meditation and the techniques involved, please visit Deepak Chopra’s instruction for beginners on MindBodyGreen.com

Namaste

Salute to Juice

Juicing is a craze I was slow to embrace. Every time someone would mention how amazing the effects of juicing was, I’d get a visual of midnight infomercials with manic hosts tossing a million ingredients to make a magical mystery mix. I wasn’t enthusiastic.

However, I had a revelation while staying at some friends’ house in Spain. Their surroundings were so rustic and beautiful.

They had a lovely orchard and garden, and picked everything we ate. There was such an abundance of fruits and veggies, they made smoothies with the extra. I was so in love with the process, and how I felt afterwards, I was motivated to buy my own Vitamix juicer when I got home. I’ve been juicing ever since!

While I didn’t initially get into it for health purposes, there are quite a few benefits to this new habit. It’s an effective way to get a blast of nutrients and fiber your body needs to function properly. If you have a hectic schedule, and constantly reach for junk food and fast fixes, this is an excellent way to substitute the bad with the good, with an added energy boost from natural sugars of the fruit.

When juicing fruits and veggies, it’s important to use organically- grown produce – produce that have not been treated with synthetic chemicals such as pesticides – because the vitamins contained in the skin boosts the nutritional value when incorporated in the juicing process. As this is not a juicing blog, I will not bore you with the list of fruits, veggies, and their value. Instead, I will thrill you with colorful array of pictures of my tantalizing smoothie skills! 😛

Start with fresh organic fruit of choice – here we have apple, pear, blueberries, strawberries, banana, ginger root and wheatgrass – an excellent detoxifier and metabolism booster

Combine all that yummy fruit into the juicer – what’s that greenery at the bottom, you ask? Just a little spinach for a dose of vitamin k. Shhh… don’t tell the family, what they don’t taste will help them!

Add some organic unfiltered unsweetened apple juice – about half-way – and once you get the juicer going on high, add a few ice cubes.

There you have it… A carafe of the Good Stuff! With no added sugars or sweeteners, you’ll be surprised how delicious it is! I call this mix – The Good Stuff! *I know, I know…*

By the way, I also added chia and flax seed – two amazing resources of omega-3 fatty acids. You can add what ever you like to these mixes for your personal needs. Just be creative and enjoy!

If you want to learn more about the nutritional benefits of juicing, check out this article on livestrong.com

Happy Juicing!

Aloe Vera – How good it is!

I grew up with this prickly little plant in my back yard. My mother, who wasn’t particularly known for her green thumb, was insistent on keeping up with this weird, gangly shrub. I never paid much attention to it, until I’d procure a cut or burn from fooling around in the kitchen, which was often.

*footnote – Reading while trying to cook is not a favorable combination… but I digress.* 

Mom would promptly send me out to the yard to break off a leaf of the aloe vera, and spread the gel over the cut or burn, to aid in the healing.  Most often than not, my wound would heal very well, with little to no scarring.  I can’t say I always followed directions, so when I did end up with an offensive mark, Mom would say, “See? Didn’t use that Aloe Vera like I told you!”

As an adult with a family of my own, I found myself coming full circle to my parent’s old remedies… but not without a little research first. This plant is amazing!

Also known as “Lily of the Desert”, Aloe Vera is known for its extraordinary healing properties.

  • The gel found within the leaves acts as a topical ointment for minor burns and abrasions.
  • It is popular as a soothing, naturally cooling treatment for sunburns.
  • The gel can also be orally ingested, as it is also said to aid in digestive issues and minor cases of stomach ulcers. *It is highly recommended to buy Organic Aloe Gel that advises oral ingestion on the label. Any other source can be dangerous and eating it straight from the plant is just plain gross.*

Did you know that Aloe Vera is awesome for your hair too? It’s juice acts as a natural conditioner and moisturizer. It has the ability to penetrate the hair follicle and strand, to aid in restoring the hair to it’s natural sheen. It’s a wonderful scalp treatment for afflictions such as psoriasis and dandruff, and if that’s not good enough… wait for it…. it’s recognized for it’s ability to promote hair growth! Oh yes it is!

I’ve used Aloe Vera for most of my adult life for different purposes, and I can honestly say that I’m a fan. Aloe Vera Rocks!

Image

For more compelling information on this amazing plant, check out this article from  Global Healing Center: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/nutrition/benefits-of-aloe-vera

It’s good stuff!

Write On!

Do you like to write? Maybe you have ideas about a story, or maybe you’re own life is a compelling tele novella. Whether you consider yourself a dedicated writer, or aspiring, we all need a little push in the right, or write direction! (Knee-slapper…. couldn’t resist)

 I am a writer. I’ve written since I was a kid, and it’s a part of the fabric of my being.  Yet with all it’s importance, it often gets pushed to the side in my world for school, kids, household… you name it!  But writing is not only gratifying on so many levels, it can also be therapeutic.  I want to encourage all of you to harness the almighty pen, if not for the good of all humanity, then simply for yourself.  Here are a few ways to get going, and release the inner-Hemingway in you!
  1.  Journal: Get in the practice of writing with a good old-fashion journal. Complain about your day, talk about your cat, talk about your hopes and dreams… just write it all out. This is also good for the soul.
  2. Set writing goals: Wanna write the next Harry Potter? Feel like you can be the next Stephen King? Write down your goals and ideas. Read them back to yourself. How much time can you dedicate to this craft? Hold yourself accountable for sticking to it! After all, this is for you, and you’re worth it.
  3. Join a local writer’s critique group: Whether you’re a novice or a novelist, joining a critique group is essential to any writer. It’s like attracting like; writers support and feed each other inspirational energy. If you find a group of writers who are generally positive, truthful, yet encouraging, it may surprise you how quickly those creative juices start to flow. Whatever the genre, get out there and find a group!
  4. Take a writing class: This is essential! Even if it’s one time, a class will aim you in the right direction with your writing goals, as well as fine-tune your knowledge of the craft itself. We’re never too old to learn, and there’s no such thing as too much practice.
  5. Write. Write some more. Keep on writing!
 I will continue to post things on the art and the craft of writing to encourage those of you who might be hesitant on this new venture. Everyone has a voice, and what you have to say might be just the thing someone needs to hear. Or read. Same difference.

Live Your Life

This is a page of encouragement. Right now, I won’t quote scripture, or paraphrase some clever philosopher. Not that I won’t ever… just not this second. I only want to say this:

You are capable. You are able. You are God’s creation. Live your life like you mean it!

And to all the youngin’s out there – Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once) doesn’t apply to getting drunk, staying high, having irresponsible sex everywhere with everyone, living life on “the edge”….

You Only Live Once indicates that you should aspire to do it right the first time; See the world, aim high, effect someone’s life for the better, have enough fun to see another day, and many more after. Do you… be better. Live your life like you mean it!

*Steps off of soapbox*

That’s all folks.

Good Eats in the Heat

It’s August, clearly hot in most areas of North America, and with the heat comes the occasional aversion for the kitchen  Even the most enthusiastic foodie like myself can’t imagination turning on the oven even in an air-conditioned setting.

Here’s a quick, no-heat option for a Spanish favorite – Gazpacho.  This is a cold tomato soup, which sounds a slightly unattractive for those unfamiliar, but unless you don’t like tomatoes, this is a delicious, refreshing dish that could be an appetizer or a light meal with some shrimp and a good crusty bread. Here’s a recipe from one of my fav sites, Allrecipes.com:
Southern Spain-Style Gazpacho
recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: MUGAL
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
Servings: 4
“This refreshingly tangy bowl of the Spanish classic was inspired by a trip to Toledo, Spain.”
INGREDIENTS:
3/4 green bell pepper, seeded
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 day-old crusty bread rolls, cut into thick
slices
6 tomatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
DIRECTIONS:
1. Blend the green bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, and 1/2 cup olive oil together in a blender until smooth. Add the bread slices to the blender one at a time and blend each into the mixture until smooth. Blend the tomatoes into the mixture one at a time until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl; season with salt and cayenne pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon olive oil to serve.
As I stated before, I am a foodie. I’m suggesting recipes that I’ve not only tried, I’ve pretty much owned them. (patting self on the back) There are a lot of gazpacho recipes out there, but this one is the closest I’ve come to the gazpacho I tasted and fell in love with in Spain. I have just a couple of suggestions:
  • Try red wine vinegar instead of balsamic. This is up to you, but I like the taste of the red wine vinegar.
  • Use a really good spanish extra-virgin olive oil. You’d be surprised how the oil contributes to the taste.
Enjoy!

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