Mother Earth Living Blogs >

Wiser Living
Finding a natural solution

Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders with Weight-activated Feeders

Photo by Fotolia

Those bushy-tailed squirrels may look cute when they’re scurrying up trees and stashing food away for the winter… but what happens when it's birds’ food that they’re piling up? Well, squirrels will hoard those tasty seeds and nuts or gobble them up before the birds get a chance to dine on them, meaning that your feathered friends will be frightened away from your bird feeders as they no longer consider your garden a safe source of food.

This means that you’ll need to find a way to stop squirrels eating your bird seed… there are many recommendations on how to do this if you look online, such as sprinkling seeds and nuts with chilli powder (birds don’t mind the heat whereas squirrels can’t stand it!), but the most effective way to stop squirrels stealing from your feeders is to change the bird feeder you’re using.

Traditional bird feeders are beautiful, functional and fit for purpose, but they’re not designed to prevent squirrels from stealing from them! That’s why you should invest in a squirrel proof bird feeder.

There are a few types of squirrel proof bird feeders, but one of the most effective models on the market is a weight activated feeder.

How do weight activated bird feeders work?

Weight activated squirrel proof feeders are a particularly clever method of preventing squirrels from eating your bird food. Like any other bird feeder, the feeder has seed tubes for you to add bird seed to, as well as ports for birds to feed from. However, what sets this design apart is the fact that the ports are designed to close under a squirrel’s weight, preventing them from raiding the supply of seeds. The spring-loaded metal casing slips down over the feeding ports, blocking access and protecting the seeds.   

The only thing to bear in mind is that the feeder will also close under the weight of a big bird. However, this isn’t normally an issue for most people, as birds that weigh as much as squirrels don’t typically want to eat from the same feeders (or indeed even eat the same seeds) as many smaller birds. You can also get around this problem by investing in a model that allows you to determine the weight at which the feeder will close, so you can choose to allow weightier birds to visit the feeder once the squirrels have stopped dining from it.

Will squirrels eventually give up, then?

Yes – without access to the seeds inside the feeder, squirrels will become frustrated and will eventually move on to look for food in other places. This means that the birds visiting your garden may flock in higher numbers once they know there’s no competition for the delicious seeds within the feeders. 

Are weight activated feeders as attractive as a generic feeder? 

Absolutely! Just because you need a bird feeder to fulfil a particular function doesn’t mean that it can’t be very attractive, too. For instance, a weight activated feeder such as this one is decorative with a rustic metal finish and leaf pattern, which just goes to show that you can have a squirrel-proof feeder that also doubles as a beautiful garden accessory.

If you have a problem with squirrels pillaging your bird feeders, try a weight activated feeder… you’ll be rid of the squirrels in no time!

Shop Local: Made in KC

When you choose to support small, local businesses, craftsmen and makers of all kinds, you reap the rewards. Not only does shopping locally keep your income in your immediate community, it also contributes to sustainability, job creation and fair wages, as well as reduces the effects of inflation. Plus, local entrepreneurs tend to provide diverse products that are aligned with their passions while also focusing on the needs of their clients and communities.

Ogden Publications and Mother Earth Living are nestled in the heartland—Topeka, KS to be exact—and as purveyors of local goods and services, we thought we’d showcase some places in Kansas City, MO, to help you expand your list of the best local businesses.

watercolor Kansas City skyline
Illustration by Fotolia/paulrommer.

Indigo Wild

Indigo Wild’s factory is located in the Crossroads, and they are the minds behind Zum Soap. Although soaps may be their best-known product, Indigo Wild now makes a wide range of goodies for your body and home—from soap and body oils to laundry detergent and candles. All Zum products are cruelty-free and vegetarian; most are vegan and gluten-free, as well.

They also support local non-profits and charities. For every Y.U.M. Bar sold, Indigo Wild donates 1 dollar to the Kansas City Sheltie Rescue. They’re also active with local cancer-supporting charities through their Betsy product line, which gives back to breast cancer patients and survivors.

Where to find Zum?
Check your nearest natural grocer, local co-op or other local business that stocks locally-made items. Larger chains, such as Kroger, Hy-Vee and Price Chopper also carry Zum products. If you’re not sure where to start, visit Indigo Wild’s store might be surprised how easy it is to find.

Kansas City Urban Potters

Kansas City Urban Potters (KCUP), formed in 2014, is collective of full-time studio artists creating functional pottery, from tableware to planters. Through community events, exhibitions and local partnerships, KCUP hopes to bring contemporary pottery to local and regional audiences.

KCUP was awarded a 2016 Rocket Grant which has allowed them to create a venue—the Kansas City Urban Potters Project Space—that provides space to “create, educate and engage” with their community and other local makers.

The Jeweled Gypsy

Looking for fashion on the go? Then, The Jeweled Gypsy is just the spot for you! Much like food trucks have swept the nation, mobile fashion boutiques (a.k.a. fashion trucks) are following a similar path. The Jeweled Gypsy is Kansas City’s first fashion truck and specializes in truly one-of-kind pieces from local and up-and-coming designers that won’t be found in your average retail store. A majority of their items are also handmade.

Where to find The Jeweled Gypsy?
They make regular appearances at First Fridays in the Crossroads. Other dates may be added, so follow them on social media to keep up-to-date on their whereabouts. You can even host a fun girl’s night, bachelorette or birthday party by booking The Jeweled Gypsy.

Urban Provisions General Store

This modern-day general store is filled with a variety of handcrafted products. Whether you’re looking for soap, the perfect new cocktail mix or home décor, Urban Provisions is sure to have something uniquely you. All products stocked are 100 percent American-made, but local wares are their true passion.

Made in KC

If you’re still on the hunt for items made in Kansas City, check out Made in KC. Originally started to help local artisans reach the greater Kansas City Metro area, Made in KC now features work from hundreds of local artists and makers in their five locations throughout Kansas City and the surrounding area.

Even if you’re not a local with tons of hometown pride, these shops are the perfect places to pick up a unique, KC-inspired souvenir for yourself or a loved one on your travels.

Last Minute Gifts That Give Back

Holiday season can be more hectic than usual. From preparing the home for guests, hours of cooking and baking, and decorating to get that festive feel—all added to our typical daily schedules—can make shopping for gifts near impossible. If you still have a few people left to shop for, but are stumped on what to get, try one of this last minute gift ideas that also donate to a cause.

For the Foodie (and Everyone)

You can’t go wrong with tasty morsels, of all kinds!

wine and chocolate pralines
Photo by Fotolia/Grafvision.

Seattle Chocolates donates a meal to food banks, nationwide, for every bar of chocolate purchased. Cultivate Wines will help you celebrate the season, as well as donate a portion of their proceeds to elementary education. And TOMS coffee helps provide safe water to those in need for every TOMS Roasting Co. product purchased, as part of their One for One campaign.

If you’d like more options, Tasting Table has a few more suggestions to choose from.

For the Traveler

Show your support for the loved ones in your life who have a touch (or more) of wanderlust.

Parks Project projects map
Photo via

Perfect for any adventurer and National Park lover, Parks Project apparel will allow you to support their love of the great outdoors (and their favorite park) by purchasing their gift from a company dedicated to funding habitat restoration, conservation and education programs within our national parks.

NPR Road Trip Collection CDs
Photo via

Any active mind is just as important as an active body. NPR has collected various stories into their Road Trip Collection—sure to entertain, inspire and support continued NPR programming.

For the Beauty Guru

Not all beauty products are created equal. Make sure the beauty-lover in your life is excited to pamper herself and feel good about it!

love goodly box
Photo via

Subscription services, like ipsy and Nourish Beauty Box, are convenient, super-popular options for trying new beauty goodies. If you want to take your gifting to the next level, consider Love Goodly: Subscriptions are bi-monthly, so plenty of time to use the products before getting new ones; include only vegan, non-toxic products; and 5 percent of each purchase goes toward Farm Sanctuary and Cure Cervical Cancer. Plus, a subscription will remind your friends and family of your thoughtfulness throughout the year!

Find more excellent ideas in The Gift of Charity: Products That Give Back.

The Art of Conscious Gift Giving

Conscious gift giving is an act of pure love. It’s not something you have to do but something you want to do! With so many responsible companies giving back to the community and Earth, there is no reason not to invest in gifts for loved ones if you can afford it. Here are five socially responsible companies worthy of investing in during the season of giving and real joy. Ranging from modest to decadent, all items are high quality, earth friendly, and made with love.

Photo courtesy Rust & Fray

For the beloved Traveler on your list, Rust & Fray bags are an earth friendly, sustainable total win. All Rust and Fray bags are upcycled and hand crafted. The Nomad, featured here, is made of recycled leather and canvas. The company’s goal is “to provide textile workers with the opportunity to earn fair wages and come together to stand up against the destructive fast-fashion industry.”

Shar Veda

For the yogi or athlete, LVR Fashion creates lovely organic cotton active wear in Los Angeles, California. All styles are flattering and super comfy. From lounge pants to tanks, LVR has got you covered in ethical, sustainable style. LVR was founded in 2010 by Eric Clarke, an entrepreneur with a passion for animal rescue, who had the vision of creating high quality, affordable, earth-friendly products that would benefit the community - both locally and globally. LVR partners with ARCAS wildlife rescue center in Guatemala to donate a portion of their revenues to aid in wild animal rescue, rehabilitation and release.

Image courtesy Moondeli

For the wellness advocate, Mom and Dad, or a really cool couple, this fair trade raw chocolate super food tonic blend set from Moondeli is easy to use, delicious, and life enhancing. Mushroom Adaptogen, an anti-viral, anti-inflammatory mood enhancer is made with wild crafted chaga and cordyceps mushroom. Bliss Blend, an aphrodisiac, hormone balancer and mood enhancer is made with Maca. All Moondeli ingredients are vegan, organic or wild crafted, and ethically sourced.


Who doesn’t need lip care? For the Lover of Beauty and simple luxury, Henne Organics Lip Collection is sure to please. Inside of the classic white and black gift box are three of the best lip care items known to human kind: Luxury Lip Balm V2, Luxury Lip Balm, and Rose Diamonds Lip Exfoliator. The Henne philosophy is to “reintroduce a splash of luxury into the everyday without sacrificing design, ethics or one’s health. A modern and minimalistic approach replaces standard lip care product with something extraordinary.”

Image courtesy Theo Chocolates

For the Chocolate Lover: Handcrafted in Seattle Washington Theo's Holiday Collection make an excellent addition to any holiday stocking or gift basket. "For Theo, being a bean to bar chocolate maker goes beyond words, it means deliberate and thorough stewardship at every stage in the agricultural and manufacturing process." Small batch production is truly an art form you can see and taste." Fair Trade Sugar Rush for the Holidays anyone?

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!


Charity Spotlight: CARE

Image courtesy CARE

This issue's charity: CARE

Why they’re crucial: In the world’s poorest communities, women and girls bear the strongest burdens of poverty.  When families struggle to grow food to eat or save money to send children to school, girls are often the first to be kept home. CARE works in developing communities around the globe to reduce poverty, build infrastructure and provide emergency aid, with a particular focus on educating and advocating for women and girls.  

What they do:  

• Partner with communities and local groups to prepare for disasters, and provide immediate assistance when emergencies hit.
• Provide recovery services to disaster survivors in countries around the world, including the Phillippines, Haiti and countries in Africa and the Middle East.
• Provide medical, legal, psychosocial and protection services to victims of gender-based violence in more than 40 countries.
• Create community savings and loan programs in 26 African countries that allow members to pool savings and loan each other money to pay for health care, start businesses and cover education costs.

Did you know? In Kenya, for every 10 young men infected with HIV, there are 45 infected young women. 

To donate to CARE, visit or call (800) 521-CARE (U.S.) or (404) 681-2552

The Gift of Charity: Products that Give Back

Photo by Fotolia

Looking for the perfect gift for a loved one this holiday season? Consider giving a gift that will also help a deserving cause. Many companies have decided to do a little good this holiday season by donating part of their profits to a charity or by partnering with causes to help people in need. These gifts will make a difference this holiday while putting a smile on the face of the receiver.


1. Conscious Step Socks

These fashionable socks are designed with a specific cause in mind, and each pair makes a difference. The company partners with charities and non-profits to design a comfortable and environmentally friendly sock that symbolizes the cause, and then each purchase gives back. For example, one pair is a blue and gray paisley design with a water drop on it. The purchase of this pair will provide 18 months of safe water to a person who needs it. Other pairs fight hunger, plant trees and donate books. 


2. Alex & Ani ‘Charity by Design’ Bracelet

With Alex & Ani’s Charity by Design line, you can choose a cause that means the most to you or the person who will be receiving the bracelet. Some of the options are Toys for Tots, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The National Network to End Domestic Violence and UNICEF. The bracelets represent each meaningful cause beautifully and 20% of the purchase goes to the nonprofit you choose.

3. Wakawaka Power+ Solar Charger & Light

Get your resident phone addict this solar-powered charger. It can come in handy when there are no plugs around to charge a phone or tablet, and all it needs is sunlight. Plus, there is a flashlight on it to use when the sun isn’t shining. After it has been exposed to the sun for a day, it can provide 150 hours of light from the flashlight or a full charge for your phone. For every charger sold, this company donates a solar light to a family without electricity through the International Rescue Committee.


4. LifeStraw Go Water Bottle

This water bottle includes a 2-stage filtration system to provide clean and safe water no matter where you are. It cleans bacteria and contaminants as you drink and is a perfect gift for an adventurer or athlete. For every product sold, a child in a developing country will receive access to safe drinking water for a whole school year.

5. Charcoal Soap

Does somebody on your list deserve coal this year? Instead, give them charcoal soap! Charcoal has made a big splash in beauty products this year because of its purifying properties. With the purchase of this soap, a charcoal-efficient stove will be donated to a woman in Kenya. In Kenya, women often walk over 10 miles and 30 hours a week to collect firewood. Then, they cook over an open fire, which is the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes every day. Many women die from this exposure, and you can lessen that number with this bar of soap.

6. Moleskine Red Classic Notebook

Moleskine is a classic stationary notebook that is perfect for list-makers and planners. This Moleskine notebook is the classic with a twist. With a red elastic band and bookmark ribbon, Moleskine has taken this notebook to the next level by raising awareness for AIDS research. A portion of each sale goes toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and provides life-saving medication for people affected.


7. WeWOOD Watch

This is a unique and useful watch that comes in many styles and has no toxic or artificial materials. It has a rustic and nature like look. For every watch purchased, a tree is planted in an effort to bring awareness to the importance of nature and save the environment. Their goal is to plant 1 million trees by 2020, and you can help them reach that goal with a stylish gift.

8. Kidbox

Kidbox is a subscription service that sends hand-picked seasonal clothing for your child right to your doorstep. You’ll receive 6-7 items, and you can return what you don’t want to keep. You and your child can have fun all year opening the boxes together and discovering new clothes and styles. The best part is that for every box you keep, Kidbox will donate a new outfit to a child in need.

9. Adopt an Animal

Give the animal lover in the family the gift of symbolically adopting an animal of their favorite species and support the National Wildlife Federation. Some of the animals you can adopt include emperor penguins, seals, lions and kangaroos. The recipient will receive an official certificate of adoption and a poster of the animal that you have adopted for them, plus the knowledge that you helped save their favorite species on their behalf.


10. Story Shares Book

This nonprofit is based in Boston and its goal is to spread the love of reading and literacy. For every paperback book you purchase, it will donate another to a school where it can be given to someone who needs it. The library is full of books for struggling readers.

Make a difference this holiday season by choosing some of these feel-good gifts. There’s something for everyone on your list!


Socially Responsible Gifts for the Holidays

Photo by Fotolia

If you ask people what is important to them when it comes to being kind to the earth, you’ll hear an array of answers. Going vegan, conserving energy, reducing waste…they are all important.

The holidays can be a time for a lot of waste, with lavish gifts and meals. I’ve done some research to create a list of gifts and stocking stuffers that will make this Christmas merry, bright, and a little more socially responsible.

Mata Traders


Farm Fresh Clothing is a family owned company that creates 100% organic cotton shirts while using eco-friendly, water based inks. The line is very simple, featuring top quality clothing that serves as great staple pieces for your closet. The fabric is smooth, soft, and washes very well, proof that sustainable is practically perfect in every way.

Natural Life is a bohemian style store that sells handcrafted accessories and clothing. Each piece is completely unique. Their dresses are soft and versatile with a generally loose fit, which is great for all body types.

Mata Traders is a design-driven fair trade clothing brand dedicated to help end global poverty. The company’s stylish, colorful clothes and jewelry are made by artisans in India and Nepal, providing a stable source of income for workers and their families.

Evolution Salt co.


Salt Lamps make rooms cozy, and balance the positive ions released by electronics. Evolution Salt lamps have natural cut, stone-like shapes, or more unusual options, like spheres or raindrops. The salt is pulled from more than a mile deep in Himalayan salt mines, then chunks are secured to rosewood. An open hole remains in the bottom for a light to be inserted for warming and releasing the lamp’s benefits.

When you discover chemicals you are exposed to when snuggling up in typical brand name sheets, you’ll understand the importance of going organic. Coyuchi or Syona sheets wash well, are soft and come in a variety of winter colors. Plush Saranoni blankets are a nice touch if giving bedding as gift; the patterns are unique and can be personalized.

The Kanata Blanket Company has many variations of faux fur, cozy, warm blankets. Their vintage throw looks as if it is made with leather and fur, but is actually vegan!


Adventurist Gear

Kleen Kanteen pushes to rid our environment of the 500 billion plastic bottles we toss in landfills every year. Made with all sustainable materials, Kleen Kanteen containers come in all shapes and sizes, keeping contents hot for up to 30 hours, and cold for 100 hours. Even the coloring is natural.

YogaRat has a variety of fun packaged gifts for yoga lovers. Materials are eco-friendly while remaining affordable. The Rat Pad is a multiuse cushion for floor style workouts. Their yoga towel has “grip” feel and can assist in prevent slips during poses.

It’s ski season, and everyone needs to have proper layering gear before hitting the slopes, something I learned the hard way; a story for another time. You’ll need a base “thermal underwear” layer, an insulating coat, water resistant pants, a shell layer and great boots. EVO is an outdoor outfitter that gives back, investing in non-profit organizations, engaging with their communities and even offering paid volunteer time off for employees.

Cate and Levi


Itching get away from the mainstream toys aimed at kids? Where did the creativity go? Cate and Levi's “Be the Maker” hand puppet is a beginner’s level hand puppet kit that allows parent and child to create the toy together. Instructions are simple and materials are 100% recycled.

One gift I always received on Christmas as a child was a cozy blanket and a tin of popcorn. During my break from school, I’d cuddle my blanket, eat popcorn and watch movies. Popcornopolis has many fun flavors without artificial colors or sweeteners, which can be purchased in a cone or a festive tin.Tins can be upcycled as ornament storage.



Oliberte  treats every employee with respect, protecting the rights of workers in Africa. They have provided substantial jobs to those in poverty, and profits from their product go back into creating more jobs. The quality of the product is as solid as their values; each shoe is made with Fair Trade and sustainable materials. The Toria women’s boot is a rustic lace-up that slides on easily and provides a protective, comfortable fit…especially in the winter. The Yabela pull-on boot reaches well above the ankle if  more coverage is needed.

LOWA Boots are handcrafted in Europe, and are “cleanly” manufactured, following tight regulations on minimizing waste and pollution. Employees are also paid fairly. The result is a strong, earth friendly hiking boot for men and women. Veering away from fashion boots, the sporty footwear is more functional, but still attractive.

For the hiker or adventurer on your list, IceBug boots are made to have extra traction. While aimed at hikers and adventurist, these could serve the elderly well during the winter.

Rainwater Botanicals

Bath and Body

New Leaf Konjac Sponges are effective in gently polishing and cleansing skin. New Leaf’s Bamboo Charcoal sponges exfoliate and infuse skin with minerals, while being extremely gentle. Soap isn’t necessary but can be used. The charcoal variation is particularly perfect for acne prone individuals.

Rainwater Botanicals products are locally sourced and organic. They started out making a popular healing salve, then things took off from there. Pumpkin chai is a festive scent, which you can find in creams and all-natural perfume.

Detoxing during the holidays is important due to stress, and maybe a few too many cookies. Zoe Natural Creations Dirty Dude salt bath pulls out impurities and reduces stress, with its main ingredients being a variation of salts, black lava, and soothing oils.

Equal Exchange

Stocking Stuffers

Many Hershey’s products have artificial flavors, so I found different options. Instead of buying mass-produced chocolate, try a quality fair trade brand, such as Equal Exchange, which also offers coffee, tea and other gifts.

Packaged in recyclable material, Glee Gum uses chicle, which is sustainably harvested, meaning trees aren’t chopped down. No artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners either.  I’m a fan of their good old fashioned bubble gum.

B True Beauty Eyelash Enhancer is the perfect mascara replacement. With our makeup forward society, it’s exciting to see a line that enhances natural beauty. All natural, organic ingredients come in a tube identical to mascara, and thicken lashes. One stocking-friendly tube lasts for 6 months.

Coastal Classic Creations offers natural lipsticks with simple ingredients, and has a low hazard rating on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. The less artificial coloring that ends up in those stockings, the better!

Lauren Brooke Cosmetics offers a full line of make-up products, each item being cruelty free and highly above EWG standards. Foundations and eye shadows apply smoothly, and lip colors are naturally vibrant.

I hope this gets your brain turning so you can finish your shopping and have more time to make snow angels, eat cookie dough and snuggle. Merry Christmas!

Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.