Mother Earth Living Blogs >

Wiser Living
Finding a natural solution

4 Ideas to Wake Up Positive

Proper sleep helps your body heal, balances hormones, bolsters immune function and makes for much more enjoyable mornings. When your alarm clock goes off it signals the start of a new day, but old habits, like hitting snooze, can be hard to break.  Whether or not you’re a morning person, try implementing some of these ideas into your wake-up routine and see how you feel.

woman sleeping in sunny room
Photo by Unsplash via

Stay Away from Social Media

Although many of us wake to an alarm sounding from our iPhone, don’t be tempted to check e-mail, Facebook or Instagram. The constant barrage of information can be overwhelming at any time, but particularly upon waking; realizing “all the things you’ve missed” can trigger stress and some research has shown that it may contribute to a lower sense of general well-being.

Get Inspired

Read a book or listen to a TedTalk that inspires you! Starting your morning with these activities will help motivate you for the day. Studies have also found that moments of inspiration have a positive impact on self-esteem, confidence, work mastery and optimism.

Get Physical

Whatever your preferred work-out is, opt for making it a morning routine instead of the evening. Physical activity, especially cardio, releases endorphins. These chemicals act as a natural painkiller during workouts, but they also create a feeling of euphoria and well-being. Regular exercise has also been linked to improved work-life balance.

Be Grateful

Show your appreciation for the things you find most valuable in life, from friends and family to time spent outdoors, by noting them in a gratitude journal each morning. Studies have shown that happy people have different habits than the average person, including practicing gratitude. And the positive effects extend beyond happiness. Additional studies have reported that grateful people feel healthier, are more proactive about their health, and experience less stress and fewer negative emotions, such as anger, regret and envy.

Choose to wake up on the right side of the bed and see an improvement in your feelings throughout the rest of your day.

Charity Spotlight: The Farm School

Feeding Cows
Photo by Fotolia/

This issue's charity: The Farm School

Why they’re crucial: Sustainable food practices are essential to maintaining our food system. But the continued success of good farming practices requires new generations of farmers to make it work. The Farm School encourages farmers of all ages by creating educational programs that connect people with the land. Spread over four family farms in rural Massachusetts, the school teaches sustainable farming practices to students ranging in age from middle school to adult. Its year-long Learn to Farm program allows adult students to live and work on the school’s farm. Students grow their own food, learn business management techniques, and operate summer vegetable and winter meat CSAs.

What they do:  

• Run a year-long residency program for adults looking for hands-on experience in forestry, animal husbandry, propagation, soil science and more.
• Host short-term visits and summer camps for students and teachers to stay at the farm and get hands-on experience raising animals and growing crops. 
• Operate The Chicken Coop School, a full-time middle school for local children. 

Did you know...

• Farmers older than 65 outnumber farmers younger than 35 by a margin of six to one.
• 63 percent of all farmland (573 million acres) will need new farmers over the next 25 years as older farmers retire. 
• The Farm School hosts more than 2,000 children each school year as part of its classroom programs.

Automotive Myth: Warming Up Your Engine

Photo by Fotolia

On a cold morning, do you make it part of your routine to go out and start your car to give it time to warm up before you get in and leave your house? If so, you may want to reconsider this habit. It’s a common misconception that cars need to heat up before driving, and you may actually be doing more harm than good.

Where Did the Myth Come From?

This is wisdom handed down from parent to child, sometimes with stern warnings to give your car time to warm up before driving it anywhere or you’ll ruin the engine. It goes back to the days of the carburetor engine.

Carburetor engines mix air and gasoline to create a vaporized fuel that runs the engine. It was necessary to let these older cars warm up or you would end up with a car that stalled out after leaving your driveway.

Now that fewer cars sport carburetor engines, the old wisdom about warming up the car doesn’t apply, but many people still believe this common myth about cars. In modern times, unless you have a car that was made around or before 1980 that has a carburetor engine, you don’t need that idling time to let the engine get ready to drive.

Modern engines are known as electronic fuel injection engines, and they have their own sensors that help the engine get the right mixture of gasoline and air to help it combust. Any car built post-1990 only needs about 30 seconds to reach optimal driving conditions. Letting a car sit idle for longer than that may make the interior warm, but does nothing for the engine itself.

Letting Your Car Idle Causes Pollution

By letting your car warm up, or idle, you are adding more pollution to the air. An idling car pollutes the air just the same as a moving car, so you could be spending 15 minutes or more each day letting your car pollute the air just so it will be warm inside.

For every ten minutes your engine is running, your car is adding a pound of carbon dioxide to the air. Because of the environmental hazard, some states even have laws and corresponding fines for letting your car sit idle. Not to mention that idling cars use gas even though they aren’t moving, which wastes valuable fuel.

Running Cars Are More Likely to Get Stolen

Many people don’t even lock their cars when they go out to heat them up because their keys are in the ignition. A running car with keys in the ignition and no one inside is an invitation for someone to get in and drive off.

This isn’t just a scare tactic. In St. Paul, Minnesota, 33 vehicles were reported stolen from December 1 to December 16 because people left them unattended while they were running. You have to ask yourself if a warm car is worth the risk of not having one at all.

Driving Warms Up Engines Faster

It’s better to simply get in your car, start it and begin driving. By letting the engine warm up by driving, you’re preventing excess revving and cutting the time it warms up in half. Not only will your car’s engine warm up faster, the interior will as well, and you can save 10 minutes or more each day by not giving it that time to idle.

A Safe Compromise

If you must give your car time to warm up no matter what the research says, there’s a way to find a compromise that doesn’t damage your car or increase your risk of it being stolen. In snowy weather, start your car and take a few minutes to clean off the windshield and windows so you can see properly.

While you’re cleaning the glass, the car will be warming up a little on the inside, which can also help in removing stubborn ice or frost from a windshield. This way, you aren’t leaving it unattended and you turn an unnecessary action inspired by a myth into something useful.

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!