Mother Earth Living

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1/12/2016

In January, we move away from the bright lights and the over-indulgence of holiday festivities. We gather our thoughts and reflect on the past year. What did we accomplish? Where do we go from here? What do we want to do this year? Now is the time to organize thoughts, dreams, and wishes for the year ahead. Make your New Year Intentions clear and doable. Set yourself up for success by creating the space and time you’ll need, and supply yourself with the right tools for each intention.

One of my intentions for 2016 is to find unique products that combine beauty, utility & sustainability and share them with my world family. My other three intentions are listed below along with the tools I’ve found to support my success.

cork yoga mat and wheel 

Intention #1: Create Sacred Space

When I lived in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, I had a gorgeous Ayurveda & Yoga studio 3 miles from the beach. It was clutter-free, organized and beautiful at my studio all the time. Because of that, I stuck to my daily yoga and meditation practice with ease. Then I moved west and began traveling so much that I fell out of the habit of daily in–home practice. Instead, I turned to the gym—cycling and the occasional yoga/Pilates class.

In October, when I solidified my decision to drop root in Southern Oregon, I created a practice space but was also using it as an office. Papers, bills and half written articles piled up quickly, distracting me from my yoga-mediation practice and made me think of work. This year, my main lifestyle intention is create a sacred space (not just practice space) in which I will want to practice yoga and meditation daily.

To do so, I’ve taken everything out of my office/yoga room except my mats, alter, cushions, and clock. I also supplied myself with a gorgeous Sacred Geometry natural cork yoga mat ($149) and natural cork yoga wheel ($119) from Yoloha. I love the way my hands and feet feel on this creamy handmade eco-friendly mat and how the wheel cradles my back when I rest in heart-opening back bends. I feel good about having them in my sacred space as they are truly made with and emanate love. The cork used to make Yoloha mats and props is natural, renewable, recyclable and obtained sustainably through hand-stripping the cork tree bark only once every nine years. None of the cork is wasted in the process, and the trees live up to 300 years. These beautiful new tools are my 2016 yoga practice essentials and make me want to practice longer and stay present. Thanks Yoloha!

vegan journal 

Intention #2: Write Morning Pages & Journal Daily

For most of my life I have enjoyed journaling. I like looking back over the years and remembering what I was thinking and writing about in detail in 2002, 2010 and so on. It’s a good gauge of growth and my very own historical document. This year in addition to journaling, my second lifestyle intention is to write three pages every morning immediately upon waking, as Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way) recommends for blocked artists.

The tool I found to support this intention is a handmade vegan journal by Tremundo, a small, artist-owned company in South Carolina. These unique mixed media, original art, handcrafted journals are true inspiration for morning pages and for general creating. The Base of Change Journal ($30) is shown here.

communication mala 

Intention #3: Communicate Clearly with Love & Respect

My communication goals vary daily, however the theme remains the same: be clear, loving and respectful.

The Clear Communications Mala by Erica Fullen Designs ($168) is exactly the tool I need to remind me to stick to this one, my third lifestyle intention, all year long.  Artist, healer and mother, Erica Fullen uses color and the power of setting intentions to create her full line of chakra inspired jewelry to “enhance and balance within.” When I put this mala on, I state my communication goals for the day. One day it might be to call a family member and give them my full attention; the next day it might be to draft an article and send a pitch to an editor. The physical act of placing the mala around my neck and over my heart reminds me of these goals until they are complete. The Power of Today is enhanced with this beautiful tool. Thank you Erica Fullen! I can feel the love.

Have you taken time to set your New Year Intentions? Care to share? Leave a comment or email me, I’d love to hear yours. Love to my world family and Happy New Year. Make it your best ever, I’m cheering you on!


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!







1/7/2016

If you're a vegetarian, you may think your healthy, meat-free lifestyle means you're creating a healthy environment. But a new study from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) suggests that this notion may be a myth.

The study on energy use, greenhouse emission and food consumption, published in the November issue of “Environmental Systems and Decisions,” produced evidence that following the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary recommendations — which encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables, with less red meat — actually harms rather than helps the environment.

cubed pieces of red pepper, broccoli and chicken
Photo by Agnieszka.

That's because foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products and seafood require high resource use and greenhouse gas (GHG) per calorie — even more so than meat. This finding directly contrasts with the ideas promoted by many "green" organizations like Down to Earth Organic and Natural, which urges Americans to consider adopting a vegetarian diet to save the earth.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder, action movie star and California governor, said in a recent United Nations conference that Americans can protect the environment from greenhouse gases by reducing their consumption of red meat.

But the CMU study — titled "Energy Use, Blue Water Footprint and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Current Food Consumption Patterns and Dietary Recommendations in the U.S." — claims that the resources involved with growing, processing and transporting "greener" foods increase energy use, water use and GHG emissions — taking a significant toll on our planet.Therefore, says CMU Social/Decision Sciences professor Paul Fischbeck, "Eating lettuce is over three times worse in GHG emissions than eating bacon."

How to Eat Well and Care for the Environment

As a person who wants to eat well and be an environmentally conscious citizen, what are you supposed to do? Here are three ways you can continue your organic lifestyle and celebrate Earth Day without feeling guilty that you're doing more harm than good.

1. Consider Growing Your Own Food

Growing your own food helps the environment in many ways — you’ll prevent air and water pollution, reduce the use of fossil fuels and spare the planet from the resources involved in transporting fruits and vegetables to your local supermarket.

The benefits are more than just environmental: Building your own garden can help you get exercise, build your sense of pride and make sure your food is always fresh and tasty.

2. Eat This, Not That

The good news is that, when it comes to GHG output, not all fruits and vegetables are created equal. Lettuce takes a toll on the environment because it requires major resources — like water and energy — to grow, harvest and transport.

Onions, okra and broccoli, for example, have less of an environmental footprint. If you’re a strict vegetarian, consider beans, too. Beans are low in fat, high in necessary protein and folic acid — among other nutrients — and don’t require a lot of resources to produce.

3. Use Your Own Kitchen

You've heard all the negative impacts of processed foods, and it's true — they also can hurt the environment. Processed foods require greater energy to produce than whole foods, so they are associated with a high GHG output. You can avoid processed foods simply by learning how to cook your own meals — after all, you have that stove for a reason!

You don't have to do it the Paula Deen way. You can make comfort food that's still healthy if you substitute healthful ingredients while cooking up your favorite recipes. For example, try using low-fat milk instead of heavy cream. Serve up a faux-meat dish by substituting tofu for beef. Or swap out the white pasta in favor of whole wheat noodles, which are packed with more nutrients and fewer empty carbs.

Health-conscious treats can taste just as good as the traditional recipe, and your body will probably thank you for it. The environment will too, because you're also doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint.

Don't Freak Out!

Even with these helpful tips, you may be tempted to throw away that head of lettuce for fear that you're destroying the planet. Don't panic!

You're not a hypocrite for choosing a vegetarian diet. While the CMU study suggests that your lifestyle may not be as environmentally helpful as you thought, remember that it's only one study — and like most single studies, it has its own set of limitations.

As the study acknowledges, a majority of Americans eat far too many calories for their body weight , and the growing obesity epidemic takes an even bigger toll on the environment than your fruits and vegetables do.

If you're a vegetarian or just a health-conscious consumer, don't worry too much: You're probably doing less harm to the planet than your neighbor who just ordered a large Papa John's pizza with extra meat and cheese.


Kayla Matthews is a health and wellness blogger who loves jogging, yoga and hiking. Follow Kayla on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.



12/28/2015

Thinking about giving your air compressor a clean? Since an air compressor is required in almost every air tool that one can think about, it is an important machine and regular cleaning is a good way to ensure that it continues to operate well. Don’t ignore the health of your air compressor if you want tools to function in an uninterrupted manner. Here are seven steps that will help you keep your air compressors completely clean.

variety of air compressors
Photo by Fotolia.

Check the Manual: This has to be the first step in your air compressor cleaning schedule. The user manual helps you know the workings of the specific air compressor you’re using. There will be some facts and tips stated in it that have been put there so that you take special care to follow them. Following the manual also helps keep the warranty from becoming void.

Keep the Tanks Moisture-Free: Moisture accumulates in the air tank when the air is being compressed. If you live in a humid environment, the chances of moisture accumulating in the tank increase. Therefore, it may be necessary to drain the tanks of air compressor regularly.

Nuts and Bolts: Because your air compressor is probably used on a regular basis, it’s wise to check all the fasteners, like nuts, bolts and the screws, before each use. Tighten them up whenever you notice they’ve become loose.

Check the Hose: The hose is like the vein of the air compressor. Any leakage or breakage that the hose suffers can cause a great amount of pressure on the air compressor. Therefore, as soon as you observe some kind of damage to the hose, get it repaired as soon as possible.

Compressor Oil: You need to clear the oil in the compressor and replace it with fresh compressor oil from time to time. This applies only to oil-based compressors, not any other varieties.

Cleaning the Fuel Tank: As important as it is to clean the fuel inside the Quincy Rotary Screw Air Compressor, it’s also essential to regularly clean the fuel tank in the air compressor. This ensures that the air compressor is free of any residual buildup.

Changing the Separator Elements: It is recommended that you change the separator elements in the air compressor with every 1000 hours of use.

These are some of the things that you need to take note of in order to keep your air compressor absolutely clean and free of damage. There are other small things that will be in listed your user manual, as well. Once you understand the different parts of an air compressor and their functions, you will be able to efficiently clean the compressor.


Meggie Haneckow is a niche writer and blogger who loves to write on trending topics and share her personal experiences and knowledge through her writing. She is also a health enthusiast, so she loves to share health-care related tips through her blogs.



12/17/2015

This time of year is hectic. Not only can it be a struggle to find time to do fun things, it can be difficult to find healthy things to do. We’re surrounded by cookies, candy and sugary beverages, all promising to fill our hearts with cheer. But during the holiday season, I like to focus on the array of things to do that won’t put me in need of an intense detox at the beginning of the year.

holiday decorations in window
Photo by Fotolia.

Turn On the Music

After Thanksgiving dinner, the radio is flipped on to a station playing continuous Christmas music, and it stays there throughout the season.

Music is a powerful thing. Even if you are cleaning or working, music will keep your spirit bright. It makes your home so festive.  A little Jingle Bell Rock brings back exciting Christmas memories for me.  Grab an Andy Williams CD or crank up some “Delilah”.

Bake Something

With all of the health aware recipe blogs and websites out there, it’s easy to find recipes for tasty treats made with real, healthy ingredients. Gluten-intolerant, diabetic or vegetarian? No problem! Diabetic Foodie and Eating Well have loads of delicious alternatives.

I enjoy making spiced nuts with organic sugar, spices, egg whites and vanilla. Chestnuts are also really fun to roast, but poke holes in them before roasting or they will explode!  Cheese straws are easy to make with organic wheat flour and cheese. And if you are just craving a little sugar, make some dark chocolate oatmeal cookies with organic flour, oats, butter, sugar and chocolate chips. It will start to taste a lot like Christmas, and smell like it too, with goodies in the oven.

Light a Candle

Candles add a calming ambiance to any home. When I light candles, I feel instant stress relief and it makes the room feel warm and welcoming. A pine scent will make guests think you just brought in a fresh cut tree! Make sure your candles are free of artificial fragrance, paraffin and lead because those ingredients will turn your moment of relaxation into a health hazard.

If you don’t like the idea of an open flame, fill a pot with orange peels, rosemary, spices and a little water to simmer on the stove. Not only will it fill the air will natural scents, but it’s very cost effective.

Build a Fire

Nothing says cozy like a roaring fire. I haven’t always had a fireplace, so I would use the Yule Log DVD. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a disk that displays a lifelike fireplace on your TV, along with realistic crackling noises. As a bonus, you can opt to have Christmas carols play. It may not be warm, but it is certainly festive!

Take a Christmas Light Tour

When I was young, my parents would load us in the car and we would head out to see the festive decorations around our hometown. Add this tradition to your family’s holiday festivities, or look for holiday light tours that are run by local parks or the city.

Host a Party

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a big bash. A few friends, some delicious food and fun games are all you need. This year, my brother is hosting an ugly sweater party, and there will no more than 10 people attending. Everyone is bringing a snack so he won’t have to spend a fortune on food.

The party will require a small investment from everyone, but nothing puts people in the holiday spirit like a party with all the people you love being around!

Go Window Shopping

My husband and I love to head to downtown to get the “bustling” feeling of December. One shopping location in particular has beautiful lights, stores reminiscent of the old days, a candy shop that emits delicious smells and Christmas music flowing down the streets. This Atlanta location also has ice skating and falling “snow” in the courtyard at 7pm.

Opt for a Real Tree

We head to a farm that is environmentally responsible, growing and replacing their trees. A lot of tree farms are decorated and serve warm cider for this fun, family tradition. Whether you get a big tree or a tabletop, it’s a great experience for adults and children.

You don’t have to cram cookies down your throat or take out a loan to enjoy the holidays. The simplest things are often the most special. Just relax, be healthy and have a very happy holiday season!


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.




12/10/2015

Most of us strive to be two things: happy and healthy. According to a study published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review journal, optimistic people are twice as likely to have healthy hearts. Research shows a positive attitude can influence wellness. Along with optimism, factors such as relationships, job, diet, activity level and even where you live can impact the quality of your health. So, where are the best places for fitness fanatics, health gurus and wellness warriors?

woman jogging in front of city graffiti
Photo by shutterstock.

The ASCM American Fitness Index (AFI) ranked the healthiest cities in the U.S. based on personal health, community and environmental indicators supporting healthy and active lifestyles. The following metropolitan areas ranked as the top five in health and fitness status for 2015. If you want to live in a health-focused environment, find fitness inspiration or go on an active and adventurous vacation, here are your top urban destinations.

Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of thousands of people move to D.C. because of a new job or job transfer. In addition to attracting workaholics, D.C. also attracts workoutaholics and was dubbed the fittest metro area in the nation. If you want to make this fit city your hometown, check out Apartment Guide to find a luxury apartment with the right pool, gym and amenities to support your active lifestyle.

Minneapolis

Minneapolis is so livable in part because of its park system, which covers 17 percent of the city. In 2014, the Trust for Public Land ranked the city's park system as the best in the country. These parks provide an accessible outdoor area where people can walk, run and play. A low percentage of smokers, high percentage of residents who engage in physical activity and a large number of health care providers also support the city's attractiveness in health and fitness.

San Diego

As if the beach, laid-back California vibe and SoCal sun weren't enough to make San Diego the perfect place to live or vacation, it ranks as No. 3 on the list of healthy and fit locales. This California city offers sunshine and moderate weather for enjoyable outdoor activities year round. Check out highlights by San Diego Magazine for a variety of ways to stay in shape and avoid being a beach bum, from standup paddleboard yoga to doggie bootcamps.

San Francisco

Men’s Fitness ranks San Francisco as No. 1 for its list of fittest cities in America. Not only has San Francisco become the hub of tech revolution and innovation, it's a very walkable and bikeable city. The northern California hotspot has a low number of smokers, low obesity rates, farmers markets, an exercise culture and relatively low death rates for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to SFgate.com.

Sacramento

Sacramento comes in fifth for AFI's urban health and fitness list. This health hub achieved a reputation for healthy living based on high participation in aerobic and strength activities, nutritional habits (eating fruits and vegetables), a low percentage of angina or coronary heart disease, numerous farmers markets and a high percentage of residents who bike or walk to work. Dog parks, park playgrounds and golf courses also gave this city high health marks.

Whether you’re looking an active vacation or looking to put down roots somewhere, choose a place where you’ll be surrounded by others who are like-minded and health-inspired!


Abby Terlecki is one of those creative writer-types who prefers to tell stories through her keyboard than with her mouth. When Abby's not writing freelance articles, text messages, to-do lists or CrossFit scores, she's a copywriter for a university in Phoenix, Arizona.



12/9/2015

There’s nothing quite like a crackling fire in the fireplace or wood stove on cold winter nights. Not being able to get a fire easily started, though, can really put a damper on things. Fortunately, there are easier ways to start a roaring fire than just rubbing two sticks together or buying expensive kindling logs. An added bonus is you can put them together with mostly recycled materials you probably have laying around the house.

family warming feet in front of fireplace
Photo by Fotolia.

Toilet Paper Roll Fire Starters

Lint is the secret to success with these easy-to-make bundles—it’s highly flammable and makes great tinder. All you need is dryer lint, scrap paper (like newspaper or paper grocery bags—don’t use glossy paper as it tends to have chemicals in the ink you don’t want to burn), cardboard toilet paper rolls and twine (save your garden twine from trellising plants this summer). Assembling them is easy: Stuff a tube with lint, then wrap it in paper with a couple of inches overhanging each end. Twist the ends of the paper, in the way peppermint candies are wrapped. Tie a little bit of twine on each end to keep it closed.

Egg Carton Fire Starters

These cartons utilize soy wax, making them extra long-burning. That’s a great feature when trying to start a fire with damp wood, or outdoors while camping in poor weather conditions. You’ll need a paper egg carton (do not use Styrofoam cartons—Styrofoam should never be burned), dryer lint, and about a cup of plain soy wax flakes. You’ll also want a large can to melt the wax in—you can use this for all of your wax melting projects so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up dishes or pans.

First, cut the top off of the egg carton and reserve it for another project (makes a great disposable tray for paint or crafts for kids) since we’ll only use the bottom of the carton for the fire starters. Stuff each section of the carton with lint, then set aside while you melt the wax. Put the wax flakes into the can and set it into a saucepan about half full of water, to form a temporary double boiler. Simmer the water, stirring the wax occasionally, until it’s completely melted. Carefully pour a tablespoon or so of molten wax over the lint in each cup. Let the wax cool and harden, then cut each cup apart, so that you have 12 individual fire starters.

Pine Cone Fire Starters

All that’s needed for these is foraged pine cones and soy wax. Melt the wax using the above method, and dip each pine cone into the wax, lightly coating it. Leave about a half-inch bare at the top so the pine cone can be lit (and so you don’t burn your fingers). Due to the wax extending the burn time, these are also nice to use with damp wood or in adverse conditions.

Herb Bundles

Dried herb bundles make good fire starters and have the added benefit of smelling wonderful. Lavender, sage and rosemary are great for this! Just take a handful of dried herbs (still on the stems) and wrap it in a little twine—instant fire starter!

If you know someone who appreciates a well-laid fire or enjoys outdoor pursuits, putting together a basket of fire accessories is a gift that can be enjoyed on multiple occasions. Choose a nice basket (half bushel baskets look great), or something fun and unusual, like an old-fashioned coal hod or a wood carrying sling. Fill it with your choice of fire starters—a selection is nice if you have the time and materials to make several different kinds. Add in some nice wooden or waterproof matches and a bundle of kindling sticks, and you’ve got a nice gift set that any fire aficionado will appreciate!


Amanda is passionate about cooking, gardening and crafting. To read more, please check out Apartment Farm.



12/9/2015

The price of oil plummeted 6 percent on Monday, after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) — a group of the largest oil-producing nations — made a policy decision last week to maintain its current oil production rates. OPEC now produces about 31.5 barrels of oil per day, which is above the organization's 30-million-barrel ceiling for oil output.

Current oil prices stand at $39.97 for crude oil, $2.19 for natural gas, $1.27 for gasoline, and $1.34 for heating oil at the time of this writing. These prices represent a low not seen since 2009. So what does this mean for the cost of your holiday meals?

holiday meal on festive table
Photo by Kaboompics.

Lower Oil Prices Mean Slashes in Food Costs

Since the agriculture industry uses oil in its farm machinery, its agricultural chemicals, and its transportation of farm output, oil prices remain a fundamental driver of consumer food costs.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, energy and transportation costs represent about 8 percent of the total cost of domestically produced food. Fertilizers, chemicals, lubricants and fuel make up about 50 percent of production costs for corn and wheat crops in developed countries. Thus, the year's decline in oil prices will trickle down to food costs, said a January report from Rabobank.

Rabobank, a multinational banking company based in the Netherlands, predicted that lower oil prices in 2015 would lead to a direct drop in food production costs — creating lower prices for consumers. And it looks like that's exactly what has happened.

UN Food Index Reports 2015 Price Declines

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Food Price Index — a measure of the international monthly change in costs of major food categories — the cost of major food commodities dropped significantly since last year.

Overall, the FAO Price Index averaged 156.7 points in November, 18 percent lower than its value in 2014. This number also represents a 1.6 percent decline since the Price Index's October average.

The cost reductions were driven by a 3.1 percent drop for vegetable oils, 2.9 percent drop for dairy products, and 2.3 percent drop for cereals and grains. Of the major food categories, only sugar saw a price increase since October.

The cost decline for most food commodities since 2014 is charted below.

oil price chart
Figure 1. FAO Food Price Index trends in 2014-2015; Source: FAO.

Robabank predicts that the prices of both oil and food commodities will remain low for the remainder of 2015, leading to a "reasonably comfortable" season.

"For many...people who spend a lot of their budget on food, this is good news," says Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute. "There is a high correlation between oil and food prices."

Benefit to Consumers Not Universal

Still, for the world's poorest, such as rural farmers who are not integrated in the global commodity market, this year's declining oil costs will have only a slim effect on the costs of food. Globally, reports the FAO, around 805 million people suffer from chronic hunger due to poverty.

But there's some good news, U.N. officials report that lower oil prices make it easier for humanitarian groups to provide aid to the world's hungry. The decline in costs has enabled groups like the World Food Programme (WFP) to fuel ships to bring food to conflict-ridden areas like Syria, Somalia and the Sudan.

The WFP says that, since the third quarter of 2014, the organization has saved about $30,000 per month for the three ships it has been chartering.

Lower Oil Prices May Not Last

But low oil prices and the resulting drop in food costs may not last, warned The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in an October report.

Despite continued growth in crude oil supply, "supply increases [will be more than offset by] an anticipated decline in U.S. output in 2016," the EIU predicts.

The EIU expects that the price of crude oil will rise to $60 a barrel in 2016 and $73 in 2017. These price increases are expected to have a direct impact on retail food costs in the next few years.

The bottom line: Enjoy your cheaply priced holiday ham, turkey or vegetarian dishes while you still have time.


Kayla Matthews is a health and wellness blogger who loves jogging, yoga and hiking. Follow Kayla on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.






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