Mother Earth Living

Wiser Living

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Every year millions of people make New Year’s resolutions that will help define their year and make the next year just a little bit better. This year, try out some of these resolutions that will not only help yourself, but the entire planet.

New Year’s Resolution Ideas

1. Love more: Remind yourself each morning: Only love today. If this is the only resolution you make this year, you have done well. Each act you take, each person you greet, every word you say, do it with love. The love you share will radiate and spread and that is enough.

2. Be more authentic: If you dare to make a second resolution, take the time to be a more authentic you this year. Resolve to not be afraid of what other people may think of you, but just be yourself this year and you will shine.

Be Authentic
Photo by Kristy Severin

3. Buy with your heart: Making the choice to purchase with your heart this year will fulfill your moral integrity and speak volumes to companies selling their products. To be a consumer is to have a voice. Your purchases impact the outcome. By making a commitment to buy eco-friendly, fair trade, organic, natural, local, and in general more thoughtful purchases, your resolution can change the demand for suppliers. Buying ethically sound products tells companies that this is what we want and what we will tolerate as consumers. Making the resolution to buy less but higher quality products from the food we eat to the clothes we buy also sends a positive message to sellers impacting our planet and the people all around us.

4. Eat less meat: As resolutions should be positive, I will not delve into the astoundingly disturbing state of our meat industry, but rather resolve to take the time to find out where our meat and all food consumed comes from. How is it produced? What exactly are we eating? If the food we eat is not produced in a positive light, find food that does and eat that.

Whole Foods
Photo by Kristy Severin

5. Eat more whole foods: As a follow up of resolution #4, fresh fruits and vegetables in their natural state are whole foods that make us healthy. Legumes, nuts and grains, are also whole foods that will make us healthy and happy. Starting a garden is another great way to begin exploring the natural state of food and is a great introduction to eating more whole foods this year.

6. Laugh more: From movies and television to friends to finding humor in the everyday norms of life, laughing can help heal your soul and inspire others to share in your laughter.

Children Laughing
Photo by Kristy Severin

7. Help others in need: The joy of helping others is contagious and can help make you happier and healthier this year. Find a local charity in your community that may need volunteers or donations or even take the time to help a neighbor, friend or family member by doing something extra special this year and throughout the year.

8. Express gratitude more often: By telling the people around you how thankful and grateful you are for all the things they do in your life will make everyone feel happier and more at peace this year. Each day is a gift—cherish the people and moments in your life.

9. Do more physical activity and meditate often: Release the endorphins and mental chaos through mediation and physical activity. Take the time each day to stretch, rest, and workout.

10. Enjoy more music and take the time to dance: Lastly, if you have a radio, record player, iPod, or any musical device, turn up the volume and dance!

Cheers and love to everyone this year! Happy New Year!

Kristy SeverinKristy Severin is a mother of two, a certified art instructor, photographer, painter, writer and cook. She earned her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda, East Africa. Inspired daily by her children and love of the earth, you can find her fine art and writings at The Art of Green Living.


Winter evenings can stretch on and on…and on. Banish cabin fever by bringing the focus back to the simple joy of gathering around the proverbial hearth. Occupy bored hands with these useful, old-fashioned (but never outdated) crafts. The website Craftsy offers online classes for everything from knitting to quilting.


For Beginners

Cross Stitch: a type of counted-thread embroidery in which the artist uses x-shaped stitches in a tiled pattern to form a picture. Crafters usually use a special fabric that makes it easy to count out the stitches for a symmetrical image.

Crochet: a process of creating fabric from yarn using hooks. Unlike in more-complex knitting, only one stitch is “active” at a time.

More Advanced

Knitting: similar to crochet, knitting creates fabric from yarn or thread using knitting needles. Depending on what type of garment is being crafted, several “active stitches” may be held on a needle at a time.

Crewelwork: a type of free embroidery—the artist uses a variety of needlework stitches to follow a design on the fabric.


When the weather is drab, we can crave something (anything) new. Try these four swap party ideas as a way to get friends together, make a change and stay in good financial shape doing it.

Friends Having Dinner
Photo by iStockphoto

1. Soup Swap: Sick of the same old winter menu at home? Curb the urge to dine out with a soup swap party: Have each attendee bring a pot of their favorite soup and a set of food-storage containers (canning jars work great). Line up the soups, and let the tasting commence! Everyone can pack up some of each soup to take home and leave with a variety of new soups to savor over the coming week.

2. Clothing Swap: How often do de-cluttering and parties come together? Tell your friends to pack their unwanted clothes (we all have that skirt that fits awkwardly stashed in the back of the closet). Pool the goods and let everyone swap it up! Cast-offs from one closet become new favorites in another, and everyone ends up with something new for a great price: zero dollars.

3. Kids’ Toy Swap: Gather moms of kids in a range of ages, and have everyone bring items their kids no longer use. You’ll leave feeling lighter, and armed with plenty of entertainment for your little ones through the rest of the winter.

4. Book Swap: Looking for a new page-turner to stimulate winter nights? Get your friends together for a book swap. Over warm drinks, sort through the offerings until everyone leaves with the glow of time spent with friends—and new books.


As the holidays are quickly approaching, wrapping gifts can be a fun way to celebrate the season of giving. By sharing these eco-friendly Christmas gift wrapping ideas with your family and friends, you can inspire others. As you plan your gift giving, try out these easy alternatives to wrapping your gifts this year:

1. Brown paper bags: Brown paper from grocery bags, craft paper, and packaging insulation can be repurposed as gift wrap. After wrapping your gifts in brown paper, you can add pops of color from fabric ribbons, homemade gift tags, yard clippings for greenery, or even festive drawings can be added to make your gift one of a kind and eco-friendly.

Brown Paper Bag
Photo By Kristy Severin

2. Fabric:  From specially made fabric gift wrap like the ones from Chewing the Cud, to an old t-shirt or fabric ribbon, fabric can be used to wrap gifts by tying the fabric around your gifts. The fabric can even become part of the gift itself, such as a bandana, scarf, or tea towel.

Fabric Gift Wrap
Via Chewing the Cud

3. Reusable bags: As so many stores now sell reusable bags at the checkout line, they can be an easy, inexpensive alternative to gift wrap. By placing a few sheets of tissue paper in the top, the person receiving the gift can then reuse the bag for their own shopping needs.

Reusable Bag
Photo By Kristy Severin

4. Baskets: Baskets are a beautiful way of displaying a gift and is an eco-friendly alternative as it can be used again and again. Baskets can be purchased new or from thrift stores and Goodwill.

Christmas Basket
Via DIY Network

For more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

Kristy SeverinKristy Severin is a mother of two, a certified art instructor, photographer, painter, writer and cook. She earned her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda, East Africa. Inspired daily by her children and love of the earth, you can find her fine art and writings at The Art of Green Living.



Christmas in Pittsburgh

Living in the Pittsburgh area, Christmas celebrations are a blend of many different ethnicities. During the days before Christmas there is a Peoples Gas Holiday Market in the downtown area, which is patterned after the Christkindlemarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany, and the Christkindlmarket in Chicago, Illinois.

The city is also lucky enough to have a replica of the Vatican’s Crèche, which is built in St. Peter’s Square in Rome every year. It is a larger-than-life replica, and it is beautiful. The Herbal Husband and I visited several years ago. It has become a popular tradition for many families to visit this attraction every season. I wanted you to see the Crèche at night. I found a beautiful photo taken by Dr. Dennis Woytek, an assistant professor of Journalism and Multimedia Arts at Duquesne University. Dr. Woytek has a blog, The Woytek Blog, talking about his travels and this Crèche. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, the Crèche is a not-to-be-missed Christmas experience.

Vatican Creche

Vatican Creche
Be sure to visit the Pittsburgh Creche at night, when it is at its most beautiful. Photos Courtesy Dr. Dennis Woytek, The Woytek Blog.

My Favorite Christmas Herb Books

This time of year, two of my favorite herbal authors are Adelma Grenier Simmons and Bertha Reppert. Simmons wrote a number of herbal books, but one of my favorites is A Merry Christmas Herbal, which was published in 1968. Simmons considered Christmas to be a season all by itself. In another one of her books, Herb Gardening in Five Seasons, at Caprilands (her famous herb farm) they celebrated Christmas from St. Nicholas Day, December 6, to Twelfth Night, January 6, extending the season.

Find Simmons’ books at

Herb Christmas Books
These are two of my favorite herb books by Adelma Grenier Simmons. Photo By Nancy Heraud.

Reppert was also prolific in her herbal works. She compiled a series of scrapbooks, one of which is about Christmas. Bertha Reppert’s Herbal Scrapbook #2 was created in 1987 and it is jam-packed with all kinds of recipes and ideas for Christmas. In it she writes “The magic of herbs will guarantee you an unforgettable holiday with memories to treasure.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Find Reppert’s books at The Rosemary House & Gardens and

Christmas Herbs
I recommend this Christmas gem from Bertha Reppert. It is filled with all kinds of recipes and ideas for the holidays. Photo By Nancy Heraud.

Christmas Herbs

Speaking of herbs and Christmastime, here are some herbal legends associated with Christmas and the manger. These first three herbs were known animal insecticides that helped to protect the animals and—as it turned out—the Holy Family while staying in the stable.

Bedstraw was in the stable along with hay the night Christ child was born. Bedstraw bloomed with white flowers and no fragrance. After the birth, the flowers were turned to gold and there was a heavenly fragrance.

Pennyroyal was used by Joseph for the manger because of its minty scent, not for its blossoms. Once the baby was born, it bloomed beautiful purple blossoms ever after for the King of Kings.

Thyme was another herb used in the manger because it gave the manger a sweet, clean scent. It was also a  symbol of bravery.

Rosemary is well-known as the Christmas herb. My favorite story of rosemary says that while Mary rested in a grove of rosemary bushes during her flight to Egypt, she laid her cloak out to dry on a white blooming rosemary bush, and her cloak turned the flowers blue.

Rosemary Blooms
My potted rosemary has produced some beautiful blue blooms this year. Photo By Nancy Heraud.

Herb Christmas Craft

In the early days of my blog (Lemon Verbena Lady’s Herb Garden) I wrote about one of my favorite herbal crafts that can decorate during any time of year, but especially at Christmas—"Angels from Nature." If you are looking for a quick herbal craft before the holidays, and you have extra dried herbs and flowers, this would be a fun project for you and your kids or grandkids to do together.

Herb Angel Decoration
I display my "Angel from Nature" Christmas decoration all year long. Photo By Nancy Heraud.

Nancy HeraudAs always, if you have a comment or question about any of my posts, please write to me here or my email at and put in the subject line “Herb Comment or Question.” If you could also let me know where you live in the U.S. (or elsewhere), it will help me answer your herb question more precisely. And be sure to visit my blog Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden. Talk to you soon.


Let’s be honest, vaginas can get expensive. From periods to contraceptives to special doctors, being a woman will inevitably cost a lot of money. One way to cut down those expenses? Switch to reusable menstrual products.

The average price of the best-selling brand of pads is $5.79. Multiply that by 12 months and your period will cost a woman $70 a year. That’s doesn’t seem so bad, right? But what about over her whole life? The average woman can expect to menstruate for 40 years. $70 a year multiplied by 40 years? That’s $2,800.

And tampons are even more expensive. The average price of the best-selling brand of tampons is $8.79. Multiplied by 12 months and then by 40 years? The average woman can expect to spend $4,220.

A typical cloth pad starter kit is about $120. That means you save more than $2,500 over your lifetime.

One menstrual cup runs about $40. That means you save more than $4,000 over your lifetime.

A woman who has to use both tampons and pads during her period can expect to save more than $6,500 just by choosing cloth pads or a menstrual cup instead. If that number doesn’t convince, there are plenty of other reasons to switch to reusable menstrual products. From helping the environment to keeping your body safe from toxic chemicals, switching to reusables is well worth the money.

So what will you do with the $6,500 you save over your lifetime?

Take a trip?

Take A Trip
All you need is a cold drink and a good book. Photo By PhotoRack.

Redo your bathroom?

Redo Your Bathroom
There’s nothing like a good soak in a hot bath to relieve bad cramps. Photo By Holland And Green Architectural Design/Flickr.

Go back to school?

Go Back To School
Take that class in Ancient Greek Women’s Studies, just because it seems interesting. Photo By PhotoRack.

You’re doing a lot for you, your body, and your environment by using reusable menstrual products. You deserve to treat yourself!

And don’t be afraid to talk to your friends about cloth pads. The more women who switch to reusable menstrual products, the bigger the impact on the environment. Plus, it’ll be nice to have a friend on that vacation with you!

Tracy Puhl is the owner of GladRags, washable cloth menstrual pads and menstrual cups that are better for your body, your budget and the environment. Tracy is passionate about period positivity, woman-owned business, and empowering women everywhere to make healthy choices. In her free time, she likes to volunteer, travel, read and cuddle with her fluffy black cat.


As I said in my last post, Aromatherapy Crafts for the Holidays, Part 1, a great way to relieve stress during the holiday season is by using the herbs in your garden. Read about the following herbal scents for even more ways to help relieve stress over the holidays!

Garlic Cloves
These garlic cloves are ready for making Rosemary Garlic Jelly!

GARLIC: Garlic (Allium sativum) is said to repel negative energy. Breathe in garlic’s odor and get rid of negative thoughts, depression and all forms of obsession. Do not use dried or dehydrated garlic. Instead, use fresh cloves. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite jellies, posted in October 2009. It is delicious served with cream cheese as an appetizer and as a condiment for pork or other meat and maybe even your turkey.

Rosemary Garlic Jelly Recipe

GERANIUM: This is an herb that is great as a houseplant during the winter months especially the lemon varieties. The essential oil of geranium (Pelargonium crispum) is usually made from the rose geranium. Either put several drops of essential oil on a cotton ball or rub a leaf and inhale the fragrance. It calms the body and refreshes it as well.

Geranium Potpourri
Mix a beautiful rose-geranium potpourri for any holiday gift.

Here is a potpourri recipe using rose scented geranium leaves created at Hinode Farm and from the book Scented Geraniums by Jim Becker & Faye Brawner.

Scented Geranium Potpourri

• 2 cups rose-scented pelargonium leaves
• 1 cup lavender flowers, preferably left on the stem
• 1 cup lemon-scented herbs
• 2 cups rose petals
• 1 cup oak moss
• 1 cup larkspur petals
• 1 cup rosemary leaves  (I used sage leaves.)
• A few small spruce or fir cones (I used hemlock.)

For a sharper fragrance, mix 50 drops of rose pelargonium oil with 6 tablespoons orrisroot. It will make the fragrance last longer. If you are allergic to orrisroot because of its dusty qualities, you can add corn cob, oakmoss or another fixative to the mix with the essential oil.

Window Garden 
My lemon-scented herbs reside on my windowsill during the winter.
All Photos By Nancy C. Heraud

LEMON VERBENA: You didn’t think that I would leave my favorite herb, lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla or citrodora), out of this post, did you? The essential oil is expensive. The fresh leaves are crushed and used for purification and the fragrance of the leaves encourages spiritual love. In the photo above you can see there are two lemon scented geraniums, ‘lemon crispum’ and ‘lemon meringue’ and my favorite, lemon verbena. I need to start using these leaves for some aromatherapy.

SAGE: This traditional Thanksgiving herb (Salvia officinalis) was used to strengthen the ability to memorize.  You should only use fresh or dried leaves. 

Warning: The sage essential oil contains high levels of thujone, a dangerous substance. It should not be used at all, particularly by pregnant women.

Nancy HeraudAs always, if you have a comment or question about any of my posts, please write to me here or my e-mail at and put in the subject line “Herb Comment or Question.” And be sure to visit my blog Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden. Talk to you soon.

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