Mother Earth Living

Your Natural Home

Creating a cozy hearth for the family

Add to My MSN

1/14/2016

There are few things, like a messy environment, that really aggravate my anxiety. When I walk into my home to see dirty counters, a fridge stuffed with expired food and unmade beds, I feel panicked and down in the dumps, at the same time. On the flip side, when my home is vacuumed, dusted, clutter-free and there is a naturally scented candle burning on the coffee table, tension drains from my body.

A messy, out of control home can make a person feel out of control themselves; it messes with your mind and physical health. Devote time to creating an environment where your mind and body can thrive, without toxins and visual anxiety triggers. There are many ways in which this can be accomplished. A step-by-step approach is often best for people, like me, who tend to become overwhelmed.

tidy and organized living room
Photo by Fotolia/windy Li.

1. Take One Step at a Time

Make a to-do list or commit to accomplishing a certain amount of things every day. Clean the showers and toilets one day, vacuum the next. If dishes are in the sink, quickly put them away to keep them from accumulating. Take a few minutes to wipe down as many things as you can with a little vinegar.

Doing a little here and there will help you feel like your home is always, generally, in order and control. Every bathroom in my home has a bottle of vinegar and a cleaning cloth under the sink. I use it every day to spruce things up, which requires a minimal time investment.

2. Ask for Help

Another great way to make sure things stay tidy is to enlist some help. If other people are making messes, you’ll obviously be much more stressed and your workload will be greater. I always say, “If you help make the messes, you help clean them.” Chores are good for kids and adults, and once they get in the habit it will become another regular part of the day.

3. Let It Go

Clutter is all too often a major culprit in many households. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things. Choose someone you trust to help you sort through your clutter and rationalize what you can, and should, get rid of. Let them guide you through the anxiety of saying goodbye to things you no longer need. Donating items to charity can give you feelings of happiness, along with a sense of calm because you’ll know that someone will treasure the items you have selflessly given up. That’s something to be proud of!

4. Add Final Touches

Once your home is clean, add some special, soothing touches. I love candles; they bring me feelings of peace and comfort. Some brands are actually considered to be quite toxic, so be sure you select ones that are made with natural fragrances, wax and wicks. Lay out some snuggly blankets that complement your décor. Place your favorite book on the coffee table to enjoy when you’re ready to sit on the couch with a fresh cup of tea. Put some dark chocolate in a candy dish for the occasional treat. These are the small, super-simple things that affect brain chemistry in a positive way.

Your environment should be a place of refuge, a much needed retreat. It does take effort to get it that way, but it provides a great sense of accomplishment and pride. These are also important feelings that have a positive brain impact. It's simple: No matter how tiny, good things create good feelings; bad things, such as messes and clutter, create bad feelings. These feelings affect us in a big way. So pull out the vacuum and take a step toward a less anxious, healthier, happier you.


Karyn 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.




1/6/2016

Regardless of where you start — the bathrooms or the kitchen — the result is probably the same, a clean and tidy house. But admit it, house cleaning is something the majority of us dread. Dulled by the humdrum of daily tidying, you may begin to wonder, “How do the professional house cleaning services clean and what is their secret?”

Talking to several house cleaning professionals around the country, we have managed to find out some of their house cleaning secrets. So, if you want to make your home sparkle, take two minutes from your busy schedule and read these helpful cleaning secrets straight from the book of the professional house cleaners.

woman admiring clean house
Photo by Fotolia.

Strategy: The Base Tool

The first and foremost secret of house cleaning: have a strategy. Professional cleaners follow a set plan, cleaning in a particular way as they are under time constraints and have to clean a number of houses in a day. If there is no plan, chaos will reign and you will certainly not be able to complete your cleaning tasks on time.

Know Your Surfaces and Cleaning Solutions

Different types of solutions are needed for different types of stains, from moderate to extreme. Knowing which cleaning solution will work best on which surface stain can really speed up your work and efficiency.

Bear in mind that many popular house cleaning solutions may damage the surface if applied incorrectly. Don’t mix solutions that contain bleach and ammonia together as the combination produces a very deadly gas which is extremely dangerous. Alkaline or acidic cleaners, such as vinegar, used on marble, travertine and several other natural stones can etch or destroy the finish.

Clean Back to Front

A good method to implement — start from the back and work your way to the front of the room. This way, you bring all the tools and supplies with you and can avoid walking over what you’ve already cleaned. For instance, if you’re vacuuming the carpets, start from the farthest corner and come forward, or if you are mopping the floor, begin at the back, moving toward the entrance.

Go Top to Bottom

Cleaning the top surfaces, such as cabinet tops, almirah tops, tables, etc. and then work your way down to the floor, will stop cross contamination. By doing this you can keep dust from falling on clean floors or water spilling on already dry areas.

Wipe Surfaces Dry

Always keep the surfaces dry. This applies to all rooms in the house. When you wipe surfaces dry, you’re not only eliminating the chances of bacteria breeding in stagnant water, but also making the surfaces shine bright as new. Air drying may be a good option for bedrooms and living area, but use good mopping devices for wiping bathrooms, balconies and kitchens.

Don't Multitask

While multitasking is much appreciated, in many ways, when it comes to cleaning a house the professionals strictly prohibit it. Multitasking is distracting and can really sneak up on you. You can easily be driven away to something new while the task at hand remains half done. Before you know it, you are out of time. Just stay focused; complete the task that’s been started and then move on to the next one.

Now that you know the hidden secrets of the how professional cleaners work, implement them in your cleaning tasks to work more effectively and efficiently.


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.




12/29/2015

The green movement toward environmental-friendly choices and options isn’t just a phase, it's here to stay. Luckily for you, eco-friendly upgrades in your home are not only a great choice for the environment, but for your wallet as well. By making small changes around your space, like fixing leaky faucets and maintaining your heater's filter, you can conserve energy, water and money.

eco-conscious home
Illustration by Depositphotos.

Use Nature to Your Advantage

Take advantage of natural light as much as possible. Not only is it free, but the longer you avoid turning on your lamps and light fixtures, the more money you save on your energy bill. Avoid crowding the area in front of your windows to allow the sun to bathe your space. Trees can also be used to your advantage by reducing your heating and cooling costs. A strategically placed tree shades your driveway or patio in the summer; after the leaves fall off, the sun can enter your home and provide natural warmth in the winter. Trees that don't lose their leaves, such as evergreen trees, protect your home from the cold winds throughout the year, if you live in a cooler climate.

Upgrade or Maintain Your Filters

A dirty or old furnace filter prohibits your unit from running at maximum efficiency. Most filters need to be replaced every few months and by footing the upfront cost of the filter, you'll save money in the long run because your unit will be running at peak efficiency. Another filter to clean routinely is the one located in your dryer. Lint build-up in the filter prohibits your dryer from working as efficiently as it could. Keeping the lint clear helps dry your clothes faster and at a lower heat, saving you money.

Water Conservation

Start by upgrading your water fixtures to a low-flow system that conserves water in the shower, when you flush the toilet, and while you're washing dishes in the sink. Fix all of your leaky faucets or toilets — this conserves an astounding amount of water and it's an easy fix. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or scrubbing dishes. And better yet, use a dishwasher to conserve even more water.

Household Appliances

Speaking of dishwashers, for a great eco-friendly upgrade to your home that saves money, focus on your appliances. Look for appliances that are certified Energy Star. These appliances will eventually pay for themselves from all the money you'll be saving on your energy or water bill. For example, Whirlpool dishwashers that are Energy Star-certified conserve water by using a sensor that determines how dirty your dishes are, and then adjusting water usage accordingly. Their thoughtfully crafted design takes advantage of every nook and cranny, giving you space for more dishes and a bigger bang for your buck when you run your dishwasher.

Unplug Electronics

The small amount of energy that is drawn when electronics, such as TVs, DVD players, game consoles and kitchen appliances, are plugged in but aren't in use adds up. Often referred to as energy vampires, appliances that are not used every day such as the blender or toaster oven should be unplugged. For appliances and electronics used more frequently, an easy upgrade is to use a surge suppressor that turns them off completely when not in use. Try this and you'll be surprised how much your wallet will thank you.


Destined to be an Armenian housewife perfecting her hummus recipe, Natalie Posdaljian instead chose a life of marine field biology and sriracha. Born and raised in southern California, her veins rush with salty seawater and sunshine no matter where she goes. When she's not saving jellyfish from extinction, Natalie is dancing in the shower, knitting on a plane or swinging in her hammock.



12/22/2015

If you get ugly stains on clothing, carpeting or upholstered furniture, you need to understand the correct way to clean the various fabrics. Attempting to remove stains from certain fabrics with the wrong methods can make the discoloration worse, or completely ruin the item. Create a written list of the best methods to remove stains, from different fabrics, and keep it in your home’s laundry room for fast access. You should also keep the cleaning supplies and tools needed to remove stains, immediately, on hand.

how to remove stains 

Cotton or Polyester

When you spill a beverage or food on a shirt or slacks, do not rub at the debris with a paper or cloth napkin. Use a dabbing motion instead, while continually turning the napkin to a clean section. As soon as possible, you should remove the garment and rinse it in cold water to remove more of the stain. Smear a small amount of your usual laundry detergent on the stain and allow it to soak for 20 minutes. If the stain does not disappear completely, repeat the soaking process several times. For ink stains on clothing caused by ballpoint pens, you can dissolve the stain with hair spray before washing the garment.

Wool or Wool-Blend

Removing stains from wool and wool-blend fabrics can be more difficult because this fiber frequently requires dry-cleaning rather than washing in water. This means if you want to remove a stain with liquid, you must test an inconspicuous area such as an inside seam first. Do not place a wool item in water unless the fabric care directions say it is safe, but do avoid rubbing at the debris because it will become more embedded in the fibers. You should have a specialized wool cleansing detergent in the laundry room, and by sprinkling a small amount on a cloth, you can dab at the stain to remove the debris. This technique is appropriate for wool carpets, clothing and other household items.

Pretreat Upholstered Furniture

One of the best things you can do for many items is find ways to prevent stains. When shopping in a furniture store, like The Dump, for new upholstered couches or chairs, make sure to look for items that have pretreated fabrics, or ask about having anti-stain fabric treatments applied by technicians before delivery. A stain-resistant spray on upholstered surfaces helps repel liquids and solids to prevent unattractive discoloration as well.

With the right techniques and prevention you can avoid ugly stains on everything from your couch to your favorite sweater. Make sure you pay attention to the fabrics and use the right methods to get out your next spill!


Brooke ChaplanBrooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.



12/21/2015

It’s one thing to be “raised in a barn,” but it’s totally another thing to “live in a barn”. Well, not really. While an old barn may not be your default definition of a comfortable two-story home, it has the potential to become much more than your average-looking living space. Homeowners can take advantage of the barn’s spacious structure and design to convert an aged barn into a home that has the warmth and rustic feel you’ve always dreamed of.

converted barn to house
Photo by Oast House Archive courtesy WikiMedia Commons.

Laying the Foundation

Because the barn you have is probably more than 100 years old, examining its foundation and basic structures is important for you to identify existing and potential weaknesses that may compromise not only the integrity of the building, but also your personal safety. Map out what needs to be replaced, tear them out and make repairs before getting too carried away with the design.

Metal Roofing

If you want an attractive home, then the outdated metal sheet will never do. Years of persistent innovation and engineering have transformed the style and installation process of metal roofs. Today, metal roofs are no longer installed directly on the deck. They are available in a variety of beautiful colors and styles of slates, shingles, tiles, and shakes. The end result is a high-performing and outstanding roof that is beautiful and versatile for all kinds of roof pitches.

Flooring

The flexibility of metal roofs enables you to curve or create various roof pitches to enhance your exterior design. When it comes to flooring, you want a material that reflects the overall appeal of your new home. Stone tiles offer interesting color blends and textures that make your home look luxurious, yet maintain a touch of tradition. Laminated flooring gives you a wider range of customization, allowing you to create color combinations, patterns, and a look that emulates the appearance of other flooring materials. At the end of the day, it’s the touch of a real wood floor that gives the rustic feel you so dearly miss.

Country Kitchen

While you can design your kitchen in any way you want, it’s always good to keep some of the country air of an old barn. A country kitchen offers the convenience of modern technology, yet gives you the luxury of enjoying a rustic layout. Wood cabinets, valances on the kitchen windows, and other natural materials and fine craftsmanship are some of the timeless features of a country kitchen. Install built-in shelves to display floral plates, teapots or tea sets, and other antique icons, such as a trio of milk bottles and basket of fresh fruit. If you want to further enhance your rustic flair, add a fireside in the living room and a front porch that is furnished with a couple rocking chairs.

The Grand Transformation

Converting an old barn into a home may take a lot of work, yet the result is always astounding. Whether you’re looking for vintage style, a contemporary layout, or a hybrid of the two, there’s always something in store. So find a barn and start a barn family today.


Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation. Paul writes for the Global Home Improvement blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as metal roofing and solar. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.



12/15/2015

What’s better than cuddling up in warm blankets and soft sheets on a cold winter’s night? Not much, except snuggling in organic blankets and sheets. Organic bedding is minimally processed, high-quality and luxurious. You can get cozy knowing that your bed is pure and free from harmful chemicals that can be absorbed into the skin. At the same time, you’ll be supporting safer working conditions and less environmental destruction.

organic bedding in guest room
Photo by Fotolia.

Where to Find Organic Bedding?

I haven’t seen organic bedding in the mainstream stores I tend to go to, but I’m sure it will be there soon enough. Right now, it is easy to hop online and shop for your healthy bedding. I have personally tried two brands and loved them both.

Coyuchi sent me their classic sheet set in white. The color went beautifully with my tan comforter. The sheets were soft and had a slightly, but almost unnoticeably, different feel than traditional, high-quality sheets. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. They aren’t slick or flannel, but somewhere perfectly in between the two textures. Even after washing, they came out white as ever and with the same texture they had when I took them out of the package.

Coyuchi offers a wide variety of bedding and linens. If you need items for your bed, bath, nursery, table, or lounge area, they’ve got you covered…literally! The company has strict regulations that are humane and environmentally friendly. “From farm, to factory, to the store, to your home.”

The Clean Bedroom sheets have a slightly more flannel-like feel. They’re very soft and warm, which makes them awesome for winter. The color was more of a natural cream that would pair well with everything.

Feather pillows move aside, organic, shredded rubber pillows are amazing! They’re designed for optimal neck and back support. Usually, I have a slight headache in the morning, but not after using this pillow. Initially the pillow feels a little bouncy, but it contours to the body pretty quickly. They do have a rubber scent, but it fades after a few days.

The Clean Bedroom is an organic supplier, so they carry many brands, including Coyuchi. You can find bedding, bath, air cleaning and pet items on their site. They promote truly green bedrooms, nurseries and bathrooms.

Is Organic Bedding Expensive?

Compared to what I usually buy, which includes sheets from places like Target, it is expensive. However, just by touching the fabric it’s easy to tell that these products are made at the highest quality, so they will last much longer. In retrospect, you could purchase low-quality sheets every year, or buy top-quality organic sheets and buy less often.

Let’s Not Forget the Big Picture

You are also paying for purity and supporting a sustainable earth. That, in itself, is worth a lot. Every little thing that you can do to make your environment a little better, the healthier you and your family will be.

I really enjoyed learning more about organic bedding. It’s amazing to realize that, literally, everything around us could be made much better, and in a way that helps us all live a better life. I am truly excited to keep digging around to find more amazing companies that are doing amazing things to protect the future for all of us.


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.




12/14/2015

Photo by Fotolia
 

Being environmentally friendly is becoming increasingly talked about as time goes on. Everything from vehicles to hair care products are being labeled as “green” or “eco-friendly,” and this trend is becoming more apparent within the household. Going green has an incredible amount of benefits for both the homeowners and the environment. Nearly every aspect of a household has a green, energy saving alternative available, and most of these changes can be implemented quite easily.

Creating a green home promotes an overall healthier environment, and also teaches individuals the importance of tending to the environment whenever possible. Plus, converting to a “green” lifestyle can help a family save large amounts of money in the long run, and a majority of the out-of-pocket expenses necessary to go green will likely be recovered in tax credits and rebates awarded for promoting eco-friendliness.

What is a Green Home?

Creating a green home means that the household is able to reduce costs, meaning that it uses less electricity than the average home, while also reducing the use of products that have a negative impact on the environment. Overall creating a green home can:

• Greatly reduce annual electricity bill expenses.
• Teach family about the importance of being environmentally friendly.
• Reduce a family’s overall carbon footprint.

These are just three of the many benefits of converting to the green lifestyle, and there are various simple green adaptations that can be implemented within the home; each having their own positive benefits. Now, let’s talk about how to implement green practices when building a home.

Use Eco-Friendly Building Materials

When building a home with sustainability in mind, using eco-friendly building supplies should be a must in the construction of the home. These products may include items like recycled plastics and glass, or utilizing reclaimed wood when available. Nearly any area of the home has opportunities for the use of eco-friendly materials to be used.

Use Energy Efficient Lighting

CFL or LED lighting options should always be utilized when building a home, since they use a significantly reduced amount of energy to operate, and exceed the average lifespan of an incandescent bulb. As these lighting sources have many green benefits, they should always be a priority in the home.

Use Non-Waste Fixtures

Ordinary faucets and showerheads are notorious for wasting large amounts of water. Converting these fixtures to their low-flow counterparts can greatly reduce the amount of water being used in the home. Ultimately cutting down on water bills, and improving the green aspect of the home. It is also worthwhile to visit other resource-efficient appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines.

Use Proper Insulation

When building a green home, finding the right insulation can be vital to a home’s energy consumption. As heating and cooling account for an enormous portion of a home’s energy usage, it is important to ensure a home is well insulated, to reduce any unnecessary energy use to keep the home at the desired climate.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

Utilizing a programmable thermostat can significantly cut energy uses all year round. Simply programing the thermostat to only be set for certain times throughout the day will ensure that no excess energy is being used when it is not needed. After all, the house doesn’t mind being cold – therefore you shouldn’t worry about it while you are away.


Taylor Tomita is a creative writer and musician residing in Boise, Idaho. He loves all aspects of marketing and social media, and spends too much time researching these topics. In his free time you can find him creating music or exploring the town in search of good pizza. Follow him on twitter.





Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.

(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here