Your Natural Home
Creating a cozy hearth for the family


4 Tips for Removing Toxic Chemicals From the Home

Detoxing is a hot trend in our culture these days. We detox our bodies from things like sugar and caffeine, but have you ever considered detoxing your home?

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The average U.S. adult spends 90 percent of their time inside. This stat is concerning for more than one reason, one of them being that 500-1,000 chemicals are lurking in our homes. The worst part is that you’ll find harmful toxins in the most unexpected, common household items. Some of these include paper products, water bottles, carpet, and many more.

Although exposure to these chemicals in small amounts is not harmful, compounded they can cause a number of irritations to our bodies.

Just like we detox our bodies, here are four steps to detoxing our homes:

1. Add Plants

 Did you know indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air? According to the EPA, sources of indoor air pollutants include asbestos, VOCs, formaldehyde and more.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The good news is that plants improve indoor air quality by filtering toxins through their roots and replenishing oxygen levels. Some of the best plants to add to your living space are ferns, golden pothos and, aloe vera.

Another great way to keep the air pure is to ventilate your home often. Open windows and doors to promote airflow.

2. Consider the Products You Bring Into Your Home

Although “going organic” is a hot trend these days, it’s not a bad idea.

Be picky about the brands you use. Check what is used to make the product and where they are made. You should only purchase from brands that clearly disclose what materials are in the products.

Many brands are catching wind of how important ethically sourced, organic materials are to customers. One example of an environmentally sound and transparent brand is Leesa Sleep.

Leesa Sleep is a Certified-B corporation which means they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Their product is made in the U.S. (which holds the highest standards for product development) and built with Certi-PUR foams. This is just one example of many brands joining the fight to become green.

As a rule of thumb, here are a few tips when it comes to shopping for non-toxic household items:

  • Shop for biodegradable household cleaning products that disclose all ingredients used and don’t use fragrance
  • Avoid aerosol spray cans
  • Avoid spraying pesticides - address the root of the problem instead, (i.e., not leaving food out)
  • Buy non-PVC paint
  • Shop for BPA-free plastics
  • Cut back on cans

3. Dust Regularly

Did you know there is a scary amount of toxins are lurking in dust? In fact, one study found that 90% of dust samples contained roughly 45 different types of chemicals across five main chemical classes. Some of these chemicals include phthalates, flame retardants, fragrances, and environmental phenols. Yikes!

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Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Do yourself a favor and clean your house regularly. That means getting those hard-to-reach places as well. Especially if you have kiddos running around the house.

4. Install the Proper Protection

There is no way to 100 percent detox your home. In order to stay safe from potential pollutants in your home, take these precautionary measures.

  • Install CO detectors to notify you when this harmful gas is present in your home
  • Have your water tested for lead
  • Always ventilate while painting or refurbishing to let toxic gases escape
  • Get a shower filter. This will filter out any impurities in your tap water that could turn to gas at room temperature.

For how much time we spend in our homes, it’s time we took care of it and the things we bring inside of it.

Make Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer with Essential Oils

Carpet and rugs get a lot of traffic throughout the year, and especially during the fall and winter. The dirt, crumbs, and pet hair left behind, even after vacuuming, can make your home smell – and not in a good way. Freshen it up with an easy-to-make apple pie carpet deodorizer with essential oils.

Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer

Store bought carpet deodorizers can contain harsh chemicals that don’t belong in any home. Plus, they can be pretty pricey. If you are a fan of essential oils, you probably already have all the supplies you need on hand to make your own using natural products. Apple pie carpet deodorizer is simple and fast to whip up before company arrives.

Supplies for Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer with Essential Oils

  • 2 cups Baking Soda
  • 10 drops Clove Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Ginger Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Nutmeg Essential Oil
  • 1 Mason Jar
  • 1 Mason Jar Daisy Lid

The baking soda works into the fiber of the carpet to naturally lift dirt and absorb odors at the same time.

Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer 1

How to Make Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer with Essential Oil

Step 1: Place two cups of baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer 2

Step 2: Add clove, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg essential oils.

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Step 3: Mix thoroughly with a whisk. Use your fingers or the whisk to break up any clumps.

Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer 4

Step 4: Pour the mixture into a mason jar using a funnel. A quick paper funnel will do the job.

Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer 5

Step 5: Place the daisy lid on the jar. Allow the mixture to set for at least 20 minutes before using. Waiting overnight is even better if you have the time.

To use the apple pie carpet deodorizer, sprinkle it lightly over carpet. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then vacuum as you normally would. You may have to make a couple of passes to get all of the deodorizer up. (Note: Check the manual for your vacuum cleaner to make sure baking soda won’t clog the filter or cause any harm to the machine.)

To store the apple pie carpet deodorizer for future use, either replace the daisy lid with a solid lid or place a coffee filter under the daisy lid. This will keep the carpet deodorizer fresh and free of moisture. You could also use a cheese shaker or salt shaker with large holes instead of a mason jar.

You can mix and match essential oils to create your own unique scents. Dried herbs are a fun addition too. How about citrus rind with peppermint essential oil? Lavender essential oil has antibacterial properties, and cinnamon is great for deterring bugs. It’s up to you to decide what you want your home to smell like. That’s the beauty of making carpet deodorizer yourself!

Bringing Plants Indoors for Winter: 4 Essential Design Tips for Houseplants

The cold weather has come upon us and many plant lovers are slowly mourning the end of the outside growing season. Annuals are beginning to dwindle and the possibility of frosty temperatures means that perennials will also begin to close up for winter.

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The changing of the season doesn’t mean that you have to lose all of those potted or hanging plants that are outdoors. Bring your plants indoors this winter to add greenery into your home and to continue to care for your favorite plants. From a design perspective, maintaining indoor plants is almost essential for modern decor. Here are a few design tips for houseplants.

1. Use Stylish Hangers

Macramé hangers are one of the most popular and versatile ways to hang plants indoors, or even outdoors. Some styles include small metal pots or even stone pieces made to house a small hanging container garden. Use these hangers in corners, above kitchen windows, or even in the bathroom for an extra accent of life.

Succulents and cacti varieties make for great hanging plants as they are easy to care for and look great in clusters. Hanging vines are also popular in hangers since they need ample vertical space for growing. Consider choosing an area with extra space underneath for those vines that you want to bring indoors this year in order to add natural beauty to a room.

2. Fill Negative Space

When it comes to adding accent plants, you want to add them to an area that isn’t overly crowded but rather needs something, like those negative spaces in a room. Common areas include above kitchen and bathroom cabinets and built-in alcoves along the top of a large room. These areas can be livened up by the presence of a living and breathing houseplant. Consider choosing vines and fast-growing plants for these areas in your home in order to fill the space quickly. Ferns are also a good option to fill these spaces as they require little maintenance in those hard to reach areas of the home.

3. Add Color to Each Room

Potted plants are the best choice to add color to many rooms of your home. Consider breaking apart some larger plants in order to provide enough plants for each indoor area. Something as small as a single succulent placed on a nightstand can make a huge difference in the mood of a room. Add small pots to side tables and dressers while larger varieties can be used as a table centerpiece or along a buffet. You can also add a small potted flower, like begonias or African violets, along windowsills.

4. Create Depth in Corners

You will probably have a few plants outdoors that are too large to be separated into smaller portions. These plants, such as a fiddle leaf or a small palm tree, can be easily placed in a corner to create depth to a room. Make sure that the plant has enough access to sunlight as well as enough space that it won’t be too crowded. Move furniture around in your favorite room to utilize a taller plant that will help to create a peaceful atmosphere. Additional plant varieties that won’t take up too much root space and will utilize vertical space include cacti and bamboo. Placing a large accent plant in the corner of a room will make the room feel bigger and more interesting.

There are plenty of ways to incorporate outdoor plants into the inside areas of your home during the colder seasons of fall and winter. Choose the right plants to bring indoors by knowing where to place them. Consider these essential design tips for houseplants in order to make your home a cozy and peaceful environment during the colder parts of the year.

 

Building Sustainable Barns and Other Farming Structures

The definition of homesteading has evolved significantly since the implementation (and subsequent repeal) of 1862’s Homesteading Act. But what hasn’t changed is the fact that outbuildings are a big deal in the homesteading world. For a self-sufficient homestead to truly function, you need a greenhouse as well as a barn or other type of farming structure.

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Photo by Pexels

The good news for DIY homesteaders is that building sustainable barns and greenhouses is easier than ever. There are myriad possibilities in the realm of sustainable barn design, and it starts with your personal needs. What is the barn or farm structure’s primary purpose? If your barn will be used to store tractors and other types of farming equipment, your design blueprints will differ greatly from those intended for a barn that houses horses and other farm animals.

No matter the size or function of your homestead, building a sustainable structure on your own is a lofty but achievable goal. Here are some points to consider when constructing eco-friendly barns and outbuildings.

Sustainability Issues on the Homestead

Many homesteaders are passionate about alternative power and dedicated to energy efficiency best practices. At the start of your sustainable barn project, do some research about your homestead’s location to determine the best alternative energy source for your property. In the Great Plains, for example, wind capacity is high, so a DIY wind turbine may be the best choice for optimal energy efficiency.

Where solar power is concerned, ample peak sun-hours are the key to maximum efficiency. Peak sun-hours are sunlight hours that provide at least 1,000 watts of photovoltaic power per square meter. Typically, the closer to the equator you are, the more peak sun-hours you will experience. Arizona, Nevada, and California top the list of U.S. states with the highest average amount of peak sun-hours.

Another aspect of sustainable outbuilding construction is paint choice. The majority of traditional interior and exterior paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as acetate, benzene, ethanol, and formaldehyde. VOCs negatively impact indoor air quality and are widely known to cause cancer, respiratory issues, and other health problems; thus, they are far from sustainable.

When shopping for eco-friendly paint, skip brands with VOCs and opt for paint made from natural ingredients such as iron oxide pigment, milk casein, and lime.

Building with Sustainable and Upcycled Materials

VOCs may also be present in building materials, so you may need to think outside the box when you’re constructing a sustainable barn or outbuilding.

When it comes to a farming structure’s floor, you have myriad options. Many people choose concrete for barn floors as the material is inexpensive and relatively durable, but the downside to a concrete floor is the fact that it’s not eco-friendly. In fact, the main material used to make concrete is cement, which is a notoriously hazardous material.

In lieu of concrete, homesteaders have several eco-friendly flooring choices. For instance, bamboo floors are a great option in regards to both sustainability and cost-effectiveness. Bamboo is sustainable due to its fast rate of growth, especially when compared to hardwood trees.

Professionals estimate that bamboo flooring typically renews itself in about 5-7 years, while hardwood takes at least 30 years to re-grow completely. Further, your out-of-pocket cost for bamboo flooring will only come to between $3-$5 per square foot on average.

Insulation is another consideration in every sustainable outbuilding project. Many homesteaders want to avoid fiberglass insulation, for good reason. Fiberglass, which is used in about 90 percent of construction projects nationwide, is a man-made vitreous fiber that contains possible human carcinogens, also known as cancer causing agents. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, fiberglass can also cause skin and eye irritation, as well as respiratory problems.

Fortunately for homesteaders, there are several viable alternatives to fiberglass insulation. You can upcycle old denim, use natural wool or soy-based foam insulation, or try out “hempcrete.” The hemp-based insulation alternative is hypoallergenic, as well as resistant to insect and fire damage, U.S. News and World Report data indicates.

Material choice is a vital aspect of sustainable building practices. Whether you’re building a barn or a larger outbuilding structure, shop around for sustainable materials such as bamboo flooring, mineral-based paint, and recycled denim insulation. Determine if your homestead’s location is more suited for a wind turbine or solar panel array, and start living a more eco-friendly life.

A Preview of Today’s Kitchen of the Future

Envisioning the kitchen of the future has become a perennial pastime since Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, when suffragist Mary Lease predicted that within a century, women would be freed from the drudgery of the kitchen by a meal pill that would eliminate the need for cooking. The fair also featured more realistic kitchen inventions, including Aunt Jemima pancake mix and the world’s first automatic dishwasher. Four decades later, the 1933 World’s Fair returned to Chicago to showcase Homes of Tomorrow, which included more sophisticated dishwashers and other time-saving kitchen appliances. In 1956, General Motors took a spin at the kitchen of tomorrow in its promotional video “Design for Dreaming,” where a cake could be baked by simply inserting a card into a slot to see a preview of the finished product and watch the ingredients automatically start on an assembly line.

Today, some of these ideas remain wishful thinking, while others are already a reality. Meanwhile, some of today’s realities have surpassed anything past futurists imagined. Here’s a look at what the kitchen of the future looks like today, and how it might look in the near future.

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Photo by Shutterstock

The Connected Kitchen

An outstanding feature of today’s futuristic kitchen is connectivity to the Internet of Things. One promise the connected kitchen is on the verge of delivering is guided cooking. This year’s Consumer Electronic Show and Kitchen and Bath International Show featured smart appliance systems designed to let you choose a recipe based on your available ingredients, send the ingredients to the over for preheating and use videos to guide you through unfamiliar cooking steps. For instance, Whirlpool announced that its smart ovens will now integrate with the Yummly app, which uses image recognition technology to take an image of your available food, follow integrated cooking tutorials and videos, and send instructions to your connected over or microwave.

But today’s connected kitchen isn’t limited to smart cooking appliances and apps. LG’s ThinQ smart fridge that includes a built-in touchscreen, a webOS operating system, Alexa integration and built-in speakers to stream music wirelessly. You can also connect your kitchen appliances to a high-definition camera surveillance system so you can check on your children and pets while you’re cooking, or confirm that your appliances are turned off in other parts of your home.

Automated Indoor Gardening

The kitchen of the future also offers new ways to bring food to your table, including automated indoor gardening. One of today’s most popular indoor gardening methods is hydroponics, which replaces traditional soil with a mineral nutrient solution that directly nourishes plants, either through unsupported roots or through roots supported by a medium such as perlite. Hydroponics systems may also be suspended in the air and misted (aeroponics), or even combined with aquaculture systems to support edible fish and aquatic animals (aquaponics).

The latest innovations combine hydroponics with automated indoor gardening systems. For instance, the CityCrop intelligent indoor garden combines hydroponics with automated climate control, smart nutrient dosing systems and LED grow lights tailored to plant needs, all controlled by an app that lets you monitor your garden’s growth. Indoor gardening kits such as Click and Grow are also available that simplify the set-up process.

Kitchen Robots

Robots are also moving into the kitchen to make common household chores easier. Moley Robotics is scheduled to release a robot chef this year. The robot can download a recipe from a library of thousands of meals and use its robotic arms to prepare the meal following the same procedures a master chef would use. While a bit pricey at an estimated $18,000, once this type of technology becomes mainstream, prices should drop to more affordable levels.

Robots are also helping make it easier to clean up your kitchen. Robot vacuums such as the Neato Botvac can do your sweeping for you. When it’s time to mop your floor, floor mopping robots such as the iRobot Braava jet can do the cleaning for you.

The future of today’s kitchen is connected, with appliances integrated with the internet and mobile phones as well as appliances and electronics in other parts of the home. Tomorrow’s kitchen will also use automated indoor gardening to grow fresh food right in your home. Kitchen robots are ready to start doing your cooking, as well as clean up your floors. The kitchen of tomorrow will make it easier to cook, bring food to your table, clean up and relax as you enjoy a good meal.


Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

7 Tips for Styling Your Bedroom for Better Sleep

Our bedrooms are our oasis for sleep, relaxation, and rest after long, stressful days. Your bedroom should be the most personal room in your house, especially because you spend one third of your life sleeping.

When it comes to styling your interiors, never neglect the importance of your bedroom. Be intentional with your decisions and create a space that can optimize your sleep to help contribute to a happier, healthier life.

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Photo by Unsplash

1. Clear Out the Clutter

A cluttered space is proven to lead to increased stress levels. When you start decorating your room, don’t overdo it. The more opportunities you create to add clutter and mess, the more susceptible you are to end up piling things around. Leave the knick-knacks and the extra chairs out of the bedroom and save them for your living room or den.

2. Start with the Right Bed

Your bed has the biggest impact on the quality of sleep you have, and unfortunately, a lot of people are sleeping on the wrong bed. A recent consumer preference survey found that while 45 percent of Americans are sleeping on an innerspring bed, only 12.6 percent are satisfied with this type of mattress. Don’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed every morning. Do the research necessary to find the best bed for your needs.

3. Be Smart with Your Theme Colors

When it comes to color, don’t worry about unleashing your creativity here, but stay away from intense colors like reds, purples, or oranges. The best colors for sleep are cool tones that help you feel relaxed. Try out light shades of blue when adding color to your sleep haven.

4. Eliminate Noise Distractions

The best way to eliminate sound from your bedroom is to customize your walls and windows. If you aren’t a big fixer upper, don’t worry: There are still ways to keep your bedroom quiet to prevent you from waking up during the night. The first step you can make is being wise about which room in your house you choose for your bedroom. Don’t choose a room that backs up to a busy road or sidewalk. You can also try using a white noise machine that will mask background noises.

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Photo by Unsplash

5. Appeal to Your Senses

Not only will you want your room to be visually pleasing, but you’ll also want it to smell and feel relaxing. An essential oil diffuser with scents like lavender or chamomile will help bring a calming aroma to your room.

Think about what makes you most comfortable. This can help you make decisions between carpet, hardwood flooring, or a rug. You can also customize your bed sheets to what appeals the most to you whether than be cotton, silk, or jersey sheets.

6. Keep It Cool

The optimal temperature for good sleep is between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, so consider ways that you can keep your bedroom cool for better sleep. A ceiling fan will help keep air circulating in your room, or a stand-up fan that rotates. Fans also provide a soothing white noise sound to help you sleep.

7. Dim the Lights

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs) emit a harsh, bright light and blue light which will stimulate you, so when it comes to your lighting options, consider incandescent bulbs which give off a diffuse, warm light. Red light is also known to help with your melatonin production and sleep, so you may want to look into red bulbs for your lamps or red string lights.

You don’t have to be an expert interior designer to create the bedroom of your dreams. Follow these simple steps and you’ll have your own personal sleep oasis to cozy up in every night.

Fall Lawn Care Tips

After a busy summer growing season, many homeowners choose to do less lawn care once fall arrives. However, fall is the perfect time to prepare your lawn for next year to encourage fuller and healthier lawn growth. Consider these fall lawn care tips in order to make sure to help your lawn receives the nutrients that it needs.

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Manage Leaves

There is a lot of discussion about falling leaves and if they are a good or bad thing for lawns. Dead leaves are a natural nutrient that is great for lawns but needs to be cared for in the proper way. Allowing whole dead leaves to pile up on the lawn can encourage moisture and damage the underlying grass. Make sure to use this natural food for lawns by mulching the leaves into smaller pieces. Mulching the leaves will cut them down into smaller pieces making them easier to spread and break down into the soil.

Continue Mowing

You probably won’t have to mow as often during the fall but make sure to keep an eye on the total height of your grass in order to know when to mow. Never take off more than 1/3 of the total grass height at a time in order to protect the grassroots from damage. Allowing grass to grow too long can encourage matting and cause fungi to grow. If you don’t have a leaf mulcher, mowing the lawn without a bag will help to use those leaves for fertilizer as well.

Protect from Thatch

Fall is a great time to aerate the soil in order to protect from thatch: the build-up of roots, stems, and debris that can seriously harm lawn growth. Thatch is a common lawn issue that blocks soil from important sunlight, water, and oxygen. A build-up of thatch in a lawn also interferes with nutrients that are important for lawn health. Make sure to aerate your lawn with either an aerator or special lawn shoes that will poke holes in the lawn. Doing so will allow all of those important elements to reach the root system of the grass.

Add Fall Fertilizer

Once you have aerated the lawn, consider adding a slow-release granular fertilizer in order to support the lawn over winter. Adding fertilizer will help to feed essential nutrients to the root system as well as help to sustain the roots in cold temperatures. Choosing a fertilizer that is heavy in nitrogen with some potassium will help protect the grass from disease as well as encourage root growth for a healthier lawn.

Consider Overseeding

The common practice of overseeding is a great way to help build up a lawn in the fall as well as discourage weeds from growing. Adding seed to areas of your lawn will help to fill in thin spots as well as help to support the overall lawn system. Spreading seed is not a one-time job though, as seeds will need more watering and special care in order to take hold before the cold weather arrives. Make sure to overseed in areas of your lawn that need a little boost of help as well as those that have become worn after a busy summer season.

Fall lawn care is especially crucial in order to keep it strong and healthy through the cooler weather. Consider adding fertilizer and seed to lawns in order to build up the lawn and prevent disease. Make sure to continue cutting the lawn when needed throughout the fall season as well as aerating the lawn to support the root system. Finally, enjoy those fallen leaves but make sure to mulch them into the lawn afterward to add important natural nutrients to the soil. Follow all of these fall lawn care tips in order to promote healthy growth and sustainability of your lawn this year.


Jackie Greene is a blogger, gardener, and nutrition enthusiast. She enjoys creating organic meals for family and friends using the fresh ingredients she produces from her backyard homestead.







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