Your Natural Home
Creating a cozy hearth for the family

Our Life is Real Life

Ten years ago, I was arriving home from the hospital from the birth of my second baby, a son. My husband drove us, with our 21-month-old daughter strapped in next to her new brother. We were a family of four, huddled down for the winter in Wisconsin, on our farm. As soon as we were settled in the house, Andy headed out the door to feed our hens and sheep and cattle. The sheep and cows were expectant mothers as well. In a few months we would have the delight of lambing season upon us. At the same time, our Holstein and Milking Shorthorn heifers would start to freshen (give birth) and we would become dairy farmers.

garden and windmill in fog
Photo by Rebekah Sell

I look back at that time and give a deep sigh. It’s both fatiguing to think of all we did at once and bittersweet to know it is no more. We tried for three exhausting, yet rewarding years to take over my parents’ farm, but in the end, my dad just wasn’t ready to quit.

We left the farm in order to save our relationship with my parents.

In doing so, our little family entered a sort of wilderness. We had little direction and didn’t know what God had for our lives. In the midst of that, we added two more boys to our family, moved five times and went through six job changes. It turns out, we had a lot to learn about ourselves, about relationships and more growth of character than I ever could have imagined that day, that day I held my second baby for the first time.

rebekah's children
Photo by Rebekah Sell

In 2013, we had an opportunity to buy a small house on seven acres of land. It was right across the street from our farm, the family farm, which is still in Dad’s hands. Ever since we returned to the country, we work tirelessly on creating a home out of our little space. We work diligently to raise our four children in the way they should go. We double down on what we have, instead of longing for things we don’t.

As our path continues to unfold, we’d love to share it with you: all the love, the successes, the failures, the pain. Because our story is about Real Life...and I know yours is too.

17 Capital Rules of Indoor Plant Care

When you buy a new plant, you find her the perfect place in your décor and she looks stunning. But time flies and soon she has lost some of her original stamina, for mysterious reasons. Too much water? Too little light? All we want is for our plants to keep looking fresh in the long run, but that’s not always easy. That's why I collected the best plant wisdom into this list. Regardless of your experience with plants, from beginner to advanced, keep these capital rules of indoor gardening in mind for the sake of your green babies. But don't be too harsh on yourself, as we all kill plants.

Photo Credits: Hàn Vi Phạm Thị

17 Capital Rules Of Indoor Plant Care

1. Know your plant's water preferences. 

Indoor plants can be divided into two major groups according to their preferences in terms of moisture: the Dry Type (a.k.a. Desert type) prefers dry soil and the Moist Type (a.k.a. Tropical type) prefers moist soil. Easy so far.

2. Cacti and succulents are from the Dry Type, they prefer dry and well-drained soil. Leafy green indoor plants can be from either type, depending on the species, but most of them are from the Moist Type.

Leafy Green Indoor Plants (Moist Type)

3. Most tropical plants will flourish in indirect sunlight, and some can even live in a darker corner. Indirect sunlight is key because direct sunlight can be too harsh and scorch the leaves.

4. Moist Type: on average, water once per week (rule of thumb).

5. Holiday watering tricks: to increase moisture around your plant when you're away, fill a pebble tray or bucket with water and place it near your plant before you go on holidays. You can also use the garden-twine technique or other self-watering tricks. Also, think of using self-watering pots, there are plenty and they saved my life (okay, my plant's life) a few times!

Cacti, Succulents and Dry Plants (Dry Type)

6. Cacti and succulents require plenty of light, preferably direct sunlight. Perfect for a windowsill.

7. Stay on the under-watering side, for root rot caused by over-watering is the no #1 plant killer.

8. Cacti require a little water once per month, succulents twice per month (rule of thumb).

9. Cacti and succulents require a special potting mix with high drainage properties. Don't mix with common houseplant soil.

All Indoor Plants

10. Water more (or more often) during the warm months of the year (summer in the northern hemisphere).

11. Neem oil or peppermint oil are natural insect repellents and can help keep your plant free of pests.

12. Always check the soil before watering, assessing the soil under the surface with your finger. If there are visible cracks in the soil or a gap between the soil and the pot, the soil is dry and the plant has absorbed all the water out.

13. Always drain out all the excess water after you water your plant. Don't let the plant's roots sit in still water, that's the #1 plant killer.

14. Check the roots regularly, fertilize at the beginning of the growth season (spring in the northern hemisphere), and re-pot when roots are outgrowing the pot.

15. Prune unwanted growth and cut dead leaves to refocus the energy towards young leaves. Rotate the plant so that it's not always the same side facing the light.

16. Top up with fresh soil, at least every year, because the plant eats it out in order to grow.

17. Clean dusty leaves with a cloth, it will help your plant restore natural breathing.

If you're keeping those rules in mind, your plants should be thriving most of the time. Remember not to be too harsh on yourself, we all kill plants at times, and even the most experienced gardeners do. It's just learning through experience.

Learn More About Houseplants

Want more tips for your plants and indoor jungle? Check out my blog dedicated to houseplant care or follow me on social media. Planti-fully yours!

Green Gifts and Books That Indoor Plant People Will Love This Christmas

As a plant lover myself (I have more than 40 plants in my flat in London, UK), I'm used to telling family and friends that a green gift is always welcome: a houseplant, of course, will always bring me joy. A book about houseplants and indoor gardening will also surely be appreciated. Ideally, the book should be quite recent and tell a story, or at least showcase stylish photography of plants because I don't want to dive into a boring plant dictionary between Christmas and New Year's Eve, even though I love plants a lot! So, here is my Christmas list of books for the indoor gardener that I am. These books about houseplants have different styles (choose the one that fits best with the personality you're offering it to), but have the following in common: beautiful photos, simple language for any skill level, and they all have been published recently. They’re all loaded with enough plant-y stuff and useful tips that any plant lover will enjoy. A big thank-you to the authors of the books who put a lot of love and dedication into them.

The Books are Urban JunglePlant Society and Living with Plants.

Urban Jungle: Living and Styling With Plants (by Judith De Graaff and Igor Josifovic, 2016)


By the founders of Urban Jungle Bloggers, Urban Jungle has been a reference among houseplant people since its publication. Broadly acclaimed for crystallizing the urban jungle trend, the book tells the story of people from around the world through the prism of plants. Each chapter is organized around a combination of human portraits and plant portraits. The "At Home With" section tells the stories of plant-loving couples as they describe their interior and plant choices for their home. "Plant Portraits" focuses more on the plants themselves, how to care for them, and how to magnify their beauty. With a combination of styling tips and DIY ideas, the reader will step inside the best urban oases in the Netherlands, France, and Turkey, and discover how these families display and care for their favorite plants. Slightly bohemian, beautiful in all cases, the style of the book is warm and cozy. An ideal companion through the rough months of winter!

Plant Society: Create an Indoor Oasis for Your Urban Space (by Jason Chongue, 2018)


The newest one on this list, Plant Society is written by a talented interior designer and plant cultivator, Jason Chongue. His experience with plants started as a kid in Australia when his grandma taught him all the tricks and transmitted to him the plant obsession that many of us share. The book is driven by a simple idea: Help anyone care for their plants and keep them happy like his grandmother would do, regardless of their skill level. Packed with helpful advice, solutions against pests and the most common plant issues, the book takes the reader on a step-by-step journey from the basics of houseplants to more advanced propagation techniques, styling, and DIY projects with plants. Gifted with an entire section dedicated to finding a plant for each room, the book has become my plant bible for care advice. The style is modern and refreshing, and Armelle Habib's unique photographs stand out throughout.

Living With Plants: A Guide To Indoor Gardening (by Sophie Lee, 2017)


Houseplants offer the perfect solution to the urban dweller, lacking in space — indoor and outdoor — and in Living With Plants, botanical-stylist, Sophie Lee, shows you simple but innovative ways to make your home gorgeously green. Starting with the basics, learn how to pick the right plant for your home (and specifically what room), what levels of sunlight your plant needs, and the best space for your plants to thrive.          

Bonus: How to Raise A Plant and Make It Love You Back (by Erin Harding and Morgan Doane, 2018)


As I'm writing this article, I just heard that a new book about houseplants is out. I'm so excited and just couldn’t leave it out! I have a tendency to already know all the plant books out there and the latest one from popular bloggers and Instagrammers Erin Harding and Morgan Doane from House Plant Club comes right on time for Christmas. That's why I add it here as a bonus for you to check out, as I haven't had a chance to get a copy yet. Let me know what you think if you've got hold of it.

Aimed at a new generation of indoor gardening enthusiasts, this book is a perfect guide for anyone keen to see their plant offspring thrive. Gaining ground on food and pet photos on social media, plants have found popularity in the small home, and are being proclaimed the new stars of Instagram. This beautiful little book is ideal for the novice 'plant parent', providing tips on how to choose plants, where to place them, and above all how to care for them and keep them thriving.

For more book recommendations about house plants, here is a bigger list: Best Books For House Plants Lovers on, the House Plant and Urban Jungle Blog.

Indoor Gardening Accessories

To complement your gift, nothing is better than a plant itself, freshly sourced from your local nursery. A nice pot would also be perfect if you know a bit about the size and style. But if the above is not an option for you, here are some classic indoor gardening accessories that will always be helpful.

  • The Plant Mister (Brass and Glass)
  • The Watering Can (Copper)
  • The Propagation Station: For plant propagation lovers, a propagation station (set of propagation vases and stand) is a perfect small gift. Check out availability on Amazon or on this new online shop that I just discovered: Warmly.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Boris Dadvisard, urban naturalist based in London, UK, is the author of indoor plant focused blog, The House Plant and Urban Jungle Blog. This article contains affiliate links. By buying through the links the author may receive a tiny commission for the sale, but this has no effect on the price for you.

Conserving Energy in Your Home Year-Round

Reducing energy consumption in your home year-round not only lowers your energy bill, but it also reduces your home's carbon footprint. There are many different ways to conserve energy in your home, whether you're looking to make extensive home improvements or minor adjustments, here are seven ways to save on your utility bills while protecting the environment.

woman hanging laundry to dry on indoor rack in sun
Photo by Shutterstock

Air Dry Dishes and Laundry

Skip your dishwasher's drying cycle and let your dishes air dry by opening the door after the rinse cycle. Air drying can cut dishwasher energy use by 15 to 50 percent depending on your machine. Do the same thing with your clothes and opt for hang drying clothes, especially in the summer.

Use Power Strips

Plug your appliances and electronics into power strips that allow you to switch off power when your technology is not in use or when you leave your home for an extended period of time. This will reduce your standby power load, or the energy used by electronics when they're plugged in but not in use, which accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use and saves the average U.S. household $100 per year.

Invest in ENERGY STAR-Certified Appliances

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ensures products with the ENERGY STAR certificate deliver energy efficiency that save consumers money while protecting the environment. Use ENERGY STAR-certified light bulbs, appliances, heating and cooling technology, water heaters and more. Even stream media with ENERGY STAR-certified electronics and use 25 percent less energy while doing so.

Work Your Curtains and Blinds

In the summer, keep your home cooler with blinds or shades that keep out the sun and reduce your need for air conditioning. In the winter, open curtains facing the sun to naturally warm up your home and reduce your use of lighting during the day. Close curtains and blinds at night to help your home retain more heat and reduce your need for a heater.

Clean Those Filters

Cleaning and replacing filters throughout your home increases appliance efficiency and reduces energy consumption. Filters in your furnace or A/C unit should be cleaned or replaced every three months, while the filter in your dryer should be cleaned after every use. Consider high-quality air filters that can further reduce energy consumption and return larger economic benefits for your home.

Maximize Your Home's Insulation

Insulating and sealing your air ducts will reduce air loss through leaks and overall energy consumption for your home heating/cooling system, says If upgrading to an ENERGY STAR-certified water heater is not an option, add an insulating blanket to an older water heater to reduce standby heat loss by 25 to 45 percent and save 4 to 9 percent in water heating costs, energy company Constellation reports. You should also insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss and to slightly raise water temperatures compared to uninsulated pipes.

Keep It Cool When You Can

Keeping it cool when you can will reduce energy consumption from a heating system or water heater. Use a programmable thermostat to reduce your energy bill by turning back your thermostat when you're not home. Skip the rinse hold setting on your dishwasher to eliminate the use of 3-7 additional gallons of water per cycle, says Constellation. Wash your clothes with cold water when possible and save upwards of $60 a year.

Energy saving in your home can be as simple as unplugging electronics when not in use to upgrading to ENERGY STAR-certified appliances. No matter what changes you make, conserving energy in your home is simple and will lower your monthly electricity bills while doing your part to fight climate change.

Natalie Posdaljian is a naturalist and environmental advocate who prefers to be outdoors whenever possible. When she's not soaking up Vitamin D, you'll find her planning her next adventure, reading or on her yoga mat.

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?

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.

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!

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.

Apple Pie Carpet Deodorizer 3

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.


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.


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