Cleaning House the All-Natural Way!

**EDITED 6/3/13…The gel air freshener at the bottom of this post, while pretty looking, smells good for only a few days. I couldn’t figure out what the bad smell was till I changed out all my air fresheners. That one smelled terrible and had become liquid instead of gel. I will be sticking with the baking soda + essential oils air freshener from now on! πŸ™‚

 

***PLEASE READ 1ST*** I am not a Dr, a Naturopathic Dr, an Herbalist, or anything of the sort. I am a mom who is passionate about her family’s and friends’ health andΒ well-being. Please do your own research whenever you read blogs or articles and then do your own “testing” to find out if these things are true for you as well. There are things that have been used for years and years for a specific purpose with little to no scientific studies to back them up. But for certain things like garlic as an antibiotic when I have a sickness…I could read 5 studies “de-bunking” its ability (I haven’t found those FYI) and I’d still continue to do it because I am convinced that the natural way is the healthy way. Lots of Great Grandmas did many of these things and many of those GG’s lived for a loooong time. Just sayin. Also, please do not feel like I am judging you or your utilization of popular meds/products. It was fairly recently I came to these conclusions for myself and I am still learning a ton! If you’re on the fence, it’s fairly cheap and it can’t HURT your health. πŸ™‚ OK, continue…

When a woman gets pregnant, she is told to avoid “X” types of foods and eat more of “Z” types. The list of things to avoid is even larger with medications/chemicals of any sort. My hubby has been in construction (many specialties) for years, so he has worked with all kinds of chemicals and chemically laced products. So as soon as we got this list, he would clean himself very well and change his clothes (usually putting them straight in the wash) before hugging me. πŸ™‚ I started looking a little closer at the cleaning products I was using and reading some articles on how safe they were to touch (absorbs through skin into blood stream) and breathe in (sprays, gels, anything). Keith and I both had childhood asthma as kids so we thought for sure our kid had 2 strikes against her in that area. These are just a few reasons why I started this whole journey.

Here are just a few benefits of a few of my favorite oils…there are sooo many more!)

  1. Lemon-very uplifting (antidepressant), natural bleach,Β anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral. If you don’t have the oil, you can use a lemon rind! (that’s where the oil comes from) πŸ™‚
  2. Tea tree-FAVORITE! πŸ™‚ Anti bacterial, anti microbial, anti septic, anti viral, anti-fungal, decongestant (meaning, when you clean with it and breathe it in, it could actually HELP you!)
  3. Lavender-(I need to do more research on this, but if you believe you are allergic, perhaps your oil is secretly synthetic?)Β Anti-fungal, antiseptic, calming (Ahhh…cleaning…) πŸ˜‰
  4. Eucalyptus-Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, antiseptic, insecticidal
  5. Clove-Antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-infectious
  6. Orange-antiseptic, antidepressant
  7. Thieve’s oil blend (or “Crooks”, a cheaper blend of the same oils…from MI, WOO WOO!)

A few of my favorite recipes…

All-Purpose Cleaner: This oil blend smells wonderful and the little vinegar you can smell goes away when it dries. And it’s SO much better than bleach!

-Spray bottle
VinegarΒ Β <–so many uses! [Sidenote on Bleach vs. Vinegar…Yes, bleach is powerful killer (we can tell by the way it burns our lungs and nose hairs!), but it can also be very harmful to our health and maybe not work as well as we may think…I have read many articles on bleach “bleaching” or just changing the color and possibly not killing so much. From personal experience, I am convinced that my vinegar blend works far better for killing mold/mildew.]
-Essential Oils…Choose a few, my favorite blend for an All-Purpose spray is lemon, orange, tea tree, and lavender.

Mold/Mildew Killa: See above. πŸ™‚ My experience is from our poorly ventilated bathroom. When we moved in, the ceiling was covered in black polka dots. (GROSS! Mold/mildew) Hubby would spray the ceiling with bleach (“Hide my towels!!!”), leave it to sit for a few minutes, and come back with a cloth/scrubby to clean it off. It seemed to work, till about a week later when they started to, not just come back, but come back all at once, all over the whole ceiling again. (Hmm.) When we started using this blend, the mold/mildew didn’t come back for at least 4 weeks. And when dots started to appear, they came a few at a time, not all at once. πŸ˜€ (Yeah, I know, we need to fix the root of the problem.)

-Spray bottle
-Vinegar ❀ See above.
-Essential oil blend of tea tree, lavender, & lemon. (Some people suggest Thieves blend.) I’m planning on adding my new clove oil next time!

Air Freshener: Every few days, I shake up the baking soda mix a little and the scents are released a little more! I change these about every week-2 weeks or sooner if needed.

-Small, shallow dish
-A small amount (I use about 1/4 c) of Baking soda (absorbs odors)
-Your favorite aromatic essential oils

Gel Air Freshener: I can’t claim this one, but I did try it out. I still love mine (above) because it actually absorbs odors in addition to giving off a yummy scent, but this one is pretty. πŸ™‚

Would you like a recipe for something I didn’t mention? It may be something I use or could at least find for you. Let me know!

Are you trying to find essential oils you can afford? If you use my link for your first Vitacost order, you will get $10 off your order, and so will I! I buy most of my oils and supplements through Vitacost. They are very affordable and have sales often! They also carry things like shelf-stable almond milk, chia seeds, other food & snacks, sunscreen and other beauty products, baby care products, sports/fitness products, pet stuff…just all kinds of things! πŸ™‚ I love Vitacost!

Springtime fun!

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Yesterday, all 4 hens laid eggs!

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We almost have a full dozen saved, and we’ve been eating them! πŸ™‚ I love spring with chickens! Whiney laid a beautiful brown egg with dark spots…we think this was her very first egg because we haven’t seen those before. πŸ™‚ I think these girls enjoy their free-ranging time around the yard. They come back so full! It helps us too because they forage for food in the afternoon instead of eating pellets twice a day. Plus, they’re getting lots of nutrients that are possibly not in their food.

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Anybody local (Triangle, NC) want some mint plants? I’m thinking about selling veggies/plants in the next few summers and this is one plant I would include. Mint grows very well in a pot, but unless you want it to take over a large area, don’t plant it there. πŸ™‚ Mint is a pretty garnish, or you can use it in drinks, salads, rice, etc. For ideas on what to do with mint, click here.Β 

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I planted cilantro and echinacea in an old bird bath and they’re starting to sprout! I have lettuce growing in the little white dish. If you get veggies from the store/farmers’ market that have the base part of the plant still on them (celery, lettuce, etc where the stalks come together…the part you chop off, or green onions with the white part on the bottom), cut off what you will use, and drop the ends in water. I’ve had green onions for months and I just keep cutting them and changing/adding water! I’ve done it with garlic cloves as well. We got a huge bag of garlic (2 lbs!) from Sam’s for about $3-$4 and by the end of it, some of the cloves were sprouting, so I dropped them in water and up they went! We just planted that clove-plant in the garden and it looks great. πŸ™‚

I just came back from the garden and everything was looking GREAT. The tomatoes are growing very strong, the sprouts I left are doing great, the sprouts I transplanted in Solo cups (to give them more room before they’re committed to being left in the earth) are getting bigger and stronger, and the rest of the plants I grew from seed and planted in the ground are looking AWESOME! I’m just keeping an eye on the weather and I’ll cover the cold-haters (like tomatoes and small plants) with mini-greenhouses (jugs & bottles with the bottoms cut out) if it gets too cold. We placed the rest of the ollas and they are still working great as evidenced by the water line in a circle around them. Now that we know they work well, I think we’ll need to make a few more this weekend!

Do-it-Yourself Ollas

 Some days are yogurt & fruit popsicle days…

 And others are homemade Maple View ice cream days! Mmmm…

It has been quite hot here! And speaking of hot, I have a fun gardening find for you to try out! We recently found some plans for do-it-yourself ollas…An olla is a slow-watering pot and can be pricey and difficult to find. Since we…ok, fine, I’ll own it I have trouble remembering to water the plants daily, this is an excellent option to at least try out. 
We found these terra cotta pots (we are trying 2 different sizes) at Home Depot and they were very cheap. We also visited the discount area in the tile section and found a large and very inexpensive tile to break up & cover the bottom with. We had Gorilla glue already, and it is waterproof, so we used that. Here is a picture of one of them in use…

I found some flat rocks to cover the tops with. This picture shows how well it is working! The ground around the olla is wet…just enough to keep the roots of the tomatoes around it moistened. And as you can see, the area outside that is dry! I think this means it is working great! We have yet to fill them up again. I believe we put these in on Sunday afternoon, so I will report back and let you know how long it takes till they’re empty again. We also started some cuttings from these plants using rooting hormone, so I will let you know how that works after a few more days.

On a separate note, I got a Vitacost order today! (Click the link for $10 off your first order and I’ll get $10 off as well! Thanks!) Some of this is from a “Be” box…$13 for $70 worth of items from a certain category with free shipping, some are free samples, and some are to replenish my essential oil/supplement collection. πŸ™‚ I have already used some of my supplements and added some oils to my homemade eczema balm. I am so excited to see the results! I love Vitacost! I strongly suggest you check it out if you haven’t yet. So many great products at such great prices.

Finished coop structure

This weekend, we added some room for the ladies. Since something (we’re not so sure it was the dogs) had been massacring the neighbors’ chickens, we had decided to take the chickens to their new home in our backyard a little earlier than previously planned. The coop wasn’t finished, but we wanted those chickens and I knew they’d be safe and happy in their new home. I’ve read that chickens are much happier in a small flock like this, and I now know it to be true. If nothing else, they have fewer chickens to compete with for food, water, and pecking order. After about a week of having them, they seem very happy. I feed them treats (scraps from cooking) just about every day and we go outside to hang out with them and watch them all the time. Tucker loves being outside in the sun and he loves being a chicken dog. I’ve been trying to teach him to round up the chickens like a sheep dog would…but that’s just more comical than anything! πŸ™‚

The inside of the coop now has 2 roosting bars (more than enough space for the 4 girls), a place for water on the bottom, and 3 nesting boxes (more than enough boxes). The nesting boxes are filled with sand for now, which works, but is not ideal. Sand is soft and the chickens can scratch around in it, but it is not ideal because it isn’t very absorbent and it’s heavy to lift when pouring in or cleaning out the coop. Here’s a picture of the bottom jut out with the water and 1 nesting box…
You can just barely see the bottom roosting bar in this picture as well. The water bucket is one we found on Amazon and it works pretty well to keep the water clean.

I’d say they’re a pretty happy flock of birds. We let them free-range for a while this weekend and they all stayed close together. Baby (I think she’s a New Hampshire) is kind of a loner (far left), but the other 3 are tight. πŸ™‚ From top-bottom: Red Foreman (I think she’s a Rhode Island Red), Whiney Brahama Mama (Brahma), and Aria (Australorp). 
Gotta go check for eggs! πŸ™‚

New Developments on Baconbits Ranch…

I just gotta say how amazing it is to grow our own food. Not only will we eventually not depend on the store for every little thing, we’ll know that our food/food growers are treated with care and we’ll know exactly what’s in/on our food. What’s IN the chickens is anything they find on the ground in the woods where they live (bugs, plants, grass) and what’s on our veggies is NO pesticides.

If we have any problems with bugs eating our plants this year, we are armed with a hot pepper spray, and other options as well. (I’ve used cinnamon and garlic as pest control in the past.) Hopefully, that will do the trick for whatever is trying to eat them…and if not, we’ll continue to research and pick farmers’ brains about what to do naturally. I love that we will have fewer chemicals entering our bodies through our mouths and skin.

We also have a huge big-top tent for part of the garden this year. Last year, we had a bigger garden than the year before, and it was our first in the ground in NC. (We had previously lived in apartments and used the container gardening method.) We had a huge problem with animals eating our food! The squirrels, rabbits, and deer ate just about all our tomatoes and every single last Brussels sprout (I checked…that spelling is correct) πŸ˜‰ on our healthy, 3-5 ‘ plants. Huge bummer. SO, we’ve armed ourselves with the circus tent and are hoping this will work much better! If not, we will be having squirrel stew! πŸ˜‰ We are also toying with the idea of a small greenhouse.

Here’s to learning as we go!!!

We got the CHICKENS!!!


We got the chickens!!! I’m so very excited. These girls are so fun to watch, and just beautiful birds. The official waterer came today (we were using a jug since plans changed quickly…we didn’t want them to all be eaten by the neighbor’s dogs) and along with it, 2 books.

I refuse to pay shipping for Amazon when I can get free shipping at $25+. πŸ™‚ “M for Mitten” is a Michigan ABC book with all kinds of facts about Michigan. Very cool. “Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child” is suuuuper cool. I can’t wait to read and refer to it often. πŸ™‚ “More than 300 natural, nontoxic, and fragrant essential oil blends.” Well, sign me UP!!! So after I read this, I will be an official, self-titled, Natural-Mama who can offer you an NRx (Natural Prescription) for just about any ailment. This book has numerous recipes, explains the benefits of many oils and plants, and talks about the Caveman Diet (something we’ve been talking about for a LONG time and are trying to slowly eat more of). This book is not just for kids. These recipes can be used for young and old alike. I can’t wait to boost my oil collection and try some of these recipes. I’ve had some beeswax waiting for a good blend. πŸ™‚ BUH BYE, ECZEMA! πŸ˜‰

If you’d like to talk about backyard chickens, please feel free to comment. We are loving it. 3 eggs so far…And we’ve only had them 2 mornings. πŸ™‚ I think once they become more comfortable with us and their new home, and establish their pecking order, they’ll be less stressed and lay better. 

Hopefully, Keith will be able to finish the coop this week!!! It’s difficult reaching all the way down to the bottom for those eggs! πŸ™‚ 

Haha…we also found out Tucker’s true-calling in all of this chickening. He’s a chicken-dog! (Like a sheep-dog for chickens.) They were pecking at each other yesterday and started getting louder with each other…Tucker barked 2 sharp barks at them like he was telling them to STOP IT! Too funny. Good boy, Tuck.