Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Be A BuZy BeE and Make Your Own Candles!

The art of candle making. Recently I have been tackling this new art 16th century style and in this blog I will give you step-by-step instructions on reasons to pick beeswax candles, how to choose your wax provider, and how to make your candles. 
There are many reasons to use beeswax candles in your home. Here are my top reasons,
1. Beeswax is a clean burning wax that does not ruin the air quality in your home.
2. It makes your house smell wonderfully of honey
3. Save money and the planet by conserving energy with a little mood lighting
4. Low impact, high reward
Before I began this project I knew that I wanted fresh, raw wax from a eco-minded bee keeper. After some research I found Owl Naturals on Etsy. When the wax arrived it smelled like heaven, my husband kept trying to eat it! Here is a little bit of fun info on Owl Naturals...
~ Meet Nicole ~ wife to lover of life and mama of two young boys. ~ She loves ~ family, keeping house, soap making, reading, natural and simple ways of living and being in nature. ~ Her Products ~ are well thought out and come from hours of research. All natural,  biodegradable ingredients. ~ Her inspiration ~ natural, practical and simple ways. She drawn to recipes with the least ingredients necessary. Good stewardship is very important.             ~ Why bees? ~ Bees have been interesting to me for years. Honey replaced sugar in her kitchen years ago. She has been using honey and beeswax to make products for about two years. She recently joined a local beekeeper's association and hopes to keep her own bees in the next year. Currently she is using honey and beeswax from local and Midwest beekeepers. ~ Her favorite products ~ the fresh peppermint lip balm, her fair trade body butter and her salt soap bars. She is also very excited to say that she is now making goat milk soaps, with goat milk from her neighbor's farm. They are definitely her new favorite item that will be in the shop in the next few weeks! ~ How to find her products ~ visit her shop at and

So here is how to create your very own candles in 8 simple steps.
Step 1 - break your beeswax into smaller pieces and place them in a glass bowl or cup
Step 2 - place the cup of wax pieces in a pot filled with water, make sure the cup weighs more then the water so it will not tip over!
Step 3 - bring the water to a boil and then lower the temperature to a medium setting, let the wax melt slowly and wait until all the pieces are melted before moving on.
Step 4 - while the wax is melting cut the right length of wicking for the mold you want to use. Dip the wick once in the wax to give it a single coat, this will prevent the wick soaking up the wax for the candle. 
Step 5 - if you are not planning on burning the candle in the mold then you must rub a tiny bit of oil on the inside of the mold so the candle will release from the sides.
Step 6 - place a tiny dot of wax at the bottom of your mold and stick your wick to the wax by using a stick of some kind, I used a BBQ kabob stick. Now place another stick across the top of the mold and use a bobby pin to hold the top of the wick to the stick. This will prevent the wick from slipping down while the wax cools.
Step 7 - carefully pour the wax into the mold in one motion, do not pause or you will get a crack in your candle. Make sure that the wick is still position in the middle of the candle and let it sit for a few hours.
Step 8 - remove the bobby pin and stick, turn the mold upside down and gently hit the bottom of the mold so the candle will fall into your hand. If it does not come out you can push down on the candle gently to break it away from the walls. 

I hope this post inspires you to create some candles of your own! Don't forget to enter my current giveaway!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let The Sun Do All The Work - Eco Laundry In The Summer

This is the one we have
It is summer, the perfect time to line dry your clothes! The best way for you to dry your clothes is line drying, it is easier on the wallet, leaves your clothes smelling great and naturally takes out stains. The down side is waiting for the sun! Luckily most of us are experiencing hotter weather now that it is summertime. For the few warm days that I can line dry outside I have a retractable clothesline. It attaches to one side of our fence and connects to a hook on the other side. The best part is the retractable feature since most days I have to dry inside.

For me living in a foggy coastal beach town does not allow for outside line drying for most of the year. For those of you in a similar location there is a solution. For indoor drying you will need to buy a laundry rack, these usually are more vertical then horizontal and work well for laundry rooms. The only downside is having enough space and heavy fabrics take forever to dry. The upside, other then saving money, is your clothes will last longer and colors will stay brighter. 

 More On Eco-Friendly Laundry
My passion for eco-friendly laundry happened by accident. I am allergic to...well it is easier to say what does not give me hives. Years ago I had a battle of the dirty clothes, laundry detergents and dryer sheets were constantly giving me hives no matter which brand I used. I became so frustrated that I abandoned laundry soaps all together for a while and washed my clothes with baking soda. That got rid of the hives but did not leave my clothes with that yummy clean smell and it was not enough for messes that a baby could throw my way. Here is how I clean my clothes using products that leave me hive free, smelling great and with zero residue.

For laundry soap I love Biokleen products. They are so concentrated that you only need a tablespoon of soap for an entire wash cycle. For baby messes I add a scoop of baking soda and run the water on a medium temperature. I have also recently discovered a brand called Nellie’s which sell soap in small squares that last for a few loads. I am still on the fence about that product because I finally found something that does not flare up my allergies but I thought it was worth mentioning because it is the brand that I use for my dryer balls.

White Without Bleach
Bleach, just say no. Bad, bad, bad...get rid of it. There are natural ways to bleach your clothes and clean your home. The combination of baking soda and vinegar naturally whitens and hydrogen peroxide will also work. For washing machines just use your soap as normal but add some baking soda then pour a little vinegar into the bleach drop off for your washer. You can also whiten your clothes by line drying, for more on that see below.

Machine Drying
In the past I used Method dryer sheets because they were closer to nature and did not make me itchy. When I was visiting Eco Carmel a few weeks ago I found Nellie’s Dryerballs. I had heard of dryer balls before but never took the time to research why they are used. These stood out from others I had seen before because they came with lavender oil fragrance sticks which are placed inside one of the balls to give that yummy laundry smell. Here are some reasons to switch to dryerballs. 1) They are reusable which means they are better for our planet then dryer sheets. 2) They reduce the needed drying time saving you money and resources. 3) They naturally soften fabrics. 4) They reduce lint and wrinkles - this was a BIG selling point for me. I really hate wrinkled clothing and sheets but I rarely have time to iron! 5) They last about 5 years and each fragrance stick will last for 10 loads.

Small Steps, Big Results
You do not have to have a complete laundry overhaul, small steps have a large impact. You could change just your laundry detergent or add dryer balls or line dry just a few items. You will be surprised how much money these simple steps will save and if you are full of allergies like me you will be hive free!

Online Resources
How to use dryer balls: 
Retractable Clothes Line:

Friday, June 17, 2011

DIY Eco-Friendly Carpet Cleaning

I have mentioned before that I HATE carpet! I really, really do! However, we are currently renting and our lovely landlord loves his carpet so we have to deal with it for now. With a little time on my hands this summer I just had to clean the carpets. Here is my adventure in cleaning carpets in an healthy, green and eco-friendly way that only cost $30 and took out all our stains. 
First I needed a carpet cleaner. I watched sales and did a ton of researching but I could not find a unit to purchase under $150 that was worth buying so I decided to rent. After reading some reviews I found that it is much better to rent a cleaner from a shop that does tool rental instead of a grocery store. I rented ours from the Home Depot because they had a tool rental department and the cost of renting the carpet cleaner is only $24 for 24 hours. As you can see our kitty was trying to help me!
The next decision was about cleaning solutions. Although they have "green" cleaning products for these machines do not be fooled. They still contain stinky fragrances and chemicals that are questionable. Instead I offer this recipe for a homemade and very low cost cleaning solution that will not destroy your carpets or harm you in any way.
- For each load in the machine use 2 cups of baking soda dissolved in hot water.
- Add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil 
Travel over stains slowly and go over them twice if they are particularly pesky. We had a few coffee stains and normal wear near the front door. All those stains came up with a little patience and going over them twice with the machine. 
So that is all you need to do to clean your carpets. It took me two days because I moved all the furniture to one side of the room, let it dry overnight and then moved it to the other side to clean the second half. When all was said and done it cost about $30 and now we have clean eco-friendly carpets. 

Make sure to link up to our blog hop that will be going on until Saturday at midnight to be entered to win this cute organic embroidered scarf!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Time To Save Superwoman From Her Make-up - Full Post

This is a piece I did as a guest post a few weeks ago, I thought I would repost it here for whom ever missed it the first time.

    Time to Save Superwoman From Her Make-Up
Photo by Happy Worker
    As women so often we make sacrifices for beauty. We give up comfort for glamour, junk food for skinny jeans and quiet time for make-up time. I will admit that I am at fault for all of these just as I am sure many of you are as well. In our quest for perfection it is important that our health is one thing that we never sacrifice.
    A few years ago I was first discovering that my husband and I had infertility problems. I bought a book called The Infertility Diet thinking that I might be able to make small changes on my own before consulting a doctor. There was a whole chapter devoted to beauty products and the dangerous chemicals that fill our favorite make-up, perfumes and hair care. I was horrified. This was the first time I ever heard about parabens and their effect on our bodies. It was almost midnight but I dropped the book and ran to my bathroom to check the ingredients of my make-up. Sure enough my supposedly healthy mineral make-up was full of three different parabens! I tossed ALL my products and began to rigorously research the best for my health as well as my beauty.
Here are some important reasons to do a beauty overhaul.
99% of beauty products contain parabens which are preservatives that help extend the shelf life. Parabens are a cause for concern because over and over they have been linked to cancer, hormone disorders and infertility in many different studies. They are a xenoestrogen which mimics real estrogen in our bodies creating an imbalance.
The color in beauty products has to come from somewhere and often it comes from bituminous coal which is a carcinogen. These colors are usually referred to as FD&C and D&C.
Most lipstick and lipgloss is made with petroleum, the same base as gasoline! I know that I typically “eat” my lipstick through out the day unintentionally and I shutter to think that before I became green I was ingesting the same chemical I put in my car!
    There are not many make-up brands to choose from in conventional stores, you will need to go to a specialty store like Whole Foods or online. I tried a few different brands before I found one that worked well with my skin. I am not a fan of wearing a lot of make-up and looking overly done. I have that “hippie chic” look most of the time so I wanted something light just to cover up any skin blemishes. I settled on a brand called MyChelle for make-up and John Masters for hair and face products such as cleansers and sunscreen. I like these products because they met my criteria for beauty as well as overall health and eco-friendlyness. There are other trustworthy brands with all different price points. Other great choices are Dr. Hauschka and Pangea.
    There is a saying that “Beauty is only skin deep” usually this is meant to deter you from paying too much attention to your looks. I will argue that beauty IS your skin and your skin is the largest organ on your body. It needs to be loved and nurtured. In our effort to save the world, pinch every penny, take care of our families and be an amazing career woman all while looking like a super model I ask you to pause for a moment and consider your health. We cannot do all these amazing things with out a well functioning body so I will changing the saying and create a new mantra for us, “Beauty is only my healthy skin”. Now go forth and continue to be Superwoman!

For more information on the research studies and beauty product brands you can glance at the resources below.
The Fertility Diet by Jorge Chavarro MD, ScD and Walter Willett MD, DrPH
Green Babies, Sage Moms by Linda Fassa
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil