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Showing posts with label eco home.
Showing posts with label eco home.

11 December 2013

This Christmas, more than ever I wish to not succumb to the holiday buying fever and come up with original handmade gifts for my family. To be honest, I've managed perfectly fine so far.

And because I am getting overly-excited about making my own bath and beauty products, here is my ultimate list of handmade goodies I wish to be able to complete before Christmas and gift to my family.

Rosemary Shampoo Bar

Because I love no-pooing and I have turned my family into no-pooers as well. This will be a treat!

Marshmallow Root Herbal Shampoo

The is perfect for rehydrating hair that gets dry easily in winter.

Birch And Lavender Nourishing Hair Lotion

Because birch strengthens and nourishes your hair and lavender  has anti-fungal properties. The will also fight dandruff.


Handmade Probiotic Deodorant

I wouldn't gift a regular deodorant for the world now that I know how toxic they are. What better way to get my loved ones on the healthy underarm path than by making a for them!

Coco-Mint Lip Balm

Knowing how hard it is to find a really healthy lip balm I prefer making my own. Here's to my first try! I hope this recipe for will work.

Aches and Pains Balm

The will be the most sought-after gift for members of my family aged 60+. Can't wait to see the effects.


Sugar Face Scrub

I still haven't met a person who doesn't like the . So, I am definitely making it.

Sugar crystals by

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I was terrified when I learned how much we polute the world oceans with the laundry detergents we use. So, why not educate my family and show them that the does the job even better than the commercially produced one.

Homemade Toothpaste

This is a recipe for I have been promoting anywhere I can because I love how simple and yet effective it is.

Madagascar Black Pepper Soap for Men

Here is a treat for the male part of the family -- .

Beeswax Candles

And in the end, let's make a or two to ensure that the holiday spirit will linger.

What handmade gifts are your working on this holiday season?

05 August 2013

Natural laundering is a simple and satisfying experience. You can make your own laundry soap in less than 30 minutes while saving money and reducing the toxic chemical load in your home.

Most laundry detergents and dryer sheets are laden with chemical fragrances which are harmful to your health. The marketing on these products can be very . Packaging may say 'Lavender' and have pictures of flowers, but are really just scented with synthetic fragrance. Synthetic fragrances are made with proprietary ingredients, so it is hard to know what exactly is in them, but many contain harmful Pthalates and other ingredients which lead to allergic or asthmatic reactions. An introduction to synthetic fragrances with more info can be found at the . These fragrances wash down into the water supply and are .

In the past I used a variety of unscented powdered detergent from Arm and Hammer. I alternated using it with soap nuts and soapwort root. I still use and together in a mesh bag for very lightly soiled laundry, like sheets or towels, quilts, and darker colored items. I have found that you need to use the soapwort roots together with soap nuts otherwise whites will come out very dull looking.

If you have children who like to get very messy or if you have diapers to wash, you probably won't find soapnuts and soapwort very satisfying. But you might like this homemade laundry soap recipe from . I suggest following this recipe precisely, as it is not particularly forgiving to modifications.

Lavender Lemongrass  by 

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  • ½ cup borax powder 
  • You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size
Grate the soap and put it in a large pot. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Add the soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. Use 1/2 cup per load.

You can also add a few drops of a deodorizing essential oil to the batch such as lemon, orange, cinnamon, or use . Stir up the solution before using it each time as it will separate. Do not use more than 1/2 cup per load or you may find the solution will fade out your colored fabrics. Sometimes I will add a drop or 2 of essential oil to the load if there is anything stinky in the laundry. This laundry soap is not a magic bullet for soiled items that need pre-treatment to prevent stains, but it does the job for regular loads.

I am a big fan of line drying laundry to save energy. However when it is raining out or when I want to soften up the laundry, I like using felted wool dryer balls. The balls bounce around in the dryer to help soften up laundry that has been out on the line. They also eliminate static. These dryer balls are from . They are very effective and I love the colors. They came in a handy drawstring tote, perfect for travel to a laundry mat. These dryer balls are made from local wool.

I like to add up to 4 drops of my to one dryer ball to deodorized any loads that need a little extra freshening. The essential oil comes in handy for drying diapers, loads left in the washing machine a bit too long, kitchen rags, or potty training clean up rags. It feels good to know that the deodorizing essential oils, my favorite being lemon, actually help to remove odors instead of just masking them in the way that chemical fragrances do.

With these natural and chemical fragrance free laundering options, is there any other pollutant in our wash that we need to look out for? Nov 1, 2011 researchers concluded in an article published in Environmental Science and Technology that laundering of synthetic fabrics such as polyester and acrylic were contributing to microplastic pollution. These microplastics are contaminating beaches and working their way up the food chain. Even worse microplastics have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals such as PCBs, DDT, and dioxins. Learn more in this article at . Shop with ecologically safe laundering in mind. Choose cottons, linen, hemp, or wool. Skip the polyfleece.

Cory's Kanelstrand blog posts are licensed under Creative Commons. You are free to copy, distribute and adapt Cory's Kanelstrand content provided you attribute it to her by linking back to the original post as well as Cory's website.

Cory Trusty is a soap maker, community herbalist, organic gardener, and homeschooling mom to two girls. Cory and her family live in Daytona Beach, Florida. Cory's background is in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Biology.  She is sharing tried and true natural home remedies and mini lessons from herbal classes that she teaches. Cory works full time making soaps, shampoo bars, herbal salves, flaxseed heat packs and more for her website . Read more from Cory at the . Cory is also a Food and Gardening writer for EcoEtsy and has published in The Essential Herbal Magazine and on the Herb Companion Blog. Connect with Cory on , ,  and .

28 March 2013

Dyeing Easter eggs is a big deal in our home. It is a , a time to get together and take part in this annual ritual.

With the advance of time and switching countries my methods have changed but and I am seeing myself going back to the old-fashioned, green way of dyeing Easter eggs.

Through the years I have tried different commercial products, mostly disregarding their health qualities. I have gone from crystal effects to marbled dyes, only to avoid the plain powder colors.

But as I'm learning and growing I feel the urge to go back to a more natural, be it firstly because it is more sustainable and healthy, and secondly because it makes me feel closer to the Earth and my ancestors. It is cheap too!

After trying last year I was ecstatic. After consulting my grandmother (who you know for her famous phrase: ) here is my adjusted take on dyeing Easter eggs so that they are safe to eat.

Use room temperature eggs to prevent cracks. Place them in a pan filled with lukewarm water together with the plant that will give you color and don't forget the vinegar, it is the ingredient that will help keep the dye on the egg.

Boil for about 30 minutes and let stay for an hour or two more. The timing will differ depending on the level of saturation you want to achieve. The more saturated color you want, the longer you need to keep the eggs in the color bath after boiling. Don't forget to polish your eggs after they dry with a drop of vegetable oil and  a wool or cotton cloth.


2 red beets
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vinegar


Add a mix of red and yellow onion skins to the red beet mix after you have removed the pan from the hotplate.

5-6 red cabbage leaves
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vinegar

3 tablespoons Tumeric
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vinegar

Dark yellow
Add a handful of yellow onion skins to the Tumeric mix during boiling.

2 handfuls of red onion skins
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vinegar

These are the colors I got with what I had at the moment. For more Easter egg dyes, visit .

Have a healthy, green and happy Easter!

How do you dye your Easter eggs? Tell me your secrets.

This post is part of month on Kanelstrand. Read the rest of the posts and join in the discussions, we'd love to know what you think!

30 August 2012

Have you ever wondered how to light a hard to reach candle when you don't have any long matches? Or how to keep your picture frames from rubbing against the wall for less than a dollar? Do you know how to freeze eggs? Even better, do you know how to shine your pans with a natural, earth-friendly ingredient?

Photo via

Head on over to the to read 101 tips on how to reuse, recycle and be frugal in everything you do!

Do you have a special frugal tip of your own? Share it with us in the comments!

02 July 2012

We have grown to believe that our home is our castle. But things have changed long ago and nowadays our homes might be hiding more danger than safety.  Indeed quite a lot information has been shared about the infamous formaldehyde, nitrobenzene and methylene chloride - all carcinogens that can be found in everyday items such as rubber, plastic, dyes, perfumes, shampoos.

Take a look at a few of the items you thought harmless and see the health problems they can provoke. Then make sure you take the right decision and rid your home of many cancer-causers and ensure a healthy environment for you and your family.

According to a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 40 percent of candles on the market contain lead wires inside their wicks. Scented candles most commonly contain lead wicks. Fragrance oils soften the wax, so the manufacturers use lead to make the wicks firmer.

A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pollution standards for outdoor air, says the CPSC. Exposure to high amounts of lead may contribute to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and many other health problems.

If you want to keep your home softly lit and cozy without risking your health go for beeswax candles with cotton wicks. For more information on how to make your own beeswax candles read .

Art supplies
Certain art supplies like Epoxy and rubber cement glues, acrylic paints and solvents, and permanent markers contain chemicals linked to allergies, organ damage, and cancer.

Children are particularly vulnerable to toxins because of their higher metabolisms, and immature immune systems, so it pays to exercise extra care with the products they use. To find nontoxic and green alternatives to common art supplies, or recipes for making your own, read

Air fresheners
Many air fresheners have carcinogens, volatile organic compounds and toxins such as phthalate esters in their formulas. A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study of 13 common household air fresheners found that most of the surveyed products contain chemicals that can aggravate asthma and affect reproductive development.

According to a 2008 study by Anne Steinemann of the University of Washington, all air-fresheners tested gave off chemicals regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, including carcinogens with no safe exposure level. None of these chemicals, however, were listed on  the product labels or Material Safety Data Sheets. As a replacement, try natural fragrances from essential oils.

Unlikely as it may sound, conventional shampoos . Funny as it may sound,  their effects are still being researched, and there is no scientific consensus  whether they cause cancer. But if you want to be on the safe side, you can use any of the myriad of handmade shampoo bars, offered on etsy, or you can start washing your hair with baking soda, just like .

Most conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain several ingredients linked to virulent cancers. Since deodorants and antiperspirants are designed to stay on our bodies for hours, this allows the potential absorption of harmful chemicals through the skin. After I read on Green Living Ideas I completely stopped using antiperspirants but am yet to write an extensive post about that.

Shower curtains
Plastic shower curtains leach toxic chemicals not only into your shower or bath, but also into the environment, emitting harmful chemicals called volatile organic chemicals or VOCs.

Reducing your contact with any of these products, in addition to conventional cleaners, will surely make your home your castle.

Did I miss anything? Share your opinion in the comments!

Republished from with some edits.

06 June 2012

I remember learning about bedbugs from children stories and I honestly thought they were a thing of the past until yesterday when I saw a thick black title in the newspaper saying that we are experiencing a bedbug epidemic. Wow! Past embraced present I guess and I had to learn more about the creatures that were first mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC!

While bedbugs originate in tropical climates, nowadays they are to be found all around the world. The rate of infestation in the developed world has been decreasing between 1930s and 1980s partly due to the use of DDT to kill cockroaches. The invention of the vacuum cleaner and simplification of furniture design may have also played a role.

It is interesting then, that we have seen a dramatic increase in bedbug infestations since the 1980s, the reason probably stemming from increased international travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings among homes, resistance to insecticides, and the use of new pest-control methods that do not affect bed bugs.

Bedbugs and theirs eggs can enter your home in a number of ways:
  • by pets or wild animals
  • through a visiting person's clothes or luggage
  • with infested furniture
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Bedbugs are roughly the same size as an apple seed. Their favorite hiding spots are:
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  • furniture close to beds
  • cracks around the bed headboards or in the walls

You'd better inspect these spots right now and look for eggs (tiny and whitish - use a magnifier to see them), droppings (several black spots in the same area - will not flake off if rubbed and will not smear if wiped with a wet rag) or markings (black marks and blood spots).

How to get rid of bedbugs
Of course you can hire a professional but in case you are adventurous you can always try exterminating them in a number of ways:

  • Steam them up! You may get a simple device capable of generating steam at your local hardware store. You may also convert a simple electric kettle to a steam machine by attaching a flexible tube. Steam should kill all bedbugs and the eggs. Thoroughly spray steam at all corners and seams.
  • Wash bed linens and clothes using the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric. Smaller items that cannot be laundered can sometimes be de-infested by heating. Individual items, for example, can be wrapped in plastic and placed in a hot, sunny location for at least a few days.
  • Bedbugs also succumb to cold temperatures below freezing, but the chilling period must be maintained for at least two weeks. Attempts to rid an entire home or apartment of bed bugs by raising or lowering the thermostat will be entirely unsuccessful.
  • Vacuum your house. This will remove bugs and eggs from mattresses, carpet, walls and other surfaces. Pay particular attention to seams, tufts and edges of mattresses and box springs, and the perimeter edge of wall-to-wall carpets. Afterward, dispose of the vacuum contents in a sealed trash bag. Steam cleaning of carpets is also helpful for killing bugs and eggs that vacuuming may have missed.
  • Get rid of affected items.bob wig lace front

How to prevent bedbug infestation

  • Remove all clutter from your home, which makes finding bed bugs easier.
  • Wash and dry your bed linens often using the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric.
  • Closely inspect any second-hand furniture for bed bugs before you bring it into your residence.
  • Inspect your home regularly – after a move-in, a trip, or guests stay overnight.
  • Before booking a hotel for you next trip, check - a reliable and neutral platform for reporting their encounters with bed bugs.  

What is your experience with bedbugs?

Sources: | | |

04 June 2012

It happened again. The drains are clogged. The problem we have is that our drains are all connected - kitchen, bathroom sink, bathroom drain... so if any given one gets clogged down go all. To cut a long story short we have to find an eco-friendly way to unclog our drains because let's face it - even though there is a great number of lye-based drain cleaners, these toxic products can damage not only the pipes and our lungs but will also add to the amount of toxic chemicals already floating in the ocean.

Photo by

I found a on Green Living Ideas, which turned out to be the most effective solution ever! If you have followed the Kanelstrand blog long enough you wouldn't be surprised to see baking soda and vinegar in the recipe!

Baking soda and vinegar are natural, non-toxic ingredients posing no health dangers while unclogging drains. They are preferable to the sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye, found in most drain cleaners.

When baking soda (base) is combined with vinegar (acid), they form carbon dioxide and sodium acetate. This presents as the bubbles scrubbing the drain’s insides. These natural, non-toxic ingredients get flushed further down ensuring a clog-free drain.

Now, on to the actual drain cleaner.

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup white vinegar

  1. Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, making sure that it makes it down the drain.
  2. Pour 2 cups of boiling water down the drain. The baking soda mixed with boiling water will dissolve the sludge and gunk in the pipe.
  3. After a few minutes pour the second cup of baking soda then add 1 cup of white vinegar and plug the drain immediately. There will be foaming and bubbles and you will hear some sizzling from the drain.
  4. When things get calmer, add the remaining boiling water down the drain.
  5. Repeat this process if necessary.

If the drain remains clogged, on Green Living Ideas.

A monthly treatment helps prevent future clogs. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drains followed by boiling water.

How have you been dealing with clogged drains?

26 May 2012

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This post is written by Adrienne  Audrey.  

Tea staining  is an easy and natural way to dye fabrics and textiles. The result is a brown or taupe stain on the fabric which is perfect for craft projects where an antique or aged look is desired.

Tea staining works best on natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wool or silk (synthetic fibers won’t hold the dye). This is a great project to try on a rainy afternoon. The best part is there are no harsh chemicals or dangerous dyes!

  • 1 dozen tea bags
  • Large pot of water
  • Fabric to dye
Begin by bringing a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Add your tea bags. You should use about 1 tea bag per cup of water used.  You can use all different types of tea. Traditionally black teas are used but you can try other types of tea and experiment with the results. 

I used Orange Pekoe and was pleasantly surprised by the orange tint to the fabric. If you have a package of tea that you bought but discovered you don’t like the taste of this is a great way to use it up. You can also but large quantities of tea bags in the bulk section of your grocery store or at the dollar store.

Reduce the heat and let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes then remove the tea bags from the water.

Soak your fabric so that it is wet and then submerge it into the tea water.  Stir it around to make sure the tea gets into all the creases of the fabric.  

Let the fabric soak for about 10 minutes or until the color you desire is reached. 

When your fabric is dark enough, remove it from the pot and rinse with water. Let it hang to dry. Fabrics will dry lighter so if it isn’t dark enough you can re-soak in the tea. 

Once you have reached a color you like on the fabric, iron it to take out any wrinkles and you are ready to use it in your next project!

It is best to use this method of dyeing on smaller projects as the results may not be permanent and may fade or wash out on a larger piece like clothing or linens.  The good news is if your tea stain does fade it’s easy enough to brew another batch of tea and give it another soak.

After you have mastered the tea staining technique why not experiment? You can try different varieties of tea and you can even stain other items like paper or eggs! Another variation on this project is to use coffee instead of tea for a similar effect.

Have you tried tea staining before? Please share your best tips with us in the comments!

Adrienne Audrey lives in Northern Washington on a farm with her husband and a menagerie of lovable animals. When she’s not blogging at , Adrienne can be found out playing in the garden, experimenting in the kitchen or working on a new craft project. Adrienne also sells handmade jewelry and accessories in her Etsy shop . Connect to Adrienne via or .

20 April 2012

This is a guest post by Debra Duneier.

If you have not celebrated Earth Day in the past, this April 22nd would be a great time to start. You may feel a little awkward at first because you just may not know what to do. Do you invite people over for a party? Does one put candles on a cake? What kind of toast would be appropriate? Can you send a card? Is buying flowers or chocolates the right touch?


The first Earth Day was in 1970 and since then it has grown to a worldwide environmental event. On this day, we celebrate our planet and its gifts of biodiversity.  It is the time of year to reinstate our commitment to protect plants, animals, soil, seas and fresh drinking water. It is also the birthday of the US Environmental Protection Agency which was created to protect our air, water and land from pollution. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day to bring environmental concerns to the attention of the national agenda. If you ever question what one person can accomplish remember that one by one, 20 million protesters around the country came out in support of Earth Day and a cleaner and safer environment…they were heard.

Pitch in and make a big difference by making small changes in your daily life. Here are some Green Tips to get you started:
  1. Reduce your “product carbon footprint” by purchasing locally grown produce whenever possible.
  2. Bring reusable shopping bagsnia teppelin wig0
  3. Keep landfills at reasonable levels by recycling your garbage as much as possible. Paper, plastics, metals and even electronic equipment can be conveniently recycled in most towns.
  4. Set your thermostat 2 degrees higher in the summer and 2 degrees lower in the winter to cut back on energy use.
  5. Do not run the water while you brush your teeth. Turn the faucet on only when needed. Help save our most precious resource, fresh drinking water.
If you decide to throw a party on April 22nd:
  • Send electronic invites
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  • Recycle your wine bottles
  • Send an E-card or one made of recycled paper
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Still unsure what to do on April 22nd? Get over any awkwardness that accompanies a new experience and instead create traditions for the future. After all, cleaning up our planet means we may be able to leave our Earth a better place for future generations and that’s worth celebrating!

Debra Duneier is an accredited LEED® Green Associate, Certified Eco-Designer, Feng Shui Master Practitioner, Creator of ® and Author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience.

02 April 2012

There is a bottle of vinegar in every kitchen. Apart from using it for cooking, you can employ it in your daily cleaning routines and finally get rid of the expensive and toxic cleaning agents that are being sold on the market.

Photo by

The acidity of vinegar makes it the perfect cleaning and cosmetic agent and can even be used for treating hiccups, dandruff and warts. Given its versatility, vinegar can replace a number of household items.

Here is a list of great and unexpected uses of vinegar: 
  1. Unclog drains. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by 2 cups of boiling vinegar. Follow that by hot water from your faucet for about 30 seconds.
  2. Remove mold. Spray moldy areas with vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a rag and rinse.
  3. Let your windows shine. Mix one cup of water with 4 soup spoons of vinegar and spray on the window. Wipe with a newspaper - you will get immaculately clean windows!
  4. Clean food-stained dishes. Soak them in a mixture of water and vinegar for half an hour. Rinse and wash with hot water and dish soap.
  5. Eliminate odors and stains. Leave a bowl of vinegar in the area the smell is coming from, or clean the stained area with white vinegar. In a few hours the smell will be gone.
  6. Disinfect your dishwasher. Run the dishwasher empty after pouring 1/2 of a cup of vinegar in the soap dispenser.
  7. Remove a sticky label. We've all had trouble with stickers that leave half of their glue and paper on. Soak the sticker in vinegar for half a while and it should come off easily.
  8. Clean brass and copper. Make a light paste of vinegar and table salt, which you can use to clean brass and copper with.
  9. Clean up candle wax. If there is candle wax onto your wood table, use a blow dryer and vinegar to remove it. Heat up the wax with a blow dryer and use a paper towel to dab up as much of the hot wax as you can. Then, with a cloth soaked in equal parts water and vinegar, wipe up the remaining wax.
  10. Remove wrinkles. Spray your wrinkled clothes with 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water and hang them to dry.
  11. Clean your eye glasses. Vinegar can easily cut through oil-based stains. Place a drop of vinegar each to the lenses of your glasses. Wipe the stains away with an eyeglass cleaner.
  12. Use it as conditioner. Dilute a soup spoon of vinegar in a glass of water and apply to your washed hair. It will make it soft and shiny.
  13. Fight acne. Vinegar not only clears up a breakout, it can even reduce acne scarring. And it’s great for lightening age spots or other discoloration.
  14. Treat sunburn. Rub a small amount of vinegar on the sunburnt areas. The redness will slightly fade, and so will the itching.
  15. Ant repellent. Last spring we were attacked by ants, so we tried everything. A possible solution is putting vinegar on your walls and corridors. Ants, for some reason, do not like the scent of vinegar.

Do you know a particularly good use for vinegar that I haven't mentioned? Do tell us in the comments!

Sources: , .

08 March 2012

on Treehugger was brought to my attention by Vanessa of the other day and I couldn't wait to share it with you. I have started developing a fascination with the small house movement. While I cannot imagine myself living in the of the Lorence family, I know that right now I am living with way less than I thought I could 5 years ago. 

The examples of people who have turned away from luxurious visions of inexistent riches inspire me so much. Leading a fulfilled and mindful life can never be achieved by owning. It is all in our way of thinking and attitude to life and that is why, it comes as no surprise that living with less enriched the senses and the mind.

Building small when the world craves big
Johnny Sanphillippo is a university-graduate working as a housekeeper and painter, who earns less than $20,000 a year. And yet over time he has built himself a tiny home in Hawaii, for which he has paid only in cash in the process of building. While it took him 10 years to finish his project, he is a happy owner of a small house and a garden where he also grows his own food.

06 March 2012

Have you noticed how more and more people around the world resort to gardening and producing their own fruits and vegetables. This trend gives me hope that we are, after all, on the road to reconnecting with the basics of sustainable living.

But how easy is it to set up your own garden?

What if you want to have one but are totally unexperienced?

Or what if you want to renovate your garden?

I am very sorry but I cannot answer these questions. I didn't take the time to learn from my grandfather when he was still alive. He was a polyglot dentist who had taught himself the secrets of organic gardening. My mistake was that I thought he would live forever and I could ask him for advice any time. Don't follow my lead on this one. Grab the opportunity right now and learn.

Screenshot from Smart Gardener

A great online tool about gardening, and one that was recently presented on Green Living Ideas is . It allows enthusiastic gardeners to easily design, grow and harvest a successful organic vegetable garden.

20 February 2012

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A full list of the Simple Living Challenge steps can be found .

I spent a good deal of my life in blissful ignorance about . I've never had a particular liking to it but I also didn't mind it too much. Until several years ago, when I started seeing more and more articles about the toxicity in plastic bottles and the dangers of plastic baby toys. At that point, my interest was purely personal, just like the one I had in makeup and cosmetics. But after opening my eyes to the plastic problem, I started seeing more - the amount of yogurt containers and milk boxes we were throwing away each week started to feel overwhelming.

I read about the increased accumulation of microplastic debris in the oceans coming from the waste-water of washing machines. The polyester and acrylic particles from my own clothes were going straight into the bodies of sea animals and back to me in the fish I was eating. I read about the , and the terrible effects human consumerism has on innocent animals. Had I thought about them before? No. Did I want to hurt any animal? No way.

But what could I do, change industry? I didn't think so. At that point, I stumbled upon - a website that opened my eyes to another reality - a single person CAN make a difference!

Beth Terry, the founder of (previously known as Fake Plastic Fish) is joining us today for a powerful push towards simple living. Because plastic, the symbol of modern disposable life, is one of the greatest obstacles on our way to deliberate and inoffensive living.

Beth has been blogging since 2007, collecting and tallying her own plastic waste (in 2011 her plastic waste reached the minute 2% of the U.S. average!) and researching plastic-free alternatives.

Apart from receiving truthful information about the impact of plastic, on her website you can get encouragement to learn more about your habits by examining your garbage and calculating your plastic footprint. You can collect your plastic waste (both recyclable and non) for one week or more. Then photograph, tally, and post it on the page. 

Before you go on to Beth's plastic-free interview, I would like to let you in on another great news -  you can already pre-order Beth's book, , which is going to be released in April 2012.

30 January 2012

Going green is not something that requires extra energy or efforts. In fact, it embodies a straightforward philosophy of life that can be applied to any person living anywhere in the world. While some of us naturally live a greener life, others need to make a deliberate effort at greening but hey, it is neither hard, nor scary.

Green has become something of a universal password bound to make consumers buy whatever products have the green/organic/eco-friendly label. But when you come to think of it, over-consumption is what got us here so why not put buying aside and concentrate on frugality for a change.

Here are several steps you can take along your green journey that will not only help you save the planet but some cash too.

Walk more, drive less
If you can walk or bicycle to work, why not do it? It is good exercise, gives you a couple of minutes to get in the mood and it's free. Add to that zero emissions and it tops the list.

Use public transport or carpool
Not all of us are lucky enough to live close to work, so in the cases when you have no other choice but to travel, use public transport or join a carpool. Both options save you money and reduce carbon emissions.

Reconsider your attitude to paper
You can stop printing in the first place. I recently stumbled upon a blogger giving frugality advice that was recommending printing them out. It is my opinion that trying to write things down or saving them on the Internet to have easy access from virtually anywhere is more environmentally responsible apart from being frugal.

Reuse paper. Ever since I remember myself we've been reusing paper pprinted on one side. It is easy to shred sheets of paper and use them for little notes or big ideas.

Oh yes... and give up paper towels. Most of thhe times you can do the job even better with the help of a cotton cloth that can eb washed and reused for a long time.

Avoid plastic
Anywhere, anytime think of what you are buying. If there is an option, go for the non-plastic pack. Watch your and sort your plastic for recycling but more importantly try to use less of it. Visit Beth Terry's website to learn more about the consequences of plastic, and to follow her journey on reducing the amount of her plastic trash. Weaning off plastic is a that can save the lives of a number of marine animals and birds.

Reconsider cleaning products and cosmetics
For every chemical out there, there is a that works equally well or better but is not dangerous either for you or for the environment. If you take the time to learn and actually make your own cleaning products, soap and you will be saving a considerable amount of money and your health. Let's not forget that all chemicals that get washed away take the long journey from your home to the oceans, and settle in fish that we subsequently eat, so... whatever we do, we do it to ourselves (ignorance can't save us here).

Turn off the (energy saving) lights
Undoubtedly you should already be using energy saving bulbs or LEDs. If you are not, just buy some and change your old ones. Your wallet will thank you. Then, turn off the light when you leave the room. It will spare you even further on bulbs and energy bills.

Unplug appliances when not in use
Keeping your electronics plugged in standby not only adds up to your energy bill but also to the radiation in the house. Make sure you power them off completely to save you a substantial part of your energy bill.

Use less water
Take shorter showers, close the tap while you'r ebrushing your teeth, use bath water to water your plants - easy frugal ways to be green and earth-minded.

Dry your clothes on the line
The sun has the amazing quality to actually disinfect your clothes while they are drying. This is not only free and healthy but also green.

Grow your own food
The advantages are countless. You will know where your food comes from, you will have an emotional connection to what you are eating - something we all need, you will have an excuse for spending some time out. Even i you have the smallest of gardens or no garden at all, you can do this and make sure you eat healthy. The grow your food inside movement is in its swing right now because it helps people get back to nature even if they live in a small apartment.

The way I see it, green life is nothing more than simple, sensible life. We just need to get rid of what city life has instilled in us and keep our human roots even if we are to grow up and flourish in the grey concrete jungle.

What steps are you taking to make your life greener and how are they affecting your financial situation?

21 December 2011

Christmas is just a breath away, the excitement is rising and minimalistic though we are, there will be presents and joy, shared moments with friends and relatives. Oh, who doesn't like the bonding on Christmas!

This holiday season, we are keeping Christmas merry, minimalistic and plastic-free! How? It is really not hard, in fact it is quite easy and I have already posted some of the steps my family is taking towards a sensible and green Christmas.

  1. Make your own gifts by repurposing, reusing and recycling at home. The Kanelstrand blog is abundant in fast and easy that will make for perfect gifts!
  2. Support handmade. If you are not crafty, go for local or etsy. Enjoy the love and care handmade artists put into their creations. You can take advantage of the offered by the Kanelstrand sponsors.
  3. Surprise your loved ones with edible gifts. You can bake, cook, pack and ship or just enjoy together! Here is a good I compiled for Green Living Ideas. Reminder: opt out on plastic dishes. Serve your food art in real ones instead - beautiful and reusable!
  4. Pack your gifts with alternative packaging, ranging from fiber to scrap wallpaper or maps, the variants are endless. take a look and for inspiration.
  5. Make your own post cards instead of buying new ones. This creative act will warm everyone who receives them, There is no need to make them extra complicated. Use recycled paper, magazine or newspaper cutouts and let your imagination roam freely. Or make some digital images to send via email and go paperless.
  6. Givebest wig online shops human hair8
The less we buy, the more challenged we are to give real warmth and care. Let's spend this holiday season concentrated on the love we can give, instead of on the money we've spent!

17 December 2011

Two weeks ago, while discussing about our I mentioned a lovely yarn bowl that I wanted to make. Most of you know how much I value hand work be it just for the sake of mental health and the feeling of accomplishment. In a mostly virtual and fast-paced world, one of the most precious acts is working with your hands to create practical objects that can be touched.

So, of course I didn't waste much time and dived happily at the project together with my daughter in the first moment available. Yes, this is a great project to work on with children and teenagers, and it requires a maximum of 40 minutes. Before I continue, let me make it clear that while for many of you yarn bowls like this are probably just a regular basic school activity, for me the process was absolutely unknown (except from the bleached memories of making paper mache once in my life, looong time ago) and extremely exciting. 

The thing I like most about this project is that it is totally eco-friendly and should I even use the very fashionable word biodegradable? There is not a single toxic element into this paper yarn mache except, of course, if you decide to use acrylic yarn.

I made some slight changes to the , which I would like to share.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 4 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • scrap yarn in the color of your choice
  • bowl to use as a mold
  • saran wrap or plastic bag

Choose a bowl that you would use as a mold and wrap it with saran wrap, or a piece of a plastic bag (which we did and used duct tape to secure it on the inner side of the bowl).

Mix well 1/2 cup of flour with 2 cups of lukewarm water. Boil the other 2 cups of water in a sauce pan, remove from heat to add the flour mixture. Bring to a boil once again while mixing constantly. Remove from heat and add 3 tablespoons of sugar. Mix for one last time and let the mixture cool. 

We went kind of over the top with the flour mixture but the bowl still turned out great.
Once it is comfortably cool, start by taking the yarn through the flour-glue mixture, gently squeezing it on the way out of the bowl to prevent what happened to us - you can see on the photo that the glue on the bottom is too much. It took 3 days for it to dry, which is way too long.

Make sure NOT to make your bowl look like this one. It should have considerably less flour-glue.

After you wind enough yarn and in a pattern you like you are done! We left our bowl on the bathroom floor and the floor heating did a miracle drying up. The sides of the bowl, which got through a gentle squeezing process to remove excess glue dried up in 24 hours but the bottom kept us waiting for 2 more days.

Wild  chestnuts complement the wooden look of the bowl

Anyway, the end result is just fabulous, don't you think? Using this particular yarn created a wood-effect that goes perfectly well with our interior (and exterior!) so we are quite happy with the outcome!

06 December 2011

Today's post is dedicated to my obsession with felted wool. I know that at least of you will understand me and feel for me. But hey, it is not that hard to love felt - felt and felted products are soft and warm and they seem to be the best partner of Winter.

So, basically I just wanted to show you this incredible find. I would love it if I find the time to make it myself but if I don't I will look at this photo every day of the next year. 
by Poopscape Projects
But then I couldn't just keep to one felted project and decided to show you how to make the typical Dala Horse, which has become a symbol of Sweden.

by Better Homes and Gardens
Then I thought it would be great if we could enjoy some Bavarian hospitality. After all, Christmas in the Alps is a great experience (I've heard).

by Creative Breathing
If you don't get to the Alps you can always make use of the Christmas snow and make some snowmen, right?

by Sunshine's Creations
And if there is no snow at all, you can always lift your Christmas spirits with traditional Christmas tree balls done untraditionally!

by Inside My Hideaway
Enjoy a crafty December and show me what you've made. I would enjoy it even if it is not felted. I promise!

04 December 2011

I love the smell of pine on Christmas but ah well, cutting the trees down to have them inside isn't the best we can do for the forest, is it! Unless you use a live Christmas tree, which you can later plant in your garden, or you gather fallen or broken branches thus helping clean the forest, you will not be extremely green. But you can always use your imagination and create unusual, unexpected and over-exciting Christmas tree out of almost anything!

You will need some wooden rails and hot glue for this one. Click to get to the easy tutorial.

Photo by by Alexandra Grablewski, courtesy of

Who knew that you can make a sweet dimensional Christmas tree out of rolled paper? Visit for the instructions.

Don't throw away your wine bottles, you might need them for Christmas!

Plywood Christmas tree anyone? It is sturdy, three-dimensional and green!

This one is so natural and reminds me a mobile. Great idea for small spaces!


For the passionate reader - a Christmas tree made of books!curly long wig with side bangs

‘Christmas tree for purists’ made of numerous oiled wooden beams from northern pine. 
What Christmas tree will you have this year?