Fresh Air

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It’s the first week of the Autumn Challenge from Green Urban Living and it’s all about Ditching The Chemicals. I’ve written quite a lot about how I’ve reduced the chemical load in my house; not just cleaning products but beauty products too. I’ve been testing another green idea to replace what I think are one of the filthiest, nastiest chemical products you can buy – air freshener. Maybe it’s just me but the scent of “fake smell” in a can is repulsive. I think I’d rather put up with the stinky smell rather than a chemical concoction. The funny thing is you can always still smell the bad smell even after the freshener!

So, how do we deal with the Whiffy and Unpleasant in the Fig Household? Well, we open lots of windows but of course, in the winter when it’s too cold, I make my own natural air freshener. I prefer to call it House Perfume because it is delectable and fresh and definitely sniff-worthy. It also lifts moods and causes springs in the steps of the sniffer. Here’s how I make House Perfume.

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Take a little glass preserving jar with a screw band lid. I found this one at Mitre 10, our local DIY store.

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Fill the jar with Baking Soda and about 20 drops of your favourite essential oils. I used Fennel (because I am a fennel freak) and grapefruit. This is quite a zingy, springy combination great for a bathroom. For a wardrobe use cloves and tea tree to deter mould and stale air; for a bedroom try geranium and rose. Don’t forget the humble peppermint too for the kitchen.

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Give it a good stir.

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At this point you can either leave your little jar uncovered or you can cover with a piece of thin fabric and secure with a ribbon or you can do the following. Take a piece of paper and draw around the inner circle of the lid and cut out.

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Place the circle inside the screw band part of the lid and screw onto the little jar. Take a pin or a needle and make little perforations all over the paper in a random fashion (or straight lines…anything goes!)

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Mmmmmmm…..the essentials oils are snaking there way through the holes as I type. A great, natural way to perfume your home for next to nothing. It can be updated to suit the seasons or your mood and might make a cute little gift. Enjoy experimenting and enjoying waltzing past those cans of chemicals in the supermarket ūüôā

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Bath Salts for Water Babies

Hmmm…I feel a bit granny-ish writing this post because it’s all about bath salts and, lets face it, aren’t they the kind of present you dread receiving at Christmas time? In fact, I don’t even know if you can buy them any more! However, there is more to the humble bath salt than meets the eye and it’s definitely up for a retro revival. The reason I’m even humouring an alternative to my usual bubble bath is that the bubbles turn out to be Really Bad for you. I know. Annoying isn’t it. I’ve often wallowed away a pleasant hour or so up to my chin in bubbles but the bubbles are caused by Sodium Laurel Sulfate and the fragrances in the bubble bath are more often than not synthetic chemicals which gets a big thumbs down from me. Knowing that the skin is the largest organ in the body and that is absorbs these chemicals like a sponge I need an alternative.

I love dipping in and out of my many Green Beauty DIY books and playing around making potions but this next recipe is a real delight to make and one of my favourites. Once you have the ingredients you can stir it up in 5 minutes flat. In NZ just go online to Go Native otherwise Amazon is a good source of raw materials. ¬†You can also add whichever essential oils you like but for aching muscles make sure you include Juniper and, together with the mineral salts, you’ll feel the benefits. Fennel is one of my all time favourite oils. It’s really fresh and zesty and energising. However, feel free to add your own favourite scent; ylang ylang, cedarwood, geranium and orange for spice or lavender for relaxation or rose for a real luxurious soak.

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Ingredients
175g Dead Sea salt
175g Epsom salts
150g Fine sea salt
60g Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
60g powdered green clay
25 drops Juniper oil
25 drops Fennel oil
50 drops of any combination of citrus (lemon, grapefruit, orange)

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Simply add all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix to get rid of any lumps.

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Add the oils and stir through then decant into a glass jar of some description.

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Add about 3 Tablespoons to your bath or more if you like. Most of the mix will dissolve but you will get a bit of green mineral salt lurking around. This may well put you in mind of sitting in a swamp but Go with It and remember the minerals are seeping into your muscles and giving them a lovely massage as you soak! Bliss!

Start Your Own Green Revolution

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For those of you who read my blog you’ll know by now that I try to be as green as I can. There are many out there who are far greener than me but I like to think that, when I can, I make my choices and actions as green as possible. I like the simplicity of some of my green ways like recycling and upcycling and I love the health benefits of others like growing my own chemical free veg and fruit and ditching the chemicals by making very simple cleaning products and cosmetics. When I started to question why I did certain things/bought certain things and looked for alternatives I’ve been surprised at the many benefits that I have enjoyed. I’m always on the look out for other small changes to make my life, and that of my family, greener and healthier.

I was therefore thrilled to hear about this new 12 week challenge initiated by Janet Luke of Green Urban Living starting this Autumn 1st March. It’s completely free to enter and it’s all about challenging ourselves to make a positive green difference to our lives and the environment. By sharing these ideas on Green Urban Living’s FB page¬†we can connect with the whole of New Zealand and, quite possibly, The World! ¬†There are some great prizes up for grabs each week and a starry cast of Green Judges to pick the winners including¬†Te Radar, Tony Murrell, Lynda Hallinan, Malcolm Rands, Annah Stretton, Nz Eco Chick¬†and Wendyl Nissen.

I love the simplicity of this challenge; you can choose what changes you want to make for your own personal Green Revolution and these changes can be as big or small as you want to make them. Here are the weeks that I’m really looking forward to and some that are going to challenge me Quite A Bit.

Week 1 – Ditch the Chemicals

Labelled Adding Soap

This is a subject very close to my heart (and more specifically my arm pits!). I’ve ditched the chemicals in my house by substituting homemade cleaners, peppermint bathroom cleaner, homemade laundry powder, deodorant and moisturiser to name a few. I’m still on the lookout for a good DIY shampoo so I’m hoping to find inspiration for that in week 1.

Week 2 – Shop Local

Seedlings Stone

I wrote a post about this very topic just before Christmas. I have been so inspired by the local businesses here in Hawke’s Bay and I love nothing better than to shop at the local vege shops, markets and small businesses that make for a colourful and unique community. The challenge here is to cook a meal from Local Ingredients. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just local.

Week 3 – Foraging

Plums

Who said there’s no such thing as a Free Lunch? I’m really hoping to learn where to go foraging in my local area. The whole concept of eating Free Bounty is quite a challenge for me. I am after all essentially a Menu Planner and List Writer. Foraging adds a bit of mystery and surprise to the whole operation of eating. Depending on the time of year you could end up making blackberry jam or elderflower cordial. Embrace the element of the unknown!

Week 6 – Grow Something

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I grow a lot of veges. I’ve been moved to post as many zucchini recipes as I can to cope with the glut in my garden. However, I also grow other types of plants for medicinal reasons and for teas and I also grow flowers for picking and some are edible too. The sunflower pictured above contains edible seeds that I’m going to toast with spices for a tasty snack. For those who don’t grow their own then it’s a chance to experience the tiny bit of magic that happens when you plant a seed and water it and watch it grow. For those who do grow veges, why not try growing some culinary herbs like lemongrass or cinnamon basil for an exotic twist to dinner or chamomile and lemon balm to make into tea. Once you get the growing bug you’ll never look back!

Week 7 – Reduce Waste

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On a good week you can hear me gloat to Mr Fig that our Wheelie bin isn’t even close to being full. We’ve managed to reduce our waste significantly with little effort by recycling the usual plastic, glass, paper/cardboard and by composting and feeding scraps to the chickens (and the chocolate lab). However, I’ve since been learning that the Next Step on the recycling ladder is to think about recycling before you even buy….. That means buying store cupboard items in bulk from places like Bin Inn. You can take your own recycled bags/containers to re use so You don’t Even Bring Waste Into Your House. It’s so clever and so obvious but it does require some forethought and you need to Train Yourself to remember the bags and containers. This is how I’ll challenge myself for this week.

Week 12 – Cook Leftovers

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I think some people are born Leftover Eaters. Mr Fig is quite happy to eat last night’s dinner for breakfast or yesterday’s lunch for dinner. I find it Confusing and A Little Bewildering. I also tend to cook Just Enough for us with a tiny portion left over so these tiny portions tend to be left in the fridge and get pushed further to the back until they grow legs and hop in the dishwasher themselves. I did make the cakes pictured above with leftover mincemeat but I know there is more to leftovers than that and so will be challenging myself this week and learning lots.

The other weeks of the challenge include Carless Days, Clothing Swap, Eco Alternative, Recycle, Reuse It and Spread some Seeds. So Give It a Go! You might even win a prize! Start your own personal green revolution; the little changes add up to a big change that can only be a Good Thing. Hop onto¬†Green Urban Living¬†to get the poster and instructions delivered to your inbox for your very own challenge or find out more on Green Urban Living’s FB page.¬†Have Fun and¬†Good Luck!

Lip Balm Giveaway!!

I used to sometimes listen to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 with Kirsty Young. Celebrities are asked to imagine they were castaway on a desert island and to name their 8 favourite pieces of music, a book and a luxury item that they couldn’t do without. I’ve often wondered, in the unlikely event that I were inadvertently stranded on a desert island, what on earth would my luxury item be? It’s changed over the years from blue/black volumizing mascara and wonderbra, to hair straighteners, complete set of Friends DVDS and TV to Bodyshop kiwi fruit lip balm. Yes lip balm. In all honesty my luxury today would be lip balm but not as I knew it 15 years ago oh no. My luxury lip balm of choice today would be my own home made one. What my former mascara wearing self would say to that I’m not sure; it’s all part of the journey and my journey has decided to come almost full circle. I used to be pretty eco conscious in my teens; save the whale, anti-vivisection, save the ozone layer and a paid up member of greenpeace. Then I went to uni, graduated, got a job, got married and had children and forgot about the whales in the midst of being Generally Busy With Life. My eco self has had a chance to re-emerge albeit in a slightly different guise; growing my own veges, reducing the toxins in my house, reducing my carbon footprint, leading a simpler life and, most recently, making my own beauty products. I’m not a huge consumer of beauty products but I do like a good moisturiser and lip balm. I thought I’d start with Lip Balm.

Ingredients

I recently swapped some freshly chopped deciduous tree logs with a friend (she wanted to grow mushrooms) in exchange for bees wax and honey so I had two of the ingredients already for this recipe. Had a dribble of sunflower oil left in the bottle (just enough yippee) and peppermint essential oil. That’s all you need.

Bee Beautiful Lip Balm
20g beeswax
25g sunflower oil
10ml honey
Few drops of essential oil, peppermint or orange

Melting

Measure out the ingredients in a bowl that isn’t too precious to you. Melt the wax, oil and honey together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Awaiting oils

Once melted carefully decant into your little pots and add a couple drops of essential oil per pot and stir through with a cocktail stick. Do this quickly as the the liquid can set really speedily! Leave to cool with the lids off and Hey Presto! You have lip balm that is free from nasty preservatives and horrible chemicals hurray! It’ll last about a year or give some away as gifts.

Finished

Mmmmm a little bit of minty luxury in a pot.

I am doing my First Giveaway! I have two little black pots of this lip smackingly yummy balm ready and waiting to go to two Good Homes!

Lip Balm Giveaway

All you need to do is answer this question….”If you were Castaway on a Desert Island and could have one luxury, what would it be?” Post your answer in the comment box below and the Winners will be announced here and on my Facebook Page on Monday 25th November. Closing date is Sunday 24th November. Winners can Message me their postal addresses on my Facebook Page. Good Luck! If you feel like returning the love then please Follow Me for more tips and hints on Living a Greener Life!