Wild and Mindful Mom
You know that strong, lingering smell- or worse, that light-headed feeling/headache you get after cleaning….? Yikes.. That smell of a “clean home” we’ve grown used to… it’s likely a sign of toxic, harmful and hormone disrupting chemicals in your cleaner that affect you and your family. It’s not even just the cleaners, it’s in so many home and beauty products so many of us are using every day!
Synthetic chemicals in products like plastics and fragrances can mimic hormones and interfere with or disrupt the delicate endocrine dance.
If you’re not sold on making your own products, the EWG website (Environmental Working Group) is a great resource for finding the latest information on healthy cleaning and a list of the best (and worst) products on the market. I still find making my own to be the best option because I enjoy it and can be sure of the ingredients and adjust my solutions according to my cleaning needs.
Taking charge of what ingredients go into the products we use in our home is easy, inexpensive and a fast way to reduce unnecessary toxic exposure for your family… the environment will thank you too since many of these products ultimately find their way down drains and back into our waters and soil.
So what do I use to make cleaners for my home? Just a few simple ingredients! These items can be used for SO many different things and are able to clean your home just as well as store-bought products without that unwanted extra chemical cocktail. (and you might already have them!) Peroxide and vinegar are capable of serious mold, mildew, virus and other harmful germ elimination.My list of basic home cleaning supplies is as follows:
- white vinegar
- microfiber cloths
- hydrogen peroxide
- castile soap
- baking soda (aluminum free)
- olive oil
- spray bottles
- essential oils (optional) *Please only use EO’s from reputable sources and follow their safety guidelines
For my all purpose cleaner I keep it really basic. I use this for most small clean-ups- my tables (often paint covered), messy toddler trays and finger print covered windows and mirrors. Be sure to skip using this cleaner on marble and wood floors as highly acidic agents can damage these two surfaces.For Mold and Mildew
1/2 cup peroxide with 1 cup of water. (if you are using EO’s I usually add a few drops of tea tree to this one) Spray on mold or mildew and let set 30-60 minutes. For extra cleaning effect you can add some baking soda (about 1 tbsp). When ready, wipe with cloth or scrub with a brush. (I usually use old toothbrushes for scrubbing) This is my favorite for bathroom tiles and toilets as well. If the mildew is really bad I sometimes just add peroxide to a spray bottle and use it undiluted. (it’s already diluted in the bottle)Hardwood Floors
I get a mop and bucket and add 1/2 cup castile soap (I use the Dr Bronner’s unscented) and add 3 gallons hot water. (*Optional- add lemon or orange essential oil- I use 7 drops lemon, 3 drops orange) Use this to clean hardwood floors but be sure to wipe up any very wet spots left over as you go. This mixture is also a good general purpose cleaner. (can be scaled down to make a spray)Hardwood Polish
If you need a bit of a “finish” for the floors, go over with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice and remember a little bit goes a long way. (You may need to double or triple the recipe depending on your floor size)Carpets
I just sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, wait an hour or so and vacuum up for cleaning and deodorizing purposes. (I also don’t have much carpet in traffic areas so I don’t have to do this as often) If something is extra icky, I may rent a steam cleaner but the baking soda usually does the trick with help from all purpose cleaner for cleaning up spot messes.Citrus Cleaner
If you are attached to that citrus smell associated with cleaning products give this a try… In a large mason jar add peels from lemon, lime, and/or orange until the jar is about half way full. (Be sure to scrape as much pulp off as you can) Next fill the rest of the jar with vinegar. Cover tightly with a lid, give it a good shake and let this “brew” for 2 weeks. Then, remove peels and strain mixture into a spray bottle using 1:1 ratio water and infused vinegar. Voila! Fresh smelling family safe cleaner!Granite/Marble
As I mentioned you do NOT want to use acid on this surface. Soap tends to leave it streaky as well so, what do I use? A mixture of 1/3 cup rubbing alcohol (70%) and 3 cups of water. Just add to a spray bottle and spray then wipe to clean and sanitize counters with ease!Bonus- magic eraser
This is what I use as an alternative magic eraser. These work amazing
This post is just a general over view of my cleaner recipes, I will add more specific and detailed posts of each cleaner/ingredient when I can get to it so stay tuned for other household products you can make right at home!Additional suggested uses for Bronner’s found here.
(Separate blog post to come on this wonderful product) What Works For YOU?!
I would love to hear about your favorite natural cleaning solutions! What other products do you want me to post about? What questions do you have? Let me know! As always, thank you for reading. Be well friends.
We all know the importance and value attached to outdoor play and our connection with nature, especially when it comes to our energetic littles. Climbing, running, exploring, discovering and developing curiosity in nature all contribute so much not just to shaping them as individuals but also important for balance and spatial awareness development. (Not to mention the fresh air, vitamin D and even the microbes in the soil are beneficial to their health and overall wellness.) I mean, really the benefits go on and on. For us, this is a vital part of our routine. We spend most of every day playing outdoors and to be honest, the kids really just keep themselves entertained. We make sure to have proper gear for any occasion and live the “no bad weather” rule when it comes to rain and snow.. for the most part.
As I write this, we are reaching the end of February, a long and cold month here where temperatures below 0°F are common. Ultimately, some days really are just brutal- too cold and windy- and indoor activities are a must. It is easy to settle for screen time when everyone has cabin fever and are anxious to freely play outside again. We all do it- sometimes playing Moana means getting that sink full of dishes done or an episode of Nature Cat means making AND eating lunch for myself. (No, just me?) It’s not ideal but if I’m being real, it happens.
So what do we do when we’re stuck inside at home for days at a time and we don’t want to be screen zombies? Fun parks and museums can be a good go to but for this post, I’m focusing on things we can do in the home. Almost all of our toys are “open ended” toys. Open-ended means it’s not just a “one and done” toy that only does one thing- you know, like a toy dog that barks or does a few things when you push the buttons but that’s the extent of the toy. Open ended toys are things like blocks, dolls & doll houses, art supplies etc. Craft ideas are never ending so I’m skipping our favorite crafts for now and focusing on the items we have that make a difference for us!
Of course we read, bake, build with blocks, do puzzles, paint, play with trains, and inevitably the spur of the moment (possibly out of tune) singing session where we make up our own songs. When we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to move on to my go-to’s. Probably our most used item by both my 1 and 3 year old are magformers and magna-tiles. Right now I’d say the kids prefer the magformers. There are endless shapes and configurations that can be made. They can also stick to the fridge or any other magnetic surface for alternative fun way to create designs with these.
I would say my 3 year old’s favorite activity that he does without his younger sister is his kinetic sand. If you have never used it, the stuff on it’s own is super fun to play with, mold, smush, cut etc. To keep messes down, I put ours in a cake pan and I am so glad I did. Even if you buy only kinetic sand and no tools, you have all you need for hours of fun sensory play! We enjoy adding our own toys and mixing it up when we’re done making castles. One of my personal favorites is using the rocks he’s collected and making a mini zen garden using a fork.
Two of my other favorite variations my son did recently on his own were adding his own trucks and accessories to make a monster truck arena and making his own mini aquarium. The possibilities are endless and the best thing is this sand never dries out and you can add or remove as much as you’d like for any creation you wish!
I think most people probably know about mega blocks but I’m mentioning them just in case, we have two sets and they are WELL worth it and because they are larger than legos, I can allow both my 1 & 3 year olds to enjoy this activity together as well. Schleich animals are another daily open ended toy that can be integrated into everything listed above. Sometimes they build “animal homes” from the blocks and magnaformers, sometimes they use the animals to make tracks in the kinetic sand. (This is a reason I specificlly buy the Schleich animals, I have noticed they are SO realistic down to the footprint!)
I know I said I’m not doing a craft, and I was mostly serious. This doesn’t count, because it’s also an activity… I make the rules here. Anyways, we pick a theme-this example my son wanted my help to create a pond theme- sometimes it’s rocks and lava, clouds and sky etc. We grab a sheet, cut out some shapes from felt or construction paper and put them down and play a game of jumping back and forth without “falling” into the pond. (Or lava etc) Sometimes we number the lilly-pads and try to hop through in sequence, sometimes we spell his name, sometimes he even uses his animal toys to hop across. Like I said, this one is fun because you can go with any theme and it takes up a good amount of time from creating to playing, even making up games as you go.
Of course, these are just our personal favorites for the little ones when we need entertaining and we are stuck inside restless. I would love to hear from you! What’s your favorite “stuck inside” open ended toy or activity!? Feel free to comment on this page or on my social media share of this post. Thanks for being here, be well friends!
You may or may not have heard about the health benefits of elderberry syrup, a potent antiviral made from black elderberry or sambucus nigra, a native plant in both Europe and North America. It aids in digestion, is high in vitamin A, aids cardiovascular health, strengthens the immune system, fights both bacterial and viral infections, and thanks to the antioxidants it contains, it can even aid the pancreas which can help regulate blood sugar levels. Not only will you save money making your own, but it really is so easy and satisfying to make this at home! Now, I’m not here to give medical advice, you should always consult your primary care before trying anything new to ensure there are no contraindications, but this is a truly incredible aid for immunity and wellness and I hope this post will prove useful to you.
So what is the evidence and how can this be made and used in your home? There are not a lot of studies done specifically on elderberry syrup, but the studies done have shown this is a great effective remedy that can easily be added to your regimen.
“As a potent antiviral, elderberry syrup is strongly indicated for flu viruses. In one Norwegian study, 60 patients were given elderberry syrup within the first 48 hours of developing flu symptoms. This included patients with both type A and type B influenza. The patients receiving elderberry were over the flu virus within an average of 4 fewer days than those with placebo.”(Zakay-Rones, et al, 2004).
Elderberry effectively and often dramatically reduces symptoms from the common cold and flu (including H1N1) and shortens the duration of the flu by inhibiting viral replication.
“Similarly, a known outbreak of influenza B in Panama evaluated elderberry intake over 6 days, measuring fever, feeling of improvement, and complete cure along with serum antibody tests. In the elderberry treatment group, over 93% of cases saw improvements in just 2 days. This is far better than the control group, which took 6 days to reach only 91.7%. Almost 90% of the treatment group was completely cured in only 2-3 days.”
(Zakay-Rones, et al, 1995).
I have been making elderberry syrup for my family for the last 4 years. It is safe for the whole family with the exception of those under 1 year of age as generally it is sweetened with honey- something that is not recommended for consumption in any form for individuals under 1 year of age. Now of course if you make your own, this is an easy fix and you can substitute the honey for maple syrup or agave and make this safe for the youngest members of your family as well! Anecdotally, I have absolutely found seemingly instant relief from symptoms and when taken at first sign of sickness, I have gone from sore throat and bit of a cough one morning to feeling brand new the following evening by taking 1 tsp a few times a day at onset! I can’t even remember the last time any of us had the flu and while I do think this helps, we also prioritize healthy diets along with plenty of outside time and quality sleep.
Now that we have a bit of background, back to the recipe. If I had my way, I would have dozens of my own elderberry plants and have my own berries to use, but alas, I do not. So I buy dried berries. I try to make my purchase before “flu season” arrives as I’ve noticed the prices tend to be a bit lower before the real demand sets in. I use Frontier Co-op Elderberries and have always been pleased with the quality. Note* This post does include Amazon affiliate links, but everything I link is something I have purchased and used personally. Plus, I love my prime membership and that I can order berries and be ready to make some immune boosting syrup in two days! For the rest of the supplies you will need:
* Pot for boiling/simmering syrup
* container/jar for storing final product
* ¾ cup dried elderberries
* 3-1/2 cups water
* 1-2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
* ½ tsp ground clove
*1-1.5 cup local honey
I think the best part about this recipe is that it really doesn’t involve a whole lot of effort. To start, put all ingredients EXCEPT honey in a pot. Turn up heat and place on burner- bring to boil. Once you reach a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and leave uncovered, stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes. The cook time must be met as it is imperative to ensure the safety and efficacy of this remedy. The mixture should be reduced by about half and the final product should yield about 2 cups. (If you end up with less than 2 cups, add water to final product until you have this amount) Once you are done, allow to cool until warm, but not hot. Strain this mixture into a mason jar or other container using a sieve or cheesecloth. Use a spoon to press any leftover juice from the berries as you go. The remains can either be discarded in trash or added to compost.
Once you have the cooled berry juice, add in honey. Stir until fully combined. THAT’S IT! You just made elderberry syrup. Store in jar or other airtight container in fridge or freezer for about 2 months. I usually store half in the fridge and the other half in the freezer until ready to use. Printable recipe is below!!! If you are unable to make your own but interested in buying some, this is the elderberry elixir I have purchased in the past from Earthley. They do also sell a diy elderberry kit if that seems easier for you!
During times when we are exposed to sickness, we take 1 tbsp for adults and 1 tsp each daily for the kids. If we suspect we caught something or begin to feel ill, we will do this same dosage up to 4 times daily. This syrup can be taken plain or added to yogurt or smoothies. There are also gummies that can be made for benefits, but that’s a whole separate blog post for another day. In the meantime, I hope this helps you. Be well friends.
There is something beautiful about living simply and being mindful in this time of overwhelming technology and disconnect. The triumphant feeling you get after completing a difficult hike.. talking a toddler through a tantrum.. the excitement of seeing sprouts emerging after planting your first garden… those deeply satisfying cups of tea on the couch after a long day of stacking wood.. To me, this is what life is about. I was hesitant to start a blog about it because well, it involves spending more time on a computer than I am accustomed to and taking time away from my daily rhythm. I am a mother of two little wilds, working with my partner to get a homestead running so we can have our own space to create, teach and grow with our children while maintaining our core values.
At times, it feels like everyone on this same journey is already miles ahead of us so I hope this will be a place for others who are just starting out to relate. If you are like me, you find a lot of inspiration from others through blogs and other social media pages. I see these picture perfect instagram pages of lush gardens, five star meals fit for a magazine and masterfully organized dream homes. I am not one of those moms. I like to keep it real and my reality is often a bit crazy and messy. It’s not to say I don’t do my very best to minimize messes and stay organized, but kids play and play generates disarray. I have found many ways to simplify things starting at home to decrease the chaos, but life happens. Dishes pile up, laundry sits unfolded. Some days are better than others and there is nothing more crucial to our overall wellness than our ability to adapt in these moments and on those tough seemingly endless days.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.Robert Louis Stevenson
On this journey I will be sharing some things I have done before but much of this is brand new territory for me and there will be a learning curve. Learning new skills can be intimidating. When it seems like you’re the only one starting from nothing, sometimes you feel silly asking questions. Remember that at one point- everyone else ahead of you- was once where you are. In the past, I have let fear of failure keep me from starting things. I have over-analyzed, [way] over-stressed and put things off because I didn’t want to start something “the wrong way”. Not anymore. Let me tell you something. All that matters is that you start. You will find your own way. What works for some does not work for all. I hope something I share here can help you as you start your journey of self-sufficiency and mindful living. Ask questions, get involved, but most importantly- it’s okay to fall short, just plant the damn seeds.