I had the pleasure of rolling out in yet another green(er) car this week. Unlike the last, which was all electric, the Mazda 3 is a greener choice because it has good fuel economy. This of course makes it a great option for anyone who wants to feel better about their time spent behind the wheel. I don’t drive all that much…maybe 20 miles a week but I aspire to own a greener car.
I am always researching cars so that I know what I will want to get when we finally, maybe, someday opt to buy new. This particular car gets 30-41 MPG. Not as good as some but much better than what I currently drive. A big bonus for this fuel efficient car is that it has room for my family of five. It is very roomy, with heated seats, and the interior is absolutely gorgeous.
My kids are getting older and are not as likely to get crumbs and dirty footprints everywhere so I actually want something that looks nice. When the kids get older mom wants nicer things because she had to do without them for so long right?
It also has a really nifty screen that pops in your line of sight when driving that shows your speed. So much of this car was designed to allow you to drive safely and without distraction.
Slick, greener, and family friendly. This was my second time driving a Mazda 3 and it is still on the shortlist of cars I would like to buy when the time comes.
Okay, it is that time of year. Tax time! You may be thinking (or agonizing) about how you have to do your taxes or maybe you already have them done. Either way, if you are expecting a refund from the government then you have already started dreaming about what you will do with it. Same here.
So…what to do with the moola? Well, big or small there are probably a few purchases that you can make that will be beneficial in the long run…helping you a new level of wellness. I understand the tendency to want to blow the money on a trampoline for the kids or a down payment on a newer (but really unneeded car). Part of our personal refund is in fact allotted to purely fun stuff. Hello, DisneyWorld! But now is also the time to make smart purchases that will pay all year long and even for years to come. Investing in your future is always good. Here are a few ideas:
Start Using Essential Oils – I am a HUGE fan of essential oils and have been for about 20 years. Last year I started using Young Living essential oils and fell in love all over again. I discovered quality that I never dreamed of and my family has been benefiting greatly. I use them every single day and I have not been sick in ages. Plus my three kids haven’t seen the inside of a doctor’s office in years. That is an amazing savings.
Save about $40-$150 of that tax money, sign up as a wholesale member (distributor) and get a starter kit. Plus as a wholesale member you get 24% off any future oil purchases and you can even make money when you help others get started with oils too. This small investment can have a big impact on your life in multiple ways.
Join a Herdshare or CSA – Health begins with healthy food but it can be hard to manage on a modest income. Use the extra cash from tax time to invest in healthy food for a big portion of the year. A CSA share requires a larger one time investment and then you get a bag/box of fresh fruits and veggies all throughout the growing season. A herdshare is a great way to buy grassfed or pastured meats in bulk and save money. Fill your freezer with a quarter cow and half pig and you will be set with healthy meats for a long time.
Grow Your Own Garden – Take charge and start growing your own healthy, organic foods. Look into raised beds, a rain barrel, a compost bin, garden tools, heirloom seeds, and even some fruit bushes and trees. Once you get the garden going you will benefit for years to come.
Alternatively you could also buy a plot at a community garden.
Take Cooking Classes – If healthy eating and cooking is a struggle for you then take some classes! Learn how to cook from scratch, bake your own bread, can and preserve food from the garden and farmer’s market, and generally be more self sufficient in the kitchen.
Join a Gym or Hire a Personal Trainer – With a little money in your pocket you might want to prepay for some CrossFit classes or sessions with a personal trainer. Investing in fitness is a win win.
Buy A Bike – Bicycle riding is great exercise and it is great or the planet. Get a good bike and promise to pedal more instead of using your car.
Invest in Healthy Sleep – A great green mattress is wonderful way to reduce toxins in your sleep environment and give you a health boost. If that is too much money then try a good wool mattress cover, some eco friendly pillows, and organic sheets.
How will YOU use tax money to enhance your health?
A freezer is a homesteader’s very good friend. It allows us to preserve our bounty, buy in bulk, make meals ahead of time, and keep a food stash for when times are tough. Many of us have love our freezer so much we have two or more of them. All that freezer space provides us with lots of possibilities!
Here are six reasons why freezing your food is so awesome…
1. It saves us money. Freezing allows us to buy local foods, in season, at the peak of their ripeness/freshness when they are the most affordable. It also allows us to capitalize on good sales (store sales, clearance, etc) and deals (herdshare). We can buy our food when it is cheapest and freshest and simply eat it later.
2. It makes meal planning easier. Take a quickie inventory of what you have in the freezer and then search your bookmarked recipes that incorporate the ingredients you want to use ie “pork” or “ground beef and carrots”. Using what you have makes things easier and it saves money.
3. It reduces food waste. If you know you won’t get around to eating those veggies then spend a a couple minutes chopping them up and freeze them. Add them to casserole, soup, or stir fry at some later date. If you are not in the mood for leftovers don’t chuck them, freeze and eat them in a couple of weeks. If some fruit has started to look sad, freeze it and add it to smoothies.
4. It allows you cook ahead of time. Typically we run short on time on the weekdays. They are jam packed with school, work, kids events, etc. If that is the case you can use the slower pace of the weekend to cook some meals that freeze well and can be reheated for weekday meals. This also works well for work lunches…make them on the weekend, portion them out by day, and freeze. Freezing can give us freedom to cook when we want to and not so much when we don’t want too.
5. It saves time. Shopping from your freezer means less time wandering store isles trying to figure out what to make. It also means you can prep and freeze various ingredients (chopped veggies, shredded chicken, marinated meat) or entire meals when you have more time and utilize them when you have less time.
6. It allows us to eat out of season. Fresh blackberries, sun ripened strawberries, sugar snap peas, spinach, apples, fresh baked bread from the farmer’s market…you name it, we want it. Freeze some of it and extend the season and the flavors.
What do you love to freeze?
Toxic toothpaste????! No, I am not talking about tainted toothpaste from China. I am talking about pretty much all children’s toothpaste you find at conventional grocery stores. It is nasty. You don’t want to buy any of it.
I forgot to buy my usual kids toothpaste awhile back and I go through the stuff like water with one child who likes to squirt it on mirrors, toilets, light switches….you name it. This is a problem because they won’t use my toothpaste…they say it is too hot for them and they won’t use homemade either (too chunky). So when my kids and I were at Kroger I gave in to their request for some of that sugary, rainbow colored toothpaste that is for kids. I had a knot in my stomach but I said yes and when I got home to check the ingredients I could have slapped myself. I returned it.
The Makings of Toxic Toothpaste:
D&C red dye #30 and FD&C blue #1 lake – There is nothing like crude oil in your kids toothpaste right? Well these dyes are derived from petroleum or coal tar. Over several decades of use, some of these synthetic dyes have come under greater scientific and government scrutiny due to their carcinogenic and mutagenic activity. Because of this, they are still referred to in the industry as coal tar dyes, according to the FDA. Remember red dye #2 or as it was called before it was banned, the dye of death? I guess red dye #30 is perfectly safe though right? NOT!
Some studies indicate that FD & C Blue Dyes 1 & 2 can trigger a wide number of behavioral, learning, and health problems. FD&C color dyes may also cause potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration, and cancer.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – This is the ingredient that gives toothpaste (and TONS of other personal care products) their foaming ability. This same stuff is widely used to degrease cars too. Even more scary is that when companies have healing cremes or products they need to test on irritated skin, SLS is the irritant they choose to rub on the skin of humans and animals to see if they then “heal” it with their new product.
The journal of the American College of Toxicology reports that SLS can penetrate and be retained in the eye, brain, heart, and liver with potentially harmful long-term effects.
Flouride – This is not the beneficial additive that it is touted to be. In fact Dr. Mercola has stated that there is enough fluoride in a typical toothpaste tube to kill two small children if they consumed the whole tube at once. Since typical toothpaste for kids tastes like candy this is not hard to see happening either.
Also according to the Fluoride Action Network, no disease has ever been linked to a fluoride deficiency. Humans can have perfectly good teeth without fluoride.
Now we all tell our kids not to swallow the toothpaste but they contain very small molecules that may penetrate through the mucous membranes in the mouth, enter the blood stream, and build up in the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and tissues.
Carrageenan – This is used as a gelling, thickening agent. It actually comes from edible seaweed so it sounds like an awesome, natural ingredient at first. In actuality though it is highly processed in a lab, it loses it’s beneficial properties, and even becomes harmful. Thanks to research conducted by Joanne K. Tobacman, M.D., at the University of Illinois College of Medicine it has been associated with stomach problems, intestinal ulcerations, and the promotion of cancer.
Some healthier toothpaste alternatives are listed below. With all these options you are sure to find something your kids will like and use, and that you won’t feel bad about buying.
KidScents Slique Toothpaste – Available through Young Living. No fluoride, dyes, synthetic colors, artificial flavors, or preservatives. The base is coconut oil and baking soda.
Jack N’ Jill Natural Toothpaste – organic calendula to soothe gums, organic natural blueberry flavor, fluoride free, sugar free, color free, SLS free, no preservatives.
Xlear Spry Kid’s Tooth Gel – No fluoride, SLS, or glycerin for parents also trying to avoid that ingredient.
Weleda Toothpaste, Children’s Tooth Gel – Does not contain fluoride, detergents, synthetic fragrances, colors, and preservatives. Ingredients include: glycerin, water, hydrated silica, calendula officinalis flower extract, algin, foeniculum vulgare (fennel) oil, mentha viridis (spearmint) oil, esculin.
Enamel Saver it is designed for kids and has no SLS.
Natural dentist kids sparkle berry blast – A great toothpaste.
Also check out:
Are you looking for a facial toner or facial spray that is soothing, hydrating, refreshing, and ever so gentle? Well, this may be the the recipe for you. It is all of the above and oh so good for your skin. The witch hazel and floral water cleanse the skin, the glycerin helps lock in moisture, and the aloe, lavender, and chamomile soothe and balance.
Rose essential oil is amazing for the skin but it is also very expensive. A hydrosol is a floral water leftover from the steam distillation of plant materials. It is like an essential oil but far less concentrated and in the case of rose hydrosol, it gives us affordable access to this lovely plant essence.
Make it according to your own needs and skin type. If it feels a tad sticky then use less glycerin. If your skin feels dry and not supple then add more glycerin and perhaps a touch of almond or avocado oil. It’s an easy to make facial cleanser and it is a snap to use. No muss, no fuss beauty!
Rose & Lavender Facial Cleanser & Toner Spray
2 ounces rose water or rose hydrosol
1 ounce witch hazel
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
6 drops lavender essential oil
4 drops chamomile essential oil
Add all ingredients to a small glass bottle with a fingertip mister, shake, and voila! Shake before each use and keep it in a cool, dark place for up to six months. After spritzing allow your skin to air dry.