I was compensated for this post as a Filtrete Healthy Home Ambassador, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Are you in full spring cleaning mode yet? I sure am. I just spent the past weekend decluttering and donating stuff to Goodwill. I have been collecting stuff from around the house to sell on Craigslist or take to consignment shops but they sat around for about a month so that was my clue to just donate them and be done with it. What a relief! Now I can get down to the nitty gritty and really clean and freshen things up for spring. The house feels stuffy and depressing towards the end of winter and with a few warm days last week I am so OVER cold weather. I am ready to throw the windows open and let spring in with full abandon.
Spring is about renewal and rebirth…a fresh new start. So it is no wonder that we all get that itch to clean, redecorate, and otherwise bring some of that spring magic inside the home. Here are five ways to capture some of that spring freshness…
1. Open Windows and Doors – Let the fresh air in. Did you know that the EPA says that the air inside your home can be 2-5 times worse in quality than what is outdoors? Yikes! Freshening indoor air is such a simple and easy step and so effective. If you are worried about bugs just make sure all your windows and storm doors have functioning screens. Now is a good time to repair any that have holes. Doing this does wonders for the quality of indoor air. If it gets too warm then open them for 5-10 minutes only, a couple times day or do it at night when temperatures dip.
2. Use Natural Air Fresheners – According to the EPA, air fresheners release Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs into the air so don’t buy those nasty plug in fresheners or the ones you spray. Scented candles and incense may contain particulates, soot and chemicals that end up in the air and in your lungs. These also only provide temporary relief from odors by masking them, not getting rid of them. I suggest using essential oils to scent the home via diffuser or making scented carpet freshener with baking soda and essential oils. Try a Lemon + Lavender blend for a spring time boost!
3. Bring Plants Inside – Now is a great time to bring in some potted bulbs (hyacinth, daffodils, and tulips) or some regular old houseplants that will help freshen air and remove odors. Try English Ivy, Pothos, and Spider plants. Cut flowers in mason jars also make you feel at peace and ready to welcome spring with open arms.
4. Use Fans For Air Circulation – Ceiling fans as well as strategically placed box fans can help move the air around and create cool, cross ventilation.
5. Change Your Air Filter – If you have a central AC/Furnace unit you are supposed to change filters every quarter. So now that winter is behind us it is time to replace our current filter before we have to turn on the A/C. A good one for spring is the Filtrete Odor Reduction Filter (1200 MPR). Don’t mask odors or use fresheners that make the problem worse, get rid of odors. This is the most effective filter for reducing odors from sources such as pets, tobacco, cooking, mildew, etc. it is 65 times more effective than carbon filters. Also important for this time of year is the fact that it helps capture airborne allergens like pollen, mold spores, dust mite debris, pet dander, and smog. It lasts for 3 months, right up until it is time to change it for Summer. Find a location for Filtrete filters at FindMyFiltreteFilter.com.
I decided to change mine just a day or so ago. Ew! I like to change them with the change of each new season but we fell behind schedule when our furnace was replaced mid Fall. It was seriously gross and made me horrified to think we could be breathing that stuff!
If you are looking to freshen up even more this spring you may be interested in the Filtrete Healthy Home Remodel Contest on Facebook. You will need to “Like” the page, go to the giveaway tab and enter your essay (1,000 words or less) about why your home is worthy of a healthy home remodel.You can submit two photos supporting your essay. The grand prize is pretty awesome…Mike Holmes from HGTV will choose a winner and they will receive $30,000 worth of home inspections, repairs, and renovations by a Holmes Group approved contractor. Four other first prize winners will get $500 towards renovations. It ends June 30, 2013.
Learn more: Twitter / Web Site. The web site offers an e-newsletter with reminders to change your filters. If you commonly forget, it might be a good idea to subscribe and get those reminders!
Wishing you a wonderful spring!!
I recently asked the followers on my Natural Family Living Facebook page for some insight into what essential oils they use and what they use them for? I wanted to see what some common uses were and if any creative and new-to-me ideas popped up. I was so impressed with the range of answers that I have decided to share the info here. There are so many every day, practical uses for essentials oils it blows my mind! The power of plants indeed!
My question was “What’s the last essential oil you used? What did you use it for?”
Some of the answers…
Peppermint for headache
Lavender for homemade baby wipes
Rosemary for homemade dish soap
Lavender for a stuffed nose / head cold
Melaleuca in the nostrils to prevent a cold
Sweet orange mixed in baking soda to freshen carpets
Lavender to help mom and child sleep
Tea tree for cleaning
Lavender for a cooking burn
Lavender for seasonal allergies
Clove oil for a toothache
Roman chamomile for relaxation
Tea tree oil for acne
Eucalyptus for cleaning
Peppermint for homemade toothpaste
Lemon to fill a diffuser
Oregano oil to combat a cold
Geranium in the steam room at the gym
Peppermint for lotion and scenting sheets
Eucalyptus for clearing sinuses
Lavender for teething
Eucalyptus in the bath for aches and pains
Rosemary and tea tree for an all purpose spray cleaner
Rosemary and black pepper for muscle aches
Clove oil with vinegar mopping the floor
Thieves for a cold sore and to freshen breathe
Rose hip seed in moisturizer for an anti- aging omega boost
Peppermint in my homemade all purpose cleaner
Patchouli for the wash
Thieves oil on the feet before bed to combat a fever
Lavender to relax in the tub
Lemon for cleaning
Thieves and eucalyptus for a chest cold
Lavender for homemade body butter
Eucalyptus and coconut oil on feet at night to helping with coughing
Teat tree in the cloth diaper bin
Wild orange in the diffuser for calming
Orange to keep the cat off the bed
Peppermint and tea tree to soak cloth diapers in after a rinse, but before the wash
Peppermint for nausea
Lavender in the dryer, instead of using dryer sheets
Thieves for disinfecting after illness
Tea tree for athletes foot
Orange oil to make hand soap
Peppermint and eucalyptus in a rock fountain to freshen air
Orange for homemade cleaning supplies
Tamanu for skin rash/eczema
Tea tree oil to prevent bed bugs
What oils have you used lately???
Learn more about essential oils!
We have been baking up a storm in this house.
My urge to heat up the oven and make a Pumpkin Soufflé started when I came across this recipe on Balanced Bites. It’s a super easy Soufflé recipe that we all loved. After that initial foray we modified it a bit, adding more maple syrup and even adding a maple flavored cream cheese. Delish!
We used our own homemade pumpkin puree too.
It can’t get any easier than this recipe, that is for sure, but the it didn’t feel or look like a Soufflé technically…which requires dividing your egg whites and whipping them. Our Pumpkin Soufflé didn’t get very high and airy and they deflated pretty fast. I still plan to make them often though because they are so super easy and fast. Plus they taste wonderful. I did want to try to make a more conventional Soufflé though.
Our next baking adventure was a…
Sweet Potato Soufflé
We started by cooking up some sweet potatoes and mashing them with butter and maple syrup. This was breakfast actually and we had enough leftover for a lunchtime Soufflé. And excellent way to get rid of leftovers if you ask me!
Ingredients: (makes 3)
1 cup mashed sweet potato
4 eggs (yolks and whites divided)
1/4 c grass fed butter
2 T almond butter
4 T maple syrup (1 tablespoon reserved for egg whites)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 T coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
Mix wet ingredients together (minus the egg whites). Combine the dry ingredients and sift them together well. Add to the wet ingredients and mix.
In a separate bowl whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form a soft peak. Add the reserved 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the egg whites and continue to beat them until they form a stiff peak (this takes some time). Fold the egg white mixture into the base. Pour into individual size ramekins and cook at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Eat while warm and enjoy!
We have been eating sweet potatoes regularly of late and often times when I make up a batch of mashed sweet potatoes I have extra on hand to use in other recipes later in the week. Sometimes we reheat them on a griddle for breakfast or we make sweet potato pancakes with coconut flour and goat cheese. Yesterday though I decided to add some leftover mashed sweet potatoes to some grain free banana bread and see how it turned out. The results were quite delicious and the addition of sweet potato helped to cut down on the “graininess” from the coconut flour.
I think this is going to become a regular treat in our house from now on and perhaps even replace my pre-workout Larabars, since I am trying to reduce processed foods and needless packaging. The texture is very dense and soft and it has a bit of sweetness but not nearly as much as conventional banana bread. My kiddos all love it, with the exception of my youngest, who hates coconut. I feel good giving this to them for breakfast for some good brain food.
Sweet Potato Banana Bread With Coconut Flour
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup mashed sweet potatoes
3 very ripe bananas
4 pastured eggs
6 T grassfed butter or coconut oil (melted)
2 T ground flax seeds
1/4 Cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3 T raw honey
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 T vanilla
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix wet and dry ingredients together in separate bowls. Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet and mix together well. Pour into a well greased or parchment paper lined loaf pan. Cook for one hour and 20 minutes. Allow to cool and serve slathered with grassfed butter. Yum!
One of the things I miss about living in the Southwest is the fact that we never, ever had to deal with things like mildew and stinky towels. As a child, bathing suits and towels could be tossed on the carpet all willy nilly and only an hour or two later they would be crunchy and bone dry. Mildew didn’t stand a chance. Later when I was cloth diapering my babes I had the luxury of being able to let the diapers sit in the diaper pail for a week or longer with no smell and no mildew. The first time I tried that after moving to Ohio…well let’s just say it didn’t end well. There was a noxious smell, there was mildew, and there were bugs. Argh!
We also learned that you don’t leave wet bathing suits and towels lay around and every so often your towels start to smell mildewy no matter if you wash and dry them on hot repeatedly. The first time this happened we ended up throwing them out because I thought it was hopeless without the use of something harsh like bleach. Well, we started to notice the same issue with our towels recently and since so many are organic and/or a super luxurious bamboo I did not want to throw them out. Didn’t want to bleach them either. Time to get creative!
With some tips from Facebook friends I had a game plan, and it worked! Yay for clean smelling towels!! But why in the heck do they get stinky in the first place?? We do let our towels sit wet in the bathroom between showers/baths so that doesn’t help, even though they are on a hanging rack. I also think that they have a tendency to get stinky for the same reason cloth diapers do…a detergent buildup. Cloth diapers need to be “stripped” every so often to get rid of detergent scum/buildup and so do towels.
How to Get Rid of the Mildew Smell in Bath Towels
- Wash with hot water, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 10 drops tea tree oil
- Rinse with 1 cup vinegar
- Repeat wash/rinse (tea tree oil optional for the 2nd go round)
- Dry on hottest setting or dry outside in direct sunlight
This method worked wonders for me! Even after using the same towel over several days, no mildew smell. Now I just need to use this method every time I wash towels over the next 1-2 weeks to make sure I got them all.
Do you ever have this issue? How do you handle it?