Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OHHHHH, A Neat Giveaway :)

I just read about a giveaway by the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy. They've put together a gift basket for Mother's Day filled with oodles of polymer clay goodies :) They will be drawing for the winner on May 11, so go over to their blog and check out the details! They have some wonderfully talented artists that work with polymer clay there - I found lots of goodies that I'd love to buy (if only I'd win that $32Million jackpot tomorrow ;) )

Natural Household Cleaners

Every since just before Earth Day last week, I've been thinking more about environmentally-friendly living. I had borrowed a book from the library called The Naturally Clean Home written by Karyn Siegel-Maier. There are several books available on this subject either at your local library or book store if you want to buy a copy. I highly recommend checking out one or two to get some ideas, as we really don't need 101 different cleaners when you can get buy with just a few different ingredients and make your own without the chemicals...

I'm going to share a few with you here:

Synergistic Dishwashing Blend

liquid castile soap
15 drops lemon or lemongrass essential oil
6 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops bergamot essential oil

Fill a clean 22-oz plastic squirt bottle with castile soap (diluted according to directions if using concentrate). Add the essential oils. Shake the bottle before each use. Add 1-2 tbsp. of the liquid to dishwater and wash as usual.

Mold Deterrent
Use this spray in the shower or bathtub, or anywhere else water tends to collect on surfaces. If you already have a buildup of mold or mildew, allow the spray to "rest" on the surface areas for a few hours. Wipe with a soft cloth, then respray the areas and let dry without rinsing.

1 1/4 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup water
4 drops cinnamon essential oil
6 drops patchouli essential oil
2 tsp. tea tree essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray surfaces well but do not rinse.

Lemon-Walnut Wood Polish

1/8 cup walnut oil
1/8 cup linseed oil
1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Apply a light layer of polish to wood with a brush or cloth. Rub into wood with a soft cloth, using circular motions. Wipe again with a dry cloth.

There are so many natural alternatives for cleaning floors, walls, dishes, clothes, bathrooms, sinks, etc, all using baking soda, vinegar, water, washing soda, liquid castile soap, and essential oils that there isn't any need for the commercially available cleaning products that are heavily scented, full of chemicals that aren't really all that great for our health, and are expensive.

If you try any of the above formulas, or if you have your own tried and true homemade cleaners, I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today is Earth Day

This post is going to be short & sweet!

Today is Earth Day. A day to celebrate Earth, and to revisit how we should be treating her. Lots of people participated in Earth Hour which is great. How many people are going to seriously consider what they can do on a daily basis to help our great planet?

Here, we have decided to reduce the amount of time the computers and tv are on. Each are on for several hours a day, and we quite often have 3 computers in the house. My work computer (which I also use for personal use), my husband's work laptop, and our son's personal computer. So, we have agreed on a rule that the tv does not get turned on during the week and the computers are only on for each child to use for 1/2 hour each day to send an email to Dad when he's working and to do their daily Webkinz activities so their Webkinz don't get sick... Yesterday was the 1st day we did it, and the kids were fine with it! No complaints (I think it's because I didn't make a blanket statement of no computer or tv at all) and they actually played with Bionicle lego - together!! And played with dominoes, and practiced their musical instruments (drums, guitar, violin and recorder).

I also made a commitment to use less packaging or to reuse packaging whenever possible. For a great way to reduce your use of plastic bags at the grocery store or bulk food store, check out these bags from Kootsac on Etsy.

Also, if you ship things you can use old (clean) cereal boxes and granola boxes for mailers. You can check out a fabulous tutorial on how to make there here.

Several members of the TransCanada Etsy Team are celebrating Earth Day with specials. You can check them out here. I am also having a special - free shipping on all orders over $15. You can check out what I have in stock at my Etsy shop - but the sale runs for one day only! April 22. If you are local and normally pick up your order anyway, then instead of free shipping I'll include free items with your order :)

Hmmm, guess it wasn't quite so short and sweet after all. But now that it's ready to be posted, I'm going to be turning my computer off again for the day and doing some spring cleaning with natural cleaning products that I'm making myself. Stay tuned for some recipes so you can also make some!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Old Burying Ground

Yesterday, I took the kids on another mini-adventure. This time, we went to the Old Burying Ground in Halifax. The weather was overcast, with a few showers. It was a bit too cold for the kids to spend more than about 45 minutes there, and I didn't get to see all of the grounds, but we had a good time while there!

The Old Burying Ground was Halifax's first cemetery. In this common burial ground lie many of the first citizens of Halifax, their descendants, and men of the British Army and Royal Navy who were stationed here. First opened in 1749, the year Halifax was founded, it was used until 1844. During that period, over 12,000 men, women and children were buried here; fewer than 10% of their graves are marked.

The gravestones were all carved by hand, using chisels and wooden mallets. Many of the old slate stones were quarried and carved around Massachusetts Bay, and shipped to Halifax before the American Revolution. By the 1770's local stone carvers were making gravestones from a poorer quality local slate (or "ironstone"). Most gravestones carved after 1820 are plain, massive sandstone.

The images or symbols can be a clue to the gravestone's age. Older stones show symbols of death-stylized winged skulls ("death-heads") or winged angels (soul effigies). In the early 1800's the images gradually changed from representations of death to those of bereavement - funerary urns, lamps (of life, extinguished), and sometimes sprigs of willow (weeping).

A monument was erected in 1860 in memory of Major A.F. Welsford and Captain W.B.C.A. Parker. These two Halifax men both perished during the Crimean War. In September, 1855 they participated in the assault on the Great Redan, part of the eastern defenses of Sebastopol.

I was particularly drawn to this gravestone. The emotions must have been very strong to have the details carved into the gravestone for everybody to read...

Originally, the cemetery was located outside the settlement's walls. However, as time passed and Halifax grew into a city the burying ground was embraced by the city boundaries. It is now located in the heart of the city, surrounded by office buildings, a thriving shopping district, educational institutions and restaurants. I wonder how many people walk by every day, without ever thinking about the history right beside them?