Ever since I can remember, trees and plants have meant so much to me. My first real memory in a garden was as a tiny 18-mth-old toddler, visiting my grandparents. It was Spring and the daffodils and tulips were in bloom. I remember moving along a concrete and stone path, as fast as my wobbly […]
We recently started nurturing more than a passing interest in South Africa’s different kinds of amphibians, adding another fascinating facet to our enjoyment of our natural heritage. When we visited the Royal Natal National Park in March the trout dam at Mahai proved an excellent spot to go looking for frogs and toads, and other […]
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Author Sophia Gholz has a new picture book titled, THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST. It is is hitting bookstores on March 15th. Sophia has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it […]
This is the kind of book that we should be reading to our kids. Instead of telling our kids about a prince saving a princess, we should be telling them about people saving the world. Even if it’s one tree at a time.
We’ve all become so careful about what we put in our bodies. From antibiotic-free-range meat to eco-friendly-organic-grown-to-classical-music veggies but we never stop to think what we put ON our bodies. Have a look at your morning and night routine. Count the amount of products you use before walking out the door or getting into bed.
Here is my list:
Eye make up
That’s 13 different things that go on my (and into my body) before I’ve even had breakfast. Have you ever stopped and had a look at the label on your face cream or body wash? I did, just today as I was preparing to write this. HOLY Llama!! It’s like covering your face in paint cleaner. There are more chemicals in that little pot then all of my food put together and here is the kicker folks, we are like trees and our skin is the leaves. We absorb through our skin just as leaves absorbs sunlight.
“The most common chemical found in beauty products is paraben, which is used as preservative in deodorants, moisturisers, shampoos, body wash and makeup, and increases the chances of breast cancer. Its chemical structure is similar to estrogen and it can be carcinogenic even in tiny amounts.”
“There’s also ethanolamine, which contains impurities like nitrosamines and is usually not listed on product labels. It’s actually a respiratory, skin and organ cancercausing toxicants, and is usually found in soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners and dyes, shaving creams, eyeliners, mascara, fragrances and sunscreens.”
Scary isn’t it. All of this, going into your body while you swear off anything that not 100% organic. Well, fat lot that’s going to help you right. So what can you do about this? Well, to start off with, we need to let our vanity go. We use all these products in an effort to look younger. The world has told us that getting old and looking your age is bad. That a grandmother should look like her grandchild’s mother. That the normal process of aging is taboo and should be fought like any other war. Having a shiny face is bad, having spots on that face is bad, have wrinkles or cellulite or uneven skin tone or the gods only know what else is bad. Says who? Says the very people that are peddling these products to you. Do you think a little twit like Kylie Jenner would be a billionaire before 22 if it wasn’t for peoples vanity? Nope. Spoiled brat living off mommy and daddy’s money maybe but not the “mogul” of Kylie Jenner Cosmetics. You made her rich and you keep making people like her (who don’t really work for that money) rich by listing too a toxic society.
I’ve starting making my own and my skin thanks me for it everyday. All those expensive products didn’t do half the job these “hippy dippy” ones do.
Oatmeal Honey Face Scrub – Every now and again I feel like my face just needs a deep scrub when my daily cleanser alone can’t quite get the job done. One of my favorite homemade facial scrub recipes is so simple but OH SO GOOD! There are only 3 ingredients and you may already have them: oatmeal, honey and almond oil (or coconut oil or olive oil). These ingredients have wonderful healing qualities. Oatmeal is full of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and is known for its skin-soothing properties including moisturizing dry skin, providing relief from itching, rashes and other minor skin irritations. Honey provides natural antibacterial and healing properties to soothe and clarify the skin. Almond oil is very light and not greasy at all. It cleans skin pores and helps moisturize and nourish it – and it’s especially great of acne prone skin.
I usually put the scrub on my face, give a quick rub around to make sure it’s covering everything, leave on for 4-5 minutes and then give one last good scrub before I wash it off. Your face will feel so amazing after you’ll want to do this everyday. This scrub is particularly great during the cold winter months when skin tends to get dry and irritated.
Oatmeal Honey Scrub Recipe:
- Two parts oatmeal (ground up finely in a blender or food processor)
- One part honey
- One part sweet almond oil (or coconut or olive oil – which ever you prefer)
Mix everything together until it’s a thick sticky mixture. Feel free to add a little extra oil or even a few drops of water if it’s too sticky or clumpy. Smooth onto face and rub into skin for a couple of minutes and then rinse off.
DIY Lavender Coffee Scrub
Mason jar or another kind of container with an airtight lid
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix.
2. Scoop into a Mason jar with a tight-fitting lid.
To use, rub a small amount of your lavender coffee scrub onto wet skin using gentle circular motions. Then rinse well with warm water.
- 1/4 cup castor oil
- 1/2 cup grape seed oil
- 1/4 cup jojoba oil
- 15 drops tea tree oil
- Add all four ingredients to a clean bowl; whisk to combine.
- Store in a clean glass jar with a lid–I used a mason jar.
- Wet your fingertips with the oil. Gently massage the oil into your skin for 1 minute, making sure you migrate to your neck region. Do not scrub the oil into your skin!
- Wet a clean washcloth with hot (as hot as you can tolerate without burning yourself) and place the cloth over your entire face. Steam your face until the cloth cools. Repeat if desired. I usually steam my face twice.
- Rinse the washcloth and wipe the oil off of your face.
- Pat your face dry with a clean towel.
- I only use this method once a day, usually in the evening. Too often could potentially cause irritation and result in dry skin. In the morning I wash my face with water only using a clean washcloth.
- If you have sensitive skin, try reducing the amount of castor oil or adding more grape seed and jojoba oil.
- Eliminate the tea tree oil, and this makes for a great eye makeup remover.
DIY BODY BUTTER RECIPE
You are going to love this homemade lemon vanilla body butter recipe!
1 Cup Coconut Oil
½ Cup Shea Butter
½ Tsp Lemon Extract
5 Drops Vanilla Extract
1. Take a cooking pan and add in coconut oil and shea butter. Place it on the stove using medium heat and cook the oil/butter combination until it becomes turns to liquid.
2. Remove from heat and allow to sit at room temperature for 10-minutes and then pour into a glass bowl.
3. Place your glass bowl in the freezer for 10-minutes and wait for the liquid to solidify just a bit. Spoon the mixture into a stand mixer (or hand mixer) add in your lemon and vanilla drops, then whip on the highest speed for 2-3 minutes.
4. Once you are happy with the consistency spoon the body butter into a glass jar and apply the lid tightly. The body butter will last for up to six months.
These are only a few recipes. There are millions out there, just have a look on Pinterest and they are so easy (and did I mention cheap?). Mother Nature will thank you too for using natural products as most of these chemicals end up in the ocean. I would advise you to take the time and read this article. You’ll start to look differently at things so be warned.
It’s still summer in the Southern Hemisphere and by now most areas have gotten a good bit of rain. It seems that rain not only makes plants grow but bugs too and you might find a lot more insect in your home when night falls. So instead of going crazy and spraying harmful poisons like Doom or Mortein throughout your house…how about using plants?
- Marigolds. These flowers are colorful additions to landscaping, but they have a distinctive smell that repels mosquitoes and other garden pests, including squash bugs and tomato worms. Marigolds contain a natural compound used in many insect repellents.
Plant some marigolds in the garden among your squash, melons, and tomatoes or near open windows and doorways where mosquitoes might be tempted to enter.
- Lavender. About the only insects you see around lavender are bees. They love flowers, but other bugs stay away.
Lavender has a pleasant scent that comes from the essential oils in the leaves of the plant, but the bugs hate it. Hang some dried lavender in your closet and you won’t have to worry about moths eating your clothes.
The herb is a perennial and is drought resistant once it’s established, a bonus for areas that are watching their water consumption.
- Lemongrass. Lemongrass can grow up to 4 feet tall, but the best thing about this decorative grass is that it contains citronella, a common natural ingredient in many mosquito repellents.
You’ve probably heard of citronella candles and torches. The plant itself does even better at deterring mosquitoes because it has a stronger smell.
Lemongrass tolerates heat and drought but not frost. So in most areas, it’s best planted in a pot that can be moved indoors in winter.
- Garlic. This herb has long been regarded as a deterrent to blood-sucking vampires and werewolves, but it really deters buzzing blood-sucking mosquitoes.
Planting garlic around the garden also will ward off other insects and creepy crawlers. Garlic extract sprayed in your garden is harmless to plants, but bugs don’t like that garlic odor.
- Rosemary. Though you’ll want to plant an herb garden for cooking, rosemary repels flies and mosquitoes.
It also has a pungent scent that drives away other bugs, including cabbage moths. It does well in hot dry weather and thrives in containers, so you can set it in various places around the garden.
- Basil. This herb also tastes great in your favorite dishes but doubles as a bug repellent.
Basil’s strong smell keeps mosquitoes away. And if you put a potted basil plant near your picnic table, you won’t have to worry as much about flies either.
- Catnip.Many cats love catnip, but mosquitoes won’t come near it.
In fact, some studies show that catnip is 10 times more effective than DEET, the chemical formally known as N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide and found in most commercial insect repellents.
Roll up a few catnip leaves and rub them on your skin. The bugs won’t bother you, but the neighbor’s cat might.
Catnip grows almost anywhere, and it will spread in your garden. So growing it in pots is best.
- Petunias. These annuals add a bright splash of color to any landscape, but the funnel-shaped blossoms also have a licorice-like scent that repels many insect pests, including aphids, tomato hornworms, and squash bugs.
But do keep an eye on these flowers because other crawly garden pests are attracted to petunias, including slugs and caterpillars.
- Mint. Who doesn’t like the taste of mint?
It’s a beautiful plant that smells and tastes great to people, but ants and mice absolutely hate it. It can spread quickly in the garden and is hard to remove, so you might want to keep it in a pot.
Put some containers of mint around your patio or in your garden, and it will ward off other insects, including mosquitoes.
These are just a few of the many plants that bugs find distasteful. Surrounding yourself and your patio with a few them will keep the bugs away from you, too.
Some of the plants are perennials, which will come back from year to year while others need to replanted annually. You can find all of these plants at most nurseries and garden centers.
Remember that a Daddy-long-legs is your friend so unless the web is empty, leave it be. They catch a lot of unwanted creepy crawly guests. Don’t spray the house with insect killers as you will drive away geckos as well. The really are great for sorting out ants. If you don’t want ants in the house, then you have to clean up after yourself immediately. If there is no food, the ants won’t come. Simple as that. Spiders, ants, geckos and all other little bugs will form their own little eco-system within your house no matter what you do. It’s Mother Nature and she always gets her way (as any other woman does) so you might as well work with her. I will, however, understand if you declare war on cockroaches. I hate few things in life as much as I hate those disgusting disease-carrying bastards. Garlic, catnip, bay leaf, and cucumbers are said to keep them away. You can also try peppermint oil.
The nice thing about these plants mentioned above is that most of them are yummy herbs that you can use in cooking. This year I’m planting an edible and bug friendly garden. I have a fig tree going and the pumpkins look really nice as ground coverage. I’ve planted a few new plants to attract bees. It’s nice to have a big lawn and all but you know what’s even better, walking back from the garden with arms full of food you didn’t have to pay for and you know is pesticide free. Plus, the birds and small animals will thank you for the fruit trees.
I’m hoping you read the previous blog post and made some space for your houseplants. Now it’s time to choose a few but first, why should you have houseplants? It’s one more thing to take care of, one more thing that will need your attention so why do this then?
* Breathing Easier
When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This opposite pattern of gas use makes plants and people natural partners. Adding plants to interior spaces can increase oxygen levels. At night, photosynthesis ceases, and plants typically respire like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. A few plants –orchids, succulents, and epiphytic bromeliads –do just the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Place these plants in bedrooms to refresh air during the night.
As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases the humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97% of the water they take in. Place several plants together, and you can increase the humidity of a room, which helps keeps respiratory distresses at bay. Studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats, and dry coughs.
Plants remove toxins from the air –up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke, and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Benzene is commonly found in high concentrations in study settings, where books and printed papers abound.
Modern climate-controlled, air-tight buildings trap VOCs inside. The NASA research discovered that plants purify that trapped air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant.
Adding plants to hospital rooms speeds recovery rates of surgical patients, according to researchers at Kansas State University. Compared to patients in rooms without plants, patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety, and are released from the hospital sooner.
The Dutch Product Board for Horticulture commissioned a workplace study that discovered that adding plants to office settings decreases fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats, and flu-like symptoms. In another study by the Agricultural University of Norway, sickness rates fell by more than 60 percent in offices with plants.
A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70% greater attentiveness when they’re taught in rooms containing plants. In the same study, attendance was also higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants.
How Many Plants?
The recommendations vary based on your goals.
To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet. In office or classroom settings, position plants so each person has greenery in view.
To purify air, use 15-18 plants in 6-8-inch diameter pots for a 1,800-square-foot house. That’s roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4-5-inch pots).
Remember that for the best success with any houseplant, you need to match the right plant to the right growing conditions. Learn more in Tips for Healthy Houseplants. For low light situations, choose a plant adapted to those conditions
*Found on website above
We tend to forget how amazing plants are. I remember when one of my houseplants grew its first new leaf. I was so excited and proud. My little buddy was surviving AND growing. I tend to kill almost everything I grow but somehow these plants were doing good. Good for me right. Here are some plants you can start with:
- Mother in Law Tongue (Sansevieria)
Sansevieria is spread out across Africa, from West Africa to Madagascar, and some of the 70 varieties can be found in Southern Africa too. This trendy evergreen plant is also commonly known as the Snake Plant or Viper’s Bowstring Hemp.
Snake Plants are really easy houseplants! They are tolerant of low light levels and irregular watering, two of the many reasons that these shapely plants are so sought after by house plant lovers around the world.
It is a bold plant, with stiff dark green leaves, some banded in a light yellow-green and others sporting variegated speckles or bands of green.
2. Wild Banana (Strelitzia Nicolai)
This is an essential Urban Jungle plant! The Giant White Bird of Paradise comes from the evergreen coastal thickets and forests of eastern South Africa. The Strelitzia Nicolai grows slowly but can reach heights of 2 meters or more, which can make for an impressive display. With patience, it might produce stunning white blooms. Coming from sunny South Africa, the Wild Banana requires very bright light. It can even be placed in direct sunlight if the move is done gradually to allow to leaves to slowly adapt.
3. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia)
The Zamioculcas is a tropical perennial plant native to south-eastern Africa, from southern Kenya to north eastern South Africa. The ZZ Plant is known by many names, including Zanzibar Gem, Zuzu Plant, Emerald Palm, and the Eternity Plant. Zami’s haven’t always been popular, commercial propagation of the species only began in 1996 by Dutch nurseries. Their efforts have ensured that the species has become a favorite indoor plant around the world.
This evergreen plant has air purifying qualities – it is able to remove volatile organic compounds from the air.
4. String of Beads (Senecio Rowleyanus)
This creeping succulent vine is also known as String of Pearls and is native to the drier regions of south-western Africa. This quirky looking plant with its bright green ‘beads’ makes a striking addition to the home.
It looks fabulous when grown in a hanging planter with its ‘strings of pearls’ trailing out over the edges.
As with most succulents, the String of Beads requires little care and its water storing abilities allow it to be watered infrequently. Be careful not to overwater the String of Beads as that may increase the chance of root rot.
5. Zebra Plant (Haworthia)
The Haworthia is a large genus of small succulents native to southern Africa. Their popularity is derived from the white zebra-like stripes that adorn their leaves and their easy-care character. The Haworthia goes by many names, including Zebra Plant, Zebra Cactus, Star Window Plant and Pearl Plant.
These South African indoor friendly plants look especially striking in unusual containers with interesting soil mixes and are great desktop plants.
The Zebra Plant likes plenty of sun or bright light, such as windowsills with bright sun exposure. But they will be equally happy in indirect bright light conditions.
6. Aloe Vera
The Aloe family is found all over Africa with many species indigenous to South Africa. Most Aloes are drought tolerant, which makes them a great waterwise plant.
The Aloe Vera’s understated elegance and characteristic fleshy cool-green leaves are perfect if you are looking for a plant with muted colours and a subtle presence.
Aloes are low maintenance plants that require little care. Water the Aloe thoroughly in summer but allow them to dry very well between watering.
All these plants are native to Africa. Keeping it home grown. There are so many plants that you can keep in your home. A constant reminder that we are not separate from nature but a part of it.
Thank you for reading.
Let’s start this week by bringing the outdoors to us, in our homes. I’m talking about house plants. Those wonderful little things that grow and purify your home’s air without needing too much water or sunlight. Brilliant right?
But first, since it’s the beginning of a new year and you probably let a few things slide over the holidays…
Let’s clean house
Well okay, that image might be a little dramatic. I’m not saying get a coven together and banish dead people, I’m saying it’s time to clean out your holiday clutter. Before you go hunting for the perfect specimen to move into your lounge or bathroom, first make space for it. Too much stuff can make sick. No, you are not a hoarder and no one is coming to condemn your house but half done projects or things lying around on the “I’ll get to it” heaps can make you stress and what good are your beautiful new friends then? And did I mention cleaning house burns calories? So here are a few tips on how to de-clutter your house (thank you Pinterest):
- One room at a time. Start with your living area first or the kitchen. The two places that get the most traffic and then ask yourself these 10 questions.
2. Use a schedule to keep track of your cleaning duties. This will help you from getting paralyzed by the mess. It can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to start and worse if you only have a little time after work to so. Rise early, get hubby and the kids involved and try not to do it all in one day.
3. Since you will be cleaning, here are a few recipes for eco-friendly cleaners and how to go more green in one year. ..happy planet, happy life.
4. Once you’ve thrown everything out, you need to stop things coming back in again. If you want to buy something think about if you really REALLY need it. This year, I’m not buying a single piece of new clothing. It’s scary but I’m doing it. On holiday, I had three shirts and that’s all I wore. It was freeing and terrifying to think what other people might think of seeing me in the same shirts over and over. Turns out, not much. Here’s a great read on living minimally. I’ve done most of it and honestly, it’s the best thing next to a cocktail on the beach. It is freeing.
So as soon as your done with the cleaning, pop back in for the next post on which plants to get (right after your much deserved gin&tonic). It’s super easy to keep them alive if you have the right ones. I’ve managed not only not to kill mine but get them to grow new leaves! I’m taking that as a win for the new year so yah me! Don’t freak out about cleaning your house and going green too much. Life is hectic and there is never enough time in one day but small steps will get you there. Honestly, if I can just sneeze without farting and peeing myself a little in public…I’m calling 2019 a success. So there’s that.