Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DIY Dishwasher Detergent without Borax with Review

I've been looking for a dishwashing detergent that I could use that is more environmentally friendly and it's hard! Of the 88 dishwasher detergents listed in Environmental Working Group's new Guide to Healthy Cleaning, nearly 70 percent scored a rating of D or F, indicating that the ingredients offer 'likely' or 'potentially significant' hazards to health or the environment.

In terms of how they affect the health of humans it's hard to determine which brands are safe. Many detergents leave a residue on the dishes which is consumed when you use them to eat or drink off of. Others (like chlorine bleach) can cause respiratory problems or allergic reactions. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

REVIEW: DIY Almond Milk

Okay, so I've been trying the DIY almond milk I posted about a couple of weeks ago and I know it's natural but it keeps separating in the fridge and quite frankly it is grossing me out. It doesn't look like something you actually want to drink. It reminds me of that crap you have to drink before you get a colonoscopy or an upper GI. Nasty, pasty, chalky crap. Thankfully, it doesn't taste like it! It really tasted like the almond milk from the store.

1) It is definitely a thin type of milk. The consistency is just a little above water.

2) The flavor does taste like the unsweetened almond milk even with the extra sugar I put in. It makes me worry about how much sugar is actually in the store bought almond milk! Eck!

3) The separation is what really got to me. If you make it, I think you should put it in some container that you can't see through if you're a visual person.

If you've tried making your almond milk-- did you get any different results?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cat Drama and Kitty Prozac

Leo, the chill new cat
In November I adopted a new kitten my parents rescued. He's pretty darn cute, I named him Leo, but I call him "Little Dude". He's laid back, affectionate, sweet, super lazy and has a huge personality.

The problem is that my other cat, Sadie, has a huge personality as well... and according to the vet--apparently some mental disorders, too.

Yes, mental disorders. I have a crazy kitty! Figures.

Anyways, I took her to the vet today because we have been having some aggression towards towards the new cat which I just couldn't figure out. She would be nice to him sometimes. She would cuddle with him sometimes. She would share food with him sometimes. And other times-- she would just kick his ass. And by kicking his ass I mean attempted murder.

I consulted a behavior specialist and she said, "Oh, put him in a crate and let her walk around him to get use to him." Hahahaha. Ridiculous. In a 5 minute time span she went from "I don't care about you" to "I want to kill you" to "let's play!". Seriously, she has issues.

I tried positive reinforcement around him. When he was around was the only time she got treats, she played with her favorite toys or she got any wet food. She liked that and she was nice to him for those things, but as soon as it was over... bam! bam! bam!

I tried those fancy calming collars and sprays. They helped the cats who were already calm, but Sadie-- it made her more high strung.

Sadie, the bipolar kitty

This is Sadie and she looks mean, right?! The man says she looks like she is debating on killing me for  taking her picture. However, she is actually a really sweet cat. She's playful, affectionate, and extremely loyal. She has always been a bit tense and high strung. She runs away from everything... a lot. She loves to hide if anything different happens. She's a routine kind of girl.

The man thought that maybe she was so mean to Leo because we closed the doors to the bedrooms. Random idea right? That's what I thought, but I'm desperate. I opened all the doors. It worked.

IT WORKED. Opening the doors made her nice. IT WORKED.

Me = shocked

The moment we opened up every door was the moment she started being nicer. She still isn't all hugs and kisses, but she only attacked him once today and they've been out together all day. Major, MAJOR progress. She is still staring at him like she hates him, but hey-- you can't ask for miracles.

Anyways, I took her to the vet today and she was diagnosed with OCD, anxiety and depression. I can call her crazy because I have OCD and anxiety, too and I call myself crazy all the time. They say that owners and their pets resemble each other, right? So true.

So the vet has given me kitty prozac. She said that she thinks that it will benefit Sadie in the long run. I had research this option on the web and there really wasn't that much information about it so I thought I'd write about it for all you cat lovers who have a mentally and emotionally challenged feline.

The kitty prozac took a week to really kick in and then Sadie was all lovey dovey. She was licking the boy's face, cuddling with him on the sofa and they were playing. It was like a miracle.

I kept her on it for a month straight and then slowly weaned her down the following month with no changes. She and Leo are still buddies! Yay!

I LOVE kitty prozac!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Best Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yum!

These are my absolute favorite cookies. They combine my two favorite cookies (peanut butter and chocolate chip) into one delicious, and completely wonderful gooey eatable greatness. Not to mention they are basically fall apart soft and that, friends, makes me happy.

Friday, February 8, 2013

DIY All Natural All Purpose Cleaner

You all are going to love this super easy recipe! My awesome friend, Leslie, has given me yet another idea for a household cleaner!! Love you girl! 

To be honest when I read the ingredients I was a little skeptical. I mean… it’s mostly water. But since I already had all the ingredients-- why not try it, right? I did some research and found out that all you really need is a little bit of natural ingredients to clean and the essential oils make a HUGE difference in the ability to fight germs! You can get almost all of these ingredients at your local grocery store or GNC, but I'd recommend buying high quality essential oils. I mean, when you want to kill germs-- you want to kill germs, am I right?! To find out which brand I recommend, read "How to Find Quality Essential Oils"
Leslie’s All Purpose Cleaner:
    How to make an all purpose cleaner. This is so easy! #DIYcleaning #chemicalfree
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of castile soap
  • 30-40 drops of any other essential oil(s) but I recommend tea tree, lavender, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, or Thieves  (I recommend this brand)
Put all of the ingredients into a 32 oz spray bottle and let sit for a few hours to let the oils mix to scent the cleaner. It's ready to go as soon as you are! 

It'll smell a bit like vinegar when you use it, but as it dries the vinegar smell will go away. This works really well and I use it often for soft cleaning and wiping down handles, knobs and non-porous surfaces.

I don't recommend to use this on granite and marble. Remember that stones and acids do NOT mix. They will dull and strip your very expensive stone countertops and then you will be sad and I don't want that!! This works great on non-stone surfaces and it's a breeze to make (plus it's cheap)

Looking for Other Ways to Reduce Indoor Chemicals and Pollution: 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY almond milk (sweetened vanilla)

About a year ago I found out that I was mildly allergic to milk products. It was a horrible day! No more cheese. No more milk. No more butter!

Quite frankly it was one of the biggest changes I've ever had to make, but it's been worth it. I feel so much better, I'm having less sinus infections, and I have more energy. It's been a good, but difficult change.

One of the big changes I made was switching from cows milk to almond milk. To be honest, I actually really enjoyed it.  At least the sweetened vanilla kind. :) But sadly, I looked at the back of the carton one day and realized that there is a lot more in almond milk than almonds, sugar and vanilla. There were things I couldn't pronounce and I had no idea what they were. I decided to do some research instead...

I found out that most commercial almond milk is bad! Here is a great post from one of my favorite bloggers about non-dairy milks and she explains why you should be careful picking a non-dairy milk.

I decided that maybe I could make my own to avoid some of the not so natural ingredients. Come to find out that making almond milk looks really easy and I already had everything I needed to get started.

All you need is:

1 cup of almonds (soaked for at least 8 hours)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp to 1 tbsp vanilla extract
A large spoonful of honey
4 cups of water

I soaked the almonds for 8 hours. I was wondering if I could skip this step because basically I'm just going to crush the caca out of them in a blender, but during my research I found out that this is actually an important step. It softens the nuts, gets rid of impurities and helps to release all the good stuff inside the almonds so we can absorb them better.

Just blend the ingredients together in a mixer for a while--- the longer the better!      

Remember to strain the liquid at least twice! There is quite a bit of almond residue. And then Tada! You have your own almond milk! 

Also check out my friend's recipe for almond milk from Ribas with Love

Urban landscaping: A History of my Yard

I love nature. I love watching birds, butterflies, and if I can get a hummingbird-- that makes my day! I love to watch flowers bloom and I love to watch food grow. For me, there is something peaceful about being outside. I really wanted to make my small yard a place where I could enjoy being. 

My goal was to make most things bird, butterfly and hummingbird attractors or at least incorporate some into every aspect of the garden. Another big goal is to build some vegetable and fruit plants into the landscape. I really like the way some people make their food gardens mix into a flower garden so it's prettier. I am definitely going to be experimenting with that! 


This is what the backyard looked like when we moved in. I really like the overgrown raised garden bed. So attractive, right?

The plan is to put two different paved "pads" on the side of the house. One will be for the trash cans and one will be for a cute hidden bistro/sitting area. I haven't quite made up my mind yet! All I know is that I want to make it a "hidden garden" of sorts and plant one or two fruit trees around it.

The mess of a raised bed is going to go. It was a huge pile of weeds when I moved in and it's just progressively gotten worse. I'm going to pull it up and hopefully plant something pretty there.

I'm debating on a pathway too. Flagstone pavers or a paved out pathway?

Ohhh... the choices!!

It doesn't really matter because the pathway will be a future dream. It was going to cost an extra $2k to build and I just don't have that kind of money laying around!

I really need to start playing the lotto...

So this is what the side yard looks like now.

The goal was to plant more plants around the little bistro area like rosemary and I was dreaming of hibiscus (I love hibiscus tea) and then putting in a few more berry plants.

There are two small dwarf citrus trees-- one is a Valencia Orange and the other is a Naval Orange--- that sit on opposite sides of the yard. The Valencia is a little hard to see in the picture. They will get to be about 5 ft tall and wide so they will grow towards each other creating a little coverage.

The tree that is closest in this picture is a peach tree... that doesn't give me fruit!

I planted lots of lavender and some boxwoods which are flanked between the naval orange tree and the peach tree. I put a little bird bath in the middle to help encourage wild life and to add a little structural interest.

By the patio I planted one more lavender and put strawberry plants into baskets. You can't see it in the picture, but there is also lantana and rosemary by the little bistro set.

Anyways, this is the side yard/back yard connection.. I tried to take it so you could see the gardenia, blue berry bush and the strawberry plant, but it's in the shadows. :(

You also get to see that I didn't actually get rid of the pile of dirt, but I simply moved it. I'm going to use it to help fill in my raised vegetable gardens when I build them in the fall.


All I initially did in the back yard was add some random lawn furniture and that puny little citrus tree which I think I'm going to tear up. I'm just shocked the dog hasn't destroyed it yet.

I've got some elaborate plans for backyard-- I can't wait to see how it turns out!

This is what my backyard looked like a week before the project started:

And this is what it looked like after they starting digging. The dog loved the pile of dirt! I'm pretty sure he wanted me to keep it just like this!

And this is what the hardscape looks like complete and in full bloom!

There are daisies, germaniums, blue lobelia, spider flowers, petunias, alyssums, blue and red salvia, angelonias, pentas, lantana, marigolds and a lemon tree in there! It's been great for the birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. I have been really surprised at how much the butterflies and hummingbirds have gravitated to the salvia.  I'd say it has been the most popular item!


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