Showing posts with label Green Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Green Living. Show all posts

Monday, April 5, 2021

Spring Woodland Walks For Wellbeing Reviewed

 

Woodland Walks

Nature and wildlife are a huge part of my life in so many ways. They are an integral part of my life, my soul even. They are essential to my wellbeing. 

I had not been able to go for a woodland walk in a long time due to the Covid lockdowns in our country and having to stay local for walks.

I really missed our woodland walks and the absence of them made me realise how much I need to be connected to nature for my wellbeing. 

I love gardening and have done a lot of that this year but I know I also need the wildness of a forest. So today I would like to take you with me on our woodland walks and to discuss why connecting with nature and especially woodlands is so important.

Bluebells In Spring Woodland Clearing


Walking In Woodland

The obvious benefit to walking in woodland is the exercise. If you are on a treadmill or exercise bike I tend to notice how long I have been exercising. However, in a woodland walk, I can roam for hours up and down hills across streams and I really do not notice that I have in fact been exercising for maybe 2 hours.

In addition, you receive fresh air enhanced by the gorgeous trees and shrubs all around you and the experience being outdoors in a different environment. 

Also, I always find woodland to be so calming. Studies have shown that exercising in woodland decreases stress and anxiety.

There is always something new to see in a woodland from frosty winter trees against a blue sky, haunting misty scenes, to new buds and spring flowers.

We share the woods with many animals and birds and so far we have seen rabbits, squirrels, mice and many species of birds. In fact, it has made me want to learn more about bird songs as I can often hear the birds singing but cannot see them. 

Most of all I always feel tired yet refreshed after a woodland walk. There is something about the energy of the tall trees, the green environment, renewal and being surrounded by wild nature that makes the heart sing and sets me up for the rest of the day. 



Our forest walking began in late winter, early spring when we need some motivation to go out walking on a cold rather misty day. I love the photo below as it shows the woodland as a rather enchanted, mystical place.

The trees are bare with branches reaching for the sky and all around seems asleep, except that we know the buds on the trees and the flowers underground are just waiting patiently to emerge.

I have never felt afraid in a forest, it is all rather comforting and familiar to me. I like to feel small against the huge trees that are protecting, rather than intimidating. 


A Misty Woodland Walk In Early Spring


Tree Bark In Woodland

I love to look out for beautiful bark patterns on the trees. The bark is never just brown, it has amazing patterns and colours, shallow and deep rivulets.

If you look closely you may see a tiny creature or two going about its day. An ancient tree has lived so many years, seen so much and overcome drought with heat and damaging storms.

An ancient tree can give us hope and peace that we too can overcome many things. While our lifespan is not so long as many trees, we can experience and overcome so much, flourish and grow. 


Beautiful Tree Bark


Fallen Trees In A Woodland

I love to see the fallen trees gradually becoming a habitat for new life. The natural life of a tree is usually a long one. Trees seed, grow into young saplings,  mature and live long productive lives.

Then if trees are managed well they are either allowed to fall when old or felled if they become in danger of falling to cause damage or injury.

Importantly if they are allowed to rest rather than cleared away, there is a further opportunity in death for them to still live on providing sustenance and homes for all manner of bugs, insects and mammals.

Their bark eventually decays and enriches the soil and from that springs more new life and so the cycle of nature goes on just as it should. 


Fallen Trees Giving New Life


Stunning Snowdrops  

As winter turns to Spring I eagerly look out for the stunning Snowdrop. I do not have a favourite flower rather I like to embrace each flower on its own merits and the snowdrop is a perfect example of a flower that has its moment in time.

Snowdrops look so delicate, so tiny yet they are strong and tough little flowers that survive and thrive  at one of the harshest times of the year

I adore the white purity of the flower against the shining green stems and am always amazed how such a tiny flower braves snow and ice, winds and wet and comes through it all defying the harsh conditions to bloom so brightly, so splendidly.

To me, they are a symbol of Hope that the winter is behind us and the warmer, sunnier lighter days are just around the corner. We also look forward to bluebells, crocus and the wonderful fungi that appear in the forest. 



Woodland Birds

Birds fascinate me more than most animals in the woodland. I am mesmerized by their singing, the clever way they build their nests and care for their young and the beauty of their feathers.

I love to look out for blackbirds, sparrows, blue tits and woodpeckers. It is a lovely way to spend a morning to find a place to sit and listen to this sound which is as beautiful as the most accomplished orchestra.

In one of the forests we visit, the local Wildlife Trust has set up birdfeeder stations. If you are quiet and still and patient there is nothing better than watching the birds dart onto and off the feeders. Sometimes I take photos, other times I simply experience the moment, in a state of just being. 

I was so lucky we were in the right place at the right time and actually looking upwards to the tops of the trees, to get the opportunity to take this photograph of a cormorant perching high to dry his wing feathers after diving.

Cormorants are distinctive birds that often live in the woodland but nearby water and there is a large pond in the middle of this forest that is perfect for this bird to fish in. They have as you can see a long neck and an almost prehistoric appearance about them. After fishing, it needs to find a high perch in the open where it can hold its wings out so they can dry after each dive.  I feel so privileged to have observed this moment in nature.


Cormorant Drying Wings After Diving


Spring In The Woods, Nurturing The Soul

As we approach Spring, the clocks go forward, we have longer hours of daylight and suddenly the forest changes occur very quickly.

The tiny tight buds we saw in early spring now unfurl at a rapid pace and the previously brown bare branches almost overnight turn into bright fresh green foliage. This is my favorite time right now.

 Everything is fresh and new and bright, the days are longer and there is the promise of much more to come. Any worries we have seem more bearable in this beautiful magical environment. I feel a fresh resurgence of the desire to do things, to grow, to explore.


Early Spring In The Woods


It is far too easy these days to become caught up in the everyday noise of our lives, the television, the news, the traffic to see what is occurring right with us if we take time to really look and listen.

There is nothing quite like a forest to see that renewal to view the changes in nature, to feel the growth of new life, to smell the damp soil underfoot and to hear the beautiful birdsong. To experience the sheer joy of finding a new flower that was not there the day before. 


Beautiful Bluebells!


I love this poem by WH Davies which encourages us to "stand and stare" in nature for our own good.


What Is Life If Full Of Care...?

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

by W.H. Davies


Woodland Walking And Wellbeing

I gave some thought to what word I feel when walking in the woods and I have concluded that the word is "Serenity".


That is the feeling and that is perhaps why so many studies are now showing that it is vital for us all to spend more time in a natural environment.

Even if that is only one walk a week it gives us benefits but if we can make it thirty minutes a day it is beneficial to our overall health and certainly to our mental and emotional wellbeing.  

Life can be quite challenging at times and we all have things we need to deal with, perhaps more so these days, so we need a place to go to ground ourselves, to find peace, to find that serenity. 


If you, like me love to connect with nature and the countryside and have a love for trees and woodlands and have enjoyed this glimpse into my woodland walks, you may enjoy reading this book Wildwood by the late Roger Deakin. He was a British nature writer and takes us on a journey through the mysteries of woods, trees and nature in several countries around the world. His writing is quite beautiful and uplifting when looking into the spirituality of nature and people's connection with the natural world.  

  


So for me walking in woodland is not only an enjoyable activity I always look forward to whatever the weather and a way to connect with nature, but it is also an essential part of ensuring my health and wellbeing. I hope you have enjoyed this walk through the woods with me. 


More Nature Articles

 Six Ways To Help Wildlife In The Year Ahead  

5 Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed

Spring Into The Garden Give Nature A Helping Hand A Garden Review

Joy Of The First Snowdrops Diary Of A Wild Country Garden





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, December 3, 2020

How To Mouse Proof Your Home Reviewed

Mouse by Raintree Annie
I am undoubtedly a nature lover. I admire wildlife and all creatures with whom we share this world. So it may seem strange and counter-intuitive to those people who know me that I am actively doing a program of mouse prevention.

However, I do feel that preventing mice from entering our homes in the first place is so much better than dealing with the consequences for humans and mice. 
 
My aim is to mouse proof our home without causing harm to any mice.  


Mice!

We are fairly relaxed about the wildlife in our patch to the point we actively encourage them. We have birds nesting in the eaves, grow flowers to attract pollinators, we carefully carry out various bees and spiders, enjoyed tree bees nesting in our extension and even shared the loft in our home with a wasps nest twice which was no problem.

Mice are also in my eyes adorable creatures, inquisitive and social. We know they live in our garden and our neighbours' gardens and most of the time outside we happily coexist.  However, due to my husband's health concerns there is the problem with wild mice potentially carrying diseases that are dangerous to him. I am also not willing to share our food with mice, so I am not wanting to share our indoor home with them. I do not like to kill any living creature so I would much rather prevent them from coming in and setting up home in the first place than having to resort to the less palatable options. 

I will only be covering mouse prevention here, not the merits or otherwise of the various methods to eradicate them.


What Do Mice Want? 

So how to mouse proof a home? The first thing is to understand what mice want from a home. They need food, warmth, water, safety and shelter, just like us. They also would like to be undisturbed and ideally not have anything to do with us. 

They are however superbly adapted to living alongside humans and many people will already have a small family of mice in their homes and be totally unaware of them. 

Mice are opportunistic and curious and where there is one mouse there is invariably two and then given the right conditions quickly a large family! They are very social creatures and breed rapidly under the right circumstances.

 Autumn/Fall is often a key time for mice to seek warmth and shelter in our homes. They mean no harm, but our nice warm, safe homes are a great opportunity for them.

 So if we do not wish to share our homes with mice, we must prevent them from entering our homes and make it inhospitable to them.


Identify Opportunities For Mice

First, walk around the outside of your property and see if you can spot any broken bricks or grates that could be entry points. Are there any holes in the fabric of your building? If so, block them up with a mouse-proof material such as a proprietary Mouse sealant, or a fine mesh. 

 We found mesh ideal for covering air bricks while still allowing for essential airflow and also in other gaps. Sometimes we used mesh together with sealant on larger gaps.

 If you look for a mesh that is designed for mouse proofing and that can be cut with scissors/clippers for domestic use that is usually best.

 Do be careful when handling as in my experience the cut mesh can be sharp. It goes without saying to keep it well away from children.

 


We just cut the mesh to size wearing thick protective gloves and used it over our airbricks with an all-weather sealant. It was a bit fiddly but now looks fine and has done the job.

Next, do the same indoors. Pay close attention to obvious holes or gaps in floorboards, around plumbing pipes and in cupboards and again block these holes.

We found sealant to be easier to use on small gaps over larger areas. Do keep sealant away from children.

As a general rule if you can fit a pencil through a hole, then an average mouse can enter through the gap and it requires sealing. 

 


I Saw A Mouse!

If you see a mouse then you have a clear sign that they can enter your property. It may just be one mouse, but if you do not take action and your home is a good, safe place for them, there may soon be more.

Even if you do not see a mouse it is wise to regularly check for mouse droppings.

 If you have any suspicion that you are sharing your home with mice, doors should be shut at night to prevent mice from roaming around your home in all rooms. That way if you do see any signs of mice it is easier to target.

If you suspect a mouse put down some baby powder to track it. It won't hurt the mouse, but if it walks through the baby powder it will leave tracks, then you can see what is attracting it and where the entry and exit points are and can block them.

If you store excess treasures in the loft, garage or basement then make sure that is kept in strong sturdy containers that are mice resistant.

Ideally, eat at the table or if watching TV or a game use bowls to catch all the crumbs.  Hoover up regularly and thoroughly. Move large furniture now and again just to check there is no unseen activity there!


Mouse Resistant Food Storage

Food storage is key. All food apart from tins should be stored in closed cupboards preferably inside sturdy containers. There is a huge variety that can be bought made from strong thick plastic, pottery with lids and steel.

Here is an example of good food storage for flour, cereals, pasta and rice. These containers look good in a kitchen pantry or on shelves and hold quite a lot of food. It keeps food fresher and is a much better deterrent for mice than keeping the food in its original cardboard or paper containers. 

 


Pet food in particular needs to be stored in good strong mouse-proof containers. Often dog and cat food have a strong scent that is attractive to mice and they love to eat it. We avoid free-feeding pets and only keep pet food out for the time it takes pets to eat it or up to about half an hour. Then it is taken up and all food stored securely.

We also keep birdseed and fat balls in a very secure box to do our best to keep out pests and keep it dry. We do not store these types of boxes outside though but keep in a large cupboard inside. 

This type of food storage box is very useful for pet food and birdseed and also for storing seeds for the garden. 


In terms of everyday habits, it is not advisable to leave any human or pet food out especially at night. Keep all food in the fridge or freezer, or in mouse-proof strong containers. Tins are Ok in a normal cupboard but anything like rice, cereals and especially dog and cat food must be in enclosed containers.


Mouse Repelling Scents 

Some people say mice do not like strong smells though I cannot verify that. So if you would like to do that by all means put some peppermint or other strong fragrance into your cleaning fluids when you mop the floors. At worst it will make your house smell nice and at best it may help to deter some mice. Always check for any interactions with the cleaning fluid first though and obviously keep away from children.


Mouse Prevention Is Always The Best Course Of Action

One takeaway I will say is that preventing mice from entering your property is always preferable to dealing with an issue both for you and the mice. Mice do not have a vendetta against us, they are just trying to survive and prevention is far better than the cure.


Mice have just as much right to life as we do and form an important and integral part of the ecosystem. However, if we do not wish to share our homes and food with them, a few preventative measures can go a long way to protect humans and mice. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Dirt Tooth Powder: A Review for Those Tired of Toothpaste

What on Earth Is The Dirt?


I first saw The Dirt advertised on a website I was visiting and I was intrigued. I discovered it was a more natural way to clean my teeth than the Sensodyne toothpaste I'd been using for decades. I had never really liked all the chemicals it was putting in my mouth. The Dirt is different.

The Dirt Tooth Powder: A Review for Those Tired of Toothpaste
Get The Dirt Here!


Why Do I Like The Dirt Better than Toothpaste?


The Container: We could start with the tube. First, a tube is rather awkward to store. You want it handy, but it never really looks neat on the counter, even when you can stand it on its head. It isn't a great fit for a medicine cabinet, either. Then there's that old controversy about whether or not it should be rolled up or just squeezed. When you have old arthritic hands, either method can be a literal pain.

The Dirt container is just a little over two inches in diameter. It takes almost no space on the counter and the cap screws on and off. Easy-peasy! And it is also attractively packed. I prefer the three-month jar you see in my photo, but you can get a six-month supply in a little glass mason jar that also looks nice on a bathroom counter. Click through to the website to see all the sizes, flavors, and container styles for The Dirt, as well as a complete list of the ingredients.

The taste: The Dirt is clay-based and has all natural ingredients. The taste I chose is a pleasant but mild orange cinnamon spice flavor -- a bit like the original Constant Comment Tea I love so much. (By the way, Amazon has a great price on Constant Comment if you buy a four-pack.) I like the taste of The Dirt much better than the chemical taste of most toothpastes I've tried, including Sensodyne. If it makes a difference to you, The Dirt is also a Paleo tooth powder.




Remineralization: The Dirt helps remineralize your teeth. It also helps whiten them and it does this gently. There are more details when you click through to the product page. See link under photo below.

The Dirt Tooth Powder: A Review for Those Tired of Toothpaste
Get The Dirt Here!

How Do You Use The Dirt?

First you wet the toothbrush and shake off the excess water. I use the Waterpik Sonic Toothbrush that is part of this set.

I tilt the jar a bit so that I can easily dip the entire bristle surface into The Dirt. Then I gently dip the wet brush into the tooth powder and shake the excess back into the jar. Your brush will look a bit like mine in the photos. Brush your teeth as usual. When you are through brushing, rinse your mouth out with water to remove any remaining tooth powder from your mouth. While you're at it, use some of that water to rinse the tooth powder residue from the sink. Then enjoy how fresh your mouth feels. 

My Results

My dentist had told me when I was in college that I should use Sensodyne because of my receding gums that make my teeth really sensitive. At the time -- think back over fifty years -- there wasn't much else on the market to do the job. The Dirt wasn't around back then. I used Sensodyne regularly for all of these fifty plus years. My teeth are still sensitive and I still get cavities. Would it have been worse if I'd brushed my teeth with something else? Who knows?

In the four months I have used The Dirt I have not noticed my teeth getting more sensitive. I chose The Dirt because it is supposed to actually remineralize the teeth. I still need to see my dentist to see if my teeth have gotten any worse by changing. They don't feel any worse than they did before. But my mouth feels cleaner after brushing that it did before.

About a month ago I ran out of The Dirt and had to go back to Sensodyne while waiting for my order to come in. What I noticed was that my mouth got sore when I switched back. It's possible that I was sensitive to one of the chemicals in the Sensodyne. After a couple of days, though, the soreness went away.

What's Not to Love?


Actually, not much. One fault I might find is that the color of The Dirt traces still on my white sink after I brush are really visible. I take care of that easily with a quick rinse after brushing or a swish of a sponge. It doesn't stain the sink. It will, however, be likely to change the color of your toothbrush. You need to thoroughly rinse it after each use to remove all residue, but even then there still may be a tinge of color left.

The only other thing is that when you are almost out of tooth powder, it takes some creativity to get the entire brush surface covered with The Dirt. That's why slanting the jar is so important. If I'd thought ahead I could have taken care of that problem by reordering The Dirt before I ran out. Then I could have put what was left in the old container right onto the top of the new.

These are small inconveniences I don't mind  in exchange for the clean fresh feeling in my mouth after I brush using The Dirt. I hope you will try it for yourself. Why not order today while you're thinking about it?









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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stop Littering: How to Keep Your Community Beautiful

Let's review how we might apply spring cleaning to the great outdoors and stop littering in the process.
Photo from southpaw2305 via Creative Commons 2.0 

It's springtime, that time of year when most of us do at least a cursory "deep cleaning" of our house, maybe even our yard, and call it spring cleaning. But what about the bigger picture? Could our surroundings, our communities, use some spring cleaning? How about the litter and other trash that's accumulated along the roadways and waterways since last summer? Let's review how we might apply spring cleaning to the great outdoors and help make, and keep, our communities beautiful in the process.

Take this quiz: You're standing at a bus stop with an acquaintence when she pulls a candy bar from her purse, opens it, eats it, then drops the wrapper on the ground. What would you do:
A. I'd pretend I didn't notice.
B. I'd ask her to pick up the litter and dispose of it properly.
C. I'd pick it up myself.
D. I'd ignore the wrapper. It's just a piece of paper, after all.

I'm not going to tell you how you should have responded, but I can tell you what I did when this exact scenario happened to me. It was many years ago, when I was a very young adult and hadn't yet learned to stand up for what I knew was right. Because of that, I have to answer "A" on the quiz. Even though I had been raised during the "Don't be a litterbug" generation of the 1960s and took that philosophy seriously, I remained quiet and pretended not to notice. Shame on me.

Where Does All That Litter Come From?


I think these days most people have a pretty healthy respect for the environment and probably would either pick up and dispose of the litter themselves or ask the person to pick it up. But if that's the case, where does all the litter that accumulates along our nation's highways and byways come from? Well, it starts out as just one piece of paper (like the candy wrapper mentioned above) or one water bottle, soft drink can, plastic bag, or fast food bag-full-of trash, and it accumulates.

Here's a video that I found quite interesting. These garbage trucks weren't just hauling trash to a landfill, they were losing litter along the way to the tune of an average 15 plastic bags a trip. Watch the video to see how quickly that adds up. (Happily, that problem in the Raleigh area has been resolved.)



Littering Is Illegal 


Cleaning up litter is an expensive proposition. Most states have laws against littering, but someone still has to clean up the mess. Chasing down drivers who throw trash out their car windows isn't the best way for a law enforcement officer to spend his or her time, but have you ever seen someone throw out trash and wish you had a badge? In some states, citizens are encouraged by road signs to report littering from cars. In Arkansas, where I live, the state uses the program as a positive approach, educating those driving through our state about fines for littering and the importance the state places on the subject. Hopefully the signs alone help people think twice before they throw that candy bar wrapper out the window.

Three Ways to Stop Littering (Litter Prevention)


1. Teach children to respect their surroundings by not dropping litter anywhere except in a designated litter bag or trash can. Pick up other people's litter if they miss (or ignore) the container. Participate in community or neighborhood clean-up events. Can't find one? Contact your local city or county. Many have websites and participate on social media to keep their citizens informed.

2. Keep litter bins and bags handy in your car, truck, and even your boat, at your campground, and at public parks and gathering places. Be sure to use a lid to keep the trash contained. Container getting over-filled? Close and dispose of the old trash bag liner and replace it with a new one.

3. If there's an accepted method of doing so, report littering. Some states have "report littering" phone numbers on signs along highways and byways. Some people honestly don't realize how quickly trash accumulates and the damage that it causes to wildlife, not to mention the tax money that it costs to clean up the mess. Education and prevention combine to create a better, cheaper choice. 

Resources To Help Stop Littering


Here are just a few links that I found when reading up on the topic of how to stop litter and littering. To find more that are relevant to you and your state, simply search "keep [insert your state's name] beautiful."


New River Gorge in the Author's Birth State of West Virginia - Photo in the Public Domain
A pristine New River Gorge in the author's birth state of West Virginia.
Can we each do our part to keep it that way?


~ Susan




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Thursday, March 2, 2017

13+ Best House Cleaning Tips to Make Spring Cleaning Easier Than Ever

Best House Cleaning Tips Reviewed


Turn dreaded chore time into not-so-bad time with satisfying, built-in rewards when you use these 13+ best house cleaning tips ever.
Do the words "spring cleaning" make you cringe? Does the mention of "Saturday chores" send your kids into hiding?

Never fear! With the house cleaning tips you'll find below, you'll learn how to turn dreaded chore time into not-so-bad time with satisfying, built-in rewards.

So get comfy as you peruse these 13+ tried and true, best house cleaning tips ever, provided by yours truly and some of my fellow Review This! reviewers.

How to Make Housework Less of a Chore


1. Set the Mood With Music. Listening to upbeat music keeps me groovin' while I'm movin', getting those kitchen chores done! The Temptations didn't sit still and neither do I when I play my favorite Temptations music while I'm cleaning the house or washing the dishes. It's amazing how much housework I get done during the 2 minutes and 45 seconds of "My Girl," cleanin' to the smooth rhythm, singin' along in my private kitchen karaoke.

Music is a great motivator. Why not make a game of it? Can you (or the kids) finish folding the laundry before the last note? See how many pots and pans get washed while "you do the things you do" (don't forget to sing along!). Before you know it, your work will be done and you'll still be smiling and boppin' to the beat. Try it. I think you'll like it!

2. Set a Timer. Imagine this scenario:

Mom: "Come on, kids, it's time to do chores."
Kids: "Oh, boy! We get to use the timer!"

I can't promise you that using timers and other fun tools will make your family excited about doing their chores, but it couldn't hurt. In fact, using minutes as motivation is something that is appealing to me as an adult having to do housework on my own, without the company of my now-grown children. Even adults like to play games, and games make chore time go by a lot faster. While the reward is getting to look around and see floors and tables shiny and clean instead of dusty or dingy and kitchen counters clear instead of cluttered with dirty dishes, the fun can be in the getting it done.

Dustmop slippers make quick work of dog hair and dust bunnies on hard surface floors.
The author's feet in her dustmop slippers.

3.  Use Fun Cleaning Accessories. Wish I would have invented dust mop slippers! They're great for hardwood, laminate, or tile floors and come in various styles with sizes to fit everyone in your family. I've tried them (those are my feet in the picture) and they work great for picking up dog hair and dust bunnies. My fellow reviewer, Barbara Tremblay Cipak, explains more in her review, How To Sweep Your Floor Without Lifting a Finger.




Clean Green! How to Make Housework Environmentally Friendly


4. Make Your Own Cleaning Products. Okay, so housework can't be all fun and games. If you're seriously concerned about cleaning with chemicals, make it a point to learn how to use "green" methods to clean all of the surfaces in your home, from floors to countertops and even clothing. Learning what's in the products that you use will really help push you along the road to getting those toxic cleaners out of the house for good!

When it comes to using chemicals and household cleansers, it's important to know what you're handling and to keep your family safe. One way to do that is with homemade cleaning products. For my favorite solution, read Best Homemade Tub and Shower Cleaner Recipe (http://www.lifeinout.com/2017/02/best-homemade-tub-and-shower-cleaner.html).

5. Use White Vinegar For Cleaning. In addition to my two-ingredient homemade bathtub cleaner, don't miss Bev Owens' White Vinegar for Cleaning Review for more ways to use this old-fashioned but very effective one-ingredient product that you probably already have in your kitchen.


Use the Right Tool For the Cleaning Job


6. "Honey, Where Did You Put The Extension Cord?" One of the best (though fairly obvious) pieces of advice I've ever heard about cleaning is to make sure the vacuum cleaner has a long cord, even if you have to use an extension cord, and plug it into an outlet in a central location. I used to have to stop and unplug and re-plug the sweeper halfway up the stairs. Is that silly, or what? When I discovered that I could just use the plug at the foot of the stairs and it would get me through three rooms and all the way up the stairs, well I wish I had a dollar for every time I didn't have to unplug and re-plug from then on!

My bObi Pet robotic vacuum cleaner speeds off to clean under the bed.
"Bobi" speeds off to clean under the bed.
That's part of what I mean by using the proper tool. Of course if you have a robotic vacuum cleaner (I love my new bObi Pet robotic vacuum cleaner), the cord might not be the issue. Another tool that I finally bought was a handheld vacuum cleaner for the furniture. I have lots of attachments for my upright, but to use them I'd have to get the long hose and add it to the short hose and find the furniture attachment. . . Forget all that. Now I have a wonderful handheld vacuum that I can use for all the furniture without lugging accessories around. This very affordable investment was a no-brainer.

7. Toilet Tools. Another excellent tip that I've learned is to have a set of cleaning tools and cleaner in every bathroom and on every floor of the house. There's no reason to run downstairs for the toilet bowl cleaner when you have a second bottle in the upstairs bathroom. A variation on the theme is to use a handy-dandy tote for your cleaning products and carry them from room to room as you clean. That works well, too. The cleaning tote is an excellent tool, just as important as what's inside.

I also keep a roll of paper towels in every bathroom, handy for quick wipe-ups when I just want to throw away the towel and not wash and reuse it. I actually like that better than keeping the roll in the tote since they're always right there when I need them (or when the cat throws up on the bathroom floor).

8. Cleaning Furniture. In recent years, microfiber fabrics have become popular for everything from clothing to furniture. Furniture upholstered in microfiber is comfy,  attractive and, actually, fairly easy to keep clean. Don't put off what you might think is a major chore. Read my article on Cleaning Microfiber to learn how to clean yours.

9. What's Better Than Microfiber? It's easy to find cleaning cloths made from microfiber, but my preference is a cloth with an even finer weave, something called Mirafiber. I use it for everything from cleaning mirrors and dusting the television and computer screens, to cleaning the kitchen appliances and the bathroom sink. Read my Review This! article, Best Cleaning Cloth? The Ultimate Cloth, to learn why I recommend it.

10. Cleaning Hard-to-Reach Places. Once again, reviewer Bev Owens comes to our rescue with a helpful review of one of her favorite cleaning tools in Review of a Telescoping Corner Broom.

11. Cleaning Grout. Some cleaning jobs are more challenging than others and when it comes to cleaning grout, sometimes you need to go the extra mile. If your grout situation has you stymied and you want a solution that will really work, Barbara provides information on the products and methods that her family used to successfully tackle their grout in her article, How to Successfully Clean Grout.


More of the Best House Cleaning Tips Reviewed


12. Got Kids? Review This! contributor Wednesday Elf has put together a compilation of house cleaning tips and tricks that are especially useful for people with kids. But don't take my word for it. Click through to read her A Review of Spring Cleaning Tips to learn more.

13. One Last Best Tip.  If you need help with housework, especially the big jobs, hiring a local pro or handy-person can be a very worthwhile splurge. To find help with house cleaning, yard and outdoor chores, window or carpet cleaning, floor refinishing and more, check out the new Home Services department from Amazon. While many services are only available in select cities, one of those locations might be near you and pros are being added to the service providers every day. Services are described in detail and price is determined up front based on your needs. It's easy to request a no-obligation estimate. Just use the link above or click on the graphic below.




Really, doing chores isn't so bad when you incorporate tried and true house cleaning tips such as these in your daily, weekly, or seasonal cleaning routine. So tell me, did you learn anything new here? Which tip is your favorite?

Happy Spring cleaning!


~Susan
Read more of my reviews.





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Thursday, August 20, 2015

SLS-Free Toothpaste and Why I Brush With Tooth Soap

"I'm Going to Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap!"


Did your mom ever say that to you? I hope not, but if she did, she was actually onto something. In fact, after extensive research, I no longer use toothpaste. Instead, I brush my teeth with tooth soap!

SLS-Free Toothpaste and Why I Brush With Tooth Soap
Most of my life, I had a major problem with mouth ulcers. If you've ever had those white, painful sores on the inside of your cheek or lips that make it difficult to eat, then you know what I'm talking about. Several years ago, I started searching for a cause for mouth ulcers and I came across several articles about SLS in toothpaste. A good number of people like me were reporting that using an SLS-free toothpaste put an end to their mouth sores.

I was interested, in fact I was thrilled. But what toothpaste should I use? And where could I find toothpaste without SLS, one that was safe to use? My research continued.

SLS stands for sodium lauryl sulfate which is used in many products from toothpaste to industrial cleaners. Why? Because SLS causes a reaction in those products that makes them foamy or sudsy when they're used. But get this. It's also used as a skin irritant in testing of products made to heal skin conditions.

What about other potentially harmful ingredients in toothpaste? Did you ever wonder about the “Do Not Swallow” warning on the label or why many toothpastes say they are not to be used by children under six-years of age?

Many of the ingredients in toothpaste can be dangerous. For instance, there's silica. Medicinenet.com defines silica this way: “The chief component of sand and a substance responsible for lung disease and cancer.” Read the label on your own toothpaste and I’m guessing you’re going to think twice before you squeeze that tube tonight on your way to bed!

But back to SLS-free toothpaste and why I brush with tooth soap.

My research eventually led me to tooth soap which at that time was expensive and somewhat hard to find. Since then, I make an effort to put fewer ingredients that I can't pronounce into my body. A few of the "natural" alternatives for brushing that I've tried are these (prices are subject to change):

* The Tooth Soap brand is what originally sold me on tooth soap. Get a 4-ounce jar of peppermint shreds for $23.86 with Amazon Prime.

 * Squigle Tooth Builder, Sensitive, 4.4 oz Toothpaste, $9.50 with Prime. Ingredients: 36% Natural Xylitol, water, calcite, glycerin, poloxamer, cellulose gum, Methocel, calcium propionate, lactoferrin. I like this, but it doesn't make my teeth feel as smooth as they get with tooth soap. And it's expensive.

* Xyli-White Toothpaste 6.4 oz $3.99 add-on item. Ingredients: Water, xylitol, hydrated silica, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium coco-sulfate, carrageenan, tea tree leaf oil, peppermint oil, spearmint oil, papain, potassium sorbate. I've tried this and it's actually pretty good (discounting the silica on the ingredient list) and it's cheaper than most on this list but, again, it doesn't clean as well as tooth soap.

* Tom's Toothpaste. Tom's has a reputation for using natural ingredients in its products. Unfortunately for me, they use sodium lauryl sulfate as a dispersing agent, so I have to eliminate this product from my "recommended" list. Apparently there is a low-sudsing variety without SLS, so look for that and give it a try.

* Coconut Oil Toothpaste. I have tried brushing my teeth with coconut oil, fresh from the kitchen, and that wasn't a very satisfying experience, though your results may vary. Additionally, I tried a coconut oil toothpaste in a tube and had mixed results. Why mixed? Because since coconut oil is responsive to temperature, during cold weather it became partially solid and was nearly impossible to squeeze out of the tube, so I became very frustrated and quit using it until summer.

* Today's winner and my overall recommendation: Uncle Harry's Tooth Soap (peppermint) $8.99 for a 2-ounce jar, free shipping. This is something I found recently, started using it a few weeks ago, and I really like it! The price is right (those 2 ounces will last a long time), I love that it's a whipped formula and not a shred like the original Tooth Soap brand, and my teeth are getting much cleaner than they did with the xylitol toothpaste I previously used. Recommended!

You might be asking yourself, does tooth soap taste like soap? Well yes, it actually does. The Uncle Harry's tooth soap that I've been using contains organic peppermint essential oil so when I open the jar, it's the minty fresh smell that I notice. It doesn't take much soap to brush, just a dab on the tip of my toothbrush, so my mouth doesn't fill with suds and spread the soap taste to my taste buds. Plus, by now I've gotten used to brushing with soap and it doesn't bother me a bit. You'll get used to it, too.

Bottom line, I brush my teeth with tooth soap, always SLS-free, and my mouth ulcer problem has disappeared. I no longer wake up with an icky mouth and a coating on my teeth. Instead, my teeth feel smooth and clean after I brush. And, (did I mention?) no more mouth ulcers with SLS-free tooth soap! It worked for me and I hope it will work for you.

(To learn more about SLS, visit this page at Mercola.com.  It's a very interesting topic to research.)

--Susan Deppner





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Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Review of Spring Cleaning Tips

 

Especially Useful Tips for People with Kids

 

Funny Spring Cleaning Saying

Whether you need a way to help de-clutter or clean kids toys, or tips for getting your kids involved in Spring Cleaning, the Review This blog has a few suggestions.

One of the best ways to be successful with big cleaning chores such as Spring Cleaning is to get the whole family involved.  Kids can clean, whether they believe it or not!  One good hint, for major cleaning or just daily cleaning, is to get a small kitchen timer and have the kids 'clean their room' until the buzzer goes off.  They (and you) will be amazed at how much they can accomplish working against the clock. It becomes a game for them.


Toy Clutter Control



Source: Pixabay


On the Tips From a Typical Mom blog, Annette has a wonderful article of 10 Tips to Make Cleaning Fun for Kids.


Toy Hammocks Save Space

Toy hammocks are wonderful space-saving ways to store toys off the floor, and a quick way to 'pick-up' and 'put-away' those toys.


Handmade Crochet Hammock for Stuffed Animals



Stuffed Animal Storage Hammock on Etsy

Nichole Fuller, a crochet crafter, crochets toy hammocks for all those cute stuffed animals your children collect and keep forever.  Hang it next to their bed, so their special stuffed animals are still close but don't take up the space in their bed any more.  

The hammock is approximately 31 inches long and 35 inches from front to back.  They do stretch a bit and hold more than you think. Currently, they are available in a variety of color choices and can be found in her Etsy Shop called FullerDesigns8.



Green Cleaning Ideas



Source: Pixabay

For those of you who prefer cleaning with environmentally-safe products, HubPages author Chen has an article on Green Spring Cleaning Tips using handy products such as baking soda and white vinegar. Products such as these are safe for even children to use while helping mom clean.











More Simple Cleaning Tips from the Contributors here on Review This!






  • And Bev has also found a telescoping corner broom which is terrific for cleaning those hard to reach those high ceilings and corners. 

 

House Cleaning Tips all in one Place


Available on Amazon

For all of us who live a busy life, house cleaning at any time is a chore.  This book of House Cleaning Tips and Tricks from Amazon has helpful hints and time-saving tips all in one place.  

Getting organized has never been easier.











Spring has arrived!



Putting off Spring Cleaning

Hopefully, this collection of tips and hints will give you a head start with your Spring Cleaning.  Or... you can enjoy putting it off until next year!


(c) Wednesday Elf (4/18/2015)




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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

Re-use your food and stretch your food budget


Volunteers load a truckload of oranges
for local f
ood banks and pantries.
Learn how to donate at 
endhunger.org.
Wasted food is wasted money. Every time edible food is thrown in the garbage can, a few pennies get thrown away with it. Get more bang out of your grocery budget by reducing the amount of food you throw out. And, when you have extra food that you just can't use, donate to your local food bank.

This morning I sat for a few minutes and watched the Food Waste Ticker at EndHunger.org. The ticker showed that over 91 billion pounds of food have been wasted in the U.S. since the beginning of 2014. For every second that ticked by, I saw another 200 pounds of food being sent to our municipal landfills.

In February, 2014, the USDA released a report showing The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States. The report shows that in 2010, the US produced 430 billion pounds of food. Of this available food supply, 31 percent went uneaten. Think about the impact of this unnecessary food waste.
  • A total of 133 billion pounds of wasted food was sent to municipal waste facilities. Landfills collected over $2 billion from taxpayers and consumers to dispose of this food waste. 
  • If you purchased this 133 billion pounds of food from a grocery store, it would cost $161.6 billion.
  • It's not just money that is wasted. This 133 billion pounds of food waste coverts to 141 trillion calories. That's enough food to supply each person in the US with 1,249 calories of energy per day.

What can you do to prevent food waste?


Start in your own kitchen. There are many ways to get the most value out of the groceries you buy.
  • Look in your refrigerator before heading to the store for a quick dinner. Find ways to cook what you already have at home. The longer it sits in your pantry, the more likely it is that the food will go to waste.
  • Plan your meals before you go shopping and make a shopping list. When you're at the grocery store, only buy those items on your list. Resist the urge to impulse buy.
  • Don't buy more than you need. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
  • Reuse food scraps. Fruit skins can be turned into pickles and jellies. Vegetable peelings make a tasty vegetable soup stock. Stale bread can be used to make croutons.
  • Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are abundant during harvest season. Stock up on your favorites.

Our Favorite Food Saving Tips


It's 3 p.m. and your family asks, "What's for dinner?" If you haven't thought ahead, take a quick inventory of the food in your pantry and refrigerator. Even if you don't have the right ingredients for your favorite dish, it's always possible to substitute. Ruthi uses whatever leftovers she has in the refrigerator for a Chicken Not Quite Paella Surprise Recipe.

Winter will be here soon and that means soup season is just around the corner. Around our house, there's always a quart of homemade vegetable soup stock in the freezer and a quart of vegetable peelings waiting to be cooked into stock. We save so much money when we Recycle Food Waste and Make Soup Stock.

When our favorite fruits are in season, we buy extra to freeze. Frozen fruits are are perfect for smoothies and ice creams. On the FoodFAQs blog, Regg and I share directions for how we freeze fruits without adding any extra sugar.


End Food Waste and Stop Hunger


Do you have food to spare? Not everyone is so fortunate. In 2012, 15.9 million children lived in food insecure households, homes where there is not enough nutritious foods for those children to grow up strong and healthy. Donate your excess food to your Local Food Bank.

Please help put an end to food waste.




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The Review This Contributors

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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

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