Easy DIY Green n’ Clean

Where to even begin! I’m writing to you on my sofa that has been freshened up by a spray of witch hazel, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, lemon and eucalyptus. My floors are slick and clean from a simple combination of water, vinegar, rubbing alcohol and a little Lavender Dr. Bronner’s. My furniture is gleaming from vinegar, olive oil, Lavender Dr. Bronner’s, cedar wood and lemon essential oils. My toilets came clean by dropping a piece of an old bath bomb made with rose and ylang yang.

I learned about the nonsense involved in your every day chemical cleaners years ago and switched to using “green” alternatives. There came a point that I just got tired of spending money on that, too; so, I started cleaning everything with good old vinegar and water. Everything. It was my staple cleaner. When a gallon of vinegar costs me $1.67, how could it not be?!

My bleach addicted sister stayed with me over the summer. I never heard the end of how  my cleaning spray smelled like Easter eggs. And that every time we cleaned, the house smelled like Easter. Well…. it was true. It does have that going for it. She even sneaked a bottle of bleach spray into the house because she hated my vinegar and water so much. While the smell didn’t bother me, it was just so dang hard to clean certain things like tubs and toilets without getting a full arm work out in.

About a month ago, I experimented tossing one of my old bath bombs into my toilet to see how it would clean. Shew! Not only did my toilet and bathroom smell good, my toilet came clean just like that. So, I got inspired to start doing some research into what natural products might work best for certain parts of my cleaning routine.

After scouring endless DIY recipes on Pinterest, here is what I came up with.

the Spread

No Scrub Shower Cleaner

I use all natural, cruelty-free shampoo, conditioners, shave cream, soap and face wash. For those familiar with using natural products, they are a pain in the tush when it comes to cleaning day. Nothing like a layer of scum to scrub out of the tub and shower walls. I needed something that would actually work without so much elbow grease.

Thank you, BREN DID and you can too for this AMAZING non-toxic, no scrub tub cleaner. I’ll admit, it sounded too good to be true for my tub scum. But I was pleasantly surprised at what 1 part vinegar to 1 part Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds could do! As the mentioned blogger suggested, I sprayed and let sit for 15 minutes. All I had to do was wipe- not a single scrub! I couldn’t believe it! Look at that super shiny shower and tub!

Toilet Bombs

While I used a fancier version, here is a great recipe from WRAPPED IN Rust. The citric acid is what makes the fizz and gets deep into the nasty. The baking soda is the key to clean. And of course, the essential oils make your toilet fit for a queen. Yep- here’s a photo of my toilet. Those are rosehips floating around in there, btw.

Fizzy Toilet

Streak Free Mirror/Window Cleaner 

I was initially really skeptical of this recipe because it contains corn starch. It didn’t make sense to me how it would be streak free and not goopy. Well, turns out corn starch is really good for getting into the pores of glass and lifting out the grime that gets into there. My mirrors came out so clean and the scent was just so lovely. What’s in it? 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 tbsp. of corn starch, and 10 drops of essential oil (I used Sweet Orange and Clove).

Glass Spray

General Disinfectant 

I always get the question “How do you disinfect without chemicals?” I think there is a time and a place for chemicals. But when it comes to general cleaning, I’m okay with this combination of 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, 10 drops of tea tree oil and 15 drops of lemon oil. When you have time, check out this article on Rodale’s Organic Life. Maybe this one too on the powerful benefits of Tea Tree Oil.


Homemade Wood Furniture Polish 

Okay- this is what really blew me away. I have to admit, I’m so negligent at caring for the beautiful antique pieces I have so carefully collected over the years. I dust of course. But I don’t keep up on polish. This combo of 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 tsp. of castile soap, 4 drops of cedar wood oil and 4 drops of lemon oil did just the trick! Check out that shine!

Floor Cleaner

My fiancé knows how important keeping a clean house is to me. I think it broke his heart to see how hard I made it for myself to get the floors clean, so he bought me a steam mop. I love the dang thing so much. And I love it even more now with this super effective floor cleaner. It’s a simple combination of 1 cup of water, 3/4 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol (or you can use vodka!) and a couple drops of Lavender Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. You can add some essential oils to spruce it up even more. I certainly will next time!

Floor Spray

Couch Scents

So my dear sweet Emma loves nothing more than cuddling up on the furniture. And I’m completely okay with it. But over time, I started to notice a hint of beagle lingering in the upholstery. I cover the couch with a blanket, which I wash weekly. But somehow she can be quite pungent. This spray just took all of that away, and not only does the couch smell fresh, there’s not a hint of beagle. What?! Check out this Mattress Spray Recipe – 3 drops of Eucalyptus, 3 drops of Lemon, 3 drops of Lavender, 3 drops of Tea Tree, 3 drops of Peppermint, 1 oz. Witch Hazel, and 1 oz. water.

So now, I relax on my clean couch, in my clean house that smells so fresh. It’s a windows open kind of night with a glorious breeze blowing in. The sound of the wind rustling the dried leaves on the trees is soothing, and I will enjoy this lovely glass of white wine. Cheers!



Squash’n Around

Good Morning!

My adventure in food began when I explored the world of Vegetarian eating and living. I was in college at the time I decided to make the leap, and I had no idea what I was supposed to eat except veggie burgers and alternative roast beef sandwiches. Luckily, I landed a job at MOM’s Organic Market, which opened my eyes to a whole new world of food to explore.

After 8 years in the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, I did come back to eating meat- and I only buy meat to prepare from MOM’s because I know the animals had more than happy lives. But the biggest appreciation I have for my time eating vegetarian is learning some pretty cool outside the box recipes. You mean salad is more than just iceberg lettuce, carrots, underripe tomatoes, croutons and fatty ranch dressing? It’s amazing what we discover when we step outside of our box. There is an adventure to be had in every meal if you’re open to it!

Today, I’m working with a Red Kuri squash. But before I even begin, I’ve prepared the EXPERIENCE. I set the mood by lighting an incense, making a cup of coffee, putting on the apron and turning on some jams (today it’s The Chainsmokers because it’s a dance in the kitchen kind of day). When I was completing my Health Coach training through Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I heard a lecture about creating some magic in the experience. Why not drink your orange juice out of a champagne glass? Why not sing at the top of your lungs when you’re driving to work? Why not dance in the kitchen while you’re cooking? It’s these simple little tweaks that sprinkle a little magic in the experience.

Back to the Red Kuri squash. I’m working with an excellent recipe from the kitchn. I’ve been coming back to this recipe every winter for 5 years. Such a gem. I love how soft and sweet this squash is. Almost like a sweet potato! This recipe is also excellent because it can be made vegan or not vegan. I chose to use the chicken stock that I made from a whole chicken Brad and I prepared earlier this week. Typically though, I use vegetable broth. My little helper will tell you that the homemade chicken stock is definitely a treat.

Emma and the Chicken

TIP: If you’re squash is giving you the most difficult of times to cut, find a concrete sidewalk and drop it. It’s truly magic. Apologies I didn’t photograph! But here are the perfect chunks that came of it.

Roasted Squash

Part of the experience for me in cooking is not feeling rushed. So this whole okay, while this is happening dice all the garlic and after that sauté for one minute and then dice the ginger and toss that in and…. no. I like to take the time to prepare all the ingredients so I can enjoy the art of combining them. I don’t feel rushed, and I’m not frantically looking for the curry powder hiding behind the big tub of coconut oil. Ahhhh- breathe.


Mmmm… can you taste it yet? It smells so wonderful. The garlic, ginger, shallot and curry all blending together with the sweetness of the Red Kuri. Taking a moment to notice the smells is part of the experience too, my dear friends!


While the soup is simmering on the stove, I’m going to go ahead and take care of these dishes. Normally, that would be pretty daunting. But add a little swing of the hips and a bending at the knees, this is bound to be a live concert experience! Thank you The Chainsmokers for your upbeat goodness!


Once it’s done simmering, it’s time to go Ninja on this soup!


Last, but MOST IMPORTANT, is presentation. I referenced finding the magic in the moment earlier. There is certainly something magical in the creativity of food presentation. I let this be a way to apply my artistic creativity. What do I have floating around to use on my canvas? For starters, I’m going to use the fancy bowl. I normally use these painted ceramic bowls for serving nice dinner sides, but today, I’m going to eat lunch out of a fancy bowl.

My paints today include shredded coconut, cashews and chili flakes. Some other add-ins for my future bowls will include baby kale, tortellini and rice. I also love to complement this dish with warm homemade bread.


Close Up soup

I hope that this encouraged you to find a little magic in your own kitchen, and of course, your entire day. Cheers!


The Magic is Right in Front of You

Current Sounds: “Wake Me” by Bleachers. Image-1.jpg

Current Atmosphere: Cloudy, cold and rainy with a hint of candles, warm blankets, slippers and yoga pants.

Current Mind State: Balanced with a hint of determination.

Current Taste: Coffee.

Current Smell: The smell of cool air, rose scented candle and the chemistry of breakfast in the kitchen, mostly bacon though.

Perhaps, if you close your eyes you can really paint a picture of my moment. I would be most curious to see what beautiful touches you might add.

Bear with me. This is a little bit of a longer post. More pictures towards the second half- I promise!

I would venture to say that paying attention to the moment is a muscle not too strong in the general population. We’ve become so reliant on something or someone else to stimulate us, that it’s not easy to find the magic on our own.

I’m not a scientist and can in no way begin to know a tried and true answer. But what I do know is that we are moving too fast and forgetting to pay attention to what’s happening in each moment we are given. We are forgetting to appreciate the full experience because we just have to keep moving in order to keep up with everything coming at us. And in this mindless motion, we miss out on some of the beautiful pieces that put that moment together.

Shew, am I SO guilty of this. I remember in college breaking my back to graduate a semester early with just about 2 majors (while also working). This meant plowing through maximum class loads and generally missing out on immersing myself in the journey of college.

I moved every year for 7 years, not because I had to for most of it, but because I just wanted to try out the next thing. I hadn’t given myself the time to embrace the experience of living in one place and in turn, just never felt settled. Can you imagine the anxiety I had closing on my first house? I did end up there for 3.5 beautiful and transformative years.

When I climb a mountain, f*!# the experience. My legs hurt, I’m sweating, and I can’t breathe. Just get me to the top so I can say I did it. Never mind the “journey” of pain and noticing what it feels like to embrace the discomfort on the hike up. All this mentality ever did was teach me to forget about what doesn’t feel good. In case anyone didn’t know, the icky stuff doesn’t just go away. In fact, it comes back with a destructive vengeance. If only I had paid attention to it in the first place. 

In general, I moved pretty quickly through a lot in my first quarter of life. Anything that didn’t feel good, I buried and just kept moving on. Or “oh, that’s nice… next”!

IMG_0655.JPGWhen I was 26, I took a trip that changed everything for me. I spent almost a week cruising along the west coast from San Francisco up to Portland, staying on the coast all the way to Cannon Beach, OR. This was my first serious, solo trip. Fear, excitement, anticipation, thrill. Nothing could prepare me for what this trip was going to teach me.


But first, I stayed a couple days with my sister in San Francisco. We spent the entire days exploring every nook and cranny we had time for.

IMG_0626 2.JPG

And then- I was off!

I made my way north by highway 1 from San Francisco. I remember the first part of the drive being inland amongst rolling hills of farmland. But I could smell it. I could smell the warm, salty ocean air as I creeped closer and closer to where the road met the cliff. And when I saw it, nothing could contain my excitement. This is what I’d been waiting for.

My little Versa and I landed at one of the many turn offs in Bodega Bay. And we noticed. It wasn’t a particularly sunny day; in fact, the day was very cloudy. But it was warm enough. Surfers were out cruising the waves. Flowers were abloom. There was a cool breeze. I was here, whatever here meant. I had put my feet on a west coast beach. Surely the rest of my trip couldn’t compare to this moment. Little did I know.


I continued up the coast. I must have stopped at every pull off soaking it all in. It’s amazing how far you don’t go in a day when you savor these moments. But it was okay! I felt like a sponge, slowly filling with the wonder of a child.


My next moment came when I stopped early one morning after crossing into Oregon. I pulled off at one of the first parking areas. It was a cool morning, and the ground was wet. I parked the car and brought my big, warm cup of coffee with me. I trekked over damp pine needles, taking great care to not step on any slugs enjoying the morning’s dew. I followed a trail through the tall pines and landed at an overlook. With wet feet and a cool breeze, I gazed out to the treat nature was offering me.


From the way the sun rested in the sky, to the mellow waves rolling onto the beach, to the sweet, salty smell- I was noticing. And through noticing, I found an emotional charge so powerful and unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I was finding a deep, conscious connection with the moment, and in that connection to the moment, I found a sense of Calm. Presence. Emotion. Gratitude. This was my moment. And that is what makes this place the most beautiful place in the world to me.

I continued north, eventually landing to my northernmost stopping point in Cannon Beach. I had hoped to watch an incredible sunset fall over the water and behind the rocks. I found myself a nice piece of driftwood to settle on, lit a cigarette and began to watch. I heard the voice of an older man behind me ask if he could borrow a smoke. I obliged, and he asked if he could sit next to me. I said yes.


I said yes. That is actually incredibly important. Saying yes without overanalyzing something is a challenge for my instincts. This experience turned out to be so fun and memorable that I realized how much people have to offer you if you let them. It’s easy for us to be judgmental and harbor in our predetermined notions. “I’ll stay in my hole because it’s safer here”. But what happens if you give a piece of yourself this part of the moment?

We sat watching the sun fall. I listened and laughed and wow-ed as he told stories of his past traveling with bands and getting to meet chaps like Ozzy Osbourne. He has a family in Gresham, but on the weekends, he takes his van to the coast and hangs out on the beach. Times were tough, and even though he wanted to be retired, he couldn’t. But he looked forward to his quiet weekends on Oregon’s breathtaking coastline.


I immersed myself into the experiences that moment offered. And from that moment, I learned to hold my head high and practice being consciously kind to those around me, because you never really know what you’ll learn from a conversation.

My trip continued over to Portland for a couple of days meandering around the city.


I drove from Portland back to San Francisco where I spent another day with my sister in Napa.


The road trip along the northern cost wasn’t by any means a big ordeal compared to some. I didn’t go hiking in the Alps or snorkeling in the Maldives. But it was big to ME. And the many things I took away from this trip are and always will be important to ME.


The biggest take away from this experience was this idea that I needed to pay attention. I realized how easy it was to get caught up in the whirlwind, and it’s unfairly hard to remember to be present. I even noticed this flaw on my yoga mat. I realized I was so hung up on getting the poses just perfect. But that’s only the end! What about the beautiful journey to get there? The pieces that make up the puzzle of the pose? The lessons in the experience?
Since I can’t travel to the West Coast as often as I’d like, I do my best to find a powerful moment in other ways. I find it when I’m simply snuggled up petting my dog. I find it when I’m walking through the woods. I find it when I’m coloring. I find it now on the yoga mat. I find it when I’m cooking. I’m learning to pay attention and find the magic in more and more that I do. Of course, with anything, this is all a practice. It is a practice that has the potential to unlock experiences, feelings, conversations, perspectives, enlightenment. I believe every day can be the most delicious oyster you’ve ever tasted if you let it.