Taking Charge

I’ve fallen behind, haven’t been sticking to my work out routines and summer means beer and pizza and take out. So now what? I feel unmotivated and I’m the queen of procrastination. My teachers in school always said designers like to work under pressure, its in our genes. Always waiting until the last moment to do something cause you know its now or never, do or die! And maybe that’s exactly what I’ve done here, because its 3 months away from my wedding and I don’t feel any closer to my fitness goals. So it’s time to kick it into high gear, 3 month countdown! 109 days to be exact.

Even though I am working 40 hour weeks (which I’m still getting used to) and my workout routines have been a little bit of a flop, I have noticed other changes. Going from being conscientious about what food I’m putting into my body to eating Chinese food and pizza, beer and sangria’s. You 100% feel like crap after, like for me full on tummy aches and all the horrible stuff that goes along with it. Also since cutting out unnatural perfumes and smells, I get a headache after being around them for a while. Me and my fiance were filling little bottles with soaps and lotions for favors at our wedding and the perfumes in the soaps and lotions were getting to me after maybe 10-15 minutes. Its crazy to notice these little changes that actually make a larger impact on your life than you thought. I was around store bought cleaners and soaps or lotions my whole life and now after 15 minutes I’m cringing my nose wishing I had some fresh air.

So even though they are little changes, I AM actually noticing the positive impacts these changes have had. Workouts have been a flop but feeling like absolute crap has at least motivated me to continue to make the effort to eat well and organically. Even my fiance has said hes noticed a huge difference in switching to organic foods, in not only taste but overall well-being.

When I woke up today I knew it felt like a different day, big changes ahead. Justin’s going on tour for half a month across Canada and the roommates are moving out the same day. SO, that means just me and the pups for half a month. That also means I am taking charge of my workout routines. I’ll have the time, the space, and no one here to stop me or distract me. Literally no excuses. As I was saying before, its a lifestyle change. These things take time and above all EFFORT. You have to make time for work outs and runs. You have to make time to create a healthy meal rather than just throwing Kraft Dinner on the stove because its easy and convenient. I am learning this all the hard way.

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Indoor Herb Update

I’m so happy cause my herbs are doing beautifully! Since re-potting them they are so happy! Also the organic pest spray I made worked, no more aphids. So my oregano is finally starting to come back to life with a bunch of little leaves sprouting, along with my mint now that it’s finally getting enough sun. On nice days I stick them outside for the afternoon and when they are not outside they remain in that sun “sweet spot” in my office.

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Believe it or not those stems were cut-off, little nubbies, now it’s like the plant is completely regenerating. My rosemary and basil are growing like weeds so I’m going to be freezing them in oil. I’m sure most of you know that old trick.

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Honestly, I’m just happy they aren’t dead or dying  and that I am actually keeping them alive. Maybe I am finding my green thumb! I feel like I may actually be able to take on a few new herbs, and that’s a lot coming from me.

Green Tea Aloe Face Scrub

In the midst of me throwing away all my cosmetics I threw away the face scrub I’ve been using since grade 7…yup, I ended my 11 year relationship with St. Ives Apricot Scrub. I also ditched St.Ives because I learned they test on animals! This face scrub took less than 5 minutes to make. I had all the ingredients at home except 100% pure aloe vera gel and vitamin E oil (both I grabbed from my local health food store for $5.99 & $11.99).

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– 1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
– 1/4 Cup Sugar
– 1 Tbs. Aloe Vera Gel
– 2 Green Tea Bags
– 3-4 drops Vitamin E Oil (optional)
– 5-6 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
– 1 Small Glass Jar ($1.00 at the Dollar Store)

You literally just throw all the ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup and mix them all together. I used tea tree oil because I love the smell and it’s great for getting rid of acne due to its antibacterial properties. Vitamin E is optional but it’s great for your skin! I used it tonight on my face and it was amazing! Exfoliated my skin, smelt amazing, and my face was so soft afterwards. Of course the biggest plus of them all, no chemicals or toxins! Be sure to store in a cool, dry place so the coconut oil holds together.

Homemade Cleaners

It’s a whole new world for me and I’m completely shocked. After letting my first batch of natural all purpose cleaner sit in the closet for 2 weeks, I strained out the citrus vinegar, diluted with water and tried it out, officially. Like I said, completely shocked. I cant even believe I’ve ever been paying for department store cleaners and I’m not even trying to be dramatic! I’ll probably never use them again. Not only did my all purpose cleaner blow me away, but I made a natural bathroom cleaner as well which further knocked my socks off (pardon the corny cliche phrases). The vinegar smell evaporated away (which I was a little skeptical about), the citrus in the cleaner seems to just repel the dust, and the bathroom cleaner LITERALLY removed all the hard water marks on all my fixtures and the soap scum on the shower wall. That alone has been an on-going issue with store bought cleaners for the two years we have been here. To top it all off, no headaches from the nasty chemical cleaners and the cleaning power is just amazing. I’ve never had such good results with brand name cleaners and my own recipes costs a fraction of the price.

In trying to keep up with the routine, I made a whole new batch of all purpose cleaner (considering it needs to sit in the closet for two weeks). The idea being when I run out of this batch I’ll have another one ready to go. The recipe I used is in my previous post Small Steps. I also want to share this bathroom cleaner recipe cause I love it and I’ll probably be screaming it from the rooftops to everyone and anyone cause it was that good!

All you need is:

– 1 Professional glass Spray Bottle
– 1 Cup Distilled White Vinegar
– 1 Lemon (squeezed)
– 1/4 Cup Liquid Soap (I used Blue Dawn)
– 2 tsp. Baking Soda
– 1-1/4 Cup Distilled Water
– 5-6 Drops of Tea Tree Oil (Optional)

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Some Tips:

  • Use a funnel to put everything in the bottle and make sure to put the baking soda in first (I learned the hard way), when you add the vinegar it will react and fizz, wait for it to finish then scrape away the excess foam.
  • I added tea tree oil for its antibacterial properties but feel free to use whatever essential oil you’d like for smell.
  • Be sure to use distilled water for your recipes as the cleaner will last longer and store your cleaners in glass bottles (vinegar doesn’t react will with plastics over time)
  • You may need to let it sit and soak for a couple minutes after you spray

Now my fixtures are literally sparkling and all this stuff I have bought previously, so at the time it cost me $0.00 to make!

Small Steps

Its refreshing to me to think that I am constantly doing something positive or that I am working towards something, even if it is just small changes here and there. They don’t need to be big.

There was a sale on LED light bulbs that last 22 years, they were less than $2 each so we took advantage of that completely and replaced every light in our house with a new LED. A small change but with electricity costs rising, every little thing helps.

I also have been only accounting for one rest day a week…and I quickly learned, from hardly being able to walk up stairs and roll out of bed, that you really need one more somewhere in between there because OUCH. I was so fricken sore. Once my muscles get used to the activity and the routine I’m sure it will be fine but until then my muscles need one more rest day.

Working full-time is also proving to be a task because I’m finding it so hard to find the time to do fit in workouts or runs. Or I’m just so exhausted from working 6 days straight or a close and then open. It seriously drains you and on top of that the environment has been hostile at home with our roommates leaving. The real cherry on top of the cake is that I really stress eat when I’m upset or anxious. So these have all been things interfering with my new lifestyle change. It has been difficult to get on a new routine when it feels as though everything around you is changing. But, I’m also finding that it’s this new routine that’s been helping me stay grounded and motivated.

I’ve been noticing with me reading more I have been watching way less TV and movies. Having no cell phone plan and just using WiFi doesn’t even phase me anymore. It has all really made me focus on myself and my well-being rather than just what’s going on in the world around me. I’ve noticed I have been more focused on living in the now and appreciating small moments. I have been trying to be outside whether to relax on the hammock or read whenever I can.

I have also definitely noticed that I have been way more conscientious about how wasteful I am. I noticed we had a lot of organic bananas left that were starting to go bad so I made a bunch of banana muffins from scratch (which actually turned out amazing!). We also had a bunch of vegetables sitting in the fridge so I threw it all in a pot and made a big pot of soup. waste none right? Here’s the Banana Muffin recipe I used, they were so light and fluffy.
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All in all, its been baby steps…going from working 25 hours and having 3-4 days off a week to 40+ hours with 1-2 days off a week has been the biggest barrier. Less time for cleaning, cooking, working out, even things like showering. You honestly have to MAKE time for yourself in a day and you have to make time to cook better food for yourself, and cleaning products. I finally made my first batch of all-purpose cleaner.

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All you need is:

Quart sized Mason Jar or Glass Container ($2.00 at the Dollar Store)
Citrus Peels (I used lemons and oranges; lemons were only 0.67 cents/lb)
Vinegar (less than $3.00 for 4 L)

– Fill the jar 3/4 full with your citrus peels. Pour white vinegar over the citrus peels so the peels are completely submerged.

– Cover with a lid and set in a dark cupboard for two weeks. You might want to mark the top of the lid with the date in case you forget.

– In two weeks, pour the vinegar through a strainer. Dilute with two parts water to one part citrus vinegar. and store in a glass spray bottle.

The vinegar smell will leave when it evaporates, leaving behind the citrus scent. You can use any citrus, orange or lime, or add some herbs for you own unique custom blend. In the end, it cost me the same amount as a store bought all-purpose cleaner (around $3-$4) for all the ingredients and supplies and I only used a liter of vinegar which will give me maybe 4 bottles of cleaner in the end after its diluted. SO, I got 4x the amount of cleaning product for the same cost as 1 bottle from the grocery store.

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Taking Care of Indoor Herbs

I don’t know about you guys but I have NEVER been good at keeping plants alive…I’m still trying to find my green thumb. Usually they last only a few months no matter what I do. I am however actually having more luck with keeping my herbs alive. I only bought four a little while ago to get started, just the most basic ones like basil, rosemary, mint, and oregano. I know I’ll actually get some use out of them.

At first I was moving them all around the house, in different rooms where there was different light, because I could never find the “sweet spot”. The stems of the herbs were growing rapidly towards any sunlight they could get, resulting in long stems with the leaves being very spaced apart. I finally found a good spot on my office desk where they seem to get a decent amount of light for most of the day. Also, re-pot them when you get a chance because if they stay in their small pots their roots can literally entangle themselves and the plant pretty much kills itself. I went to the dollar store and bought larger pots with the self watering system at the bottom.

One big problem I had was with the oregano. One day looking at it, while wondering why the hell there was hardly any new leaves sprouting and why it looked so sad, I saw it had little green bugs all over its stems. Aphids, and for some really they only like the oregano (Thankfully). They don’t even touch the other plants but, they are sucking the life out of my poor little Oregano plant. I squished a lot of them with my fingers and washed the plant off but in a couple days it would just be the same thing. So I’m trying an organic pest spray that I found online and its pretty much common ingredients you would have in your house. It’s from Rodale’s Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control.

1 garlic bulb
1 small onion
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

combine in a food processor or blender and process into a paste. Mix into 1 quart of water and steep for 1 hour. Strain through a cheesecloth and add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Mix well. The mixture can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

I purchased a few amber glass spray bottles for my cleaning products and cheesecloth is literally a $1 at the dollar store. I’ll be giving it a go over the next couple days and seeing if it can keep the aphids away naturally.

Here’s some tips I’ve researched that have really helped me:

– rotate the plant every week or so.  If not, it will start growing sideways toward the light source. This makes for a weak and unhealthy stem

–  look at the placement of the leaves. If you notice the stem getting longer and longer between each leaf or new growth, than it’s not getting enough light (It is stretching itself out to find that light before it can focus on any new growth)

– herbs don’t need as much water as you think, let them dry almost completely before re-watering or if you stick your finger an inch into the soil and its wet you don’t need to water yet.

– their roots also don’t like to sit in too much water either, so avoid over-watering (how is that for confusing?)

– get a good potting soil that has good drainage and make sure the pot you put it in has holes at the bottom for drainage

– re-pot the herb into a larger pot to allow for growth and to allow its roots to breathe

– when it’s time to trim your herb make sure not to take too much, and DO NOT remove the biggest, largest leaves you see as those are the leaves that feed the plant and take in the most sunlight.

I’m learning that herbs are usually pretty good with showing you how they are feeling or what they need, if your plant is droopy looking that could indicate it needs water or its getting too much sun. It gets easier and its also fun to actually watch them grow (even more fun when you can actually use them in your cooking).  So far its been a month and they haven’t completely died on me like most plants are destined to do.