Like Natural? You NEED to Try This, Seriously!!!

So I know if you’re a reader of my blog that you’re health conscious and are a fan of things that are organic and natural. However, It is SO incredibly hard at times to find products that actually work and hold up to their “natural” marketing claims. What prompted me to take a deep look at all my beauty products recently is that I was diagnosed with a sunflower seed oil allergy. Yep, you heard that right SUNFLOWER seed! Little did I know that the products i’d been using everyday were causing me to get little itchy bumps all over my skin; no skin surface was exempt! These bumps are what prompted me to see an allergist in the first place which lead me to that surprising diagnosis. Anywho, to make a long story short nearly every product I owned contained sunflower seed oil aka Helianthus annuus. Let me tell ya, my mom made out on this allergy ordeal, she proudly inherited a boatload of skin, beauty and hair products….now I hope to heck she’s not allergic!

So there I was sans all my favorite products 😦 Needless to say during this whole process and after reading all the labels on my “natural” products quite intensely, I came to the realization that most of them weren’t “natural” after all and they actually contained quite a bit of ingredients you’d need a chemistry degree to decipher. After some perusing the internet I came across Shea Terra and my love affair began. I promise you I will make this love letter short and sweet 🙂

This company makes amazing and effective 99.7-100% ALL NATURAL products they also provide much needed jobs to communities in areas where their ingredients are sourced (such as Africa). The company also provides interest free loans to women living in those marginalized areas. So not only are you getting an amazing smelling, all natural, wonderfully effective products you’re also inadvertently supporting those in need! Win win!

A small portion of what SheaTerra has to offer.

A small portion of what SheaTerra has to offer.

My favorite product is the Shea Butter Extreme Body Cream. It is incredibly versatile and not your average body cream. SheaTerra offers many choices in scents such as mango, pineapple, white chocolate, guava pomegranate just to name a few. All these scents are natural too, no fragrance, just pure simple natural scent. I use this product mostly for my cracked dry hands in the winter months. One application before bedtime and I wake up with soft nearly crack free hands!! My husband even used it once and commented on how awesome his hands felt. Secondly,  I love baths and I take about a tablespoon of this body cream and lightly rub it on my hands then put my hands beneath the stream of water thats filling to tub to add scent and moisture to my baths (it also creates a little bubble bath effect). This would be perfect to add to your little ones bath time regimen as childrens skin lacks an effective moisture barrier until about 5-6 years of age 🙂 A third way to use this body cream is to use it as a hair masque. Just take a scoopful and smooth it through your hair prior to shampooing, then shampoo as normal. Your hair will be shiny and soft due to the massive amount of shea butter in the product. I can’t express enough how incredibly fond I am of SheaTerras products and mission, Im pretty certain these are the only body care products i’ll ever be buying. Please SheaTerra, never go out of business, I love you!

Ok, now seriously ladies (and gentlemen too) check them out for yourself.

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“Toe-mate-Os” or “Toh-mat-Os”…? Garden Planning Excitement!

It’s garden planning season!! One of my favorite things to do is to go through our seed catalogs and pick our lucky victims for planting in the upcoming year 🙂 We really love and have used Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds  since we’ve first started growing our own food about 5 years ago. This company has so many unique offerings and are 100% organic and GMO free, something my husband and I think is very important. I always get really excited about my tomatoes, I LOVE them and am always ready and willing to change the varieties up each season. Last year we planted a “Blueberry” variety from Baker Creek that were absolutely amazing, in addition to some San Marzanos and Striped Romans (good for canning, freezing, and slicing). This year I was lucky to find a small organic non GMO tomato farmer in Pennsylvania who I ordered all my “babies” from. As an added bonus the farm is called Happy Cat Farms !!! For a girl who loves her cats and tomatoes it was love at first glance 🙂

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Happy Cat Farm Tomatoes!

Since our garden is fairly small, these are the varieties I’ve chosen. 

1. The Lloyd E. Frey– This is a great tomato for slicing. If you love beefsteak tomatoes, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with the flavor, texture and juiciness of this fella!

2. Sweet Pea– These tomatoes are VERY teeny tiny, the size of a pea! Why am I excited about something so small? Well, these little guys are the perfect addition to salads, a dish I enjoy almost every single day. They may be little, but they pack a nice sweet punch 🙂

3. Reigart– These medium sized tomatoes are GREAT for freezing and canning. Yes, you can freeze tomatoes and let me tell you, they are awesome to use in soups, stews, curries and sauces when you’re craving the flavor of freshness over the long winter months.

Peppers!

Peppers!

In addition to the awesome tomatoes, I’m also pretty excited about these peppers. I’ve never planted the Corno Di Toro Rosso peppers but have heard they are a great and sweeter alternative to bells, especially great for pan frying due to the thinner skin.

Each year my husband and I plant Shishito Peppers. OMG are they amazing! They are tiny little peppers that when simply sautéed in butter with salt are the most amazing little treat you can have. They are a sweet, slightly smokey, very mild pepper that grows amazingly well and produces a significant yield when pruned properly. I would recommend these to anyone who loves a good pepper, even just one plant can give you a good amount to enjoy.

Homemade Garden Markers.

Homemade Garden Markers.

Lastly, my very talented sister in law made my husband and I these really unique garden markers for christmas. She hand fire etched each name of the plant onto the wood and soaked them in linseed oil to help seal and protect. This is such a great idea that will add a great look to our garden, and the smell of the linseed oil will deter little critters from the plants 🙂 Win win!

Fragrant Homemade Fire Sticks!

Fall here is alive and well and soon enough were going to have LOTS of snow as usual. To me this conjures up warm and fuzzy feelings. I love fall, its colors and scents but I really love the first big snowfall! Its so white and beautiful and always brings a smile to my face 🙂 Plus, I LOVE enjoying cozy fires with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa. Ahhh, can’t wait!  Anywho, this year after trimming my lavender plants in preparation for winter I kept thinking “theres got to be something I can do with the trimmings instead of just throwing them out” wouldn’t you agree? So here it is….fire-sticks! These awesome little bundles smell amazing and will also help in starting a wood burning fire.

French lavender at the end of season is very dense and woody but still very fragrant, perfect for firesticks

French lavender at the end of season is very dense and woody but still very fragrant, perfect for fire-sticks!

Up close of the dried spent lavender blooms.

Up close of the dried spent lavender blooms.

What you should do first is clip as many of the blooms as well as the foliage you desire. One average sized plant will render about 2 dozen fire-sticks.

After you’ve gathered all your clippings, you can wash them and leave them out to dry (optional).

Next, the supplies you will need are:

-Your clippings

-Scissors

-Twine

-Newspaper or another type of paper

-Any other additional herbs you’d like to add (Sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary or chamomile are great options!) I decided to add some cinnamon sticks to the mix 🙂

Just a few of the supplies needed.

Just a few of the supplies needed.

And it’s always nice to have a helper! In this case….my cat Feliks insisted he be present for this project! Ha.

Feliks the "helper".

Feliks the “helper”.

After you’ve gathered all your supplies cut your paper into squares and cut two twine pieces for each square. To add a little extra “fun” you could used scalloped scissors on the corners of each paper square to create an interesting look.

Then place your herb bundle towards the edge of one corner.

Squared paper with scalloped edges with herb bundle.

Squared paper with scalloped edges with herb bundle.

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Close up….just for fun 🙂

Now start rolling the paper into a long tube like shape.

Rolling the lavender bundle.

Rolling the lavender bundle.

If your paper is thicker you can secure its closure with a little piece of tape.

Next, if you’re using thicker paper like I did you’ll have to cut into each end so that when the twine is tied the ends don’t get completely smashed in. If you don’t really care, you can skip this step.

Cutting into each end of the bundle.

Cutting into each end of the bundle.

Now tie each end of the bundle off with some twine…..and there you have it, you’re done!

Finished lavender cinnamon fire-stick!

Finished lavender cinnamon fire-stick!

Next step…..toss with some kindling, start a fire and enjoy 🙂

Fresh Concord Grape Freezer Jam!

Yummmm, have you ever smelled fresh concord grapes?! The smell is just amazing. So when my husband and I were at a local farmers market this past week I just could not pass up getting some fresh and delicious concord grapes. Of course the first thing I thought of making was a fantastic jam 🙂 Heres the recipe!

What you’ll need:

5 lbs of fresh concord grapes (you can always adjust the proportions to your liking)

A blender

A sieve

Freezer safe jars

One pot for boiling and one bowl for the grape skins

1 small bowl to mix sugar and pectin

1/3 cup water

2 Tbs of instant pectin

1/3 cup sugar x2 🙂

Fresh concord grapes :)

Fresh concord grapes 🙂

First wash your grapes, then de-skin each grape. The easiest way to do this is to detach the grape from its stem and pop the grape out. After you have the “naked” grape place the grapes in one bowl (I used the pot I boiled them in) and the skins in another. This is the most tedious and time consuming part of the whole recipe. This might be a good time to invest in some child labor, or husband help 🙂

Naked grapes...ohhh la la.

Naked grapes…ohhh la la

Grape skins

Grape skins

Cover the grapes (not the skins) in about 1/3 cup of water and boil for 5 minutes.

While the grapes are boiling place the grape skins in a blender or food processor and get them as smooth as you can, once they are smooth add 1/3 cup of sugar to the skin mix and blend just a tad more and set aside

In a small bowl mix together the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of instant pectin and set aside

Mash the boiled grapes through a sieve so the meat and juice of the grape separate from the seeds. Toss seeds when you’re all finished.

So you have your grape juice, your sugar/pectin mix and your skin puree, right? Ok…so now mix them all together and place into freezer jars. Let them cool a bit before putting the caps on, otherwise pressure will blow them right off…no one wants exploding grape jam all over the place right?!

And there you have it friends….concord grape jam ready to freeze 🙂 Enjoy!

Hot diggity concord grape jam :)

Hot diggity concord grape jam 🙂

Canning? Don’t Waste Those Tomato Skins!

I LOVE tomatoes and luckily this year we got a really great yield from our garden! We planted san marzanos, striped romans, and blueberry tomatoes (seriously a variety you must try if you love sweet goodness)! This year my husband decided to can a simple sauce instead of making something fancier. It made more sense to do something simple that we could open and add stuff to as we used it. He also froze the san marzanos whole and as a result we had a bunch of skins leftover. This got me thinking…what could we do with the skins? Well, read on to find out!

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A mix of our san marzano and striped roman yield.

So what did I do? I dried them and made tomato flakes! These flakes add a deep, earthy and sweet flavor to anything they are sprinkled on. I’ve heard they taste amazing on ice cream adding a subtle sweetness and helping to compliment flavors such as vanilla. Read on for step by step instructions…..

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. After the sheet is lined place the tomato skins on top. Don’t add anything else just the tomatoes.

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Step Two: Place the tomatoes inside the pre-heated oven and use a dishtowel or oven mitt to prop the oven open to help in the evaporation process. Make sure none of the towel is dangling in the oven otherwise you risk it catching on fire. Keep tomatoes in the oven for a good 90-120min checking the crispness every so often.

Step Three: Take out the tomatoes 🙂 When the tomatoes are done they will be very crispy and crumble to the touch. Taste one, you’ll be surprised at the sweetness!

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Crisp and crumbly tomato skins.

Step Four: Crumble!!! This can get messy…but its fun. You can put gloves on if you don’t want tomato crumble all over your hands. If you want the flakes to be more like a powder you can put them in a food processor to your desired consistency.

Tomato flakes!!

Tomato flakes!!

Step Five: Package them up to enjoy later! 🙂

Finished tomato flakes in a simple canning jar.

Finished tomato flakes in a simple canning jar.

Thats all, till next time….!

A World Of Chemicals. How You Can Limit Your Exposure.

Lets face it, everyday whether intentional or not our bodies are exposed to dozens and dozens of unique chemicals. Some are avoidable, some are not. When I think about my own personal life, sadly I start every single day dosing my body with chemicals. Unfortunately, this I cannot avoid and I’m ok with it. These chemicals are my lifeline and without them I would eventually die. They are my thyroid replacement pills and because I have no thyroid to produce the needed hormone I do not have an option. While there are some things  that are out of our control there are many things we can control. Listed below are some common chemical exposures in everyday life that can be modified to limit the amount that inevitably make it into our bloodstream. Yes, I said bloodstream.  Any chemical inhaled, slathered, eaten, touched etc…eventually makes it to our bloodstream and organs. While researching for this post what surprised me the most were “off gases” particularly the whopping 275+ chemicals that continually off gas from the plastic components of new vehicles 😦 

“Immediately after delivery, new vehicles have been found to be universally contaminated with very high concentrations of a large number of chemicals that diffuse from interior vehicle materials. Over 275 different chemicals have been identified in vehicles interiors, including chemicals associate with birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer. Automobiles are unique and harsh environments for plastics. Air temperature extremes of 192 F (89 C) and dash temperatures up to 248 F (120 C) have been observed in vehicles. These extreme temperatures can increase the concentration of VOCs and high levels of sunlight producing breakdown products which can also be harmful to human health”.  Source:http://www.healthystuff.org/findings.021512.cars.php1. 

 

Welp….I was considering a new car in the near future. Not anymore. According the environmental working group your best option here (aside from riding horse and buggy style….haha) is to purchase a few year old vehicle as most of the off gases have already diffused. So what are some of the other chemicals, where are they found and what can you do to mitigate their effects on your body?” Heres a list for your reading pleasure. 🙂

1. Phthalates

  • Endocrine Disruptors-Linked with early puberty in females which is a risk factor for breast cancer later in life. 
  • Commonly found in #3 plastics and personal care products. Often disguised as “fragrance” on labels.
  • To minimize exposure never microwave plastics, use glass. Avoid vinyl flooring, PVC shower curtains and piping as well as products containing “fragrance”

2. Bisphenol (BPA)

  • Endocrine Disruptor- Linked with breast cancer development, miscarriage, erectile dysfunction and heart disease.
  • Commonly found in #3 and #7 plastics, canned foods & receipt paper.
  • To minimize exposure never microwave plastics, use glass. Avoid canned foods, use fresh or frozen when possible or better yet preserve your own! FYI Eden organic foods offers BPA free canned veggies 🙂 Wash your hands after touching receipt paper, or have the receipt emailed to you.

3. Chlorine (I admit, this is a tricky one to avoid….) 

  • Commonly used as a disinfectant in municipal water. Its toxic, even at low concentrations. Studies have linked chlorine exposure through drinking with an increased risk of heart disease, allergic reactions, miscarriages, bladder, colon and rectal cancers.
  • To minimize purchase a whole house filter to filter out chlorine and other chemical components in your water. If this is not an option, you can purchase an under the sink water drinking water filter for about $150 and a shower head chemical filter. Activated charcoal filters work too!!

4. Perflurochemicals (PFCS)

  • Teflon, Scotchguard, Stainmaster, Gore-tex are common PFCS. PFCS are also found in fast-food wrappers, inside pet food bags, and microwave popcorn bags. 
  • Associated with low birth weight babies, reduced immune function, abnormal thyroid hormone levels and liver inflammation.
  • To minimize avoid stain treatments on carpets and furniture. Don’t use non stick pans. Pop popcorn the old fashioned way-avoid the bags. Choose natural and organic personal care items. 

5. Pesticides & Fertilizers

  • Known carcinogens. This means they are known to cause cellular changes within the body that are consistent with the development of cancer. Basic rule, if it kills weeds or insects its killing you as well. Children and fetuses are particularly susceptible. In addition, these chemicals seep into our water system and are also highly devastating to wildlife, especially birds. Most birds eat insects and seeds from plants, if these plants have been treated with an insecticide the plant itself is toxic, as well as the insects that have come in contact with the chemical. The birds ingest the seed or insect (or feed it to their young) and inturn they are poisoned.
  • To minimize exposure. Please don’t spray your house, lawn or flowers. If you let nature do its job, it’ll take care of itself in time. This is something I have to repeatedly tell myself (especially when we have spiders in the house) but i’ve learned that its part of a working eco system and I have learned that chemical warfare against harmless spiders is silly.  Also buy organic when possible or better yet- grown your own veggies responsibly 🙂

6. Formaldehyde

  • Commonly found in melamine plastics, cigarette smoke, pressed wood products, and building materials. Exposure increases risk of brain cancers and leukemias.
  • To minimize exposure use “exterior grade” pressed wood products in the home and be sure to ask the retailer about the formaldehyde content in their products (plywoods, paneling, particle board, fiberboard, furniture and cabinets). Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to second hand smoke. Don’t purchase melamine plastics, but if you do, avoid microwaving them. 

7. Parabens

  • We’ve heard much about these lately in the media. Commonly found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Parabens mimic estrogens and measurable concentrations have been found in breast tumors. Also, new research has shown that methyparaben found in some sunscreens reacts with the sun and actually can cause cellular damage to the skin. 
  • To minimize exposure avoid products that contain the word “paraben” (usually at the end of an ingredient like methylparaben). Use mineral based sunscreen (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) avoid sunscreens with chemical components such as oxybenzone. 

8. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) & Polybrominated Bipenyls (PBBs).

  • These are two of the chemical off gases i’d talked about earlier in new vehicles. In addition to new vehicles (the most common source) these chemicals are also found in electronics, foam cushions and textiles. They are flame retardants. 
  • These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors that can alter a childs brain development. Research has also found linkages to decreased thyroid hormone levels and reproduction abnormalities in children exposed to off gases.
  • To minimize exposure buy vehicles that are a few years old. Use covers that limit the amount of off gas exposure and avoid using styrofoam. 

Well, as you can imagine this is certainly not an exhaustive list. The main purpose of this post was to alert you to some chemicals that you may not know about and to provide you tips on what you can do to minimize exposure. I hope i’ve enlightened you in some way. I’ve certainly learned a lot myself and plan on making some changes. 🙂

Resources:

http://www.lung.org

http://www.breastcancerfund.org

http://www.healthystuff.org/findings.021512.cars.php

http://www.epa.gov

http://www.ewg.org

 

Fresh Blueberries All Year Long!! Yes Please :)

Blueberry season here in NY is sadly winding down. However you can have yummy peak season blueberries all year long if you freeze them 🙂 We are so lucky here to have a blueberry farm right here in our backyard that is pesticide free-Childs Blueberry Farm. Just an FYI blueberries are one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops around, so if you have the option to buy organic its definitely worth the extra money-who really wants their blueberries with a side of pesticide? If you live in the WNY area please read more about Childs blueberries. So how does one freeze blueberries without smooshing them? Follow these incredibly simple steps to find out 🙂

Step One: Purchase freshly picked ripe blueberries

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Childs blueberry stand at our local farmers market.

Step Two: Using the container the blueberries came in, place in the freezer until frozen. When they are done, they will feel like little marbles.

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Frozen blueberries ready for packaging.

Step Three: You’ll need a few freezer bags or a vacuum sealer machine (if you choose to pack them airtight). Place blueberries in bag leaving about 1.5in at the top of the bag, be careful not to let them thaw. If you’re using a food saver simply seal the bag airtight using the vacuum. If you’re using freezer bags get as much air out as possible and seal. Then place the blueberries back in the freezer and remove later to enjoy frozen or thawed. 🙂 

Freshly frozen blueberries. Yum.

Freshly frozen blueberries. Yum.

Step Four: Enjoy all year long 🙂

Four Years and Counting…….

So sorry for my couple week long hiatus, I’m sure you all can relate when I say things got too busy around here and the blog fell  off my radar for a bit. Whoops! No worries though….I’m back 🙂

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The quaint little sign welcoming guests to our backyard garden wedding which took place in Toms parents yard.

Yesterday my husband Tom and I celebrated our four year anniversary. It amazes me how time truly does fly. What also amazes me is how reminiscing on past events both big and small makes you realize how much has culminated in a seeming short period of time. Many things change, but yet many things stay the same. Every single day no matter how mundane something awesome happens, we grow, we learn, and we change. Each little experience of our lives changes us in some small way leaving us just a little different than the moments before. I now realize that my definition of love is sharing these moments, learning, and living these moments. Tom and I are not the exact same people we were four years ago and this is what I love about us. The old adage of “don’t ever change” that is often said as a phrase of endearment are words we’ve NEVER spoken to one another. Without change we become stagnant and boring and thats certainly not the story we want to write. 🙂 I encourage everyone to embrace changes both big and small, learn about yourself and your loved one you might be surprised at what you find.

One of my favorite photos on our wedding day. Taken at an old train station in our hometown.

One of my favorite photos on our wedding day. Taken at an old train station in our hometown.

My favorite photo. Taken at Toms parents neighbors house. Their horse was soooo good! I was pretty nervous sitting like that.

My favorite photo. Taken at Toms parents neighbors house. Their horse Kobe was soooo good! I was pretty nervous sitting like that. Do you like my wedding shoes? Birkenstocks, still have them, still wear them 🙂

To end, here is one of our engagement photos. Taken in a hanging bog. Yes I am wearing waders and in the water holding some seaweed. Perfect!

To end, here is one of our engagement photos. Taken in a hanging bog. Yes I am wearing waders and in the water holding some seaweed. Perfect!

Xoxoxo,

Jillian

Garden Happenings

Summer is in full swing here and so are the visitors to my garden!  Both the good and the bad. First the bad….mites…what I think is the two spotted spider mite-yuck! First noticed these little buggers two years ago in my garden up front after I saw them crawling on my lawn furniture.  Now they are in our back garden and again, I only noticed them after I saw them crawling on our furniture during a windy day. Have a feeling the host plant may be our tomatoes. If anyone has any organic solutions that have worked for you, please share in the comments!!!  I want to at least reduce the population so I can sit outside without them crawling on me. Ick. I know how incredibly hard they are to eliminate though.

Ok now onto the good visitors! Earlier in the season I noticed multiple baby praying mantids in the garden. This made me incredibly happy because these are the good guys!  They eat mites and aphids and not to mention they are so cool to watch:)

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Baby mantid on my hydrangea earlier this year.

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Bigger mantid trying to make its way up the side of my house. Hummm I wonder whats up there? 🙂

I also noticed this funky little bee early in the morning one day. What caught my attention was the neon green coloring. So of course I googled it and what I discovered was that it is called a sweat bee, interesting. They are nocturnal bees that are generally attracted to the by products of perspiration hence the name the sweat bee.  Although this little guy was more interested in my cone flowers more so than me. Perfect!

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Sweat bee on cone flower.

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Sweat bee on coneflower. Notice the bright green coloring and the very yellow legs! Very cool to watch.

My husband and I harvested our first round of shishito peppers a few weeks ago, and since then have harvested at least three more batches. If cared for and pruned correctly these peppers just keep on giving. They are also amazingly delicious, not spicy and easy to prepare. Just put them in a skillet with a little bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper and pan fry them till the edges are slightly charred. Enjoy them by grabbing the stem and plucking the pepper off.  These are a great appetizer and the aroma they give off smells like fresh buttered movie style popcorn!!

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Beautiful shishitos…oh how I love you.

Heres something fun….these crazy little finches visit my feeders everyday. Each of them has such a personality. There are a few birds that decide to eat upside down when the feeder gets low. It cracks me up every time!

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Mr. Finch on the right hanging on for dear life just so he can eat some nyjer seed!

Lastly, one afternoon I was sitting outside and noticed a beautiful orange fluttering. Initially I thought it was a red admiral butterfly (I had been seeing tons of them lately) but as I watched it land I quickly realized it was a monarch!! Just beautiful. Since then a number of different monarchs have been visiting my flowers for the sweet nectar. They really love my zinnias!

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Monarch butterfly visiting my potted zinnias. Just look at that incredible design. Nature amazes me sometimes.

Till next time….

Drab Bathroom? Spruce It Up!

The bathroom is my least favorite room in our house.  Its old, small and generally blah. However, it’s visited often and is the one room in the house that you can be sure guests will visit, so of course you want it to look nice. So what can you do aside from a full remodel to spruce things up and make it more interesting and aesthetically pleasing? Heres what I did…..

1. Add a punch of color and pattern! It visually draws interest and focuses attention away from the rooms less than desirable features.

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This is my funky little shower curtain.

2. Add an interesting plant. Plants do a wonderful job of purifying the air and in addition usually do really well in bathrooms because of the amount of humidity they get everyday.  I have a Fittonia plant otherwise known as “the nerve plant” due to its leaves that resemble the human bodies network of branching nerves.  Considering I’m in the medical field, this plant is perfectly appropriate 🙂 In addition, it is a humidity and water hog and thrives in the bathroom environment with indirect light.

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My little Fittonia happily thriving on the bathroom countertop.

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Close up of the “nerves”.  How cool are these leaves?!

3. Add something unique. It can be a picture you took yourself of something you love. An interesting book. A relic you’ve picked up on a trip, or just something fun like this q-tip holder I picked up on a recent trip to Philadelphia.

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I crack up every time I look at this hedgehog. I think it’s so adorably cute!

4. If all else fails…..you can always add a cat! Hahaha, just kidding. I had to add that because my cat Feliks is looking ridiculously handsome in this picture and I needed a good excuse to post it 🙂

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Our Siberian cat Feliks. Isn’t he handsome?

Thats all for today! Happy sprucing up 🙂