Have you ever noticed how calming it can be to sit under the trees in a park or walk through the bush or forest? The Japanese have a name for immersing yourself in nature for relaxation- they call it ‘forest bathing’- and it’s recognised for its health and stress management benefits.
Forest bathing can be as simple as taking time-out in your own backyard, all you need is to surround yourself with greenery and, if possible, some running water. The benefits are due to ‘nature’s anti-depressants’ aka negative ions. A negative ion is an atom (or molecule) with an extra electron, giving it a negative charge. Basically negative ions are produced naturally via water molecule movement (evaporation, waterfalls, surf, rain etc) which is why they are so often found around water and in nature, and they affect the serotonin levels in the brain. Think about how great a fresh sea breeze makes you feel- that’s negative ions at work!
I always try to take at least 10 minutes each day to just sit outside. I usually take a cup of herbal into the backyard and soak up some vitamin D with my negative ions mid morning. I have a small pond with a tap style fountain and the sound of that bubbling water just adds to my little escape. If I’m working outside the home I have my lunch just outside the building on the grass under a big old Morten Bay fig tree. Or if I’m lucky and get an extended lunch break I pop down to the Botanic Gardens and soak up the beautiful exotic atmosphere there. The beautiful Angel Trumpet tree at the top of this post is on my way to work and if I get my timing right I can squeeze in five minutes on the bench underneath to bathe in its glorious scent. It’s amazing how that little intermission from everyday work/life for reconnection with nature makes a huge difference to my wellbeing. That breath of fresh air is quite literally doing you good.
Do you make time for time-out outside? Do you have particular nature spots for relaxation or invigoration? Please share below!
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With a toddler in cloth nappies we do a lot of washing. A lot of washing. Although it’s more economical than disposable nappies I wanted to reduce that cost even more so I decided to start making our own laundry liquid. In Rhonda Hetzel’s book Down To Earth she crunches the numbers and estimates making your own laundry liquid costs $1.75 for 10 litres. Now that’s a big saving! It’s also a big saving for the planet as the number of chemical nasties used is greatly reduced (and you can tailor the ingredients to make it septic tank or grey water etc. friendly). Ingredients below (yep there’s only three!) plus water.
1 cup grated laundry soap or soap flakes (whatever you can find, I grate my own)
0.5 cup washing soda
0.5 cup borax (if you can’t find borax it will work without it)
1.5 litres water + enough water to dilute the mixture to make 10 litres
Grate your soap if necessary and dissolve in 1.5 litres of water in a saucepan on the stove
Remove from heat and add washing soda and borax
Once combined pour into a large bucket and top up with water to make 10 litres of laundry liquid
Stir while the mixture cool to ensure a smooth consistency then transfer to your storage bottles (any old bottles will do, I use old vinegar or milk bottles)
Use about 0.5 cup of laundry liquid for a large load, you may need to give your container a shake if it appears the mixture has separated
I’m not a big user of fabric softener, I generally find it unnecessary, but sometimes I want to make something extra soft and fluffy. When this occurs I turn to one of my all time favourite ingredients- vinegar! Fill the fabric softener dispenser with white vinegar and add a couples of drops of essential oil such as lavender (totally optional) and away you go! It works beautifully and again, it’s extremely cheap. It also means one less product crowding your shelves or the cupboard under the sink. Gotta love products that do double duty!
Are you a kale lover? If you haven’t yet given kale a chance, or you have and you or members of your family weren’t too keen, you must give these kale crisps a go! The texture is divine. Large waxy leaves transform into bite sized wafers of heaven! And they are so simple to make!
- Bunch of kale
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Flavourings such as tamari, maple syrup, chilli flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, za’atar, vinegar, lemon juice, whatever you fancy!
- Wash the kale and tear the leaves into smallish pieces, discard the stalks
- In a bowl mix together the olive oil, sea salt, and chosen flavourings (I love tamari balanced with some sweetness and chilli heat)
- Add your kale pieces to the bowl and mix with your hands to ensure they’re covered
- Lay the kale on baking sheets. Give them room rather than crowd them together as you want them to crisp up
- Pop in the oven on a low heat, around 90 degrees celcius, for about fourty minutes or until kale is crisp (you may need to turn kale to ensure it dries out evenly and doesn’t stick to the baking sheet depending on what flavourings you use)
- Try not to eat them all at once!
You can store them in an airtight container but I’ve never had any last that long. Have fun experimenting with flavours, if you don’t know where to start try recreating your favourite chip flavours like ‘salt & vinegar’ or ‘honey & soy’ etc. You’ll soon start getting a bit more outlandish with flavour combinations and throwing in things like sesame and poppy seeds for extra texture and crunch. This is also a great way for kids to eat more greens and because the kale is cooked at such a low temperature all that goodness remains. My toddler just loves them!
Deodorant is one of those products we use everyday without giving too much though to its cost or affect on our body. With our budget tightening I started cringing every time we were due for a new can of deodorant. Then I started reading about how deodorants and anti-perspirants work and I started cringing for entirely different reasons. These things didn’t sit well with me so I sought change. It was time to make our own.
There are various recipes for homemade deodorant on the internet and I read many of them so I understood how they worked and then tailored the basic ingredients to meet our needs. The ingredients and method are simple: 1/4 cup of cornflour, 1/4 cup bi-carb soda, enough coconut oil to combine and make a smooth paste, plus a few drops of any essential oils you like for fragrance. I chose tea tree oil for it’s antibacterial properties and gender neutral scent (there’s lavender oil in the photo below but I realised my husband probably wouldn’t like smelling like lavender so I left it out at the last minute. Lucky him.).
And there you have it- homemade deodorant! I scooped the paste into the tub leftover when I finished my body butter but any clean airtight container would do. Each morning I simply rub a dollop into my armpits after my shower. The first day I used it I was amazed. I even made my husband sniff my armpits. I made my Mum do the same the next time I saw her. This stuff works. It doesn’t stop you sweating entirely (and to be truthful after learning how anti-perspirants work this isn’t something I want) but it sure does prevent you from developing any unpleasant odour. The bonus- it does it naturally and cheaply. All of these ingredients I have in my house anyway and when you break down the cost I can make enough deodorant for a year for less than the cost of one can of the other stuff. Now that’s a saving.