Review: Cleo + Coco - Detox Deodorant + Detox Dust

Friday, July 14, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Imagine having clean smelling, odor-free pits all the time. You would wake up in the morning without being greeted by B.O., and you wouldn't have to apply heaps of deodorant and perfume to get through the day. Even on hot, clammy days, or during intense workouts, your skin would still smell amazing and fresh. Is this even possible? The answer is yes, all thanks to Cleo and Coco, a company dedicated to making all-natural products that keep you dry and odor free all day long.
By simply making the switch to their deodorant (which is available in zero waste, kraft containers, btw), you'll be able to attain this sort of life. You could also pair it with their detox dust ( which comes packaged in an eco-friendly recyclable shaker container ) for extra coverage. Both products help neutralize odors, remove bacteria, and prevent pores from clogging. That's because they contain powerful, but all-natural, detoxifying ingredients. In fact, after a few days of using these products, you will notice you are naturally not as wet or have any B.O., even on days you forget to put on deodorant or detox dust. How do I know this? Because I experienced it myself.
Suzannah Raff, the founder of Cleo and Coco, was kind enough to send me recyclable samples of her products in trial sizes. For the course of two weeks, I tried them out and am very excited to share with you the results. Ready to see for yourself? Keep scrolling.
 
 
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Why you want it: This deodorant is literally amazing - it wipes out odor so good, you won't even smell if you forget to put it on the next day.
 
Its value: $17.99 for the full sized (compostable) kraft packaged one, ($4.99 for recyclable trial size, as pictured above)
 
My review: I must confess I'm obsessed with this product. I've been using it for two weeks now and am very pleased with the results. I took it with me when I went to Pennslyvania with my boyfriend and it was super easy to transport because it's so small. It would easily fit inside any bag, for sure (even really tiny purses, because it's trial sized). Application is also easy: I just swipe it onto my pits like a regular deodorant, once a day (usually right before going out). As soon as I applied it for the first time, I noticed a difference. My odor was gone. I'll be blunt here: That's nothing short of a miracle. While I'm not the smelliest person in the world, my pits work overtime in the summer and there have been several times I've been embarrassed by the B.O. coming out of them. I've tried several all-natural deodorants too: Most of them only masked the problem with strong fragrances, or simply stopped working halfway through the day. This one? Totally blew my mind. The scent is not overpowering at all, and yet, as soon as I applied it, my B.O. was gone. And it was gone for the whole day. The next day, I wasn't as smelly, but applied it to my pits again. It went on pretty smoothly too, creating no shirt stains (even though the actual color of the deodorant is a charcoal grey). After a few days? I woke up to odor free pits. And that's saying something, considering one day this week was insanely hot and humid and I was sweating. Still, even then, I didn't have any odor (thanks to using this), which I can't say would've happened with other natural deodorants I've tried. This deodorant even prevents my pits from stinking after an intense workout (and that in and of itself is amazing, because I sweat boat loads at the gym). Even as I type this, I just did a smell check (yeah, I know, TMI), and still nothing. Mind you, I'm sitting in a fairly hot room with no A.C. on. Suffice it to say I'm not about to stop using this product, and when I run out, I'm definitely getting more.  Totally recommend it (and if you want to keep it completely zero waste, buy the one packaged in a kraft container)!
 
Note: This product is not vegan due to the use of beeswax, but the detox dust (listed below) is vegan.
 
 Ingredients:
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Beeswax (Cera Alba), Bentonite (Clay), Activated Charcoal, Sodium Bicarbonate, Maranta Arundinacea Root (Arrowroot), Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil.
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Why you want it: Pairs excellently with the detox deodorant - can also be used as a stand alone dry shampoo, or body powder. I especially loved using it on my feet.
 
Its value: $18.99 for the full sized eco-friendly recyclable shaker container, ($4.99 for recyclable trial size, as pictured above)
 
My review:  Here's another confession: I have smelly feet. Ugh, that was so embarrassing to write, but it's true, they stink. But guess what? Not anymore, and it's literally all thanks to Cleo and Coco's detox dust. The detox dust functions similar to most body powders, but this one is made completely without talc (or any other un-natural ingredient, for that matter). I loved putting some on my feet after a long day out and just patting it in. It helped de-odorize my feet immediately and after continued usage, I have no foot smell! Trust me, I checked (yes, I know, that sounds weird, but how else am I going to know for sure?). I also love patting this stuff on after a shower. It helps me feel all the fresher and leaves my skin a little bit more soft than it was before. I also used it as a dry shampoo, and I was also pleased with those results. I'm having some work done on my shower (and there's only one bathroom in my apartment), so this stuff really came in handy. Just sprinkling some onto my scalp and massaging it in helped eliminate a lot of greasy oil in my hair, gave it a gently pleasant scent, and boosted hair volume! I don't recommend using dry shampoo every day (more like every other day), but in a pinch, this detox dust will do beautifully. Perhaps, most impressively, it can be used as a stand alone deodorant too. Just pat some on your pits and you're good to go. I personally liked using the detox deodorant with the detox dust. I would apply the deodorant first, then pat on some of the detox dust too. And guess what? It provided extra coverage, perfect for really intense workouts and really hot and humid days. I want to make it clear that this stuff won't stop you from sweating, and neither will the deodorant, but it sure will stop you from stinking! If you're vegan, I would recommend trying this over the deodorant (the deodorant contains beeswax). Also, both packaging for the detox dust (the trial and full sized containers) are recyclable, but if you're aiming to go for the more eco-friendly choice, I would choose the full sized container. If you have any problems with the packaging, feel free to contact Suzannah herself at info@cleoandcoco.com (I'm sure she'd be more than happy to accommodate you, she's a very earth-conscious person!).  
  
Ingredients:
Maranta Arundinacea Root (Arrowroot), Bentonite (Clay), Activated Charcoal, Vanilla Tahitensis Fruit, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil.
  
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The (quick) rundown
 
 

The pros: The pros heavily outweigh the cons.
  1. Cleo and Coco's founder, Suzannah Raff, was absolutely amazing to work with and quick to ship out my samples!
  2. When I received my samples, they came in a recyclable/compostable paper box with recyclable/compostable paper padding (super ecofriendly!).  
  3. I love how each of these products is available in a zero waste form: The full sized detox deodorant comes in a (compostable) kraft container and the full sized detox dust comes in a recyclable shaker container. Zero waste win!
  4. I haven't finished using each product yet, which I'm grateful for - I absolutely love them!
  5. I adore how each product is only made from a few, all-natural ingredients you can completely pronounce.
  6. These products worked better than my expectations. They completely eliminated my odor in just a few days, even when I wasn't wearing the deodorant. No fibs here!
  7. Using these products seriously minimizes the amount of chemicals I put into the environment.
  8. The trail sized samples are perfect for traveling and can fit in almost any sized purse.
  9. I can recycle the trail sized samples I got when I run out.
  10. There are so many health benefits to using the ingredients in these products (after all, half of the ingredients used are detoxifying for the body).
  11. My skin felt absolutely amazing after using each product - no allergic reactions, uncomfortable sensations, and most importantly no odor!
The cons: The cons are ridiculously low.
  1. The detox deodorant is not vegan (sorry all my vegan zero wasters).
  2. The trail samples are made out of plastic (but they are recyclable, so not too big of a problem).
Conclusion: There's no other deodorant out there like this. It pretty much blows the competition away. And the detox powder is just as amazing. I cannot recommend this stuff enough. If you truly want to stop B.O. in its tracks, this is the only way to do it. These products won't just mask your scent with more scent: They'll thoroughly detox you. If you're vegan, try the detox dust (it can be used as a dry shampoo, deodorant, and a body powder, so it's very versatile). If not, do yourself a favor and get both for twice the fun. Also, be sure to follow Cleo and Coco on Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates on their top of the line products!

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Review: Farmstead Naturals - Natural + Zero Waste Sunscreen

Friday, July 7, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Summer heat is nothing to joke about: Without proper sunscreen, you can get seriously burnt, and the results won't be pretty. The trouble is, most sunscreens contain worrisome ingredients that I no longer feel comfortable putting on my skin. In fact, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), "sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood, and some have toxic effects. Some release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like estrogen and disrupt hormones, and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. The FDA has not established rigorous safety standards for sunscreen ingredients". Scary, right?
Worse yet, sunscreens haven't been regulated since 1978 in the USA, and the SPF factor only tells you how effective a sunscreen is against UVB rays which can cause sunburn. What it doesn't tell you is how dangerous the ingredients in the sunscreen really are. According to a study in Environmental Science Technology, common sunscreen ingredients such as oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, and PABA are estrogenic chemicals linked to cancer. Just what you need, right? Wrong. I refuse to subject my skin to any of those ingredients, including any other possible chemicals.
That's where Farmstead Naturals comes in. While on a quest to find an all-natural sunscreen, I also took into account how most sunscreens are packaged in plastic. After learning about the zero waste movement, I've been trying to reduce my plastic footprint on this earth, so looking for a natural, zero waste sunscreen became a priority. Luckily, Farmstead Naturals shares similar ethics and packages their sunscreen in a reusable tin. Not to mention all the ingredients in it are super safe and totally natural (think shea butter, coconut oil, etc). Believe it or not, this sunscreen has an SPF of 25+, which works perfectly since most higher SPFs are misused (or don't actually work) anyway. But while this sunscreen seems to be absolutely perfect, there was one issue I was concerned about: Would it actually work? Would it prevent me from burning, like conventional sunscreens are said to do? How would my skin react to it? There was only one thing left to do: Try it out. Want to see what I thought? Read my review of this unconventional sunscreen below.
 

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Why you want it: This all-natural sunscreen is super moisturizing (it almost feels like you're applying a lotion instead of a sunscreen), while simultaneously keeping skin protected.
 
Its value: $5.59 - $11.98 (depends on the size you get - there are three different sizes available: 1 oz., 2 oz., or 4 oz. I have a 2 oz.)
 
My review: I know it can be scary to tamper with certain skincare products (especially sunscreen), but I just had to give this a try. I wanted to stop using chemical-filled sunscreen and reduce the amount of plastic in the environment. Not to mention I love supporting small businesses (and this is a woman-run Etsy business, so more power to it!). The founder of Farmstead Naturals is Crystal Ferenczi: She's a farm wife and a mother who lives in Deroche, Canada. She loves creating all-natural products for babies, moms, and everyone in between (aka, me). When I found out she made zero waste, all-natural sunscreen I just knew I had to try it out for myself. This sunscreen is made using coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil, raspberry seed oil, vitamin e oil, carrot seed oil, zinc oxide, and beeswax.  Unfortunately it's not vegan, but I still prefer this to a chemical alternative. According to Crystal, the organic shea butter and coconut oil in this product are used as a base, and each have a natural SPF of 5-10. She also added non-nano organic zinc oxide powder (which won't get into the pores or bloodstream) for a natural SPF protection of around 25+. That's pretty awesome, if you ask me. Personally, I've used SPF 30 sunscreens all my life anyway, so having a sunscreen that's around that SPF sits well with me. While this sunscreen hasn't been evaluated by the FDA, it's important to remember most commercial sunscreens aren't either (similar to how makeup is unregulated by the FDA as well). That's why I was super excited to try this out for myself: That's the only real way I'd tell if it worked or not! Recently, I went up to Pennsylvania for the fourth of July weekend and I brought this with me. We were up there for four days, so I knew it would be the perfect place to test this baby out. Almost every day, I was out and about in the sun, so I knew it would come in handy. The second day up there, we went to the pool, and I knew it would be the ultimate test. I applied some of the sunscreen before we got there (it was super easy). All I did was open the tin, swipe my fingers into the sunscreen, and rub it in on the areas I wanted/needed coverage. I made sure to apply it on my face, arms, shoulders, neck, chest, belly, back, and legs. It applied white, but once I rubbed it in, it became transparent and left no visible residue. Crystal advised me to apply this sparingly to avoid greasiness, so I did. Usually I just needed two swipes of the stuff to cover a particular area. When I was done, my skin felt so nice and smooth (it also had a faint but pleasant smell I couldn't pin down - maybe a mix of coconut and carrot?). After I applied it, we went to the pool and I reapplied it about two more times while there: Once immediately after I got out of the water and dried off, and a second time while I was tanning. I would say I waited about one and a half hours each time before applying more. After we went back inside, I noticed that I certainly did get some color, but no burns! The only place my skin looked a little red was on my face, but that's because I didn't put as much on there as the rest of me. It wasn't painful at all (thought like sunburn usually is) and quickly transitioned into a tan practically the next day (without the flakiness). My skin felt even better and more nourished than before I used this stuff. So just to confirm: It works. It doesn't prevent me from tanning either, it simply protects me from burning, which is great (cause I love to tan, it looks nice). I made sure to apply the least amount to my face, just because my skin is acne-prone and sensitive, but I did make sure it got some sort of coverage. It made me break out a little bit, but nothing I couldn't handle. I prefer that to being burned, that's for sure. By the time I left for home, my skin was even, beautiful, and totally healthy. I highly recommend this luxurious sunscreen to anyone looking for a zero waste, all-natural alternative to conventional sunscreens. Bonus points?: It didn't leak in the bag I was carrying it in (thanks to it being packaged in a tin - instead of a squeezable tube - it was extra secure). Total win!
 
Ingredients:
Coconut oil, Shea Butter, Olive oil, Raspberry Seed oil, Vitamin e oil, Carrot seed oil, Zinc oxide, Beeswax
 
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The (quick) Rundown
 

The pros: The pros heavily outweigh the cons.
  1. Farmstead Naturals' founder, Crystal Ferenczi was very sweet to work with and quick to ship out my sample! I received it in less than 10 days.
  2. I love how the product is zero waste friendly: It's packed in a reusable tin that totally beats the plastic tubes most sunscreen comes in.
  3. I haven't finished using the sunscreen yet - I think it'll last me the rest of the summer!
  4. I adore how it's only made from a few, all-natural ingredients you can completely pronounce.
  5. The stuff actually works (and I have a nice tan now, instead of an icky sunburn). No fibs here!
  6. Using these products seriously minimizes the amount of waste and chemicals I put into the environment.
  7. I can just reuse the tin when I finish the sunscreen (maybe to hold small jewelry), instead of just throwing it out or recycling it. 
  8. There are so many health benefits to using the ingredients in these products (after all, half of the ingredients used moisturize the skin, instead of intoxicating it).
  9. My skin felt absolutely amazing after using the sunscreen - so smooth (and it smelled pretty nice too).
  10. It was handmade by a woman owned Etsy shop owner (so I know it was made with lots of love and not by a bunch of mechanical factory hands!).
  11. The sunscreen didn't melt/leak in my bag or anything like that (though it did get softer and more lotion-like when it encountered the heat from my hands. But this worked to my advantage and helped me apply it all the easier!).
The cons: The cons are ridiculously low.
  1. This product is not vegan (sorry all my vegan zero wasters).
  2. It came in a plastic shipping bag (but I recycled it, so not too big of a problem).
  3. It's not made in the USA, which means it has to travel a little farther to get to me (but it's better than it being made in China, that's for sure).
  4. It is a little greasy, so I wouldn't advise putting too much on the face (especially if you're acne-prone like me).
Conclusion: I highly recommend trying out Farmstead Naturals' sunscreen. It's all-natural, zero waste friendly, and actually works, so everybody wins. If you live in Canada, this is a great local brand for you to support. If you don't (and you're like me), you should still consider getting it. It will only take a few days to ship and Farmstead Naturals ships worldwide. This sunscreen is white but applies on clear when you rub it in (so no blotchy white spots!). Plus it won't leak in your bag (like most squeezable sunscreens), which is a great bonus. Do the environment (and yourself) a favor by getting your hands on this stuff. I can assure you, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how good it works. If you'd like, feel free to follow Farmstead Naturals on Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates to their brand.

This post was sponsored by Farmstead Naturals. All thoughts remain honest and not influenced by a third party. 

Indoor Container Gardening: 3 Summer Herbs to Grow

Friday, June 30, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
The first plant I ever grew from seed was organic basil. I planted one tiny seed in a small terra cotta pot on my windowsill. I remember the day like it was yesterday. In that one moment I was filled with so much love and hope: I couldn't wait until it sprouted! And then, not even a week later, my baby basils were popping their little heads up. I couldn't have been prouder and more excited than I was at that moment. And you know what? That basil grew to be the tallest basil plant I've ever had (and the most beautiful too). It lasted all summer long and its leaves made great additions to pasta sauce. You can read more about my first basil plant here (warning: This is one of my very early blog posts, so it's not exactly written the same way my blog posts are now).
That said, it's no surprise basil has a special place in my heart. So of course I'd include it on my list of herbs to grow this summer. And the best part? It can be grown successfully in an indoor container garden. The other two herbs I'll be talking about are thyme and dill. While I can't say I've planted these two, I can say they do make great additions to anyone's home. Who doesn't want fresh herbs on the daily, after all? 
My first post in this series was about spring herbs. If you'd like to see the first article in this series, I got you covered. My second post was all about spring vegetables, and my third post was about spring fruits. If you enjoy this series, be sure to look out for another article at the end of every month. I publish every Friday, so look out for the next one July 28th!

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Basil


Definitely my favorite summer herb to grow, I highly recommend growing basil for beginners. It's not hard to do and basil isn't very knit picky. Plus, these make great additions to any pasta sauce (trust me on this one, I'm Italian). I've even heard basil is great for acne, due to its antibacterial properties. Maybe I'll grow this again sometime soon (I actually really miss my basil plant and still have seeds leftover).
You will need:
  • Basil seeds (preferably organic)
  • 6 inch clay pot with drainage hole
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)
Directions:
  1. Fill your 6 inch clay pot with your organic potting soil.
  2. Now add some seeds to your soil. I recommend no more than 4 seeds per pot. Give them their space too: Seeds should be at least 3 - 6 inches apart.
  3. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/2 inch deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can. Personally, I don't even use a watering can: I use an upcycled glass bottle. It's easier to water plants this way because there aren't several watering holes (just one) so I have better control over my watering.
  4. Watering: Once you start to see sprouts, now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle - which I painted and made look all pretty by the way). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Water ONLY when the soil at the top is dry to the touch. I always watered my basil daily, but never over did it (just enough to make the soil moist).
  5. Sunlight: Basil needs at least 6 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means don't even bother moving them away from the windowsill. They love sun and heat!
  6. Harvesting: To harvest basil, simply snip off a full grown leaf or two. Depending on how much you need, I wouldn't cut too much off. You want to let the basil grow back, so don't cut off more than you know you'll use. You can add it fresh to sauces, pestos, or stir-frys. You can also store it for later (here are a few clever ways to store basil).
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Dill

Dill is an all-around favorite herb in my household. I absolutely love putting it in my homemade veggie soups - and don't even get my started on those dill pickles. Have you ever seen the Rugrats episode where Tommy and friends all think Didi is planting more baby Dils? Sorry - I just had to reference that. Dill is just too close to my heart not to. I'm determined to grow it one day, especially since it's so easy to grow and too delicious not to. If you're curious, here are 8 yummy recipes to make using dill.
You will need:
  • Dill seeds (preferably organic - try to find dwarf dill seeds, since dill tends to grow very tall)
  • 6 - 8 inch clay pot with drainage hole
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)
Directions:

  1. Fill your 6 - 8 inch clay pot with your organic potting soil
  2. Now add some seeds to your soil. I recommend no more than 1 seed per pot, as dill needs its space. It also doesn't take very well to being transplanted, so make sure you don't put it in anything smaller then what I recommended.
  3. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/4 to 1/2 inches deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can.
  4. Watering: Once you start to see sprouts, now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Water ONLY when the soil at the top is dry to the touch. I always watered my basil daily, but never over did it (just enough to make the soil moist).
  5. Sunlight: Dill needs 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means don't even bother moving them away from the windowsill. If you have a windowsill that doesn't get that amount of sunlight, consider investing in grow lights.
  6. Harvesting: To harvest dill, wait 6 to 8 weeks after planting. As soon as the plant has four to five leaves, you can start harvesting. Pinch off the leaves or cut them with scissors from the stem base. To store dill, wash, trim, and chop the dill, allowing it to dry thoroughly. Then, freeze in ice cube trays with a bit of water. This way, your supply of dill will last you for 4 to 6 months!

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Thyme

Although I've never grown this plant myself, I can say my family does like to use it, especially for seasoning. It smells really good too. It's been said to be a little tricky in terms of growing it from seed, so you've been warned. If you'd like to take the easy way out, look for thyme cuttings or sprouts. Personally, I prefer a little bit of a challenge and love the joy I get from growing something from seed, so, I'd probably choose seed over pre-sprouted thyme. Thyme makes an excellent addition to meat-themed dishes. Here are a few thyme-inspired dishes that'll make you hungry.
You will need:
  • Thyme seeds, or pre-sprouted thyme (preferably organic)
  • 6 - 8 inch clay pot with a very good drainage hole
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)
Directions:
  1. Fill your 6 - 8 inch clay pot with your organic potting soil.
  2. Now add some seeds, or sprouts, to your soil. I recommend no more than one seed/sprout per pot. Since thyme can be tricky to grow from seed, I'd suggest growing it in a few different pots, maybe two or three.
  3. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/2 inch deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can. Personally, I don't even use a watering can: I use an upcycled glass bottle. It's easier to water plants this way because there aren't several watering holes (just one) so I have better control over my watering.
  4. Watering: Once you start to see sprouts, now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Water ONLY when the soil at the top is dry to the touch. Make sure the drainage in the pot is good, as thyme doesn't take well to soggy roots. Never let it sit in water that's been collected in the saucer, either.
  5. Sunlight: Thyme needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means don't even bother moving them away from the windowsill. If you have a windowsill that doesn't get that amount of sunlight, consider investing in grow lights.
  6. Harvesting: To harvest thyme, simply snip off a leaf or a spring at any time. You can use it immediately or save it for later. To dry the spring, hang them in a dark, well ventilated, warm area. You can also just dry the leaves by placing them on a tray. Once dried, store them in an air-tight container. Freezing is another way to store them.

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Want more indoor container gardening? Check out the rest of the series here (this list will be updated):
Part 5 - Coming soon! *Summer vegetables*
Part 6 - Coming soon! *Summer fruits*
I'll update this series once a month on a Friday. Next month's will probably be on July 28th. See you then! 


3 Holistic Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Friday, June 23, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Do you suffer from constant stress or feel anxious all the time? I know the feeling. Sometimes, I have a lot of weight on my shoulders too. There are times where I want to accomplish a dozen different things all at once and feel that I'm slacking. That's when my anxiety starts kicking in and I wonder if I'll ever get to them. It makes me want to pull my hair out (but I don't, so no worries). What about you? What stresses you out? Maybe it's your job, or drama with family or friends. Whatever your story is, I get it. Stress and anxiety suck, but it happens to the best of us.
While I can't say I know how to completely get rid of stress and anxiety, I do know what helps me. Today I'm going to share my tips and tricks with you greenifiers in hopes this will ease your woes just a little bit. While these five holistic ways to de-stress and calm anxiety work for me, they might not work for you, and that's okay. If any of them are new to you, maybe try one out to see if it helps (you might be surprised!). Is there a specific way you like to reduce stress and anxiety? Feel free to share it in the comments below!
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Aromatherapy
Whenever I'm starting to freak out over something, the first thing I usually go for is something that smells good. And by smells good, I mean floral waters, essential oils, and smudge sprays. I find that inhaling a whiff of rosewater, lavender essential oil, or sage smudge spray really helps to re-center me and relax me. But one of my absolute favorite aromatherapy products is my lavender rose reiki infused crystal aura spray (the dark blue glass bottle pictured above). I got it from a brand called Awaken the Light. It smells absolutely divine and I love to spritz it over my head or around my room when I'm feeling extra stressed out. I always reach for this first. I wish I could link to it, but unfortunately the creator of this spray doesn't seem to sell it online anymore (I got it at one of her events). She does sell really gorgeous crystal jewelry though, so feel free to give that a look.
My second go-to for aromatherapy would have to be my rosewater spray bottle. I bought it a while ago at my local health food store. It's at the end of its life, but I've actually had it for about two years. I use it sparingly and only need one to two pumps of it for it to take effect. The scent is absolutely gorgeous and actually has a few more benefits than just calming me down - it also helps set my makeup! If you're interested in learning more about floral waters (and creating your own rosewater), check out an article I wrote about them here.
I also really love my glass roll-on lavender essential oil. I like to roll it onto my wrists and just inhale the soothing aroma. I got this at a local boardwalk event (there was a booth set up for just essential oils alone) last summer and it's still full! I like to apply this at night if I'm having trouble sleeping, as the scent really helps calm me down. I used to have a little sachet with dried lavender buds too, but it ripped. I used to keep it under my pillow and smell it whenever my mind wouldn't let up. Totally recommend it.
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Relaxing Tea
At the end of the day, I absolutely love to drink chamomile or lavender tea. It really, really helps calm me down. In fact, it even helps me sleep. I like to buy from brands that have compostable tea bags, or I buy the loose herbs in bulk. Either way, I highly recommend trying this out. I prefer chamomile whenever I'm trying to go to sleep but can't due to anxiety. Lavender is better at reducing stress during the day.
There are other teas that are very good for sleeping as well, if you're interested. Sometimes, stress and anxiety can lead to insomnia, or at least keep you awake longer than you'd like to be. If you're really having trouble sleeping, I recommend this tea. It made me so drowsy after just a few minutes. That's because it's loaded with herbs that are known for their sleepy-time effects, such as ashwagandha, passionflower, skullcap, kalea sacatechichi, tulsi, and kava kava. You'll get a great night sleep with that, trust me.
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Crystals
One thing I love above all my possessions is my crystal collection. While it's not absolutely huge, it is nice. Each crystal I own has a back story to it (and no, I won't get into each). Some were given to my by a friend, some I bought myself, and some came in subscription boxes. But each is special to me and has healing properties I cannot get enough of.
Are you wondering how these pretty gems help reduce my stress and anxiety? I'm glad you asked. Sometimes, simply looking at them is enough for me. It takes me to another place, makes me think about the beauty of this earth. After all, they were formed by our earth (and I cannot help but be in awe of that). Other times, I just like to fiddle with them in my hands (especially my rose quartz sphere). Out of all of them, I absolutely adore rose quartz the most. I love pink, but I also love the wonderful energy rose quartz gives off. It's so sweet and healing (plus it helps with self-love - something you don't feel very much while stressed or anxious).
If you're feeling particularly stressed and would like to give crystals a try, I highly recommend getting some rose quartz, amethyst, aventurine, and green moss agate. All these crystals are great for calming anxiety and reducing stress levels. I particularly like them tumbled and in clusters, but tumbled crystals are easier to carry around in your pocket or purse. They can also be made into jewelry. I like to wear my crystals in a wire-wrapped necklace (which allows me to swap out crystals whenever I feel I need a new one). Plus it makes a really cute accessory! 
Do you practice any of these holistic ways to treat anxiety and stress? Let me know in the comments below!

Zero Waste Lifestyle: How I Compost in My Apartment

Friday, June 16, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Recently, I've been really into reducing my food waste. Did you know Americans throw away nearly half their food every year, waste worth roughly $165 billion annually? That's insane, and I don't want to be a part of that anymore. So, I decided to invest in a compost pail. I'm super happy I did too! I recently got it (on sale) from Earth Easy and couldn't be happier with it. It's made out of stainless steel, has a convenient handle, and is small enough to fit on my countertop. Don't be fooled though: It can hold up to 1 gallon of food scraps in it! Both my parents (who don't consider themselves zero wasters, mind you) have already started using it. They don't mind it at all. Why? Because it has a built-in charcoal filter which will last 6 months and prevent nasty odors. I haven't smelled a thing since buying and using it (unless I open it up to put in more food scraps). Tomorrow (and every Saturday after that) I intend to bring it to my local farmer's market. They collect food scraps there and turn it into compost. Since I live in an apartment, and I know my parents would not be up for having a full-on compost bin (complete with worms and all), this is the easiest solution. The most important part is that I've cut most of my waste down already just by having this one handy device in my home. Want one of these in your casa? Here's how I compost at home and how you can too.
 
 
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How I compost at home
 

Technically, I don't actually compost at home. I bring my decomposables to the farmers market, where it will get turned into compost. That said, if you live in an apartment too, the compost pail I use will surely come in handy. It will make composting so easy and reduce your food waste to pretty much zero. It's valued at $39.99, but I got it on sale for $29.95 (it should still be on sale too!). It also comes with replacement filters and already had a filter in it when I unboxed it. I also ordered one extra set of filters (so now I have 3 filters - which totals in 18 months - 1 year and 6 months - of coverage!). The filters are super cheap to replace too ($5.95 to be exact) and will make sure you smell absolutely nothing.


  

Also, if you prefer something a little more pretty, these compost pails are available in ceramic as well. One is plain white and one is decorative with cute flowers and butterflies on it (though I believe this one is smaller in size - its capacity is 3/4 a gallon, compared to the others which fit 1 whole gallon). If, for some reason, you really cannot afford this pail, then you can also store your food scraps in a sealable container of any kind and keep it in the fridge/freezer. This will help prevent odors and is what I did before I got my compost pail (I reused an old plastic Chinese food container). Now without further ado, here's how you can compost at home:


  • The easiest way to compost at home is to just take your food scraps to a farmers market. Almost every farmers market will have someone there more than willing to take the scraps off your hands and compost it for you. At mine, there's a booth set up especially for it, and the man who runs it is super grateful to anyone who contributes to his compost pile. This is the method I use. Just visit your local farmers market and ask if they have somewhere to donate food scraps (and other decomposable items which you can collect, like paper, cardboard, hair, etc. - all mentioned in 'what to compost')!
  • Some farmers markets may also give you compost in exchange for your food scraps (and other decomposables). You might not have a need for this if you live in an apartment, so it's completely up to you if you want to take the compost. It makes really great fertilizer for any houseplants though!
  • I really recommend bringing a wooden spoon with you and a reusable bag. The wooden spoon will help you scrape out any remaining scraps that might cling to the pail without getting your hands dirty. I use the reusable bag to shop around as well as carry my compost pail conveniently. While it does have a handle, it can get a little tedious carrying that around when you also want to shop at the farmers market!

 
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What to compost:
Now that we discussed how I compost, lets talk about what I compost (or can compost). Not everything on this list goes into my pail (simply because I live in an apartment, not a house), but I felt it was important to include everything you can compost in general.
 
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps (ex: the ends of carrots, potato peels, strawberry crowns, banana peels, etc.)
  • Hair and fur (yes, it's biodegradable! I take any hair that clumps up in my brush and put it in my pail)
  • Coffee grounds (I don't drink coffee but my folks do!)
  • Tea leaves or tea bags (I always make sure I buy tea bags that say they're compostable - some are made using plastic!)
  • Egg shells (I wash them out gently with water before I add these in)
  • Nuts and seeds (pits of fruit, for example)
  • Yard waste (leaves, twigs, grass clippings etc. Since I live in an apartment, this doesn't apply to me - plus I don't think it would all fit in the pail anyway. That said, it is biodegradable)
  • Houseplants or wilted flowers in vases (I'll probably just add my houseplants to my compost pail when they die - instead of throwing them in the trash!).
  • Fireplace ashes (I don't have a fire place, but still, biodegradable)
  • Sawdust and woodchips (I'll probably never have to put this in there, but yeah)
  • Cardboard, paper, shredded newspaper (just make sure they're not coated in plastic!)
  • Hay and straw (Again, not something I'll ever need to worry about, but felt it important to include)
  • Cotton and wool rags (at the end of my cotton facial wipes, I'll definitely be composting them!)
  • Any 100% natural material/fabric (like my bamboo toothbrush - I will compost that too)
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What not to compost:
Literally, these are things I will never put in my compost pail, even if I do have access to them. And you shouldn't either.
  • Dairy products (like yogurt, butter, milk, sour cream, eggs, etc.)
  • Meat or fish (bones and scraps included)
  • Pet waste (like feces)
  • Yard trimmings treated with pesticides (these might kill beneficial composting organisms!)
  • Disposable feminine products (if you're still using these btw, consider switching to cloth pads!)
  • Disposable diapers (consider switching over to cloth diapers for your baby)
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Diseased or insect ridden plants
  • Plastic lined cartons (or plastic anything for that matter)
  • Coal or charcoal ash (might contain substances harmful to plants. Bamboo charcoal - like the one I use to filter my water - is okay to compost though!)
  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs (apparently this plant releases substances that may harm other plants)
 
 
Yes, it's really that simple! I hope this helped some of you and inspired you to start composting in your home. Just remember, every little bit you do for the planet helps! Leave a comment below and let me know how you like to compost at home!

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