A girl's quest to live on the greener side.

Indoor Container Gardening: 3 Summer Herbs to Grow

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!

indoor container gardening
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Basil
indoor container gardening


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
indoor container gardening

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
indoor container gardening

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 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

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!
Holistic Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
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Aromatherapy
Holistic Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
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
Holistic Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
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
Holistic Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
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

How I Compost in My Apartment

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.

How to Make Zero Waste Iced Tea (+ 3 Healthy Recipes)

By: Ariana Palmieri
In honor of National Iced Tea Day, which is Saturday, June 10th, I decided to share with you an easy, completely zero waste way to make iced tea (3 ways in fact). I am a tea fanatic, so when I learned about this holiday I got really excited and wanted to give it a zero waste spin that would make all you tea lovers grin from ear to ear. It actually pretty darn simple to do at home and doesn't require too many expensive materials or tools, which is great. I really hope you enjoy it, and if you do, be sure to tell me what your favorite iced teas are in the comment section below!

zero waste iced tea
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How to Make Zero Waste Iced Tea
The Basics
So, I'd like to first start out saying, you really don't need much to make zero waste iced tea. It's quite similar to making regular tea. The only difference is that you are limiting the amount of waste and plastic you create with every sip. Here are the basic tools (and tips) you will need to make any of the recipes listed below:
  • A teapot of any sort (if you don't have one, a big pot to boil water in will do)
  • A tea diffuser (if using loose tea at any point)
  • Compostable tea bags (some of the recipes below call for loose tea or tea bags - if you choose to use tea bags, make sure they are compostable. Some tea bags are made from plastic, so you have to do your research. It usually tells you on the box if it is compostable or not. For example, two tea brands that do make compostable tea bags are Yogi Tea and Traditional Medicinal. When all else fails, just get some loose leaf tea from bulk stores or places like Mountain Rose Herbs). 
  • A glass, ceramic or stainless steel pitcher of some sort
  • Glass, ceramic, or stainless steel serving cups (mason jars work well!)
  • Compost (whatever form of compost you use at home - make sure you add any tea bags, loose leaves, or fruits you use via the recipes below to it! I recently started at-home composting this week and keep my food scraps in a container. I plan to deliver them to the farmers market this Saturday, since I live in an apartment and don't have any room to make a huge compost pile of my own. Maybe I'll write a blog post about it soon...)
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Mint Peach Iced Tea
Now comes the really fun part: Making the recipes! Once you've got all your tools assembled, making this will be a breeze. This tea is absolutely delicious and perfect for a warm spring/summer day. Great to take on a picnic too!
Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of water
  • 5 ripe peaches (preferably organic - wash before use!)
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint
  • Natural sweetener (optional - this could be organic sugar, honey, agave, etc.)
  • 5 white tea bags (or 1/2 cup of loose leaf white tea)
Directions:
  1. First, add 8 cups of water to your tea pot, or a big stove pot. Set it on high until it boils. As soon as it starts to boil, add the 5 white tea bags, or loose leaf white tea. If you're adding loose leaf white tea, use a diffuser of some sort (you may need several individual diffusers or perhaps you have a teapot that comes with a built-in diffuser. Whatever the case, it'll make your life easier). Let it steep for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea, then remove bags or diffusers. Be sure to add them to your compost!
  2. Now, let the tea cool down. While it sits in the pot, prepare the peaches. Cut them in half, take out the pit, and then dice up the peach. You don't have to waste the pit either - here are a few creative ways to reuse the pits (you can also add them to your compost pile too). Do this for all 5 of the peaches. Add them to the glass pitcher, along with the fresh mint leaves. I'm in the process of growing my own mint leaves (they're still babies), but you can find fresh mint at almost any grocery store.
  3. After the peaches and mint have been added to the pitcher, pour in the white tea you made in your teapot (or pot stove). You can also add as much of the natural sweetener of your choice as you want at this point. To keep things healthy, try limiting the amount you add - trust me when I say the peaches will sweeten the tea naturally. I usually don't add any natural sweeteners to my tea, but it's totally up to you.
  4. You're definitely to want to let it sit for a while, so the tea can infuse with the peach and mint flavors. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes. You can place it in the fridge and let it sit that way (so it cools down even faster), or pour some into a cup filled with ice at the end of the 10 minutes. Feel free to add some ice to the actual pitcher too. I personally recommend letting it sit in the fridge for a good 30 minutes to an hour before you try drinking it, so it gets really nice and cool. Serve in a mason jar (or plastic-free cup of your choice), and enjoy!
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Lemon Iced Tea
A true classic, this tea is something anyone will love. Well, anyone expect one of my friends who absolutely hates lemons (she only drinks water anyway). Regardless, it is the ultimate summery drink, without being lemonade (because yes, there is a difference).
Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of water
  • 5 lemons (preferably organic - wash before use!)
  • 5 green, white, or black tea bags ( depends on preference. I recommend green tea for this one. You can also choose to use 1/2 cup of loose leaf tea of any sort)
  • Natural sweetener (optional - this could be organic sugar, honey, agave, etc.)
Directions:
  1. First, add 8 cups of water to your tea pot, or a big stove pot. Set it on high until it boils. As soon as it starts to boil, add the 5 white, green, or black tea bags, or loose leaf tea of your choice. If you're adding loose leaf (of any kind) tea, use a diffuser of some sort (you may need several individual diffusers or perhaps you have a teapot that comes with a built-in diffuser. Whatever the case, it'll make your life easier). Let it steep for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea, then remove bags or diffusers. Be sure to add them to your compost!
  2. Now, let the tea cool down. While it sits in the pot, prepare the lemons. Cut the lemons into slices and place the seeds on the side. You can either replant them or add them to your compost pile. Do this for all 5 of the lemons. Add them to the glass pitcher.
  3. After the lemons have been added to the pitcher, pour in the white, green, or black tea you made in your teapot (or pot stove). You can also add as much of the natural sweetener of your choice as you want at this point. To keep things healthy, try limiting the amount you add. 3 tablespoons of honey, agave, or organic sugar is usually more than enough for me. Make sure to mix it in if you do add it!
  4. You're definitely to want to let it sit for a while, so the tea can infuse with the lemon flavor. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, or longer for more potent results. You can place it in the fridge and let it sit that way (so it cools down even faster), or pour some into a cup filled with ice at the end of the 10 minutes. Feel free to add some ice to the actual pitcher too. I personally recommend letting the pitcher sit in the fridge for a good 30 minutes to an hour before you try drinking it, so it gets really nice and cool. Serve in a mason jar (or plastic-free cup of your choice), and enjoy!
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 Rose Oolong Iced Tea
Now this is an interesting mix. Certainly not a 'traditional' iced tea, but I figured it would be fun to spice things up just a little bit. I had this once in a tea shop in the city and it absolutely blew me away. It's so refreshing!  
Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 cup of  dried rose buds or petals (best with rose buds)  
  • 5 oolong tea bags (You can also choose to use 1/2 cup of loose leaf oolong tea)
  • Natural sweetener (optional - this could be organic sugar, honey, agave, etc.)
Directions:
  1. First, add 8 cups of water to your tea pot, or a big stove pot. Set it on high until it boils. As soon as it starts to boil, add the 5 oolong tea bags, or loose leaf oolong tea. Also add the dried rose buds (I always get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, because I know they're safe for tea). If you're using loose leaf oolong tea, you can mix it with the rose buds and add it to a diffuser. If not, add the oolong tea bags, then place the rose buds into a diffuser. You may need several individual diffusers or perhaps you have a teapot that comes with a built-in diffuser. Let it steep for about 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea, then remove bags or diffusers. Be sure to add them to your compost (both the oolong and the rose buds)! If you would like, you can leave a few rosebuds in the actual brewed tea for look.
  2. Now, pour the tea you made in your teapot (or pot stove) into your pitcher. Add some ice cubes and as much of the natural sweetener of your choice as you want. To keep things healthy, try limiting the amount you add. 3 tablespoons of honey, agave, or organic sugar is usually more than enough for me. Make sure to mix it in if you do add any sweeteners!
  3. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour so it gets nice and cold. If you're really eager, feel free to pour some into a cup right away (just make sure the cup is filled with ice). Either way, enjoy!

Zero Waste Lifestyle: 20 Ways to Have a Zero Waste Bathroom

zero waste bathroom

By: Ariana Palmieri
Ever since I've learned about the zero waste movement, I've become obsessed with finding more and more ways to reduce my trash. It's been hard: I don't have my own place, so I can't exactly change everything in my home. I live with my parents, so I don't exactly have control over what they buy or use. That said, I do have control over what I buy and bring into the house. I've been doing my best to introduce some zero waste friendly ideas to them, and will continue to do so. I notice that if I ease into transitions, they become easier to handle (especially when you have a roommates or relatives in the house). So, here are a few ways you can make your bathroom more eco-friendly. You can choose to tackle them at your own pace. Perhaps you incorporate one new zero waste item into your bathroom every month, or you choose 5 you want ASAP. The choice is yours, simply let this be a helpful guide. I'll be doing more of these guides in the future, so stick around! I really want to cover a bunch of different areas of the home and life, such as being zero waste on the go and having a zero waste kitchen. Also, just as a heads up, I do have a few affiliate links scattered throughout the post, but it's nothing I wouldn't use myself (and/or items I do already use). Ready to have a zero waste bathroom? Lets hop to it!