30 Simple Ways to Live a Healthier Life

Friday, January 27, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
I think all of our New Years resolutions revolved around becoming healthier. Which is totally fine. But are you still on track? If not, that's okay. No one is perfect. But it's important to keep yourself motivated. I find the best way to do that is to create lists. That's why I've created this list: It's not incredibly detailed, as most of my blog posts usually are, but it's much more extensive. 
I like to create lists because they help keep me organized. Before I go to sleep, I always list goals I want to complete the next day. It helps to have something to look forward to and strive for. After all, it's easy to get overwhelmed with daily to-dos when you're not keeping track of them.
I hope this list can function as a reference for you. Maybe look back on it every once and a while to see if you're accomplishing anything on the list. I recommend you try to complete at least 10 of the things I list every day. You can pick and choose which you'd like to do and start working on them. Personally, I do most of these (otherwise I wouldn't recommend them to you), so I know they're doable. Just remember to use this as a guide sheet (not a bible!) and adjust it however you see fit. Happy living!
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  1. Drink more water (anywhere from 8-11 cups is ideal per day).
  2. Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  3. Spend more time in nature (reconnect with it!).
  4. Always have a healthy snack (like almonds, grapes, cashews, etc.) handy.
  5. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
  6. Do yoga.
  7. Join a gym, or buy an exercise tape (and use it at least twice a week).
  8. Eat a smoothie bowl at least once a week.
  9. Swap out all your conventional beauty products for green beauty products.
  10. Invest in some new houseplants (here are some that will actually improve the air quality of your home).
  11. Start reading labels - on everything, not just food.
  12. Learn a new healthy recipe every day.
  13. Make dinner instead of ordering takeout. 
  14. Start meditating once per day (try doing it for only 3 minutes using a timer on your phone, then increasing the time as the days go on).
  15. Switch over to green cleaning products, or find all-natural cleaning solutions.
  16. Go meatless twice a week (better for you and the planet).
  17. Make a cranberry-orange digestion tonic (perfect for those with troublesome stomachs).
  18. Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  19. Use colors to enhance your life (think color therapy).
  20. Start gardening (I suggest starting with easy to grow plants like basil and lettuce, which grow even in containers).
  21. Craft your own all-natural makeup.
  22. Drink fresh-made juice (I love combining grapefruit, lemons, and oranges - it makes a refreshing drink perfect for the mornings).
  23. Learn how to relax (I love drinking some chamomile tea to unwind).
  24. Drink these teas for optimum health: Lavender (for sleep), Chamomile (for relaxation), Peppermint (for stomach problems), green tea (for mental clarity/energy), dandelion root (for weight loss).
  25. Eat more soups, stews, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) during the colder months.
  26. Eat more salads, raw foods, and cooling herbs (chamomile, mint) in the warmer months.
  27. Find out your Ayurvedic dosha, then eat for it.
  28. Do more of what you love, less of what you don't. 
  29. Learn how to balance your hormones.
  30. Reflect on each day by journaling at night.

3 All-Natural Cleaning Solutions + How to Use Them

Friday, January 20, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Cleaning is never fun, but it certainly doesn't have to be expensive. Most cleaning brands (even the eco-friendly ones) can be costly. Instead of listing a bunch of brands and products you can use to clean your home, I've listed some all-natural cleaning solutions (that actually work), and ways you can use them. The best part is, you might already have some of these in your house! After all, I choose to highlight lemons, essential oils, and sea salt. There are many other natural cleaning alternatives you can use, but these were the ones I love the best. Let me know which are your favorites in the comment section below!

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Lemons

Lemons. What's not to love? They smell amazing and taste great in drinks and desserts. But did you know you can use them to clean your house too? Yup, the acid in lemon juice actually removes dirt and rust stains. Here I've listed a few ways you can use lemons to freshen up your home:
  
Countertops: Lemons are great for cleaning countertops (I know, I've done it several times). Just cut a lemon in half and dip one half into baking soda. Then, tackle away. When you're finished giving the counter a good, lemony rub down, wipe clean using a wet sponge and then dry using a rag. I suggest you don't use this method on delicate stone, like stainless steel or marble, as it may lead to discoloration.

Dishes: Believe it or not, adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to your dishwashing detergent will increase grease-cutting power. So add away!

Cutting boards: Tough food stains on your cutting board? Just slice a lemon in half, squeeze onto the soiled surface, rub, and let it sit for 20 minutes before rinsing. This is good for wooden and plastic cutting boards (and will make it smell great afterwards too).

Garbage disposal: Just cut a lemon in half, then run both pieces through the garbage disposal. The lemon will make it smell great!

Faucets: No one likes lime scale: Combat it by rubbing lemon juice onto the taps and letting it sit overnight. Then, wipe it with a damp cloth in the morning.

Hands: Got a bad smell on your fingers and want it gone? Raw fish or garlic can cause this. Simply rub your hands with lemon juice and the odor will be neutralized!

Grout: Grout stains stink. But they don't have to stick around forever: Add lemon juice to 1 or 2 teaspoons cream of tartar to make a paste. Believe it or not cream of tartar is an acidic salt that acts as a natural bleaching agent. Then, just apply with a toothbrush and rinse. Your grout stain is history!

Plastic food-storage containers: I don't advise people to use plastic food-storage containers (they pollute the environment and can easily be replaced with something more eco-friendly), but if you do have some, they easily stain. To get the stains out on dishwasher safe items, rub lemon juice on the spot, let it dry in a sunny area, then wash as usual.

Laundry:  Lemon is great for brightening whites. Just add 1/2 cup lemon juice to your rinse cycle for a normal sized load.

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Essential Oils
Yes, essential oils smell amazing. But did you know they can actually clean things too? They're great for dirty floors, toilets, and windows, to name a few. Essential oils are extracted from plants and are very good at killing mold and bacteria, believe it or not. They're also very strong, so you don't need much to get the job done. After all, one drop of peppermint oil is as potent as 30 cups of peppermint tea! Now that's impressive. Here are a few ways to incorporate essential oils into your cleaning process:

Toilets: Okay, no one likes cleaning toilets. But it has to be done. Just add 2 teaspoons tea-tree oil and 2 cups of water to a spray bottle. Shake it, then spritz along the toilet's rim. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then scrub. Also, here's a little hack to make your toilet paper smell amazing: Place a few drops of your favorite oil on the inside of the toilet paper tube. Every time you use it, the scent will be released.

Scuffed floors: Scuffed floors? No thanks. Get rid of them by applying two to four drops of tea-tree oil to the spots. Seems simple, but it really does work. Just wipe excess oil with a cloth and rub in distilled white vinegar.

Combs and brushes: It's important to clean your combs and brushes too! To clean, fill a container with 1½ cups water, ½ cup distilled white vinegar, and 20 drops tea-tree, lavender, or eucalyptus oil. Up to you which to choose ( I prefer lavender). Then, soak all your combs and brushes for 20 minutes in this mixture. Rinse and let them air-dry. They'll be good as new!

Gum-encrusted items: Gum is super sticky and hard to get rid of (once it latches onto something). Orange oil is great at removing gum though, from various materials too! And the best part is, it won't stain fabrics. Just apply with a cotton ball and you're gum free.
Windows: Clean your windows by mixing 2 ounces water and 10 drops lavender (or lemongrass) oil. This will wipe off grime and repel flies (score!).

Shower doors: Make them look spiffy by wiping them down with a few drops of lemon oil twice a month. It'll protect them from icky grime buildup.

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Sea Salt
Who knew sea salt could actually clean things? Well, now you do. That's because salt's granular texture makes it perfectly suited for scouring. You can use any type of salt to clean things such as seal salt, kosher salt, or table salt, but table salt is usually the cheapest. In fact, it's worth about 69 cents per pound. Not a bad deal at all for an all natural cleaner, if you ask me. Here are a few ways salt can help clean up your home:
Glassware: Salt won't scratch up your glassware (can't say the same for a scouring pad). To get out stubborn stains, add some salt for extra abrasion and scrub while washing anything.

Greasy pots and pans: No one likes grease. Sprinkle salt on cookware to absorb unwanted, excessive grease. Dump out the salt before washing as usual. I don't recommend using this for nonstick cookware though.

Artificial flowers: If you have any of these in your house, you know how quickly they gather dust. Believe it or not, salt can help. Just place the fake blooms inside a paper bag and pour in salt. Close the bag and shake vigorously. The salt will dislodge any dirt or dust on the blooms!

Stained teacups and coffee mugs: Get rid of that stain on your favorite mug once and for all! Just sprinkle salt on the outside of a lemon peel, then rub the stained area until it's spotless.

Spills in the oven: Got a nasty spill from something you left in the oven? Pour salt on the spill to soak it up. Wipe with a damp sponge (when the oven cools down).

Wooden counters and tables: Cover any greasy areas with salt to absorb as much as possible. In an hour, just brush it away. Your wooden counters and tables will look (and feel) amazing!

Review: TwigBrush - Does It Really Clean Your Teeth?

Friday, January 13, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Ever tried brushing your teeth with a twig? I haven't, until this week. Now, this is no ordinary twig (so don't go breaking branches off that tree outside your house), but a TwigBrush, or Miswak. A TwigBrush is a natural alternative to a toothbrush (and requires no toothpaste either). It's made from the Salvadora Persica tree, also known as the Peelu tree or Toothbrush Tree. 
You must be thinking: Okay, but how could a twig possibly clean your teeth, especially without any toothpaste? Good question. Here's the answer: TwigBrush has unique, completely natural, chemical compositions that are perfectly designed for cleaning teeth.  In fact, there are over 70 benefits of this twig shown throughout ancient literature (pretty impressive, no?). And they're not all hogwash either: Most claimed benefits have been proven by labs effective as stated. Some benefits include natural antiseptics (that eliminate bad breath), silica (which removes stains + whitens teeth), sodium bicarbonate (whitens teeth), resin (protects teeth), and essential oils (freshens breath). Also, TwigBrush is completely eco-friendly, being it's a twig and all (which makes it biodegradable, mind you). Can't say that for conventional toothbrushes and toothpaste holders. 
But those benefits aside, does TwigBrush really work? Can a twig really freshen breath, protect from microbial action, and clean teeth? Well, Ammar Alyemany from TwigBrush was kind enough to send me a few samples to test out for myself. And the answer might surprise you.


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Why you want it: This will probably be the most unique toothbrush you'll ever use - not to mention a very effective one.

Its value: $9.99 (first time users get 20% off by signing up via email - and currently TwigBrush is on sale for $6.99)

Usage duration: I started using this product Monday, January 9, 2017. I'm currently still using it, so I've been brushing my teeth with it for about a full week. I plan to keep using it until it's down to the very end of the bark.

My review: So yes, I brushed my teeth with a twig. And yes, I was skeptical at first. But now? I'm the farthest thing from it. This product blew my expectations out of the water. When I received this in the mail, I was excited but hesitant to try it out. My mom is a dental assistant after all, so I've been pretty much conditioned all my life to always use a toothbrush with toothpaste. It was an understatement to say I had to convince her I'd be fine trying this out (after all, if I really didn't like it, or felt like it didn't work, I could just stop using it). That said, I did like it. In fact, I'll dare say I like it better than a toothbrush. Why? Well, first off, let me explain how I went about using it. On the package, instructions are pretty clear (also available online). There are 5 steps you have to take. First, I opened the seal and rinsed off the twig. I was taken back by the smell it had - it's hard to describe. It's kind of earthy, you might say? But not unpleasant. After I rinsed the entire twig off, I trimmed 1/2 inch from bark. What this means is I literally used my nails (I have long nails mind you - if you don't, use a mini knife) to scrape off 1/2 inch of the bark. It wasn't hard to do at all and I didn't hurt myself in the process. Next, I gently nibbled on the exposed area until it began to form bristles. It felt a little strange to do this, and I used all of my teeth at least once (from front teeth to back) to nibble away. I'd say this took about 5 minutes to accomplish before I started seeing bristles form. Next, I rinsed the twig again and brushed my teeth like usual, no toothpaste needed. This felt kind of weird too. The texture of the bristles was rougher than those on a toothbrush, but they didn't hurt. I found it a little difficult to reach the back ends of my teeth because of the shape of the TwigBrush, but by the end of the week I had pretty much become a wizard at brushing in all areas. Score. The best (and most impressive) part was that when I was done, my teeth felt just as clean and refreshed as they would if I had brushed them with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You know how you can literally feel the difference on your teeth after brushing? How they always feel more slick, pearly, and clean? That's exactly how my mouth felt after each use. Mind you, I used this TwigBrush for almost a full week (I'm still using it, and technically the week isn't quite up yet). Also, it's important to note that you're supposed to repeat step 2 (trim 1/2 inch from bark) every 3-5 days. I guess this is to make sure you always have fresh bristles to use. I haven't trimmed mine yet, but I think I will in a day or two. So far, it's still working perfectly. The one "down side" to this product is the strong odor the bark itself gives off. That said, I was told if you soak the entire twig overnight, the odor would vanish. I haven't done that yet because to me, the odor is tolerable and rather earthy. Also, do not expect this to leave your breath minty fresh. It doesn't do that. That said, it doesn't leave you with bad breath either. It leaves you with a subtle, earthy scent that's totally gentle and non-invasive. Trust me when I say I have yet to hear anyone tell me my breath stinks (and I have a boyfriend, so he'd be the first to tell me). All in all, I'd definitely recommend this product to everyone I know. Now, if only I could get my mom to try it...

Ingredients
Salvadora Persica tree (Yes, that's really it).

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The (quick) rundown


The pros: The pros completely outweigh the cons.
  1. I really loved communicating with Ammar Alyemany who gave me the product in the first place. What a friendly person!
  2. I love how TwigBrush is so affordable and how there's a current sale going on (not to mention you can get 20% off if you sign up with your email.)
  3. There's always free shipping if you order 2 or more Twigbrushes - super convenient.
  4. I really love how durable the TwigBrush is: One will definitely last you a while.
  5. I was impressed by how well the TwigBrush performed: I was skeptical at first, but not anymore!
  6. I haven't finished using the product yet - something tells me one TwigBrush will last well into the end of the month, if not longer.
  7. I adore how it's only made from one ingredient - the Salvadora Persica tree - which makes it all-natural and biodegradable!
  8. The instructions are easy to follow and are included right on the packaging and website (though the website says you have to saturation your twig brush for 8 hours before use - I double checked with Ammar Alyemany about this because it didn't say that on the package - and found out soaking it for 8 hours is not necessary).
  9. I was really impressed how this didn't need water or toothpaste to clean my teeth - I mean come on, who would've guessed, right?
  10. Using this seriously minimizes the amount of waste I put into the environment (the packaging is completely recyclable too).
The cons: The cons are ridiculously low.
  1. The smell of the product caught me off guard (it smelled very earthy, but not bad, just pungent).
  2. I hope they update the website to say it doesn't need to be soaked 8 hours before use, because it doesn't match the instructions on the package. This part confused me a little!
Conclusion: I totally recommend this product. If for nothing else, its effectiveness and uniqueness will definitely amaze you. Plus, you'll be putting one less piece of plastic into the environment. Not to mention this will save you money on buying a new toothbrush and toothpaste tub (after all, each can cost up to $10, or more, depending on the brand). This Miswak is bound to last you a while and is half the cost. So what's there to lose? Give it a try for yourself (you might be surprised at how much you like it).


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

5 Eco-Friendly Swaps to Break in the New Year

Thursday, January 5, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
With climate change knocking on our door, and 2016 having multiple record breaking highs, "going green" is no longer just a trend. It's mandatory. Everyone needs to start becoming more conscious of how they spend their money and where. Consumerism tends to harm the environment, but only if you're purchasing from non-sustainable brands. To give consumerism a green makeover, I've listed five everyday items and their sustainable counterparts. Each swap is completely free of any chemicals harmful to human health and the environment. Still need convincing as to why you should care? Big data actually shows that what we buy affects endangered species. In other words, buying anything from unsustainable brands leads to development of threat "hotspots" for thousands of different species. Most chain stores cause these hotspots by not only polluting the environment with their factories, but also by tearing down natural habitats of already endangered species to build these factories. Not to mention the materials most factories use to make items (like plastic) are hazardous to humans, animals, and plants alike. That's why it's so important to start 2017 with conscious, eco-friendly buys. This guide is designed to help you take it one step at a time, and explains why each conventional version is bad for you (and the planet).


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5 Eco-Friendly Swaps

Plastic utensils to disposable wooden utensils 

We all know how dangerous plastic is for the environment. In fact, the plastic industry contributed 14 percent of the most toxic industrial releases, including styrene, benzene and trichloroethane, into the air. One of the biggest culprits is disposable plastic, and plastic utensils are no exception to this rule. That's why these disposable, biodegradable wooden utensils by One White Apple are so much better. Made from 100 percent natural smooth birch wood, this utensil set is completely chemical-free. This particular set comes with 100 forks, 50 spoons, and 50 knives. They're super convenient, portable, and you won't have to worry about them polluting any water ways: They will naturally decompose and they're even compostable. Score!









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Plastic water bottles to stainless steel water bottles

Water bottles are ridiculously wasteful. I actually stopped using water bottles for two main reasons: It's a waste of money, and it harms the environment. Unless I'm in a tight squeeze, I really try to avoid them. After all, 1,500 water bottles are consumed in the U.S. per second. Think about how much plastic waste that generates. To avoid this, I totally recommend getting your hands on a reusable water bottle. I suggest a stainless steel one specifically because there is no chance of any chemicals associated with plastic leaking into your bottle (so it's 100 percent BPA-free). I have one of these King Do Way stainless steel water bottles and I'm in love. They're super light weight and will keep your drink cold for up to 9 hours, hot up to 18 hours. They also come in an array of fun, fashionable colors that you don't find with many other stainless steel bottles. The only downside is it doesn't come with a filter. My suggestion? Fill it up with pre-filtered water from home before heading out. You can do this by purchasing a Brita Pitcher that's perfect for sharing with the entire family!







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Plastic straws to glass straws

I can't rave enough about glass straws. Why? Because, they're so much prettier than regular ones and really make a statement when you whip one out in public. That and plastic straws are extremely harmful to sea life. Ever see the video where scientists extracted a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nose? It will scar you for life. Thankfully, I decided to invest in a glass straw by a company called Strawesome and every time I use it all my friends compliment it. The one I got is a light pink color with a pink case and cleaning brush. Unfortunately, it seems to be sold out on Amazon, but there are plenty of other straws available. Each one is unique and will certainly make drinking more fun. The best part is that these are handmade using borosilicate glass which is non-toxic and completely reusable. They're also very kid-friendly and dishwasher safe. If you get your hands on one and need a case for it, just use a portable toothbrush case. If you want the ones in the picture to the right below, get the party set here.







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Tupperware to Glasslock

Tupperware might be convenient, but it sure isn't eco-friendly. Just like every other plastic item on this earth, it's made out of petroleum, a non-renewable resource that requires new fossil reserves to be extracted continuously. Obviously, since renewable energy is the way of the future (and a huge key to saving the earth), anything that requires fossil fuels to make can't be eco-friendly. Try swapping out your Tupperware for Glasslock instead. Glasslock is made of silica, soda ash, limestone and other natural components. It's BPA free, recyclable, and doesn't contain any harmful environmental hormones. It's great for storing leftovers and is safe to use in the microwave, freezer, dishwasher, and oven. This particular set contains 18 pieces, all in different sizes and shapes, like rectangles and circles. Super convenient if you ask me!






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Paper towels to reusable bamboo towels

Did you know 3,000 pounds of paper towel waste is produced every day? That's a lot of dead trees. Thankfully, companies like Bambooee are seeking to change this. Bambooee has created a paper towel roll made from no paper at all. Instead, they used rayon made from an organic bamboo source. Bamboo is a renewable resource: Once the bamboo is harvested, it grows new sprouts every year. This makes it the perfect alternative to paper. After all, one Bambooee roll is equivalent to 60 paper towel rolls. The best part? You can toss them in the washing machine and re-use them again up to 100 times. Now that's impressive. 

Eco-Friendly Swaps

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