chemical free home

Organic Mattress Search + Avocado Mattress

 
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After almost of year of debating + researching we finally purchased an organic king mattress. We searched high and low for one that fit our requirements without breaking the bank, and finally decided on an Avocado Mattress. We looked through many of the most popular brands and compared them based on whether or not they were: organic, zero VOC, sustainably sources, chemical-free, made in the USA and affordable. Here are the other brands we researched and how they compared to Avocado. Note: the prices are based on king size mattresses.

 
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Avocado:                                                               
Organic: YES                                                                
Zero VOC: YES                                                             
Sustainably sourced: YES                                            
Chemicals: NONE                                                        
Made in USA: YES (handmade to order)                    
Price: $$ (1100)                                                            

Saavta:                                                                         
Organic cotton: Yes                                                    
Zero VOC: Low VOC                                                    
Sustainably sourced: Yes                                             
Chemicals: No                                                              
Made in USA: Yes                                                         
Price: $$$ (1700)                                                         

My Green Mattress:
Organic cotton: Yes
Zero VOC: Low VOC
Sustainably sourced: Yes
Chemicals: No
Made in USA: Yes
Price: $ (1200+)

Intellibed
Organic cotton: N/A
Zero VOC: Yes
Sustainably sourced: ?
Chemicals: No
Made in USA: Yes
Price:  $$$$ (3799+)

 
 
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We obviously chose Avocado and are over the moon happy with our mattress! It is comfortable, firm and supportive but soft, safe for our family, and we are supporting a small USA-based business. To say we are happy is an understatement. The edges are supportive, so you don't feel like you are sinking in when you sit on the side of the bed, and I have been sleeping much better than I was on our previous mattress. I don't have to worry about our kids breathing in toxic chemicals from the off-gasing of plastic that occurs in other mattresses. We have enough room for everyone when the littlest sneaks into our bed in the middle of the night. The only problem is that I don't want to get out of bed!

 
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If you follow on Instagram, you've seen that our bedroom is fairly monochromatic but full of pattern and texture. It's my favorite room in the house and one I often visit because it feels so serene. To complete our new bed, I ordered some organic flannel sheets for winter (similar here) + crisp white cotton ones for spring. I went with a black bedskirt to hide the metal frame (and storage underneath!), and we already had a king size comforter (also love this one, this one and the simplicity of this one). I just added a coverlet for more texture and extra warmth and will simply fold the comforter at the food of the bed when the weather warms up again. Add a couple king size pillows for extra coziness, black and white pillow cases (similar here), and an amazing throw (similar here and here) and our bed was complete!

My bedroom has become my oasis, and I truly look forward to climbing into bed at night! 


Other source details:
Black paint: Magnolia for Ace Hardware in Prairie Smoke
Dreamcatcher: Project62 for Target
Comforter: Urban Outfitters (similar linked above) 
Throw blanket: Home Goods (similar linked above)
Macrame curtains: Living Roots Decor
Black dresser: Vintage
Hairpin leg bench: DIY 

Gardening for the Soul

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I remember our gardens growing up... the smell of the dirt, the watering of the plants, the pulling of the radishes and beets. I remember my mom giving me a tiny pair of gloves and showing me how to place the plants in the ground. Those times in the garden with her are some of my sweetest memories. I feel at ease in the garden, and there is a sense of simplicity to the tasks that make even the most complicated things seem simpler. But I would argue that there's something about gardening that appeals to most everyone, even if we don't really have a green thumb. 

There's a positive energy that comes with connecting to creation, seeing growth right in front of you, making a tangible difference in your surroundings. Whether we recognize it or not, gardening touches part of our souls. "From dust you have come and to dust you shall return." But the benefits of playing in the dirt aren't just spiritual and emotional. Gardening is good for our bodies too! Here are a few reasons why I believe (and science suggests) that gardening is good for your body + soul:

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+ Stress relief: In a world where we are constantly pulled in a million directions with something always demanding our attention, the sights, smells, and sounds of the garden can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Our brains have a finite capacity for attention directed at cell phones, computers, etc.  and when that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, error-prone, distractible, and stressed out. Luckily this fatigue appears to be reversible! We can replenish ourselves by engaging in "involuntary attention," an effortless form of attention that we use when enjoying nature.

+ Improves depression symptoms: similar to the stress relief, time in nature allows our brains to disconnect from all the distractions, stress and screens trying to grab our attention and focus us on something tangible. I also believe it connects us back to creation, which brings us to a grounded place emotionally and naturally improves our mood. 

+ Good for the immune system. Playing in the dirt exposes us to good bacteria in our environment. Kind of like nature's probiotic if you will. ;) 

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+ It can be exercise: The days after we plant our garden are some of my sorest days! Hamstrings, triceps, biceps, abs oh my! It's because digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise! 

+ It's good for your brain! Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. 

+ Good nutrition is good for mind, body and soul! The vegetables, herbs and fruit grown in your backyard are ideally organic and are super fresh, so the nutrients, minerals and enzymes are still active. Feeding your body the best is good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally!

Be outside, grow your own food, connect to nature, relieve stress and anxiety, boost immunity and brain health and improve mood all at the same time? Sign me up. Honestly it sounds like a commercial for the perfect pharmaceutical medication, except with gardening there are no disclaimers or side effects. Just some good old fashioned dirt under your fingernails. 

Green Home 01 I Cleaning

When we found out we were pregnant with Elliot one of the first things we did was switch out our Clorox Cleanup for a green cleaner. We had already switched out our soaps and shampoos to "green" options (read: popular brands that we thought were chemical-free but were really just synthetics based on plant components...), but we realized that we needed to start creating a truly chemical-free home. I knew that I didn't want our babe to be exposed to harsh chemicals... on his clothes, in the air. We also learned that our plug in air fresheners were laced with formaldehyde which totally blew me away and made me even more passionate to find healthy alternatives! I'm a researcher by nature so you know I scoured the internet for other options, DIYs and the best of the best for what we should use.

Fast forward three years later and we have achieved our goal. Zero chemicals, all plants, and a super clean home and great smelling home all at the same time. We use plant-based cleaners to clean the whole house, including the sink after we prepare food and meats. And yes it gets it super clean!! Added bonus is that our cleaning supplies are delivered directly to my door and I get $75 back every month to spend on whatever I want. (Insert praise hands emoji!) I love me some Target, but they've never given me $75 just for buying stuff I use every day anyway. And my house smells like a chai latte instead of harsh chemicals and bleach! #winning.

Here are some of our chemical-free cleaning favorites!
+ Thieves Household Cleaner: We use this for the ENTIRE house! Counters, floors, bathrooms, stovetop, showers, commodes, literally everything. This is super affordable because you use 1 capful per 16oz spray bottle for the majority of cleaning. If we really need a heavy degreaser we use 2 capfuls. 
+ DIY Counter Cleaner: Sometimes I also use a DIY version with Thieves essential oil, Lemon essential oil and a little bit of castille soap on our glass cooktop when it gets sticky!
+ DIY Mirror Cleaner: Combine 1 capful Thieves Household Cleaner, 5 drops Citrus Fresh essential oil blend, 1 tsp white vinegar, and 3 cups water in a glass spray bottle.
+ Thieves Dish Soap and Dishwasher Powder: I also mix a bit of the dish soap with a little of the Thieves cleaner and water in a roller ball to spot treat stains on our clothes (helloooo little ones starting solids)!
+ Thieves Foaming Hand soap (kitchen) and Lavender Foaming Hand soap (bathrooms)
+ Thieves Laundry soap: This super concentrated laundry soap is my favorite! It gets our clothes super clean without chemical surfactants and artificial scents, and it is safe for HE washers! You only need 1/4 capful, so it lasts forever. Added bonus is that it is safe for cloth diapers! 
+ Wool dryer balls: We use these instead of dryer sheets and add essential oils to make our clothes and linens smell great! They help cut the static (use more dryer balls for loads with lots of fleece or static-prone fabrics) without adding crazy chemicals to your clothes. Peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus are some of my favorites to add to the dryer balls.

So basically we clean our whole house with Thieves essential oil, ha! The Thieves oil is a really amazing blend of oils named after a band of thieves who robbed plague victims during the Black Plague. They were perfumers by trade and were forced to reveal their 'secrets' when apprehended. The Thieves blend contains cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary oils that smells amazing and cleans all the things!  Plus, it is Gwyneth Paltrow recommended ;) We love to diffuse it with orange and black spruce or balsam fir, with orange and RC for respiratory support (great for after school!), with lemon and peppermint for a fresh and clean home. 

Click here to find out more about why we love essential oils and to start creating a chemical-free home of your own! 

 

Images by Morgan Blake for Golden Drop Society

DIY Citrus Laundry Soap

When it comes to chemical-free laundry options, I love my Thieves laundry soap. It smells amazing, cleans our clothes (especially Elliot's school clothes!) and lasts forever. All of the other commercially available options (even the 'green' ones) are so overpowering with their scents, and sadly those chemical-laden perfumes that smell good are SO bad for our bodies. If I ever run out of my Thieves soap, though I follow a simple recipe to make my own and can customize the scent as well!

You will need:
• 1.5 cups of Borax 
• 1.5 cups of Washing Soda (in combo with Borax here)
• 1.5 cups of Baking Soda 
• 1 Bar of soap
• 20 drops total of essential oils - I used grapefruit and lemon

1. Grate the soap with a cheese grater.
2. In a large bowl, mix the borax, washing soda, and baking soda.
3. Toss half of the grated soap into a food processor. Add about 1/2 cup of the powdered mixture from the bowl. This allows you the food processor to process the soap into smaller pieces without sticking to the blades. Repeat using the rest of the grated soap.
4. Blend until mixed. Add your essential oils and blend again.  
5. Take the grated soap mixture out of the food processor and add it to the large bowl. Store in a glass container with a wide mouth.

To use, just add 1-2 tablespoons to each load of laundry! You can either place it directly in the washer before you add your clothes (recommended) or use it in the detergent receptacle. You can also add about 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar to the load to act as a fabric softener. When it comes to drying, I love adding 5-6 wool dryer balls to our loads to cut the static. I usually add a few drops of peppermint oil to each dryer ball! So fresh and clean! 

This also makes a cute addition to a gift for a new mama as this is a gentle cleaner for newborn clothes and even cloth diapers. Choose calming essential oils like lavender, orange, Gentle baby or Peace and Calming blends. More about essential oils here

September Wellness 03: Supplement

As much as a whole foods diet is great for your health and can provide countless benefits, it can be difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals you need even from food, especially since our food isn’t typically grown in our backyard. The process of harvesting, then transporting produce allows time for the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals contained in those foods to degrade. We still get great benefits from whole, organic produce, but those benefits are lessened since the foods have started a natural degradation process once they were picked from the plants or vines. So, the obvious way to help reintroduce those necessary components is to supplement.

When it comes to vitamins and supplements, there are countless options available. Sadly, the majority of products on the market are made with inactive ingredients, often called excipients. These include binders, fillers, and coloring agents such as propylene glycol, synthetic gelatin, lactose, and Yellow #5, which are often pro-allergenic and wreak havoc on the intestinal lining. Because of this, we purchase our vitamins and supplements through Young Living. I also love that the products are infused with essential oils, which means you get 64% absorption within 30 minutes of taking a supplement and 86% absorption within 1 hour of taking it. That is a huge increase from the typical 42% absorption in 24 hours without the addition of essential oils. Enough said. 

Here is a peek at some of the supplements that we take in addition to our oily regimen:

+ Life 5 Probiotic: this high-potency probiotic builds and restores core intestinal health by providing five clinically proven probiotic strains including two advanced super strains to enhance intestinal health, sustain energy and improve immunity. As a pharmacist, I recommend a quality probiotic to every single individual. It sounds a little crazy, but our overall health starts with gut health! If you need more convincing, listen to this podcast featuring world-renowned and highly published neurosurgeon, David Perlmutter

+ NingXia Red: this antioxidant-rich supplement combines the wolfberry superfruit with orange, yuzu, lemon, and tangerine essential oils, along with blueberry, aronia, cherry, pomegranate, and plum juices for whole-body nutrition. The key ingredient, the wolfberry grown in the NingXia province of China, is touted for its health-supporting benefits, and is a great way to energize, fortify, and revitalize the body and support overall health and wellness, from head to toe. The wolfberry, also known as the orgoji or goji berry, is widely known for its powerful antioxidant potential.  So many things we face daily products oxidative stress on our bodies and our cells, so adding antioxidants to our daily routine is critical for preventing and reversing damage at a cellular, DNA level. Everyone in our house, yes even our littlest!, gets a serving of NingXia Red daily: 2-4 ounces for the adults (we go up to 4 ounces if we have been eating poorly or are under a lot of stress) and 1 ounce for our toddler.

We also love Super B tablets for adrenal support + energy, Essentialzyme for adding back beneficial enzymes, Mineral Essence for micronutrients, and Super C tablets for immune support as well as this high-dose Vitamin D.  

For Him: Natural Cologne

There are certain scents and oils that I gravitate towards because they remind me of my husband. Most of them are woodsy like cedarwood and vetiver, and they remind of being on top of a mountain or out in the woods with my man - a place where we both feel connected to our Creator and to each other. We diffuse these oils a lot in the evenings, and I love how our home smells of the memories we have together. So we decided to make a woodsy oil blend for my husband to wear daily and ditch all of the conventional, chemical-laden colognes. I'm pleased to say that the final product smells so much better than anything store-bought and he gets the added benefit of the aromatherapy from the oils themselves. 

Woodsman Cologne:
13 drops Idaho balsam fir essential oil
10 drops Northern Lights black spruce essential oil
8 drops Idaho blue spruce essential oil
5 drops bergamot essential oil

Add essential oils to a 10 or 15mL roller bottle, then top with a carrier oil. (We like fractionated coconut oil.) Apply to wrists and neck daily as desired. You can also adjust the amount of oils to your liking!


To learn more about why we use oils, go here. To get started on your own oily journey, go here!

Lavender + Rosemary Dry Shampoo

One of my favorite beauty products (and one I wanted a natural alternative for) is dry shampoo. My hair does best when I wash it once or twice a week, but I find that since having a little one, my roots get somewhat oily after a day or two. Plus, dry shampoo makes my morning routine all the much quicker. Those of you with long hair know what I mean ;) Sadly, the store bought options have a long list of ingredients I can barely pronounce, so here is the recipe for making your own.

For light hair:
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
3 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops rosemary essential oil

For darker hair:
2T arrowroot powder
2T raw cocoa powder
3 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops rosemary essential oil

Add powders to a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Add essential oils and gently pulse again. You may have to play with the amount of cocoa powder that you add in order to get a shade that is perfect for you. I have a mix of blondes and light brown in my hair, so just 1tsp of cocoa powder was enough for me. I suggest adding the cocoa powder 1tsp or 1T at a time and test it to your root color, adding more if you need. If your mixture becomes too dark, add a little more arrowroot powder to lighten it.  Store your mixture in a glass jar (I like mason jars). When ready to use, apply the powder to the roots of your hair using a makeup brush. And enjoy the calming yet uplifting aroma of the lavender and rosemary as you go throughout your day!

Other oils that would be great if lavender + rosemary isn't your thing: rosemary + peppermint, lavender + peppermint, lavender + copaiba, grapefruit + bergamot, bergamot + patchouli. You can find other ways we use essential oils here and check out a getting started guide here.


Because I love our oils and other Young Living products so much, and because I want everyone to have a chemical-free home, I'm giving away a bottle of rosemary oil to all new members this month! It's a great oil to have on hand during the winter months (we diffuse it a lot!), for making this dry shampoo, for making detox bath salts, for adding to finishing salts for grilled meat, even for making salad dressings! Just create your membership with a premium starter kit, and I'll send you a bottle of rosemary and some other goodies! If you aren't ready to take the plunge with oils but are wanting a chemical-free home, I recommend the Thieves Premium kit which has Thieves oil, household cleaner (favorite!), hand soap, waterless hand purifier, spray, toothpaste and mouthwash as well as some other things. Email me to let me know you're getting started, so I can send over your rosemary! xo
(apothicholistic@gmail.com)

Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

With every changing of the seasons, we make it a point to freshen up our porch and patio with a good cleaning. It's actually quite necessary as we have three families of birds who insist on making their nests on our porch, which is really sweet, and I love watching the eggs hatch into babies, but the nests are, ahem, messy. We typically spray down our porch with water and wash any trouble spots with our all-purpose house cleaner (LOVE lemon myrtle oil for this!) or the porch cleaner below, then we clean our furniture and set it in the sun to dry. 

Porch cleaner:
1 gallon water
1/2 cup white vinegar OR 1/4 cup castille soap
8 drops eucalyptus essential oil
8 drops citronella essential oil
In a large mop bucket, add water and vinegar or castille soap (my preference!), then add in essential oils. I keep an old mop that I use just for our porch, so I mop the porch just like I would the kitchen! 

Wood furniture cleaner:
2 cups warm, distilled water
1T white vinegar
16 drops of essential oils*
Mix together water and vinegar, then add in essential oils and mix well. Use a cloth rag to apply the cleaner to the furniture, concentrating specifically on very dirty areas. *I like to use a mixture of lemon myrtle, bergamot, and citrus fresh oils. Lemon myrtle has a distinctly cleansing aroma, so it's a perfect choice for cleaning!

Metal furniture polish:
1/2 cup warm, distilled water
1/2 cup baking soda
4-5 drops lemon myrtle essential oil
Mix equal parts water and baking soda into a paste, then minx in the lemon oil. Using a cotton cloth, polish furniture, wipe clean, then clean with the all-purpose cleaner if needed. Metal furniture keeps best when you wipe it down regularly, which is what we do. 
 


To learn more about why and how we use essential oils click here and here. To get stared and join the Golden Drop Society today, click here! I'd love to help you along on this journey! 

Summer Hair Serum with Geranium

One of the disadvantages to natural curls is the insane amount of frizz that can occur during hot or dry months. To combat that I use my beloved Young Living copaiba vanilla shampoo, a mix of essential oils, and a coconut oil spray. I mentioned before about using coconut oil as a hair mask before shampooing during the winter, but I wanted to share an updated summer version as well! 

Geranium Summer Hair Oil:
1T fractionated coconut oil (or jojoba oil)
3 drops geranium essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil
Distilled water
8oz spray bottle

Place coconut oil and essential oils into a spray bottle, then top with distilled water. Spray onto damp or dry hair as needed! Other oils that would be great: rosemary, cedarwood, Roman chamomile, clary sage. You could even add about 1tsp sea salt to this for a delicious beach waves spray! 

Friday Favorite // Oils + Babes

One of the main reasons that I started using essential oils was that I wanted to have natural alternatives for all of the things that come with little ones. I wanted to be able to control my son's exposure to harsh chemicals in the products that we use - diaper cream, bug repellant, household cleaners, etc. There is a list of our DIY recipes here, but I wanted to share some of my other oily favorites for littles, from newborns to kids!

Oils:
+ Lavender: truly the swiss army knife of oils, we use this for just about everything - skin support, respiratory support, relaxing + unwinding, the list is endless! I use it in our linen spray, diaper rash ointment and wipe solution.
+ The Young Living Kid Scents collection: Sleepyize, Owie (we use a lot of this lately!), Snifflease, Bite Buster, and TummyGize.
+ Copaiba: a must-have for the early years!
+ RC: a must-have for the winter months, this blend stands for "Respiratory Congestion."
+ Purification: a main ingredient in our repellent, we also use this for respiratory support in the winter, and for a DIY room spray (love it on the dog bed!). This is a great alternative to those wall plug-ins that are unfortunately laced with formaldehyde. Our diffuser is constantly running, and this oil is our go-to.

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Other Young Living products:
+ KidScents Tender Tush: amazing ointment infused with essential oils that is great for skin support.
+ Rose ointment: another great one for skin support, we use this for making diaper cream, after-sun cream, etc.
+ Thieves spray + Waterless Hand Purifier: for being out and about and for all the things that get dropped on dirty floors.
+ Bamboo Diffuser: we splurged a little and got a second diffuser to keep in E's room, and it was absolutely worth it! This diffuser has a one or four hour setting, so I love putting just a few drops of oil in it and turning it on during nap time or before bed. 

Other oil-related items:
+ Gentle Babies: my go-to reference for all things pregnancy, baby and child!
+ A cute travel case for taking oils in the diaper bag.
+ Paracord bracelets work great as diffusers for older kiddos!
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And lastly, a completely superfluous item but one that has come in handy so many times, a diffuser paci clip, especially for long car rides and traveling!


More information on essential oils here and here