April 21, 2010

Eco-Wednesday:Sore Throat Remedy

Colds and flus always seem to strike at their worst in transitional seasons such as Spring and Autumn, don't they. If you've got a family, than even worse - once one member of your family has the cold - you are all usually doomed. There are of course healthy practices such as exercise, good nutrition, and hygiene to prevent those nasty little viruses from preying on you and your loved ones continually. But eventually, they are gonna getcha. 

Marley recently came down with a nasty sore throat and head cold, which of course as soon as she began to get better, Jeff and I picked up as well. Sore throats are probably the worst part of a cold, and I really felt for my baby girl, because other than infant motrin - I thought there was nothing I could do for her (not now, or even when she's older - children's medicines have become too suspect for me). Regular cold medicines always make my body feel weird too...

So I did some research, and created a delightful tea that is easy to make and the ingredients you are likely to have in your spice rack and refrigerator as well. It really soothes the throat for two - three hours, better than any lozenge or numbing spray I've ever tried - and it tastes yummy too! I felt so good knowing that my family was feeling better with all-natural, organic and healthy ingredients that work with our immune systems naturally. ***If you're pregnant - this is also safe for you to take, so don't suffer a minute longer!***

Here's the recipe (Per mug of tea):
Hot water
Ginger, sliced 1/4" thick, and lightly crushed (toss about 4-6 slices in depending on taste)
1 tsp anise seeds, crushed
1 tsp organic lavender flowers, crushed (you can find these in the spice aisle)
1 tbsp organic thyme or lemon thyme
1 - 2 tsp honey depending on taste
1 tsp lemon juice

Leave the ginger in the bottom of the mug, but place all seeds and herbs in a tea strainer (the clamping kind are best). Let steep at least five minutes. Remove tea strainer and ginger with a spoon. Drink and rest.

***For little ones, hot drinks are not generally a big hit, so let it cool down - while the heat is generally a soother - the natural power of these herbs and other ingredients are really what soothes. They can drink it lukewarm, tepid, or room temperature.

I'm sorry to say I haven't come up with a cure for a runny nose - other than just accepting that it's your body's way of beating the cold. It can be downright miserable though, especially when you get to a chapped nose. For that, I recommend using Organic Sleep Balm by Badger, the balm soothes your skin, and the lavender, ginger, rosemary and other essential oils really help you breathe easy. Try it as a relaxing massage on your upper chest too instead of products like Vick's VapoRub. 

Here's hoping you don't get a cold - but if you do - here's hoping this helps you this season!

April 16, 2010

Artist Interview: Charmaine Olivia

If you haven't yet come across her work, then let this be your introduction to one of my favorite artists, Charmaine Olivia. She is able to use many medias: oil paint, drawings with watercolor, photography - not only is her work charming, seductive, and chimerical - some of it is just plain funny. The "A Deer Wearing Gym Socks" was my introduction to Charmaine Olivia quite some time again; and I absolutely adored the color, the style - and the gym socks! I had no idea of the versatility behind the artist of that funny little painting until recently...

You can see all of Charmaine's work at her deviantArt page; or purchase at her Etsy shop.

1. I can not believe that you have had no formal training (your work is exceptional)?! Please tell us more about your transition from soy sauce and napkins to oil paint and canvas?

I feel like the soy sauce "paintings" that I used to make when I was little were an important part of my development as an artist. I think that some parents may have considered this inappropriate behavior, but I am so grateful that my parents never told me to "stop that nonsense", even when in a public restaurant. They've always been supportive of me as an artist, which I am super grateful for. Then when I was a little older, around 8 or so, my aunt taught me how to use oil paints. We used to go down to the beach and paint  the waves and sky. Since then, I have definitely branched away from the traditional way of painting that my aunt taught me, but she gave me the confidence to do it on my own. However, it wasn't until a few years ago that I really started taking myself seriously as an artist. I ultimately decided against going to art school and took some time to really figure out if pursuing art was what I wanted. It was.

The artist, at 8, painting Plein Air on the Beach.

2. You came on the scene only a little over a year ago - at least at Etsy. You have gained massive exposure elsewhere - Envelop, Pingg, etcetera. Do you spend a lot of time marketing yourself?
I don't spend a ton of time marketing myself. I first started posting my work online through deviantArt and eventually I was able to gain a little following and some momentum. Since then I've started a blog, twitter and facebook fanpage. All these tools are extremely helpful for anyone trying to get their word out. Then I had my first big break last year when I started a contract with the Scandinavian design company Bolia and had my first solo show in San Francisco last October. It's all about getting noticed by the right people, and every little mention helps. I am so thankful for all you bloggers and art-lovers :) And now I'm proud to say Urban Outfitters is selling one of my prints as of last week! (Which has been my dream for a while now).

3. You use elements of the natural world in your artwork - aspects of your art have an aboriginal or tribal quality to it. Can you talk about the natural world as influence on your art?
I think my fascination for tribal and natural elements stems from my mother. She's always been interested in archaeology and history and we love watching documentaries together. We used to love flipping through National Geographic and looking at vibrant people and animals from other parts of the world. Now that I live in San Francisco, there isn't a ton of nature around me (at least where I live) so I sort of make up for that by including it in my work.

4. Honestly, you're just so intriguing - there's more I'd love to know...but I can't think which question to ask. If you want to tell us something else - feel free: (or, if like me you're equally intrigued about the multi-talented Charmaine Olivia, just follow her blog to learn more)

I really, really love tea. I'm kind of a tea fiend. Drinking peppermint tea with honey and doing crossword puzzles with my boyfriend Joe is probably one of my favorite things ever!

Ms. Charmaine Olivia, currently

I hope you all have enjoyed learning more about the strikingly talented artist and all-around nice gal, Charmaine Olivia. I will see you all next week!


April 14, 2010

Eco-Wednesday with Garden of Holly (+ GIVEAWAY!)

A little decision I've been toying with since Eco-Clean How-To Week - is to make Wednesdays a special weekly feature around here at my wee EVA Blog: Eco-Wednesdays! Each Wednesday will focus on eco-friendly DIY recipes, indie businesses (and maybe giveaways), lifestyle tips & tricks, and as you know - I love shopping...so of course, cool eco-friendly stuff. For our first Eco-Wednesday, we have a Guest Blogger, Holly Grippe, from Garden of Holly at Etsy (She's also our first Guest Blogger, yay!)!

Garden of Holly is proud to offer a line of beauty products and cleaning supplies that are non-toxic and synthetic free. All of our products are handcrafted in small batches and made to order.  We use only fresh organic, certified organic, and wild crafted ingredients.  Only therapeutic grade essential oils are used in our products.  Also, none of our materials are ever subjected to high heat. These facts, as well as obtaining almost 100% of our supplies from local suppliers, allow us to offer the most fresh and potent products possible.  Our products are rich in minerals and vitamins readily absorbed by the skin. 

I love introducing new customers to the radiance and health that can be experienced using healing aromatic herbs and oils. I feel that looking beautiful should not come at the expense of your health or the health of our planet. Men, women, young and old, all use personal care products every day. Soap, lotion, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, sunscreen, makeup, etc.; what products do you use daily? We feel it is important to know what’s coming in contact with your skin. At Garden of Holly, we recognize that everything you put on your skin enters your body through your pores and is carried throughout your entire body by the circulatory system. That is the reason we never use any parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, synthetic preservatives, artificial fragrances or dyes

Garden of Holly is excited to offer one lucky EVA Blog reader a wrapped, 4 0z. Healthy Hands Organic Protective Hand Cream! 

To enter the giveaway, just visit the Garden of Holly Etsy shop, and return to the EVA Blog with a comment about your favorite product! As always, extra entries can be obtained by tweeting, facebooking, and blogging the giveaway. Giveaway will run until April 23rd, 11:59 PST.

April 8, 2010

Dreaming of a Garden

Hi Everyone,

The taxes are done - with minimal damage done. Yessss! And so now, onto what I've been dreaming about (besides bicycles)...gardening, gardens, flowers, succulents, ornamental grasses, firepits, barbecues...it's definitely safe to say I'm ready for skipping spring and heading straight into summer. Which, according to the locals where I live (Bend, OR), is likely to happen. It has been snowing on-and-off since the Spring Equinox. Today we're due for a massive snow-storm (according to the local weather guy who can never get it right, because the weather here is that strange). 

So, enough about snowstorms while you all start your seeds and enjoy your bulbs pushing their way up through the ground. Today, I just have to share some great finds with you all about gardens, planters, DIY projects, etc! Since I can expect to be kept indoors for awhile (til June I hear), I'm thinking about making some of these sweet seed packets for local friends...

Or maybe just getting one of these adorable succulent planters from Succulent Love to tie me over for a while...

I'd be soooo happy if I could scrounge up some cash to pay for a big indoor meadow like this...

or just had the know-how to make and care for these amazing gorgeous indoor hanging plants...
And I'm still dreaming of the snow-melt, and lounging outdoors. I've found the ideal and over-the-top expensive hanging chair that's just perfect for under the Juniper Pine in the backyard...
More Woolly Pockets products for outdoors as well, including the lovely Wally for retaining walls or just vertical surfaces of any kind (seems perfect for an herb garden)...

I've found the loveliest hammock out there...

Which, I will admit, I found on Overstock.com. I scoured Etsy for hammocks...but apparently the crafting world finds that it is far more important for either your newborn to have a knitted hammock for a photoshoot that is overdone - or your vermin to have a hammock for when they throw out their backs. It's definitely fodder for Regretsy.

Anyhoo...when the sunshine comes...I'll be on my back deck, resting (with plenty of SPF and water)...with an outdoor mini meadow on my deck, like her...

How are you getting your gardens ready? Any good finds? Please do share!

April 3, 2010

Today It's All About You! Show Us What You're Made Of!

Today, I have taxes and family on the brain - as well as a few other things. So it wasn't easy to come up with something for today's post...

So, I referred to my list of blog post ideas (if I don't keep one...well, you've seen how it can go here in the past with erratic posting)...and remembered, that I'm very very interested in YOU, friends.

If you're anything like me (and the simple fact that you are here, indicates a high likelihood you are) - you are also on the constant lookout for interesting blogs (and handicrafts).

There's just something about blogging...

But if you have a blog (or handmade product, tutorial, etc.), then you know, that promoting it can be a bitch. And I had this idea: 

There's a lot of us in this wee space called the EVA Blog at this point. And we have a lot of similar interests, ideas, talents, and aesthetics. Why not promote and share your blogs and whatnots here today - in the comments?!

And this way, all of the readers here can see your blog, thing-a-ma-jig, tutorial, and what-nots; and you can spend the day enjoying it with less time devoted to work.

Sound good? I hope so.

April 1, 2010

I Want To Ride My Bicycle, I Want To Ride My Bike...

I want to ride my bicycle! I want to ride it where I like!!!

Alas, Target Boutique has given me the Royal Screw-Over; and cancelled my order for my Darnley Bike. You may recall, it was the one I described as being even cooler than this one...

...which is now out of stock, and selling on eBay for $450. Don't even get me started...

And so, now, there will be no bike. 

At least not for a while. And I am dying to get out of the house! I have visions of bicycles dancing in my head; and dream of the freedom and benefits I could experience whilst riding one...

Prior to the whole "Liberty of London is coming to Target" excitement that ensued, I had always been content to have vintage Schwinn cruisers. They are an awesome ride - and require minimal mechanical engineering (which is good for me, since I tend to be all thumbs when handed tools). But over the course of innumerous moves, I had lost or sold my Schwinn cruisers. Whack! (that's me smacking my forehead.) I have of course been doing the eBay search, and the craigslist search - as of yet, to no avail (I'm on a really tight budget). 

And if I could just find myself a nice, vintage Schwinn Cruiser (or Speedster - they do look rather nice, don't they), then I might just have to outfit it with one of these...

both found on Etsy...

And, as much as I love Schwinn...ohmigoodness - I don't think I've ever seen bikes as cute as these Alexander Girard bikes by Electra! Liberty of London for Target can kiss my you know what...

I'm not sure which one I like the best...and there are three other designs as well...but they are pricey - $600 USD or something insane like that. Definitely cute.

I guess the point here is I've got bikes on the brain. I want one. If you've got one, and it's just been leaning against a wall, lonely, and waiting for you to take it out - don't keep it waiting. Refer to the chart above of "Benefits of a Bicycle" and get out there.

It's calling you...and you'll feel like this when you're out there - just you and your bike and the open road...

March 27, 2010

Cleanliness is Godliness, Consider Yourself A Goddess

Ladies (and Gentlemen), we are done. We have cleaned our homes from top-to-bottom in a new, efficient way. We have learned new tricks and tools to get the job done faster. We have learned how to spare the environment and our budgets by making our own cleansers from really simple ingredients. And learning how to make anything by hand makes even a sucky job like cleaning a bit more fun. Though I can't emphasize enough - really good music makes it really good too! So take a load off, Sally. You are all done.

Now, if you were once "Domestically Disabled" like me, you don't have to wake up like this anymore...

I have one more chore for you today though...and it's a quick errand - you'll be so glad you ran. Here's the shopping list for a recipe that is all about taking care of you:
  • Epsom Salt or Sea Salt (3 tbsp)
  • Baking Soda (3 tbsp) 
  • Vegetable Glycerin (1 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp of jojoba oil, kukui nut oil, or any massage oil you prefer
  • 5 drops of rose essential oil, or 1 tbsp of rose water (rose water is less expensive)
  • 5 drops of ginger essential oil, or 1/4 oz crushed fresh ginger
Mix these ingredients in a jar well, and shake vigorously, pour under the hot water. Make sure the water is as hot as you can take it, this will make the bath last longer; and your muscles thank you later.
  • 1 English Cucumber (cut into 1/2" slices)
  • Petals of 2 Fragrant Roses (preferrably red roses - the color is stimulating)
Toss these in just before you take the plunge.

You may also want to make sure you have some tea lights on hand, and buy some fresh flowers to brighten up the house - it is spring after all! Before drawing the bath, spritz your linens with your linen spray, light the tea lights, turn on some soothing music...and remember - this is you time.

I'll be back Monday with an Etsy Seller Feature and Giveaway!  Now, go shopping for those ingredients, and rest-up, Domestic Goddess.

March 26, 2010

Eco-Cleaning: In The Bedroom

In the bedroom, nearly all previous recipes and cleaning techniques apply from the living areas - and even the linen spray from the laundry day. But there is still work to be done:
  • Remove all bed linens and window treatments, launder as prescribed. If your drapery calls for dry-cleaning - try and find a "green" dry-cleaner. I'm sure there's not much green about the process; but it's gotta be better than your standard guy.
  • Now that your bed mattress is exposed, go ahead and sprinkle your lavender scented baking soda deodorizer atop. Leave it for thirty minutes. Then vacuum the mattress (be sure and use the extensions/attachments, She-Ra) , flip it over - and rotate. If you've got a pillow-top mattress, it won't be necessary or possible to flip it over; but rotate it. If you've got a standard mattress, repeat the deodorizing sprinkle, the 30 minute wait, and the vacuum. Now you've got a dust free, sweet-smelling mattress.

While those thirty minutes of baking-soda-magic are ticking away, there are a few things you can do:
  • Dust your windows inside, hose them off outside, then use your glass cleaner and a squeegee to finish the job in/out. It's time consuming, and may take an extra day - but once those flowers outside start to bloom; you'll be oh-so-happy you can see them. And if you have screens, take those down and scrub them with some dish soap and hose them off - they collect a lot of yuckiness).
  • Probably a more appropriate chore for the half hour(s) you'll have on hand are taking care of the floors: vacuum or sweep/mop.
  • ...Or, you could begin the process of storing away your winter wardrobe, and bringing the spring/summer wardrobe in. This is always my favorite part - because after an entire season or two of not seeing part of my wardrobe - it's like I've just gone on a shopping spree!
  • If there are any clothes that you can't stand any longer, don't fit you, whatever - place them in a bag or box (depending on how many there are) and donate them to your favorite cause. Or, if you're strapped for cash, take them first to your local consignment shop and see what you can get for them. Then donate.
  • And before you seal the box on that winter wardrobe, toss a couple of small rags with about 5 drops of your favorite essential oil on them to keep your clothes smelling fresh when you return to this box in Autumn.
Don't forget to give cushions a smack down, most bed pillows can and should be laundered, vacuum the upholstered lovely slipper chair or fainting chaise, and dust the knickknacks. Just reread the living room(s) post for a reminder on what needs doing. But by now, I trust you are all little eco-cleaning divas.


I love this part of the week. Everything is coming to a close, you've all been enjoying the recipes and cleaning tips; been busy little bees enjoying the spring air and ushering in the season with your new state of mind and your newfound way of eco-cleaning. We still have some more posts to come, what with the Bedroom being overdue, and a very special day of self-treats plus ANOTHER giveaway on Saturday. 

But, as a lot of you have been wondering to yourselves and aloud in your comments "Where can I find some of these basic ingredients?"...well, I've got BIG NEWS:

Okay, maybe not that big. But it came as a huge surprise to me; and will undoubtedly leave your jaw dropped...

But, this surprise giveaway will leave you feeling like a little kid on your birthday (should you win)...

And if you don't win, you are still a winner, because you will undoubtedly become more familiar with Mountain Rose Herbs, as they have generously teamed up with the EVA Blog to give one of our lucky readers a basic eco-cleaning starter kit (sans vinegar - they don't carry that)!!! Here's what you'll win:
  • 5 lb bag of Baking Soda
  • 5 lb bag of Borax
  • 16 oz Castille Soap
  • 16 0z Vegetable Glycerin
  • 1/2 oz Organic Lavender Essential Oil 
  • 1/2 oz Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 1/2 oz Organic Lemon Essential Oil
In order to be entered to win this fabulous prize, all you need to do is go visit their site; and let them know what product you'd be most interested in trying sometime (please copy & paste the link in the comments section). Also, if you aren't following/subscribed already - do so and leave your email address.

Feel free to wander through all of the product categories. For those of you who are completely new to working with bulk herbs, carrier oils, making your own teas and herbal tinctures, you might want to take a look at their Aromatherapy, Bath & Body Care, and Home, Garden & Gifts sections first. 

Extra entries are available (1 ea) for: tweet, facebook post, or blog post about this giveaway. This gives you a total of 4 possible entries!

Deadline is March 28th, 11:59PM (PST), Winner to be announced on Monday, March 29th.

If you have time while you're on their site, be sure and sign up for their newsletter - it's a bimonthly email that features timely recipes of all kinds.