Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - February 2016

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

Eco-friendly Beauty How to Clean Makeup Brushes at Home

How to Clean Makeup Brushes at Home

makeup brushes

Cleaning Makeup Brushes with White Vinegar and Olive Oil

When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes?  If the answer is “never”, you might want to re-think your strategy. According to experts, we should be cleaning our brushes at least once a month to keep them free of dirt and bacteria.  Dirty brushes cause all sorts of skin irritations and even promote wrinkles.

Before you throw out your current brush stash, give them a quick clean using these all-natural ingredients you probably have at home:

Extra-virgin olive oil
Liquid Castile soap (or any mild soap)
Distilled white vinegar
Warm water

Once you have all the ingredients ready, it’s only a few simple steps to have like-new, clean makeup brushes:

  • Pour some olive oil onto a clean washcloth (about a teaspoon worth). Then gently press the bristles of your dirty brush back and forth into the oil until it is saturated. Here you just want to moisten the bristles and loosen the dirt–avoid getting oil onto the handle of the brush because it may ruin the glue that keeps the bristles on the brush.


  • Combine the Castile soap and warm water into a bowl. Swish the brush back and forth in the soapy water. Use your fingers to wash the bristles and release any embedded dirt. Do this process one brush at a time and then use a fresh bowl of cleaner for each brush. Repeat as necessary until each brush is cleaned fully.


  • Pour 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar into another bowl. Put your clean and squeeze-dried brush (bristles only) into the vinegar. This step will kill any bacteria that may be on the brush.  Do not get the handle wet.


  • Lastly, rinse the brush under warm water. Squeeze any extra water from the brush, reshape the bristles and place each brush into a brush guard or turn brushes upside down in a clean toothpaste holder or dish rack to dry. You don’t want the excess water to run into the handle.


Cleaning your brushes regularly will not only keep your skin healthy, but will make the brushes last longer and perform better.

Talk to us:  How often do you clean your makeup brushes?


image courtesy of flickr CC/Sodanie Chea


Breakfast Ideas Breakfast Recipes Simplifying morning routines

Warm (& Quick) Breakfast Ideas


While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it isn’t always the easiest to throw together, especially on chilly weekday mornings.  Here are some quick, hot breakfast ideas that will not only be good for your family, but will be good for your schedule–many of these can be made ahead of time and warmed up before heading out the door.

Steel Cut Oats – Much healthier than boxed oatmeal and the perfect make ahead breakfast. The night before, bring the oats to a boil with hot water, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. In the morning, all you have to do is heat up a cup of the now-tender oatmeal in the microwave or on the stovetop and add some fruit and honey to sweeten your bowl!

Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Bars – If you’re not a fan of oatmeal in a bowl, but you like oatmeal cookies, then these bars are perfect for you. Made ahead, then warmed before eating, the dried or fresh fruit with cinnamon will melt in your mouth.

Crepes – These light Dutch pancakes can be made ahead, and then stuffed with anything you’d like – bacon and eggs or fruit and whipped cream.

Pancake Bars – When the kids are in the mood for pancakes, but you’re not in the mood for the flipping, turn that batter into pancake bars!  Dump your batter into one big pan, add some apples and a streusel topping and pop it in the oven!  Voila!

Crustless Quiche – Mini-quiches are the perfect make-ahead breakfast!  This recipe makes 48– enough to freeze to have for several weeks!  Don’t like zucchini and basil?  Substitute the ingredients for anything you’d like such as ham, sausage, bacon or another vegetable.

Breakfast Pizza – Pizza for breakfast?  Yes!  You can have a tasty breakfast pizza in minutes!

Egg in a Nest – This is the quickest and easiest way to have eggs and toast for breakfast!  Cook them both at the same time when you make egg in a nest for breakfast!

No matter which breakfast you choose, your family will be happy, warm and ready to face the day with a full stomach!


Talk to us:  What is your best secret for getting your family fed & out the door on weekday mornings?


image from
Home accessories Home Design Interior design ideas

5 Ways to Add Quirky Quotes to Your Home

Are you already missing the cute sayings found on the candy hearts you received for Valentine’s Day?  No worries.  Today’s home designers have taken quirky quotes off of the candy and have put them on some stylish elements for your home.  Here are 5 of our favorites:




Throw sweet (or not-so-sweet) nothings on your couch and bed with these whimsical throw pillows from Esty.  We found this one from NanaNewHandmade which also includes phrases such as “Always wear your invisible crown” and “Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.”






Before your guests even come through the front door, let them know what to expect.  We laughed out loud at this doormat from  This easy-to-clean mat is good for indoor or outdoor use.






Even your coasters can make a statement!  These cocktail party coasters from will turn any party or get together into a fun affair—and keep your tables from getting rings from your drinks.







For appetizers or tapas, these small plates (comes in a set of 4) from Kate Spade New York offer your guests something to think about before and after eating their tasty treats.  Nothing like having your plate encourage you to go for seconds!







Brooklyn-based maker Alexandra Ferguson shares an entire line of “outspoken housewares” made from recycled and organic materials.  We love her fun placemats—not only for the witty sayings, but the dark color is the perfect accent for all tableware and foods.





Talk to us:  What is your favorite “quote” accessory for the home?


DIY Projects w/ Cards Reusing Valentines Valentine's Day

4 Ways to Reuse Your Child’s Valentine’s Day Cards


When your children come home from school with their handmade mailbox, filled to the rim with valentines from their classmates, don’t just throw them all away!  Instead, use this opportunity to reuse them and create some practical things for around the house.


We love this idea from because it’s not only fun, but it will save your tables from getting white rings left behind by your drinks! Gather your valentines, a foam core or mat board, fancy paper, and glossy decoupage glue and keep the love of those cute cards around your home long after February. Click here for full instructions.




IMG_5497Paper Bowl
Need a whimsical place to keep your keys, change or other small and often lost items? has the perfect solution:  Stitch your valentines together into a functional bowl.  Following the template on her website, you will turn valentines, glue and yarn into a practical–and pretty–place for all your knick knacks. Click here for the full instructions.




finalshot2Photo Mat
This idea from is for reusing wedding cards, but we loved the idea of making a photo mat from the colorful images of valentines.  What a fun way to display photos of your kids all year long (hint:  this would also be a fun project for birthday cards–putting a picture of the birthday boy or girl in the finished mat!).




Create cute picture magnets by looking for smaller images (or letters!) that you simply “Mod Podge” onto clear accent gems.  Click here for the complete directions from PopSugar. Magnets made with letters or words are a great way to work with your children on reading and writing skills–your refrigerator could become a daily spelling board!




With these tips, you can reclaim Valentine’s Day and put your child’s valentines to good and practical use–enjoy!


Talk to us:  Do you have a favorite DIY project using old cards?  We’d love to hear your ideas!


image courtesy of flickr CC/Suzanne LaGasa
All-natural cleaning tips Cleaning with vinegar How to use vinegar

Vinegar Uses 101


How To Use Vinegar for Cleaning Your Home

We have mad love for a product that is probably in your pantry at this very moment: vinegar. Disguised as a common cooking ingredient, this powerhouse liquid has the ability to clean your home, deodorize smelly spaces and promote overall good health. What’s not to love?

Mixing one part white vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle will give you a quick, all-around household cleaner that can be used for numerous tasks like wiping down appliances, cleaning your bathroom fixtures or shining up mirrors and windows. As you begin to get a good vibe for vinegar, here are 5 more ways vinegar can help keep your home clean, fresh and healthy:


Deodorize your garbage disposal by freezing vinegar in an ice cube tray. According to, grinding up the vinegar cubes in the disposal will clean and sharpen the blades all at the same time.

Unclog a drain by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup white vinegar. As soon as it stops foaming, cover and let it sit for 30 minutes before flushing it with boiling water. This eco-friendly (and inexpensive) cleaning solution causes a lot less damage to your pipes than regular commercial cleaners.

Clean your dishwasher by pouring 1 cup of vinegar into the bottom tub and running it through one cycle without any dishes. suggests doing this once every month or two to remove built-up soap residue. In addition to keeping your appliance clean, this once-every-month task may prolong the life of your dishwasher.

Out of dryer sheets? No problem, simply add 3/4 cup of white vinegar to your washer during the final rinse cycle. This simple step not only will help keep clothes soft and lint-free, but it will also eliminate soap residue from both your clothes and the washing machine.

Remove stale cigarette smells and other odors with two cups of white or raw apple cider vinegar. Pour into a spray bottle and spritz around the room or place it in a bowl and allow it to sit in the room for a day. Also, while cooking fish, boil a small pot of vinegar to clear the air. Unlike store-bought air fresheners that usually cover up smells, the acetic acid in vinegar absorbs the odor.


Talk to us: What are some other creative uses you have found for vinegar?


image courtesy of flickr CC/Chris Martin
Healthy Recipes Super Bowl Food Super Bowl Party Super Bowl Party Ideas

Healthy (& Tasty!) Super Bowl Party Foods


This Sunday, as many Americans are watching the big game (Super Bowl Sunday!), they will also be chowing down on an entire day’s worth of calories.  Yes, you read right—according to, the average football fan will eat any entire day’s worth of calories DURING the game (it’s actually the second biggest day of gluttony after Thanksgiving!).   If you would like to keep your Super Bowl party healthy as well as tasty, try these delicious recipes from


Vodka-Lemon Chicken Wings – Chicken wings are essential during the big game!  Here is a fresh new take on the traditional wing.

1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, tips trimmed off

In a large bowl or re-sealable plastic bag, combine vodka, lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Add the chicken wings and mix to coat. Cover bowl or seal bag and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a 9- by 13-in. baking pan with two layers of foil. Arrange the chicken wings in a single layer in the pan, and pour the marinade evenly over all. Bake until meat is well browned and pulling away from the bone, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Calories: 173
Fat: 11 grams


Warm Spinach-Artichoke Dip – Skip the store bought dip with tons of fat and calories and make this low fat version at home!

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (16-ounce) can lima (or butter) beans, drained
1 cup light mayonnaise
4 ounces tub-style fat-free cream cheese
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
3/4 cup pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 8 ingredients (through mustard) in a food processor, and process until smooth (about 15-20 seconds). Add remaining ingredients; pulse 5 times, then process until mixture is consistent throughout (about 10 seconds). With a rubber spatula, transfer mixture evenly to a 1-quart casserole dish, smoothing top. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly at the edges. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes.

Calories: 59
Fat: 4 grams


Zucchini Chips – Want a salty snack that’s good for you?  Try these amazing zucchini chips:

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

Calories: 61
Fat: 1.9 grams


Smoky Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Dip – You need to have a snack for the kids!  They’ll never know these chicken fingers are good for them!

Cooking spray
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon barbecue smoked seasoning (such as Hickory Liquid Smoke)
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons garlic and herb seasoning
2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips

Honey-Mustard Dip:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400º. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork to combine. In a separate shallow dish, combine milk and liquid smoke. In a third shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, oats, and garlic seasoning. Dip chicken into flour, and turn to coat both sides; shake off any excess flour. Transfer chicken to milk mixture and turn to coat. Transfer to the breadcrumb-oat mixture, and turn chicken to coat. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet, and spray tops of strips with cooking spray. Bake 25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and crust is browned. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together mustard and honey.

Calories: 190
Fat: 4 grams


Fudgy Chocolate BrowniesYou’ve got to have dessert at the end of the meal!  Believe it or not, here is a healthy brownie!

5 tablespoons stick margarine
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup Dutch process or unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 325°. Melt margarine and chocolate in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa; cook 1 minute. Stir in sugar, and cook 1 minute (mixture will almost form a ball and be difficult to stir). Remove pan from heat; cool slightly. Gradually add warm chocolate mixture to egg whites and egg, stirring with a whisk until well-blended. Combine flour and baking powder; add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring well. Spoon batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.

Calories: 132
Fat: 4.3 g



Talk to us:  What is tip for hosting a healthy & fun Super Bowl party?


image courtesy of flickr CC/LuAnn Snawder Photography


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