Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pampering yourself is good for your health!

I am not writing here about going to a spa every week and spending money on yourself that will get your husband to remind you that it's time to save not splurge on 'uneccessary things'.
Here I am talking about learning to take care of yourself without breaking the bank and being creative if you do not have a lot of time on your hands.
As a mother of three children, I've learned the importance of taking care of myself. I am still in the learning process actually but in spite of the fact that I do not have any family around to help with the kids and that I lack a strong support system I have created small ways of pampering and loving myself.  I have learned that:
I can not give what I don't have. So I have learned to give to myself  some love throughout the day so that I can love my children and husband. I consider pampering myself an act of love to myself and a gift to those that surround me because taking care of myself in the best of my ability and resources help me to take care of others. You all know the scripture that ask us to love others as we love ourselves. Well, we have to have a healthy love for ourselves if we are to love others.                                  

Gift basket by Nnakodesigns.All rights reserved.

Gift basket by Nnakodesigns.All rights reserved.
My first acts of love to myself every morning are:
Kneeling for prayer even if its just 5 mns. Aside from my daily prayer time I just kneel briefly in the morning as an act of gratitude and reverence for God.        

Stretching my body.  It's important to get the blood to flow and my body's energy 'reset' for the day. I will write later on the importance of stretching. 

Seating somewhere with a cup of Green tea and fresh mint preferrably from my garden. During the spring and summer time I sit on my front or back porch and enjoy the calmness of my surroundings before the kids are up and before the neighbors start leaving for work. 

Going on short walk with Cotton my maltese if time and the weather permit.
While on those walks I love to pay attention to the sound of the birds, and all my surroundings.
I consider those short and simple actions ways of pampering myself because they leave me feeling grounded and ready for my day .  

My bedtime ritual consists of :                 
Lighting only table lamps in the bedroom
Burning a vanilla or lavender soy candle
Spraying my pillows and sheets with lavender linen spray
Placing a glass of water by my bedside
Applying some oil or lavender lotion on my feet, rubbing them and putting on some spa socks for the night
Once in a while I do the same for my hands by rubbing and massaging them in oil before fitting them in my spa gloves for the night!
Reading something inspiring or writing in my journal things I am grateful for and
Saying a last prayer of gratitude for the day


Another way of pampering myself that is dear to me is my eating ritual.
Unless we are eating dinner as a family, I prefer to eat all my meals peacefully and quietly with or without the sound of music in the background.  I also drink my water in a very nice glass and always use my nicest dishes and a nice cloth napkin.
I know that most people reserve their best dishes for their guests. I do not reserve any 'special' dishes for my guests. I use it for myself too. 

Once a week, generally Fridays, I take a block of time to soak in the tub, give myself a  manicure and pedicure and just take it easy
 I do no housekeeping on that day and limit my activities. Well, simply put its my Me Time (smiles). Come 6pm I consider myself on a Sabbath. Every chores will have to wait Saturday evening or Monday.

Of course, I love the benefits of a professional massage but I do not get to indulge as frequently as I want.
The one thing I indulge into weekly is getting my hair done. I am picky about getting my hair done at the end of the week.
 However, I am not picky on who does my manicure and pedicure and I actually love doing this myself.  My reason for it  is that it gives me the flexibility to choose the music I want to listen to, I am not waiting to be helped, I can read a book or watch any TV channel I want while I am doing my manicure and pedicure. I am very picky about the kind of music that's played in public places. At home, I can enjoy pampering myself and enjoy the silence or the music I choose to listen to.
 In addition to that, I make my own beauty treats, even throw some of my dried rose petals in the water and instead of soaking my feet in commercial products I simply boil my own herbs, add some oil of my choosing and soak my feet as long as I want to.
Once in a while I get myself pampered from head to feet at a Salon. But for days when it's not convenient to do it professionally I can pamper myself from the comfort of my own home without spending any extra money.
The other thing I love to do which I consider is pampering myself is dressing myself nicely, putting some perfume and a few jewelries on even if I am staying at home most of the day.
My theory is that I want to inspire myself when I pass by the mirror even when I am in comfortable 'home clothes'. I want to see something pretty every time I step in the bathroom and it's important because it keeps me in a good mood.
I do not keep nor wear any piece of clothing that has a hole or a stain on or that looks worn out. Comfort to me means that comfortable clothes are also nice clothes.

Another creative way I pamper myself is to display my dish soap in a nice soap dispenser,
 keep a scented hand lotion and hand soap by the kitchen sink                                                   and                             some nice hand towels around versus old raggedy kitchen towels. Next to it stand a small vase of fresh flowers.  Considering all the time we spend in a kitchen I think it's important to add small things that will bring us pleasure. Pampering myself is surrounding myself with cute things in every room and keeping every room very orderly.
Order and cleanliness throughout the house from bathroom counter to living room sofa is for me a way of pampering myself because chaos create stress but order is restful. 
And rest is what we want when we pamper ourselves. Pampering is not just something to be done in an expensive spa facility it's something that can be done daily in small increments that add up to a healthy life


So to people who do not have time or money to go regularly to the salon, get a professional manicure and pedicure, know that you can pamper yourself even when you feel like it's a luxury. Get the best cosmetic product you can afford, get yourself some new towels, replace your pillows or bed sheets, get a fancy glass cloth napkin and plate set, keep your favorite things around, take a shower or bath light some tea candles and turn some soft music on and start treating yourself even if it's just 15 mns a day. Turn a daily routine into a special ritual . You deserve to value and treat yourself after a long hard day. 

Treat yourself by offering yourself a clean and clutter free home ( and car)  and add little touches of beauty around you. I am confident that it will improve your emotional/mental health and impact other areas of your life.
Taking good care of yourself is a necessity and it's okay to indulge yourself daily. You just have to be creative about it, but it starts just where you are.
Please let me know how you pamper yourself on a daily/weekly basis and if any of those suggestions worked for you let me know which one are now part of your daily routine.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Easy healthy and chemical free ways of keeping your house clean

We can't talk of being healthy and not mention the role that household chemical play on our health. With many toxic agents present in our daily life its important to limit as much as possible our exposure to toxicity and utilize the natural products we have and make the best use of them.

I love to clean my house with natural homemade products which not only are they cheaper but they are not toxic. With three children around the house I feel comfortable knowing that my cleaning products do not present a threat to them.  What's even more appealing to homemade cleaner is the fact that all your ingredients are already available in your kitchen cupboard or pantry.  My main cleaning ingredients are:
Baking Soda
White distilled vinegar 
Olive oil              
The first three offer such a vast array of usage that it's beyond the scope of this article to list all the many ways one could use them.  So below I will share only how I personally use them in my home on a daily basis.

My recipe for cleaning my floors and countertops is simply to mix in a spray bottle some white vinegar and water. I do not even measure but generally I put 1/4 vinegar and 3/4 water. 
I just spray directly on my floor just like one would spray with the swiffer wetjet. I actually use the swiffer wetjet and disposable pads but instead of the swiffer's cleaning solution I use my own. If I want to add some fragrance I just put one drop of aromatic oil of my choice like lavender or eucalyptus.

Wash fresh vegetables with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar in 1 ½ quarts of water.

Cleaning countertop
I clean my countertops with the same solution I use for my floors and if I have some cut lemons which is often I mix some fresh lemon juice to my solution to clean my countertops and wipe the dinning table.

Cleaning the sink
I clean my sink again with the same homemade solution and in addition to that  I use half a lemon to scrub the whole sink.

Cleaning windows and mirrors
Same thing again. Just plain water and vinegar would do it. You can even use old newspapers to clean your windows instead of using a rag. Have you noticed that there is some Windex window cleaning  products containing vinegar?!

Cleaning wood cabinets and furniture
To polish my cabinets I mix 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil. I polish with a soft cloth and voila!!!

Cleaning bathtub and shower
For tubs and shower I mainly use baking soda. Only once in a while will I use a powder like Comet.

Cleaning greasy pots and pans
I use baking soda and half a lemon to scrub my pots and degrease them. Then I wash them with soap and water.

Homemade fridge odor absorber
You can place some baking soda in your fridge to absorb odors.
To add a fragrance to your fridge (smiles). I like the idea of the fridge being clean and smelling fresh, I simply dip a few cotton balls in vanilla flavoring and place the cotton balls in the fridge. I replace them every two weeks.

Homemade air freshener
To have the house smells good without spraying anything in the air I simply boil some fresh mint leaves, or lemon balm leaves in a pot.  The fresh smell of boiling leaves quickly spread throughout the house. This is more feasible during the spring and summer time as lemon balms and mint grow profusely.  I don't have yet a homemade solution for the winter season. So during the winter months I rely on burning candles. Soy candles are my favorites.

Cleaning a house can be easy and very inexpensive. Using homemade products offer you the advantage of staying away from chemical that not only are poisonous should they be swallowed by your pet or child but those products can be precursors to conditions such as asthma, headaches, migraines, allergies just to name a few.

Why use lemons: lemons have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. In addition to that they smell good, reason why many controversial cleaning product have lemons in them.

Why use vinegar: Its antiseptic and all natural.

For more use for vinegar check . The information above are things that I do myself on a daily basis but vinegar,baking soda and lemons have much more household uses than the few I mentioned. I will add more as I experience them myself.

Please share any one of your own natural cleaning tips and let me know which one of the one above is more likely to be part of your housekeeping regimen.