detoxing my home

Is it just me or have you noticed that everyone seems to be sick or has cancer?  I work with a 32 year old mother that just underwent a double mastectomy, this is not normal.  We hear about kids with cancer all the time too.  And how horrifying is this...

Common wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the combine harvesters work through the fields as the practice allows for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest 

So maybe we aren't all gluten intolerant, maybe we are poison intolerant (read the whole article here.)  I just don't even know where to start anymore.  About a month ago I did get started on cleaning out all the toxic products from my home, and let me tell you it is an overwhelming task.  I've somewhat done this before but recently with all the cancer around me and a new grandaughter I became obsessed to get it right this time.  So this is what I've done...

I decided that nothing was off limits.  I'm sick and tired of reading labels that say "all natural" and find out they are not.  If it wasn't for the Environmental Working Group - Skin deep and Environmental Working Group - Cleaning Products, we'd all be lost.  The cross referencing of ingredients would take a lifetime.  I had to keep 4 windows open on my computer to cross check everything and that's with the EWG's website.  And then locating the safe products to purchase was proving difficult so I just narrowed it down to a few.  If you want to dig deeper be my guest but good luck.

We've been led to believe that unless our laundry smells like fake roses then it's not clean.  What they don't tell us is that those chemicals have fixatives and extenders in them and so when we lay down in our beds at night and take a deep breath of that "clean" smell what we are really breathing are chemicals that are not healthy for us.  When we put on that freshly laundered shirt those chemicals rub off on our skin.  And don't get me started on hair dye, because that shit is crazy.  We put it on our scalp (so close to our brain!) and let it sit there. How insane is that?

So here is my new list.  Thankfully it is quite simple and very effective.  But you have to be ready to change your thinking from what we've been taught, namely that heavy scent means clean.  I can assure you it almost always means it is unsafe.   Almost everything I use now is from Dr. Bronner's. I will list the things I'm using but I highly recommend you pop over and see for yourself how amazing the company and products are.  I can only attest to the products I've been using, they are working wonderfully and the scents are truly light and natural and 100% safe.  

In the Kitchen...

This is my dish soap and everyday cleaner.  I fill a 24 oz bottle with water and then pour a 1/4 cup of Sal Suds in and shake.  It's an amazing cleaner. I mix it with a little baking soda and it scrubs the sinks and tubs beautifully.  I use this on dishes and all the kitchen surfaces.  One tablespoon of this in the washing machine does a full load in our HE washer.

You can also make a paste of baking soda and vinegar and apply it to your oven walls, wait overnight and rinse.  Sparkling clean without harmful chemicals and you never have to smell Easy Off again.

In the Bath...

This is their most versatile soap they make.  You can scrub your shower with it and then yourself.  It is made with real lavender and lavender oil.  You can use this in place of the Sal Suds but the Sal Suds is more suited to cleaning.  

I've only purchased the Lemongrass Lime scent and it is amazing.  I use this for shampoo and then add the Dr. Bronner's Citrus Organic Hair Rinse.  Both are very concentrated.  You can go HERE and read Lisa Bronner's advice like I did.  My experience is that it doesn't lather up quite like the shampoo's I'm used to but it does a great job.  The hair rinse is pretty vital for someone like me with very thick hair.  It will be a trial and error session to see what works best for you.  But I'm committed and I'm happy with it.

I now have these at all the sinks in the house.  We love the peppermint.  

Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Toothpaste

Tom's of Maine Lavender Deodorant

Pure olive oil or coconut oil for moisturizing


This is a really tough area for me because I hate finding out that my favorite products are laden with chemicals that are harmful to me, and because I'm an esthetician it makes it even harder.  Luckily one of the brands that I get to work with now is called Osmosis and it is very safe and very effective. They are not listed with the EWG website but you can read about them HERE  and decide for yourself.  

So that leaves cosmetics and again, luckily, I get to work with Jane Iredale.  She is listed with the EWG and 98% of everything she makes gets the highest of rankings with the EWG.  Her loose powders are the only one with ingredients to avoid.  See her products here and here.

So that's what I've been up to. All the information is overwhelming and confusing but finally getting to the end is so sweet.  I swear my house smells fresher without all the other products.

So please do add your secrets and favorites in the comments.  I'm dying to hear!


PS - This video with Lisa Bronner is fantastic and explains it all.  Watch it HERE



What happened to April?  If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I've had trouble from time to time wondering what to write about.  Well I'm there again and I wonder how I got here.  The start of the year got off ok but then losing Melinda in February really derailed me, like big time.  I post things on INSTAGRAM because it is so easy.  Just take a pretty picture and write a few words, it really doesn't take much thought at all.  Blogging is different, it actually requires thought. So while I continue to ponder this subject, here are some images of the last month.  Please forgive me but it's all I got.

My rose garden has exploded like it always does.  And so has my allergies.  This year has been one of the worst on record for my allergies.  It's such a shame that the roses can only come inside for a quick picture then out on the porch they go.

I picked up these 2 chairs for free from work.  They were doing some redecorating and wanted them gone.  At first I thought I'd use them for a little side project I have going on but they didn't really fit that. We placed them on the porch and are really enjoying them.

This is the little side project I'm talking about.  It's for a young couple who used to date in high school, then went their separate ways.  After they both survived divorce they have blended their family and between them have 5 kids. So I'm helping them set up a home on a minuscule budget. Every single thing you see in the above photo was free or close to it.

I adore the fabric on the sofa.  It's making putting together the rest of the house a breeze.  Everything goes with it.

Since I've been scouring thrift stores and yard sales, I came upon these lovely bargains at the Goodwill.  A few weekends back the Goodwill was celebrating their 100th year anniversary and had a huge sale. On top of the sale everyone got a $10 giftcard. So my total spent was $1.50 for a pair of brand new Cynthia Rowley trellis capris, a Ralph Lauren striped shirt, a vintage I. Magnin spring tweed coat and a brand new J. Crew dress.

I mentioned on Instagram that I now know whether or not I made a good purchase by how quickly and often I actually wear the item. Sometimes things languish in my closet for unknown reasons. Well these capri pants have been worn so often I think everyone around me is sick of them - except me.

I also came across quite a bit of this Calico Corners fabric.  It was such a great buy that I couldn't resist. I have lots of plans for it.  If you'd be interested in any of it let me know in the comments.

So that's about it.  I hope you are all doing well and I hope to find my groove soon. You are the BEST.  xo


the simplicity of flowers

I would say that my garden is nearing its peak for the entire year.  Which is exciting and kinda sad at the same time. I'm always torn between cutting the flowers and leaving them on the plant.  But I know that cutting them encourages more blooms - so cutting wins.

My allergies are also right there.  This bouquet will not be able to stay in the house for long. The scent is overwhelming and I start sneezing.

It always amazes me what a vase of flowers can do for a room, so chic.  And don't even get me started on the classic but simple power of blue and white.

The Hawthorne is going strong too.  My goodness these branches last a long time indoors. What's blooming in your neighborhood?  It seems like everywhere I go everything is going crazy.  It's all so beautiful and sweet.  x


how to stop your lipstick from bleeding

Ugh, the dreaded lipstick bleed and what to do about it. Aging can be so fun.  Elizabeth aka The Vintage Contessa brought up the subject the other day on her blog and so I thought I'd address it here too. Is there nothing worse than putting on some pretty lippy and then an hour later you take a glance in the mirror and that pretty color is now migrating up and out to every line around your lips? The darker the color and deeper the lines the worse the situation can be. You can wipe the color away but the color still lingers.  So what to do? Luckily I work with 3 professional makeup artists and they all shared their #1 tip with me!

Step 1.  Start with a clean face and lips.  Apply a lip conditioner such as Sothys Universal Smoothing Lip Filler.  At $18, this product is amazing guys.  We have several of these types of product for sale in the store but this one is THE best.  It is formulated with silicones and texturing agents that smooth and fill the lips.  It's transparent so you apply the pencil to your lips and also apply it beyond the lip creating a barrier that stops the bleed. .

Step 2.  Apply your favorite lip color.  Here we are using Sothys Lip Rouge 241.  

Step 3.  Blot the color with your fingers or a tissue.

The blotting creates more of a stain look which I think is perfect for daytime.

Without blotting leaves a classic lipstick look which I really love too.  So what do you think?  Do you have any tricks up your sleeve?  Do share because we are all in this together.  x


springtime order

Don't you love a good spring clean?  I do.  With the doors and windows open, the house is awash in the scent of the orange groves.  I love to move things around, clean inside, under and on top of everything.  The act of organizing, cleaning and purging honestly thrills me.  There is that sense of a fresh start, you know?

Hawthorne clipped from the garden.

One of the things I liked best about Country Living styling my pantry was the use of baskets to control odds and ends.  

Also, I stole the idea that my friend K uses in the Fuchsia Dome.  I swapped the bulky wooden hangers for these sleek velvet covered ones and gained about a foot of hanging space.  Critical in a one closet house.

Do you remember this Lily of the Valley lamp I bought at an estate sale a couple of years ago for $7?

I swapped the shade with the $2 lamp I bought at a thrift store in Utah and love it. Multi-state decorating.

I love the feeling of order and calm that spring cleaning brings about, it helps me pass through this difficult time. x

ps - thank you everyone for leaving such kind, sweet and thoughtful comments about Melinda.  You have no idea what they mean to me. x


gardeny things

I remember when my garden looked like this.  The drought has changed things.  Lots of things have changed around here.  I miss Melinda SO much.  

I've always been influenced by gardens.  Nothing attracts me more than being outdoors in my garden.

Gardens influence everything in my life.  From the way I decorate to the way I dress.

I never feel more at peace than when I'm in a garden.

You know you are a true gardener not by the size of your garden or blooms but whether you find yourself saying you have yard work to do or gardening.  Yard work implies hard labor, chores and sweat. Gardening is full of that but they are all a joy.

Gardening is rhythmic.  From the expectations of spring, the excitement of summer to the darkness of winter. Gardens mimic life.  I recently came upon the following words which are pulling me out of my sadness...

All is well. x


styling tricks of the country living photo shoot

I learned an awful lot from the Country Living photo shoot and I thought it'd be fun to share some simple ideas they applied to my house.  Now that I've seen what they did here, I can look back at almost every old magazine I own and see the same principles applied to other homes.  The magazines mission is to make the rooms as pretty as possible and to appeal to the vast majority, so function is not always the main goal for them.  I'm sure what I'm about to share, you already know but seeing these little tricks done in front of me really hit home.  Take the above photo for the kitchen photographs, they brought in tons of fresh kitchen towels, pretty soaps, nice baskets, flowers and even some pretty food products.  If all they had done was exchanged these items for the ones I owned, it would have been an improvement.  Of course they went further and actually styled the rooms but the trick here is that sometimes the things we use every day can get worn, tired looking and we can become blind to that.  Freshening them up can have a big impact.

The pantry is a great example of that idea.  Most everything in this room is mine but they brought in those 2 bottom baskets which hide lots of random things and give it an organized, clean look.  The dish towels stacked and the jars of fresh herbs from the garden, some pretty food packaging is a nice touch too. So use what you have in fresh ways.  Those towels came from Home Goods and I think they were $6 for a package.  They went so far as to take the labels off the bottled water which, 1. I never buy bottled water and 2. who has the time for that, but 3. it sure looks pretty.

In the above photo, that lamp next to the stove does not work for everyday use because I have very little counter space and I don't need the extra lighting so the lamp is gone but that pitcher on the warming shelf?  It stays because it's perfect for transporting water from the sink which is across the room. Same with the stack of platters, I don't know why I never thought of this before. Also, fresh clipped herbs next to the stove, so easy and so pretty.

This is where I had the painting Alex had recently given me before Country Living got here.  I knew I wanted it above the stove and they agreed so it's one of the first things we did.  Just moving things around is one of the best styling secrets I noticed.

Compare the above 2 photos.  Can you see how the stylist really filled the shelves?  It looks so good in the photo but in real life it's too hard to get to what I need on a daily basis.  These are all my things except for the dish towel and small potted plant.  How easy is this to freshen things up?  It helps if you have the eye of an excellent stylist like Janna Lufkin too. :)

Again, everything in this shot, I already owned, it's just being used in a new way.  The silver tray holding all the cups of essentials, the garden stool holding fresh towels and a new soap.  Simple.

I love the lemon tree that they brought in.  It gives the space such an open and airy look.  Of course a lemon tree won't live inside but another indoor plant might.  Simple cut branches from the garden in clear vases again, repeat the look.  The crystal decanters on the bar do the same thing.  I didn't realize it at the time but that open airy look really is pulling the whole house together.

I wasn't thrilled that they didn't want to use my old lamp but I have to say this clear glass one really carries out that airy feeling in here.  So the house begins to flow from room to room.  To me this shot would be perfection if those pillows were not on the bed.  I tried to put my foot down but you see what that got me.:)

Green healthy plants make such a big difference.  Also, love the way the trellis pattern on the pillow picks up the trellis pattern on the small side table.

And even though the living room was not included in the magazine, Those clear cylinder vases (purchased at the Goodwill) with fresh branches do look lovely.

I'm committed to...

1. Keeping fresh plants and greenery in the house.
2. Replacing old worn out towels in the kitchen/bath.
3. When i want a change, just move what I already own around for a whole new perspective.
4.  Keep things uncluttered, light and airy.
5.  Live as beautifully, simply and frugally as possible.

Oh and P.S.

Who knew?