Author

Tadpole

Photographer, Artist, Confectioner, Organic Gardener, Alternative Healer, Conservationist.

Better Sleep with Pink Light Apps

So many people have trouble falling asleep at night, and there are lots of pills for that… but:

What you might not know is that our modernized activities we think we’re relaxing or unwinding with at the end of the day are actually the things keeping us up at night.

Our brains are amazing. They’re computers with unlimited storage space!

In the brain, the hypothalamus controls the sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) and is linked directly to the day and night time cycles of the planet. When light shines in early in the morning, it says: “human, wake up now” and as the day progresses, and becomes a more warm toned light, the brain slows down and says: “human, get tired, it’s almost bed time”

Throw in the phone, the computer, the tablet, and it’s a major disaster for that poor master clock, the Hypothalamus!

It doesn’t know what to do, it thinks the sun is rising again, but you never went to bed in the first place… oh what is a poor brain to do?

Blue light that comes from our screens can set up your brain to refuse sleep when you finally do go to bed. It can take, on average an hour longer to fall asleep after using a device with a screen. But don’t we all mess with the phone right before bed? Lots of us use the phone as an alarm clock, so we set it up right before bed. Even the ambient lighting on some air purifiers are blue! We don’t want that in the bedroom. Put a piece of black electrical wiring tape over it if you can’t turn it off. (maybe even just a band-aid or cute sticker)

As far as the screens go, there’s an app for that! All of them, although they have different names, are a pink screen overlay. You can adjust the brightness and time that it comes on. The one I have automatically detects the time zone and gives me the right light at the right time so I can sleep. (It’s called Twilight on Android, F.lux on the computer. F.lux says they’re coming to Apple soon, but in the meantime they do have a paid app equivalent)

The Twilight program does interfere with some programs but it’s easy to swipe down and pause it. It’s definitely worth it! You barely even notice the subtle pike hue, and it’s completely adjustable. I’d be up all night without mine! I would imagine the effects on children would be at least equal if not more pronounced than in adults. That pink screen might be a big help… unless of course you wear pink sunglasses all the time, in that case you’re already covered.

A Simple Gift Idea

You only need a Plant, a Teacup, and Soil.


This is a simple gift that is completely unique. You can pick out the perfect teacup that suits the giftee’s personality.

It’s not just exclusive to teacups, you can use almost any container.
An antique creamer works well, and if you keep it for yourself, you get to have it on display instead of hiding it in a cupboard.


African Violets are a great small container plant. They do well in humid conditions, so a bathroom or kitchen window is ideal. African Violets have flowers in colours ranging from hot pink, to light pink, white, bright purple and fancier variations with ruffles and colour tipped petals.
If a leaf snaps off, you can stick the stem right back in the soil and it will start to grow roots. (more plants for gifts) Just water it as you normally would and it will turn into a whole new plant.

 

 

This one is great for a kitchen or office. The cup just makes you cheerful looking at it!

It’s a great way to get rid of those mismatched cups or to reuse a chipped or cracked cup that might otherwise end up in the trash.

Spider plants like the one above are easy to care for and can tolerate lower light situations and some neglect. Great for the “not so green” thumbs out there. They also help remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene according to NASA’s clean air study.  Spider plants are nontoxic to cats and dogs.

Besides the Spider plant and African Violets, a Jade makes a really cute house plant.

 

Coleus plants are good candidates for smaller containers and come in amazingly bright colours.
They do need quite a bright window, but for all the colours they come in, I’m sure there’s something for every taste.

 

Superfine Rainbow Color Pride Coleus

Skin, Hair and Nails

The Hair

Dull skin, brittle nails, hair that never gets any longer?
There’s a fix for that and it’s easier than you might think.

After having an illness that required me to find a way to really nourish the connective tissues and mucous membranes, I’ve discovered that those same vitamins and supplements also help build great hair, fingernails and skin.

Since regular pharmaceutical medications didn’t work, and made me so much sicker I had to find natural alternatives. The things I needed turned out to fix my cosmetic problems too. Yippee! Anti-inflammatory supplements apparently have major benefits to one’s appearance.

My hair grows so fast that it’s hard to keep up with the new growth at the top! I have to touch-up or re-colour it every 2 weeks. I go from a dark brown, extremely copper colour to light blonde, so it definitely causes some damage… And it still grows and doesn’t break as much as it used to, even though it used to be much shorter.

I am a gardener and I don’t usually wear gloves, I wash dishes, I make jewelry, and yes at times my fingernails are garbage, but they also grow really fast and strong. For years I had soft nails with ridges and grooves, I couldn’t wear polish because they showed too much. They just broke off or never really got anywhere… Now I could climb a wall with them. They still break from time to time, but they usually look pretty good. I still can’t wear nail polish but that’s only because it can’t take the punishment I give it. It just wears, scrapes or peels off… It’s not worth the trouble to me, although I do find that clear nail polish helps maintain longer fingernails. I don’t mean really long, but moderate nice fingernails.

Spur of the moment picture, with shorter not too well kept nails!

As far as skin goes, I don’t have any issues with dryness, redness, or anything out of the ordinary. I used to have average minor problems. I believe I look a lot more hydrated than some people my age or even younger.
It’s probably a combination of the supplements and drinking good quality water that doesn’t contain fluoride, chlorine, chloramines, hormones or anything else that’s detrimental to health. The first thing we need is water.

You can get the filters here if you’re in Canada

I have very negative lung reactions to chlorine and chlorine gas in the air, so I really must avoid it at all costs. (the main health issue I’m dealing with)
Even if it doesn’t noticeably bother you, does it make sense to drink a disinfectant or inhale the fumes that we know cause lung damage?
I love Berkey filters for drinking water, (black filter inside, not the ceramic one) You can use it anywhere.
The Berkey filters last for years and you know you’re safe using it no matter what the water supply. Even lake water or while traveling. There have been extensive tests done on the system and it clearly comes out on top. Berkey systems remove bacteria, viruses, lead, VOCs, mercury, pesticides and more.

You can get a Berkey water filter on Ebay or Amazon, or a host of other places.

I think shower filters are a must. At least as important as drinking water filters. A little preventative is worth so much. Chlorine vaporizes at around 80°F or 27°C and quickly fills the room when you’re in the shower. The lungs provide a direct route into the bloodstream as you inhale it. Showers are supposed to be a place to relax and recharge, not get bogged down with chemicals. You absorb more chlorine from a quick shower than you would if you were drinking it! No one needs that.

Aside from impacting your general and lung health, chlorine can damage hair, skin and just smell unpleasant. With a filter, you can avoid most of this. The shower filter that Berkey makes even reduces the amount of water you use in the shower, and in turn can lower your bills and be better for the environment. You can find them at Amazon, Ebay, or here, in Canada.

So, on to the supplement list! 

Zinc; we need this! Zinc helps maintain the integrity of skin and mucosal membranes, and shortens the duration of colds. It’s a multi tasker.
It helps the immune system do what it needs to do to keep us going strong.

Biotin; helps keep your skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy.
Builds tissue and can help you maintain a better general mood. Who doesn’t want that?

Vitamin C;  Good for everything. Reduces DNA damage caused by solar exposure.
It plays a role in collagen synthesis, and can even help stop allergic attacks! You need to take 1000mg or 1 gram for allergies. I use it for that purpose as well as it’s usual benefits. If it works for my severe allergies, it’s worth a try. I take it when I notice a big attack or when other remedies aren’t cutting it.

D2; (vegans or lanolin allergies, D3 is fine for everyone else) Improves skin condition.
Can help reduce eczema problems, and also elevates the mood, helps you deal with stress, and can help you sleep better. (If you take it in the morning, taking it at night can interfere with sleep and REM patterns) Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and can help reduce lung reactivity and asthma attacks.
Vitamin D deficiency causes secondary B vitamin deficiencies and is very common in countries that have a substantial winter season.

B Multi-Vitamin; From skin problems to cancer, B vitamins are very beneficial. They help control stress, help us digest food, and even help us to make our red blood cells. Some B vitamins help to burn fat, while others make us feel happier and give us energy. B2 helps reduce the frequency of migraines. (we have so many tools we don’t use)
There’s so much that the B vitamins do that I can’t list them all. A good quality supplement is essential.

MSM (methylsulfonomethane) is an organic sulfur that reduces inflammation, helps rebuild tissues, can reduce allergies, helps with joint problems, stiffness, and hasn’t been found to have any drug interactions.
It’s the fourth most abundant mineral in the body.
MSM can help improve skin’s tone, reduce redness, and eases sensitivities.
It helps counteract lactic acid, so it eases pain from exercise, as well as helps with reduced mobility due to joint injuries and arthritis. It has been amazing for me!
It helps us hold on to collagen and keratin. Sulfur (MSM) is required for the production of these compounds.
We lose collagen and healthy tissue as we get older, which is  why our skin tone and elasticity decrease. This means MSM can help you retain a youthful appearance. When combined with other antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A, you get more significant results.
It can even help you to produce more hair strands! No wonder they call it the miracle supplement.

Flax Seed Oil, Omega 3 – 6 – 9
Good for eczema and improving dull hair. Helps with PMS, and regulating hormones. Good for the heart and a lot more.

Coconut oil is not only great to eat, but it’s great as a topical treatment for any kind of dry, scaly, or cracked skin.

Now down to the price! I get all my supplements from SwansonVitamins because it’s the only place where I can find what I need at an affordable price, without added fillers that I’m allergic to. They’re not even a fraction of the cost they would be locally for me.
The Swanson Brand of supplement is a no nonsense product that you can count on.
They list every ingredient, and have great customer service too.
I’ve been ordering from them for over 10 years.
I’ve ordered from a lot of other places online over the years and have always been disappointed with the quality overall. (even if the price is a little lower, it’s not worth the wasted time and money when the supplement is useless)
Sometimes sellers don’t list all of the ingredients in a supplement.
It can have added grains, soy, soybean oil, GMO and other undesirable things.
Not that all other companies are bad, just make sure you find a good quality supplement seller that carries the best.
SwansonVitamins ships to Canada and the USA. They have a money back guarantee as well.

The better you feel, the more radiant you look. Beauty really does come from within.

Please seek out medical advise from a qualified healthcare provider if you are already taking any medications or are unsure about any of the supplements.

Shopping List:

Flax Seed Oil Omega 3-6-9
Coconut Oil
MSM
B-Multi
Vit. D
Vit. C
Zinc
Biotin

This is the Recipe you’re going to Fake your Baking Skills With

In my mind this really is: The Best Chocolate Cake on Earth!
It’s a really simple great cake that’s rich and delicious, made using real ingredients.

This is the best go-to cake for any occasion. You can even use it to fake baking skills!
Everything you need to know is on this page.

Baking Gear Required:

2 – 9″ inch pans, or 2 regular sized cupcake tins and cupcake papers
(Wilton 1M Star tip if making cupcakes)

2 Bowls,  (one needs to be pretty big)
Electric mixer
Silicone spatula, handy but not entirely mandatory

Ingredients list:
2 C Sugar
1 – 3/4 C Flour
3/4 C Cocoa Powder (I use the dark kind)
1.5 Tsp Baking Powder
1.5 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1c Milk
1/2 C Vegetable Oil
2 Tsp Vanilla

1 C Boiling Water (we use this last, so put it on when you need it later)

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix it together. You can use a whisk or just a spoon or fork.

Put all the wet ingredients in a bowl, (but not the boiling water!!)
Use the electric mixer to combine everything well, but no need to beat or mix for very long.

Add the dry ingredients, or wet ingredients… depending on which is in the bigger bowl. Either way, combine them!!

Mix on a medium speed for 2 full minutes. It will be quite thick. Don’t get scared.
Now is the time for the boiling water. Add the 1 cup of boiling water to the batter.
I use the mixer to blend it in for 30 seconds or so.
It will be very thin, don’t worry. It’s the way it’s supposed to be.

If you’re making cupcakes, use a ladle to move batter to the cupcake tins. Fill them 3/4 full.
Remember to use cupcake liner papers. The tins work well for muffins, unlined, but not cakes.
You might have a couple of tins empty at the end, but that’s no big deal. I usually come up missing anywhere from 2 to 4.

If you’re using 2 – 9″ pans, coat the pans with cooking spray, or oil. You can put a teaspoon of oil in the pan and rub it around with a paper towel. Put some flour in the pan, shake it around, coat the whole interior of the pan, and do the same with the second pan. Dump out any excess flour, and tap it, to remove the excess.
Try to divide about half of the batter between each pan.

Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes for a cake or 20-25 minutes for cupcakes.
Ovens vary, so check in on them and adjust accordingly.

You can poke them with a fork when you think they’re ready. If the fork comes out clean, they’re done. (Or use a toothpick) Another way to tell is if you push gently on the top and it springs back up and doesn’t leave a major indentation, but the fork or toothpick is the easiest way to really make sure. You only need to poke the the biggest one usually.

Take them out of the tins if you made cupcakes, and let them cool for a couple of hours.
If you made cakes, let them cool for a few hours before trying to get them out of the pans.
It won’t come out of the pan if it’s hot, and if it does it will be in pieces, many pieces!
It will be much easier after it cools.

Chocolate Frosting

1 C Butter
3/4 C Cocoa Powder
1 Tsp Vanilla
4 c Icing Sugar
3-4 Tbsp Milk or Cream

Makes 3 Cups of Icing

Toss that all in a bowl, and mix mix mix. On medium high speed for about 3 minutes. If it’s really too thick, just add a little bit more milk. Watch out when you add the icing sugar and cocoa powder, it tends to fly into the air when you start mixing.

I would recommend making cupcakes if you really aren’t that experienced with baking. They’re a lot easier to make, handle and finish. The bigger cakes are less forgiving. But hey, you’re going to want to make this again… so you will get better at it over time. In the future you might even want to poke holes in those cupcakes and fill them with white frosting and maybe a maraschino cherry… then frost over the poke hole in the top.

To simply frost cupcakes, attach your tip to the bag, and fill with icing. Take a cupcake in one hand, and go around the outer edge, piping the icing onto the cake, (like an ice cream cone) in circles, until you get to the middle, and stop.

I’ve made this recipe well over a hundred times. It never leaves me disappointed. Never fails. It’s really easy once you get used to the recipe, and doesn’t take a lot of dishes or time.

There are so many cute cupcake papers to choose from.
You can pick out some sprinkles and shapes to go on top, they even sell edible glitter for cakes!

If you make it, let me know how it turns out in the comments. (or if you have any questions)

Cold Coffee, in a Good Way

My version of iced coffee is easy to make, stores well, and can be a real treat when it’s too warm for hot coffee.

I’m a major coffee lover. Everything coffee is good with me, but sometimes it’s still nice to mix it up a bit.

This is a simple recipe that you can change to meet your dietary requirements, be it vegan or otherwise.
Cold brewed coffee is less acidic, and that means you can taste the sweetener more while using less of it.
It’s easier on the stomach too.

The Ingredients are:
4 Cups Cold Water,
3/4 Cup Ground Beans. I love the Swanson Brand Organic Ground Coffee. (just search for Coffee on the site)
Optional Vanilla Extract, Whipped Cream, Chocolate to sprinkle on top.

Get a pitcher, bottle or other container (A large mason jar works well)
Add the coffee grounds and water, shake it up and let it sit for 12-24hrs at room temperature,

After 12-24hrs. Strain the coffee through a cheesecloth or mesh coffee filter…  a fine tea strainer should work too, if you don’t mind a little grit in the bottom of your cup.

Pour the coffee into ice cube trays and freeze.

When you want your iced coffee, Put about 2 cups of cubes in a blender with your cream and sugar, and away we go! It makes a nice frothy indulgent drink without all the strange emulsifying ingredients and additives that you often find at the local coffee shops, and the price is great too!

You can add a few drops of real vanilla extract.
I like to use coconut creamer in mine to avoid the dairy.
The cubes can be popped out of the trays and put in a freezer bag for storage.
If the coffee is too strong just add a few plain ice cubes.
For special occasions you can put whipped cream on top and chocolate shavings.

Have fun and get your caffeine buzz on!

Safe and Natural Bug Repellent Recipe

~ Tadpole

We’re always hearing about how many chemicals there are in every day products and that we should be avoiding them. What we might hear less about, is how to actually get these more natural products easily, affordably, and how to make simple and effective ones at home.

There are plenty of places to buy  overpriced natural products online, but what if you want to make your own? Where do you get the oils? How do we know which ones are the right ones?

Essential oils have been proven to be just as effective, and sometimes more effective than their chemical rivals.
In my case, with severe allergies and chemical sensitivities, most commercial brands aren’t an option whether or not they work.
I’ve been using essential oils my whole life, before they were popular or even common.
Thankfully plant essences have become commonplace and much easier to find in recent years.

Extremely cheap or imported oils of questionable origin are still a bit of a problem. You don’t want to see “scented oil” or “perfume oil” on the label. We’re looking for “pure essential oil” “organic oil” and “100% oils”.
Anything else could be unsafe, chemical based or mixed with other oils or chemicals. As a rule, if the ingredients aren’t listed, you don’t want it. I generally go with the idea that if you don’t want to ingest it, you don’t put it on your skin either. Everything we touch absorbs into the blood stream, so we have to keep it as clean and pure of a product as possible.

In this post I’d like to show you how to make an effective insect repellent, using affordable, easily obtainable essential oils.  The brand isn’t all that important as long as it’s a quality oil. I get most of my natural products from SwansonVitamins They have a great selection of oils, they’re affordable, and the company is above all accountable and reliable. You can get $5 off your first order by going through my link. It’s a lot easier than trying to find the oils locally for me and the prices can’t be beaten. I’ve also had good luck with the oils from PipingRock,

This simple insect repellent is made using any of these oils: Cedar, Citronella, Mint, Tea Tree, Catnip, Eucalyptus and Lemongrass oil, in a carrier of Sweet almond oil, or coconut oil. In a pinch you can even use a light olive oil.

Each oil works on it’s own but has more power as a combined team.
You can use them all together or choose your favorites.
Unlike the chemical repellents, these ones actually smell good, and can help improve your breathing.

First thing, get a roller-ball bottle or any little container that you want to use to store your repellent in.
As a precaution, please know that Tea Tree Oil does eat away at rubber droppers and plastic. If using Tea Tree Oil, you must use only glass. The rest are ok to use with droppers and plastic rollers.

The simplest blend to start with would be Cedar and Citronella.
Take the Cedar oil, and put about 25 drops of oil into the container, add an equal amount of Citronella oil. Now you have a concentrated oil that can be used as is, but can cause issues with sensitivity on the skin. To fix that, all you need to do is add the carrier oil, Choose from Sweet almond oil, coconut oil, or a light olive oil.  You could use grape-seed oil or other cosmetic oils but we’re supposed to be keeping this simple!

Just add about a tablespoon of carrier oil to the bottle, to make a potent anti-bug-serum. Mix it up and you have your finished product. If you find that the scent is too strong, or not strong enough, you can add more essential oil or more carrier oil until it suits your needs.

Be sure to label it so you know what it is, and experiment with more blends.

Catnip oil is a great repellent for mosquitoes particularly. I find the Mint and Cedar to be very useful for black flies. When adding Tea Tree Oil, it’s stronger than the rest, so just a few drops will usually be enough.

If you try the recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments.

 

Why not grow your own herbal tea at home?

Photo Credits: zcool.com.cn

Lemon Balm, Catnip and Mint are my favorites for herbal tea.
They taste great and have medicinal properties that are quite useful, in addition to being decorative as plants.

To grow your own, you’ll need some pots. You can use store bought pots, coffee cans with holes poked in the bottom, or even a plastic dish. If it’s a container that holds some amount of moisture, it could work. You can be creative.

The soil I usually use is just simple African Violet dirt. It doesn’t need to be an expensive brand.

You can start with seeds and follow the directions on the package or start with greenhouse plants.
Either way, you want to let them dry slightly between waterings,  and water regularly thereafter.
After a while, you’ll get to know what your plants like and how often to water them.
The great thing with growing your own is that it can be as natural and organic as you make it.

Lemon Balm Photo Credits: Quinn Dombrowski

Lemon Balm likes a lot of sunlight and can go outside in the ground in the warm months, or out on a patio.
Indoors it’s great to have a south-facing window, or east, to get as much sunlight as possible.
The same goes for the Catnip and Mint.

Lemon Balm is also known as “Melissa” and has many medicinal uses,
ranging from toothaches to upset stomach and allergies.
It is believed that lemon balm has calming effects, and can be taken for  for anxiety, sleep problems, and restlessness.
It’s a personal favorite of mine and I believe it has quite a significant effect on peace of mind and mood.

Lemon balm is also used to lend a helping hand for Alzheimer’s disease,
attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), swollen airways, (potential for easing asthma symptoms)
rapid heartbeat caused by nervousness, and insect bites.

It’s a versatile plant to say the least!
It does have a lemony flavor and you can use more or less according to your own personal taste.
You can add a few drops of lemon juice, or a handful of blueberries to your tea as well for added flavor.

Catnip Photo Credits: Tadpole

The Catnip!
It’s a great herb for helping you get to sleep. It really helps with insomnia. It also drives away mosquitoes.
I’d caution anyone with a cat on this one, because cats love it and will go to great lengths to smash it out of a windowsill and roll in it.
Not much will stop a determined cat after a plant.
Like the Lemon Balm you can add more or less according to your tastes, but it isn’t as tasty… On the other hand, if you use it as a sleep aid, you can probably suffer the taste more easily. It helps calm people enough to get into a deep sleep and dispels nervousness and general icky feelings.
I’ve used it a lot and I can say it works for me.

Mint Photo Credits: Tadpole

Mint.
I prefer spearmint to peppermint because it has a slightly different, more intense flavor. It calms the stomach and tastes great. you can mix it with catnip or lemon balm to make your own blends.
It can be used in baking as well. One drink I like to make in the summer is this:

Add about a cup of frozen red grapes to a blender, add some water to facilitate blending… give it a whirl…
Take two or so cups of ice, throw that in, crush the ice up… add water as needed so everything doesn’t get stuck.
Take 2-3 sprigs of Spearmint or Peppermint, put that in, blend it up and you’re done.
It should be sweet enough from the red grapes, and very flavorful with the mint.
You can serve it in Mason Jars with  a straw. It’s like a low calorie natural slush.
It’s very refreshing, and super simple!

When you harvest your leaves for tea, you can snip off individual leaves with scissors or pinch them off with a fingernail, making sure to only take the lower bigger leaves, or the first few leaves at the top of the plants. There’s no need to dry them first. Fresh leaves make great tea, but on the other hand, if gardening just isn’t for you, there are lots of stores that sell these dried herbs. 2-3 Teaspoons to a pot should be enough for dried teas.

Mix and match all three.
You can experiment as you go.

Happy Brewing!

Photo Credits: zcool.com.cn