8 Things You Can Do To Make A Healthier Home

When you say "healthy lifestyle", most people will automatically think that you're talking about what you eat or what you do for exercise. But healthy living doesn't start and end with diet and exercise! We spend a lot of time in our homes (ok, sometimes it seems like not enough, but...) so shouldn't we pay just as much attention to what's happening there on an everyday basis? These are just 8 of many simple things you can do to make your home healthier, and maybe make yourself healthier and happier in the process.

  1. Replace your non-stick cookware with cast iron, stainless steel or glass. If you're stuck with non-stick, be careful not to overheat it, which releases toxic fumes. 
  2. Opt for glass over plastic for containing food or leftovers. Never microwave food in plastic containers.
  3. Kick the habit of drinking bottled water. For water on-the-go, get a reusable water bottle that's glass or stainless steel, not plastic. Plain water not your thing? Choose a healthy water enhancer, like Minerals & Antioxidants from Life's Abundance. 
  4. Limit canned foods, cooking with fresh or frozen whenever possible. Why? Most food cans are lined with BPA, a toxic chemical that leaches into food.
  5. Stop using air freshener! Most contain a number of toxic chemicals that contaminate the air you're breathing. Opt instead for diffusing a natural essential oil to clean and freshen the air.
  6. Choose fragrance-free personal care products. It's hard to know what's in a product if it's vaguely labeled "fragrance", so it's always safer to choose products that are fragrance-free.
  7. Clean with non-toxic products. Most homes can be cleaned with a few non-toxic ingredients, like vinegar, baking soda, water, a HEPA vacuum, microfiber mops and cloths, and some elbow grease. A great multi-purpose, kid-friendly, pet-safe cleaner is the Bio-Base Floorwash Concentrate from Life's Abundance. 
  8. Try non-toxic alternatives to pesticides or insecticides. As a household that struggles with weeds, this is probably one of the hardest for us. But ultimately, we've decided we'd rather live with the weeds and do our best to control them naturally than to expose ourselves to the toxicity of commercially-produced weed and bug killers. 

Your home should be your safe haven....the place you retreat to at the end of a long workday, a place that feels comfortable and that invites rest. With some fairly simple steps like these, you can improve not only the health of your home, but your own longterm health. Here's to healthier, non-toxic living! 

Remembering Edna, "An Odd Little Dog"

She was no bigger than a peanut and she was forever cold. Edna Lou came to Norm from a shelter, "a couple" of years old. She was surrendered to shelter life by someone who decided to open a daycare for children in their home and they could no longer keep the dog. Edna spent some long hours at home alone, often coiled up near the wood burner or in Norm's favorite chair. My first recollection of her was seeing her bouncing up and down, jumping straight up from the floor, into the air, as if she was spring-loaded from the feet. Those screen doors that are solid halfway up and a window on top? When she sprung into the air, you would see her big ears and eyes in the window for a split second. Boing! Boing! Boing! She was jumping at good 3 feet into the air. How she landed on those creepy little feet repeatedly without hurting herself I will never understand.

Edna was definitely Norm's dog. She was good with me, but always seemed worried. Her worry played itself out in the form of odd habits, like licking the floor constantly. She fidgeted a lot if you had to touch her, not cooperating with us for things like nail trims. She went for walks when she felt like it, and if she didn't feel like it, she would just sit down and refuse to move. We carried her home more than once. She liked to ride in the car, but only if she could be on Norm's lap.

Edna slept with us, usually curled up next to Norm, though as she got older and more accustomed to me, she was affectionate with me too. Yet, she never lost that worried look. When she looked at me, I always felt like she was repeating the question "Do you love me? Do you love me?" 

She started slowing down a bit in late 2010, and she started to show her age, which at that point we estimated to be somewhere between 9 and 10. Appetite came and went, bowel function good some days, not good other days, occasional vomiting--by spring 2011 something was clearly not right. Several vet visits later, the bad news that a mass was growing in her gut. The advice was to keep her as comfortable as we could, indulge her as much as we were able, and enjoy whatever time we had left. We celebrated her 10th birthday in March that year (which really wasn't her birthday but it's when she came home with Norm) and then the next month it became apparent that the rainbow bridge was calling. It was in those final days that I saw something different in her eyes. Instead of the questioning "Do you love me? Do you love me?", instead what I saw was "You really do love me, don't you?" And it's true. This odd little dog had captured my heart in a big way. We set Edna free from this life on May 5, 2011. Wrapped in a pink blanket that she got for Christmas in 2010, we placed her little body in a walnut box that Norm crafted with his own hands, and buried her in our back yard. 

To not end the this story on a completely sad note, I have to relay the funny part of that day. My awesome co-workers knew that Norm and I were grieving, so they were kind enough to have flowers sent to our house. Unbeknownst to us, the floral delivery man arrived while we were out in the back yard, shoveling the hole where we would lay Edna to rest. He rang the doorbell, no answer. Seeing the garage door open, he walked into the garage, placed the flower arrangement on the wooden box that was sitting on the workbench, and left. Tearfully making our way back to the garage from the backyard, we entered the garage, saw the spray of flowers sitting on Edna's burial container, and burst out laughing. Leave it to Edna to send flowers to her own funeral. There will never be another one like her.