Life throws us all kinds of things that can be very stressful. Here are some free and simple ways to help relieve some stress. I also highly recommend, as do medical professionals, that you limit your time on electronic devices of any kind as well as watching TV due to the effects blue light has on our bodies and psyche. 

  • Get outside in nature. Put your phone on silent as you get out and breathe in fresh air and take in the sights and sounds of nature. Walk, jog take it slow, so you are able to be more aware of what is around you.
  • Be with a pet, observe them (they can be funny), pet them, draw on their peaceful energy. If you don’t have one, as a friend or neighbor if you can walk their dog, pet their cat or snuggle with their lizard (if that wouldn’t freak you out like it would me!) You can also go to a pet store and just watch the fish in the tank for a while, that is very relaxing. I don’t suggest asking to play with the puppies or kitties at a pet store, as you might go home with one, unless that’s what you want but, we are talking free here and if you want to adopt, please go to your local animal shelter instead.
  • Journal. Write out all the stresses in your life. Look at what is truly fact and what are your emotions. You can then see what steps you need to begin to get to your desired outcome with less stress. When you break down the big picture that looks like total chaos, you can see ways to lessen it, one step at a time.
  • Meditate. I highly recommend (I get nothing for saying this), 1 Giant Mind. It is a free app without ads, and I have found it very helpful.
  • Read. Find books that can take you on fun, healthy adventures; books that teach you something that makes you a better person and helps you grow.
  • Find the type of exercise that makes you feel good in your body, mind and spirit. I have taught yoga for about 20 years and that has helped me greatly.
  • Laugh! Listen to a funny podcast; call a friend, tell each other stupid jokes, whatever it takes to get in a good belly laugh. 

Recently, I have been helping some people declutter. This came about because although I have always considered myself a free spirit, I am uber organized. I’ve done blogs on minimalism and I believe living simply can bring about some minimalistic aspects, but there is a difference (see my blog, Simple Vs. Minimalistic – August 11, 2020).

Regardless, the word is spreading, and I am more than willing to help others. So, a friend told another friend, and her comment was that decluttering is bad for the environment. This surprised me in the fact that donating can help others in need, brighten someone’s day or at the very least save them some money.

Recycling is still an option and there are many artists that upcycle items to create new, beautiful things. Yes, we may also have to throw some things away. I found though, that much of the reason things have to be thrown away was because there were so many other things on top of something that it broke. Other things had to be tossed because they were allowed to spoil from not even knowing they were there. Clearing out your space could drastically eliminate this from happening in the future. And that is a great way to help the environment. 

Holding onto stuff you no longer use, want or need, creates emotional stress that does not help your environment, which extends out into the world. Crowded spaces of unwanted stuff or things we hold onto due to a feeling of lack and/or fear of never having what we need, causes anxiety, which can lead to depression, anger, and a whole host of emotions that are not healthy. 

When we clear out our spaces, we feel expansive and become more open emotionally as well as physically. According to WebMD, clutter makes it harder to focus, and those that live in cluttered spaces have a poorer “working memory”.  It also intensifies allergies because dander and dust collect when there are more things for it to hang out in. Clutter has also been linked to weight gain and even insomnia. 

By being our best versions of ourselves, we then have the energy, positivity and clarity to help others, including animals and the planet. Spending less on storing the things we never use but hold onto, frees up money for causes that better our world. We can donate to causes we believe in, or just spend the few extra cents to support fair trade and organic farmers with our purchases.

By shifting your lifestyle to a simpler way of life, it also brings forth more generosity and empathy for those that don’t have all we have. By clearing out, we see how much we’re able to acquire and how we DO have what we need. 

Feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to start? Envision how you want the space to look and work backwards to get it there, one small step at a time. If it gets too much, put one small pile in a box, take it to another room, sit down with some of your favorite music on, and take a deep breath. Tell yourself once you go through that one box, you are done for the day. Who knows, you may surprise yourself and find it feels so good, you want to continue. 

The point is, to let yourself off the hook to get it all done at once. It is a process. Find joy in knowing that you are beginning a new way of healing; being healthy and freeing up space physically and mentally is a great way to begin a new year. You never know, you may even make or save some money along the way, bringing out the thrifty naturalist in you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a hard time decluttering and letting go of certain things? What steps/ideas do you have to help others? Want to hear more on this subject? Post below and let me know.

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This blog is all about being eco-friendly and thrifty and, one way to save money is to share information. (The old librarian in me is coming out I guess!) So, today I want to share a few helpful resources that I have received.

The first is a link to how to recycle old cookware: https://earth911.com/home-garden/how-to-recycle-your-old-cookware/

Next, are some books to aid children in becoming more eco-conscious as well as helping them learn in ways that do not cost you a ton of money. Here are three books by author, Jodi Dee that may assist you in doing just that.

The Little Green Jacket is a beautifully illustrated book. It not only brings comfort to children but also, demonstrates that giving can have far reaching implications of joy and help to those in need. 

This book can also become a learning experience from an emotional level to teach compassion, gratitude and sharing. Additionally, the “seek and find” feature brings in an element of fun which creates a learning experience from a practical aspect (basic math and observational skills). 

The unique narration of the human story and the jacket’s story allows for open discussion with parents and their children while giving teachers a jumping off point to various learning units.

The Dirt Girl is a colorful story of a girl who is different from other children her age. Zafera, the “Dirt Girl” sees life from the beauty of nature and accepts things, people, and situations as they are. 

This strong girl character can be a great catalyst for conversation on what is important in life- being happy with who you are and strong enough to stay true to that. By staying true to yourself, others may even realize we are all special when we show our true selves to the world.

In these days of Covid-19 stay-at-home learning, Create a Home of Learning (https://tinyurl.com/y3hrkwu3) is a valuable tool to use your home to begin a learning enriched environment for your young child(ren). Back in the 1980’s I began teaching preschool and began an in-home center. That morphed into becoming a teacher and children’s librarian and eventually to writing three books on literacy through play and baby brain development so, I understand the need for and the benefit of this book. With guidelines on structuring various learning centers and finding the best toys and methods that teach, this book is a helpful resource to setting up a fun, hands-on, and learning rich environment. 

Let us know if you have any useful links you’d like to share that helps spread eco-consciousness throughout the world!

Gift giving is a big part of the holiday season but, it does not have to cost a lot or, any money. 

If this bizarre year has shown us anything, it is that those we love are more important than things, status, and stressing to create huge financial gain. All but one thing can be taken away at a moment’s notice, and that one important thing that stays is, love. Whether we are physically here or not, the love we shared is what remains.

The greatest gifts come from the heart and I’m going to suggest we go back to the innocence of our childhood to give gifts this year. Offerings from the heart as it were. I remember as a child, making coupon books for my family as gifts. 

So, whether you bought or made gifts this year, you still have time to give a gift that can last all year, share who you are, help others and bring a joy and lightness to those around you.

Take some paper and make a little book that either shares some poetry, pictures or recipes that mean something to you and can brighten someone else’s day. Make coupons for ways you can help, for example, running an errand, raking a yard, snow shoveling, making a casserole, feeding the birds for them in and around their yard, taking the time to have a cup of coffee or tea with them (maybe after our social distancing is over or, virtually now), feeding or walking their pet, cleaning up trash in their yard, etc. The list can go on and on. It doesn’t have to be for someone incapacitated either. Busy people could use the same help as seniors. 

Another idea is to enroll someone in “The Card of the Month Club”. Give a card for the holidays and just let someone know they will receive a card/note from you once a month as your gift. This is a self-made “club” in which you write and send a card with a short (or long) note in it once a month. Who doesn’t like to receive something other than bills and junk mail? Set a reminder on your phone to send out the card once a month. Have children or grandchildren make some of the cards or, just jot a happy note on a scrap piece of paper. The point is to stay connected, share a bit of yourself and bring joy to another, not the actual card. 

Whatever your plans are for this holiday season, have your gifts come from the heart and give of your love for all the days to come. Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and joyous New Year!

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Finding ways to celebrate and give this Christmas while remaining thrifty and eco-friendly is much simpler than it may first seem. Here’s a few simple steps to have a natural and beautiful Christmas while honoring the true meaning of the season- giving joy and happiness, love and compassion to others.                   

  1. Try decorating this year with nature. Use pine boughs and cones that the wind and trees have gifted to you by laying them right at your feet as you take a nature walk. You can make a circle in the center of your table with the pine boughs and place some pinecones over the top. Add a sprinkle of fresh cranberries over the boughs for color. Then, place a lovely candle in the center for a beautiful centerpiece. This centerpiece lasts about as long as one you’d buy from a florist (and save a lot of money!)

2. Make standing or hanging decorations from simple dough you bake. Mix 2 cups of flour with ½ cup of salt and ¾ cup of water. Mix, knead and roll out on a lightly floured board. Shape with your hands (such as making a skinny snowman) or use cookie cutters. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. After they cool, paint (or, use permanent markers) and decorate with scraps of cloth, glitter or sequins. 

3. When my children were little, I used to wrap their presents in the comics from the newspaper. My son would take forever to open his presents, as he would read is paper first! It may not be as easy to find comics from the newspaper as it used to be but, you can still get paper grocery bags. Cut them open and use the plain backside to decorate with your own drawings and/or sayings. Don’t think you can draw? Use cookie cutters in paint and decorate that way. Stamps made from potatoes cut in half (I use the portions that are inedible yet, have enough integrity to not be mushy) dipped in paint can make beautiful designs (cut a design into the bottom of the potato). No paint? Use beet tops and cut out a simple design so you can use it as a stamp. Keep re-wetting the beet top to get more “ink” out of it.

4. Another way I wrap presents is to use old shirt scraps. Plaid flannel looks beautiful. I have even used the whole shirt, which was a gift in itself as the wrapping of another gift. How, you may ask? Place your item in the center of the open shirt and use the arms of the shirt as ribbon and tie it up like a bow. It can be bulky but, if you play with it, it can be beautiful and the most uniquely wrapped gift under the tree!

5. Use pinecones as package decorations. Tying them on with simple twine adds to the natural look. Found feathers also look lovely on packages. Shells, heart stones, anything nature gifts you as you take a nature walk can be added to decorate a package with love. I have also added a sprig of pine bough but, you can only do that if the present will be presented within that day. 

 6. String together using a needle and a thread, biodegradable packing peanuts and use as a snowy garland.  Just keep away from water!

 7. When was the last time you made snowflakes from paper? They are pretty hung with thread or fishing line from lights, ceiling fans and placed or, hung in front of your windows (they can also deter birds from flying into your windows.) It’s simple and fun to do. You can make them any size you choose; it just depends on the size of the paper you begin with. Fold into quarters and cut out various designs around the edges.

 8. Create your own Christmas stories by making little books you can also use as Christmas ornaments. Fold typing paper into quarters and then refold again two more times. Cut the folds so it creates pages like a book. You can also cut paper and staple the center together, fold in half and create your book that way. Have each family member make their own book. Hang with yarn by wrapping the yarn around the center a few times and leaving a loop at the top to tie on the tree or, punch a small hole at the top left-hand part of your book and thread with yarn or thread to hang from a loop. (It will hang slightly angled.) Share your stories on Christmas Eve.

By using all these lovely natural decorations, it adds to the fun and adventure of planning for Christmas. It bonds family together as it allows for individual creativity and imagination, allowing mutual cooperation to make each year special. The simple act of creating can become the tradition instead of items that may get broken or lost, faded or torn.

Once I decided this was our new tradition, I found families in need that wanted the decorations I no longer required, permitting me to share in the real reason of the holidays- to give and share.

Please share your thoughts and ideas to spread the joy of this holiday season! The merriest of holidays to everyone!

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Tis the season for gratitude and that certainly is important however, I would like to speak on judgment, compassion, acceptance and love over fear. These are equally important to help find gratitude for those whom we may not agree with, especially at the holidays when we spend time with family we may not see as often, these issues may arise.

In the spirit of this, I’d like to tell you a story of something that happened this week and how a simple squirrel taught me an important lesson.

Two days ago, I looked outside to find a squirrel laying oddly on the ground next to my back porch. I stepped outside and it did not move. It looked dead. As I stepped closer, I saw it was breathing yet, appeared to be injured and suffering. Since there was no evidence of blood, my thoughts immediately went to my neighbor.  

Years before, she had told me she puts out poison for mice and my dog had become extremely sick from what she tossed out in the yard. I was so upset that I assumed she had poisoned this squirrel. All my effort to find a way to help it were going in vain and I was getting terribly upset. My emotions took over and I marched right over to my neighbor’s house to insist she see what her doings had caused. Many thoughts and words went through my head and, I even began a social media post about the horrors of what had to have been the cause of this squirrels suffering. I felt justified in my judgments. How dare she?! 

Although I calmly spoke, I still accused her of inflicting pain and suffering on an innocent animal. She wholeheartedly assured me she does not put out poison since she had been made aware of the repercussions it caused those many years ago. It was summarized the squirrel had fallen from a tree and had become paralyzed on its own accord. While not common, it can happen.  

Although a sad story, it was one that taught me a huge lesson about judgment. I jumped to conclusions and was ready to chastise my neighbor for something I had no real proof of; I based my reaction from the past and allowed my emotions to trump love. The compassion I felt for the squirrel did not extend to my neighbor. We can disagree with what someone else does and still show love and compassion. It is possible to express our concerns and point of view while demonstrating acceptance. I could speak for the squirrel without severing my connection to humanity. 

Through this whole experience, there is also the lesson of forgiveness. Forgiveness of the ignorance of my neighbor in the past and forgiveness of myself for allowing my emotions of anger and mistreatment take over truly knowing if what I believed was true or not. Remember, when we are aware, we are always doing the best we can. Lessons and growth come situations in which we wish we behaved differently; it is the way we make real change.  

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With the kids being home more (and longer) than expected in most areas of the world, you may need to find creative ways to keep them busy. Why not make that a learning experience as well?

Got milk? Juice? Any empty paper cartons will do. They make fun blocks that turn into towers or, you can create a train or car tunnel by cutting an arch out of the carton, to use with small cars, trains or trucks.

Empty juice/milk cartons can also become a doll house or a drum. It just takes a bit of imagination and use of scrap wrapping paper, construction paper, ribbons, glitter, whatever you have around. Want to paint or color it? Wrap it in an paper grocery bag and decorate away!

Cut the carton lengthwise or just remove the top portion and create a toss game. You can place several of them in a line and the farthest one scores the most points if you can toss a wadded up piece of paper into it from a designated distance. You make the rules on how far and how many “buckets” you are tossing into. Want to really make it challenging? Toss cotton balls instead of wadded up paper.

One more idea (but definitely not the only ones) is to turn your juice/milk carton into a mailbox. Carefully cut the end so you have a pull down door. “Mail” letters, notes, pictures and create cards to deliver to everyone in the family. Children need to help keep the fine art of letter writing and creativity alive.

Post your creations and help children revive their imaginations while learning to upcycle products we’d normally toss in the recycle bin (hopefully, not in the trash!) Sharing in the fun brings families together in a healthy way for people and the environment. Help children learn that fun can be simple and doesn’t always have to be bought from a store.

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While kayaking I saw a tree a beaver had put a lot of effort into gnawing on to take it down to use for its dam. It was a large tree gnawed at its base that had fallen into the crook of another tree. It could never fully fall to the ground and would have to be severed from its base, pulled, and dragged out from the crook of the other tree to be moved. Although a valiant effort on the beaver’s part to take down the tree (something it does every day), this time it would not fall in his/her favor.  

The beaver was not sitting at the base of the tree and lamenting about all its demanding work, how that never happened before, what bad luck, woes me, and the like. The beaver was gone- it left. It let it go, moved on and started again on another tree. 

I am sure life did not stop for this beaver because a tree did not fall the way it wanted it to. If it allowed that event to stop it in its tracks, it would die. No home and no food all because it wanted to hold onto how bad it was that the tree did not cooperate. No beaver would ever do this! Yet, we do it all the time! We sit at the base of our metaphoric tree and wish that this or that did not happen. We get angry, sad, frustrated, you name the emotion, yet nothing can or will change the fact that the “tree” did not come down the way we expected it to.  


What is your metaphoric tree? How are you holding on, dreaming/fantasizing about something that did not go your way? Could this be a lesson in acceptance? In what ways could the situation be teaching you something? 


Journal your above thoughts; note how you can change your attitude, thoughts, perspectives, and beliefs about the situation by asking yourself, “Is this true now?” If you change the way you look at the situation, it will also change the way you feel about it. You have the power to choose differently as well as the choices you make from here on out.  

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I always say, saving money is making money. I also do not like to throw things away, so recycling and upclyling is the way at my house. This applies to things as well as food. 

With fall coming, making soups and stews comes to mind. So, here is a simple, low cost and healthy recipe for making homemade veggie broth and cubes. The broth is used in soups or, as a soup on its own. The cubes are thicker and great for stews and thicker soups that require some broth. This broth is far healthier because it uses NO salt and still has lots of flavor! I also use organic veggies for extra health benefits and basically toss in anything I have in the refrigerator. 

You will need ice cube trays and storage containers (or glass canning jars) and a crock pot.

Save your scrap veggies daily by keeping them in a bag in the freezer; toss those in as well when you are ready to make your veggie broth/cubes.


1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 whole cloves of fresh garlic, diced

2 stalks of celery

3 carrots, scrubbed and diced

1 medium potato, scrubbed and diced

¼ cup parsley leaves

½ teaspoon peppercorns

1 Bay leaf

1 ½ Tablespoons Bragg Amino acids

7 cups water

Optional: 1/8-1/4 cup finely diced cilantro


  1. Drizzle oil in the bottom of a slow cooker.
  2. Add all ingredients and stir.
  3. Cook on low for about 18 hours. (You cannot over cook this!)
  4. Let cool and strain the mixture through a fine strainer. 
  5. Place the strained broth in jars or containers and store in the freezer (up to 6 month) or the refrigerator for 5 days.
  6. Take the remaining veggie mixture and place in a blender (a Vitamix is much better to use, if you have one) and add about 2-3 cups of water. Blend until smooth.
  7. Pour the smoothened veggie mixture into individual portions of ice cube trays. Freeze.
  8. Once the cubes are frozen you can place them in a freezer bag and use them when you need veggie broth in stews and thicker soups (it will darken the soup a bit). Makes about 24 cubes and 4 cups broth.

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There is a myriad of ways we are connected to trees. In yoga, tree pose talks of our rootedness, the growth of our trunk and the extension of “branches.” We have a root chakra and at times, refer to the need to feel “grounded”.

Trees need light and water to survive as do we.  We need not only the light of the sun but also, our own internal light to thrive. Water, which is also connected to our spirituality- the flow of Life through us, is another must have for sustainability.  

Trees also show harmony. They take our carbon dioxide and give us oxygen. There is a lesson there that is more than science. It is that we can be in harmony with those that are appearing to be in opposition to us. They too have life-giving things to offer if we allow it and are willing to see things from the perspective of give and take. Oppositions are the way life balances itself which, creates harmony and, now more than ever we could use more of that.  

So, go out into the trees, take in their peaceful, giving nature and embrace the harmony of life’s duality. And, while you are at it, give the tree a hug. Hug more than one type of tree, you will see and feel the difference in their bark which, does not change the fact that it is still a tree. Another lovely lesson from the trees on acceptance. One type of tree does not die, fight, or try to move because a differnt tree begins to grow near it. In fact, they have a communication system though their roots and the scents they give off that, helps warn other trees of danger. They cooperate. Novel concepts that if we “branch off” from, may lead to a more harmonious and happy life for all. 

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