Live the Organic Life

Many people complain about feeling sluggish and unhealthy on a day to day basis. Well, the reason for this could be a simple as what you put in your body or even on your body. Today we use many products that are unnatural, which are just not as good for us as the natural option. So if you’re looking for a change that won’t just help you but the world, then transform your lifestyle and live the organic life.

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The Organic Definition

 

 So what does organic actually mean? Well, put simply it means that the produce in question has been produced and grown without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and artificial chemicals. It isn’t just food that can be organic but makeup, cleaners, textiles and hair care products; however we’re going to focus on diet and beauty care.

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Diet

 

Transforming your diet to include organic foods is much easier than it once was as now everything is clearly labelled in the stores. But what are the benefits for eating more organic food?

 

  • This food is often more flavoursome with a fresher taste – taste is the most important part of food!

 

  • Organic food helps to keep drinking water clean, as no harmful chemicals run into the reservoirs from the fields surrounding.

 

  • It is much healthier and safer than foods grown with pesticides – eating this produce will make you feel better outside and in!

 

Pesticides can actually stay in the body for many years, which can lead to illness, whereas organic food will make you feel much fresher and a lot healthier. When people think of organic produce they usually think of fruit and vegetables, however any type of food can be organic!

 

Top tip: Try to buy local as well as organic produce; less air miles = less pollution!

 

Beauty

 

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It isn’t just what we put in our body that makes a difference, but what we put on our skin or hair too! There are many different chemicals used in hair and skincare that may make you feel better now but could affect your skin negatively in later life. The best option for your skin is to choose natural organic skin care, but what are the benefits?

 

  • There are no chemicals; everything is completely natural.
  • Natural skincare can help to improve the health of your skin, therefore making your skin appear fresher and younger – who doesn’t want that?

 

Top Tip: Purchase your products from recommended, reliable organic retailers. You can find out about organic standards by visiting the Soil Association website!

 

So change your lifestyle and live the au-naturel organic lifestyle, you will feel better for it and will be protecting the environment! It doesn’t just end with diet and beauty; when you’re buying cleaning products and laundry detergent make sure that you check the label to ensure that it is organic. The organic life is the good life, so buy organic produce and start your own organic garden today.

How to Get Fit at Home

Now January has rolled round again and the gluttony of Christmas is once again taking its toll upon us all, it’s time to start thinking seriously about a new, healthier lifestyle. It may be tempting to sign up to a gym, but with the figures stacked against you (30-40% of January gym memberships are cancelled after just 3 months) it may be a safer bet to invest in a method to exercise and get fit in the comfort of your own home.

When it comes to getting fit at home, there’s a huge variety of different activities that you can choose to do to aid you in your healthier, sportier lifestyle, each with their own merits and downsides. This guide offers just a few examples of what you can do depending on your ability, but it’s by no means a comprehensive list, so take it with a pinch of salt and make sure you find a regime that inspires you to stick with it, for the benefit of your long term health and wellbeing.

 

Exercise Bike (easy)

 

Although expensive, an exercise bike can be one of the easiest ways of getting fit within your own home and should definitely be viewed as a long term investment in your health. It offers the ideal solution for people with a range of different abilities and health conditions, as the pace of exercise is set by you the user. Exercise bikes are also a brilliant choice for those with health conditions such as bad knees as unlike a treadmill it offers gentle exercise that works to strengthen muscles aiding to your leg’s ability to bear weight.

 

Personal Trainer (as hard as you make it)

 

Personal trainers are often available to come and work with you within the comfort of your own home, offering you motivation and guidance as you work to improve your fitness levels. This personal trainer in Clapham for instance specialises in working with you in the place of your choosing, allowing you access to the expert guidance that you find in a gym in any location that’s convenient to you. The added benefit of choosing a personal trainer is that you can discuss your fitness goals and work with the trainer to ensure that you are meeting them.

 

Fitness DVDs (ranging in difficulty)

 

The classic fitness tape of the eighties and nineties has seen a modern revival in recent years, and now fitness DVDs are ten a penny in most households. Despite the cheesy (often cringe worthy) instruction and initial embarrassment of fitness DVD workouts, a fitness DVD can be a fantastic way to get the work out of your choosing (and appropriate instruction) in the comfort of your own home. With just a one off payment, you can do yoga, kick boxing, and even more obscure workouts such as Capoeira with very little fuss making this option brilliant for those of you who have a small budget or little desire to waste time searching for a local class to attend.

 

Whichever option you choose, it’s a good idea to tell all your friends about your new routine – that way, if you feel tempted to give up within a few weeks you’ll have the added incentive of their disapproving looks to keep you on the right path!

Rid Yourself of Those Nagging pains and Strains

Looking to get in shape for the New Year but troubled by recurring injuries? Well don’t let those old nagging pains stop you from getting into the best shape of your life and enjoying those sports and activities that you may have lost touch with due to injury. Far too many people are plagued with injuries that range from a simple ache to a debilitating pain that entirely stops them participating in and enjoying their favourite sports and physical activities. For many the solution to this continued lack of mobility is simple and a simple trip to a reputable physiotherapist such as Technique Physio can not only establish the root cause of injuries but also begin the process of getting you back to full mobility.

The benefits of physiotherapy really cannot be underestimated and continued therapy can not only see a lessening in the pain suffered but in time can lead to a full recovery of your former mobility leaving you to enjoy an active lifestyle without the worry of injuries. The health benefits of this increased mobility are well proven and in no time you will find that you will inevitably begin to lose those extra pounds that have accumulated whilst activities weren’t possible. By summer you will be able to hit the beach in confidence and the gym with newfound resolve knowing that you are on the path to the healthy lifestyle that you have longed for. Getting more active is just one step though and improved nutrition can do wonders for your health and wellbeing, there are several specialists such as Herbalife that offer dietary plans that can ensure your recovery is given all the right help.

Continue with increased exercise and physiotherapy for the whole year and next Christmas may well be the merriest of all with a new body and a new healthy outlook that will truly change your life. The cold December of 2014 approaching you will find that those mince pies don’t sit on moving hips so long and the cold crisp mornings will provide you with the perfect weather for a bracing winter walk, make sure you get the right gear to wrap up in from a supplier such as the Climbers Shop . Whatever you choose to do with your increased mobility the best time to start out on the path towards it is now and making sure that you seek the correct help is pivotal in changing tomorrow’s you, today.

A Healthy, Happy Birthday

iStock_000007623006XSmallMy little girl is turning one in a few weeks, and I am very excited about giving her the perfect 1st birthday. I realise that a 1st birthday is more for the parents than the child, but when she’s a bit older, I want her to know that I made the day special. I am a bit worried though about what to provide for snacks and treats for all the kids. I don’t think their parents would appreciate me providing snacks that are chock a block with sugar, as that will cause an sugar rush and then an epic sugar crash. I have always been resistant to things with too much sugar and the harm it can do to your body. According to an article in Time magazine about the truths of sugar, fructose (the molecule that makes sugar sweet) when taken in excess can cause fatty liver disease and eventually causes obesity, heart disease and diabetes.So I have decided to have a sugar free party, that looks good and has food that I won’t be worried about giving to my daughter and her friends.

The Cake: Obviously every birthday party has to have a cake that is both fun and delicious, and luckily I have found a company that can make a chocolate birthday cake (my daughter’s favourite) while making sure that it is sugar free. The Heavenly Cake Company makes handmade cakes for a huge range of dietary requirements. So I can trust them to make the perfect cake for the big day.

The Food: All I can say is thank goodness for the internet, I have seen loads of helpful articles and tips on how to make delicious food that is not full of sugar. The best website that I came across that gave me tons of ideas was actually Pininterest, all the lovely pictures really got my creative juices flowing, and helped to show me that birthday food can be healthy and tasty at the same time.

The Decorations: Leaving the snacks aside for a moment, a birthday wouldn’t be complete without a whole host of beautiful decorations and birthday supplies that will compliment all of the the wonderful food. My friend recommended Partycare, as not only do they have a great range of products but have a section dedicated to 1st birthdays, which is perfect.

Remember that birthday food should be colourful and full of fun and doesn’t need to be full of sugar in order to achieve this.

 

A Simple and Safe Garden

I bought a house with my partner about 3 years ago, and since then we have had a baby. Soon he will be old enough to want to start playing in the garden, which is, in my opinion, about as safe as the fire swamp in The Princess Bride. It is mostly concrete with unruly grass and hidden rocks all around, it sort of makes me wonder what the old owners were going to do with it. After reading an article on Making the Link, that states that ‘traumatic brain injury accounts for 30% of childhood deaths’, I just started seeing the garden as one massive death trap, one trip and he’d smash his head. The chances of this actually happening are very slim, but I would be constantly worrying and over thinking, so I have decided to get the garden sorted.

My idea for the garden is very simple, lots of grass, a nice flower bed and some space at the back for a garden shed and barbecue. Sure it would be nice to have some decking or a fancy fountain, but this isn’t going to be the house that we live in forever, and getting excessive with the accessories could be harmful when we want to sell. According to The Independent, a good ‘outside space is a selling point’ but think twice before ‘adding decking, paving and water features’ as you will spend more then you will get back. So I don’t mind foregoing my perfect garden in the short term, in the name of safety and making the house more appealing to potential buyers.

I have found a brilliant company, who help with garden design in Surrey and have been very thorough in showing me the designs and plans for my simple and safe garden. It should be finished soon and then finally I can stop worrying and start enjoying it with my son.

 

Secure Your Front Door

I live on a narrowboat, and most narrowboats are made of steel so they last for decades. The doors on the boat though are not made of steel but of wood, and have panes of coloured glass in the middle. I was very happy with this door until recently, when my boat was broken into. The burglar kicked at the door and then smashed the glass panes in order to open up the bolts on the inside. I was there at the time and when they realised, they quickly scarpered. I knew that if I hadn’t been there all of my valuables would have been stolen, and so I started researching ways to make my boat more secure.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department doors are the the primary route that a burglar will take when trying to break into your home,  and ‘doors with glazed panels are inherently less secure than solid doors’. I started my research into what kind of door I should invest in. I have been put off getting a wooden door for obvious reasons and according to Thermatru Doors wooden doors can ‘bow, warp or twist’ depending on the temperature or humidity. Fibreglass doors do not appeal to me and would look so out of place on my boat. So I decided to go for a steel door. They are much less expensive then a solid wooden door, are more secure and are will last for a very long time. Seeing as I am from the North West I did a search for steel doors Manchester and found an excellent company that could make me a a door made to measure, which is quite handy as mine needed to be much smaller then the average door.

I would highly recommend investing in a new door, I feel much more secure knowing that a burglar won’t be able to smash my door down either when I am home or not.

Growing your own Veg: Which, When and Where

Growing your own veg is not only super efficient to the environment, its efficient in reducing your food bill. We live in an age where a pack of frozen chicken nuggets costs less than a broccoli and slowly our nation is becoming more at risk with childhood obesity. Eating fresh veg not only gives you the nutrients you need to stay healthy, it gives kids and adults alike more energy and get up and go. It makes for exciting meals, such as a vegetable bake or vegetable stir fry.

Growing vegetables is also a fun and worthwhile past time. Caring for and nurturing your vegetables as they grow only takes up a short amount of your time and the results happen before you know it. Here is a quick guide on some of the basic veg to grown, its benefits and care instructions.

Carrots

Carrots are root vegetables and as with all root veg, you need good quality soil to begin the germination process. Digging thoroughly through your soil and removing any weeds or stones will help the root to spread lower, giving your root veg more anchorage and helping them to grow to their potential full size. Growing in a greenhouse will be more beneficial to carrots as you can help to keep away carrot fly easier and give warmth to your veg.

It’s best to sow carrot seeds in the early spring of March or April, any earlier as you will need fleecing to protect the seedlings any earlier than this. Sow your seeds lightly, only 1inch deep and make sure your sowing is thinly spread and equal.

Carrots don’t actually need much attention apart from regular watering so the root doesn’t turn woody. And come June-July, you should start pulling up your carrots as they will have reached their potential size.

Potatoes

Chitting is a term used to describe the sprouting of potato seeds before planting. You should start chitting ideally by February and start planting your sprouting potatoes in Mid March to early April.

Potatoes are again a vegetable that don’t take much care once they are planted but ensuring that you planted each tuber 5-7inches deep, with 9-12inches separation from each one will help your potatoes to grow without being crowded. Every week you should unearth your potatoes and make sure just the base of the stem of your seedling is showing.

Onions

Growing onions is quite a tricky task if you don’t have the right soil. They don’t particularly like growing in nitrogen rich soils so stay away from fertiliser and other nitrogen based soils. Onions also don’t like wet soil, they like to be a bit dry enabling them to expand but sucking the moisture available.

Seeds should be sowed from January-February onwards until mid Spring, and should be dispersed randomly as the onions will grow and push away from each other as they expand. They should be sowed at 10-15 degrees Celsius and pushed 5inches into the ground in clumps of no more than 5 or 6 seeds.

Unearth your onions in late September, early October to maximise their growth time, as onions take quite a while to reach their full potential size.

Squash

Growing squash takes careful consideration and a process of elimination. Sow seeds on their sides, about 2 inches deep into well fertilised soil and as the seeds begin to germinate and grow stems, eliminate the weaker seedling. Keeping it will only create crowding for the stronger seedling and could result in both plantings failing.

It is important to keep squash well watered and looked after, as the fruit needs plenty of moisture in order to swell and grow. Like Squash, Courgettes and Marrow are heavily water based, and in order to make their flesh nutritious and moist, they need to be sheltered from too much sunlight.

Unearthing your squash depends on size and type of seed. Squash, such as the butternut variety can grow to up to 20cm in size, but this will take steady watering and many months to reach full maturity.

These types of vegetables can also be kept for a long time after harvesting, as long as they are kept at a temperature between 7.5 and 10 degrees Celsius.

Broccoli

Broccoli is one the best vegetables you can grow at home in your garden or greenhouse. Not only is it ridiculously expensive at the supermarkets, it’s sometimes hard to get hold of. Broccoli is a sought after and popular vegetable because of all the iron and antioxidants it contains. Not only do these help the body to fight off disease, it helps to strengthen our immune systems, which is great news for growing children.

Now, to plant broccoli you can either seed in pots and transfer to soil or seed straight into soil.

If you are seeding straight into soil, then firstly, make sure your soil is rich in moisture and fertiliser. Place your seeds 1/4 of an inch into the soil and about 3 inches apart. As the plant flowers, you will have to dramatically reduce the number of wasteful plants to help your successful germinations break through.

Broccoli is a very thirsty plant and require due care and attention. Be careful not to over water your seeds and drown the plant. As it starts to flower, you will see the heads (broccoli we recognise in a supermarket) start to bloom. Once they have reached full size, about 10cm across in diameter, you are ready to slice away your broccoli from the stalk with a sharp blade.

So there you have it, a quick introduction to growing some basic veg, the BBC website is a fantastic resource for further vegetable growing and seasonal vegetables to take you right through the year. Happy planting.

 

Home Composting

Household waste is at an all time all across the UK, each home now has numerous bins and areas for recycling and everywhere we go we are constantly being reminded to reuse, reduce, recycle!

Recycling can become a daunting task for many with so many bins each demanding different areas and types of our waste. Sorting and investigating which goes in which bin can often feel like a thankless task which many end up abandoning and just putting all of their waste into the regular household waste bin.

However, there is one easy and simple way to recycle your household waste and that is through composting. Composting is an inexpensive, natural process. Composting is a method which will transform your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden, so you, your garden and the environment all benefit from your effort. Composting is both easy to make and use.

Composting has amazing benefits for your garden and plants. The compost which you create from your waste, which would otherwise just go into landfill, is a nutrient-rich food product for your garden and will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and keep your soil’s PH balance in check. Composting does all this whilst also helping to suppress plant disease.

You can put all sorts of kitchen and household waste into your composter and can even get small compost collectors to have in your kitchen so that you can conveniently collect all of your waste as it is created. Certain items such as teabags, grass cuttings, vegetable peelings, fruit scraps, old flowers and coffee grounds are quick to tor and provide important nitrogen and moisture to your soil and compost. Other waster such as cardboard, egg boxes, sawdust and fallen leaves, take longer to rot, but provide carbon and fibre which allows air pockets to form in your compost.

Composting is a simple and straightforward way to improve your gardens soil and reuse and recycle your household and kitchen waste, which would ordinarily just go into landfill.

Home Improvements To Help You

A lot of people are feeling the pinch now that energy bills have increased. The Guardian newspaper stated that increases  ”have added 30%-40% to total bills”, which is quite a steep increase especially when the UK may be on the verge of a triple dip recession.

So what can you do to save money on your dreaded energy bills? Well there are a few options, one option could be to install solar panels on your roof. The average cost of a domestic solar PV (photovoltaic) system is around £7,000 and it will cut your yearly energy bills by 25%. If you are worried by the price of a solar PV system you can get involved in a ‘Rent a Roof ‘scheme whereby major energy providers such as British Gas, Eon and Homesun will install the solar panels for free, providing you with the energy you need. You could also make some extra money from your Solar PV system if your home is eligible for the Government’s  ’Feed-In Tariff’. They pay you for the energy that your Solar PV system produces and could make you around £600 a year. This is only available though if you have paid and installed the Solar Panels yourself as with the ‘Rent a Roof’ scheme the energy providers would be paid for the energy produced.

Wind Turbines are also a great way to generate energy for your home. There are three different kinds of wind turbine that you could purchase, roof mounted 1KW microwind system costs around £2,000, a 2.5KW pole-mounted system costs around £15,000 or a 6KW pole-mounted system costs around £22,500.

Wind turbines are also part of the ‘Feed-In Tariff’, so as with Solar Panels you can save on your energy bills and make a bit of money in the process.

Finally you can cut down on your energy bills by getting energy efficient home improvements. There is a new scheme from the Government called ‘The Green Deal’ where some or all of the cost from the improvements will be paid for over time by your energy bill savings. If you use the scheme you could also qualify for hundreds of pounds cashback from ‘The Green Deal Cashback Scheme’, so the more work that is done, the more money you may get back.

With all these different schemes out there not only could home improvements save you money but in the long run make you money as well, and will mean in the future getting energy bills won’t be such a terrifying prospect.

Luxury Furniture for Luxury Gardens

Many people consider their garden to be one of the most important parts of their home and certainly one of the most enjoyable. Your garden is the place where you’ll spend many summer evenings relaxing, having a BBQ with friends and family and generally spending time doing things you enjoy. As such, it’s only right that you have a little luxury in your garden just as you would in your home. You wouldn’t think twice about treating yourself to the latest model of TV or a luxury leather sofa for your living room, so why should you have to think twice about purchasing luxury goods for your garden? As such, we thought we’d take a look at our top 3 suggestions for those wanting to add a little luxury to their garden!

  1. Garden Gazebos / Summer Houses
    If you want to spend time in your garden relaxing and enjoying yourself; you can’t get much more luxurious than having a gazebo or summer house as your garden’s centrepiece. Gazebos and summer houses come in a range of styles from those with thatched roofs to those with a more contemporary feel. They offer a fantastic place to relax and read a book or to chat with friends and, withstanding everything else, they look absolutely fantastic as a gardens focal point!
  2. Hot Tubs & Spas
    Second on our list is hot tubs and spas! Aside somewhere to sit and shade yourself from the sun, what else beats a hot tub as a luxury garden item? It’s something which we all want but few of us actually get because our garden’s aren’t suitable. Why is this the case though? Treat yourself! You deserve some luxury in your garden and hot tubs can offer somewhere for you to relax and make you the talking point of your friends and family as well! Everyone will be wanting to come round to try it out!
  3. Lazy Susans
    Last but not least on our list comes Lazy Susans! Of course you’ll be wanting somewhere to sit and eat outside and you deserve something luxurious! Lazy Susans beat traditional garden tables every time and if you’re wanting a little luxury and comfort for when you’re eating outside, you can’t go wrong with one of these! Treat yourself…you know you want to!