Thursday, September 18, 2014

DIY Cleaner Recipes

Back in February, I had promised to share my experience with natural cleaning products I made, and it totally dropped off my radar until now, sorry :) So I give you this disclaimer: you are about to see my bathroom that I share with my brother in its dirtiest state ever to showcase the power of natural cleaning products. In less time and money than it takes to go shopping at the grocery store, you can make these 5 natural cleaning products in the comfort of your own home to clean the bathroom sections I am featuring!

You might be wondering what caused me to change my cleaning habits, and why should you bother to take the time to invest in these cleaning recipes. The answer is short and sweet - your health should be your #1 investment. As I've aged (keep in mind I'm only 25), my allergies have become more sensitive and I've become more aware of what companies aren't telling us about what's in their cleaning products. It was always hard for me to breathe with the fumes of cleaners floating in the air of a little bathroom, which would cause me to have to stop and take a break while the bathroom vented out more. That in itself made my cleaning time two times as long as it would've taken to finish if I could breathe properly. I also became aware of how our bodies take in these cleaning chemicals post-cleaning. They don't just disappear y'all! They stay put in the air and on surfaces, and they get taken into our bodies though the bottoms of our feet, our hands, lungs, mouth, etc.

Here are a couple major reasons you should take the time to switch from toxic to natural:

  • Unregulated chemicals in the ingredients 
  • Being loyal to a cleaner brand just because your mom used it, doesn't mean it's safe for you to use. Ingredients like phtalates (in fragrances), 2-butoxyethanol (in multi-purpose cleaners), chlorine (in toilet cleaners), benzalkonum chloride (in fabric softeners), volatile organic compounds (found in aerosol cans) and many others are toxic and harmful, especially to our lungs, nervous system, kidneys, and liver.
  • If you have kids, remember they are more prone to poisoning and illness from chemicals than you might be. Better to be safe than sorry.  

Alright, so let's dive right into this mess!

We don't keep very much on the counter space considering how close it is to the toilet, plus the area gets dirty so fast that it needs to stay clear for a quick clean. As you can see below, our sink has an oval groove in it. This tends to cause a buildup of grime, dirt, and who knows what else. Both the faucet and drain cap never fail to get some sort of toothpaste buildup, and the sink bowl overtime always has a buildup of soap and dirt.

To clean the counters and sink, I use my all-purpose cleaner and a sponge.
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup borax
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 2 TSP tea tree essential oil

Now let's have a look of what everything looks like after cleaning...ahh much better :) Cleans everything right off leaving a shine, no fumes, and no residue.

In all honesty I dread even having to touch the toilet; you never know what lurks under that seat lid when you share a bathroom with a guy (sorry but you know it's true)! :| All exposed disgusting. If you fail to clean your toilet from bottom to top, inside to outside at the end of every week after a month, it might look like this. The dreaded stain on the seat lid is always the hardest to remove, and is a breeding nest of germs spreading and multiplying. So let's fix this up.

To clean the toilet entirely on the outside, I first use my all-purpose cleaner and a sponge.
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup borax
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 2 TSP tea tree essential oil

Then I use my toilet cleaner with a brush for the inside bowl and lid area. Scrub everywhere at least twice and rinse.
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 20 drops tea tree essential oil

As you can see in the picture below, most of the seat lid stain was removed, but not all of it wanted to come off. I was serious that it is always the hardest area to clean when it gets way too dirty! So in situations like this, I get out my soft scrub cleaner to do the extra work with a scrub brush. If the buildup has been sitting on the seat lid for a very long time, unfortunately there's no way out of getting the entire stain out of the lid's material, but you can remove a good deal of it with this cleaner.
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP sea salt
  • 1/2 TBSP dish soap
When mixing in the dish soap, keep in mind that whatever dish soap color you choose will be the color of your soft scrub. Try to stay away from the darker colors like blue, red, and green.

Well would you look at that :) Doesn't this look more welcoming now?! You can still see the faint stain on the lid, but that's there permanently now. If your stain still remains and over time it darkens to a brown or black, it's probably time to replace your lid. Moving on to the mirrors...

I honestly don't know why home builders like to install these massive mirrors in bathrooms. I HATE them! So much area that needs to be cleaned and quite frankly I don't want to see myself walking from one end of the bathroom to the other. Another downside to these kinds of mirrors is rust. Yes, rust. The metal clasps on the bottom near the counter can start rusting over time if you like to take hot showers and fog up the mirror (I'm guilty of that).

To clean the mirror, I use my glass cleaner and paper towels. I have tried various versions of Windex, I have tried other glass cleaners, I have even tried sulfate-free glass cleaners. NONE OF THEM clean better than this homemade recipe!! With this recipe I get no residue streaks left on the glass, do you know how happy that makes me? :)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 15 drops lemon essential oil

BAM, look at that glass! :) Streak-free clean and no need to respray the area to remove missed fingerprints, water marks, or dirt.

Probably my second least favorite thing to clean. This fake hard plastic tile wall...not my friend. Neither are the ledges that come out of the wall that tempt anyone to leave their wet soap bar to stick and become removable only by digging nails into the soap. These ledges also are a host spot for mold buildup under and around your shampoo and conditioner bottles. Lastly, bathtubs with no-slip textured bottoms are great to have since they have a legit purpose to keep you from falling on your butt. But those bottoms will NEVER stay clean, ever. I highly recommend to never get a textured bottom. Just buy a mat to place inside that you can remove when cleaning and can replace as it gets old. There's nothing more painful and frustrating than leaning over your bathtub side scrubbing away for at least 15 minutes while switching between arms as they tire out.

To clean the bathtub, I use my soft scrub cleaner and a scrub brush. I also have on hand a large cup to gather water to rinse everything off.
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP sea salt
  • 1/2 TBSP dish soap

Post-clean, the bathtub is definitely whiter and cleaner. You can see in the picture below just how good the homemade soft scrub works to cut out the grime, soap residue, and dirt in just a couple scrubs! You can also see that the tub bottom still has a hint of brown due to the textured bottom not being easy to clean whatsoever. However, the stain from the shower curtain is gone, and the buildup from underneath the shampoo and conditioner bottles are also gone.

Every time you clean your bathroom, you should be cleaning your floors. Floors buildup just as many germs and bacteria as everything else mentioned above. We have laminate patterned flooring in our bathroom, which is always subject to tennis shoe streaks, a covering of dirt, hair, dust, grass, you name it.

To clean the floor, I use my floor cleaner and a sponge. This can also be used on baseboards, and will easily get the dust and dirt out of hard to reach grooves without ripping the paint off.
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 2 cups water

Another clean surface :) Floors - done. Baseboards - done. Now let's talk about another space in bathrooms that doesn't always get the cleaning attention it deserves...

How often do you change out your shower curtain protector? If you don't have a waterproof shower curtain like me, then you probably have one of these plastic protection liners inside the bathtub. They accumulate so much dirt, residue, mold, allergens, and bacteria! Just look at the difference between my new protector on the left, and the old on the right! Which would you rather be breathing next to? I bet it's the left one. I choose not to scrub down the plastic protectors, just not a good use of my time, so I trash the old and replace with a new one every few months when I start to notice a dark yellow color forming.

The remaining touches to cleaning my bathroom are changing out the trash bag and putting new towels on our towel hooks so we're ready for the next time we shower. We don't keep all of our towels stored away in the bathroom cabinets to prevent mold from settling in after continuous hot showers. Who wants to use smelly towels, ew. The other side to that is we reuse our towels at least twice to save water and time spent on laundry. If you're taking a shower you are clean when you come out aren't you? :)

After all the cleaning is done, I wipe down all the counter top pieces like the soap dispenser, kleenex holder and picture frame before putting them back. I also use a small washcloth to place under all the shampoo and conditioner bottles, and soap holders that stay on the outer side of the bathtub to prevent dirtying the bathtub up even more.

Now even after all that cleaning, I didn't have to worry about breathing in harsh chemicals, burning my lungs, or having to wait 15-30 minutes to enter back into the bathroom for fumes to vent out. Doesn't that sound amazing?? Give these DIY cleaner recipes a try and let me know how this safer cleaning routine works for you!

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How To Grow An Avocado Tree From An Avocado Seed

I've had a few questions about how I got my avocado tree started, so I'm going to share with everyone! If you love to eat avocados or use them in homemade recipes, don't ditch the seeds! Many people are unaware that the seeds can actually grow an avocado tree within a couple weeks without much care.

After removing the seed, rinse off the seed and dry it. Hold the seed upright like you would an egg. You'll notice the seed has a similar egg shape and you want the seed's tip up. Take three toothpicks and stick them into the middle of the seed just enough to hold it up in a clear cup. I always use a clear cup so light can shine through the water. Haven't ever used a solid cup, so I can't say if that will root the seed faster or not.

Fill the cup with room temperature tap water. You should have enough water in your cup that the bottom of the seed will rest in a couple centimeters of water. You MUST keep watch on the seed during the first 2-3 weeks to avoid mold build-up, move the seed in the water every other day. If you notice any mold, wipe off with a paper towel. Seeing mold on the seed does not mean it has gone bad.

As the seed takes in water to start the rooting process, you will notice the water level in your cup going down. Make sure to dump the water maybe once a week to keep it fresh if you notice it becoming a brown or green color.

The roots will crack open the seed on their own, no need to force open the seed. The roots are in search of water, so make sure your water level is always covering the base of the seed. If you don't do this, the roots will turn dark brown and die off. Rooting time depends on your seed, every seed is different. The first seed I ever rooted took about 5 weeks to start. My second seed took 2 weeks. Don't give up on your seed unless mold takes over because you weren't keeping up with removing the mold and everything else mentioned above.

After a month or so, depending on your seed, you'll go from the rooting process to the tree sprout! This is a pretty exciting time because your little avocado tree is growing super fast by now and it LOVES indirect sunlight by a warm window. Since growth is faster now, making sure the water is level and the seed remains without mold is super super important. You don't want mold spreading to the fragile trunk of the baby avocado tree or its leaves.

If your cup is small, the roots have probably reached the bottom already. This is ok for now. If they start getting tangled then it's time to find a taller cup or vase. I typically leave the seed growing in water until the tree sprout is at least 12'' tall. Some leave it in even longer, but it's up to you. When you're ready to transfer to soil, use seed soil and water at least every other day.

For now, my two baby avocado seeds are enjoying the good life by the window :) I'll update this post as they continue to grow and are ready to be potted in soil.

Do you have an avocado tree? Share with everyone how you upkeep it, we all want to know!

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

10 Tips For A More Efficient & Richer Life

This post was inspired by Dollar Shave Club's Shave Time, Shave Money campaign. Dollar Shave Club is committed to shaving time and money day after day through their razor blades for men shipped right to their member's doorsteps for as low as $1 a month. Their razors are on mission to change the way men address their grooming needs. Sign up by selecting a razor, create an account, and for a low monthly fee have your razor blades shipped right to you just like a subscription. No more forgetting to buy your blades, and no more time and money wasted! 

Yup, that's me up there in that photo as The Big Event Director with the WFAA Channel 8 morning news crew doing a live on-air segment to talk about UT Arlington's The Big Event 2011. Talk about one of the most nerve-racking times in my college career as a senior, but one of the most cornerstone opportunities in my life. During the two years I spent at UT Arlington managing the campus' largest community service event with over 800 volunteers, multitasking and saving money became second-nature to me. I learned how to manage my time between being a full-time student with a full-time job more efficiently, methods to keep a budget, nifty ways pull all-nighters and then get to class by 8 AM, how to get course credit by working on campus, and other hacks and tricks to ultimately create and accept opportunities that would lead me to what I wanted most - a richer life.

Now here I am three years later as an alum and I am continuing to learn what a richer life really means for me and what my purpose is. No matter if you're a recent grad, a top executive, a teenager, mother or father, you too are still on a path to discovering your purpose and what a richer life means for you and how to get to that point. Do you take pride in growing your own backyard garden? Do you make time to get outdoors and explore the world? Do you keep track of your money so you can live the lifestyle you want? Do you live to work or work to live? These and other actionable considerations require you to save time, save money, and most importantly take chances! 

Some of my biggest life changes and accomplishments happened because I took chances, invested in risk, and dedicated myself to saving time and money. Below are my 10 tips you can use as a guide for a more efficient and richer life, and how they are just some of the ways I shave time and shave money

1. Make your own ocean-approved natural beauty essentials
You are in for a complete shock if you think your store-bought makeup, facial cleanser, soap, and hundreds of other hygiene products are 'safe' and worth the money you spend on monthly purchases. Not only are there toxic ingredients causing your body harm, but you are most likely also damaging waterways and polluting the environment. Continue reading about why you should make your own products and how to make them in my tutorial.

2. Cook more at home instead of eating fast food or restaurant meals 
You can save some serious cash and increase your quality of health by sitting down to analyze how much money you spend on eating out, then taking steps to cooking more yourself. Everyone will be super jealous of your cooking skills that they'll beg you to make their favorite dish ;) You can't cook, what? That's a silly excuse, because I know you can! If I can whip up this spinach artichoke dip or Greek pesto gyros, I know you can too. If you consider yourself to be your family's chef, I applaud you. But if you're getting tired of being the only one to cook every day, invest in making a family cookbook using Blurb's book making software that allows you to create a book with your recipe instructions and pictures.  

3. Plan vacations and road trips months ahead of time
There's nothing worse than feeling you won't be able to stay at your favorite hotel or see specific attractions because you didn't plan ahead of time. My worst has been paying more for airfare and not being able to book a getaway cabin in Texas during the time I needed because I waited too long. If you ever need a list of cabins in Texas though I got you covered here! Also, if you hate being in any kind of traffic when you're pressed for time like I am, you'll want to download the Beat The Traffic app on your iPhone. No, like do it right now, it will change your life I promise (your welcome).   

4. Propagate food!
Americans throwaway so much food...and they don't even know they could be saving money buy growing more food from the food they just threw in the trashcan. Did you know you can grow lemon trees from lemon seeds? An avocado tree from an avocado seed? Pineapples from pineapple heads? There are so many more you can grow!

5. Keep a backyard garden
You're probably thinking I'm crazy because who has time to tend to a garden these days without other helping hands and knowledge of a green-thumb pro...Well, I'm here to tell you you can create a sustainable small garden out of water bottles and save time and money doing it by upcycling and following tip #4 above. Continue reading more about the sustainable starter garden I made here. If you don't have time to garden, no problem. You can save other people time and money by buying foods from your local farmer's market and/or buying foods that were made and grown right here in the U.S.A. Not only will you be helping the economy, you'll be eating foods with less pesticides and preservatives, which means a healthier you.

6. Use post-it notes, notepads, anything that you can keep a list on
Lists are a must for keeping up with the dozens of things I have going on every day. I save a tremendous amount of time not having to stop and think what I've got to do next if I keep a list of things to do as they come up. If you need a way to keep up with multiple tasks, try making a list of everything you know you need to do first thing every morning when you wake up.

7. Be financially responsible with loans and credit cards
Return what you borrow, it's as simple as that. If you don't have money to give back over time you shouldn't take it at all. Taking on big loans is risky both for students and working adults if the loan is not being properly repaid. Paying the minimums doesn't get you anywhere when in the background interest is building up day after day! You end up paying more back over time if you aren't actively doing everything possible to lower your debt. That means making sacrifices you might not want to make. I paid off my college loans of $18,000 in 1.5 years making $35,000 a year, and in four months I will be paying off the new car I bought last May but had to take a loan out for just over $18,000; I'm currently making about $50,000 a year. Two important keys here though are that I started paying back as soon as I started borrowing and I made lifestyle sacrifices in order to be debt free. Nothing feels better than knowing you don't owe anyone money!

8. Reuse your bath towel more than once
This has been ingrained in my head forever thanks to my mom. You're coming out of the shower clean right? Like you used soap, water, shampoo, and maybe some conditioner? Great, you can use your bath towel again because all you did is dry off your clean body and hair. Reusing your bath towel more than once helps save water and your time when you have piles of other laundry to do. 

9. Serve your community and give back
Volunteering and financially supporting nonprofits and organizations has been one of the biggest contributors to enriching my life. I've had the opportunity to travel to other states to volunteer, meet successful entrepreneurs like TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, learn from historical figures like Mike Jacobs, and assist in solving environmental devastation along the Texas coast during an oil spill. So how does this save time or money? It helps you find your purpose, and your purpose is found through time and investments of either monetary value or personal time.

10. Find quality and affordable ways to enjoy LIFE!
You don't have to payout an excessive amount of money to enjoy life. There are so many free and affordable activities, events, and destinations to see and do. Checkout your city or town's website for lists of upcoming events or attractions, also see what state and national parks are close to where you live. Most importantly though, if you're always on the go and busy, find time to just stay at home. Get grounded in enjoying some quite time to yourself or with family. Enjoy life!

Texas Women Bloggers

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic!

Monday, August 18, 2014

12 Things To Do During Texas' Winter Months

Let's admit it Texans, our lovely state never truly has a 'real' winter. We don't have snow-capped mountains or frozen winter wonderland forests, our retail stores aren't equipped with the latest winter coats or skiing gear...we just don't have winters. If you're a Texan, you know this is at times heartbreaking. Every once in a while it'd be nice to have some 'real' winter weather for a change, feel all cozy by the fire watching snow fall outside the window, build a snowman, go sledding, cut down a Christmas tree, you know, normal wintery things!

I have family coming from Maryland in December to stay with us throughout the month till New Years and they've requested for us to show them the gorgeous side of Texas that isn't flat land and boring. First off, they live in the North, they know what a real winter is and they laugh at us when ice storms hit and cities shutdown, and they've traveled the world - talk about hard to please in that case! If your family has ever explored what Texas has to offer beyond the city highways, you know there are tons of amazing things to do and see in our diverse state. Unfortunately, almost all of them are more appealing during Spring and Summer.

So what are we to do but start searching for as many things as we can find across Texas that will bring out our state's inner winter wonderland! I thought I'd share my top holiday activity finds for older teens and adults so that if you're ever in the same predicament as we are, and you need to start making road trip plans ASAP, you have a handful of unique attractions and places in Texas to travel to that you probably would've never thought of. Here are 12 things to do during Texas' winter months.

1. See the famous Bald Eagle nests of Texas
Did you know Texas' hill country is a winter nesting home to some of our nation's Bald Eagles? Grab your binoculars and cameras and head to these popular eagle sights:

2. Smell real Christmas trees growing in Texas
Gah, I love the fresh pine smell of evergreen Christmas trees! There are over 120 Christmas tree farmers in Texas growing 500 to 10,000 trees per farm and harvesting one of the most iconic symbols of the holiday season. Take family photos for your annual holiday cards behind a backdrop of trees, cut down your own tree, or take part in the holiday crafts and events at the farms. Head on out to a farm near you and support your local tree farmers.

3. Experience the changing of tree colors by waterfalls
If you're the kind of person who dreams of the Carolina waterfalls and mid-fall hiking to see the trees changing colors and waterfalls freezing over, you've got to visit Texas' Guadalupe Mountains National Park at Smith Spring or Colorado Bend State Park at Gorman Falls anytime from fall into winter.

4. Eiffel Tower holiday lights
If you can't be under the Eiffel Tower in France, be under one of its replicas topped with a fitting cowboy hat in Paris, Texas! 27 LED lights adorn the tower that reflect the holiday colors at night during December. The town hosts ongoing holiday events like the local Christmas parade, Movie in the Park Holiday nights, and home Christmas light tours as well.

5. Bundle up for ICE! at the Gaylord Texan Resort
Whether you have kids, or you don't, this holiday activity is awesome for anyone. I've been twice, the last time being in 2011 when the theme was Shrek. The Gaylord hosts an ice sculpture walk-through with a different theme every year; this year will be Frosty The Snowman. The tour features 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice and two ice slides. This year they'll be adding a section called The Frostbite Factory where you'll get to see the ice carvers up close as they work! Aside from the sculpture tour and getting to wear a huge blue parka, the entire resort is decked out in Christmas decorations, lights, and even a full size gingerbread house to explore. I plan to go this year!! :)

6. Watch the Ford Holiday River Parade & Lighting Ceremony 
The hour long parade on the banks of the River Walk in San Antonio is full of illuminated boats, holiday decorations, bands, and great food!

7. Go back in time with Fredericksburg's Annual Lighting of the German Pyramid 
This little German town will be decked out in traditional German holiday festivities, lighting of a Christmas tree and traditional wood-carved pyramid, plus lots of great foods! If you prefer to add a little global culture to your holiday festivities, this is the place for you!

8. Check out the dozens of holiday activities in Grapevine
From the North Pole Express and the Twinkle Light Boat Parade, to an international Christmas Market and Christmas Wine Trains, the city of Grapevine has an activity for any family to enjoy. It has even been named the Christmas Capital of Texas!

9. Visit San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio for a holiday mass
The cathedral is beautiful when its holiday lights and Christmas tree adorn the grounds. With masses in both English and Spanish, it is the oldest functioning religious community in the state of Texas having been founded in 1731. On the grounds there is a gift shop, water fountains, and scenic surroundings for photography.

10. Walk the Austin Trail of Lights during its 50th Anniversary
Grab a cup of hot chocolate or your favorite warm cinnamon tea and head for Austin's Zilker Park! This is a must-see event in the city where 1.25 miles of lights, food, and entertainment take over December 7-21. Watch last year's recap video to see what happened!

11. Skate on ice in downtown Houston's Discovery Park ICE Skating Rink
The ICE skating rink uses recycled water from Kinder Lake every year to form a 7,716 square-foot rink kept at 22 degrees. This is the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the Southwest! But it's not just about the skating, there are outdoor movies, live music, ice carvings, food, and more. It will be packed, so make sure to go when it might not be that busy.

12. Go to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concert 
If you love the classic songs of the holidays, but need a little modern twist to get the boys more interested, this concert is for you. We've been twice, and it's awesome; a little bit of the classics, rock, and a super light show. They'll be touching down in Houston December 19 and Dallas December 21. For all other tour dates and locations, visit the link below!

So there you have it, a pretty good handful of holiday events, activities, and places around Texas to explore this winter. Who thinks we'll actually get some snow this year?? :) I know those ice storms are just around the corner.haha

What are some of your family's must-do holiday activities? Share in the comments below! You never know, you might discover an event or activity that you've never experienced before in a city or town near you. 

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