Ohnik Studio News / natural

Healthy Living Blog #4: Organic or Not? The Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

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As organic products become increasingly available, I always ask myself, is it worth the money to go organic? 

While organic food contains a lower level of pesticides and organic farming is more eco-friendly, many studies find no meaningful benefits or harm to an organic diet (see one of those articles here). However, for peace of mind and the environment, I try to buy organic, but can't afford to pay the premium price for every produce. So the question becomes, which produce to go organic?

Basically, a thick skin protects a fruit or vegetable from pesticides (i.e. what you eat will be "clean"). I used to buy organic bananas because of the small price difference, but then I realized, "I don't eat the pesticide-ridden banana peel anyway!" 

If you're worried about the level of pesticide you're consuming, the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" is a good general guide:

The following lists are reposted from David Suzuki's website:

The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination) -- Buy Organic or Peel (if possible!)

Apples
Celery
Sweet bell peppers
Peaches
Strawberries
Nectarines
Grapes
Spinach
Lettuce
Cucumbers
Blueberries
Potatoes

The Clean 15 (in order of least contamination) -- Don't need to buy organic
Onions
Sweet Corn
Pineapples
Avocado
Cabbage
Sweet peas
Asparagus
Mangoes
Eggplant
Kiwi
Cantaloupe
Sweet potatoes
Grapefruit
Watermelon
Mushrooms

 

But of course, eating any fruits and vegetables (organic or not!) is better than eating none.

Check out my other healthy living blogs here.

Bon Appétit!

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Healthy Living Blog #3: Coffee air freshener, cornstarch dry shampoo and more

As I mentioned in my other healthy living blogs, I'm always on a quest to find natural and toxin-free personal and household products. An extra bonus is those natural, homemade products almost always end up cheaper than store-bought products! Kin's been using the 3-ingredient coconut deodorant for 2 years and he hasn't purchased a single deodorant since.

Today, I'd like to offer some of the other natural products we use in and around the home. Enjoy :)

1. Car air freshener: coffee grounds

Who doesn't love the smell of coffee? What you might not know is coffee grounds makes an excellent natural air freshener for your car! Apparently you can use used coffee grounds as well, but we've been using fresh hazelnut coffee grounds. Oh, the possibilities with all the amazing flavours out there!

How: put 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 mL) coffee grounds onto a piece of tissue paper. Wrap it up with a ribbon like a pretty gift.

2. Dry Shampoo: cornstarch

For those days when you simply don't have time to wash your hair, dry shampoos are great to freshen things up. Did you know cornstarch works very well as a dry shampoo? No more aerosol bottles! I keep my dry shampoo cornstarch in a spice shaker in the washroom.

How: sprinkle some cornstarch on greasy ends of hair. Leave for 1 minute. Pat away the cornstarch with your hands.

 

3. Oven cleaner: baking soda, salt and water

For those who have the unfortunate experience of liquids (or solids) spilling onto a heated oven floor, you know how difficult it is to scrub the burnt food off. A quick fix is to use the super-hot self-clean function in most modern oven. I have reservations about using the self-clean function too often, so I usually try to naturally clean the oven myself. This is definitely not the most effective recipe (you still need to use a fair amount of elbow grease), but everything in the recipe is edible, which gives me peace of mind over the types of gases store-bought oven cleaners can release.

How: use equal parts baking soda, coarse (kosher) salt, and water to form a paste. Apply with a scrubbing pad.

    4. Pot cleaner: baking soda and water

    Burnt food not only get stuck on ovens, but sadly, also on pots and pans. This method is great for stainless steel and also enamelled cast iron pots and pans (love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven. I seem to cook and bake everything in it. Can't believe I never had one till this year!). It's gentle enough not to make any scratches.

    How:

    • Bring a small amount of baking soda and water (more than enough to cover the bottom of a pot) to a boil.
    • Watch the carbon dioxide fizz and work for you!
    • Add more baking soda if necessary.
    • Scrub off burnt food with a wooden spoon.

    5. Window Cleaner: vinegar & water

    Who knew just vinegar & water can give windows a brilliant shine? Check out other natural window cleaners here.

    How: 1/2 cup (125 mL) vinegar + 4 cups (1 L) water

    6. Bug repellent: citronella oil

    I'm always wary about the combination of sunscreen and bug repellent. Citronella oil is a natural alternative, though some people, especially children might be sensitive to it.

    I also avoid putting on sunscreen if I can (many toxic chemicals there!)... I try to wear hats and cover up well when I am outdoors for an extended period of time.

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    Wedding Blog #1: Help! How do I dye my white veil ivory?

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    About a year before the wedding, I realized how expensive it was to buy a veil in Vancouver. So, I decided to buy one online on Taobao(Sadly, you need to be able to read Chinese to use this website.)

    There are also many beautiful and reasonably-priced veil on Amazon, like this gorgeous cathedral length veil. Or how about this lace-bordered veil with comb? At less than $20 per veil, you really can't go wrong!

    The veil that came was beautiful... just what I wanted, with a lace trim. The only problem was... it was white!! Almost bright paper white... whereas my dress was ivory. My Maid of Honour noticed it right away. While it wasn't a huge issue, I wondered if there was a way I could dye my dream veil into my dream colour -- using a natural dye. 

    After some help from Dr. Google, I figured I could! What I did was largely based on Miss Gator's and Miss IndianaPRolis's posts. Since I had more than a year to go, and I could always order another veil online, I decided to go for it (though it was still pretty scary!):

    Dying Veil with Tea (from White to Ivory):

    Materials:

    2 x Lipton Yellow Label Tea Bags

    10 cups x Water

    1 x Measuring Cup

    1 x Stock Pot 

    1 (or more) x Test Tulle/Fabric (I didn't have a scrap piece of tulle, so I just used a white piece of fabric)

    1 x Veil

    Procedures:

    1. Boil (more than 2 cups of) water. 

    2. Steep 2 tea bags into 2 cups of boiling hot water (I used a measuring cup... couldn't take risks with my veil!), for 2 minutes. Keep the teabags completely submerged by using a clean spoon (I made the mistake of using a not-so-clean wooden spoon in my first trial... oil started floating to the top. I wasn't going to put my veil in that!). 

    3. Pour the 2 cups of tea into a large stock pot.

    4. Measure 8 cups of cold water. Pour into the stock pot. Mix.

    5. Wait a while till the tea is completely cooled.

    6. Rinse your test fabric in cold tap water, until it's completely wet (this is important so that the dye is evenly distributed).

    7. Put your test fabric into the pot of tea for 2 minutes. Make sure it's completely submerged the whole time (I kept it down with my hands).

    8. Rinse your test tulle/fabric in cold tap water so all the excess tea is gone.

    9. Gently wring out the water, and hang your test tulle/fabric dry.

    10. If the dry test tulle/fabric came out with the colour you want, repeat steps 6 - 9 with your veil. Otherwise, adjust the amount of time you submerge your test tulle/fabric and test again.

    11. After you've dyed your veil, hang it to dry. Make sure it's not bunched up or stuck to another piece to ensure an even colour (though if you've rinsed it well enough, it shouldn't make too big of a difference).

    **If you have a trim like mine, make sure the trim is laid out as flat as possible, too. I also went back to check on the veil again when it was about half dry to straighten things out (trust me... it's worth it!).

    *** A word of caution: after dying (so wetting and drying), the lace trim on my veil needed to be ironed out. The little pieces of threads were never quite as straight as before.

    So, on my second try (on a second veil), I made sure the trim as laid out very flat when it was hung to dry. Much better result!! :)

    Hanging the veil to dry

    Test fabric: before and after

    Veil: before and after (first veil)

    Evy's Veil from the back

     My Veil from the Back

    Evy & Dad Walking down the Aisle

    I was really happy with how it turned out. :)

    Don't forget to check out our wedding planning page for tips and advice!

    We also have two more wedding blogs: DIY projects (big money savers!) and Writing your Wedding Invitation.

    We do beautiful custom-illustrated wedding invitations and save-the-datesRead testimonials from our happy customers here!

     Best Seller: Custom Design Illustration

     

     

     

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    Healthy Living Blog #2: Plants that Clean your Air

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    When we moved into our condo almost 3 years ago, we thought it'd be nice to have some plants to liven up the place. Sadly, I have no green thumbs and have managed to kill all plants previously given to me. :( That's why I decided to search for plants that are hardy enough that even I could nurture and keep. 

    Then, I stumbled upon this TED talk "How to Grow Fresh Air". I loved the idea of growing plants that can remove formaldehydes and other toxic, volatile chemicals from the air. Specifically, the speaker Kamal Meattle grew three types of plants in his Delhi's office: Areca palm, Mother-in-Law's Tongue and Money plant. Mother-in-Law's Tongue is a wonderful bedroom plant as it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen at night. Money plant is a miracle plant that absorbs toxic, volatile chemicals; some say Mother-in-Law's Tongue does the same.

    After some research, I decided to buy Mother-in-Law's Tongue (aka Snake Plant) and Peace Lily (another plant that absorb toxic chemicals). They're both readily available in my local gardening stores, and are very economical. Best of all, they're deemed to be very sturdy plants that are easy to grow! They don't require a lot of sunlight, watering or fertilizer (I haven't used a single drop of fertilizer on them).

    See how they've grown in less than three years! We've had to repot a few times. :)

     

     

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    Healthy Living Blog #1: 3-ingredient Homemade Natural Deodorant Recipe

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    Hi Everyone! This is Evy here. :)

    I've always been interested in healthy eating & living, and as a Science teacher, I get asked tons of weird questions daily and love to share what I have learned (and continue to learn!).

    Three years ago, I read a book called "Never Be Sick Again" by Raymond Francis. It's a book that has made a significant impact on my life. Sadly, yes, I've been sick again since reading the book, but I don't exactly follow everything it says either (oops!). I love the simplicity of the book's premise: there are only 2 reasons cells (and thus we) get sick: deficiency and toxicity. Deficiency comes about when we don't consume enough nutrients (Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables daily? Is there enough variety? I know I'm still guilty of not eating enough "colours"!). Toxicity comes not only from the food we eat (think about all the pesticides!), but also from our new cars, furniture, and household items. The book began with the story of how the author was once severely allergic to many things... including the smell of ink from a newly printed book. That really made me think. If that smell could make someone so sick, it can't be good for me, can it?

    Anyhoo, there is my very long introduction to this blog post. The book mentioned how many toxic chemicals are in deodorants, so making a homemade deodorant was suddenly on top of my to-do list. Kin has been using this for more than two years now, and he loves it! I love the fresh scent of coconut. Sexier than those body sprays! ;)

    This amazing recipe came from Clotilde's Chocolate & Zucchini Blog. I've made some minor adaptations to make it easier to make and use. And if you don't mind getting some beewax and essential oil, you can make a temperature-stable and thus travel-friendly version!

    Coconutty Natural Deodorant

    Prep Time: 10 min; Ready in: The next day (overnight refrigeration needed)

    This lasts one person 2-3 months.

    Ingredients:

    2 tablespoons baking soda

    2 tablespoons starch of your choice (we've always used corn starch, but you can use arrowroot powder, potato starch, or tapioca) 

    3 tablespoons (35 grams) organic virgin coconut oil, softened (available now at most food stores, including Costco)

    Instructions:

    1. In a small bowl, combine (2 tbs) baking soda and (2 tbs) starch.

    2. Add the (3 tbs) coconut oil. Stir until smooth and creamy. 

    3. Use plastic wrap to line a separate small bowl. Pour the creamy mixture into the plastic wrap. Gather and twist the plastic wrap at the top. Kin likes to shape his like an oval soap.

    4. Keep the wrapped creamy mixture in the small bowl to refrigerate overnight or until hardened. Voila!

    5. Rub it on as you would with a normal deodorant. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge to maintain its shape. Alternatively, keep at room temperature and use it like a lotion.

     

     

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