Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stove-Top Homemade Simmering Potpourri Recipe Ideas For Cold Weather & Holidays - Scent Your Home Naturally

The nostalgic, homey feeling of cooler fall days always gets me thinking of domestic projects. One I love, and certainly an easy atmosphere-changer to pull off, is whipping up a pot of homemade, simmering potpourri to fill your home with inviting, healing natural scents. It CAN be a great way to re-use certain items before retiring them to your compost, and it's healthier and more eco-friendly than using the grocery store-style, chemically scented, and petroleum-based aroma candles and diffusers.

The variations are endless, and in my opinion you really can't go wrong. I've provided a few ideas for inspiration, and notice I don't put amounts. In general, the rule is a little goes a long way. Experiment and have fun this holiday season with mixing your own scent-sational potpourris!

How To: Fill pot 3/4 full with water, add ingredients. Put on back burner to low-simmer. Check from time to time, refill with water when necessary. Make sure to turn off when you leave your home and when sleeping.

Recipe Idea #1
Cinnamon Stick

Recipe Idea #2
Lemon Peel or Rind Remains After Juicing
Cinnamon Stick
Bay Leaves

Recipe Idea #3
Rose Petals
Vanilla Bean

Recipe Idea #4
Mint Leaves - Dried or Fresh
Orange Peel or Rind Remains After Juicing

Recipe Idea #5
Apple Core And/Or Peel

Recipe Idea #6
Star Anise
All Spice

Recipe Idea #7
Cardamom Pods
Lemon Peel or Rind Remains After Juicing

Monday, September 27, 2010

Let It All Hang Out! Air Dry Your Laundry for Loads of Benefits

As if moms today (Statistically, women do most of the laundry in the U.S.) need one more task to add to their fractured schedules and miles-long to-do lists, here I am, risking flogging by cloth diapers, suggesting you add one more household chore to the many you can barely get to right now—hang drying your family’s laundry!

But what if I told you that by doing this one activity you could not only save money and go green, but tap into some equanimity and peace, look younger, and tone your biceps all at the same time!

Who said doing laundry isn’t sexy, right?

Here’s the (laundry) scoop. Perhaps the most motivating benefit of hanging your laundry to dry, especially in these pinched economic times, is that you’ll save money. Many U.S. households, depending on where you live, can save between $25-$50 per month on electric bills or community machine fees. And clothes last longer not being subjected to the rough tumble and heat of an electric dryer, so of course you don’t have to replace them as often. But there are dozens more reasons to hang your laundry to dry and here are just a few of them:

1. It's good, moderate exercise that can tone your arms and burn calories. Who needs a gym when you have housework to do?

2. It freshens the air. I put a drop of essential oil in with my laundry, so as items dry they diffuse the scent into our home.

3. In dry winters it provides humidity and eliminates the need for a humidifier.

4. If you hang dry outside the sunlight bleaches and disinfects the items.

5. Stimulating the “effort-driven reward circuit” with hands-on physical activities that yield tangible rewards, like line-drying and cooking your own meals, may build resilliance against depression.

6. In the summer it keeps your home cooler since you don't have the heat of the dryer to be cooled by the air conditioner.

7. It can save time. If you walk away from laundry left in a dryer and return too late, everything can be wrinkled. Not so when you air dry.

8. It's relaxing, meditative and fun!

9. It helps to avoid unnecessary fires. Clothes dryers and washing machines account for about 17,700 structure fires per year in the U.S.

10. It saves energy, reduces pollution, and helps to preserve the environment.


*This post was inspired by Project Laundry List.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Electrolux Eureka Sanitaire SC3683A Commercial Canister Vac - Best Budget-Friendly, Hepa Filter Vacuum Cleaner

electrolux eureka sanitaire hepa-filter canister vacuum cleaner - the bestPeople ask me frequently for vacuum cleaner recommendations and I consistently urge them to purchase the very humble Electrolux Eureka Sanitaire SC3683A Commercial Vac.

I've used many, many vacuum brands and models over the years and for the price tag, I have yet to come across another that even comes close to matching what this little red and black machine can do.

It is hepa-filter ready and performs nearly as well as the highest-end Mieles and Bosches, yet it is lighter than most of them and far cheaper. And please, FORGET those horrendous Dysons. It's clear they were designed by a man who's never done an ounce of house cleaning in his life. When my crew or I see one of them at a client's we very nearly jump ship right then, and by the end of the day we've made sure to convince the owners to replace it with a friendlier, more capable vacuum cleaner. Quite frankly, Dyson's could double as torture devices, they are SO heavy and unwieldy, so incapable of getting into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. It's a shame they are marketed so well.

OK, the Electrolux is not perfect. It's not as sexy as those super high-end dust busters, nor is it as quiet as they are. I also would love it if the electric cord pulled and retracted on its own with the touch of a button, and that it didn't turn over as often as it does when I turn a tight corner, but overall, you really get high performance from this machine. It's the vacuum I use in my home.

If you are determined to go higher-end than the Electrolux, please do, just keep in mind that there is no circumstance that an upright will perform better than a canister vacuum with attachments. Whichever you decide on, remember to purchase the hepa filters and vacuum bags to go along with it. And PLEASE do not buy a Dyson.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Preventing Bed Bugs Naturally, Organically - New York City Green, Eco-Friendly Home Cleaning

With all the hullabaloo recently about bed bugs invading our city and homes I wanted to advocate here for an ounce of prevention. The best way to deal with these insistent insects is to not let them in your home. Well, duh, you say, right? But, I don't hear people really talking about preventive measures, only what actions to take once an infestation has turned your life topsy-turvy. So perhaps you'll be relieved to know that there are measures we--those lucky to not have been visited by this contemporary scourge--can take to augment our luck, and hopefully, though with NO GUARANTEE, keep them out of our homes and off our bodies, and do so without harmful chemicals or drastic efforts.

Here's a list, not exhaustive, of non-toxic, eco-friendly bed bug prevention measures:

1. Keep your home clutter-free and clean! Give the critters as little reason to visit and places to hide as possible. Keep bed slightly away from wall, clothes and mess off the floor. Add a few drops of essential oils to your eco-friendly cleaning solution. Use several of the following: thyme, tea tree, eucalyptus, patchouli, cedar wood, or oregano. Clean frequently, making sure to get floor and moldings around bed, as well as the bed frame itself. If you live in NYC, call Ms. Green-Clean for a cleaning appointment!

2. Wash bed linens frequently, and add a few drops of the essential oils mentioned above in the rinse cycle.

3. Make a simple linen spray in a dark glass bottle with water and a few of the above essential oils. Spray on mattress and sheets regularly. Also spray clothes in closets, towels in bathroom, etc...

4. Eat a diet rich in garlic and other herbs and spices. Make your blood not as tasty for bed bugs. They live off human blood.

5. Wear essential oils on your body instead of perfumes. Wash with soaps that contain essential oils.

6. When traveling, make sure to check room, especially around and behind bed and frame and the mattress. Do a Google search on "bed bugs" to arm yourself with plenty of images of them at all points in their life cycle, and of their excrement. Do not set your suitcases on the floor or bed of the hotel room. Keep them on the provided luggage stand or shelf. When you return home from a trip wash all your clothing in very hot water. Spray luggage inside and out before and after trip with essential oil spray described above. Store them in as hot a place as your able, an attic if you have one.

7. Use a bed cover made especially to deter bed bugs.

8. In addition to the essential oil spray already mentioned, spray area around bed, and mattress if you want with a similarly made spray of black walnut extract and water. Black walnut is said to be effective in killing bed bugs.

9. Use common sense when purchasing used goods! I hate to say don't do it, because it is green to recycle, as we know.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bring The Outdoors In - Infuse Your New York City Urban Apartment With Nature - Ms. Green-Clean Eco-friendly House Cleaning

If you're anything like me, you're always looking for more nature fixes in New York City. Of course, there are the many parks, gardens, and zoos here, but sometimes we forget how much nature we can bring right into our diminutive dwellings.

Here's a list of my favorites, some of them more common than others.
  • house plants. I have one in each room, and I've just started rooting an avocado in a tall glass on our bedroom window sill. Plants are great at filtering toxins and pollutants from the air we breathe.
  • bird feeders. I learn so much from my clients. This is an idea I got from one of them recently, and will be implementing in our home. They had a clever feeder that hooked securely to the outside of a window. It had 2 compartments, one for seed, one for water. As I cleaned their bedroom I found myself transfixed by the feathered visitors alighting on it and feeding. I don't know if it was a fluke, but I saw no pigeons, only small birds whose names I don't know and usually only see in nearby woods. This is very similar to the one I saw and will be getting.
  • worm compost bin. Watch worms turn your kitchen scraps into fresh, earthy-smelling fertilizer for your houseplants. Though you can use a pre-made bin like these, it's just as easy to make your own using directions found easily via google.
  • aquarium. The addition of an aquarium in our apartment has truly changed our lives. My husband calls it our backyard because he tends and cares for it as he would a yard if we had one, and we frequently find ourselves sitting and watching the water life, like an old couple watching their backyard birds. Find a few here.
  • crystals, shells, and rocks. I'm really not a new-age-y type, but I find it very comforting to have a few very small collections of shells, rocks and minerals in our home. Make sure to keep them clean and free of the city schmootz just by dipping them in your dishwater quickly from time to time.
  • terrariums. This is a project I want to tackle in the coming months. I don't currently have one, but have been perusing many options for the glass containers I can plant in here.
  • pets in general. cats, dogs, ferrets, turtles, snakes, birds, rabbits. Especially if you live alone. Scientific studies show that living with pets, especially if you are alone, has positive health benefits including lowering blood pressure and stress levels.
  • window boxes. Grow herbs or cutting flowers outside your kitchen windows during spring and summer. Build your own or buy pre-made.
  • Earth Boxes / self-contained gardening systems. If you have just a little more space than a window sill you may want to try an earth box or upside down tomato planters I've heard work great.
  • composter for your building. One day soon it will be obligatory in New York City to compost our kitchen scraps. It's easier than you think to talk a building manager or superintendant into letting you or you and neighbors put one in the basement or behind the building. I've written about my love of the envirocycle, which I think is great for city-dwellers, here and you can buy them online here.
  • miniature zen sand and rock gardens. They are meant to help you relax. I think some of them are pretty to look at, too. I'm contemplating making my own ceramic one, but there are many online to be purchase.
  • diffuse and/or clean with essential oils. Of course I often use plant-based essential oils to clean and dust our home, but I also put a few drops on absorbent, woody tree-seeds I collected on a walk once and now keep in a ceramic bowl. Putting a few drops on stones, in shells, or in seeds as I do, is a pretty way to diffuse aromatherapy oils into your home.
  • ecosphere. Inspired by technological research and developments for extended space exploration by NASA, ecospheres are a living example of a closed ecosystem, containing shrimp, algae and water. If you don't want the responsibility of a fish tank or other pets, this will bring care free animal life into your home! I have to say they're pretty amazing. I have one in our bedroom.
  • cut flowers in a pretty vase. make them locally-grown, from the farmer's market or right from your window box!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Best New York City Mother's Day Gifts: Green Home Cleaning, Organizing & De-cluttering, Rug, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning, Window Cleaning

What woman wouldn't want the luxury of having someone clean her home at least occasionally?

So with Mother's Day just around the corner (Sunday, May 9th, 2010), why not give the New York City mothers in your life the gift of a one-time or recurring eco-friendly, deep home cleaning?

To book an appointment call 212-942-8464 or visit

And don't forget to ask about Ms. Green-Clean's other services:
*Non-toxic rug, carpet & upholstery cleaning
*Professional home & office organizing & de-cluttering
*Green window cleaning

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Best of New York Magazine - Best Cleaning Service & Other Ms. Green-Clean Press

Ms. Green-Clean has received positive press since opening its doors more than three years ago and we hit the "big time" when New York Magazine crowned us the best cleaning service in New York City.

We even make national press from time to time, like in this Esquire article or this In Style magazine Spring Cleaning piece last year.

You can always find Ms. Green-Clean's most recent press right here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ms. Green-Clean Interviews NYC Holistic Doula & RN, Andrea Crossman

One of the things I love about my job is that I get to meet many exceptionally talented and interesting people with fascinating careers. I'm also grateful that I never have to convince clients of my eco-friendly methods or that the products I'm using to clean their homes are as effective as their more noxious relatives. By the time someone becomes a Ms. Green-Clean client they're already cognizant of the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle. In fact, I often learn green and healthy tips from them.

Andrea Crossman, a Ms. Green-Clean client, is one of those people I've learned a lot from. She is the founder of Holistic Doula NYC, is a holistic RN, doula, and childbirth educator. She works with women to support three important milestones: preparation for pregnancy, pregnancy, and birth. Andrea hosts a group called Holistic Mamas NYC and writes the HDNYC blog where she shares holistic pregnancy and birth tips. She is also the co-founder of Lovemore (, a love-infused green business with a line of message tees, hoodies, onesies, vegan belts, bags, and water bottles.

I had the opportunity recently to interview her:

For people who don't know, what is a labor doula?

A labor doula provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to a laboring mother. My labor doula support typically begins at the woman's home where--for women who choose a hospital birth--she labors until deciding it's time to transfer to the hospital. I stay with her all the way through labor and until she and her new little one have their first breastfeeding experience. What this means is that from the moment I arrive at the laboring woman's side, I stay there; my time in attendance at a birth typically begins sooner than the midwife or obstetrician, and lasts longer.

During that time, my job is to remind my clients that their bodies instinctively know how to give birth, to reassure them that what they are experiencing is normal, and to suggest options as needed that may help them cope better, like new positions or other techniques to work through each contraction. I also offer active comfort by way of healing modalities like massage, breathing techniques, Reiki, aromatherapy, and others specially tailored to each mother's preferences.

How is the role of a doula different than that of a midwife or labor and delivery nurse?

A midwife is a licensed medical professional who is an expert in normal pregnancy and birth, whereas obstetricians are medical doctors and trained surgeons who are expert in high-risk pregnancy and birth. Women in the US typically choose either a midwife or an obstetrician as their maternity care provider. During labor and delivery, the midwife or obstetrician is responsible for the health and safety of the mother and child.

In the US, labor and delivery nurses are the licensed health care providers who deliver the majority of the health care a woman receives during a typical hospital birth. The nurse is responsible for ongoing assessment of the mother and baby, and for executing the plan of care ordered by the midwife or obstetrician. The scope of responsibility of the labor and delivery nurse--taking care of multiple patients, leaving the room to procure various medications, starting IVs, charting, setting up an operating room for cesarean deliveries, and so much more--does not enable them to provide continuous labor support.

How did you come to be a Doula?

My work on behalf of women's health and wellness began in the early 90's, first as a sexual health educator, then as a women's advocate, and eventually as an educator focused on various women's health topics. About 7 years ago I decided that becoming a nurse would give me the ability to work more meaningfully with women, so I moved to New York City, earned my BS in nursing from Columbia University, and have been immersed in women's health, pregnancy, and birth in one way or another ever since.

Given my commitment to providing healthcare that is holistic and integrative, I decided to do graduate work at NYU in its Holistic/Adult Nurse Practitioner program--the first program of its kind. While in graduate school, I began working as a labor and deliver (L&D) nurse at one of the busiest L&D units in NYC and am thankful for the experience. It provided me with a ton of insight and experience that I am able to share with my clients and students in my childbirth education classes.

I founded Holistic Doula NYC last year as a way to offer holistic RN and doula services to women who want support and resources related to holistic pregnancy and empowered birth. Holistic Doula NYC is definitely a niche business--most doulas aren't nurses, and most labor and delivery nurses aren't doulas--but it has been a great combination for my clients and me. I feel uniquely qualified to support women for three important milestones in their lives: when they are preparing their bodies for pregnancy, during their pregnancies, and through their labors and births. And I love using my experience in a way that I know meets the needs of women and their families.

Why do you think Ms. Green-Clean clients might be interested in doulas in general and your practice in particular?

First of all, everyone having a baby should consider working with a doula. The impact of continuous labor support has been studied, and the results have led some to say that if doulas were a drug, it would be unethical not to give one to every woman in labor. Many cities even have low-fee doula programs to make having a doula more accessible. Here are just a few of the benefits that have been found when women have continuous labor support:
  • cesarean rate decreased by 50%
  • length of labor decreased by 25%
  • requests for epidurals decreased by 60%
  • use of pitocin decreased by 40%
These benefits are huge in terms of postpartum recover, initial bonding time between mother and baby, women's overall satisfaction with their birth experience, and health care costs.

Since. Ms. Green-Clean's client's are people who care about their helath, their little ones, and mama earth, the support of a labor doula seems like a natural fit. I think Ms. Green-Clean clients may particularly be drawn to my practice because of its emphasis on holistic health, and also because like you, I incorporate aromatherapy into my work!

In addition to the labor doula services I offer, I also offer my services as a Holistic RN, providing health counseling for both pregnancy preparation and pregnancy. I'm seeing more and more women interested in getting support before they get pregnant, and I would guess that a lot of Ms.Green-Clean's clients are similarly proactive about their health. If ever there was a time to be in tip top shape, pregnancy is it, and without a doubt, a good prenatal health decreases the risk of pregnancy and birth complications and can benefit the long-term health of babies and mothers. For instance, we have learned that Vitamin D levels affect babies in utero, so I suggest everyone get her Vitamin D levels optimized and I can help explain how to go about that. For women who are trying to get pregnant, there are foods, supplements,a nd activities that can support fertility that we can discuss. It's wonderful for women to go into a pregnancy already feeling healthy, balanced, and supported. I also believe that this sense of preparation helps overall stress, which we know benefits every element of health.

How far will you travel for your clients?

For clients who want support prior to or during pregnancy, geography isn't really a concern. I love to meet all of my clients in person, but absent that we ca use video chats and phone calls when needed.

For birth doula clients, it is important that I can get to them within an hour and a half of when they call me on the big day. I live in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, so most of my clients live in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but if we can figure out a way to make the transportation work, I will happily go just about anywhere in the NYC area. I am also available to make special arrangements with mamas living in other states who are interested in my services. This can be a good option for someone who splits her time between NYC and LA for instance. Basically, if someone feels strongly that they would like my holistic pregnancy and birth support, I am happy to explore the options.

What's your favorite thing about being a doula?

My favorite thing about being a doula--and a nurse also--is that I know that the work matters. I am there to support women and families as they dig deep within themselves to find their innate strength and wisdom. Within this work is the stuff of life. Love, commitment, and courage are all tangible moment-by-moment, second-by-second. For me, that is what it means to be alive, and I am grateful for every sacred connection I have been lucky enough to make though my work as a doula and a nurse.

At a birth recently attended, my client was holding her new baby and had that incredible glow of women who have just given birth and I asked her, "Are you proud of yourself?" She got an almost mischievous grin on her face, her eyes opened wide, and she said, "oh yeah." Being with a woman moments after birth, and seeing in her whole being that she has been empowered and emboldened by her experience, is the true reward in this work.

Is there anything else you would like to leave us with?

Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes that speaks to the transformative potential of birth, "the moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." -Osho

That's beautiful, Andrea. Thank you.

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