Naturally Fight Cavities- From a Zero Waste Dental Hygienist

Valentine’s Day the focus can be on sweets! Sugar, sugar and more sugar. Oh yeah and loving the sweetie-pie(s) in your life. Back to chocolate, I love it as much as the next person. My husband and I have a tradition of baking extravagant and completely out of our comfort zone desserts for Valentine’s Day. It’s so fun and yummy (most of the time!). This years bakes are Vegan Fruit Snacks and Vegan Maple Bars. With these tips you can beat cavities all year long, but especially in times of sweet delights.

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Back to our health and teeth health specifically. The average person most likely knows that sugar can cause cavities. But there are a LOT of other factors that go into it; pH, saliva, stress, diet, sugar frequency vs quantity, oral hygiene homecare (i.e brushing, flossing, water-piking, tooth-picking, rinsing), water intake, fluoride exposure as a child, genetics etc.

What is a Cavity and How Do They Form?

In a nutshell, cavities are formed by decaying tooth structure (another term caries) that CAUSE an actual cavitation in the tooth’s enamel and underlying dentin. This process is caused by the acid that is released from the bacteria in our mouth/saliva. These bacteria take in sugar and release acids, therefore changing the pH of that surrounding area, resulting in loss of minerals that make our teeth hard (Source is my BS in Dental Hygiene, I am a Registered Dental Hygienist). I wont go in the details of hydrogen ions and pH but I will say that our saliva acts as a buffer to these acids as well as the fluctuation of acids we consume via food and drink throughout the day.

10 Tips to Avoid Cavities

The little things do add up

  1. Brush your teeth…..and FLOSS for gosh-sakes. I wont go into details, that’s a whole other post but consistent mechanical removal of plaque is one of your best defenses.
  2. Drink lots of water throughout the day, importantly with meals aka sugar and acid.
  3. If your going to have sweets/sugar, do it all in one sitting not slowly throughout the day. This gives your saliva a chance to catch up on its job rather than having sugar assault all day long. Frequency is more vital than quantity. Have a lot of sugar every now and again (like for Valentines Day) but don’t do it often and don’t stretch it throughout the day. Say a 20 minute setting eating cookies with your family rather than taking a bite of a cookies every 20 minutes for a whole day.
  4. Check the pH of your drinks. The lower the number the more acidic by 10 fold each point down. La Croix and most carbonated waters are around 4.5. Soda, energy drinks, juice and coffee is around 3. Water is neutral at 7. Our saliva is around 7.4. When these products have added sugar or your eating sugar or simple, refined carbs, it’s a cavity-causing bacteria hay day! Rule of frequency applies here too, same concept, your saliva needs a chance to buffer out the acids. Have a drink in a 20-60 minute setting, than have water the rest of the day rather than sipping a ‘milking’ a latte for the whole morning.
  5. Watch out for gum and mints. Not all are sugar-free. Like tictacs and small candies they are packed with sugar and are meant to sit in your mouth for long periods of time. OR you chew them up right away, till bad, your jamming the sugar into the small crevices of your teeth and sealing it in with their sticky hard mediums. I highly recommend NOT eating these multiple times a day if any at all. That is up to your personal overall health practices.
  6. Use natural pH buffers in foods or rinses. I like to recommend baking soda mixed in water to rinse with on days that you consume more sugar, acids or after vomiting (add xylitol and peppermint essential oil for a daily rinse). Foods that are high in minerals, especially phosphorus and calcium, are helpful in re-introducing the minerals that are lost with acids. See this list. 
  7. Use Xylitol, a natural alcohol sugar that not only adds sweetness but actually fights cavities from being formed. (Source). I get the crystals (kind of looks like more shiny white sugar) at stores with bulk sections and add it to homemade toothpaste and mouth rinse. I hope to make my own Ice Chips someday.
  8. Use Stevia and Erythritol in moderation, can be a great sweetener alternative. Like the occasional Lilys Vegan Stevia Chocolate. I stay away from artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors.
  9. Do your own asking around and research about fluoride. I wont go into it really because it should be an individual and customized conversation person to person. Ask your dentist, your physician, your naturopath or you can ask me privately if you want an all -natural, zero waste, dental hygienist’s perspective on your specific situation pertaining fluoride.
  10. Consume less DAILY sugar. This includes honey, agave, coconut nectar and maple syrup but do indulge every so often if your diet allows. This ALSO includes simple carbs (that eventually break down to glucose i.e. sugar ) like pretzels, bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, crackers. Check the nutrition label they sneak sugar into a lot of ‘health’ foods like salad dressing, sauces, dips etc. My rule of frequency also applies here. (see tip #4)

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Happy Treat Eating. You’ll be a cavity-beating warrior if you follow these tips! Sadly, and legally,  no guarantees my friends. Consult your dentist and doctor for more information regarding your overall and dental health.

 

Compost Logistics for Beginners

A Quick Rundown of Logistics for Composting as a Beginner, Featuring Vancouver, WA, USA Options.

Hello, I recently have gotten a few people asking me about how I compost. Well its most likely all different for everyone. I am not an expert! I have little experience, but I tried a few of these methods and read into them a bit. Composting is a crucial element for sustainability. It’s a beautiful thing that God created for organic matter to be re-purposed, re-used and honored. It becomes something else in creation that we all need, food for our food made from our food.

Options for in the home and the main compost bin/pile (pick one of each)

In the home/Kitchen: for the initial disposal of scraps/compostables: On kitchen counter, under kitchen sink, right outside kitchen on patio in:Ice bucket with lid (pretty)

  • Ice Bucket with lid
  • Large mason jar, glass jar with lid
  • old tin, coffee, nut, yogurt container with lid (ugly but inexpensive)
  • Any kitchen compost pale or bucket, they come in stainless steel, bamboo, ceramic, wood and more! 

From the kitchen to the compost bin/pile:

  • Live in a place that has curb side pick-up, how awesome Portland, Seattle and more!
  • Have animals that eat food scraps like pigs and chickens
  • Hire a pick-up service. Vancouver, WA: 
  • contact a farm that you can drop off scraps
  • Drop off at your friendly compost-friendly neighbors house
  • if you live near a large forest or ravine, ditch it there, it’ll decompose!
  • Pile- pick a corner or area of your yard to be your designated compost pile, you can set up 3 sides if you want it more container and cleaner looking. They also sell these – just look up Wood composter or something like that. You’ll need a pitch fork or good shovel.
  • Spinner, Rotating, tumbler compost bin
    • or you could DIY your own 
  • Worm composting, I have never tried it, but it sounds like a fun. I believe the process of composting goes faster. Downsides are you must be mindful that the worms don’t freeze, and you order the worms online (kind of weird?)
    • Usually called Worm Factory, or Tray Worm Compost bin, there are DIY versions with plastic tubs, I am not a fan of plastic but at least the Worm Factory ones are recycled plastic, the upside to plastic ones is its light to ship, store, move. here’s one website Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm
  • There are wood box style bins or even tumblers to buy on Esty
  • Youtube to make your own
  • Bury method- no turns needed. You just collect scraps and bury them at least 12 inches in your ground. good for if you are preparing a section for gardening. The slugs and worms will have at it and your soil with be nutrient rich for gardening
  • Aerating method. this person built there own and let nature do its thing with since (like the forest ground) things will compost with oxygen and bacteria- they are everywhere and free. 
  • Electronic (pricey one-time fee) like this. 
    • never tried but seems awesome! for those who aren’t too garden-y/outdoorsy, get-your-hands-dirty people
  • Stacking Terracotta composter like this 
    • Terracotta Solar Composter. This is the one where you bury the bottom, it looks pretty and you don’t really need to mix it, it may fill up depending on how much food scraps you produce,/size of composter.

The smaller tumbler could work with small yards or patios. If you only think in-home will work for you than a small electrical or solar powered. Check the last few out on this list for small in-home ones.

If I were you….

I personally am going to contact the pick-up people! But if I were you and I had the space I would make my own like the very first picture (because it’s the least expensive). If I didn’t have the space and I wanted it to look nicer I would do one similar to the terracotta solar composter. If I didn’t have space and I could spend the money I’d do one of the smaller in-home electric/solar ones. If I had kids and I was trying to teach them about waste and gardening I would do a worm bin. If it was all too overwhelming for me or I didn’t have space (studio apartment) but I wanted to care about the environment I’d do a pick-up service. The Vancouver Landscaping business that does food scrap pick up doesn’t say the price, but they give you a free estimate (maybe neighbors could go in together).

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What to Compost

  • all food scraps except meat, cheese, highly processed and oily stuff (we don’t eat much of that)
  • cotton (like the top of vitamins, cotton scraps from sewing, ripped up socks, thread, twine, unbleached paper towel/napkins shredded up a bit)
  • coffee grounds with filters, tea bags, plant matter like house plant trimmings or flowers I bought for a vase, plant decor.
  • cardboard (limited dye), paper bags, newspaper, un-glossy paper again with minimal dye (paper stickers only, no plastic coating or foil coated stuff) (just tear it up a bit, or reuse it til it literally falls apart)
  • Compostable cellophane (very little of it), those stupid compostable straws, utensils (this is for my experimentation because some need to be industrial composting but I am annoyed at all of them and want to see if they break down)
  • small wood chips, wood things like chopsticks, toothpicks, skewer sticks

Compost needs some moisture (comes from veggie most likely), turning/stirring (unless stated otherwise with specific bin) and more brown than green material Carbon/nitrogen, browns are (usually brown colored) wood matter, paper, coffee grounds, eggshells, and green is veggie scraps (the colorful wet goopy stuff).

Clear as Compost?

You are encouraged to comment on any advice that I missed or stories you have had with composting. Contact me or comment with questions and how it all goes for you. Thanks!

No Social Media Resolution Reflection

For 2018, I decided to not partake in social media as my resolution. I am not sure why we do resolutions but if there is ever a good time to really dedicate yourself to something moral and challenging, its in the new year.
It is more rewarding, more joyful, more meaningful, more freeing than you could’ve ever imagined. Most of the time people want to better themselves and make resolutions as fitness goals, which is a great thing to do when it’s needed but year after year it turns into a self confidence issue. So that is part of the reason I jumped into the ice cold water of no social media. NO Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, no snapchat stories, nada. Refraining from social media has been like the polar bear swim at church camp; you get up early, you are tired and cold, you just want to do what’s warm, known and comfortable, but you get up anyway because you have a slight hope it’ll be fun and rewarding. GUESS WHAT? It is more rewarding, more joyful, more meaningful, more freeing than you could’ve ever imagined. The water is actually better than being outside. So with my intentions to go on and on about how the ways social media is bad, how I had a great year without it but also was challenged. I don’t think I will. I think I’ll let you decide if this is something that speaks to your heart. Happy New Years and Cheers to all the perfectly imperfect, not-social-media worthy moments, memories, and pictures of 2018.
I hope for a fruitful 2019. My New Years Resolution? Read the entire bible from start to finish. oh, and wash my produce…What will your resolution be?

Easy Christmas Decor: DIY Snowflakes From Paper Doilies

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I like to fully embrace the Christmas season starting the day after Thanksgiving, some people it’s the first of December, if your a department store its July. In celebration of our new place, my husband and I are hosting an all-apartment complex party- don’t worry its only 30 units rather than 100’s. With that, we are trying to go all out for decorations. 

While I was going through my craft box to find white printer paper to cut out snowflakes, I came across my paper doilies that I have had a knack for hoarding a bit. I grabbed them and did a quick google search. I came across this wonderful YouTube video! So easy and quick, whereas snowflakes from plain paper is really hard, well for me at least! This is a good one for kids too.

DIY Snowflakes from Paper Doilies

Directions

Use any size you want! Fold 3 times (4 times for an extra little challenge and intricacy). Cut different shapes out along the folded edge. The more you make the more you learn and explore different shapes and styles. I kind of went crazy. It was a blast. I hung them from my ceiling with sewing thread. They are 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable. Have fun! 

Below is the video I referenced. 

My Anti-Black Friday Accident

I’m super anti-Black Friday. Sorry if you are for it but I just feel it takes away from togetherness with family and abuses the holiday season by pushing impulse and excessive consumerism. People wait in lines out in the cold at crazy times of the night to get a ‘deal’. I know this because I’ve done this a few times. It’s not fun and I don’t believe worth it but I’m also trying to live simply and minimally and buy more sustainably and ethically.

My Wonderful Anti-Black Friday Accident

I got this at my doorstep this morning, not wanting to see or hear any commercials, buy anything or go shopping today. So this amazing broom is my accidental anti-Black Friday purchase that I actually purchased a few weeks ago.

A BROOM! It’s a handmade-in-Washington, all-natural, corn husk broom from American Broom Shop! Moving into a studio and trying to have fewer electronics, we don’t have a vacuum so this was needed. I don’t even know where all this dust and stuff on the floor comes from!

So far I love it!! It’s beautiful, supposedly will last years and years, plastic-free made and shipped, handmade, local, sturdy, small business supporting and importantly cleans like no other broom I’ve swept with. It gets in all the cracks and crevices easily with its flexible bristles. It ALSO is rigid enough to grab stuff and hold onto it instead of just move it around and leave a trail of goodies. Now a dust pan…

Don’t know what review blog posts are but I think I just did one. Have a great day everyone.

Thankfully Vegan Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

What a seriously beautiful time of year for mankind. As much as Thanksgiving is an “American” holiday, people all around the world celebrate it and/or have a similar holiday. Warms my heart that people all over gather around a table and have lots of good food and commune with one another. I pray for people today who don’t have much, that they have a full belly today and hope for the days to come to have food stability. Amen.

Vegan Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Puree *
  • 1/2 cup Organic white sugar
  • 1/2 cup Coconut oil *
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice
  • 1&1/2 cup Flour of your choosing *
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon and 2 tablespoons white sugar for rolling

Instructions- makes about 24

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, lightly oil cookie sheet or use a silpat
  2. Blend melted coconut oil and sugar together with hand mixer or really strong arms and whisk. 
  3. Mix in pumpkin puree and vanilla
  4. Sift all dry ingredients together except those for rolling
  5. Mix wet ingredients in the dry ones and mix (this part is best using your hands) and it’s fun! 
  6. Mix cinnamon and white sugar together with a dash of pumpkin spice on a small plate
  7. Using your hands roll into 1 inch balls and roll into sugar/spice mix on plate
  8. Place on cookie sheet (I fit all 24 on one cookie sheet) about an inch apart and use two your hand to flatten them a little (this step not necessary but I like flatter, even cookies rather than domes) 
  9. Bake for 8 mins, take out of oven and let cool for 10 mins on cookie sheet
  10. Eat, Enjoy and Celebrate
*I made my own pumpkin puree out of the large green/teal pumpkins, it's amazing. Here's how - easy as pie albeit messy. 

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/22935/pumpkin-puree/
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Cut the pumpkin in half, stem to base. Remove seeds and pulp. Cover each half with foil.
Bake in the preheated oven, foil side up, 1 hour, or until tender.
Scrape pumpkin meat from shell halves and puree in a blender. Strain to remove any remaining stringy pieces. -Freeze extras and use throughout the year.

*You can use vegan butter if you want a more buttery taste, but I love baking with coconut oil- so versatile!

* I used organic unbleached flour but you could use any flour really, GF flour blend if you need

Three Bath and Body Hacks for When You’re On a Tight Budget

Big things are happening with YourEarthIt so stay tuned to new design and potentially a business out of this thing I started as  hobby. Sorry is has been a little while since I’ve been on here!

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With that, my husband and I have been a pretty strict budget these past few months. We’ve had job and housing transitions. Like-make veggie pot pie without the creamy inside…or mixing coconut yogurt to make ‘milk’ for cereal-kind of budget. Some of that was out of laziness or unplanned-ness BUT we did have to tighten up our budget quite a bit; and what came out of it was some pretty frugal and useful tips for bath and body. Less than $5-10 that lasted me around 4+ months!

Three Bath and Body Hacks for When You’re On a Tight Budget.

  1. Don’t use conditioner. Really? Really. If you have average-ish hair (not too greasy, not too dry) than you can definitely can get away with no conditioner. Especially if you use a great all- natural shampoo like I use at Plaine Products. My advice would be to not shampoo your hair every day, ain’t nobody got time for that anyway AND use a tiny bit of oil (see below) or DIY body dew to give it a conditioned feel. As a good family friend always says- dot dot not a lot!
  2. Use inexpensive oil- for everything. In my frugalness, I used olive oil and grapeseed oil for a plethora of uses, like body and face moisturizer, facial oil cleansingDIY dandruff treatment, nail bed treatment, hair conditioner, and MORE!
  3. Use green tea as a tonic/moisturizing spray. Get a box or even better bulk loose leaf organic green tea or tea bags, brew some up, store tea in a glass container in the fridge and use to your liking for a week or so until you need more! It’s easy as that. I use this tonic prior to moisturizing my face, spritz before and after makeup application, spritz my face a dewy look, spray whole body for out of shower rejuvenation and moisture. It also fights acne, is anti-inflammatory and has great anti-oxidant properties (Source). BONUS!

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