Sunday, April 27, 2014

How to "Spoonk" for Better Health

Hey everybody, today's green tip is all about a cool healthy product I've recently come across called the Spoonk Accupressure Mat. In case you're wondering, it's pronounced like the word "spoon" with a "k"...spoonk! If you've followed my blog for a while you know I love alternative health products and after a few months of using the Spoonk Mat,  it is one that I incorporate into my life on a daily basis to promote better health.


As you can tell by the pictures, the mat is just as unique as it's name...as it's covered with thousands of tiny white spikes. In my house we call it the "pokey mat" and basically it's a mat you lay on to reduce pain and inflammation, improve sleep, and increase energy.

Learn more about the mat and see it in action in this week's video...


What is it?
The mat is based on principles of Japanese Shiatsu massage and accupressure. The idea is that the 6000 some pokes contained within it, stimulate specific reflex points throughout the body and bring circulation to the area where it's being used. In turn, it relaxes stiff muscles, decreases pain, and releases feel good hormones.

Who is it for?
Anyone with chronic pain, neck, back, or shoulder pain, sleeping issues, general fatigue, and even depression.  In a study done with the Spoonk Mat, 98% of users reported pain relief, 94% reported more relaxation, 94% reported better sleep, and 81% reported an increase in energy level. So chances are everyone could probably benefit from a little Spoonking!

I carry all my tension in my neck and the tops of my shoulders
and the Spoonk has really helped to relieve that. 
Benefits I've noticed since starting:
  • Better sleep: I fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and have more vivid dreams. 
  • Less tension in my neck and back 
  • Better mood, especially in the hours following using the mat
  • More energy (when paired with a nap). I like to think that it's like "extra credit" for my nap in how it enhances my rest and relaxation.
How do you use it? 
Basically you just lay on it! Ideally you would lay on it with your bare skin, but if it's too uncomfortable for you, then you can wear a light t-shirt. As you can tell from the photos, I often use a thin tank-top for times when I don't feel like being topless.

When to use it?
The main way that you can use the mat is to lay on it, in a bed for 30-40 minutes daily. But in being a working mom with two little girls, I just don't have 30 minutes to take a little mini Spoonking session during the day...although I've been trying more lately (which I will post more about soon).

Imagine it's nighttime! 

But another time they suggest to use the mat is to lay on it 20-30 minutes before bed, but again, if I'm in my bed at night...I am out literally within a few minutes. There's no way I would last 30 minutes just laying there, relaxing, and then be able to remove it. So what do I do? I lay on my mat before bed and leave it there even when I fall asleep. It usually stays there for 30 minutes to 2 hours or so. Then if I wake up for some reason (cue my 6 month old crying), I toss the mat on the floor, and go back to sleep.

Also, I skip the travel size mat as a pillow during this time because it would be one more thing to move in the middle of the night, so instead I prop the Spoonk main mat up with my pillow so it can cover both, my back and neck.

My typical bedtime set up: Spoonk mat + Earthing mat.
Read more about Earthing mat here. 

I like to lift my tank top up so that I can get more spikes
on my low back.

Other times I use the mat...

1. After a workout. This is one of my favorite ways to use it. I'll lay on it for 30 minutes or so after a hard workout like a run on the treadmill or a challenging BarreAmped DVD. It helps me rest, recover, and reenergize to on going with my day.

Laying on the Spoonk mat after a workout. You can bring
your knees in like this to push the spikes more into your
lower back if that's an area of pressure for you. 

2. At school in my chair. I was looking for a way to incorporate Spoonking into my day while I'm at work with my job as a teacher and although I'm usually pretty busy, I do try to use the Spoonk on my chair when I'm taking a break or sitting down. I use the travel-size mat and fold it up behind my low back. It does seem to work a bit better if I lift my shirt up in the back, but for picture's sake I kept it down.

Using the Spoonk travel size mat during my lunch break.
I fold it like this (there is Velcro on both sides).

3.  Stand on it. This gets at a different area of the body, the feet. As you can see I usually use the mat on my back or neck, but this stimulates my body in a different way. According to the Spoonk experts, standing on the mat (with socks) for 5-10 minutes (especially in the morning) can help energize you. I like to do this while I'm standing at my kitchen counter checking emails or working on my blog. It feels good on my feet and definently wakes me up.


You could also use the mat on your stomach or even on your face, but I tried these and found them to be a bit uncomfortable, maybe in the future. Read more here on their website.

Basic guide of how long to Spoonk for:
Shorter periods: 5-10 minutes= help to energize you
Longer periods: 25-45 minutes= help to relax you
Find whatever time works for you, maybe it's shorter intervals...or maybe it's one long Spoonking session, either way is fine.

After using the Spoonk mat for a few times I began to notice what I call the 3 Stage of Spoonking. Maybe I'm the only one who experiences them, I don't know, but I figured I would share in case you can relate as you try out the mat...

The 3 Stages of "Spoonking"
1. Ouch...that hurts! When you first lay down, I'm not going to lie, those spikes hurt!

2. That itches! After a couple of minutes, I usually settle into the mat and then it starts to itch and feel uncomfortable. So I re-adjust, move around, and get comfortable once again.

3.  Bliss! About 5 minutes or so in, I hit my favorite stage: Bliss! This is when I forget I'm even on the mat and just relax and melt.  This stage usually continues after I get off the mat as you can see below.
Post-Spoonking bliss. (  :

After getting up from the mat you may jump back to Stage 1 of "That hurts!" as you get off the spikes. It seems to go away after a few minutes.  In case you're wondering, this is about what your back may look like after using the Spoonk mat. It usually goes away after 5 or 10 minutes, so don't worry you're not Spoonked for life!

Here's some Spoonk Aftermath going on...I was on the mat
for about 30 minutes in case you are wondering. 

Precautions:
Now although it would be great if everyone could use the Spoonk mat, there are some precautions set forth by the manufactures, such as: don't use if you're pregnant, have unregulated high blood pressure, are on a blood thinning medication, or if you have skin issues or inflammation.  Also do not use on children under the age of 7. Read more here. And last, lay down slowly on the Spoonk mat and avoid sudden movements...or you could get a poke, a cut, or a nasty scratch. Ouch!

So there you have it, the Spoonk Mat! What do you think? If you're anything like me when I first heard about this mat I was dying to give it a try and know what it felt like. So if you're interested in trying it, I got mine here at Amazon.com and it cost about $50 for the main mat, a travel-size mat, and carrying bag. If you're on the fence, try reading some of the customer reviews on there, I know I found those helpful.

Last, be sure to post back your experiences with Spoonk, and until next time, Happy Spoonking!

*Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money and this is my honest opinion of it.*

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My #1 Tip for Earth Day

Being a green/eco-friendly blogger, Earth Day is a little like Christmas. It's the one day each year that you can count on most people to at least considering how they could make a change in their lifestyle to better take care of our earth. Whether that be to increase their recycling, turn the water off when they are not using it, or pledge some money to an environmental advocacy group...chances are Earth Day is the day when it's most likely to happen and for that I'm grateful.

"Hi, my name is Ashley and I am a Tree Hugger."
Earth Day is also a time when people look to me, Mrs. Green Blogger herself and say, "What's one thing that I can do to go green on Earth Day?"  My answer: "Buy yourself an Earth Day present." Sounds funny right? But I'm serious! On our birthday we get presents, on Christmas we get presents, most of us get presents on Valentine's Day, not to mention other smaller holidays like Mother's Day and Father's Day...so why not Earth Day?  Now I'm not talking about buying a present for the Earth, I'm talking about a present for yourself or your family.  Specifically one that will help you to go green throughout the year.


One my most recommended ways to live a greener lifestyle is to switch from using disposable products to reusable ones. So this Earth Day, I invite you to treat yourself to an Earth Day present that will help you go from something disposable to something reusable.

Think about it, by swapping out cloth napkins for paper towels, or a reusable water bottle for plastic ones, you not only reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill, you cut the time it takes to manufacture, transport, sell and buy the disposable product, and you even save some money in the long run because you don't have to keep re-buying the same thing over again.  Better yet, making the switch to reusable products to disposable ones can sometimes help protect you from being exposed to chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.

Now I know the world of "Green products" can seem confusing, intimidating, and expensive at times, so to help you out I'll share a few of my favorite reusable green swaps that I've found which I love, trust, and use daily. Even better, I purchased these products within my own money...no product placements here, so you can trust that what I'm sharing is my own honest opinion, not one I'm being paid for.

Here's a video walk through of my favorite green products..



Let the green shopping begin...

1. Swap out plastic water bottles for a reusable glass one. I like this one: Smart Planet Hydro 1 Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve ($15).

Smart Planet Hydro 1 Water Bottle

Mason jars are a go-to for me as well.
These Ball MasonJars (Quart size) cost me $10 for a pack of 12.
2.  Instead of plastic straws you could use stainless steel straws (I've broke more glass ones than I can count, so I now use stainless steel ones. I haven't had any issue with metallic taste or anything).   I like these: RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Straw Set of 4 ($9).

Can you tell I like chia seed drinks? Click here to learn more.
3. Switch from dryer sheets to reusable wool dryer balls. Here's ones I like: Every Day Willow Wool Dryer Balls Set of 3 ($18) Read more here: "Goodbye Dryer Sheets!"

Every Day Willow Wool Dryer Balls

4. Switch from paper towels and Kleenex boxes to cloth napkins. In the past, I've bought mine off Etsy (here's one of my favorite Etsy stores for cloth napkins: Moo Cow Momma), but lately I tried making my own by "serging" cotton flannel. I love how they turned out and how I got to pick my own fun fabrics. Post me a comment below if you are interested in a tutorial on those.  Read more here about my switch to cloth napkins: "How I Use, Clean and Store Cloth Napkins." Or see how I make my own here!

Cloth napkins I made by "serving" cotton flannel fabric.

5. Switch from using Ziploc bags and instead use reusable snack bags. I have accumulated several brands over the years, the one you see below is: Lunchskins Reusable Snack Bags Set of 3 ($25). I also like one called Itzy Ritzy Snack Bags which have a zipper. ($9)

Lunchskins Snack Bag
6. This one is more for the ladies, but you could switch from using tampons and pads to using a Diva Cup, menstrual cup ($25). Read more here: "How to Green Your Period."

Diva Cup Menstrual Cup

Or if that's a little too "green" for you, you could use cloth pads. I like this brand from Mommy and Me Creations: Heavenly Cloth Menstrual Pads (set of 6- 9" pads for $45).

Mommy and Me Creations: Heavenly Cloth Pads
7. If you have babies, you could try using cloth diapers. Whether that be using a service for a week (here's the one we use: Metro Cloth Diapering) or just buying one cloth diaper to use in addition to your disposable ones, either way could help you green your diaper routine. Read more here: "Going Green...One Diaper Change at a Time" or "Ways to Go Green During Postpartum & with Newborns."

The cloth diaper, cover, cloth wipes and Snappi we use.

Little Mila rocking the cloth diaper (minus the cover).
8. While we're on the topic of babies, you could swap out plastic baby bottles for glass ones. I love these: Evenflo Classic Baby Bottles Set of 3 ($5). Read more here: "My Green Pumping & Baby Bottle Routine."


Evenflo Classic Glass Baby Bottle

9. Next you could trade out plastic kid plates/cups/bowls for stainless steel ones that will last longer and be free of chemicals and plastics. I like this set by Untangled Living Stainless Steel Dish Collection Set ($36) that includes a bowl, cup, plate, fork and spoon (though I seem to have lost both the fork and spoon right when I needed them for this photo/video). 

Untangled Living Stainless Steel Dish Collection Set
10. Instead of using baby bibs that only last a few weeks and have to be thrown out you could try Baby Buddy Bib Clips $8 (we call them Bear Clips because of the little bears on the clips). They work by clipping onto any cloth napkin, towel, or even paper napkin and cover your child's clothes while they eat. Read more here: "My Favorite Green Baby Bib."

Baby Buddy Bib Clips aka "Bear Clips"

Avery eating up her Chipotle, wearing her Bib Clips.
11. Last up, why not get a shirt to show that you're taking steps to live a greener life? Here's the shirt I was wearing in the video: "One Earth One Chance" and here's a link to the other eco-themed shirts in my online t-shirt shop: "Ashley's Green Life Spreadshirt Shop."


So there you have it, a few ideas to get you started shopping for your Earth Day present. Have any more to add to the list? Share your recommendations below. And of course, Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Daily Chia Seed Drink

Hi greenies, today's green tip is all about my daily chia seed drink. Over a year ago I shared about my Daily Green Juice, and how I make a point to have it daily, and now I've found a second drink that I make a priority with my diet each day and it's my chia seed drink.


Now I've been a chia seed fan for several years now, I've put them in my smoothies, added them to recipes, and been pretty happy with them. But lately I've started drinking them and I have been noticing some great benefits that I'm excited to share with you.


Chia seeds are rock stars when it comes to nutrition...they've got more omega 3's than salmon, more potassium than bananas, more antioxidants than blueberries, and they are full of fiber (5g per Tbs.) and protein (3g per Tbs.) just to name a few.

Here's what the chia seeds look like dry.


The cool thing about chia seeds is that when they get wet, they swell and a gel-like coating forms around them. The resulting gel can give you energy, help you feel full longer, and keep everything moving along regularly in your digestive tract if you know what I mean.


As a result of drinking my chia seed drink on a consistent basis I have noticed the following benefits:
-More energy, felt at work when I drink it during that usual "yawning phase" that happens after lunch, as well as better performance during my workouts, especially running. Since doing this, I've been running faster and longer than ever before. Thank you chia seeds!

-More of a full feeling, not needing to snack as often, and increased digestive regularity (chia seeds really do have a lot of fiber!)

Now chia seeds are a bit pricey, 16 oz. bag of Bob's Red Mill Chia Seeds costs $13 (this would give you 34 servings of 1 Tbs.) but I think they are well worth the price from a nutritional stand point.

There are a variety of chia seed drinks out there, sometimes they are called Chia Frescas, but below you can find recipes for the two I love the most... Stay tuned at the end of the video to see Avery cast her vote for the one that is her favorite!



No time for the video? Here's a picture breakdown of the steps:

Beginner Chia Seed Drink + Advanced Chia Seed Drink
I call them Beginner and Advanced Chia Drinks not because they are hard to make, but because of their flavor. The Beginner drink allows you to customize it to fit your favorite flavors in how it uses 1 cup of your favorite juice. This makes it easy to try out first. But if you are more adventurous or don't mind "healthy tasting" foods, you could skip right to the Advanced drink, which relies only on lemon juice and maple syrup for flavoring. But maybe you like this flavor combo already, that's great. Do which one works for you.  Nine times out of ten I make the Beginner one just because I love mixing up the flavor with different juices.

Beginner Chia Seed Drink
source: Mama Natural
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 3 Tbs. chia seeds
  • 1 cup of your favorite juice (I like this Santa Cruz Organic Orange Mango)
Ingredients needed.
 Steps:
1. Add 3 Tbs. chia seeds to 1 cup filtered water.
 I like to use a mason jar for storing this drink because
it's easy to make/shake/and drink with.

2. Now put the lid on and shake it up.

3. Now it's time to wait. I usually wait at least 20-30 minutes,
but you could wait several hours or even over night.
This allows the chia seeds to soak up the water and form
a gel-like texture.

4. Next add 1 cup of your favorite juice.

5. Shake it up and drink!

Santa Cruz Organic Concord Grape Juice is my new
favorite juice to use lately!

Advanced Chia Seed Drink
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 3 Tbs. chia seeds
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 Tbs. agave nectar or maple syrup
Ingredients needed.
Steps (similar to the steps listed above):
1. Pour 2 cups of water into the mason jar, followed by 3 Tbs. chia seeds.
2. Then close the lid and shake to mix it up.
3. Allow the chia seeds to sit for 20-30 minutes or longer, you could do a couple of hours or even overnight. They will have then formed a gel about like this.
4. Now add the juice of one lemon and 1 Tbs. of maple syrup or your favorite liquid sweetener.
5. Give it another good shake and then drink up! It will taste similar to a natural lemonade...with chia seeds!

When to drink the chia seed drink: Whenever works for you really. Due to my schedule right now I often take it after lunch, but it would also be good before a workout or first thing in the morning to get your day started right.



For me, I've been eating, drinking, cooking with chia seeds for years, so they don't really bother me, but if they do freak you out a little bit here's some troubleshooting ideas...
1. "Eww, too many chia seeds!" Cut the chia seed portion of the recipe in half or more (so only use 1 Tbs. of chia seeds with 2 cups of liquid...instead of 3 Tbs.)
2. "I can't stand the texture of the chia seeds!" Try using a straw, this way you don't have to feel them in your mouth as much. I love these stainless steel straws that I got off Amazon.com.
3. "I can't stand the way they look!" Put them in a covered mug or bottle with a lid. Out of sight, out of mind.


So there you have it, my Daily Chia Seed Drink. Have you ever had a chia seed drink before? If so, share the recipe below. If not, give this recipe a try. Let me know what you think and if you notice any benefits in your body/energy level.

Until next time, keep it chia.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ashley's Green Life T-Shirts

Hey greenies, sorry for the lack of posts lately, life has been a little busy lately with my girls, my teaching job, and my new side project...designing t-shirts! I know, sounds crazy right? But it's been really fun.


If you know me well, you know my go-to outfit for the weekends or when I'm just hanging out at home is an eco-themed shirt and black yoga pants. Unfortunately, I've had a hard time finding eco-themed t-shirts that I like or that say green messages I want to get out there. That's when I had the idea...what if I came up with my own Ashley's Green Life t-shirts? Usually I would have chucked that idea out the window or saved it for my "maybe someday" idea board, but I've been trying to really "go" for some of my ideas lately (when I have the time) and this was one I was interested in pursing.

The only problem? I know nothing about how to screen print a t-shirt, I know nothing about graphic design, and I definently don't have the time to deal with selling and shipping shirts. I was just a girl with an idea to make a shirt that represented the green life I'm taking steps towards living. Luckily that's when I came across the website Spreadshirt.com.

They have a design software that allows you design shirts any way you want, on any type of shirt/material you want, and best of all...they print it for you. Even better was that if I didn't find a design I liked on the website or if I couldn't create one myself(cue lack of graphic design skills), I could use their "Graphics Service" to have them help me create a design to put on a shirt, which was really helpful and turned out great.

And after a few weeks of trying out designs and buying shirts, my Ashley's Green Life T-Shirt Shop is now open! Click here to head over: http://ashleysgreenlife.spreadshirt.com

Want to know how it all went down? Here's what I did...

1. Brainstormed my ideas...love my writing/drawings-that
would be why I didn't personally design all my shirt graphics!

2. Got to work on the Spreadshirt.com with their designs,
and in making my own designs onto the products of my
choice.

3. Bought a few...a couple...okay A LOT of the shirts I created,
and then they arrived in the mail a few days later!
It was like a giant shopping spree to a cool green store
that I created!

4. While I have styles and textures of the shirts that are my
favorite, I've been happy for the most part with all of the quality
and comfort of their products.

Here's a video preview of all the shirts I currently have in my shop:



As I said in the video, here's my main "trademark" Ashley's Green Life shirt has the message, "Live Green" which is kind of the message I decided upon to be my overall message/image to represent my blog/You Tube channel. I have it in a variety of colors, and fits. (FYI...All these shirts you see me wearing are in the size Medium, just in case you were wondering how the sizing was like.)

"Live Green" Women's Scoop Neck T-Shirt ($25.20)

"Live Green" Women's Heather Jersey T-Shirt ($21.90)

"Live Green" Men's Premium T-Shirt ($21.90)
"Live Green" Kids's Premium T-Shirt ($19.90)

"Live Green" Baby Short Sleeve One Piece ($21.90)

Once I designed those, I got to thinking..."What other shirts could I design with eco-themed messages?" And that's when the snowball effect began. I would get a shirt done and then think, "Hmm...how about this one? Or, what about a shirt like this?" A lot of them were inspired by blog posts I've done in the past that I wanted to keep "living on" in the shirts I was wearing, so below you can see the shirt as well as it's related blog post in case you're interested in learning more.

"One Earth One Chance" Women's Tri-Blend Long Sleeve ($30.50)

"I've got an essential oil for that!" Women's Heather Jersey T-Shirt ($15.90)

"How to Make an Essential Oil Flu Bomb"

"Friends, Not Food (Pig)" Women's Scoop Neck T-Shirt ($31.70)

"My Vegan Pregnancy Diet"

"Start your day the warm lemon water way." Women's Scoop Neck T-Shirt ($21.70)

"Start Your Day withWarm Water and a Lemon." 

"got green juice?" Women's Flowy Tank Top ($20.30)

"My Daily Green Juice"

"No Gluten, No Problem" Women's Flowy Tank Top ($28.29)

"No Gluten, No Problem" Women'sV-Neck T-Shirt ($24.99)

"How I Went Gluten-Free & My Favorite Digestive Enzyme"

"Say NO to GMOS" Tri-Blend Long Sleeve T-Shirt ($26.50)

"How We Say NO to GMOs"

"Have you oil pulled yet today?" Slim Fit T-Shirt ($19.20)
(Of all the shirts this one shrunk a little bit after washing it,
so I would recommend buying it in the next size up. I have a
Medium on here and I think a Large would make it a little more
comfortable.)

"What is Oil Pulling and How to Do It"
And last but not least...

"If you can dream it...you can do it." 
Women's Scoop Neck T-Shirt ($32.69)

So there you have it, my Ashley's Green Life T-shirts! The pictures above are just a few of the many shirts, styles, and designs available so be sure to head over and see all the options that are there for you to choose from.  Hopefully you were able to find one that fits an aspect of the green life you are taking steps towards living. Also, if you don't see the style of product (long sleeve, hoodie, tank) on there that you would like for a specific design, just drop me a message below here or on YouTube and I'll work to getting that product available in the shop. 

"What are you waiting for? Head over and get your
own Ashley's Green Life shirt!"
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