3 Tips For a More Natural Home (Plus, My Natural Living Journey)

Shamrock plant | redleafstyle.com

I talk a lot about decorating here on Red Leaf Style. But there’s a whole different side of me that I haven’t really shared with you. Well, I’m really into everything natural. I eat organic food. I clean my whole home with baking soda, vinegar and lemons. I compost. I reuse. I recycle. I’m really into this whole natural and organic thing. I try not to take myself too seriously, but I do enjoy making natural living a part of my everyday life.

Natural and organic. What do these mean?
Let’s talk about these terms. Natural and organic are terms used to describe everything from food to cosmetic ingredients to fabric. I’d need more than this blog post to tell you about all of the differences. But in general, “natural” doesn’t really have any regulations behind it, but “organic” does. Organic means the food or ingredient has been grown without the use of chemical pesticides.

How do you start living naturally?
Most of us care about our health. Usually that starts with taking a hard look at what we eat. Maybe that leads to buying organic food or cutting out processed foods. An interest in organic food tends to lead to checking out more natural cleaning options. Maybe even making your own cleaning products. You probably also start to take a look at your personal care products. You start to wonder things like, “What are phthalates?” and “Are these ingredients I can’t pronounce bad for me?” Before you know it, you’re growing herbs on your windowsill and buying organic clothes (yep, that’s a thing). At least that’s how it happened for me. One step at a time.

Thrift Store Plant Saucers | redleafstyle.com

How did I get an interest in organic living?
It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly I started living an eco-conscious lifestyle. It probably started back when I worked as an editorial intern for Natural Home magazine (now Mother Earth Living magazine.) That was 2009. I was in college doing all of the things that unhealthy college students do. Eating awful. Drinking. Being wasteful. At the time, I had already started to develop an interest in going green and getting chemicals out of my life. I think the green movement was really becoming trendy around then. But writing about it every day really propelled me into it.

The more I tested out different natural remedies, green cleaners and healthier foods, the more I learned, and the more I cared about it. Living that way seemed important. It seemed like something that mattered. I got excited to tell other people about what I learned and discovered. So I kept writing about it.

After college I got a job as a freelance writer for OrganicAuthority.com. As the name suggests, OrganicAuthority.com is a website dedicated to the organic lifestyle. I’ve written about everything from food to yoga for Organic Authority, but I specialize in home and garden and natural beauty topics. I still write for Organic Authority today. You can check me out there!

How can you get started?: 3 tips for a more natural home
Wherever you are on your natural journey, I’ve probably been there. Are you just starting to buy organic food? Maybe you’re looking into healthier cleaning products? Are you already composting and recycling like a junkie? Maybe you haven’t started at all. (That’s okay, I’ve been there too.)

For me, creating a more natural home is about more than just being environmentally conscious. It’s about being health-conscious too. That means eliminating chemicals and toxins from your home whenever possible. Here are my top three tips for creating a more natural home.

1. Use natural cleaners

Cleaning spray bottle | redleafstyle.com

You don’t need chemical-filled products to get your home clean. You can do everything from washing laundry to scrubbing the toilet with ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar, lemon, salt, hydrogen peroxide and essential oils. They’re all safe, healthy and inexpensive! If you’re curious, I’ll share my cleaning recipes sometime!

2. Choose organic beauty products

Natural beauty products | redleafstyle.com

I know it’s difficult to quit cold turkey on a favorite shampoo or lotion. But you probably wouldn’t have such a hard time tossing those products if you knew all of the gross ingredients in conventional beauty products. I’m talking formaldehyde, petroleum and lead, to name a few. Instead, look for organic beauty products made with ingredients you actually recognize.

3. Decorate your home sustainably

Succulent | redleafstyle.com

When I think about decorating sustainably, my go-to methods are repurposing and buying secondhand. Reusing an item you already have or one someone else has cast off helps reduce the amount of waste on the planet. And I pretty much believe that a coat of paint can fix anything!

So what’s the verdict, do you want to hear more about natural living here on Red Leaf Style? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Weekend Finds: Friday Night Rummage Sale

Yellow compost bin | redleafstyle.com

This weekend I went to Kansas City’s First Friday event, an art walk held once a month in the Crossroads Arts District. In between checking out the art galleries, I came across a rummage sale. What luck! There’s nothing I like more than rummaging. Besides maybe the word “rummaging.” Rummaging. Rummaging. It’s an excellent word, no?

Anyway, the rummage sale was held at Broadway & Penn, a local vintage-inspired clothing and home décor store. It was like an upscale garage sale. And of course I found a few goodies.

Here’s what I found:
Metal two-tiered basket: $10
Yellow plastic compost bin: $2

Oranges and coffee | redleafstyle.com Oranges and lemons in basket | redleafstyle.com

This metal basket is exactly what I’ve been looking for to hold fruit. We eat a lot of fruit. And I’m always moving bowls of fruit out of the way in our tiny kitchen. Now all of my fruit can live in one place!

Yellow compost bin | redleafstyle.com

It’s so funny sometimes how you can find exactly what you need at secondhand sales. For weeks now I’ve been thinking about how I needed some sort of bin with a lid to keep my compost in. But I’m too cheap to buy a new compost bin. When I came across this yellow bin, I knew it would be perfect for composting. And at $2, I had to have it!

Yellow compost bin | redleafstyle.com

Imagine me walking around a crowded arts district carrying this yellow bin. I have no shame when it comes to good finds!

Check out my past weekend finds!

What do you think of my finds this weekend? Tell me all about your rummage sale finds in the comments!

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Outdoorsy Fireplace Mantle

Books and fish picture | redleafstyle.com

With spring nearly here, I guess I’ve been in an outdoorsy kind of mood. I put together a new mantle display with the great outdoors in mind. It’s a little quirky, a little colorful and lots of fun.

I don’t know how long I’ll leave it up, but I’m enjoying it for right now. I’m not the kind of person who can leave the same mantle display up for long. (As you can tell if you keep up with my blog.)

After a while, I just need to switch it up. When I get in that mood, I’m usually too lazy to take everything down. If I did that I’d have to find places for everything to go, haul things up and down stairs, and do a lot of reorganizing. There’s no way that’s going to happen very often.

Instead, I sneakily move items around and add just enough new pieces to make it look different. (That’s what I did with the mirror, plants and vintage tin. You can see them all in this display.) This is an easy way to freshen up your mantle without doing a lot of work. Leave the basic pieces you like, add a few additional elements, move items around, and voilà‎, a whole new display.

Cypress plant | redleafstyle.comBooks and antlers | redleafstyle.com

I’m really wild about this fish picture. (Hehe, wild.) I found this quirky fish poster at an estate sale. I cut it into smaller pieces so it would fit into the picture frame above, and I used the leftovers to fill smaller frames. (I’ll do a post on that soon, so you can see the transformation!)

Mantle display | redleafstyle.comCute fireplace mantle display | redleafstyle.comFish poster in vintage picture frame | redleafstyle.comFireplace mantle display | redleafstyle.com

What do you think of this outdoorsy mantle display? What’s up on your mantle right now? Let me know in the comments!

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Favorite Weekend Things

Roses and pink plate | redleafstyle.com

Weekends are for relaxing and putzing around my house. I usually always have some kind of decorating mess going on. I flit between projects with about as much concentration as my dog chewing on her wide array of bones. Neither one of us can seem to choose what we want to work on. But this weekend was beautiful with all kinds of gorgeous sunlight streaming through the windows and I couldn’t have been happier just messing around. And boy did I have a mess. There was potting soil. There was artwork. There were cleaning supplies, coupons and newspapers. Here are a few photos I captured of the weekend.

Puppy on a rug | redleafstyle.com

Andi dog and I are both trying to decide what we want to work on.

TV on an old dresser | redleafstyle.com

I picked up that green chair (and a bunch of other goodies!) at an estate sale this weekend. For now, it’s living here by the T.V.

Scientific posters | redleafstyle.com

I (finally!) ordered custom photo mats to frame these scientific posters I bought in Sweden almost a year ago. I can’t wait to hang them!

Spiced chai tea | redleafstyle.com

One of my new favorite beverages is this spiced chai tea from Trader Joe’s. (That pile of clothes to the right is freshly folded laundry. It was a chore kind of weekend.)

Freshly mopped floors | redleafstyle.comIs it just me who finds beauty in freshly mopped floors? So pretty!

What were you up to this weekend? Let me know in the comments…

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Making a Spring ‘To Do’ List

Yellow daises in a mason jar | redleafstyle.com

After a winter that feels like it has hung around forever, I’m more than ready for spring. Spring is a time for planning and projects. For dreaming and getting stuff done. For freshening, sprucing, decorating and digging your hands in the dirt.

Doesn’t the thought of spring just make you smile? I’m ready to garden and paint furniture outside and take long walks on warm evenings. I’m ready to sit in my sunroom and listen to the sounds of a spring thunderstorm. Ah. Can you feel it? Spring is almost here!

March 20 is the official first day of spring. That means right now is the perfect time to make plans for spring, while winter still lingers just a bit longer. What are you going to accomplish?

Making a spring ‘to do’ list helps me remember all of the ideas whirling around in my head. And, it gets me even more excited for spring. (If that’s possible?) How about you make a spring ‘to do’ list with me? It’s fun; I promise. Go on and dig out a pretty piece of paper and get to writing your ‘to do’s. Dream big! It’s almost springtime, the season of new beginnings.

Plant and dresser | redleafstyle.comYellow daisies and books | redleafstyle.com

Here’s my mess of ideas that I’m calling my ‘to do’ list.

My spring ‘to do’ list:

Start seeds in newspaper pots
Grow flowers from seeds
Paint dining room chairs
Paint nightstand
Reupholster chair
Organize photos
Start Project Life scrapbook
Redecorate mantle
Hang artwork
Decorate the sunroom
Keep a gardening journal

What do you have going on this spring? Share your ‘to do’ list in the comments! 

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.