The World’s First Flower Most Likely Looked Like Today’s Water Lily, Researchers Find

How would you feel if someone told you that all of the flowers in the world come from one ancestor? While it may seem dramatic, it’s true, according to a new study published in the British journal Nature Communications.

A group of international scientists has discovered that the world’s first flower sprouted about 140 million years ago. It looked similar to the common-day water lily, with circles of petals and protruding pollen spikes in the center of the bud. While scientists say that it is similar to one of the most widely known lilies, the Madonna lily, which is also the oldest lily on record, dating back 3,000 years, the head scientist explains to USA Today that it is hard to really compare pre historic flowers to flowers of today.

Herve Sauquet, an evolutionary biologist at the Paris-Sud University explained:
“All flowering plants have evolved and changed since that ancestor, that’s how evolution works. So there is no single species or group of species that would have existed some long time ago and still exists today unchanged.”

For their study, the scientists used an evolutionary tree to connect all species of plants, 792 in particular, to this one flower. Interestingly enough, the scientists were able to find that what they originally thought concerning the flower’s sexual organs was false. This finding actually was able to help the scientists plot out a whole new vision for exactly how pre historic flowers evolved to the flowers of today.

However, Sauquet points out that while no fossil exists from 140 million years ago, the researchers were able to compare the oldest finding, from 130 million years ago, and link it to 10 million years prior simply because they could link the flower’s sexual organs to similar flowers they know to existed at that time.

So while this was a great finding, the researchers are still trying to figure out where and when the first flower formed in the world. But with this information, they’re hopeful that they’re close.

How To Transition To A Natural Beauty Routine In 5 Easy Steps

With mountains of information out there about unregulated beauty products and the potentially harmful ingredients we use every day, there are plenty of reasons to simplify your beauty routine. The tricky part is getting started. By taking small steps and forming an understanding of what you really need to feel refreshed and beautiful, you can create an effective routine that is as chemical-free as possible.

These five easy steps can guide you toward a more holistic approach to beauty. You will feel clean and radiant as a result.

Step 1: Tune in to your body’s natural chemistry.

Before you decide which products to include in your natural beauty tool kit, learn how your body naturally behaves. When you are lathering your skin and hair with artificial ingredients, it is easy to completely throw off this natural balance. Take a break from or cut down on these products for a week, and notice the natural texture of your skin and hair. This will inform what you are trying to calm with your products.

Step 2: Simplify your entire routine.

Once you have a better understanding of your body’s natural chemistry, decide which products you actually need. If you have been using multiple types of face moisturizers, you likely will be able to cut down to one. Do what you can to simplify your makeup routine and cut down on the products you put in your hair.

Step 3: Read labels.

When you do buy products from the store, take the time to read ingredients. Many natural beauty gurus choose to cut out parabens and phthalates, so avoiding these can be a place to start. The same goes for when you go to a beauty salon. A 2016 survey by YouGov found that 96% of women groom their bikini area in some way. So, if you choose to schedule regular waxing appointments, find a salon that uses more natural ingredients in their wax.

Step 4: Make your own care products when possible.

For every product that you buy from a store, you can likely make your own. For example, if you are one of the 32% of people who are concerned by the look of your teeth, take a moment to consider your whitening options. Rather than reaching for a synthetic whitening kit, you may want to make your own charcoal whitening product or try oil pulling.

Step 5: Embrace your natural beauty.

Remember that the most important part of starting a more natural beauty routine is learning to love your natural beauty. For some people, this may mean more makeup-free days. For others, it may mean switching to their natural hair texture. It is up to your to define your own natural beauty. Stick with whatever makes you feel most radiant.

When working on your natural beauty care routine, remember to be patient with yourself. Forming new habits takes time, and completely changing your beauty habits is no exception. When you are liberated of chemicals and other harmful ingredients, you will feel more healthy and beautiful overall. And that is simply priceless.

How to Make Organic Dried Apple Slices this Fall

Many of you may have a family apple-picking adventure on your fall calendar. During our evacuation from Hurricane Irma last week, we were able to visit our favorite apple orchard is The Historic Orchard at Altapass in North Carolina. We had so much fun hiking through the orchard picking and eating apples as we went!

If you find that you have more apples then you know what to do with after your orchard trip, you can make simple, dried apple slices. These treats are perfect for the school lunchbox. Read on to learn how to make these simple treats in a couple short steps.

What you will need:

– organic apples
– cinnamon

Directions:

Dehydrating: Line your food-dehydrator shelf with parchment paper. Cut your apples into super-thin slices and arrange the slices on the shelves of your food-dehydrator. Sprinkle with cinnamon and either dehydrate at 135° until crisp.

Baking:
Line a baking sheet with a reusable mat or parchment paper. Cut your apples into super-thin slices and arrange the slices on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake in the oven at 225° for about 1.5 hours.

Do you make apple slices during the autumn season?

Green Tip: Pick an Organic Pumpkin

Green Tip Pick an Organic Pumpkin

Did you plant your pumpkins and gourds last spring? If so, you should have a bounty of them to use for decorating and baking this fall. If not or if you live in Florida like me, that’s alright, you can find lovely organic pumpkins and gourds at your local organic farm, farmer’s market or organic grocer. Do you need help locating great organic pumpkins in your area? Check out Local Harvest to locate a farm in your area, and enjoy autumn!

Where do you get your pumpkins?
Do you purchase local organic ones?
P.S. My favorite place to pick pumpkins is in the North Carolina mountains at the New River Pumpkin Patch. Hurricane Irma made it possible this year! We happened to be evacuated at the time and were able to stop by before heading home! 

7 Green Tips for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint this Autumn

fall

Fall is almost here! Last week my family had to evacuate for Hurricane Irma. It took us 2 days, but we finally arrived in the North Carolina mountains. The leaves were just starting to change colors and every front porch was stacked high with pumpkins. We stayed at a cute little cabin and stayed toasty by snuggling up by the fire, sipping hot cocoa, and hopping in and out of the hot tub.

The mister and I chatted about buying a little mountain cabin in the next couple of years when Eben goes off to college. But WOW – it is chilly here. I haven’t had to think about winter proofing since we have lived in Florida for so long and decided to write up a little post on ideas for reducing your carbon footprint this autumn.

Fall is a great time to give your home and car an energy audit. Nothing is worse than finding out in at the beginning of winter that your home’s heating system is faulty, or the tread on your tires isn’t ready for snow. So spend the next few weekends taking a closer look at your home and vehicle to make sure that they both are ready for those cold, winter months ahead. Get started by reading on for 7 tips to prepare for colder weather while reducing your carbon footprint.

#1 Keep the Heat Low
As the temperature outside begins to drop, we tend to turn the thermostat up. Before you reach for that dial, try layering with sweaters, thick socks, and extra blankets on the bed. It’ll save energy and heating costs, and you can save the toasty heat for winter.

 #2 Give Your Heating System a Checkup
Before the cold sets in for the rest of the year, have your heating system inspected by a professional to see if any tune-ups are in order, filters need replacing, or if it’s time to exchange your older furnace for an energy efficient model. It’s best to do it now while the weather is still tolerable – having a heater go out in the middle of a freezing December night is no fun!

 #3 Turn Down Your Water Heater
Many water heaters are installed at a default setting of 140 degrees, which can pose a scalding risk and waste energy by heating water much hotter than you’ll need it. Turn your heater down to 120 degrees to save energy and bring the water down to a safer temperature. You can save additional energy by wrapping your water heater in a blanket to keep heat in.

#4 Save Baking for the Cold Days
Fall is a transitional season, so some days feel like summer while some foretell winter’s coming with a bite in the air. If you’re planning to use the oven for cooking your favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, save the recipes that need to cook in it for colder days. Chances are the oven will heat your kitchen enough that the rest of the house will raise a few degrees in temperature, too, and avoiding baking on hot days will prevent you from having to crank the AC.

#5 Check Your Tire Pressure
When the temperature drops, tire pressure lowers and brings fuel efficiency down with it. Check your tires and inflate them to the proper setting. Fall is also the perfect time to have the tread on your tires checked – if you need new tires, get them put on now before you find yourself stuck in the driveway the morning of that first snow storm.

 #6 Check Windows and Doors
Check the weather stripping around your windows for leaks and caulk or replace where necessary. Check for drafts under doors and use a draft snake or replace the threshold if necessary.

#7 Arrange Furniture Warmly
Many older homes have at least one wall that lacks proper insulation, allowing the cold to seep in and taking too long to heat up in the day time to prevent the room from feeling freezing at night. Line up heavy furniture like sofas and armoires or use decorative quilts to help insulate the room.

How does your family reduce its carbon footprint when cold weather rolls around?

 

 

How You Can Use Natural Products To Care For Your Teeth

Few things warm up a room more than a bright smile. Many studies have shown that nonverbal cues are actually four times more impactful on first impressions than verbal cues, and a healthy looking smile has a lot to do with that. There’s a reason we respond so positively to people with happy smiles.

But your oral health is much more complex than the shine of your pearly whites.

In fact, the health of your teeth, gums, and mouth are actually tied to other aspects of your health, so it’s important to prioritize oral hygiene. But as any green gurus know, taking care of your teeth can be difficult to do naturally. Fortunately, with the right tricks, you can overlook the chemical-filled hygiene products and take the natural route instead. Follow these tips to take a more natural path to your dental health.

#1: Eat well and stay hydrated.
As with many other aspects of your health, what you put in your body directly impacts your health. Drinking enough water will help clean food particles from your teeth, as can eating crunchy fruits and vegetables. Avoiding sugar and consuming acidic foods and drinks in moderation are also a must.

#2: Try oil pulling.
This natural method involves swishing olive or coconut oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. By doing so, you can reduce bacteria, whiten your teeth, control bad breath, and curb sensitivity. Of course, you have to be willing to swish olive or coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes.

#3: Drink tea after meals.
Herbal and green tea are great for controlling bacteria and for removing food particles from your teeth. While black tea is certainly a healthy option for reducing plaque, it can also stain your teeth like coffee.

#4: Choose low-chemical care items.
With all the natural methods in the world, brushing and flossing are still an essential part of oral health. Just try to choose toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss that are made of more natural ingredients and materials.

#5: Stock up on herbs.
Certain plants and herbs have healing properties for the mouth. Cloves, for example, can help control toothaches. Cinnamon is also known to reduce bad breath. You may find your own herbal tips and tricks as you start your natural oral care journey.

While the above methods and other tricks can be effective in supporting your oral health, it is still essential to visit a dentist regularly. A recent study found that 84.7% of children ages two to 17 visited a dentist between 2014 and 2015. But are you doing the same as an adult? Even if you think you have your oral health under control, nothing can replace professional care and the advice of your dentist.

With a combination of at-home natural care and professional care, you can keep your mouth as healthy as possible. Remember that not every method will work for everyone, so feel free to try out different natural methods to find what works for you. Your teeth will thank you for it.

Autumn Approaches: Is Your Home Ready for Cooler Temperatures?

September is here, heralding the approach of fall. And while autumn might have a lot to offer, from multi color foliage to pumpkin spice — well, everything, it can also bring its own unique set of difficulties. Many of us find that as the temperature gets lower, our heating bills begin to skyrocket. Additionally, less sunshine means that you will need to rely on artificial light a great deal more, driving up your energy costs.

While there are very few people who view a higher utility bill as a good thing (outside of your utility company, at least), those of us who are concerned with reducing our environmental impact are especially eager to avoid the increase in gas and electricity consumption.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help keep your fall heating and energy costs down.

#1: Resealed Ducts
According to ARLNow, poorly fitted ducts are a major cause of heat loss in homes. In fact, up to 30% of the air flowing through your ducts can be lost due to leaks, holes, and bad construction.

That is because your metal ducts will expand and contract with the weather: for instance, a duct system that was perfectly fine in summer might have small gaps, which allow your heat to escape and cause a serious energy waste.

Or as the Department of Energy puts it, “Your air ducts are one of the most important systems in your home, and if the ducts are poorly sealed or insulated they are likely contributing to higher energy bills.”

#2: Solar Heating
Solar power is a great way to save money on your electricity bill; in fact, the average home saves around $84 per month with solar panels. But solar energy can be used for other purposes, too.

Solar space heaters are a great way to cut down on your overall heating costs. From full sized retrofits to small, portable space heaters, you can easily harness solar power to help heat your home. According to the Energy Saver office of the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 40% to 80% on your heating bill with solar space heating.

#3: Energy Star Lighting
Even the most outdoorsy of us end up spending a lot of extra time indoors during the winter, and the lack of natural light means you will be reaching for that light switch much sooner than you would during the summer.

But did you know that in 2016, 10% of all residential energy was used for lighting, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency? By switching to LED Lights, you can save 85% of the energy used for standard halogen lighting.

As Autumn approaches, it is important that you take the time to prepare your home. Make sure that your heating and cooling vents are properly sealed, replace any less-than-efficient lights, and explore the possibility of solar heating. Otherwise, you might be in for a nasty shock the next time you open your utility bill.

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