hiking god's thumb

Hiking God’s Thumb

Hiking God’s Thumb in Lincoln City Oregon was something I have been wanting to do for a long time. But doing so without being completely surrounded by scores of other hikers took a couple tries. One time in fact I didn’t even make it within two miles of the tail head because there were so many parked cars lined up along the road. We took one look at the situation and turned right back around. This time was a little different, it was still technically winter, people weren’t traveling as much due to pandemic related reasons and we got to the trail head fairly early in the morning. Not early enough though, there were already cars there.



It started off confusing, with a fork in the trail straight away, don’t worry there is a map provided at the fork to help you find your way. Clear as mud. I relied on my phone map application, not by looking at directions but just by turning on the satellite view and guessing based on clearings in the trees which way to go. After a while we saw some folks returning to their cars and each passing person assured us we were going the right direction. There are no less than four forks in the path, other than the first one always stay left and you will get there just fine. I got frustrated about 20 min to the perpetual uphill climb for not being next to the coast line so decided to do a little exploring. I was gone for quite a while, when I came back my hiking companions had accumulated a few other confused hikers. I had no answers other than that way up the muddy hill wasn’t the right way, and the well groomed annoyingly uphill path is a better bet.



A good amount of the hike is not along the coast line, again I was disappointed. After the initial push upward we found ourselves in the direct wind path of the winter storm that had just passed through the area. The parks service hadn’t quite gotten around to clearing up the trees so it took a bit of climbing up and over very large downed trees to keep on the path. After the heavily treed area we found ourselves once again going down hill into a meadow and then back up again. But after what felt like forever the meadow become the coast line and I could finally see our goal.


Yet another down and up, but this time on an incredibly slippery narrow steep ridge. No hand or guard rails of course. Just a couple hundred feet to the ocean on one side and a not much better grassy hill on the other. Onward we went down the muddy path (mostly on our butts) and then back up again to the final view.



It was totally worth it. Freezing cold and windy but totally worth it. We only stayed a little while, there were plenty of other hikers coming and going and not a lot of space at the end. It felt rude to dawdle. So we took our pictures and scuttled back down the hill, grassy side luckily. All the while commenting on how much scarier it looks going back up.



We followed some other hikers to the right along the coast line, rather than back the way we came. But quickly learned that while there is a coastal trail it was all but washed out from the storm. So we turned right back around and hiked out the way we came in. All the while reassuring the very confused hikers that they were in fact on the right path. I wouldn’t call hiking God’s Thumb a very challenging, but it certainly isn’t easy and the reason for the hike, the last half mile is not for the faint of heart. Or rather scared of heights individual.


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My Cousin Vinny

I do not have a cousin named Vinny. But the movie My Cousin Vinny is a family favorite. So when I found myself at the end of road trip just outside of Atlanta I knew it was time to make a few special pit stops to visit some real life film locations. An added bonus was that the filming locations for the movie My Cousin Vinny are rather close to filming locations for Friend Green Tomatoes and the Whistle Stop Café. So I got to see some of both.



The majority of the downtown and courthouse scene in My Cousin Vinny were filmed in Monticello Georgia about an hour south east of Atlanta. It is a quaint little town with a giant court house. The downtown is essentially  four streets that form a square around a central park. The small but bustling little town is full of coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques. We were on a bit of a warp speed self guided to tour so we didn’t make any pop-ins to the shops, but it was darling in that beautiful worn slightly sleepy way of the south that I adore so much.



We also cruised by the building that was used as the crime scene in the film, a sadly abandoned roadside store front that still sports the original signage for the “Sac-O-Suds”. I think I was told that after filming it had tried its hand at a market and bait shop but given its location never did very well and sits being slowly devoured by kudzu like most empty buildings in the south.  Also I have no idea why this picture is so small, it was taken with all the same settings as the others. Technology is not always my friend. If you would like to do a drive by it is located at 54 GA-16, Monticello, GA 31064. Hopefully when you visit new life has been given to the building.


Our next stop was Juliette which is only a 20 min drive from Monticello and the filming location of the majority of Fried Green Tomatoes. The unincorporated community was named after Juliette McCracken daughter of a local railroad engineer. The railroad passes straight through the area and right past an old cotton mill along the Ocmulgee river. The film set was left and the buildings are now used for stores and a small museum for tourists. The café that was build for the film operates as a café and is quite busy. It was going to be a two hour wait for to go food, even longer for dine in. So we did neither, but I did sneak in and take a picture. It still looks just like it did in the movie. After taking a spin around town I considered breaking into the abandoned mill until I saw a slightly creepy van parked inside the fence. So instead we opted to go up river a bit to the park and boat launch to get some pictures from the other side. There is nothing like an abandoned building.



That in a nutshell was my quick little tour of film sites in the area. Happy hunting if you ever find yourself in the area used for My Cousin Vinny.

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Six Blind Men

I have a little story to tell, its about a parable that I call Six Blind Men. I try very hard to keep my way out of politics and public news type topics. Not because I don’t have an opinion on them, but because I don’t think shouting those opinions is the most helpful way to approach the topics. The world needs less shouters and more listeners. I strive to be a listener. But something has been on my heart and mind recently that I feel compelled to share. I hope you stick with me through the end of this, I promise to keep it as brief as possible.

When I was younger (I won’t say young because I still feel young), I came across a parable that has stuck with me since.  To be honest I don’t recall how old I was, if I read it or a teacher read it to a class I was in, all that stuck with me was the story and the lesson from it. It is Indian in origin, thought I didn’t know it at the time. And it originated sometime around 500 BCE. I had to look it up to make sure I got the key details of the parable itself correct, but there are many versions of it. So here we go.


Six blind men wandering around a town, and as they do so they are reaching out to touch things in a market. One of them says “oh I think this is a snake” another reaches out and says “no, I think its a kind of fan”. The third man claims it is a pillar or a tree trunk. The fourth says its a wall. The fifth a rope. And the sixth says he has found a spear. They all start arguing over the thing that they are all touching, shouting at one another calling each other stupid. Violence erupts. Someone notices the scuffle and comes over to help the upset group of friends and laughs. He tells them they are all touching an elephant. The man that thought it was a snake had been touching its trunk. The man who thought he was touching a fan, was actually touching the elephants ear. The pillar was actually its leg, the wall was in fact the animals side, the rope was its tail and the spear its tusk. 

Everyone’s perception of reality is built upon the foundation of their lifetime of collective experiences. Every single person you come in contact with in this world is operating with a different set of information than you are. Does that make them stupid? Does that make you stupid?

It is incredibly hard to set ones collective experiences aside and see something from another persons point of view. It is so hard in fact that our brains protect ourselves from this by filtering out and dismissing information that doesn’t jive with the information we already have. This is called cognitive dissonance. Its real and everyone has experienced it.  And while this is a brilliant survival mechanism “a berry that looked very much like that killed Sam last week so many I shouldn’t eat this one”, it limits our ability to connect and have useful respectful discourse with people who hold different beliefs than us. And who are these people who hold different beliefs than us? Just another human being, so similar to you it would probably make you breathless, but with a lifetime of different information driving their reality. Maybe their Sam didn’t die from that berry last week because he cooked them first. Doesn’t mean he is wrong, just means he knows something you don’t.


But you know what’s even harder than setting your collective experiences aside to learn from someone who holds vastly different beliefs from you. So hard in fact it is probably statistically impossible. If you call them stupid. Even if its just in your own head. Because by calling them stupid or some other dismissive remark you are excusing away their opinions, convincing your painfully still very much not evolved brain (we all have painfully not evolved brains) that you are right and they are wrong and so nothing they have to say could possibly be true. And once again you have created your own reality, you believe their opinions are wrong, thus no matter what they say you will never fully believe it. You have already primed the pump to dismiss their ideas. I think we can probably all guess which recent news topic and the behavior that has become so prevalent because of it has me mulling this topic. But I am not going to say those words out loud or type them as it were because really this applies to any topic, any time, forever.

Now I say this as an imperfect human, who gets extremely frustrated when someone is refusing to process the information I am sharing with them. Who also from time to time is too easily dismissive of information that doesn’t compute with what I know. And every single time I do these things I think of the six blind men  and try to do better next time. That’s all I have to say this week.

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Ashland Oregon in 24 Hours

Ashland Oregon in 24 Hours

After leaving Klamath Falls we headed west and unfortunately closer to the fires but also closer to a more happening town. As is typical with my summer road trips we breezed into and out of Ashland Oregon in 24 hours but we had a blast while we were there. Ashland Oregon is known for its annual Shakespeare Festival is supported mainly by the lively arts and restaurant scene that built up over the years to the festival and the local college.


First things first we checked into the Ashland Springs Hotel which was built in 1925 as the tallest building between Portland and San Francisco. It is also reportedly haunted though we noticed no odd happenings or bumps in the night other than the fact that all of my pictures look slightly redish pink because of the smoke from the fires near by.


The hotel is on the National Registered of Historic Places and as such was renovated in a more historic style that it had existed in its prior life as the Mark Antony Motor Hotel. Very comfortable and cozy rooms.  We didn’t spend much time lazing about as we only had a short amount of time to explore. It was clean, comfortable, the air conditioning worked great and the staff was extremely friendly.



The room came with free breakfast but due to the pandemic is wasn’t as robust as it would have been in different times. Retrieved in one of the ballrooms you were however free to eat anywhere within the hotel and we chose the balcony overlooking the lobby which was very pleasant and great for people watching.


We spent most of the day shopping since we knew we had to hit the road the next morning pretty early to make an important lunch date. My favorite stores in town were the book store (big surprise) Bloomsbury Books and a home store called Jupiter Row. The entire downtown is stuffed with cute shops, boutiques and great food choices. Back behind the main street is Ashland Creek which flows out of the 93 Acre Lithia Park which includes an outdoor music venue, hiking trails and a Japanese Garden among other features. This creek front area has a walking path where most restaurants have outdoor seating and there are often arts or farmers markets lining the area.


The creek while quite small packs a punch, there is higher than normal levels of lithium in the water due to natural geologic features, and there have been a number of studies done on the general mental health of the residents of the area showing a marked uptick in happiness.


After we went in nearly every single shop and walked around the park a bit we decided on a British Pub for dinner. The Black Sheep is upstairs in a building on main street, and decked out pretty much exactly like a British Pub should be, dark, cozy, lots of TVs blaring soccar games, lots of beer and delicious cozy food.



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Exploring Klamath Falls Oregon During a Pandemic

Towards the end of the summer of 2020 I was starting to get really itchy to travel, we had finished settling in to our new house, the pandemic seemed like it would never end (still doesn’t) and I was ready for an adventure. So we decided to explore some new parts of Oregon. We were already a couple hours south of home due to the horseback wine country trip, so we hit the road and continued south. I never thought I would be exploring Klamath Falls Oregon during a pandemic, but last year was weird for a lot of reasons.


We sped down I5 for a couple of hours and then hopped over the cascade range and figured we were “this close'” to Crater Lake we may as well take a slight detour, it had been years since either of us had been there. Turns out it was the beginning of one of the worst fire seasons in Oregon’s history and the smoke was so bad they were turning people away at the park entrance. Disappointed but ever optimistic we turned around and continued south to Klamath Falls.


Klamath Falls is a great jumping off point for any number of outdoor activities, but as it turns out when half of the towns services are shut down for a pandemic and the other half due to air quality there isn’t a ton available for adventuring tourists. So had it been a normal year this post would have likely been a lot more interesting but we had fun all the same. We came in mid day, thoroughly enjoying the views of the lakes as we drove in, and by thoroughly I mean we enjoyed imagining how beautiful it would have been had we been able to see much of anything. The temperature was inching upward of 100 degrees so we went straight to our hotel so we could get our things out of the car. We ended up staying at a pretty standard non-descript hotel. It was clean, safe and comfortable. After getting settled we drove over to the downtown area hoping to hit up a few local boutiques and find somewhere for dinner.





Like most Oregon towns, Klamath Falls is full of beautiful historic buildings which I am always a fan of. The town was founded in 1867. The original inhabitants of the area were the Modoc or Achomawi natives, its proximity to a large watershed and natural marshlands made it a good settlement place in an otherwise fairly dry part of the state. The Applegate Trail (one of the many trails that make up the Oregon Trail) passed through the area. In 1906 some of the marshland was drained for agricultural purposes and later some of this land was given over to veterans of World War 1 and 2 for homesteading. Timber and cattle were two of the largest industries in the supplying funds to build some of the more impressive historic homes in town. Our personal favorite was this Queen Ann style home build by John Goeller  in 1904. It has obviously seen much better days, which is a shame.


The downtown area was clean and well kept, if not entirely deserted. All the shops and restaurants were closed due to pandemic and air quality. Though there were quite a few really fun looking second hand and antique stores we were dying to go into. The city of Klamath Falls had suffered a fairly significant series of earthquakes in the early 90s so much of the downtown has since then been restored but unfortunately many of their historic buildings were lost during this period.


The Williams Building was one of my favorites. IT was built in 1926-27 by Jamison Park of Parker and Bamfield in the Italian Renaissance style and the bas relief style highlights the two main industries of the area. I believe it is now a pizza shop among other businesses.


After wandering around and taking way too many pictures of buildings we settled on eating at a Mexican restaurant that calls a beautiful historic bank building home. It was also the only place in town open for dine in eating. But lucky for us it tuned out to be quite good. Part of me was thrilled to get to eat inside such a gorgeous building and happy that the building was in use. And part of my was a little disappointed in the repairs which involved a lot of dropped ceilings and zebra hides tacked up the walls. It’s always an adventure isn’t it.


After dinner we returned to our room for the night and the next day we headed off to Ashland Oregon for our next adventure. I would have loved to visit this town when things weren’t quite so shut down, but in travel things are never exactly how you expect. So it’s always important to enjoy what ever adventure comes your way. I still had a great time exploring Klamath Falls Oregon during a pandemic.





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Horseback Riding Through Oregon’s Wine Country

Horseback riding through Oregon’s wine country is not something I ever really thought I would end up doing, but as it turns out it is the best way to go wine tasting. As long as you don’t drink so much you can’t stay on your horse.

Horseback Riding Through Oregon’s Wine Country – Locations
To ride horseback and taste wine you do need to book a tour. I am sure there are some regulations somewhere that would allow you to BYOH (bring your own horse) but I have zero information on that and lets be honest that is probably extremely difficult to coordinate between local land owners, tasting rooms, locating places to tie up your horse while you are inside and just general traffic laws of the area.

We chose to take the Dundee Hills tour through Equestrian Wine Tours . Our tour was only about 3 hours total, which was perfect for a newer rider. But if you are experienced and looking for a full vacation trip then it looks like these folks offer 5 day tours in the Oregon area, as well as many other destinations around the world. If Dundee Hills isn’t what you are looking for there are tours here offered in the Hood River Area which is quite stunning.

Horseback Riding Through Oregon’s Wine Country – Dundee Hills
As I mentioned we  booked through Equestrian Wine Tours and couldn’t have been happier about the entire experience. We got to visit two tasting rooms in the Dundee Red Hills and rode Tennessee Walkers between three tasting rooms making a full circle. The tour was long enough to feel like you got a good value for the cost, but also short enough that you could still walk the next day. First time horse riders beware, your bum will hurt. It was also very user friendly, I hadn’t been on a horse in more than 25  years and with just a short 5 min run down of how to get on and how to keep them moving in the right direction we were off and up through the vines.

Amber, our tour guide was incredibly patient and kind regarding all newness in handling horses and also very knowledgeable about the area, the wineries that we visited and all the other random topics I wound up chatting her up about.  We started out at Winters Hill Estate where you would normally get to taste but due to restrictions around occupancy we couldn’t get in that day. Winter’s Hill Estates is the meeting place, as well as a stop on the tour. But since we weren’t tasting there we just got right down to business. After our short survey of experience (we both had none) Amber chose the horses based on temperament and ease of handling for each of us, helped us get up on the horses and provided a quick tutorial on how to handle them. I was given Gigi for the day who was the larger of the two but very gentle.

We  set off through the fields between vineyards and then rode up through the vines which was quite the adventure because all three horses love to munch of grape vines so keeping them moving forward and not actively eating literally every step of the way was relatively challenging.  You either get really used to taking charge of a horse, or really stuck with a horse that refuses to move. Gigi and I only had two run ins with the vines solved not at all with my ability to control a horse but rather because she got a vine stuck in her bit and was busy working it out the entire way to our first official stop.

Our first tasting was  White Rose Estate which is one of the prettiest tasting rooms I have been to in the area, which is saying something given I lived in the area for close to 20 years and visited quite a few. Before we even got to sit down a woman who had way too much to drink given it was 11am came stumbling out of the tasting room declaring we were the most beautiful women she had ever seen and insisted on taking several pictures of us. Most of them turned out blurry. I would share them because they are pretty funny but I don’t share personal details of my friends and family here to protect their privacy.

After that adventure we got to sit outside enjoying the view, chatting with our server and sipping some really excellent Pinot Noirs.  After drinking more wine that I probably should have for being so new to horseback, and having difficulties getting back on my horse even with Amber’s help (not because of the wine but because  my legs were already fatigued from riding) we were off to our second stop which was Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie. Yes I do mean Francis Ford Coppola of  Hollywood, I will touch more on this vineyard in future posts. I did not end up drinking at this vineyard but we did have a really nice cheese plate and a gorgeous view after a good amount of time we saddled up and headed back to Winters Hill Estate. I have been to this tasting room several times and really love it for its homey feel and nestled in views of the valley. After wrapping up there we still had some extra time since we couldn’t taste at Winter’s Hill so we got an extended horseback tour of the vineyards, looping around the properties the long way and getting to see more of the valley views.

I would whole heartily endorse this trip regardless of time of year or weather. Amber told us stories of people who have ridden in rain and were laughing the entire time. And I will most likely being booking again some time this year with some other family members as it was too fun an experience to not enjoy ever again. Even if you aren’t drinking the views are incredible, the tour so much fun and getting to experience a vineyard on horseback is truly magical. I 100% endorse horseback riding in Oregon’s wine country.

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Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie

Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie was known as Vista Hills Vineyard, a 20 year staple in the Dundee Hills producing award winning Pinot Noir wines. In 2018 The Family Coppola acquired the vineyards and existing tasting room changing the name to Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie. In the acquisition it was my understanding that the employees of Vista Hills Vineyard were retained containing the company commitment to take care of the individuals and land that make great wines.

Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie – Francis Ford Coppola
Why yes I do mean THE Francis Ford Coppola, director of Godfather among many other movies. In the 1970’s Coppola and his family bought land in Rutherford, California with the proceeds from the first Godfather movie. And between the years of directing the second Godfather movies and Apocalypse now they produces their first vintage as a family affair under the name of the Inglenook Winery.

Later he created a family friendly winery and play area in Geyserville, California. At the site of the former Chateau Souverain Winery he displays many of his movie memorabilia and Oscars along side the swimming pools, restaurants and various other activities at The Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Wineries and movies are not the only businesses under his umbrella though he has owned theaters, restaurants, cafes, resorts and literary publications through out the years.


Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie – The Winery
Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie was already producing high quality award winning Pinot Noirs which the region is known for when acquired. By keeping the staff the winery managed to maintain said quality and experience to continue to produce the same level of quality throughout the transition. My favorite however is their Rose, a limited edition wine that sells out very quickly.

The tasting room itself is perched on the top of the hills of their own vineyards overlooking the Dundee Hills and surrounding valleys. The house newly remolded offers a nice mix of woodsy comfort that blends with the surroundings and subtle refinement fitting of the wines. The tasting room being a former home, is built in the daylight basement style of the 70s so when you enter from the parking lot level you are on the main floor but once you pass through the tasting room to the deck you are on the second floor overlooking the valley. The lower level is a slightly stark room housing a car from one of Coppola’s movies and gigantic doors which open up to a lovely little patio and outdoor fire place. The tasting room flights as well as wines by the glass as well as an excellent cheese plate.


In addition to traditional tasting rooms services they also host yoga classes in the basement from time to time which I have had the pleasure of attending. As well as rental for special and private events. I was there once when they were getting ready for a dinner with Francis Ford Coppola and his family but sadly didn’t get to sneak a peak of any of them.


The winery also participates in the Equestrian Wine Tours which I went on not too long ago, which was a complete riot by the way. And entirely beginner friendly. All in all I would say Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie is one of my top 5 wineries in Oregon thanks to the kindness of staff, setting, delicious wines, and variety of fun special events they offer.



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Dingle Ireland

Detoxing Your Cleaning Routine

Detoxing your cleaning routine probably sounds a bit like an oxymoron. After all aren’t cleaning products by virtue of existing, already clean? Turns out its super complicated and comes down to specific ingredients, how those ingredients react in an environment and how you interact with where those ingredients go.

Detoxing Your Cleaning Routine – Chemicals to Avoid
Over the course of the industrial revolution and decades that proceeded it human habitations for the most part have become increasingly cleaner. This is in part due to better understanding of hygiene but also better understanding of what it is that makes human sick, both of which are ever evolving as we learn more and more about ourselves as a species and the world around us.

House cleaning agents in general do an amazing job of killing off the germs and viruses that they are indented to eliminate. The problem is at what cost? Most products that go to market are tested to certain degree and then warning labels are adhered to bottles and then we all assume that these things are safe for human use.

Perchloroethylene (PERC) : Used in dry cleaning and carpet cleaners. Is a carcinogen and neurotoxin.
2-Butoxyethanol: Used in window and all purpose cleaners. Linked to pulmonary edema, liver and kidney damage.
Chlorine: toilet cleaner, mildew removers, laundry whitening, and even your water! Exposure can effect thyroid and skin irritant like eczema and psoriasis.
Formaldehyde: Is most often found in furniture and carpets (off-gassing from production) but things like 1,4-dioxane which is a common ingredient in laundry detergent has trace amounts of formaldehyde in it, which doesn’t wash out and builds in your clothes causing long term exposure. And is linked to ALS.
Sodium Hydroxide: Is used in oven cleaners and drain cleaners. This causes massive irritation and resulting in persistent burning eyes, skin, throat and nasal passages.
Ammonia: Used mostly for streak free cleaning products. And is known to slowly degrade the mucous membranes in your body, cardiovascular and digestive systems.
Phthalates: Not a cleaning agent but exists in the fragrance of general household products including cleaning products. These are known endocrine disrupters and have shown in many cases to result in lowered sperm counts among other issues in human populations.
Triclosan and  Quarternary Ammonium Compounds: Is in ‘antibacterial’ products. These products create antibacterial resistant strains of bacteria (nature always finds a way), which in turn make these products less effective over time but also make bugs which are resistant to pharmaceutical grade antibiotics. These products also do not breakdown over time, and are being flushed down drains into lakes, rivers and streams upsetting natural balances in bacterial colonies.

Detoxing Your Cleaning Routine – Why Avoid Them
To be clear you aren’t going to keel over from using Windex once. The issue I will continue to bring up as I go forward with this series is the compounding effect of continued exposure to these types of chemicals as well as all the others that we are going to talk about throughout this series. In a nutshell, it ads up. And in a world where our bodies are already dealing with so much stress, exposure to pollution and environmental toxins which are out of our control wouldn’t it be a good idea to reduce exposure where we can control it?

There is also an environmental impact to be considered. Not only from the standpoint that these are used and then the bottles are thrown away to then be lying in a landfill eventually seeping out into the soil and ground water. But they are also being rinsed, flushed and washed down drains and eventually make their way into ground water, streams, rivers, oceans, clouds, rained back down on us, seeping into our soils and being consumed back up by animals and ourselves. There is also the environmental impact of manufacturing these products and the health and welfare of the individuals who are on the manufacturing floor of these production plants.

Detoxing Your Cleaning Routine – Safer Alternatives
The EWG is my favorite resource for research regarding safer alternatives, they post scientific articles and studies, ingredient lists, consumer guides and even provide the ability to look up products to see how safe they are. Their cleaning product guide is here. My favorite thing about their site is their transparency, they don’t just say yes or no, they include why they have rated a product a certain way so you can continue to do research to make the best choices for you and your family.

Additionally over the course of the last few years I can managed to clean up my cleaning routine quite a bit and love and trust the products listed below. I am in no way affiliated or make any money on any of these links. They are just things that I love and trust.

Baking Soda
Essential Oils
Branch Basics

That’s it! Boiling water and vinegar can unclog a drain. I sprinkle baking soda around showers, sinks, countertops and baths then spritz with vinegar, scrub and rinse with boiling water. Windows are cleaned with vinegar, floors are moped with vinegar and hot water. For things like windows and floors I do add essential oils just so my entire house doesn’t smell like an Easter egg coloring party. And for really tough stuff I use Branch Basics, they created a non toxic plant based cleaning concentrate that can be turned into pretty much anything you need. It works similar to Dr. Bronner’s but is rated slightly better because it is unscented.

As with everything I write on this subject, I hope you find this information helpful not hurtful. The intent is never to shame, but rather educate. Everyone tries to do their level best to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Unfortunately often this information isn’t brought to the forefront of our attention until its too late. I for one want to operate in a world of prevention, to prolong my health and life as long as possible. Every little change helps reduce that overall toxic burden that our bodies deal with everyday. Baby steps to detoxing your cleaning routine, and more in time with regard to other aspects of our life.

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How to Detox Your Water Usage

Why on earth and how to detox your water usage? Its a good question. Most places in the United States have what we would all consider drinkable tap water. It may taste better elsewhere, but it is very rare that we would have boil warnings or immediately unsafe tap water. Not being immediately unsafe doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be examined for long term build up and subsequent side effects. So lets get on with the topic of how to detox your water usage.

How to Detox Your Water Usage – Why is it Unsafe?
The main additive in water in the United States is Chlorine, the reason for this is that it kills pathogens in the water and it does it quite well. The good news about chlorine is that it is water soluble, so your body doesn’t do a great job of storing it. The bad news is that our thyroid systems are very sensitive to chlorine and exposure over time runs the risk of throwing off the delicate balance or our vastly complicated hormone system. It is also a known irritant so depending on the level in our water could be contributing to skin and eye issues.


The second most common additive to water in the US is fluoride. And aside from vaccines I am not sure there is a more controversial topic on earth. On the one hand it is added water because of studies which have shown that it helps protect tooth enamel. On the other hand it is highly poisonous with acute exposure and is fat soluble so it builds in the body over time. I reduce my exposure to fluoride because of its accumulating effect in our body, and the ways in which it interacts with thyroid, brain, bone density, and the fact that studies about tooth health showed that it only benefits teeth that are in the process of growing (not existing adult teeth).


The last unsafe additive(s) in water is very specific to the source of your water. Water sources are either collection points or tapped straight from ground water both of which are susceptible to leeching from surrounding areas, which most often includes a variety of agricultural runoff. The EWG has a database where you can lookup what things are you in your water that you should know about. For example I live somewhere with exceptionally good water, and even with that I have three contaminates in my water which exceed recommended guidelines (see below).

How to Detox Your Water Usage – What Can I Do About it?

The only thing that can be done to protect yourself is filter the water, and I don’t mean with a Britta or refrigerator filter. There are whole house solutions, but they are both expensive and tricky to maintain. But if you are up for the investment and dedicated to cleaning it properly as often is necessary it is a great solution.


The cheaper route would be countertop filters for drinking and cooking water. With the addition of tap filters for showers and baths. Tap filters for showers and baths are important because chemicals and pathogens are carried in the steam and inhaled directly into your body.


When shopping for a countertop water system you want to look for a reserve osmosis system. I have heard the most about AquaTrue and Berky. Though there are a lot of other brands out there. I personally use the Berky, it is what my doctor recommended as it is relatively cheap, easy to maintain and easy to clean.


With shower and bath filters, I am actually still looking for a good solution. There are a ton of options out there, I just need to pinpoint my exact needs and pick a product. Which brings me to the point I like to bring up whenever discussing these topics. It’s not about shaming, and it’s never an all or nothing things. The point of these posts is to help educate and give you options and ideas of where you you can make small changes in your life which add up to big health gains. You don’t to overhaul everything all at once, rather pick the thing that speaks most to you, or hits on a concern that is close to your heart then look at things again. Maybe you will change more things, maybe you won’t. It’s up to you. At any rate I hope this provided some interesting insights on how to detox your water usage.

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Why Eating Organic Matters

Why Eating Organic Matters – An Intro of Sorts
Why eating organic matters. Its a big question and in starting to write this series I realized what a mine field these topics are going to be. But rather than going on a rant, I am instead going to get right to the point.  Having the financial freedom and education to make the choices that I have might be considered privileged to some people and to others its just common sense. It all comes down to perspective. My intention is share what I have learned over the year so you don’t have to take years of time and research to know what I know.
Switching to buying exclusively to organic foods is probably the easiest switch to make, you look on the box or package or sticker that says “USD Organic” and congratulations you are on your way to getting healthier. The hit to your wallet however is a harder pill to swallow. Switching to entirely organic foods is incredibly expensive. But it’s also an investment in your future and fewer medical bills in said future.

Why Eating Organic Matters – Background
The healthiest option for food procurement is growing your own, and developing relationships with local food producers to know exactly what is happening to your food prior to buying it. But very few people have time for that, so organic is the next best thing. An FDA certification which is provided upon inspection of facilities and processes to ensure food is following certain guidelines is not perfect. Organic foods in the USA are still allowed to use certain pesticides and fungicides. But recently studies have shown that just three weeks of eating all organic foods an individual can reduce the toxic load of pesticides, glycosphate, and petrochemicals by 70%.

Why Eating Organic Matters – The Dirty Truth of Conventional Foods
The number one reason to go organic is glycosphate. Glycosphate is commonly known as Roundup. It is a particularly nasty herbicide which has been deemed as “probable” to causing cancer (according to international cancer research organizations), and likely the cause kidney and liver damage. Recent studies have also shown that it is a likely contributor to nearly all wheat allergies in the US. Other countries do not us nearly as heavily or at all on wheat production, which is why often those which issues digesting wheat can often eat it in other countries.
As recent as June of 2020 the New York Times published an article on a lawsuit against the Bayer Corporation to the tune of 10 billions dollars paid out to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases tied to use of the product. The lawsuit was to “put the issue behind them”, they were sued not for the damages done, but for not more clearly posting the warning labels on the bottle. But food at the grocery store doesn’t come with a warning label that products or ingredients in the products were grown with the herbicide. The only way to avoid the product as much as possible is to buy organic foods.
Aside from the horrifying reality of glycosphate, additional studies have shown that organic foods have more nutrient density than their conventionally grown counterparts. This is mostly due traditional farming methods being more commonly practiced in an organic setting which retains richer soil quality, which in turn produces more nutrient dense foods.
Individuals with food allergies often see said allergies go away once switching to an organic diet, as the food allergies are usually connected to the chemical residues on food rather than the actual food itself. And then course there is always the environmental factor, run off from pesticides and herbicides damage not only local environments but those in the run off path as well. Migratory animals are cut off from traditional patterns and natural environments destroyed for large conventional grow operations.

Why Eating Organic Matters – Best Place to Start
As I mentioned before switching to organic can be quite the sticker shock. But there are ways to reduce the cost and still reap some if not all benefit from it.

Start with the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for all things but most importantly related to this topic every year they research the foods with the most pesticides and produce a list of 12 foods to buy organic. Granted if you aren’t eating some of these things and are looking to make some replacements you may have to do your own research. I would start by looking at prior years lists on the EWG Site.
ThriveMarket is a great place to guy organic foods online, they ship everywhere in the US, which is great for those living in food deserts. Generally I find their products cheaper than Whole Foods.
Don’t shop exclusively at Whole Foods. Or at all really, but my boycott of Amazon runs deep and you needn’t share that burden. There are plenty of other grocery chains that carry organic products at a much lower cost. Walmart has some great products for example and most grocery stores either have a section or clearly mark organic options.
Shop at local farmers markets, farm stores or co-ops. Supporting local is always my preference as you can eventually build up a relationship with locals farmers. Organic is legal term to the FDA one which costs quite a bit to acquire, many small farms follow the practices but cannot afford the designation. Knowing your farmer is always the best way to know the quality of your food.

I hope this helps clear up some questions you may have had about why eating organic food matters. And how you can implement some small practices in your daily life down your journey to make different choices in how your food is sourced as well as practicing preventative wellness care.

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