Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, searching for pure happiness & joy

May 17, 2019

Skala, Kefalonia Photo Diary

Happy Friday you wonderful souls - today's post is just a bit of a fun travel photo-dump because let's face it, it's been a damn long time since I done one of those! If you're an OG Northern Blood reader (or even possibly before the overhaul all those years ago) you may remember that I used to like to publish the odd photography post now and again. Photography has always been something I've had an interest in and something that I've dabbled in with varying degrees of success. If you were to ask me the functions on my camera, I wouldn't know where the F to start, but candid photography is something I can get lost in and I love documenting what I see. Nature and architecture have always been some firm favourites for me to photograph, so I thought I'd share some of that today.

It's been a long ol' time since my last photography-focused post and I don't really know why. I guess, I just haven't been out there shooting very much but unfortunately, life sometimes gets in the way. A point where life didn't get in the way though was this time last year. I went to Greece for the first time on a lovely little family holiday. I'm getting very nostalgic about the trip not only because it's been a year since it happened, but also because my almost third trimester body is very aware that no holidays will be on the cards for us for a long time now! We stayed in Skala which is very much a sleepy little village on the island of Kefalonia with lots of nature around, good food, and lots of relaxing. I'm not very good at relaxing on holidays and feel like I should always be doing *something* to make my visit relevant and worthwhile. Thankfully that attitude did pay off in many ways as I wandered up mountains to find empty restaurants and ruined towns at the top, remote tiny churches with the most gorgeous artwork hidden inside, and abundance of plant life that I will never be able to name or identify. So here's a long overdue photo-dump of the hidden gem that is Skala, Kefalonia:

Skala LemonsSkala Church EntranceSkala ChurchBlossoming TreePink BlossomStop SignCactusGatesSTOPUgly BeautyYellow BloomsSkala Main StreetLife & DeathChurch of St. George in KefaloniaSt. George Church SunlightFloral GateFlorals in the BreezeOld SkalaOlive Press MachineryFork in the RoadMad Hatters Tea PartyOld Skala Ruins by ChurchPls Close the DoorChurch BellsOld Skala GravesBlue Church DoorsBackdoor ChurchOld Skala ViewsChurch DoorsChurch Ruins & GravesGrasshopperNature

For more of my candid photography of beautiful nature spots and awe-inspiring architecture, hop on over to my Flickr account to see more!

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May 13, 2019

Real Talk: Body Image During Pregnancy

This week in the UK, 13th-19th May 2019, is Mental Health Awareness Week and May is the month of mental health awareness overall. In previous years, I've talked about the skin-picking disorder dermatillomania and how stress effects it and me and what it's like living with anxiety because I think it's important to be transparent about mental health and sharing my experiences is a good way to raise continuous exposure to these mental health problems. This year, the Mental Health Foundation have decided to focus on body image, stating on their site that it is something that can affect us all at any age and can greatly impact the way we feel.

I've been no stranger to talking about body image in the past here on Northern Blood. Whether it has been the learning curve of accepting my body's flaws or ranting about body shaming, I like to throw my two cents in when it comes to this topic as I am certainly someone who falls into the category of being effected by body image issues. I am someone who is super quick to celebrate and big-up others because I want them to love the skin that they're in but myself? I just can't seem to spread that love quite so easily.

Since becoming pregnant this year, body image has become even more of a major hurdle for me. I knew my body would change a lot but I don't think anything could really prepare me for *just* how much it would change and in what ways (I mean, look at how ridiculous my sternum tattoo looks already). There's changes across my whole appearance that I never knew happened during pregnancy so it's all been a learning curve of acceptance and convincing myself that it's "not forever". Here's some of the things I've had to get used to as my body performs the seemingly impossible and grows a life:

- Pigmentation: during my second trimester, my freckles have become much more pigmented which is a nice change. It has also meant that my skin's redness and dark circles are also darker though so you know, it's not all a win win. It means veins are particularly prominent (especially on the breast area) and nipples do not look like they used to.
- Boobs. Jeez.: Obviously breasts growing during pregnancy is another natural part of the process as they're preparing to try and feed your baby, but was I expecting my cup size to go up by 3 sizes and for them to make me feel top-heavy at all times? Absolutely not.
- Dry skin: I knew my hormones would cause some havoc for me, but I never expected it to totally flip my skin condition on it's head. I've been an oily acne-prone babe since a young teen and now suddenly I'm having to battle dryness that can be so severe, my skin on my chin flakes off on an almost daily basis. I know, I know: I'm lush.
- Dry hair, hair growth, and what's all this body hair?!: My hair has also dried out (which isn't necessarily a bad thing as my hair is quite the oil slick most of the time), but it also has stopped falling out quite so much (which is a super *good* thing). I've got naturally very fine and thin hair so this is a nice change. The hair follicles slow right down during pregnancy so your hair doesn't fall out as often so hair can thicken up. I wouldn't say mine has thickened up a lot, but a little is just fine. My body on the other hand? I don't think any woman is prepared for her stomach becoming a bear overnight.
- Fitness limits: I was never someone super into fitness before pregnancy but wowee, I never thought I'd get out of breath just walking to work or climbing a flight of stairs. It can be frustrating and really debilitating.
- Stretch marks: Although I've been lucky so far - fingers crossed - that I haven't experienced stretch marks, but they're a very big concern for many pregnant and non-pregnant women and can take a lot of time to love. I have them on my thighs from growth spurts when I was a teen and I'm still getting to some sort of realm with comfort of those.
- Growing pains: They don't impact my appearance, but boy oh boy, do the growing pains effect me. The growing and stretching pains I've experienced thus far make me irrationally fear getting any larger - they make me panic that my skin and body can't handle the quick changes and it can play on my mind *a lot*.
- Weight gain and figure change: I know this might sound silly, but I didn't expect my overall figure to change in the ways that it has. Little things like the fact I no longer have an hourglass figure or the fact that I've just up 2-3 dress sizes in the past 6 months are to be expected but them actually happening? Much harder to cope with than I ever anticipated.
- Fatigue: I suffer from chronic fatigue daily anyway so you can imagine the joy I've experienced on this journey when fatigue is a huge factor. Fatigue can make me and the best of us teary, hormonal, snappy, and a multitude of other feelings. It also makes me look like utter shit which then makes me feel vain for wanting to try and make myself look in better condition. It's a vicious cycle.

Pregnancy also brings along the fear of what my body is going to look like post-pregnancy and for the rest of my life. Of course of course I am going to be *so happy* about what my body has accomplished and that outweighs everything else, but how could I not think about what I'm going to look like once my baby is here? I'll have a bump for a while after. My skin will have stretched. It will take a long time to feel like *me* again and it may be a new me that I have to come to love and accept. I may experience postpartum hair loss (my biggest fear), I may experience incontinence, my body may be damaged... There's a lot to get my head around and there's no true way to prepare for it all because it's so unknown. The best words of advice and comfort I can provide for myself and others at this time? If you're a friend or family member of someone going through pregnancy right now, pretty please don't keep commenting on their body. Even the positive comments can be something I ponder over days and weeks after they were said. I can turn them into negatives if my mood is low. I can obsess over how I look now and how I will in the near future. Remain positive for the loved one in your life and maybe they can stay positive too.

So with that all said, I wanted to write some words of comfort for me, myself, and my body. I want to say these words to myself, to remind myself and just take stock in when I'm feeling the strain of body image expectations that I impose on myself:

"Body, can you truly believe the situation we currently find ourselves in? We thought we'd never get here, at least not without a little outside help along the way but, it turns out you do work (sometimes) and just needed to be given time and no pressure. Although I'm still in awe that we're at this point, I can't always keep up that super happy and amazed persona because sometimes, I still don't like you.

The level of appreciation I have for what you can achieve grows everyday. Every time I think I'm reaching my limit with this journey, you show me that you can stretch beyond my expectations and can essentially become super-human. You've helped me become more understanding. You've helped me take stock in quiet moments and truly get to know you - get familiar with my own skin, get comfortable in my own limits, pursuit loving myself (and you) as wholly as I can muster. You've set me on a journey of mindfulness with every ache, pain, stretch, discomfort, and relaxation. I've come to accept your flaws more and more because you know what? They don't matter in the grand scheme of things. You're growing life. You. You truly are and I sometimes I can't get my head around it. But you're out here doing it and that's reason enough for me to urge the negativities aside. It's reason enough for me to look at myself in all my softness and ever-changing folds, contours, and lines and say that every change and development is okay.

You've also shown me that my mind can wander and be the worst burden for the both of us. With every acceptance of you, it can throw a comment, a passing thought, or read too much into something someone has said and that positivity you've built up comes crashing down. Being pregnant is a privilege. Being pregnant is hard. The scrutiny we've faced from others is so damaging yet they just don't see it. We've had the comments about "how big we're getting" and we've brushed off and eye-rolled the "we saw the bump coming around the corner before you!" claims, but they still eat away at us don't they? They suck the fun and wonder out of this adventure of ours. We know they shouldn't. We know there's more to this pregnancy lark than other people's thoughts and inability to keep their opinions to themselves, but when we're changing so much at such lightning speed, is there any wonder that I sometimes let those comments stay with me?

I apologise for every time I've let those comments linger though. You know I don't mean to let them interfere because the changes you're rapidly cycling through have so much depth to them that the superficial surface is just that - it's surface-level. If I crawl just an inch deeper I remember all the amazing things you can do and that's what I should be celebrating and loving. I want to protect you. I want to look after you. I want to ensure you can do your job especially now that you're doing the job for another reliant soul, not just me. There's the three of us to consider now.

I promise to stop trying to run you into the ground because I realise now that you're under so much strain. I know that we can't do what we used to even just 6 months ago but that's okay. I don't resent you for it no matter how frustrated I can get in the heat of the moment. I promise to moisturise and nurture you so you remain soft and delicate (god only knows we need to ward off these hormone demons who want to make you feel like the driest desert). I promise to nourish you with nutritious foods so you can perform at your best and help this little bump we're carrying grow to be the healthiest and happiest that they can be in the ultimately short time we have them staying over in our space. I promise to try to appreciate you more and love the things I've hated before. You're making a dream come true for me and I need you to know just how truly thankful I am. So here's to you, me, and that wee leech on our resources who's causing so much chaos for you."

Get Involved with MHAW
Body image issues don't simply disappear overnight and as I and the Mental Health Foundation mentioned, they can grow to be more of a problem for any of us at any given time. Mental Health Awareness Week choosing to focus on this topic is a good opportunity for us all to take stock in just how we treat our own bodies but also be more vigilant of our own comments and opinions of others too. In this heavily social media-focused digital lifestyle most of us participate in now, it's easy to get sucked in and compare ourselves to others. It's easy for us to make passing comments either about ourselves or others that can actually be quite triggering and even hurtful in the eyes of others. Spend time this week raising awareness and getting familiar with all of the work the Mental Health Foundation and MHAW are doing. Always build each other up. We all have just one body, let's make sure it grows to be loved, supported, accepted and celebrated for all it's uniqueness.

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April 22, 2019

It's Time for a Fashion Revolution 2019

Gang, it's that time of year again - the time of year when we need to be holding brands within the fashion industry more accountable and demand transparency from them. It's time for the Fashion Revolution. This week (22nd - 28th April 2019), it is Fashion Revolution Week, a week-long push in "the global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry". Over the past 5 years of their activism, they have become the largest fashion industry movement and are continuously pushing for rights, transparency and education both in and about the fashion industry but as with most activist groups and movements, they rely on the support of the general public. Last year, I blogged about Fashion Revolution and why I think the movement is so incredibly important in today's consumer society and this year I want to continue supporting this movement as much as I can.

Their aim to change the way our clothes are sourced, purchased and produced are topics that are thankfully becoming much more "hot topic" amongst bloggers, YouTubers, influencers, and the general media alike. It seems that fast fashion has come more and more under fire from so many different avenues and are being rightfully questioned about anything and everything from how materials and fabrics are sourced, the conditions in which employees work, and the gap between the CEO wage and those who work below them. This year marks the 6th anniversary of the Rana Plaza Factory collapse. This factory collapse took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh and it killed 1,138 people and injured many more - making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. As you can imagine, this spurred individuals from all corners of the globe and walks of life to scrutinise fashion supply chains and Fashion Revolution took that intrigue and desire for answers and built the movement that they have today.

Whereas last year I talked more about the movement itself and why it is so vital that we have such movements for education and awareness, this year I thought I'd delve more into what you can do to support Fashion Revolution and be an activist in the fashion industry in general; regardless of how much time, resources, or support you have!

1. #whomademyclothes
One of the biggest driving forces during Fashion Revolution week is asking brands "who made my clothes". This is one of the easiest ways to get involved in the movement as you simply need to Tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram post brands with the hashtag - whomademyclothes. The idea behind this simple # is to force brands to answer - the more people asking the question, the more pressure brands will be under to listen and answer. This helps promote this idea of transparency and helps us as consumers actually acknowledge, celebrate, and thank the garment workers behind each item we own. Tweeting is pretty easy as you just need to tweet the brand in question with the hashtag too but, if you want to head over to instagram, get your tag out of your top, dress, coat etc. and do exactly the same. You can also consider emailing or sending a letter to a brand too if you feel you have more to say than the character limits of social media allow. Using your voice is the easiest way to get involved and makes the whole movement stronger.

2. Sign the Manifesto
It's sad to see, but upon writing this blog post there were only 7,115 signatures on the Fashion Revolution Manifesto. Although it's fantastic that many individuals have already signed it, just imagine the greater impact this manifesto *could* have if we all took not even 5 minutes out of our daily lives to sign and support it. Fashion Revolution clearly lay out their manifesto step-by-step on their site and it includes everything from equal and fair pay, to eradicating enslavery, endangerment, exploitation, and discrimination of anyone in the industry, to making sure fashion becomes a more circular economy and stops damaging the environment. By aiming to liberate workers, promote diversity, and safeguard ecosystems, it is difficult to see any reason not to sign the manifesto. Signing up is super easy and only requires your name, email address, and a reason why you're signing. You can sign up to the Fashion Revolution newsletter at the same time and access hundreds of instagram stories, quotes and more from likeminded individuals who have already signed up to the movement.

3. Follow Fashion Revolution social media!
Something *so* simple that we often overlook it but, by following Fashion Revolution on their social media accounts, you are demonstrating support and power in a collective conscious. Not only that but social media sites give you a chance to feel more involved with other likeminded people, the movement itself, and stay up to date with any news or events that may be happening. The movement has various accounts that you can support and here are just a few linked to the UK:
Facebook Fashion Revolution page
Facebook Fashion Revolution Scotland page
Twitter Fashion Revolution page
Twitter Fashion Revolution Scotland page

4. Free resources - knowledge is power!
Fashion Revolution are very transparent themselves and thus you have free access to action kits, booklets, educational resources, reports and more (all right here). Access to these resources is fab as it means you can spread the message further and also gain some ideas for your own spending habits so you can try to make more sustainable fashion choices and take part in things like #haulternatives.

5. Become an ambassador or get your brand involved
The Fashion Revolution movement isn't limited to a general public level. Brands, wholesalers, distributors and students are all encouraged to take part. If you're brand-related, sharing stories and supply chain information is great and for you students out there at college or university, how about becoming an ambassador and hosting your very own event on campus?

6. There's a podcast for that
Although the podcast isn't bursting at the seams with episodes, listening to it can certainly boost the numbers and show Fashion Revolution that there is support out there. If you're particularly interested in the garment workers' rights and voice-side of the activism, you need to check these episodes out as they can be eye opening.

7. Is art and journalism more your thing? Buy the Fanzine
Okay so you only need to flick through a couple of images of the latest fanzine to see how wonderful they are. These bi-annual collectable zines are packed full of great articles, discussions, and artwork focusing on varying aspects of the movements focus. This current issue is exploring craft and culture and discusses globalisation, the future of craft, and cultural appropriation. They're sustainably created in the UK on recycled paper so they stick to good ethics too!

8. Donate donate donate
Fashion Revolution are a registered charity here in the UK which means you can donate money and time to support the movement. You can support Fashion Revolution all year round and become a regular monthly donor, make a one-off payment, set up a fundraising page for Fashion Revolution Week to encourage family, friends, and colleagues to get involved (and you could even ask companies to match your donation too!), or host an event and donate any money raised from it. Although donating money isn't an option for everyone, it's certainly there if you want to support the movement at any point throughout the year and every little bit will help towards making a change.

9. Attend an event
Speaking of events on that last suggestion, there are Fashion Revolution events hosted all over the globe and all throughout the year - not just during Fashion Revolution Week! These events can range from local companies and independent businesses coming together to celebrate their crafts and selling their wears as advocates of fashion transparency to exhibitions in museums and art studios, to money off sustainable capsule wardrobes and workshops on how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and repair your garments. There's bound to be something for everyone out there and by supporting these events, you help keep Fashion Revolution not only supported, but on the map in the public eye as it helps the movement keep an active voice when Fashion Revolution Week winds down. You can search what upcoming events are in your country, here.

Hopefully this post has helped highlight all the many great things Fashion Revolution (particularly this week) are doing and how you can support and be part of their activism. I always find that this week is humbling and grounding and reminds of how passionate I am about sustainable and ethical fashion. It helps me realign my own ethics and purchasing choices and focus on the underlying parts of the fashion industry most of us tend to overlook because we consume without care or consideration. Although I always feel like I could be doing more and certainly want to *do* more the older I get, taking part in Fashion Revolution Week in any sort of capacity is helping voices to be heard and changes to be made in an industry that is so large and powerful.

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April 13, 2019

The Things you Don't Expect when you're Expecting

Oh dear, apparently it's happening - here comes the start of the pregnancy blog posts! For those of you who don't follow me on social media or don't know me in real life, you might be currently sat there, slack-jawed, at the mention of pregnancy and to be perfectly honest - I'm right there with you. I never expected my 2019 to kick-start with this new stage of my life but here we are and I cannot put into words just how happy and excited I am about this next leg of my life journey.

Although I'm someone who wouldn't consider themselves a private person, I've realised I actually am in most capacities. I'm happy to blog about sex and mental health concerns etc. but most personal life things I keep to myself unless directly asked about it. I don't know why that's the case but it's the way it's always been. When I first discovered I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to keep that air of secrecy and privacy surrounding my baby (still as weird to type as it is to say out loud) but, I also knew there would be some elements I would want to share and shout from the online rooftops. One thing I knew I did want to share however, was and still is, the things that you don't expect to come out of pregnancy. Currently sitting happy in my second trimester, I have experienced negativities that I think many just don't associate with what is usually a very happy period of time for most individuals. I certainly didn't expect to find myself in some of the conversations, situations, or at the end of some of the jibes I've experienced thus far. So strap yourselves in folks, we're going for a rant ride and some truth telling!

Not everyone will be happy for you. Okay so off the bat, I never thought I would have pregnancy met with negativity from friends, family, colleagues etc. For individuals who know me, I thought pregnancy would never happen without an aid of some description or adoption would become more and more likely so to have people who know this react negatively or simply not at all, to the news, it's been an odd situation to find myself in. Whether it's been a colleague's jab about me "just becoming another part-timer who needs to be covered" or a friend just not even saying congratulations (or you know, anything in response to the news - hi if you're reading this, I'm still waiting!), it's not something you'd ever imagine happening but I'm here to say it absolutely can and possibly will. Now? I just don't care. I haven't got the time or patience with people who can't muster just general politeness. But just as a warning: not everyone will be happy for you and you know what? It's okay because not everyone matters.

People will be over-friendly. I always expected the boundaries to become blurred for some people during pregnancy but I guess I didn't anticipate just how blurred these boundaries can become. It's nice that people want to congratulate you or talk to you about it all but it's certainly bizarre to be on the receiving-end of some questions or comments that are just too over-friendly or too personal that you usually wouldn't receive. There's this weird notion that you almost become public property during pregnancy so any privacy you'd like to maintain is lost and others just assume you're happy to lose it. If you're quite a private person, this can be a huge shock to the system.

You suddenly become nothing else but pregnant. Again, I don't think this one is necessarily intentional when it comes to most individuals but, your identity kind of gets lost in this pregnancy bubble and label you have. Not only do many people want to talk about anything and everything pregnancy and personal with you but they seem to forget that you're your own individual who has a personality and life outside of the pregnancy. I've been elated to chat about it openly with friends and family however, my interests don't just end there because this is happening at this stage in my life. I still would like to chat about the vast array of other interests I have that make me *me* - I'm not just the baby incubator now.

People will invade your personal space verbally and physically. Kind of leading on from those last two points, I knew that people invade your privacy and space a little bit when pregnancy occurs but I just didn't expect the severity of it. The endless stream of comments or people literally touching you without consent is draining and induce anxiety in even the most strong of mind people. Having any sort of body image issues or self-esteem problems can make pregnancy a really testing time and considering I'm only half way through it all at this point, it does concern me a little. Thankfully, I'm not worrying about weight gain or bloating etc. because at the end of the day, I'm growing life inside of me and sustaining that life is way more important but it doesn't mean I can brush off the comments or the touching. Most of it comes from a genuinely good place and I'm fully aware of that however, there's only so many times I can hear
"are you sure there's only one in there?"
"you look good considering"
"you're getting huge!"

before I will inevitably lose my shit. Being this "public property" now means you're just open to this personal invasion whether you welcomed it or not and I think the most infuriating thing about it all is that actually? My wee babe is healthy but slightly on the smaller than average size so you know, please stop telling me I look humongous when it doesn't matter and this is exactly what a pregnant person is supposed to look like?

Everyone is a fucking expert. Okay, last rant and then I promise I'll stop. This one wasn't really any sort of shock or surprise but I've been truly *amazed* and some of the drivel that has poured out of people's mouths thus far. I love having any information I can from anyone who has been through pregnancy in the past because experience is the most genuine and true information to build on for myself but, please don't tell me how you drank 5 cups of coffee and was absolutely fine when I ask you to make me a decaff tea. Please don't tell me I'm being "ridiculous" because I've said I need to have more fruit or veg because I haven't had much in the past couple of days. Don't tell me what I want to buy for my baby, call my baby, or how I want to treat my baby is wrong. Of course if it was something more serious such as discussing vaccinations - I'd be all ears - but if you want to screw your nose up at what pushchair I want to buy or the name I've chosen for my baby, that's all on you, buddy. That's something you need to learn from and try to change so you're not such a shitty person in future.

Apologies if this is was a negative ninny post but I've needed to have a good ol' vent and this is my safe space to do so. Pregnancy is such a gift and I am honoured to find myself in this position as not everyone can so please always bear in mind the many layers of emotions, build-up, and history that is behind each pregnancy and each person carrying the child. Think before you speak and act and always approach both with kindness.

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March 24, 2019

Sustainable Sundays: DIY Low Waste Cleaning Recipes

Can you believe there hasn't been a Sustainable Sunday post since January?! I know, I'm reeling too, so let me resolve this issue by sharing with you some of the easiest, most eco-friendly, low waste recipes for creating your own cleaning products for your home using that very basic kit I discussed back in January. Over the last three/four years, I've become more and more conscious of what I'm using to clean my home and whether or not it's cruelty free and what unnecessary chemicals might be lurking in the ingredients (check out this post for more information on this!). Don't get me wrong, I still use a few home cleaning products that are shop-bought because I feel like they do a great job of doing what I need them to do (plus they're CF and vegan so I trust them), but there's some products that you can totally make at home instead.

Before we get into the recipes themselves, I need to quickly mention something here (alongside some of the pointers I may have mentioned in my last post) just so you can get the most out of these recipes and using DIY cleaning products in general. Obviously as these cleaning products are natural and homemade, they have no added preservatives in the recipes so ideally you want to make smaller batches of each cleaner. The recipes provided below are all fine to use as is but I would suggest that you don't double them up etc. unless you really need to. The amounts listed below are tried and tested by yours truly and are just right for keeping the overall product fresh and effective! These recipes I'm going to share with you are not only affordable, but minimise your plastic pollution and the best bit - they actually keep your home fresh and clean! Just remember to give them a good shake before use and they'll be good to go. So let's get into my homemade DIY low waste cleaning kit:

Multi-purpose and Multi-surface Cleaner
You might remember back in my switching to zero waste/natural cleaning products post that I said it's a myth that you needs lots of different cleaners for different rooms of the house and I still fully stand by that. This multi-purpose cleaner can be used on all sorts of surfaces and in each and every room of the house. If you want to be extra minimal, this cleaner alone should meet most of your needs! Also if you only have one of the base cleaning agents to hand, I have altered the recipe to suit both vinegar and soap options and if you don't have essential oils, simply opt for lemon juice instead.

Castille Soap option:
- 1 cup of water
- 3 tsp of castille soap
- 15-20 drops of essential oil or juice of half a lemon

White Vinegar option:
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of white vinegar
- 15-20 drops of essential oil or juice of half a lemon

To make: simply combine all the ingredients in your glass bottle, pop on the spray nozzle and give the bottle a good shake! The only surfaces I wouldn't recommend you use this cleaner on are wooden surfaces or anything stainless steel/chrome as the water is not good for wood in case it expands and the lemon/essential oils can cause more harm than good to steel/chrome. But everything else? You're good to go.

Window and Mirror Cleaner
Although I am a firm believer that you don't need lots of different cleaners clogging up your cleaning cupboards, a good additional cleaner to have at hand is without a doubt a one specifically targeting windows and mirrors. We all know what it's like when you try to clean your shower cubicle screen or your mirror with a cleaner not designed for those types of surfaces and the sheer frustration that ensues because of the streaks, fog, and mess they can create when you try to remove them. This cleaner completely prevents this from happening and cuts through watermarks like non one's business! Unfortunately, you've got to use some vinegar in this one, castille soap chaps! Vinegar is just too good when it comes to making those surfaces shine.

- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 10-15 drops of lemon or tea tree essential oil

To make: Add all the ingredients to your bottle and give it a good shake. Lemon is a good option here if you want to make your all-purpose cleaner your window/mirror cleaner too but I find tea tree to be the best for getting rid of any streaks or residue so making an extra batch with this in where possible is always a good shout.

Mould and Mildew Cleaner
Next up is a more heavy duty cleaner for stubborn damp bathrooms. I know I know, I said you don't need multiple cleaner but, if you're someone like me, you might find that even when you used the very toxic hard-hitting chemical products back in the day that you still had a lose-lose battle with mould build-up in your shower/bath area. My bathroom gets extremely damp so the build up of mould and mildew can be horrendous if I don't scrub at it on a weekly basis. I find a blend of oils work best for me in this instance, but below I've also listed some additional ingredients that could help instead if you haven't got a choice of essential oils to work with.

- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda or 15-20 drops of a blend of essential oils (this is when I use my cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, rosemary, and tangerine blend discussed in my previous post)

To make: You know the drill - add all your ingredients to your bottle and shake. The reason I make a blend for this spray is because the oils I use are great for fighting mould and mildew as well as disinfecting surfaces and aids your immune system in the fight against seasonal and environmental bacteria. By keeping the bathroom area so squeaky clean, I notice a huge difference in the quality of the air in that room after cleaning (which lasts for a few days which is always nice to see a product perform so well), and I feel confident that I'm doing my best to fight some nasty germs that can build up in damp conditions.

Furniture Polish
The last recipe I wanted to throw into this post is a fail-safe furniture polish which can get those wooden surfaces looking fab because the all-purpose cleanser just won't cut it here. As I mentioned earlier, a water-based cleaner isn't always the best option for wooden surfaces but if you want to clean up and polish some wood, in steps some trusty olive oil in water's place. Yep, you heard me right.

- 1/4 cup of white vinegar
- 3/4 cup of olive oil
- juice of half a lemon

To make: Simply add all the ingredients together in a spray bottle once again and shake it up. The olive oil gets such a good polish on wooden surfaces whilst the white vinegar and lemon helps cut through dirt and grime like any other cleaner.

These basic cleaners should hopefully demonstrate just how simple cleaning can be if you have the basic ingredients. Not only are they effective but they cost so little each time you make a batch, you can bulk buy the ingredients to create less waste overall, and they will keep your home clean and your mood lifted. DIY cleaning recipes aren't for everyone as some people can't get on board with the smell of white vinegar (including me), but I find that the smell soon disappears and that there's always ways to eradicate the smell. If you'd like to see some more low waste recipes including carpet cleaners, toilet bombs, and sink unblockers, just let me know!

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