Available for Global Shipping 

Composting is the process whereby organic waste biodegrades naturally into nutrient-rich soil for gardening. There are both anaerobic and aerobic composting; the former does not utilise any oxygen while the latter requires oxygen for composting.

If the idea of composting invokes images of a stinking pile of garbage slowly decaying in your yard, fret not! There is a proper way of composting and it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. So, rather than throwing away your kitchen scraps, why not try composting them at home? Here’s how you can do just that:

1. Get a compost bin and choose your location

To ensure good air circulation in your compost bin, drill small holes on the lid, the bottom, and the sides. The bin should be placed in an airy area without direct sunlight.

It’s important to ensure that your compost bin allows for air to circulate freely as the micro-organisms would require oxygen to decompose the waste. If there’s insufficient air, gases like methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide can be produced, causing unpleasant smells.

2. Start composting

 

You’ll need a good mix of browns such as dried leaves, cardboard egg cartons, and newspaper and greens like fruits, vegetables, kitchen waste, and coffee grounds.

Add extra newspaper or dried leaves towards the bottom of your bin so that it can absorb any extra moisture from your wet greens. Browns are carbon-rich while greens are nitrogen-rich, and the micro-organisms use them both as food. To prevent maggots from appearing, try to make sure your bin is made up of three parts dry browns, and one part wet greens.

Then you’ll need an accelerator. This is responsible for kick starting and quickening the breakdown of the organic matter in your compost bin. An example is buttermilk or manure. You can also shred the waste in order to quicken the process.

3. Continue to add materials until your bin is full

 

A good aerobic composting pile should be moist, but not excessively wet. If too much kitchen waste is added, it may begin to smell as the result of anaerobic bacterial action.

Compost, when added to soil, increases its productivity by retaining soil moisture, improving soil structure, and enriching it with essential nutrients. This promotes the growth of healthy plants. Moreover, it reduces the use of pesticides and fertilisers, many of which can be harmful to the environment.

4. Leave it alone

Because your pile needs aeration, you’ll need to turn the pile once in a while. Other than that, it doesn’t require much attention.

Aerobic composting prevents landfills from rapidly reaching their capacity. It also keeps organic waste, which often contain a lot of water, from being transported as well. Not transporting these wastes conserves fuel and energy. Because these organic materials don’t end up in landfills, it reduces the emission of methane into the environment. The overwhelming amount of methane gas in our atmosphere is a known contributor to global warming.

5. Use your compost

That’s it! Your compost is ready for use!

 

Depending on the materials you used, you’ll start to see that the result is a dark and crumbly mixture, with an earthy, soil-like odor to it after about 40 days (and especially if you contributed to your pile daily). Use it to grow your own produce and you’ll quickly get into the habit of composting.

Composting can help the environment in more ways than one, such as reducing water pollution. Fertilisers can be a major cause of water pollution, but when they are mixed with the compost in your soil, the compost binds to the fertiliser and prevents seepage and contamination of groundwater.

Written by Anna Fernandez

A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant and herb specimens. These specimens are typically used for scientific study, but for the everyday collectors, a herbarium can just be a unique decoration in your house. I'll be honest, when researching, I initially thought a herbarium was like a terrarium but with herbs instead of usual plants like cacti. *cue laughter* Turns out it's a collection of herbs in frames. So if you were like me and you thought this article was an online terrarium workshop, it's time to learn something new! Life is all about surprises and spontaneity, isn't it? 

A simple herbarium

To produce a comprehensive physical collection, there are a few facets that require your attention when creating your own herbarium. If you wish to create a simple one that requires minimal effort, it is a much simpler process but if you want to create a more sophisticated and professional looking herbarium, you may need to purchase a few items. Let us start with the simple one first; this is a great activity to do with your kids or nature-loving friends because it'll get you out of the house and into the sun where you will get that much needed vitamin D.

What you will need:

Many of these items can be found at your local book or stationery store and they are inexpensive so this fun little project definitely won't burn a hole in your pocket.

Instructions:

  1. Grab your kids or friends and suit up in khakis and tank tops. Do not forget your suncreen, hats and sunglasses.
  2. Venture out into the woods, nature reserves or even your backyard and you the pair of scissors to cut and gather the plants and flowers you would like to add to your collection. However, do make sure it is alright for you to take these plants from your local nature spots.
  3. Note down the location you found each specimen and if you can already identify them, do note down their names so you can research more once you reach home and write it on your final herbarium sheet.
  4. Once you have all the plants you would like in your herbarium, clean any dirt and bugs off the plant.
  5. Place the plants in the centre of an opened book - the plant should be spread out so you can see the whole thing, then close the book and place more books on top for added weight.
  6. Leave the plants to dry for 7-14 days.
  7. Once dried, tape each specimen to one sheet of paper and place them into the plastic covers. Decorate each sheet with the information of each specimen eg. scientific name, native location, color, smell, etc.
  8. Compile all sheets into your binder and enjoy!

Not too hard, right? This is no doubt a fun and productive way to spend the weekend with your loved ones. Collecting is a good hobby to foster amongst children because studies have shown that it improves both creativity and pattern recognition in children. Seeing as collecting requires organisational skills, the hobby also allows them to improve their aptitude for recognizing everyday characteristics and being able to identify breaks in a pattern.

A bigger and more comprehensive herbarium

Now, if you would like to make a bigger herbarium, your mounting process will differ slightly from the previous set of instructions. It will also cost slightly more to put together but it will come out looking like something from a museum. The only thing that changes would be the mounting process. Instead of putting your sheets into a plastic protector, purchase a plastic screen to paste on top of your sheet, and then frame it in a glass frame instead of a binder. Your frames will go nicely as a decoration over your bed or dining room. Nothing like a little splash of green hues to brighten up your day. Not to mention it is great for that mid-work eye break. As you add more to your collection and you find yourself without any more space, they make great gifts as well. Nothing shows love quite like a handmade gift!

For the adventurous craftsmen out there, you can make your very own flower press as well. Pressed flowers can be used in other crafts projects too; like jewelry and decor.

What you will need:

Instructions:

  1. Stack the wood on top of each other and drill holes in all four corners, through both pieces of wood. (Note: make sure the drill bit is of the same size as your bolts)
  2. Cut your cardboard/wood slightly smaller than your 2 wooden boards and subsequently cut off each corner so that it will fit inside the bolts.
  3. Insert your bolts through both wooden boards so it looks like a sandwich.
  4. To use, place your flowers on pieces of cardboard and in between both wooden boards. Press down on the top board and leave the flowers or plants to dry.

You could even decorate your flower press while waiting for the flowers to dry. A word of caution, make sure you leave the flowers to dry for the aforementioned period of time before opening the press to peek! The flowers might rip or crumble if they are not completely dried.

So there you have it, the tips and how-to to make your very own herbarium. It isn't exactly the easiest art project but it isn't the hardest either. If you have a great appreciation for plants and you would like it to manifest into something most tangible for decorative purposes, then this is the project for you.

We at Nilufer would love to see some of your creations! Do tag us on instagram of the pictures of your herbariums! Enjoy crafting!

Reuse your Used Tea & Tea bags

Did you know, tea bags were invented by accident in 1908? (Aren't the coolest things created by accident! Potato chips, Penicillin, Post-its) Thomas Sullivan from the United States created small silk bags to give samples of tea to his customers but some of them thought they were meant to be placed directly into the pot, like a metal infuser, instead of being poured and emptied out. Thus, Voila! The invention of the tea bag!

Also, did you know that there are 4 major types of tea: black, green, oolong and white, but plot twist, they all come from the same plant - the Camellia sinensis - the different types of tea are a result of different ways of treating the plant. Interesting isn't it? Now that we have all enhanced our tea knowledge, lets find out how to reuse and recycle our tea bags. Each tea bag is filled with fresh, delicious and healthy goodness, so it is only right we do it justice and make the most of it.

1. Rejuvenate your eyes with teabags

The eyes are the windows to your soul so naturally we would want them to be all bright, twinkly and awake. If you are lazy to run out to the local beauty supply store for an eye mask to unwind after a long day at work, just grab some old tea bags and place them over your eyes for a few minutes. Put on some calm, soothing music and let your entire body relax into your bed or sofa. The remaining nutrients and minerals will seep into your skin and relieve dark circles and puffiness. You will feel like a new person after your tea bag treatment.


2. Tea Rinse - Get that silky, shiny, wind-blown hair you've always wanted

You have definitely seen those people walking down the street with the perfect hair you've always wanted. It seems like there is always the perfect amount of wind blowing right in front of their faces; strong enough so that their hair is flowing freely in the wind but not too much that their hair gets all messed up and stuck in their mouths. That hair. That hair just might be achievable with the help of your old tea bags! They can be used as natural alternatives to our conditioners (yay we save money!) to help add nourishment and silkiness to your hair. Just take your old tea bags and brew a weaker tea, cool it and rub it in through your hair after you shampoo. It'll leave your hair smelling great too!

We recommend these teas for "Tea Rinse"
Chamomile - The chamomile extract softens and nourishes your hair and scalp gently. Add two chamomile tea bags to a huge cup  of boiling water, and let it cool. Then, pour the chamomile tea over freshly washed hair and repeat 2-3 times. Good for dandruff, itchy scalp, lighten hair colour, nourish hair, promote hair growth, make hair smooth and silky.
Black Tea
Green Tea
 

3. Ditch the stanky feet ! Soak foots in pepper mint & Green tea herbal water

The feet of a person usually get noticed for either one of two reasons; 1. pretty pedicure or 2. stanky feet. I don't know about you but I definitely prefer the former. Smelly feet are foes to everyone in the vicinity including yourself (unless your nose is incredibly resistant to strong odors). Some people have smelly feet due to medical conditions and some might've just finished a long run in their sneakers, either way you need a way to beat the feet! You could put used pepper mint or green tea tea bags in your shoes to soak up the smell. Or alternatively, you could soak your feet in water with old tea bags (pepper mint or green tea). This doubles its use because tea bags are great for detox baths as well. Catechins in green tea has Antibacterial properties and pepper mint has instant effect to remove odor. Try these tips out and you will be one step in the right direction. (Pun intended. I'm so funny)

4. Make DIY Tea Soaps!

Ever had a cup of tea that smelled so amazing and thought 'I want to smell like that all the time"? Well, have you ever thought of making your favourite tea into soap? Because you can! This will require you to purchase a few items but it is certainly worth it. And with Christmas coming around the corner, nothing says thoughtful and meaningful quite like handmade soap! (you could give Lush a run for their money)

We recommend you to use our Lemon & Chamomile including marigold, lemon, chamomile, mint, ginger and Lemon !


Things you will need for DIY Soap making:

Lets make some soap!

  1. Look at your moulds and estimate how much soap base you would need to fill it. Use a knife/dough cutter to cut off chunks of the soap base. Note: be careful with the knife, always remember to cut in the direction away from yourself.
  2. Place the soap base chunks into your microwaveable bowl and melt it in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds on high.
  3. Remove the bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon of your chosen tea leaves and 1/2 teaspoon of essential oil into the bowl. (These amounts are estimates but you can play with the dosage according to the size of your soaps as well as how strong you want the scent to be)
  4. Mix the ingredients together until it is evenly mixed.
  5. Pour the soap mixture into your molds and set it aside till it has completely hardened.
  6. Once hardened, pop them out of their molds and wrap in parchment paper and tie it with twine till you are ready to use it. (or giveaway as a gift)



5. Degrease your pots, pans and plates - soak 5 min with used tea bags

Most of us love a good hearty meal of fried chicken, mac n cheese, lasagne, pizza and hotdogs. But the resulting dishes from these fried/greasy foods often have a oily and greasy layer over them that can sometimes be nearly impossible to clean. Sometimes it even feels like the more I scrub, the worse it gets. To alleviate this problem, pile up the dishes in your sink and fill it with hot water and throw in some old tea bags to soak. It helps loosen any hard foods and lifts grease so that when you get around to doing the dishes, it'll be super quick and easy.

 

As the world progresses and we're constantly updating ourselves with technology, having plants around the house helps brings us back a step closer to Mother Nature. Though part of the progression also means spending more time on our iPads or Galaxy Notes and never actually having enough time for a proper meal, yet alone taking care of plants.

Fret not! Listed below are 5 easy-care plants for the irresponsible - myself included.

Snake plant: It's name itself can seem appalling and you'd want nothing to do with it. Perfect! Not only does this plant have health benefits, but it can survive for weeks at a time. To top that off, it actually looks pretty and improves the indoor air quality. You practically don't have to take care of it and it does the exact opposite for you.

 

Echeveria: This right here is a beauty particularly because it grows in the shape of a blooming flower. They come in all sorts of colours that'll easily match with any theme you are going for. All you gotta do for your home to be blessed with one of these guys, is to give them plenty of constant light and keep the soil moist for them to stay healthy.

 

Aloe: You're probably well aware of the countless medicinal properties the aloe possesses, but these plants make just as wonderful home décor. Like the Echeveria, It’s a succulent, so dry conditions will not be a problem. Tons of indirect sunlight will be a plus for your aloe plant to flourish.

 

Bromeliad: Who knew the Cousin of the pineapple was such a prima donna. Don't let its looks fool you as this superstar is actually pretty easy to handle. Being drought tolerant, you'll be good even if you only remember to water it once a week.

 

Sweetheart Hoya: It's pretty blooms and pleasant fragrance are not guaranteed if not coaxed with the right amount of sunlight but it's succulent heart-shaped leaves are to die for. If you're an animal lover, the ASPCA has certified it safe for cats and dogs

 

Do you find yourself grateful that on Monday you can start afresh?

Whatever happened the week before, or at the weekend, can almost be forgiven as we say, “ok new week, new start”

Monday starts great, good intentions carry into Tuesday, we may even get in a workout but then the old habits start to slide in.

You wake up late, no time for breakfast, but coffee perhaps? The workload starts to pile up, going out for lunch has to take a backseat so you grab what you can at your desk, by the evening you’re exhausted and a big, satisfying comfort meal makes all the stress go away….

These are the perpetual habits I see from most of my clients who when they start working with me have not yet managed to master the art of food preparation.

You see, willpower is not enough! Why? Well our genetic make-up designed us to crave highly sugar based food (carbs convert to sugar) and we create instability in our blood sugar by skipping meals, we’re overstimulated through caffeine when our body is tired. All this will lead us directly towards making poor food choices. Our caveman genetics knew that sugar was an instant form of energy & doesn’t really care that our modern brain wants us to crave & choose food that will allow us to maintain a certain aesthetic appearance as well as a tank of energy that can fuel long days of burning the candle!

Food Prep Sunday has become part of my life because;

  1. My willpower will lead me to foods that don’t serve me well
  2. I don’t have time to cook hearty meals or even think about what I want to eat once the week has started
  3. I don’t want to yo-yo diet

We all have way too much to think about every day, so I developed this simple formula to my food prep days, which allows me to have quick go-to's, that can be assembled easily or create a meal in very little time ie 15 minutes or less;

  1. Cook 1-2  starchy vegetables or carbohydrate, eg rice, oats, sweet potato, pumpkin
  2. Have 3-4  easy vegetable options eg mixed salad leaves, roasted carrots, frozen spinach, tomatoes, avocado
  3. Have 2-3 protein choices pre-boiled eggs, roast chicken, baked tofu, cooked lentils

These items prepared & cooked where relevant on Sundays give me freedom to just assemble based on what I fancy & of course what needs eating first

Preparing your meals in advance minimises failures and above all allows you to sustain a long term healthy lifestyle

Elika

Organic food seems to be all the rage these days but what makes it better? Some swear by organic food’s more unique and wholesome taste compared to conventional produce. While tastier produce is in itself a compelling reason to switch, there are other reasons why going organic might be the smart move for both your health and the environment.

Organic food: Bye to Pesticides

Image cred: Kees Streefkerk on Unsplash

Non-organic food are sprayed with pesticides and chemicals to avoid getting damaged by bugs. However, this also means that when you eat the produce, you end up consuming toxic chemicals. Even when authorised for farming use, some of these pesticides are recognised as potential carcinogens. The effects of all the consumed toxic chemicals building up over the years may result in overall decreased health and ailments.

Organic food in comparison is less exposed to harmful pesticides, making it the healthier choice for your body. A research study found organically grown crops consistently had around a third as many pesticide residues than non-organic produce. Furthermore, organic produce were far less likely to have residues from more than a single pesticide.

Why Organic Herbal Tea?

 

Image from nilufer_tea instagram

That cup of non-organic tea may not seem much of a health risk but non-organic teas are often dried without being rinsed.  This mean all those pesticides and synthetic chemicals are dried on the leaf, which may end up in your cup. While some pesticides and fertilizers are removed during tea processing, many of these chemicals are water soluble. This means such chemicals are often still present in the leaf even after processing and are removed when the leaves are brewed. This inevitably compromises the quality of your brew and may pose potential health risks.

Organic farmers turn to more natural practices for a more sustainable and environmental-friendly harvest. This is reflected in the often fuller and richer flavours of tea along with packing more nutritional benefits. Studies have shown that organic foods are often higher in nutrients, minerals and vitamins than genetically modified food or non-organic produce.

Going organic for the environment

Image cred: pixabay

Not only is the heavy use of pesticides bad for your body, it is damaging to the environment as well. Conventional farming methods include the repeated and heavy usage of artificial fertilisers and synthetic pesticides on crops. When spraying chemicals over immense areas, it is inevitable that some of these chemicals will end up in the surrounding landscape and be washed into nearby rivers. Such practices are unsustainable for the earth and contribute to the environmental pollution and the declining health of wildlife.

Non-organic foods produced using chemicals put a strain on the environment. Going organic signals a support for organic farmers who ensure their processes are sustainable and earth-friendly. Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving both water and soil quality.

Organic: The better choice for you

Image cred: pixabay

Adopting an organic diet may seem daunting to its higher prices and smaller range but being healthy is the best investment you can make! After all, going the extra mile for our health now means a lower risk of having to seek medical treatment later on in life. The choice to go organic means saying no to unnecessary chemicals and pesticides often found in everyday foods.

hello world!