All posts by Jessica

The Dyna Chi Ionizing Array – What Is It?

This is a Stainless Steel device to generate Negative Ions in Detox Foot Spa machines. Unlike every other Ion Generator in every other detox foot spa manufactured as of 6/1/08, this device actually creates a flow/stream in the spa water. More accurately, it used Aerodynamic Principles in its Design to accomplish this.

Array 9.5

The result is the spa water develops a Negative Ionic Charge much faster, allowing for a faster and deeper detox session. Vortices are actually created and visible in the water.

The developer of this device, Casas Adobes Design of Tucson, Arizona has licensed Dyna-Chi International to sell it in their Dyna-Chi Detox Spas and their Ionic Body Balancer machines.

I can tell you from personal experience that this device works better than the standard ring type Ionizers used in most of these devices. A third type of ionizer used in the industry is a “W” shaped metal plates which are made in Communist China from scrap metal. That design pales in comparison, as do the ring type ionizers compared to the Dyna-Chi™ Array.


How Does Your Garden Grow?

There was a time, in recent human history, when every family knew where their food came from. For many families, much of that food came from their pastures, fields, and backyard gardens. For others, a local market. The introduction of the commercial grocery store, pre-packaged meals, and electrical household luxuries (such as the electric blender, iron, and crock pot) changed the way we eat in a big way. Struggling family farms collapsed over time to give way to commercial agriculture growing operations that have frequently stripped minerals and nutrients from top soil from greater demands to produce more, more, more! As our natural ecosystems have begun to collapse, pests, weeds, and bacteria have begun to kill and contaminate crops, causing food prices to rise and occasional food shortages. The introduction of increasingly toxic pesticides and herbicides into our food may be causing increased rates of cancer, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. The fact that we process most of our basic food ingredients to the point where they become food-like substances instead of real food, does not help.

As our household has transitioned more and more into buying only organic foods, we’ve seen a sharp rise in our grocery bill. Although we feel that paying a bit more for non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) fruits, veggies, and meats is worth the cost, that sharp rise in our grocery bill is still a bit painful. While we don’t have the space to raise cows or even chickens, we can tackle a backyard garden.

66915_10151397852404492_394680120_nOur extra-deep backyard planter made our Facebook page last month when it snowed in Tucson. Luckily, the seeds we’d planted the week before did just fine and are looking great now. We chose an above-ground extra deep planter partly because our topsoil is not very good, and also to avoid ground-dwelling scorpions and snakes slithering amongst our produce (we have several types of poisonous snakes here, and I do not care for them ONE BIT!). This will also allow tubers plenty of room to grow beneath ground.

If you live in a warmer climate, it’s probably about time to start planting. A few things to consider:

1) Climate. Many vegetables have different varieties that may work better in warmer climates versus cold climates (and vice versa). Blueberries, for example, do require a certain amount of cold weather to produce fruit. While some varieties require several hundred hours of freezing temps, others may only require 60-80 hours of freezing temps. However, these warmer weather blueberries may not survive a long hard freeze in a colder climate. Your climate will play a big role in how long your growing season lasts, and which plants you’ll choose. Taking note of when your last and first frosts typically occur, as well as other weather-related issues will save you heartache. Arizona, for example, has a much milder growing climate and longer growing season, but since summers are so hot and dry, special measures must be taken to protect produce against withering and dying in the height of summer.

2) Effort. How much energy do you want to devote to this project? If you’re OK with more weeding, watering, and pruning, a large garden may be a welcome addition to your home. If you’re more of a backyard minimalist, perhaps a few tomato or strawberry plants in planters on your back porch may be more appropriate. Keep in mind that adding raised beds will be more labor intensive than adding a few hanging baskets or clay pots later on.

3) Money. How much do you want to invest in this project? Maybe your family eats a lot of tomatoes and that’s all you want. A packet of seeds, a few pots, and a bag of potting soil are affordable on nearly any budget. Maybe you want to introduce your kids to some new foods (studies have shown that children are more likely to eat vegetables when they help grow them). Or maybe investing $10 into herbs from your garden supply store will be sufficient. Then again, you might want to invest a few hundred dollars into raised beds, organic soil, and a composting system that will last for many years.

4) Picking Plants. Once you’ve determined your growing climate and how much money and energy you’re willing to invest in growing your own food, you can start picking out plants. Perhaps you want to harvest all your produce around the same time this summer- about 60 days from now. Or maybe you want to rotate through a few different harvests throughout the summer and fall with different plants ready for harvest at different times. If this is the case, you’ll want to stagger when you plant produce with a shorter growing time (such as lettuce) with produce that has a longer grow time (like pumpkins and melons). There are a number of interactive tools on the web that can help you figure this part out. I personally like the one at Mother Earth News. There is also a great tool at Sprout Robot for determining which plants will thrive in your area (great for novice gardeners!) and when to plant.

5) Pests. If you live in an area with deer, bunnies, and other herbivores, it may be necessary to surround your garden with chicken wire, or perhaps even a wood or metal fence to keep animals out. Keep an eye out for bugs. Some bugs are beneficial to plants (like bees and butterflies), while others can nibble and destroy (like aphids). Create a plan of some kind ahead of time as to how you’ll deal with pests.

Have fun!

Juicing: Try and try again

Several months ago, after watching “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” I purchased a juicer. I bought a Breville 200XL and it arrived in a few days. I was excited to try my new toy after hearing about so many potential benefits: less gray hair, more energy, improved sleep, detoxification, less inflammation, etc. I made a special trip to the grocery store for some extra organic produce and got started right away.

Spinach, clinatro, pears, oranges, melon, pineapple and kiwi make for a great juice, in addition to my normal breakfast!

I wish I could say that I was excited about my first glass of juice, but I was not. I was excited until I saw the juice actually being made. I hadn’t anticipated that the juice would emerge from the juice in different layers in my pitcher and would require stirring (not a big deal, but still, unexpected). I hadn’t anticipated that cleaning the juicer would be so much work. (I’d settled on a Breville because they were supposed to be easier to clean than the Jack LaLaine juicers, and replacement parts for the Brevilles were supposed to be easier to find.) I had anticipated that the juice would taste… good. Not great, but at least good. My first glass of juice was anything but good. Spicy from too much ginger, too lemony, and very, very “green.” However, I drank it down, thinking the whole time of how much good this would do my body. I was incredibly disappointed.

After the first two days of dutifully juicing once or twice a day, I didn’t feel any different. If anything, I was far more tired than usual because of the extra dishes, cutting, and chopping. By the third day, I had put the juicer into the back of my pantry, promising myself I’d try again “later.”

Fast-forward to December 2012. After spending the greater part of this year working with a personal trainer and making some significant dietary changes, my balance is better than ever, and my IBS is finally under control after 7 long years of fighting with my body over the control of my digestive tract. My fiance’ and I watched “Hungry For Change,” which sparked a long conversation between the two of us about what we could do to improve our health. We paused the movie more than once to run to our kitchen for a quick inventory of how much HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) was still lingering in our pantry, how many of our dry goods had additives, etc.

Although I wouldn’t call our lifestyle “unhealthy,” we still have a lot of room for improvement, like many Americans. We prepare most of our meals from scratch so we know exactly what we’re eating. We buy organic whenever we can. We eat a nice variety of produce, meats, and fish, and limit the amount of processed foods (either purchased frozen or from a drive-thru). We recycle more than we throw away, and we turn off lights when we’re not using them. However, we both deal with some kind of pain and inflammation issues (asthma for him from a military deployment, and Fibromyalgia for me). We eat more meat (organic or not) than we probably should. We don’t eat enough fresh produce. We eat more processed foods than either of us would ideally prefer, despite our efforts to plan meals at least a week in advance. We consume more sugar than we’d like. Although there is a food co-op where we live, it means driving 15 miles each way to pick up our produce. (That’s a lot of time in the car when we could buy organic produce for slightly more about a mile from home.) Many times, organic meat is just too expensive for our grocery budget, and it requires a trip to a different grocery store than where we buy many of our dry goods, for lack of selection.

We decided to start juicing again, really just to see if we would feel any differently than we did while watching “Hungry for Change.” We both felt like we needed to do something that would help make us healthier. I had originally planned to take a few days off from work so that I could do a juice fast without risking whether I’d have to call in sick or not. When it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to do a true juice fast, we altered our plan; we would start by introducing ourselves to the idea with one glass of fresh juice for each of us per day.

This time around, I decided to forego the juice recipes that had ended in so much disappointment the first time around, but used that experience to my advantage. We purchased produce that we normally like eating, to start. We bought spinach, cilantro, apples, oranges, pears, cucumbers, tomatoes, kiwi, pineapple, carrots, melon, berries, and kale. We normally do not buy kale as neither of us cares for it, but I’d hoped that we might find it more palatable in juice. I used mostly fruit (oranges, pineapple, pears) for our first glass of juice this time, with half a cucumber and two carrots for balance. And… (drum roll, please)… it was actually GOOD!

So far, I’ve been juicing once or twice a day for the last three days. I am finding that my body seems to be trying to self-regulate itself again where my circadian rhythms are concerned; I have spent the last 15 years or so fighting with my body over all things sleep-related. I am falling asleep earlier and waking up a little earlier, which is a huge deal for me. My GI tract seems to be trying to clear itself out. I am finding that concentration on a single task seems to be easier. I have had a few mild headaches, but nothing debilitating by any means (another welcome change!). I have been a bit more tired than usual, but I’ve also felt more productive during the day. I’ve been steadily losing about half a pound a day.

Some stirring required!
Seeing these changes has motivated me to put up with the cleaning that the Breville requires. Now that I have fallen into a rhythm with it, it feels like less of a nuisance. I suppose that part of the shift has been a shift in attitude for me; keeping my juicer clean shortly after drinking the juice has kept me on top of all of our dishes (I am notorious for letting dinner dishes sit in the sink until the following day- pots and pans included). I know now that when I fill up my metal mixing bowl, I’ve got enough produce to make two medium-sized glasses, or one very large glass, of juice. I know now that I prefer a somewhat random mix of produce, rather than any kind of “theme.” I know now that I enjoy a mix of fruits and vegetables, using my pineapple or berries with leafy greens. My fiance seems to mostly agree. I know that I really do not enjoy the kale that is available from our local organic market, in any form. I know that I must make it for work me, and not the other way around.
Here’s to a Happy (and Healthy) New Year!

Black Friday- Shop Local, Shop Small

I have never understood the premise of Black Friday. Ok, yes, it’s the first day of the Christmas “shopping season”. However- is it really necessary to start planning your sleep schedule two days early to get 40% off on some of the items on your shopping list? Is it necessary to ring in a formerly religious holiday (intended to remind people of the teachings of a prophet/religious savior) with crowds, trampling, grabbing, and general chaos?  I think the whole “Black Friday” shopping thing has gotten way out of control, with stores opening earlier and earlier every year. (Walmart started that crap- thanks for that, Walmart!)

 To me, Black Friday has always been a day of “found” time for family and friends. Curling up on the couch with a book. Going for a walk. Relaxing. Usually with people I don’t see very often because of distance. My brothers do go “shopping,” on Black Friday, but they usually go to watch the chaos that ensues when big sores open their doors, simply for the purpose of cheap entertainment.

Whether holiday shopping past Black Friday has really gotten “worse” over the years is something I can’t say for sure. I’m pretty certain that the gift giving element as compared to how US citizens celebrated Christmas say, 50 years ago, has changed a lot- mostly in gift volume and cost.  Whether that is good or bad for our nation is a toss-up in some respect.

The problem with Black Friday are the sales. And a desire by consumers to spend the least amount of money on whatever it is they’re purchasing. But here’s the thing: if big stores don’t have a huge sales volume at 1am on Black Friday, they won’t be open at 1am next year.

Here’s the business perspective on those sales:

1) Buy merchandise at wholesale (often far less than half of retail price, especially clothes and electronics).

2) Mark-up said merchandise. Consider bringing price up slightly earlier in November.

3) Discount merchandise at 40%, still make 20% markup off wholesale cost (or more!).

4) Drive consumers mad with promises for a one-day (or one-hour) doorbuster sale. Lose a few thousand dollars on sale items (loss-leaders), make up some or all of that loss with other items on sale at 10% or 20% off. (Remember, the merchant, like Kohl’s, Walmart, Target, etc., has a significant markup built into those prices, even with the “sale.”)


The important point about this is that despite those “huge discounts,” major retailers always end up making a nice fat year-end bonus from Black Friday sales. Money – profit – is very motivating. That is why major retailers continually hold these “doorbuster” sales each year; it’s not about getting you the best price for your new cell phone, it’s about making money. I think consumers should be outraged at this, but it only seems to drive more excitement. The only silver lining in this is that spending money does help drive the economy. It does help us recover from an economic recession.

There is something pretty simple that all consumers can do to bring this cycle back under control; just don’t shop in the middle of the night on Black Friday!! If there isn’t a big shopper turnout, the stores will change. The almighty dollar is the best vote we have as consumers. It is helping to change which foods are on our grocery shelves and how much we pay for it.

Shop small businesses. Shop local. Consider alternatives to big stores (small businesses generally have better customer service anyway!).

As our salute to giving thanks, we’ll be closed on Thanksgiving AND Black Friday this year so we can spend time with our loved ones. We are, however, still offering an online Black Friday sale, good through the end of November.

Watch our Facebook Page ( tomorrow (Wednesday)  for a coupon code good for 40% any order placed  Nov 22-30.

You WILL need the coupon code for the discount, so stay tuned!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warranties, warranties, warranties!

What is your warranty service?
We hear a lot of questions about our products regarding warranty coverage. The answer is YES, we do offer a warranty, and it is valid for two-years from your date of purchase. We are currently only offering a warranty service on our controller units, due to past abuse of the warranty coverage on arrays and cables.

For a while, we were receiving arrays, like the one to the left, on a regular basis.  These arrays usually (but not always) included a note from the customer saying that the array had only been used four times, that we should replace the array because the array didn’t last very long and was therefore clearly defective (or something similar). As someone who has used this machine for four years and knows our systems inside and out, I can tell you with 100% certainty that this array has been used far more than four times. The wear pattern on this array is totally normal.

However, the majority of our customers who send their products back to us do so because they are having a legitimate issue. Sometimes it turns out to be a case of user error. Sometimes the customer  has received a defective part. Sometimes, the machine has been used for many years, and it’s finally reached the end of its lifespan. We may find out about your problem during a phone call, and sometimes we may suggest that  you send the unit in for further troubleshooting. While we can solve many issues over the phone, sometimes it’s easier on everyone if we look at the unit in person.The bottom line is that we do offer a warranty service, and we’re happy to look at one of our units to determine whether it’s working properly or not.

How does it work?
If you’re having a problem with your unit, pack it up and send it back to us. PLEASE be sure to include a note with your name (and the name you used to order the machine, if different), your current shipping address, and a short description of the problem. Even if we’ve talked to you on the phone about your problem, please include a note. This helps our technicians more than it helps our office staff.

If you want us to contact you after we’ve evaluated the machine, please tell us that in your note and include your phone number or email address. This expedites the repair process, so that our techs can contact you directly. 

This process usually takes 2-3 weeks, so please be patient with us. Our techs (and sometimes office staff, like myself) have to work warranty claims in with the rest of our manufacturing schedule, and sometimes we have to put a warranty claim on hold for a few days before we can attend to it. We are frequently asked to expedite one particular warranty claim or another, but we usually cannot make any promises. If we had several large facilities with a few hundred employees, it would be easy to dedicate a warranty claim team, but at this point in time, we cannot dedicate any of our employees to such a specialized task. We are proud of the fact that our units do not break very often, and we don’t actually need a dedicated warranty team!

If you are having problems, you can send your machine to:

Casas Adobes Design
6336 N Oracle Rd Ste 326-272
Tucson, AZ 85704

Once we receive your machine, we unpack it and do a quick visual inspection to make sure that everything arrived intact. At that point, we begin a Warranty Report.


Customer identification
The first thing we do is fill in this box with your information. If you’ve enclosed a note, we clip it to the report. This report will stay with your machine from this point on all the way to delivery at your door. 


Visual Inspection
Our technician (myself, for this sample report), will mark the appropriate answers on this report during their visual inspection. On our sample warranty claim, we’ve received an entire Ionic Body Balancer unit. The technician notes any cosmetic damage to the controller unit, notes whether the on/off switch is operational, whether the front terminals are secure to the unit, whether the fuse is blown or not, and if the cord is in good shape. The technician will then typically give some kind of comment- this might be something they’ve noticed that our form doesn’t specifically ask, or if the controller unit appears to be much newer than the array, etc. In this case, the controller unit does look much newer than the array, which could suggest that the customer has replaced their controller unit at some point in the recent past. This may indicate that the customer has had previous problems, or it could mean nothing at all.

The technician then moves to the array. Are the outer bars in good shape? Are the plates in good shape? Does it look like the array has been cleaned correctly? In our sample report, the array is in good shape (at least 60% of its expected lifespan remaining) and looks like it’s been cleaned regularly.

Our next section is for your cable. Does the cable itself show signs of water exposure? What about the ends of the cable? Other damage? In our sample, the cable itself doesn’t show any signs of exposure to water. The ends of the cable, however, do show signs of exposure to water. Our technician notes that the blue connectors on one end have corrosion inside the terminals and that they are discolored.  Exposure to water is the #1 way to ruin your cables, and this is what we see most often in cables that are not operating properly.

Sometimes we get things like opened shakers of salt or GFI plugs with your system as well. This section, “Other components returned,” is our comment box to acknowledge that we received them. The technician will indicate whether he has taken photos or not. These photos stay on our hard drives indefinitely.


Technical Inspection
After a thorough visual inspection, your unit is transferred over to our inspection bench. Your technician will run the controller unit through a series of tests to determine if it is working properly or not. If you send us your array and cable, we do one test with our array and cable, and one test with your array and cable. In our sample report, the controller unit is working normally, and there are no differences in performance between our array/cable and the customer’s array/cable. The technician notes that the array and cable are operating normally. Our tech marks that no damage is found and that the customer is eligible for a complimentary repair.

At this point, I typically have a tech in my office to look up a customer service record. If we receive a unit like our sample unit where we find some kind of minor damage, even if it isn’t covered by our warranty service, we may make a complimentary repair if it is the first time the customer has asked for warranty coverage. In this case, the technician notes that this is the customer’s first warranty claim, and that he will complete a complimentary repair.


Technician Recommendation
After the visual and technical inspections, our tech will make a recommendation as to how any issues that came up during the inspection should be resolved. Sometimes a technician may make multiple recommendations. In this case, our tech recommends that a replacement should be made as well as a repair. Our techs will clarify in cases like this one under the “comments” field. In this case, our tech has made a repair on the customer’s cable, and has found additional corrosion inside the cable while making his cable repair, but was unable to fully remove the corrosion. Because of this damage, our tech recommends a new cable.This is a very good reason to recommend a new cable. If repairs have been made, the tech will take photos of the completed work. These photos will be filed with the “pre-repair” photos and will be kept indefinitely.

If we are making a warranty replacement, we note it here. If we’ve made a repair, we note it in the appropriate field. Sometimes a technician doesn’t need the extra space, and simply notes that he’s already noted the appropriate answer in another field, such as this sample.


Final Steps
Before we mail your unit back to you, we make a copy of the warranty report for your repair and file it away. We include the original with your unit for your records, and keep the copy for ourselves. 

Restoring Cast Iron

Two years ago, my father, Michael, bought me an old cast iron skillet for $2 at a garage sale. It was rusty and covered in old seasoning and hadn’t been cared for properly. In the interest of more pressing projects, I put it in a kitchen cabinet and all but forgot about it until recently.

I have a friend who has started cooking with cast iron and has been restoring a number of old cast iron skillets she’s picked up in various places around town- Craigslist, thrift stores, etc. With renewed enthusiasm, I thought, “If she can do it, so can I!”

Properly seasoned (oiled) cast iron cookware is free of toxic non-stick chemicals (like teflon, which is a known carcinogen when it starts to break down and ooze into food) and is very easy to use. Cast iron is built to last, so there’s no need to replace pans every few years. Many pans that were made in the early 20th century are still around and can still be used. I don’t think you can say that about the type of cookware that’s made today! You should avoid storing food in cast-iron, soaking in water/soap, or scrubbing really hard at the pan after it’s properly seasoned, as that will strip away the protective coating. If you have an electric stove like I do, avoid any heat higher than “medium.” You probably won’t need it anyway, since cast iron heats very evenly and effectively. Always make sure it’s totally dry before storing- you can put it on your stove on “low” heat for a few minutes to make sure it’s really dry.


I wish that I had taken pictures during this restoration process, but I can’t turn back the clock. My pan started out looking something like the one to the left; rusty, baked-on goo, and old seasoning that had cracked on the bottom, which gave an interesting spiderweb effect. This is an image I found online. You can view the original here.

I started the restoration process by scrubbing off as much visible rust as possible with steel wool and a little bit of water. I dried it thoroughly with a clean dish towel, then plopped it on the stove and started heating it up slowly. I added some canola oil, and as soon as the pan and oil were too hot to touch, poured in some salt, put on my rubber gloves and started scrubbing with a big wad of paper towels. The pan looked a lot better, but there was still a 1/2″ crust of old, uneven seasoning around the lip of the pan and some uneven spots on the actual cooking surface. I felt like that needed to come off to prevent food from sticking once I started cooking with it.

A week later and several more hours of internet research, I decided to take the risk of putting the pan through my oven’s self-cleaning cycle. I’d read that old cast iron (such as some of the first Griswold and Wagner pans) may not do well with modern self-cleaning ovens, since the ovens can range in temperature from 900-1200* F. Other websites said it was fine. Since there was still too much crap on my pan to tell what it was, it was a bit of a risk. Modern cast iron skillets, like Lodge Logic, are cast in a slightly different manner and aren’t as susceptible to 1200* temps, or so I’ve read.  In the end, I decided that if it did crack, it would be a learning experience for me and only $2 lost. So, Sunday afternoon, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Seven hours later (allowing two hours to cool), I opened my oven to find the pan covered in a fine rust-dust, but otherwise intact. I carefully removed the skillet from the oven, holding a cookie sheet underneath to catch anything that might fall off, and brushed off the dust with a cleaning rag. There was a new layer of rust on the inside of the pan, so I repeated the steel wool/warm water and oil/salt process. There was a little bit I just couldn’t get off, but decided I could probably seal it in by seasoning right away.

Everything else had come off beautifully, and now I could read the imprint on the bottom of the pan. As far as I can tell, it’s a modern Lodge Logic #8 (10.5″ skillet). It would have been pretty exciting to find the “Griswold” stamp on the bottom, but since Griswold went out of business in the 1950’s, it was unlikely. (As a side note, my mother’s maiden name is “Griswold” so that would have been worth a smile and a giggle if I had been that lucky!) Modern pans seem to stand up a little better to higher heat (like in self-cleaning ovens), but the surface is much rougher, so it takes some extra seasoning to get your cooking surface really, really smooth.


I preheated my oven up to 425* F and rubbed a thin layer of canola oil all over the pan (the smoking point of canola oil is 400*, so I went a bit hotter to encourage the oil to harden). The trick is to rub the oil in until the pan looks dry. You shouldn’t have a slick layer of oil on the pan or it may not harden properly. Think thin. I baked the pan for 30 minutes, then turned off the oven and went to bed. This morning, the pan was nice and black, which means that the oil hardened properly. I didn’t feel any sticky or uneven spots, which was great! I re-oiled, re-heated, and put it back in for a second round.

The finished pan is in the picture to the right. Please excuse the poor lighting and glare- updating the terrible lighting in my kitchen is my next project. I probably could do a 3rd or 4th round of seasoning, but I think that once I start cooking with it, that will take care of the seasoning for me.

I am looking forward to years of non-toxic, non-stick cooking with this pan. Now that I know how to restore cast iron cookware, I might try to find a few more pieces and slowly replace as much of my cookware as possible. As an added bonus, cast iron can help keep blood iron a tad higher- as you cook, microscopic bits of iron can rub off into your food (much like eating with silver flatware, this is where the phrase “blue blood” came from!).

Non-Toxic Housekeeping

I’ve been on a mission over the last few months to switch all of my conventional cleaning supplies over to non-toxic cleaning agents. Part of this decision came from the way I feel when using chemical cleaners (I can’t seem to tolerate bleach-based bathroom cleaners at all – dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, and headachy after about fifteen minutes of exposure), part of the decision came from a desire to be more ecologically conscious, and also in part because nobody seems to know how all these chemicals are truly affecting our bodies and minds.


Lemon oil has become my new best friend when it comes to cleaning my home. This exquisite oil has antimicrobial properties, can be found at virtually ANY health food store (including some grocery stores, such as Whole Foods), and can even be used on finished wood surfaces when diluted. I keep my 2 oz bottle in the kitchen windowsill above my sink within easy reach for getting rid of odors in the garbage disposal and mixing up spray bottles for multi-purpose cleaning. I have a plastic spray bottle underneath the sink with water and lemon oil in it. (I start with about 15 drops of lemon oil per 6 oz of water, but I do add more oil for heavier jobs. Be sure to shake the bottle before using, since the oil and water won’t want to mix on their own.) I use this for cleaning countertops and other hard surfaces as well as removing odors from carpet and upholstered furniture.

To clean my shower, I just twist the nozzle to a “stream” setting and blast away mildew and mold from the corners of the shower and along grout lines.  It is incredibly effective, actually a little gross to watch.  Not only does the lemon oil kill the mildew and mold but it seems to help loosen it from surfaces. Lemon oil is safe on finished wood, so I can also spray down my coffee table, end tables, and dining room table and wipe away dirt and dust with a rag.

I’ve also found that it’s great at loosening tough grease build-up in the kitchen. Put 4-5 drops on a wet rag and scrub away that greasy buildup on your range’s hood and vents, top of your range and any other greasy, sticky surface. The best part about this is that there’s no need to rinse away chemical cleaners afterwards- just wipe down with a clean rag! It does take some elbow grease, but I feel much better about this method than chemical cleaners.


I’ve also been using baking soda and vinegar in my sink and toilets. Sprinkle baking soda over the area to be cleaned and spritz with vinegar in a spray bottle or pour straight from the container in small amounts. The fizzing action will help loosen tough stuck-on buildup, and when it’s done fizzing, the gentle abrasive of baking soda helps to scrub away whatever’s left! I finish my toilets with lemon oil for the disinfecting power to make sure that all those nasty germs are gone before I flush everything away. To get rid of the tough hard water build-up, I scrub away with a pumice stone. Yes, the same pumice stone you use on your feet (well, maybe not the SAME one- I do have a dedicated toilet-pumice-stone for hard water deposits). The pumice is harder than the hard water build-up but softer than the toilet bowl, so it doesn’t leave any marks on the toilet surface.

The one store-bought cleaner I haven’t yet replaced is Windex for glass surfaces. I haven’t had the same results with ammonia, and the ammonia is hard on my body. For now, the Windex stays in my cleaning arsenal. I have found that a damp microfiber cloth works pretty well on mirrors without any Windex, so I try to save it for bigger jobs, such as dried doggie drool and nose prints on the back door.

Picture My last non-toxic cleaning product is Miracle II Soap. I use this for surfaces when the lemon oil and water mixture won’t cut it (such as scrubbing down my shower after I’ve used the lemon oil), and I also use this to spot clean carpet and upholstery. A small dish with warm water, a teaspoon of Miracle II Soap and a scrub brush gets rid of dog vomit, spills and helps prevent stains from setting if you can clean it right away. There is no odor from the soap and I’ve been told it’s safe enough to drink straight from the bottle without any ill effects. I haven’t felt any need to test this theory, but considering that my hands don’t turn red or blotchy after exposure to it (in fact, my hands actually feel softer after use), I’m sold. I use a clean, damp cloth to soak up any excess soap on fabric, and when everything is dry, there isn’t any sticky or crunchy feeling to the fabric. The Miracle Soap company makes a variety of products, but I’ve found this one to be sufficient for most cleaning needs.

My next switch will be our laundry and dish detergent. I had gone to a natural dish soap several weeks ago, then switched back to Palmolive for a comparison. There really isn’t any comparison. The Seventh Generation dish soap cleans better (cuts through grease more quickly and doesn’t require as much scrubbing for pots and pans) and is easier on hands. Ironic, isn’t it? I have a few things pinned on Pinterest that I’m looking forward to trying as an alternative to synthetic laundry detergent. Given that  Proctor and Gamble has admitted that their synthetic laundry detergent, Tide, is known to have carcinogens included in it, I feel it’s likely that other synthetic detergents are probably the same. I feel that if you have to say that, “the levels of 1,4 dioxane found in [its] products are well below currently accepted safety standards,” there IS reason for concern. It seems that nobody really knows what a “safe” level of exposure to a known carcinogen really is. What is a “safe” level of exposure to the antibiotics and hormones that are pumped into our livestock and fowl before it hits our supermarkets? How many cigarettes can you smoke before you develop cancer? Where is that line? The bottom line is that we just don’t know. There are too many variables in our lives anymore; we are constantly exposed to carcinogens and potential carcinogens. For my household, making some simple and cost-effective switches just makes sense.

Summer Produce


Arizona’s mild winters make it easy to forget that most of the country can’t enjoy the luxury of grilling food outdoors year-round like we do. Fresh local produce, however, is a little more difficult to find in Southern Arizona. Most of our local farmland is used for growing cotton, alfalfa, or milo, a grass feed for cows.  As a result, it’s much harder to eat locally here than in other parts of the country. Our farmer’s markets are considerably smaller here than in other parts of the country – I’ve been to one of Tucson’s three farmer’s markets and have been pretty disappointed. I am hoping that the other two will have more than one produce vendor.

I have, however, been spoiled by the Farmer’s Markets in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Harrisonburg’s Farmer’s Market never really disappoints. Their beautiful several-years-old outdoor facility is major credit to the market, and the indoor Dayton Farmer’s Market is pretty cool, too. I don’t know of anywhere in Southern Arizona where you can have a conversation with the farmer who made the cheese you are buying as you are buying it as I have in Dayton, VA. Of course, these markets are driven by the local Mennonite community- most of the vendors are Mennonite farmers, bakers, and butchers. The quality of their food is incredible. If you ever have the opportunity to buy food from a Mennonite farmer, do it; I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

So, how do you eat fresh and local when you don’t have access to a farm-to-market resource? Unfortunately, you’ll have to compromise a bit. Check the little sticker on your produce before you buy; it should give a country of origin. If you can, buy food that’s been grown in the US. If you can’t, buy food that’s been grown closer to home. In my house, this means Mexico in many cases. When you buy a product (of any kind), you’re not only paying for the product, you’re also paying for everything involved with the manufacture and delivery of the product. If your food is grown several miles form your home, the farmer doesn’t have to charge as much to make enough money to stay in business. If your food is grown thousands of miles away, the manufacturer and distributors have to charge slightly more because of the cost of fuel, labor, etc., involved in getting the food to you! Granted, in that case, there’s usually the element of volume that brings cost down a bit.

Why Go Organic?
My experience as a consumer has been that organic food tends to be more local than non-organic foods. I was hesitant to switch to organic produce last year, since I hadn’t noticed a significant difference in taste or quality, but since I have switched as completely as possible, I’ve noticed across the board that my organic produce tastes better, and I feel better. I’ve also noticed differences in texture- root veggies, such as potatoes, garlic, and carrots have a smoother texture. They are creamier. Organic potatoes seem to have a lot more starch in them. Stone fruits, such as peaches and avocados, also have smoother flesh and are easier to cut and slice. The skins may not be as pretty, but that’s a small price to pay for better fruits and vegetables! Organic greens, such as romaine and spinach, are darker in color, which is an indicator of a higher nutritional content. If you are unsure whether something is organic or not, check the PLU sticker. Organic produce has a 5-digit code (versus the normal 4-digits) that starts with a “9.”

Many cities are starting or have already started community gardens. If you don’t have any outdoor space to grow tomatoes, herbs, or smaller veggies like peppers, cucumbers, or berries, consider a community garden. I imagine that most folks who grow produce in a community garden probably share their crops, as space is limited for the amount of different plants you can grow.

If you live in an apartment or have very little outdoor space, consider growing your own herbs (it may take a few tries to get them going as herbs can be difficult to grow) or tomatoes. You can also check to find a farm or orchard within driving distance where you can find the freshest produce available- the produce you pick yourself! The fresher your produce is, the more nutrients it will have available. Produce that is picked before it’s ripe and then artificially ripened with plant hormones (sometimes produced artificially in a lab) do not give the same nutritional value.


Ripe or Not Ripe?
So, how do you determine if your produce is ripe or not? Fresh produce should be bright in color. Fresh produce should smell good when you pick it up. The skin of your fruits and veggies (greens aside) should be firm but not squishy or hard. Squishy produce is going bad. Firm produce can probably be ripened within a day or two and should be fine. Melons should sound hollow, as should large squash. Produce should never be slimy anywhere.

My pet peeve when buying summer produce is corn. Apparently, most people don’t know how to buy good, fresh corn without shucking it in the store. My grandmother taught me a few tricks when I was a little girl about buying fresh corn in the supermarket and I’m happy to share those; they’ve yet to disappoint me. Corn husks help keep fresh corn FRESH!! The first thing you want to looks for is tight, green husks around the ear of corn. The darker the green and the tighter the husk, the better. The silk hanging out of the top should as as close to white as possible. There should also be a minimal amount of white fuzz on the husk, but sometimes this is difficult to avoid. The ear of corn should feel firm, but not overly hard or squishy, the same as with other produce. That’s it!

Pulling the husks back exposes the corn and accelerates deterioration- not a good thing if you want fresh corn! When  you shuck the corn, wait until you are ready to cook it. It should take some effort to pull the husks off. You can husk corn more quickly by pulling from the top, half an ear at a time, not one individual husk at a time. This also pulls the majority of the silks off, too! Bonus! Don’t worry if there is a lot of silk on your ear of corn- this only means it will be sweeter. The silk helps deliver sugars to the corn kernels while it is growing- not a bad thing at all.

Now go out and enjoy those cool summer nights! Light up that BBQ grill and throw some of those fresh veggies on!

Summer Updates Part 2


Our Special Order Facility is back up and running after 9 days’ of closure! We pulled everything off every shelf, swept, mopped, steamed, and wiped away six months’ worth of desert dust in corners, nooks and crannies. We made a few changes to our outdoor irrigation to improve drainage during Monsoon season, which started in mid-June, to make sure our facility stays in great shape! We also had the entire building sprayed for bugs (the scorpions, beetles and other creepy crawlies like to come inside during Monsoon season) and a couple of spots on the roof patched to prevent leaks. (All of our Monsoon-related repairs and maintenance did great during our July 4th Monsoon!) Before we re-opened, we took a thorough inventory of everything to make sure our counts of materials, supplies, and completed arrays and systems was correct. We also took this opportunity to stagger vacation time for our S.O.F. employees so everyone had a nice break to take care of themselves and their families. Our employees work hard assembling all of our products by hand, and we enjoy rewarding that hard work! We were able to do this for our Ultra Pro Facility in April without any major disruptions to service and production. We have found a handful of orders that were not handled properly during this most recent closure, and we expect to have everything taken care of within the next 48 hours. If your order was affected, we will be contacting you shortly.

We released our July giveaway today, trying something a little different. This month we’re giving away an upgrade to our Practitioner Plus Package. For our current customers, this means an array with cables, 2 Turbo Plates, and 1-lb bag of sea salt. For all of our new customers, this can be applied to the purchase of a NEW system for free; purchase must be made within 30 days of the drawing. This is a $297 value at MSRP. To enter, just post to our Facebook wall ( and tell us what you like about our products or company. All entries must be received by 7/14 at 11:59pm PST. Our drawings always take place on the 15th of the month; if the 15th falls on a weekend, we announce the winner on the following Monday.

Fun in the Sun

Most of us will spend part of our summers outdoors, playing, working, or simply lounging about. Here are some tips to maximize your sun exposure while minimizing dangers associated with sun exposure.

1. Shoot for 10-15 minutes of sun exposure each day without any SPF, thick clothes, or a hat. Your body produces necessary Vitamin-D after exposure to natural sunlight, but it cannot do this if you are wearing sunscreen or other protective measures (such as a hat or long sleeves).

2. Be aware of the outside temperature and heat index. If you will be outside for more than 30 minutes, grab a bottle of water before you step outdoors. If you’re planning to spend the entire day outside (perhaps a baseball tournament or a day out on the water), shake some extra salt on your breakfast to help stave off dehydration; your body can’t absorb the water you’re drinking if you’re low on electrolytes. If you’re prone to dehydration or the outside temperature is predicted to be high during the day, bring some salt tablets (you can pick these up at any drugstore) or even just a shaker of sea salt if you don’t have time to stop. Bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need.

3. Bring the sunscreen and a hat! All sunscreens are not created equally. Look for broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Most quality sunscreens will cost you a bit more, but like wine, you’ll usually get what you pay for. Most sunscreens will need to be re-applied throughout the day and after exposure to water, so plan accordingly. Don’t wait to apply sunscreen until after you’ve noticed pink skin- damage is already done. Apply early and often; you should use about 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover your entire body. You can read more about natural, chemical-free sunscreens here. Wearing a hat will not only help to protect your face and ears from painful sunburn, but it will also help protect your eyes from potentially harmful UV rays. You only get one pair of eyes, so take good care of them! Remember, if you’re showing signs of sunburn, damage is already done. Get indoors before any further damage is done!


4. Keep your skin hydrated! If you’ll be in the direct sun, slather on good lotion the night before you’ll be outdoors as well as the morning of. Dry skin does not tan as well as healthy, hydrated skin because it is already damaged. Ladies, shave your legs the night before if you will be in salt water. These two tricks are old secrets for a good tan. If you’ve grown up near a beach, this is probably something you’re already doing out of habit. After sun exposure, be sure to apply that good lotion again all over your body.

5. Eat good quality foods, and don’t skimp on the fruits and veggies! Most fruits and veggies are in season now, so they’re readily available. Foods like tomatoes may help raise your body’s natural SPF, possibly from nutrients like lycopene. Antioxidants, typically found in the greatest concentrations in fruits and veggies, help reverse damage done to the body from free-radicals, which can result from UV exposure. Enjoy those fresh salads, fruits, and vegetable sides! Read more about it here.

Although we do need some sun exposure to produce Vitamin-D (which helps our bodies absorb and process other vitamins and minerals, like calcium), we need to be mindful of risks associated with UV rays. Use common sense, see your doctor regularly, and keep an eye on discoloration, new moles, or anything on your body that looks strange to help lower your risk for cancer.