Monday, December 2, 2013

Harmony Hill raising hope

As I write this little blog today, it is in the wee hours of the morning.  Before heading off to our day's job,  I wanted to tell you about a place called Harmony Hill.

Dallas and I met Harmony Hill a few years ago when we were asked to help out at a retreat held there.  The retreats we help with are called Ayrevedic retreats.  St Francis women's auxiliary has graciously and generously supported our retreats and provide scholarships to women and men who had or still have cancer.  Our retreats are about finding hope, a new direction, friendship and your smile again.

2-3 times a year we meet at a place called Harmony Hill in Union Washington.  Before the retreats I had never ever heard of the place.  Now I think of it as a home away from home.  Harmony Hill is like going to camp.  Set in the woods and overlooking the hood canal, Harmony hill opens its doors to families and individuals who have crossed the path of cancer.  Multiple times each year, Harmony Hill holds retreats for free for anyone who currently has or has had cancer.  These retreats are an oasis in the world of confusion, fear and pain.  Harmony hill is a gift to the northwest.

Harmony hill is like no other retreat or hotel or lodge I know of.  It has a dining cottage that is more like going to grandma's kitchen- where the food is warm, delicious and prepared with mindful attention.  The old buildings squeak of history and comfort. The new buildings offer warmth and gathering places for early morning chats in your pjs.   The staff are more like friends, greeting us with hugs and kindness.  There is really no way to describe this place, you really need to visit sometime.
You can go for any reason.  A writers retreat, family get together, wedding, business planning sessions- it really can be whatever you need.  but all the gatherings are brought there for one main reason:  to support our friends and family who have crossed the path of cancer.  Harmony Hill has a clear vision of hope and TLC for the healing of spirits.

    This year or next year go visit this special place. And if you already know of this amazing place then I ask you to help them this year.  An incredibly generous individual has offered to match any donations given to Harmony hill by 2 times!!!  If Harmony Hill can raise $100,000 this amazing individual will give $200,000 or more to Harmony Hill!!  

   I realize there are zillions of worthy places to donate and support.  I also know what Harmony Hill gives back to our families.  With so many finding themselves directly connected to or personally having cancer we need places like Harmony Hill.  Their hearts are open and their hugs are real, giving us hope and a way of finding our spirit in the midst of cancer.

  So please continue to support your worthy causes but if you feel the tug of your heart, consider supporting our own local Harmony Hill this December.   Next year, your few dollars will give someone a smile.

  I wish you all great health and joy this year.

click to visit the official site of Harmony Hill

Monday, October 7, 2013

The brilliance of simplicity

My tip for you today is so simple it seems almost funny to share and yet this tip is so helpful -
I must share!!

When using concentrated cleaners, first add your water to your container and then add the cleaner.  When you add your cleaner first and then add water, you will end up filling your container with bubbles and it won't be mixed properly.  Adding your cleaner second keeps you from being over bubbled!!

See I told you it was simple but I believe there is brilliance in simplicity!!  Leonardo da Vinci once said " Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication."

Here is to a simple and yet joyful life,

Monday, June 17, 2013

A reminder that less is usually more...

Less is more....

This week we got a new dishwasher, a long awaited improvement to our kitchen. Our poor little dishwasher was long past its better days.

The first few days of a new appliance are critical. Your motivation, need and even curiosity are all the all time high. If you don't read the instructions now, unless there is a problem, they will sit in every home's  instruction/warranty collection.

Our new dishwasher cleaning instructions said: 1-3 tablespoons of detergent per load. 1 is the normal and recommended. Up to 3 tablespoons and only for heavy duty cleaning.

Do you know how much 1 tablespoon of cleaner looks like in your soap dispenser? In cleaning, we figure if one glug is good 2 or 3 glugs must be better... right? Nope!

The 2-3 or more glugs means you are usually wasting both cleaner and money. Not only that but when you overuse your cleaners, there will usually be cleaner left behind and you will need to spend future time chasing your cleaners and trying to remove them the hard way.

This week, look at your manual for your dishwasher, read the instructions. Use the recommended amount- no more. Measure out what 1 tablespoon actually looks like in the soap dispenser.

Not only will your machine work at its best but you will probably be cutting your dishwasher detergent costs by 3-4 times!!

 Next time you start glugging, pause and read the directions of both cleaner and appliance. You will find a huge money savings, more effective cleaning and less waste in products manufactured, shipped and disposed of.

Happy cleaning,


Friday, May 24, 2013

It is the little things

I'm taking a pause from my inbox to say thank you!  A few minutes ago a new customer called and said they had heard about us from a neighborhood blog.  One of our clients posted a very nice recomendation of our company.  A kindness like this is so much more than business, it touches our hearts. 

It is hard to say what drives most businesses but I would guess if is like ours, our business is an extension of our family.  We give our time and energy to do our best and when someone takes a moment to notice the TLC we give, it feels so good.

This past week, I found myself at a hospital waiting and wishing for a good outcome.  Over the course of 3 days, my step mom and I were so touched by others just "doing their job".  We got coffee and there was a charming and joyful staff singing, smiling and bringing us some much needed joy.  There was a young man at the hospital we asked for directions. It seemed like if he thought it would help, he would have carried us to the other side of the hospital!!

You know sometimes you feel so supported and protected in life.  Often these moments come from complete strangers and new acquaintances.  It reminds me to remember how each contact, no matter how fleeting can have a lasting impact on a day and on a heart of someone else.

So for whomever wrote that thoughtful blog about our company- thank you!!!  And to the coffee staff and helpful hospital employee thank you, you have no idea!!!

  Wishing you unexpected blessings along your way,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A note left behind

   If you look closely at this antique desk, you will see a little note taped to the right hand side.  This note is actually a poem left behind by my great aunt Velma.

   Over the week of spring, my mom and I cleaned and cleared out her home.  She passed away in January at the age of 103.  My Aunt Velma was no ordinary lady.  This note gives a hint of her wisdom.  Knowing we would have to sort through her long kept things, she left us a note with sorting instructions. 

  On day three of cleaning out, we discovered this poem taped to this china/desk.  At the time my mom and I were sorting through and being overwhelmed by the historical, antiques, heart felt and precious my great aunt had left behind.

    Poem found March 28, 2013
  Long Kept Things
I would be glad of fingers
Not too ruthless
But impersonal
Would weed out little keepsakes
I have kept for years
Scrapbook poems
Letters, useless gifts
Once dear with sentiment
Greeting cards
And other bits of old remembering

I have no need of them
They clutter up my desk
But one I start
To clear them out
And pause to look at them
My hands are stayed
Nor can I bring myself
To throw one singe thing away!

I would be glad of fingers
Tender but impersonal
Would throw my little
Long Kept Things
Of all the wonderful things my Aunt Velma left behind, it is her wisdom and my memories that I hold the dearest. My favorite line of this poem is "my hands are stayed" isn't that wonderful??

 As always wishing you a health, happy and wise home,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

4 steps to the healthy maintenance of a shower

Good Morning,

  My goal today is to give you 4 easy tips to maintain your shower and minimize your exposure to unnecessary chemicals.  Healthy shower care is really the same as eating your broccoli, going to bed early and drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day.  It may be a bit boring but when done it can be a huge boost to the value, health and care of your home and family.

  Lets start first with the soap scummy and hard water facts.... In our showers, we splash about hair care and body care products.  These "left overs" land on our shower walls and floors.  They then bind with the minerals in our water, creating what we have all come to know as SOAP SCUM!  To add to this, when moisture is available and there is a food source such as hair, skin and soap scum, then we will have MOLD!   And finally, if we let our water dry on our shower walls and glass doors we will have what is known as HARD WATER DEPOSITS! 

Because of these three common soils in a shower, a whole industry has been created to make bold cleaners able to remove Soap Scum, Mold and Hard Water Deposits with a single squirt.

 Those shower cleaners to tend to be very aggressive, reactive- when mixed with other products, acidic or high alkaline, abrasive and are often toxic!! They have to be, as soap scum, mold and hard water deposits are tough customers. But most of the materials that make up our showers:  Grout, natural stone, fiberglass, acrylic ...  tend to be pH sensitive and scratch sensitive!   Here is the break down... the cleaners we use in showers are often detrimental our health and the health of the materials in our showers.  For example: Acids break down grouts and stone; abrasives scratch surfaces; high alkaline damage sealers.
 More important than our shower materials are the people in the shower????  The air flow in showers tends to be very low and as you are cleaning, you are nicely tucked away behind glass doors and shower curtains.  Which means the aggressive, reactive and sometimes toxic products are filling your lungs and landing on you and they have no place to go but linger!

  Have I painted a scary enough picture?  It wasn't hard, it is the life of a shower!  But wait don't fret, there is good news behind all these worries.  An Ounce of Prevention in a shower does wonders!!! 

A number of years ago, we were visiting one of our customers.  She had a beautiful dark brown, polished marble shower.  It was impeccable!!! And it was over 5 years old!!  When we asked what she did to maintain she looked puzzled and said... "well I rinse and dry after every use"  So simple, but this little act of rinsing and drying a shower does more to maintain it than all the products sold combined!!!!!   That day was one of those Ah Ha moments of obvious clarity.  Since then we have added to her simple but incredibly effective system and you will find our 4 tips listed below:

4 Incredibly effective tips to a healthy and long lasting shower:

  1.  Ventilate:  When starting shower/bath turn on exhaust fans and run for 45 minutes to remove moisture from  bathroom.  This steps removes moisture and poor air.  (Make sure your exhaust vents are actually working.  Test by holding a piece of toilet/tissue paper up to vent.  It should be drawn up to screen.

  2.   Rinse:    After every use, rinse down the walls. Get a hand held shower head and rinse off your soap. Squeegeeing alone isn't enough. When you squeegee, the soap is just redistributed to the lower area and into any low spots-like grout joints.  This will give mold food and create a build up of soap scum.
 3.   Dry:  If you have already rinsed the walls then go ahead and squeegee or dry with a towel or shamee.  This extra step further removes soils and keeps the moisture/mold and hard water deposits at bay.
 4.  Clean with neutral - mild products:  The beauty of the preventions steps of vventilating, rinsing and drying is you will not have much to do on cleaning day.  When you do clean, go ahead and turn on your exhaust fans again, then use a neutral cleaner to do your cleaning.  Diluted dish washing liquid works pretty great.  We also sell a fantastic neutral and highly concentrated stone and tile cleaner.  Finding these neutral cleaners takes a bit more work because our cleaning industry does not normally tell us the pH of our cleaning products.  When in doubt please contact us and we will give tips on finding good neutral products.
The little effort will be worth it in creating a healthy shower and home.

The biggest concern I come across is convincing the whole family to start rinsing and drying their showers.  In our house the rule of thumb is last one to take a shower does the rinsing and drying.  Still adding preventative care to your home is a change.  And I understand how tough changing family habits can be but give it a try for a while and see if this new habit isn't worth a lot to minimize your families chemical exposure and minimize those repair /replacement costs to your family budget.

As always, wishing you all a healthy and happy home,
 Denise Frakes
Residue Free and Healthy Home Care Specialist

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Huge Thank You and Promised info!

Hi All,
    For those who attended my, Residue Free- Beyond Green, talk at Marlene's, thank you for your amazing reception and interest in creating healthy homes.  As a huge bonus, my cold felt better after visiting with you last night.  I think it was from all the TLC you passed my way-THANK YOU!  

   Most likely with a clearer brain, my use of the microphone stand would have been a bit smoother!  Of course, the beauty in living is there is no such thing as perfection.  If we wait for this illusive thing called perfection we will be waiting a very long time and so much good comedy would have been lost along the way!

   As promised, here are some connections and resources for you.  They include links to Emmanuel from King County Hazardous waste, where to by Alpaca Ball and to Jeanette who is the city of Federal Way Recycling and Solid Waste Project Manager.  As an added bonus, I gave you the links to Women's Voices of the Earth- a great resource for making your own products and the link to our very own Marlene's.

  If you want further info, have any questions or want to be contacted for upcoming talks I'm giving, please call or e-mail me anytime.  Thanks again for attending, it was indeed an honor and pleasure  visiting with you all!!
  As always, wishing you a healthy and happy home.
 Healthy Home Specialist
 Residue Free Living
 Master EFT practitioner 

Emmanuel from King County Hazardous Waste.  As you could probably tell, Emmanuel is passionate and quite knowledgeable in his work, plus his is an absolute pleasure to work with.  Please check out the amazing resources King County has to offer its residents.  How fortunate are we that we have a place to ask questions, safely and at no charge dispose of unused products ( cleaners, chemicals etc) and have awesome people to work with!!

Alpaca Balls- Dryer Balls.  Jeannette from Federal Ways Recycling program told us about a great place to find this balls at  To find, in the search button type in: Alpaca balls.  As you will recall, alpaca dryer balls are felted wool to be used in your dryer in replacement of dryer sheets and fabric softener.  This is a huge reduction in chemical exposure plus when these balls finally wear out in 2-5 years, you can compost them as they are made of all natural fibers!!  Love it!!  There are two alpaca ball sites I recommend.  For keeping your alpaca ball shopping local, visit the Twilight Tango Alpacas which is located in Enumclaw Washington.  For finding your alpacas from a place near and dear to my heart, contact Pacages Farm Store - Alpaca Star Ranch in Amhurst Colorado. They raise their alpacas on the same farm my great grandfather raised his kids including my grandpa Biddie and Aunt Velma.
Jeannette City of Federal Way Recycling.  I feel so lucky to have friends like Jeannette.  Jeannette is incredible in her wisdom and resources.  She is the city's Solid Waste and Recycling Project manager.  If you live in the City of Federal Way you can count yourself lucky to have Jeannette on your team.  Jeannette has helped increase our city's recycling availability and knowledge.  She has opened doors for recycling in many of our multi-family housing as well as organizing local recycling events for us Federal Way-ers.  For all things recycling Jeannette is my go to expert.  She is a joy to work with and makes recycling very cool!   To get hooked up on her activities and contact Jeannette go to

Women's Voices for the Earth.  This site and organization are dedicated to keeping our families safe and healthy.  When you have a minute or two please visit is good mine of information.  The Women's Voices of the Earth is loaded with tips, recipes and resources for minimizing your chemical exposure and creating healthy homes and lives.  I love working with people and organizations that find joy in teaching and sharing, this is such an organization.  It is run by professionals with hearts of gold!!

Marlene's Market.  I love Marlene's not only for their incredible selection and healthy foods but maybe more importantly for the contribution they make to our communities health and happiness.  Each month Marlene's brings in guest speakers to help teach and share valuable wisdom into living and being healthy.  The bulk of these classes are at no charge or at a nominal fee.  Next month, a class that is calling my name is on Feb 9th, Raw gluten free chocolate deserts- yum!!  I'm already booked on that day or I would be calling to schedule today.  Please go to Marlene's home site for articles, specials and class schedules.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Best home care tip of 2013

With a title like "Best home care tip of 2013" you are probably expecting something spectacular!  This tip is not expensive, hard to do or even complicated.   Why I just learned about it at Thanksgiving boggles my mind but it is too good not to share. 

I discovered this miracle at my sister's house. She was boiling potatoes.  The pot was full to the brim with potatoes and water- but it wasn't boiling over causing the normal holiday mess.  No, it was just happily and rapidly boiling away.  What was her trick?  This is crazy but apparently it works like a charm.... drum roll please.. a wooden spoon placed over the top of the kettle!!!!  Seriously!!???!!!  Yup!!!

As far as we could figure the spoon breaks the surface tension and keeps the contents from going over board! I tried this new find and it works beautifully!!!  Crazy good!!

Wishing you all a new year filled with fun discoveries, joyful prosperity and daily blessings.
Denise Frakes