Natural cleaners using Mandarin peels


In these handmade recipes, you can use any citrus fruit peelings. Oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruit, etc….


I wanted to stop using one of my favorite and not so natural cleaners. COMET

  I researched many different ways this could be replaced and came to one of my favorite blogs, “The Nerdy Farm wife”. Here is her link to the recipe.

I love how she uses dried herbs as a scrub. I really wanted to use up our Mandarin peels and give it a try. Plus, how nice is it to have the clean, fresh smell of any citrus while you clean?

 I decided to dry only half the peels we saved and use the other half for another homemade citrus cleaner.

Once the peels were fully dried, I ground them up into a fine powder with the food grinder.



1 cup of Baking Soda

2 Tablespoons of dried finely Ground up Mandarin peels

10-15 drops of essential oil “Sweet Orange”

Mix everything well and place it into a glass jar that can be tightly sealed to retain the scent.

This natural scouring scrub is used for sinks, tubs, toilets, showers.

Feel free to use other dried peels and essential oils.



How to Make a Citrus and Vinegar Household Cleaner

With the undried half of Mandarin peels I made this cleaner to remove grime and residue.

Once you have enough peelings, fill any glass jar, then add white vinegar to cover all the peelings. Leave enough space to screw on the jar lid. Place your jar in a dry, cool area for 7 to 10 days.  This will allow the mixture to macerate (blend). This will make your cleaner smell wonderful at the same time creating the cleaner. This is a true cleaning agent and can be used throughout your home.  Be careful on wood and other porous surfaces as it can discolor it. Once your mix is ready, remove the peels and compost them. I have not yet tried this mix, it’s not quite ready yet. I can’t wait to add this to my spray bottle and get SPRING cleaning.

I can’t believe I haven’t made these sooner. I’m hooked and now I want to send my husband out to get me lemons.


Natural “All purpose” cleaning spray


I have never thought of adding my natural cleaner into a spray bottle before. I always used my natural laundry soap mix, ( 2 Tablespoons) with hot water and mixed this into my cleaning bucket with a rag. I love this method but wanted something I could grab and spray.

The spray bottle is a great tool to have around the home for quick clean-ups

I decided to try a recipe I found on the web.

Here is what I have tried.

1/2 cup of white vinegar

2 tablespoons of borax

1/4 cup of Castile soap  Dr Bronner’s Tea Tree Liquid Soap 

“They have many different scents, so pick your favorite”.

2 teaspoons of Lemongrass essential oil.

I mixed all these together, then added 3 cups of water.

I filled a spray bottle with my mix and stored the rest in a glass jar.

Benefits for cleaning your home with these ingredients:

CASTILE Soap~Acts as a surfactant and helps lift away dirt and cut through grease. An all-natural soap that’s surprisingly strong. A few drops go a long way.

Tea Tree oil~A natural oil that cleanses and disinfects.

Lemongrass Oil~ Has some antiseptic and deodorizing properties, which are helpful in homemade cleaners.

Vinegar~Effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of acidity.


I love this mix. I have been using this for a few days now .The smell makes me happy and adds enjoyment to cleaning.

Eco Christmas


I know what your thinking….” Christmas already?????? ” It’s not even Halloween yet!

But when your someone who makes all the gifts you do need to start early.

Over the weekend our son Liam made us a beautiful, natural Christmas tree garland. He took some thick Hemp rope and natural stained wooden balls to make this. I love the natural colors mixed with the raw look of hemp rope. Each year for the last 12 years, Henry and I have made Christmas gifts for everyone. Each year is different from the previous, so it’s time we get some ideas together and get busy. This Christmas, I think I will make some Hemp/cotton comfy pants for everyone. I have lots of extra fabric and they are quick and easy for me to make.

All our gifts are made with natural and organic in mind. From herb boxes, clothing, soaps and recycled projects. I feel that a gift made by us is much more heart felt. We stay clear of the craziness in stores, the craziness of other people who forgot the true meaning of gift giving and kindness.  I have enjoyed each year making my gifts and will do so as the years go by.

We (Really me) have made pants a few years ago for everyone however, I’m thinking those all long gone or don’t fit some of them. Along with our handmade soap, this should be a wonderful gift to give.

What do you make for Christmas gifts?

Will you make something new this year?

Do you keep Eco friendly in mind with your gifts?

Handmade Soap with Local Organic Beer


We have been busy making a few batches of Beer soap for the up and coming markets.  Just down the road from us is the first Cape Breton Organic Brewing company. We decided to make some soap with their beer and they’ve turned out great. Big Spruce Brewing produce organic beers and also grow their own organic hops.

Some distinguishing  characteristics of beer soap are that it lathers well and is moisturizing for the skin. As a herb hops has several unique qualities, the two most prominent are its anti-bacterial preserving properties, which are important for making beer, and the other is its calming and slight sedative affects. These properties are only very slightly present in the soap due to the saponification process.

The last batch we are making with beer is our Favorite Shaven Soap. All 3 Beer soaps will be the perfect gift to give your Man for Christmas this year.

Not to worry, bathing in Beer soap will not leave you smelling like you spent the day at the Pub.


We love that Big Spruce Beer comes in these Amber glass jugs.


The soap shown above has Veg. Oil, Coconut Oil, Hemp Oil, Cocoa Butter and is scented with Bergamot essential oil.


The soap shown above has Veg. Oil, Coconut Oil, Hemp Oil, Cocoa Butter and is scented with Sweet Orange and Clary-sage essential oils. Ground walnut husk are added for a bit of grit.

Let’s make a difference

When making our soaps as well as all our other products we carefully source the ingredients and materials that go into making each item. The main factor that influences our choice is the environmental impact any ingredient may inherit through production or processing. With our soap we make sure not to use any Palm Oils or derivatives from this entire industry. The production of palm oil has become one of the worst scenarios for environmental degradation on our planet. Not only annihilating animal and plant species but destroying complete ecosystems. Natural habitat for indigenous tree species (even within so called protected areas) has been totally destroyed bringing whole species to extinction. Another concern is the continued destruction of what is left of the critically endangered Orangutangs and Sumatran Tigers natural habitat. The destruction is so vast it is difficult to even fathom it’s true extent.


Palm oil is found in many products including processed foods, cosmetics, cleaners, soaps and shampoos and is now used extensively as a bio-fuel. In many instances companies hide the use of palm oil by labeling it as a vegetable oil. There are better suited and more local alternatives for us to use in place of Palm Oil. We strongly support using Canadian produced Hemp Oil and Canola Oil. Besides becoming aware of the negative impacts that products carry we must also take action by only purchasing and using products which help create and sustain a viable natural environment and future.

Our growing forest


We love to see our forest grow with the addition of new trees every week.

Here is the link so you can all view.

We started this forest project after seeing so much of the forest around us being cut down.   We once enjoyed our hikes through these lush forests with our children, the beauty of the moss, lady slippers, nests and so much more to explore. Much of this is now gone., but we can do our part and give back and so can you. The trees that are being planted in this new forest will never be cut down and will contribute to a renewed Boreal Forest environment.

A big thank you for all the contributions so far.

Another reason for this initiative is to help offset the shipping aspect of our products which has always been of concern to us. It was so disheartening to send out single item parcels on a daily basis knowing full well that the same customer would be ordering more single items from me later on or from other sources elsewhere in North America. Think about the impact this shipping creates overall. When I send out one item through the mail, I am using envelopes, cello packages, tape, shipping receipts and lets not forget the gas required for this one item in it’s delivery. We feel this is far too much embodied energy required for just one item, what a waste!

Sales at Highland Wood and Turn A New Leaf Designs will contribute a tree to this forest.

To make a positive change that will directly impact our concerns with shipping I am in the process of phasing out single item shipments. The Turn A New Leaf Designs shop will now have listings of larger quantity diapering items and accessories. This does not include the already large items like bedding. To further contribute and enhance our natural environment and as an incentive for our clients we instituted this “Plant a Tree” concept.

We are making this change within our business to better ourselves, our lifestyle, you as our customer and most importantly the world we all share.

So this is “Forest Stewardship”?


Once again the Once-ler has been up here on the Mountain wreaking havoc amongst the trees. The destruction has been somewhat more devastating and thorough this time, totally displacing and destroying a small Watershed and altering several other natural drainage’s.  Adding insult to injury MacMillan Mountain Road has also sustained a major pummeling with the heavy equipment and trucks. It’s quite the obstacle course trying to avoid both potholes and large debris everywhere on the road. It definitely demonstrates that our public roads are a” Free for All” for these contractors with their “Hit and Run” method of forestry. The reprehensible fact is that the wood from this – and other clear-cuts of this nature- is destined for processing facilities that have FSC Certification.


The picture above demonstrates the complete disruption and upheaval that is created by the heavy equipment tearing through the forest.  It will take many years before this tract of land is able to begin regenerating and once again sustain anything resembling a viable forest environment. The 4 foot wide ruts left by the tree skidder/forwarder have created deep murky, festering pools – up to four feet deep – in place of the natural seeps and runoffs that once contributed to the lower Rice Brook watershed. The debris on this lot is piled three, four and five feet deep in many places. How many years will this require to regenerate?  This demonstrates one of the reasons why I am not a proponent for FSC certification and believe it to be a misleading farce at “Green-Washing” the public.

Santa is sure to find some good branches to put in this contractors stocking from this lot, along with the coal I hope he will get.

For a more thorough view of this woodlot you can preview a slideshow at this link


Sad Day on The Mountain

Today began as all other previous days this summer, with the cheerfully chirping of birds in the woods and meadows, bees buzzing among the flowers and a gentle breeze rustling the leaves in the forest.  The tranquility was abruptly interrupted as the roar of a diesel engine came to life at the entrance of our driveway. The birds stopped chirping and the breeze was filled with the foul smell of the diesel engines exhaust.  A sickening cracking & snapping of shattering branches and trees began reverberated across the mountain as the forest was being attacked with the awful whine of a Tree Harvester (aka … Tree Killer). A 25 Acre parcel of land at the lower end of our driveway was sold in May and the owners have decided to rape it for a small profit. ( There is no polite way to say what is being done to the forest there)

Our driveway will never be the same again and the pleasant strolls we’ve enjoyed along this stretch of road will now be marred by views of devastation. The tracks of this monster are grinding the vegetation into a disgusting pulp and covering it with a thick mass of crushed and shattered branches and debris. Where the machine is sitting in this photo was one of the largest plots of  Pink and White Lady Slippers on the Mountain. ( Any wonder why this plant is considered rare??)  The kids and I have walked through these woods many times, enjoying all the wild things which make their home here, including a family of Spruce Grouse and a Nesting Red Tail Hawk. The other day while driving up we saw a coyote dashing across the road into the woods after spending the day feasting on strawberries in our field.  These animals and others will definitely be displaced along with all the song birds nesting in this forest.

A final view of our driveway before it will be forever changed. 25 Acres of destruction will ensue, you can not imagine the heaviness in our hearts. It is truly a Sad Day on the Mountain.

Natural Wooden Bowl and spoon


Wooden baby bowl with spoon

Wooden Baby Bowl and Spoon, in Maple - With Natural Beeswax Finish
Handcrafted inside their home workshop in Southern Ontario.

This bowl and spoon set is made of maple wood. Perfect for feeding Baby yourself, or for letting Baby have a try at eating with a spoon. Finished with natural beeswax polish (made from organic coconut oil and local beeswax), there is no need to worry about chemicals leaching into the food as with plastics.

The bowl is approximately 4.5 inches across, and 1.75 inches tall. The spoon is approximately 5 inches long. Since each bowl is hand turned on the lathe, and each spoon is carved by hand, the appearance of your set may differ just slightly from the one pictured.

We feed our children “REAL” food, so we wanting nothing but the best to put our babies food into. Canadian made too. This set came lovely packaged and I am so excited to support such a wonderful product.

Organic Hemp/Cotton One Size Fitted Diaper

These fitted diapers are now ready to ship from my Esty shop.


Colored Snaps and matching thread.

This is our One size fitted “Certified” organic diaper.

Made with a layer of hemp terry and an inside layer of hemp fleece.
All our hemp is CERTIFIED organic.
Unbleached cotton elastic are sewn at the legs and back for a soft but snug fit.
2 layers of hemp terry is sewn inside this diaper.
This diaper comes with a snap in 3 layer doubler. This doubler is made with 2 layers hemp fleece and a hidden layer of hemp terry.

The snap in doubler is used when the diaper is at it’s highest rise.
When you fold this diaper front down for a smaller rise, used for newborns, you do not need the snap in doubler. This fitted diaper comes with an extra 2 layer liner. This liner is all you will need for the smallest setting. Providing a total of 6 hemp layers.

Once you are ready to use the snap in doubler and 2 layer liner, you will have a total of 9 hemp layers. This makes an extremely absorbent night time diaper for heavy wetters.

The diaper features high quality snaps with fold over wings.

All the materials that go into my products are carefully sourced for content, quality and ethics.
I design, cut and sew these diapers in my home studio using industrial machinery.

Why choose hemp as a cloth diaper:

Our Hemp requires no chemicals, pesticides or irrigation to grow. The plant does not deplete soils, instead it adds beneficial nitrogen and micro-nutrients. Inherent qualities of hemp fabric are it’s natural anti-microbial characteristics being very resistant to bacteria, mold, mildew and fungus. This quality helps to prevent and even eliminate diaper rashes on babies. Stress tests on hemp fiber have revealed that it is eight times stronger (tensile) and four times more durable than cotton. The unique structure of hemp fibers in fabric make it very absorbent yet breathable. All these natural and unique features inherent to hemp make for an ideal material for cloth diapers.

Baby pants that fit over cloth diapers


I have been using the Apple Dumpling pattern for recycled wool diaper cover/ longies.  Now that spring is in the air, and the weather is turning, I have made some recycled cotton pants for Silas.

Why do I love this pattern?

The extra BUM center adds ample room for even the bulkiest diapers.

Comfy for baby. Silas is moving more each day so he’s not constricted with those tight pants that never fit nice over cloth diapers. “All you cloth diapering moms know how frustrating this is”.

A great way to recycle unused cotton shirts that you never wear or have become too small.

It’s endless how many different custom looks you can make with old shirts.

Fun, easy to use pattern.

Want to make some too?