Beat the Heat Naturally with These Herbs

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As the days of summer begin a rapid count down, I find myself in the age old dilemma of not wanting to waste my sunny days indoors but not wanting to face the heat either! Here are a few tried and true techniques that cool me down every time.


1. Mint tea.

I'm addicted to Sweet Leaf's Mint & Honey tea, but at the speed I drink these babies I'll be in the poor house soon. (They cost about $2 a pop.) To make your own just brew your a pot of green tea (make it extra strong since you'll be watering it down with cold water and ice) and add a handful of fresh mint leaves (organically grown of course). Let it steep for about 5 minutes, then add a few tablespoons of honey to taste. It's best to add the honey while the tea is hot so it melts and blends well. Pour the hot tea over a pitcher full of ice. Top it up with cold water and stir. Fish out the boiled mint leaves and throw in some fresh ones. Pour over a glass of ice and you're good to go! Take it along with you in a stainless steel canteen for instant refreshment in the sun.


2. Tea Tree Oil and Eucalyptus

Both of these essential oils give a cooling sensation when applied to the skin. Dab some essential oil on your pulse points, or give yourself a rub down with some tea tree or eucalyptus scrub before going out into the heat.


3. Facial Mist

I have a little bottle of Caudalie's Beauty Elixir that I carry with me in my purse. When I get overheated and I can feel my face getting red I give myself a spritz and am instantly soothed. It contains an array of natural elements including mint, rosemary and rose extracts. If you don't want to buy it you can make some soothing facial mist yourself by putting some sprigs of fresh lavender, rosemary and mint into a spray bottle and covering them with cool water. Add a few drops of lavender oil and rose extract for an extra boost.


*Pictures courtesy of Caudalie and myrecipes.com.


CO2 is Good for the Environment Says Dr. David Bellamy

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Renowned scientist, environmentalist and conservationist Dr. David Bellamy appeared on the Late Late Show in Ireland at the beginning of this year challenging global warming. He discusses his theory (and that of 34,000 "damn good scientists" around the world) that global warming is a natural cycle due to sun spots not CO2.



"If you look at the sun spots...we're headed for 30 damn cold
years."



Dr. Bellamy believes that though it started with noble intentions, global warming has turned into a scam and is now nothing short of a revenue machine for governments. He believes it takes time and money away from the environmental issues that really matter.
















Does Your Friend Need a Green Makeover?

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Enter to win an under the sink makeover for a friend and you could both win an eco-spa getaway to New York City! This fabulous green giveaway/ makeover is sponsored by Seventh Generation. I entered a friend (I won't say who...) this morning. I'm crossing my fingers and toes. I could certainly use an eco-spa getaway and she could certainly use some greener, non-toxic cleaners!

Nominate a friend for a home detox and soon you could both be detoxing your
bodies in NYC!


To enter for your chance to win just visit the makeover page on Seventh Generation's website and fill out the short form.

Good luck!

Giant Shark Washed Up on Long Island Beach

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* Image Courtesy of National Geographic




This 20-ft, 1 ton Basking Shark was found washed up on a Long Island Beach. The cause of death is not yet known but suspected to be illness. Basking Sharks, the second largest fish next to the Whale Shark, are common in the waters off of New York but not thought to be a threat to humans as they feed mostly on plankton. They are considered to be "vulnerable to extinction" by The International Union for Conservation of Nature. Scientists will be examinig the body to determine cause of death and possibly gain other useful information about this mysterious mamoth before burrying it in the nearby sand dunes.



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Organic Valley Coupons

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I have become a coupon clipping fanatic. These days, I'm not alone. More and more people are sorting through RedPlum every week, clipping and organizing. Don't believe me? Just pay attention at the check out lines in the grocery stores. We're all purchasing with caution these days, going the extra mile to stretch the value of our dollars. However, as someone who does not consume many snack packs, sugary cereals, or frozen foods it is getting a tad frustrating. Coupons for organic, all natural and healthy products are few and far between. If you are experiencing the same frustration this will give you a lift. Organic Valley has loads of coupons available right now online for printing! Coupons are for basic organic staples such as milk and eggs- those things you use every day that really add up! Just follow this link to savings.


J.R. Watkins Natural Liquid Dish Soap Review

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I hate doing the dishes. I know that does not make me unique. The monotony of unloading, scraping, rinsing, loading... it can be excruciating. However, sometimes I enjoy hand washing dishes. If I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed (and don't want to empty the clean dishes from the washer) I'll pile the dirty dishes into the sink, turn on the tap, squirt in some soap and get lost in old fashioned bubble bliss. I stare out my window and get lost in my thoughts while I scrub a bristled brush over the plates and pots. To me the act is cathartic. And there is something so satisfying in seeing the finished product, tidy rows of clean dishes gleaming up from the dish rack on top of a newly scrubbed counter. I've gone from a stressed out, wired mess (think Joan Rivers meets Cruella de Vil) to Holly Homemaker- and yes, I even wear an apron.

I just tried a new dish soap that makes hand washing even more enjoyable. I've been a fan of J.R. Watkins natural body lotion (the lemon cream is delectable) for a couple of years now, so when I saw their line of Natural Home Care at Target I instantly grabbed the dish soap. For less than $6.00 I took home a 24 FL. OZ. bottle in the Aloe & Green Tea scent. I couldn't wait for a moment alone to slip into my apron and rubber gloves.

The cute, vintage apothecary packaging is a tribute to this company's extensive history. Started in 1868, J.R. Watkins offered natural products from the start. In 1888 they moved their operation to Minnesota where they still remain today as one of the state's largest employers.

I couldn't wait to smell the soap. All of J.R. Watkins body products always smell heavenly. I expected their home products to be no different and I was not disappointed. The Aloe & Green Tea is a subtle, natural and clean scent with a hint of sweetness. The aroma filled the air as the bubbles in my sink mounted. First up was a greasy pan I had fried some fish in. Messy and stinky- the perfect test for my new soap. The soap cut through the grease brilliantly and after a few scrubs the caked on fish and grease were released and rinsed away. The pan smelled fresh- not at all fishy! The soap also cleaned the red wine from my glasses without leaving behind a residue, and freed a spoon from a glob of half-dried peanut butter. The soap passed every test I threw it's way. However, when I turned to the sponge I was a bit disappointed. After squeezing soap directly onto my sponge, I found it very hard to completely rinse it off. The sponge retained the soap after many rinses, which was frustrating when it came time to wipe down my counter tops. It did eventually wash off, and now I know to just dip the sponge into the soapy water next time instead of applying the soap directly.

The ingredients are almost all natural (about 97%) and plant-based. There is no animal testing or animal ingredients. The soap is also free of Ammonia, Benzene, Boron, Butyl Cellosolve, Chlorine, Dye, Ether, Formaldehyde, Isopropanol, Kerosene, Mineral Spirits, Toxins, Perfumes, Petrochemicals, Phosphates, Phosphoric Acid, Propylene, SLS, and Sulfuric Acid! You would be amazed how many of those chemicals are found in many of the most popular dish soaps on your grocery store shelves!

With a solid, reputable history, effective natural ingredients, and recyclable packaging, I give this soap an A. If you choose to give it a try you won't be disappointed.


Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps Sues Kiss My Face and Other "Organic" Personal Care Brands

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Dr. Bronner's products first caught my attention a year ago when I was searching for an all natural and organic body wash at Target. The packaging was unique, the bottle was huge and the price was cheap. Too good to be true? I thought so. So I began reading the label and comparing it to other labels brands I knew and trusted. From what I could tell, Dr. Bronner's was clearly the most pure, organic and natural product on the shelf. The label was covered with facts, quotes and rantings of Dr. Bronner himself. I bought the soap and began reading the bottle during a long hot soak in the tub later that night. Some of what they had to say was unique and down right bizarre. This Dr. Bronner (now deceased) had some crazy ideas, but he sure was passionate about the integrity of his products. And that is what has stuck with me since that first experience- integrity. (I did actually love the self proclaimed "magic soap" and continue to go back for more.)

Not only are these people committed to offering pure and organic alternatives that are effective and competitively priced, but they want the consumers to understand exactly what goes into their products and why. Knowing this about them, it came as no surprise to read that they are actually suing several "organic" personal care companies. They claim that brands like Kiss My Face, Jason's, Avalon Organics, Nature's Gate- all those natural and organic brands that I have grown to love and trust- market their products as organic when they are not. They accuse these brands of using non-organic, pesticide laden agricultural and/or petrochemical material to make the key cleansing and moisturizing ingredients of their "all-organic" products.

"Organic consumers expect that the main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients in 'Organic'... products are in fact made from organic material, and are not simply conventional formulations with some organic tea on top. If defendants cannot live up to their organic claims, they need to drop those claims. The misleading organic noise created by culprit companies' labeling practices, confuses, misleads and deceives organic consumers who want to buy authentic organic personal care products, the main ingredients of which are in fact made with certified organic, not conventional or petrochemical, material, and are free of synthetic preservatives. " said president David Bronner.

No decisions have been made yet, and all companies are standing by their claims to the organic banner. Whatever the outcome, it says a lot for Dr. Bronner's pledge to organic integrity when they will publicly hold the ingredients of their products up against that of their competitors for close scrutiny by the courts.


organic personal care

30 Thursday

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It's Thursday again. I can't believe it! This week I have been doing a lot of frantic research on natural pest control. We are starting to see more roaches (all dead thankfully) and a few little spiders. I do not like crawly things and could be described as arachnophobic. When I lived in Tennessee I had to deal with an infestation of Brown Recluses in our house. I did not get much sleep during those months. I do not want that to happen in this house, so I am coming to terms with the idea that I will have to begin some sort of pest control regimen soon.

Now it's your chance to chime in. Please share your methods of pest control in a comment on this post. Whether they be preventative measures or alternative, non-toxic pesticides- I want to hear about them!



Usually you would receive an additional entry into current giveaways for your participation, but at the moment I have none running. When the next giveaway is posted, I will allow extra entries from all who participate today. And stay tuned- we have some fabulous ones coming up that I'm really excited about!

What I'm Reading

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Right now I'm reading a great book by Ellen Sandbeck called Organic Housekeeping. It's format is very straight forward and easy to read and it's chock-a-block full of fantastic tips for keeping a home naturally. A lot of her tips are based on prevention so that you won't ever need heavy duty toxic cleaners. Some of the pages in this book I found to be just plain common sense. But I suppose we all could use a reminder now and then to keep our kitchens dusted. However, she also gives some fabulous tips that I've never heard anywhere else. Here are a few of my favorites so far:



  1. "If your dishwasher begins to stink, clean the filter according to the manufacturer's instructions. Then pour 2 cups of white vinegar in a bowl and set the bowl face up on the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Run the machine through a wash cycle to clean the inside of the appliance. The vinegar will deodorize the dishwasher as well as dissolve hard water deposits."


  2. "If your [porcelain] sink gets stained, pour a little consumer strength (3 percent) hydrogen peroxide on a clean, wet cloth, rub it on the stain, and rinse it off immediately. Don't allow it to sit on the surface for more than a couple of seconds."


  3. To rid your carpet of fleas and flea eggs, she recommends "...sprinkling the carpet liberally with table salt... Wait several hours, then vacuum the carpet... After you finish vacuuming, remove the vacuum bag and seal it tightly in a black plastic garbage bag. Put the bag in a sunny location, and let it bake in the sun for several days in order to kill any survivors."

natural housekeepingAlong with helpful tips, this book is also packed with informative and up to date facts. For example, she gives the low down on Teflon-coated cookware and the toxic fumes they emit when overheated. I only have one such pan, and I know exactly where it's going tonight.


You can pick this book up for only $9.99 at Amazon. If you are looking for a guide to making your home natural, I would highly recommend it.


She also has a newer book that was published last year called Green Housekeeping. I look forward to reading it soon. As always, I'll let you know what I think!






Pick Up High-Priced Natural Products for Cheap!

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The commitment to natural and organic products can often be an expensive one. So I jump for joy whenever I find these products on discount or clearance. Well imagine finding a place where they are always on discount or clearance! I have found such a place. I've been going there for bargains on clothes, shoes and handbags for years. You've probably been there before too. Have you guessed it yet? TJ Max!



I was browsing the jewelry case the other day and smelled something heavenly. I headed over to the bath isle to investigate. I never go over to that isle. It always seems to be in a constant state of disarray, and the associates rarely take the time to clean up spills and remove opened products. However, the smell of almond (one of my favorites!) was a pull I could not resist, so I braved the chaos to find the source. Not only did I find it, but I also discovered shelves of natural brands at incredible discounts- some priced at less than half of what I usually pay!



natural products discountsAmong the collection were major brands like L'Occitane and even drugstore brands like Nature's Gate, Jason's and Burt's Bees. Others I had never heard of before, but on inspection looked very promising. Though most of their items were hair products, soap and lotion, they also had some makeup and skincare.



If you're like most Americans right now and minding your pennies, head over and check them out. Selection varies by location, but they just might have your brands. Why pay full price if you don't have to?

Recycle Your Damaged American Flag

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Did you have flags displayed for the 4th? Did any of them get damaged by fireworks or bleached by the sun? According to flag etiquette, if a flag is significantly worn or tattered and no longer able to be displayed properly with dignity it should be retired. The protocol for retiring a flag is very specific and involves cutting the flag into sections and then burning it in a ceremony.


"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of
display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." - The
United States Flag Code


This protocol was established a long time ago when flags were made primarily of wool or cotton. However, now most flags are made of synthetic materials that create hazardous fumes when burned. The good news is that this material can be recycled, and some groups have found a way to do this while still adhering to proper flag etiquette. They invite citizens to submit their tattered flags to be retired and recycled with the honor they deserve.

recycle American flagLearn more at this website. The process is easy and cheap (they ask for small donations depending on the size of the flag).


Such careful handling of our country's flag may seem old fashioned and dated to some, but it is important to remember that the flag is a sacred symbol of our country that so many men and women have died protecting. In respecting it, we respect and honor their sacrifice.


*Photo courtesy of The National Museum of American History. This picture is of the original Star Spangled Banner, now housed and preserved in the museum. You can read about its history and the preservation process at the Star Spangled Banner section of their website.

Love Your Country, Love Your Earth: Tips for an Eco-Friendly 4th

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Sunny BBQ's, family picnics, watermelon, cupcakes, fireworks and Old Glory. Looking around my neighborhood, it's easy to know that today is the 4th of July. Every house is sporting the red white and blue and soon we'll be gathering at the end of our street to see the parade pass by. Dogs will be dressed as Uncle Sam and kids will be wearing giant blue star sunglasses and waving miniature flags. As I count the number of flags rolling in the breeze I smile. Our street is the picture of proud American suburbia. Yet I cringe at what tomorrow will look like.

Fireworks debris scattered along the street and yards. Tiny plastic flags forgotten on the sidewalk. Plastic beaded necklaces and melted candy littering the street. They won't be there for long. Around noon a landscaping crew will come along and it will all be blown into the gutters along with the grass clippings. The thought makes me cringe.

Odds are, you're street will go through a similar cycle, but by doing your part you can effectively reduce the environmental impact of your celebrations and encourage your neighbors to do the same. Here are some tips to help you greenify Independence Day:


Eco-Friendly Fireworks


Did you know that those "snakes" we all loved to burn on our sidewalks contained arsenic until the 1990's? Or that the components that add color to fireworks are highly toxic and water soluble? Luckily scientists are hard at work engineering cleaner, environmentally friendly fireworks, they are not expected to be available to us for many years. In the meantime, make sure you purchase your fireworks only from reputable vendors. Check the packaging before making your purchase. Those in unmarked packages are likely illegal and can contain dangerous chemicals that have been banned in the US. Be responsible when setting off fireworks. Don't launch them into wooded areas and never set off fireworks when there has been a drought. Clean up afterwards, making sure to check yards, bushes, trees and the street for fireworks debris.



Parades


I love our neighborhood parade. We look forward to it every year. The kids love the candy and toys that are thrown from the cars and floats, and I love getting to meet local business owners and hear about what's going on in my area. Afterwards, however, there's quite a mess left behind. This year take a moment before heading home to pick up some of the unwanted candy, toys, flags and flyers that might be strewn over the street and grass. If everyone filled a shopping bag with trash it would make a huge difference. Not only does it look trashy, but that litter will eventually make its way into our waterways via the gutters. Also, birds and other small animals may try to eat the candy, which could seriously harm or kill them.


green tips
Picnics & BBQs


Nothing says 4th of July like a BBQ or picnic. Celebrating outdoors is an American tradition. Unfortunately many have come to rely on disposable dinnerware for convenience during these celebrations. Think about the amount of paper plates, plastic cutlery, cups and beverage cans that will fill your trash can by the end of the day. Then imagine that multiplied by 111,162,259 (the estimated amount of households in the US). That's a lot of trash going into landfills for just one day of celebrations! You can minimize that by simply choosing to use your real dishes and silverware, buying large bottles of beverages instead of individual cans and bottles, and setting out a clearly marked recycling bin that guests can easily recognize and use. If you choose to take your celebration to a park or campground, try to leave it like you found it and do not feed the animals. Human food is bad for wildlife. Feeding wild animals puts the animals and you in danger and could also result in a hefty fine if you get caught.



Decorations


Disposable decorations may be cheap and easy, but they are a bad investment in the long run. If they haven't blown away by the end of the holiday, you'll most likely be putting them in the trash when you take them down. Instead of spending that money every year and adding to our landfills, invest in permanent decorations. It may cost you a few dollars more, but you can always get some great deals the day of a holiday and the few days after. There are also some adorable decorations that are made of repurposed and recycled materials. Try to invest in decorations that can be recycled once they have reached the end of their life. Also remember, if your flag gets damaged and has to be disposed of or "retired" there is a strict protocol that should be followed. If you don't want to do it, there are several groups that offer this service to communities all over the country at no cost. Check with your local veteran or scout group to see if they offer this service.


Have a safe, happy, green 4th of July!

Virtual Climb Against the Odds

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Thanks to Rebecca, Nonnie and our two tots for making the 3 mile trek around Memorial Park with me last Wednesday. We did this in support of the Breast Cancer Fund's annual Climb Against the Odds. Though we started out at 11am, the heat was already reaching unnatural temps. By the time we finished it was 100 degrees! This is Houston, so the humidity made it feel even hotter! We almost had to crawl the last few feet, but I was so proud of us when we finally finished. Unfortunately I have not reached my fundraising goal, but you can still contribute at their website. Thanks again ladies!





social responsibility


social responsibility

cancer prevention

Aveda Giveaway Winner

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Thank you to everyone who participated in the Aveda Giveaway. We had 224 entries! A winning number was chosen by a random number generator this morning, making our lucky winner number 190, Mineola!



Mineola will receive a set of Aveda Sun Care products worth $72.00. Congratulations Mineola and thank you again everyone for participating.



More giveaways soon to come!



natural skin care