Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Giveaway Results

Okay! Finally - let's announce the winners of our Skoy Cloth and Zkano socks giveaways! Thank you so much for all the great comments - we got some fun ones, including a song about socks! I laughed so hard! Thanks Jayne G!

For the Skoy Cloths we have two winners - they are Kstrange and mom2rian. I will email both of you to get more information.

For the Zkano socks, although I would love for all of you to win, I could only pick one. Jayne G you are our winner! Congratulations!

If you weren't one of our lucky winners - don't forget to check out the Skoy and Zkano websites where you can purchase their great products for yourself.

I'm planning to take the rest of this week off from blogging. I will be back next week with some new and exciting posts and can't wait to start the New Year. I hope that you will all have a very Happy New Year celebration with your friends and family!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Frankincense and Myrrh

Here is a post I wrote last year around Christmas time and thought you might enjoy reading again. Enjoy!

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi (a caste of wise men specializing in astology, medicine and natural science) from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:1, 11

Just out of curiousity I took a look at the significance of frankincense and myrrh. I always wonder about things and I wondered why those might have been the gift of the Magi. It turns out frankincense and myrrh are very significant both historically and for our benefit today.

They are considered herbal remedies and are both derived from the resin (sap) of two different trees found mostly on the Arabian peninsula. Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) is derived from resin found in the stems of this bushy shrub. Frankincense is a resin from the tree Boswellia. The tree is cut and the sap runs for several weeks and then hardens into "tears" which are harvested and sold. At the time of Jesus birth the Roman Empire imported these two spices and they were actually worth their weight in gold.

Historical Uses of Myrrh
  • In Moses time, Myrrh was used in the Tabernacle and as an ingredient of a holy annointing oil and incense.
  • Additive to wine. Pliny the Elder refers to myrrh as being used to fumigate wine jars before bottling.
  • Embalming ointment - In ancient times, myrrh was used in Egypt for embalming the dead. Myrrh was also used to prepare the body of Jesus for burial after the crucifixion. John 19:39-40
  • Penitential incense in funerals and cremations.
  • For many of the ancients myrrh was a favorite perfume which would keep it's fragrance for years if kept in an alabaster pot.
Historical Uses of Frankincense
  • Used as an incense
  • Egyptians ground the charred resin into a powder called kohl which they then used as a black eyeliner.
  • Frankincense was first introduced to Europe by Frankish crusaders which is where our name for it is derived from...Frankish Incense - Frankincense.
  • The main use of frankincense was in embalming the dead because it would preserve the body from putrefaction until burial or cremation. The emperor Nero at the funeral of his second wife Poppaea, burnt in excess of the total annual production of Arabia.
  • Clumps of frankincense were discovered among the treasures buried in the tomb of Tutankhamen who died in 1339 BC
Natural Healing Properties of Myrrh

  1. Acts as an antiseptic and disinfectant making it useful for abscesses, boils, sores and wounds. Interestingly, myrrh is a bacteriostatic inhibitor which stops the production of Staph and E. Coli bacteria.
  2. Acts as an expectorant making it usesful for asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, sinusitis, and sore throats. Myrrh mixed with red raspberry leaves makes an excellent mouth wash and gargle for relief of sore throats.
  3. Acts as a deoderizer and works well as a mouth rinse for bad breath and periodontal disease. Powdered myrrh will strengthen the gums and naturally whiten teeth.
  4. Stimulates the immune system and can help with auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and osteoarthritis.
  5. Stimulates gastric secretions
  6. It's blood moving properties can purge stagnant blood out of the uterus making it useful in treating amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause, and uterine tumors.

Natural Healing Properties of Frankincense

  1. In Chinese medicine, frankincense is used orally for digestion and healthy skin.
  2. Certain types of frankincense can be chewed as a gum. Used in this way it elimintates bad breath and the juice derived from the gum is thought to benefit the kidneys and the liver.

You can still enjoy the healing and aromatherapy benefits of these products today. Check out our affiliate Mountain Rose Herbs for Frankinsense powder and essential oil; and Myrrh resin, powder and oil.

Shannan and I wish all of you a very merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another Holiday Giveaway: Warm, Snuggly, Zkano Organic Socks

Awhile back I got a wonderful little care package full of the most wonderful socks from the makers of Zkano Organic Socks. They are a small, family owned company situated in Alabama that make their socks from 100% certified organic ring-spun cotton, grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals or toxins. All of their products are made here in the states. They are committed to providing a high quality, durable, comfortable, organic sock for consumers.

How do they feel? Really great! I've been wearing my Zkano socks around for a couple of weeks now, and they are very soft and comfortable. They also wash very well and don't lose their size, shape, or elasticity. I would highly recommend these wonderful socks!

Check out their nice selection of men's and women's socks today. They have a nice variety of crew, mini-crew and sports socks. They offer shades of natural or white.

Gina at Zkano has kindly offered a 7 pair starter pack of Zkano Organic Socks to one of our lucky readers. Just leave me a comment in the comments section below and include your email address so we can contact you if you win. (If you don't want to leave your email address just make sure you check back later this week when I post the winner).


Friday, December 18, 2009

Handling Holiday Stress

I will admit it. I have been absolutely crazy feeling the past couple of weeks trying to get all of the holiday stuff done. I am running from place to place, forgetting things, feeling a bit overwhelmed and not taking the time to enjoy the season. Oh ya, and feeling guilty that my kids haven't visited Santa yet. Sound familiar?

If so, I think it is time for us all to take a deep breath and think about what we are doing and why we are doing it. Are you doing all of these holiday things because you feel obligated or are you doing them because you want to? Here are just some of my own suggestions (to myself) for making this time more enjoyable and fulfilling.

  • Make a list and check it twice. Take a little extra time, when you are feeling calm(ish) to make a list of all of the gifts you need to buy (even the tiniest things like a bottle of wine for someone) and put it all on one list. Keep it in your handbag and cross things off as you go. Then you are not always running around racking your brain trying to remember whatever it is you know you are forgetting.

  • Commit to the events you really want to be a part of. We just can't be in all places at all times.

  • Put off the things that can wait until after the holidays. Here in Michigan we all have a long winter ahead of us, save something for January.

  • If you want to make cookies, make cookies. If you don't, don't. This is a hard one for me. I want to do all the things I think the holidays should be about, but it is really more of a chore than anything else. This year my husband wants to make cookies with the girls. I think I will give them the gift of time together without mommy hovering. :)

  • Send cards if you want to send cards. I have a good friend that decided not to do Christmas cards this year because it was all getting to be too much. She is going to do a Valentine card with photos of her kids instead.

  • Make a stranger's Christmas bright. Pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru at Starbucks or do what my mom did. Go to a store that has layaway and pay it off for someone. What a great surprise it is for someone to get a phone call to come and pick up their stuff because it is all paid for by a stranger. Or help an old lady cross the street - whatever your good deed, you will feel good and so will someone else.

  • And, don't forget to take care of yourself...try to exercise, eat right 80% of the time, and enjoy this special time of year.

I truly believe that 'living a whole life' means more than eating organic or buying eco-friendly products. It means taking care of the whole you and your family.

I feel better now. I hope you do too,


P.S. Don't forget to comment on Karla's Skoy Cloth Giveaway while you are here. Maybe we can make your day next week with a great gift.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Skoy Cloth Giveaway

Speaking of eco-friendly is one from one of my new favorite eco-friendly companies. Skoy cloths have offered to give two of our readers a free package of their awesome absorbable, bio-degradeable, and natural multi-use cloths.

Skoy cloths are made from a natural cotton and wood based cellulose pulp. When tested they broke down completely within 5 weeks making them an incredibly green-bio-degradable product. Using these cloths to clean up around the house replaces the equivalent of 15 rolls of paper towels. They can be used with your favorite cleaners or with just water. As Skoy points out on their website, with paper towels averaging around $2.00 a roll, they are also much more economical!

These towels will last months and can be washed in the dishwasher or washing machine. You can also zap them in the microwave (make sure they are wet) to prevent bacterial growth.

To win a 4 pack of these for yourself, leave a comment in the comments section by Friday, December 18th and be sure to include your email if you want us to contact you if you win. Otherwise, check back later next week and I will announce the winner. Good Luck!!
By the way, don't you just love the adorable flower design on them - so cute!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas

Well if you are anything like me, you are still scrambling to find a few more great gifts for the special people on your shopping list. So here are some of my picks from the website, The Ultimate Green Store, to check out for the eco-conscious folks in your life...or maybe they aren't eco-conscious, but you are!

Fun gift ideas...

Shainsware Recycled Bracelets ($16)
Shains are recycled accessories that encourage and empower people to make their own statements and change them whenever they want! Shainsware, the company, is dedicated to producing eco-friendly products that are useful and empowering. They donate a percentage of net profits to environmental organizations. Shains products are made of recycled and recyclable parts and everything Shains produces is certified lead free. Shains packaging is also recycled and recyclable.

Fair Trade Sports (prices vary)
Fair Trade Sports, Inc is the first sports equipment company in the US to launch a full line of eco-certified Fair Trade sports balls, ensuring fair wages and healthy working conditions for their adult employees.

Aon Squared Portable Speakers ($14.99)

AON BOX™ Speaker Boxes is what Green Sounds Like!

AON BOX™ speakers come conveniently packaged to travel in a durable polypropylene box that can be easily packed away in a backpack, carry-on bag or suitcase. They are compatible with all iPod®, Mp3 players, multimedia cell phones, portable DVD players and portable gaming devices that use a standard 3.5mm audio frequency jack. Each speaker provides 1 watt of quality sound without the need for batteries.

Good luck and enjoy the rest of your shopping!
- Shannan

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guilt Free Christmas Cookies (Well...Sort Of)

I participated in my first Christmas Cookie Exchange this week and it was such a wonderful experience. Getting together with girlfriends and taking a little time out of the crazy Christmas rush was really fun and therapeutic. I have to admit that I stressed a bit about what kind of cookies to make. I really hate refined sugar and flour, but I have yet to taste a sugar cookie or cinnamon roll that tasted right without them. I had this discussion with some friends the other day and decided that perhaps eating healthy whole foods doesn't include cakes, cookies, and rolls and we shouldn't try so hard to make them healthy. Maybe those are just occasional indulgences? As I was reading through some online recipe books, I was thrilled to find a couple of Christmas cookie recipes made from whole food ingredients and decided to try them and take them to the Cookie Exchange. They are yummy and with ingredients like almonds, oats, cranberries, maple syrup and pecans, I can still enjoy some Christmas treats and know they were made with whole food ingredients. Try these and you won't be disappointed!

Jam Thumbprints

Makes about 30 cookies


1 cup almonds or pecans
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup olive or coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
Favorite organic fruit juice sweetened jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put almonds and oats into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, oil, syrup and salt. Stir to combine well.

Roll walnut-sized balls of the dough in the palm of your hand to form each cookie, then arrange on 2 large baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Press your thumb gently down into the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Spoon a scant teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake cookies until golden brown and just firm around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool completely, then serve immediately or store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.

Cranberry Pecan Shortbread

Makes 30 to 40 cookies


3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar ( I used succanat)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pecans, chopped well in food processor

Mix together butter, sugar and maple syrup with a wooden spoon or in an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Add flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each cup is added. stir in the salt, cranberries and pecans.

Shape dough into two logs and chill until firm for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut dough into 1/2 inch slices and arrange on baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More on Vitamin D

A couple months ago I wrote a short post on the virtues of Vitamin D. I would like to add to that a bit.

I was at a party this past weekend and my friend who went through breast cancer treatment (surgery, chemo and radiation) about a year ago mentioned that her doctors attribute her breast cancer to a Vitamin D deficiency. My first reaction was to pass along more information on the Vitamin D/Breast Cancer link to our readers.

Here is a good article on the breast cancer/Vitamin D connection...

There's a paradigm shift going on in medicine as new research reveals a far greater role for vitamin D. Vitamin D is not just for kids—or the prevention of rickets. Optimal levels of Vitamin D (40–80 ng/ml) enhance the creation and functioning of healthy cells throughout the body. In addition to protecting the bones and boosting the immune system, studies show that Vitamin D helps prevent certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, prostate and colorectal. Exciting new research shows that, in the United States alone, thousands of new cases of breast cancer could be prevented every year if more women had optimal levels of vitamin D.

A study conducted by Cedric Garland and other prominent vitamin D researchers determined that women with vitamin D levels above 52 ng/ml have half the risk of developing breast cancer as those with 13 ng/ml! Garland (et al) estimates that 58,000 new cases of breast cancer in the United States could be prevented per year by raising vitamin D levels to 52 ng/ml. Imagine what the global impact could be!

A simple blood test is all that's needed to find out your vitamin D level. Five years ago, a range of 20–100 ng/ml was considered normal. Just recently, this range was raised to 32–100 ng/ml. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider what your actual vitamin D level is. Too often women are told that their levels are normal, which is not the same as optimal.

If you're deficient, the best way to boost your vitamin D quickly is to supplement with vitamin D3. Initially, you may need to take 5,000 IUs per day. After establishing a healthy level, I recommend supplementing with 1,000 to 2,000 IUs per day—it's hard to get all you need from food. Some healthy fish provides 300 to 700 IUs, but milk only provides 100 IUs per glass.

In Michigan we don't get much sun in the winter, so personally, I take a supplement. This one is yummy...

- Shannan


Friday, December 4, 2009

Prenatal Massage

Last week I had a wonderful little treat! I was offered a complimentary hour long prenatal massage by a very skilled local masseuse. (See more about her below). With my crazy schedule right now and holiday season preparations in full swing, it was a little slice of heaven!

Shannan recently posted about the many benefits of massage so take a moment and read those if you have a chance. I thought I would take a minute to outline a few more benefits to having massages during pregnancy. We tend to think of massage as a treat or special indulgence and for most of us it is; but there are also so many great health benefits to be realized from a regular massage. Here are a few for us pregnant ladies...

  • Carrying a baby inside you changes your center of gravity and puts a lot of stress on your back, neck, abdominal muscles, and shoulders. Pregnancy also relaxes your ligaments, so that your pelvic joints are less stable, and changes your posture, pulling your pelvis forward. Add to that the extra weight you're carrying and you've got yourself an aching lower back. Massage can actually relieve the stress on your joints and promote proper posture.

  • A study conducted by Dr. Tiffany Field at the University of Miami School of Medicine showed that massage actually reduces stress hormones in the body. Other studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health, when massage therapy was introduced to women’s prenatal care. Hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (“stress hormones”) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression) were increased in women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks. These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence points strongly to maternal and newborn health benefits when relaxing, therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.

  • Massage provides emotional support and a nurturing touch for stressed out mothers-to-be. Studies show that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety and decrease symptoms of depression.

  • Massage promotes relaxation and decreased insomnia.

  • Massage can help prepare the muscles used during childbirth.

  • Massage can reduce swelling in hands and feet. Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.

Important Note: Certified prenatal massage therapists are trained to avoid very specific and intentional pressure to these areas during pregnancy. Any woman who has experienced pre-term contractions or consistent Braxton-Hicks contractions should alert her therapist to that fact so that pressure points can be avoided completely.

If you live in Michigan in the Metro Detroit or Ann Arbor area let me recommend a wonderful massage therapist for prenatal or any other massage. Her name is Seva Aston. Seva has 15 years of experience in massage therapy and has studied and practiced in such areas as Swedish massage, Neuromuscular Modalities (pain relief specialization), Hot Stone Massage, Thai Yoga Massage, Thai Herbal Massage, Thai Foot Reflexology, Deep Tissue Massage, Geriatric Massage, and etc.

All that being said, you know when you are getting a good massage by a skilled professional and Seva gave me the best massage I have probably ever had! She has the touch for sure. You can also tell right away that she is very passionate about her practice of massage. Pregnant or not, give her a call and set up your own wonderful massage (indulgent, yet great for your health remember!) or better yet this Christmas give your friends or family the gift of an hour of relaxation and rejuvenation. You can reach Seva at (734) 660-3372.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Foods That Boost Immunity

I just ran across this article on Healthy Eats and thought it was worth passing on.

This winter, protect yourself from those cold or flu bugs going around. Eat more of these fresh foods to build up your immunity.

1) Nuts
Snack on almonds, cashews or walnuts, which are packed with vitamin E. This antioxidant helps kick those pesky free-radicals out of your body. Vitamin E also helps create antibodies that fight bacteria that make you sick. Other healthy vitamin E-rich foods are seeds and whole grains.

2) Citrus Fruits The famous vitamin C helps fight infection and a good antioxidant to have — along with vitamin E. But there is more to citrus than just oranges — grapefruits, clementines, lemons, limes and tangerines are all part of this family, and they’re in season in winter so you can enjoy them at their juiciest. Citrus not your thing? Try bell peppers — they have more vitamin C than an orange! Potatoes, tomatoes and kiwi are also great sources.

3) Shrimp So you’ve heard shrimp has cholesterol, but it’s also extremely low in fat and contains the antioxidant selenium. Many foods have a combination of nutrients, and you need to weigh the “bad” with the “good.” Selenium is a mineral needed in small amounts and works to support a healthy immune system. Seafood and meat are great sources for it.

4) Yogurt The probiotics — or “good bacteria” found in yogurt and other foods — keep your digestive system up and running. According to research from the Journal of the American Dietetics Association, consuming foods with probiotics regularly may also help boost your immune system. Sauerkraut, miso and tempeh are other food sources to try.

5) Green Tea The polyphenols in green tea act as potent antioxidants. Research suggests that catechins, a specific type of polyphenol, may stimulate the immune system cells and hinder disease-promoting compounds. Although you may detect a bitter taste, you can disguise it with a bit of honey. Adding milk is a no-no as it will bind to the polyphenols and stop their immunity benefits. (See some of Dana’s ideas on enjoying tea.)

Immunity Downers Eating tons of high-fat foods and forgoing your daily fruits and veggies can also weaken the immune system. Smokers have an added disadvantage as smoking increases free-radicals, which definitely takes a toll on the immune system (another good reason to quit).

- Shannan

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Baby is Stealing My Iron

I had a check-up with my OB last week - I'm now 28 weeks along in my pregnancy. I was shocked to find out that my iron is low and that I'm technically anemic. I've felt so good this last trimester and starting into my third that I wouldn't have imagined that my labs would show anemia.

I did a little research on iron deficiency and surprise - surprise, infants in the womb begin to stock pile all the iron in their liver that they will need their first year of life prior to birth as breast milk is fairly low in iron. The little thief! :) I did a little research on iron's purpose in the body and how to supplement naturally with foods as that is always my first line of defense.

Functions in the Body

  • Primary ingredient in the formation of hemoglobin the oxygen carrying component of blood.
  • Iron attracts oxygen. Without an iron reserve, oxygen cannot be attracted to the body. With iron deficiency naturally comes oxygen deficiency.
  • Increases vitality and energy.Improves circulation, digestion, elimination, respiration, and augments tissue oxidation.
  • Helps prevent colds.

Signs of deficiency

  • Depression and melancholy
  • Low oxygenation and oxidation
  • Susceptibility to colds
  • Low blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Slow speech
  • Poor memory
  • Poor respiration with shortness of breath

Women tend to need more iron anyway...

  • Women also require more iron than men due to their menstrual cycles and consequent loss of blood.
  • Interesting pregnancy and iron fact: Newborn infants and animals have four times the supply of iron in the body than adults. The mother supplies the offspring with enough iron, stored in the liver, for the entire first year of life. Milk lacks iron, therefore, newborns would suffer from anemia otherwise.

Highest Iron Foods: Agar, almonds, apricots, bananas (red are best), beet greens, blackberries, *black cherries, black strap molasses, black walnuts, butternuts, cashew nuts, dandelion greens, dates, *dried fruits, *dulse, eggs, English walnuts, fennel, figs, goat milk, *greens, Irish moss, kale, *kelp, lentils dried, lima beans dried, millet, mung beans dried, mustard greens, parsley, peaches dried, peas dried, pinto beans dried, prunes, pumpkin squash seeds, radishes, raisins, red beans, red peppers, *rice and bran polishings, rye, sesame seeds, sorrel, soybeans, spinach, sprouted seeds, sunflower seeds, Swiss chard, wheat bran and germ, and white beans.

*These are the foods highest in iron.

So I need to get busy increasing my iron intake. I'm thinking a bag of frozen black cherries or a spinach salad with sunflower seeds and dried cherries - Yum! I'm also going to start seasoning everything with a little dulse. I've kind of forgotten to do that lately.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Benefits of Fish Oil for Adults and Children

Fish oil is yielded from the cold water fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon, cod and many other fish. It has been recommended as part of a heart healthy diet for quite some time. Fish oil is a very effective nutrient as it contains two most important omega 3 fatty acids that can be absorbed easily. EPA and DHA are two most important fatty acids that have very crucial role in development of normal brain, proper functioning of nervous system and better eyesight. The EPA and DHA fatty acids derived from fish oil are considered to be the protective elements for the body as they are very effective to reduce the risk of developing arthritis. Among other fish oil benefit you can find:

Most of the recent searches regarding fish oil benefit to the heart diseases has proved the importance of omega 3 fatty acids in protection against the heart diseases. The recent study of American Dietetic Association revealed the factor that these acids are very effective to reduce the fatty deposits in arteries.

The consumption of fish oil reduces the chances of all forms of cancer including breast, colon and prostate. The fatty acids found in the fish oil is quite helpful to stop the development of cancerous mass from quite a healthy cell, it inhibits the unwanted growth of cell and causes apoptosis or death or cancer cells.

Fish oil has significance in preventing the pregnancy complication like premature delivery and low birth weight. The consumption of fish oil during pregnancy reduce allergy in the newborns, help in development of brain and reduce risk of post partum depression. It is better to take fish oil during the period of pregnancy.

Fish oil is very effective for the eyesight. It not only improves the eyesight but also decrease the dryness in the eyes. The fish oil helps to stop the eyesight decline with the increasing age.

Fish oil is very effective to prevent all types of depression including the schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD and anger caused depression.

It is also helpful in treatment of the Huntington’s disease. Fish oil is found effective in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus and other inflammatory conditions.

The recent scientific studies recognized the role of fish oil in weight regulation, it reduces craving caused by the fatty foods.

These are the most significant fish oil benefits. Fish oil not only reduces the risk of a number of incurable diseases but is also very helpful nutritional supplement. Eating fish is the basic way for the body to get enough fatty acids but if you want to get more, than try to get fish oil benefits directly from the fish oil that is extracted from the cold water fishes as its benefits are bigger and it is easer to digest.

In children, fish oil is also shown to helps improve:

It was found that unruly children ingesting fish oil had improved behavior. Out of the 47 percent of children with "bad" behavior in the test group, only 4 percent remained unruly.

The use of fish oil was shown to improve concentration in children. Within the study, many two-year-olds were able to speak in full sentences rather than just single words as before taking the fish oil.

Interestingly, the use of fish oil in children improved bonding with their parents. Of course, this effect may be a side benefit for better behavior and concentration.

Accelerated Learning
In the scientific study, learning advanced a measurement of nine months in only a five-month period. This learning increase was primarily in expressive language and oral communication.

Although it is not a cure, fish oil has been shown to improve dyslexia in children.

We are huge salmon fans around my house. Glad to see the health benefits for all of us!

- Shannan

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm Thankful for My First Year of Blogging

I had an informative post planned for this week about iron deficiency, but decided that it's a holiday week and time to lighten up and reflect a bit. I looked around our blog a bit and then it hit me. A year ago this Friday, November 27th, Shannan and I embarked on our Living A Whole Life journey. We've faithfully researched and written, about 4 posts a week, for an entire year.

This year learning to blog has been an interesting one for me. I've learned a lot about blogging. It's much harder than I imagined to keep researching, writing, and producing fresh content through all the ups and downs daily life has to offer. Beginning blogging is really a thankless, non-lucrative (smile) endeavor. More than that though, it's a stimulating way to fast forward your own learning on a topic. I'm very challenged to understand why something is true so that I can explain it to our readers with the utmost of integrity. Blogging is also a community where I have learned so much from reading others work and from interesting comments placed on our site.

So Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family this year. When we each stop and think of the individual struggles and accomplishments this year has brought, we have much to be thankful for. Thank you to all of you who faithfully read our blog and give Living A Whole Life a voice on the Internet. I leave you with some of our top reader-rated posts this year.

  1. Is Raw Milk Safe

  2. Coconut Oil: Good For You Inside and Out

  3. Healthy Banana Bread Recipe

  4. Goji Berries: Health Benefits and Side Effects

  5. The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration and Shannan and I will catch you back here Monday to start our second year blogging here on Living A Whole Life.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Gratitude and Health

Do you have an attitude of gratitude? I know that I need to be reminded every once in a while to count my blessings. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is some information on how to actually practice gratitude to promote a more positive and healthy outlook.

Good Health and Gratitude
There are many variables affecting good health, but the notion that simple acts of gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness — all free and relatively easy to implement — can have a positive impact on health is intriguing and merits attention.

What is Gratitude?
An International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) Newsletter article of April 2008 described gratitude as an "orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world."

People naturally take for granted the routine things of life, becoming immune and unappreciative of the positives of daily life. Though this adaptation guards the senses against overload, it can also deprive a person of the ability to focus upon and appreciate a sunny day, a spring breeze, and a child's laughter. These are all opportunities for gratitude and an incumbent boost to good health.

Gratitude Exercises for Good Health
The following gratitude exercises are easy to do and will help you maintain an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude Letter – Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has been a positive influence in your life describing how you were affected and what it meant to you. For even greater benefit deliver the letter in person.

Three Good Things – At the end of each day, recall three good things that happened that day, considering even the smallest positive event.

You at Your Best – Reflect on an experience that demonstrated you at your very best. Write about it and describe your feelings.

Novel Use of Signature Strengths – Understand your special skills and abilities often called your signature strengths. Each day find a new way to utilize one of your strengths.

Three Questions – At the end of each day, ask yourself these three questions: "What has surprised me?," "What has touched me?" and "What has inspired me?"

Happy Thanksgiving!

- Shannan

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Delicious Nutritious Beef Bone Broth

Back before my days of studying holistic nutrition, I was a closet fan of Martha Stewart and was always impressed by her homemade soup stocks. (I say closet because with a part-time job and 2 small children - I really can't be Martha Stewart, but it was fun to watch her create). Although I thought after watching and reading her bone broth recommendations that a good stock should be made from scratch and use soup bones, I never really made the time to try it. Recently I've been reading a lot about the awesome healing benefits of a good bone broth/soup stock and decided it was time to try it for myself. I'm 27 weeks pregnant now and trying to prepare myself and the baby for delivery in -my goodness- 13 more weeks. Amazingly, it really wasn't that difficult - like anything else it's a matter of having the right ingredients on hand and knowing what to do. Why take the extra time? Why not buy some soup stock from the grocery store?

Benefits of a properly made bone broth

  • By adding vinegar to the cooking broth it releases calcium, magnesium phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and other trace minerals from the bones. Held in a broth form, these minerals are so easy for the body to absorb and provide quick nourishment and healing. These minerals are also the basic building blocks for healing whether from the flu, broken bone, or surgery. Drinking a good bone broth will speed healing time.
  • Broth also contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons, like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine - no more expensive supplements to take!!
  • Bone broth is rich in collagen and gelatin which aids digestion of milk, beans, meat, and the proteins in wheat, oats, and barley. (Adding whole grains and beans into your favorite soup makes even more sense now!)
  • Bone broth can be helpful in easing the following conditions: food allergies, dairy allergies, colic, bean maldigestion, grain maldigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, malnutrition, weight loss, muscle wasting, cancer, osteoporosis, calcium deficiency and anemia.
  • Bone broth contains amino acids in a readily absorbable form that helps the body detoxify.

How to make Beef Bone Broth
6-7 pounds of various beef bones, including marrow, knuckle, meaty rib, and neck bones (Remember the quality of your broth will depend on the quality of the ingredients. I recommend spending a little more for grass-fed beef or organic and avoiding beef tainted with antibiotics or hormones).
4 quarts of cold filtered water
1/2 cup vinegar
3 onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
Several sprigs of thyme or other favorite herbs
1 bunch of parsley
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup of favorite red wine

Place the meaty bones on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 350 to 400 degrees until browned. Add bones, vegetables, vinegar, parsley, tomato paste, and red wine to pot and cover with water. Liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking.

Bring to a boil. A small amount of particulate matter may rise to the top and it is important to remove this with a spoon or small fine mesh sieve. Reduce heat and add thyme or other herbs.

Simmer the stock for at least 12 hours and as long as 72 hours.* Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes.

Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer your delicious, nutritious broth into small glass jars and freeze for long term storage.

This broth can be used to make soups and stews; added to rice or other grains in place of water; freeze in small cubes and use when cooking vegetables; or just drink warm when feeling under the weather or in need of healing.

*Another idea is to make your stock on low in the crock pot. If you are like me and cannot be home for long periods of time and don't want to leave the stove-top on this works really well. Mine spent 2 days in the crock pot on my counter and turned out great. You may have to adjust the recipe depending on the size of your crock pot.

Stay tuned as I plan to experiment with Chicken Stock and for our vegan readers a delicious Vegetable Stock to make ahead, freeze, and have on hand when needed.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Mighty Cranberry

With Thanksgiving right around the corner we will all be diving into our favorite cranberry concoction. I love cranberries and add them to my oatmeal every morning. Here are some great facts about cranberries from Drs. Oz and Roizon.

They're antioxidant all-stars. Cranberries have more of these disease-fighters than do apples, red grapes, strawberries, oranges, bananas, pears, grapefruit, pineapples and peaches! And the antioxidant roster includes powerful resveratrol, the heart protector in red wine, which is now being tested against breast, skin, prostate and liver cancer.

They keep your ticker, well, ticking. Cranberries pack a triple whammy: They're chock-full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and anticlotting agents, a combo that helps prevent fats and cholesterol from sticking to artery walls and seems to lower bad LDL cholesterol and boost good HDL cholesterol.

They protect your pearly whites. Compounds in cranberry juice appear to reduce decay-causing mouth bacteria and dissolve clusters of unhealthy germs. Just be sure to buy sugar-free juice or rinse well with water afterward. Do the same with any sweetened drink.

They ward off ulcers and upset tummies. Cranberry compounds and bad bacteria loathe each other, which is a good thing. Scientists suspect that the berries keep ulcer-causing H. pylori bugs from hanging around the stomach and flush other harmful bacteria out of your digestive system.

They fight infections "down there. "Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are responsible for 8.3 million doctor visits each year. That's a lot of waiting-room discomfort. But drinking cranberry juice significantly cuts the rate of UTIs and may even cure those that are already under way. The antioxidants—in this case proanthocyanidins—keep the pesky bacteria at bay.

Here a just a few cranberry recipes you may want to try this holiday season:

- Shannan

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Natural Cough Remedies

My daughter was diagnosed with Croup last week and I got sick shortly after. I am now on day 5 of feeling pretty lousy and a suffering with a horrible congested cough. This sent me on the search for some natural cough remedies that my ease my discomfort.

Congested Coughs Causes
The obvious causes of coughing are colds, flu, bronchial infections, sinus congestion, smoking, and the need to rid the throat of foreign matter. But did you know that heartburn is one of the leading causes? For some unknown reason heartburn is the cause for about 10% of chronic coughers. See our Heartburn section for suggestions to relieve both the heartburn and coughing. Dust, pollen and chemicals are other sources of irritants. Also, some drugs, most notably ACE inhibitors used for high blood pressure, have coughing as a side effect in 21% of the people using them. Coughing is also a common symptom of asthma. The sound of your cough may indicate its cause. Below is a list of the cough sounds and what that may indicate:

A barking cough - bronchitis or croup

A high-pitched cough - your vocal cords are involved and the airways have become narrowed

A wheezing cough - asthma and/or bronchitis

A loud, gasping cough with difficulty getting air - whooping cough

• Breathe the steam from a vaporizer, hot shower, or pan of boiling water. The moist air will soothe the airways and loosen sinus congestion and phlegm in your throat and lungs. A few drops of the oil of eucalyptus will help this process.

• Elevate the head of your bed. This will allow your sinuses and nasal passages to drain better and not create that "tickle" in your throat.

• Stop smoking. Passive smoke or other irritants, such as chemicals, can be a cause. Household cleaners, new carpeting, paneling and mattresses are some of the many possible sources of chemical irritants.

• Drink at least 8 eight ounce glasses of water. This is especially important if your cough is due to an illness. Water is the best expectorant you can take and will help thin the mucus and loosen the cough.

• Do not use over-the-counter expectorant cough remedies as they just suppress the symptoms and do not address the underlying problem. If you have the kind of cough with mucus you want to get it out of your respiratory system, not suppress it. Try one of the natural expectorant remedies below.

• Try eating hot chili peppers, horseradish or other spicy foods. They will help loosen mucus.

• During the winter, if your house is dry, use a humidifier and a cool-mist vaporizer in your bedroom at night. This will help thin the mucus. Be sure to thoroughly clean the vaporizer, as it can harbor bacteria.

• Drink hot tea to break up the mucus and open and moisten the airways.

• Cough drops or hard candy will help stop the tickle if you have a dry cough and will moisten the throat.

• Avoid foods that increase the production of mucus, such as dairy products, meat and fried foods.

• Hot packs placed on your throat and chest are very soothing.

Vitamins A, C and E are beneficial with conditions that cause coughs.

The use of inhaled steam can be very effective in liquefying mucus and reducing irritation. To control the steam, bend over the steaming water while holding a towel over your head. Try some of these aromatherapy oils. Inhaling essential oils can stimulate your lungs to expel phlegm.

Cypress Add three drops each of cypress and juniper oil and a drop of ginger.

Cedar Dilute 3 drops of oil of cedar in one teaspoon of carrier oil, such as olive, sweet almond or jojoba, and massage onto your chest several times a day.
Add 10-15 drops to a pot of steaming water and inhale the vapors

Eucalyptus Add a few drops of eucalyptus to a carrier oil and rub on your chest.
• Put 10-15 drops of oil in boiling water and inhale the steam. Eucalyptus is a good decongestant and expectorant. You can also add three drops of hyssop oil.

Jasmine Use the oil in a burner or put a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale the fumes.

Myrrh Add a few drops of myrrh to a carrier oil and rub on your chest. This will help reduce mucus.

Peppermint Dilute 3 drops of peppermint oil in one teaspoon of carrier oil, such as olive, sweet almond or jojoba, and massage onto your chest several times a day.
Add 10-15 drops to a pot of steaming water and inhale the vapors.

Pine Put some essential pine oil in a burner to soothe the throat. You can also place a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale the fumes.

Thyme Add 10-15 drops of this oil in a pan of boiling water and inhale the fumes, in an infuser, or place a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale.
• Massaging using oil of thyme may also be helpful in relieving your cough. Put 5 drops in 1/4 cup olive oil and massage your neck and upper body. Thyme is an excellent expectorant and has been used for centuries to heal respiratory conditions.

Rub the padded area below your big toe in various directions at the first sign of a cough. Also, hold back the toes and press on the raised area with your thumb. This will help relieve chest congestion.



Aloe vera Mix equal parts of aloe juice and honey. This is very good for a scratchy cough.
Angelica Use a tincture of the root or leaf, or make a tea. Angelica is an expectorant. Do not use if you are pregnant.

Bee balm Native Americans used bee balm to alleviate colds and coughs. Steep two teaspoons of fresh (one, dried) bee balm leaves in a cup of hot water, covered, for four minutes. Sip a cup three times a day. Bee balm has antiseptic compounds that can help heal respiratory infections and clear nasal congestion.

Carrot juice Mix with honey and a little warm water. Take a tablespoonful several times a day.

Cayenne pepper Mix 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a glass of water and use as a gargle, swallowing afterward. You can also use 15-20 drops of Tabasco sauce in a glass of water or juice. Pepper helps clear congestion and draws blood to the throat to fight infection.

Chamomile tea will soothe the throat.

Garlic Grate one or two cloves of garlic and mix with a teaspoon of honey. Take as needed.

Ginger Make a tea using ginger and drink 6 oz several times a day, as needed.

Grape juice Mix a cup of grape juice with a teaspoon of honey.

Honey Mix honey with juice of a fresh lemon and take as needed. Not only does honey soothe the tickle, but it has antibacterial properties, too.

• Dr. D. C. Jarvis, in his classic book, Folk Medicine, described another honey remedy that worked very well: boil a whole lemon for 10 minutes; when cool enough to handle roll it back and forth on a hard surface, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into a pint of raw honey. Add a teaspoon of glycerin and take as often as needed.

Horehound cough drops have been used for generations to quell coughs. One of horehound's compounds, marrubiin, stimulates bronchial secretions and helps break up congestion.

Hyssop Steep two teaspoons of dried hyssop in one cup of boiling water, covered for ten minutes; strain and drink cool for an expectorant or hot to relieve congestion. The oils in hyssop are good for mild respiratory problems. Hyssop contains marrubiin, the same compound that makes horehound an excellent expectorant.

Lime juice Mix equal parts of lime juice and honey.

Mullein soothes and relaxes the lungs and bronchial tubes, which eases a cough. Use 25-30 drops of tincture in a small glass of boiling water three times a day.

Onion broth Make a broth by boiling an onion for 10-15 minutes; strain and drink the broth several times a day. The broth will reduce congestion.

Onion juice Make a syrup by combining 1 teaspoonful of raw onion juice with 1 teaspoonful of honey; let stand for 3-4 hours, and take in divided doses.

Sugar Suck on a cube of raw sugar.

Tea Tea made with peppermint or rosemary will help break up congestion.

Thyme Make a tea using two tablespoons of fresh (one tablespoon of dried) thyme in a cup of boiling water; steep, covered, for four minutes; strain and drink hot. Thyme relaxes the lungs and promotes expectoration of mucus. It contains a volatile oil, thymol, which has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

Looks like I have a lot to try!
- Shannan


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Made My Own Lotion (and I love it)!

Not long ago I mentioned that I was attempting to make my own Herbal Healing Lotion. I finally got a chance to do it and I love it. It turned out a little thicker than I would personally like. I probably went a little overboard on the beeswax and would use less next time. Otherwise I love this lotion. It is very moisturizing and healing. Here are the directions for what to do.

Herbal Healing Lotion

1 ounce Calendula infused oil
1 ounce Comfrey infused oil
1 ounce St. John's Wort infused oil
1 ounce plantain infused oil
10 drops Vitamin E Oil
20 drops Lavender essential oil
1/2 ounce Beeswax (Carnauba or Candelillla Wax may be used for a Vegan salve) (Add more if you want a thicker salve and less if you want a thinner lotion.)

Place herbal infused oils and Beeswax over a double boiler and gently heat until the Beeswax melts. Remove from heat and add Lavender Essential Oil and Vitamin E Oil. Quickly pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely. The salve will last for at least a year, and is best kept in a cool and dark area such as a cupboard or cabinet.

How to make your own herbal infused oil

  1. Solar Method: Fill a glass jar 1/4 full of dried herb and then cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other oil of choice) leaving at least 1-2" of oil above the herbs to allow the herbs to swell. Place jar in a sunny window and shake once or twice per day. Allow the oil to infuse for at least 4 to 6 weeks, or until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Once that oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth, and bottle into amber bottles for storage. Make sure to squeeze as much oil as possible from the herbs and cheesecloth so that you do not waste any precious oil! The infused oils may be used alone, or used within herbal preparations such as salves, massage oils, creams, lotions, or anything else you desire! Herbal Oils will keep for approximately a year if stored properly in a dark and cool place. Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong shelf life. This is the preferred way of making Herbal Infused Oils, however if you live in an area such as I do where the sun doesn't shine much in the winter, there is an alternate method for making these oils on the stove.

  2. Stove-top Method: Another way to infuse oils, is the double boiler or crock-pot method. Much care needs to be taken when creating herbal oils this way because you do not want to deep-fry your herbs! Place herbs in a crock-pot or double boiler, and cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other oil of choice) leaving at least an inch of oil above the herbs. Gently heat the herbs over very low heat for 1-5 hours until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Some texts recommend heating the oil 48-72 hours at a controlled temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the off the heat and allow to cool. Once the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth and bottle into amber bottles for storage.

Perhaps you don't have the time or inclination to make your own lotion - some aren't as crazy as me. Here are the healing properties of some of the ingredients. Look for these when you purchase your own skin care products!

  • Calendula - otherwise known as the common marigold is known for it's healing and pain relieving properties.

  • St John's Wort or Hypericum perforatum is a calming herb, emollient and skin softener. It works great on dry, irritated skin, damaged hair and dry scalp.

  • Vitamin E Oil is the most potent antioxidant vitamin. It protects the skin from cancer causing free radicals and is essential for proper utilization of oxygen in the tissues.

  • Comfrey is a wonderful herb that encourages healing in any tissue when used either topically or internally. It's great for skin, but also beneficial when used on open wounds, sores, or burns.

  • Lavender Oil has soothing and antiseptic properties when applied to the skin. Of course we love it's beautiful fragrance too.

  • Beeswax, Carnauba, and Candellilla wax are all used as natural thickening agents, but each imparts it's own moisturizing and protecting barrier for the skin.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Whole Foods Field Trip

I had the pleasure of chaperoning my twin daughter's kindergarten class field trip to Whole Foods today. I was so excited to see what their tour would be like and what they would learn about healthy eating. In the end I decided I would write about our lesson as a reminder to all of us how important organic whole foods are to our bodies and our environment. And, how to talk to our kids about this subject.

It all started with the introduction of our tour guide Mike. He is, of course, a Whole Foods employee in charge of marketing at the store we were visiting. He was great with the kids and you could tell really enjoyed giving tours. Our first stop was the skincare section of the store where Mike explained that anything that is put ON your skin ends up IN your body so it is important that it be natural and organic.

He went on to ask the kids if they new what organic meant. There guesses were pretty good and I thought his explanation was clear. Organic means that it is 'from the earth'. It is natural, without added chemicals and the basic ingredients are unchanged.

Next we moved on to the produce section. Mike explained how it is important to eat a rainbow of colors. Not only to make sure you are eating different kinds of food, he explained that even different colored apples (green, red) provided slightly different vitamin and mineral levels. He quizzed the kids on what some of their favorite green, yellow, orange and red veggies were. It is hard to keep track of what is a fruit and what is a veggie sometimes, but they did great.

We also talked about why it is so important to buy our fruits and vegetables locally. He showed the kids a section full of Michigan grown apples, squash and pumpkins. They picked up on the fact that food sitting on a boat or trucks for weeks vs. hours makes a big difference in freshness.

At the fish counter, our tour guide was trying to make a point about the importance of sustainability. He asked how many of the kids had ever been fishing before, most raised their hands and what you do when you catch a really small fish. One of the boys answered 'throw it back.' This was exactly what Mike was looking for. He then asked if anyone knew what sustainable meant. This was my favorite part of the whole experience..."when you get something on your shirt and you have to wash it off" one of the other boys answered. How cute is that? Never fear, they ultimately learned that sustainability means that we should never go out and catch all of the fish. We need to save them for the future.

We talked about meat and how important it is (if we are meat eaters) to eat meat from animals that are allowed to roam free, not be kept in tight cages. The tour guide compared chickens to the kids, calling them 'free range' kids.

Along the way there were samples of gum drops, sushi, bread and really yummy gelato. The kids had a great time and learned a lot about not only what to eat, but why it is so important to be aware of where your food comes from.

I am sure all of the whole food stores offer this service and I hope that you and your teachers will take the time to take a tour.

- Shannan

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And The Winner Is...

The lucky winner of our Bright October giveaway is

Megan Williams!!!!

Megan said that she "loves all of the play food from Haba - my DD is getting a play kitchen for Christmas and I hope to stock it with some of these adorable little goodies." Well, now you can!

Congratulations Megan! Megan will receive a $50 gift certificate to start her Christmas shopping on Bright October this year. Bright October has so many fabulous natural, eco-friendly, and organic toys at very reasonable prices!

Megan please send your contact information and email address to Living A Whole Life's email address Everyone else, stay tuned for more great giveaways and join me in your Christmas shopping on Bright October!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cannonau Wine

I am currently in the middle of reading The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. Blue Zones are communities where common elements of lifestyle, diet and outlook have led to an amazing quality and quantity of life. In this book Dan Buettner shares the secrets from four of the world's Blue Zones - Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

I will be sharing more insights from this book in future posts, but would like to pass on some information on Cannonau Wine today. Cannonau grapes are grown in Sardinia and are known to contain 2-3 times the level of artery-scrubbing flavanoids than other wines. These grapes endure endure the harsh Sardinian sun by producing mre red pigment to protect them from the ultraviolet rays. Thus providing us with more antioxidants.

According to the book, the Sardinian diet includes moderate levels of wine consumption, 1-2 glases daily with dinner. In addition to providing healthy flavonoids this sort of moderate wine consumption can help reduce stress which may also lead to a longer life.

Here is an article I found on Cannonau wine for you connoisseurs out there.

I know I will be swinging into my local wine shop to find a bottle. Salud!

- Shannan

P.S. Don't forget to enter to win a $50 gift certificate to Bright October. All entries must be in by 12:00 tomorrow. Check out Bright October's great eco-friendly toys for all the kids on your holiday shopping list!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

$50 Gift Certificate Giveaway for Toys from Bright October

You just never know who you will run into when sitting and waiting for your daughter to finish dance class. Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of conversing with the creator of the website that brings us today's product review and giveaway.

Courtney is the mom to two beautiful girls and created a website, Bright October, that specializes in eco-friendly, naturally made, and creative toys. Several years ago when her first daughter was born, she became disenchanted with the commercialized, character-driven toy world and instead sought for toys that stimulated creative play, imagination, and fun. She also wanted safe and natural toys that taught kids to appreciate the planet. Her website, Bright October, (so named because the "day they brought their daughter home was the brightest day in October" - sweet) is the culmination of her search for the perfect child's toy.
Bright October has a wonderful website neatly arranged in categories such as age, type of toy, brand of toy, and price range to make your shopping easier. Their shipping costs are low, only $3.99 for standard or free if your purchase totals over $75. They have a wonderful 90 day return policy if you are not satisfied with your product. Sign up for their newsletter and your next purchase will receive a very generous 10% off discount.

Just look at some of the adorable toys the kids and I got to preview from her site.

This is an adorable toy for our little baby to be. It's a pram decoration from Haba. It will no doubt be tons of fun for the baby to look at and touch and my other two can't seem to take their hands off it as I keep finding it in their rooms. The figures are made of beech wood and they are connected by a sturdy elastic cord. So cute!

This my friends, in the last three days, has become my 5 year old's favorite doll. She has literally taken it everywhere we have gone including a bike ride. It's the Blabla Coral Doll.

This doll is hand-made, 100% cotton and so soft. The pictures don't do her justice as she is about 22 inches long. I'm pretty sure every little girl needs one of these! Check out all the fabulous Blabla Doll styles here.

This is a really neat toy that I had never seen before for my little guy. It's an Automoblox T9 Pickup. The body of the pick-up is constructed of solid maple and as you can see in the bottom picture, every piece of this this truck comes apart. My son, C., has had tons of fun pulling this thing apart and putting it back together. There are more styles of cars and trucks in the Automoblox line and your little one can mix and match pieces making their own creations. This is number one on my list right now to purchase for my nephew for Christmas! Shhh! Don't tell him.

Just in time to start your Christmas shopping, Courtney has generously offered to give one of our readers a $50 gift certificate to spend on her site. Entry to the giveaway is easy. Here is what you need to do.

  • Visit her site Bright October and select a favorite toy.

  • Leave a comment in our comments section telling us about that favorite toy and who you would purchase it for this Christmas!

The giveaway will end Wednesday, November 11th at 12 p.m. and the winner will be announced later that evening.

Thanks Courtney!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Some Natural Help for Night-Time Bedwetting

I belong to a really great list-serve through the Holistic Mom's Network and oddly enough that is where I got the idea for today's post. A mom had written in wondering what she could do for her 5 year old son who was wetting every night. This brought back a few memories of about a year ago when our son seemed to have nightly wetting episodes. People will tell you it's so normal, and that it's a stage, which is all true; but when it's you up every night at 2 am changing sheets and laundering a complete set of bedding every night, you hope there is something to stop the cycle.

There is a lot of literature out there about the effectiveness of using Homeopathics and Bach Flower remedies to stop bed wetting and we found the homeopathic Pulsatilla to be invaluable in helping our son quickly get over his issue with bed-wetting. He completely fit the profile for Pulsatilla and it wasn't long after giving him Pulsatilla that we finally had some dry nights. I stopped giving him the Pulsatilla as a test and found that the problem re-occurred soon after. It seemed like forever, but probably after a month or two of no wetting we again stopped giving him the Pulsatilla and he was able to stay dry at night. What a relief. I still believe to this day that he wouldn't have gotten through that stage as quickly without homeopathics.

Unlike traditional medicine where there is a one size fits all approach, when you use homeopathics and Bach flower remedies you must find the right remedy for the person you are treating. I can't count the number of times I've heard people say - "Oh, I tried XYZ remedy for teething, homeopathy doesn't work." There are half a dozen remedies to try for teething and each one fits a particular personality and situation. It's not always easy to see yourself or child in a remedy, but a little investigation and perseverance usually pays off.

Homeopathics for Night-Time Bed wetting

  • Belladonna - helps the child who sleeps so deeply he cannot wake up.

  • Causticum - helps the child who wets the bed in the first sleep and is worse in dry, clear weather.

  • Equisetum - helps the child who had dreams or nightmares when urinating

  • Kreosotum - helps the child who sleeps so deeply he cannot wake and often has dreams or nightmares involving fire or of being pursued.

  • Pulsatilla - helps the child who is shy, sensitive, weepy and affectionate.

  • Sepia - also helps the child who wets in their first sleep. This child generally loves vigorous exercise and dancing, and is sensitive to cold air.

Bach Flower Remedies for Night-Time Bed Wetting

  • Chicory: due to lack of attention - reduces the child's dependence on the parents at night.

  • Crab Apple: helps overcome a feeling of uncleanliness. When a child is ashamed of his own weaknesses, it becomes harder for him to overcome them.

  • Mimulus: alleviates the anxiety induced by anticipation.

  • Pine: relieves guilt feelings

  • Willow: due to contrariness, resentment, or bitterness

Any of the Bach flower remedies can be mixed and taken together. Use a combination of Bach flower remedies and homeopathics to suit your child's needs. You can find Bach flower remedies and homeopathics at your local health store. I also purchase a few homeopathics at

For those of you going through this stage: Good Luck and remember "This too shall pass"!


This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.