Healthy Home | Family |

Summer Prep For Your Home and Your Family

2 minute read

Woohoo! It’s finally warm outside and that means we can stop complaining about the cold and snow and start complaining about being hot. (A good problem, right?) With the changing temperatures, it’s important to be aware of how your home and family are impacted. So, we’ve put together a few tips on summer prep.

Summer Prep For You And Your Family

It takes time for our bodies to adjust to the rising temperatures this time of year so here are some important ways to keep cool when planning your outdoor adventures:

Drink More Water

Increase your water intake from 8-10 glasses to 12-15 glasses of water every day. Staying hydrated is important for protecting yourself from the sun and for normal functioning.

Protect Your Skin

Use this chart from Hawaiian Tropic to determine which SPF is right for you and consider a cooling sunblock with aloe.

Camping:

  • Pitch your tent in the shade or reflect the heat away with thermal survival blankets
  • Camp near water for a quick dip or wetting your bandana
  • Get a fan tent or leave your vents open to get a maximum breeze

The Beach:

  • Rock that wide-brimmed hat for constant shade
  • Eat cold treats for a quick cool down or try spicy foods which cause your internal body temperature to rise so your body naturally works to cool down
  • Target your neck, ankles, wrists, back of your knees, and armpits with ice or water to cool down your whole body without getting completely soaked

Hiking:

  • Hike early in the day and try your best to plan a shaded hike. Even if your whole hike isn’t shaded, find shaded areas to rest
  • Pace yourself; it’s important to take frequent breaks for rest and hydration
  • Cover up in lightweight, light-colored clothing since dark colors absorb the sun’s rays and make you hotter. By slowing your loss of fluids, covering your exposed skin actually keeps you cooler than wearing less clothing

Summer Prep For Your Home

Now it’s time to get your home ready for the summer. Here are a couple tips for keeping your home cool.

Air Conditioner Checkup

In order to make sure your unit is in working order, you need to test it before the temperatures become intolerable. The air filter might need to be replaced and you will need to clear any debris from around the vents and exhausts, and make sure to remove any dirt from the unit itself. If all else fails, call a professional.

Turn the Breeze Around

Did you know that ceiling fans are made to rotate with the seasons? Clockwise in the winter to help circulate heat that’s risen, and counterclockwise in the summer to increase a cool breeze downward. So rotate those blades to get maximum cooling!

Basement Prep

If your basement is completely or partially underground, it will naturally stay cooler during the summer. And if you have a finished basement, you and the family can spend more time down there during the warm months. Just make sure the electricity and plumbing are functioning and there’s no residual mold or mildew.

Healthy Home |

Summer Home Projects In A Week Or Less

2 minute read

Planning on home renovations this summer? Don’t let them steal your sunshine! Here are some easy, yet effective, summer home projects that you can complete in less than a week—perfect if you’re tight on time and want to keep your budget in check.

Five Easy Summer Home Projects

Indoor Summer Home Projects

House Cleanup: Cleaning your house takes teamwork and planning. And you can easily tidy up your home in a week if you get the whole family involved on a room-by-room cleanup schedule. One day each week, pick a room (or have everyone clean their own bedrooms) and tackle it as a family. You can end each cleanup with fun rewards like taking everyone for ice cream or going to a movie.

Update Light Fixtures: Still have the same light fixtures as when you moved into your house? Time for an upgrade! Major changes may require the help of an electrician or create the need to replace drywall, but there are some easy fixes you can make in just a few days.

  • Paint your existing light fixtures with a modern color and finish. (Ex. Go from dated brass to a sleek matte black or white.)
  • Add new lampshades with a modern shape and color.
  • Buy a conversion kit that makes it simple to go from recessed lighting to a hanging fixture.

Create a Reading Area: Having a dedicated space in your home for reading and relaxing is one of the smartest investments you can make. To start, you’ll need to find the ideal spot, somewhere that’s somewhat secluded and quiet, one that you’re not otherwise using. Usually, corners, nooks, or alcoves work great for this. Even an unused closet would be perfect. Once you have the space picked out, it’s all about making it comfortable. Buy pillows and blankets and add in some soft lighting. You can even make the lights dimmable so the space can work as a reading room or a nap area!

Outdoor Summer Home Projects

Build a Garden Bed: All of these summer home projects are not limited to the indoors. If you have the yard space (or even a small patio), it’s time to put in that garden you’ve always talked about! Once you measure out the area you have to work with, it’s easy to find a pre-made wooden frame to build your raised garden in. (They’re available and pre-treated at most home improvement stores.) Then a couple trips to the garden section for soil, seeds, and fertilizer and you’re well on your way to homegrown produce or beautiful flowers.

Pressure Wash Exterior: This one will only take a day or two, but it makes a big difference. Many home improvement stores rent out pressure washers, which use high-powered streams of water to blast away dirt and grime. You can use it on your house siding, sidewalks, decks, and other durable surfaces that need cleaning. While it’s fun and oddly satisfying to use a pressure washer, it’s important that you take safety precautions. Use eye protection and heavy-duty gloves, and start the process by spraying a detergent, which will make cleaning easier and reduce the risk of damage to your home.

 

Family |

Crafts for Kids: DIY Flower Pot Design

3 minute read

This DIY flower pot design is an easy, fun craft you can do with the kids to celebrate the warm weather. Plus, depending on what you plant, there may be some health benefits as well. Bonus? It looks like a picket fence. Adorable!

Used outdoors or indoors, try your favorite flowers or growing herbs on your windowsill that you can pick from. You may even decide you want to use them as centerpieces while entertaining guests this summer! Because why not show off your crafty gardening skills, right?

Indoors, certain plants can be great for your family’s health. They release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, which can help freshen up the air. Try planting Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, Chrysanthemums, or Ferns.

According to Sophie Lee for NBC News, studies show that indoor plants can also improve concentration and productivity by up to 15%. They can also reduce stress levels and boost your mood.

Add the fact that you’re creating these DIY flower pots from scratch and you have another reason to put those crafting skills to use: being creative is a great way to promote mental health.

“The average person has 60,000 thoughts per day and 95% of them are exactly the same, day in and day out (Cleveland Clinic),” writes Charles Benayon, founder and CEO of Aspiria Corp. for the Huffington Post. “Immersing yourself in a creative activity produces an almost meditative state where your mind is so engrossed in what you’re doing that you temporarily forget all of your troubles and worries.”

Give these DIY flower pot designs a shot to improve Indoor Air Quality and boost mental health with your creativity. Try to expand on them by experimenting with paints or props to create miniature scenes. Most importantly, have fun!

Materials

1 Tuna Can

1 or 2 Gardening Flowers

20 Clothespins

Instructions

Step One: Gather your materials. If you plan on getting creative and painting your clothespins, paint them before the next step and allow them to dry on a paper towel.

DIY-Flower-Pot-step-one

Step Two: Empty, drain, and clean out the inside of your tuna can. Then, one by one, begin to clip each clothespin onto the side of the tuna can.

DIY-Flower-Pot-Step-Two

Step Three: Make sure the clothespins are pushed all the way down and circle all the way around the tuna can.

DIY-Flower-Pot-Step-Three

Step Four: Carefully remove your gardening flower from its plastic container. (Note: Skip this step if you plan on planting seeds and growing herbs or plants instead of flowers.)

DIY-Flower-Pot-Step-Four

Step Five: Place your gardening flower inside your newly DIY flower pot. (Note: If you plan on growing herbs or plants instead of flowers, this is where you’d fill the pot with soil and plant your seeds)

DIY-Flower-Pot-Step-Five

Step Six: Choose a location for your DIY flower pot (indoors or outdoors) where you’ll be able to enjoy it daily.

DIY-Flower-Pot-Step-Six

 

Archive |

Spreading Awareness of Food Allergies

2 minute read

Food Allergies: Fact & Fiction

“I’m allergic to brussell sprouts!” As kids, many of us probably tried using an excuse like that to get out of eating our vegetables. But today, if a kid tells you they’re allergic to something, it’s important to take them seriously. According to researchers, an estimated 5.9 million children under the age of 18 have a food allergy and 30 percent of those children have multiple food allergies.

Even if you are not a part of the food allergy community, it is important to know what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to food allergies.

Myth: All food allergies appear in childhood and last a lifetime.

Fact: Food allergies can develop at any age even if you’ve eaten the food before with no reaction.

Children are most likely to outgrow a food allergy over time. This is common with allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat. Peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish allergies are harder to outgrow.

Myth: Food allergies aren’t that serious

Fact: Food allergies have the potential to be life-threatening and should always be taken seriously. It’s so important to read menus thoroughly, ask lots of questions about what’s in a dish, and be prepared to take action if an allergic reaction occurs.

Myth: Eating a little bit of the food you’re allergic to is okay.

Fact: The smallest trace of a food allergen can cause a severe reaction. Removing all sources of the allergen from one’s diet and surroundings is the only way to ensure safety.

Myth: A mild reaction equals a mild allergy.

Fact: Although there are mild to severe allergic reactions, there is no such thing as a mild food allergy. All food allergies are serious with the potential to cause anaphylaxis. Always error on the side of caution.

So now that you know what’s fact and what’s fiction, it’s time to spread the word.

Check out the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) website. It provides lots of great ways to learn more and some ideas for spreading awareness of food alleriges:

Food for Thought video series

Be a Pal Program

FARE Training

Food Allergy Awareness Week

Support Groups

Sources:

Food Allergy Research and Education, www.foodallergy.org

Archive |

Personalized Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

2 minute read

Why is it that we often whip up a Mother’s Day gift the night before, when we plan Christmas presents and birthday surprises months in advance? In our defense, Mother’s Day is a different date every year, and sometimes it’s hard to keep track of. But we all know it’s one of the most important. So this year you’re going in prepared! Mark your calendar for Sunday, May 13, and start planning now. Even if you’re running out of time, you can still do something thoughtful that lets mom know just how much you appreciate her. Here are Mother’s Day gift ideas for every mom!

Mother’s Day gift ideas for….

The Gardening Mom: There are lots of gardening gift sets you can make yourself with a new pair of her favorite gloves or a new kneeling pad, or handmade garden markers.

The Spa-loving Mom: What mom doesn’t deserve to be pampered? A gift card for a massage, or a scheduled mani/pedi for you and her can bring you closer together and make her feel appreciated. If you’re a son, don’t write off this option! Experiencing something new with your mom can let you both see a new side of each other, plus your hands will feel smoother than you ever thought was possible.

The Mom who’s a Grandma: You know your mom loves being a grandma more than almost anything, right? Embrace it! There are endless handprint craft ideas on Pinterest like these Handprint Tulip Towels, or this one of a kind fingerprint necklace that she can show off to all her friends. If her grandkids helped make it, she will love it even more.

The Crafty Mom: Moms who love to craft, love organization! So whether you can spring for a new craft cart or take a day to help her organize her craft room, you’re sure to please.

The Active Mom: Does your mom stay in better shape than you do? Working out together is a great way to know each other better, and it gives you a chance to sneak some of mom’s “fountain of youth” secrets. Go for a hike at a local state park, sign up for a 5k that you can do together, or try something new like goat yoga. (Yes, it’s a thing and mom will love it.)

Archive |

Your Spring Gardening Checklist

< 1 minute read

Spring Plant Care

Spring is here–breathe it in! From April 30th through May 4th, the EPA recognizes Air Quality Awareness Week in an effort to “inspire people to take steps, no matter how large or small, to reduce their contribution to air pollution.” In addition to being eye-catching, plants help filter the air and can contribute to an overall happier environment. Make sure your outdoors are ready with our spring plant care checklist.

With the arrival of spring, it’s time to take a closer look at all of that greenery. So here’s a simple spring plant care checklist that will help you spruce up your garden, houseplants, and yard for spring!

Note: These tips will vary based on what Plant Hardiness Zone you’re in. You can find more information for your area by searching for zone-specific tips.

Gardens

  • Clean up your garden beds by removing dead leaves, leftover snow, and weeds.
  • Dig compost into beds as soon as the soil can be worked, and top with mulch to maintain moisture and help prevent weeds.
  • Plant onion sets, lettuce, spinach, peas, sweet peas, carrots, and parsnips. (If weather allows.)
  • Remove winter covering from tender roses, perennials, and strawberries.

Lawns

  • Fertilize lawns once snow has melted.
  • Trim away spent blooms on shrubs, and thin-out overly thick branches to rejuvenate older plants.
  • Remove lawn thatch and add seed to fill in any barren areas.

Indoors

  • Rotate your house plants so they receive proper amounts of light. This will encourage even growth and balanced shapes.
  • Start seeds of squash, melons, and corn, which can be moved outdoors as temperatures rise.
  • Sprout seed potatoes by transitioning them from cold storage to room temperature.

Sources:

https://www3.epa.gov/airnow/airaware/

http://www.thegardenhelper.com/calendar/april.html

https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/gardeners-april-to-do-list

Environment | Healthy Air |

Earth Day vs. Arbor Day: The Difference and Why They Both Matter

2 minute read

Earth Day vs. Arbor Day. Why do we even need these two holidays? Well, for one, these aren’t just holidays that were invented to sell greeting cards. In fact, part of their goal is to reduce the number of greeting cards that are made and to recycle all the old ones.

We have both of these holidays because they started in very different ways for causes that were important in their time, almost a century apart. Today, their causes are as crucial as ever, and they have both come to emphasize the end goal of improving our planet. Here’s some more information that will help you see the forest for the trees and be able to tell the two holidays apart.

History of Arbor Day vs. Earth Day

Arbor Day

Arbor Day was started back in 1872 by a member of Nebraska’s State Board of Agriculture. Julius Sterling Morton proposed the day of tree planting as a way to repopulate his home state with trees. By 1888, we were recognizing the importance of trees nationwide and Arbor Day became a widely celebrated holiday.

Earth Day

Earth Day was founded much later in 1970 when Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson began an organization of volunteers to raise awareness of environmental issues and pollution. Nelson believed he could force environmental protection onto the national political agenda if he could combine the energy of the anti-war movement with a public awareness of the ongoing air and water pollution.

How We Celebrate Arbor Day vs. Earth Day

Because tree planting can’t happen at the same time of year nationwide, Arbor Day is celebrated either the last Friday of April, or whenever the climate allows. Hawaii for example, doesn’t celebrate until November when their rainy season starts.

Arbor Day

Activities involve planting new trees, tending to endangered trees and plants, and cultivating spaces for continued and future tree growth. Search here to find events in your state.

Earth Day

Earth Day is every April 22nd in the United States in honor of Senator Nelson’s environmental teach-in first held on that day. Initiatives include planting trees and local trash cleanups.

What You Can Do for Arbor Day vs. Earth Day

Arbor Day

While Arbor Day is thought to be just a day to plant trees, it is really about environmental stewardship and leaving a better Earth for future generations than the one we currently have. You can do something as simple as learning your state tree, or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can share a picnic with friends and bake a dish using spices and other ingredients produced entirely by trees.

Earth Day

Earth Day has become known for widespread, impassioned calls to action. But even if you’re not the call-your-senator-and-join-a-protest-at-the-capitol type, there are lots of simple ways for you to make a difference. Walking to school or work is healthy and cuts down on air pollution. Recycling, using your own grocery bags, and carrying a reusable water bottle or coffee cup are all good practices that help to cut down on waste and pollution. And, just like for Arbor Day, you can plant a tree or two.

So now you know the difference between Earth Day and Arbor Day. While each holiday began under different circumstances, they have always been simpatico at their core. Take some time on those days to become more aware of your surroundings and find a way that you can positively impact the world around you.