5 Reasons to Eat Seasonally

5 Reasons to Eat With The Seasons

While I have always been a lover of good food, it wasn’t until college that I really became aware of the many issues surrounding the food industry and tried to make positive changes in my own life. One of the first changes I decided to make was really making a conscious effort to eat with the seasons- which, doing my undergrad in South Florida, wasn’t actually all that difficult. It wasn’t until I moved back up north three years ago that I really learned just how important eating with the seasons can be!

The basic premise is this: rather than going to your supermarket and picking up whatever produce you desire on a certain day, you learn what is already growing in your region during that time of year and stick to those items instead- better yet, get them straight from the local farmer! Given that the produce is able to be grown locally, chances are that the food will have travelled less of a distance, be grown to better standards (hopefully organically), and the chances of corruption or unfair business practices are far less than buying out of season produce.

Follow me over to the BULK HERB STORE BLOG to read my top 5 reasons to eat with the seasons!

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013

ALN's Best Home Remedies of 2013

Some of you may know that I am lucky to be a part of a beautiful blogging community called the Alternative Living Network.  Filled with bloggers who love Jesus and want to live a natural, Kingdom-minded lifestyle, I am endlessly thankful for the challenge and encouragement that they are to me!

This year, we are combining forces to bring you the best writings of 2013. You can see the other blogs (and subjects) involved at the end of the post, but for today, here are ALN’s Best Home Remedies of 2013!

EVERYDAY REMEDIES
Oil Pulling: Your New Daily Routine
What is Oil Pulling?
Establishing a Daily Routine with Essential Oils
Foraging for Wild Edibles
5 Steps to Building the Best Collection of Oils for YOUR Family
Autumn Tonic Tea

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Elderberry Syrup)
Image Used with Permission from Nourishing Faith & Family

COLD & FLU
A Guide to Elderberry Syrup (Plus 8 Recipes!)
Elderberry Syrup
Preventative Measures for Winter Health
Surviving the World’s Worst Cold Season
Home Remedies for Cold and Flu
The Cold Buster
Easy Detoxifying and Healing Morning Elixir
DIY Herbal Vapor Rub- Crock Pot Method

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Owie Balm)
Image Used With Permission From Your Thriving Family

BUGS & BOOBOOS
Heal a Spider Bite With a Potato
Healing Bug Bites
Owie Balm Recipe

ALN's Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Remove a Mole with ACV!)
Image Used With Permission From Don’t Waste The Crumbs

SPECIFIC REMEDIES
For Pregnancy: Blend-It-Yourself Pregnancy Tea
For Chicken Pox: Made Up Chicken Pox Salve
For Dry Skin: Dry Itchy Skin Remedies
For Mole Removal: How to Remove a Mole With Apple Cider Vinegar
For Detoxification: 10 Day Water Fast

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.

To see more Best of 2013 Round-ups, make sure to check out the following blogs between 12/23 and 12/31!

Whole Intentions

Feed Me, Mama

It Takes Time

The Entwife’s Journal

The Ezer Wife

Your Thriving Family

Nourishing Simplicity

Richly Rooted

Joyful Thrifty Home

Day 2 Day Joys

Wisdom Seeking Mommy

Natural Momma in Progress

Accidentally Green

Georgetown MN

Growing Slower

Imperfect Homemaker

Simple Life Abundant Life

Natural Living Mamma

Whole New Momma

Nourishing Faith and Family

Don’t Surround Your Baby in Plastic!

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One thing that has always worried me a little bit about the typical baby’s life is the amount of plastic they are surrounded with. From swings and jumperoos to high chairs and diapers to an incessant amount of toys and tethers, it seems that everything the modern baby touches is plastic! In light of recent studies about the dangers of BPA and the chemicals that are leached from plastic in general, it seems only fitting that we should look for healthier and more sustainable alternatives to plastics for our children.

Lucky for us, there is a surge of artisans waiting to make our babies beautiful wooden toys, playlets, and high chairs! Not only are these items perfectly designed, but they are often sustainably sources, made by individuals in small companies, and are of heirloom quality. Of course, that means a higher price point, especially when compared to China-manufactured big box store toys. This begs the question: is it worth it, this quest to avoid plastics? Let’s take a look at the benefits of choosing wooden toys:

Healthier for your child. BPA has been villianized in recent years for it’s hormone-disrupting properties and cancer-causing agents, and rightfully so. But in addition to this, there are many other chemicals of concern in plastic toys, which often require batteries, are of concern for off gassing, and are regularly recalled for safety concerns. Wooden toys, void of these chemicals and never requiring batteries, can set our minds at ease.

Less environmental impact. Plastics rely on the crude oil industry, and take years to breakdown, if they break down at all. Many wooden toy manufacturers, in contrast, focus on using sustainable methods to source their wood, using wood sources that grow back easily or even that are somewhat of a nuisance (such as in the case of bamboo). Look for companies that work with the Forestry Stewardship Council! In addition, you can find great companies that not only source sustainably, but use plant based dyes and natural glues if they need to use these things in the design. Many toys are simply carved out of a solid piece of wood, perhaps embellished with a wood burning tool.

Heirloom quality. Plastic toys break, they are designed to. They are created to be a temporary fixation for your child, to be battered and bruised and then tossed away, easily replaced by the next chemical-laden gadget on the market. However, wooden toys are designed to last for generations- and they do. One toy can be passed down as an heirloom and barely look used at all. While the price point may be higher, you get so much more for your investment.

Encourage imagination and cognitive development. While plastic toys are designed to entertain, usually with a very specific purpose in mind, wooden toys have limitless possibilities. A set of blocks can become a princess castle, a boat, a tower, grocery store items- the possibilities are limitless. This flexing of the imagination paves the way for heightened cognitive development and encourages the child to think for themselves and be independent.

Here’s some of my favorite wooden toy companies:
Tegu
Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design
Plan Toys
HABA Toys
Little Sapling Toys

On the whole, I would so much rather my child be surrounded by wood than by plastic. What do you think? Are there plastic toys that your child just couldn’t live without?

Cheap & Quick Detoxifying Deodorant

Quick and Easy DIY Detox DeodorantOne of the most unfortunate things about trying to live a pure, natural, healthy life is the price tag that often comes with those choices! It’s sad but true that quality products made with responsible ingredients just cost more money to manufacture. This is especially true when it comes to health, beauty, and hygiene products.

My husband and I have had a pretty significant change in finances recently, which has spurred me onward in my quest to be able to homemake everything I can and be frugal whenever possible. I recently remarked on Facebook that I am quickly learning that everything in my bathroom can be replaced with come combination of baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and bentonite clay, and it’s pretty true! It’s amazing what a few (cheap) quality ingredients can do.

One of the first natural hygiene products I tried back in college was a natural deodorant. It was horrible. It smelled awful, made me sweat more- it was just nasty. Now, I realize that my body was probably detoxing from the years of using normal antiperspirants, which simply clog the pores rather than absorbing moisture. Sweat is natural and good! When the body sweats and you’ve used an antiperspirant, it continues to produce sweat as it fights the blockage of the pores, causing an overproduction of sweat. When you make an abrupt switch to a deodorant that doesn’t block the pores (such as this one), there can be an adjustment period as the body learns that it doesn’t have to overproduce anymore!

That said, it is important to note that this is a DEODORANT, not an ANTI-PERSPIRANT. You will sweat! However, with the addition of cornstarch and bentonite clay, I think you’ll find that you stay very dry- I know I do.

Today, I want to share a recipe that I had been dying to concoct for quite a while, and I think I’ve finally got it down. I received a lovely sample of a cream deodorant in a Conscious Box I got a few months back, and I fell in love with the concept. It took me a bit, but I adapted this recipe from Body Unburdened, which made a batch that I totally love, cost next to nothing, and will sat a really long time. Exactly what I needed!

YOU’LL NEED:

6 Tablespoons Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, 5 at room temp, 1 warmed
4 Tablespoons baking soda
3 Tablespoons organic cornstarch (you can also use arrowroot powder here)
2 Tablespoons Bentonite Clay
Essential oils, to your scent preference (I used patchouli because I like the scent, but Melaleuca/Tea Tree is a great antibacterial and anti fungal)

Combine all ingredients except for the warmed coconut oil. It is a little thick and messy! As everything starts to combine, add the warmed coconut oil, and mix together quickly. You’ll see that this binds everything together and forms a beautiful, creamy consistency. Transfer to a glass jar and you’re done!

To use, simply scoop out a bit on your fingertip and apply to your underarm. Coconut oil warms with body heat so it will spread easily.

WHAT YOU’RE GETTING:

Coconut Oil: A natural antibacterial, anti fungal, and antiviral. Provides a smooth, spreadable consistency and is moisturizing and healing for the skin.

Baking Soda: Neutralizes body odors.

Cornstarch/ Arrowroot: Great for absorbing moisture- I actually use cornstarch as a dry shampoo and as a mattifying powder for my face!

Bentonite Clay: Also absorbs moisture quickly, as well as helps pull out toxins from sweaty pits.

Essential Oils: You’ll get different properties depending on the oils you use. Like I said above, Melaleuca is a great antibacterial and anti fungal, which is great for funky pits. Rosemary, Lavender, and Lemon would also work for this same purpose.

Let me know if you try the recipe and like the results! I know I do 🙂

Links used in this post are affiliate links. I do earn a very small percentage when you purchase through these links, which allows me to continue doing what I love: writing!

Call the Midwives

We began my pregnancy by seeing my normal OBGYN, one member of a large practice in Owings Mills. The practice delivers at Sinai and I’m sure would’ve provided me with state-of-the-art medical treatment. This is the same practice that walked me through my missed miscarriage last year, as well as the scary diagnosis and eventual removal of the large mass on my right ovary.

When I went in for my first prenatal appointment, I expected to be met with smiles and perhaps even a shocked reaction- after all, it was less than a month since my surgery, and I was already pregnant! However, I was met with blank stares, eyes staring at a computer screen that didn’t recognize me or remember me. In fact, the very doctor who I had seen just a month before several times for my ovarian mass had to look at my records to confirm that I did in fact have the surgery I claimed to have had. The doctor had no recollection of me.

My second appointment was the “ever-important” internal exam. Little did I know that I had been switched from my normal female doctor (who, unbeknownst to me, retired from OB practice) to a male doctor without my permission- and had to endure yet another uncomfortable situation as my poor husband sat in a small chair while I was examined. It was mortifying for us both.

It was around this time that I began researching other birth options in Maryland- everything from simply switching OB practices to home birth. I quickly learned that Maryland is an extremely difficult place to have an intervention-free birth for several reasons:

-Having a midwife attend a home birth is “illegal” unless it is a Certified Nurse Midwife who is backed by an Obstetrician. To my knowledge, there are only a few that practice in the entire state, and I’m not sure that any of them are taking new clients, particularly first time mothers. This leaves mothers with dismal options for home birth- having an “illegally attended” birth with a midwife (which many women do and have great success and healthy babies), or having an unassisted home birth. I’m not exactly sure what the “illegality” of the whole thing can lead to- probably that you can be charged with negligence if something happens to your baby, or perhaps the midwife can be held liable- I’m not 100% sure. But, I think that, for some women, these are the right choices- to have a home birth, with a midwife or unassisted- but not for everyone.

-There are only a handful of free-standing birth centers in the state- two that I am familiar with. There are various hospital “birth centers”, staffed by midwives and outfitted with more natural birth tools, such as tubs, but because they are attached/part of hospitals, their clients must adhere to hospital guidelines- which, depending on the hospital, can significantly change the birth experience for many mothers (though many mothers absolutely love this experience, and I don’t discount that whatsoever). This also effects the after-birth experience for the parents and baby, with certain interventions being much more routine (vaxing/Vit K/eye gel given without parental consent, pitocin for placenta delivery and uterine shrinkage, formula supplementation without parental advisement). Again, these choices are completely right for some families, and many people choose to include all of those things in their after-birth care plans. However, not every family chooses these things.

-Lastly, C-Section rates throughout the state of Maryland are higher than the national average. Nationwide, close to 1 in 3 women
gives birth via cesarean- and that’s not including elective/planned cesareans. Induction before truly necessary is wildly popular, even though a recent Harvard study found that the average gestational period for a caucasian woman is 41 weeks 1 day. I have seen far too many family members and friends get induced, get epidurals, and get cesareans- it just seems normal at this point. I think that’s the problem- in most places, it IS normal. And sometimes it is completely necessary. But it doesn’t have to be!

So, taking all of this into consideration, we have decided to birth our sweet baby girl at Special Beginnings Birth Center in Arnold, MD. This is perhaps the most controversial choice that Matthew and I have made thus far (at least that I’m letting you in on haha)!  Staffed with Certified Nurse Midwives with years of experience, complete with three beautiful birthing suites with big beds, tubs, birth stools towel warmers, and a full kitchen, the place is absolutely stunning.  The only drawback: it’s located almost exactly an hour away from our apartment!

We began our research into this birth center first by talking to people we knew who have been there- most of whom gave glowing reviews, and those who didn’t were really looking for a home birth experience, and ended up going that direction in the end.

Next, we took a tour– and this is where everything changed. We were given a tour of the birth center and then given the opportunity to ask the midwives questions.  It was amazing! So many of the things I was prepared to fight with an OB about- movement and eating during labor, Vit K and eye gel, vaccinations, routine circumcision, delayed bathing, etc- all of the choices that I wanted to make for my child were encouraged, and even assumed to some degree, by the midwife staff. It was like breathing a sigh of relief as I realized that I could have the natural birth I wanted without having to fear that the baby would be stuck or smeared with something or treated in a way I didn’t feel was necessary.

We have had two appointments with midwives at the birth center so far, with a third coming up next week. The experience has been so encouraging and healing! I love the focus on nutrition and exercise as well as medical information. I can have as few ultrasounds as I would like (though we have actually had many more than I intended). Their holistic approach to pregnancy, as something that is natural and not a illness or medical emergency, brings so much peace to my heart as I remind myself that the Lord created women to bear children. Pregnancy isn’t a bad thing, and with the right preparation I can trust my body to do the work it needs to do.

A huge part of this decision has been learning to “insert grace” into our birth plans. Do I fault mothers who make choices that are different from my own? Absolutely not. Is it totally possible that something goes wrong and I need to have a medicated birth or a cesarean? Yes. And if that’s the case, I will take it in stride, as I know that medicine is a good thing and saves many lives- perhaps my own, or my baby’s. It’s the grace that I am striving to understand that will allow me to accept what happens, but also strive to be as prepared as possible and make the most sound decisions I can with the information I have now. It’s not easy! But I am glad to be questioning and learning and growing in this process.

I’m so excited for this journey and I can’t wait to share my experiences along the way!

Solid Toothpaste?

One of the last things that I converted to “natural” branding was toothpaste. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m using all of these natural shampoos, lotions, soaps, but then I’m using conventional toothpaste? Is there even an option?”. For a while, there really weren’t any great options that were readily available to the public. Now, however, a trip to the nearest grocery store will often present you with a plethora of “natural” toothpaste options. Tom’s, Trader Joe’s, even Burt’s Bees are all producing their own lines of natural toothpaste in all the usual flavors. Add in the fluoride or no fluoride debate and picking a toothpaste can get a little overwhelming! Today, however, I want to introduce you to one product that is revolutionizing the toothpaste industry: the Toothy Tab.

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Lush products, having worked for the company and used their products for quite some time now. I have to admit, though- I was skeptical about these guys. Toothy Tabs are the world’s first solid toothpaste- comprised of baking soda, essential oils, and flavors, the tabs foam up as you chew them, giving you a great lather to brush your teeth with. I actually find that I can bite a tab in half and it’s plenty for me- and they last twice as long.

The abrasive nature of the baking soda makes this a safe and natural way to whiten teeth but remain gentle enough for sensitive smiles. The absence of water allows these tabs to be made preservative free, so you can be sure that you aren’t ingesting anything funky when you’re trying to get clean. Even better, Toothy Tabs come in a tiny, compostable box that allows for virtually no waste!

The best part of Toothy Tabs is the impressive and creative litany of flavors:

Sparkle- vanilla, lemon, and grapefruit
Chou Chou I Love You- rose and lemon
Dirty-spearmint and neroli
Atomic- coffee, cinnamon, and clove
Breath of God- sandalwood, vanilla, fennel
Ultrablast- mint and wasabi
Aquatic- earl grey, lime, and jasmine

While some of these may be too adventurous for your taste-literally!-Dirty is a great mint flavor that will please anyone (I can personally attest to this). While wasabi flavored toothpaste scares me to death, I am currently using rose and lemon flavored Chou Chou and it is incredible! I love the taste. I have also read testimonies of pregnant women who would get sick from minty toothpaste but tried these alternative flavors and were able to curb the morning sickness. Of course, any Lush store will be happy to give you a sample so you don’t buy one you hate. I want to try Sparkle next!

Sending fresh breath and pretty smiles your way,
Karli