Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s In My…School Backpack of Our “Resident Four Year Old”

Today the “resident four year old” starts pre-k for the fall…a moment that any fifty year old chasing a four year old 24/7 looks forward to all summer long.

I imagine that I will drop him off and then come home and sleep until it’s time to pick him back up…I’ll let you know…

So even though he’s only in pre-K and doesn’t need too many things to take with him to school other than his lunch, a stuffed animal, and a nap-pad…(oh year, teachers…good luck getting him to take a nap)…this made me think about upgrading out school and office supplies to more environmentally friendly options.

Even school and office supplies can be unfriendly to the environment, as well as toxic…

A few of the toxic chemicals that are sometimes included in school and office supplies include…

  • asbestos (a known carcinogen) in crayons
  • benzene (a probable carcinogen) in dry-erase markers
  • lead (a neurotoxin) in children’s water bottles
  • phthalates (linked to hormone and developmental problems) in 3-ring binders

Not only that many of the companies that make school and office supplies are not cruelty-free.

So it’s important to think about things like that instead of simpy running to Dollar General and buying the cheapest items so that you can cross them off that dreaded back-to-school school supply shopping list this year…

A few trains of thought as far as shopping for school and supplies include…

1.Backpacks…As far as backpacks are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose natural materials, such as cotton or hemp. Never choose PVC plastic at all costs.

2.  Crayons and Markers…As far as crayons are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose crayons that are composed from beeswax and soy products. Always avoid cheap crayons which may be laced with asbestos.

3. Lunch Boxes…As far as lunch boxes are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose reusable and durable, PVC-free lunch bags and lunch boxes that will last more than one season. Another great options, especially for adults, would be stainless steels. But whatever you do, avoid using plastic baggies and plastic wrap. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle….(I will look at a few more great options as well as ideas as to what to put in your lunch boxes in a future post).

4. Markers…As far as markers are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose water based markers. Many permanent markers contains chemicals such as xylene, toluene, and other VOCs…which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, my “one new thing learned at school today” for today.

5. Paper…As far as loose-leaf paper, notebooks, and binders are concerned, the main train of thought should be to shop for items made with recycled paper, and binders that either do not have a plastic cover or are clearly labeled PVC-free.

6. Pencils and Pens…As far as pencils and pens are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose pencils that are made from recycled materials or wood from sustainably managed forest…and pens made from recycled plastic.

Thankfully there are sources for better school and office supplies that you would typically find at the local dollar store…sure, they may be more expensive…and honestly, these options might not be way more expensive…but depending on how committed you are or are not about the above concerns in all areas of your family’s life, you may want to get out your debit card so that you can buy some really cool new gadgets for the new school year.

Finally, some really great places online to shop or at least browse at these other options include…

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mineral Water At Least Makes Drinking Water Much Less Boring

My very favorite segment of the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is when Charlie and his grandfather drink the bubbly water and float into the ceiling. If they can escape the reality of gravity and this great planet full of chaos and concerns simply by drinking bubbly water, wouldn’t we all be drinking it every day?

Yet, even though bubbly water will not help us reach great heights, there are many types of “bubbly” water available that can add interest to our newly established water drinking habit that not only help with staying hydrated, but also provide many other health benefits as well.

These options include…

  • Sparkling Water…Sparkling water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide, either naturally or man-made, making the water sparkling or bubbly.
  • Natural Mineral Water…Natural mineral water—such as Perrier and San Pellegrino—is water than comes from a  a geologically and physically protected underground water source—such as an aquifer, underground reservoir, spring, or artesian wells—such as in Mihalkovo in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, in Medžitlija in Macedonia, or most notably in Selters in the German Taunus mountains.
  • Seltzer Water…Seltzer water is a  genericized trademark originally used to market the water that comes from the infamous German town Selters, This natural sparkling mineral water has been commercially bottled and shipped from this town since the 18th century or earlier.
  • Soda Water…Soda water, also known as club soda, contains bicarbonate of soda, which gives them its own unique flavor. This water is popularly used for making mixed drinks—such as whisky and soda and Campari soda.
  • Tonic Water…Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound called quinine, along with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

 

And now that we have looked at the different types of bubbly available, let’s think about the health benefits of adding carbonated water to your diet….benefits such as…

  1. Blood Sugar…The bicarbonate found in mineral water helps maintain a healthy pH of the blood so it doesn’t become too acidic or too basic and improves glycemic control.
  2. Bones…Unlike soft drinks, mineral water does not contribute to lower bone mineral density and osteoperosis….mainly because unlike Cokes mineral water does not contain the added risk of having a lot of phosphorus and not enough calcium. In fact, drinking one liter of sodium-rich sparkling water for eight weeks can lead to better calcium retention.
  3. Digestion…Mineral water may help treat digestive problems—such as constipation.
  4. Heart…Carbonated water has several beneficial effects on cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar. People drinking mineral water regularly can reduce their risk of developing heart disease within ten years by 35%.
  5. Motion Sickness…Carbonated beverages without caffeine are known for their ability to help calm that queasiness.
  6. Weight Loss…Just as plain old water does, carbonated water helps you feel full longer…perhaps even better.

 

Now that we have established the fact that sparkling mineral water is a better alternative to Coke...for many reasons…such as Cokes being about a hundred times more erosive to teeth than sparkling mineral water, not containing any sugar or calories, and not being loaded with insulin-raising sugars or filled with extremely health-hazardous fake sugars like aspartame…

And now that we have also established the fact that sparkling water is also perhaps a better alternative to regular tap water…for many reasons…such as the possible, or probable, presence of dangerous toxins in our water supply…as proven by the findings of 316 different chemicals in tap water throughout the United States…

 

Let’s check which options of ready-to-drink carbonated water are the best ones to grab out of all the available alternatives.

  • (to be added later)

Final Thoughts…

  1. Make sure that you are choosing a sugar-free, unflavored sparkling mineral water that doesn’t contain any calories, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, citric acid or any other acids, and any other additives.
  2. Spike sugary fruit juices with sparkling water.
  3. Try infusing your sparkling water just as you would regular water…with options such as watermelon, rosemary, blueberries, cucumber, lavender, and mint.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

April Essential Oil of the Month—Chamomile—The How?

 

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

We are all familiar with chamomile tea, having been read The Tale of Peter Rabbit,  written by Beatrix Potter in 1902, and hearing how chamomile tea was given to Peter after being chased by Mr McGregor.

But chamomile tea has been around since the Indian days, at least.

And it seemed like the Indians enjoyed their chamomile tea. The Tzeltal Mayan Indians in the highlands of southern Mexico brew chamomile tea with an orange and a lime leaf to “lift the mood.” Aleuts brewed chamomile tea to alleviate gas. Drinking the tea was a Cherokee trick for “regularity.”

 

Today chamomile tea remains one of the most popular varieties of tea in the market. In fact more than one million cups of chamomile tea are consumed per day.

But not only has chamomile used for nearly 5,000 years for chamomile tea. Throughout the centuries, there have been many other uses also, including…

 

Bath Soaks…Lavender Chamomile Bath Soak…Combine 1C Epsom Salt, the contents of 2 chamomile tea bags in a blender. Pulverize into a fine powder. Add 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil and 5 drops Roman Chamomile Essential Oil.

Candles

  • Place soy wax chips in a heatproof glass measuring cup. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until completely melted.
  • Attach a wooden candle wick to its metal tab. Dip the tab in melted wax. Center at bottom of a glass jar.
  • Heat 1Tbsp cooking oil on a stovetop. Steep two chamomile tea bags and 10 drops lavender essential oil until the oil is scented.
  • Remove the tea-infused oil from the heat.
  • Combine tea-infused and oil and the melted wax together.
  • Slowly pour the mixture into your glass jar. Let the wax  cool and solidify. Trim the wood wick.

 Compresses..Steep a chamomile tea bag in boiling water, as if you were going to drink it. Pour tea into a bowl. Let tea cool completely. Add a few ice cubes. Soak a muslin cloth in the cool tea and squeeze out. Place on eyes or sore area and leave for at least ten minutes.

Hand Rinse…Chamomile has been used as a hand rinse for gamblers needing good luck, because of its supposed magical ability to attract money…Steep a chamomile teabag as if you were making yourself a cup of tea. Set aside 1/4C of the tea to cool. Combine ¼C liquid castile soap, ¾tsp olive oil, 8 drops chamomile essential oil, and several drops of Vitamin E oil. Add tea when completely cooled. Mix ingredients well. Pour into a labeled pump bottle.

 

Liqueur...Chamomile has also been used as a flavoring agent for liqueurs such as Benedictine and vermouth…so why not tequila?!

  • Measure out 1C reposado tequila. Add two chamomile tea bags. Let steep thirty minutes. Place this mixture in the fridge for later.
  • Combine 1/2C honey, 2tsp dried lavender, and 1/2C water in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm, stirring once or twice, until the honey melts to make a simple syrup.
  • Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice.
  • Shake 2oz of the tequila mixture, 3/4oz of the simple syrup, 3/4oz freshly squeezed lime juice, and a dash of bitters in a cocktail shaker.

Mouthwash…

  • Combine 1/4C witch hazel, 1/4C aloe vera juice, 1/8C distilled water. Add two drops of chamomile essential oil and two drops of mint essential oil. Shake well. After thirty minutes, set the mixture in the fridge.
  • To use, combine 2Tbsp mixture with 1/4C warm water. 

Perfume…Perfume has been made from the pulverized dry flowers.

  • Combine 6 drops lavender essential oil, 10 drops chamomile essential oil, 1Tbsp carrier oil, and 3Tbsp vodka. Shake well. Place in a dark bottle. Let mixture remain undisturbed for two days.
  • After two days, add 2C distilled water. Let mixture stand for at least three weeks in a cool, dark place.
  • After this time, filter the mixture. Store it in a glass bottle that has a stopper.
  • To use, dab on pulse points.