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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eagle Scout Challenge

Memorial Day weekend is a reminder for us to acknowledge and respect those who sacrificed their lives so we can enjoy the freedoms of this country.

As our son received his highest honor in scouting, The Eagle Scout, we truly felt the pride of being a citizen of the United States.

Our ideal goal for our son as he went through the ranks of Boy Scouts over the years was to develop a young boy into a man who is conscious of living by the Scout Oath.

"Duty to God and Country,
Duty to other people,
Duty to Self"

To know and serve God is how we show our duty to God.
To work for the country's good and obey its laws is how you show your duty to your country.
The duty to oneself is shown by taking care of mind and body so we stay strong and healthy.

By the age of 18, should a boy stay with scouting he has the opportunity to achieve Scouting's highest award, The Eagle Scout challenge. By fulfilling the Boy Scout requirements in addition to the completion of a community service project, the scout proudly enters the ranks of promising high achievers.

Honor is the foundation of all character. To be trustworthy is the foremost responsibility in which an Eagle Scout should live his life. The color white represents honor.

Loyalty is the second obligation of an Eagle Scout. Devotion to God, family, community, and one's ideals. This is signified by the color blue.

To be courageous in times of challenge, uncertainty and danger is esteemed by everyone. The color red is a reminder of courage.

To be cheerful is not always easy, but amazing how a smile can influence those around us.

To be of service is the utmost responsibility of an Eagle Scout. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", and the daily Good Turn take on new meaning as a boy enters the adult world. The scout motto memorized since Cub Scout days is "Be Prepared". To be able to handle the pressures and challenges of being on your own requires a child to have matured in character and sense.

Jared's service project involved raising awareness in the Christian community of the important role music plays in reaching the youth of today's world. Typically parents have their children complete CCD classes within the Catholic Church or Confirmation classes within the Protestant church, and then being they have no obligation to attend upon completion, they slip away. Usually the reason is that they think the services are boring or just don't feel anything.

Music is the key to getting through to a teenager or young adult. Spiritual messages portrayed through song can become meaningful and impressionable in a positive way. Song lyrics are often similar to poetry and written in a way people can empathize.

Jared held a concert featuring six bands. Those attending brought a monetary donation or canned goods for a local charity. He even had a local youth pastor deliver a very appropriate message relating to the challenges facing today's young people.

As we celebrate Memorial Day, let us think fondly and proudly of all our men and women who showed utmost character and strength by serving in the military. May their contributions and memory never fade or lose value.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Best Choices For Our Children

Once responsible for another life, as we are with our children, it is easy to doubt our own common sense and trust in the slick advertisement of commercial baby products.

Products developed for the public have to contain some type of preservatives to deter bacterial growth since they will be on store shelves for indefinite periods of time.

However, it has been shown or suspected that a few of very common ingredients in personal care products may cause harmful side effects.

Parabens, preservatives found in hair products, sunscreen, skin creams and make-up, may increase the risk of cancer. They are labeled as methyl paraben or propyl paraben.

Phthalates, preservatives for scent and color, can disrupt the balance of the endocrine system.

Synthetic fragrances can contribute to skin allergies and disrupt hormonal balance.

For peace of mind in the products you use as a consumer, look for companies that use only natural, preferably organic ingredients.

Meadow Muffin Gardens is a small home based business where products are made as needed, limiting the necessity for synthetic preservatives.

"Wholesome and practical is the best way to describe our line of body care.
Guided by wisdom and knowledge passed down from generations of women our products consist of ingredients provided by our natural world. Information and recipes often tucked away in quaint old books resurface to remind us that 'simple is best'."

No need for concern about the harm to animals as there are no animal products or animal testing involved in these products.

Preservatives used are grapefruit seed extract, Vit. E and the concentration of essential oils. Being the risk of contamination is always present in any perishable product please try to use the item within 6 months to a year.

As a wise consumer, trust your gut instincts when choosing what products you will use on your children.

With the kids home for the summer, it doesn't take long before the lack of structure they may have been used to in their day, turns into the claims of boredom.
My grandmother used to say a bored child just needs some work to do. Though true, mental and physical stimulation through creative play is also very important.
Below is a treasury collection of summertime activities your child is sure to enjoy. No batteries, no buttons, just creative imagination.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cut Your Vet Bills with Home Pet Care

We do love our pets and worry constantly about their safety, health and welfare.

The situations they get themselves into never fail to amaze and amuse me.

Veterinary expenses are enough to deter the decision to take on the responsibility of a pet. Unless you can take care of some situations at homes, you may be spending a lot more on vet bills than you anticipated.
Routine care and awareness can nip a lot of potential problems in the bud.

How easy is it to turn a day upside down? Just ask these guys!
If there is an opening of any kind, be it dryer, washer, closet, cabinet, car, freezer, luggage, box, bag.....they are in it. We even have a kitten we suspect got packed up with donations to a local thrift shop! Their curiosity can get them into sooo much trouble!!

At least with cats they don't just eat anything like puppies will. Thankfully, these guys haven't yet required emergency surgery. They just show me what trouble they've gotten into by bringing whatever it was back up.

Belly and bowel upsets can be calmed by offering plain white rice, yogurt, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin in place of the usual kibble. Keep a can of pureed pumpkin on hand in the pantry. It is good for both constipation and diarrhea. Add about two tbsp. pumpkin (not the pie blend) for a medium sized dog. Continue at mealtimes till the problem resolves itself.

If your dog ate something toxic you should call your vet for reassurance that vomiting the substance back up is the right thing to do. Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy for such emergencies. Give one teaspoon for every five pounds of body weight to induce vomiting and repeat once if necessary.

Pets love touch. When you are brushing, holding or fussing with your pet, be conscious of any lumps, fur mats, odors, hot spots or minor wounds.
Long-haired fur mats easily which unless de-thatched can get tight and painfully pull the skin. Keep pets grooms to removed excess fur which otherwise ends up on your furnishings or ingested. To a certain extent furballs are ok but no one likes to clean up the yellow stain caused by a cat's vomit. A type of pet comb called the "furminator" is so efficient at removing that undercoat we only use it outside. The hair removed is unbelievable.

To help with hairballs in cats, give just a bit of butter (1/2 tsp) for a few days.

Odors and ear scratching may be an overgrowth of yeast. I found two recipes. The first is a mixture of 1/3 white vineger, 1/3 isopropyl alcohol and 1/3 distilled water. The second is 1/2 distilled water and 1/2 white vinegar. Either one is inexpensive and a good preventative for keeping those ears clear. Just wet a cotton square and wipe the outer ear canal once a week. Don't use q-tips. No poking inside the ear canal.

If your pet's ears are already scratched sore, don't use the vinegar or alcohol/vinegar blend as it will be painful for your pet. Add a garlic clove to an ounce of olive oil and keep in a glass dropper bottle. When not in use keep this mixture in the refrigerator since hopefully you won't be needing it that often. When needed warm the bottle by rolling between your hands or sit in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Do not microwave to avoid the chance of uneven hot spots. Add a small amount onto a cotton round and wipe out the ear canal or add just a small bit into the ear, gently squish a bit to help the ear clean itself and wipe with a cotton round or tissue.

If when you clean your cat's ears you find a black discharge on your cotton round, it is probably because of ear mites. The garlic olive oil can be used as a way to smother the mites but you have to be diligent and apply the oil daily until you don't see signs, which may take up to a month. If you have more than one cat there is a good chance you'll need to do this for each cat. Add a dropper of garlic oil to each ear, gently squish the ear cartilage so it gets down into the canal, wipe out with a cotton round to remove the black discharge and clean the ear. Be sure to do both ears.

Another great natural method of ear cleaning is to wipe out the canal with coconut oil. As an anti-fungal, coconut oil will help keep those yeasties at bay.

Learn more about coconut oil for your pets from this article. Coconut oil is loaded with the good fats our pets need for better digestion, fresher breath, smooth coat, clean teeth and to make life easier your dog will probably take it right off a spoon. Start off with about 1/4 tsp for every 10 pounds of body weight and work up to about a tsp. a day for the average 10 pound cat and 1-2 tbsp. a day for the average dog weight of 50-60 pounds or 1 tsp per 10 pounds.

To help keep those teeth clean and breath fresh, try adding a bit of coconut oil to an ordinary toothbrush and go over your dog or cat's teeth. Your dog will probably just try to chew on the brush but that's ok, he is still getting the antibacterial benefits on his teeth and mix with saliva to do the trick. Now a cat may like it or fight it but it's worth a try.

For a pet toothpaste combining coconut oil with the benefits of diatomaceous earth, try this blend
Pet Toothpaste

Pet skin allergies are one of the most common reasons pets need to visit their veterinarian. As frustrating for the doctor as for the pet owner, these conditions are often chronic, meaning all you're doing is offering temporary relief even though you go to the vet hoping the next "fix" will work this time for good. Prednisolone works like a magic pill but long term steroid use is often detrimental for your pet's health.

Be aware of what is in your pet's food. The more inexpensive brands are corn based which is a cheap filler, adds weight gain, often attributes to allergies, and is not the best thing for a naturally carnivorous animal. You will find that the better quality pet foods require less per serving, bringing the overall cost down. Cheaper foods don't offer the nutrition your pet needs, contain fillers and potentially harmful additives and preservatives, eventually evident in the condition of the skin, coat and possible chronic disease. The addition of 1 Tbsp. of flax seed oil added daily to your pet's diet can help with irritated skin. Commercial pet foods are often lacking in the 'good fats' so needed for healthy skin. Flax oil comes bottled in the refrigerated section of most health or natural food stores.

Allergies and anxiety can result in a dog miserable with itchy, twitchy skin resulting in obsessive licking a certain spot, known as hot spots. This mixture of vegetable glycerin and witch hazel (click hereis worth a try to help break the cycle and hopefully the licking will stop. Just spray the affected area and rub in a bit with your fingers.

Urinary blockages in cats is every cat owners nightmare. Blockages can be painfully fatal if not caught in time, so a trip to the visit should not be pushed off. Crystals can block the urethra making it very difficult or impossible for the cat to urinate. Signs of a bladder infection and inflammation include: frequent straining in the litter box, not making it to the litter box, voiding very little urine at a time, constant licking at the back end, lethargy, bloody urine, painful meowing.
Preventative measures include adding a bit of apple cider vinegar to your cat's water bowl to help keep the urine acidic or add some cranberry juice to your cat's diet. These can be given in capsule form or dried cranberry juice powder added to the food. Unsweetened cranberry juice or a cranberry tincture can be added to the water bowl. Ask your vet for the proper dosages. 

Minor wound care can be nursed at home. Keep on hand two 'must haves' from your health food store. Ask for the essential oils Tea Tree and Lavender. They'll come in little 1 oz. amber glass dropper bottles. Essential oils are very potent and NEVER allowed accessible to the possibility of your pet ingesting them. External use only!!

Should you have a wound to deal with, dilute 10 drops tea tree in a cup of warm water and wash the wound to disinfect and clean the area. Once clean and dry apply a good quality healing salve. If the wound is a puncture it needs to heal from the inside out. If it closes over too soon, there is an increase of infection. This is especially true with cat bites. Cat bites very often develop an abscess and antibiotics may be needed but home care of the wound is still necessary. For deeper wounds, keep the wound disinfected with the tea tree wash but wait a few days before applying the salve. Won't harm your pet if he licks at the salve.
This link is for an herbal salve utilizing the healing powers of herbs, Calendula and Comfrey.

click here

Lavender is like a first aid kit in a bottle. Just a drop will help the itch of bug bites. Dilute 10 - 15 drops in a pint of warm water and sponge bathe your pet to relief either sunburn or irritated, inflamed skin.

A great balm to keep on hand utilizes the properties of herbal oils Chickweed, Plantain and Comfrey. Apply to bug bites or inflamed skin conditions and hot spots. Won't harm your pet if he licks at the salve.

click here

Protection from the elements is done very efficiently by a dog's coat, but depending on the breed, they may be a bit more vulnerable to the sun's rays. Not all breeds have the skin protection of thick body fur and are susceptible to sun burn. Over-exposed noses and ears, or the body itself in hairless breeds, can suffer from sunburn just like with our unprotected skin. An herbal salve made up of St. Johnswort, Comfrey and Lavender, this balm not only repairs damaged tissue but calms down the inflammation and pain that follows a burn.
 click here
Some dog breeds just seem to have more of a doggy odor than others, and some dog fur just seems to take forever to dry after getting wet.  Come in from the rain or following a bath, and that wet dog smell can be very distinct.  This deodorant spray is listed as a deodorant spray for people seeking alternatives to aluminum based deodorants, but is also very good for our pets (not cats). Vanilla and Sage are often used in pet odor candles, for they are very good at eliminating odors. Being alcohol based, it dries quickly, leaving behind a really nice smelling pooch. Do not get into the eyes.

Bathing your dog can be a rewarding and bonding experience, especially if you know you are using a gentle shampoo free of potentially harmful additives. Over use of bathing products can dry out and contribute to the imbalance of skin conditions.
The links below are for shampoos based on the gentle, natural ingredients in Bronner's castile soap, Aloe Vera Gel and Apple Cider Vinegar.

General Clean Shampoo

Flea Deterrent Shampoo

Shampoo for irritated skin

A further use for lavender and peppermint is to add about 10 - 15 drops of either oil or a combination of both to an 16 oz. spray bottle of water. Spray your dog and/or pet bedding to freshen as well as repel fleas. If using on a cat the lavender is safe but avoid the peppermint. Also spray your mattress and upholstered furniture.

In addition for the battle with fleas, Diatomaceous Earth is a non-toxic all-natural powdered substance that can be rubbed directly into the fur and/or sprinkled onto the pet bedding. Diatomaceous earth  is not an earth. It is the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one celled plants called diatoms. It can also be used as an organic wormer and will kill any worms or parasites the pets may have. Be sure to use pure, food-grade DE. Nature’s Wisdom Diatomaceous Earth contains Perma-guard de. PERMA-GUARD is the trade name known world wide for using a grade and quality of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) that is extremely pure.

To use Diatomaceous Earth for fleas:
Avoid getting the powder into your pet's eyes. Rub about one tbsp. into the fur of dogs over 35 pounds. Use about one tsp. for cats or little dogs. Do this once or twice a week.
To use Diatomaceous Earth for worms:
Add one tbsp a day to your dog's food.
Add one tsp. a day to your cat's food.
Repeat this until you no longer see signs of worms either in the stool or in vomit.

Borax is another option for fleas. Sprinkle it over your carpets and rugs, work it in, wait at least a half hour, and vacuum.

For a natural flea powder combining diatomaceous earth with neem powder, yarrow powder and geranium essential oil, try this blend:
Pet Flea Powder

 Rescued pets have no way to actually tell us the origins of their fears and anxieties. We try to help these emotionally based behavioral disorders by offering secure, safe havens free of stress. But past traumas are buried deep and all it takes is the loud bang of gunfire, fireworks or even door slamming, to send a shaking pet under the bed. Or perhaps with your companion it is dealing with separation anxiety, and our dog exhibits inappropriate chewing, either of his own tail or paws or your home furnishings. Before relying on anti-anxiety medication, try the power of herbal remedies. Lavender and chamomile are safe for pets and are great for calming fears.

A remedy great to have on hand though you hope never to have to use it is Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. It is a remedy to give in situations of extreme shock and fear. It is made up of five flower essences known for their calming properties: Impatiens, Clematis, Rock Rose, Cherry Plum and Star of Bethlehem. Found at a health food store, this remedy developed by Dr. Edward Bach, should be in every first aid kit and every car glove compartment. Preventing shock at the time of an emergency definitely can save lives. Give two to four drops on the tongue or gums every 10 - 15 minutes en route to the veterinarian.

Listed below is an essential oil based spray useful for spraying pet bedding or massaging it right into their fur. It will help with fears and anxiety as well as calm down an excited pet in preparation for sleep. This air or linen spray also works great for people who have trouble sleeping and children who need help settling down. Click here

The threat of Lyme disease is always a concern for pets as well as ourselves.  Ticks can be very stubborn to the typical flea and tick sprays. Rather than dousing yourself and loved ones with pesticides and organophosphates, and then worry about the risks of these toxic ingredients, try an approach these buggers naturally detest and don't build up a resistance. The scent of certain essential oils encourages them to flee. Ticks don't like the smell of the oil therefore try to avoid it. Rose Geranium, Pelargonium graveolens, is a necessary part of any effective eco-friendly tick repellent. This spray is ideal for use on your dogs, but don't use on cats. Some essential oils can be dangerous to cats. Cats don't have the enzymes necessary to break down certain components and unless eliminated efficiently their build-up can lead to toxicity.

A great tip to remember:
When you come in from outside or even periodically while on a hike or gardening, take a lint roller and go over your clothing to pick up any ticks. Roll it over your dog or cat to pick up any ticks. Being deer ticks are so small and blend in so well with darker clothing and fur, this tip is genius.

  click here

Below is a great gift idea for the dog lover! A nice assortment of care products useful for people and their pets for bath time, times of anxiety, tick prevention, wound care and pet odor.
click here

Your dog will love these handmade, homemade dog treats to help repel fleas.
Click here to take you to a blog post with the recipe.

Last, please remember that when you have a young dog you have to be patient and tolerant. Dogs aim to please and aren't purposely getting on your nerves with their impulsive, destructive behaviors.
Here is a cute, yet so true post about living with a toddler dog

I'm Sorry!

The items shown above can be found within the Meadow Muffin Gardens shop 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One With The Sea

'We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came. "
By John F. Kennedy

Neil Shubin, a paleontologist, wrote the book "Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into A 3.5 Billion Year History Of The Human Body".

A paleontologist is a scientist who studies prehistoric life. He claims that the bodies of sea creatures are just simpler versions of our own and to understand their anatomy will cause us to rethink what it means to be human. His mother was a surgeon who had always told him that our own anatomy is unintelligible without a knowledge of its evolutionary origins. She believed all creatures are linked.
One of his discoveries was the unearthing of a fish with elbows and a neck, a long-sought evolutionary "missing link" between creatures of the sea and land-dwellers.
He explains what evolutionary science, i.e. paleontology, comparative anatomy, genetics, embryology and developmental biology have to tell us about the human body, and how it came to be the way it is.
He is careful to say that he see's science and religion in two different spheres, that he is involved in the study of DNA, not getting into the discussion of evolution vs. creation.

Interesting is the fact that the water content of our bodies is a salty water solution very similar to seawater. Below is a link to an article with interesting information as to how seawater is so very beneficial to us.

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, discovered the therapeutic qualities of seawater by noticing the healing affects it had on the injured hands of fishermen. The seawater not only restricted infection risks, but patients who followed treatments involving the use of seawater found that it also promoted pain relief. It is now known that sea salt therapy is an effective treatment that assists in the rejuvenation of the cells and also induces a healthy exchange of minerals and toxins between the blood and the water.

Benefits of Sea Water Therapy
1) Immune system: immunity refers to the natural healing power and defense power that is inherent to human beings. In other words, it refers to resistance against virus and bacteria, or the resistance against malignant neoplasms. This means the improvement in natural healing power and resistance serves as an important health promotion indicator. Our research revealed that immune system such as interferon producing capacities and NK activities improved after the thalassotherapy.

2) Endocrine system: The endocrine system refers to adjustment of bodily functions that are critical for sustaining life. Our research revealed that thalassotherapy has a potential to recover a low responsiveness of hypothalamic-adrenal endocrine system, which is caused by stress

3) Relaxation: Effects for mind and sleep: our study on the mental changes brought by the stay in a marine environment for the thalassotherapy showed that positive psychological effects were noted such as peace of mind, vibrant life, increased energy level, stability and self control, regain of self confidence, better introspection, and improvement of response behavior against stress. As to sleeping, improvement in the quality of sleep was obtained.

4) Metabolism: Seaweed helps to balance circulation that improves oxygenation and nutrition of the connective tissues. Thus, it can be stated that seaweed: Speeds up local metabolism allowing the body's own lipolytic (fat-burning) enzymes to access fat in hard to reach places. This is characteristic of cellulite and other figure disorders where the atrophying of the connective tissue prevents proper irrigation of interstitial fluid via the Circulatory and Lymphatic Systems. Laminaria, Ascophyllum and Fucus Algae are rich in organic iodine, which stimulates metabolism.

5) Skin allergies: Sea-bathing gives an antiseptic effect to the skin and reduces histamine that causes inflammation and itching sensation. The National Pediatric Hospital, allergy section, has been giving the therapy since 1988 many successful results. The balancing effects of seaweed on circulation leave the skin's complexion radiant with an even tone and coloring.

6) Anti-inflammatory: Seaweed flushes out toxins and by-products of metabolism via the lymph system. This is valuable in the elimination of trapped fluids around the thighs, knees and ankles. White Algae, which is rich in calcium and magnesium, plays an important role in the elimination of fluids and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Below are the listings for sea salt products found within Meadow Muffin Gardens!

These listings are from within the Etsy shop but they can also be found on the website

Salt baths are so common that we often forget the fact that "the simpler the better". A soak in warm salt water has long been used for achy joints and muscles as well as periodic detoxification. The addition of essential oils add their own therapeutic value as well as the pleasure of the aroma.

Epsom salts are not the same as regular table salt. Epsom salts are known as magnesium sulfate. Magnesium and sulfur are naturally present in sea water. Modern diets consisting of primarily processed foods are often deficient in these minerals. When you soak in a salt bath containing epsom salts your body will benefit as these minerals are absorbed through your skin.

Magnesium is important for combating stress by producing serotonin, which is a mood-elevating chemical that creates a sense of calm. By lowering the effects of adrenaline, blood pressure comes down, sleep is improved and basically the nerves and muscles function properly.

Sea salt is also different from table salt in that rather than being pure sodium chloride which is refined from mined rock salt(halite), sea salt is evaporated sea water. It still contains natural minerals.

Examples of the minerals in salt are calcium, potassium, bromides and magnesium. Calcium increases circulation and combats fluid retention. Potassium energizes the body, and bromides ease stiff muscles.

Dead sea salts originate from the Dead Sea, which is a salt lake located in the Middle East. The saline and mineral rich marshes have been used since ancient times for therapeutic and beautifying purposes.
Adding these luxurious salts to your bathing experience will help you understand why even the beautiful Cleopatra demanded rights to these mineral rich natural salts.

Being soluble in water, bath salts leave behind no residue therefore help keep your tub clean. Those of us with water softeners are aware that salt is what softens the water so it only makes sense that bath salts create soft water which enables any soap you use to clean better. And last, the addition of salt compared to a bath without salts is warmer for a longer period of time.

Below is a mesmerizing, colorful treasury of delightful items from talented artisans found within
Click on a square and it'll take you into their shop!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Braving The Unknown - Tribute To Our Graduates!

A day bursting with emotion as were the clouds heavy with pending rain. Distinguished guests and proud parents held themselves in check until their sons and daughters heard their names and crossed that stage.

Change is always hard, though necessary for personal growth and achievement in life. The guest speaker for the class of 2011 at Lebanon Valley College, Pa. was Joyce M. Davis, president of The World Affairs Council of Harrisburg, Pa. Her message stemmed from a book by Spencer Johnson, M.D., "Who Moved My Cheese". Below is a reading from that book.
As he started out into the maze, Haw looked back to where he had come from and felt its comfort. He could feel himself being drawn back into familiar territory-even though he hadn't found cheese there for some time.

Haw became more anxious and wondered if he really wanted to go out into the maze. He wrote a saying on the wall ahead of him and stared at it for some time:


He thought about it. He knew sometimes some fear can be good. When you are afraid things are going to get worse if you don't do something, it can prompt you into action. But it is not good when you are so afraid that it keeps you from doing anything.

He looked to his right, to the part of the maze where he had never been, and felt the fear. Then, he took a deep breath, turned right into the maze, and jogged slowly, into the unknown.

Ms. Davis got a very wise message across to these 400+ anxiety ridden young adults ready to step out of their comfort zones. She had a very soothing manner of speaking that must have made many of those students feel like there was someone who understands. That it was normal to be so nervous about the unknown. That it has nothing to do with confidence or maturity or acting like an adult. We all have those pangs of insecurity that try to hold us back. Almost like your angel on one shoulder full of life and encouragement, and a devil on the other shoulder with nothing to offer but self-doubt.

There was such a rush of tearful emotion and then all was quite. Empty rooms, empty parking lots and overflowing dumpsters were all that was left of four years of struggles, failures and ultimate successes. These students who were so intertwined with class schedules and living situations had to fully accept the fact that they are now on their own in this life, that each must make his or her own way. How lonely that must have been for some, while others were chomping at the bit to wrap things up.

Many of these graduates have yet to find employment which will pay enough to cover their looming student loans soon to become a reality. I pray they continue the determined perseverance that got them this far and not give up on their dreams.

Good luck to all of them.
God bless!

Congratulations to our dear daughter, Aleka, as you enter this maze we call life and choose hopefully the right path for your happiness. We felt your slipping away for years now, fully aware we were no longer the center of your universe. I guess that means we did an OK job. Time for all of us to start writing another chapter in our lives, to once again "move the cheese".

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why Use All Natural Bath & Body Products? What's The Big Deal?

Walk into a beauty salon, cosmetic section, or skin care line aisle and it is easy to get enveloped in the wonderful smells and appealing promises of slick packaging and advertising. You may wonder what the big deal is with the ingredients. I mean, you would think if there was something potentially harmful in these products they wouldn't be on the shelves in the first place.

It was very surprising for me to learn how vague the labeling laws are in the perfume and cosmetics industry. Unlike the food industry, there are no legal standards for organic or natural personal care products sold in the United States.

The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics has a cartoon video which is an eye opener

Reprinted below is a list of potentially harmful commonly used ingredients in bath and body products.
Posted by :: Emma Pezzack – the best organic beauty products in the world via Teens Turning Green

It recently came to my attention that there are still a huge number of us who are not sure what ingredients are particularly toxic in our personal care products. Given that there is very little oversight or regulation within the industry, we owe it to ourselves to get armed with how to make well-informed buying decisions. Learn this checklist and eliminate these 25 toxic chemicals from your beauty arsenal, and you’ll be off to a flying start with making safer, healthier choices.

Function: Used to control sweat and odor in the underarms by slowing down the production of sweat.
Present in: Antiperspirants. Banned by EU.
Health concerns: Linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease; may be linked to breast cancer; probable neurotoxin; possible nervous system, respiratory, and developmental toxin.

Function: Solvent; hidden within “fragrance.”
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Linked to pancreatic cancer; easily absorbs into skin causing quick systemic effects; animal studies show hyperemia of the lungs; possible gastrointestinal, liver, and respiratory toxicant; possible neurotoxin.

Function: Antimicrobial agent, deodorant, preservative, biocide.
Present in: Moisturizer, sunscreen, facial cleanser, acne treatment, pain relief. Restricted in Japan and Canada.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; may trigger asthma; possible organ system toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and brain, nervous system, respiratory and blood effects; possible carcinogen.

Function: Preservative.
Present in: Moisturizer, body wash, facial cleanser, makeup remover, anti-aging products. Restricted in Canada.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; lung and skin toxicant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and gastrointestinal, brain and nervous system effects; irritant.

Function: Anti-Oxidant; slows down the rate at which product ingredients change in color.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Banned by EU.
Health Concerns: Immune system toxicant; endocrine disruptor; probable human carcinogen; animal studies show brain, liver, neurotoxin, reproductive and respiratory toxicant.

Function: Surfactant, emulsifying or cleansing agent, penetration enhancer.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Animal studies show brain, nervous system and sense organ effects; irritant; reproductive and skin toxin, alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; may contain harmful impurities.

Function: Controls itching and eczema, softens and promotes the dissolution of hard, scaly, rough skin, also used in hair dyes.
Present in: Shampoo and Hair Dye. Banned by Canada and EU.
Health concerns: Known human carcinogen; skin and respiratory toxicant.

Function: used as foaming agents in shampoos and bath products, and as emulsifying agents in cosmetics; foaming and cleansing agents for “mouth feel.”
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Human immune system toxicant; forms carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds if mixed with nitrosating agents; animal studies show sense organ effects and skin irritation; may contain harmful impurities.

Function: pH adjuster.
Present in: Sunscreen, moisturizer, foundation, hair color.
Health concerns: Skin and immune system toxicant; possible carcinogen; irritant; animal studies show endocrine disruption and neuro developmental, brain and nervous system effects; may trigger asthma.

Function: Disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, preservative.
Present in: Deodorant, nail polish, soap, shampoo, shaving cream. Restricted in Canada. Banned by EU.
Health concerns: Immune system, repertory, hematological, and skin toxicant; probable carcinogen and cardiovascular toxicant; can damage DNA; may trigger asthma; animal studies show sense organ, brain, and nervous system effects; possible human development toxicant.

Function: Anti-microbial preservative.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Forms nitrosamines when in the presence of amines such as MEA, DEA and TEA; probable immune system, blood, cardiovascular and skin toxicant; possible carcinogen; animal studies show endocrine disruption, nervous system and organ system effects; may contain harmful impurities.

Function: Deodorant, masking, perfuming
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; possible neurotoxin; can contain between 10 and 300 different chemicals, many of which have never been tested for safety; see phthalates. Check with the manufacturer or supplier to make sure ‘fragrance’ is completely natural or organic when buying.

Function: Antioxidant, fragrance ingredient, skin bleaching agent, hair colorant.
Present in: Skin fading/lightener, facial moisturizer, anti-aging, sunscreen, hair color, facial cleanser and moisturizer. Restricted in Canada.
Health concerns: Immune system and respiratory toxicant; probable neurotoxin; possible carcinogen; irritant; animal studies show endocrine disruption.

Function: Preservative.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Restricted in Japan.
Health concerns: Human toxicant; possible liver immune system toxin; allergenic.

Function: Colorant.
Present in: Hair dye, hair products. Traces found in some red lipstick. Restricted in Canada.
Health concerns: Probable carcinogen; developmental, respiratory, gastrointestinal and reproductive toxicant; reduced fertility; animal studies show metabolic, brain and nervous system effects; suspected nano-scale ingredients with potential to absorb into the skin.

Function: Sunscreen Agent; Ultraviolet Light Absorber, UV Absorber; UV Filter.
Present in: Sunscreens and makeup
Health concerns: Associated with photoallergic reactions and immunotoxicity. Probable carcinogen and endocrine disrupter; Enhanced skin absorption and bioaccumulates to dangerous levels; biochemical cellular changes. Developmental and reproductive toxicity.

Function: Preservative and anti-bacterial agent.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: May alter hormone levels, possibly increasing risk for certain types of cancer, impaired fertility, or alteration of the development of a fetus or young child; studies have found parabens in breast tumors; probable skin toxicant; animal studies show brain and nervous system effects.

Function: Forms barrier on skin; makes lipsticks shine and creams smoother; inexpensive skin softener.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned by EU.
Health concerns: May be contaminated with impurities, linked to cancer or other significant health problems.

Function: Fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, solvent.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels. Banned in EU.
Health concerns: Immune system toxicant; developmental and reproductive toxin; respiratory toxicant; probable neurotoxin; possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor; bio-accumulative in wildlife.

Function: Hair colorant.
Present in: Hair dye, shampoo, hair spray. Restricted in Canada.
Health concerns: Immune system and respiratory toxicant; probable neurotoxin; eczema; possible nervous system, skin, kidney and liver toxicant; irritant; may trigger asthma and gastritis; shown to cause cancer in animal studies.

Function: Solvent, penetration enhancer, conditions skin, controls viscosity and keeps products from melting in high or freezing when it is cold.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; animal studies show reproductive effects, positive mutation results, brain and nervous system effects and endocrine disruption.

Function: Surfactant, penetration enhancer.
Present in: Many cosmetics and personal care products, read labels.
Health concerns: Alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin, increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; Irritant; animal studies show sense organ effects.

Function: Antioxidant, solvent to improve adhesion and gloss.
Present in: Nail polish and hair dye.
Health concerns: Liver toxin; probable developmental, nervous system and respiratory toxin; possible cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, renal and sense organ toxin; possible carcinogen and reproductive toxin; irritant; highly flammable.

Function: Anti-bacterial agent, deodorant, preservative, biocide. Reduces and controls bacterial contamination on the hands and on treated products.
Present in: Antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, mouthwashes, face wash and cleaning supplies. Restricted in Japan and Canada.
Health concerns: Probable endocrine disrupter and carcinogen; easily bio-accumulates to dangerous levels; irritant; animal studies show reproductive and other broad systematic effects; potentially contaminated with impurities linked to cancer and other significant health problems; studies have shown it can actually induce cell death when used in mouth washes.

25. 1.4 DIOXANE
Function: Penetration enhancer
Present in: Body lotion, moisturizers, sunless tanning products, baby soap, anti-aging products..
Health concerns: EPA classifies it as a probable carcinogen found in 46 of 100 personal care products marketed as organic or natural, and the National Toxicology Program considers it a known animal carcinogen. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to high levels of 1,4 dioxane has caused vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs of humans. It may also irritate the skin.

Many of us have used countless products over the years without experiencing a problem and if we did develop a rash we just discontinued the suspected cause and thought little of it. Little did we realize how our body stores the "chemical soup" and in time we or our loved ones may pay the price.

"Beauty is just an herb away" with our line of facial, body and hair care.
Utilizing herbs, flowers, aromatherapy, and oils without the use of parabens, artificial colorings or synthetic fragrances to create natural solutions to personal and family care needs.

"Wholesome and practical is the best way to describe our line of body care.
Guided by wisdom and knowledge passed down from generations of women our products consist of ingredients provided by our natural world. Information and recipes often tucked away in quaint old books resurface to remind us that 'simple is best'."

No need for concern about the harm to animals as there are no animal products or animal testing involved in these products.

Preservatives used are grapefruit seed extract, Vit. E and the concentration of essential oils. Being the risk of contamination is always present in any perishable product please try to use the item within 6 months to a year.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Out Of The Ordinary Father's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is right around the corner but it isn't too soon to start thinking about Father's Day. In my opinion, men are so much harder to shop for than women so it takes a bit more imagination to find that unique gift. Check out these awesome items created by some very talented artisans.