Ounce of Prevention

I know, I know, it’s still the Winter Season. But, it hasn’t been your typical Winter, agreed?

There have been lots of bouts of warm weather which lets us go on out and enjoy the great outdoors.

With that being said I’d like to share an article with all of you that was shared with me about keeping in mind to protect ourselves from those little bugs that can cause big problems:

Lyme Disease, Deer Ticks, and Your Family                                

(Robert Oley, PE, MSPH, Public Health Consultant, www.boboley.com)

 

It’s that time of the year once again, when you and your family are enjoying the warmer weather and all the outdoor activities that come with it.  Unfortunately for you, deer ticks are also taking advantage of the nice weather, and are waiting for you as you step outside.

 

The spring and summer months are when you are most likely to be bitten by a deer tick, and become infected with Lyme disease.  The highest risk age group for contracting Lyme disease is children.  Not only do they tend to spend more time outside than others, but they are less likely to be careful about where they play.  Although Lyme disease is a grave health risk to these and other family members, there are other equally debilitating tick-borne diseases one can also become infected with such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia, mycoplasma, tick paralysis, and viruses.

 

 

LITTLE BUG BIG PROBLEMS

How can such a small bug cause such  big problems for all of us?  Ticks are parasites, which survive by feeding on the blood of hosts such as mice, chipmunks, shrews, birds, squirrels, opossum, rabbits, lizards, and deer.  Regrettably, they also feed on people and their pets.  Although the deer tick season is pretty much year round now, the peak of the deer tick’s activity starts in May and begins to wind down in August.  During this time, the nymphal deer tick (about as small as a poppy seed) is actively looking for a host.  And it will be from the nymphal deer tick-bite that you and your children will most likely contract Lyme disease and/or another tick-borne co-infection.

 

Deer ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be found anywhere their hosts live.  Thus they can be encountered in a variety of settings including woodlands, as well as leaf litter, brush piles, your lawn, ground cover (pachysandra, etc.) and gardens.  They can also be found near old stonewalls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs, bird feeders, and storage sheds, anywhere their hosts feed and/or make their nests.  They have even been found on park picnic tables and benches.

 

 

LYME DISEASE SYMPTOMS

There are over 100 possible symptoms associated with Lyme disease, and that is one of the reasons why it is so very difficult to diagnose—it mimics so many other disease conditions that it is usually not diagnosed early on in the disease, allowing it to spread to most every part of the body.

 

Soon after a tick bite, you or your children may get a rash, and have vague flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, muscle ache, stiff neck, and swollen lymph nodes.  Other more serious conditions can affect your brain and nervous system, heart, muscles and joints, bones, and skin.  Not uncommon are extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, chronic headaches, sleep disturbances, allergies, stomach pain, ear ringing, blurred vision, sensitivity to sounds and smells, facial numbness and tingling, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks, memory impairment, and lack of concentration.

 

 

PERSONAL PROTECTION AND PREVENTION

When your children play outdoors in tick endemic areas, it is strongly recommended that they wear tick repellent clothing. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the EPA as safe for use on clothing apparel worn by adults and children.  You can treat your own clothing and footwear, or purchase pre-treated clothing with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.  Once per month you should also spray outdoor shoes, athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep the ticks away. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work as effectively as tick repellent clothing

 

 

Some simple prevention measures which are highly recommended for you and your family to follow include:

 

  1. Avoid areas where there are ticks to the maximum extent possible.  This is much easier said than done, but is well worth the effort.
  2. When outside, wear clothing that is treated with permethrin.  This is one of the easiest things to do with big prevention payoffs.  Also spray your outside shoe wear with permethrin once per month.  And clothing your children wear at summer camp, such as T-shirts, shorts, and socks, should likewise be treated.
  3. If you do not choose to treat the clothing yourself (good for 6 washings), you can also send it to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina.  It will come back, looking the same as you sent it, but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for more than 70 washings.
  4. Wear a tick repellent on your exposed skin.  The tick repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long.  You can buy insect repellents with chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET in them; or if you prefer using organics, try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil.
  5. Keep your outside clothes outside your home.  There can be ticks on the clothing from outdoor activities.  As soon as your      children come in from outdoors, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage if possible.  Then as soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  6. Do not allow any pets, which go outside, to sleep with your children or allow your pets on couches, etc.  They can bring ticks into your home, which can get transferred to your children.
  7. Treat your pets with tick repellent products as recommended by your veterinarian, and check them for ticks when they come in from outdoors.
  8. Conduct full body tick checks of family members who go outside, both when they return indoors as well as at night before they go to bed.  You can never check too often, as ticks      can be very hard to find.

 

 

REMOVING DEER TICKS

Removing deer ticks promptly can prevent the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  If you discover a tick attached to you, use pointed tweezers or other tick removal tool to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, taking care not to twist or squish the attached tick. Finally, wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic.  Save the tick, dead or alive, in a zip lock bag for future identification and testing for possible disease organisms.  You should also seek the immediate assistance of your health care provider for advice on initiating prophylactic treatment.

If you follow these recommendations and use good common sense when outdoors, you can keep your family safer from ticks and the diseases theyLyme Disease, Deer Ticks, and Your Family                                

(Robert Oley, PE, MSPH, Public Health Consultant, www.boboley.com)

 

It’s that time of the year once again, when you and your family are enjoying the warmer weather and all the outdoor activities that come with it.  Unfortunately for you, deer ticks are also taking advantage of the nice weather, and are waiting for you as you step outside.

 

The spring and summer months are when you are most likely to be bitten by a deer tick, and become infected with Lyme disease.  The highest risk age group for contracting Lyme disease is children.  Not only do they tend to spend more time outside than others, but they are less likely to be careful about where they play.  Although Lyme disease is a grave health risk to these and other family members, there are other equally debilitating tick-borne diseases one can also become infected with such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia, mycoplasma, tick paralysis, and viruses.

 

 

LITTLE BUG BIG PROBLEMS

How can such a small bug cause such  big problems for all of us?  Ticks are parasites, which survive by feeding on the blood of hosts such as mice, chipmunks, shrews, birds, squirrels, opossum, rabbits, lizards, and deer.  Regrettably, they also feed on people and their pets.  Although the deer tick season is pretty much year round now, the peak of the deer tick’s activity starts in May and begins to wind down in August.  During this time, the nymphal deer tick (about as small as a poppy seed) is actively looking for a host.  And it will be from the nymphal deer tick-bite that you and your children will most likely contract Lyme disease and/or another tick-borne co-infection.

 

Deer ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be found anywhere their hosts live.  Thus they can be encountered in a variety of settings including woodlands, as well as leaf litter, brush piles, your lawn, ground cover (pachysandra, etc.) and gardens.  They can also be found near old stonewalls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs, bird feeders, and storage sheds, anywhere their hosts feed and/or make their nests.  They have even been found on park picnic tables and benches.

 

 

LYME DISEASE SYMPTOMS

There are over 100 possible symptoms associated with Lyme disease, and that is one of the reasons why it is so very difficult to diagnose—it mimics so many other disease conditions that it is usually not diagnosed early on in the disease, allowing it to spread to most every part of the body.

 

Soon after a tick bite, you or your children may get a rash, and have vague flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, muscle ache, stiff neck, and swollen lymph nodes.  Other more serious conditions can affect your brain and nervous system, heart, muscles and joints, bones, and skin.  Not uncommon are extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, chronic headaches, sleep disturbances, allergies, stomach pain, ear ringing, blurred vision, sensitivity to sounds and smells, facial numbness and tingling, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks, memory impairment, and lack of concentration.

 

 

PERSONAL PROTECTION AND PREVENTION

When your children play outdoors in tick endemic areas, it is strongly recommended that they wear tick repellent clothing. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the EPA as safe for use on clothing apparel worn by adults and children.  You can treat your own clothing and footwear, or purchase pre-treated clothing with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.  Once per month you should also spray outdoor shoes, athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep the ticks away. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work as effectively as tick repellent clothing

 

 

Some simple prevention measures which are highly recommended for you and your family to follow include:

 

  1. Avoid areas where there are ticks to the maximum extent possible.  This is much easier said than done, but is well worth the effort.
  2. When outside, wear clothing that is treated with permethrin.  This is one of the easiest things to do with big prevention payoffs.  Also spray your outside shoe wear with permethrin once per month.  And clothing your children wear at summer camp, such as T-shirts, shorts, and socks, should likewise be treated.
  3. If you do not choose to treat the clothing yourself (good for 6 washings), you can also send it to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina.  It will come back, looking the same as you sent it, but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for more than 70 washings.
  4. Wear a tick repellent on your exposed skin.  The tick repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long.  You can buy insect repellents with chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET in them; or if you prefer using organics, try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil.
  5. Keep your outside clothes outside your home.  There can be ticks on the clothing from outdoor activities.  As soon as your      children come in from outdoors, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage if possible.  Then as soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  6. Do not allow any pets, which go outside, to sleep with your children or allow your pets on couches, etc.  They can bring ticks into your home, which can get transferred to your children.
  7. Treat your pets with tick repellent products as recommended by your veterinarian, and check them for ticks when they come in from outdoors.
  8. Conduct full body tick checks of family members who go outside, both when they return indoors as well as at night before they go to bed.  You can never check too often, as ticks      can be very hard to find.

 

 

REMOVING DEER TICKS

Removing deer ticks promptly can prevent the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  If you discover a tick attached to you, use pointed tweezers or other tick removal tool to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, taking care not to twist or squish the attached tick. Finally, wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic.  Save the tick, dead or alive, in a zip lock bag for future identification and testing for possible disease organisms.  You should also seek the immediate assistance of your health care provider for advice on initiating prophylactic treatment.

 

If you follow these recommendations and use good common sense when outdoors, you can keep your family safer from ticks and the diseases they carry.

About the author:

Bob Oley is a professional engineer and public health consultant with an engineering undergraduate degree from Tufts University, and a graduate degree in Public Health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Bob has been involved in public health and site work for over 30 years. Early in his career he served as Director of Environmental Health for the City of Stamford, CT, after which he started a public health, site engineering, and land use planning consulting business. 

Bob works as a Public Health Consultant specializing in tick-borne disease prevention. He advises families and businesses on how to make their properties safer from ticks, and on what personal protection measures can be taken to safeguard family members and workers.

Bob has conducted educational seminars on Lyme disease and tick-borne disease prevention. He has spoken before such diverse groups as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Whitpain Township, the Montgomery County Public Works Association, the Lower Bucks County Lyme Disease Support Group, the Swarthmore Garden Club, the International MOMS Club of the Greater Ambler Area, as well as numerous others.

In 2017, Bob published a book on tick-borne disease prevention titled Preventing Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Infections. 

Bob has appeared on several radio shows, including You Bet Your Garden (NPR), Sirius XM Doctor Radio, and the Magic Garden Show, where he has talked about tick-borne diseases and prevention. He has also appeared on TV on NBC News 4 New York, where he talked about what parents can do to prevent their children from getting bitten by ticks when away at camp.

Bob and his wife reside in San Diego, California, where he continues to carry on his public health consulting work.

At this time of the year it can be difficult to find the proper bug sprays. Though the sprays are affective, for individuals that are sensitive to the sprays and even the lotions/insect wipes. There are many bands and clip-ons, but you want complete protection.

Needing a little more? Then take a look at Insect Shield. I was fortunate enough to have been sent a few sample to take a look at how affective they really are!

Now, these are just sample bandannas.

But if you’d like to see more and learn more here is their website:

www.insectshield.com

I’d like to give a special thanks to Gail Brandt for sharing all this great information that I have the privilege of sharing with all of you!!

Shedding Some Light

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The Holiday Season brings so many special and fun moments that you want to capture in photos. But there are more times than not you get those photos that are either too dark or you use a flash and they’re crazy bright!!

Then you see those great photos that look like they were just torn from a magazine. How do they do it? It’s the lighting!

Now, I can’t afford my own camera crew, so I look for an alternative.

Lo and behold! I found a small light that can help!!

It’s handy size and lightweight.

Easy to use and attach, yes it is LED.

Just when I thought that I’d be investing in a ton of batteries, my rechargeable battery from my camcorder fits just fine!!!

I can finally take photos worth sharing and displaying! Here is the link to where I found it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M0VDOGX

Ok, so my son has started to really get into photography. And as I was looking for my light, I found a great light for him too!

This one is a little bigger, with a couple of differences.

This light also can use the rechargeable one from our camcorder- AND can take regular batteries!!

It is bigger than the previous light

It mounts just as easy as the smaller version.

This has a different functions where you can have a wider range of brightness and warm to bright white light.

I found this light at : https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071YPQZVW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B071YPQZVW&linkCode=as2&tag=tacconchen-20&linkId=1da3059e2a028eed012cb71fc655ecd9

I can’t wait to start taking photos this season!

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A Hiking We Will Go

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You can’t beat a nice hike when the weather is perfect. Sometimes that weather doesn’t occur in the Summer; but in Fall, Winter or Spring. Using the word “perfect” is also subjective, what’s considered perfect for some won’t be the same for others.

But what we can all agree on is being able to bring the necessities without feeling like a pack mule!

Check this out!

This is the Shimonfly hiking pack. Ok, so yes it looks like a fanny pack. But, you don’t have to wear it like a fanny pack. The back portion of the pack is wide and firm enough to rest across your back.

It looks compact, right? Can it hold much? Why yes, it can.

Pockets in all the right places! And that water bottle is a 32 ounce bottle!

Adjustable straps helps for additional comfort when you’re wearing it.

Use it on your next hike! Or trip to an amusement park, fair or any outdoor activity!

Here’s a link where you can find one

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=me%3DA18N9C8PGQFAIV&field-keywords=green+fanny+pack

Makes a great gift to all your outdoorsy or traveler friends and family.

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Have Gel Pens will Craft

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Crafting can be fun for some or a trial for others. But when you find a tool or product that’s easy and fun to use- why not?

Sometimes even the simplest item can make a big difference.

I just recently found….. Gel pens! Ok….. yes I know, it’s a pen.

This is what I got

All of them have glitter in their color. Which for the Holidays is perfect!

I’m preparing for my Annual Holiday Cookie Exchange, and I wanted to do something a little different for the invites. So, a quick trip to my local Dollar Tree and I stumbled upon mini painting canvases.

Have stampers will create. Unfortunately, the stamp pad didn’t seem to have enough ink. Thank goodness I filled in the color with my new pens.

They’re all done and festive!

Going to have a lot of fun using these pens in many projects!

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You Ought to be in Pictures

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I absolutely LOVE being a blogger!! I love sharing my experiences and my new finds. With that, my camera is always in use!! Ok, the camera on my phone!

While the camera function is pretty good, I try to maximize whatever lighting and set up of the products I receive. Until now….

I recently purchased a mini studio. It’s a portable photo studio by LiteBox. It’s the 24″x 24″ studio kit

All the parts fit into its carry case for easy mobility and storage.

No need for special tools!

It comes with two LED light bars.

The studio is almost complete once you put its “tent” on, making it look like a cube.

The flaps you see is the top of the cube, where the light connection goes through

The outlet also has the brightness control

Now that everything is set up and connected, you can use the other opening to take your photos.

The zippered flap gives a wider opening for photographing items. Like a true photo studio, it comes with four different background colors; along with a diffuser screen that comes with hooks to attach on to the bars.

There is also a small tripod and phone “holder” if needed.

How good do the photos come out? Here’s a before and after…

Amazing!!!

It makes me feel like I’m taking my blog to the next level!

Where did I get mine? Right here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BIFEC86

 

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Spa When You Want To

Ahhh….spa…. yes, sometimes it seems like a pipe dream!! Why? Because there are days that you feel you hit the ground running the moment you open your eyes.

Is there anything out there that can give a little of that fresh from the spa feeling in a short amount of time?

Well yes, yes there is. It so happens I received a gift set. The box contains a great array of products from the Rituals USA brand.

Love the “oh ah” moment when you see the box. I choose the Ritual of Ayurveda. It’s a nice balance of sweet almond oil and Indian rose. I’m very sensitive to scents because of my allergies, this one isn’t overwhelming.

Time to try it…. it’s creamy and “solid”, once you gently rub it on your skin you feel the softness. The scent lightly in the air.

The shower gel and foaming shower have found a home in my shower.

My set also included an oil that can be used on your body and hair as well. This is like the “sprinkles on a sundae “! Using all of the products can give you a sense of relaxation. The cherry on the sundae is the matching candle.

You don’t have to get the Rituals of Ayurveda, there are many more to suit your mood or need.

The sets make a great gift. When you unwrap to see a beautiful box and smell what’s inside- the recipient will feel loved!! Take a look over at :

http://www.rituals.com

I was very lucky with my set, and would like to give Rituals USA and Tryazon for the complimentary set. Really glad that a Holiday catalogue was also included, the “list” is being checked off!!

Want to have fun trying new products? Check out Tryazon at

http://www.tryazon.com

Many treats watch out for the tricks

Halloween is practically here!! Costumes are at the ready and the kids are anticipating what goodies they’ll be getting!!

As parents we do our part to maintain a healthy balance of allowing sweet treats and not throwing off the healthy routine they are in.

In doing so we read labels, as we shop for candies to give out we read what’s in them.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that some include palm oil. Now, palm oil isn’t the same as back in the day, or the same with each product. But, if the palm oil is sustainable Malaysian Palm oil then you know it’s all good. But how will you know?

With the permission from the The publishes of the Malaysia Palm Oil Council newsletters I would love to share with you their article that guides you and lists which candies contain sustainable Malaysia Palm Oil:

Green Halloween: organic treats and tricks
for an environmentally friendly Halloween

By Carolina King

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It is so much fun to see the little ones dressed as their favorite characters. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love candy?

Growing up, I was never allowed to have too much candy. Now that I’m a mom, I understand why my parents were so strict with candy. In fact, I am also pretty strict with candy but thankfully there are so many better options now that my kids can have a green Halloween with better-for-you candy and not even realize that we’re doing things a little differently.

What you need to know about candy

There are two things that concern me about Halloween: the amount of crappy candy my kids get and all those individually wrapped treats. Let’s face it, all that wrapping creates lots of waste that our planet doesn’t need.

Thankfully, the candy industry is gradually yielding to pressure from environmentalists and has started doing the right thing. For example, you can now buy candy in bulk, minimizing the use of packaging and wrapping.

You no longer need to be concerned about palm oil, a common candy ingredient, if it comes from Malaysia. A while back I did an investigative report on palm oil after hearing so much conflicted information. I’m happy to report that palm oil coming from Malaysia follows strict environmental practices, they’re even a huge contributor to wildlife conservation and it’s not bad for you.

Even companies like Nestle and Mars have switched to using Malaysian palm oil due to the pressure of their consumers. Which goes to show you how much power we all have when we chose with our dollars!

While candy may never qualify as “healthy” and should always be consumed in moderation, Halloween is a good opportunity to teach your own kids how to understand food labels and help them understand which ingredients to look for as well as which to avoid.

Since my kids are still really young, we haven’t started reading labels but they know how to find the USDA Organic label on the snacks and treats we buy. They know if it doesn’t have that label, we can’t get it and they don’t even put up a fight.

This works for us because I constantly explain to my children why we do things they way we do, because even at their young age they can understand that some things like candy can only be eaten in moderation and that we want to avoid foods that have been sprayed with chemicals pesticides (hence why they look for the USDA Organic label). We also talk a lot about the environment: about not polluting our planet, explaining that a lot of the trash ends up in the ocean and we don’t want to hurt the sea life, and that we have to take care of our planet.

You’ll be surprised at how much children understand when you explain them the why!

Planet-friendly Treats and Tricks

Halloween doesn’t mean we have to eat conventional candy. Now you can find lots of organic, non-GMO options, and even vegan and gluten-free ones.

Here are 10 Halloween candy options from food manufacturers that are trying to do the right thing:

  1. Unreal Candy: All of its chocolate is certified by Fair Trade USA and they even use natural ingredients such as beetroot, carrot and red cabbage juices to color the candy coatings.  

  2. CLIF ZKIDS Bars/Brownies and/or Organic Fruit Ropes: These are USDA Certified Organic, and contain no artificial flavors or synthetic preservatives. My kids are not big fans of the bars but they love the fruit ropes.

  3. YumEarth Lollipops: I like these because they are USDA Certified Organic and they have a wide variety of candy, not just lollipops.

  4. Endangered Species Bug Bites: Although these are not organic, they are made with ethically traded cacao and gluten-free. Plus, a percentage of the profits is donated to support conservation efforts.

  5. GoOrganic Fruit Chews: These are Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Certified Organic. The chews are made with Fair Trade-Certified sugar, and the bulk candy comes in home-compostable, cellophane bags.

  6. Glee Gum Pops: If you’re looking for a better version of the lollipop with gum inside, then you’ll have try these. They are Non-GMO Project Verified, and one of the few North American gums still made with chicle, a tree sap harvested sustainably. The company partners with a nonprofit group to plant trees, revitalizing degraded lands.  

  7. Surf Sweets Fruity Bears: Available in Halloween treat packs of 20, they are USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. They are also free of the 10 most-common allergens. Wholesome, which makes these bears, also sells lots of other types of candies and gummies!

  8. Dagoba Assorted Gems: In addition to being USDA Certified Organic, these chocolates are made with cacao from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

  9. Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups: These are made with organic, fair trade chocolate and locally sourced ingredients. The company donates part of its proceeds to worldwide hunger relief and poverty relief.

  10. Nib Mor Chocolate: This company’s products are organic and non-GMO. They have hot chocolate packets as well as the bite-sized treats.

I know what you’re thinking, “My neighbors give out the crappy candy…” but that doesn’t mean your child has to eat it. There are two ways around this:

  • Celebrate Halloween with the Switch Witch. The Switch Witch comes on Halloween night and takes all the candy that you’ve left out for her. In exchange, she leaves you a toy. Download a free template letter for the Switch Witch here.

  • Talk to your children about the candy and simply be honest. Explain that the candy they give out on Halloween is not made with the best ingredients and that you will switch out their Halloween candy for their organic candies of choice.

Of course, you don’t always have to give candy or sweet treats. They also offer some great non- candy ideas:

Non-candy treats

If you’re giving out treats this year, remember that there are lots of kids who have allergies and who can’t always eat the candy we give out. The best thing to do is to have a bucket of candy and a bucket of non-candy treats.

This is what we do in our home and we let children choose from which bucket they want a treat. Click here  for lots of ideas on non-candy treats.

Fun ways to green up your Halloween party

Your favorite haunted holiday is scary enough without considering the large volume of waste created by Halloween celebrations. This year add a new dimension to your Halloween fun by making it more earth-friendly. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Send party invitations online: Evites save paper and are available with super cute graphics. Plus, they make it easy to keep track of your guest list.

  • Use natural or recycled decorations: Mother Earth provides us with pumpkins and colorful fall leaves to get us started. Get the kids involved by making creepy crafts and setting up your food display in a creepy way. Also, check second-hand stores for upcycled bargains on someone else’s discarded decorations.

  • Serve those pumpkin seeds: Once you’ve carved the pumpkin, rinse and roast the seeds. They are a rich source of zinc, a nutrient that supports a healthy immune system and is important to your senses of taste and smell.

  • Use biodegradable plates and napkins: You can find biodegradable and compostable plates and napkins, and even biodegradable cutlery. Check out these options.

  • Hold a pre-party costume swap: In addition to exchanging entire costumes with friends, neighbors and family, you may want to mix and match various costume components to come up with entirely new and creative ideas.

  • Announce that you’ll be holding a contest for the most imaginative eco-friendly costume: You might be surprised by the imaginative costumes people make using recycled toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes and other items found around the house. Encourage your friends to come up with their own Halloween costumes. Jump online for inspiration!

  • Use LED and solar-powered lights: These look really beautiful at night and since they’re solar powered, you’ll save on electricity usage. Plus, they’re great to use all year round.

  • Entertain the kids with traditional games: Games like bobbing for apples and Pin the Broom on the Witch are still fun!  

By switching the focus of Halloween to one that is a back-to-basics, spine-chilling good time, you’ll save a little money as well as reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill.

Talk about informative! Thank you to Carolina King for all the research. Personally I like to keep a copy of the list of candies that include the “better” palm oil.

I know you’re thinking “but I already bought my candy!!”. It’s ok, this is great for future reference.

Wishing everyone a great Halloween- Happy “Trick or Treating”!!

Stay safe!

More outdoor Fall fun

The crisp Fall air is a great change from the sweltering heat of summer. And there’s so much to do!! Hayrides, corn mazes, and don’t forget Trick or Treating!!

But what if you just need to slow it down and kick back. But not too far back- gotta have some fun too!!

Then take your table games outdoors!! Have you tried Top Trumps?

With various themes and it’s own case, you can find a set that fits you and you can take anywhere! It’s a game of who’s “stats” are higher. Winner takes all, because if you have everyone’s cards – you win!!!

How about a portable word game that quick and fun! And guess what? It’s not a condensed scrabble set. It’s Lexicon Go!

This a word forming game, the twist is you can build on your opponents’ word. For example the word is “butter” and “fly” for “butterfly” and you’ve scored more points, blocking off the other players.

Both games are a bunch of fun! Bonus is that kids can play too. With Top Trumps kids can learn their number values. And with Lexicon Go it can help with their spelling and vocabulary.

Go to: http://www.toptrumps.us ; to get your games!!

P.S. I received mine through a great program at http://www.tryazon.com!!!!

Just for Us

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It goes without saying, we women live busy lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disqualifying the worth of the male population. All I’m saying is that women, may you be single, married (with or without children), single mom, or caregiver and every thing in between and or combined- everyday is hectic!

Sometimes it’s to the point that you need “me time” but have to put it on the back burner. Even the simple task of shaving your legs is done on the fly.

If you’ve ever used a guys shaver, you’ve probably gone through the adjustments of the weight and it’s rigid shape.

Shaver for women? They don’t always hold up the way you’d like them to. I believe I have found one that can live up to our expectations.

First things I noticed, it’s lighter! It’s not electric, it’s battery operated. So no cord means more portability!

We have curves! Yes, on our legs too!! The contoured shape makes it easier to handle over our curves and give us the shave we are looking for. Remember we’re shaving our legs not burly beards!!!

When all is said and done- it comes with its own cleaning brush!!

Love Amazon- and the great finds they have!!

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🎵Memories are Made of This🎶🎵

What comes to mind if I ask you to picture tables set with classic Italian food, smooth (adult) drinks, the finest cigars, and a little “ol’ blue eyes” in the background? No, it’s not an old picture of the Rat Pack. It’s actually an evening event at Maggiano’s Richmond- their Cigar and Pasta dinner event!!

When you arrive, the tables are all set- a la fresco around the lovely fountain.

Now, we don’t just jump into a bowl of pasta. The menu for this evening has been set just right.

So let us begin with a little antipasto to kick it off.

Feeling parched? Love to support local fare? Then Belle Isle Premium Moonshine it is! A Virginia born craft spirit, that also offers flavor infused variations. Handmade from 100% organic corn, we learn that they are quadruple charcoal filtered and are distilled to a lower of proof than vodka but higher than whiskey. Which is probably what gives it its smooth enjoyable finish, truly not the moonshine from the past.

The flavors are well balanced and true. Belle Isle offers recipes on their websites, too.

It is a cigar event too….. our local cigar retailer Havana Connections has us covered! Each attendee received two cigars. Not just any off a shelf- but a cigar from two of the most widely known and established cigar makers; Romeo y Juliet’s and H. Uppman

With all the elements in place, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy!

In true Maggiano’s fashion, they know how to feed family!

Don’t forget to leave some space for dessert!

What an evening!! Yes, “memories are made of this”!!

Great friends, family, fun, and food!Maggiano’s is the place to be!!

Contact your local Maggiano’s, sign up for their email newsletters (www.maggianos.com) for updates on great events like this one!!

“Family” that cooks together, learns together

Have you ever noticed that when you have a gathering at your house we all wind up in the kitchen talking and laughing…. my husband and I have always dreamt of building a home that would be built around the kitchen!

Maybe it’s because making food brings about many special family moments. Cooking in particular…

Maggiano’s is one establishment that knows about family and special moments. Starting with the fabulous food, to the special service you receive every time you go.

And , of course, you’ve seen my previous articles regarding their Kids Cooking Classes.

Where Chef Marcelo takes the Junior chefs from salad to dessert!! The kids love it!! They learn a life skill, get a feeling of independence and accomplishment.

The parents get treated to breakfast, and afterward everyone gets lunch!! Makes for a great day!

But wait!!! The Maggiano’s in my area have now also begun Adult Cooking Classes!! Can’t let the kids have all the fun! Learn more about the dishes you love. These classes begin with a very adult treat, a cocktail. For our first one it was a classic Mojito taught to us by our local GM Dean-

From there it was fresh made pasta and Alfredo sauce from scratch!

The evening is topped off with a fantastic dinner, and goodie bag to boot!

This is an event you’ll want to be a part of. So contact your local Maggiano’s and ask about their classes. Make it a date night, or maybe a night out with the girls. You’ll be making memories…..

“Fall” into Cleaner Air

Yes, Fall is officially here! And….. so are the allergens and allergy triggers. Even with the crisp cooler air ragweed, mold, and other weeds are there too. Need relief?

I do (hand raised)!! How do I deal with it? I am fortunate enough to own a WINIX air purifier…. Why WINIX? Because of the difference you feel. I’m not basing it off of their website or reviews on other websites. I suffer from many allergies, and when I can breathe easy in my home and have a good nights sleep without sneezing or congestion, I know it’s working.

Do I have suggestions? The WINIX C535 or the WINIX HR951 are fabulous.

(This is the WINIX C535.)

Why do I prefer Winix? Their features are top notch! Starting with the HEPA filters, which by the way, the filters are easy to clean and install. Plasmawave technology may sound “ooh-ahhh”, and it is!!

I must be honest, my favorite feature is its

WiFi capability. Have app? Have clean air!!

I absolutely love that I can open my Winix app and see the air quality of the rooms I spend a majority of time in. From the app I can also control my air purifier.

Don’t think they are just for allergies. Unfortunately, the smoke from the tragic California wildfires have hit the Colorado area, even as far as the South East area of Virginia! I must also mention that C535 has a 5 stage filtration that can tackle pet hair!

One thing is for sure, there is a Winix air purifier that is right for you. You can find the right one for the right space/area coverage and ones that suit all your needs.

Where can you find them?

Of course you can go to their website:

http://www.winixamerica.com

What if you like to see them before you buy them? Costco and Bed, Bath, and Beyond carry a model or two.

Love “Brain” Games!

Board games are always a lot of fun to do when spending time with family or friends! So we try to keep a good collection on hand. Games for all ages.

Lately I have been introduced to a company called Usaopoly. They have a great array of games and themes. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to try one of their games entitled “Blank Slate”.

And yes, that’s what it came with, blank slates. As I read the instructions, one game came to my mind… the TV game show “Match Game”!!

Not to give too much away, you play the game by forming words from a given base word. The competition begins when you start scoring for matches.

We let the kids have first crack at it- they loved it!!

As a parent I love the fact that it made them think of the words and vocabulary they know. Also, by seeing the other words they learn new ones!!

As the adults patiently wait their turn….

I highly recommend checking out Usaopoly (www.usaopoly.com). They have games for everyone, even themed games. I’ve been eyeing a Harry Potter themed game that may be a birthday or Christmas gift!!

It’s a dessert and a drink

Love simple recipes, and who doesn’t?! You know the kind just a few ingredients and voila! Yumminess innovations time flat, even desserts!

Take for example the affogato… yes, it is super simple but a whole lot of yummy!

It’s comprised of espresso, vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

Of course, it’s always much more fun in your favorite mug!

So, you begin with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream in your mug.

Put on a good drizzle of your caramel sauce. If I may, my caramel sauce is from Chocolates by Kelly, located in Richmond VA. Has great texture and taste! The label comes with great recipe ideas too!!

Get your espresso ready and into the mug it goes on top of your caramel and ice cream. As the hot espresso hits the other ingredients, it marries all the flavors together. Forming a wonderful dessert !

You can find the caramel sauce and other yummy finds at :

http://www.chocolatesbykelly.com

No Electricity Required

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Gift shopping can be a rough ride. Sometimes you know just the perfect item and it is smooth sailing. Then there are the times that you’ve completed your steps for the week just by going to the many stores of the malls to find the perfect gift.

There’s items out there, don’t get me wrong. But amidst all the tech gadgets there has to be something more, something unique and unexpected.

In comes a classic music box. I ordered one for my daughter to usher in the new school year. Where? At https://feriwola.com/products/exclusive-hand-crank-music-box

When it arrived I couldn’t wait to see it!

I loved the artwork carved in it. It seemed very dainty, and petite. There is a magical, some what nostalgic feel when you open the box.

The music is delicate and sweet.

I’ll admit I was a little anxious when I gave it to my daughter. Let’s face it, you don’t have to plug it in, no need to hook up a charger, and it doesn’t need internet.

The minute she opened the music box and turned the crank her eyes lit up!!

The classic gift was a winner. Maybe they say what’s old is new, all I know it’s something that can be treasured!

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Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest

Fests are great fun and a great way to make new discoveries!! And the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest is no exception.!!

It is year two for the Fest in the Richmond area. By the crowds and those I spoke to- they were very happy to have them back!!

The fun begins right outside the exhibit hall doors! Time for some “photo booth” creativity!

You walk in and let the discovery and learning begin

Enjoy Life has a unique set-up in, not only sharing samples, but learning ire about them and their products

I love discovering new flavors and food products, and yes- the Fest was the best venue to. We, like many families love almonds and the almond flavor. But there are times that the almond is an almond and it needs a “refresher”. That’s where a new discovery, called deliciousness (don’t you live the name?) come in. Their flavored almonds really wake up the everyday almond. Flavors such as nacho, and the Lakeshore trail mix that blends the cheddar and caramel flavors.

Oh! They have chips too!!! They maybe based out of Chicago- but they have a website!!!! (www.deliciousness.com). There you can find Mozaics, a flavor chip that can tackle the snack craving without being bogged down with preservatives.

What did I learn besides yummy food?? There’s were cooking demos and lectures to choose from. What made it hard to decide on which to attend was the topic. They were all about practical living when you live with gluten free needs and/or food allergies.

Take for example today’s first demo- baking bread. Do you love baking like me? Though, I’ve never baked bread before, and I’ve always been hesitant- now we’re going to throw in making it gluten free, YIKES!!

Well, Jules Shepard takes out all the fear and even shows how to bake gluten free bread in both the oven and bread maker machine.

She also directed her to her website should we have additional questions after the Fest.

Other demos included easy vegan recipes, increasing the protein for lunch boxes – just in time for back to school, and using the fresh herbs around us.

Lectures? Yup, but again practical use.. how about dealing with allergies when your traveling. And yes, it can be daunting and even frustrating, that was one of today’s topics- don’t you love topics that help answer many questions and hurdles we can encounter everyday.

When it’s time for you to take your lunch break in all of the activities, it’s good to see that the Greater Richmond Convention Center was ready.

And, yes…. that is a steak and cheese sandwich on gluten free bread!!

There’s so much more! But that’ll have to wait for tomorrow “day two”.

There are two more Fest locations, (Indianapolis,IN and Portland,OR) if the Richmond one is not near you.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post with the Fest wrap-up

Have Dessert Will Travel

Summer means fun, family, and road trips. So, you pack up the devices so no one gets bored; and you pack the snacks! All sorts, from chips to cookies and even candy, drinks too!! But as time passes by, you sometimes crave for something a little different to snack on….. cake or a brownie! I know it gets so hot you think you could bake inside your car, but aside from attempting to buy a slice of cake at the next rest stop…… you’ll just have to wait until you get to your destination.

Wait no more!! Miss Jones Baking Company knows how we feel. You’ve probably tried their bake and cookie mixes- but now they have “dessert in a cup”!!

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What a great variety, has something for everyone…. Hard to choose but none will disappoint.yNid+2mNRQy+RDd7e6IIAw The instructions are super easy, so easy that I can get these ready minutes before we leave. Who doesn’t love a warm brownie or double chocolate cake??

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Just a few tablespoons of water to create chocolatey goodness in just a few minutes.

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Looks just like the batter you made from scratch

9bnjNYONS9CrBa5KU3TBxw There it goes baking away in the microwave

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The only difference with making the brownie is a smidge of vegetable oil.

And voila! Fresh baked goodness in no time flat! zxsbpsyrjgtex30uypymg.jpgeq+k4uXFSYaoLDBabdtZQA

Craving fulfilled… It’s made by Miss Jones Baking Co. so its like baking it from scratch- but in less time!

To see all their products and learn a little more about them, go to:

http://www.missjones.co

Staying Charged

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The Summer beckons for road trips, trips to discover new places or visit family. The thrill of packing and the excitement of hitting the road. The time in the road can be a challenge that boredom takes over. So we all charge up our devices before we leave and pack our chargers.

Depending on the length of the trip the devices may or may not last. Everyone has their cords, but can we connect them all? We need a car charger that can handle it all.

With a little research, I found it!

There it is- petite but yet big enough to solve our dilemma

This small item is a Car Charger for Nintendo Switch, MacBook Pro, Camera, iPhone, iPad, and Notebook.

So, let’s give it a try…

Simple enough…. but you said you have a port to charge your phone. Yes, I do too.

But, it sure comes in handy when there’s more than one of you that needs to “plug in”.

As part of an experiment, I wanted to try it on one of our older model vehicle that didn’t have a USB port.

Sits just right and charges perfectly.

Now we’ll never have to worry about not being able to charge our devices when we are on the road!!

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Chocolate- a class in its own

Can’t believe “back to school” is already under way! If you’re like me….. I’m not ready!!!

I do know of a class that I’m geared up to take- a chocolate making class!!! Yes, I know chocolate is in a class all it’s own. But, here’s an opportunity to make it yourself!

Where you say? I am fortunate enough to have a “Chocolates by Kelly” in my neighborhood. Kelly, herself, teaches this fun experience!

So what are we making?? Truffles of course!

When you arrive for your class, everything is ready.

Should you get parched…. I know, chocolate is a huge distraction- but if you haven’t heard it enough, hydrate!!

So why truffles?? There is a simplicity and a complexity to them. You don’t need a truckload of ingredients to make them and super fun to make.

Want to take it to the next level? Give it some complexity? Maybe add some flavor and “personality “…. Kelly can show you how

Now to help prep you for this class, Kelly is ready. Especially if you’re like me and need to carry a lobster bib in my back pocket! Yup, I’m the one that wears the white shirt guaranteed to have something on it by the end of the day- hahahaha!!!

Now chocolate classes aren’t just all about fun, you learn more than just yummy chocolate making.

Kelly offers classes that are STEM inspired. Which is great for the kiddos. Why? Because like baking, chocolate (and candy) making is a science. Where temperatures and amounts can throw off an entire recipe.

With Kelly leading the way it’s easier to learn when you’re having fun, and with it being hands on makes it even better.

With August upon us, there is still some room at Chocolates by Kelly so book now for some fun, learning and memories!! Just go to for more details and to schedule your class

http://new.chocolatesbykelly.com/

Citrus Makes the Yellowtail Sing

Summer is busy with outdoor activities and road trips. Which means there is not always a lot of time to go elaborate on making dinner.

You want a dish that light, easy to make and of course, delicious!

Everyone enjoyed the yellowtail tuna from Wild Planet Foods- which is what I happen to have on hand. Through pure experience the quality of the fish that Wild Planet Foods offers is as good as my buying fresh without the hassle of prep.

So, I grab my yellowtail tuna and see what else I’ve got. I’ve got some limes and lemons. I’m going citrus!

A trip through Google with the ingredients I have sends me to a recipe for citrus and ginger- the twist is, heavy cream!

I blanch my julienne citrus zests of my limes and lemons

I will also need a couple of tablespoons each of olive oil, green onions, diced tomatoes, and julienned ginger. Yes- that is red wine that you see, we need 3 ounces of the wine. About 4-6 ounces of the heavy cream, along with 1-2 ounces of lime juice for the citrus splash.

Let’s begin putting it all together. I’ve got the oven preheating at 400degrees. As it’s preheating I dice and julienne

Time to combine the wine, the heavy cream slowly. In the original recipe the fish is fresh filleted, excess oil removed; my diced and julienned vegetables go into the same pan. The liquid mixture follows into the pan and reduced followed by butter as the splash of lime.

Since I’ve started with the prepared tuna, I will combine everything and bake it.

So my fillets go into the baking pan, I sprinkle the citrus and vegetables. The cream sauce goes on, along with the butter and always of lime.

Colorful and flavorful, it took about 10-15 minutes for the liquid mixture to marry with the fish.

A little French bread toast on the side to compliment.

Thank you for Wild Planet Foods generosity in sharing their yellowtail tuna in making this dinner possible!