Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oh the PAIN of poison ivy!

Right now my oldest is dealing with the awfulness that is poison ivy. On her TOES! Flip-flops and woodsy areas don't always mesh well, even if it is in the middle of a city, during a festival, on a well-trodden foot path.  Poor thing!

So we thought with summer starting, now would be a good time
for a post on poison ivy! If you’re anything like us, you spend a lot of time outdoors.  And if you’re one of the unlucky 50% of the population who is allergic to poison ivy, then you have a good chance of having to deal with the itchy ooziness of it at some point this summer.

Here’s what you can do if you’ve been exposed:
The first line of defense is to heavily rinse the area with water immediately.
Then rinse with rubbing alcohol.
Do not use a washcloth or it will just spread the urushiol oil all around.  Urushiol oil is the toxin in poison ivy & oak that causes the blistery, itchy rash on your skin.

Next, you have a few options. Keep trying until you find one that works.
1) Drying agents: use until the oozing stops.
    *Calamine lotion (Zinc & Iron Oxides together)
    *Zinc Oxide (think baby bum ointments/some sunblocks)
    *Witch Hazel
    *Baking Soda
    *Colloidal Oatmeal

2) Oral Medicines: an added measure for if the itching gets awful.
    *You can try Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine maleate)
    *or Benadryl (diphenhydramine hydrochloride)
~~~just remember both can make you VERY sleepy!!~~~

**edited to add - what worked best for us this week was frequent foot soaks in warm water & baking soda and spraying the rash with a white vinegar & water mix.  Great tip from my sister-in-law!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Are You My Mother?

The House Finch eggs have hatched!
I noticed mama bird was sitting a little higher than normal,
so when she flew away we snuck a peek in the nest.
And this is what we saw!
Mother Nature at her finest!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eco Tip of the Week - Phase out those toxic cleaning supplies!

 Eco Tip for the Week:
How to phase out toxic household cleaners.
I've been slowly making the switch to natural cleaning products.  Since I don't want to be wasteful and just dump everything down the drain to make room for new kinds, I replace the toxics with non-toxic as they get used up.   I now even go so far as to make my own cleaning products, instead of buying replacements.  I think it's so important to be conscious about the chemicals we dump down our drains. Not only do they contaminate our water supply, but they affect all the wildlife that depends on it (a whole other discussion!).

In a pinch though, I like to be able to just grab a bottle and go!
Products I like to use are Seventh Generation & Method.

But if you've got the determination and have the time, try some of these ideas!

1) Stock up on a few safe, simple ingredients that can be used in most cleaning situations. Soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, and a coarse scrubbing sponge can take care of most household cleaning needs.

2) Instead of using a standard drain cleaner, which likely contains lye, hydrochloric acid, and sulfuric acid, try pouring a quarter cup of baking soda down the clogged drain, followed by a half cup of vinegar. Close the drain tightly until fizzing stops, then flush with boiling water.

3) For an effective glass cleaner, use a mixture of half white vinegar and half water.

4) Baking soda and cornstarch are both good carpet deodorizers.

5)To clean up mildew and mold, use a mixture of lemon juice or white vinegar and salt.

6) A paste of baking soda, salt, and hot water makes a great oven cleaner and tub scrubber.

In the rare instance you need to use a hazardous product, use as little as possible and dispose of it in a way that will cause minimum harm—for example, by bringing it to a hazardous waste recycling or treatment center.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Which Side Are You Standing On?

I'm standing on the side of LOVE!
Imagine what this world would be like
if we approached every situation with love first!
Goodbye road rage!
Goodbye bullying and relational aggression!
Goodbye impatiently waiting in line, in traffic, at the doctor's office!
Goodbye jealousy, hatred, gossip, selfishness!
When we stand on the side of LOVE,
we react to everything differently.

Better, smarter, safer, kinder.

So the next time you feel your temper rising,
you feel yourself getting agitated, or annoyed or mad,
ask yourself "is this negativity really worth it?"
and then ask, "how can I approach this situation with love?"

(I love that this banner hangs outside my daughter's preschool!)
(For more on being LOVE check out Jason Mraz - master muscian and awesome activist.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Move Over Robins, There's a New Bird in Town

Unfortunately, our robin's nest tipped in a storm and the mama bird abandoned her three beautiful eggs and nest.  Within a few days we noticed that the house finches were back in the bush, singing their beautiful songs.
And then we noticed this!
It was empty, but not for long!
And not to be outdone by the robin family...
We now anxiously await the hatchings. Hopefully the eggs will start cracking by the end of next week!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Eco Tip of the Week - Ban the disposables!

Becoming eco friendly can be a daunting task. Where to start? Do you buy organic, get rid of all plastics, save water, use toxic free cleansers, compost, get a canteen, walk to work, start a garden? It can be so overwhelming to decide how to make these important changes.  So I decided to start posting a weekly tip that is easy to accomplish and easy to incorporate into your daily life.
So without further ado, here we go!
Tip #1:  Ban the disposables!
Remember when using the good dishes/silverware/napkins
was such a special treat?
Now you can treat yourself everyday!  You may have a few more dishes, but you'll have a lot less garbage and save a few trees in the process.
*Use cloth napkins
*Skip the paper plates
*Don't use plastic utensils. Yes, even the little ones can handle real silverware!
*Store items in reusable containers - stainless steel, glass, repurposed cereal bags, etc.
*Use the nice drinking glasses and wine goblets - even if it is just water!

Make the change one meal at a time, one day at a time and pretty soon you won't even miss the paper & plastics goods!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What to do with those annoying plastic containers?

We don't get take-out often, but when we do,
it comes loaded up in plastic containers. 
I can recycle most (1-2 in our community, 3-7 at work),
but most communities leave you hanging on those #5's. 

What to do, what to do?
Plant a garden!

They make excellent seed houses.
Pop a few holes in the bottom for when you plant
and rinse and put away after you transplant!

(Big Tip: Preserve Products will also send you
pre-paid shipping labels to collect all your #5 recyclables!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

From Rags to Riches!

A lot of our hand-me-downs still have a lot of life left in them. 
But they've also been well lived in, ie: stains, rips, faded patches.
So what do do with those not-so-perfect beauties?  Get out the fabric markers!
The little ladies love coloring their own designs and then showing them off.
We use Crayola fabric markers on clean clothes and
then either iron to set or toss in a hot dryer for about 10 minutes.
And the finished product! Good as new!