What is Your Vision for the New Year

by Tiffany in Health & Healing, Tidbits

A great post by Internet friend Diana reminded me of the power of using a vision board to frame your thoughts and aspirations for the new year.

Basically a vision board or a dream board is way for you to visualize your goals and dreams and use the law of attraction to bring them to fruition. It is usually a collage of pictures, powerful words, and affirmations that you put together to “create” the reality you want. I have made vision boards in days past the same way Diana did…with poster-board and magazine cutouts. But I recently found an an awesome piece of software that allows you to create your vision board on your computer and create a personalized screen saver. You can select your own pictures or use ones in the library and you can use your own affirmations and power words or use some of the dozens stored in the program. It might literally only take you ten minutes to create a beautiful vision board screen saver that pops up every now and again to remind you of where your life “should” be heading. It is an amazing tool.

Diana picked Gratitude as her theme for this year after 10 years of picking Freedom. I love the idea of making freedom your theme for the year and almost picked that but I decided on Vitality instead. The past few of years have been rough with multiple surgeries, cancer, chemotherapy, and 4 years of either being pregnant or breastfeeding or both. My vitality was sucked pretty dry, LOL. So this year, restoring my vitality or Life Force to the youthful and energetic state it should be in, will be my priority for personal development in 2008.

Once you know what you want you need to map out the path with pictures so I added representations of living/raw foods (healthy diet), pilates and running (exercise), spending time with my kids (love), sitting on a beach with my love (relationship), etc. All of these things and others all form the “picture” of what I want to create. Now that I think more about it I need to call my earliest version a rough draft and add some more images.

The background image I selected for my vision board is below:


So how about you? Will you create a vision board? What is your theme for the new year?


Autism and the Wheat and Gluten-Free Diet

by Tiffany in Children, Health & Healing

autism-and-the-wheat-and-gluten-free-dietApproximately 1 in 150 children are being diagnosed with autism each year and this number keeps growing. Only a few decades ago it was more like 1 in 10,000 children. That leap is momentous! With this disorder growing at epidemic speeds, doctors and parents alike are searching for new ways to combat and prevent autism.

Despite the fact that we hear all too often from mainstream doctors and media that autism has no cure, many parents of autistic children have found reason to hope. There are many treatments now that are bringing hope to these families and one is the gluten/casein free diet.  In her book, Louder than Words, actress Jenny McCarthy talks about her son Evan, his diagnosis with autism and her search for answers. I finally got around to reading this book last night and it was incredible.

I was bawling like a baby when she described all of the events that lead to her son’s diagnosis of autism including two seizures that nearly killed him, a misdiagnosis of epilepsy, and medications that made him hallucinate. The story had some eerily familiar notes to it. Jenny was the given the diagnosis in a matter-of-fact, abrupt way and then sent away with medications to make her son more manageable. No cure was discussed, no treatments were discussed…for all she knew there was no treatment or hope for the future. Then, a fellow actress and a mom to an autistic child called her and told her that autism can be treated and cured but there was a crucial window of time and she needed to act fast. Jenny became a mom on a mission to pull her son back from the world of autism and she shares every step of the journey in this book.

One of the main things Jenny did was Jenny did was employ a gluten free diet (accompanied by medication, therapy and supplements) to help Evan overcome autism with amazingly positive results. Once communicating with only one word at a time, Evan is now fully conversational. He holds eye contact and enjoys life as a normal little boy.

How is it that a gluten/casein free diet can help children with autism?  No one knows for sure, but one school of thought is that gluten (a protein found in wheat and some other grains) and casein (a protein found in dairy) act in a way that’s similar to morphine on some children.  Children with autism often have permeable intestinal tracts, or “leaky guts.”  The weak membranes in the intestine allow these broken-down peptides from digested gluten and casein (which act like morphine) to basically get loose in the bloodstream. It either makes them lose control, or become zombie-like.  Parents of many autistic children swear by it and it has been widely touted by parents of children that suffer from ADD/ADHD too. The book that Jenny referred to often was Special Diets for Special Kids.

In Louder Than Words Jenny discusses the two different camps that mothers of autistic children seem to be drawn to. One camp has the attitude that they will do whatever it takes and try any and every treatment they can if it means there is even a tiny chance they can help their child. But the other camp resigns themselves to having a “sick” child and they hesitate to do any alternative treatments or even let themselves hope. The latter camp also seems to relegate themselves into the role of “victim” and stay there. But there’s no reason not to try it and see if it helps. Because there are good food substitutes for the food that would become off-limits, there isn’t a risk of malnourishment by eliminating gluten and casein.  It is recommended, however, that no child under the age of 5 go on a cold turkey gluten and casein-free diet, because it could cause withdrawal and worsening of the symptoms of autism. Although Jenny did go cold turkey. Evan could only say a few words and only one at a time. After 3 weeks on the gluten/casein-free diet he approached her and said a four word sentence…asked to go swimming. Jenny couldn’t believe her ears and she is now a big believer in this diet.

Many parents who have incorporated a gluten/casein-free diet into their autistic child’s healthcare plan are swearing by the positive results they’re seeing. Children are communicating better, interacting more and functioning at a higher level.  The medical community is looking closely at this alternative treatment option for autism and many doctors are adding it to their treatment plans for autistic patients.  But it’s not a guarantee for everyone.

I was very interested in what I read in Jenny’s book about this diet and I am looking closer at it because my youngest is about to turn two in a couple weeks and he is pretty much non-verbal. He says “no”, “Daggen” which means Payton (his older brother), and “night-night”. That is pretty much it. This doesn’t really bother me but he does drink an absolute ton of milk and has been getting sick a lot lately so I am wondering if his overall health and verbal skills might improve if I get him off the dairy. I just looked online and his physical development and social and emotional development are right on track according to this site. But his intellectual development is lacking if their chart is to be believed. I am not sure I agree with their indicators though and especially calling them intelligence indicators because Parker is very intelligent. I swear he understands everything I say and he seems to understand every instruction I give him…he just doesn’t respond verbally. If I ask him if he wants to take a bath he doesn’t respond with a yes or no he just runs down the hall to the bath. If I say it is time to eat, he runs out to the kitchen and if I say “go get in your chair” he will run to his high chair and get in it.  In that chart he has a problem with these:

  • uses 2-3 word sentences
  • says names of toys
  • hums or tries to sing
  • points to eyes, ears, or nose when asked (we are working on this – he knows his uhm…private parts perfectly though, LOL).
  • repeats words

It would be interesting to see if a gluten/casein-free diet might improve these things. It would be nice to wean him off the milk regardless. I really hate how much of it he drinks and of course it still bothers me that he isn’t breastfeeding. :( I had to stop at 6 months when I was diagnosed with cancer.

Do you have any ideas or thoughts about the gluten/casein-free diet? Please share!


Use It Up, Wear It Out

by Tiffany in A Green Home, Eco Tips, Tidbits

This is a picture from my bathroom. The picture (in the picture) is actually a framed cross stich my mother did some 20 years ago. It says:

Use it Up – Wear it Out – Make it Do – Or Do Without

It is a good motto for green living.

blue bath

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

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Friday Wrap Up – Freebie Winner, Cool Sites, and the 95 MPG Car!

by Tiffany in Eco Tips, Environment, Tidbits

friday wrap upTGIF! I hope everyone enjoyed themselves over the holidays!

The winner of this week’s giveaway, the Natural Spa package, according to random.org is commenter #8, Lace. Congrats Lace! I hope you enjoy the soap, lotion, and candle all made of luxury spa quality ingredients.

In other news, here are few cool links for your Friday reading leisure:

I am gathering up info on eco friendly cars and solutions and today I came across a story on AutoBlogGreen about one man’s quest for better gas mileage, which lead him to revamp his Honda Civic. Okay, the car is rather ugly after all was said and done but this baby gets 95 MPG!!!! Please sign my car up for uglification please!

I also found an interesting story about how the Amish a few counties away from me are generating electricity via photovoltaic solar panels. That is pretty darn cool and now I have another reason to plan a spring/summer Amish country tour….to find out who their solar contractors are.

I joined three new social networking communities that might be of interest to other green/natural/alternative types. Give it to Me Raw is a brand spanking new site for people that like raw food. So far I can see that the people are awesome and friendly and they have some great groups like the one for writers and the one for eco entrepreneurs.

The second is Zaadz. This site has been around for awhile but it has just been acquired by Gaia, which is how I learned of it. Basically this site is for people who want to change the world. Pretty good goal if I do say so myself. :) I love their optional newsletters and daily quotes like their daily Taoism and Buddhism quotes. Today’s Buddhism quote was this:

Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can. – Dalai Lama

It is nice to wake up to such lovely words.

The third site is The Freeconomy Community. The concept is wonderful!

Freeconomy allows people to make the transition from a money based community-less society to more of a community based moneyless society, and to share the land they don’t need or can’t use to facilitate a local food community. It’s about helping others and providing an opportunity for others to help you.

For those that garden, the next month or so might be spent deciding what you will grow and ordering sunflower houses bookseeds. I am already pouring through catalogs and looking at heirloom fruits and veggies to grow…yum. Some great places to look and order are Seeds of Change and Territorial Seed. Things on my list include tomatoes, pumpkins, blue moon and stars watermelons, tiger melons, cukes, gourds, etc. I am also going to order some sunflowers and morning glories to make a Sunflower House as demonstrated in the wonderful book Sunflower Houses : Inspiration from the Garden – A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups. There is nothing more dreamy than planning a children’s garden.

Lastly, I stumbled upon a natural cleaner recipe that sounds pretty good at TipNut (love that blog) Homemade Rosemary Wood Cleaner. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!


Green Food Storage – Reader Questions

platesI am getting lots of great questions lately submitted via email. I usually just hit the reply button and give a quickie response but I will try harder to address questions on the blog just in case other people are wondering.

Janelle, who asked about what I use to store food in besides plastic last week, emailed again to know what I use in my freezer instead of plastic containers or plastic baggies. She was primarily concerned about storing leftovers in the freezer. That is a great question Janelle, unfortunately the answer is not as easy as the first one. ;)

I do not usually store leftovers in the freezer. In fact I “almost” never do. If I have leftovers from dinner time they go in glass containers in the regular frig to be used as lunch for the next day. I am not big on making huge dinners to spread out through the week or month as some moms are. I think it is great that some moms do that…it is just not something I do. On rare occasions when I do have something leftover I want to store I will use a plastic storage container. This is what I use for garden produce like loose berries, that I want to freeze. If I can get away with it, I will wrap stuff in paper (like the brown kind you wrap packages in) and then compost the paper afterwards. You have to be willing to accept freezer burn though. I have also put Wrap-N-Mats in the freezer with food wrapped in it.

Jennifer also submitted a good question. She asked me if I buy foods packaged in plastic. I try to avoid buying processed or packaged foods but there will always be times when there just isn’t an alternative. Milk, as Jennifer mentioned, is one of those items that has few alternatives. There is no milk, organic or otherwise, sold in glass containers where I live. They are sold in plastic jugs or plastic/paper cartons. Even the raw milk I have bought comes in a plastic jug and the company wasn’t willing to to use glass or even reuse jugs due to contamination issues. With all the hysteria around raw milk I can’t say that I blame them. So what do I do? I buy organic milk in less than favorable containers because my youngest likes milk. However, I don’t drink milk and neither do my other two kids so when my youngest child decides to give up his milk we just won’t buy it anymore. I would make an exception for raw milk though, because I love that stuff.

As for other foods packaged in plastic….

I usually buy cheese from Whole Foods wrapped in plastic but cheese lasts a long while in our house. I do buy frozen fruit for smoothies and they come in big plastic bags. Sometimes I buy cereal that is wrapped in plastic. So I guess the answer is that I try to avoid plastic if I can but I have not eliminated it completely. The more raw I go with my diet the less plastic I seem to use and of course packaging should always be considered when making any purchase. I would love to hear how other people have tackled this tough issue!

Jennifer also asked me about big gatherings in the home and what I use if I don’t have enough plates and glasses for everyone.  Do I use plastic, Styrofoam?

Actually I don’t have a problem in this regard. I could invite 100 people to my house and easily be able to scrounge up enough plates and glasses….seriously. I think I even have enough eating utensils. Family china sets, yard sales finds, boxes of inherited flatware, etc mean I would have more than enough plates and glasses. The picture of our china cabinet in the dining room (below) gives a small sampling. ;) There is an absolute ton of Currier & Ives dishware (above).

What I suggest Jennifer, if you do not have enough dinnerware is to pick some up at yard sales, garage sales, and estate sales. Estate sales especially are a good place to pick up complete sets of China, flatware, and linen napkins for low prices. Even mismatched dinnerware would look better than paper or Styrofoam and it would be much more eco friendly. If this is not feasible either you may consider asking your guests to bring their own tableware. There is a green parents meetup in my area that does this.

I “hope” I have answered these questions sufficiently but I would LOVE to hear from others about how they would answer these questions…so speak up and share the knowledge!

china cabinet