14
Oct

Natural Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

Natural Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep

It is amazes me how our attitude’s change about sleep as we get older. When we are younger we relish staying up late, brag about it, and generally try to milk every moment we can by staying awake. As we get older though we start to appreciate sleep time…trying to make sure we get a solid eight or more hours of dream time. We might even take naps. I know I plan my day around sleep time. I always want to ensure I get enough rest. If that means I have to go to bed at 6pm, before the best prime time shows even start, so be it. That is what a DVR and the weekend is for. We cannot expect to be healthy, fit, and strong if we ignore the benefits of adequate rest.

So what if you have trouble sleeping. I am one of the not-so rare folks who do. I wouldn’t say I have full blown insomnia but I am definitely sleep challenged. It runs in the family. Like my father, I toss and turn and wake up numerous times each night. I have tried a variety of things to help fix these issues because I am not a fan of pharma meds and don’t want to go that route.

Here are some natural ways to help you sleep better… one of them was a game changer for me.

Blackout curtains or a sleep mask – Total darkness often means a better night’s sleep. It also helps regulate our hormones better. Artificial light messes with our sleep systems so make sure to block all sources with blackout curtains. That way your neighbor’s porch light or street lights won’t be impeding your sleep. If you have artificial lights in your room such as the displays on alarm clocks or cable boxes, turn them off or use a sleep mask if you would rather not.

On the flip side, waking up with natural light is also ideal. If you have to get up before th sun does, like I do then use a wake-up light. The warm yellow light begins 30 minutes prior to your alarm time, increasing in intensity as your chosen waking time approaches. They are fantastic!

Get rid of EMF near the bed – Electrical appliances produce toxic electromagnetic fields called EMFs. It is not a good idea to have these devices near you when you are trying to sleep. To make your bedroom an EMF free sanctuary use a wood bed frame if you can (instead of metal) or just put your mattress on the floor. Turn off electrical devices or if you can, turn off the fuse that powers your bedroom. If you use a cell phone as an alarm clock (like I do!) keep it as far from you as possible, even if it means you have to get up and walk across the room to turn it off. You can also buy an EMF Neutralizer for your cell phone.

Use a natural remedy – Many people swear by Valerian (an herb) and Melatonin (a hormone). For the latter, start with a teeny weensy dose, even if you have to cut an already small pill in half. It can be a powerful sleep aid but it can also have side effects for some people such as vivid nightmares.

For me the most effective remedy I have ever tried is lavender essential oil. it is AMAZING. I put a roller ball on a bottle of pure lavender oil and apply it neat (means undiluted) to the bottoms of my feet thirty minutes before bed. Then when I slide into bed I am out like a light and I wake few times if any. Total game changer.

yes-this-nm

lavender oil for sleep

Eat light – Don’t fill your belly right before going to bed. That fires up numerous systems in order to digest the food and assimilate all the nutrients. Eat a couple hours before bed time or eat a light meal.

Take a bath/shower – A hot bath or shower is very relaxing before bed. You can also use a few drops of essential oils to relax you even more. Try Roman Chamomile, Peace & Calming blend, or Marjoram.

Avoid stimulation – Don’t exercise right before bed, watch TV, or play on the computer. Take an hour or so before bed to wind down and stay away from artificial lights such as bright TV screens and computer monitors. We cannot expect our bodies to go from 60 to sleep in just a few seconds/minutes. We need to wind down naturally and prepare our bodies for sleep. After sunset use candles and install software on computers and phones to dim the lighting with he setting sun. Try f.lux. It’s free.

Do you have sleep tips to share?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

14 Comments

13
Oct

Fall/Winter Garden Prep & Chores

by Tiffany in Gardening, The Homestead

Fall Winter Garden Prep Chores - naturemoms.com

The weather is getting quite nippy and the nights are getting darker. Life is moving a little bit slower, and things are winding down in your summer garden. But perhaps you don’t want to give up gardening just yet. Heck the weather is perfect for outdoor enjoyment right? Well you CAN keep growing well into winter. If this interests you check out my article on extending the growing season into fall and winter. It has lots of great tips and info on what kind of plants do well in cold weather.

In fact I just set up a cold frame for my greens (lettuce, arugla, and spinach). I used a shower door that some threw out during a home renovation and I set it on top of an existing raised garden bed. Cheap and easy!

coldframe

There are still some gardening tips and strategies that you can employ to get you back outside and some dirt under your fingernails. You can add some color and life to your garden, and prepare it for winter. Depending on where you live, fall can be a very busy time in the garden. Here are some ideas:

* Water fruit tress well until into fall and until the ground freezes. They will have a long, cold winter depending on were you live and they need a good moisture supply to make sure they get through it well.

* Rake leaves and compost them. Or maybe just leave them. There are some gardeners who do not believe in leaving leaves around tees due to the potential for leaf-borne disease. I think that if the tree/leaves are healthy then it is important to leave a nice layer of leaves around the tree, covering the roots. This is what trees do right?! They shed their leaves which then provide insulation and moisture for the roots during the cold. It is a perfect system, don’t mess with it so you can have a perfectly manicured yard.

* Plant bulbs. Dig a hole, drop the bulb in, cover it up with soil and a thick layer of mulch, and go have a glass of apple cider. Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Crocuses, garlic, and Allium (my fave!) are typically planted in the fall so they can complete their growth cycle in time to come up in spring.

* Cut back bulbs that will be staying in the ground and cover them with mulch to protect them from harsh freezes.

* Weed!! Why wait until spring when you will be super busy? Get rid of weeds now!

* Pull all your spent vegetable plants, cut them up with pruning shears to speed decomposition and toss them in the compost pile.

* Clear out any annuals that are spent as well. Leaving them in the ground is easier yes but diseases and pests are discouraged when you clear the beds and allow them to overwinter plant free. So if they are no longer useful, get them out of there. If any of the plants did show signs of disease, toss them in the garbage, do not compost them.

* After clearing your garden beds cover them with an inch or two of compost or aged manure to help improve the fertility of your soil.

* Cover beds with mulch or garden fabric. This helps maintain a good porous surface and helps prevent soil erosion.

* Veggies – Cover strawberries with straw, cut back asparagus fronds after they brown from the first frost, and re-pot annual herbs to bring indoors.

* Drain and detach water hoses. Empty and clean your rain barrel. Store them in the garage or a shed.

* Enjoy the fall!

rain barrel in the garden

Monday, October 13th, 2014

15 Comments

10
Oct

Fermenting Fruits & Veggies – Easier Than You Think!

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

My fermentation repertoire is sadly limited up to now. I have thus far only made kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and sourdough. I have wanted for a very long time though to make other fermented foods. High on my list are sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, ginger, and salsa but really I want to go wild with it. I love fermented foods and they are so very good for you. I credit fermented foods with helping me heal from the devestation wreaked upon my body by chemotherapy drugs after my bout with cancer. The drugs kill healthy cells and the healthy bacteria in the gut as well. Fermented foods helped me immensely, during chemo and after. They are now a big part of my family’s diet and one of our weapons against illness. We just don’t get sick very often and I credit all the fermented food we consume.

My love of Kombucha, and my disdain for the hefty price tag spurred me to make it myself. I would like to save even more by making more of my own ferments and I found the perfect guide to help me in this goal.

Last week I had the pleasure to meet a wonderful and knowledgeable blogger while at an activism and social media conference, Tamara from Oh Lardy. I have been a fan of her blog for a long time so it was awesome to meet her and even more awesome to hear her talk about fermentation and her new book… Oh Lardy’s Guide to Fermenting Fruits and Vegetables. I was super excited to get home and await it’s release, which was yesterday. I have already read it cover to cover. I love it!

take-a-look two

 Oh Lardy’s Guide to Fermenting Fruits and Vegetables
 

Not only am I exited to make all of the items on my wishlist (sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, ginger, and salsa) with the provided recipes I am also excited to try those I never even heard of….Dilly carrots, mushrooms, fruit leather, and lemonade. The instructions are super clear so I am 100% positive that I can take these recipes and run with them and the photos are gorgeous. I hope my creations look half as nice!

In This PDF E-book, You Will Learn…

  • The importance of the roles gut bacteria play in your digestive tract.
  • The basics of the process of fermentation, how it happens and why.
  • The benefits of consuming fermented foods (there are so many!!)
  • What materials you need to ferment foods at home to get you on your way to becoming a confident fermenter.
  • How you know when you food is fermented and other frequently asked questions.
  • How to make almost 40 different recipes easily in your own kitchen; recipes your whole family will love!
  • and more!

What’s Included:

This is a digital e-book, not a print book.  This e-book can be downloaded and read on your iPad, Kindle, smart phone, computer…almost any device!  You can read this e-book anytime, anywhere.

Buy Now

Friday, October 10th, 2014

13 Comments

7
Oct

5 Steps to Eliminating Food Waste

by Guest in Eco Tips

stop wasting food 5 tips

Food waste makes up nearly a third of the trash sent to landfills. This statistic alone gives us pause before we even begin to consider the millions who don’t have enough food to eat. You and your family can help reverse this by making a conscious effort cut down on food waste. With these five steps, you can begin to make a positive dent in an unsavory problem.

1. Shop smart

Plan out your meals for the week before you go grocery shopping. Make a detailed list, and stick to it. Remember to avoid impulse purchases (not shopping while hungry is sure to help) and buy only the exact quantities you’ll need. Purchasing grains and nuts from the bulk bins and only buying loose produce are great ways to cut down on excess. If you’re not sure of the right amount of food to buy, get into the habit of writing down what foods you end up throwing away so you know to avoid buying that much in the future.

2. Preserve food you can’t immediately use

When you shop, pay attention to expiration dates. To keep track in your refrigerator, make a habit of putting the newest foods toward the back of the fridge and moving the older items to the front where you’ll see and use them. If you know you won’t be able to use something before it expires, figure out the best way to preserve it. Store chips, cereal, or other items that have the tendency to go stale, in airtight containers. When fruits start to get too soft, toss them in smoothies, and when greens begin to wilt, add them to soups. You can freeze bread, flash freeze fruits and vegetables, and even take up the vintage arts of canning and pickling to avoid throwing food away.

3. Use your leftovers

Vow to eat your leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, no matter how tempting a trip to the local cafe may be. Consider gifting leftovers from big meals to friends or coworkers if you can’t possibly finish them. Another great idea: Set aside one night a week to make a meal just from food you have in your kitchen – no additional ingredients allowed.

4. Get creative with food scraps

Make produce go further by using all its parts. Stop peeling potatoes, leave the skin on cucumbers, and cook broccoli stems along with the florets. If this isn’t possible, save vegetable peels in a freezer bag, and when the bag is full, make vegetable stock. Pureed vegetable scraps can even be used in vinaigrettes. Take note of what scraps you’re consistently throwing away, and figure out how to reuse them!

5. Compost

When all other methods for reusing your food scraps have failed, compost! Fruits and vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds (and coffee filters), nut shells, and grains can all be composted. There are a number of ways to compost, from vermicomposting with worms to creating a simple garden compost pile, you’re sure to find a method that works for you. But the onus to reduce your family’s food waste shouldn’t rest on your shoulders alone.

Fun stickers are an effective way to remind kids to compost (via RecycleReminders)

belong-in-compost-bin-button

Take steps to make composting a family effort. Consider turning composting into a game for your kids. Reward them for composting their food scraps with small prizes. Stickers and buttons from Team Compost can remind your kids that recycling food waste is just as important as recycling any other material.

Being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be a hassle. You can find simple ways to engage all of your family members – even the little ones – in reducing their impact, starting right in your kitchen.

Guest post written by Monica Burton

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

5 Comments

28
Sep

Scholastic Parent & Child’s KidQ App

by Tiffany in Children

We are a pretty tech savvy household. We have lots of techie toys, smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, and so on. While I try to keep a balance in this area and make sure we don’t become to dependent on our “screen time”. I don’t want anyone in the family to feel like they are in withdrawal if they have to sit with their thoughts and little else to entertain themselves. If they do start to get antsy without their electronic devices then I know we need some screen free time.

I also see the value in all these devices. It makes managing everything in life so much easier. I can’t forget a bill I have to pay because my phone and computer notify me when things need to be paid. Same with appointments. I can keep kids entertained on long car rides with games and apps too. They don’t have to mindless games and apps either. There is a whole world of educational apps out there that help us entertain kids in educational and thought provoking ways. One such app I have been using lately is the Scholastic Parent & Child’s KidQ App. It is educational yes but it also has a great twist…

It may seem a bit contradictory but the idea of this app is to help us connect and start conversations with our kids. The KidQ app for iPhone and Android facilitates great conversation between parents and children with fun Q&A’s about the things that kids (and parents!) are the most curious about, like Why do we get goosebumps? and What sea animal is related to the elephant? Each day, users receive a playful question that serves as a conversation starter along with the official answer. Families will have a great time as they compare their answers to these questions. I found it to be great fun, as did my kids.

Ever have a long car ride and you want to get the conversation started and you aren’t sure where to start? Well have one of your kids grab your phone (or their own device) and open this app to start answering some fun questions. I would rather talk to my kids about what lobsters hear and how crazy it is that their teeth are in their stomachs than hear the bleep, bleep, bloop of Angry Birds or the hum of music from a child’s earbuds. This app helps make device time a time of connection between parent and child and that is valuable to me.

As I mentioned you can use it on iPhone and Android and you can download it here, along with other great apps.

I have an Android device and the app installed in seconds. Here are a couple screenshots from my phone so you can see the app in action. Enjoy!

Scholastic Parent & Child's KidQ App

 I was compensated by Scholastic Parent & Child for this post. They are a company I trust and love working with. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

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