Organic Cold Relief

Cold season is on its way. It might seem the only way to battle is with over the counter potions. Kids can average between 6 and 10 colds a year so chances are you’ll have to face the coughing and sneezing. There are some holistic ways to relieve cold symptoms so your little one doesn’t have to feel so awful.

Fluids help anyone who’s combating a cold. For babies keep to the milk they always get, whether breast or formula. Babies younger than 6 months can’t process water correctly so that’s a big no-no.  Babies a year and up can have water or juice, make sure they stay hydrated throughout the day.

Honey is a common remedy for coughing. Babies that aren’t a year old shouldn’t be given honey but you can give it to your older children. Half a teaspoon is enough for a child between 2 and 5, 1 teaspoon for kids age 6 to 11 and 2 teaspoons for children 12 and older.

Sore throats can be painful and soft foods like popsicles and pudding can be soothing. Soup is a good way for kids to get nutrients if they don’t want to eat hard food because of their throat. Consider making soup from scratch to reduce the amount of sodium.

Rest is the most productive thing anyone can do if they’re sick. Make sure your little one gets plenty of sleep and can relax as their body fights the infection. Provide books and movies to keep them occupied.

Time is of the essence when fighting a cold. Since there’s no cure for a cold you have to wait it out. Using different remedies to help your child find some relief from their symptoms will make the process less painful.

How to Help After Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy devastated a lot of the East Coast. A week later some people are still displaced or without power. If you were hit you know how difficult the storm was. People across the country are rallying to help those in need and you can get involved!

Google has gotten involved by creating maps on Google Maps that list areas that are in need. Individuals can create maps of their area and mark places to go to if you want to help out.

Donate supplies or monetary funds to The Red Cross; they’ve been heavily involved in helping people get back on their feet.

Many companies are collecting donations of clothing, canned food, radios, and cold weather supplies. You can easily find someplace local that is either driving the donations to areas of need or shipping them out.

Don’t forget the animals in need! Plenty of animal shelters need food and blankets as they deal with no power or supplies.

If you live in an area that’s been hit check on the elderly and sick that you know. Make sure they have proper supplies and food, as the weather gets colder. You can offer to rake leaves or bring over a warm meal

Many trees were uprooted in the storm and some are still touching power lines. Don’t attempt to fix the problem yourself; it’s incredibly dangerous and best left to the professionals. Find other routes to where you want to go and avoid hanging limbs.

Volunteer at your local shelter or municipal center that is housing displaced people. Consider donating your time on the weekends.

If you live in New York or New Jersey and notice gas stations are price gauging don’t hesitate to report it. It’s against the law to raise the price of essential goods after a disaster.

There’s so much we can do to help those who have been hurt by this horrific disaster. The more manpower the better!

Preparing for a Hurricane

When a major storm hits it’s crucial to be prepared. Hurricane Sandy is on her way through the northeast. There are some ways you can make sure your family is safe in case the storm heads your way.

There’s potential to lose power whenever a huge storm hits. Even if you have a generator you want to make sure you stock up on essentials.

Buy plenty of bottles water. Drinking plenty of water ensures you’ll stay hydrated and healthy.

Purchase nonperishable. Food you don’t have to refrigerate is the key when stocking up for a storm. Consider dried fruit; trail mix, energy bars and comfort food for kids.

Make sure you have plenty of flashlights AND batteries!

Kids can get antsy if they’re stuck at home, rent a fun movie or bake some cookies while you have power. Keep puzzles, books, coloring books and board games handy in case you’re without power.

The number one thing is to reassure your kids that you’re safe and together as a family.  A huge storm can be scary even for adults so you want to make sure your kids feel safe. Being prepared means you can focus on keeping your family calm.

A chat with The Green Answer Lady: Margie Campaigne!

Margie Campaigne lives in Rochester, New York. After the company that employed her for 22 years as a bookkeeper was closed, she saw an opportunity to pursue her passion for the environment. She became an eco-consultant with Green Irene. Doing Green Home Makeovers fit right in with her website called Project HOUSE. This site was home to hundreds of tips to save energy, water and generally lower your carbon footprint. Currently Margie is kept busy with Green Irene and also Cool Rochester, a group assisting people, businesses, and local government to lower their collective carbon footprint. She’s involved with her local Sierra Club, serving on their executive board and also working with their Zero Waste, Global Warming and Energy committees and chairs their Vegetarian/Biodiversity committee. Funkoos was lucky to pick Margie’s brain and learn all about her green experience!

What do you do as the “Green Answer Lady?”

Margie: Because people know me as Green Irene, they sometimes ask me questions about everything from unclogging sinks to geothermal systems. My specialty is saving water and energy in the home, but with all my volunteer experience I can usually help people with an answer. Just last week, I had a Green Irene exhibit at an employee wellness fair. April, with Earth Day, is always very busy with various eco-events.

Do you have any tips for businesses interested in going green?

Margie: Sure! Go for the low hanging fruit first- the obvious things you can think of that you’d do at home. Also involve your employees. You can bet some of them would volunteer to lead a Green Team to come up with and implement ideas that are not only sustainable, but will save money in the long run. Perhaps it starts with something like turning off your computers at night, and turning off lights in unused rooms. Maybe it’s encouraging staff to bring in their own coffee mugs, and trading in the bottled water for a fountain with a water purifier. Each business will be somewhat unique in their needs and opportunities.

What are some reasons you’re so passionate about educating others about sustainability and the environment?

Margie: It may be that I really hate seeing waste, or damage to and disrespect for our environment. I just never throw anything away without some thought about whether it can be reused or recycled. I love nature, and animals, and want to see all life flourish.

Why should businesses and families consider “going green?”

Margie: I don’t see it as an option or a choice- I see it as imperative. The future depends on making smart choices today, for a livable planet. We’ll all have a better tomorrow if we keep our children’s children in mind.

What is Project HOUSE?

Margie: Project House stands for (wait for it)- Household Opportunity to Upgrade and Save the Environment. A mouthful, I know. It’s an acronym I came up with back in the seventies when I reworked a project I came across that was about measuring your use of various resources so you could become aware and then share ideas to cut back.

In early 2007, I joined our local Sierra Club’s Global Warming and Energy committee. In the very first meeting I went to, it was mentioned that the foremost concern of the Sierra Club, as a whole, was global warming. I decided to make my old project 21st century friendly by turning it into a website. When the hosting fees went up, and then the hosting service decided not to provide website hosting as they had before, I had to let it lapse. Now I have a Facebook page and a Merchant Circle page under the name of Margie’s Green Irene Mart instead.

What are some basic ways families can reduce their carbon footprint?

Margie: There are many lists out there of the top 10 or 20 things you can do. Actually, the biggest single one is the proverbial elephant in the room. Cut out or cut way down on meat and dairy consumption! The respected World Watch Institute has published a report that raising livestock is responsible for a whopping 51% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions! See more information at www.51percent.org.

Do you have upcoming green projects?

Margie: I just finished helping with this year’s Greentopia Festival (http://greentopiafestival.com), on the Waste Diversion committee as a planner, and on the weekend of the festival itself, as a Reclying Ranger. We were aiming at Zero Waste, and had 10-12 stations, staffed by volunteers, to collect recyclables, a minimal amount of trash, and compost material from food vending.

The Rochester Sierra Club is VERY busy with many projects simultaneously.

I also volunteer with Cool Rochester, an organization devoted to helping to lower our region’s carbon footprint using the Low Carbon Diet book model, among other things (http://www.coolrochester.org). We are a small but dedicated group.

How can parents get kids interested in reducing their household carbon footprint?

Margie: This works two ways- sometimes it’s the kids who try to get their parents interested! Either way, it can be a real challenge. I think a good tool might be to purchase or borrow a Kill-A-Watt meter. These devices measure the amount of electricity a gadget or appliance uses, by plugging one into an outlet then plugging the appliance or gadget into the meter. It can read out watts, volts, amps, dollar amounts, usage over time, etc. This easily demonstrates just how much power different devices use. Green Irene also has a Family Action Plan that has two pages of simple ideas for the whole family to sit down with and discuss. Anyone interested can email me for the FAP. Family members can make individual pledges as to what they will do.

Learn more about Margie Campaigne at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Margies-Green-Irene-Mart/152068008271, and order a variety of green products from her at www.greenirene.com/1144.

Quinoa Craze

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) seems to be the new hot food this year. In fact the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations decided the year 2013 would be the year of the quinoa! Just what is this food and why is it so popular?

Quinoa might look like a grain but it’s not, you might be surprised to know it’s in the same family as spinach and beets. It comes from South America where people have been eating it for years. It’s a hardy food that can survive the harsh climates of the Andes. In South America the whole plant is eaten, while here we eat only the seeds. Compared to grains it has far more nutritional benefits. It’s a great food for lunch because of its high protein content. It’s also packed with more calcium than whole wheat.

Quinoa is full of great anti-inflammatory compounds. It also has monosaturated fats, the best kind of fat for you.  Not only that, but it has a wide variety of antioxidants. Studies are beginning to show that eating quinoa can help you lower your total cholesterol.

If you’re allergic to grain, quinoa can be a great alternative. It’s in face a great alternative even if you can eat grain!

The cooked seeds turn fluffy but also have a crunch. You can tell when they’re cooked all the way because they expand and little white threads appear on the seeds. There are many different ways to cook quinoa. You can add it to almost any dish for flavor and health benefits. Serve it with nuts and fruits in the morning, as a salad for lunch or as a side dish at dinner! Enjoy!

An interview with Kelly Neylan!

Funkoos recently got the chance to interview Kelly Neylan. She is a nationally registered Hatha yoga instructor, Reiki Master, energy healer and sound healer. Kelly is the founder of Lasting Light Yoga and Lasting Light Reiki. She is the author of the upcoming book: “Little Bodies Big Souls: How stories from yoga and children will change your life.” She holds a Yoga Alliance 200 hr. Hatha Yoga Teacher Certification, Yoga Alliance Pre-Natal Yoga Teacher Certification, and Yoga Alliance Children Yoga Teacher Certification. Some of the yoga classes Kelly teaches include pre-natal, children, gentle, and adult yoga. Her greatest achievement to date is her two budding little yogis who always allow her to be young at heart. She currently resides in Columbia, Maryland. We were so excited to learn more about her experiences in the world of yoga!

What is your book: Little Bodies Big Souls about?

Kelly: Little Bodies Big Souls is about positive parenting. It’s a practical book about how people have taken their experiences off the yoga mat and into real life. I feel that there are lots of terrific books out there about how to do yoga with children but not many showing “real people” how to walk the walk. I feel that this book will give all parents some ideas of what they can do with their own family as well as provide some inspiring examples to uplift them. We are still searching for a few more good stories to include in the book if you have one please send it.

What benefits to do kids receive from practicing yoga?

Kelly: There are so many physical and mental benefits that children receive from doing yoga. First off I see in my practice that even very young children are extremely inflexible because they sit almost all day, first at school and then in front of a TV or screen. This inflexibility leads to back problems, pain, and makes them prone to injuries. Mentally, yoga teaches kids a way to deal with their feelings in a positive manner through meditation.

What’s the best age to start yoga classes?

Kelly: It really depends on the type of experience you’re looking for and what you want your children to get out of it. There are classes that start after birth to give mothers and babies bonding time together, and then there are toddler classes that start with basic postures and fun yogic themed activities. There are also family yoga classes where the entire family participates together. I’ve taught all of these classes and each one is unique. It’s important that the class is tailored to the age of the child.

How can yoga help with birth preparation?

Kelly: I could probably write an entire book on this topic! Yoga is so helpful for pregnancy. A pre-natal yoga class can be an invaluable source of support for a pregnant mother. It provides physical exercise and stretching which help to alleviate some of the physical discomforts of pregnancy. It also reduces stress. The yoga postures help to prepare your body for the various positions that you may want to hold while giving birth. It can be a safe environment to ask questions that expectant mothers are afraid to ask and a chance to bond with other women. I’m still friends with people from my very first pre-natal yoga class that I was in over a decade ago.

How can moms use yoga and meditation to reduce stress?

Kelly: Being a mom, especially a new mom, can be extremely stressful. I know many moms think “I don’t even have time to get the essentials done, how can I meditate?” I used to do meditation while breastfeeding my baby; it was bonding and calming. I would meditate on love while I was feeding my children; it helped to reduce stress and any negative feelings that came up when taking care of a challenging baby. For those of you with older children I recommend doing a simple meditation before you get out of bed and before you go to sleep at night. It starts and ends the day on the right note. Don’t put pressure on yourself that you have to meditate or do yoga for so long or it doesn’t count. Just try to keep the practice in your life to whatever extent you can comfortably fit in so that you don’t lose it all together.

What is your favorite yoga position?

Kelly: That’s a hard question! It’s like asking to pick your favorite child. I think my favorite is actually not a position but the exhale or pause you take in the movements. It teaches you to surrender to the present moment. I think that’s something that many of us hard working moms need to do more of in our lives. We are always so driven to do the best for our families and careers that we forget to “pause” in life.

Learn more about Kelly at http://www.lastinglightyoga.com/ and http://www.lastinglightreiki.com/

Organic Teething Remedies

When your baby starts growing teeth it can be an exciting time. It seems as if he goes from having none to have tons! But teething can be a painful process and it hurts parents to watch their babies suffer. There are some natural ways to ease those long nights and help your baby feel better.

Teething biscuits have been around forever. They’re now being made organic! So your baby can gnaw all day on something good for him. Biscuits exercise the jaw and help soothe your baby’s need to bite. Freeze them for a numbing effect as well.

When your baby starts developing teeth it’s important to establish a routine to take care of them. Look for a BPA free toothbrush to clean his teeth and massage his gums. There are also toothbrushes made from sustainable wood that you can try.

Freeze decaf chamomile tea into ice cubes and put them in a baggie or hanky for your baby to suck on.

If you get a teether for your baby make sure it’s BPA free since it’ll be in your baby’s mouth. BPA isn’t healthy and can be found in a lot of plastic products. You can find teethers made from silicone, which is a great option. Teethers are bumpy so they massage sore gums and give your baby something to chomp on.

Dilute clove oil in edible oil and rub it on your baby’s gums. Test it out on your own teeth first and see how it feels since clove oil can be very strong.

Remember your baby needs something that’ll soothe and relax him while dull the ache and pain in his mouth. And don’t forget that teething doesn’t last forever!

Organic Allergy Remedies

Most people think allergies are only burdensome during the spring when flowers are in bloom. But ask any allergy sufferer and they can assure you allergy season can pop up during pumpkin season too. If you have itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, breathing problems and minor aches and pains you could be suffering from autumn allergies.

Pollen floats in the air both in spring and fall. The cool, windy autumn days are perfect carriers. Ragweed pollinates during the fall and leads to hay fever which is an allergic reaction. Another common allergen is mold. Leaves are falling to the ground and the air is moist, harboring an environment for all sorts of annoying spores. There are some natural ways to deal with allergies during the fall.

Buy local honey. That’s right, your sweet tooth can come in handy! Buying honey from a local beekeeper means the bees have been using flowers in your area. Eating the honey is an indirect way to get exposure to that flower pollen! This can help you build up a resistance to it when you breathe it in.

Check your local pollen counts to see what kind of plants are pollinating in your area. Avoid a lot of outdoor activity in the early morning- that’s when pollen counts are typically at their highest.

Raking leaves? Wear a bandana around your nose and mouth so you don’t breath in any anything that can irritate your allergies.

Purchase a Neti pot. It’s a small pot that you fill with saltwater and use on your nose like a nasal spray, except it’s a natural remedy. The saltwater can help rinse away irritants in the nose.

Eat spicy food to clear your airways. Make some tacos; add some horseradish to your hotdog or cook with peppers. Spices act as decongestants.

Toss the milk out. What you eat can determine how you feel. Studies show that a diet rich in omega-3 fatting oils can help with allergies. Dairy products, wheat and sugar can all lead to congestion. You want your diet to consist mainly of fish, nuts, fruits and veggies. This rule fits not just during allergy season, but also all year long!

Millions of people suffer from autumn allergies, but take heart! Typically the symptoms subside in November when the weather gets colder and plants become dormant.

September is Baby Safety Month

September is Baby Safety Month; a great reminder to make sure everything is as safe as possible for our little ones. As all parents know, babies come with A LOT of gear. It’s important to make sure everything you use with your child is 100% safe. Here are some common baby items and ways to make sure they’re effective and risk free.

Chest infant carriers:

The main concern with carriers is your baby’s ability to breathe. When putting your baby in a chest carrier that should be your number one priority.

Your babies face should be visible at all times, whether you’re using a carrier that has your baby facing inward or outward. Don’t cover your baby’s head with a blanket.

Constantly check the carrier for worn seams or missing parts. Like any item that is used a lot, carrier can suffer wear and tear that makes them dangerous to use.

Choking Hazards:

Choking is definitely up there on every parent’s list of worst nightmares. September is the month to remind yourself to look around your house for any items that can pose a risk to baby. If you have an older child make sure their toys are in a contained area where your little one can’t grab them.

Always do a sweep of the floor and double check that there aren’t any coins, pieces of cloth or anything else that a pair of little hands could grab onto.

Make sure small decorative items are out of reach.

Double-check the eyes and noses of stuffed animals. If they seem to be coming loose it’s time to get rid of them.

Cribs:

Cribs are your baby’s first bed and place to relax. You want it to be as safe as possible.

Check for recalls before purchasing a crib.

The mattress in the crib should fit snugly so your baby can’t fit between the mattress and the side of the crib. The crib sheet should also be tight and secure.

Crib bumpers can look cute but they are a serious suffocation hazard. Remember: the less there is in the crib, the safer it is.

The number one most important rule for any parent is: eyes always on the baby! An adult should always be watching your little one to keep him or her out of trouble.

Say No to GMOs!

Every parent wants their child to eat healthy, safe food. But currently the FDA doesn’t require genetically engineered food to be labeled as such. Many people don’t feel confident that GE food is safe, especially for children.

A recent study done by the Just Label It campaign found that 90% of mothers want the FDA to start labeling genetically engineered food. GE food has been available to the American public for twenty years and yet we’re only really learning about it now. The main reason that GE food hasn’t been labeled is because the FDA decided genetically engineered food isn’t different from its “normal” counterpart. As The Just Label It site says, “For example, a salmon that is genetically engineered to produce hormones throughout the year is not, according to the FDA, materially different from a non-genetically engineered salmon. The FDA came to this decision because GE food doesn’t smell, taste or feel different from non-genetically engineered food. The fact that they reached their decision by looking at physical traits of food is enough to make any parent angry!  The Just Label It campaign argues that we can’t make smart choices about our food if we don’t know what’s in it.

If you want toe FDA to start labeling genetically engineered food join the Just Label It campaign and make your voice heard! Visit their website (http://justlabelit.org/) and sign their petition. So far over a million people have signed. It’s up to consumers to fight for a change! To learn more about GMOs read our previous blog post: http://blog.funkoos.com/2012/04/what-are-gmos.