Ready to start planting? Here are some tips for shopping smart!
It’s finally time to start planting – but before you plant, you shop. With garden retailers preparing for the predictable spring surge in business, shoppers need to prepare themselves for the best shopping experience ever.
Before You Head Out Plant Shopping
Here are a couple of things you should know/do before you begin your spring plant shopping:
Know how sunny your garden is.
Watch your garden and figure out whether the area you want to plant in is in full sun (i.e. it gets 6 or more hours of direct sun a day) or not. This is key information to have—some plants won’t thrive in less than full sun and some plants will wither with that much sun. This rule applies to all plants, whether you’re looking to buy perennials, pretty annuals to fill a pot, trees, vegetables, or herbs.
Snap some photos of your garden with your phone before you go shopping.
Once you get into the garden center, there is so much selection it can be overwhelming. Having a photo with you will help you remember what planting hole or pot you came to fill and how big it is. And, if you need to ask a staff member for help it will make it a lot easier for them to give you good advice if they can see your space instead of hearing “well, I need something to plant in the backyard, in front of the rosebush, beside the Hostas, well, I think they’re Hostas—is that what you call those things with green leaves that grow low to the ground?”
Bring close-up, in focus shots of the leaves of any plant you’re looking for help with identifying, as well as a picture of the whole plant, and, if it flowers, a picture of the flowers with you.
Once you’re in the garden center, read the tags on the plants — they’ll tell you whether the plant needs full sun or tolerates shade, and tell you how big it will get (height and width). Between the information on the tag and the homework you did before you left the house, you’ll be well on your way to buying the right plants for your garden!
Here are some tips for getting the very best plant value while shopping this spring.
Perfect is Imperfect
All of us do it: we automatically reach for the perfect flowering plant, like a hydrangea in full bloom, a pot of pansies brimming with color. The fact is, though, a plant brimming with color is soon in decline. This is true of plants that bloom at their very best once a year, like a hydrangea, but not so much a season-long performer like a geranium. Choose plants that are in flower bud, not in flower, and enjoy a longer bloom cycle.
Avoid Root-Bound Plants
Often, plants have been grown past their peak. The easiest way to determine the quality of the plant you are buying is to pull it gently from the pot. Retailers won’t mind that you do this, as long as you’re careful not to spill soil everywhere. The pot should be 50 to 70% roots, with the balance, a quality potting mix.
If the roots twirl around the inside of the pot, they are likely to sit in your garden in shock. pull tightly woulnd roots apart before you plant (or avoid root-bound plants in the first place).
Autumn Stock is a Good Bet
Some retailers store their leftover stock from last fall and bring it out for sale carly in the spring. This stock may perform very well in your garden, as the plants are generally more established and “hardened off,” therefore more tolerant of frost than new stock fresh from the greenhouse.
Imperfect May Be Temporary
Experienced gardeners know that some of the best plant deals are at the back of the store, where less than perfect specimens are often offered at discount prices.
Something like a broken branch or a scar in the bark that can be overcome with time or pruning. In a few years, a tree or shrub that is imperfect at the time of purchase can look great; patience and pruning can really pay off!
Seeds Save Money
Many plant shoppers forget to go inside the store to peruse the seed racks. The truth is, many herbs, annuals, vegetables and perennials grow easily from seed and they always cost much less than plants.
Divide and Save
Some of the best plant deals at this time of year are not at retailers, but at local horticultural society or master gardener meetings, and even sometimes at garage sales. The divisions from someone else’s Hosta or Daylily can take root and perform very well in our garden this season, and save you a lot of money.
For that matter, if you have perennials of your own in your garden that are several years old, chances are that many of them can be dug up, divided with a sharp spade or knife, and planted around your garden.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some helpful information on spring plant shopping.
Senior hoarding issues are tough for caregivers to manage, both physically and emotionally. It’s well known that hoarding causes safety hazards like fall risk, blocked emergency access, and unsanitary living conditions. What’s not as well understood is the emotional side.
To help you care for a hoarder and the messy consequences, this post explains the difference between a pack rat and a hoarder and which emotions are behind the behavior, as well as how to provide emotional support, arrange help, and restore their home back to a livable condition.
Is It Hoarding? The Difference Between a Pack Rat and a Hoarder
Many people like to hang onto mementos and multiples of useful items for both nostalgic and practical reasons. But there are key differences between someone who collects and someone who hoards.
A hoarder suffers from an inability to discard items and often acquires useless items. They keep stacks of unnecessary items, like junk mail and old newspapers. They might move things from pile to pile, but will never throw anything away.
Many people have a few items they feel emotionally attached to, but a hoarder has an excessive attachment to many possessions and will be uncomfortable if somebody touches them or asks to borrow their items.
They’ll also feel unable to get rid of any possessions and will end up living in cluttered spaces that are often unsafe, unsanitary, and/or hazardous.
The difference between a collector and a hoarder is that when someone is hoarding, their daily life is negatively impacted.
If you are reading this article, you likely already know you’re dealing with a hoarder, and not just a pack rat or collector, and have noticed the following:
Signs of Hoarding:
Avoids throwing away possessions that have no value to them or anyone else.
Experiences mild to severe anxiety about getting rid of anything.
Repeatedly adding to the hoard without recognition that there is a problem.
Rooms in their home can no longer be used for their intended purpose.
Possessions are negatively impacting their safety, health or hygiene.
Hoarding is Especially Dangerous for Seniors
Hoarding is dangerous for almost everyone, but it’s especially harmful for seniors. They’re more likely to fall in a crowded home and their health will be harmed by unsanitary or hazardous living conditions.
Hoarding results in serious side effects for older adults, including:
Preventing emergency care – firefighters or emergency medical technicians (EMTs) may not be able to get through the house to reach them
Causing physical danger – increased risk of falls or not being able to move around due to the extreme clutter
Refusing home help – won’t allow anyone into their home (usually due to embarrassment or fear of their stuff being disturbed), this negatively affects their nutrition, hygiene, and medication
Producing unsanitary conditions – spoiled food leads to pests and food borne illness
Creating fire hazards – piles of old papers, newspapers, or magazines can easily go up in flames
Mental Issues and Hoarding
Senior hoarding issues could also indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or mental illness. In other cases, it could also be caused by Diogenes Syndrome, a condition that affects some seniors near the end of life. Diogenes Syndrome is characterized by hoarding, self-neglect, social withdrawal, and a refusal to accept help.
Hoarding is often accompanied by some degree of anxiety, which makes it difficult to treat – and tough for families to watch. And because hoarders tend to self-isolate, it makes their emotional well-being even more fragile.
When you’re caring for someone who hoards, it’s helpful to learn more about senior hoarding issues (see my book recommendation below). Understanding the emotional side of this behavior helps you work toward effective solutions in a kind and gentle way.
Hoarding Can Be Triggered By Trauma
Recently, it has been found that people who have hoarding symptoms are also more likely to have experienced a traumatic event in life. It could be that hoarding is a coping mechanism to deal with grief or loss.
This is important to consider if your older adult has only recently started the hoarding behavior. They could be trying to fill an emotional hole left by the trauma of losing a spouse or another major life change.
The Emotional Effect of Senior Hoarding Issues
Even though hoarding can be a coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety, trauma, or other mental struggles, it doesn’t provide real relief.
In addition, hoarding behavior often comes with poor decision making, procrastination, and a lack of organization. These impact all aspects of life and make it more difficult to have good quality of life.
And because hoarding is isolating, seniors who hoard typically have limited social interactions. They may even push you away or avoid you, damaging your relationship.
People’s perceptions of hoarders can negatively impact a hoarder as well. It’s easy for others to see hoarders as dirty or lazy, and those judgments can be difficult for them to hear and handle.
Struggling To Let Go Of Possessions
Hoarding is a complex and layered behavior. A hoarder could be dealing with any number of symptoms and conditions, from indecisiveness to anxiety and from trauma to social isolation.
Using hoarding as a coping mechanism could mean that there‘s something in the person’s life that is just too painful to face. Clutter builds up and provides comfort to the hoarder. Letting go of that comfort can feel excruciating.
In fact, hoarders can develop such strong attachments to their possessions that these items become more valuable to them than the people in their lives. Getting rid of something so valuable would feel similar to the extreme grief of losing a loved one.
That’s why if someone forces a hoarder to get rid of these items, their anxiety can intensify to unimaginable levels.
So even though it may seem like the most straightforward solution, do your best to not throw items away without permission or jump into a big cleanup without help from mental health professionals – it would be too emotionally distressing.
And if you do get rid of things without their approval, it will likely make them see you as an untrustworthy person. That makes it harder for you to continue helping them.
Do your best not to judge and remember that they greatly value the items you see as junk. A hoarder likely needs professional help to deal with their serious emotional issues before they can cope with cleaning up.
Emotional Help for Senior Hoarding – Avoid a Forced Cleanup
Not only would a forced cleanup cause extreme emotional distress, the person you care for will immediately return to their hoarding ways and fill up the space again.
What works better is to help your older adult see that hoarding is a problem. That doesn’t mean shaming the person. Instead, an empathetic and rational discussion (or several discussions) will help them gain the courage to do what’s best for themselves. Start by helping them see that a change needs to be made for their own safety.
If the hoarding is linked to a traumatic event, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is often an effective treatment. CBT helps the person cope with the emotions from the trauma and learn to manage their grief in a healthier way.
And even if the hoarding isn’t linked to a traumatic event, therapy is still helpful. Hoarding can’t truly be fixed until the root of the problem is found and addressed. For some people, medications that treat anxiety and depression may also be able to help with hoarding disorder.
Above all, be empathetic. Try to understand where your older adult is coming from and listen to what they have to say as you gently guide them towards recovery.
Visit the Doctor
Because hoarding is connected to health conditions or mental health issues, it’s likely that your older adult will need professional help. Having their doctor do a full evaluation will help figure out if the behavior is caused by dementia or other medical conditions.
If the issue isn’t related to a medical condition, therapy (sometimes in combination with medication) is a way to help seniors manage their hoarding behavior.
Practical Ways to Start Organizing With a Senior Hoarder
Start By Simply Talking About Decluttering
The first step to cleaning a hoarder’s home is starting a conversation with your loved one who is challenged with a hoarding disorder. Talk about your plans and emphasize the ideas of safety and confidentiality. Discuss how organizing their home will make it safer to live in and communicate that you’re only there for support, not to judge. It’s important to involve your mental health professional in these conversations as well, if applicable.
One of the most important tips for working with someone who is challenged with hoarding is to meet them where they are at. They are the owners of their stuff; they are the ones in charge of the process. Talk with the person to understand how the items they are keeping meet their end goal, whatever their end goal may be.
Use neutral language when talking with a hoarder about decluttering plans. Words like ‘clutter’ or ‘unsanitary’ can trigger [someone], and cause them to become defensive; using neutral, non-threatening language allows you and your loved one to communicate freely without pointing fingers.
Once all parties involved have agreed it is time to start cleaning the hoarder’s home, you will need to create an action plan to complete the project. Work with your loved one to create a plan they approve of and are ready to attempt.
Determine criteria for Getting Rid of Items
Sit down with your loved one and help them create a list of criteria to determine if something can be thrown away. Remember that these are their belongings and they are in charge of this process. Write down the criteria so everyone assisting can refer to them as needed. An example could be: All mail older than six months can be thrown away.
Decide the order you will tackle the rooms and how much time you’ll plan to spend in each room. Remember, tackling rooms individually is much more manageable than tackling the whole house.
Setting goals is an important step in helping someone with hoarding tendencies. Set concrete and attainable goals to keep everyone motivated. A goal could be organizing their items and moving them to an area of the house that can be used for storage; clearing enough space in entrances and hallways to improve accessibility and safety; or clearing a space where they will feel comfortable hosting company.
Plan For Waste Removal
When working with someone who has a hoarding disorder to clean their home, you will most likely be throwing away a lot of waste. As you declutter the home, you will need to have a fast and simple solution for moving the debris out of the home. Renting a dumpster is a good option if the project is a large one. You can take your time filling the dumpster and have it removed as soon as your clean-out is complete. Other options for waste removal include curbside pickup and junk removal services.
Keep in mind that someone with a hoarding disorder may be tempted to remove items from the debris pile if left alone.
Begin Organizing the Home
With your plan and waste removal strategy in place, you are ready to being cleaning and organizing the home. Cleaning and organizing are two different things. First declutter the home, then organize and finally, begin cleaning.
Follow your plan and go room by room. Using your predetermined list of criteria, identify and throw away worthless clutter and create piles for items to be kept and items to be donated. Remember to discuss how each item being saved helps them meet their end goal.
For a practical detailed guide, read my blog post:
Helping someone with a hoarding disorder is incredibly challenging. It will be an emotionally exhausting process, especially when you are working with someone you love. Remember to stay positive and be patient. Take frequent breaks and continue to have positive and encouraging conversations with your loved one.
The best goal for anyone is just to manage expectations, and ultimately to proceed with no expectations.
Working with a hoarder and helping them to live better in their space is really not about fixing the problem, but finding some kind of happy medium where you can make yourself feel better and alleviate a dangerous and/or unsanitary situation.
Hoarding is never really cured, just managed. Understand that the room you cleared out might not last for very long, and the solutions you created may not be long term.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some practical information on helping a senior with a hoarding issue.
Going through a hoarder’s stuff is somewhat similar to a scavenger hunt, only without the fun usually involved in the game. You may find some valuable items in the hoard but instead of being thrilled you will be sad and sorry for the person suffering from a severe anxiety disorder that prevents him/her from assessing the true value of his/her possessions, making informed decisions, and having a normal lifestyle.
The affected individual will be most probably a friend or relative of yours, so the cleaning process will not only be very time-consuming and exhausting, but also rather emotional and difficult for you to deal with.
There are several crucial steps to take when cleaning a hoarder’s home in order to achieve a favorable outcome of such an overwhelming endeavor.
To clean a hoarder’s home, make sure you:
Assess the situation
Form a cleaning strategy
Gather needed supplies
Sort hoarded items
Clean and restore the home
Assess the Situation and Create a Strategy
Hoarders lack the ability to classify items according to their actual value, so they tend to accumulate large numbers of useless things and never throw any of them away out of fear of losing something important.
The resulting piles of junk quickly build up to monstrous proportions, blocking most of the living space in the hoarder’s home and rendering normal everyday activities, such as cleaning, cooking, etc. impossible. Besides, the accumulated stuff harbors mold and bacteria growth, provides shelter to various kinds of pests, and poses fire hazards.
Quick and efficient measures are required to restore the hoarder’s home to safe living conditions but you need to approach the delicate situation with great patience and compassion in order to achieve satisfactory and sustainable results.
Address the Hoarder
Without a doubt, your greatest concern when faced with the difficult task of cleaning up a hoarder’s house will be how to help the affected person overcome his/her anxieties and resume a normal daily routine.
Decluttering and sanitizing the premises will restore the healthy living conditions in the hoarder’s home but will not restore his/her life. You need to earn the trust and respect of the affected individual first and convince him/her to actively participate in the cleaning process and keep his/her home neat and tidy in the future.
Special therapy treatment programs have been recently developed to help people with hoarding symptoms but your considerate and solicitous care is of paramount importance for improving the condition of a close friend or relative suffering from a hoarding disorder.
Of course, if you are about to clear a hoarder’s home after the affected person has already passed away, this aspect of the hoarding cleanup will no longer be relevant.
The laborious process of cleaning a hoarder’s home is too difficult to perform on your own. Not only are there many strenuous tasks to complete (removing large piles of garbage, repairing property damage, cleaning intensively, organizing the hoarder’s items, etc.), but you will also have to make a number of difficult decisions concerning the fate of specific items of sentimental value, documents, etc.
Enlist the help of close friends or family members to help you deal with all the aspects of hoarding cleanup in a quick and efficient manner.
Consider Your Own Safety First
Keep in mind that many threats may lurk in the home of a hoarder (biological contaminants, fire hazards, structural collapse, etc.) and consider your own safety first.
In case of excessive mold, animal waste, pest infestations, and other risky circumstances present in the hoarder’s home, call professional hoarding cleaning services to take care of the dangerous situation and complete the job quickly and safely.
Hiring experienced cleaning services for hoarders will ensure your peace of mind and will save you much time and nerves. You can receive more detailed information and learn the cost of cleaning a hoarder’s home by contacting hoarding cleanup specialists in your area.
Create a Plan
Assess the situation carefully, prioritize the work that needs to be done, figure out what you are going to need and how much time each specific task will take, and decide if you will take advantage of hoarding cleanup services or will try to manage on your own.
As already mentioned, you need to ensure your own safety first. Get hold of disposable gloves, dust masks, and goggles to avoid exposure to mold, parasites, and other health concerns that may be present in a hoarder’s home.
Wear sturdy shoes and a hard hat when you enter the house and make sure you have:
a fire-extinguisher – the hoarder’s stuff may contain flammable materials and they can easily catch fire while you are inside;
a repellent spray – when you disturb the hoard, you may find out that it has given shelter to a number of pests;
a flashlight – you need to be able to see clearly in every nook and cranny of the hoarder’s home;
a first-aid kit – to disinfect and dress accidental wounds. Don’t forget your allergy meds and some pain relievers as well.
Be careful for sharp objects (knives, broken glass, etc.) that may hurt you and immediately call the professionals if you find evidence of bio-hazardous materials.
You will need appropriate cleaning equipment in order to remove the trash and disinfect the premises, as well as some tools for disassembling or repairing certain items.
Don’t forget to get a dumpster as you will need a place to put all the garbage and damaged items you need to get rid of. You can rent a large dumpster from the city sanitation services and have it hauled off and disposed of for a small extra fee.
Prepare a Staging Area and Secure the Exits
You will need some free open space (a staging area) to temporarily put the contents of the hoarder’s home but most probably the rooms, porches, attics, and basements will be so cluttered that working there will be impossible. So, make sure you have cleared the outside area first to provide room for sorting out and organizing the hoarder’s items (if the weather is fine, of course – otherwise, you will have to find an appropriate covered area).
Keep in mind that the doors may be partially (or fully) blocked and venturing inside without having secured a safe escape route out is very risky. If a fire breaks out, for example, you may be trapped and unable to leave the property in time. So, secure an exit and start removing the trash and debris from the nearest room first. Pile all the salvageable items in your staging area to deal with them later.
Starting the Hoarding Cleanup
Once you have secured your safety and prepared everything necessary, it’s time to begin cleaning the hoarder’s home:
Choose a Small Room to Begin With
Be warned that many hoarders seriously neglect sanitation, which can lead to health hazards, especially in the bathroom and the kitchen. So, these areas should be thoroughly cleaned out and sanitized at the earliest opportunity.
It’s a good idea to start with the bathroom, as you will need free access to clean running water and soap. Besides, you can finish the task really quickly. There is no chance of finding a valuable item in the bathroom, so just get rid of all the expired toiletries and half-used personal care items, old towels and filthy bathroom fixtures.
Give the bathroom surfaces an overall sanitization (you’ll clean better later on) and move on to the kitchen. Immediately remove any food, food remains and food containers, as well as obvious trash, to avoid the risk of infections and take all the kitchen items to your staging area where they can be categorized and cleaned later on. Clean a place where you can sit and rest or have a snack.
Move on to another room but leave closets and other storage areas for last as they will be particularly challenging – extremely disorganized and overflowing with stuff.
Empty Out the Rooms
Get rid of all the trash in a room first (not only obvious garbage but also items that are too damaged or too filthy to be used again). Be sure to check on local ordinances for handling stuff that can’t go directly in the trash, such as medicines, fuels, explosive substances, oil-based paint, etc. Put aside materials that can be recycled and safely dispose of the others.
Work from the top to the bottom – take out the items stacked up on tables, beds, chairs, etc. first and work down to the floor. Look through pockets and purses to check for cash or jewelry. Remove all the clutter from the room and even consider temporarily moving large furniture and appliances, so that you can thoroughly clean the premises.
Sort Out Salvageable Items
Sort out and classify the hoarder’s stuff into three groups:
useful items you are going to keep
usable items you are going to donate
useless items you are going to throw away
Most charities will come to get your donations, but don’t forget to contact them beforehand and gather relevant information – what kind of items they need and what they cannot accept, how to arrange free pick-up, etc. Keep any papers you receive from charity organizations, as you may be eligible for tax deduction when you donate to charity.
Repair and Deep Clean the Property
When the house is free of trash and clutter, you can finally begin the intensive cleaning. This will be a very time-consuming and laborious process.
If any repair works need to be done, have them completed first. Any major restoration or renovation projects should be performed by certified and experienced specialists, of course. Contact professional cleaning and restoration services in your area to ensure efficient mold remediation (if necessary) and to have the premises properly dehumidified, deodorized, and restored to an excellent condition.
If there is no structural damage, at least consider repainting the walls and the ceiling and re-polishing or re-carpeting the floors before the home is ready to be moved back into.
If you will be cleaning the hoarder’s home without professional assistance, start with the ceilings and ceiling fans and move on to walls, windows, and any furniture left in the room. Make sure the entire place is properly disinfected, including fan blades, cabinets, closets, window sills, baseboards, toilets, bathtubs, showers, etc. Scrub the floors and wash or replace the curtains and the area rugs.
Thoroughly clean and disinfect any furniture pieces and appliances before moving them back to their rightful places and organize all the useful household items you have preserved in a neat and tidy manner.
If the hoarder will be moving back to his/her home after the cleanup help the affected person maintain a clean and clutter-free living space – create an easy-to follow maintenance plan, visit often, and provide further assistance if necessary.
If the property is going to be sold or leased out to tenants, you will be able to make a good deal after the cleanup, as the hoarder’s home will be completely restored to an excellent condition.
Many families spend winter figuring out how to chase away cabin fever and endure frigid temperatures until spring and summer mercifully return. Parents and grandparents thinking ahead to swimming pools and days lounging on the beach can put their daydreams to practical use by planning ahead for their youngsters’ summer vacations.
Youth recreational programs and summer camps can bridge the gap in care between the end of school and the day when classes resume. Due in part to high demand, parents who want to place their kids in summer recreation programs or summer camps should be vetting such programs and camps well in advance of summer.
The Benefits of Summer Camp for Kids
I am a huge believer in the summer camp experience for kids, especially these days, when many of today’s youth spend much of their time playing with their digital devices. Summer camp is great option for parents who want their children to get outdoors once the school year ends, but there are so many other benefits to be had from a session or more of summer camp.
Kids Explore Their Talents at Kids’ Summer Camp
Summer camps help young people explore their unique interests and talents. Under an organized, yet often easygoing camp schedule, kids can dabble in sports, crafts, the visual arts, leadership, community support, and so many other activities that may not be fully available to them elsewhere or during the school year.
Physical Activity at Kids’ Summer Camp
Many camps build their itineraries around physical activities that take place outdoors. Campers may spend their time swimming, running, hiking, playing sports, climbing and so much more.
This can be a welcome change for kids accustomed to living sedentary lifestyles. Regular physical activity has many health benefits, and can set a foundation for healthy habits as adults.
Kids Gain Confidence at Summer Camp
Day and sleep-away camps offer campers the opportunity to get comfortable in their own skin. Camps can foster activities which enhance self esteem by removing the academic measures of success and replacing them with noncompetitive opportunities to succeed. Campers learn independence, decision-making skills, and the ability to thrive outside of the shadow of their parents, siblings, or other students.
Kids Try New Things at Summer Camp
Camp gives children the chance to try new things, whether that’s learning to cook, exploring new environments, or embracing a new sport or leisure activity. Opening oneself up to new opportunities can build character and prove enlightening for children.
Kids Make New Friends at Summer Camp
Camp is a great place to meet new people and make lifelong friends. Campers flood in from areas near and far, which provides kids with a chance to expand their social circles beyond their immediate neighborhoods and schools.
Searching For a Summer Camp
The following are some handy tips for parents and grandparents who want their kids to have fun and fulfilling summers.
Determine Your Budget the Kids’ Summer Camp
As varied as program offerings may be, camps can also vary greatly with regard to cost. Government-run camps may be less expensive than those offered by private companies. day camps typically cost less than those that provide room and board. Find out if a particular organization subsidizes a portion of camp costs.
Scouting programs often have a dedicated camp, and may offer affordable options for scouts. Martial arts schools and dance centers frequently offer day camps, as well.
if camp seems out of reach, look into local summer recreation programs at parks or schools. Such programs may not be as extensive as those offered by camps, but they can quell kids’ boredom and keep children occupied during the day.
Ask For Recommendations For Good Camps
Speak with fellow parents and trusted friends about where they send their children. Personal recommendations can be very helpful, providing firsthand insight into a particular camp or program. Schedule appointments to visit camps that fall within your budget. Take your son or daughter (or grandkids) along, so he or she can get a sense of what camp will be like.
Explore All the Kids’ Camp Options
Camps come in more flavors than ever before. Certain camps may be faith-based ministries, while others may focus on particular sports. Band camps and art camps may appeal to creative kids. There are also plenty of general-interest camps that offer various activities without narrowing in on any particular one.
Parents may need to choose between a sleep-away camp or day camps, depending on which camp experience they want for their children.
Inquire About Camp Schedules
While many camps are flexible, day camps do not have the same level of flexibility as after-school programs. Arrangements will need to be made if care is required after regular camp hours. Speak with camp staff to see which types of after-hours programs, if any, are available.
Plan Time Off This Summer For the Kids
In addition to camp, remember to plan for some free days, so children can just enjoy some downtime. Such days can break up the monotony of a routine and provide kids and families time to relax together.
Purchase Your Kids’ Summer Camp Supplies Early
According to The Summer Camp Handbook author and psychologist Dr. Christopher Thurber, the most important thing to remember about packing for camp is simple and surprising: Give yourself plenty of time. This will ensure you’re not rushing and forgetting things last-minute and can even help ease nerves about heading off away from home.
Camp Packing List
Your camp will provide you with a packing list, but even if you don’t yet have the list in hand, you can get started purchasing and organizing supplies that you are sure to need.
Think about which items you already have, and make a list of the items you will need to buy. If possible, plan to go shopping in advance of the big rush, when all the parents are stocking up on the same items. This will save you from the stress of “the hunt” when the stores are busy, or when the sizes and styles may not be as plentiful.
I always like to purchase as much online as possible: if it’s not an item that your child must try out or try on in advance, order it online and have it delivered to your home. For the other items, plan a shopping trip with your kid(s), and allow plenty of time to find just the right items. If your kids are happy with the things they bring, it will be one less stressor as they get used to their new surroundings and fellow campers.
Here are the things you and your child will likely need to pack for a typical sleep-away summer camp:
Consider visiting Amazon for some of these supplies. You’ll find a ton of choices and prices, you’ll be able to read consumer reviews, and if necessary, you can return anything easily.
Plus, they have really cute items you can’t find in the stores, like these:
Okay… I got sidetracked. Here is the packing list:
Glasses/contacts and cleaning solution
Goggles for swimming
Dress clothes and coordinating belts and shoes
Rain gear or umbrella
Swim shirt with UV protection
Sweatpants or warm-up pants
Athletic support (jock strap)
Shoes, plus a spare pair
Bedding — check with your camp checklist for what, if any, to bring for bedding
Camps benefit children in a variety of ways. Lessons learned in camp can strengthen values, build confidence, develop coping mechanisms for when adversity strikes, and enable campers to make lifelong friends.
Summer recreation may a little ways off, but it’s never too early to start making summer plans, including finding camps and other activities for the kids.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some practical information on planning some great summer activities for the kids!
Here are some tools I recommend to make allergy season a little less painful.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies—and even if you aren’t one of them, you almost certainly have a friend or family member coping with allergies as pollen counts rise.
Aside from the usual over-the-counter remedies, you can take a few easy steps to remove allergens from your home. There are air filters built into vacuum cleaners that can remove and trap pollen, pet dander, dust mites and other particles. There are washers with a special allergen cycle that can kit dust mites. And a good dehumidifier can prevent mold from growing.
So whether you’re dealing with springtime allergies or year-round issues with household dust and other allergens, here some tools I recommend you use to make allergy season a little less painful.
Clean Your House With a HEPA Filter Vacuum
Unfortunately, not all allergens are in the air. All kinds of dust and grime can get caught in your carpet which will aggravate your allergies with every step. And while serious allergy sufferers may want to consider removing carpet from their homes entirely, most of us can manage with regular vacuuming to suck up dirt before it becomes a problem (weekly vacuuming is ideal).
The Electrolux EL402A is a a true silent performer, with their Silence Pro system for minimal noise and disription. This powerful vacuum provides deep cleaning suction on bare floors and carpets, while its HEPA filter captures 99.97% of airborne pollutants (great for allergy sufferers!). It also comes with a 3-in-1 crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery nozzle. This vacuum is bagless and easy to empty. Read reviews.
Consider a Roomba or Robotic Mop
While vacuuming is a simple solution to allergy problems, it takes a time and effort to do it weekly—and to keep dirt away you may need to vacuum even more often in high-traffic areas or areas frequented by your pets. If you’re having trouble finding the time, the Roomba 980 is the answer.
Despite its petite size, the Roomba 980 can do the cleaning of a conventional vacuum with its AeroForce cleaning system which is more powerful than previous Roombas.
The Roomba 980 cleans an entire level of your home: With Smart Mapping and vSLAM® technology, the Roomba® 980 robot vacuum seamlessly navigates your home, keeping track of where it’s been and where it has yet to clean. It cleans continuously for up to 120 minutes, then recharges and resumes cleaning until the job is done.
The Roomba 980 removes dirt from high traffic spots of your home using patented Dirt Detect™ Technology. Sensors recognize concentrated areas of dirt and prompt the robot to clean them more thoroughly. At just 3.6 inches tall, the Roomba® robot vacuum is designed to clean under beds, sofas, toe kicks, and other hard-to-reach areas. Its Cliff Detect sensors prevent the robot from falling down stairs or tumbling over drop-offs.
Its advanced Gen 3 motor gives the Roomba® robot vacuum up to 10x the air power in Performance Mode or when the robot detects it’s cleaning carpet, while its multi-surface brushes work together to pull in pet hair, dust, dirt, and large debris without getting tangled. Its Edge-Sweeping Brush is specially designed at a 27-degree angle to sweep debris away from edges and corners and into the path of the 3-Stage Cleaning System to be suctioned off your floors. The 980’s High-Efficiency Filter is made from a special material that captures 99% of dust, mites, and allergens as small as 10 microns.
This little unit is not only powerful, it also utilizes cutting edge technology while being so simple to use: You can use the IRobot HOME app to set your cleaning schedule up, and its Clean Map reports show where your robot cleaned, along with details such as coverage and duration from completed jobs. Plus, receive Push Notifications when your robot completes a cleaning job – all on your smartphone. Its also compatible on devices with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. All in all, the Roomba 980 is a terrific little household assistant!
While dust and dirt hide in the carpet, the grime on hard floors is often in plain sight. A vacuum will help pick up the dust bunnies, but damp mopping will do a better job of trapping dust and allergens instead of knocking them back in the air. Unfortunately, mopping is another one of those chores you probably don’t do as often as you should—and that won’t help the allergy-sufferers in the household.
If you can’t find time, outsource your mopping to the iRobot Braava 388t. This bot can sweep and mop using either a washable microfiber cloth or a disposable cloth (it’s compatible with Swiffer pads).
It makes neat back-and-forth passes across the room (three passes when mopping) to thoroughly clean the entire floor, covering up to 1,000 square feet (sweeping) or 350 square feet (mopping).
While it’s a bit less turnkey than the Roomba—you’ll have to replace its cleaning cloth, fill it with water or detergent for mopping, and manually start it each time you want it to run—it’s still a lot easier than doing your own mopping!
Use an Air Purifier
The air in your home could be packed with pollen, dust mites, pet dander and more potential allergy problems. An air purifier will filter the air, catching those particles before they set off your allergies.
Honeywell’s True HEPA Allergen Remover captures 99.97% of microscopic particles, including dust, pollen, tobacco smoke, cooking smoke, fireplace smoke, pet dander, mold spores and even some germs—leaving you with clean, easier to breathe air.
This Honeywell uses a quiet fan to pull air into the unit and through its filters, cycling the room’s air up to five times an hour to keep it allergen-free. This model performs well in large rooms, too, cleaning rooms up to 465 square feet.
Using this purifier is simple, with a push-button panel to turn it on or off and set the cleaning level. Though you will have to change the filters—this Honeywell has two—to keep it cleaning efficiently, a light on the control panel will tell you when it needs replacing, so there’s no guesswork. This Honeywell Air Purifier is consistently a top-seller good consumer reviews.
If you have specific concerns about VOCs (volatile organic compounds), mold, or other toxins, you can test your indoor air quality at home with a Home Air Check kit. My husband and I did this test, and it was simple to do.
Home Air Check offers a variety of test kits, and they are very thorough. If you need to get to the bottom of a suspected indoor air issue, I highly recommend doing this testing; it will provide you with actionable information and set your mind at ease.
Correct Your Air Humidity
If the air in your house is too humid (over 50% humidity), it can encourage the growth of mold and dust mites—both common causes of indoor allergies. A dehumidifier will help by removing water from the air and keeping the humidity level down.
This Frigidaire will remove up to 50 pints of water from the air before its tank needs to be emptied, meaning should be able to run all day without trouble, even in large rooms.
Operation is, like the name suggests, effortless—all you need to do is press a few buttons to select your desired humidity level and it will run until the tank is almost full.
Though you do have to empty the tank and clean the filter regularly (how often depends on how humid it is), otherwise you can just ignore it—and enjoy cutting down on home allergens. Read consumer reviews.
Though humid air can be a problem, dry air can also be a problem, irritating your nose and lungs.
The Air-Joy is whisper quiet, features 9 light settings, and comes with a tank brush and 2 ultrasonic disk cleaning brushes for hassle-free cleaning and maintenance. User reviews are excellent for the Air-Joy Premium, with many allergy sufferers heaping on the praise.
Use Your Washing Machine (and Hot Water) to Reduce Allergens
Washing bedding regularly—once a week—is key to keep it free of allergy irritating dust and dust mites.
Additionally, washing clothing, especially outerwear, frequently can help prevent members of the household from tracking allergens in from the outside.
You’ll also want to keep bathmats, towels, curtains, cushion slipcovers and throw rugs as clean as possible by throwing them in the wash, if you can (be sure to check the manufacturer’s care instructions first).
A regular cycle in hot water should suffice, but if you’re in the market for a new washer, many reviewers classify the Speed Queen TR3000WN as a great machine (some saying it’s the best one they’ve ever owned!).
And while we’re talking laundry, make sure you choose hypoallergenic laundry supplies. Some suggestions:
ECOS is made without dyes, optical brighteners, parabens, phosphates or phthalates; it’sdermatologist-tested hypoallergenic, and pH-balanced. It also has built-in fabric softener to add freshness and reduce static cling (and save money).
Sun & Earth uses 100 % plant-based ingredients, which are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, compostable and biodegradable. These sheets are free from synthetics, scents, and UV brighteners. They are also and are vegan and cruelty-free.
If you want to avoid fabric softeners, these Housoft Natural Fabric Softener Dryer Balls are a good alternative. They are made with 100% organic New Zealand sheep wool, and are especially good for babies or those with sensitive skin. These dryer balls will soften and de-wrinkle your clothes in the dryer, while also cutting down on dryer time (which saves money and lengthens the life of your clothes).
Try an Allergy App
An allergy app can tell you what today’s forecast means for your allergies, which can help you plan accordingly. My favorite app is WebMD Allergy (for iPhone and Android) which creates a personalized allergy forecast with doctor-approved tips for dealing with your symptoms.
You can also use the app to look up general allergy information and track your symptoms day to day—a handy way to figure out what’s working to help keep your allergies in check!
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some practical information on reducing allergens in your home. By the way, if you suspect you are having allergic symptoms, but aren’t sure, Walk-In Lab offers discount allergy testing with no doctor’s order required.
Have You Been Thinking About Making the Switch to Organic Makeup?
Our Skin is Not an Impermeable Sheet of Plastic
Certain chemicals make it all the way into our bloodstream. Our skin is not an impermeable sheet of plastic. Stuff gets in and makes it down into the bottom layer of the skin where the blood vessels are.
The fact is, much of what we place on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream:
Just think about nicotine and birth control skin patches:
We administer effective doses through the skin to our bloodstream, enabling us to forgo a daily oral pill in lieu of a patch that prevents pregnancy. Or a patch that keeps nicotine in our system without the side effects of smoking, allowing us to wean off of an addiction. While there may be some chemicals that are too large to enter our bloodstream, many are small enough to penetrate.
Luckily even then the body has defense mechanisms which can kick into action, depending on what’s entered your body in the first place. But that doesn’t mean that all chemicals are neutralized though, and some will undoubtedly make it into your bloodstream.
Cosmetics can penetrate the skin to some degree.
We also now know that enzymes in the skin can activate and inactivate many drugs and foreign compounds as well as the body’s own natural chemicals such as hormones, steroids and inflammatory mediators (Hotchkiss, 1994). In other words, our skin protects us from exposure to certain chemicals while actually intensifying the effects of others.
And when it comes to lip products, we inadvertently ingest them! For instance, people who wear lipstick regularly consume 1.5 to 4 tubes in a lifetime.
Consumers are Concerned, and Rightfully So
Personal care products over the last century have contained all sorts of ingredients, many beneficial, many superfluous and many downright nasty. There’s a reason that regulators have banned certain chemicals from being allowed in our personal care products. Image above: Ere Perez (chemical free) Organic Correcting Powder Foundation.
…But Here’s something Disturbing:
Toxic ingredients banned from cosmetics in Europe: 1,300+.
In the United States: 10.
Ingredients to Avoid
Forms Found in Cosmetics and Possible Negative Side Effects
Thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Found in almost all antiperspirants.
Works by blocking pores so sweat cannot be released by the skin.
FD&C, derived from coal tar.
For example, Azo dyes are a risk to asthmatics, eczema sufferers and people sensitive to aspirin.
Causes hyperactivity in children, severe headaches, blurred vision and itchy/watery eyes and nose (Antczak, 2001).
Benzoates Benzoic acid, sodium benzoate or parahydroxy benzoate.
Used as a preservative in cosmetics and fizzy drinks.Causes gastric irritation, numbing of the mouth and aggravates asthma (Antczak, 2001).
Certain essential oils
Rosemary is harmful to epileptics.Sage is not recommended for pregnant women.
DEA, MEA, TEA
Causes allergic reactions, irritating to eyes and dries out hair and skin (Fairley, 2001).
Found in all persons tested by the CDC (Center for Disease Control, USA) in a 2000 Fall study.
Highest levels were found in women of reproductive age.
Causes birth defects in animals, and damaging to the male reproductive system (ABC News, Internet Ventures 2000).
Used in cosmetics to assist the absorption of other ingredients.
Causes skin reactions.
Imidazolidinyl urea is the second most identified preservative causing contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology: Fairley, 2001).
Can contain up to 200 undeclared substances (Fairley, 2001).
Major cause, in addition to artificial colours, of skin irritations and allergies (Antczak, 2001).
May cause dizziniess, skin irritation and hyperpigmentation (Fairley, 2001).
Genetically Modified Organisms
Effects still undetermined.
Drying agent, from petroleum.
Such as hydroxyl acids, retinoic acid.
Corrosive, used in skin peels.
Dissolves the stratum corneum of the epidermis (outermost layer), making skin more sensitive to sun damage.
Accelerates production of dead skin cells; the skin thickens to repair its surface so that vulnerable skin cells underneath are protected from the effects of skin peeling.(Antczak, 2001).
Causes allergic reactions and irritations (Fairley, 2001).
Triggers skin irritations and may be an xerestrogen (Fairley, 2001).May play a role in falling sperm counts and rising breast cancer rates (Fairley, 2001).Used in 99% of all cosmetics (Fairley, 2001), and in many so-called ‘natural’products.
Derived from petroleum.
In the form of wax, mineral oil or petrolatum.
Comedogenic, i.e.blocks pores.
When derived from petroleum.
Increases the amount of acid in the body, resulting in metabolic problems.
Large amounts are needed to produce this effect (Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry or ATSDR, 2003).
Sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate
Forms carcinogenic nitrogen compounds when combined with specific ingredients.
Irritating to eyes, skin and lungs (Antczak, 2001).
Harmful if swallowed and may cause damage to eyes (Antczak, 2001).
Not suitable for vegans, and may be a skin irritant.
Found in many nail products and nail polish removers.
Produced during the process of making gasoline and other fuels from crude oil or coal.
Evaporates into the air when products containing toluene are opened.
May affect the nervous system, and/or cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, nausea, or loss of appetite.
Symptoms disappear when exposure is eliminated (ATSDR, 2003).
It’s probably best to ask yourself whether you want some of these chemical compounds there in the first place. They may be there in tiny quantities, but that doesn’t make them inherently risk-free.
My personal preference has always been to use beneficial plant-derived skincare and makeup. If you know what you are using is good for you or even edible, you are generally going to be less concerned about applying your beauty products.
While it still may not be an exact science, if you consider the ingredients being absorbed and ingested by the body over a life of cosmetic use, absorbing plant oils and waxes certainly seems healthier than absorbing synthetic chemicals and petroleum by-products.
The Benefits of Organic Makeup:
Natural and organic cosmetics contain organic vegetable oils and organic essential oils. Vegetable oil is rich in active substances, such as, essential fatty acids, vitamins which have a natural feel and texture; it has a moisturizing effect on the skin;
It is better to use organic products on a daily basis especially for skincare and hair care because there is little chance of harsh reactions.
Organic makeup does away with experiments on animals and promotes fair trade etc;
People with skin conditions and other medical requirements should go for organic products as they are natural and safer than their synthetic counterparts. To be on the safe side, always test for allergies as certain products can react differently on some of us;
In case of reactions, they subside very quickly as natural products are much safer than the chemical compounds;
It doesn’t contain endocrine disruptors – Endocrine disruptors are man-made chemicals, which mimic, change hormone production or the system carrying them. Many of these endocrine disruptors are found in regular makeup and can be linked to mood swings, hormonal imbalances, fertility issues and even cancer;
It’s good for the environment – organic makeup is generally more nutrient rich and tends to contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Many consumers that are fans of its true environmental benefits look at using organic products as a way of cutting down the amount of pollutants that can enter the body, and
It’s widely available and affordable.
The Drawbacks of Organic Makeup
The shelf life of organic beauty products is shorter, as they are free of preservatives and lead;
Not as many options as are available in mainstream cosmetics;
Organic makeup isn’t usually waterproof;
No preservatives – If a product is truly made up of ‘all certified-organic ingredients,’ then it does not contain the preservatives that have been developed to keep bacteria and other contaminants from forming in your makeup bottle. These well-understood preservatives ensure your makeup mixes smoothly and lasts longer. There are some ‘natural preservatives’ that do help, but they just don’t work as well, and
It’s not safe for everyone – There is a misconception that natural or organic means safe and meant for everyone. However natural and organic ingredients are some of the strongest on the market. Therefore some skin, especially sensitive skin types, can react badly to these ingredients.
While our skin isn’t a sponge, it’s certainly taking in some ingredients that we apply to our bodies and transporting them further down into the body where they may or may not make it into the bloodstream.
One thing is absolutely clear: it is impossible to put a figure on this absorption rate and it is impossible to estimate how much ends up in our bloodstream. Every person is different and every chemical is different. It is always good to question what you put on your skin but your body’s response will be individual.
Making the switch to organic makeup can help your skin because your skin is not being fed harmful chemicals. For instance, skin problems such as, acne, contact dermatitis, irritations and allergies may disappear once petroleum or synthetic ingredients are removed from your skin care regimen.
My advice to you?
Read your labels, understand what you’re putting on your skin. Consider a gentler alternative if you want or need one. There’s nothing wrong with being cautious. If you don’t want to use certain ingredients, then look for alternatives.
Ultimately, you are in charge.
If you would like to wear organic makeup, there are some great choices at Amazon, drugstores and department stores.
I purchase my organic makeup at Au Naturale Cosmetics. They are vegan, organic, paraben free & ethical. And, importantly, they make lovely cosmetics: highly pigmented and refined, and cosmetically elegant.
Natural Remedies and Complimentary Treatments for Asthma Management
If you have asthma or care for someone who does, you probably already know that prescription drugs are the largest medical expense related to asthma. According to the American Lung Association, asthma medications cost $6 billion a year in the United States.
In addition to the expense of asthma prescriptions, keeping track of different inhalers and medications can also be a pain. If you’re seeking more natural methods of asthma treatment or are looking for ways to improve control of your asthma symptoms, you may be thinking about using a natural remedy or alternative treatment for your asthma.
The natural treatment of asthma focuses on several key principles: reducing allergic exposure, reducing the sensitivity and spasticity of the airways of the lungs, balancing the allergic/inflammatory pathways in the body, and correcting nutrient imbalances.
Steam Baths as Asthma Treatment
While warm steam baths have often been used to help alleviate nasal congestion and airway irritation associated with asthma, there’s never been a study that proves that steam treatments help improve asthma symptoms. It’s important to understand that it’s not a cure for asthma.
Even so, just because the studies haven’t established a definite benefit doesn’t mean that steam baths won’t be of benefit to some people.
Steam baths may relieve some of the symptoms because it may provide moisture to the airways. One caution, though, is that steam can be dangerously hot, so in some asthmatics, it could exacerbate symptoms. So, always use a gentle steam and monitor how you react.
Steam baths may help offset some symptoms, particularly nasal stuffiness, it has to be stressed that steam baths are not a substitute for asthma medications.
If a steam bath isn’t convenient, try a personal steam inhaler to efficiently get the soothing steam into your nose and throat.
Herbs and Other Alternative Asthma Treatment Options
A number of herbs have been touted as natural remedies for asthma. While there are no definitive studies proving the efficacy of these options for asthma, it’s important to note that there is no financial incentive for large pharma companies to invest millions studying natural products which cannot be patented and profited from. So, just because a remedy hasn’t been scientifically proven, does not mean if doesn’t work for some people, or that it won’t work for you. I do suggest, though, that you check with your doctor before adding any of these supplements to your routine.
Some alternative treatment options and their associated risks and benefits include:
Garlic has been used as a natural remedy to manage many diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Since asthma is an inflammatory disease, it would make sense that garlic may also help relieve asthma symptoms.
There have never been any controlled studies investigating the effect of garlic on asthma symptoms, so its role in asthma treatment is unknown. The use of garlic as an alternative treatment for asthma is, however, currently being studied.
Ginger is also thought to decrease inflammation, and a recent study did show that oral ginger supplements were linked to improvement in asthma symptoms. The study didn’t show, however, that ginger use led to any improvement in actual lung function. As a result, we can’t really use this study to draw any conclusions about the use of ginger as an alternative treatment for asthma. Additional studies are now being conducted to evaluate more fully whether or not ginger may help manage asthma symptoms.
Turmeric has been the subject of a number of studies, and it has been found to have some anti-allergy properties. It’s thought that turmeric has an effect on histamines, which can cause inflammation. Nevertheless, much more research needs to be done before turmeric can be established as a safe and effective natural remedy for asthma.
Honey is an ingredient in many cough and cold remedies, used to help sooth an irritated throat and calm a cough. Many people with asthma may try mixing honey with a hot drink for relief, but again, there are no studies to support the use of honey as an alternative treatment for asthma symptoms. Choose Manuka honey for its added health benefits.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are often used as a natural remedy to help prevent and treat heart disease. Though some research suggests that omega-3s may also help to decrease airway inflammation and boost lung function, there’s still a lot that isn’t known about their role in asthma treatment. There is some literature to say thatfish oil supplements may also be beneficial in people with asthma, but as of right now, more research needs to be done.
One study that examined the use of a number of different herbs to treat asthma found that Echinacea — an herb often used to treat upper respiratory infections — was not only ineffective, but was also associated with a number of side effects.
Worsening asthma symptoms, skin rashes and possible liver damage when taken with other medications are risks linked to Echinacea use. Likewise, licorice root — which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is sometimes used by people with asthma to soothe their lungs — was found to be ineffective as an alternative treatment for asthma and was also associated with side effects such as high blood pressure.
There have not been any clinical trials that have shown either Echinacea or licorice root to be an effective asthma treatment and she notes that there have been some reports that Echinacea may worsen asthma symptoms in some people. So, just stay away from both.
Believe it or not, the Environmental Protection Agency tells us our indoor environments are two to five times more toxic than our outdoor environments!
Here are tips to help you remove many sources of irritants that are likely found in your home:
Try to keep a window open even during the winter to bring fresh air in. If you can afford it, use a heat recovery ventilator (air-to-air heat exchanger) to bring outside air in.
Avoid secondhand smoke from wood-burning stoves and cigarettes.
Switch to natural cleaning products or use baking soda, lavender oil and vinegar to make your own. There are many simple recipes available online that can keep added chemicals out of your home and save you a bundle of money. I like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products. They’re made with essential oils and plant-derived ingredients, they smell wonderful, and yes – they are very effective.
Install flooring or carpets that you can vacuum beneath to reduce dust mites. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner.
Wash bedding weekly, and keep upholstery and carpets regularly vacuumed.
Use sheets and pillow cases that are non-allergenic and don’t contain down or feathers.
Keep furry friends out of the bedroom to limit the amount of pet hair you’re exposed to. Clean and brush pets regularly to remove some of their fur that can wind up around your home.
Cockroaches are another asthma trigger, so speak with a professional exterminator if you suspect you might have some in your home.
Manage Your Stress
The Western lifestyle includes high degrees of emotional stress, and studies show that stress management techniques help reduce asthma severity. It’s well-known that stress increases the severity and frequency of asthmatic attacks because it hinders immune function and raises inflammation.
In fact, studies show that roughly67 percent or more of asthmatics have diminished adrenal capacity, increased anxiety and other mood disorders related to stress. Mood disorders are considered “adaptive diseases” — that is, they result from a person’s inability to deal with stress.
Try natural stress relievers, including massage, deep abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery and art therapies. These can all help reduce stress and give asthmatics the tools to modulate their stress responses. This lowers susceptibility to future attacks and lessens reliance on asthma drugs.
On a personal note, we have a massage chair at our house, and it is a huge stress reducer (plus, it helped my husband heal from debilitating sciatica pain). I wrote about that and reviewed the best massage chairs here.
A growing body of literature indicates that lifestyle changes in recent decades, specifically decreased physical activity and dietary changes, are key contributing factors causing an increase in asthma prevalence and severity. Obesity is linked to higher risk for asthma and other breathing problems, including sleep apnea.
Although vigorous exercise can sometimes cause symptoms in people who already have asthma, staying active is generally very beneficial for improving immune function, preventing obesity, dealing with stress and lowering inflammation.
Asthma Attacks May be Unavoidable – Always Wear a Medical ID for Asthma
Over time, people with asthma may learn what triggers their asthma attacks and are thus better able to avoid having serious episodes. However, not all allergens are avoidable, and not all asthma attacks are caused by allergies. In fact, as we discussed, many asthma attacks are unavoidable because they are caused by chemicals, exercise, smoke exposure, and stress.
While most asthma attacks are treatable with rescue drugs such as inhalers, sometimes an inhaler is too far away to be reached. Other times, the attack may be extreme. In both instances, those surrounding the person suffering an asthma attack need to know what to do and how to help.
By wearing medical ID jewelry, those with asthma can have their diagnosis and treatment protocol on hand in the event they are unable to speak. Additionally, if EMTs do need to respond, knowing the cause of someone’s inability to breathe can contribute toward faster, more effective treatment.
If you have asthma, wearing medical ID jewelry is imperative. I recommend listing your name, diagnosis(es), any medications, all allergies, and emergency contact numbers.
Here are some examples of what to engrave on your asthma medical alert jewelry (ICE = In Case of Emergency):
INHALER IN PURSE
ALGYS: BEES, LATEX
EPI & INHALER IN BAG
Risk factors and underlying contributors of asthma include an inflammatory/poor diet, low immune function, food or seasonal allergies, and exposure to household or environmental irritants. Anything you can do to mitigate those factors will help with asthma management.
Look into supplements which reduce inflammation and enhance your body’s immunity, try to cut down on stress, and avoid chemicals and pollutants wherever possible.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some practical information on natural options for managing asthma.
How to Condition and Care For Your Cuticles to Maintain a Healthy, Groomed Look
Dry cuticles are a common problem that can take your nails from nice to nasty in a matter of days. When your cuticles are dry the nail area hardens and splits, forming unsightly and often painful hangnails.
So what causes dry cuticles? Seasonal changes, moisture-sapping activity like frequent water use and a failure to take care to treat the area can all cause your cuticles to dry.
Whether you simply push them back or opt to remove them, keeping your cuticles in check is important. There are several different types of cuticle products on the market, and they all serve different purposes.
Here’s an overview of the most common ones to help you find out what each type of cuticle product does, how to use it, and which one might be best for you.
Cuticle cream is a treatment product designed to nourish, soften and restore moisture to the cuticle area, often rich in natural plant nut, fruit, essential oils such as avocado oil, apricot oil and wheatgerm oil.
Cuticle creams are thick, moisturizing creams meant to be applied liberally to cuticles and nail beds. They can be applied at night or during the day, but nighttime is ideal so that you can apply a thick coat without worrying. Many cuticle creams also contain light exfoliating ingredients that are safe to be left on all day.
Cuticle Creams to Try:
Carmichael’s Imperial Cuticle Cream is a cult favorite (and one of my personal faves). This pale golden cream is a beeswax and petrolatum formula, designed to heal and protect your cuticles and encourage healthy nail growth. Users’ reviews are especially good for this cream.
Badger Certified Organic Soothing Shea Butter Cuticle Care contains soothing East African shea butter helps to quench and protect dry, splitting cuticles. Badger uses sophisticated blends of pure steam-distilled essential oils deliver a highly nourishing product with a mild lemony fragrance.
This high quality cream balm includes some wonderful ingredients, including geranium flower oil, seabuckthorn extract, mandarin peel extract and ginger root extract. It also has super user reviews.
Cuticle oil often comes in a bottle that looks similar to nail polish. You can brush it on after a manicure to seal the surface to help resist smudges, but the main purpose is to moisturize the cuticle skin.
According to Sally Hansen nail expert Alison Bowhill-Hayes, cuticle oil is the go-to product if your cuticles are looking a little damaged. So if your cuticles are a bit cracked, dry or broken, it’s probably time you started applying the nourishing oil to your nails. Keep an eye out for vitamin E as an ingredient – it works wonders to help repair any damaged or torn skin and will keep your cuticles soft and supple.
Alison recommends applying cuticle oil every night to keep your nails and cuticles nourished and protected against drying out and splitting. Using the product regularly will smooth cuticles and restore them to health. Just remember: persistence and consistency.
Apply a few drops to both your nail and cuticle to help soften and hydrate. Massage it into your skin for about a minute to help stimulate the blood supply.
You can expect a good cuticle oil to perk up your nails, smooth dry cuticles, and add a shiny finish to polish that will make everything look instantly better.
Cuticle oil should be applied every night before resting, the oil should be applied with either the provided applicator or a cotton ball and should be massaged into the cuticles for a few minutes to allow the oils to sink in and nourish the skin healthily, this is recommended instead of applying it before putting on shoes and doing work which require the use of your hands. By utilizing the oils at night your skin is allowed to both breathe and nourish itself.
I am impressed with these high quality ingredients, which include grapeseed oil, cranberry oil, pomegranate seed oil, marula oil, baobab oil, organic pumpkin oil, organic jojoba oil,organic sweet orange oil and neroli oil.
Bee Naturals Cuticle Oil contains a blend of natural oils, as well as vitamin E. I especially like the addition of tea tree essential oil, for its anti-fungal properties. This cuticle oil has a wonderful lavender and lemon scent, making it a pleasure to use.
If you have overgrown or thick cuticles, a cuticle remover is a must. Cuticle remover is a product which contains Potassium Hydroxide or something similar, to soften the cuticle (skin) on the nail plate and to help loosen it up. This allows for easier pushing back and cutting of the cuticles and it also prevents tearing and feathering of the cuticles which often results in sore and inflamed cuticles.
Follow the instructions on the bottle as these formulas do differ, but here’s the basic idea: Apply a thin ribbon of the cuticle remover (usually in gel form) to cuticles for a minute or two.
Dip hands into a warm bowl of water to soak for up to 30 seconds, and then use a wooden cuticle stick to gently push back cuticles. Use a towel to thoroughly dry nails and cuticles, and then you can cut the rest with a cuticle nipper if necessary.
Cuticle Removers/Softeners to Try:
California Mango’s Cuticle Softener is a fast-working lotion that penetrates to gently remove dead, dry and cracked nail cuticles and prepares the area for further treatments. Users love this product, both for its efficiency and its wonderful mango scent. Some ingredients include aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, mango seed extract, natural esters and oils of mango, and vitamin E.
Sally Hansen’s Instant Cuticle Remover is a popular maximum strength gel formula, which can also be used on calluses. This is a good choice if your cuticles are thick and growing up the nail. This instant cuticle remover gel works fast to dissolve cuticles in about 15 seconds, and the reviews are excellent for this budget-friendly option. It also contains aloe and chamomile to condition and soothe.
I like that it uses natural acids and enzymes to eliminate the thickened dead skin cells around the nail bed. This product does a good job at both exfoliating and moisturizing the cuticle. Reviewers are very happy with this gel.
They are wooden sticks and often come in packs of 5-10. Another way they come in handy is for fixing mistakes when painting your nails. Simply pull off a small piece of cotton from a cotton ball, stretch it out, wrap it around the end of the cuticle stick, and then dip in nail polish remover. You can now easily clean up any errors using the precision of the stick.
I like these emery tipped cuticle sticks. The regular ends pushes back and refines your cuticles, and the other end is emery tipped with grit to remove unsightly leftover skin particles other shapers and buffers simply can’t reach. It’s a great 2-in-1 tool to have in your manicure supplies.
Cuticle nippers should only be used to nip hangnails. Despite their confusing name, hangnails are torn pieces of skin often caused by a dry, brittle cuticle area.
Make sure you use a high quality stainless steel nippers; if they are not sharp, high quality blades, you’ll run the risk of cutting your skin by pushing down too hard.
I am a fan of these Finox Stainless Steel Cuticle Nippers. They are extremely sharp, and they’ll stay that way (they’re guaranteed for a lifetime of use!). These nippers are handmade in Germany, of high carbon stainless steel. They are a little more expensive than some other nippers, but they really are superior product, and the only cuticle nippers you’ll ever have to buy.
Now that you know all of the basic cuticle care products and tools, don’t forget to use them. It’s a good idea to make a daily habit of applying a moisturizing cuticle cream or oil. You can also save pushing back or cutting cuticles for when you change your polish (every 1-2 weeks).
If for any reason you wind up with a cut or raw skin, you’ve simply removed too much and should err on the side of caution next time. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and apply a little antibacterial ointment to the area in the meantime as it heals.
Nail Polishes I’m Currently Loving …
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I hope this article provided you some practical information on keeping your cuticles looking great.
A common question from women over 35 is what lotions and moisturizers they can buy to fix sagging skin, diminish fine lines and brighten a dull complexion. While lasers, Botox, fillers, face lifts and liposuction work best to turn back the hands of time, there are creams and peels available to those of us not ready, willing, or able to go under the knife or the needle.
But all the anti-aging options can prove overwhelming.
The industry is bigger than ever and the marketing tactics are more questionable than ever. You simply cannot trust the claims most brands make about fixing wrinkles and tightening a jawline.
But some ingredients and products do have a track record of results. The key is knowing which ones are worth the buy.
These are the anti-aging products dermatologists recommend.
Dry skin leads to wrinkles, at least according to a study by Greg Hillebrand, Ph.D., of P&G Beauty and Science, and reported in Elle Magazine.
“Hillebrand’s study found that having dry skin more than doubles the rate at which lines will develop. That means a 28-year-old with dry skin will have a 52-percent increase in wrinkles by the time she’s 36, whereas a woman of the same age with a well-hydrated dermis will show only a 22-percent increase,” writes April Long in Elle Magazine.
So, no matter your age, it’s important to keep skin moisturized.
Facial moisturizers have the temporary effect of plumping up the skin and the longer-lasting effect of keeping skin supple and less prone to the inevitable etching in of lines.
Vichy Laboratories Aqualia Thermal Riche is a replenishing and soothing 48-hour moisturizer for dry skin. It is formulated with hyaluronic acid and aquabioryl, known to replenish the skin with hydration and form a protective film. It also contains fortifying and soothing Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water. Aqualia Thermal Rich has a wonderful creamy texture, and melts immediately into the skin, leaving a velvety soft finish.
If you have oily or acneic skin, this product will provide moisture without causing a flare-up (it’s oil free, non comedogenic, and non acnegenic). It’s also paraben free, and suitable for sensitive skin. Consumer reviews are excellent.
Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals Face Finishing Moisturizer contains alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin C Ester and wheat proteins for intensive hydration. Alpha Lipoic acid is considered a super antioxidant, which helps to diminish fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration, refine skin texture, and reduce pore size, puffiness, imperfections and uneven skin tone. Consumer reviews are excellent for this cream.
Retinoids and Retinol
I’ve done quite a bit of research on anti-aging products and what I’ve found is that dermatologists agree on one thing: The only anti-ager on the market that has proven again and again to reduce fine lines and wrinkles are retinoids (think Retin-A and Renova), which work by increasing cell turnover deep within the dermis.
“I never recommend any of the other expensive products out there claiming to do this,” says dermatologist Maryann Mikhail of Spring Street Dermatology in Manhattan.
I’ve been using Retin-A on my skin for years. I noticed results within a couple weeks and I get regular compliments on my skin tone. Used nightly (or every other night), retinoids stimulate collagen renewal and prevent skin cells from breaking down. They also keep fine lines from turning into deeper furrows.
Retinoids come in a large range of strength. The most powerful punch comes from prescription retinoids such as Retin-A and Renova. You can buy these over-the-counter outside of the US, but in the US, you need a prescription and insurance typically won’t cover anti-aging products.
Retinoids can be irritating to skin; the key to usage is to not give up when your skin shows its first signs of redness and peeling.
As we age, our skin tends to become thinner, drier, and dull. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) work as exfoliants, helping break down dead, dry skin and leaving skin looking brighter and more dewy. Studies also show that AHAs may increase the thickness of skin.
They come in the form of topical creams and chemical peels and the most common AHAs are made from food products, such as glycolic acid (from sugar cane), lactic acid (from sour milk), malic acid (from apples), citric acid (from citrus fruits), and tartaric acid (from grape wine).
Alpha Skin Care Essential Renewal Lotion (10% Glycolic Acid). This unique anti-aging lotion is specially formulated with the optimal balance of 10% Gycolic Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and a pH level of 4.0. It is also free of parabens and fragrances.
Organics Holistic Apothecary Triple Alpha Hydroxy Acid & Multi Fruit Acid Complex is a naturally formulated cream that includes Lactic Acid (from Bilberry), Glycolic Acid (from Sugar Cane), Citric Acid (from Orange, Lemon, and Cranberry), and Malic and Tartaric Acids (from Sugar Maple) plus antioxidants.
QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel is a professional grade glycolic acid face peel which stimulates collagen production, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation in the skin by increasing cell regeneration. New cells replace older and damaged ones, exposing a younger skin surface.
Each bottle contains up to 20 complete facial applications. Do it yourself at home and save on expensive spa treatments! Higher concentrations of glycolic acid are available, but I recommend the 30% concentration if you’re just starting out with peels.
Free radicals — the unstable oxygen molecules produced by pollution, stress and sun — are a skin care nightmare. They attack healthy skin cells and cause collagen breakdown, all of which lead to wrinkles.
You can fight free radicals by using an antioxidant cream each morning that has a combination of any two or more ingredients such as green tea, vitamins C and E, and coenzyme Q10. These work together to neutralize free radicals and a cocktail of these antioxidants is like a multi-vitamin for skin, according to dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross.
You may use antioxidants both orally and topically. In Elle Magazine, dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD, swears by Heliocare vitamins. Topically, antioxidants are great for bolstering UV protection. Apply an antioxidant serum containing vitamins C or E, Co-Q, alpha-lipoic acid, green or white tea, pomegranate, or idebenone under your sunscreen (see products below). The antioxidants will fight those free radicals the sun generates.
One of the most popular topical antioxidants on the market right now is Prevage Serum from Elizabeth Arden.
Sun damage is the No. 1 cause of wrinkles. The lighter your skin, the more susceptible you are to wrinkles caused by the sun. This is why women with darker skin tend to age better than Caucasian women.
No matter your age, you can prevent more skin damage by wearing at least an SPF 30 sunscreen daily. Dr. Fredric Brandt, dermatologist to the stars, suggests using a “two-finger scoop” of sunscreen to the face and neck (never forget your neck when it comes to an anti-aging regimen). Get into the habit of wearing sunscreen every day, no matter the weather.
Your skin will thank you down the road. Your dermatologist, too.
Look for a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.
You can’t go wrong with Anthelios Face & Body 60 from La Roche-Posay. This melt-in sunscreen milk provides excellent broad spectrum and antioxidant protection, and is water resistant.
Dark spots on skin are caused by sun damage and can make your skin appear years older than it is.
The quickest and most effective way to get rid of dark spots is by lasers, but these can be costly and must be performed in a doctor’s office.
A cheaper version is to use a hydroquinone cream such as the dermatologist favorite, Ambi Fade Cream, which is super affordable. Ambi contains hydroquinone, as well as alpha hydroxy acid and Vitamin E. Apply to dark spots at night and keep in mind it may take up a few weeks to see positive results.
As you age, there are many other ways to keep your skin in tip-top shape. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
Get plenty of rest. Lack of sleep shows on your face.
Wear sunglasses on sunny days. Excessive squinting can cause permanent crow’s feet.
Wear a hat and long sleeves when out in the sun for a long time.
Stress leads to furrowed brows, which leads to permanent lines etched into your face. Turns out wrinkle prevention is just another reason to take up meditation or yoga!
Here’s something we often forget about: our UV exposure in the car! Studies show that lines develop more on the left of the face on people who spend a lot of time commuting in a car. So, put up a UVA/UVB protector screen on the driver’s side of your car window if you spend a lot of time in the car.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some practical information on keeping your skin young looking.
How to Tell Which Type of Peel is Best for Your Skin
Chemical peels are a popular, easy way to brighten your complexion and solve common skin problems. But before you go under the peel, it’s important to know the differences between the different types of peels and which one is best for your skin.
How Chemical Peels Work
Chemical peels dissolve your skin’s topmost layers of dead skin cells.
Here’s how they work: the peel is painted onto the face by a dermatologist or trained cosmetologist.
The stronger the formulation and the longer it’s left on, the more powerful the “peel.” The peel is then washed off and you should notice instant results.
There are three basic types of peels, all which are formulated with acid: Glycolic or salicylic acid (best for oily skin) and trichloroacetic acid (or TCA) which goes super deep.
One thing to note: just because these are called peels doesn’t mean your skin will actually peel. The acids break down the dead skin cells, but the shed skin is so small, you won’t be able to notice. You will know the peel is working when it’s brushed on your skin because it should tingle a little.
All chemical peels help with fine lines and wrinkles and can help reduce the appearance of acne blemishes and pocked skin. Glycolic peels are great for skin brightening while salicylic peels are best for acne-prone skin.
Peels are easier on the skin than scrubs, which can create microscopic tears in the skin.
The benefits are also immediate. Once the peel is washed off, you’ll be left with glowing skin. But just one peel won’t solve your acne problems or fix your dull skin forever. You’ll need a series of peels to get the best results.
The cost is about $300 and up, depending on where you go.
Here are the three types of chemical peels, along with recommendations for products you can use at home:
If you are looking to simply brighten skin and get rid of the dullness that comes with age and skin that collects dead skin cells, a glycolic peel is likely your best bet. Glycolic peels (also known as alpha hydroxy acid peels) are the most gentle of the chemical peels. They are made from fruit acids (but can also be man-made) and they penetrate only the top layer of skin, sloughing off dead skin cells. They don’t go as deep as TCA peels.
They can remove blemishes and fade sunspots and hyperpigmentation. These peels are great for women with fine lines and wrinkles, freckles, and blemishes.
You will notice results after one peel, but for best results, you’ll need a series of 3 to 6 peels over a period of time.
Don’t want to spend the money on a dermatologist’s peel? Try excellent these at-home products:
CANE + AUSTIN Facial Moisture Cream with 10% Glycolic Acid are highly recommended by Allure Magazine. This dual action, hydrating and regenerative treatment cream contains 10% glycolic acid to minimize fine lines, brighten skin without irritation, and protect against free radical damage. This cream can be used for any skin type.
You can expect these glycolic pads to improve the overall appearance of your skin with their multi-acid exfoliating complex, Tetrafoliant. Regular use will lead to the disappearance of enlarged pores, dark-spots, combat acne breakouts, control oil production, and soften the appearance of fine lines. These pads are paraben and fragrance free, and dermatologist-tested.
The peels not only soothe pimple-prone skin but help keep breakouts at bay and help remove acne scars. This is another light peel; the penetration is not as deep as the TCA peels.
Women with acne swear by these peels.
“I get an enzyme and salicylic acid one, so it’s very light. You just feel a tingling sensation when it’s on. It’s only on for about five minutes and then you wash it off. It gives you a refreshed feel, but the process really controls breakouts and evens out skin tone if you have dark spots from acne or just being in the sun. I get dark spots, and it’s so annoying.” New Yorker Kai Avent-deLeon said in a beauty blog.
Famed makeup guru Lisa Eldridge also swears by salicylic acid peels for her acne-prone skin that also tends to be dehydrated. “I’ve got really annoying acne-prone skin that can break out, but it can also get dehydrated.
My skin’s what I call a ‘lazy’ exfoliator, so I need to exfoliate but in a very gentle way,” Eldridge says.
Try these superb at-home products that contain salicylic acid:
Formulated Professionally with Medical Grade Ingredients, YEOUTH Salicylic Acid Face Peel 20% Chemical Peel contains 15-20 full face chemical peels. You can expect improvement in skin conditions like acne, clogged pores, blackheads, oily and congested skin.
This YEOUTH Salicylic Acid Gel Peel work especially well for dull, lifeless skin, damaged skin, dry, dehydrated skin, and uneven skin tone. With the addition of antibacterial Tea Tree Oil, it’s the perfect peel for acne-prone skin, and acne scars, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. Another nice addition is the Green Tea Extract, which helps as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and provides a small amount of UV sun protection post peel.
This MedPeel Salicylic 30% Chemical Peel is a deep strength beta hydroxy acid used to clear clogged pores with repeated use. This is a deep strength chemical peel, and is appropriate for experienced users only with an oily and acneic skin type and is safe for all skin tones.
A TCA Peel is a type of Chemical Peel used as a skin resurfacing technique. Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) solution is applied to the face to remove the outer surface layers of skin. A TCA Peel allows new, healthier skin to emerge.
TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peels are medium-skin-depth treatments (much more effective than glycolic acid peels). They help with sun damage, facial wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and pigment abnormalities.The concentration of the peel varies according to need, and downtime is 2-7 days depending on the strength used.
Because TCA Peels penetrate deeper than the glycolic or salicylic acid peels, they are a good choice for women with acne-scarring or pigmentation issues. The TCA peels will likely cause redness a few days after use. You’ll want to stay out of the sun for a few months after your treatments to protect your new top skin layers.