Category Archives: Gardening
Spring is here, the flowers are in bloom, and it’s a beautiful sight, except for those who suffer from allergies. Allergens such as pollen can cause all sorts of symptoms for allergy sufferers, such as itchy eyes, congestion, and sneezing. Many people take prescribed or over-the-counter medicines that help allergy symptoms, but some of these medicines can cause side effects that are worse than the original problem. For a more natural solution to ease mild, spring-time allergy suffering, here is a list of 10 home remedies that may be helpful:
- It’s hard enough to avoid allergens outdoors, so try not to bring them into your home, too. Keeping windows and doors shut during allergy season can help keep pollen out of your house. Eliminate any cross breeze by shutting off fans that circulate air in and out of the house. Indoor air purifiers/HEPA filters are a great added step to keep your house as allergen-free as possible.
- While being outdoors it is difficult to avoid allergens, so one great step is to wear eye protection. Wearing sunglasses (with side shields) or goggles while outside will keep pollen and other allergens from landing in your eyes and causing swelling or itching.
- Taking a steaming-hot shower has two major benefits for allergy sufferers: First, the steam soothes sinuses and clears nasal passages. The second benefit is that the shower washes away pollen and allergens from the skin and hair, preventing the spread of contaminants into your home.
- Peppermint tea has essential oils that act as an anti-inflammatory, decongestant, and mild antibacterial. A nice warm mug of peppermint tea can help alleviate irritated nasal passages and a sore throat.
- For those who don’t want to take a shower every time they feel congested, a steam bowl is a simpler way to get similar results. Fill a large bowl with steaming water (add eucalyptus oil for added relief), place a towel over your head, and take deep breathes of the eucalyptus steam.
- Another way to clear your nasal passages is to use a saline nasal rinse. There are many different methods of delivering the solution into your nasal cavity, but the basic concept is to flush out the congestion and keep the passages dry.
- For those who can handle spicy foods, wasabi and horseradish are great for clearing your sinuses. Allyl isothiocyanate is the ingredient in these two foods that activates your sinus and tear ducts to promote mucus flow. Also foods like walnuts, flaxseed, and cold-water fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, are great for fighting inflammation when eaten regularly.
- There are a variety of herbs and supplements which have been studied for allergy relief, such as spirulina, goldenseal, and eyebright. The plant extract butterbur has had strong results with reducing airway inflammation, as well as bromelain, which is an enzyme found in pineapple. The stinging nettle is a plant with natural antihistamines, which can be extracted, consumed through tea, or absorbed a variety of other ways.
- Consuming locally produced honey on a regular basis is thought to build up your body’s immunity to local pollens. When bees transfer pollen from your region into honey and you eat it frequently, it can slowly inoculate you against regional pollens.
- Since you spend a third of your life in bed sleeping, it is important to protect yourself from allergens in your bedroom. Dust mites are microscopic pests that live in warm, humid environments and feed on discarded human skin cells, therefore your mattress and pillow are an ideal location for them to live and thrive in. The excrement and buildup of dead dust mites can be the cause of allergic sensitivity. To protect yourself from being exposed to dust mites and bed bugs, consider purchasing OMI’s certified-organic cotton Bed-Bug and Dust-Mite Pillow and Mattress Barrier Covers. The tight micron weave prevents these pests from invading your mattress and multiplying, giving you peace of mind and a healthier night’s sleep. Here is a link to view more information about our barrier covers:
Spring is finally here! After an unusually bizarre winter with the “polar vortex” swirling around the east and the dry skies in the west, we’re all ready to enjoy the pleasures of springtime. The sun is shining, maybe a little rain is still falling, but warm weather is here, hopefully to stay!
Here is a list of 10 things to do, get outside… enjoy the weather and your family and friends.
1. Read outside on a blanket in the sun
2. Go fishing with your buddies
4. Make these beautiful spring centerpieces, using simple glass jars and lemons for a touch of color!
6. Plan a “staycation” with these cool ideas
7. Take pictures of wildflowers
10. Make a fairy garden like this one!
All the fruits and veggies that I love are out and ready for hand picking or picking up from the local farmers market. My most loved, however, are blackberries. It just so happens that my grandparents and my best friend have a few acres of roaming wild organic blackberries that pop up every summer, this year the season came a bit earlier than usual and I couldn’t be more excited about it!
Yesterday afternoon my husband, a few of our closest friends and I headed out in our sturdiest clothes and picked some of the most juicy, beautiful berries I have seen. I am excited for homemade jam, blackberry ice cream, blackberry syrup, and most importantly, blackberry cobbler.
Make your own cobbler with this delicious recipe from www.bunsinmyoven.com.
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose organic flour
1/2 cup raw organic sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
9 tablespoons cold organic butter
1/3 cup boiling water
For the filling:
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon organic fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 cups fresh organic blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the dough, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter until you have a coarse, crumbly mixture. Pour in the boiling water and stir together well so that all of the dough is wet. Set aside.
For the berries, dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water in a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice, berries, and sugar. Mix together well. Transfer berries to a 10 inch cast iron pan.
Heat mixture over medium heat until boiling, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
Drop spoonfuls of dough over the berry mixture and place the cast iron pan on a foil lined cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the berries are thick and bubbly.
(If you don’t have a cast iron pan, bring to a boil in a sauce pan and bake in a 9×9 baking dish.)
Summer weather is finally here, and with the days staying lighter longer it gives us more time for fun activities. Planning those activities can feel daunting at times, however here are some ideas that will help you create great summer memories while being eco-friendly.
- Take a Hike
Connect with nature by taking a walk in local park or nature trail. Take time to check out the trees, wildflowers and birds. Allow the kids to get exercise while enjoying the beauty of nature.
Biking is a great exercise, and can be really enjoyable, especially in the evening after dinner. Work off that meal you ate while peddling along with your family and friends.
Search for hidden treasures at street fairs, or find great locally grown produce to incorporate into your menus for the week.
- Plant a Garden
Work on making a small garden for some fresh homegrown treats. Gardens come in all sizes from window box gardens to large producing gardens. Find an area for your garden and plant some of your favorite produce.
- Host a Potluck Dinner
Invite friends over for an evening of fun. Potlucks allow guests to bring a dish, so this cuts back on energy used for cooking. Pick a theme for the dinner, such as Italian, finger foods, etc. The themes will keep your dinner options varied and allow for some creative cooking.
- Cool Off
Escape the summer heat by visiting a local lake or community pool.
Find a local organization such as a local food banks or animal shelter, and offer some help. These organizations are always in need of a few extra hands.
Just because you can’t get a whole week off this summer does not mean you can’t take a mini vacation. Plan a weekend trip to an area within driving distance and enjoy being away from home. You don’t have to stay at an expensive hotel, but you can camp in a campground by a lake or river. Just give yourself time to relax and “unplug.”
Whatever you decide to do this summer, remember to have fun, make some great memories, and as always, think about what you can do to keep your summer eco-friendly.
I was looking for some new ideas for Valentine’s Day when I found this great article on how to be an “Organic Romantic”. From organic chocolates to locally, sustainably grown flowers- the options are endless for a more eco-friendly V-Day! Check out the article HERE.
A lot of people resolve to be “more green” when the new year rolls around, but what exactly does that mean, and how can you implement the changes in your life without breaking the bank? We did a quick brainstorming session here at the OMI offices, and here’s what we came up with. Without further ado, we present to you the Top Ten Ways to keep your Green Year’s Resolutions!
Set up a recycling system or ensure your recycling is efficient and organized. This one seems like a no-brainer, and many towns and cities have made it even easier for you. Call your local waste-collection company and find out what tools they have available to help you with your recycling. Many cities offer free tubs for your use, will give you easy guides to tell you how to sort your recycling, and where you can take items that aren’t in your every day recycling (like e-waste and old appliances).
2. Stop buying water bottles.
Invest in reusable water bottles that you can carry with you and install a filter system for your home water. Not only is this a great way to help conserve the planet’s finite water supply, it will end up saving you tons of moolah in the end. Get each member of your family a water bottle that matches their personality and encourage them to take it every where they go!
3. Swap first
Spend less on buying new items and try swapping or exchanging with neighbors and friends. It’s a great way to get “new-to-you” stuff without having to spend the money on it, and no added burden to the planet. You could even start a monthly swap in your neighborhood. Some swapable ideas? Books, lawn equipment, shoes (yay!) kids’ clothing, exercise DVDs…. anything you have (or want).
4. Spend more time outdoors
From quality time with family to exercise… it is free and good for you and the environment. A day-trip to a local park can do wonders for your mental health, and you will feel even better knowing that pushing your kiddos in the swing isn’t taxing the environment.
5. Buy Local Produce
Find out in your community where you can buy locally grown and sustainable produce. Focus your meals around seasonal produce and you can save money, since out-of-season produce will be more expensive. Buying local not only helps sustain your local economy, it lessens the impact the shipping industry has on the environment. Plus, it’s really fun to be able to see where your food actually came from.
6. Plan meals
Thought meal planning went the way of the housewife wearing heels and pearls? Well, think again. Planning meals for the entire week can help cut down the cost of your grocery bill and allow you to use leftovers in new meals, limiting excess and waste. Added bonus: planned out menus mean fewer trips to the market, and who doesn’t love that?
7. Up the efficiency in your home
Unplug unused appliances, switch out old bulbs for longer lasting energy-efficient light bulbs, and install a new digital thermostat for more accuracy and to better regulate the temperature while using less energy (an easy task that even the most inexperienced DIYer can accomplish). If your appliances need an upgrade, be sure to buy EnergyStar models that use less energy to run and lower your operating costs. If your old mattress is giving you problems, make sure you upgrade to a responsibly sourced and organic mattress (of course we suggest an OrganicPedic mattress by OMI).
Put your food waste to work for you. When you compost, not only do you cut down on the amount of garbage headed toward the landfills, you get some great soil out of it. A great tutorial on setting up your compost pile can be found here from John & Sherry at Young House Love. Not sure what’s compostable? Click HERE for a list of 75 things you can compost, but thought you couldn’t.
9. Use earth-friendly cleaners and household products
Back in the day, “earth-friendly cleaners” meant baking soda, vinegar, and a lot of good old-fashioned elbow grease. We still love the ease of using items that are most likely already sitting in your cupboards, but we understand that isn’t an option for everyone. When looking for household cleaners, be sure to pick brands that are environmentally friendly, preferably made with organic ingredients. Our sister company, Lifekind, has a great line of Naturally Safer cleaning products, and earth-friendly products are popping up in retail stores across the country. Just beware: not all companies have altruistic intent, and may try to trick you into purchasing their product with the implication of being “green” without actually offering an environmentally friendly product.
10. Go paperless
A lot of big companies are now offering incentives to customers who want to view their statements and pay their bills online. If your local utility company doesn’t offer online bill pay, make sure you call and suggest it to them. Instead of sending printed cards, make use of online greeting cards and evites. Just imagine how much paper and trees would be saved if everyone made this small change to their life. If you absolutely must use paper (for your business, perhaps) be sure to buy paper from sustainably harvested trees.
These ten ideas are just a the begining of hundreds of different ways you can make your life more green. What are your ideas and what has your family implemented to make your 2012 greener than your 2011? Let us know in the comments!
and a Happy Green Year to You!
Here at OMI we believe not only in sleeping organic, but also eating organic! For most of us here in the office it is a busy time of year because we spend a lot of time outside of work planting our Summer gardens. There just is nothing better then vine-ripe tomatoes or fresh cucumbers.
Having the priviledge of a family centered around a organic upbringing, the importance of growing the vegetables organically is a no-brainer for me. But not everyone is as lucky. For those of you who are trying to “organic-fy” your life, here are some tips and facts to help and encourage you towards a healthier lifestyle.
For the healthiest plants, make sure you have good growing conditions. For most vegetables, that means full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun a day). If you have poor soil, amend it with lots of organic matter, like compost.
Decide what you want to grow. Determine how much space you have, and then take a sheet of paper and draw a small scale model of your garden plot, and decide where the vegetables will go. Without added chemical fertilizers(like Miracle Grow, which basically gives plants a “steroid” boost when growing) the plants need enough spacing to stretch their roots. Overcrowding gives you less of a chance for the plant to grow large enough to support the vegetables.
Look for natural and organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers, such as the use of compost. The use of inorganic fertilizer causes toxic buildup of chemicals in our soil and drinking water.
Some plants, such as tomatoes, are naturally more susceptible to pest and disease problems than others. To reduce problems, look for disease-resistant varieties of plants. (Disease resistance is usually mentioned in catalog listings, seed packets, and plant tags.)
After planting your seeds and/or starts water everything thoroughly and keep the seed areas moist until they germinate and start growing. Once that happens you can then start allowing them to dry out a bit between waterings as you usually would do with growing plants.
For more tips and info on growing your organic vegetable garden visit my favorite nursery’s website, Peaceful Valley, HERE where they post weekly demonstration videos and helpful information.