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Allergy Season

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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  1. 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.

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.

wasabi

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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  1. 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:

http://www.omimattress.com/Accessories.php#Barriers

 

Spring is in the Air…

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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

images-13. Do some spring cleaning to fun music

4. Make these beautiful spring centerpieces, using simple glass jars and lemons for a touch of color!

20893414909de221e35e3b2d0ff7b1fa-15. Fly a kite on the beach

6. Plan a “staycation” with these cool ideas

7. Take pictures of wildflowers

5847087633_598af01050_z-18. Make this delicious “dirt cake”:

6309663259aac1a07cbdb3f4d3e9cf879. Walk barefoot on cool grass

10. Make a fairy garden like this one!

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The Cure for Snoring is…

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When it comes to sleep, many people or their sleeping partners have a problem with snoring. Some have turned to nasal strips, while others experience insomnia. This woman found a different, more homeopathic approach to helping her husband with his snoring habit…singing!

Read more from this article to find out how you too may be able to stop your snoring or that of your sleeping partner

“While there are a number of sophisticated medical treatments available, such as nasal and oral devices as well as surgery, Ojay’s solution is more akin to a natural home remedy. The British choir director claims that a series of routine vocalizations, performed 20 minutes a day over the course of less than a month, can reduce snoring significantly. That’s because these ‘singing exercises,’ she says, were formulated specifically to work out throat muscles that have weakened over time. The approach is based on the premise that firming up these muscles would allow air to pass in and out with less obstruction.”

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/cure-snoring-singing-180949408/

The Science and Value of Organic

There are (literally) tons of benefits of choosing organic products. Check out this report from The Organic Center recently released by the USDA about the impact you can have by making an organic purchasing choice.   

The Organic Center Organic Report

For the full report click HERE.

Four Ways to Help You Improve Your Sleep

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Four Ways for Improving Sleep

Environment can make a big difference in how well we sleep. One way to improve the quality of sleep is as simple as changing your bedroom. Sleep Junkie has some great tips to help make your nights more restful, including:

603967 Color matters…

The paint choice for your bedroom may seem like only a cosmetic preference, but it can really influence how well you sleep. Studies suggest that neutral colors are best for a bedroom because they provide a calming and relaxing vibe. Loud and harsh colors can actually distract and even irritate your eyes while you try to settle in for the night…If you want to redecorate, think about how the color might look or affect you as you drift off.

Darker is better for sleep…

It is important to make your room as dark as possible in order for most people to get a restful night’s sleep. To do this, you should use shades and curtains. If your room faces towards the sunrise and you don’t awake at the crack of dawn, than blackout drapes can help improve your shut eye, and eliminate pesky streetlights…The less light the more likely you are to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.”

Invest in a good, comfortable mattress…

The mattress that you choose is absolutely critical to how well you sleep… There is nothing more disturbing to your sleep than a lumpy and uncomfortable mattress.

Don’t forget the details…

There are a number of other extra things that you can incorporate into your bedroom to lull you to sleep. After you have selected a comfortable mattress be sure to include fresh sheets and a cozy comforter. All-cotton sheets keep your bed breathable and feel nice against your skin.

There are a number of things to consider when bettering your bedroom for a restful night’s sleep. Incorporating a few or all of these suggestions are sure to make your sleeping environment much more calming and relaxing.  While these things may take a few extra moments to transform your bedroom into a sleeping haven, it will be worth every minute once you realize how restful your sleep can actually be.

To read the article in full please click HERE.

Here at OMI, we can’t help rearrange your room, but we can help by providing comfortable mattresses, pillows, sheets and other accessories to help you achieve the best (and safest) night’s sleep.

Take Your Summer Vacation from Forgettable to Memorable

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DSCN0407 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.

  1. Take a Hike

    Bidwell Park - Chico, CA

    Bidwell Park – Chico, CA

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.

  1. Go for a Bike Ride

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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.

  1. Visit a Local Farmer’s Market or Street Fair

    MarketJuly11

Search for hidden treasures at street fairs, or find great locally grown produce to incorporate into your menus for the week.

  1. 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.

  1. Host a Potluck Dinner

potluck

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.

  1. Cool Off

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Escape the summer heat by visiting a local lake or community pool.

  1. Volunteer

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.

  1. Plan A Mini Vacation

    Fisherman camping at a wilderness lake

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.

Water, only better

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Staying cool in the summer months is hard to do sometimes, especially when trying to stay hydrated. Rather than reaching for those sugary drinks or just plain old water, here are a few recipes to spice up your drinking options in a healthy way!

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Nectarine and Thyme Sun-Brewed Iced Tea

What you will need:

Large beverage dispenser or pitcher

Organic loose leaf tea or 6 black tea bags, more or less depending on how strong you like your tea

1 gallon water

Sun

4 organic nectarines, sliced

5 medium sprigs fresh organic thyme

Ice

Put the water, tea bags, and thyme in the beverage dispenser and place in direct sunlight for 3 hours. Add nectarines and ice for a cold, refreshing drink.

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Fruit and Herbal-Infused Water

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One of the best things about infused water is that you can take just about any form of fruit, and herbs from your garden or local farmers market and give your water a boost in flavor.

Feeling simple? Drop a few raspberries and a sprig of rosemary in a glass of iced water.

Feeling adventurous? Toss mint, strawberries, lemons, limes, cucumbers, and raspberries in a pitcher of iced water for your next outdoor BBQ.

My personal favorite is orange water! Just slice up an orange and place it in a mason jar full iced water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the flavors of the orange with your water, and ta-da! A delicious cold, not-so-boring beverage!

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Another great way to add a bit of color and flavor to iced beverages is to take an ice-cube tray, fill it with water (I have even seen them filled with tea!!!), and add some organic blueberries, lemons, or mint sprigs!

What’s great about these recipes is that they are not just “two cups of this or that.” You can experiment with different fruits and flavors to get your own unique delicious drink!

10 Eco-Friendly Solutions to Start Your Spring Cleaning

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It’s that time of year again when we all get out the cleaning supplies and start our spring cleaning.  Rather than using harsh chemical cleaners, here are some more eco-friendly options that I use for my deep spring clean.

1. Make Your Own Surface Cleaner

Surface cleaner comes in handy all around the house, and is super easy to make. Combine 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar in a spray bottle. This natural all-purpose cleaner quickly kills germs and evaporates, making for a clean and clear finish.

2. Lift Stains with Lemons

Lemons in White Bowl

Getting that tomato sauce stain off your countertop or cabinet is easier than you think. Simply wet the stain with lemon juice, let sit for 30 minutes or so, and then sprinkle baking soda on the abrasive side of an all-purpose kitchen sponge and scrub the discolored area. Most stains will vanish, and your kitchen will smell fresher.

3. Clean Your Kitchen Drains Without Harsh Chemicals

Not all drain cleaners need to be made of toxic chemicals.  The chemistry between baking soda and vinegar is so powerful that this combo can flush grease out of kitchen drains. Just pour ½ cup baking soda into a clogged drain and follow it with ½ cup white vinegar. Cover the drain for a few minutes as the chemical reaction dissolves the grease — then flush the drain with warm water.

4. Clean Windows Without Leaving Streaks

My-stack-of-newspapers

To make those windows and mirrors shine without awful streaks, use newspaper! The paper leaves behind virtually zero lint. Just spray the glass with a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar, rub the glass with a dry cloth, then go over the surface with a piece of newspaper.

5. Freshen Up the Air Naturally

Even the worst odors can be eliminated with fresh lemons. To get rid of strong odors such as garlic, fish and other tough smells use half a cut lemon or some fresh-squeezed lemon juice. To freshen indoor air, simmer lemon peel on the stovetop, adding water as needed.

 6. Eliminate Smells in Your Fridge  

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There are many different and unexpected uses for coffee, but one of my favorites is to absorb odors in the refrigerator. If you have some stale coffee grounds just place them in a bowl in the fridge for a day or so.

7. Clean Your Oven Without Killing Your Arms

baking soda

Ovens can be the worst mess to clean, but with this trick you can clean your oven without having to scrub until your arms feel like they’re going to fall off!  Baking soda makes it as easy as it gets, and your next batch of cookies won’t taste like chemical cleaners. Sprinkle it liberally all over the floor of the oven, spray it with water until it’s well dampened, and leave it for a few hours. Then just wipe out the mess and use vinegar to remove the film of baking-soda residue left behind.

8. Use a Little Lemon and Water to Clean the Microwave

Microwaves can be a pain to clean with all the stuck-on food residue, but the citric acid in lemon juice can loosen even the crustiest food.  Place lemon wedges in a small bowl of water and microwave for two to three minutes. Leave the door closed and let sit for approximately 10 minutes, then wipe out the inside. If there are any odors or food residue left behind, use a paste of baking soda and water to scrub it right out.

9. Polish Your Wood with Olive Oil

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Add a teaspoon of olive oil to a quarter cup of lemon juice for a non-toxic, gentle furniture polish that will remove dust and bring wood surfaces to a brilliant shine. Due to its natural ingredients, this furniture polish will not build up a dull finish.

10. Turn Your Mismatched Socks and Old Towels Into Rags

If you lose the battle of the socks to your dryer like I do, then you probably have a few unmatched socks gathering.  There’s no need to throw them away these socks can be used for cleaning!  Put one over your hand like a glove and use it to dust surfaces around the house.  If you don’t have any mismatched socks, towels that are no longer soft can provide you with a dozen or more new, totally free cleaning rags. Just cut the towels up and you’ll have a whole new supply.  This is a far better option for the planet than using disposable paper towels.

7 Natural Remedies to Fight the Flu and Seasonal Colds

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This year I have seen my share of germs and viruses attack our house, the majority of which are courtesy of my 5-year-old and her adventures at school.  So with all these colds and flu viruses flying around all over the place, I have gathered quite a list of great home remedies that help pull my family through the sick patches. Here are some of the best that I have found, and I want to share them with you!

Homemade Cough Syrup

Take a red onion; cut into quarter inch slices and restack with a dollop of raw local honey  in between each layer.  (The local honey will also help prevent allergies in springtime.) Allow to sit overnight.  In the morning you will have a syrup that not only helps get rid of the tickle in your throat but also helps you rest easy about not adding chemicals and medications into your system that you don’t need.

Garlic Tea

Cloves of garlic have been used for YEARS to help alleviate cold and flu systems. Garlic is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial. Simply cut 2-3 cloves of garlic, place into boiling water, and allow to steep for 10 minutes. For added taste use lemon juice, raw honey or ginger.  Ginger is also a great way to naturally help soothe tummy aches and digestive issues.

Onion Juice Earache Relief

One of the most effective remedies I have found for an earache is onions.  Take an onion and bake for about 15 minutes at 425° F (be sure to leave the skin on the onion, as it helps keep the juices inside while cooking.)  Let the onion sit until cool enough to touch then crush it in a bowl to extract the juice.  Using an eyedropper, place the warm juice in the ear.  This will usually help relieve the pain within a few minutes.

Warm Salt Water

Add a generous amount of salt to lukewarm water and mix well.  Gargle with the lukewarm salt-water mixture to help soothe your sore throat and promote healing.

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Hot Washcloths/Ice Packs

If you have sinus congestion, a great solution is to apply either hot or cold around the congested sinuses.  Take a damp washcloth and heat it for about 50 seconds in the microwave (be sure to test it first too make sure it is not to hot).  For a cold pack, you can use frozen vegetables/fruits or place a damp washcloth in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes.  Chose hot or cold, whichever feels more comfortable.

Water, Water, Water

Drink it, steam it, and soak in it! Keeping the fluids in is the best way to flush out toxins when you are sick. A comfortable way to help clean out your head is to run a hot shower, since the steam will help moisten the air around you, especially good for dry coughs. Lastly, when you are feeling body aches or muscle pain from the flu, try a nice hot bath to soothe aches and pains. Try throwing in some oils like tea tree or eucalyptus, to help speed up the healing process.

SLEEP!

Sometimes the thing that best helps beat the flu is time and rest. Allow your body time to rejuvenate and bring itself back to its usual healthy, energetic state.

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Stay healthy this germy season!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, just a mom, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using any of these remedies.

‘Tis the Season to be Yummy…

As we gather together for the holidays, there is typically food involved in our celebrations. Here are some great recipes to incorporate into your festivities, with inspiration from different holiday celebrations from latkes to prime rib.  Whatever you decide to make, make it delicious!

Latkes

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Ingredients:

  •     5 potatoes
  •     2 onions
  •     3 eggs
  •     1 tsp. salt
  •     ¼ tsp. pepper
  •     ¼ to ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  •     oil for frying (canola is recommended)

Directions:

Peel potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water so they won’t turn brown. When ready to prepare the latkes, drain the potatoes. Place potatoes and onions in a food processor fitted with a knife blade; pulse until smooth. Drain mixture well.  Pour potato mixture into a large bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper. Add enough flour so that the mixture holds together.

Pour 1” of oil into a large, deep frying pan; heat over medium-high heat.  Carefully drop ¼  cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil.  (Flatten the pancake slightly so the center will cook.)  Fry for several minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through; drain on paper towels.

Serving Suggestion: Serve the latkes with applesauce.

Collard Greens

iChat Image(ata)

Ingredients:

  •     ½ lb. smoked meat (ham hocks, turkey wings, or neck bones)
  •     1 Tbsp. house seasoning (recipe follows)
  •     1 Tbsp. seasoned salt
  •     1 Tbsp. hot red pepper sauce
  •     1 large bunch collard greens
  •     1 Tbsp. butter

Directions:

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add smoked meat, house seasoning, seasoned salt, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour.

Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand.  (The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don’t need to be stripped) Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into ½” to 1” thick slices. Place greens in pot with meat; add butter.

Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, adjust seasoning to taste.

House Seasoning

  •     1 cup salt
  •     ¼ cup black pepper
  •     ¼ cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Joe’s Prime Rib

Chef Joe, who we have given the honorary title of “Official OMI Chef,” provided us with a wonderful prime rib recipe you will be sure to use over and over again.

prime-rib

Ingredients:

  •  1 cup Montreal steak seasoning
  • ¼ cup thyme
  • ¼ cup paprika

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Preheat oven to 425° F.  Tie prime rib using butcher’s twine in 3 or 4 equal spacing increments.  Rub the entire prime rib: top, bottom, and sides all over!

Roast at 425° for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, reduce temp to 275° and continue to roast until the internal temp in the very center of the roast is between 110°-120°F for medium rare (120°-130° for medium).

Allow roast to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing with a very sharp knife.

To serve with your delicious prime rib, try one of these excellent sauces:

Horseradish Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup grated fresh horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld. Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.

Au Jus Sauce

Ingredients: 

  • 2 packets beef buillion
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in pan; bring to a boil and strain.

Now that dinner is over and you’re looking to add something sweet, here’s a great recipe for delicious Nutty Chocolate Matzo Crunch.

Nutty Chocolate Matzo Crunch

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Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 6”x6” matzos
  • 4 oz. milk chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup Marcona almonds or salted cashews, chopped
  • ½ Tbsp. fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

Directions:

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and top with a wire rack. Place matzos on top of rack. Drizzle chocolate over matzos until almost covered. Immediately sprinkle evenly with chopped nuts and salt. Transfer to refrigerator and chill until set, about 15 minutes. Break into pieces. (If chocolate softens, return to refrigerator until set) Matzo crunch is best eaten the day it is made.

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