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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

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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

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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!

Meet the Classic

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We know that not everyone likes the feel of latex mattresses. Did you know OMI has a 100% certified organic innerspring mattress? For those who love the feel of an innerspring mattress but don’t want to sleep on a conventional mattress. Our Classic mattress is made using organic wool, virgin steel innersprings, and a luxurious organic woven cotton cover.

The OrganicPedic® Classic is an 8”, two-sided traditional innerspring mattress made in a variety of coil counts. The innerspring is covered on both sides with certified organic cotton canvas and several layers of our sanitized certified organic cotton padding. The padding is covered with another layer of cotton canvas, then internally hand-tufted to keep the padding from shifting and to minimize body impressions. The edges are reinforced with extra-heavy-duty side support springs. This two-sided mattress is covered with our Signature OrganicPedic® quilting.

SURFACE: Medium-Firm
*DEPTH: 8″
PADDING: Inner Hand-Tufted Sanitized Certified Organic Cotton

MSRP (mattress only): twin $1895 • full $2395 • queen $2595 • king $3095

Natural Mosquito Repellants

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Summer is (almost) here, along with all of those pesky critters that seem to have been hibernating over the winter– including my least favorite, the mosquito.

This year, I went on a hunt for a natural remedy that is less toxic and harsh than store-bought bug spray that usually includes DEET (http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/1006.asp). There are so many great remedies out there (some that I already knew about), and others that I am definitely going to try see which ones work for me.

Here are the top 9 ways I’ve found to keep from getting eaten this summer:

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1.  Know where they are.  You may notice that there are a lot more mosquitoes around water.  Lakes, pools, ponds, and any place there is standing water will attract the pests.  If you know you are going to be around water, be sure to plan ahead and carry your natural repellant with you.

2.  Don’t smell too good. Mosquitoes are attracted to floral and sweet smells, like perfume and body lotion. Reducing these as much as you can may help lessen your attractiveness to them.

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3. Spritz yourself with vanilla.  Simply dilute pure vanilla extract in water and spray it on.

4. Wear light clothing.  Mosquitoes are drawn to darker clothing and colors.  Wearing light colored clothing can be your first line of defense against these insects.

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5. Make a garlic paste. This is not something I can see people doing everyday, but it is definitely great for repelling those little critters. Make a paste with garlic powder and water and apply to pulse points, behind the knees, on shoes and ankles, and a bit on your cheeks or somewhere on your face and neck. (Keep it out of your eyes, it will sting!) You can also spray garlic powder and water around your yard and bushes for an extra preventative measure.  (Rumor has it it will also keep away unwanted vampires.)

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6. Dab on a little Eau de Vinegar: If you don’t mind the smell of vinegar (and neither do those around you),  dabbing on a little vinegar is a great way to repel mosquitoes. Put a little bit on exposed areas, or dilute with water and use as a spray.  Many people swear by this one!

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7.    Use essential oils. Citronella, lavender, catnip, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, tansy, basil, thyme, cedar, tea tree, peppermint, and lemongrass will all help keep the mosquitoes at bay. Mix with rubbing alcohol, witch hazel or water, (just one or any combination), shake well, and spritz on your body. You can also add a few drops to baby oil or olive oil and rub onto your skin, avoiding the mouth and eye areas.

8.    Eat up! Certain foods we eat are rumored to repel the bugs. B1 vitamins, brewers yeast, lemon and, of course, garlic have all been thought to  deter mosquitoes because of the smell that comes out of your pores after eating them.

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9. Exercise your green thumb. Potted plants, such as lemon thyme, citronella, lavender, basil, catnip, pennyroyal, tansy, and marigolds, will help keep mosquitoes out of your yard.  Place them around your porch or patio, and when you need a little more protection, break off a leaf and rub it on your clothes and skin.  You can also infuse the leaves in water and use as a spray.

Everyone has a different body chemistry that may make different methods work better than others. Try them out and let us know which of these natural remedies worked for you!

Aww Sheet

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As I threw my sheets in the washing machine last night, I caught myself wondering if I wash my sheets enough.  At once every two weeks it already feels like I am always changing my bedding, but I did a little research anyway on the recommended time between washing sheets anyway, to see what the world has to say on the subject.

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You wouldn’t think it would be a very hot topic, but everybody seems to have very different and (strong) views on washing sheets.  Some people are religious about washing them every week, while others don’t see the point in changing out bedding but once a month.  There are the fanatics out there that change their sheets several times a week, and studies have even found Western cultures in which changing the sheets only three times a year is the norm.

If you only wash your sheets once a month and you sleep an average of eight hours a night for 30 nights, that’s 240 hours on your sheets every month, or the equivalent of wearing the same clothes for 10 days straight (with fewer mustard stains, I would guess).

Your body, even straight out of the shower, will slough off dead skin cells (which attract dustmites), hair, dirt, oil, and sweat.  And when it comes off of you, that means it’s staying in your bed.  (Just writing that out makes me rethink my every-two-weeks sheet-changing regime.  A change to once a week is definitely in order!)

On mornings when you don’t change your sheets, pull your covers back when you get up and let your bed air out while you shower or eat breakfast.  And even though it may feel like just another thing to do in the morning, taking a couple of minutes to make your bed will make it that much sweeter to climb back into it at night, plus it will help keep dust and pet hair out.

I keep extra sheet sets in my linen closet to make for an easier change on sheet day.  I can pull the old sheets off and put the new ones on right away, so if I don’t get to laundry that day, it’s not a big deal. Avoid storing sheets in plastic containers, which can trap moisture and help with the growth of mildew.

Frequent washing will break down even the highest quality sheets. Replace them when you see obvious signs of aging, such as stains, faded patterns or fraying hems.

OrganicSheets

When you decide it is time for a new pair of sheets, check out the new set that OMI has added to our bedding collection! The Pearl Organic Sheet Set is a 300-thread-count beautiful sateen weave in GOTS-certified organic cotton. They come in a creamy ivory color, and all sets include pillowcase(s), one fitted sheet and one flat sheet. (Twin and Twin XL include one standard pillowcase, Full and Queen sizes receive two standard/queen pillowcases, and Eastern and California King sets include two king-size pillowcases.) Check out our previous blog Introducing the Pearl Organic Sheet Set, and for more information on how to purchase a set of our beautiful sheets find your nearest retailer HERE.

DCA Considers New California Fire Retardant Regulations

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SACRAMENTO – California Department of Consumer Affairs Advisory Board Member Walt Bader, President of Organic Mattresses Inc. (OMI), reviews public comments on proposed new upholstered furniture flammability standard.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs held hearings on their proposed California Technical Bulletin 117- 2013 on March 26, 2013, and the DCA Advisory Board reviewed all public comments in late April.

Among the comments made by Board Member Bader was a suggestion that there be an exclusion written into the new legislation allowing a consumer to opt out of having to purchase any products incorporating flammability treatments by providing a medical exception.

Bureau Chief Tonya Blood advised the board that they had decided to include this language in the new regulations. Bader provided significant input regarding the 54 individual public comments that were suggested, and the legislation will go forward with the recommendations and comments of the board.

Bader stated that he felt it was a good standard and one that was created with excellent input from industry stakeholders.

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Raw Food Cleanse

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When the springtime hits, I like to take on a challenge by doing a raw foods cleanse. With social gatherings and weddings surrounding me these days, I have shortened my usual 6 week cleanse to 3 weeks. I like to think of it as spring cleaning for my body. I thought it would be fun to share a delicious and easy raw food recipe.

If you aren’t into doing a full-on raw cleanse, this hearty, delicious green smoothie is a great way to supercharge your body with a bountiful amount of delicious nutrients. This wonderful recipe for one of my favorite green smoothies is from one of my favorite raw-food blogs: rawmazing.com

Good Morning Green Drink

Serves 2

2 cups organic spinach

1 1/2 cups organic grapes

2 organic carrots

1/2 organic cucumber

1/2″ piece of ginger

1 stalk organic celery

2 dates

handful ice

1/2 to 1 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix. Start with 1/2 cup water and add more to desired thickness. Blend until smooth.

I also like to add some raw protein powder and instead of water, add some coconut water for added flavor.  The best part about these smoothies is that you can easily change the ingredients to best suit what you prefer!

ENJOY!

Textile Truths: A Parent’s Guide

We are an organic company, so using organic products is a no-brainer for us.  But we have to remember that not everyone has the same immersion into the world of organics, and new parents need to know when it is essential to choose organic products.

This great info-graphic,  put together by our friends at Harmony Art, is a great visual aid for new parents, and puts the “how” and “why” of buying organic for your baby into an easy-to-digest graphic that takes away the guessing game:

TextileTruthsBaby

To read about how this piece came together, be sure to check out Harmony Art’s blog.

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In case you are wondering:  OMI’s innerspring crib mattresses are GOTS certified, and our latex crib mattresses are GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) certified.

Go ahead and share this graphic (download the pdf here) and help spread the word.

Spend This Earth Day Outside

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When the sun is shining and the signs of spring are all around enjoy the day outside with Mother Nature.  Pick your favorite local area such as a park, river or lake and enjoy the day with your friends and family. Here are some ideas of Earth-friendly activities that you can enjoy on Earth Day:

  1. Pack a picnic

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Pack a delicious lunch of locally grown food and keep it natural by using biodegradable or reusable tableware.

  1. Clean Up Litter

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After your lunch spend an hour picking up trash around your favorite area to keep it clean and enjoyable for all.

  1. Take A Walk

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Enjoy a leisurely walk or hike to explore the wildlife.  Bring along a field guide so you can learn about the different plants, tree and animals in the area.

  1. Make a list of Resolutions

    stock-footage-smiling-family-coloring-together-in-the-countryside

Discuss ways you can lessen your impact on Earth and make a list of resolutions that you would like to incorporate into your everyday routine, such as recycling, energy use, volunteering, cleaning up litter, shopping locally, buying organic, and more.  For a list of possible green resolutions see our previous blog, “Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Green Year’s Resolutions.”

However you spend your Earth Day, be sure to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of Earth.

OTA Reports 8 in 10 U.S. Parents Purchase Organic Products

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Check out this article from the Organic Trade Association:

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“U.S. families are increasingly embracing organic products in a wide range of categories, with 81 percent now reporting they purchase organic at least sometimes. This finding is one of many contained in the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) newly released 2013 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study, conducted Jan. 18-24, 2013.

“More and more parents choose organic foods primarily because of their desire to provide healthful options for their children,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s CEO and Executive Director.

Not only are more consumers choosing organic products at least sometimes, but the majority of those buying organic foods are purchasing more items than a year earlier. New entrants to buying organic now represent 41 percent of all families – demonstrating interest in the benefits of organic food and farming is on the rise. Produce continues to be the leading category of organic purchases, with 97 percent of organic buyers saying they had purchased organic fruits or vegetables in the past six months. Breads and grains, dairy and packaged foods were also frequently cited (all scoring above 85 percent) among those who purchase organic. Families choosing organic foods are increasingly important to retailers of all types, with organic buyers reporting spending more per shopping trip, and shopping more frequently than those who never purchase organic food.

Consistent with findings from previous studies, nearly half (48 percent) of those who purchase organic foods said they do so because they are “healthier for me and my children.” Additionally, parents’ desire to avoid toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers (30 percent), antibiotics and growth hormones (29 percent), and genetically modified organisms (22 percent) ranked high among the reasons cited for buying organic products.

Awareness of the USDA Organic seal has also grown, with more consumers more likely to look for the seal when shopping for organic products. Moreover, over four in ten parents (42 percent) say their trust in organic products has increased, versus 32 percent who indicated this point of view a year ago. In fact, younger, new-to-organic parents are significantly more likely to report improved levels of trust in organic products.”

It is great to see the industry growing and more people becoming aware of the importance of organics.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA), which is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America.  The OTA represents over 6,500 organic businesses across 49 states and has become the leading voice for organic trade in the United States.  For more news, articles and insight into the organics industry, visit the Organic Trade Association website HERE.

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