Give a Green Gift for the Holidays

During the holidays shopping for gifts can be fun, but also a bit overwhelming at times. What do you buy for your picky Aunt Bea or the wealthy relative who already has so much? How about your young nephew whose closet is already stuffed to the brim with games, stuffed animals, and other toys?

In recent years, there has been a trend in gift-giving that supports a more minimalist approach by celebrating gifts that are earth-friendly. There are many amazing gifts that do not add to our environmental footprint.

 

Give An Experience

Create lasting memories with your loved ones by giving them tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event, signing them up for a cooking or craft class, or paying their registration for a race or membership to a club. You could also give them a ski pass or movie tickets. This type of gift is my favorite, because whether I give the gift or receive the gift, I get to spend time having fun and building bonds with my loved ones.

Donate

This is probably the easiest green gift idea. You can make a donation in the name of the recipient to his or her favorite charity, or you can go a step further and donate to an organization that has conservation as its main goal. Some of these earth-friendly organizations include The World Wildlife Federation, The National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and The Sierra Club.

Eco-Friendly Tech Gifts

For all those techies on your list, there are gifts that help conserve energy and the environment. You can stuff their stockings with wooden headphones made and packaged with recycled materials, solar gadget chargers, or a cell-phone charger that shuts off its energy-sucking capabilities once your phone is fully charged.

My all-time favorite eco-friendly tech gift is an e-reader. A book is a great gift for all age groups. An e-reader will allow the recipient to collect an endless library without amassing a huge footprint. There are also household tech gifts like smart light switches and energy-saving thermostats that can lessen energy use and make great eco-friendly gifts.

Do It Yourself

Another recent trend in gift-giving is DIY. You can whip together a batch of your favorite treat, package it in a recycled box or re-gifted vessel, and attach the recipe. You can also crochet a scarf, make a digital photo book or any other photo gift, or even write a personal letter or memory book. The gift-giving options are endless with DIY.

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Plants and Flowers

A gift back to the Earth is probably the greenest gift idea of all. Plant a tree in the recipient’s name, give an avid gardener some gardening tools made with recycled materials, or gift someone with seedlings, an herb garden, or a terrarium.

Clearing Out

In the months leading up to the holidays, I also like to clear out my home to make room for holiday gifts. To keep from filling my local landfill with all of my discarded items, I sell or donate as much as possible. Selling items online is a great way to earn some extra holiday cash. Donating items to your local thrift store, church, or shelter is a great way to benefit those in your community, too.

Lastly, you can always re-gift items.  I like to follow a few guidelines when doing this:

  1. The item is in new (or excellent and unused) condition.
  2. The item is something the recipient would like or could use.
  3. You received it within the last six months.
  4. The recipient would not be able to tell that it is a re-gift.

Now that you have some good green holiday gift ideas, check off that list!

Fall Into Sleep with the End of Daylight Savings Time

Darker days are upon us.

 

This Halloween night we will all be setting our clocks back an hour to end Daylight Savings Time, which adds an extra hour to the weekend!

I look forward to this change every year. It ushers in fall, winter, and the holiday season. I also love thinking about how I will decide to spend that extra hour of weekend time. I fantasize about being extra productive, as if that one hour is going to allow me to finally check off my whole weekend to-do list without batting an eye.

Sleeping in always wins. It takes me some time to get used to waking up weekday mornings when it is still dark outside. Taking back that extra hour of sleep this weekend will feel good, knowing I will have quite a few dark mornings in my near future.

So go ahead and do the same. Enjoy that extra hour to relax and recharge!

Make Time for Tea Time To Benefit Your Mind & Body

‘Tis the season for tea! Shorter days and cooler temperatures get me thinking of ways to stay warm and healthy. Getting cozy with a cup of tea has many potential health benefits, including better sleep and decreased risk for illness, and some types have even been shown to aid in weight loss.

So which types of tea pack the most punch when it comes to health benefits? How do you get the most from your tea?

Green Tea

Green Tea

Green tea has been touted as having the most health benefits of all the tea varieties. The extended fermentation process for green tea boosts the levels of polyphenols, which are the beneficial antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties and help regulate blood-sugar levels in the body. Green tea has also been shown to lower risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Black Tea

Black Tea

Black tea is the most commonly used tea in the world. It also has the most caffeine. This tea has high concentrations of theaflavins and thearubigins, two amazing antioxidants that have been linked to lower levels of cholesterol.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea has a delicious, rich flavor that is attributed to its shorter fermentation period. Oolong activates an enzyme that dissolves triglycerides, a form of dietary fat stored in fat cells, which may aid in weight loss.

White Tea

White tea is harvested when it is young, which provides a milder taste and less caffeine. According to an article on organicfacts.net, white tea has many benefits, including antibacterial properties, which can boost your immune system and maintain good oral health. It has also been shown to decrease the risk for cancer and heart disease, decrease the symptomatic effects of diabetes, and aid in weight loss.

Herbal Tea

Blooming Tea
Blooming Tea

Herbal tea is technically not tea, but a blend of dried herbs, fruit, and flowers. This tea is usually caffeine-free or only has trace amounts of caffeine. These teas have varying benefits depending on the blend. Lavender, bergamot, and chamomile teas can aid in falling and staying asleep. Hibiscus tea has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus Tea

Follow these helpful tips to get the most out of your tea:

  1. Use fresh, loose-leaf tea and a tea ball to brew. The fresher the tea, the better the flavor. The tea leaves also need space to bloom in order to maximize the release of antioxidants. If you prefer to use tea bags, use a pyramid-shaped bag. That shape provides more space than traditional tea bags.
  1. Use spring or filtered water. The chlorine, metals, and minerals in regular tap water can affect the taste of the tea and decrease its health benefits.
  1. Do not add milk. Milk decreases polyphenol levels in tea because the polyphenols will bind with the milk proteins.
  1. Do not buy bottled teas. They lose 20% of the catechins (antioxidants) during the bottling process.
  1. Add citrus to your tea instead of sugar. Doing so will flavor your tea and give it a boost of antioxidants. Adding refined sugar will cancel out the benefits of drinking the tea.
  1. Drink at least 4 cups per day to maximize the benefits.

Now go enjoy a healthy and cozy fall and winter with a nice, warm cup of tea!

Check out the following articles for further information about all the great benefits of adding tea to your daily diet!

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health

http://www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/healthy-eating/types-of-tea

http://www.greatist.com/health/tea-benefits-tips

 

Take a Healthy Bite Out of Halloween: Spooky Treats with Less Sugar

Image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens' website, http://www.bhg.com/recipe/mr-bones-and-double-dips/
Image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

With Halloween just around the corner, there are a lot of tempting treats that don’t pack much of a nutritional punch. There are many ways to make Halloween snacks both healthy and fun. You can arrange fruit and veggies to look like a skeleton or jack-o-lantern, cut out spooky faces in cheese or bread, or add edible candy eyeballs to pretty much anything.

Here are some tricks to disguise some healthy Halloween treats for your kids. I found the following recipes on the SheKnows blog and everydayhealth.com.

Monster Mouths

Image courtesy of SheKnows blog
Image courtesy of SheKnows

You’ll need:

10 apple slices

peanut butter

whole peanuts or almonds

Spread peanut butter between two apple slices and position to look like an open mouth. Place whole peanuts on peanut butter to look like teeth.

Witches’ Broomsticks

Image courtesy of everyday Health
Image courtesy of everyday Health

You’ll need:

mozzarella cheese sticks
pretzel sticks
chives

Directions: To make the broom, slice the mozzarella stick across in thirds. Use a knife or scissors to cut a fringe pattern on the lower half of the cheese. Insert a pretzel stick into the cheese, making the broomstick, and tie a chive around the top.

Yummy Mummy Hot Dogs

Image courtesy of SheKnows
Image courtesy of SheKnows

You’ll need:

hot dogs

crescent roll dough

ketchup and mustard

Wrap up a ghastly treat for your little goblins and ghouls. Use crescent roll dough cut into thin strips to wrap your “mummies” from head to toe. Cook the dogs for 15 minutes at 350 until golden brown. Make sure to leave room for the mummies’ faces, which the kids can design with mustard or ketchup and a toothpick.

Now that you have some delicious options for healthy Halloween treats, you can be sure to have a fun and tasty holiday!

Meet the Madrea by OrganicPedic Earth™!

The OrganicPedic Earth™ Madrea is a medium-plush 11” sculpted-surface pillow top mattress made with 100% natural and GOLS-certified, organic natural rubber latex. It starts with a 6” core of supportive medium latex covered in our signature certified organic cotton-and-wool quilting. A removable two-sided pillow top (3 1/2” deep) – also made of 100% natural rubber latex is then placed on the mattress. The pillow top is made with two surface options: our exclusive sculpted surface on one side, and a flat surface on the other. This provides sleepers with maximum comfort and flexibility. The pillow top is fully covered with our signature certified organic cotton and wool quilting and is attached to the mattress using our exclusive “button-down” process. The mattress is covered in our signature certified organic cotton-and-wool quilting.

Features and Benefits

  • Sculpted surface offers pressure-point relief and increases air circulation
  • Button-down pillow top can be used on either side
  • Motion-absorbing construction
  • Naturally mold-, mildew-, and dust-mite resistant

Specifications

Firmness: Medium-Plush

Depth: Approximately 11”

Core: 100%-Natural & Certified Organic Rubber Latex

Cover: Certified Organic Wool & Certified Organic Cotton

Foundation: Wood Slat Padded with Sanitized Certified Organic Cotton

Sizes: Twin – King

Warranty: 20-Year Limited Warranty

*All dimensions are subject to a slight variance due to being custom made.

MSRP (mattress only): twin $3,799 • twin XL $4,199 • full $4,699 • queen $4,999 • king $6,599

Foundation sold separately.

For more information on the OrganicPedic™ Earth Collection or OrganicPedic™ products, click HERE.

Steal Your Health Back with Thieves Oil

Temperatures are falling, and we are at the advent of cold and flu season. If you are looking for a natural alternative to fight the flu, you should try a “thieves” essential oil blend.

During the Black Plague in medieval Europe, thieves would pickpocket the dead. It was an anomaly as to why those thieves were not falling ill. The thieves’ secret protector was a blend of essential oils they procured from Asian spice dealers. That is how this super-blend got its name.

I found the following recipe on Sophie Uliano’s blog.

Use a dark glass dropper bottle.

Make the blend by adding the following oils to to your dropper bottle. You can double the recipe if you want:

10 drops clove essential oil

9 drops lemon essential oil

5 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil

4 drops eucalyptus essential oil

3 drops rosemary essential oil

Please note that the essential oils should be high quality, pure and ideally organic. They won’t be effective if they are not.

How to use it:

As it’s strong, you add just one drop of your Thieves Blend to four drops of a carrier oil. You carrier oil can be any plant oil you have to hand: olive, sweet almond, grape seed etc.

Once diluted you can:

  • Apply a few drops to a Kleenex to sniff
  • Rub behind your ears and on your temples
  • Rub on your neck

You can use it every day, and especially when you sense or know you have been around germs!

Safety patch test:

I strongly advise that everyone do a simple patch test before using any new essential oil. Once you have created your blend, dilute as described above, then rub a few drops on your inner wrist or forearm, cover with a Band Aid, and leave for 12 hours. Then check for any redness or swelling. Most people will see nothing, but it’s prudent to check.

Pregnant women should avoid this blend.