Archive for the 'Family tips' Category
At Aquasana, we know how summer is a great time to get away and travel to new places, so we decided to give you a top five list of some of our favorite places to get away to!
1. TEXAS HILL COUNTRY
The Texas Hill Country, located just west of Austin and north of San Antonio, is the next best thing to crossing the Atlantic. This area is colorful, lush, and unlike the rest of the state, is filled with big, beautiful green hills. Also, this region contains 22 wineries and buzzes with food and music festivals year round. You can also experience the great shopping experience offered at the Hill Country Galleria. Towns like Fredericksburg also offer a taste of Germany with biergartens and schnitzelhäuser. Why go to Europe when you can experience all the beauty right here in the Texas Hill Country?
2. PORTLAND, OR
In Portland, you can literally taste summer! Filled with top-ranked farmers’ markets, inventive cafes with fresh-caught fish, and plenty of cool summer drink spots, Portland landed a spot on our list. The wholesome cuisine will make you want to get active, too, because if you’re a foodie, you will be more than impressed by the array of vegan cafes and eco-hippie cooperatives. Drawn by the city’s artsy vibe, young chefs are breaking the mold and tapping into the local fisheries and artisanal farms. After your meal, rent a bicycle or check out hiking spots near waterfalls just outside town!
3. NASHVILLE, TN
When it starts heating up outside, so does the entertainment in Music City. In the summer, you can check out the numerous music festivals taking place around the city including the CMA Music Festival and Music City July 4th: Let Freedom Sing. Music aside, there’s plenty of activities for the entire family, because Nashville also has its own water parks and zoo! There’s no surprise that Nashville would make it on our list due to it being the live music capital of the USA, but it might surprise you that it’s also been named as one of the most affordable places to travel!
4. BAHIA HONDA KEY, FL
With its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and almost no development, Bahia Honda Key might be mistaken for a chic Brazilian Preserve! This 524 acre islet in the Lower Florida Keys between Key West and Marathon, is actually a state park. You can experience beautiful beaches, amazing snorkeling, and an astounding biodiversity. What’s even rarer here are the prices. Admission, snorkeling, and even a cabin rental for a night will cost you less than $160. There are plenty of fishing and picnic spots located throughout, and kayaks, bikes, and skates can be rented and enjoyed all over the islet.
When you think of Alaska, you might think of freezing temperatures and a great winter getaway. What most don’t realize is that the cheapest (and probably most enjoyable) time to make your getaway to Alaska is in the summer months! You can check out popular tourist spots such as the zoo or the many parks located throughout the region. Whether you come for a classic cruise, a trek across glaciers, dog-sledding, or caribou-spotting in Denali National Park, Anchorage is a great place for amazing photo-op views and a great way to cool off and beat that summer heat back home!
While you’re traveling this summer, make sure you stay hydrated. Tips how are available on our Dehydration blog. It’s best to keep that filtered water with you and stay cool on your travels this summer. For a great, portable glass bottle, check out aquasana.com!
We all have items we have stored away in the shed, garage or simply discarded in the yard somewhere. Now that Spring is upon us, now is the perfect time to find a new use for these items. Do some Spring cleaning and set aside items that can be used for planting instead of being hauled off to the landfill.
The following items make fabulous new homes for plants and flowers and can add an element of interest to your yard or front entry:
1. Plumbing fixtures
Sinks and bathtubs make great planters. Drainage is already accommodated for and the addition of some gravel in the bottom of the piece is all that is required to prepare the fixture for planting.
Old chairs, benches, vanities and dressers can be transformed to interesting yard art. Cut holes in the tops of chairs or vanities to hold recycled plastic pots. Make sure there is drainage beneath the planters. Coating the exposed surface with an eco-friendly sealant is recommended.
3. Plastic containers
Even though many plastic containers are recyclable, it can be fun to find new uses for things instead of just discarding them. Any plastic container including milk jugs, water bottles and storage containers can be used for plants and seed-starting. Clean the plastic container with soap and water and add drainage holes. The rest is up to your imagination. Try starting some seeds. It’s a super cost effective way to start herbs and veggies all year long.
4. Old dishes
Be it a favorite dish that has broken or a super interesting find at a flea market. Old dishes make beautiful containers for flowers and herbs. If drainage holes are not possible, line the bottom of the dish with gravel for drainage.
According to the EPA, more than 290 million scrap tires are generated each year. Fortunately, used tires make long-lasting, inexpensive raised beds.
Imagine all the garden design possibilities by using recycled and re-discovered items in your own home and yard. Enjoy!
As the holiday season quickly approaches it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the ever increasing demands on our time. Holiday entertaining, events, gift-giving and charitable activities easily add up to a hectic, stress-filled holiday season.
This holiday, get your game on. With a little planning and organization your holiday season can be all joy! Here are a few of our favorite tips and ideas for making the most of the next few weeks.
This weekend get a game plan for your Thanksgiving activities. If you are hosting a celebration, use this time to complete your shopping and prepare your home for the holiday. If possible, plan for make-ahead items to lighten the load on Thanksgiving Day.
Entertaining Ideas: Fill ice cube trays with Aquasana filtered water for delicious drinks. Add lemon slices to ice cube trays for a refreshing addition to water and ice tea or make a citrus mint flavored water to compliment your meal: Combine 3 sliced oranges and 10 mint leaves in one gallon of Aquasana filtered water. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.
While you are recovering from the holiday feast, make a list of all the holiday gift giving you would like to do. Most importantly, identify those gifts that need to be given before the holiday to teachers, coaches, colleagues and holiday gift exchanges. With a little planning you can tackle these all at once and have them ready to go when needed.
Gift Idea: Stock up on Aquasana glass water bottles this weekend. Fill an Aquasana reusable glass water bottle with a holiday treat such as, gourmet coffee, tea, trail mix or pet treats. Add a festive bow and gift tag. Voilà! You have a fabulous, eco-conscious gift that will be appreciated and enjoyed throughout the year.
The weekend after Thanksgiving is the perfect time to take a few moments to plan out the remainder of the year. You have six weekends before year end so make the most of them! Make a list of all your commitments and plans and organize your schedule for the next few weeks. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to make reservations and purchase tickets for dining and entertainment in December.
With a little planning you can roll effortlessly through the holiday season. Most importantly, stay hydrated, relax and remember….you can do this!
Time is running short on the holiday season. Are you done with your decorating and shopping? If not, here are some quick DIY ornaments and gifts you can make. They’re fun, they’re mostly quick, and you’ll appreciate them for years to come.
Have some fun DIY ornament and gift ideas? Tell us your favorite thing to make this time of year in the comments!
It’s that time of year again: carols, parties, gifts, familial guilt (for some of us), and the relentless pressure to buy, buy, buy. As much as I love this season, it can also be full of stress that can lessen joy and overshadow family time. Over the years I’ve discovered a few things that really help get me into the holiday spirit in a relaxing way.
Regardless of your religious affiliation, this is the perfect time of year to add a little something new and different to your living space. Whether it’s preparing for Christmas with a tree, wreaths, lights and stockings, breaking out the menorah and dreidels, pulling out last year’s Yule Log or just displaying some tasteful evergreen boughs, holly berries and snowflake ornaments in honor of winter itself, changing your surroundings will just make the season more merry in general. If time is an issue, just do a few additions, like a few scented candles and a nice bouquet of flowers on the table. The change of scenery will give your space and you a new, refreshing energy.
Cook or bake
If you have the time and the talent, baking is the way to go to really feel the jolly rolling in your veins. Besides the satisfaction you derive from creating something wonderful at this time of year, making your home smell amazing has a way of lifting your spirits despite the early darkness outside. Just try these little beauties: salted caramel-stuffed chocolate truffle cookies. Remember that the olfactory sense (smell) is possibly the one most powerfully associated with memory, so the warm aroma of crusty bread or chocolatey goodness can transport you to childhood or happier times in an instant. And the dishes can wait until tomorrow.
Of your time. Of your heart. Of your loose change to the Salvation Army pot at the local grocery store or a local charity. It needn’t be a tremendous out-pouring, it just needs to be sincere. Remember, if you are one of us who shoves relentlessly through December in search of perfect holiday gifts for loved ones, to let a harried mother cut in line, smile at over-worked and under-appreciated store employees, stop and give a few murmured words of thanks for small kindnesses. Feeling thankful and appreciative is one of the quickest ways I know of to feel warm inside.
Take a deep breath on this one because it’s not always easy or comfortable. This is, however, the perfect time of year to tally up in your head all the people who wronged you—perceived or real, on purpose or not—and make the conscious effort to let it go. It’s not for them, it’s for you.
Take some time to yourself. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but find five minutes a day or a weekend afternoon during which you can take a break from the hustle and just relax and be yourself. Such a break will recharge your system and give you the energy and calm center you need to make it to January.
What are your favorite things to do to get ready for the holidays? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments!
Have you ever left a piece of fruit on the counter for too long and it turned brown and mushy? What happened to that once vibrantly colored fruit to cause such a change? When food is exposed to oxygen from the air, the cells of the food go through a process called oxidation. This means that there is a chemical reaction on the surface of the fruit with oxygen in the air, which causes cell damage and appears as rot. When this metabolic process happens, the cells of the fruit give off byproducts called free radicals. It is this byproduct that causes food to turn brown or rot.
The same process happens within the human body. We all know that oxygen is a necessary part of living and for creating energy. However, when our cells use oxygen, they give off the same free radical byproduct and it is released into our body.
An antioxidant is a vitamin that cleans up these free radicals that are produced in both food and the human body. Have you noticed that fruit does not rot right away, but rather goes through a process every day? When all the antioxidants are used up, then the fruit begins to rot. In the human body, we manifest illnesses such as cancer when all of our antioxidants are used up.
What else can cause an increase in free radical formation in the body? Toxins. As we try to scrub toxins such as pesticides, chemicals, alcohol, cigarette smoke, fried foods, etc. from our environment, we form more and more free radicals. If we do not have enough antioxidants to compensate for these free radicals, we develop illness.
• Vitamin A and carotenoids – found in carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots (bright-colored fruits and vegetables!)
• Vitamin C – found in citrus fruits like oranges and limes, etc., green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes
• Vitamin E – found in nuts and seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and liver oil
• Selenium – found in fish and shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic
At the grocery store
When you shop for food, try to buy organic if possible and look for fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors to assure you get as many different antioxidants as possible.
Also, experts recommend you take extra supplementation, but be sure to contact your natural health professional to find out which one is right for you.
~Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C, Applied Kinesiologist
With all the hype lately about Kim Kardashian and her psoriasis, it’s becoming a hot topic. The paparazzi went a little haywire there for a couple weeks, trying to get pictures of her legs or arms and the red bumps and scales. This is what you get for being in the spotlight and broadcasting such intimate medical details, I guess, but such exploitation makes me feel sick.
Unlike some of the other skin conditions we’ve discussed on this blog, psoriasis is a chronic condition. Once identified and treated with medication and/or lifestyle changes, it can go into remission, but it’s a disorder people have to live with forever. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease, which means that some faulty wiring in a person’s immune systems puts skin cell production into overdrive. Dead cells don’t slough off the skin’s surface as fast as new cells are produced, and gather and become patches or rashes, and can become quite painful.
The good news: it’s not communicable. (Remember this if you try to call in sick to work with psoriasis!)
The bad news: most doctors agree that it’s hereditary. So by saying “it’s not communicable” does not mean you didn’t get it from SOMEone.
There are several different ways psoriasis afflicts people:
• Red, patchy skin covered in flaky white scales (most common) (Plaque)
• Very intense redness that covers large portions of skin (Erythrodermic)
• Small pink dots on the skin (Guttate)
• Skin redness in places where skin touches skin: groin, armpits and behind the knees, etc (Inverse)
• White blisters with red skin (Pustular)
In general, consult a doctor for any persistent rash or skin irritation, and you might suspect psoriasis if there’s a family history of it and you see flaky, scaly skin.
Most experts agree that the cause of psoriasis is simple genetics. It comes on sometime between the ages 15 and 35, showing up as a rash or red, flaky skin. An outbreak can appear because of a variety of factors:
• Inadequate sunlight
• Overexposure to sunlight (there’s just no winning, I guess)
• Excessive alcohol consumption
• Some kinds of medicine (see also “Your Prozac might be making you scratch”)
• Infections (bacterial or viral)
• Excessive dryness (both environmental—air—and physical—skin)
Treatments: the clinical and the wild
Sadly, there’s no getting rid of it; we just have to learn to cope and be as comfortable as possible. There are a wide variety of creams and ointments available that could help (cortisone is commonly used), pills and injections, and even phototherapy. If you feel like stress is one of your outbreak triggers, you might consider taking yoga or getting acupuncture to help you relax. Or lay back in a nice, soothing oatmeal bath (there are several brands out there for bath supplements you just sprinkle in).
There are a number of wild claims on the Internet about cures, but take them with a grain of salt and big fat suitcase of skepticism. Before embarking on any treatment, discuss it with a dermatologist you trust (not just your GP), and if you don’t like what she says, seek a second opinion.
Are there any horror stories out there about dealing with psoriasis? What treatments have you tried, and how did they work? Any advice on what to ask a dermatologist regarding treatments or research on cures? Let us know in the comments!
Unfortunately, studies and records show that eczema, particularly in babies and children, is becoming a more common and widespread problem. The good news is that it’s not always a life-long affliction for kids (they often outgrow it by 5 years old), but it’s still painful and frustrating to treat as a parent (and no picnic for your wee one, either).
Many cases remain of undetermined origin, but there are some environmental and genetic variables that can play a part:
• Skin too dry (dehydrated or not enough natural oils, excessive sweating)
• Exposure to physical allergens and irritants
• Plain old bad luck (genetics)
In babies and young children, eczema shows up initially as red or swollen—sometimes pebbly or rough—skin, especially in skin folds that tend to stay damp: armpits, behind the knees, and in the groin area. Sometimes there are blisters or raised red bumps, and sometimes the scratching and dryness can get so bad the skin cracks and leaves open sores. Fussy, irritable babies with tender skin who dislike bath time might have a problem with eczema.
Treatment invariably depends on the cause, which is not always obvious. Please consult your pediatrician or a dermatologist in order to get direction on the proper course of treatment.Your doctor will evaluate your kiddo, and ask a lot of questions about his or her environment. Why? If your child’s skin reacts to the laundry detergent you use, resolving the issue could be as simple as switching brands or going to a “free and clear” version. Children’s skin often responds to diet changes as well; removing things like dairy, nuts or soy can improve eczema symptoms a surprising amount. There are lotions and creams, acupuncture and other homeopathic treatments, and even UV light treatments. Here are the biggies:
• Filter your child’s bath water (I can personally attest that this does help, as I have adult eczema, and it helps me!)
• Change laundry detergent, and dress your wee babe in 100% cotton clothing to allow the skin to breathe
• Perform an allergy test and identify possible contact or internal allergens (we’re looking at you, cow’s milk!)
• Remove certain Big Allergens from your kid’s diet (or stop eating them yourself, if you’re breastfeeding): cow’s milk, soy, nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, and wheat
• Try keep your baby in a warm (not hot!), dry environment to minimize sweating (sorry, fellow Texans, you will fail this one)
• Try OTC hydrocortisone cream (though I’m not a huge fan of chemicals)
Those are just some of the remedies available. There are a lot of them out there on the web, but please be careful when trying them out! Always test first on yourself, and if there’s no reaction, a small part of your baby (with something handy to wipe/remove the solution if it’s not well received).
Does your child have eczema? What have you found works to help alleviate the symptoms? Share in the comments!
Oh, rashes. We’ve all encountered them in some form, mostly from an allergy or something we touch. Growing up on 10 acres of wooded land, I found myself adventuring outside to “explore” (usually poison ivy). I then got to explore the rash that would form on my skin, along with all the scratches I collected on my legs from stepping in briars, and all the itching that ensued. Rashes are a common skin condition that many children and adults experience and they are utterly annoying to deal with.
Rashes, also called dermatitis, are often caused by things that your skin touches (contact dermatitis) such as:
Cosmetics, soaps and detergents
- Jewelry (like all women, I’m allergic to fake gold)
- Dyes and other chemicals in clothing
- Poison ivy and poison oak
Common symptoms include:
Red rash or bumps
- Dry, red patches
- Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases
- Pain or tenderness
Irritant and allergic contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis fall into two categories: Irritant and allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis is more common and caused by repeated contact with a substance that – wait for it – irritates the skin! Bleach is a substance that can cause this after just one exposure, as it removes oil and protective barriers in the skin. Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by a reaction to substances (allergens). The resulting rash, and sometimes blisters, is your body’s response to the allergen. It can take several years to develop
an allergy, which will then last for life.
Most the time you have to ride out the rash, which is the most annoying part of developing a rash. After taking antibiotics, I developed a rash that lasted for two weeks and the only remedy that significantly soothed my itching was olive oil. Olive oil has healing and renewal properties and helps restore moisture to the skin. The only thing more annoying than having to apply this on my skin is the craving of bread that followed. Other self-help remedies include:
- Witch hazel
- Aloe Vera
- Calendula Essential Oil
- Baking Powder
- St. John’s Wort
- Wild Pansy
Prolonged scratching may increase the intensity of the itch and lead to Neurodermatitis, so it’s best to keep your skin as moisturized as possible. The chlorine that is in your shower water can exacerbate itching, as it strips your skin of its natural moisture. Installing a shower filter that removes chlorine, as well as other contaminants, is one of the best things you can do for persistently itchy skin.
When to see a doctor
Some rashes may require a visit to your dermatologist or family doctor. See your doctor if:
- You’re so uncomfortable that you’re losing sleep or daily routines are interrupted.
- Your skin is painful
- Your skin becomes infected
- Self-care has failed
- You feel the cause is job-related
We all know we should use sunscreen to help ward off the harmful rays of the sun. Sometimes there are so many choices, however, that it’s hard to know where to start. At the most basic level, there are lotions (the old stand-by) and the newer sprays and spray lotions. Do they do the same job? Do they both give the same amount of coverage and protection? There are lots of articles out there that go into the science of the debate, which I (not being qualified to) will not do here. But people tend to have a great deal to say about which sunscreen they like better (just ask—there are some pretty big opinions out there!).
For your skin, lotion might be the better way to go. To me, the sprays tend to lose at least 75% of their liquid to every chance wind that gusts up right when you hit the button. But sprays undeniably go on faster. But what’s in them? Lots of chemicals and questionable ingredients that may provoke a negative reaction. Not that lotion is any better—it’s goopy and white and “takes FOR-EVER, MOM” and is hardly attractive. So after sifting through several blog posts and discussion posts on forums about the issue, I have boiled it down to the major pros and cons for each (as told by others).
So which is better? I’d say that whatever works for you and your family is the better choice. And there are, as I mentioned before, lots of studies and reviews to help you choose:
And here’s a list of lotion-based, chemical and hormone-free sunscreens
In the end, whichever route you choose, there are a few rules of thumb when dealing with sun exposure:
- 1. Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes prior to sun exposure, to give the ingredients a chance to activate.
- 2. Cover every inch of exposed skin (I know lots of people who apply it naked before dressing, to avoid missing those little slices of skin at your clothing lines).
- 3. Reapply regularly (every 2-3 hours at most—more often if swimming or sweating profusely).
Other pro tips:
- Cover with lotion in the morning, then reapply with spray during the day (because it’s quicker).
- Remember to get the back of your neck, your ears, your hands and feet (even the soles, if you’re planning on lying on your tummy for any length of time), and very carefully under all the hems of your clothing.
- If you begin to feel over hot, or if your skin turns a markedly different color when you press your finger into it, get into the shade for a little bit and drink some water!
As much as possible, wear protective clothing to block as much sun as you can: hats, shirts, and loose clothing.
Which do you prefer? Spray or lotion? We had the discussion in the office, and everyone has an opinion and a reason! What are yours??