Archive | March, 2013

Eco Easter Ideas

It seems like most things these days, making something yourself is the best way to avoid toxic nasties. Easter is no different and so I’m excited to share some DIY projects inspired by the Dilly Dally Kids display window (for DIY Easter decorating), egg dying, and Easter egg hunt ideas that minimize waste and traditional Easter junk.

Let’s start with the display window ideas that got me excited to write this article. When it comes to the wonderful world of Pinterest and DIY I try hard not to take on projects that just aren’t obtainable. So when I saw pictures of this feather garland made by Dilly Dally Kids – I knew I wanted to photograph it, write about it and try it. Owners Tyler and Claire hung feathers to twine with clothespins – don’t you love the effect? I even collected a  few feathers from the beach with the kids so that a memory and real feathers could be included in this decoration.

Also displayed by DDK (Dilly Dally Kids) store owners are beautiful paper mache eggs. And for parents looking to minimize or eliminate purchasing more plastic eggs this year to hold treasures, paper mache eggs would be a great addition to an egg hunt. I found an easy DIY tutorial for this using hodgepodge & tissue paper via Pinterest. Here is the inspiration from DDK’s window and look how beautiful the paper mache eggs look nestled in gorgeous nests made from willow branches and a sprinkle of feathers. Imagine a forest walk to collect all of these treasures?  This is so inspiring to discover and decorate with pieces of nature gathered to create unique Easter decor!

Can we talk about Easter morning and one easy, Eco way to reduce plastic crap? Get your kids moving and working for their Easter treasures! The hunt my kids have loved over the last few years didn’t include little trinkets in each egg for the kids; rather a clue to where the next egg could be found. And at the end of the hunt my kids would find one sustainable gift from the Easter Bunny. Last year the kids found fishing rods and I think this year it will be tennis rackets. Anything that promotes keeping them active and playing outdoors I’m all in favour for. For the younger crowd that still delight in discovering toys – check out these adorable wooden bunnies & chicks from DDK. This line of wooden toys is from Europe, each one handmade and painted. You could create a nest similar to the one featured above (in mini form) and arrange these little friends for your sweeties to find.

Now that my sons are a little older (ages 9 and 10) the Easter Bunny sends them all over the neighborhood Easter morning. Pictures taken from a camera or handwritten clues leading kids from egg to egg to a figure in a neighbor’s garden, traffic sign, unique fence/door/garden decoration in the neighborhood is really fun and awesome for the kids. They go running from clue to clue – not thinking about chocolate or candy. They are on the hunt and using their mind, body, and energy to uncover each clue. This is the part of Easter my kids talk about every year and I love it. For my younger kids, the Easter Bunny sets up their hunt in a forest trail. It keeps them safe from traffic and the eggs are scattered along the forest floor and they also lead the kids to a more sustainable Easter gift rather than lots of little trinkets.

My last Easter tip is for parents that have the traditional egg dying craft with kids. With my new found love of using beets to dye icing, play dough, and to eat – I find it easy to dye using vegetables from my fridge. But one drawback to organic colours is sometimes they are not as bright or exciting as artificial. If you are looking for a kit to give you more of a colour spectrum, but still keep the process natural – check out these great egg dying kits! Lucky locals to Vancouver still have lots of time to stop by Dilly Dally Kids on Commercial Drive to pickup thoughtful selections of chocolate, toys, egg dye kits and totally adorable Easter books!

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NYDA Lice Treatment

My family has experienced reoccurring head lice this school year and so I’ve become familiar with what works/doesn’t work with lice treatments. And when it happens for the first time, the temptation to run out and buy the strongest agent is almost overwhelming but it is not necessary or more effective. I haven’t played around with organic treatments such as smothering lice with mayonnaise overnight but I have attempted coconut oil and tea tree and in my opinion, these should be used more as preventative treatment or to sooth irritation from bites or scratching.

There is a treatment on the market that is not a neurotoxin and doesn’t contain pesticides like the over-the-counter shampoos and it’s called NYDA. Remember the 4 letter name because if you experience a lice outbreak and need to treat it quickly – this more natural (by no means organic) solution truly works. And one of my biggest concerns with lice treatments was dousing my children with strong chemicals. I was so thankful to have this information confirmed by my girlfriend who I trust and is also a pharmacist regarding the NYDA product. The high rates of lice this year might have to do with lice becoming resistant to pesticide treated shampoos – keep this in mind when your pharmacist give you the options for how to treat lice. NYDA will probably be the most expensive but because it’s not a pesticide or neurotoxic based treatment, but is super effective I highly recommend it! If you are treating 1 child (unless they have super long hair) one bottle will complete the two part process. I wonder if parents know there is a two-part process for getting rid of the lice. You need to repeat the process of lice treatment 9 days after the first treatment to ensure any missed nits haven’t hatched. Here are some steps that will help you treat lice one time with an effective solution.

Lice Removal:

– Purchase NYDA. Budget time in the evening to complete the process properly. This will take 1 hour for short hair up to 3 hours for long hair.

– Apply the NYDA treatment to dry hair. Make sure short hair is fully covered with spray. Longer hair, make sure upper half of hair is really wet with treatment. Leave spray in for 1 hour – cover with a shower cap.

– After 1 hour, remove shower cap and start sectioning hair. If there are live louse they will be coming to the surface of the hair because they are suffocating. Look for live lice and using a metal comb, start brushing small sections of hair to pick out nits and eggs.

– After hair has been combed and live lice (black in colour), eggs (whitish), and nits (white and super tiny, strong hold to hair) have been removed, cover hair with shower cap and let the child sleep with it overnight. In the morning wash hair with organic or regular shampoo because the oil is still thick on hair.

– Process needs to be repeated 9 days later. Use the same instructions as listed above.

It’s a good idea to put the NYDA in all your kid’s hair even siblings that don’t have nits or live lice to the naked eye. Because NYDA isn’t toxic it’s worth it to at least do the first treatment in all your kids, even those that you can’t see nits or lice by checking. I have four children and with our last round of lice I could only make out nits in 2 of my kid’s hair. I decided to apply the NYDA to all four of them and sure enough lice could be found in the other 2 children. The silicone agent in the NYDA starts suffocating the lice as soon as it’s applied, so they bubble up to the surface quickly. The other part of using NYDA I really appreciated was that it kills nits. It’s a very difficult process to make sure all the tiny little nits are removed from a big head of hair so during the 8 hours your child is sleeping, the NYDA penetrates the nits and kills them.

So I’m completely sold on using NYDA. For a family only treating one or two children, the cost isn’t too bad…but for a large family the cost is very high. Each bottle of NYDA is approx. $35 so double treatments for multiple kids starts adding up but avoiding pesticides always costs more so we are used to it. Another place for improvement would be if the NYDA kits contained metal lice combs rather than plastic. I would recommend buying a metal comb in addition to the NYDA kits. And lastly, it would be handy if each NYDA kit came with a plastic shower cap. You really need one for this treatment and regular readers will be surprised to hear me recommending purchasing anything plastic but you need it so purchase it separately if you don’t already own one. For an adult you could get away with wrapping your hair in plastic but I wouldn’t recommend this for children. The shower cap is a safer option if it slips during the night although caution is always required with younger children.

For someone that had never dealt with lice before, this has been a very eye opening experience. There is stigma surrounding lice. I have felt the judgement and I know my children have too. That has been disappointing. There is also the disappointment with how lice is handled in the schools because I’ve learned it’s been an on-going issue all year. I think a more pro-active approach needs to happen so that it’s not reoccurring. I write this article hoping that I’m saving parents time and money long term with only using one effective treatment rather than toxic shampoos that aren’t going to work as well. Dealing with lice isn’t the huge, disgusting ordeal I always thought it would be. It’s actually a fairly straight – forwards process, but it’s SUPER time consuming and for families with busy schedules it takes a toll with bedding washing, hair maintenance, and clothes.

Related Articles:

Natural Lice Prevention

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DIY Toothpaste & Oil Pulling

You know those moments in your life where you try something new and think “why haven’t I been doing this for years?” Well that’s going to happen after you try making your own toothpaste and oil pulling. There are lots of homemade toothpaste recipes on the Internet but recently I saw a post from Homestead Wannabes and the frothy finished result encouraged me to whip up a batch! It’s been slightly modified which you need to do in the essential oil world…it’s very difficult to source food grade essential oils which kept me back from making my own toothpaste for quite a while. I didn’t want to order expensive oils online when I didn’t know what the result would be.  But when I purchased organic vanilla for baking recently,  I noticed a peppermint flavor in the baking section with only two ingredients: organic sunflower oil and organic peppermint oil so I purchased a bottle to flavor my toothpaste. This recipe combined with oil pulling made my teeth feel very slippery and clean – much more than using traditional toothpaste or store bought organic brands.

Homemade Toothpaste Recipe modified from Homestead Wannabes:

Ingredients:

4 tsp Bronners liquid peppermint
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 tsp xylitol
1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavor

Directions:

Boil water and add 2 tablespoons into a blender. Add Bronners, coconut oil, xylitol, and peppermint flavour and blend until frothy (few minutes). Store in air tight container.

So there you have a very easy homemade toothpaste recipe. Kids will not mind the taste of this recipe and the cost savings is monster. I can’t tell you how happy I am to not purchase $6-7 organic toothpaste brands on a regular basis anymore. Why do I insist on organic toothpaste for the kids? Two years ago I pulled all fluoride from their dental routine. You can read why here.  And since it’s been two years I can address the issue parents and grandparents worry about the most with not giving kids fluoride – do we experience more cavities? We have seen a decrease in cavities so for our family – there is not a link with tooth wellness and fluoride for us. And if we got into a routine of flossing I think we could have near perfect success at our routine appointments.

Now I can talk about my own dental health. It’s not great because I didn’t have a cavity before starting to have kids in my late 20s. So for the past 10 years I really had a false sense that not going to the dentist I would be okay. Well that’s not the case..I have cavities and a root canal that need to be looked at. But before I re-book my appointment to talk to a dentist – I’m going to spend a few months trying restorative measures with my own teeth and oil pulling is something that really interests me. ** And I’d like to thank my friend Susan for posting oil pulling information to the Mommy Footprint Fan Page – it has been very encouraging!! **  Here are some benefits of oil pulling in my own words and I’ve also linked to a Dr. Mercola video that goes into more depth.

Oil pulling with sunflower or coconut oil changes the PH balance in your mouth and bacteria prefers an acid environment, therefore minimizing tooth decay..
Oil pulling with coconut oil seems to have the most health benefits and helps fight cavities and gingivitis – sunflower or sesame oil is also used for oil pulling but it increases your Omega-6 oils which isn’t needed.
Coconut oil also helps heart health, skin, and gut health.
Oil pulling limits germs that cause plaque accumulation and tooth decay before they spread through your bloodstream to the rest of your body.

How do you oil pull?  It makes me wish it was called oil swishing or something less mysterious than ‘pulling’ because it’s SO EASY!  And it’s not gross tasting either…a very easy process. You take a tablespoon (or less to start) of compressed, unrefined coconut oil and put it inside your mouth. I keep mine stored in my cheek until it melts. Then you start ‘pulling’ or swishing the liquid (combined with your saliva) through your mouth. I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned the floor while oil pulling (do anything that doesn’t require talking) for approx. 20 mins. I was worried about gagging on the oil but it was not an issue. It’s important not to swallow the oil  just keep swishing it around until you are ready to spit. When it’s sufficiently ‘pulled’ the oil will appear a milky white and should be spat into the toilet or garbage. I’m finding with using so many personal care recipes that contain coconut oil, my bathroom sink is getting plugged quite often so better not to cause further blockage by spitting in the sink.

Making your own toothpaste and oil pulling are two personal care products that really live up to the hype of DIY!  I will make another homemade toothpaste recipe that contains baking soda now that I have the main ingredients on hand and will post back. But the frothy recipe within this article is a fantastic introduction to DIY toothpaste because of the great taste! And that’s important when introducing to kids.  And I’m excited to see how long the frothy texture lasts so I can take a batch to my dentist. He totally supports all my requests to only x-ray if needed (not routinely), not to give the kids fluoride treatments, discussions on dental sealant and cavities. And when I mentioned that I’d be trying to make my own recipe he thought it was very cool!  Nothing like finding holistic support in the middle of a traditional pediatric dentist office that give me the support to feel like I’m making the right decisions with dental care for my kids.

To read all the articles on my journey to more holistic dental care for my family – check out:

Holistic Dentistry & Mercury

Holistic Dentistry & Greener Toothbrushes

Xylitol and Natural Dental Care

 

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