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Friday, June 1, 2012

Natural Sunburn Remedies

sun burn
Did you have too much fun in the sun this past weekend? Do you look like the proverbial lobster? Does your skin look like my youngest daughter’s back? The one who decided to forgo her rash guard while at the lake.?
When I was a kid we used to slather Noxzema on our sunburns. It did feel nice and cool but it it isn’t the best or most natural thing for your skin. So what do you do when your skin is a bit red?
  • Aloe Vera – I remember when I first discovered this wonderful salve. I was in the Bahamas on Spring Break some 25 years ago  and had fallen asleep on the beach. Ouch! My roommate and I found the aloe Vera gel next to the sunscreen. It was deliciously cool on my fried back of the knees (the one spot I had forgotten to put sunblock on).
  • Lavender Oil – one of my favorite burn remedies. For a serious cooking burn I apply it neat directly to the skin, but for a more widespread burn I like to put it in a spritz bottle with some water and put in the fridge. When you get a little too much sun, simply spritz and enjoy the soothing nature of lavender.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar  - This brings instant cooling relief to the afflicted skin. Spray on the skin or add to a bath
  • Cooling Bath -  Add any of the following to your bath water, lavender, chamomile, apple cider vinegar, baking soda.
  • Water – not on your skin, but in your body, drink it up. when you get a sun burn you end up being dehydrated and it is important to rehydrate your skin.
Do you have a favorite Sunburn Remedy?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Create a Summer Bucket List

Each summer my kids and I create a summer bucket list. This is our list of what we want to do.  We realize that we won’t be able to do everything on our list ever year, but it gives a starting off point for planning our Friday Family Field Trips.  I am always surprised at what my kids want to do each year. We dream big but keep in mind that we won’t be able to do everything on the list every year, but it gives us a plan. I am a planner have I mentioned that before?
On this year’s Summer Bucket List we have the following
  • Go to Lego World
  • Visit with Friends
  • Go to Woodward Park
  • Go to a minor league game in OKC
  • Learn French (Pi)
  • Get my front aerial (Peanut)
  • Read 100 books
  • Go to a big water park with a wave pool
  • Go to the Drive In Theater
  • Learn German (Peanut)
  • Try water skiing/wake boarding
  • Camp out 
  • Make our Own Ice Cream
  • Save up $25 (Pumpkin)
  • Tie Dye
  • Try Glue Batik
  • Go Berry Picking
  • Go swimming at the Creek – Blue Hole (50 degree spring feed creek/stream – best on days that are above 100 degrees)
Do you make a summer bucket list with your kids? What is on your Bucket List?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Problem with the Smell of Clean


What does clean smell like? Ask most people and they will tell you it smells like lemons, or spring rain, fresh air, or  clothes dried on the clothes line.  but many of these so called “scents”  are artificial fragrances Manufacturer’s of cleaning products know and understand this too. Why do you think they allude to these scents in their products and advertising?  Many cleaning products have added fragrance.  Many fragrances are made up of a complex cocktail of natural scents and synthetic chemicals, many of these are petrochemicals. Even many so called green cleaning products are not really all that green.
Why do manufactures add fragrance? Fragrance is a key component to cleaning products – as it is often what distinguishes one product from another, and what creates brand loyalty. Companies take great measures to ensure that the fragrance is experienced fully by the user. Our sense of smell is one of strongest and we associate memories with certain smells,  Chemists, manufacturers and product companies know this.  If something does not smell clean how will we know that it is clean? Once a upon a time ago my husband helped a friend with a cleaning business. They cleaned with vinegar but before leaving a place they would spray in the air a little bit of Pine Sol. . Yup it was just so that there was the ‘smell” of clean. They got more referrals and compliments when they sprayed the bathrooms for the smell. The clients thought if it smelled clean then it was truly clean. 
The scents added to cleaners do not enhance the cleaning ability of most cleaners. Quite the contrary many fragrances can cause more harm than good.   Among the chemicals that are used to produce fragrance are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions.  Also in the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans (Silva 2004) and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies (Swan 2008)
Currently the United States does not require manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in fragrances, including the fragrances in cleaners, as this is considered proprietary information.
What can you do if you want to avoid chemical  fragrances that can cause problems ranging from allergies to cancer? 

  • Make your Own Cleaners – personally if it is not safe enough to put use on  my body I will not use it in my house.
  • Check out EWG they will soon be coming out with a data base of Cleaners but for now they have a Hall of Shame List for Cleaners, check it out make sure none of yours are on here. Surprisingly some  so called “green” cleaners are on here.
  • Use Alternatives for Chlorine in Cleaning

For More Reading.
Dirty Secrets - What's hiding in Your Cleaning Products
Physicians for Social Responsibility
EWG  Cleaners Hall of Shame

Tell me do you have a favorite Cleaner you like to use? It is safe?

this post is linked up with Your Green Resource

Crock Pot BBQ Pork Tenderloin

Crockpot BBQ pork
This is such a great way to enjoy some Fix and Forget it BBQ, I happened to have a pork tenderloin but you could very easily use beef. My lovely pork tenderloin came from my meat share from Natural Farms.
  • pork tenderloin
  • allspice
  • cumin
  • 1-2 onions, sliced
  • molasses  1/4 cup
  • apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup
  • 1 can of tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • I prepared a dry rub for the pork made up of cumin (for a nice smokey flavor) and allspice. I feel that allspice is the perfect match for all pork.
  • Brown pork in a cast iron skillet
  • While the pork is browning begin to prepare the BBQ Sauce, it will cook in the crock pot right with the pork. To prepare BBQ Sauce combine in the crockpot
    • 1 can of tomatoes, diced
    • 1/4 cup of molasses
    • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
    • generous shake of cumin
    • genius shake of allspice
    • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • While meat is browning add the sliced onions to skillet and begin to sauté them.
  • When meat is browned on all sides remove from cast iron pan and add to crock pot.
  • Continue to sauté the onions till translucent, add 2 tsp. of molasses to the pan and 1 tbsp. of cider vinegar to the onions.
  • Add the onions to the crock pot.
  • Cook for about 4-6 hours or until meet is fork tender.
I served it with German Potato Salad ,Marinated Chick Peas and Corn on the Cob. Alternatively you can use Carolina Style BBQ Sauce

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day–We Remember

On Memorial Day we take time to remember, we remember those who fought for us but we also remember those who have gone before us. This year Memorial Day happens to fall on my Dad’s Birthday.
He was the first born in his family. His own Dad passed away when he was just 14. At the age of 16 my father dropped out of school to help support his mother, brother and two younger sisters. He was making a good wage in construction at the time thanks to a nice Hurricane over the summer.
He was a hard working man, a man who would become the 2nd hand man to several business owners, running their daily operations. Without the benefit of a college or even a high school degree.  He later went on to build his own successful business and his dream home.
Even though he was busy building a house, working for other, and then building his own business he always made time for family. Whether it was his nieces and nephews or his own baby who needed him, he made time for Brownie Fly-ups, soccer games, dance recitals, and Boy Scout Trips. He never missed an important event. He was often there to help, whether drive the bus on a boys scout trip or lay sod for the High School Soccer field (even when none of his kids were playing for them.)  As much as he loved his kids, it is possible he loved his grandchildren even more.
In August of  2007 my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer, he had a particularly aggressive form. Yet what what was still most important to him was spending time with his family.
Disney trip
Dad, Pop, we will miss you.and light a candle for you on this Memorial Day – Birthday.

Friday, May 25, 2012

7 Quick Takes–Summer Time

Did you know that priests and seminarians have to provide their own transportation? Rosario’s brother is a seminarian in need of a car, and like a good sister Rosario is doing what she can to help. Last year we helped out Marise who wanted to be a nun. (She needed to pay off her college debt before entering the noviate. Vocations are diminishing in part perhaps because young men and women must be debt free to enter. If you are so inclined to help out visit Rosario’s site here.

Peanut went for fittings this week for cheer team. It still has not sunk in that I am the mother of a bona fide Cheerleader. Not just any cheerleader but a Oklahoma Cheerleader. This is serious business here in Oklahoma, right up with beauty pageants.l
Speaking of Pageants, Peanut who likes to compete in every sport under the sun has decided that she wants to add the competitive sport of pageants to the list. And believe it or not Daddy has said yes. It is a local pageant put on by the Chamber of Commerce. Daddy even said yes to the dress. We found it on deep discount. it was more than I wanted to pay. My budget was for $20,  but Deacon G convinced Peanut to pony up the difference. She is eager and motivated to do this pageant.  Why do I do these things? Quite frankly we are hoping to get this out of her system. As little girls she and her sister liked to play dress up, we used to keep a bin of dress up clothes. When I asked her why she wanted to do a pageant, she gave a very appropriate response of she wanted to dress up and maybe win a crown. I am very comfortable with her doing the pageant because we have opted to go classic with her other other outfit and did not spend more than $5 on that one. She looks happy in the dress doesn’t she? Did you ever participate in any sort of pageant? I never did but I had friends who did.
katie dress
We have been enjoying a little down time here. Our summer started last Friday and we are taking it easy till June. By taking it easy I mean we have enjoyed trips to the library, chess club,  vocal coaching, dance classes and committee meetings for Catholic Charities. I know not so much down town, but we have been enjoying sleeping in.
I forgot how much teenagers love/need to sleep in. Something about their physiology changes and they all of the sudden need more sleep than babies, and their sleep cycles change so that they need their sleep in the morning not at night. Our teenager is happy to go to bed at 9pm and will sleep in to 9-10am (secretly I think she is staying up reading books). Our little Peanut will soon be 12 and she is going through a growth spurt, eating and sleeping all the time. We are quite happy that she is finally growing. She has always been our petite one. When she was in 4th grade she could still wear clothes she wore in kindergarten. Just this week we measured her and she is now 5’2”. I literally was worried because she was running smaller than me at that age. I know we moms worry about things needlessly.
Pumpkin and I have been enjoying morning hikes picking blackberries along the way. We have wild blackberries growing along our fences here.. Somehow the black berries never seem to make it back to the house.  We can hardly wait for the pears though.
Growing up Memorial Day weekend was the kick off to summer. My grandparents lived next door to us and they had a pool which they would open on that weekend. No matter how cold it was we always took advantage of the pool. As kids we did not care, water was water to us. I could never understand why the grown ups did not swim with us. Now I understand completely. I will not go swimming unless it is over 90 degrees outside. (I know I have lived in Oklahoma too long.)
Not only did my grandparents open the pool we often did so with a big Memorial Day Party. You see my Dad’s birthday was May 28th. This always seems to fall on Memorial Day weekend. We would have the proverbial “cook out”. I think my favorite food was the marinated shaved steak, and my grandmother’s clam chowder, this was in Rhode Island after all.
Do you have a favorite Memorial Day Tradition or Favorite Memorial Day Food?

for more 7 Quick Takes check out Conversion Diary

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Surviving Summer with Young Teens


Last year I wrote about surviving summer with kids. I love summer and look forward to it every year. I love all the extra things we can do since we don’t have school. Now that the kids are getting older but that doesn’t mean that summer fun or learning is over. If your teens are not quite old enough to enjoy the benefits of having a “real’ job there is still a lot they can do.  Young teens and pre-teens still like to have fun, and are not necessarily ready to stay home on their own all day with nothing to do.  They also benefit from sticking to a schedule. You don’t want them to sleep the day away do you?
So what can you do with Young Teens this summer?
  • Free Movie Days at the Library or local Movie Theaters – kids this age still enjoy going to cartoons. Check to see if your local theaters have a free or low cost movie series in the summer.

  • The Neighborhood Pool or Community Pool- What kid does not enjoy going to the pool. By the time kids are 11 –14 they are probably not taking swim lessons anymore, but would enjoy going to the pool.. For us the pool has the added benefit of having life guards, something our lakes do not have here in Oklahoma.
  • Host a Get Together at Your House  - Believe me you don’t need much to make this age group happy, some water and some fun, a pool is not necessary though it helps, but hey then you have to play life guard. A tarp some water balloons and some squirt guns are all you need. Through in some popsicles and everyone is happy.
summer 2010 034
  • Host a sleepover – My kids are always asking to have friends sleep over during the school year. No need to have a birthday party just ask each of the kids to bring a snack and a movie to share, or better yet have the sleep out in the back yard, your tent probably does not get enough use anyway.
  • Set up a small tent as a getaway for your young teen – This was one of my favorite retreats when I was a kid. My parents bought me a cheap pup tent and helped me to set it up in our back “woods” (still in view of the house) I would spend hours out in the tent. Whenever my mother sent us outside to play this is where you would find me when that summer I was 11.
  • Start a Business – many young teens can’t wait to earn money, they are the perfect age to start a lawn mowing business, dog walker, babysitter or a creative business.
  • Have a Photography Scavenger Hunt – do this as a group event or even share it on Facebook for friends who can not attend.  For those teens who are old enough to be on Facebook.
  • Make Your Own Ice Cream – you can use the Ziploc baggie method or any variety of ice cream makers
  • Have A Tie Dye Party – recycle those stained t-shirts by tie dying them.
  • Job Shadow Someone -  Find someone who has a career you would like to try on for a day. Ask them if you can shadow them for day.
  • Go to the Park or Playground yes, even big kids like the playground. Try a new one for a change of pace. One of our favorites doesn’t even have “playground equipment’ instead it has rock formations. All of my kids 8-14 love to scamper all over it.
  • Go Explore the City Around You –Head Downtown or to other areas of your town or city you have not been to before.
  • Let them Stay Up All Night – No not every night but just once. perhaps on the Summer Solstice. They love the idea of staying up all night at this age. They will soon learn that it is not as glamorous as it sounds.
  • Volunteer – There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for even young kids. Our local food  bank accepts families as volunteers.
  • Go Stargazing  - Locate a local astronomy group and see if you can meet up with them. Some amateur astronomer clubs have amazing telescopes and they just might let you use them.
  • Go to a Water Park -  Now that the kids are older I can actually enjoy going to a water park with the kids and they are old enough to enjoy it too.

  • Go to a Minor League Baseball Game – These can be quite economical. Our local team has $2 Tuesdays. Any home game on a Tuesday is only $2 with $2 concession stand items. A family (of 5)  outing for under $20 including food? Better yet some minor league teams have free tickets for different groups on special nights, scouts, little league teams.
  • Go for a Hike – Hikes can be had anywhere, our favorites are around our property but growing up we used to go out for “hikes” in the adjacent woods. For older kids a longer hike can be enjoyed.
  • Learn a New Skill -  older kids can still learn new things, like crocheting or knitting or sewing.
  • Work on a Scrapbook/Photo Album – This past year I turned over the scrap booking efforts to my children. Yes you read that right. I have given them their pictures and mementos to scrapbook themselves.

What are your ideas for surviving Summer with Young Teens? Add them in the comments below.

For more ideas on surviving summer with kids of all ages and a simple summer schedule check out this post.


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