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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why do I need to Know Where My Honey is Coming From?


For my honey is a kitchen staple. I use it every day in my tea, when I bake it is my sweetener of choice. I use it when we have colds or allergies. I use it to wash my face.  I do my best to buy local honey, but this year our recent drought and heat wave mean that there is no local honey. In fact our local beekeepers may have to supplement the bees with food this year. So I am having to buy my honey at the store.
Have you heard the recent news? If not check your honey. Food Safety News recently reported that Asian Honey  was  Found to be Tainted. Now this is a problem because one third of all honey sold in the United States comes from China.
Experts interviewed by Food Safety News say some of the largest and most long-established U.S. honey packers are knowingly buying mislabeled, transshipped or possibly altered honey so they can sell it cheaper than those companies who demand safety, quality and rigorously inspected honey.  It is not enough to check your labels, for honey from China,  as some of the tainted honey has come to us through India, Vietnam and Malaysia It has been repackaged so that the labels have the new country of origin.   How do investigators know this?  India is shipping more honey than it can produce. Sometimes they don’t even bother to change the barrel. They simply change the label on the barrel  That is a little sneaky, but not as sneaky as the fact that 1/3 of all honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China, through another country. Well once I stopped laughing picturing honey smugglers, think little bears, I wondered why this was so horrible.  Well what if I told you that this honey is thought to be contaminated with antibiotics and heavy metals.
It seems that the animal antibiotics were used in the early 2000s to thwart a bacterial epidemic that was killing tens of millions of bees. The FDA has banned the presence of the drug in food; even in small amounts, because it can cause a severe or fatal reaction in about 1 out of 30,000 people.  The lead contamination has been traced back to the thousands of small beekeeping operations in China that use unlined, lead-soldered drums to collect and store honey before transferring it to processors. Seems to me that China has a history of lead contamination in its food.
Interestingly enough Food safety investigators from the European Union have banned all of honey from India because of the presence of lead and illegal animal antibiotics.  Supposedly, any food that has been banned in another country can not legally be imported into the U.S.  I guess honey is not a food?
If all that is not shocking researchers have discovered that some of the honey being imported isn’t even honey at all.  Chinese brokers mix sugar, water,  jaggery, barley malt sweetener or other additives with a bit of actual honey.  Recently many honey shippers don’t even use honey. They just  use thickened, colored, natural or chemical sweeteners labeled as honey. Seriously?!
Now the real problem is that the United States 65 percent of honey sold in the U.S. goes into processed and packaged food.   Not surprisingly, there are 12 major US honey packers. It is estimated that 4-5 of these producers are bottling honey from Asia.  As with most US food the market is controlled by a limited number of producers.
I love my honey in my morning tea, and when I do bake sweets honey is my choice for sweetener. But recently while shopping I found a bottle of “honey”. That did not have any honey it it.  So what can we do? Buy your honey locally if you can. If you are in the Rhode Island area check out my good friend at South County Honey.  Unfortunately, for me my two favorite local small producers do not have a honey crop this fall, another side effect of a drought.  But I have found some  other local producers, and I have discovered that if you must buy honey in the grocery store the honey from Canada and countries in Latin America are still considered safe for honey production.  As for me I am off to read more labels, buy less processed food and make more Real Food for my family.

this post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday, Living Well Blog Hop, Fresh Feed Friday, Fight Back Friday at The Food Renegade,Traditional Tuesday

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this post is linked to Simple Lives ThursdayLiving Well Blog HopFresh Feed FridayFight Back Friday at The Food Renegade

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Wake me up When September Comes


Not just the tittle of one of my favorite songs. Happy Fall everyone. September is my favorite month. Not just because my birthday is in September either. September was not only back to school for me as a kid. It was a time of new beginnings. Like another New Year.
So just in case you missed them, here are some of the favorite posts around here.  As voted by the readers.
Drum Roll Please:
How Do YOU Shampoo?
Our Journey to Real Food
Does it Matter How You Dress for Church?
How To Raise Great Kids Through Lazy Parenting
How My Kids Make Lunch

And I would like to share with you a couple  of my favorite posts.
The Patron Saint of Messy Kitchens
Teaching our Children Kindness

What was your favorite post?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

We started back to school earlier this month, and now it is time for activities to start.  Today we were off to Ballet and Soccer.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Avoiding Triclosan–or is this toothpaste bad for me?

photo credit
Just yesterday my dh yelled from the bathroom. “ Does this tooth paste have the stuff you wrote about the other day?” When he showed me the package I realized that yes it did have triclosan.  It seems that even in a green home we can find ourselves with less than desirable products. The more we learn about living green the more we can decide where to make our choices. For me avoiding toxins is very important. We have a strong history of cancer on both sides of the family. I am hoping that by avoiding toxins as much as we can possibly and eating as healthily as we can we can give ourselves and our children a fighting chance against our genetic dispositions.
 So How do We Avoid Tricolsan?
Choose bar soaps — triclosan was found in 76 per cent of liquid soaps and only 29 per cent of bar soaps in the U.S. (American Journal of Infection Control, 2002). I actually prefer bar soaps. Be sure to use a soap dish that allows the soap to drain and dry. 
When shopping for products look for and avoid the words Microban. Microban is  a formulation that uses triclosan and it has been added to products such as cutting boards, and diaper bags.
Check your toothpaste, most do not have triclosan in them but Total formula’s do, i.e. Colgate Total.
Avoid dish soaps that are antibacterial. The antibacterial aspect is not necessary and it may harm you in the long run.
Check your deodorant. Some use triclosan to kill the bacteria that cause the smell.  Even many natural brands, such as Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant contain triclosan.
Check out the Environmental Working Group to find out what’s in your cosmetic products.
Read your labels, many common everyday household products contain triclosan. Sometimes triclosan is not listed as an active ingredient, it is added to increase shelf life. If the product advertises itself as antibacterial it probably has triclosan in it.
I did some searching to see if I could come up with some brands that specifically do not contain triclosan. I wanted to make shopping easier for me and you.  I found a few brands that do not contain triclosan
According to The Daily Green  there are a few brands that don't contain triclosan. I was pleasantly surprised to see brands that are readily available. Like Toms of Maine, Ivory, Listerine, and Purell and one of my favorite all around products. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.
Avoiding triclosan and other undesirable chemicals is not as daunting as it sounds. Stick to basic products that are designed to be simple. Remember that old adage about food? “if you can’t pronounce the ingredients you should not eat it? The same holds true for using a product on your body or in your home.”
I  like to keep things easy and not try to remember too many things. But for those of you who like more information I am including links to products that do NOT contain triclosan as well as to products that DO contain triclosan.
Some brands that DO contain triclosan can be found over at Grinning Planet.
For a more comprehensive list of products that do NOT contain triclosan head on over to The Daily Green

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Teaching our Children Chastity

This post is part of a series on the Seven Virtues.
Practicing the seven  virtues is considered to protect one against temptation from the seven deadly sins,
The seven virtues are Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility.

As I delved into this subject, I quickly became aware of how deep it is. This virtue alone has had tomes written on in it. For this reason, I am going to try to present a concise post on this, but I am already working on additional posts related to this.
What is Chastity?

Chastity is akin to Purity, they are almost synonymous. In fact the words “chaste and “chastity” come from the Latin word castus meaning “pure”.
Before we can teach our children about chastity we must first understand what it means ourselves. The words "chaste" and "chastity" come m from the Latin adjective castus meaning "pure". Historically chastity has been defined as abstaining from sexual conduct according to one's state in life; the practice of courtly love and romantic friendship. Cleanliness through cultivated good health and hygiene, and maintained by refraining from intoxicants. To be honest with oneself, one's family, one's friends, and to all of humanity. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought-through education and betterment. The ability to refrain from being distracted and influenced by hostility, temptation or corruption.
When you ask a person today what chastity means they most often think of chastity belts and sexual abstinence, and specifically sexual abstinence before marriage. Chastity in a marriage means complete fidelity to a husband and wife. The word chastity has become synomous with and is often used interchangeably with sexual abstinence.  But as you can see the definition encompasses so much more.  It refers not only to remaining sexually pure but also pure in thought and body. 
In the Catholic Church  chastity as a virtue  is the remedy to the deadly sin of lust.
Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means complete fidelity to husband or wife during marriage.
image credit
Teaching Our Children About Chastity

When do we begin to teach our children about chastity? If you break down the above definition then we can begin as soon as they are walking and talking.  Since chastity is also defined as cleanliness through cultivated good health and hygiene, and maintained by refraining from intoxicants.  We can teach our children that their bodies are a temple of the Lord and as such should be maintained pure. We maintain this purity by not putting bad things in our body, no unfit food processed frankenfoods,  we bath regularly, we practice healthy habits.
 Chastity encompasses Moral Wholesomeness, How do we embrace moral wholesomeness? First of all what does that really mean? It means knowing right from wrong and promoting a healthy mind and spirit.  In other words, keeping yourself pure in thought and deed. We keep ourselves and our children pure in thought by not exposing them or ourselves to media that would tempt us into impure behavior.   For some people avoiding temptation means avoiding certain magazines, TV shows and movies. Much of our modern media promotes a life style that is not wholesome. Look at magazines in the checkout stand if you don’t believe me. Rag mags as my mother used to call them, glamourize the Hollywood lifestyle. Think to yourself would you want your daughter/son to dress like that to go to church?
Much of remaining chaste involved avoiding temptation. What does this mean? It depends on the person. Some people are easily tempted. As my husband says all it takes for some men is to see a woman even is she is dressed in a khaki skirt with a simple t-shirt on. Males are visual creatures Even if a woman is dressed modestly a male must keep their thoughts pure. Discussing this with my husband he said that a woman could be dressed like Queen Victoria and a man would still ponder the possibilities. Modest dress is only part of chastity, so many will put the burden more heavily on the woman or girl to dress modestly, but the young man must take care to guard his thoughts.
How does this relate to young children? When our children are young we can teach them how to take care of their bodies with proper nutrition and exercise. Additionally I think it is important to teach them how to dress from the beginning. This can be done gently and matter of factly. You teach them the appropriateness of dress for an occasion. That underclothes are not to be worn as outer clothes. You teach them to have respect for all people. You teach them manners. You teach them to respect and love their own bodies. Yes, God gave them this body, so in God’s eyes their body is beautiful and they need to treat it themselves with respect. If they respect themselves, then others will too. Don’t teach them chastity through shame. Negative teaching methods don’t work and often backfire.
Contrary to what some my believe today, chastity is not just for young ladies. Some may put the responsibility squarely on a young lady’s shoulders. If she would only dress more modestly. But chastity is a two way street. We must teach our young boys and men to respect women of all ages, and treat them as individuals, not as sexual objects.  Since chastity involves more than physical sex and involves keeping our thoughts pure it is important to teach our children about the beauty of pure love.

As your child grows it is important to reinforce what you taught them when they were younger. That they are important, Reinforce the lessons in dress. Remind them that men and women are different and teach them to respect that difference.  Explain that sex is something that happens between married couples as an expression of love.
As your child enters into the teenage years, the lessons in chastity should already be deeply ingrained. But if not, don’t fear. You can help them to remain chaste. How is this? My parents gave me the perfect out for anything I did not want to do when I was young. I could simply say “My parents won’t let me”or “My parents would kill me if I did that” They took the heat for me, and took the peer pressure off.

It may be hard for teenagers to avoid temptation if they put themselves in certain situations. Being alone with the opposite sex can very easily become one of those. Add alcohol to that and you add fuel to the fire. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and allows our more basic instincts to take over, instead of our reasoning minds.  “Dating” one on one is best delayed until after 16 or older. Our reasoning for this is that at age 16 many teens can drive themselves. They can meet for dates. Better yet is to arrange group outings of teens that involve an activity, so they can get to know each other. And it goes without saying that going to parties or occasions where alcohol is available should be avoided.

Chastity is more than abstaining from sexual relations before marriage. In Benedictine spirituality, chastity is defined as having a “right relationship” with people in consideration of God, others, and self. In other words, it is how you love God, others, and yourself.  Love is a powerful and often misinterpreted word. It can be used to deceive or it can unite.  Chaste love is pure love, it is love for the sake of love. Chastity is about a relationship of love and respect.

OCD or just Neat and Organized.

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love

My husband says I have OCD tendencies. He says this because I like my towels folded a certain way in the linen closet, because I have my cupboards and pantry organized by categories and items. I have a baking cupboard, I have a canned goods cupboard, with food organized by item. Beans in one row, tomatoes in another. Jams in one, soups in another. YouIMG_4429 get the idea.
I like my closets neat and orderly. Everthing has a home and a place, and it makes sense, at least to me. It makes my life easier. I now instantly by opening a cupboard what I need when I go grocery shopping. This alleviates stress for me. I hate grocery shopping. I am not very good at meal planning, nor am I consistent at it. So how does someone like me who eats Real Food manage? I have a basic list. I replenish my pantry on a regular basis. I simply look to see what is empty, after checking the list on the white board in the kitchen.  My husband grew up in a house where appearances matter, but what things looked like in closets did not. It was a if the door is closed no one will see it, so it does not matter.
In my world I like things neat and orderly. However having children has gotten me off track. Funny how that happens. It took my highly structured tendencies and relaxed them. So if anything after being a mother for 13 plus years I am more laid back then I was before, or am I really? Maybe I have been bottling up my tendencies all this time, just a couple of days ago I went in my son’s room (age 7) and reorganzied and sorted through his toys, storing some of them.

editors note- for some reason I already had this picture, the top shelf is not organized because it is over flow. That is because, I can’t reach the top shelf without a stool.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

7 Quick Takes

I get very antsy when I don’t have a car. My car is in the shop today. I took it by the mechanic yesterday, it it originally looked like an easy job, that dh could do. But he is super busy this weekend. So he had me buy the parts to take the car back to the mechanic. Well my car started acting up. So I had it towed to our mechanic, but only after some dramatic moments on the highway. Now I am waiting to hear from dh or the mechanic, that the car is ready. All this would not be a big deal if I did not live in the middle of no where. Okay I don’t really live in the middle of no where, but the school bus will not stop near our house, since our drive way is on the highway. Now I am worried about my kiddos having to cut through the neighbor’s pasture and dodge horse poop while crossing the creek to our posture. Don’t worry the creek is down due to our recent drought. But in this heat I don’t like them to ride the bus, they will be bedraggled hot, and thirsty by the time they get off the bus, never mind walk another 1/2 mile through pastures.  I pray my car will be ready by 2pm so I can get it and my babies.
It is Hurricane Irene Time. My family up and down the East Coast is preparing for the impact. My brother in NC has gone to his mother in law’s house, near the shore, to secure everything there. She is safely at his house 2 hours inland. My mother, in Rhode Island is worried about her God Son’s birthday. The storm is scheduled to hit them on that day.  My niece in Philadelphia (age 4), is  balanced on  her stool in a prefect crouch singing "...surfing in a hurricane” I guess she has been listening to her Daddy’s music.
Jimmy Buffet–Surfing in a Hurricane
Last Friday Deacon G did his first house blessing, other than ours. We went to our good friend’s house where he blessed the house, their pets, and cars. Did you know that a house one of the first steps in a house blessing is the same as the prayer for exorcism?  If you are wondering why the kids are wearing bathing suits, it is because we went swimming after the blessings.
house blessingkids pool-1
This weekend saw another first for Deacon G. He had his official first Sunday mass as a Deacon at his new assignment. He has been assigned to the Cathedral and to the Chancery (the Diocese main office) for the Office of Divine Worship. If you are like me you may be wondering what Devine Worship is? Basically it means he helps to coordinate all the big events, masses, holy days, ordinations, confirmations and solemn vespers, that the Bishop officiates. I am probably leaving out some. His main job is to make sure the event runs smoothly and if it does not go smoothly that none of the attendees notice. You could say he is a liturgical event planner.
After mass at the Cathedral we went out to eat, and to explore the town. I had heard about an art show on the river so we headed down there.  Perhaps because of the heat there was not many vendors. However, I noticed that my children all ended up with the same color on and the setting was just beautiful. So I took out my camera. This is what happens when you tell your kids to move in the pictures.

I think I may have gotten one good pic out of 70, but it was pretty funny looking through them.
I am getting ready with my son put some of his toys in storage. He is not quite ready to get rid of them yet, and he does have a spare storage closet in his room. I plan to keep out his 4 favorite categories of toys, blocks, trains, cars, and Legos.

It is hard to believe that next weekend is Labor Day Weekend. Since we have been back in school for over 2 weeks it does not make sense to me. For many Labor Day weekend is the official end of summer. I think we will be going by the weather. If our highs continue to be in the 90’s then we will be continuing our summer time activities, especially since we did not get to enjoy or 100 degree days in July. I am sort of looking forward to a warmish September. In fact we have planned family time for Labor Day weekend. Starting with a trip to the ball park for a game and then who knows what? One last free weekend for us before soccer starts.
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this post is linked up with Conversion Diary

Preparing for Emergency Disasters

This post is being sponsored by Hurricane Irene (not really but it was inspired by Hurricane Irene).

It seems like this year has brought it fair share of extreme weather this year. In our area we had a bonafide blizzard. Followed by a second snow storm. Then the temperatures dropped to the lowest they have ever been here.  This spring saw strong storms with tornados that ravaged parts of Oklahoma and of course Springfield MO. This summer we had grass fires that caused the evacuation of whole towns.  Now we have a category 3 hurricane, Irene, headed for a collision course with the North East. Of course, there is plenty of time for the hurricane to change its course, and they often do, but it is better to be prepared than not be.
So how do you prepare for weather events that are forecast or disasters, ones that just happen, like the grass fires? It helps to have a plan in place with your family before disaster strikes. Though it seems like everyone in Oklahoma know about the impending blizzard we had been out of town the weekend prior, when we left it was 70, in January. It had been a mild week, all week long. When we came back to Oklahoma was the first we heard of the impending storm, was I worried? No, not really. You see, one of the tenants of being prepared it to be prepared at all times.  I keep a stocked pantry here at my house, I had ordered more firewood to be delivered while I was out of town.  Now because I was prepared all I did need to go get was some milk ironically. We were out. (and bird seed for the birds). So what does a stocked pantry look like?

So what do you need to do to prepare for a weather related disaster?
Water water
Water is absolutely necessary. You need to keep some available in your house. It is recommended that you have 1 gallon a day per person for at least 3 days. This is important should you lose power. In many parts of the country if you lose power you lose your access to water. We are lucky in that we have a cistern and a pond. But in order to ascertain that the water is safe we keep iodine tablets on hand. Another option is to do what my mother always did  during a hurricane. Fill the bathtub. We grew up with a well, but  losing power meant losing our pump. While had access to an open well it was a laborious task, So my mother would fill the bathtub and any water jugs and buckets she could get her hands on. If the water was non-potable she would use it to flush toilets.

Food IMG_7534
We personally keep about a months worth of food on hand at our house. I have built up my stores slowly and deliberately. Now we might get tired of eating the same thing after a month but we could make do with the food we have on hand.  Now I realize that if the power goes out some people may lose the food in their freezers, for this reason I have dried and canned beans as well as some cans of meat. I keep broth on hand as well as make my own. We have plenty of grains, flour and yeast to make bread.   It is important that you have a manual can opener. When the power goes out you will need it. We also keep some box milk on hand for such emergencies. Believe it or not it is aseptically packaged and keeps very well. I find mine at, of all places The Dollar Store. This milk comes in handy when you run out unexpectantly too. Keep in mind that in certain types of natural disasters, the grocery stores will be decimated. During our recent blizzard, the stores were hit hard the weekend before. That Monday, the stores did their best to restock, but after the blizzard the highways were near impassable for several days and the delivery trucks could not get through. Even if we had gone to the store there was nothing to buy.
Fuel – Not only do you need food for everyone in your family you need a way to cook your food. If you have an electric stove what will you do? I am lucky, we have options, I have a gas stove, a grill, a wood fireplace, and a camp stove. But I must remember to have fuel for all of these. I need to make sure my propane tanks are full. All of the gas stoves use a different type of gas tank. I need to make sure I have firewood. While we are talking about fuel, don’t forget to fill your gas tank. If the power goes out, gas stations can’t pump gas. I personally will take this time to fill one of my gas cans too.  It can always be used in the lawnmower or the chainsaw, which you may very well need.

Cash In a situation where the electricity gfreebies2deals-saving-moneyoes out, you won’t be able to use credit or debit cards. If a store can even open all that they will be able to accept is cash. Today a friend wrote me that the last time a hurricane went through her area she was with out power for 9 days. About three years ago an ice storm crippled the state of Oklahoma and many people where without power for more than 10 days. Electric companies had to go house to house at one point as they restored power. The point is if you lose power, so does the bank in a major weather storm. So how do you get cash?  Some people will go withdraw cash before the storm arrives. My mother was a good one for hiding cash in the house. Not a lot but enough to get through a long weekend if need be. (When I was growing up there were no such things as atm’s). I like to accrue my emergency cash. I will add my ones to my bank bag each week when I clean out my wallet. Any cash left over in my wallet at the end of the week will go to my emergency cash stores. This does not impact my budget. I leave that money in there to have on hand, should an emergency arrive.
Family One important step that is overlooked is discussing with the family what to do and what will happen. Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, they don’t need to know all the details, But children often more secure when they know what is going on and what to expect.  Each disaster has its own contingencies and it is important to know that not one plan fits all cases.  Winter weather, such as blizzards and ice storms, need a different plan than tornadoes or floods.  It is recommended that you have a contact number for out of state because if you can do have phone service, the local circuits may be overloaded but for some reason, out of state calls tend to get through. If you rely on your cell phone, be sure it is fully charged. Having a car charger comes in handy when you lose power.
These ideas are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a starting point to get you thinking. FEMA and The American Red Cross have great checklists of what you need to be prepared for a natural disaster or a weather related event . Hopefully for everyone involved this will just be a minor event and something to tell the kids about some day.

How do you prepare for an emergency? What are your must have items?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How my kids make Lunch


A sort of Wordless Wednesday Post

They say the apple does not fall far from the tree.  Yesterday they made their own lunches.  Not just any lunch either. I think I may have created monsters or at least budding foodies.

Pi’s Lunch (she took her own pictures too, budding blogger?)
A Prosciutto and mozzarella roll up with pesto. Can you smell it now?




Peanut made her own creation too.

mini grilled cheese sandwiches with sharp cheddar and pesto on a whole grain bread.





Pumpkin – Can Cook Too

Even  my 7 year old Pumpkin made his own lunch A corn tortilla “pizza” with homemade sauce and natural cheddar cheese. One of his sister’s heated it up for him .




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Monday, August 22, 2011

Triclosan - Or are Antibacterial Soaps Necessary?

 this post is part of an ongoing series of Toxins to Avoid 


Why Triclosan?
So you may be asking yourself, why do you need to concern yourself with triclosan ? With Back to School season here, many schools, pre-schools, and even day cares ask for or use hand sanitizer on a regular basis. Friends of mine are adamant against the use of hand sanitizer. So I decided to look into the reasons behind this one my own.  The FDA and EPA are and have been looking into the safety and the efficacy of the triclosan for several years now.

What is Triclosan?
Surprisingly, at least to me it has been around since 1972, and has become the most widely used antibacterial ingredient in soaps and personal products. It can be particular useful in medical situations. Triclosan is actually a pesticide that is used like antibacterial and antifungal agents. It is similar to antibiotics in many ways  but unlike antibiotics it’s purpose is to stop the transmission of bacteria to a healthy person. Like most antibiotics , does not kill 100% of all bacteria because of this some strains of bacteria end up becoming antibiotic resistant.
Originally, triclosan was developed for use in medical settings, but since 1972, triclosan has been added to a long list of products. According to the CDC  Only a few years ago there were only a few dozen products containing antibacterial agents were being marketed for the home. Now more than 700 are available and it is a $750 million market just in the United States alone. Triclosan is now found in household cleaners, soaps, toothpaste, dishwashing hand lotions, children’s toys and of course hand sanitizers. 
The Problems with Triclosan

  • The most common ailments that we are trying to avoid, the common cold and the flu are viruses. Viruses Do NOT respond to antibacterial  products. Doctors recommend frequent hand washing with soap and water.
  • The dread stomach bug, schools and daycares run rampant with them. We had one strike our house just last week. Most stomach bugs are viral, therefore antibiotic chemicals are no more likely than regular soap to prevent gastrointestinal illnesses. In fact, in one Pakistani study, people who washed their hands with plain soap and water were able to reduce the incidence of childhood diarrhea by 53 percent. Those who used antibiotic soap containing 1.2 percent triclocarban actually experienced slightly higher incidence of illness.
  • Triclosan is toxic to aquatic wildlife. So, the fact that it is in our rivers and lakes means that it is polluting and affecting those ecosystems, and the plant and animal life found there.
  • Triclosan is fat soluble.  Since it has turned up in water supplies it is possible it could turn up in our food chain.
  • Several lab studies have shown that triclosan may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals.
  • In order for triclosan to work effectively it needs to be left on a surface for about two minutes.  I know that in my family the last time I washed my hands for more than 2 minutes was when my oldest was in the NICU.  I know for a fact that my son does a simple rinse and shake method.  Most people are not this patient, and end up washing off the soap before the antibacterial ingredients can do their job.

Options to Triclosan


Believe it or not,  according to the AMA (American Medical Association) recommends using plain  soap and water.  Hand Sanitizers and Antibacterial soaps are no more effective at preventing common illnesses such as the cold and the flu.  These common ailments are caused by viruses not bacteria. Studies importance-handwashingshow plain soap is as effective as Triclosan. A 2008 meta-analysis of all the experimental studies published in English between 1980 and 2006 on the effectiveness of different hand washing techniques to combat gastrointestinal- and respiratory illness concluded that non-bacterial soap was effective for preventing both gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses, and that triclosan-containing soaps and wipes had no apparent advantage over plain soap in this regard.

I personally do not use antibiotic soaps at home. My husband and I never bought into the marketing hype behind it. We use a plain soap to wash our hands. When possible I buy a natural soap. Dr. Bronner’s makes a bar as well as liquid soaps.  I know some people are squeamish about bar soap these days but here is the kicker, you don’t even need soap to effectively clean your hands.  Proper Hand Washing Techniques are what clean your hands and rid them of germs.  When we are out and about I will simply use water to wash my hands. If I need to sanitize a cut or scrap we use tea tree oil.

Keeping Your Home Clean Without Chemical Disinfectants

Antibiotic cleaners are not any more effective at reducing illnesses in the home. In fact the CDC recommends against using antibacterial cleaners if anyone in your house suffers from a chronic illness such as asthma, or diabetes. Plain soap is effective in cleaning the house. Up to 20 years ago that is all we had, there were no antibiotic cleaners marketed for the home.
  • Make your own cleaners from vinegar and essential oils. Vinegar has been used since medieval ages when Nuns treating victims of the Bubonic plague would wash their hands with it. These nuns never contracted nor passed on the plague to others. It has a great track record and has been my cleaner of choice since I got married.
  • Combine that vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide for more effectiveness.  You will need to put each one in a separate spray bottle and hydrogen peroxide needs to be in a dark opaque bottle so as not to let light into it. I have found bottles like this at the dollar store. Spray the surface with first one than the other.  In tests run at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, pairing the two mists killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces when used in this fashion, making this spray combination more effective at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaner.
    The best results came from using one mist right after the other—it's 10 times more effective than using either spray by itself and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one sprayer. As an added bonus aside from the health benefits, using this type of natural homemade cleanser is much less expensive than commercial varieties.
  • Sunlight is a great disinfectant. Line drying your clothes will help kill any bacteria left over. Additionally for a heavily soiled load (such as one from kids playing outside or mom gardening), I like to add a little vinegar to the load. Line drying your clothes has so many more benefits than disinfecting too.
My recommendations, use soap and water to wash your hands, using proper hand washing techniques. Put the bar in a soap holder that elevates it so it can thoroughly dry. When away from home and you need to wash your hands simple washing with just water will suffice in most cases. Avoid antibacterial products like the plague. If you do not want to make your own cleaners there are many fine products out there that do not include triclosan or other antibacterial agents.  Check your toothpaste. Most of us do not need triclosan in our toothpastes. Unless your dentist recommends it stay away from tooth pastes such as Colgate Total that contain triclosan. Remember to read your labels.
additional resources
Beyond Pesticides
List of products that do not contain Tricolsan

I am sharing this blog post with my good friends over at Green and Natural Mama Thursday

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our Journey to Real Food


What are Real Foods? Real Foods are foods that are not processed. They are found in the store in their natural state, unprocessed.
When I married my husband we decided to eat healthier. Now we did not define what that meant. But we both agreed that it meant we would not buy junk food. We would not buy sweets. If we wanted baked items and sweets we would make them at home. 
I had always eaten whole wheat flour and fresh food from the organic garden my mother had.  When I got married I started making more of my own food. I would cook on Sunday’s enough food to take us through the week. At the time I did not know they had a name for this, Batch Cooking. I would roast a roast. Make some soup and bake whatever sweets we wanted for the rest of the week. I took my lunch to work most days. I was interested in eating Real Food and being thrifty too. 
When we had our first child we decided we would eat the Whole Foods way.  I started using whole wheat flours. Eventually I made the change in our flours, pastas, and rice to whole grains.  I found great support for these decisions in my local La Leche League Group.  With their support I delayed introducing solids until my children were ready. I did this by looking for signs for beginning solids.   As my family grew so did our voyage to Real Food.
I used to pride myself on feeding my family good food for very little money.  I was hesitant to make the change to whole grain pastas, because the cost was so much more. But from the very beginning I noticed that my family ate less. You see the whole grain pastas and brown rice were simply more filling than the white enriched products. I no longer cooked a whole box and my family did not need to go back for seconds.
Along the way my husband who was an avowed meat and potatoes man learned to eat many new foods. Today he whole heartedly embraces fish, and meatless/vegetarian meals on a regular basis. In fact he will get grilled tilapia for lunch at work.  My kids ask for things like wasa crackers with mozzarella and pesto to take with them for school lunches.
We are omnivores at our house. We eat meat, but try to make it good quality meat. Local grass fed beef is one of our favorites. Besides the health benefits it just tastes better.  We eat fish, of all sorts. We particularly like salmon and flounder, Well all but Pumpkin, according to him Seafood makes him Seasick.  We eat a variety of legumes and grains. All sorts of beans are consumed here, but I think our favorites are black beans.  We are always trying new grains. Just today I picked up some millet to try. My husband wanted to know if it was bird seed.
My family eats many types of vegetables, including greens. Just today they had turnip greens in their soup. Shh, don’t tell them. I chop the greens finely and they think it is spinach, basil or other seasoning,
Now don’t get me wrong. We are far from perfect in our diet. My family does it sweets. Though not at home. However I do my best to keep junk food out the house. How can I complain that my son does not eat his dinner when he comes home and eats 3 sticks of celery, an apple, a pint of grape tomatoes and then makes himself  a “tortilla pizza” There is no junk in the house, so he can’t eat it.
I certainly don’t claim to eat perfect all the time but staying away from processed food has certainly made a difference in our health and our food budget.
How do you include Real Food in your family’s meals?

This post is being shared with Living Well Blog HopTraditional TuesdaysFresh Bites Friday

Patron Saint of Messy Kitchens

(or if I was a patron Saint of something)
medival kitchen

Paula at Home in Douglas tagged me to do a new meme. Now I don’t always do these but this time I thought it would be a little fun.
Assuming you are a saint, and your cause has been executed, your miracles confirmed, your date on the calendar established, all that is required is to select that of which Holy Mother Church will name you Patron (ess) of.

For this meme, you must name your patronage
and then tag 5 other people who would like to play along.

Linking your answer to your nominator's post would make it easier to get your answers."
This is a hard question for me. I don’t consider myself anywhere near saintly.  I enjoy my glass of wine or two, I swear, from time to time, and I lose my temper. My house is not is clean as I would like it and I have unfinished projects. These are not exactly saintly qualities.
However if I was to look at the little miracles that happen in my life one comes to mind very quickly. When I open my spice cupboard I always have what I want/need. Even if I swear it was not there yesterday. Since I like to cook and enjoy all sorts of spices and flavors this means a lot to me. I tend to thank my grandmother, God rest her soul when the spice I am looking for is in the cupboard. She was a well regarded cook in her day. My generation is still cooking her recipes.
Often as a home cook I start with just an idea and make it up as I go along. Surprisingly everything comes out tasting great, not saying I am a professional chef, but cooking is one of those things I do. I also am not a by the recipe sort of person To me, a recipe is just a suggestion, a starting off place not rules set in stone. so far, my family likes most of what I cook but not necessarily everyone likes everything.  Being able to put dinner on the table every night is a small miracle .
When I cook, I throw myself into it. I don’t just make dinner, I make 3-4 different things or meals at time. Because of this, my kitchen can get quite messy while I am cooking. Notice all the spices on the counter? Never had to go to the store to buy what I needed to make new recipes. IMG_6203
So after examining the evidence and the miracles presented I would have to say I am the patroness of Real Food, the Spice Cupboard, the Messy Kitchen, and Getting Dinner on the Table for the Family.
I am tagging
Working to be Worthy
Blueberries for Me
Mrs. 1st Lieutenant
Diwja at House Unseen
Artsy Nina
Have fun ladies. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Does it matter how you dress for church?

(photo taken from my grandmother’s photos- Easter circa mid 1950's)
Not too long ago most people dressed up for church. They put on their Sunday Best. Ladies wore hats and gloves. Men wore jackets and ties. Children also dressed up.  Today many churches and parishes have adopted a more casual dress code for mass and church. But does it matter what you wear to church? Does it change your experience at mass? Does God care what you wear?
There are two main camps in this discussion one says to offer Christ our best. And the same is true of our dress. We should offer Christ our 'Sunday best", not our everyday or common wear. And we should dress modestly, not in a flashy way that would bring attention to ourselves. Our dress should always be becoming of a Christian - especially at church.
The other camp says that God is not concerned with our clothing that he is more concerned with our soul. Clothing is a worldly issue, not a Godly thing.
Today our clothes have become an expression of who we are. Yet culture customs and mores do exist. Where they do not man has made them. Most schools and work places have a dress code. Even places that do not have a dress code have implied ones. When you go to the symphony or an opera, one still does tend to dress up, not the the extent they used to but because it is fun to dress up.
In my house I always talk to my children about the appropriateness of dress for the occasion. If we are going to soccer practice we need to take cleats and shin guards they are customary and expected. If you are running errands or going to school you probably do no wear the same clothes you do for painting or playing in the creek.
So what is appropriate for church these days. We follow certain guidelines at our house with my family. Among those are the following. But it boils down to a basic question. Would I wear these clothes to work in the yard or to practice sports? You could also ask your self would you wear these clothes to the beach or lake? If the answer is yes, then perhaps I should consider something different for church.

(Easter 2011)
But if you would like some more specific guidelines, I am happy to share the ones we use at our house.
  • Undergarments should remain undergarments. I don’t want to see any bras, or underwear slipping out of or showing through your clothes. Please no VPL (visible panty line).
  • Please wear appropriate undergarments.
  • Shorts may be fine but only dress shorts and worn with a shirt with a collar, or a nice blouse. for kids.  Adults at my house as a rule do not wear shorts to church.
  • Jeans may be worn if the weather is inclement but they must be in good shape, and fit well. No tight jeans, no torn jeans , no s”skinny jeans”allowed.
  • Keep shoes in good shape. We generally don’t wear our sneakers or tennis shoes as they call them here, to church.
  • Take a jacket if it is summer time. My girls may wear a nice sundress, sometimes these are thin straps and with the air conditioning they may get cold. Depending on the church we attend on a given weekend, the Cathedral, the Monastery, a more respectful formal dress is expected than a country parish, and women are expected to cover their shoulders.
  • Skirts and Dresses need to be a modest length. What does that mean? Generally if you bend over and I can see underwear it is too short. If the skirt or dress is still a favorite and too short there are options such as bloomers (for a toddler), bike shorts or leggings.
  • Young ladies of all ages need to take care that tops do not reveal too much. Think about how you move. When you bend over, does your top show cleavage? Cleavage is not for church.  According to Deacon G, he does not like to see a belly button when a woman makes a bow of reverence receiving communion. I use a miracle tape that can be used to keep all sorts of tops closed, and it a pinch you can use it to hem pants.
  • If you are visiting an unknown church, err on the side of caution, business casual won’t be wrong in most cases. If you would not wear an outfit to work don’t wear it to church.
Dressing up is not necessary to a better experience to church but dressing appropriately will certainly enhance it.

The Things You Do

 continuing the series in What changes you – The Places You Go, The Things You Do, The People We Meet


When is the last time you tried something new? When is the last time your kids tried something new? It seems like we all fall into the same old same old. Kids all over the country spend Saturdays at soccer, dance, or football each fall. A few try karate or swim team. If you are a sports type person have you thought about trying an art class, or attending a concert?
Are you in a rut?
Why are we reluctant to try new things? Trying and learning new things has been shown to increase our creativity. The more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.
But when was the last time you tried a new restaurant? When you go out to to eat do you go to the same restaurant? If so pick something different.  Chances are it won’t cost you anymore than where you usually go to eat.  Do yourself a favor and try a locally owned restaurant. We have found locally owned restaurants offer great food, at good prices and you get to keep the money in your local community. You might even try taking the kids to a “fancy’ restaurant. Have everyone dress up and make it a special occasion.
Do things alone
Often as parents we do not take time to do things for ourselves. When is the last time you went off and did something just for yourself? Try going to a museum in the middle of the week. You might even be able to squeeze it in at lunchtime. On your own you can wander at your own pace.  Pick up that novel you have been dying to read, and read it. You deserve to do things on your own. You probably did things on your own before becoming a parent.

Do things with others
Get out of your normal routine and do something with others. Invite friends to come along.  Make time to be with friends. Have a party or get together at your house. Join a club. Do you like gardening but want to know more? Then join a gardening club. Are you interested in running? Many communities have a running group. We as people are a social group so seek out something to do with other like minded individuals.
Try Something New
I challenge you this upcoming week to try something new.  It can be a new recipe, a new way to get to work, a new park with the kids. Routines are great, but a change in routine can be even better. Ever notice how a vacation does a body good? It is because your body needs change every once in a while.
We can get in a rut as a individuals and as families, so stretch what you do try something new, let me know how it goes


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