I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Essential Oils - Illness Caused By The Oils

For months, I have been trying to figure out what causes me to feel so lousy while I am home.

When in or near my kitchen, I sneeze. And sneeze and sneeze. And get congested. And my ears get plugged up. Sometimes my throat gets scratchy. And I get (minor) headaches. And terrible sinus pressure. Something in this kitchen is incompatible with me!

So over the last several months, I have gradually tried to figure out what is causing the problem. I move slowly, as I'm a stay-home mom with two young kids. Other things are prioritized, most of the time! Anyhow, I have tried to figure out what the newer items are in my environment. Those include soap nuts (maybe a year now?), and essential oils (several months.) My friend suggested that the multiple computer components and printer in the kitchen may be "outgassing" and causing some of the problem. We also got two cats. (about 2 months ago)

Soap nuts: I did a trial of testing the soap nuts some months ago. I removed them from the house, and for a couple of months, used other methods for cleaning our clothes. I still sneezed. I brought them back into the house.

Computer components: I removed everything from the kitchen but my lap top.

Cats: The cats are everywhere in our house except for the bedroom. While I wouldn't doubt that they contribute to my sneezles, I don't seem to have the problem upstairs. Just around the kitchen.

Essential Oils: Sighs. When I'm near my bag that held the EOs, I sneeze. But I so wanted it to be something else that I testing every other thing first. But facts are facts. When I apply certain EOs to myself or my kids, I sneeze. And sneeze. And sneeze.

Last week we went on vacation. Upon our departure I was feeling so lousy that I really looked forward to a week outside of our house, and the much desired return to feeling healthy that I hoped that would bring. I left feeling sinusy, exhausted ALL the time, and depressed. I was also premenstrual, but I hadn't felt that crummy, even premenstrual, in years. I felt AWFUL. So off we went. For most of the week, I cycled through periods of feeling exhausted. I was MOODY. I never felt the internal thrill that comes with going on vacation. Going to the beach was a burden, not a joy. What the heck was wrong with me??

I realized pretty quickly that I had brought my problem with me on vacation. At least in part. I finally took the bag that contained my EOs out to the car. And the soap nuts that I had brought went out, too. It didn't do enough to help the vacation at that point, but as soon as I returned home, I took all of the oils from my bag and from the shelf in my kitchen, and closed them up tight in a plastic container. I stuck them in the laundry room.

And I'm feeling much better. MUCH better. Yes, I do sneeze a bit when I first come downstairs in the morning. I chalk that up, probably, to cat hair. But my nose is not congested. My sinuses aren't swollen. I have no headache, no sore throat, and my mood is much better! I'm still waiting a day or two to see if the bouts of exhaustion settle down. But so far, so good. I'm always tired. That comes with the territory. But it had gotten to the point where I was having trouble functioning.

EOs are as different as the plants they come from, so I know, of course, that I am not allergic to all of them. I own, currently, somewhere between 10-15 different oils. That's 10-15 different plant extracts I have brought in to my home in a very concentrated form. Wow, how's that for an allergy test? Total submersion. So I guess the next step is to try them out one at a time. Now I know there are some that cause me to sneeze immediately. Bergamot, for one. And that is most unfortunate, as I credit Bergamot oil for helping me to wean off of steroid creams in my battle against eczema. I also believe Lavender causes the sneezles for me. But I'll know for sure over the coming weeks as I test them.

But boy am I glad to be feeling better. Phew.

Monday, July 12, 2010


My daughter is 5. She has undiagnosed (except by me) generalized anxiety disorder. And that's ok. But it's challenging.

One aspect of this is that transitions are challenging for her. This has always been true. The way this manifests itself these days is for her to put up tremendous opposition to moving on to the next "event." An example of this: This morning I suggested to her that we take her little brother to the library for the parent/child program. Keep in mind she has been to this program many times, and always enjoys it. And once she's there, she doesn't want to leave. And so! But regardless of this fact, she stated that she didn't want to go. As a general rule, if either of my kids really doesn't want to go out, I don't push it. We all have days where we just don't feel like facing things. But usually, they are pretty enthusiastic about heading out to have a good time. So armed with all of this knowledge, I pushed. I told her that I felt that it was good for her brother, who really enjoys being there. I reminded her that she always enjoys it, too. Etcetcetc. She stated over an over again, for an hour that she didn't want to go. So I gave her the option of staying home. With someone else. Another part of her anxiety is that she is very reluctant to stay with anyone other than me, and that includes her father a lot of the time. (SIGHS!) So of course she said no to that idea. She stated that someone else should take her brother, while I stayed home with her. Now I am real with my daughter - may more so than I should be. I informed her that I did not plan to be stuck at home all of the time because she doesn't want to go out and doesn't want to stay with someone else. (I am irritated by this point, even though it's practically a daily discussion) I inform her that she has a choice of either coming with us to the program, or staying home with someone else. And I feel good about giving her options. It makes me feel that I am not forcing her to go somewhere she doesn't want to go, that the final decision IS hers.

In any event, after trying to convince her brother that he didn't want to go (he did) she reluctantly came along. But here's the next phase of her anxiety. She is afraid to go anywhere because she's afraid she'll need to use the bathroom on the way. This is something we are working on, but it is very frustrating for all, and adds to the angst that is every outing we go on. So I do as I always do, inform her that we're leaving, and encourage her to use the bathroom. And as always, she informs me that she'll go "right before we leave." And as always I then inform her that we are heading out the door. So she goes. Then she jumps into a discussion about how she just knows she has to go again, and on and on and on. And go into my part of the discussion, which is to remind her that she just went, and that she has successfully managed car rides before this one, etcetcetc. She is actually on a reward system for this one. But that's another post.

So at long last we are all in the car, and on our way. With bathroom breaks sandwiching the program, we do actually get there, and as predicted, both kids have a good time, and darling daughter doesn't want to leave. But it is a reward of sorts for me, who is then off the hook for having "made" her go in the first place. She genuinely seems surprised, once we're out, that she is having such a good time and is happy.

But it's work. And I get tired of it. And I know it's not her fault. I know she would rather not have these issues. And I feel for her. But I feel, sometimes, too often, that I am held hostage by her anxiety issues. I rarely get out of the house or do anything without the children. When I do, I worry about getting home before too much time has gone by. And I am envious, sometimes, of the other parents who go out with other adults. On a consistent basis. Hubby and I very rarely have time together without the kids. And that's hard on us.

But I remind myself of how lucky I am. How very lucky. And we move forward. And it's all ok.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Natural Yeast Infection Remedies

I recently gave a shout out to the Holistic Moms Network email loop regarding natural remedies and comfort measures for feminine yeast issues. As is always the case, I was and am overwhelmed and thrilled with the number and depth of the replies I have received. I know that many out there could benefit from this information, so I would like to share it. This is information only. I have yet to try most of them out.

+ Yogurt. Several replies I received from the group suggested plain yogurt containing live cultures as a cure and soothing measure. Use as a "wash." Can combine with baking soda. Here's one source of info: LINK

+Take Probiotics. Mentioned several times. High quality probiotic recommended. If taking one and getting infections, try changing to a different probiotic. One suggested a more "potent" brand with more "strains."

+ Baking Soda. Unclear as to how this is used. Can be drying - use sparingly. Can combine with yogurt for external wash.

+ Vinegar. Mentioned a couple of times. Dilute as it can sting. One suggested apple cider vinegar specifically. This is allegedly helpful if the issue is bacterial. Can be used in the bath.

+ Alkaline Water. (Water with lemon) Aren't lemons acidic?? Anyhow, this was suggested. I also read that keeping the body slightly alkaline helps, as acidity can cause all sorts of issues. I would suggest doing an internet search on ways to achieve this. There are diets out there that promote this concept.

+ Hydrogen Peroxide. Dilute as it can sting. Increase H2o2 as conditions improve. Use internally.

+Stay Away From: Simple sugars (mentioned by several people) and citrus. White sugar, flour, rice, any refined sugars.

+ Body Ecology Diet. Suggested if the issue is ongoing. Internet search will bring up info. on this diet. I have read some about it.

+ Understand What You Are Dealing With. Is it bacteria or yeast? They can present in the same way.

+ Sachromyces. Apparently this is a yeast that eats other yeasts. It came highly recommended by one person, who says it can be bought in health food stores. I will do more research on this and report back.

+ Tea Tree Essential Oil. I have read different accounts of how to use tea tree. Some say a few drops on a tampon works. Others say it must be diluted with a carrier oil first, then applied to the tampon. One woman from the list says that tea tree worked for her again and again, but then she developed tea tree resistant strains.

+ Diva Cup. Yeast infections are allegedly a common issue with users of the Diva Cup.

+ Vitamin D. One woman suggested that deficiency in vitamin D can contribute to yeast infections.

+ Men. Men can get yeast infections also. If a woman is getting them, her man may be, too.

+ Garlic. I've read accounts of it being used both on the inside and eaten for benefits. On the inside, either place a clove whole or minced into some cheese cloth and insert. I'll need to look up the length of time it stays. I don't recall. But one person suggested overnight. Don't forget some dental floss or something to tie it and for easy removal.

+ Milk Thistle Glycerite/ Dandelion Glycerite. I have no idea, at this point, what these are, but they are allegedly good liver support. It seems that conventional medications for yeast infections can be hard on the liver.

+ Honey. Messy, this one! Plan to bathe afterwards. External.

I will be doing some more research in this area, but this is what I have at this point. I hope it's helpful. If any of you would like more info in any particular area, let me know. I'm happy to start there. Here is a neat website with a number of different  natural approaches to curing/managing yeast infections: LINK

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tupelo Honey

For a while, I was a client at the Natural Health Improvement Center in Glens Falls, New York. While I decided at the time that it was not for me (I didn't feel that detoxing while I was raising two little ones, including one who is still nursing was the best plan for me!) I did take some information with me that I have found to be at least somewhat valuable. One thing that was suggested was reducing the amount of sugar in our diets. Never bad advice, I thought about when I consume sugar during my day. The first and most obvious place was first thing in the morning, in my daily cuppa joe. Though I didn't think for a second that I would really replace sugar with honey in my coffee. For one thing, I don't especially like honey! And for another, no one messes with Mama's coffee! But I bought it anyway...what the hell! I bought it while visiting in NJ, and left it there by accident. Or maybe because I really didn't want it? Who knows. But no kidding, I visited another time and forgot it again. Just recently I was there again, and this time I managed to get the stuff home. So this morning, I gave it a try. And it wasn't bad. Not at all! In fact, I rather like it. I didn't use much, and it gives my coffee a sweetness, but not a yucky sweetness, that sugar can sometimes do. Hm. So, trial one, the most important, and it's a hit! Now I have to do some research to convince myself that it's actually better sugar. But in the meantime, here's some info. on Tupelo honey: LINK

Here is the first website I checked out regarding honey vs. sugar in our diets. It does make for some interesting reading: LINK

Here's another one. This one is obviously pro-honey: LINK

Ok, I have to update here. It has been six days since I started to put honey in my coffee instead of sugar. I have not gone back. Not once. Ok once, but it was by accident and I was annoyed at myself! I much prefer the honey in my coffee. There are two reasons. One, the honey has a slightly less sweet flavor, which I prefer. The other, and even more important to me, is that the honey mixes evenly into the coffee. I have always hated when the last sip of my coffee is gooey with undissolved sugar. Regardless of how much I stirred it, it seemed to be sickeningly sweet at the bottom. And I like drinking it all! But yuk. So I love that the last sip of coffee with honey tastes like the first sip. =) And, I've converted my husband!! =)