Natural Cold Remedies

Since Emma started daycare back in September and I went back to work, we've been dealing with nonstop colds, coughs and runny noses!  It's nothing serious but it's certainly not fun!  The last bout started a week ago.  Emma infected me and now Eric has it too.  I've had this cold and cough for almost a week now and believe me, I hope we can nip it in the bud soon.  While I won't use traditional cold remedies for myself and Emma, Eric still prefers to use the Advil cold and sinus and Nyquil.  Believe me, quick remedies sound great in theory, but all they do is stifle the symptoms--and in the long run, it can actually interfere in your body's natural capabilities to heal.   And your body is having the symptoms for a reason.  I believe we need to aid the immune system to keep it strong and your body will heal on its own.  However, there are lots of things you can do to fight a cold naturally!  While I am not an expert, I thought I'd list some of the things we do around here...

First of all, Young Living essential oils are a staple in our home!  We use them for everything--from healing a minor cut to headaches and infections!  For a cold, the ones we use the most are Thieves, R.C., peppermint and Eucalyptus radiata.  Thieves is a blend that's great for immunity.  I like to put a drop in my cold care tea when I'm not feeling great.  I rub it (diluted) onto Emma's feet when she's sick and we diffuse it through the air too.  Rub a little R.C. on your chest, under your nose, on your neck and you'll be able to breath better!  Peppermint is great for headaches--rubbed on your temples, also good for fevers and congestion.  Eucalyptus can be used in the same way as R.C.--and any of those oils can be diffused--great for airborne bacteria.  Young Living oils can't be purchased in any health shops.  You must order them through a distributor (which I happen to be).  If you use another kind of essential oil, you really need to do your research to make sure it's safe for ingestion and topical use.  Go with a therapeutic grade oil, not an aromatherapy grade oil.   Just let me know if you'd like to learn more!

Eric and I drink lots of tea when we're under the weather.  I love the varieties by Traditional Medicinals--cold care, the sore throat one and herba tussin (cough tea) are staples in the winter months.  Add a drop of Thieves to any of those!  This morning I'm drinking some fresh thyme tea.  Thyme is great for it's antimicrobial properties.  Remember the honey and lemon your remember as a kid?  Still great--add some grated ginger or chopped garlic for the microbial effect. 

Apple cider vinegar is also antibacterial so boil about 1/4 cup with 1/4 cup of water and inhale the steam--great for your sinuses.  You can also gargle with a shot glass full of apple cider vinegar and some cayenne (anti-inflammatory and will numb the pain of a sore throat).  Or just some warm water, sea salt and cayenne. 

There are lots of great resources out there and I'm constantly adding new remedies to our toolbox!  I love this book--Naturally Healthy Babies and Children:  A Commensense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition and Health.

Credibility duel: Hyland's and the FDA

Making the news in the holistic health-care world this week is the recall of Hyland's Teething Tablets.

First, the chuckle: It's FDA-approved to use Botox (a neurotoxin, yes?) to treat certain illness, but it's FDA-banned to use a homeopathic (natural, yes?) to treat a different issue?

Second, the concern: Understanding the questions that have been raised about the manufacturing inconsistencies, I still find the language of the FDA release and Q&A nearly as much cause for concern as the issue itself.

Viewing the statements from the company about its "voluntary" recall, there seems to be a major disconnect between the fundamental language in the respective pieces. Witness: "The FDA has not evaluated Hyland’s Teething Tablets for safety or efficacy" and "homeopathic medicines are regulated as drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as required in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act." Likewise, "Adverse events have been reported but the FDA has said that a conclusive link has not been determined" versus "FDA has received reports of serious adverse events in children taking this product that are consistent with belladonna toxicity."

So is the FDA recommending my family discard a product with a (anecdotal) track record of success in our use because of ... hearsay? Has the FDA evaluated the product or not? Given the small quantity of the substance at issue in the product, what range of inconsistency in quality control has been found? Are we talking about a level that can cause this toxicity? The company denies this ("After in-depth analysis, a comprehensive review of the company’s adverse event report log, and more than 85 years of safe usage, the company is confident that Hyland’s Teething Tablets are safe for infants and toddlers.") but the FDA offers no specificity in its statements and openly states that it has not conducted a safety evaluation of the product itself.

Manufacturing issues are no laughing matter. But neither is a governmental insistence on a product ban (because that is what this amounts to) without concrete evidence of the danger of the product. Would the public not have been better served by an evaluation of the safety of the (inconsistent) product and a demand that the company fix its manufacturing process, possibly even requiring a hold on further manufacturing until satisfaction is achieved? The screaming subjectivity of the first article linked above may not be the fairest portrayal of the situation. But the entire affair certainly reeks of what I have come to think of as Big Pharma as Big Brother.

Better safe than sorry, or another case of Big Pharma's influence-creep?

Freedom for Family Wellness Conference

I know—it's been quite a while since I've blogged.  Emma's first birthday has come and gone!  I've had blog posts in the works for several months now but just haven't had the time, energy or will to complete any of them!

Until now.  I spent the weekend at an amazing conference—I'm giving my mind, body and soul a reboot, and so, I'm rebooting my blog as well.  We spent three nights in Reston, Va., at the Freedom for Family Wellness Summit.  I had the chance to see some amazing people speak—Peggy O'Mara, editor-in-chief of Mothering magazine, Ina May Gaskin, Midwife Extraordinaire, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Joseph Dispenza, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Dr. Jeanne Ohm, Barbara Loe Fisher, Dr. Larry Palevsky and many more!  I attended the conference with a couple friends and our family's chiropractors!  I spent the weekend surrounded by chiropractors, doulas, birth educators and fellow parents.  It was wonderful to be surrounded by so much positive energy.  I came home feeling like a whole new person and ready to start a movement (our homework assignment assigned by Dr. Guy Riekeman, president of Life University).

Here are just a few key points that are fresh in my mind from the weekend.

  • A memory without the emotional charge is wisdom gained.
  • When you are having a negative thought, just whisper to yourself, "cancel, cancel."
  • Take a moment every day to compliment yourself in the mirror.
  • Time spent in nature, among the trees, will do us all some good!
  • Your birth and first year really, truly forms the person you are, believe it or not! 
  • 95% of our actions are controlled by our bodies and 5% our conscious mind.
  • It takes ONE person to start a movement!
I'm not really sure what "my movement" will be.  However,  I now have some personal goals I've set for myself, which include reading 15 minutes per day and making time to blog and journal. Here's a short list of a few books that I'd like to read in the next year.  They were all written by speakers of the summit OR recommended over the course of the weekend.  (They are in no particular order!  Some I have bought and some I still need to acquire!  I'll be adding to the list as well!)

  1. A Quiet Place: Essays on Life And Family (Peggy O'Mara)
  2. Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind (Dr. Joe Dispenza)
  3. Magical Child (Joseph Chilton Pierce)
  4. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem (Nathaniel Branden)

Goat Milk Formula

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, nursing didn't work out between Emma and I.  It wasn't for lack of trying and I did the best I could, but when she was a couple weeks old, I decided to formula-feed my baby full-time.  It wasn't my first choice but it was the best choice for us at the time.  We tried several kinds of baby formula in search of the best one for her.  Lactose-free, soy, Baby's Only (an organic kind without corn syrup).  The one Emma has done the best with has been the cheapest too!  We use Target's up & up Prebiotic Immune Support, which is basically the exact same as one produced by Similac, but it's much cheaper! 

When we first started formula-feeding Emma, our chiropractor suggested goat's milk formula.  Goat milk is more similar to human milk than cow's milk and it also contains less lactose.  Several months ago, when I went online to look for goat's milk formula, I couldn't find anything.  If I wanted to give her goat's milk, I'd have to make my own formula, adding essential vitamins to the goats milk.  I was afraid to do that, so stuck with the up & up formula. 

So, today, I was shopping at Whole Foods, when lo and behold, in the baby section, they had just started carrying goat's milk formula.  I was so excited to see it there--but not as excited to see the price tag--almost 3 times more than the formula we give Emma now!  I briefly debated buying the formula but Emma has been doing wonderfully on the formula we've been giving her.  Besides, in a few months, she'll be a year old and we can transition her off of formula on to hemp milk.  Still, I'm glad to see the goat milk formula available now and hopefully, it will go down in price and be more available to to those who choose to use it in the future.

Raising your Child's Immunity Naturally

Tonight I had the opportunity to see Dr. Palevsky, a renowned holistic pediatrician,  speak for the second time on raising your child's immunity naturally.  If you ever have an opportunity to see Dr. Palevsky speak, I can't recommend it highly enough!  Do it!  I'd love to use him as Emma's pediatrician but he's located in Manhattan and Long Island and it's a bit too far for us! 

I really can't go into too much detail about what he spoke about--it was a lot of information!  The best take away, I think, would be that illness is a good thing!  Fever is a good thing!  Your child gets sick because he or she has an overload of toxins and the fever/sickness is the body's way of eliminating the toxins.  The last thing we should be doing is giving Tylenol to lower a fever.  But anyway, I would suggest checking out Dr. Palevsky's website and checking out the media section.  He has some good articles and interviews listed where you can learn more. 

Baby Led Weaning

While I've been feeding Emma homemade purees for the past 2 months, what I really love is to feed her real food.  You know, like bits of banana, rice, mango, bread.  It's taking her practice to get really good at eating!  It's true that most of it still ends up on the floor (or in the dog's mouth) but Emma is getting better at getting the food in her mouth.  She's chewing and swallowing really well too!  The art of eating food really is a skill that needs to be mastered!  Though Emma enjoys the purees, I feel like she is getting more out of eating real food.

There's a whole lot of people out there that skip purees entirely and give their babies real food starting at 6 months--it's called baby led weaning.  Now, that does not mean that you should wean your baby from the breast or bottle at 6 months;  up until a year old, a baby's primary source of nutrition should be breastmilk or formula.  The whole point of eating up until a year is really for the practice of it and to try different foods.  It really doesn't matter if half of the food (or more) ends up on the floor in the beginning!  We're not counting calories here!

Sunday night, we met friends for dinner at a local Thai restaurant and Emma feasted on brown rice, mango, lychees and sticky rice!  Yum!  Doesn't she look like she's enjoying her dinner?

I'm liking this blog for baby led weaning information! And it doesn't have to be all or nothing!  We'll still spoon-feed some foods to Emma but I'd like to feed her more and more in this way.

Dinner at the Candle Cafe

One word--YUM!  If you've ever eaten at the Candle Cafe, you know what I'm talking about!  While in NYC on Sunday, we ate at the Candle, one of our favorite vegan restaurants.  And we've eaten at some good ones--if you don't believe me, check it out here!  I meant to bring my camera in to take pictures of what we ate...but I left it in the car.  Eric had the limeade smoothie and I had the Apple Brown Betty one--so good!  Emma loved it too (I shared)!  We had the caesar salad for an appetizer and pumpkin seed crusted tofu and porcini crusted seitan for our meals followed by some decadent chocolate cake for dessert.  Just thinking about it is making me hungry again! 

The people who own the Candle Cafe also own the more upscale Candle 79 (a favorite of vegan Alicia Silverstone!).  I'd recommend eating at either in a heartbeat whether you are an omnivore or vegetarian!  Amazing food!

No more plastic baggies!

We're trying to use less of the disposable and more of the reusable...aren't we all?  But I still buy those darn ziploc bags.  I try to reuse them as often as I can though before I recycle them.  But maybe we can use less of them now.  Look what we found at the Green Expo.




They are called snack taxis and they're reusable snack bags (machine washable too) made by local sewers.  How cute are they?!?!  We bought 3 of them in the sandwich bag size!  One for each of us!  Seems like the perfect bag for carrying snacks around, whether in the diaper bag, lunch bag or purse!  And they are much cuter than boring plastic baggies!  These are the three we bought--grass menagerie (pictured above), owls on blue,  and a sports one for Eric that I didn't see on the website.

Meeting with Ed!

Today Eric, Emma and I paid a visit to NYC (Emma's first!) to attend the Green Expo.  It was really great!  We got to check out some new (to us anyway) green products and of course, we brought some home too!  The highlight of the day though was seeing Ed Begley, Jr speak.  Eric and I love his reality show, Living with Ed, which follows the day to day life of environmentalist, Ed, and his-not-so-environmentalist-wife, Rachelle.  It's really a funny show.  So Ed has been "living green," since 1970, way before living green was cool!  I bought his new book, Ed Begley, Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living, which I'm sure I will learn a thing or two from!  Ed autographed my book and Emma and I took our picture with him.  He was super nice and I even had a conversation with him!  (Well, at least he listened to me ramble on and on!) 

My Eco-Hero, Emma and I!!!

I know Emma doesn't look too excited in the above picture but she was sooo good during his talk!  She squealed the whole time!  See how excited she is here?


If you want to learn more about Ed, check out The Healthy Hippie's interview with Ed Begley, Jr here!

Baby Food


There's my Emma enjoying some peas.  She's a great eater--she'll eat anything even if she's not crazy about it!  I make all her baby food myself with fresh, organic produce.  It is really easy, I have to say.  It's cheaper than jarred food too!  I spend a few minutes steaming whatever it is I am going to make her, then puree with immersion blender or food processor.  I then freeze into ice cube trays with covers and when frozen, store in freezer bags.  I love the book Super Baby Food and website Wholesome Baby Food for information and ideas.   I'm also doing a lot of finger foods. There she is with a teething biscuit but I will give her banana bits, avocado slices, mango slices and bread too!

Going Green


Tomorrow everybody will be going green in a big way!  It's St. Patrick's Day, the one day of the year that everybody is Irish!  Pre-baby, I'd wear anything green I could find (shirt, beads, sunglasses, hat, you name it!) and enjoy myself at the local Irish pub.  This year, I'm sad to say I didn't even buy anything green for the baby to wear.  Oh well.  I'll still make us something Irish for dinner.  I'm going to try this recipe for Almost Irish Stew.  Maybe we'll have some Irish stout to go with it!

Check out Michelle's blog post on cabbage--A St. Patty's Day favorite--and why it's so good for you!  She even posted a recipe for roasted cabbage--yum! 

Also, check out this link if you'd like to try to win a book on green smoothies! 

Homemade Toothpaste

A friend of mine gave me a recipe for homemade toothpaste.  I've been using it for the past month and absolutely love it!  It's easy to make and flavor using essential oils!  Why make your own?  You'll save a lot of money for starters!  Secondly, there is a lot of yucky stuff in most commercial toothpastes--sodium laurel sulfate, saccharin, flouride, etc.  And making your own toothpaste is simple!  Here's what you need--sea salt, baking soda and arrowroot powder.  That's all.  Optional--you can add some essential oils for flavor.  I used peppermint the first time  and Thieves the second time I made it.  The Thieves oil has cinnamon and clove so the toothpaste tasted like cinnamint!  If you choose to use essential oil, add a few drops to your sea salt before mixing together the other ingredients so it doesn't clump.  (You can also use a little cinnamon powder or vanilla extract for flavor too.)

What you'll need
1Tbs arrowroot powder
1tsp sea salt
1/2tsp baking soda
5-10 drops peppermint oil 

Then--just mix them together!  Your toothpaste is more of a powder than an actual paste, but I assure you, it works great!  I store the "paste" in a little container with a cover in my bathroom and use a baby spoon to put a bit onto my toothbrush. 

If you decide to try it, let me know how it works for you!

Organic Fruits and Veggies Galore!!!

We try to buy organic whenever possible--though sometimes it's just way too expensive buying at the supermarket or Whole Foods.  We considered an organic CSA but then you're only getting produce for a few short months.  So about a month ago, we rejoined Purple Dragon Co-Op, an organic fruits and vegetables co-op.  The way it works is that you find a group in your area (in NJ or NY currently) to join and the produce is delivered there twice a month.  So we pick up our 20-30 lbs of produce every other Thursday at a location about 10 minutes from our home.  We love it--you never know what you're going to get until that week.  We often get unusual fruits or veggies which really gives us a chance to get creative in the kitchen!  The produce is local as much as possible and always really fresh.  This article was just published in a local paper about Purple Dragon in case you're interested and would like to learn more.

Scrap Box

I'd really like to start composting soon.  But, in the meantime, I found something to do with all those vegetables scraps that end up in the garbage.  You know what I'm talking about--the carrot peels, tomato ends, celery leaves, etc.  They go in a tupperware container in my freezer.  When the box is full, I use the veggie scraps to make broth!  I started my scrap box on Thursday and by the weekend, it was full!!!  So yesterday, I made a broth and then froze into containers.   Next time I want to make soup, I have ready-to-use broth!  You can also use your veggie and fruit scraps in green smoothies, I am told.    My veggie peels still end up in the trash (until I get my compost bin going) but at least, I'm getting use out of them first. 

Weekend Shopping

Thursday night I attended a swap party!  What a great way to recycle!  A Holistic Moms group I belong to hosted the party.  You donate items you're done with (children's and women's) for items you can actually use!  So I donated some things I didn't need and came home with a beautiful sweater for myself, some clothes for Emma (including what you see in the picture), some books for Emma and toys (including this one, which she loves!)  

Saturday we hit a mothers market in Sparta.  I LOVE mothers markets!  They are like flea markets but with all baby and kids stuff!  Moms who are looking to get rid of their baby and kids clothes, toys, gear, etc. consign them at these markets.  So we went to our third one this weekend.  See this toy in the picture?  Retails for $100 on amazon and we got it for $10!  We also got a great Radio Flyer wooden ride-on toy for $5 along with tons of clothes for the summer (mostly Baby Gap!!!) for dirt cheap! 

Welcome to my new blog!

9:40 AM by Marisa L. S. 0 comments
Hi!!! Welcome whether you are a follower of my previous blog or a new reader! I'll tell you a little about me. I've been married to my husband, Eric for a year and a half now. Six months ago, I gave birth to my precious Emma Claire--the sunshine of my life! She's such a wonderful baby and we are so blessed!!! We're also parents to our mutt, Norton, and two cats, Pumpkin and Oreo. We're doing our best to live and parent in holistic ways because it's good for our family and the Earth. This blog will focus on our day-to-day lives! We're not perfect--my goal is to do a little more today than I did yesterday and so forth. I hope you enjoy! I will probably be doing the majority of the blogging but you might see posts from Eric from time to time too!