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Iris Smart Home System by Lowe’s { Giveaway! }

Pin ItRenovating a home (DIY style) is not for the fain of heart, but we’re managing it… just barely. It’s just one of the reasons you see me a little less here at the moment (I’m sorry, truly!). From planning to implementation, working and taking care of kids, keeping the air clean and making sure […]

The post Iris Smart Home System by Lowe’s { Giveaway! } appeared first on The Eco-Friendly Family.

The Herbs and Oils Super Bundle

Raise your hand if you’ve been let down by the conventional medical system. *Raises hand. While some medical procedures are necessary or even life saving, like a hip replacement surgery or an open heart surgery, there are so many preventable conditions that natural and alternative remedies can be used to treat. This is one of...

The post The Herbs and Oils Super Bundle appeared first on Dr. Karen S. Lee.

Minimize the Risks of Swimming in Chlorinated Pools

Last summer one of my kids' favorite activities was swimming with friends at a local pool. So this summer I decided to fork over the money for a pool membership. Which means I am committing to taking my kids swimming frequently in order to get my money's worth. But the pool is chlorinated, as most are, and swimming in chlorinated pools has certain risks. Nonetheless, I believe for my family the pros of physical activity and fun with friends outweigh the risks. Still, I'd like to mitigate those risks as much as possible. First a bit about the risks.

The Dangers of Swimming in Chlorinated Pools

Feel free to skip over this section and go straight to the strategies for minimizing the risks below. We don't all need to know the depressing details! But for those interested, here goes. When contaminants such as sweat, hair, sunscreen, or urine mix with the chlorine in the pool, they form disinfectant by-products, or DBPs. One type of DBP, chloramines, is responsible for the strong chlorine smell we associate with pools. DBPs are known respiratory irritants. Many DBPs are toxic or suspected carcinogens.

Indoor chlorinated pools create an additional danger compared to outdoor pools because of the enclosed atmosphere. I have long disliked indoor pools because of the mugginess and extra strong chlorine smell (which is actually chloramines) of the indoor air. Volatile chemicals can be transferred from water to air and then inhaled by swimmers and spectators. Outdoor pools offer greater ventilation.

Numerous studies have connected swimming in chlorinated pools to health problems, particularly for the very young and the highly exposed (elite swimmers and pool workers). Health problems associated with exposure to chlorinated pools include increased risk of respiratory problems, childhood asthma and allergies, DNA damage and bladder cancer (see this discussion of the effects of DBPs). Several studies have highlighted the risks of swimming in indoor chlorinated pools in particular. For example, studies have linked swimming in indoor pools to testicular damage, as well as asthma and recurrent bronchitis in children. But the research on DNA damage and cancer is in the early stages, and the research reviews on chlorinated pool exposure and childhood respiratory problems that I read stated that the connection is inconclusive (since some studies find no connection, or even associate swimming with a decrease in respiratory symptoms).

For me, the bottom line is that toxic chemicals are present in and around chlorinated pools, and while researchers are busy studying the health effects of those compounds, my family will enjoy the benefits of recreational swimming while doing our best to mitigate our exposure to harmful chemicals.


How to Limit Exposure to Harmful Substances in Chlorinated Pools

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Why Chemical Safety Matters

I am just sick today about the number of cancer diagnosis just within my small group of friends and family lately. I am sick of having to police everything that comes into our house for carcinogens. You know that there is absolutely no requirement for chemical safety testing of what goes into personal care products or cleaning products in the US, right? Read more...

The post Why Chemical Safety Matters appeared first on Living Consciously.

How to Store Dried Herbs


Since I started growing and harvesting my own herbs, I have learned a trick or two on how to preserve them for optimal use. Believe me, you don’t want washed up looking or tasteless herbs.  Here are 5 tips on how to store dried herbs.

If you don’t grow your own, I will also provide tips where to buy them.

How to Store Dried Herbs

Don’t Cut Your Herbs Before You Use Them:

Most of the herbs you buy at the store are tasteless compared to freshly dried herbs.  Once you cut an herb, it releases its oils, and starts to denigrate. Any aromatic herb such as mint will lose its smell rapidly.  It is impossible to retain Lemon Balm’s fragrant smell.

If you grow your own, you don’t  want to cut them before using them.  Simply, seal them in a vacuum sealed bag.  Alternatively, use a glass container, but realize it has air in it and the herb will denigrate.  (You could always vacuum seal your herbs in a ball canning jar.  My vacuum sealer has an attachment for sealing ball jars.)

Light and Air Are an Herb’s Enemy

Light and air are an herb’s enemy.  It will cause its color to change which signifies it has lost some of its vigor.

Bulk herb bins are death nails for herbs. They spend their life in  an air filled container with artificial light blaring on them.

Don’t get me started about grocery store herbs.  Yep.  A small glass jar allowing the herbs to sunbathe.

Either Dehydrate Your Herbs or Dry in a Very Warm, Dark Area.

If you simply hang your herbs upside down, they will fare better than the grocery store variety.  However, they will dry quite a few shades lighter than their original color and be less potent.

If you have access to a dehydrator, dehydrate them.

If I dehydrate my herbs, then I set the dehydrator at 95-110 degrees.

This is the only time an herb should be near heat.

Don’t Store Your Herbs Near a Stove

Okay.  How many of you store your herbs within arms reach of your stove?  Sure it is easier to grab for the paprika when you need it.  Remember heat, light and air are an herbs worse enemy.

Store them in a vacuum sealed bag (best) or glass container in a cool dark place.

Be Careful Where You Buy Your Herbs

Buying in bulk may not be the wisest decision:

  • Herbs should be used within a year from purchase.  Do you know how long the herbs had been in storage before reaching your door?  If you buy too much, and don’t use it timely, you are wasting money.  (Note, if you leave them whole, you might be able to use them for 2 years depending on the herb.  I have herbs that are over 2 years old and are fine.)
  • Are you buying herbs from a vendor whose herbs look washed out?  If so, pass.  They may have not been dried properly.

Many of you may know that I am an Etsy seller.  Often times, I will check out my competition.  I can’t believe how bad some of the herbs look  from other Sellers. (Most of these sellers are simply buying from somewhere else and reselling the herbs.)

Herbs should look slightly lighter in color than their original state.  If they look like they are washed out, then pass.

The only exception is that certain scented geraniums will not dry to their true color.  I have tried every method I can think of to get those leaves to dry to their true color.

Also, note, flowers such chamomile and calendula for example should look like they did when they were on the plant.  There should not be a color difference.

Recently, I purchased product from a reputable organic bulk seller since I need more than what I grow to make my teas for my shop.  The color was washed out and it didn’t smell as good as mine. The herbs were sourced overseas.

I reached out to the seller to find out why.  They responded that the plant may not look like mine since it is grown somewhere else, and therefore dries differently.

I honestly didn’t know how to react to their explanation. Maybe they are right but my gut tells me they weren’t dried properly or left out in the sun too long.

Where Should You Buy?

If you don’t want to grow your own, here are some suggestion where to find herbs:

  • Buy fresh from your local farmer’s markets.  Go early.  Herbs start to droop by the afternoon.  Then dry them yourself.
  • Local Harvest lists local farmers who sell herbs
  • Finding herb growers such as Zach Woods Farm who dries their herbs in their greenhouse at dehydrator temperature. I use a similar method.
  • Mother Earth News lists these herb farms.

If you need to buy an herb in bulk, talk to your supplier and find out

  • how are the herbs stored.  Are they kept away from light and heat?
  • Are they stored in packaging that impedes light?
  • Are they steamed or irradiated.  (You can ask for verification.)
  • Are they sourced from organic farmers.  (Look for the USDA organic certification.)
  • If they say their herbs are wild-crafted, can they verify where they were sourced.  Many herbs such as mugwort grow by roadways.  Would you want to consume anything by a roadway?

Some reputable bulk USDA organic suppliers are Starwest Botanicals, Mountain Rose, or Bulk Herb Store. (Be sure to ask them the questions above before you buy.)

I sell herbs as well but not in the bulk amount that the above suppliers sell–except for alfalfa and feverfew.  I have a ton of these herbs!  However, I moved into tea blends, flower essences, hydrosols, and bath salts and will be selling limited quantities of my herbs. Be sure to check out my shop!

Join the Conversation:

How you source your herbs or do you grow them?



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The post How to Store Dried Herbs appeared first on Green Talk.

Weekly Meal Plan: week 25

Cheers to all the men and their families celebrating Father’s Day this weekend. I hope it was filled with fresh food and yummy food from the grill. We celebrated with a trip to a local farm to get fresh picked strawberries, try out some lunch from the food truck festival and finish off with some...

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Summer Fitness Essentials

As the weather warms up, it gets easier to be active outside. The fresh air can motivate you to run a little farther than when you are on the treadmill at the gym. Start tracking your activity, water intake and protect your skin while you are enjoying the summer sun. Get out there and have...

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