Summer Safety Tips to Protect Against Tick-Borne Illnesses & Skin Cancer

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Learn important outdoor summer safety tips to protect your body from tick-borne illnesses and sunburns that can lead to skin cancer.

Outdoor summer safety tips. Learn important summer safety tips to protect your body from tick-borne illnesses and sunburns that can lead to skin cancer. Which is your biggest concern? Getting skin cancer or contracting Lyme disease? You may be surprised to learn that equal numbers of people fall victim to both each year. As these numbers have increased considerably to around 300,000 cases of each per year, it makes sense that summer skin care should be a priority. By carrying out a few essential summer safety tips, you can help prevent you and your family from getting sick.

Outdoor Summer Safety Tips

Which is your biggest concern? Getting skin cancer or contracting Lyme disease? You may be surprised to learn that equal numbers of people fall victim to both each year. As these numbers have increased considerably to around 300,000 cases of each per year, it makes sense that summer skin care should be a priority. By carrying out a few essential summer safety tips, you can help prevent you and your family from getting sick. Keep reading to discover these essential summer safety tips that target potential summertime threats.

Why Is Summer Skin Care Important?

Summer skin care involves more than just protecting your skin from the sun. Ticks, which can potentially infect their host with Lyme disease or even a red meat allergy, are also becoming increasingly common. This makes not just skin cancer, but the possibility of a lifelong illness from chronic lyme disease, an equal concern. Learn important summer safety tips to protect your body from tick-borne illnesses and sunburns that can lead to skin cancer below.

Concern Over Potentially Toxic Ingredients In Sunscreen

You may have heard that are new concerns regarding sunscreens. A recent medical study by JAMA showed that certain chemicals used in sunscreen – specifically avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule – are actually absorbed into the users bloodstream during use. Unfortunately for us, these levels are much higher than approved by the FDA.

However, as sunscreens have not been subjected to the same standards as drug safety testing, there have been no safety inspections on sunscreens thus far. This means that the chemicals in many of the sunscreens on the market are potentially poisoning our bodies. What we don’t know, is if these chemicals are putting us at risk for future illnesses or cancer.

What I found especially scary is how long three of the aforementioned chemicals stay in the bloodstream. Not only do levels of all of these chemicals exceed the maximum safety levels set by the FDA after the first use, three are still detectable after a seven day period. Especially troubling are the results of study on oxybenzone. A chemical banned from sunscreens in Hawaii as it’s toxic to coral reefs, oxybenzone also shows up in womens breast milk.

Unfortunately, no one knows the long term effects of using sunscreen with these ingredients. As of yet, more testing needs to be done to ensure consumer safety. There simply is no concrete answer as to if these ingredients cause cancer over time with continued use. Kind of scary right?

Outdoor Summer Sun Protection Safety Tips

In order to keep your skin safe from cancer, wearing clothing that covers exposed skin and applying sunscreen are two very important summer safety tips. However, with new insight on the potential dangers of chemicals found in sunscreens, it begs the question, what kind of sunscreen should you use?

What Types of Sunscreen Should I Use?

Barrier sunscreens, or mineral based sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, and are free of the previously mentioned chemicals are considered to be safe and effective at protecting skin from sunburns. (Some brands to consider are Waxhead, Bare Republic and Australian Gold.)

It is recommended that you opt out of making your own sunscreen unless you can test its effectiveness. There are numerous reports across the internet in which homemade sunscreens did not offer the protection thought. Thus resulting in bad sunburns. (So DIY at your own risk.)

One only needs to refer back to the debacle with The Honest Company sunscreen during 2015 to fully realize the challenge in make a safe and effective product. There were multiple reports after the original sunscreen was reformulated to reduce the amount of zinc oxide. Extensive sunburns were reported after this change, that while more aesthetically pleasing (bye bye white marks!) it missed the mark on sun protection. (You can read more on this issue here.)

The risk of skin cancer, unfortunately, seems to keep rising. In 2018 the World Cancer Research Fund reported 300,000 new cases of melanoma. This marks melanoma as the 19th most commonly occurring cancer among men and women.

Why Protecting Yourself From Tick Bites Is Important

While the thought of skin cancer is certainly scary, contracting Lyme disease – or even an allergy to red meat – from a tick bite is becoming increasingly common. And quite honestly, just as terrifying. Like melanoma, the CDC reports that 300,000 Americans contract tick-borne diseases each year. While there were 30,000 cases reported to the CDC in 2013, they believe that the actual number of cases is ten times this amount.

The month of May typically marks the start of tick season. This means starting now you should already be taking precautions to protect yourself – and your furry friends – from tick bites. In addition, as we had a mild winter across much of the United States, tick season is expected to be considerably worse this year over previous years when winter temperatures were much colder. It is important to keep in mind, however, that just because tick season starts in May, that doesn’t mean there’s not a year round risk.

Common Disease Carrying Ticks to Watch Out For

Black Legged Tick (Deer Tick)

Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. However, the black legged tick, also known as a deer tick, does. It’s prevalent across much of the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic and north-central part of the United States as well as Illinois. Cases of lyme disease have been reported from Virginia to Northern Maine. This disease causes fever, headache and fatigue as well as characteristic skin rash. If left untreated, the infection may spread to the joints, heart and the nervous system. This in turn can lead to chronic pain, similar to that of fibromyalgia. (Learn more about Lyme disease here.)

A few years back my neighbor contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite. He had headaches so intense he was unable to work for six months coupled with crippling pain. After which he was only able to go back to work part time. If you suspect you may have been bitten by a deer tick, immediate antibiotic treatment can reduce or prevent the symptoms of Lyme disease. However, the best course of action is still prevention.

Deer ticks must be attached to their host – whether pet or human – for 36 to 48 hours in order to transmit the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi that causes lyme disease. Therefore, checking yourself and your animals for ticks once you’ve been outside in wooded and high grass areas can help prevent transmission of the disease. While wearing protective clothing and using a tick repellent can prevent tick bites entirely.

American Dog Tick

The American dog tick, on the other hand, is also one of the most common ticks in the US. However, it is often misidentified. While dog ticks do not carry Lyme disease, they can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and possibly ehrlichiosis to humans. Ehrlichiosis is an emerging concern for areas where this tick is found, East of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ehrlichiosis causes a variety of symptoms that include fever, headache, chills, malaise, muscle pain, gastrointestinal distress, confusion, red eyes and a rash. Approximately one third of adults and half of all children who contract ehrlichiosis experience systems. As with Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis can be fatal in some cases. However, early treatment with antibiotics is often effective.

Lone Star Tick

Finally, the lone star tick – which is also common in my home state of Virginia – can pass along what is called alpha-gal. Alpha-gal is a sugar molecule that the lone star tick can transmit from mammals to humans. When this happens, our bodies develop antibodies against alpha-gal. This in turn results to a life threatening allergy to red meat.

The allergy causes symptoms in humans ranging from hives to violent vomiting and diarrhea – or worse death from anaphylaxis shock. People who have this allergy, like those allergic to bee stings or even peanuts – must carry an EpiPen with them in case of accidental exposure. Additionally, UVA has also conducted research linking those sensitive to the alpha-gal gene with a much higher risk of heart disease.

The lone star tick is especially dangerous as it will actually hunt its next meal. Research has shown that this tick can sense mammals and humans from 60 to 100 feet away. The tick then gravitates towards mammals, rather than patiently waiting for someone to walk by. A recent news story in our area reported that doctors in Richmond are seeing approximately 100 cases per week of people who have been infected with alpha-gal from tick bites.

Outdoor Summer Safety Tips to Prevent Tick Bites. If you live in areas that are prone to ticks, or you are visit high grassy or wooded areas, you should be taking precautions to prevent tick bites. Learn how to keep you and your family safe from tick-borne illnesses.

Outdoor Summer Safety Tips to Prevent Tick Bites

If you live in areas that are prone to ticks, or you are visit high grassy or wooded areas, you should be taking precautions to prevent tick bites. Here’s how to keep you and your family safe from tick-borne illnesses.

    • Wear light protective clothing that covers your arms and legs. (Ticks are easier to see on light colored clothes.) A head covering is also recommended. Tuck or tape your cuffs into your shoes to prevent ticks from crawling inside underneath your clothes.
    • It’s recommended that you spray an insect repellant that contains picaridin, rather than DEET, onto your clothing and hands. (Avoid spraying insect repellent onto your face. Apply with your hands instead, avoiding mucous membranes.) Be sure to wash skin and clothes once you return indoors. Other DEET alternatives include natural tick repellents containing lemon eucalyptus oil.
    • When hiking, walk inside the center of the trail to avoid being brushed by foliage that may contain ticks. If camping, avoid sitting in areas with leaf litter.
    • Check yourself, as well as pets and children, for ticks every two to three hours. Most ticks are unable to transmit a disease until after the four hour mark. While removing ticks within 36 hours makes transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease unlikely.
    • If you find a tick on your clothing, it can be easily removed with masking or cellophane tape. To remove ticks on skin, grasp it firmly with tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Then firmly and gently pull the tick straight out. Alternately, you can also use a cloth or tissue to form barrier between your fingers and the tick prior to removal. Always wash the infected area with soap and water following tick removal, followed by an antiseptic.
    • If you’re worried about infection, you can save the tick in a small vial of alcohol. This way the tick can be identified if you do get sick or want to take preventative antibiotics to protect against Lyme disease. Or if you experience an unexplained illness accompanied by a fever after visiting a tick prone area.

Don't let bugs ruin your summer fun! Repel mosquitoes and deer ticks with this non-greasy insect repellent body butter recipe made with natural essential oils! This insect repellent body butter is crafted with a blend of natural essential oils including lemon eucalyptus essential oil which has been shown to not only repel biting insects, but deer ticks as well.

Alternatives to DEET

According to UpToDate, insect repellents containing the active ingredients DEET, IR3535, or picaridin are the most effective at preventing tick bites. However, these products must be reapplied frequently. Further, DEET products are not safe for use on small children under two months of age. Nor are they safe for adults at concentrations of higher than 30%. This chemical repellent can cause adverse neurologic reactions, such as seizures, as a result of overexposure. In addition it can also cause hives and blister-like lesions.

Due to the potential toxicity of DEET, picaridin is now recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a safe alternative to DEET. It should be applied every two hours. Picaridin is non-greasy and odorless. And it won’t irritate skin or stain fabrics. While there has been no indication of toxicity reported from use on humans, picaridin has caused liver toxicity in rats.

Should you choose to use an insect repellent with picaridin, I recommend Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent or Natrapel 8 Hour. Both of these insect repellents contain 20% picaridin.

While potentially less effective, natural alternatives are considered safer than chemical tick repellents. WebMD states that the application of Citriodiol (which contains 30% lemon eucalyptus oil extract) three times daily significantly decreases the risk of tick attachment if you live in tick-infested area. You can purchase REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent on Amazon. Like Citriodiol, it also contains 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus. And it doesn’t smell like bug spray.

You can also make a natural insect repellent at home. I have an insect repellent body butter recipe made with a blend of essential oils, including lemon eucalyptus to help repel mosquitoes and deer ticks. You find that recipe here.

What Is Your Biggest Outdoor Summer Skin Care Threat?

While it’s important to be diligent at preventing both sunburns and tick bites with the above summer safety tips, I’m curious which you find the greater concern? I posed this same question to my boyfriend, Greg. He stated that after watching me struggling with chronic pain from fibromyalgia, he’d definitely go the skin cancer route. Neither, however, would be his preference. I’ve seen photos of the damage caused by skin cancer and the radiation used to treat it. It’s not pretty. And I imagine it’s also quite painful.

The point is, however, both of these threats are scary and potentially life threatening. I’d love to hear you thoughts on these two health topics as well as your own summer safety tips you take to keep your and your family well. So be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.

Discover more ways to keep your family well by exploring some of the ideas on my Natural Health and Wellness Pinterest board. You can also follow me across your favorite social media platforms. You can find and follow me on PinterestBlog Lovin‘, facebooktwitter and instagram. Or sign up for my semi-weekly newsletter to stay in the loop.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

This collection of eco-friendly spring cleaning tips will not only help you save time, but also save money! Discover the best spring cleaning tips for a non-toxic home.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Eco-Friendly Lifestyle. Time to give your home an overhaul and clean everything and every room for the new spring season. It doesn't have to be daunting. Rather than tackling the taks all in one go, try these green spring cleaning tips over time instead! These eco-friendly spring cleaning tips will also save you both time and money. Discover the best spring cleaning tips for a non-toxic home now!

It’s that time of year again! Time to give your home an overhaul and clean everything and every room for the new spring season. Sounds daunting, right? You bet it is! Rather than try to tackle the task all in one go, try implementing these spring cleaning tips over time instead! Plus learn how you can save money on your favorite eco-friendly cleaning essentials. All while making more time to do the things you actually enjoy!

Eco-Friendly Spring Cleaning Tips

1. Give yourself a break. While women certainly perform superhero feats in our daily lives, we are in fact, not superwoman. Rather than try to tackle a whole house makeover in a single day, go room by room one day a week. After all, it’s not a race.

2. Clean your windows with water, not chemicals. You can save money by using microfiber cloths from Grove Collaborative to clean mirrors, windows and other glass surfaces. Simply clean with a wet microfiber cloth, then follow with a dry cloth for spotless windows. For extra tough jobs, save money with Grove’s eco-friendly glass cleaning concentrate.

You’ll also want to wash your windows on a cloudy day as the sun can hamper your efforts by drying your windows too quickly. This in turn can cause streaks to be left behind.

3. Kitchen cabinets can build of with grease and grime fast. Especially those cabinets in range of the stove. Make cleaning your greasy kitchen cabinets a breeze by mixing a few drops of Mrs. Meyers new spring scented dish soap with a vinegar and water solution. Then simply wipe them down with a microfiber towel or soft sponge.

You can also make a natural cleaner to clean and polish your wood cabinets, along with the wood furniture in your home. Simply mix 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil with 1/2 cup of vinegar or lemon juice in a plastic spray bottle. Shake well then spray onto a microfiber cloth to use.

4. While sheets and pillowcases should be washed at least every two weeks, comforters and pillows don’t need laundering quite as often. Typically they should be washed 2-3 times a year. You can simply toss these into your washer, then dry normally. (Just be sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for washing first!)

5. Not only do you need to launder your bedding, your mattress should also get a spring cleaning! While your comforter and pillows are in the wash, take the time to vacuum out the crevices, top and sides on your bare mattress. Then use a spot cleaner, like Paw Sense Pet Stain and Odor Remover, to tackle anything that remains after vacuuming.

The best non toxic eco friendly cleaning products for your home to save time and money. Plus the best green friendly cleaning hacks, tips and tricks.

6. Spring is also a great time to clean out your refrigerator. After all, it is where food is stored. Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface cleaner is great for this task. First, pull out your refrigerator’s interior shelving. Then wash them with warm soapy water. Before putting the shelves back, use your multi-purpose spray and a sponge to wipe down the surfaces on the inside of your fridge that can’t be removed.

7. While area rugs don’t need to be cleaned every spring – with the assumption you are vacuuming out the dirt on a regular basis – now’s a great time to treat stains. If your rugs are too large to throw in the washer, you can use club soda to treat stains. Just keep in mind that some stains, such as those caused by pets, coffee or red wine, can be more difficult to remove. Therefore spill or stain with a dye or acid base should be cleaned immediately – or as soon as humanly possible.

This recipe for a vinegar free stain remover works great at removing stains not just from rugs and carpets, but laminate countertops as well. Or try this soap based DIY stain stick for anything you can toss in the wash.

8. Organizing your closet can be frustrating. Therefore I recommend removing and donating any items you haven’t worn in at least year. Then go back and organize your clothing by type or color – whatever works best for you. I typically organize my closet starting with short sleeve shirts to long sleeve, then following with skirts, short and pants so each type of clothing is grouped together. This makes my everyday routine easier. It’s also easy to keep organized once it’s done.

9. Use an old toothbrush to clean out the track for your sliding glass door. It can loosen up dirt and grime that your vacuum cleaner can’t. Vacuum again once the extra dirt and grime is knocked loose. Then follow with a damp sponge.

10. Don’t forget to perform your spring cleaning routine to your makeup bag as well. Most makeup is only good for 3-6 months. So toss the old and treat yourself to something new. Plus, you can use your old eyeshadows to create custom nail polish! Just add eyeshadow to clear nail polish and shake to mix!

11. You’ll also want to deep clean the carpeting in your home. This is my least favorite thing to do as the fibro makes it ten times as challenging as it needs to be. So if you have the money, you may want to hire a professional carpet cleaner. Otherwise, vacuum up dirt and debris. Then spot treat your carpet stains first. Follow with a carpet steam cleaner. (If you don’t have one, you should easily be able to find one for rent.)

12. If your curtains aren’t dirty enough to wash, you can remove dust by simply going over them with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum. Or, for more delicate or sheer curtains, toss them into the dryer on low with one of Seventh Generation’s essential oil based fabric softener sheets. They’ll come out dust free with a fresh non-toxic fragrance that’s perfect for spring.

13. Get rid of stubborn hard water stains, soap scrum and even grease your tub by using this 2-ingredient shower cleaner recipe made with vinegar and Dawn. It’s the perfect solution for really grimey tubs and my go to cleaner whenever I move into a new apartment.

You can also make a daily shower cleaner to help prevent mildew and resist soap scum by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water, then adding citrus based essential oils to suit. (I love a lemon lime combo. But lemongrass and orange is also amazing!) Simply spray inside your shower after you bathe for a fresh scent and an extended clean.

Best cleaning hacks for spring. Eco friendly homemaking tips and tricks for your home this spring.

My Favorite Everyday Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips

1. Use wool dryer balls to conserve energy and dry clothes faster. A money saver that allows you to toss softener and dryer sheets, wool dryer balls can be reused again and again. Plus they can be scented with your favorite essential oils. I bought my wool dryer balls from Grove Co., rather than make my own, and I absolutely love them!

2. For everyday cleaning of kitchen countertops, use Full Circle’s Squeeze Cellulose Sponge Cloths or Grove Collaborative’s European Dish Cloths. They work like like super heavy duty paper towels, but are reusable rather than disposable. When they get dirty, simply toss them in the dishwasher the next time you run it.

3. Swap out the rinse aid for your dishwasher with plain white vinegar. You can add a few drops of a citrus based essential oil, if desired. Otherwise, switch to Seventh Generation’s eco-friendly rinse aid for a non-toxic shine.

4. The new front loading HE washers need to be cleaned out periodically. Ours automatically lets us know when it’s time for a deep clean. While the manufacturer suggests running a cycle with bleach to keep our washer from developing odors, a combination of distilled white vinegar and baking soda is a more eco-friendly choice. You should also leave your washer door open to prevent odors from developing faster than usual.

Natural healthy ways to clean your home and complement your eco-friendly lifestyle.

5. To save both time and money on cleaning essentials, I order all of my cleaning supplies from Grove Collaborative. Their discounted pricing makes the products I use everyday more affordable. They also offer auto-ship, not just for cleaning supplies, but also for the probiotics and personal care items I use regularly.

Unlike other auto-ship services, Grove reminds me well ahead of time that an auto-shipment is coming up. So I always have plenty of time to change the items in my cart as needed. I can remove everything from my cart – even if it’s on auto-ship for the month – if I’ve not run out of something or money is tight. I can also change the frequency of how often things come with ease. It’s truly effortless. And I’ve honestly never had any issues with having something ship without me be aware.

Save time and money with these brilliant non toxic cleaning tips and tricks.

If you’re not already a Grove customer, you can totally score some awesome freebies right now! All new customers will receive the hand soap, dish soap and all purpose spray in Mrs. Meyer’s new spring scents along with their best selling walnut scrubber sponges. Plus you get a really cool bubble up soap dish. Just add soap and water to the spring loaded ceramic base. Then move the brush up and down to make super scrubby bubbles for pre-washing stubborn pots and pans or even simply hand washing. (It can also be used as a drain for your kitchen sponges.)

All you need to do is spend $20 on other products at Grove that you might need, including any of the products mentioned above. So basically you end up getting over $50 in products for $20. And shipping is free! Spend $39 and you’ll also get a free stoneware tray. Plus new customers also get a free 60 day VIP trial. I’ve been a VIP member since I’ve joined and it really pays off! As a VIP customer I get free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service! Truly this is an amazing company. Check it out! (Delivery is carbon offset right to your doorstep!)

Now that I’ve shared my favorite eco-friendly spring cleaning tips, I’d love to hear your ideas as well! Be sure to leave a comment with your favorite spring cleaning tips in the comments so we can all learn from one another!

To discover more eco-friendly homemaking solutions, sign up for my semi-weekly newsletter! You can also find and follow me on these social media platforms: Blog Lovin‘, facebooktwitterpinterest and instagram.

Treat Yourself This Valentine’s Day

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Four unexpected yet easy ways to treat yourself this Valentine’s Day! (Because not every love affair needs to be about someone else.)

Treat yourself this Valentine's Day! When was the last time you spent money on you? As women, I think we're conditioned to look out for the needs of others first. So instead of buying something for someone else, why not treat yourself? Buy something that sparks your creativity. Make more time for yourself to do the things you love. Take care of your physical needs. Four unexpected ways to treat yourself for Valentine's Day - or any day! #treatyourself #selfcare #healthandwellness

I’m not the biggest fan of winter. Granted, snow is fun – to a point. But we’ve just not had enough snow to hoot and holler this winter. And that polar vortex that dipped super south this year? It left me huddled inside feeling the full force of those winter blues. While Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, it’s not really a day I’m looking forward to with any sort of zeal. To be truthful, I’d rather stay inside where it’s warm and cozy until spring. So in addition to – or perhaps just instead of – celebrating Valentine’s (or Galentine’s Day) why not simply treat yourself with one of these easy self care ideas?

4 Ways Treat Yourself for Valentine’s Day

#1 Treat yourself with a gift on your wish list.

When was the last time you spent money on you? As women, I think we’re conditioned to look out for the needs of others first. So instead of buying something for someone else, why not treat yourself? Buy something that sparks your creativity. Or splurge on that new pair of shoes or that eyeshadow pallet you’ve been dying to buy, but simply can’t justify. (I’m thinking about buying this linocut printmaking kit right now.)

#2 Treat yourself  by making more time for the things you love.

You can also invest more time in your passions, by skipping those last minute trips to the store. Whenever we even get the threat of snow here in Southwestern Virginia, everyone freaks out. This makes going to the grocery store for a regularly planned trip to pick up toilet paper feel like you wandered into a madhouse. Everyone else is cleaning out the milk, eggs and bread. And all you want is few extra rolls of toilet paper because you’ve been using yours as tissues for the past week. Why torture yourself?

Treat yourself this Valentine's Day! When was the last time you spent money on you? As women, I think we're conditioned to look out for the needs of others first. So instead of buying something for someone else, why not treat yourself? Buy something that sparks your creativity. Or splurge on that new pair of shoes or that eyeshadow pallet you've been dying to buy, but simply can't justify.

Sign up for Grove and get your everyday products delivered monthly right to your door – all when you need them! I love that I also have the option of receiving the things I need early – or simply skipping a month – depending on what I may need or my financial situation. Plus, right now, Grove is sending out some pretty incredible freebies for new customers. Things like treeless toilet paper and paper towels as well as dish and hand soap and scrubber sponges. Practical items – all shipped free with your first order of $20 or more. (I like to throw in holistic immunity boosters this time of year as well.) So you can take back that hour of chaos and bank that time to do something you actually enjoy. Check it out!

If you have a love of learning, then there's no better gift of give yourself than the gift of knowledge. The Herbal Academy just introduced their revised and expanded their herbalism courses for the new year. Not only are they coinciding this with an awesome spring sale, there are some super sweet freebies that come with select programs. They also now offer PRINTED course guides! (For those of us who are constantly mourning the loss of paper books.) You can take advantage of sale pricing at The Herbal Academy through February 20th. New students will receive a $25 discount off registration through February 20th. Plus you'll receive a free herbal goodie bag ($70 value) with any textbook package order!

#3 Treat yourself with the gift of knowledge.

If you have a love of learning, then there’s no better gift of give yourself than the gift of knowledge. The Herbal Academy just introduced their revised and expanded their herbalism courses for the new year. Not only are they coinciding this with an awesome spring sale, there are some super sweet freebies that come with select programs. They also now offer PRINTED course guides! (For those of us who are constantly mourning the loss of paper books.) You can take advantage of sale pricing at The Herbal Academy through February 20th. New students will receive a $25 discount off registration through February 20th. Plus you’ll receive a free herbal goodie bag ($70 value) with any textbook package order! Sign up here.

With winter here, however, staying active can be a challenge. But with the legalization of CBD oil across the country (with some restrictions) we are now able to turn to healthier options for chronic pain like arthritis and fibromyalgia in addition to our overall health and emotional well being. Don't like the taste of CBD oil tinctures? You can now support your body's endocannabinoid system with natural CBD oil infused treats!

#4 Treat yourself by supporting your ECS.

Last year I learned that our bodies have an entire system that supports everything from pain sensation and pregnancy to fertility, mood and appetite. It’s call the endocannabinoid system (ECS.) Voluntary exercise naturally boosts our ECS which can lead to exercise induced euphoria. (Source.) With winter here, however, staying active can be a challenge. But with the legalization of CBD oil across the country (with some restrictions) we are now able to turn to healthier options for chronic pain like arthritis and fibromyalgia in addition to our overall health and emotional well being. Don’t like the taste of CBD oil tinctures? You can now support your body’s endocannabinoid system with natural CBD oil infused treats!

For more lifestyle and wellness ideas, as well as natural beauty recipes, sign up for my semi-weekly newsletter so you never miss a post. You can also follow me on Pinterestfacebook and instagram.

How to Deal with Holiday Stress Even If Your Family Is Insane

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

This post is sponsored by Wiivv. All opinions are my own.

Let’s face it. The holidays can be tough. Not only is there more to take on during the holiday season, but family can make the holidays even more stressful. There are ways, however, to lighten that emotional load. Keep reading for my tips on how to deal with holiday stress. So maybe this year you can start enjoying the holidays again.

Tips on how to deal with holiday stress.

The day before Thanksgiving I actually broke out in hives. So I understand how stressful the holidays can be. Thus illustrating not just the emotional, but also the physical toll, that the holidays can have on our health. Because I have fibromyalgia, stress – especially the kind of stress that the holidays bring – also affects my pain level. So doing activities that I actually do enjoy – like our local star drop in market square – brings with it some challenges. Specifically when it comes to footwear.

I want to be like everyone else and wear my pretty holiday party dress with the super cute shoes to match. What I don’t want to have to worry about however, is my feet hurting a half hour in and not being able to walk the rest of the night. Luckily, I scored a pair of Wiivv’s 3/4 Length Custom Fit Insoles a few months ago. Their not only custom designed to fit my feet, they also fit into every single pair of shoes I own. Even those cute party shoes. And, while they may not help me to deal with the stress of the holiday season, there’s a good chance I’ll be doing a lot of dancing into the New Year.

I really love that my Wiivv insoles allow me to feel physically feel better, not just at holiday parties, but in my day to day activities. This in turn takes some of that extra stress off my mind, so I can enjoy doing things more. Let’s face it though. Dealing with the stress of family obligations and events throughout the holiday season isn’t tackled by great footwear alone. Sometimes you have to take the time out to consider what’s more important to you – your sense of duty or your emotional health?

To help you make the holidays season a little easier to deal with, I’ve been together a few tips on how to deal with holiday stress.

Tips on How to Deal with Holiday Stress

1. Say “no.”

There’s nothing saying that you MUST attend family events during the holiday season. Maybe you have an emotionally abusive mother or a racist uncle that puts you on edge. Or perhaps it’s just overwhelming trying to find the time to attend every event, clean your house and shop for gifts all on top of work, kids and personal relationships. If you need a break, for whatever reason, it’s okay to say “no.” Stay home instead and indulge in some self care. You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself. And believe me, I’ve skipped my own fair share of events.

“Sorry, I won’t be able to attend this year. Aunt Margaret will be there and if I have to even look at her face after the things she’s done… Well, I will not hold back. And no one wants that at a holiday party.”

2. Self medicate.

Yeah. I know. This sounds bad. But as someone who’s dealt with agoraphobia, I understand anxiety. And sometimes you just need a little help. I’m not suggesting drinking yourself into oblivion or anything. However, if there are events that will turn out worse for you if you don’t attend them, then go prepared. Cbd oil works wonders for anxiety when you can’t avoid those extra challenging family events. (It can also help with the inflammation from all those carbs!) However, if CBD oil isn’t an option for you, you can try other herbal remedies such as valerian and skullcap root to ease anxiety and reduce stress.

“Hey, Carla! Your dress is awesome. Hopefully your attitude will reflect your look this year. But if not, I’ll just be chillaxing over in the corner tonight with my phone on video… I can’t wait to replay your antics for all my friends! They all loved Don’t Trust The B- In Apartment 23!”

3. Avoid politics.

At all costs, do not discuss politics at family gatherings. If your family is like mine, then everyone has a different opinion on the state of our country. Don’t make a relatively agreeable holiday gathering into an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While your brother may act like a demon, it’s best not to call him out on it. Your therapist may refer to this as setting aside your differences. I also suggest making it very clear there are to be no political discussions during holiday events. Threaten to never attend an event again – I did! – and someone is guaranteed to have your back.

4. Take a breather.

Overwhelmed? Sneak outside and take a break. One of my best memories of Christmas was not only family free (I was going through a divorce) but it was spent with a friend skating on the ice in Market Square in our tennis shoes. Alternately, mediation is supposed to help as well. Unfortunately, my brain stays on overdrive and that is something I definitely struggle with.

5. Get some rest.

Staying up late to try to tackle your entire to do list will just make the next day more trying. You are not a Stepford wife. (Thank goodness.) You’re a grown ass woman. So if you want ice cream for breakfast and a midday nap, just go for it. If anyone is judging you, it’s simply to make up for their own shortcomings.

With that said, I hope everyone has a happy holiday season. Even if it means taking a pass. And, if you have tips for how to deal with holiday stress, I’d love for you to share your success stories in the comments. Also don’t forget that those custom Wiivv insoles in case you need to make a mad dash for the hills without breaking a leg. Your family likely won’t thank you, but your feet definitely will. However, learning how to deal with holiday stress can help you have a happier holiday. So if you’re up for it, then give it your best! (Or at least find a way to make it entertaining.)

Get A Little Crazy With Pumpkin Spice This Fall!

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I am so ready for fall. It is, by far, my favorite season of the year. And not just because it’s pumpkin spice season. (Although that does add another reason to the yes column.) If you’re a fellow pumpkin spice fan, then keep reading to learn how to score a set of FREE warm and spicy pumpkin scented cleaning products. Plus check out some great tips on getting your home ready for fall along with twelve of my favorite pumpkin spice recipes that you can craft indoors on a chilly weekend.

Pumpkin spice beauty and skin care recipes for fall and autumn inspired homemaking tips and tricks. Discover my favorite cleaning solutions for fall plus great tips for making the transition into fall with homemaking ideas and 12 pumpkin spice recipes. #pumpkinspice #cleaning #tipsandtricks #homemaking #diy

For the love of pumpkin spice.

OMG. Summer has just dragged on forever this year. But basic or not, I’m so ready for pumpkin spice season! My boyfriend, on the other hand, is just psyched it’s finally football season again. While he’s cheering on the Jacksonville Jaguars, you can find me sneaking across the street for a pumpkin spice latte at our local Starbucks.

I just can’t resist the warm, spicy taste of pumpkin spice – or the fragrant scent! So when I found out that Grove Collaborative now has Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products in their new fall scents, I was instantly sold. Mrs. Meyer’s has three great scents for fall – mum, apple cider and pumpkin.

If you aren’t already a Grove customer, you can score a free trio of Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products in your scent of choice. You’ll also get a replaceable head dish brush, free shipping and a free VIP trial when you make your first $20 purchase. You have to hurry, though, as this is a super limited time offer.

Pumpkin spice beauty and skin care recipes for fall and autumn inspired homemaking tips and tricks. Discover my favorite cleaning solutions for fall plus great tips for making the transition into fall with homemaking ideas and 12 pumpkin spice recipes. #pumpkinspice #cleaning #tipsandtricks #homemaking #diy

I’m a VIP member at Grove and I love that I can get free shipping AND a free gift with every order (with a minimum purchase.) Last month I scored a FREE Grove Collaborative bamboo prep board.

I’ve also gotten completely hooked on their European dish cloth set. These durable and absorbent sponge cloths are perfect for messes – and they helped my boyfriend give up his paper towel habit. Because these sponges are reusable, you simply pop them into the dishwasher to easily disinfect and clean them. If you’ve been working toward a zero waste lifestyle that reduces your carbon footprint, these dish cloths are a must!

Now if I can just break Greg of his Keurig coffee and convert him over to my favorite, lower acidity cold brew.

Once you’ve scored your free cleaning kit from Grove, be sure to check out these great tips for preparing your home for fall. Plus be sure to try one or more of my favorite pumpkin spice skin care and beauty recipes at the end of this post.

Pumpkin spice beauty and skin care recipes for fall and autumn inspired homemaking tips and tricks. Discover my favorite cleaning solutions for fall plus great tips for making the transition into fall with homemaking ideas and 12 pumpkin spice recipes. #pumpkinspice #cleaning #tipsandtricks #homemaking #diy

Fall homemaking & cleaning tips.

1. I’m not usually a baker (that’s more of my roomie’s expertise) but something about pumpkin spice season always inspires me to whip up an apple pie or a batch of pumpkin muffins. When that happens, Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap and the Grove replaceable head dish brush are perfect for a quick cleanup! Plus, they make a pretty sink-side display.

2. A fresh towel is such an underrated way to add some seasonal vibes to your kitchen. Grove’s heirloom red kitchen towel adds a pop of fall color and can handle the toughest messes.

Whether we’re hosting a casual cookout or a football party, fall is my favorite time of year to entertain. My roommate and I always make sure the guest bathroom is stocked with fluffy hand towels, plenty of toilet paper, and of course a seasonal hand soap. I receive so many compliments on Mrs. Meyer’s fall fragrances (and guests always want to know where I got them since our local stores sell out so quickly!)

Pumpkin spice beauty and skin care recipes for fall and autumn inspired homemaking tips and tricks. Discover my favorite cleaning solutions for fall plus great tips for making the transition into fall with homemaking ideas and 12 pumpkin spice recipes. #pumpkinspice #cleaning #tipsandtricks #homemaking #diy

3. Brisk fall days are perfect for tackling outdoor tasks and preparing your home for winter. Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface is the only cleaner you need for wiping down patio furniture, light fixtures, and metal railings. Plus, the bold scents give you a boost of energy while you’re cleaning!

4. As the nights get cooler, it’s time to pull out your cozy fall bedding. To make your favorite blanket even softer and cozier, add a few drops of Grove’s lavender essential oil to Grove’s wool dryer balls before you toss them in the dryer!

My roommate, Bambi, wasn’t really sure about the dryer balls when I first purchased them, but now she’s hooked. Not only does it make our laundry softer, it also reduces static and decreases drying time so we can save energy.

5. Switching over your closet? Before you store your summer clothes, give them a good wash with Method laundry detergent so they’re fresh for next season.

I love using Method’s 4x concentrated laundry detergent. I bought the ginger mango fragrance two months ago and still have a ton of detergent left. I love the scent. However I really love that it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin. Not only is this detergent HE friendly – I use it at my boyfriend’s apartment too – the bottle is designed so the cap doesn’t get all gummy from measuring out the amount I need.

6. Just like I reach for different clothes once the weather gets cooler, I also reach for different skincare products. I can’t live without Grove’s nourishing coconut skin superfood — it can be used as a face and body moisturizer, cuticle cream, and even eye makeup remover!

7. The start of fall also means the start of cold and flu season! To keep the sniffles at bay, I always keep a Grove hydrating hand sanitizer spray in my purse or travel bag. (This stuff is AMAZING!)

8. Can you believe stores are already putting out Halloween decor? This year, I’m aiming for zero-waste with natural decor like pinecones, potted mums, and gourds. They look festive and don’t take up that much needed storage space!

9. Tip to save on your fall product needs: Once you’ve submitted your Grove order, you will be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. For 60 days, save even more with free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. What are you waiting for? Order today!

Pumpkin spice beauty and skin care recipes for fall and autumn inspired homemaking tips and tricks. Discover my favorite cleaning solutions for fall plus great tips for making the transition into fall with homemaking ideas and 12 pumpkin spice recipes. #pumpkinspice #cleaning #tipsandtricks #homemaking #diy

Pumpkin Spice Skin Care & Beauty Recipes

Now that your home is in order, why not mess it up again? Try one of these fun pumpkin spice skin care & beauty recipes for you next weekend DIY. I mean, you do get to clean up the aftermath with more pumpkin spice. So why not?

Don’t forget to invite over a friend or two. I find that crafting is a ton more fun with friends as project cohorts. And a bottle of wine is always nice too!

Pumpkin spice beauty and skin care recipes for fall and autumn inspired homemaking tips and tricks. Discover my favorite cleaning solutions for fall plus great tips for making the transition into fall with homemaking ideas and 12 pumpkin spice recipes. #pumpkinspice #cleaning #tipsandtricks #homemaking #diy

For more pumpkin spice inspired bath & beauty recipes, be sure to follow my Pumpkin Spice Bath, Beauty & Skin Recipes board on Pinterest. I’d also love for you to share your favorite pumpkin spice products or recipes in the comments!

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