Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Green home makeover? 10 Eco-chic furniture tips October 30, 2009

This story appears in my Green Living column on Examiner.com.

Obsess about style, yet crave functionality? Greening your home shouldn’t mean giving up your aesthetic, or necessarily even adopting a new perspective. One person may relish a rough-hewn jute while another demands smooth, luxurious fibers. Whether you prefer wood, metal, cloth or plastic, you will be pleased to learn there is an eco-conscious company manufacturing stylish furniture pieces for virtually every taste and, yes, budget. 

Jacob Gordon at the fabulous website Planet Green compiled an excellent list of points to consider before obtaining your next piece of furniture. The following are excerpts:

1. Choose certified sustainable wood When cave people realized that boulders weren’t the most comfortable things to sit on, wood was almost certainly where they looked. The world needs more trees, not less, so practices that lead to deforestation aren’t any good. Not only do trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, they keep the surface of the planet cool, they hold soil together so it can stay rich, and they provide the habitat that animals, insects, birds, and other plants call home, not to mention they support many people’s livelihood. Simply put, don’t mess with the trees. There are sustainable ways to harvest wood, however. Wood from sustainably harvested forests, sustainably harvested tree farms, and reclaimed wood are the main sources. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and its largest forest certifier, the Rainforest Alliance, is the most widely used standard for sustainable forestry.

2. Furniture made with reclaimed materials If wood is taken care of, and sometimes even if it isn’t, it can last a really, really long time. Let’s make good use of all the wood that’s already out there. Reclaimed wood usually comes from old furniture, houses, or other built things that are ready for some friendly reincarnation, from flawed wood, or from scraps from a factory that makes other stuff. Some reclaimed wood even comes from logs that sunk to the bottom of rivers as they were being floated downstream to the sawmill, or from the bottom of man-made reservoirs (check out the Sawfish). Either way, furniture made from reclaimed wood is a great example of resource efficiency, but usually comes in shorter supply. The Rainforest Alliance has a Rediscovered Wood Certification label to look for.

3. Bamboo represents a family of grasses that range in size from tiny to huge, and in color from lime green to maroon stripes. It is incredibly fast-growing and versatile and has become the unofficial poster material of environmental designers and builders. Bamboo can be flattened into flooring, molded into furniture, pressed into veneers, sliced up to make window blinds, or hey, you can just build your whole house out of it. Using bamboo in buildings earns architects and builders LEED points. Most bamboo comes from China and is grown with few of no pesticides. Because it is so fast growing, it is much easier to maintain healthy bamboo forests. This also means it uses a lot of water, however, and harvesting too fast can deplete soil fertility. Some growers do use pesticides and other chemical inputs, however, so keep that in mind. But for the most part, bamboo is one of the greenest materials around.

4. Recycled/recyclable metal and plastic Since both metal and plastic are recyclable, at least in theory, these can be considered eco-friendly materials for furniture. More and more furniture is being made from recycled plastics and metals as well, like the recycled aluminum Icon Chair. Recycled materials require less processing and fewer resources, and help support the market for recycled materials. Technologies are always improving, meaning that recycled plastics and metals are always going up in quality.

5. Recyclable and disassemblable Good eco-friendly furniture should lend itself to easy repair, disassembly, and recycling. Products certified by MBDC’s C2C (Cradle 2 Cradle) product regimen are a perfect example, like certified office chairs from Herman Miller and Steelcase. These products can be easily taken apart, sorted into their constituent parts, and recycled at the end of their useful lives. When buying furniture, stay away from “monstrous hybrids”, pieces that are an inseparable amalgam of materials. If they can’t be taken apart it’s probably a sign that they can’t be repaired very well either.

6. Look for furniture that’s durable and fixable One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of green products (and this definitely goes for furniture) is durability. If something is tough and/or can be readily repaired, this lessens the chance that it’ll end up in the landfill, and could easily save you money in the long run, even if it’s initially more expensive. Even recyclable materials if they break (and can’t be fixed) require energy and other resources to reprocess and then replace. Durable goods that will last a long time can be passed on from person to person. Even if your style changes and that kitchen table isn’t your thing anymore, a good strong table will almost always be appealing to someone else, while a broken (and unfixable) one probably won’t. When it’s time to part with your possessions, think of Craigslist, Freecycle, or eBay, and find it a new home.

7. Low-toxicity furniture When you buy a piece of furniture, bring it home, and set it down in a room, it doesn’t just sit there. No matter what it’s made out of, chances are, it’s offgassing (or releasing substances into the air). Almost everything offgasses, which isn’t necessarily bad, but synthetic materials or those treated with synthetic substances can offgas chemicals which are toxic. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are the most common family of chemicals that are offgassed and have been linked to birth defects, endocrine disruption, and cancer. Flame retardants and formaldehyde are common VOCs offgassed by furniture. Especially if your home or office is well-insulated (which it should be for energy purposes) toxins can’t get out easily. In fact, studies have shown that air quality inside your house (or car) is often worse than outside. Everyone should be conscious of the kinds of chemicals they bring home, but especially if you have kids, pets, or other family members who are low to the ground and prone to licking things. There are some good ways to help maintain good indoor air quality when it comes to furniture choices.

Greenguard is a certification which ensures furniture is low toxicity. Herman Miller, Haworth, Knoll, and the more affordable Izzydesign all offer Greenguard certified furniture options. Also, look for furniture that is untreated or treated with natural substances, like natural wood finishes, or naturally tanned leather. Organic cotton is also less likely to be treated with toxic stuff. Another great way to dodge toxic chemicals is to buy furniture that is vintage or second-hand and has already done most of its offgassing (just make sure it doesn’t carry anything worse, like lead paint). You can tell intuitively that new things offgas more actively–just think of that new car smell.

8. Buy vintage With all the slick, mod, “eco” brands jumping into the market it can be hard to keep in mind that pre-owned goods can be the most green purchase of all. Vintage and second-hand and furniture requires no additional resources to manufacture, is often locally sources (cutting down on transportation), is pre-offgassed and eases the load on the landfill. Quality vintage furniture can also have excellent resale value (sometimes selling for the same price it was bought) which certainly can’t be said for most new furniture, green or otherwise.

9. Buy local Just like the food on the dinner plate, we might be amazed how many miles the constituent parts of a piece of furniture might have had to travel in order to reach us. If possible, source furniture close to home. This will support the local economy, small craftspeople, and decrease the environmental cost of shipping (not to mention the other kind of cost).

10. What to do with it when you’re over it When it’s time to bid a chair, table, bed, or dresser farewell, make sure it goes to a good home. Sell it on Craigslist, eBay, or the local paper, give it away via Freecycle, or include it in your next yard sale. Putting it safely on the curb with a “free” sign on it can also do the trick. If you are the crafty type, lots of furniture can be repurposed into new functions or just freshened up with new paint or finish. No sturdy artifact should have to live out eternity in the landfill. Think about refurbishing old furniture or entirely repurposing other objects, like this bathtub turned arm chair. The Spanish group Drap-Art has a reuse festival that is ripe with ideas.

Chair pictured above by KnollStudio.

Follow me on Twitter! @RebeccaLacko

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10 natural remedies for Fall allergy sufferers October 29, 2009

While Fall has finally arrived, pollen, ragweed, and mold are still taking their toll on allergy sufferers.  According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, approximately 20% of Americans suffer from allergies and another 20% suffer from hypersensitivities to food, and environmental substances.

So what can you do about Fall allergy symptoms? ChicagoHealers.com Practitioner, Dr. Ian Wahl, DAc, LAc, CH is a Doctor of Acupuncture and herbalist who specializes in the treatment of children and adults with allergies and hypersensitivities. Dr. Wahl offers relief to sufferers with 10 tips breathing easier this season:

1) Take a whole food based Vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine. Dr. Richard Podell, author of When Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Best: Errors That Even the Best Doctors Make and How to Protect Yourself, recommends 1000 milligrams of vitamin C (Ester-C) twice daily to help with allergies and asthma.

2) Magnesium eases breathing. Some immunologists suggest taking 400 milligrams of magnesium daily helps with nasal allergies and breathing problems. Taking more than that can cause diarrhea. If you want to supplement your diet with magnesium–rich foods, the best sources are nuts, beans, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and bananas.

3) Wear sunglasses when going outside. Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, creates a certain amount of photosensitivity. Wearing sunglasses helps reduce your sensitivity to light and thus helps your eyes from excessive watering.

4) Bring a cold pack. When you are at an outdoor sports event, periodically place a cold pack over your eyes and on your face to reduce inflammation and help relieve some of your symptoms. 

5) Drink a lot of cool water. Rehydrating is one of the best ways to eliminate toxins from your body. It cools you down and provides some symptom relief.

6) Stay away from dairy If you have hay fever, eating dairy will produce even more phlegm and make you feel worse.

7) Use your bathroom exhaust fan when taking a shower. This will help prevent to growth of mold in the shower. Replace your liner every month or two, if you have mold sensitivities or asthma.

8) Keep your dryer vent clear. Build-up of lint in the dryer vent will cause an excess of dust in your house. Have your vents cleaned regularly to avoid aggravating your allergy symptoms.

9) Get rid of clutter. Allergy sufferers need to be especially careful about controlling dust in their homes. Clutter is a major source of dust and dust mites.

10) Get tested for food allergies. Many people who have allergies are also sensitive to different foods. These multiple sensitivities build on each other and stress the immune system. Find out what foods you are sensitive to and either eliminate them from your diet or get treated for them so you can eat those foods symptom-free.

For more information, please visit www.chicagohealers.com. Dr. Wahl’s practice, Wahls of Wellness is located at:
3375 N. Arlington Heights Road, Suite A
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
847-392-7901

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Dr. Lauren Feder to offer 3 LA-area Safe Vaccination Lectures October 27, 2009

There is a growing movement among parents to question the safety of such standards as vaccines and antibiotics. 

Dr. Lauren Feder, author of The Parents’ Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations, presents three Los Angeles-area workshops for parents who are seeking optimum health for their children. Dr. Federer will present an overview of health, disease and each vaccination, including pros, cons, risk, benefits and prevention of vaccine side effects. Syllabus included.

Patients of all ages often ask Dr. Robert and Carri Tanaka of Natural Life Chiropractic this question: “what do you think about vaccinations?” The Tanakas encourage all families to “get education from multiple resources on this important topic. One person we look to and trust is Dr. Lauren Feder. Dr. Feder is a Los Angeles-based doctor and, in our opinion, her lecture is a must for any parent to be, or person concerned about their families health.”

Dr. Feder’s lectures sell out quickly, so early registration is highly recommended.
Cost: $25 per person, $45 per PARENT couple.

See below for details on locations and times. NOTE: Dr. Feder will have books on hand as well as homeopathic flu remedies for sale. Please bring cash for these items. The Swine Flu will also be addressed.

For more info on this topic, for vaccine exemption forms and more, visit www.nvic.org.

Location: Belly Sprout
Saturday, November 7, 2009
10:30am – 12:30pm
426 W. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, Ca. 92832

Location: Golden Bridge Yoga
Sunday, November 8, 2009
1:30pm – 4:30pm
6322 De Longpre Ave.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90028

Location: Yo Mama Yoga
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
6:30pm – 8:30pm
1404 3rd Street Promenade, Suite 204
Santa Monica, Ca. 90401

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EEK!-o-friendly tips for a greener Halloween October 25, 2009

Here’s a scary Halloween fact: Consumers spent $1.4 billion on Halloween decorations in 2007, including everything from plastic ornaments to throw-away utensils.

As the second biggest holiday for decorating after Christmas, Halloween negatively impacts the environment by generating a lot of waste. Ally Maize, LA’s resident “green” teen and founder of local nonprofit, the Green Youth Movement, is urging communities nationwide to reduce their environmental impact this Halloween with some simple, easy-to-do tips. Here are a few things that Ally, along with the help of GreenHalloween.org, is doing to ensure every step of her Halloween preparations are “eek-o” friendly.

Top 5 Tips for a Green Halloween:

1. Shop your friends’ closets. Costumes are half the fun in Halloween. Instead of heading to the mall to find new costumes, get creative and reduce your environmental impact by hosting a fun costume swap meet with your friends to trade and borrow threads from Halloweens past.

2. DIY (Do It Yourself). Give your Halloween festivities a personal spin and make your own decorations and treats. Acorns, pumpkins, and apples are great for “Hallogreen®”-friendly embellishments and make less of an environmental impact than store-bought decorations. You can even make your own natural face paint from corn starch, water, and organic food coloring!

3. Offer environmentally and socially responsible treats. Make a true green statement this year by handing out fair trade certified chocolate, raw honey and/or agave sticks, and organic fruit roll-ups. Better for the planet, better for the community, and better for you.

4. Recycle. Before you head to the store to buy Halloween supplies, take stock of what you already have. Everyday household items can be cleverly recycled into spook-worthy decorations. For example, pillow cases, table cloths, brooms and cans lying around the house are great for turning into Halloween ornaments. If you don’t have the items you’re looking for, head to a local thrift store – one person’s trash is another person’s treasure!

5. Use reusable bags or buckets for trick-or-treating. When you head out the door to trick-or-treat, opt for reusable grocery bags, buckets, or pillow cases as an environmentally-conscious alternative to wasteful plastic/paper bags. They’re also likely to hold more candy!

For more information: Click for more information on how to reduce your environmental impact beyond Halloween.  Ally Maize’s Green Youth Movement website is full of great information on how young people can make changes in our lifestyle to lead a healthy, happy, money-saving, sustainable life. 

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Dustin Maher wants to know your goals and dreams. They’re different, when you stop to think. October 22, 2009

Filed under: health,product reviews — rjlacko @ 11:33 am
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I don’t remember how I came to know of Dustin Maher, but what struck me right away about this ambitious, success-oriented personal trainer was his radically different approach to exercise–and the fact that his niche is singularly focused on moms, and our desire to get back into shape after pregnancy and stay in shape throughout our busy lives. As with male gynecologists, I understand how they might “know a lot” about the subject matter, but how can they really know? (And does it matter?)

I took a chance and signed up for his e-newsletter, and was surprised that the very first one was a video of his appearance on a news program. He was explaining to an anchor/new mom how to deeply contract her stomach muscles, instead of doing crunches. I love this concept for a few reasons; 1. Crunches are one of the worst exercises for the post-partum woman. Unless you are holding your abs rock-tight toward your spine, you may very well be crunching them into a muffin shape! 2. Holding in your abs tightly can be accomplished while doing pretty much anything: driving in the car, brushing your teeth, holding and feeding your baby, standing, sitting, you name it. And they’re easier to remember to do than Kegels–you’re reminded about your tummy every time you do up your pants! and, 3. Holding your tummy tight makes both your stomach and your lower back stronger (what new mom couldn’t use a little help with her lower back?) When you have a strong core, you stand up straighter and taller–you look better, and you feel better when the body is in alignment.

Speaking of being in alignment, it seemed to me that Maher and I were. Then, just after a meaningful Sunday at church, where we were pointedly asked to consider our visions for our lives, to explore our dreams and what goals we might set to achieve them, Maher posted an article about just this idea.

“I had a mini epiphany this weekend,” he shared after reading an article written by Greg Justice of AYC Personal Training, “about the difference between goals and dreams.”

“You hear me talk a lot on this blog about setting goals. I believe so much in goal setting as one of the most powerful tools to helping you go from where you are now, to where you want to be in the future.  But this article I was reading talked about how we set goals in order to achieve our dreams. It is our dreams that should really get us excited and keep us motivated!” Maher said.

He challenged readers to offer three goals and resulting dreams, first allowing readers to hear his.

Goal: To eliminate my knee issues/pain.

Dream: To be able to play recreational basketball, football, and any other sport for many more decades.  To be able to hike some of the highest mountains in the world, to be able to play with my teenage kids and be able to beat them!

Goal: Achieve 4% body fat

Dream: To place in the top 5 at the world fitness modeling championships in Vegas (unfortunately with my elbow this will have to wait a year)!

Goal: To help transform the lives of 1,000,000 moms.

Dream: The overwhelming satisfaction of knowing that I not only empowered them to be the best they could be, but also played a role in helping the kids of the moms live a much healthier and fitter life. 

Now it is your turn!  Also please consider the following question: If all your goals were achieved and became reality overnight, when you wake up tomorrow morning what would your life look like?

Goal: To finally lose those last 8 pounds that have held on since my last pregnancy (How can I be so close to my goal weight yet see no change when I’m constantly working on it?)
Dream: To feel honestly beautiful within my own body. To love and accept myself, and reflect that self-acceptance in my relationships with others.
Goal: To teach my children proper eating habits and a love of nutrition
Dream: To have them enjoy cooking with me, and exploring new recipes, tastes and culinary experiences as a family.
Goal: To write a book from the heart. To work fearlessly and joyfully–with gratitude.
Dream: To know success and enjoy success as a result of my decision to work diligently and share what I’m learning and care about most.

How about yours?

 

Get free Ice Age Halloween downloads, and attend Fox’s carving event! October 21, 2009

Ice Age will be taking over pumpkin patches in Los Angeles this weekend to celebrate the October 27 release of Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on DVD and Blu-Ray.

As part of a nationwide initiative, Fox Entertainment will be hosting Family Fun Days this Saturday and Sunday, October 24 and 25, at two pumpkin Los Angeles-area patches with professional pumpkin carving artists, movie giveaways and other festive activities that create the perfect fall outing for the entire family. Win prizes including DVD copies of the first two installments of the Ice Age trilogy, and branded Ice Age glow sticks to keep Halloween night fun and safe.

If you love Manny, Diego, and Sid, stop by Shawn’s Pumpkin Patch in Culver City or Lopez Pumpkin Patch on West 3rd (across from the Grove) this weekend to take part in the festivities.

Free downloadable pumpkin carving stencils and Halloween safety tips from Sid.

 

 
 

 

For more information: Shawn’s Pumpkin Patch
5750 Mesmer Ave.,
Culver City, CA 90230
(323) 325-3059
 
West Third St. and Fairfax Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(213) 949-6880

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Kid-Friendly Gluten-free DESSERTS! October 19, 2009

Gluten sensitivity is a neurological disease. With symptoms including diarrhea, bloating, cramps and general weakness, we don’t readily consider out tummy pains to be affecting our brain. However, as Dr. Eydi Bauer relates in her new book, Life After Bread, any organ or system in the body supplied by the brain and the nerves can be damaged by gluten sensitivity. This means that all systems can be affected–digestive, nervous, reproductive, musculoskeletal, as well as your psychological functioning.”

Dr. Bauer goes on to report how studies estimate as many as 40% (almost half!) of the US has antibodies against gluten, suffering a wide range of symptoms most have just come to consider “normal.” She adds that, “Celiac disease (a manifestation of gluten intolerance) is now being called the most common and most under-diagnosed autoimmune disease of our time.” 

Below are some tested and delicious gluten-free dessert recipes. (Looking for more great recipes? Check these out! Gluten free, kid tested, and foolproof recipes for special diets (Part 1); Gluten free, tested, delicious recipes for special diets: Soup and salad (Part 2); Gluten free, tested, delicious: Recipes for special diets (Part 3).

Autumn Harvest Raw Apple Pie with Almond-Date Crust Get the kids to help with this one, using the time together for a short history lesson about how food was gathered and prepared when Grandmother (or Great-Grandmother) was young.

Carrot Pudding (Gajur Halvah) This rich carrot dessert, which is popular throughout Northern India and Pakistan, became an obsession of ours when I was pregnant with my oldest son, Joseph.

Raw Brownies with Icing Treat yourself to some Scharffen Berger cocoa powder. Green and Black’s makes a nice organic one. Navitas makes Raw Cacao Power, perfect for the purist. (The extra cost for your luxury cocoa splurge is justified by your savings in flour, eggs, butter and milk!)

For more info: Dr. Eydi Bauer suffered from undiagnosed chronic health problems for over 20 years. Today, she is a holistic doctor and chiropractor practicing in Mendocino, Calif. The author of the new book Life After Bread, Bauer says, “Gluten intolerance is a serious and widespread nutritional problem that is causing an incredible array of health problems in America. It is also largely unrecognized by the Western medical Establishment. Learn more here.

Gluten free, kid tested, and foolproof recipes for special diets (Part 1) For many children, gluten intolerance is typically demonstrated as “off-the-wall irrational” behavior. A father of a gluten intolerant child… Keep Reading »

Gluten free, tested, delicious recipes for special diets: Soup and salad (Part 2) A recent Mayo Clinic study found a dramatic increase in the number of cases of gluten intolerance; Interestingly, the group most affected is women in… Keep Reading »

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