I believe in using natural ingredients in my daily life and that is why I strive to use essential oils whenever possible. However, I don't have a lot of different kinds of oils (Of course this is because I like to keep things as simple as possible!). So I have a basic go-to assortment of what I call my Five 'Must-Have' Essential Oils because they cover just about everything I need to use them for on a daily basis. So whether you use essential oils already, are new to them, or if you're considering getting started, then these are the five oils I personally recommend you have!
Feel free to download and print this FREE instruction card about the Five "Must-Have" Essential Oils and their uses!
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Just the other night someone asked me if I was planning to stay up and watch the solar eclipse that's going to occur on August 21, 2017. I didn't even have an answer. I just stared at them with open eyes and mouth....thinking.....stay up???? The science teacher in me nearly had a heart attack. Clearly this person had no idea what a solar eclipse is. If they did they would have realized that the Sun has to be in the sky so that the moon can move in front of it. This can only happen during the day. So unless they think I sleep all day, there's no reason for anyone to 'stay up' and watch it. In fact, it's going to be almost impossible NOT to watch it! And that brings me to safety.
The eclipse is going to occur on August 21, 2017, during the day, across the USA.
The Sun rises in the Western US first so this is where the first eclipse will be able to be viewed. The first total eclipse will be viewed in Oregon at 10:15 AM PST (Pacific standard time). Here in New York we should begin to see the partial at about 1:23 PM EST, and it will continue until 4:00 PM - that is 2 hours and 37 minutes smack in the middle of the day my friends. Pretty hard to miss. And pretty tempting not to look at!
Check the times for any city here: https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/
And yes, a total eclipse can be viewed without protection. BUT THE PARTIAL CAN NOT. I mean, you can choose to, but that would be like committing vision suicide. Stupid choice. The partial leading up to the total, and the partial that will be viewed by the millions upon millions of people that are not in the path of total eclipse MUST be viewed safely.
Now considering that it is pretty much in the middle of a regular work day (Monday), and considering it is the summer, this means that most people, including children, will be out and about. Knowing it is human nature to be curious (especially children) it is extra important to be prepared. Whether you will be picking the kids up from camp, hanging out at the beach, or simply barbecuing dinner in the backyard YOU KNOW HOW TEMPTING IT WILL BE TO LOOK UP. So please, look up safely!
Here's why you need to look safely:
Remember looking at the Sun and then seeing black spots? Or how about temporary blindness when some idiot flashes his brights in your eyes at night? Why do welders need to wear special eye protection? Basically, the rods and cones in your eyes get over excited from bright lights and it takes a few seconds to minutes (longer, maybe never, if you looked at arc welding light) for your eyes to adjust back to normal. Watch this educational video for more detail:
So what does that have to do with an eclipse? Well, you are still looking at the Sun, and probably more often for a longer period of time in order to watch the eclipse. NASA's website states: "The solar radiation that reaches the surface of Earth ranges from ultraviolet (UV) radiation at wavelengths longer than 290 nm to radio waves in the meter range. The tissues in the eye transmit a substantial part of the radiation between 380 and 1400 nm to the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. While environmental exposure to UV radiation is known to contribute to the accelerated aging of the outer layers of the eye and the development of cataracts, the concern over improper viewing of the Sun during an eclipse is for the development of "eclipse blindness" or retinal burns."
Bottom line: view the partial eclipse safely. Check out NASA's page about when and why.
Oh, and using a filter for your eyes and then looking through a camera, telescope, or binoculars that doesn't have its own filter is a huge NO NO. Your eyes will not be protected enough. The device must have it's own special, approved, filter because of the magnification. So be smart and do your research!
Here's a few ways to view the eclipse safely with your eyes:
NOTE: even with these precautions do not stare constantly at the eclipse. Look, then look away. You need to continuously give your eyes a break.
A Few things NOT to do:
Enjoy the solar eclipse safely. It will be worth it!
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Recently we had a last minute backyard barbecue. My sister and her family had nothing to do, and neither did we. Since we literally live on the same block, and it was really hot out and we have a pool, they came on down for some swim time, and of course, food. We are Italian and we had to have food. Not just a little either. We had enough to feed half the block because well, you never know who else might decide to visit!
Anyway, thats not the point of this post. The point is that when my niece was filling the pot to boil the fresh corn I noticed that she was using the hot water to fill it so I said that she shouldn't be using the hot water out of the tap. And of course being a highly intelligent young lady she questioned me as to why. Naturally I was more than willing to share my reasoning with her but it started me thinking that maybe a quick post with some information for anyone who is interested in why would also be a good idea.
So why not consume hot tap water? This is really a personal choice and I personally choose not to drink it because I would rather be safe than sorry. The science teacher in me further solidifies this decision and I have taught my children to never consume hot tap water as well for three basic reasons (and in this precise order): lead, contaminants, and disease.
How old is your house? When was it built and what are the pipes made of? Just about any home or building built before 1986 has lead in the pipes unless they have been fully replaced. Even newer metal pipes have some lead in them. Read about this at the CDC.
I live in a house built in 1931 and I KNOW there is lead in these old pipes. Drinking the cold water without running it for a few minutes (5 is recommended) first would be foolish, but drinking the hot tap water would be even more foolish! Keep reading for the reason why...
Where does your water come from? Is it treated by a water company with chemicals or does it come from a private well? Do you have a filtration system in your home? If it is well water have you ever had the water tested for contaminants and particulate matter?
I have lived in both situations. Years ago I had well water and I paid to have it tested once a year. I also had a filtration system since we lived in an area where the water table was only 4' below the surface. Now I live in an area with a government run company that pumps up the groundwater, tests it, filters and treats it with chemicals as needed. Not ideal, but it is what it is. But either way, using hot water means that the contaminants and/or the added chemicals are more concentrated. Think about it: when you boil water only the water is steamed away. Everything else remains behind in whatever water still hasn't become steam. Simply put, the amount of contaminants stayed the same and the amount of water decreased. The heating that boiled some of the water created a greater ratio of contaminants to water. The same thing happens in the hot water tank. As the water is heated and some turns to steam, the amount of ratio of contaminants and/or added chemicals to hot water in the tank will be greater. When you use the hot tap water you will be getting water with a greater than average amount of contaminants.
Then if you cook with it the ratio of contaminants to water becomes even greater! Of course there are variable such as the temperature you keep the hot water tank set at, how often you use the hot water, how much hot water you use each time, etc. Me, I still prefer to be safer than sorrier. Oh yeah: and lead is considered a contaminant so that would mean there would be a greater concentration of lead in the hot tap water verses the cold.
Contaminants and Disease
How old is your hot water heater storage tank and how often do you use it? How long does the water sit in there heating up? An older tank releases potential contaminants into the tank. Some people say there is actually a sludge in the bottom. I am not sure if this is true or not, but why test the theory out? Maybe if I ever need the tank replaced I will open it up to get a look! But for now, I am not taking any chances.
The same goes for how often you use it. If your hot water sits for hours, or even days (or more if it is a vacation home) at a time in the tank this is just more opportunity for more water to boil away and the contaminants and chemicals to become even more concentrated. Sitting also allows molds and bacterias to grow in there. Some of the growth depends upon the temperature that you keep the water at, but it could be a potential problem that I don't even want to think about. Again, no thanks.
Do you live in a large apartment building? Or maybe you're away on vacation staying in a big hotel and just want a quick cup of hot tea. Don't do it! These types of buildings have huge water storage tanks with the potential for Legionaires disease according to the EPA.
I don't live in an apartment building but I have friends that do and I have stayed in many a hotel in my travels over the years. For me it is just something to remember and keep in mind during my visits and travels.
Those are my personal reasons for not drinking hot tap water in my home, or anywhere else for that matter. In my opinion, it's just not worth it to use it. Do you have any other reasons to add? I would love to hear from you! But remember, everything is a choice. I am not telling you not to drink hot tap water, just the reasons that I choose not to! The choice to drink it or not is yours!
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Happy people are healthier people. I know you have probably heard this a thousand times, but it is true, and it's pretty simple too!
Why are happy people healthier?
But how? How can you simply make yourself happy when you really aren't?
Mind over matter, with a little practice. Trust me when I tell you, I have my good and bad days just like anyone else but here is what I do to be, and stay, happy:
Of course you can find this extra time by creating a simpler life for yourself and your family!
You knew that was coming, didn't you?
Hang in there, my book "The ABC's of Creating A Simpler Life" should be out this fall, but in the meantime there are a lot of ways to help simplify your life throughout this site so there is no reason not to get started right away!
But most importantly, be happy :-)
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I take a nap every single day. I just have to. My body wants it and needs it. Even a small 15 minute nap rejuvenates me so that I can get through the rest of my day! Taking a nap is good for you at any age and this post will share why!
Taking a nap is nothing new, People in other countries take naps too! After all, isn't that what a siesta is?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the siesta, or midday nap, goes back thousands of years and is still common in warmer countries where Spanish is spoken. However, they are also relatively common in other countries such as Italy (called a riposo), Greece, the Philippines, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Nigeria.
Apparently, the tradition began so that farmers could take a rest during the hottest time of the day, usually for about 2 hours. Even though this reason may no longer be necessary (for many of us anyway), a nap, or siesta, is still a good idea for many reasons!
Some interesting facts:
Note: These are taken word for word from the site above as changing them would not have made any sense!
I know that many people think that if you nap regularly you are either lazy or sick. Napping is usually only associated with babies, children, old people, or sick people after all. Right? Well, no, not right. There have been some very famous, and very significant people in history that were nappers! Here are just a few: Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein, Napoleon, John F. Kennedy, and George W. Bush are all said to have taken afternoon naps regularly!
Moral of the story?
Take a nap every day!
It should be obvious by now that it is
good for you :-)
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One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was my salt lamp. It's a gift that will literally keep on giving all year long! Yeah, I know that sounds corny but it's so true.
Here's why I love my salt lamp:
There may not be a lot of scientifically backed evidence that salt lamps actually clean the air or provide enough negative ions to make a difference, but I still think they are worth it!
Why? Because there is scientific proof that negative ions are beneficial to us. We also know for a fact that salt absorbs moisture, so if the lamp does even a little of these beneficial things, why not have one? Especially because the smaller the home and/or room the lamp is in, the greater it's potential beneficial effect! Common sense. So simple.
Oh yeah, and the simple warm glow of the lamp makes me feel better!
Get a salt lamp today and see if it makes you feel better!
If you already have one,
I would love to hear what your thoughts are :-)
It was recently that time again. You know, that time to turn the clocks ahead. I absolutely abhor doing this. Yeah, yeah, you lose an hour of sleep when you 'spring ahead' but for me, it's more than that. As I get older and older it just takes me longer and longer to adjust. I really started thinking about this last week as I was suffering daily and realized that changing the time is a really bad idea. Why should my body have to adjust twice a year to a time change? Who's idea was this and why? I knew it couldn't be good for my body, or anyones else's for that matter, so why on Earth are we still doing this? That's when I decided to some research and want to share why we should end daylight savings time.
How does daylight savings affect our health?
First, daylight savings time basically gives you jet-lag! Web MD says that springing forward interrupts your circadian rhythm, otherwise known as your sleep-wake cycle, and well, this leads to all sorts of other problems. Here are a few of the problems this creates:
What states observe daylight savings time?
Guess what? Not everyone is! Here in the US there are many states that no longer observe daylight savings because states are free to make their own choices regarding time! The states that choose not to are Arizona (most of it), and Hawaii. We have some overseas US territories that also choose not to observe and they are Puerto Rico, American Samoa territories, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. It is my understanding that most countries in the southern hemisphere do not change their time either.
Who started daylight savings time?
Believe it or not, the Germans started it during World War I in an effort to conserve fuel. Many other countries apparently soon followed, albeit inconsistently, including the US. In the US it was put into consistent use during World War II, again as part of the war effort to conserve fuel. After the war there were periods of trial and error, but it wasn't until the 1970's that it became consistently used again and later became federal statute.
Why did we start using daylight savings time?
It appears it was all about fuel conservation. Apparently countries would be able to reduce the lighting demand thereby saving fuel for the war effort instead. In the US we had a major fuel shortage in the 1970's (this was probably true everywhere else too) so I can see the connections and understand why we made the changes. However, as a science person I was shocked to read that these changes were not originally based on any evidence! They had no proof that daylight savings time actually saved fuel! Not too long ago, I think it was 2008, someone finally did a study (read about that here) and basically they discovered that changing the time decreased energy use in the evenings, but at the same time it increased the need for more lighting in the mornings. It was basically a wash!
Why are we still using daylight savings time?
There are several reasons. Though they say most people don't want it (they have done surveys apparently), they also say that people think they are owed an extra hour of daylight. Ha! This is absolutely preposterous. They could get that extra hour simply by getting up an hour earlier in the morning! Changing the clocks doesn't change the amount of daylight, it simply changes when we get to enjoy it. That brings me to the farmers. Many people claim that they are doing it for the farmers but that is BS (yes, bull shit). The farmers don't need to change the time! They are going to do what farmers do: work from sunup to sundown to grow their crops. Period. Time has nothing to do with it. The last potentially reasonable explanation is that crime rates go supposedly go down. Apparently criminals love doing their dirty work in the darkness, so by changing the time, they don't get out and 'rob' as much. What!!!! Again, I am just going to state this simply...the amount of daylight and darkness does not change. It's just a matter of what time the sun rises and sets every day. I just don't get how this decreases crime. There is still the same amount of darkness for criminals to do their 'thing.' Unless of course they have set work hours, say like from 6 PM to midnight so that when we change the time those hours are decreased from a 6 hour work day to a 3 or 4 hour work day???? What am I missing here?
What did we learn from this?
What do you think?
Should daylight savings stay, or should it go?
I would love to hear from you!
I seriously can't believe I am saying this: "I love my cast iron skillet." I really do, and believe me,I never thought I would ever even consider using cast iron!
Using cast iron was really sort of an accident for me. Cast iron is a pan that I have never even attempted to cook with. In fact, my go to pots and pans have always been stainless steel. But if you have ever had to sit and scrub and scrub and scrub to get a pan clean then you know what I mean when I say stainless can be a real pain in the $%#. I have also been through multiple skillets coated with teflon. I say multiple because never has a skillet lasted more than a year in my house before the teflon started to come off. Thats how often we use the skillet! More recently we were buying and using Green pans. They have a ceramic coating that is much healthier than using teflon and they did last a little longer. The big downside however was the price. Not cheap by any means and still needed to be replaced after a lot of use.
Cast iron was never an option for me. I didn't even consider it because I always thought it was cheap, horrible to cook on, and even more horrible to clean. I imagined needing to literally scrape eggs off the bottom of the pan and never really getting it clean....ever. So imagine my surprise when my daughter and future son-in-law cooked a meal for 8 people using ALL cast iron pans and I volunteered (unknowingly) to do the dishes! As soon as I saw what I had volunteered to wash I groaned and did my best to go at it with a smile on my face....only to find out how easy they all were to clean!! In fact, they were easier to clean than the Green pans I had at home which were supposed to be non-stick! After the simplicity of cleaning those cast iron pans that night, and eating amazing food that was perfectly cooked in them, I was 'sold' on how awesome cast iron can be!
I immediately purchased my first cast iron skillet and I have never looked back! I absolutely love cooking in the pan and am able to cook certain foods like steak and chicken indoors better than ever! I have since added more cast iron pans to my list of must have's for the future.
Here is a simple list of why I love my cast iron skillet so much:
Some of the cons:
Even the 'cons' aren't so bad!
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It's that time of year again when I go back to teaching high school and lo and behold, I get sick. I guess you could call it my annual cold. Not only do the students inadvertently 'share' their illness', but the teachers do too! It is really inevitable. We can have up to 32 total students and teachers in a classroom with the door closed (by law) and a few windows open that rarely generate any breeze, especially if they open into a courtyard. We can bring in our own fans and sometimes, if we are really fortunate, we might get to teach in a room that has an air conditioner once or twice a day (most teachers move from room to room throughout the day). Just think about how many hands touch the knob on the door to the classroom with 9 periods a day in there and you can see why germs are so easily shared. And no matter how careful you are, they are in the air after every sneeze and cough too.
Ok, enough of that. We all know germs spread. But what can we do when we get a cold or the flu to help it go away faster and feel better sooner? It's already well known that these are viral and that antibiotics simply won't help. That leaves it up to you. It is pretty common knowledge to drink tea with lemon and honey, take hot steamy showers to help clear the sinus' and loosen up chest congestion, to keep the house at a cooler temperature, and to sleep in a semi-seated position to prevent post nasal drip. But what else can be done?
After years of getting my 'annual' cold after returning to school in the fall I have come up with two tried and true remedies that I know help me, so hopefully they will help you too!
Disclaimer: Always check with your doctor or healthcare professional before trying any new treatments or holistic medicines. Especially if you or your loved ones have pre-existing medical conditions.
1. Neti Pot - Clear your sinus' and fight infection!
2. Diffusers: Breathe better and purify the air!
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I hope you found this post helpful and that if you have a cold or the flu it helps you to feel better!
Do you have fresh peppermint growing in your yard? If you do then you might be frustrated with how quickly it grows and spreads. How about finding a positive in all that spreading peppermint? It is edible after all and there are MANY ways you can use it to your advantage! Don't have peppermint in your yard? You can also buy it fresh or dried in the store but you would be best served to just get one small plant at the store or from a friend and plant it in a sunny location in your yard. Pretty soon you will have a lot more growing and you can take advantage of the benefits every day too!
Picking & Storing the Leaves:
A few ways (my favorites) to use Peppermint:
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Hi there! I'm Kathie, the author behind Creating A Simpler Life blog. I'm excited to share our longterm projects (and planning) toward building our future retirement homestead in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. In the meantime I will be sharing all the other little things we do that are part of creating our simpler life!