Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SunScreen Smarts!

Summer is officially here, and you are probably enjoying the longer days. But all that extra sunlight means you need to be diligent about applying sunscreen. Most doctors and researchers that specialize in skin cancers agree that most damage happens before you reach adulthood. When you are young, you spend much more time outdoors but you also tend to think less about the consequences of being in the sun sans SPF. So protect your children, and get them in the habit of applying sunscreen at an early age. They will thank you later in life!

1. Put enough on. The recommended application for adequate protection is 35 to 40ml per person per application. How much is this? Think about a shotglass full, or a handful.
2. Budget brands are just as effective as the more expensive brands. It's okay to go with the Pharmacy brand!
3. Sunscreen should be applied to clean, dry skin 30 minutes before exposure to the sun which allows it time to absorb properly.
4. Take time out in the shade between 11 am and 3 pm when them sun is strongest, but still apply sun screen because sand, concrete and water can reflect harmful rays. Same goes for car rides, the sun is coming in through your windows!
5. Reapply. Perspiration, exercise, swimming and towel-drying removes sun creams from the skin so you should reapply after taking part in any of these activities, even if the product claims to be waterproof. You should also reapply ever 45-60 minutes, otherwise you are still at risk for a burn. If you hate reapplying, look into the new continuous spray versions that make applying sunscreen a breeze.
6. Everyday use of sun lotions on your face and back of the hands will limit the chances of developing dry leathery skin, wrinkles, other signs of premature aging and skin cancer. Most moisturizers can be found with a built-in SPF factor, look for something with at least SPF 15. After applying to your face, rub the rest into your hands for instant moisturization and sun protection.
7. When you are laying out, try to cover up in the sun with loose cotton clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
8. Use a "broad spectrum" sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 to protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays. The FDA has recently allowed the use of new ingredients in sunscreen that have been used in Europe for years that provide great broad spectrum protection.
9. Overcast weather still requires sunscreen in summer because 80 per cent of ultra-violet radiation is still present on cloudy days. Some companies have started producing daily body lotions with spf 15 built-in so that you can apply sunscreen without even thinking about it.
10. Children and babies need greater protection so use specially formulated kids ranges with gentler ingredients and higher SPFs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some Easy Ways to Go Green!

In honor of Earth Day, here are some incredibly simple ways to “green” your daily routine. Don’t worry; none of these suggestions involve switching over to wearing itchy hemp clothing!

Fully Loaded – Cut down on your energy and water consumption when you take care of your family’s laundry or dishes. Doing full loads of laundry, like washing your baby’s entire blue and brown crib set at once instead of just the sheets, and selecting a shorter cycle can help. But a majority of the energy used for these daily chores is actually used to heat the water. So switch to washing your clothes on a cold cycle (there are special detergents now available for this option) and watch your annual energy bill deflate.

Bright Ideas - Incandescent bulbs are so 20th century. If you switch out your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, you will reap two very great benefits: less light bulbs changes since fluorescents last longer, and reduced costs because fluorescents use about 3 quarters of the energy that incandescent require. Less light bulb changes means less waste, and less energy means a lower energy bill.

BYOB- Bring your own bag! When you go shopping, hit the library, or pack a lunch, think re-useable. Retailers have gotten hooked on this new idea, so if more people catch on, we may one day eliminate the need for plastic bags, which don’t bio-degrade and pose a huge problem for our ecosystem.

Shut Down-You need time to sleep and recharge at night, and your electronics could use a little down time as well. If you go to sleep watching TV, set a sleep timer so it isn’t running all night (added bonus - you will get better rest too). Keeping appliances plugged in, even if they aren’t turn on can still use electricity, so use a power strip that you can easily unplug.

Java Junkies – You can make your daily coffee fix another green habit by asking your barista to fill your order in a re-useable travel mug or thermos. Many places will even offer incentives like a discount to customers going with reusable cups.

Incorporate these simple tips into your life and reap the benefits of reduced energy consumption and waste production. You'll cut down on your family's spending and help make the earth a cleaner place to live. Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Top Ten Things You Should Know about Crib Bedding

You might think crib bedding will be the easiest part of having a child, all you need to do is pick something cute and you’re good to go. But once you actually begin searching, you are bound to realize that looking for the right set becomes a huge investment, because you want to find something that not only looks great, but will last and keep your baby comfortable night after night. And as with all things relating to babies, even a purchase like bedding can pose a few complications for parents. Below is a helpful list of the top ten things to know about crib bedding so you find something that keeps your baby happy and healthy, and most importantly, sleeping easy at night!

Top Ten Things You Should Know about Crib Bedding

1.) A fitted sheet is all you need! Babies don’t need a flat sheet in their crib; it poses a health risk because they can get wrapped up in the loose fabric.

2.) A crib bumper is a great way to protect your little one and dress up your crib in one step. The bumper attaches to the rails along the sides of the crib, and the padded material keeps babies from “bumping” too hard against the crib once they start to move around.

3.) Hypoallergenic materials are a must! Babies have very sensitive skin, so finding materials that are non-allergenic will help prevent irritating their skin.

4.) Buying a few back-up fitted sheets is a smart move. We all know babies are prone to late night accidents, so having a few extra fitted sheets on hand will make your life easier. That way when you find a spill, just throw the soiled sheet in the laundry and put down a fresh one immediately.

5.) Comforters come with every crib set, but you probably won’t want to keep that in your baby’s crib while they are sleeping. A comforter looks great but like a flat sheet it is too much loose material for a baby under 12 months. So until they are old enough, keep the comforter out of their crib at night.

6.) Cribs must follow safety guidelines and standards established by the government, so don’t think about using an antique when it comes to your baby’s crib. It’s best to buy something new or gently used, because standard crib bedding probably won’t fit something if it’s more than a few years old.

7.) Rubber mattress covers are a great way to protect your baby’s mattress. Sheets are easily machine washed, but spills on a mattress are there forever. So avoid this problem by getting a rubber mattress cover, you simply install it underneath your fitted sheet.

8.) You should machine wash your baby’s bedding on a hot cycle to kill any germs, and allergens, which can lead to problems like asthma. Make sure you look for sets that are machine washable so you can easily keep up with the care of your baby bedding.

9.) When you wash your bedding, make sure to use a detergent specially formulated for babies or one that is clear of dyes and perfumes. Any additional fragrances and chemicals will only irritate a baby’s skin.

10.) If you have toys and pillows that match your baby bedding, don’t keep them in the crib while your child is sleeping. They can pose a suffocation risk. This goes for any mobiles or toys that can be attached to the crib rails; make sure they don’t hang too low and are securely attached to the crib.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Packing Tips for Airplane Travel

Any seasoned traveler will tell you that you should always try to pack light enough to avoid checking your luggage during airplane travel. Checking your luggage when you arrive can eat up precious time, something you need when you are looking for the right gate at a huge international airport. However, most of us just can’t bear the thought of limiting ourselves to one carry-on sized bag for a trip. If you can’t manage to carry-on all of your luggage you will need, and must check your bag, make sure you pack enough in your carry-on to get you through a few days should your luggage go missing.

Which toiletries do you need to carry on board an airplane flight? Use this as your guidepost: pack what you must have it for the first night or week and your lodging won't supply it. These might include: deodorant, sunscreen, contact lens solution, toothpaste/toothbrush, and lip balm.

Some additional hints to help you fly the skies successfully:

A hard plastic soap case is the perfect size to protect a camera stashed in a carry-on bag and cheaper than a regular camera bag.

A hotel shower cap becomes the perfect wrapper for shoes when traveling; stick your shoes inside and protect your clothes from getting dirtied.

Roll clothes to help prevent wrinkles and save space in your luggage.

Leave some room in your bag for souvenirs you pick up along the way, you definitely don’t want to put yourself in the position of having to leave anything behind.

Choose shoes wisely. Always wear your heaviest, bulkiest pair on the plane. A cheap pair of flip-flops is also a good idea in case the showers aren’t first class accommodations or you make an impromptu visit to a beach location.

If you are bringing children, make sure to pack some snacks for the airplane ride. Most flights are cutting back on providing food on domestic flights, and you will definitely want to avoid hunger driven temper tantrums.

Pack some sort of moisturizer or facial mist. Airplane trips can be incredibly dehydrating so this will help refresh your skin. Also avoid alcoholic or heavily caffeinated beverages, and opt for water instead.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Housewarming Gift Ideas

Have you noticed a moving van recently on your street? Welcoming new neighbors to your block is always a great idea; moving is a huge transition and they will appreciate your gesture. Even if they don’t throw a housewarming party, you might want to stop by after a few days with a small gift in hand to help welcome them to your neighborhood. They will probably be grateful for the gesture, and you just might become fast friends! You don’t need to go overboard with some extravagant purchase; a small thoughtful token is enough to impress any new homeowner. Here are some fun and inexpensive housewarming gifts you might consider:

1. Make a “gift bucket” of cleaning supplies. This might sound like a strange idea for a gift but it’s all in the presentation. Load up a bucket with a few cleaning aids and include a sponge, paper towels, dish soap, and some hand soap. Wrap the whole thing in cellophane, and tie it up with some ribbon and a card. New home owners probably didn’t bother to pack up cleaning supplies from their former home, so your gift bucket will probably come in handy.

2. Gift Certificates. Every business under the sun now offers gift certificates, but think about what a new homeowner would especially need right now: dry-cleaning, lock-smiths, shoe repairs, auto repairs. Your new neighbors might not know the best dry-cleaners in town, but you do. A gift certificate to a local restaurant or bar would probably also be appreciated by someone new to town.

3. Sweets. You can always resort to the classic idea of baking cookies, a cake, or even a pie to welcome your new neighbors. So if you have a special recipe for a dessert, go ahead a whip up a batch.

4. Libation. You can find a great bottle of wine that is expensive just about anywhere these days, so dress one up in a decorative wine bag and consider purchasing some cheap stemware from the dollar store. Your neighbors may not have had time to unpack all of their glassware yet, but you can bet the stress of moving will make them want to enjoy a glass of wine.

Just keep things simple and remember that thoughtfulness counts. By welcoming your new neighbors with a gift you open the door for them to reciprocate with an invitation to dinner, and you might soon have another set of friends on your street.

Did you know? That the pineapple is the symbol of welcome and hospitality, and is considered the traditional housewarming gift.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Cleaning for Your Baby Nursery

Very few people are born with the gene that allows them to actually enjoy cleaning, but we all have to do it or suffer the consequences of clutter and grime. One room that deserves extra attention is your baby’s nursery, since babies are so susceptible to getting sick and are just natural mess-makers. Beyond your daily routine of picking up their scattered toys, make sure you occasionally follow up with a round of more heavy duty cleaning and disinfecting. Read on to find out how to ensure you are really getting your baby’s room squeaky clean!

Remove the padded topper from your changing table. A cloth pad can go in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent. You’ll also want to launder all the bedding from your baby’s crib. Wash everything in water that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure you kill any dust mites and remember to use a detergent designed for baby’s sensitive skin. Wipe down furniture next. If you are cleaning wooden furniture, apply a small amount of dish washing liquid to a damp cloth and wipe the inside and the outside. Don’t overdo the moisture, since wood can warp. Wipe dry with a clean cloth. Using disinfecting wipes, wipe down the changing table. Also wipe down all the lotion bottles, ointment tubes, and containers of diaper wipes to catch any extra germs.

The diaper pail definitely needs regular disinfecting. Clean the diaper pail outside of your baby’s nursery to prevent germs from escaping into your clean nursery. Also make sure to use a liner or garbage bag to keep germs contained. Spray all-purpose cleaner both inside and outside to disinfect the pail. Use a toothbrush to scrub down hard to reach areas and hinges. Wipe dry with a cloth or paper towels.

Soak plastic toys in a bucket of water with just a splash of bleach, and follow up with a rinse of clean water. To clean plastic storage bins, spray all-purpose cleaner both inside and outside an empty bin to disinfect it. Scrub the hinges with a toothbrush. As with furniture, wipe wooden toys with a wet cloth and dish washing liquid. You can disinfect stuffed animals either by washing on a gentle cycle in the machine or stowing them in resealable plastic bags and placing them in the freezer for two days. Germs can’t survive in freezing temperatures.

And remember to always use products, whether it be laundry detergent or disinfecting wipes, that have mild or fragrance free formulas to avoid irritating your child's sensitive skin!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Ahh sleep, it’s our bodies natural way of recharging. Unfortunately, you probably take better care to recharge your cell phone than you do your own body. Or at least that is what the National Sleep Foundation has found; reporting that lack of sleep is the most common complaint amongst Americans today. I’m guilty of it, and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be helped. Despite a busy day, once I try to hit the sheets, I can’t seem to drift off easily.

We all know that the obvious drawback of not getting enough sleep is that you will be tired, which is never a good feeling. But researchers are now finding that there are some pretty serious health risks that come along with a lack of sleep. Cardiovascular disease, hypertension and high blood pressure are the major ailments you put yourself at risk for. But your immune system also takes a hit from lack of sleep, and that means more colds and infections. Beyond that, lack of sleep can actually mess up your plans to diet as well! Some experts say that sleep deprivation causes your body to boosts production of the hormone that makes you hungry. And it makes sense: your body is probably trying to shore up missing energy from another source.

Fortunately, just one extra hour of sleep per night can make a dramatic difference. Logging that extra nightly hour will not only improve how you feel during your daily routine, but you will reap the long term health benefits as well.

Start trying to develop a healthy routine that should be practiced before bed. Your kids probably have a bedtime routine to keep them alert and active during school, so why shouldn’t you take care of yourself in the same way?

This might seem hard, but for at least four hours before bed, avoid consuming any sort of stimulant. Coffee, soda, and even chocolate are major culprits to avoid. I started switching out my late night coffees with caffeine free peppermint tea after dinner. Also think about stimulants for your mind, the TV, radio, computers, and your cell phone. Unplug yourself from all of these distractions and let your mind start to wind down.

Exercise three to four hours prior to sleep is also a bad idea. Exercise won’t tire you out instantly; it will actually get your energy levels up. If you are committed to your workout routine, trying hitting the gym before work, you might even find this keeps you more energized during the day!

And while it is a good idea to get on a routine with your sleep, your body also craves a certain amount of variety. So don’t feel guilty about sleeping in on a Saturday morning! You might have to answer the call of the alarm clock during the week, but if you can, find a weekend morning where you can let your body decide when you are ready to rise.

For more information on healthy sleep habits visit UnderstandingSleep.org
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