These days, it feels like no one ever sleeps enough. As sleep becomes more precious than ever, we’re finding it harder to fall and stay asleep—often due to technology.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of people use some sort of electronic device during the hour before bedtime (1). While it may seem harmless to shoot off an e-mail or take a final peek at Instagram before turning in, the blue light emitted by our tablets, laptops and smartphones mimics daylight (2). This makes it harder not only to fall asleep but also can leave us feeling tired, anxious and depressed when we wake up.
After a day surrounded by technology, it can seem like the only solution is to power off and kick all electronics to the curb. However, there are some gadgets designed specifically to help you get the best night’s sleep ever.
“I often recommend that patients use apps and/or online community support as an adjunct to treatment, in addition to recommended behavioral strategies to improve sleep and mood,” says Dr. Sara Nowakowski, a clinical psychologist who is board-certified in behavioral sleep medicine. “These devices, mobile apps and internet-delivered insomnia programs are improving all the time, and there is value and clinical utility in them. It is finding the right balance for the patient.”
Below, find eight different devices targeted to help you sleep better.
SleepScore Sleep Tracker
One of many on the market, the SleepScore Max is a non-contact nightstand monitor designed to record sleep and send feedback on how to get better sleep to your smartphone. Touted as “the world’s most advanced sleep improvement system,” it asks you certain questions before bed (such as how much caffeine you’ve had that day) and calculates a nightly “SleepScore” to determine how productive your sleep is.
Sleep Number i10 Smart Bed
If you have a few bucks to spend, the pricey i10 Smart Bed promises the “ultimate in blissful, cooling comfort.” Depending on the model, the bed can adjust height and firmness and can accommodate different settings on both sides. The i10 tracks how you sleep by sending a “Sleep IQ” score to your phone and also controls your temperature while you sleep by absorbing excess heat and releasing it as you cool down.
The Oprah-approved, non-contact Smart Nora promises to banish snoring once and for all. The device comes in two parts—a nightstand monitor and a pillow insert with a pump. As soon as the Nora detects early sounds of snoring (before they become loud enough to wake a sleeping partner!), it triggers the silent pump to inflate and deflate the pillow insert. This motion stimulates the throat muscles, which allows for natural breathing to resume.
Philips Wake-Up Light
If you sleep in a room with minimal sunlight, it can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Enter the Philips Wake-Up Light, which uses a combination of light and sound to help you wake up in a more refreshing, natural way. The light also has a sunset simulation to help you wind down before bedtime.
The Aromarest nightstand monitor uses light technology, dual aromatherapy diffusers and sound to help “restore your natural ability to sleep well.” The Aromarest has simulated sunrises and sunsets and can also play soothing sounds to help you fall asleep and wake up or white noise to help you sleep throughout the night.
Designed to monitor your sleep by recording and analyzing brain activity, the Dreem sleep headband claims to have the “most accurate sleep monitoring” technology. Designed for comfort, the headband tracks sleep while also providing sounds to help you sleep through the night through bone conduction. Once you wake up, plug the headband into its charger and it will sync with your phone, providing you with a personalized sleep report.
Dreamlight Sleep Mask
This ain’t your regular sleep mask. The Dreamlight uses light, sound and genetics (!) to help you fall asleep faster and wake up with more energy. The mask has embedded sleep-inducing orange and wake-inducing green lights as well as technology to aid in relaxation techniques. The mask syncs to your phone to track sleep and provide you with a “personal gene profile” to deliver a more tailored sleep schedule.
A climate-controlled, self-making (yes, self-making!) bed can be yours with the addition of the SmartDuvet insert. Placed between the duvet and duvet cover, the SmartDuvet controls the temperature of your bed (allowing for different temperatures on both sides) and also rolls the duvet back into position to make your bed in the morning. Set your ideal temperature and bed-making time from your phone and the SmartDuvet claims to do the rest.
As with all new technologies, it’s important to note that these sleep gadgets, while appealing, may unintentionally disrupt sleep, according to an article in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (3). In addition, very few have FDA approval or endorsement by American Academy of Sleep Medicine-accredited sleep facilities or sleep specialists.
“As with all medical interventions, they are considered ‘experimental’ until randomized clinical trials are conducted to provide empirical evidence of the efficacy and safety,” Nowakowski says. “It is important for consumers to do their homework and look at the evidence that supports its use to improve sleep.”
LuckyPlanet is a line of cleaning products created by the LuckyVitamin team. They are powerful on dirt and grime but safe enough to use around your family and pets. From dish soap to window cleaner, everything in the LuckyPlanet assortment is plant-based, non-toxic and cruelty-free. The whole line is free and clear, which means there are no extra scents or weird smells that you’re going to get from these products. If you want to DIY it, you can add some essential oils from our LuckyAromas brand and maybe make your toilet bowl smell like lavender!
LuckyVitamin created these products with you in mind. They are free of synthetic dyes, colors, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, chlorine, bleach, phosphates and ammonia. So keep your home clean and green with LuckyVitamin!
Doing the laundry is one of those frustrating inevitabilities in life. You need your wardrobe to look (and smell) as fresh as possible, so making laundry a weekly priority is important. Of course, very few people look forward to this task. Sure, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it can definitely eat away at your day.
On top of all this, there are a handful of frustrating environmental issues that stem from the way we wash our clothes. Using a washing machine too much can waste water and energy (1), while certain cleaning products contain agents that can be hazardous to human, animal and plant life (2). Luckily, you can keep your clothes fresh without destroying the planet by taking a few additional eco-friendly steps when going about your routine.
Hand-Wash Your Clothing
The best way to get started is by limiting how much you use your washing machine. Opting to hand-wash your clothing can be a fantastic way to conserve both energy and water. Now, the difficult part of hand-washing your clothing is you need to make time for the task. You will no longer be able to toss your clothes in the machine and go off to focus on another task. Hand-washing requires your full attention and a bit more room in your day.
That said, making space for the activity in your weekly schedule can make you feel more accomplished. To get started, all you need to do is find a large plastic bucket for washing and wringing out each article of clothing. Next, look at tools like a laundry plunger (3) to make the cleaning task easier and a laundry wringer to aid in the drying process. Hand-washing with a plunger has been noted to be effective and requires only a bit more effort than plunging a toilet. You’ll get a little workout for your arms and have some clean laundry in under 15 minutes.
Try Drying Alternatives
You’re already learning how to wash your clothes by hand, why not take things to the next level? Instead of hand-washing and throwing your clothes right into your dryer, you might find it more beneficial to explore some alternatives. Limiting dryer usage can be helpful when you’re conserving energy, but there are a handful of drawbacks to this. For one, it will take more than a day for damp clothing to dry without machine aid. You can speed this process up a bit on a warm, sunny day by utilizing an outdoor laundry line (4).
As mentioned above, the best way to ensure dry clothing in the fastest manner is by thoroughly wringing out each piece of clothing. Doing this action by hand is incredibly straining to your wrists and it requires much more effort than hand-washing. Use a wringer or similar device and you can limit your energy consumption without developing wrist problems in the process.
Use Better Cleaning Products
To get your clothes truly clean while hand-washing, you have to use the right products. Since a number of detergents and bleaches are terrible for the environment, you want to opt for green alternatives. In recent years, a number of new products have appeared on the market promising to deliver options that are less harmful to the planet. With so many different products out there promising the same thing, you might find yourself wondering if everyone is being honest.
Governmental regulations on what qualifies as a “green” cleaning product do not exactly exist. Still, you can consult helpful resources put out by the EPA to become a more informed shopper and avoid using products that contain hazardous chemicals (5). While most brands that make eco-friendly promises are being on the level, it is best to verify the claims on your own to know you’re making the best choice.
Making these slight adjustments to your routine can provide you with a sense of pride that your effort is helping to keep the world as fresh as your hand-washed clothing.
When the weather heats up, you instantly want to eat delicious barbecue outside, sip margaritas on the porch or enjoy the warm summer air with family and friends. Unfortunately, once dusk hits, mosquitoes run rampant. Saying hello to summer also means saying hello to these summer pests. Bug bites can easily ruin the outdoor fun.
Lucky for you, there are solutions to repel mosquitoes—bug sprays, cover-ups, even high-tech bug-zapping traps. Some are more effective than others, but one of our favorite go-tos is the citronella candle. And the best part is, you can make your own!
“You can control exactly what ingredients are used to make your citronella candle,” says Stephanie Moulton, an expert candle maker and owner of Coming Home Candles. The main ingredient you need is citronella oil.
How to Make a Citronella Candle
Here is Moulton’s easy, step-by-step tutorial for making your own citronella candle.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
16-oz. metal candle tin
2 pre-waxed wicks with tabs (Size: CD-14)
Hot glue gun
Soy wax flakes (10 oz.)
Saucepan and glass measuring cup with handle (to use as a double boiler)
Step 1: Use hot glue to adhere two pre-tabbed candle wicks to the bottom of a 16-ounce tinplate candle tin. Glue the metal tabs across from each other at points between the center and sides of the tin.
Step 2: Simmer a few inches of water in your saucepan. Measure out about 10 ounces of soy wax flakes and pour them into your glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup into the pot of water, with the handle on the outside of the pan. Melt the wax to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. It is VERY important to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the wax.
Step 3: Once the wax reaches the exact temperature, remove the measuring cup from the heat source. Add up to 0.9 ounces of citronella fragrance oil and up to 0.1 ounces of a complementary essential oil to the wax. Stir until the oil is well-mixed into the wax. (Note: If you’d prefer not to use fragrance oil, you can swap in citronella essential oil.)
Step 4: Pour wax into the tin. Use a clothespin to secure the wicks so they won’t fall over. Let cool and sit for 48 hours before burning.
While it’s awesome to be able to make your own citronella candle, it’s super important to make sure your wax is at the right temperature before you add the fragrance oil, Moulton warns. “Not only can hot wax burn your skin if it splashes on you, every fragrance oil has a flash point (the temperature at which the oil combusts), and you don’t want to pour fragrance oil into wax that is hotter than its flash point.”
In addition to safety precautions, you absolutely need to measure and get the right size wick. “If the wick is too small for the container, it won’t melt the wax all the way to the edges of the container,” says Moulton. “If the wick is too big, it will burn with a larger than normal flame.”
If you’re looking to pre-treat stains, soften clothes or banish odors from dirty clothes but want to avoid harsh chemicals, then vinegar may be your new best friend.
Using Vinegar for Laundry
Vinegar serves as an alternative to harsh laundry chemicals like bleach. But why? White vinegar is comprised of about 5 percent acetic acid and 95 percent water. “The acid in vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, but strong enough to dissolve the alkalis in soaps and detergents,” according to the Vinegar Institute. (Yep, it’s a real nonprofit serving the vinegar industry!)
While you can use other vinegars like apple cider, distilled white vinegar is an inexpensive and effective choice. You can pick up a large jug for around $2 at most grocery stores and use it to brighten, soften and de-stink load after load of laundry.
Vinegar can be used in lieu of bleach, stain treatments and fabric softener; you’ll still want to use laundry soap in your machine. So, let’s look at some specific ways to try vinegar in your laundry room.
You can incorporate white vinegar into your regular laundry routine. “Clothes will rinse better if 1 cup of white distilled vinegar is added to the last rinse water,” the Vinegar Institute recommends.
Another option, if your machine has an automatic dispenser for soap, softener or bleach, is to simply add the vinegar to the dispenser. That way, it will automatically dispense at the right time.
As an added bonus, vinegar is a natural disinfectant that is effective against certain types of bacteria (1). Commercially available white vinegar that contains 5 percent acetic acid kills about 80 percent of germs, studies show (2).
If you find yourself constantly reaching for the stain remover, consider making your own DIY natural spot treatment. Simply mix equal parts vinegar and water, and add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender if desired. Keep on hand to pre-treat any stains.
For large stains, you may want to soak your clothing in about 2 ounces of white vinegar and enough water to cover the stain (3). Leave overnight. Wash with eco-friendly laundry soap.
For stubborn stains like sweat and coffee, you can add a bit of salt to your vinegar soak. Coarse salt is ideal but table salt works just as well. Gently blot the stain. Allow to dry in the sun, and then wash as usual.
Vinegar can even be used to remove rust stains from delicate fabrics like vintage lace (4). Soak the lace in cold water, rinsing several times. Next, gently hand-wash the lace with a wool detergent. Then, tackle rust spots using a mixture of white vinegar and hot water.
As with any cleansing agent, if you’re unsure about using vinegar on certain fabrics, test a drop on a tiny, inconspicuous spot first.
Clean Your Washing Machine
Front-load washers in particular can develop a musty odor over time. You have two vinegar-fix options here: Add two cups of vinegar and run a full hot-water cycle to de-gunk your washer. Or, simply add ¼ cup distilled white vinegar to every load for gunk prevention–and reap the benefits of softer, brighter laundry at the same time.
Ready to swap harsh chemicals for vinegar? One final word of caution: Be sure to read the user’s manual for your washing machine to make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions for running your loads.
Homes are run out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, because they’re high-use, high-traffic zones, kitchens accumulate clutter fast. A messy kitchen sucks the fun out of cooking and makes entertaining guests stressful.
“Kitchen clutter can be broken down into two broad categories: countertop clutter and cabinet (or hidden) clutter,” explains Brianna Berner, a professional organizer and productivity coach at SpikedParenting.
But where to start? Here are seven things to get rid of now to make a big impact on your kitchen organization. Trust us: Once your kitchen cabinets are decluttered and you can find the tools you need, you’ll be more motivated to cook that healthy dinner you planned!
Food Storage Containers
“You don’t need an entire shelf full of Tupperware,” Berner says. “You just need enough to get you through the week.” Recycle the rest.
Duplicate Kitchen Tools
Tally up your pizza cutters, garlic presses, lemon juicers, paring knives and all the other little gadgets that stuff your drawers and cabinets. Eliminate duplicates to free up a ton of space and make an awesome donation to your local thrift store charity.
Extra Place Settings
Unless you frequently entertain large parties, it’s likely you have more place settings and more cutlery than your family can conceivably use. Keep a full set to serve your family, plus a few extra for when you do have friends over. Get rid of the rest.
All those utensil packets and tiny condiments? It’s time for them to go! Bonus: This is a quick win, taking only a few minutes to recycle old menus and toss the soy and ketchup packets.
Piles of Mail
Or, really, anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen. “For the dump zones, first figure out what the clutter is and then find a solution,” Berner says. “If it’s a bunch of junk mail, try to unsubscribe from what you can. If it’s loose change, put a canister there to catch it all. If it’s a bunch of receipts, redirect it to your shredder. Then, take a look at what’s typically being left out on the counter and why. Is it difficult to put this stuff away because your cabinets are a mess? Or is your family just being lazy?”
Expired Foods and Spices
Dig all the way to the back of your cabinets and get rid of anything expired. This includes spices and condiments lining your fridge door, too.
Fancy Kitchen Gadgets
Sure, you were going to spiralize all your veggies in that giant electric spiralizer, serve fresh waffles hot off the iron every weekend and whip up homemade quesadillas on that press, but… have you? Wishful purchases, especially large, single-use items, take up a ton of cabinet space. “And you don’t need every single gadget that you see advertised,” Berner says. “But I get it, there’s a lot of really fun stuff out there. So if you do find yourself wanting to get something that you really don’t need, then make yourself get rid of something else first to make room for it!”
Don’t feel guilty getting rid of any of these items! Instead, focus on how much space this exercise will open up for more family time and easier meals. To get your crew on board, get them involved! “If your family isn’t pitching in to help out, try to make it as easy as possible for them. Make it known where things go,” Berner says. “Create zones inside your kitchen for different activities. And make it clear that you expect them to put things away when they’re done. When all else fails, I’m not above a little bribery. Chocolate usually does the trick.”
Simply put, essential oils are extracts from plants. They can come from the plants’ petals, stems, barks, seeds, trunks and roots. They contain specific chemical components that work together to create therapeutic benefits.
You’re probably most familiar with using essential oils for aromatherapy purposes—spa treatments, relaxing massages, helping to clear your congestion when you have a cold—but they have many other uses you probably never even thought of. Not only are essential oils anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic, they also have antibacterial, antifungal and sedative properties.
“I know people that now find they don’t mind washing the dishes and doing some household cleaning because the oils they’re using not only smell delicious, but also have mood-boosting properties,” says Jessica Klingbaum, certified aromatherapy specialist.
Here are six surprising essential oil uses at home.
Use essential oils from orange, lemon or grapefruit for cleaning everything from glass to counters in your home. Mix with distilled water and/or vinegar to make an all-purpose cleaning spray.
“I love that it’ll leave the kitchen smelling great and there’s nothing toxic in what I’m using,” says Klingbaum, founder of BeHipandHealthy.com. Essential oils can also fight germs and help keep our immune systems strong.
You can make your home smell nice with essential oils—that’s a given. But did you know you can use it to specifically deodorize the inside of your stale-smelling refrigerator, your stinky trash bins, the bathroom, and even the inside of your shoes?
“Instead of getting some kind of plug-in air freshener for the bathroom, try putting a drop or two of lemon essential oil on the inside of the cardboard roll of toilet paper,” Klingbaum suggests.
Use essential oils derived from cinnamon, cardamom and clove for the kitchen, and jasmine, sandalwood and rose for bathrooms.
Geranium, basil and lavender oil work best to deodorize smelly shoes and shoe closets.
Over time, your floors can start to smell stale. Freshen up your carpet or rug with essential oils made from mandarin or lemon. You can add two drops onto a cotton ball and put it right into your vacuum cleaner bag or put a couple drops on a small piece of newspaper and vacuum it up. Breathe a sigh of relief as your vacuum releases a fresh scent into the air while you clean.
You can also mix 10 drops of an essential oil into 200 grams of baking soda. Store it in an airtight container for a couple of days. When ready, sprinkle it directly onto your carpet before vacuuming.
Essential oils can also be your solution for sticker residue or even stubborn price tags on household items that you want to remove. Just a drop or two of lemon essential oil on the sticky spot you’re cleaning up will do the trick, says Klingbaum.
Bugs like mosquitoes, ants and beetles are not fans of peppermint, lavender, citronella, lemongrass and rosemary. Use three to four drops per cotton ball and leave them near or around windows and doors to keep little critters at bay.
You can also create a spray using 10 drops of the same essential oils diluted in 8 ounces of water or rubbing alcohol. Shake and use on your skin or clothes to repel insects.
Dust Mite Remedy
Just add a few drops of eucalyptus oil into the water while washing your bedding to rid sheets and pillowcases of mites. You can also mix the essential oil with water in a spray bottle to use on upholstered furniture for the same purpose.
Whether you’re trying to eat more veggies (and, let’s face it, we all probably should), or you’ve got a few extra carrots hanging around in the fridge, it’s natural to wonder if it’s safe to share a few of your favorite vegetables with your four-legged bestie.
Fortunately, there are a number of safe vegetables for dogs. Learn more about the health benefits of vegetables for dogs and how to serve them, below.
Vegetables for Dogs: Green Beans
Full of fiber and low in calories, green beans make a great, vitamin-packed snack for dogs, says Dr. Antje Joslin, veterinarian at Dogtopia daycare in Phoenix.
Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium, adds Dr. Jennifer Coates, author of “Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.” She recommends keeping a bag of green beans in your freezer for a crunchy treat.
They can also be served to dogs chopped, steamed, raw or straight from a can, Joslin says. Just be sure to get no-sodium beans if you go the canned route.
Vegetables for Dogs: Spinach
Spinach contains large amounts of vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene and roughage (which is great for stimulating your dog’s digestive track), Joslin says.
As with humans, vitamin A is important for vision and immune system function, while vitamin K helps blood to clot and antioxidants help prevent cancer and other types of cellular damage to the body’s tissues, says Dr. Jennifer L. Summerfield, certified dog trainer and author of “Train Your Dog Now!”
Joslin suggests chopping and steaming spinach first before serving it to your dog.
Vegetables for Dogs: Sweet Potatoes
Loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber, sweet potatoes are a dog-safe vegetable. They should be pureed in a blender or juicer for best nutrient absorption.
“Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans, and don’t digest plant material very efficiently,” Summerfield says. She adds that, in general, vegetables should be given to dogs in small amounts or as a supplement to their regular diet. They should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s overall diet.
Vegetables for Dogs: Asparagus
Another low-calorie treat, asparagus provides vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C, which helps build and maintain connective tissue in the body, such as skin, bones and blood vessels, Summerfield says. Asparagus also has folic acid and dietary fiber.
Like sweet potato, asparagus should be pureed before serving it to your dog, she adds.
Vegetables for Dogs: Brussels Sprouts
Believe it or not, Brussels sprouts aren’t exclusively reserved for food bloggers and trendy restaurants.
“Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, these little power balls are great snacks for dogs,” Joslin says. “The best way to serve Brussels sprouts to your pup is by steaming, boiling or microwaving them. Don’t serve them raw, as they will be too hard for your dog to digest.”
Vegetables for Dogs: Broccoli
Broccoli is another dog-safe vegetable that is high in fiber, which is important for regular bowel movements and can help dogs feel more satisfied after eating, Summerfield says.
Broccoli should be served to dogs in small quantities and broken down into bite-sized pieces, either raw or cooked. As with all vegetables, broccoli should be served plain, without any added seasonings or oils.
Vegetables for Dogs: Carrots
Carrots make a great, crunchy snack that can help keep your dog’s teeth clean and can lower the risk of heart disease, Joslin says.
Carrots are also high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body after consumption, Summerfield says.
Before adding any vegetables to your dog’s meals, speak with your veterinarian about which vegetables are safe to add to her diet. And remember, onions, garlic and chives are toxic to dogs and should never be given to them.
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We micro-manage our pets’ diets almost as much as our own, and it can be confusing to determine which foods are safe for dogs to eat. Sure, it’s common knowledge that chocolate is a no-go, but what about fruit?
Fortunately, there are a variety of fruits that are perfectly safe to share with your dog—and make a healthy, nutritious snack for you both. These are our favorite fruits for dogs:
Fruits for Dogs: Cantaloupe
This sweet summertime fruit is loaded with vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, beta-carotene and folic acid, says Dr. Jennifer L. Summerfield, certified professional dog trainer and author of “Train Your Dog Now!” As in people, vitamin A is important for vision and immune system function in dogs, while vitamin K helps blood clot, Summerfield says.
Cantaloupe can be cut into small pieces and given to your dog as a treat (just make sure to remove the rind first). In general, fruits should be given to dogs in small amounts as a treat or supplement to their regular diet, she adds. Fruit should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s overall diet.
Fruits for Dogs: Apples
Packed with antioxidants and dietary fiber, apples are another fruit that’s safe for dogs.
“Dietary fiber is important for regular bowel movements and can also help dogs (like humans!) to feel ‘full’ or satisfied after eating,” Summerfield says. “Antioxidants are beneficial because they help to scavenge free radicals in the body and prevent cancer and other types of cellular damage to the body’s tissues.”
In addition, apples have both phytonutrients and flavonoids, two plant-specific types of antioxidants that serve as anti-inflammatories and help boost the immune system, Summerfield says.
Like cantaloupe, apples can be cut into small pieces (without seeds or core) and fed raw as a treat.
Fruits for Dogs: Watermelon
Your perfect warm-weather snack also happens to be a great choice for dogs too.
“[Watermelon] contains more water than do some other fruits and so can help prevent dehydration,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, author of “Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.” “It’s also a good source of potassium, which may improve recovery from exercise.”
In other words, feel free to share a few bite-sized pieces of cold watermelon on a hot day—bonus points if it’s after a trip to the beach.
Fruits for Dogs: Pumpkin
Yes, pumpkin is a fruit. And a dog-safe fruit, at that!
“If your dog could stand to lose a little weight or has certain types of digestive problems, adding pumpkin to the diet might help,” Coates says. “Pumpkin’s high fiber content makes dogs feel full without adding many calories and can also be used to treat constipation, diarrhea, and anal sac problems.”
Pumpkin also contains beta-carotene, vitamin A, iron and potassium, says Dr. Antje Joslin, a veterinarian at Dogtopia daycare in Phoenix, and its nutrients can help add moisture to a dog’s skin and fur.
Consider adding a scoop of canned pumpkin (just pumpkin—no seasonings) to your dog’s meals and be sure to talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s digestion.
Fruits for Dogs: Blueberries
High in fiber, blueberries help control blood sugar, support healthy digestion and prevent cell damage, Joslin says. They can be fed to dogs raw or frozen as a treat or snack.
“Blueberries are a wonderful treat for dogs,” Coates says. “They contain a lot of vitamin C and manganese, both of which help the immune system function properly. Also, flavonoids, the compounds that make blueberries blue, are excellent antioxidants.”
Many other berries can be given to dogs in moderation, including strawberries and cranberries, Summerfield says. These have similar health benefits as the other fruits on this list.
Finally, keep in mind that grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and should never be given to them.
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The changing season is a perfect time to take a look at our lives and evaluate what is and isn’t serving us. While there are worse offenses than a messy closet or junk drawer, excess household clutter can actually have negative effects on your mental and physical wellbeing.
We asked our ND, Dr. Jeremy Wolf, about the effects untidiness can have on our lives. “Clutter can become so overwhelming that it becomes a distraction,” Dr. Wolf says. “A recent study revealed that cluttered homes can affect individuals socially and in their careers (1). We can become so overwhelmed with our possessions that the rest of our lives fall by the wayside.”
Unsure if clutter is holding you back? If you’re struggling in any of these areas of life, chances are it might be time to tidy up!
Diminished Productivity and Focus
“Clutter creates chaotic environments that cause stress (2),” Dr. Wolf says. Crowded countertops, unattended piles of junk mail and even the steady stream of notifications on your phone all compete for your attention. These tiny distractions add up throughout the day and lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed, which can erode your ability to focus.
Solution: Start in your most cluttered room first and tackle it in pieces. For example, take 15 minutes to completely clean out and reorganize the junk drawer in your kitchen or your desk. Consider what documents can live in a digital space instead of camping out on your desk. Making sure every item has a home will make tidying up in the future that much easier. Challenge yourself to declutter for 15 minutes a day to help reclaim your focus and productivity!
Unhealthy Eating Habits
When it comes to eating healthy, Dr. Wolf says, “Research shows a messy kitchen can make you feel out of control, and what you see is ultimately what you’ll eat (3). Meaning, you’ll reach for the cookies if they’re sitting out on the counter before rummaging through the fridge for something healthy.” If your cooking supplies are a jumbled mess, the less likely you are to prepare a healthy meal.
Solution: Reorganize your pantry shelves and cabinets so healthier options are visible and easy to access. Take the time to recycle old, ineffective kitchen supplies and organize the usable ones. Keeping fruit out on the counter instead of buried in the fridge will make you more likely to eat it!
Worsening Allergies and Asthma
Did you ever consider what’s living among your clutter? Excess dust, mold and animal dander can collect in all the extra nooks and crannies—the more items lying about, the harder it is to keep them all clean. This can aggravate allergies and asthma, create a breeding ground for germs and attract disease-carrying critters into your home. (Eek!)
Solution: Aim to keep the knickknacks on your surfaces as minimal as possible—the fewer items to collect dust and germs, the better. Display only what you know you’ll get around to cleaning regularly. As a bonus, add plants to your decor to improve the air quality in your home!
Low Energy and Trouble Sleeping
Researchers have found that people with messy bedrooms had worse sleep quality than those with tidier spaces. “When there are multiple visual stimuli competing for your attention, you have a hard time narrowing your focus,” Dr. Wolf explains. “This also applies when getting a good night’s rest.” Sleep requires a Zen state of mind. A messy room can leave you feeling unsettled and anxious, painfully aware of the daunting cleaning task surrounding you.
Solution: Try to make it a part of your nighttime ritual to ensure dirty clothes are in the hamper, your desk is organized and your vanity is tidied and ready for the morning. You’ll sleep with a clearer head, and your morning routine will be a breeze.
You don’t have to be held back by clutter! Use these tips when tackling your spring cleaning to help you feel refreshed and renewed for the season ahead.
Essential oils are wonderful. They smell great, offer tons of health benefits and can even help cleaning your home. Loaded with naturally antibacterial properties, essential oils are the ideal ingredient for homemade DIY cleaning products. Add oils to clean up and sanitize your kitchen or bathroom or use to enhance your laundry routine. Let’s look at some of the best oils for cleaning and disinfecting your home.
1. Tea Tree
Tea tree oil fights germs, bacteria and viruses in everything from homemade wipes to hand soap and much more. Plus, tea tree oil can be used against bugs helping to deter lice and other pests.
Loaded with natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties, rosemary essential oils can be used in many different ways for home cleaning. From homemade soaps to laundry detergent, air freshener sprays to remove stubborn stains, rosemary can be mixed with washing soda,
baking soda, and vinegar to create a powerful stain remover product.
3. Citrus Seed Extract
A powerful antimicrobial agent, citrus seed extract is often used for dishwashing products. Also labeled as grapefruit seed extract, these essential oils are considered natural degreasers and can be very helpful in your kitchen
One of the best-smelling naturally antibacterial essential oils, lavender can be mixed with another common natural cleaner: vinegar. Just add 4-5 drops of lavender to your vinegar cleaning mixture for its natural antibacterial properties as well as an enhanced scent.
Eucalyptus is a natural germicide which can help clean and sanitize your home leaving a “great smell” in the air. A powerful dust mite buster, eucalyptus is great for stinky jobs in the kitchen and bathroom, plus it can help to deter pests.
Another essential oil that can leave your house smelling great after cleaning, peppermint contains antibacterial properties that can be used in spray cleaners and natural deodorant spray. Easy-to use, you just need to mix 10-15 drops of peppermint with a cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and use the air freshener along cracks and crevices to deter ants and spiders.
A common ingredient in cleaners, pine oil is effective at killing yeast spores, E.coli and other household germs. Pine is a strong and powerful ingredient, perfect for ridding the bathroom of mold and mildew and cleaning hard floors while leaving a natural fresh scent.
If you want to improve the air quality of your home, adding plants to your house can be an excellent and affordable way. Many buildings have inefficient air flow which may create a condition for air pollution to build up and may lead to health issues such as asthma or sick building syndrome. Plans can clean up the pollutants from the air with no too much work for you. Let’s check out 4 low-maintenance houseplants for cleaner air.
1. Spider Plant
Spider plants are known to help remove formaldehyde and xylene. These beautiful and easy-to-care plants grow quickly and look great in hanging baskets and are a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners. Safe for children or animals, spider plants need a lot of bright, indirect sunlight and you only need to water them two times per week.
Dracaena Plants are also known as natural air purifiers. These foliage plants with long, wide leaves are known to remove pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. Unfortunately, pet owners might want to avoid Dracaena as these are toxic to cats and dogs.
3. Bamboo Palm
Bamboo palm can be considered low-maintenance but these plants need full sun or bright light. Known to filter formaldehyde, bamboo palm can filter so much air and some of the pollutants known to be removed include benzene and trichloroethylene.
4. Snake Plant
Snake plants are also useful to remove formaldehyde and benzene and require not much maintenance. This sharp-leafed plant thrives in low light and is an excellent way to help lower carbon dioxide. Research suggests that during the night, snale plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, a reversal of the process most plants undergo. They are highly recommended for your bedroom as they can increase oxygen while you sleep.
Winter is coming and it’s going to bring along some seriously chilly days and nights. Though the worst of the season is still ahead, now is an excellent chance for you to start preparing. Many homeowners are aware that consuming too much energy in the winter to stay warm can be both expensive and bad for the planet. To help you through the season, here are some fun tips on saving energy and staying nice and toasty.
Homes are not always as well-insulated as owners might like to believe. Air leaks around windows and doorframes can cause your energy bills to skyrocket, as your HVAC system will have to work harder to maintain the right temperature. Ignoring a draft could easily cause your home to waste far more energy than you’d like. Contact professionals and learn about energy-efficient window options to improve your home’s ability to handle the chill of winter.
Thermogenesis is the scientific process surrounding a living organism’s ability to produce heat. Eating food that can help to enhance your own thermogenesis may allow you to stay warm without cranking the heat. Ginger, lentils, and coconut oil all help in this regard. It is important to remember that weight is a big factor in your body’s thermogenesis. Depending on your weight, specific foods might not have any effect on changing the way your body produces heat.
3. Spice Life
The way you season your food can also have a dramatic impact on how warm your body feels in the cold. Putting cumin on meals has been shown to raise body temperature and make an individual feel nice and cozy. While cumin is a top choice for many, spices like cinnamon and turmeric are also excellent candidates for the task. Several academic studies suggest using these spices can aid in diet or weight loss efforts, especially when mixed with protein-rich foods.
4. Temperature Regulation
What food you eat can assist your body to best regulate its internal temperature. Eating foods rich in magnesium, like bananas, has been shown to create a feeling of warmth in the body. Many foods that contain higher levels of magnesium are easy to carry around with you. By munching on pumpkin seeds or almonds throughout the course of the day, you are giving your body the opportunity to warm up no matter where the day takes you. While at home, eating magnesium-rich food can also help you to save on heating costs.
5. Metabolic Boost
When your metabolism is moving, your body is heated. Boosting your metabolism is easy when you drink coffee on a regular basis. A cup of coffee each morning can keep you warm simply through the power of caffeine. It does not matter that the coffee is hot or iced, so feel free to indulge in your favorite caffeinated drinks regardless of temperature.
Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.
Filed Under: Home at 12:01 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak
It’s pretty well known that Mason jars are a staple piece for crafting, but you might be surprised by the incredible number of ways you can use them. Mason jars are simply storage containers, but with a little bit of creativity, there are so many things you can do with them. Since we can’t list them all, we selected our 5 favorite ways to use Mason jars.
1. Indoor Herbs
Mason jars are normally used to store everything from raw food to leftovers but how about using them to grown herbs inside your home? You can hang several Mason jars on the wall or place them on the kitchen counter, creating your little herb garden indoors. Grow oregano, parsley, dill, chives, basil and pretty much any herb in these beautiful and practical jars.
2. Beverages and Drinks
Mason jars can be used for all types of beverages and drinks in a unique and stylish way. These jars can be used for fun beverages for kids. Just make a hole in the center of the lid and use a straw to serve them chocolate milk, smoothies, yogurt, fruit-infused water and pretty much any other beverage. Get extra creative painting the jar with your favorite color or adding your name or favorite sports team. Plus, it works for adult drinks as well! You can make fancy drinks such as mojitos, caipirinhas, or pina colada and serve your friends in a non-traditional way.
3. Home Décor
Decorating Mason jars are a simple, affordable, and unique way to personalize your home exactly the way you want. These jars can be used for food storage, bathroom storage, in your office as pencil/pen containers, in your living room as candle holders and so much more. You can also decorate them to match your home color/style as well as personalize them for special holidays such as Christmas, Fourth of July, Easter, etc.
4. Yogurt Storage
If you make your own homemade yogurt, Mason jars are an excellent choice to store them. Instead of culturing homemade yogurt in the crockpot or yogurt maker, you can do it in mason jars as they stack and store well in the fridge and are also easy for traveling.
5. Table Centerpiece
Mason jars make perfect table centerpieces. With so many sizes and models available, you can be sure to find the perfect jar to add some flowers or any ornaments to enhance your table. Perfect to be placed on smaller coffee tables and counter tops, mason jars can literally fit anywhere in your home.
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Fresh, clean air is essential for a healthy lifestyle but how can you ensure that the air you breathe is actually good? That’s a difficult task but there are many ways you can reduce a number of toxins in your home which may be affecting your health.
Exposures to toxic chemicals in your everyday life can actually increase your chances of becoming sick. A good number of these indoor pollutants are not easily detected but can still affect your overall health.
For example, chemicals released from modern building furnishing materials as well as chemical fumes from paints and solvents may only be noticed in the first couple of days but these potentially dangerous gases may hang around for weeks, sometimes months. Additionally, combustion gases from fireplaces and wood burning stoves, carbon monoxide fumes from attached garage as well as chemicals from cleaning products can stick around inside your home and damage your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to get sick. Removing these toxins from your home allows your immune system to regenerate naturally, and fight off all infectious diseases.
So, how to avoid these toxins? A few simple steps can significantly improve the quality of your home’s air.
First, increase fresh air supply (in other words, open the windows). Proper ventilation is the key to filter out some of the toxins and maintain healthy air inside your home.
Second, indoor plants can also help to purify air quality as plants can up oxygen levels by absorbing chemicals in your air.
Lastly, keep your home clean by regularly dusting and vacuuming to minimize the number of airborne particles. Choose natural cleaning products to reduce the amount of chemicals inside your home and definitely avoid disinfectants as some of these products contain immune-toxicants such as cresol, phenol, ethanol, and formaldehyde, which reduce the ability of the immune system to fight the germs they are killing.