Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Itchy Skin Relief Bath

Now that the cold weather has arrived here in Oz, the skin on my body has become really dry and itchy. My face, on the other hand, is a different story; it seems to be drowning in the oil that seems to have disappeared from my body! While I haven't come up with a solution for the oil slick, I have found a soothing solution for the itchy skin. This bath is also good for soothing sunburns, chickenpox and just plain old relaxing!

Oatmeal Bath

Place two tablespoons of oatmeal in the toe of a clean stocking and tie in a knot. Throw the bundle into your bath as the bath is running. When you hop into the bath, massage the bundle over your body, squeezing as you go. Then lie down and relax.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Little Scholastics Giveaway at MomTrends

If you love books for your kids, and what mum doesn't, then head on over to MomTrends where she is giving away a whole basket of Little Scholastics books aimed at the under 3 crowd, worth over $230. Competition ends 30 June, so get on over there right away!


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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Product Review: Post-It Recycled Notes PLUS giveaway

I love Post-It notes, so I was excited when I was given the opportunity to review a new range released by 3M that are made from at least 30% post-consumer recycled paper. As part of their commitment to social responsibility, 3M has recently achieved the Sustainable Foresty Initiative Chain-of-Custody Certification for all Post-It Notes that ship out of 3M facilities in the US. What this means in plain English is that you can be assured that all of their Post-It products are made from paper that is sourced from well-managed, sustainable forests.

Even more exciting is that they have developed a range made from recycled paper. Their original style Post-It now comes in a recycled version made from 100% recycled paper. These are just as nice to write on as the original, non-recycled paper version, and although they have some small flecks throughout the paper, this does not diminish from the product at all. These come in the original canary yellow and assorted pastel colours.

I also received two products from their Super-Sticky range. I have never tried these ones before, and I am impressed! They really are super sticky which is really useful with the lined 4x6 pads that I tried. These would be great for all sorts of things around the house as they stick to almost any surface, even vertically, without falling off; a great idea is to write a list of what needs to be done regarding cleaning of your child's room. Post it on the wall, and they have a clear list of instructions of what to do when you ask them to clean their room for the fiftieth time! The super sticky range is made from 30% recycled (post consumer) product, which while not as great as 100% is still a great move towards being more sustainable. This range comes in either earthy colours, or vibrant tropical colours.

Now to the fun part - a GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment about your favourite colour in the Post-It recycled notes collection, and I will send the winner (randomly selected, of course!) a gift pack of these great new products. For extra entries, leave a comment letting me know that you are a follower, a subscriber, or that you have blogged about this giveaway. Leave one comment per method! I will draw the winner on Wednesday 24th June.

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Disclaimer: I was sent these products to review and to giveaway, but I have not been paid for this review. Also, my review is my honest opinion and was not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or supplier of the products.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Toddler toys for plane trips

As I mentioned in my previous post, Stephen coped really well with the flights. To try and pre-empt any problems, I had prepped up his own little carry-on suitcase, filled with toys, colouring books, crayons, and snacks. I've listed the best items below - these kept Stephen occupied on the plane and during downtime at the hotels.

The Trunki carry-on

Who ever invented this ride-on, pull-along carry-on suitcase deserves a medal. In this little carry-on I packed all of Stephen's toys, his bottles for take-off and landing, and a change of clothes. He was excited to pull it along himself at the airport when we were leaving, and he rode on it at the airport when we were coming back.

Zoobie Pet

The Zoobie pet is a cool soft toy that turns into a pillow and opens out into a blanket. Stephen used this as a pillow to sleep with on the plane, which he did for 4 out of 7.5 hours on the way there, and the entire flight back.

Melissa and Doug Vehicle Mini Puzzles

I took these out of the wooden box, and packed them in a sandwich size ziploc bag. These kept Stephen occupied for a good hour; not only did we play puzzles, but we named each vehicle, zoomed them around, and made up stories.

Fun Factory Magnetic Fishing Game

Again, I took these out of the wooden box, and packed them into a zip loc bag. This game kept him occupied the longest as we fished, counted, named colours and lined up the fish into patterns.

As well as these, he also spent time colouring-in with his crayons; instead of bring a whole colouring-in book, I photocopied some pages to take with us.

I also packed some lacing toys, some pipecleaners and a magnetic picture book, which we didn't get to use. These were all light weight and small to bring, so if he hadn't fallen asleep when he did, they really would have come in handy.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back from our trip!

We are back from our first overseas trip with Stephen, and I have to say, it went really well. He was a superstar on the plane trips, was really well behaved (most of the time), and most importantly, had a wonderful time. The highlight for him was definitely Disneyland, especially being able to have his meals with his favourite characters at the hotel. In fact, as soon as we arrived at the Disney Hotel, his first question was "where is Mickey Mouse?". Thank goodness we arrived about 10 minutes before the first sitting of dinner. His favourite thing was to give his new friends hugs and kisses. This is Stephen going for the smooch with Mickey.

He also had a great time at the activity room at the hotel. This room was set up with fantastic toys, colouring pages, crafts and a storytime area. Best of all, and very surprising given we were at Disney, is that the toys were all wooden (not electronic and plastic!), and very much encouraged imaginative play. We had to make a detour in to the activity room at least twice a day he loved it that much. Here, Stephen is playing shopkeeper/baker in the bakery.

We also went to another amusement park, Ocean Park, which we all enjoyed a lot. They had an excellent aquarium, a dolphin and seal show that kept Stephen enthralled, and a wonderful Panda enclosure. If Stephen had the choice, we could have stayed with the pandas all day!

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. It was great to spend some one-on-one time with Stephen, something I think he has been missing since Irini was born, and now that we are back home we are going to try and do this for a small time each week/fortnight.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flavouring Oatmeal

There is nothing better than a bowl of steaming hot oatmeal on a winter's morning. It is warming and filling and incredibly good for your health. However, to be perfectly honest, oatmeal can get really boring, really quick. Instead of switching to something else for breakfast (since it really is a superfood, healthwise), switch up your oatmeal instead. Add in one or more of the following suggestions:

Sprinkle on top

  • brown sugar
  • a smidgen of finely grated dark chocolate - for the antioxidants, of course ;)
  • chopped toasted almonds or walnuts
  • chopped dried fruit (apples, apricots, dates)
  • spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)

Swirl in

  • frozen berries (a great tip for kids, as this cools down the oatmeal)
  • stewed apples or apricots
  • maple syrup
  • mashed banana

Infuse the milk

  • Tie whole spices (such as star anise, cloves, cinnamon and cardomom) in cheesecloth and steep in hot milk for about 30 minutes. Use this milk to make up the oatmeal
  • Steep finely grated orange peel in hot milk for 30 minutes

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Beating Colds and Flus the Natural Way

Cold and flu season is in full swing and for many of us, that means resorting to a pharmacy worth of cold and flu meds. But is this really the best way to beat a cold? According to the FDA in the US, a old wives remedy as simple as honey beat over-the-counter cough suppressants for effectiveness.

So what natural measures can you take to beat colds and flu? Just like the old saying goes:

Prevention is better than a cure

Drink lots of water - according to Victor Sierpina MD, author of 1000 cures for 200 ailments, for your respiratory tract cells to function properly and fight off infection, you need plenty of fluid.

  • drink at least 2 L of water a day (approx 8 glasses)
  • use a humidifier if you have the heater on
  • use a saline nasal spray such as FESS daily

Take probiotics - "friendly" bacteria such as acidophilus (often found in yoghurt as well as supplements) are believed to help your immune cells, the majority of which are in your digestive tract.

  • look for yoghurt that is labelled "live cultures"
  • supplements often contain up to 10 times the amount as found in yoghurt
  • probiotics are especially important if you have been taking antibiotics, as these kill good bacteria as well as bad

Eat well - seems like a no-brainer, but it is amazing how many of us forget that a constant supply of fruit, vegetables and protein are essential to your body's defenses working the way they should.

  • your grandmother told you an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and it seems she was right. Apples (as well as red onions) are an especially concentrated source of the antioxidant quercetin, which is believed to be highly protective of immune functions.
  • make sure you get your 2 fruit and 5 veg daily.

Keep you hands in plain sight - your hands are the major transmitter of the cold virus. Keep them clean, and keep them away from your eyes and nose, which are the main entry points for the virus to enter your system

  • this is especially important when using shared equipment like phones and computers. Wash your hands well after touching these, as the cold virus can survive for quite along time on hard surfaces.

What to do when you know it's about to attack

Keep your nose clean - carry on with the saline nasal spray, or use a neti pot to flush out your nose.

  • the saline solution removes germs from your nasal passage
  • it also removes debris that can prevent mucus from draining properly
  • the salt is also a great disinfectant

Supersize your vitamin C - while getting vitamin C from your diet is important, it will only get you about 200mg if you are consistently eating your 2 and 5. Studies have shown that you need 500-1000mg to help protect against infections taking hold

  • take an ester-C supplement, as well as eating lots of fruit and veges
  • red capsicums (peppers) and blueberries are great sources of vitamin C, even better than citrus

Too late, it's already here

Broken record - keep up with the saline nasal spray! Not only does it flush and disinfect, adding back some moisture helps prevent reinfection.

  • use whether you have a stuffy OR a runny nose
  • use up to 5- 15 times a day
  • a pressurised spray like FESS is better at this stage than a neti pot

Honey, honey - stop coughs in their tracks with honey. Coughs are the body's way of clearing out your upper chest, so let it be when you can, but when you need a good night's sleep, then take two teaspoons of honey (one for children over 12 months). It works by soothing the throat, killing the germs, and helping to block the cough reflex in the brain

  • take neat - having it in a hot toddy, while comforting, doesn't work
  • the darker the colour of the honey, the more effective
  • manuka honey from New Zealand has been proven scientifically to be the most effective of all
  • never give honey to babies under 12 months old, due to the risk of botulism

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Monthly Breast Exams

This is your reminder to perform your monthly breast self-exam. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women today. Please take five minutes to do this important check. Early detection could mean the difference bewteen life and death.

There are two important ways to check your breasts. The first is by looking. A mirror should be used to check the breasts for pulls, dents, odd colouring, or lumps. The best positions for inspecting are leaning forward, arms on hips tightly, or standing upright with both arms over your head. When checking the breasts, keep in mind that both breasts should look the same, especially around the nipple.

The second way to check the breasts is by feeling. There are two ways to do this part of the exam and it is best to use a different one each month. One method uses water or oil on the skin to help fingers glide over the skin more easily. The shower can be a good place for this kind of exam. The second way is to use a thin T-shirt or sheet over the breasts. In both of these ways, the little skin lumps and bumps are less noticeable. Feel the breast tissue for any areas that feel different from the rest of the breast. Sometimes a difference will be a ball or lump. Yet other times it will be a thickened band or a deep, hard area that does not move like the rest of the breast.

When feeling the breasts

  • Check the breast in two or three positions, such as lying down, standing up, and even leaning forward.
  • Use the palm surface of the fingers, not the tips, to move the breast.
  • Divide the exam into parts. Examine one part from the outside of the breast into the nipple, and then from the inside to the outer edge. Realize the breast tail goes into the armpit, so the exam needs to include that area.
  • Remember the nipple is important, too. There is less breast tissue right under the nipple, so any lump there is a concern. The value of checking for discharge from the nipple is a debate since regular, hard squeezing of the nipple alone can cause a discharge. The gentle exam done towards your nipple is usually enough to show if there is a discharge. Any blood from the nipple needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

Breast self-exam is not a substitute for mammography or for regular exams by a doctor. Be sure to keep regular appointments as recommended by your doctor.

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