health · quarantine

Supplements to take during Pandemic

Vitamin B, C and D.

Do you have these? I’ve noticed lately that these are recommended for those who test positive. I also know well before this these same vitamins were recommended to stay healthy and be taken preventatively. I take all three daily and will continue to do so.

Do you know why each of these are needed?

Vitamin C probably goes without saying, during the winter months especially.

Vitamin B is great for energy! Super B contains all the B vitamins you need.

Vitamin D is what you take in from the sun and is lacking in winter months. I read recently that 80% of those who tested positive had low vitamin D levels. Take a look at the graphs below of this correlation. Low vitamin D is also linked to depression.

I encourage you to add these to your daily supplements

adventures with kids · quarantine · Tennessee · travel with kids

Visiting Machine Falls with Kids

If you’ve been wanting to chase waterfalls, but wanting to social distance and choose one that’s not so crowded, Machine Falls is a great choice!

We took our daughters, ages 6 and 11, and ran into maybe 10 other families the entire time we were there, including our hike to the falls and back.

Machine Falls was about an hour hike down for us, but I will admit we intentionally took our time so that our youngest would feel safe and comfortable, especially on the slippery rocks toward the end.

Things to know before you go: (I was so glad I did research before visiting!)

  • Wear sneakers or shoes with good traction, and consider bringing water shoes or sandals for the tail end of the hike. You will be hiking down the creek to get to the falls. And the water is COLD.
  • Parking lot is by the big white water tower. Put this address in your GPS: 1861 Short Springs Rd. Tullahoma, TN. Machine Falls is located in Short Springs Natural Area.
  • The trailhead is across the street from the lot.
  • When you begin the trail, you will notice the sign for Machine Falls points in BOTH directions! The path on the right is much easier! We took the path on the left going to the falls and the right path coming back so we know from experience! If you take the more strenuous path on the left, watch out for tree roots and rocks sticking up out of the pathway at the start of your hike. Regardless of which path you choose, as you get closer to the falls, the climb becomes steeper, and some of the steps are loose.
  • When you come upon the little bridge, this is good time to change your footwear.

art · kids · quarantine

10 Things to Know BEFORE You Tie-Dye

After three round of tie-dying with my daughters, we’ve pretty much nailed down all of the things NOT to do and things we would do different next time. We made our share of mistakes as newbies and I would love to share them with you so we are all better off. Here we go:

Prewash your shirt!

1. Prewash your shirts. Or at least use a wet shirt. You can kind of see in the picture above that the dye isn’t absorbing as well and running down the fabric. This was our second day of dying and we just flat out forgot to do it.

The good news is that if this happens to you, there is a work around. We waited the recommended 6-8 hours, then rinsed, squeezed out and put back in the bag for several more hours. It worked! A wet shirt really is necessary to achieve the more graduated pretty watercolor effect.

2. Use a shower curtain or tarp. As you can see in the above pic we used a shower curtain to place under us. We also worked outside. I’ll be honest, tie-dying is messy. The more systems you have in place to prevent messes the more fun you’ll have!

Use the gloves!

3. Use the gloves they provide. Otherwise your hands will look like mine. It took two days for this to wear off.

Use a fork to help with the spiral.

4. Use a fork. When you’re doing the spiral technique, using a fork can help keep the spiral tight. Just place in the center, then twist. You can use your hands to guide the rest of the twisting, as shown.

Rubber bands don’t have to be perfect.

5. Rubber band placement doesn’t have to be perfect. We did some spiral shirts where we were super careful and some where we weren’t and all of the shirts turned out nice.

I will say if you are wanting to achieve a certain pattern, it will be more important for you to divide into sections, almost like a pizza.

Don’t forget to flip it over and do the other side.

6. Flip it over! If you forget this your shirt will look half done. Once you’ve applied die to both sides, THEN you can bag.

Gallon sized ziplocs work great.

7. Use gallon sized ziploc bags. Once you have finished dying, if you buy the popular Tulip brand like we did, it comes with a box for you to place your shirts in. We wanted to do multiple projects at once, and ziplocs let us do this. They work great.

Do keep rinsing!

9. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear. After waiting the 6-8 hours for the color to set. The directions say to keep rinsing the shirt until the water runs clear. We did this, and machine washed and dried as instructed and still I ended up with two light blue towels in my next day’s load that were formally white. I would say, when you think you’re done rinsing, keep rinsing. And maybe machine wash twice!

Try other techniques!

10. Experiment with other techniques. We tried the technique pictured above and it was more of a true tie-dye. We used kitchen twine.

The coolest thing about tie-dye, is that matter what you do, or how many mistakes you may make, your project will still be a cool surprise in the end.

health · quarantine

Anxiety Affects Your Immune System: Ways to Guard Yourself Against Fear and Worry

Dear friends, these days I am seeing more and more share that they are in a state of worry and fear. But that fear and worry wreaks havoc on your physical wellbeing.

During these times especially, we need to be doing all we can to keep ourselves in a mental state of ease and calm.

Here are a few things you can start doing today to guard yourself against fear and worry:

  1. Be mindful of the media you consume: watching the news, scrolling through your Facebook feed, and even binge watching dark Netflix series. The songs you listen too with the killer baselines but have negative lyrics. Limit these as much as possible for one week and experience for yourself, the difference it makes.
  2. Immerse yourself in uplifting books, watch shows that inspire, and maybe trade your fearmongering Facebook in for the lighter inspiring feelings of Pinterest or Instagram or TikTok.
  3. Do something creative. Being creative requires you to be present and it’s the most wonderful distraction from thoughts that concern you.
  4. Meditate. This probably should have been number one. If you are finding yourself in a state of fear and worry, meditation has this wonderful way of shutting those emotions down. When you quiet your mind, you block your thoughts, including those negative ones. And no thought is better than negative thought. Meditation is like hitting a reset button for your emotional state.
  5. Reach for activities and things that calm you and are satisfying: get outdoors, take a walk, take a bath, light some candles, breathe in calming essential oils like lavender or those that are grounding like frankincense. Do some gardening or baking if that’s something you enjoy.
  6. Some studies I read when I was preparing to write this post emphasized the importance of staying connected to friends and social networks. Text or FaceTime a friend. Organize a zoom call.
  7. Make positive lists. Journal. My daughters and I have been doing this more and more often. We make lists of things we would like to do, where we would like to go, places we would like to travel, meal ideas/recipes we want to try, birthday ideas, things we can do for others.
  8. Learn something new! Learning a new skill is empowering and also helps you to be more present.

Whatever you choose to do, choose something that will get yourself to a mental place that feels better. I hope that these suggestions can help point you to some ideas that will bring you more peace. ✌🏻

*Curious about how anxiety affects the body exactly? Here is a Psychology Today article that’s a bit older, but explains it pretty well. And there is this one as well.

kids · product reviews · quarantine · Uncategorized

All Things sand.tagious

Watching sand.tagious kinetic sand cutting videos is so satisfying. If you don’t know about them, I’m happy to introduce you.

What is it exactly that makes the sound of cutting sand so satisfying? Apparently, sounds like this trigger a ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) which is a “low-grade euphoria,” a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin, particularly the scalp and spine.

An entire genre of ASMR videos has emerged on social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram with the discovery of this phenomenon. And kinetic sand cutting is just one type of ASMR video. Other ASMR types include whispering, crinkling plastic, and crunching.

The intention of the videos is to calm and soothe. sand.tagious videos have been praised by those with anxiety, autism and insomnia but anyone can appreciate them. You can read more about sand.tagious and the ASMR connection here.

Our family loves kinetic sand cutting videos because they are calming, and they help us to clear our minds and be present. I dare you to be anxious and stressed out while watching. It just isn’t possible.

More than that, sand.tagious videos have inspired us to be more creative with our kinetic sand. Watching and listening to someone else play with and cut kinetic sand is satisfying for sure, but doing it yourself adds a kinesthetic and tactile element that is just as satisfying.

We have had fun trying to make our own kinetic sand cutting videos, using found items around the house with our sand, and acquiring tools like the ones used by sand.tagious. This set includes just about everything you would need to get started and is the best bang for your buck.

Our very first attempt at making our own sand-cutting ASMR video. They wanted it sped up, but then realized there is no sound. The girls want their own YouTube channel. 😁

This set includes just about everything you would need to get started.

https://www.instagram.com/sand.tagious/

https://m.facebook.com/sand.tagious

adventures with kids · parenting · quarantine · Uncategorized

Making the Most of this Quarantine Life

My dad used to say “attitude is everything,” and as a teenager it would annoy me. Now, as an adult, it resonates. We are doing our best to make the most of this stay home time and have the best attitudes we can. I wanted to share some of the things we’ve been doing to make this time special and memorable.

We love going for walks in the neighborhood and really love going on hikes. Many activities have been cancelled, but hiking and being outdoors is not cancelled!

Hiking is our favorite. We are so lucky to live near so many different trails and parks.

Flying kites. Most people think of March as the windy kite flying month. But the entire spring season rocks for this. Check out my blog post on my three best kept kite flying secrets. (I just gave you one.)

Flying kites isn’t just something on our spring checklist, it’s a pastime.

Crafts! We love arts and crafts. It’s super fun to get curious and try new things with art. One of my favorites was making our own scented crayons. Check out my post on how to make them.

We made our own scented crayons.

Scavenger hunts. My kindergartener, Madeline, has received quite a few scavenger hunts from her teacher and really liked them. I am a teacher too, so it inspired me to try and find some my middle schoolers would enjoy. Our favorite was without a doubt was the photo scavenger hunt. You can find it as well as photos from ours here.

The photo scavenger hunt was the best!

Sidewalk chalk fun. We have always loved sidewalk chalk, but we were really inspired when our friends started posting their chalk mosaics on social media. So of course we wanted to try it ourselves. You can check out my post on them here.

Sidewalk chalk mosaic!

Acts of kindness. We have had fun trying to think of ways to show kindness during this time. One way was to paint and hide kindness rocks at one of our favorite hiking trails. Another was to go through our books and take some we didn’t want anymore to our Little Free Library so other children can enjoy them.

Madeline found a kindness rock on our curb which inspired us to pay it forward and make our own.
We donated some of our books to this Little Free Library.

Drives. We live near country roads and drives out in the country are the best. Winding roads lined with trees, beautiful fields and farmland, favorite music cranked and sun roof open. This was not canceled. I would like to add the we are so grateful for drive through coffee and curbside pickup. This lets us help support local businesses too.

Supporting one of our favorite local coffee shops.
natural lifestyle · quarantine · Uncategorized

Earthing: Getting dirty for your health.

During this time of quarantine, I try to stay focused on ways to give myself and my family every advantage possible: to be the healthiest, mentally stable versions of ourselves. Healthy diet and self-care have been a priority for sure. We have slowed down, are eating better and exercising more than we did prior to this time.

But I am always open and seeking other ways to keep us at our best in a time where circumstances would point to the opposite. I follow a gal on Instagram who mentioned earthing in a post, and that she found her info on NCBI, and I was intrigued.

What is earthing? NCBI explains, “Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, some of them patented, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body.”

Early humans walked the earth barefoot and even slept on the ground. Could this have given them a physical advantage over their modern-day, rubber-sole-wearing counterparts?

I also share the concern of many about the introduction of the fifth generation of wireless communication technology. The NBHI study gives us hope stating that earthing “essentially eliminates the ambient voltage induced on our bodies from common electrical sources.” 🌲❤️

After reading through the NBHI study on earthing, it does seem to show evidence that walking barefoot is more than beneficial. When we engage in earthing we are making direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Order up a serving of “sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, physical activity,” and add to that list…earthing. Research to date shows “it may be an essential element to the health equation.”

The past two days, I’ve experimented. I made a point to do simple outdoor tasks barefoot. Watering the flowers, checking the mail, having coffee. What I noticed afterward was not only a calming, but the nostalgia of that feeling of grass between my toes. And the realization that I am much more tender-footed than my ten-year-old self who could run across a gravel driveway unfazed. I have missed this.

Move over Lysol and Clorox wipes. Dirty feet may keep you healthy.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

Edited to add:

After reading this study several years ago on the effects of wifi, I quit sleeping with my phone and using it as an alarm clock. And it also birthed a skepticism and concern within me about the effects of our electronic devices on our bodies, and ultimately the writing of this post.

 

foodie · health · quarantine · Uncategorized

Changing Your Perspective on Food

What is your relationship with food? Do you eat to nourish your body? To bring you joy? To comfort you? To satisfy your hunger? If you’re like most people, you probably answered “yes” to all of the above. Me too!

However, as I’ve gotten older and cared more about my health and feeling good, over time I can honestly say I have shifted to eating more for these two reasons: to satisfy hunger and to nourish my body.

I think part of the reason we struggle as a culture with our food relationship, is that during phases of our life, we have placed too much focus on the other two reasons: we reach for food to bring us joy and to comfort us.

The greatest shift can happen for you when you stop (and this is the magic sentence, hence the boldface) stop choosing the foods you eat for the taste factor and choose them for how you know they will make you feel.

Those who are around me for much time at all are surprised at how easily I can say “no thanks” to a big bowl of ice cream or to donuts. It’s because I’ve learned I’m lactose intolerant and I’ve spent many a day doubled over in a ball on my bed, with the sharpest imaginable pain in my gut due to eating dairy. Same can be said for gluten. I have slowly evolved to the place where I care more able how I will feel for the rest of the day than a few brief moments of “yummy.”

When I have weak moments and give in to either my own cravings or into peer pressure of what those around me would prefer to eat, I always regret it. Physically, and sometimes also emotionally. Our physical health as you know impacts our emotional health, and vice versa. So before I choose what I want to put in my body, I try to always ask: is this the best thing I could be eating right now? Am I eating it because it is yummy? Is that the only reason? How will I feel after I eat this?

Another catalyst that helped me make the shift, was learning that the “food on the aisles” are loaded with preservatives and some of those include additives that make you crave more of that food. Some of you reading this may feel betrayed by the food industry and angry to learn this – I know I did. These are the packaged foods: boxed, canned, frozen. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it.

This is why I suggest to folks to shop the perimeter of the grocery store: meats, seafood, dairy (we do lactose free), fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts. The good stuff, the healthy stuff, is always on the perimeter, not in the aisles (this is generally true, though there are some good foods to find in the aisles.) You need to eat real food.

What I wasn’t expecting, is that once I cut out the junk food, I stopped craving it. Now I pretty much crave real fresh food. Then I read a quote that pretty much summarizes this idea: “what you eat you crave more of. ”

So if you eat junk, you crave more junk. When you eat real food, you crave that. The hard part is making the shift. When I cut out junk food, it wasn’t easy. It helped that I was pregnant, and my primary goal in life was to provide the healthiest possible environment for my baby to inhabit. I had a greater motivation and something outside myself that helped me have the willpower to make the change.

It also helped that my mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimers and my research to help her benefited my whole outlook. It was then that I learned about the terrible effects of artificial sweeteners.

And later still, when my oldest child was diagnosed with migraine headaches, my research to help her led me to my knowledge of food coloring and sugar. Both of these are migraine triggers and I would recommend cutting these two out to anyone who suffers from them. Even further research of food coloring led me to how  it effects those with ADD, and I learned sugar consumption lowers the immune system.

I realize these aren’t popular schools of thought and may even be unwanted because they don’t line up with how you would like to eat, but if you are aware, I promise your outlook on how you eat with shift and YOU WILL FEEL BETTER.

And in the face of a worldwide pandemic, as we are right now, you need to be reaching for every possible advantage that you can to increase your wellness and immune system so that you are resistant. Eat for your health, friends. You are what you eat.

 

 

adventures with kids · clarksville · kids · quarantine · Uncategorized

Our Second Week of Quarantine: “Spring Break”

I know we are like so many who have mourned (or are mourning) the loss of our spring break plans. We had so many fun adventures planned! But instead of being sad, we got creative and found ways to make the most of our time.

I felt like the girls deserved a week off – no school work. If it was going to be their spring break, quarantine or not, I was determined to make it the most fun I possibly could for them.

Neighborhood walks are the best medicine.

We went for a walk almost every day. It is amazing what being outdoors and taking in the vitamin D does for the body. Loving some sunshine after rain almost every day last week! Madeline asked for a horse, and I remembered a couple of stick horses I had bought way back, stuck in the closet and had forgotten about. I pulled those out and she has loved riding her hobby horse all over the house and outside.

Meet Diamond. 🐴

All of the rain delivered lots of growth in the beds so I weeded and prepped them while the girls played outside. Lots of bike and scooter riding, basketball, and badminton. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles and jumprope were favorites too. They enjoyed these simple pleasures so much.

Sidewalk chalk and bubbles

The girls asked to do some school work, which I hadn’t planned on, as I said, with this being Spring Break. But if they are wanting to learn, I am never saying no to that. Madeline working on ixl and AC worked on science fossils diagram.
AC found a recipe for Nutella fudge, and had been talking to us about it, writing it all out and begging for the ingredients to make it for several days. Larry got everything for her and helped her make it over break and she was over the moon. And her fudge was amazing. She seems to have a natural knack for cooking just like her dad. If we can just train her not to lick her fingers!

Watch out! This girl is going places. Everything she cooks up is amazing.

I had read on social media that many folks do Takeaway Tuesday. So many restaurants that we had been wanting to try have made the shift from dine-in to curbside and take-away, so we took a drive and picked up Nicholetta’s southern chicken salad and a calzone from Caprizios. We also did a curbside pick up of art supplies from Michael’s. It is so great that they offer this option! I ordered a giant pack of markers, some water color paper and a Frozen II jewelry making set for Madeline.

Nicholetta’s for the win!

It was a rainy day so we did washable marker designs on the watercolor paper and let them sit outside in the rain for a tie dye effect. AC was missing her friends so we let her call one of her best friends which she needed and loved. Madeline made one of her friends a necklace, colored her a picture and wrote her a letter. Both girls have enjoyed writing letters and receiving them. They discovered hangman and have become obsessed with the game.

Rainy day art!

Hangman!

When we were out getting Nicholetta’s we had noticed something we never noticed before – our favorite ice cream shop, Golly G’s has a drive through! So the next day, we hit the Golly G’s drive through for ice cream then took it with us to the park to enjoy outside. We hiked Spur Line Trailhead, which is a lesser known path. I like that you run into very few if any people. It is pretty with lots of flowering trees and the girls love crossing the bridge.

Spur Line Trailhead – downtown Clarksville

This was our “big trip” for break, but I do think we social distanced well and followed guidelines. AC had been begging to go to Five Daughter’s Bakery in Nashville and it was near the top of her bucket list for spring break. Well, when I was looking over our would-have-been-plans, Five Daughter’s delightfully stood out to me as something we could still do. They did online ordering and curbside pick-up so minimal human interaction. We got our 100-layer-donuts and took them with us to devour at Radnor Lake, another bucket list item. I told the girls awhile back that it was Taylor Swifts favorite park and they have begged to go there since. I thought it was doable since we would be close by and wanted to do a nature walk anyway. It was breathtaking. None of us were expecting it to be as beautiful and charming as it was. We will most definitely be back! When we got home I cut back monkey grass in our front bed while the girls blew bubbles and did sidewalk chalk.

Radnor Lake – our new favorite place.

To wrap up break, we had a rainy day, and treated ourselves to a spa day: charcoal soap, facial scrub, mask and foot bath. This could be habit forming!
Finally, I took Madeline to our small country store down the road (she calls it “the honey store.”) While we were there she discovered the little free library and found a book on butterflies. It was windy and I quickly remembered our kites I had picked up a week ago. It ended up being the perfect day for flying them.

Little Free Library

Kite flying success

essential oils · kids · parenting · quarantine

DIY Scented Crayons Using Essential Oils

Have you ever made your own crayons? I was looking for some fun homeschool activities to do with my kiddos and stumbled on a recipe for making your own crayons and someone suggested scenting them.

I am personally allergic to artificial fragrance and we don’t use it in our home, but I do have and love essential oils!

Here is what you will need for this project:

  • Old crayons (broken with paper peeled off)
  • Muffin/cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  • Butter spray or olive oil spray
  • Essential oils

Here are the steps:

1. Preheat oven to 250. If crayons are not already peeled and broken into small pieces you will need to do that.

2. Decide if you want each crayon to be a different color or if you want rainbow crayons. Either way, you may want to divide your broken crayon pieces up into piles by color.

Peel paper, break into pieces and sort by color.

3. Place a liner in each section of the muffin pan. We sprayed lightly with cooking spray so the liner would come off easily. Then add crayons. I recommend placing the pan on a foil lined cookie sheet.

4. Place the pan in the oven and leave in for 15 about minutes.

5. Pull out and add two drops of desired essential oil to each crayon, then return to oven for another 15 minutes. My daughter felt it was important to color code the oil with the crayon color (pictured below).

She color coded the oil with crayon color. 🌈

6. She was eager to use her new crayons so we placed in the freezer for a half hour after we removed from the oven.

If you appreciate nostalgic stories I thought I would also share my first experience making my own crayon. I was about seven or eight: I remember being bored as a kid and taking my old pieces of crayon, and wondering if I could melt them to make a new one like the multicolored ones I had seen at church. I was little so I wasn’t allowed to use the stove or oven, but I could use the sun’s heat. I had an idea. But I would need a container. It just so happened that it was Pillsbury cinnamon roll day at my house, and so I asked my mom to save the cup the icing comes in. That cup would be perfect for my crayon experiment. It was summer, so it was hot enough I thought. I put my broken crayons, paper peeled off, in the icing container, and set it out in a sunny spot. I came back out several hours later, and just as I expected I had lovely melted rainbow wax. I brought it inside and let it cool off and was so proud of that crayon.

**Did you know there was such a thing as National Crayon Day? It is March 31, the day I am writing this. Mark your calendar for next year and this may be the perfect activity for celebrating it. 😊