Health and Safety

Horticultural Therapy – How It Works

Posted by on Jun 4, 2017 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health | 18 comments

Horticultural Therapy – How It Works

This article – Horticultural Therapy – is a guest post by Stephen Pettengill, a Certified Horticultural Therapist. Let me give you a little bit of Stephen’s background in his own words: “Growing up in southern Oregon, with ‘the woods’ right outside my back door, I developed an affinity for nature and outdoor activity.  There were caves to explore, tree forts to play in, streams, rivers and other adventures. I felt at home in nature, and loved the physicality of working outside. This led to a lifelong study of horticulture and design. At an early stage in my career, I wanted to combine my interests in gardens with psychology; the adventure of the mind! I wanted to learn more about how best to create meaningful, even transformational interactions with the natural world, not just a pretty garden. I have an interdisciplinary degree (Business, Gerontology, and Environments) from Marylhurst University and at the age of 50 I completed an HT (Horticultural Therapy) program. Currently, I live in a community called Ananda, where I use my skills to help enhance the environment and organize community activities.” The Nature of Things Horticultural Therapy For Seniors – How It Works. ‘True sanity is rooted in the natural world’ Andy Fisher, from Radical Eco-Psychology. They say that gardeners live longer. True or not, gardeners are always looking ahead, adapting to changes and attuned to the slow rhythms of the natural world; things that bring quality of life. Academics are working to understand the impact of nature on the human psyche, with research growing showing the effectiveness of engaging with the natural world. Even small things make a difference – for instance: Fish tanks in doctors’ offices are known to calm patients. A study called ‘A Room with a View’ showed that prisoners who had windows in their cells had less anxiety and less violent behavior. Realtors know that a tree lined street has intrinsic value to a neighborhood. In 1984, Edward Wilson, a Harvard University conservationist, first coined the term Biophilia: ‘the urge to affiliate with other forms of life’. The theory that we have an innate need to connect with nature and other forms of life is shared by a growing number of professionals. Nature therapists say we have allowed ourselves to disconnect from our environment for a variety of reasons. This can lead to a host of physical, emotional, or mental issues. Social norms and lifestyles that are out of sync with laws of nature (sleep, food, sex, e.g.) come at a price to our health. Additionally, a culture of hyper-individualism can foster disengagement from our surroundings, including other people. Isolation and loneliness are common issues among senior populations yet we live in a society that needs engaged elders. On top of this we have an increasing technological society. A new challenge for humans is emerging that we barely understand (we often adopt new technologies before we know its full impact on us). With so many changes going on it’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose our center.  ‘Getting grounded’ in the natural world is a way to help us transition from adulthood to elder-hood and possibly help heal a lifetime of being out of balance. What is Horticultural Therapy? My passions are nature (includes food!) and psychology. Where these two intersect you can find several evolving fields of study and practice. Environmental Psychology, Eco-Therapy, and Horticultural Therapy (HT) are disciplines that use plants and natural environments to help people become grounded, or rooted, in nature. This practice of Horticultural Therapy has been around for centuries. Activities using plants can be adapted to...

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Gardening for Seniors – Adjusting to Limitations

Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs | 19 comments

Gardening for Seniors – Adjusting to Limitations

  Adapting to limitations has to be the gardening senior’s biggest annoyance in addition to being an ongoing challenge.  Just when you’ve adjusted to accommodate one problem another one pops up and you have to try something else again.  Seniors come with a bunch of different physical or mobility problems so for them to continue to garden safely means adjustments geared to each individual. I’ve had to adjust many times the older I get. I started with “in the field” gardens, moved on to raised beds set on the ground and next moved up to the current garden beds raised to table height.  My gardens have also become smaller each year. This year I won’t grow any vegetables as I did in the past but concentrate solely on my salad and herb gardens.    Garden size becomes another limitation.  Seniors often downsize and move into smaller townhouses, apartments or condos where they feel they no longer have the room to garden, so they quit. Gardening is such a healthy activity with both physical and psychological benefits that seniors should be encouraged to carry on. Putting one of the methods shown below in place allows the small size gardener to continue. When my parents moved from their country home to a city apartment you could tell where they lived from a mile away – mom’s balcony was a blaze of colour, flowers of every kind growing in pots and placed everywhere, even hanging from the balcony rail. The smaller area certainly didn’t stop her from enjoying her flowers. Gardening for Seniors – Adjustments: Most seniors find bending over difficult which makes the garden beds raised to table height ideal. The beds can be built any size, even as small as 1 or 2 feet wide by 3 or 4 feet long. For details about raised bed gardens, click here. The senior should be able to reach the centre of the garden without leaning on the soil to prevent compacting the soil. My gardens are 4 feet wide but that is because I can walk all around them and easily reach the centre from both sides. For anyone able to access only one side or for those less mobile, 2 or 3 feet wide will be the better choice. All walkways should be kept clear to prevent falls and to never obstruct safe movement, whether walking, using a walker or in a wheel chair.  Gardens should be placed in the most convenient locations – especially salad and herb gardens which should be close to the kitchen door for easy harvest. If space is limited any of the gardens shown in picture 2 are an attractive alternative. A previous post “vegetable gardens for small space gardeners” details how easy it is to adopt the alternative methods. When large patio pots are used they should first be placed on wheeled platforms. We seniors are a determined lot and if we don’t like where a planter is situated we’ll do what we can to move it. Having the wheeled platform will help avoid muscle strains, damaged backs or worse. A super idea is to wrap the handles of garden hand tools with bright coloured duct tape. This serves two purposes – it makes it easier to keep track of the tools and also provides a better grip for arthritic hands. Electric tools shouldn’t be used. Older hands can’t always be counted on to do what’s required and they may let go at the most critical times which could lead to serious injury. Instead use manual tools – not necessarily specific garden tools either. A couple of...

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Apple Cider Vinegar: Is It Really a Magic Cure-All?

Posted by on Sep 18, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Health | 36 comments

Apple Cider Vinegar: Is It Really a Magic Cure-All?

I first learned about Apple Cider Vinegar from my readers when I posted Salad Dressing Doesn’t Require Chemicals. The salad dressing recipes included used plain white vinegar but several commenters suggested using apple cider vinegar instead, claiming it was a superior product. Apple cider vinegar’s greatest claim to fame is its alleged health benefit. However, as with many natural health products, there have been few in-depth scientific studies done to support that. Any claims made are mostly based on folk medicine. That doesn’t mean they don’t work – many old-time remedies are very effective, something world health organizations are starting to acknowledge. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As always – if you have chronic health problems or are taking any kind of medication, do not take ACV without checking with your doctor first. Apple cider vinegar is not a cure-all but rather, when used right, an effective way to maintain the body’s pH balance in order to prevent disease. Unless advised to do so by a medical or homeopathic doctor, apple cider vinegar should not be used to treat disease. Do not overuse. Start slow with ½ to 1 tsp. per day and slowly work up to no more than 2 Tbsp. a day (although I personally think for long-term use 1 Tbsp. (3 tsp.) a day should be the maximum, but that’s just me – I tend to err on the side of caution). Always dilute apple cider vinegar. Drinking it straight can lead to loss of tooth enamel and burn the mouth, throat and esophagus. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits: Leg cramps. I can personally vouch that this works. I add 1/2 tsp. to my cup of honey-lemon tea twice a day, once just before bed. May help balance blood sugar levels. High blood pressure – has been shown to lower blood pressure. May lower cholesterol which in turn reduces risk of heart disease. There is some evidence that apple cider vinegar may slow the growth of cancer cells. More studies are needed. Weight Loss. Believed to suppress appetite if taken before a meal. Sore Throat. Gargle with a diluted solution. Try a warm drink made with 1 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, add honey to taste. Upset Stomach. Make a mint tea and add 1/2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar to settle the stomach. Honey may be added. Can get rid of that bloated feeling. A honey-lemon-apple cider vinegar tea works well to clear congestion and get rid of phlegm. Helps rid the body of toxins. Apple Cider Vinegar Precautions: All natural products used to promote good health should be taken with the same care as prescription medicines. Apple cider vinegar is no different. This is not a product where ‘if a little works, more will work better’. It won’t and excessive intake can create serious health problems.   For anyone taking diabetic medicine or insulin, apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar levels too much, leading to hypoglycemia or even insulin shock. Patients taking diuretics may be monitored for low potassium. Apple cider vinegar can lower potassium even more. DON’T USE it straight as a tooth-whitener or a mouthwash. This practice can do serious damage to tooth enamel and mouth tissue. Apple cider vinegar can help balance your body’s pH level which should be around 7.45. Overuse can disrupt this balance and actually create health problems. It’s easy to check pH levels with an inexpensive litmus test, available at Pharmacies. What kind of Apple Cider Vinegar should you use? When using apple cider vinegar to promote good health and prevent disease it just makes sense...

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Mosquitoes Bugging You? Banish Them

Posted by on May 29, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Health and Safety, Herbs, Lavender | 28 comments

Mosquitoes Bugging You? Banish Them

Mosquitoes  are no longer merely summer’s party-poopers, they have turned into dangerous guests. While we know that many mosquito-borne viruses have been around for centuries there are two serious ones that have impacted North America in recent years. West Nile Virus: Symptoms range from very mild to encephalitis/meningitis to death. Transmitted to birds, horses and humans. Most at risk – the very old and the very young. Zika Virus: May cause neurological defects in babies, muscle weakness, paralysis and death. Most at risk – pregnant women. It is therefore essential that we do what we can to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquitoes – Preferences: You know how you’re hiking with a group of friends and the mosquitoes like one person best? There is truth to that. Some people do attract mosquitoes more than others. Carbon Dioxide attracts mosquitoes and of course we emit carbon dioxide when we do anything – breathe, talk, walk, or eat. Breathing is rather necessary but maybe we could talk or eat less while outside? The more you sweat, and the older the sweat is, the more mosquitoes you will attract. Exercise produces sweat and panting (release of carbon dioxide). For the very active person a strong mosquito repellent will probably be necessary. (See the Consumer Report Paragraph at the end of this article). For some reason mosquitoes like people with blood type O while anyone with blood type A will be last choice. Anyone with high uric acid levels tend to attract mosquitoes. If you fall in this category, up your Vitamin C and Citric Acid intake. A couple of tablespoon apple cider vinegar added to citrus juice/fruit salad/salad dressing will help balance things out. For many people beer is the drink of choice during the summer. Unfortunately, unless they want to get bitten, they may have to change their beer to lemonade, at least while they’re outdoors. Mosquitoes – Prevention: While it’s impossible to eliminate every mosquito from your yard, there are steps we can take to make our yards less appealing to them. The most obvious one – remove all standing water. This includes empty planters, wheelbarrows, old tires, bottles, cans and other containers left laying around, unused wading pools, pool covers, bird baths. Keep gutters/storm drains free from debris, cover rain barrels with fine mesh.  Any water features should have a pump to keep water moving. Add lots of mosquito repelling plants to the flowerbeds and along walkways – Lavender, Lemon Balm, Basil, Marigolds, Lemongrass, Citronella, Catnip, Spearmint. Banish them while you’re enjoying the outdoors: Throw a few Rosemary stems on the BBQ. This adds flavour to foods while keeping mosquitoes away. Place a variety of pots with mosquito repelling plants around the deck or patio and use one as a centrepiece(s) for your patio table.  Add a few drops of pure Citronella oil to beeswax candles. Do not buy the cheap citronella candles or rings found at Dollar stores. They are ineffective and toxic. When sitting outside, place a fan behind you. Mosquitoes are very light and the breeze will just blow them away. Ways for you to be less appealing to mosquitoes: Wear light colour clothes – the darker the clothes, the greater the chance mosquitoes will find you. Mosquitoes have a great sense of smell and are attracted to scents. Best not to use anything scented – perfumes, soap, shampoos, etc. If possible, wear long sleeves, long pants, hats and socks. Don’t wear baggy clothes that could trap mosquitoes and so be carried indoors. Use the right kind of mosquito repellent applicable to the situation. Mosquitoes –  Repellents: Mosquitoes...

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Vegetable Measure – Cup Equivalent Chart

Posted by on Jan 24, 2016 in A frugal Life, Health, Smart Shopper | 36 comments

Vegetable Measure – Cup Equivalent Chart

Do you know how many celery stalks you need for 1 cup chopped celery? Or how many cups of lettuce in 1 head of Romaine? This vegetable measure – cup equivalent chart provides the answers. By all accounts we will be paying more for all fruits and vegetables this year. With the Canadian dollar trading at $0.74 compared to the US dollar and with much of our produce imported from south of the border Canadians especially will be caught by the price increase. Comparison shopping is one of the best ways to find the best buy but how can you do that when you can’t compare sizes? Fresh produce is sold by the pound or kilogram; frozen produce is sold by the ounce or gram while canned goods are sold by ounce or millilitre. Trying to figure out the best deal using those measurements is a bit of a nightmare. The vegetable measure – cup equivalent chart takes the guesswork out of comparing. Once you know the size equivalent in cups it becomes much easier to compare prices and find the best buy. Example, I gathered prices for fresh, canned and frozen beans and easily worked out the best price using cup equivalency: 1 lb fresh green beans @ $3.49/lb = 3 cups or $1.17/cup;  15 1/2 oz. can of green beans @ $1.79 = 2 cups or $0.90/cup and 750g frozen green beans @ $2.97 = 5 cups or $0.60/cup. Easy to calculate and see that in this case, the frozen green beans is the best buy. There is one other advantage to knowing the cup equivalents: Since recipes usually call for cup measurements of vegetables, knowing the cup equivalent let’s you know exactly how much you need, thereby eliminating waste and saving you money. Because there is such a variance in the size of vegetables the cup equivalent is not exact but is close enough to provide a base for comparison.  The vegetable cup equivalent shown is for trimmed and chopped vegetables unless otherwise noted.     Vegetable Measure – Cup Equivalent Chart ASPARAGUS 1 lb/450g: 12-15 large/16-20 small spears 14-16 oz/398-455ml: 12-18 spears 10 oz/280g 16 oz/450g FRESH CANNED FROZEN FROZEN 3 Cups 2 Cups 1¼ Cup 2 Cups BEANS 1 lb/450g: 30 to 40 beans 15 1/2 oz/440ml 14 oz/400g 1¾ lb/750g FRESH CANNED FROZEN FROZEN 3 Cups 2 Cups 1¾ Cups 5 Cups BEETS, Superfood 1 lb./450g: 5 medium 16 oz/455ml FRESH CANNED 2½  Cups 2 Cups BROCCOLI, Superfood     1 lb/450g Florets 1 Medium Bunch, chopped stalks and florets 10 oz/280g 16 oz/450g FRESH FRESH FROZEN FROZEN 2 Cups 3½ Cups 1¼ Cups 2 Cups BRUSSELS SPROUTS 1 lb/450g: 28 to 36 sprouts 10 oz/280g FRESH FROZEN 4 Cups 2 Cups CABBAGE 1 HEAD = 2 lbs/900g Shredded 1 lb/450 g Shredded 1 lb. Cooked FRESH FRESH FRESH 8 Cups 4 Cups 2 Cups CARROTS 1 lb/450g: 6-7 medium or 4 very large 1 lb/450g grated 1 lb/450 g pureed 16 0z/455ml FRESH FRESH FRESH CANNED 3 Cups 2½  Cups 1½ Cups 2 Cups CAULIFLOWER  1 medium HEAD = 2 lbs/900g Florets 1 lb/450g Florets 16 oz/450g FRESH FRESH FROZEN 1½ Cups 3 Cups 4 Cups CELERY 1 Bunch = 1 lb/450g = 8-10 stalks 2 medium stalks, no leaves FRESH FRESH 4 Cups 1 Cup CORN 2 medium EARS husked, kernels 12 0z/350ml kernels 16 0z/454ml creamed 10 0z/280g kernels 16 oz/450g kernels FRESH CANNED CANNED FROZEN FROZEN 1¼ Cups 1½ Cups 2 Cups 1¼ cup 2 cups KALE, Superfood 1 lb/450 g raw leaves 1 lb cooked 15 0z/427ml 10...

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Lemons for Health, 20 Reasons Why

Posted by on Jan 10, 2016 in Health | 50 comments

Lemons for Health, 20 Reasons Why

It was really difficult for me to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day until I discovered that adding lemons made the water more palatable. I freeze  lemon slices and use them in place of ice cubes. A friend of mine prefers to add the lemon slices to hot water for a hot drink. Either way, it does make it easier to get your 8 cups a day. But lemon does more than make water taste better. It really is a health superfruit that boosts immune system health, which of course prevents many illnesses from taking hold. Lemons are loaded with nutrients that boost the immune system, making it a great preventative. It is high in vitamin C, and also contains vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin E along with many important nutrients and minerals. Lemons contain flavonoids which are believed to play an important role in fighting cancer, heart disease, and some degenerative diseases. Lemons also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. For the greatest health benefit use freshly squeezed lemon juice. Once a lemon has been juiced it loses Vitamin C rapidly, reducing its effectiveness. To easily make a hot lemon drink, simply juice a lemon over a tea cup (use a strainer to catch the seeds). You can add the juiced lemon – I do – then pour in enough hot water to fill the cup. Cover the cup with something (to keep in the heat) and let steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the lemon and stir in a teaspoon of raw honey.   Lemons for Health: Lemon’s antimicrobial properties reduce the effects of cold and flu. Hot lemon tea can soothe a sore throat, cut phlegm, reduce mucous buildup and relieve coughs. A gargle with lemon juice can also soothe a sore throat – gargle, then swallow the juice. Lemon’s  antibacterial properties will go on to kill more germs. Reduce chills with hot lemon tea. Treat fever with a cup of Vitamin C rich lemon tea. This replaces the fluids lost through sweating. Asthma and allergy sufferers may find relief from a hot lemon drink (without honey) taken before meals and before bedtime. Gargling with lemon juice stops gums from bleeding, prevents toothaches and eliminates bad breath – swallow the lemon juice to kill more bacteria, then rinse well with clear water to remove any remaining acid from teeth. Gargling with hot lemon water may help speed the healing of canker sores. Lemon is a great blues chaser. Sit down with a cup of lemon tea and take time to really smell the aroma for a quick mood lifter and to reduce stress and depression. Lemon’s antiseptic properties supports a healthy digestive system – valuable in the prevention and treatment of constipation, flatulence, heartburn and indigestion. Drinking lemon juice daily may deter the formation of kidney stones and gall stones. Lemon juice is a diuretic which flushes out toxins from the body and cleans the blood. It is believed this may soothe symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism. Lemon juice maximizes enzyme function which contributes to detoxification. Lemon tea taken daily may help control diabetes, high blood pressure and prevent stroke. Lemon juice stops internal bleeding. To stop a nose bleed, drop some lemon juice on a cotton ball and place it inside your nose. Stop the bleeding and disinfect cuts and scrapes by applying lemon juice to a cotton ball, place on cut or scrape and hold it firmly in place for a few minutes. Soothe and ease skin rashes, including poison ivy rash, with lemon juice. Lemon juice will also provide...

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