Top 6 Alternatives to DEET: Natural Tick and Mosquito Repellents 0
Insects are an inevitable part of spring and summer in North America. While an important part of our ecosystem, they can also pose a threat to the health of our families. With pest-transmitted diseases like Lyme Disease becoming prevalent in our communities, it's become imperative to practice bug-safety, just like we protect our skin from the sun in the summer or the cold in the winter.
However, more and more studies show that the traditional bug-repellents don't just harm mosquitoes and ticks, they also can be harmful to those who wear them. DEET, the active ingredient in many of these agents, has negative effects on the nervous and endocrine systems, especially on children who have a smaller surface to volume ratio than their parents. It has also been known to cause allergic reactions to those with sensitive skin.
While we want to protect our families and ourselves from potential diseases and bothersome insect bites, we don't want this risk to limit the time that we spend outdoors in nature. That's why it's important to adopt habits this season that will minimize our chance for bug bites.
We have a large family ourselves, so we spent a lot of time researching and looking for the best there is in terms of natural tick and mosquito repellents.
Citrobug Mosquito Repellent Oil for Kids (+ Outdoor Cream)
Shown to be one of the most effective products in its category in Canada, this spray is comparable to competitors that contain up to 25% DEET. However, it can be used safely as the active ingredients are a combination of essential oils including lemon, eucalyptus, pine need, geranium, and camphor. It also comes in an Outdoor Cream Version which doubles up as a moisturizer. Bonus: it's hypoallergenic
Druide Citronella Insect Repellent Spray Lotion
Druide is a favourite of Canadian outdoor fanatics, and their citronella line is loved by many. Citronella essential oil has for years been appreciated for its insect repelling qualities, and this specific blend includes other plant extracts to boost its effectiveness. However, this formulation is not recommended for children under the age of 2.
Take a Hike Outdoor Joose
With an ingredient list that you can fully read and understand, you will love the additional refreshing and moisturizing qualities of the aloe juice in this formulation. Can also be used on pets' coats!
Care Plus Icaridin 20% Deet Free Insect Repellent
The active ingredient, icaridin, also know as hydroxyethyl Isobutyl Piperidine Carboxylate, is an odourless and nearly colourless liquid that is a known bug deterrent. This makes it an attractive choice for those who are sensitive to scents or come in close proximity with those who do. Studies show that Care Plus Icaridin at a 20% concentration can be as effective as solutions containing 30% DEET for protecting again mosquito, tick and black fly bites.
Atlantick Outdoor Spray
This product was developed by a Canadian family with a personal story associated with Lyme Disease along with researchers at Acadia University. Atlantick spray contains ingredients like witch hazel, lemongrass, jojoba oil and ocean water to protect families from bug related situations.
Many natural insect repellents enlist the help of essential oils to keep bites to a minimum. If you already have a collection of oils, you might already have what you need to make your own repellent spray. We like to dilute DoTerra Terrashield with Witch Hazel at a ratio of 10 drops to 1 fl. Oz. and keep the mix in a small glass spray bottle.
Hopefully one of these products will work for your family's preference! Remember, that what's good for the earth is also good for us, and by taking care of our bodies with natural products, we also keep toxic chemicals out of the ecosystem.
Using Vinegar to Clean Your Home 0
While the chemical industry has been spending millions of dollars on research & development and advertising a year, people have been rediscovering the power of their kitchen pantry when cleaning. People have stopped resorting to sprays and scrubs full of harmful chemicals, which have negative effects on people using them, the individuals exposed to them, and the environment. Instead, many are resorting to simple concoctions made from a few, well-known ingredients to get the job done.
And when it comes to cleaning naturally, there's no greater hero than white vinegar. Its acidic nature helps in breaking down greasiness, cutting through grime, and killing a lot of germs. Used with other powerful ingredients, it can create amazing natural cleaning products that you can make yourself, keeping your home more natural and keeping your waste levels down.
Here are some easy DIY recipes for household cleaners that use Vinegar:
All Purpose Cleaner:This is a great recipe for those who aren't a fan of the "pickling smell" that comes with use of vinegar in household cleaning.
- 1-2 cups of white vinegar
- The peel of two lemons (a great way to use leftovers)
- 1 tsp Castile Soap (like Dr. Bronners or the Green Beaver)
- 20 drops of Lemon or an alternative essential oil
Put your lemon peels in a glass jar and cover them with the vinegar. Screw the top on, give it a shake, and leave the jar in a sunny place to infuse for at least 2 weeks. After this time, strain the vinegar to remove all the lemon pieces and pour into a spray bottle. Add the remaining ingredients and you're ready to go! Just give your solution a swirl before using and you have a fresh smelling, natural, and effective all purpose cleaner.
Glass Cleaner:No more streaky mirrors and windows! Just 3 ingredients and you have your own DIY version!
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup rubbing alcohol
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and get cleaning! Use with a soft cloth that won't leave lint on your surfaces. Store away from heat as the alcohol is flammable.
Combine equal amounts of vinegar and lemon juice in cup or bowl and then transfer into a spray bottle (or not!). With a small, clean cloth, softly rub the solution into your furniture to polish. Wipe away any remaining moisture with another dry cloth. This solution doesn't store well, so you'll want to prepare a small amount each time you intend to do some polishing.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner:
Pour a cupful of vinegar in your toilet bowl, let it sit for a few minutes, and scrub with a toilet brush. The vinegar will lift any stains that remain and neutralize the smell. If you have some stubborn discolouration or stains that don't react to just vinegar, throw some baking soda in there first, and then add more vinegar. It will cause a fizzy reaction and the by-product is an acid which is effective in fighting grime.
Add a cup of white vinegar to your load of laundry for some extra softness. It also helps with restoring your whites to their former glory without threatening your colours. Don't worry about the vinegar smell- it will be masked by the laundry soap or add some essential oils to your wool dryer balls to impart a different scent.
White Vinegar vs. Household Vinegar
One thing to be careful with is what kind of vinegar you are using in your cleaning products. While you are welcome to use the white vinegar that you find at the grocery store, many DIY'ers like to use household vinegar, a more potent option with less water in it. In stores we offer refills on the Unscented Company Household Vinegar which is 12% acetic acid instead of the regular 5% that you would get in the grocery store. This means that you can cut down on at least half of the vinegar amounts listed in the above recipes if you are using household vinegar. This high acidity vinegar can be great for spot treatment, tough stains, and cutting through thick grime, giving you more options than regular vinegar.
As you see, there's no need to stock up on new cleaning products this month- just refill the containers with ingredients you can easily find around your home!
(Image credit: Quentin Bacon)
The REAL Basics of What You Need in Your Hospital Bag 0
Everyone has their own take on what an expecting mom should have in her hospital bag. Sometimes you wonder if there should be that much extra space in your weekend duffel while at other times, it's almost as if you needed one of those XL suitcases or a magical Mary Poppins bag to fit it all in.
We know, the struggle is real.
That's why we decided to dedicate this post to the REAL basics of what belongs in that hospital bag, devoid of all those extra gadgets and inclusive of all those items you wish you had as you are detained to that hospital room.
As you are the one that is going to be giving birth to this baby, your body is going to be experiencing a lot - it is hard work. It's important that you stay as comfortable as possible during your hospital stay, whether than means listening to your top playlists on your ipod or having a fluffy robe to stay cozy in. Those little details are up to you, however these are the "momma" essentials that need to make it into your bag:
- Comfy PJ's
- Slip on shoes/slippers/flip flops
If you're in the last few weeks of pregnancy, we expect that you understand why slip on shoes are essential. You likely won't want to be bending over in half trying to do up your laces. Something quick for bathroom trips and getting up to see visitors is ideal.
- Nipple Cream
Breastfeeding can be hard on the nipples. However, keeping them moisturized and supple will go a long way in mitigating pain and cracked skin. Most will suggest you use lanolin, a heavy-duty industrial product used on cows, however, we love the natural ones you can get from Substance and Bamboobies. Both lanolin-free but effective, you don't have to worry about your baby getting traces of it in his or her mouth.
- Nursing Pads
Though it might take a little while for your milk to come in completely, it's best to be prepared with nursing pads which will keep your bra and clothes dry and clean. Some women go disposable, however we like the idea of reusable ones that you just throw in the wash. We have both kinds in store for moms to choose from.
- Travel-size skin regimen
You most likely will be staying at the hospital for a night or two, so it's a good idea to have your essentials with you. Pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mini sizes of your favourite cleansers, creams, shampoo and conditioner. Leave anything overly scented at home out of courtesy to others you might be sharing your room with- they could be scent-sensitive.
- Sanitary Pads
Yes, you were lucky to not have your period for a few months, however you will be needing some sanitary pads for those first few weeks after birth. Tampons are not a good option at this time, and once again, you can choose between going reusable or disposable. You've probably thought about it already, but in case you haven't - full bottomed, cotton underwear will probably be the most comfortable paired with your pads.
There's a lot of waiting during the birthing process, so pack some things to entertain you during those hours between feedings or visitors. Pack a book, download some podcasts on your phone, or download some Netflix videos to your iPad. Having your phone with you will allow you to more easily spread the good news and talk to those who can't physically visit you at the hospital.
Along with your mini entertainment suite, remember to bring the appropriate chargers. It's something we often miss while packing and then find ourselves mentally kicking ourselves about later.
- Health Card + Other documents
Your OB or midwife have probably already gotten you to register in advance with the hospital you intend to give birth at. However, it's best practice to have all of your health-related documents with you, including your health card, insurance information, and a drug list. Bring any medications you take on a regular basis with you along with their original packaging and information.
- Going Home Clothes
You probably won't want to be leaving the hospital in the pjs you just spent the last few days in. Pack yourself your favourite maternity jeans or leggings along with a nursing top and sweater for ultimate comfort and style.
Baby won't be packing it's own bag, so you'll have to bring some essentials for it as well. You'll be surprised at how much the hospital will provide at first for the little one, but remember that this is also your time to learn the basics of baby-care, so having your own tools is useful. Besides, you'll need to bring your baby home somehow!
There's no way you could be having a baby and not heard of swaddles. They are also known as "receiving blankets" and can be used in a variety of ways, from performing as a comforting "straight jacket" for baby, a light weight blanket, a large burp cloth, or even a makeshift wipe for spills. Most hospitals encourage that you bring your own in which you can take baby home in.
You'll need to have a small pack of newborn diapers with you. Even if you plan on cloth diapering later on, we suggest that for the first few weeks, at least when the baby is in the hospital, you make do with disposable ones.
You're going to need baby wipes for those first few diaper changes, so even if you decide to have a dedicated box at home, you might want something a bit more portable to bring with you to the hospital. Whether you decide to buy ready to use ones or make your own, remember to keep the scents to a minimum.
The last thing you want for your fresh newborn to experience is a diaper rash, so come prepared with a bum cream or spray. We find that a lot of moms like the Substance line we carry- as with everything else in store, it's all natural and safe for your little ones.
If you are going to be introducing a pacifier or soother to your baby, it's probably a good idea to bring it along with you to the hospital. There are a range of different types and brands on the market, so take your time to research what you are looking for. Keep in mind that your baby might like a round nipple more than an orthodontic one or vice versa, so don't go buying dozens of the same type before you are sure it's what he or she likes. We like the HEVEA natural rubber ones, but you might have a different kind in mind.
Going Home Outfit
Depending on the weather and the season during which your baby is born, you'll be needing different items to dress your baby in for the trip home. Though a onesie is a safe bet, you'll also want to consider a hat, socks, mittens, sweater, or a winter-grade snow suit. Of course, a swaddle or blanket are also part of this equation.
They will not let you and baby out of the hospital without a proper car seat. Remember to check the expiry date on your model and ensure that it is installed properly.
If you have any questions or concerns about your hospital bag, feel free to drop by one of our store locations. All the staff that work there are moms and can give you great advice on preparing for delivery day.
Otherwise, reach out to us on social media or email to ask about how to make your hospital bag as complete as can be.
5 Eco-Friendly Crafts to Try this Easter 0
Easter is such a lovely spring holiday when everything seems to be coming back to life. It's also a chance for us to teach our kids about giving new life to some basic items around the house through re-purposing.
"Reuse" is one of the pillars of sustainability and we love using it in our stores and households. From using re-purposed wood on our floors to giving customers a chance to refill their cleaners, we are all about finding value in what we already have and creating less waste in our society.
Kids learn a lot from the lifestyle of their parents, so instilling these values in your children early is a great way to lead them down the "green" path. Kids also love crafting, so there's definitely an opportunity to bring the two together and Easter fun is too good to pass up.
Here are so Eco-Easter crafts that we really like and are looking to try will the grand kids this year:
Pretty Napkin Holders
Most families take the opportunity to meet and celebrate over the Easter break, often around a nice, home-cooked meal. Brighten up the table with some pretty napkin holders made from egg cartons, paper tube, and just a little paint. The kids will definitely want to help with making these and setting the table for your festive meal!
Cut the cups from the egg carton and trim them to give them a floral shape. Then paint them with craft paint and hot glue them to rings cut from a paper towel roll. Add a couple of pretty leaves for a more "complete" look and enjoy them over and over again.
Image: Dane Tashima
Bird Seed Eggs
It's time for the kids to be the organizers of an Easter event: A Birdy's Easter Egg Hunt. First, make some bird seed eggs using bird seed, gelatin, and plastic Eco-Eggs. The exact measurements are listed below:
- 8 1/3- 8 1/2 cups bird seed
- 1/3 cup gelatin
- 1.5 cups water
- 36-38 Plastic Eco Eggs (available in-store)
Lightly grease the plastic eggs with vegetable spray and fill with the packed bird seed mixture- a teaspoon will be helpful. Once all the eggs are filled, snap them closed, chill them in the freezer for 2 hours and then remove the shaped eggs carefully from their shells. Put them into paper egg cartons to dry for a day or two. Then it's time to set up a little hunt for the spring birds, laying these eggs on tree stumps, hanging them up in trees, even patiently holding them in your hand and seeing if some friendly chickadees will come and nibble from your palm.
Egg Shell Garden
Literally make your eggs a source of "green" inspiration by using shells as planters for some fresh sprouts. Carefully let each child draw a face on their own egg shell, fill it partially with soil, add some small, quick growing seeds like catnip or watercress, water them and watch it grow! The kids will love checking in everyday on the status of their egg's "hair" growth. Later if you'd like, you can directly plant the egg shells with their sprouts in the garden or a bigger pot since it's biodegradable and actually adds important nutrients to the soil.
Egg Carton Chicks
These cute chicks can be a cute way to store painted eggs, little treats, or even an alternative to a plastic egg in an egg hunt! They are very easy to make and really don't require more than an egg carton, paint, a little card stock paper, and glue.
For more detailed instructions, visit Paper Plate and Plane.
Felt Easter Baskets
Does it feel weird buying new Easter baskets every year for your kids to go "hunting" with? This year, make a point of making them together and personalizing them to suit their individual styles. The base of this craft is a food-grade bucket, like what you would get ice cream or margarine in. To make it even more sustainable, instead of using new felt, re-purpose other fabric that you have around the house, like an old receiving blanket or old t-shirt that doesn't fit anymore. Having a personalized basket will make the thrill of the hunt even more appealing.
For more detailed instructions, click here.
Image: Dane Tashima
Tag us in your Eco-Easter creations to be featured in our social media!
We're looking forward to seeing your sustainable crafts and would like to wish everyone a very happy and green Easter Season!
Managing Child Eczema Naturally 0
Child eczema is something that no one would ever wish on any kid or parent. One of the first motivators of opening Mrs. Greenway was actually the search for a natural solution to my granddaughter's eczema. She would be covered in these patches of itchy, dry skin and it was a nightmare trying to keep her from scratching herself and making it worse.
No drugstore cream made any improvement, and it seemed like the artificial scents and ingredients were only making it worse. My daughter and I made it our mission to find something that not only cut out all those irritating additives, but was actually effective in managing the baby's symptoms.
Over the years, I have found that every parent has his or her way of treating child eczema, as each case is different and everyone reacts to each treatment in a unique way. However, when looking for a starting point, I usually direct the parents towards the following products and lifestyle changes:
Change Your Laundry Detergent
Though eczema itself is not a reaction, it is often triggered by an irritant or an allergen. Choosing natural laundry soaps that are soft and gentle on baby's clothes and skin is a good first step. They should have no artificial colors or scents, and only contain ingredients which are proven to be effective cleaners and safe for use with babies. We recommend ZUM's wee clean laundry soap, however all the laundry soaps we carry in store should be fine. After using it regularly, you can be sure that baby's eczema is not being triggered by rubbing against clothing, towels, sheets, blankets, or pillows which could have been washed with an irritating chemical.
Eczema is extremely dry and scaly skin, something that you don't want to risk drying out further with a harsh soap. Switch your baby wash or soap for something extremely gentle that won't irritate existing breakouts, but will keep your child clean and fresh. Depending on whether you are used to using a bar of soap or more of a gel, we usually recommend ZUM's wee clean bar soap or Earth Mama Angel Baby's Natural Wash. Choose an option with a pH level close to that of baby's natural skin as to not dry it out or alter its chemistry and make it more susceptible to eczema breakouts.
Tip: I always found it helpful to add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the affected child's bath water. It keeps baby's skin soft and supple while naturally locking in moisture. I'm sure that coconut oil would work well too.
So the last, but most important, step to managing child eczema is moisturizing. You can never over- moisturize a baby with eczema, though I know the process can get messy, and well…slippery. It's important to keep the dry skin as supple as possible to keep it from possibly cracking and getting infected, while soothing the incessant itchiness. Janet from Desjardin's Holistic Therapies makes gallons of her Children's Eczema Cream, which many moms swear by and is a definite best-seller at our stores. However, we always have a few different options in stock for those cases in which this miracle cream doesn't seem to work. All of them are all-natural and most of them organic, meaning that you don't have to worry about additional irritants or rash inducing stressors to your baby's delicate skin.
Like I said, there is no one treatment which works for everyone, however I find that a combination of these changes often brings an improvement in the state of eczema and young children.
If you have any suggestions or ideas on how to naturally manage eczema, please share in the comments below.
Mary Lou - Mrs. Greenway
The Best Natural Teething Solutions for Sore Babies 0
Teething is a difficult time for both infants and their parents. Even babies who have extremely sunny dispositions can quickly become little storm clouds, constantly fussing, crying, and deviating from their regular sleeping patterns. Parents find it difficult to manage these poor babies, and more so if they want to deal with teething naturally, without resorting to medication.
At Mrs.Greenway, we often encounter these wild-eyed, tired parents asking for advice about getting through teething naturally (and with their sanity). We find that every baby is different, and what worked for one might not work for another, so that's why we stock a variety of products for teething babies and let the parents decide on what they would like to try.
As a response to the ever-growing demand for natural teething solutions, we found Bug & Pickle teething oil and now stock it in our stores. It contains baby-safe natural ingredients, including oil of Roman chamomile, a natural analgesic, and is applied as needed to your baby's sore gums.
Usually the first stop when stocking a baby's "teething arsenal" is a collection of teething (or chew) toys. Remember that these toys are going into your child's mouth, so it's important that it is made of non-toxic materials and kept as clean as possible. We have an extensive collection in store ranging from silicone, rubber, to wooden versions, but personally, I love the maple RiNGLEY teethers. Designed and produced in Canada, they have a piece of certified organic cotton attached to them that you can either wet with cold water or freeze. Your babies will love chewing on the soft fabric which simultaneously cools and comforts their inflamed gums.
For years, people have been using amber to naturally keep inflammation at bay. At Mrs. Greenway, we stock the very popular Momma Goose necklaces. Many mamas swear by them, and we love carrying these pretty accessories in our stores. Just remember, they are meant to be worn high on the neck where baby can't pull it into his or her mouth. If you are worried about tying this necklace around your baby's neck, try an anklet instead.
Did you know that the super popular Munch Mitt was actually invented by a Burlington mom?! You strap one of these baby-friendly gloves onto your child's hand and watch them self-sooth in style. Not only is it more hygienic than having babies just put their hands in their mouths, the silicone material is non-toxic and it even has a "crunchy" paper sound that babies love. For even more "munch fun," look into their new product, "Buddy bibs" that offer protection while entertaining little ones with their crunch sound and attached chew toy.
If your baby is very fussy, it might just be a sign that your world is about to be "chew-beaded". Chew beads can be found on pacifier clips, toys, and even your accessories. We carry some locally made "chew jewelry" for you to wear that baby can safely chew on when needed, ranging from pretty necklaces and neutral coloured bracelets for Dad to wear.
Finding safe and natural teething remedies can be difficult and exhausting, that's why we aim to provide parents with a curated selection that they can trust. Being a mother and a grandmother, I know what it's like to be concerned, so please don't hold back if you have a question or comment.
If you come into one of our stores, either I or an experienced staff member will help you.
If you are shopping online, feel free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so that you make an informed decision about what you're buying.
If you have any proven natural remedies or products you have used with your kids, please share in the comments.