Childhood Vaccinations (and a tangent about trans fat)

Currently, my personal concern is not a potential autism/mercury(thimerisol) link. I have spent hours, days, and weeks over the last several months reading every study I could find. I am not convinced one way or the other on this issue but there does seem to be a genetic disposition regardless of what camp you want to argue for or against. Much of what I have studied shows that many disorders, illnesses, and diseases occur when a gene is switched on or off. This topic alone is fascinating! And over my ability to discuss intelligibly at this time. There are tons of resources and documentaries (on post 9/11 affects of babies who were in utero at the time and the effects of the stressors the mother experienced at the time both emotionally and environmentally; similar conditions are seen in the children born during the depression). Google and research ‘switching genes on and off.’ The key to prevention and understanding of so many diseases lies here.

What I am concerned about is overloading tiny babies with so many toxins at one time. Their kidneys and liver cannot excrete heavy metals the way ours can as adults. Their little immune systems are not yet developed. And while that is part of the reason TO vaccinate, which I do not disagree with, 6 diseases in one shot? Some of them live viruses? More than one at a time? And what about all of the preservatives and toxins within each vaccine (formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum, MSG, aspartame, ammoninum,…and what about the animal and human fetus cells? I thought that was a myth and for shock value by anti Vac groups, but the manufacturer’s own sites list these!)

Despite the claims you will find at your doctor’s office, (I cannot count how many times I have gotten the lecture or comment, ‘well you do know, vaccines do not cause autism?,’ I heard it again last week; that may very well be true but that is not the reason I am choosing to space out vaccinations or avoiding certain ones all together at this time)Vaccines do still contain thimerisol, trace amounts which the FDA regulates as <.03 to claim ‘no thimerisol.’ I repeat, if a vaccine contains <.03, physicians and documents can claim they are mercury/thimersol free. However, I can add, and if you get a combo shot such as DTaP or MMR, or worse Pediatrix (DTaP, plus Hep B,plus Polio, iPV) or ProQuad (MMR plus chicken pox) you are getting .09ml. to 1.5ml of more. That is not a trace amount.

I liken this to the FDA’s regulations on trans fat. A product can claim it has ‘no trans fat’ if it is less than .5 grams. But if you eat 3 servings of said product you are getting 1.5 grams of trans fat. The acceptable amount of trans fat in out diet? 0 grams.
Look for these ingredients:
hydrogentated oil, partailly hydrogenated oils.
These ARE trans fats.
How a product can have this listed as it’s second ingredient and claim it does not have trans fatty acids, I do not understand.

Look at the ingredients in what you eat, especially anything packaged or processed. Any peanut butter that is not organic is likely to be made with partially hydrogenated oils.
Throw them all away! No, I am not over stating this. Do your own research and see for yourself what these do to your organs, and arteries,  your heart in particular.

I digress, back to vaccines:
Here is a table for how much thimerisol is in each child vaccine currently on the market today:

Here is one list of all ingredients in all vaccinations currently available

and this link breaks down each ingredient individually and explains what it does.

Aluminum is just as frighening as mercury. And it is in most childhood vaccines. Is it currently regulated? Research that!

I am not saying do not vaccinate. I want to make a case for spacing the vaccines out as to not overload our babies bodies. Allow their organs to do their job and excrete the poisons we are putting into them and allow the immune system to build up the immunity to the deadly diseases we are trying to protect them against.

Will your baby ‘get stuck’ more often? Yes. That is the only down side I see to this choice.
My son, 21 months, has yet to cry for more than two of his shots and both of those incidents were for less than 10 seconds. He had a reaction to the DTaP but because that was the only vaccine I had that day, (though it was admittedly a 3 in 1) we were able to determine exactly what caused it, possibly why, and what not to give him again.

Your child could be allergic to eggs and have an allergic reaction. MSG is also a relatively common allergy. An allergy to latex (rubber on the caps) or neomycin; there are many possibilities and you risk putting your child at risk again when you repeat the vaccine if you don’t know which component is causing a reaction.

One more tidbit I discovered in my research this week: there have been studies that show a correlation between reactions (often neurological reactions)to the MMR vaccine and taking tylenol immediately before or after. At first I thought, that is stupid! The doctors tell every parent to give their child tylenol. How else do you counteract a high fever, inflamation, and pain? How can anyone come up with statistical evidence that there is a link? But them I read on- MMR is not given until at least 12 months. At 6 months you can give ibuprofen (Motrin) instead of Tylenol. So there is one answer- when your child gets the MMR, give him/her Motrin and not Tylenol.

If you’re like me you want to know the ‘why.’ The reason is that acetaminophen depletes levels of glutathione- an antioxidant in our bodies that fights disease. Other ways to deplete glutathione in your babies body? any illness,  eating the standard american diet,  stress from being in daycare), maybe someone in the family smokes and the child is exposed to second hand smoke. Many children have a combination of these if not all of these at the time of immunization. I say play it safe and give your baby Motrin.

Asking for single doses of each particular vaccine will lessen the likelihood of having thimerisol or other toxic chemicals being injected into your baby. The reason it is used is as a preservative and antibacterial and anti fungal agent. A needle is repeatedly stuck in the same vile to draw out the vaccine, potentially introducing bacteria into the vile each time. If you get a single dose, it is a one time use, rather than say, ten, and an agent such as formaldehyde or thimerisol or MSG is not needed.

This is from the FDA’s own site, “Preservatives are compounds that kill or prevent the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungi. They are used in vaccines to prevent bacterial or fungal growth in the event that the vaccine is accidentally contaminated, as might occur with repeated puncture of multi-dose vials. Vaccines, both in the United States and throughout other parts of the world, are commonly packaged in multi-dose vials” Here is the link to the entire page. Worth reading.

and one more

I have bookmarked over 20 other sites. I may not have presented the best ones here. I just tried to throw this together for all of my friends that have been asking why I am making the choices that I am.

Please feel free to share thoughts and input and further research.
I want to be as well informed as possible and make the safest and best choices for my children.

Blessings and good health to each of you

Posted in Health and Wellness, Justice and Grace | 3 Comments

One day closer to death…what will you talk to God about?

I recently read a chapter in a book by Donald Miller called  _A Million Miles in a Thousand Years_ where he talks about writing down memories. He wonders what he will talk to God about on the other side, what acts of importance his life story told; but also more simply how few memories we retain of our past.
I have boxes of journals that I have kept since adolescence. I re read them all three years ago when I started working on my record hoping to come across a few gems that would inspire or become lyrics. I was amused that I went through a phase in college where I decided that every day I had to do something of importance and write it down, else my life was passing me by meaningless. I was one day closer to death and I wanted to make a difference. One day, one act at a time.
Some of these ‘acts’ were what others would call significant (I hope) like giving blood or that day I was late to French class because I helped a blind woman cross the street or reading a book with my son. Others may not seem so important such as my every day check in the box to an hour workout, using my new word of the day that came via email each day( I was in college afterall),  making dinner not a frozen kashi meal or a sandwich, or trying a new yoga pose.
Two and half years into my life as an Army wife and mother to a 16 month old, I no longer struggle to make ends meet financially every month (singing, teaching aerobics, and side jobs acting) as a single mom to a now 14 year old. My husband provides that. I can be a stay at home mom, housewife. But I also walked away from a career (at least temporarily) as a songwriter/musician. Some days I really miss it: doing what I let the world convince me was ‘something important with my life- the career- using my university degree.’
Days go by and all I have done is cook, bake, clean, organize, walk, entertain and take in every breath of my son. But am I making a difference to anyone besides my husband and children? Would there be something to write every day in that journal of “Act of importance for the day?”
It took some time before I realized how terrible that question is. This season of my life is about being a wife and mommy. It is an enormous blessing. They should be the most important things and people in my life. It is more than okay that they are. It is more than okay that it brings me more joy than the applause after a great performance. I think God wants it this way.
Raising moral children with good values who will make contributions to society one day, this is significant. More significant than a fit body or a pretty song. So maybe teaching my toddler to climb stairs, to say ‘please’, to enjoy books, to literally smell the roses in the yard, matters to more than just me. Giving my teenager space and independence no matter how much it hurts me right now, hand writing letters, consistently speaking of choosing the right path not always the easy path; this is important. It matters. They are memories I will always have, I will hold on to. They bring me peace and a smile, even in the midst of struggle.
Yet, I also think it important to have a ministry outside our nuclear family. I will not argue against whether the wife’s ministry is her husband’s ministry, I do think that very practical in a season where one is child rearing. But I believe we are to reach out to our neighbors, our community, and the world at large. This looks different for everyone.

Perhaps it is volunteering: in the nursery at your church or your book club, the choir, a soup kitchen. Perhaps it is befriending the widows on your street and helping them with errands or baking an extra batch of cookies for them every now and then or mowing their yard. Perhaps you could sponsor a child through an organization such as world vision, or mentor a child locally at your child’s school or if you are a man, perhaps be a father figure to the kid down the street whose father left him or is too busy for him. Maybe you sew and you can make hats and booties for new babies at the hospital or blankets for the homeless. The possibilities are endless.
We can all use our unique gifting to bless those around us. And those of us with children, we are blessing and teaching our children to be generous and loving when we help or they help us to help those around us. These are memories worth making and if God does talk to us about them some day,  I want to have as much to talk to him about as possible. I think that will be fun.

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Earl Grey and Lavendar Tea Cookies

A little spring time beauty for your day: lush lavendar fields

Light, delicate, delicious. These cookies will delight your day.

Grind tea leaves in a small food processor or a spice grinder before making. Makes about 8 dozen


2 cups flour
2 tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey or Earl Grey with lavendar tea leaves (4-6 bags)
( I used Revolution tea)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
optional: 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1. Whish together flour, tea, and salt in a bowl.
2. Put butter, confectioner’s sugar, and orange zest in the bowl of an electirc mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined.
3. Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchement paper; shape into logs. Roll in parchement to 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing ruler along edge of parchement at each turn to narrow the log and force out air. Transfer in parchment to papwer towel tubes; freeze until firm, 1 hour.
4. Preheat overn to 350F. Cut logs into 1/4: slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheet lined wit parchment.
5. back cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 13-15 minutes. Let cool on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 5 days.
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Fiber- why you should probably be eating more- more than you ever wanted to know

Since my post on heart health two weeks ago, I have had several people ask me about fiber in their diet. I am not a doctor nor a degreed nutritionist. But I have been educated on nutrition over the years as a personal trainer and yoga instructor. And I read a lot out of personal interest.

My grandmother has been in the hospital off and on the last two weeks dealing with intestinal issues. Her struggle coupled with friends questions on the issue have lead me here to challenge you to eat more fiber and offer a few suggestions on how to add it into your diet.

Why should you be eating more?

Straight to the point- Increased fiber intake can lower your risks for heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, diverticulitis, gallstones, and kidney stones. You feel less bloated (as long as you are drinking enough water along with increased fiber intake), your tummy is flatter, and your skin will be more radiant. The colon is directly correlated with the skin.

When you eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, you usually get most of the fiber you’ll need. Is your diet primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes? If so. Bravo. Your intestines are likely in great health and I applaud you. Share your knowledge and healthy eating habits with those you love. For those of you who do not eat as healthy, keep reading.

Officially, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Most adult women should shoot for over 20 grams of fiber a day; men should shoot for over 30 grams. Great sources are whole fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and breakfast cereals, and all manner of beans.

What does fiber do?

Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may also help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool. For some, fiber may provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome.
On average, it takes 39 hours in women and 31 hours in men for food to pass through the colon and out of the body. This time varies a lot from person to person, depending on personality, state of mind, and fiber intake. Usually, the effect of fiber is to speed up this process

Helps maintain bowel integrity and health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.

Lowers blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. Epidemiological studies have shown that increased fiber in the diet can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, which is also protective to heart health.

Helps control blood sugar levels. Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes insoluble fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Aids in weight loss. High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you’re no longer hungry, so you’re less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. And high-fiber diets also tend to be less “energy dense,” which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.



1. Go with whole fruit instead of juice. Whole apples and whole oranges are packed with a lot more fiber and a lot fewer calories than their liquid counterparts.

2. Break the fast with fruit. Get off to a great start by adding fruit, like berries or melon, to your breakfast every day.

3. Check the label for fiber-filled whole grains. Choose foods that list whole grains (like whole wheat or whole oats) as a first ingredient. Bread, cereal, crackers and other grain foods should have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

4. Eat more beans. It’s easy to forget about beans, but they’re a great tasting, cheap source of fiber, good carbs, protein, and other important nutrients.

5. Try a new dish. Test out international recipes that use whole grains, like tabouli or whole wheat wheat pasta, or beans, like Indian dahls.

6.Eat leafy green vegetables to get more fiber in your diet. Collards, leaf lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, brussel sprouts, and kale are wonderful leafy green vegetables.

*Eat high fiber foods more often and low fiber foods less often.*

These are my suggestions to friends when they ask: Personally, I start off every morning with either a bowl of oatmeal, Fiber One cereal, or whole grain toast with almond butter. I try to include as many fruits and vegetables as I can during the day, look at food labels when I shop and I am trying to drink more water.


A little bit more:

There are two types of fiber: soluable and insoluable. They work differently and offer different benefits. We need both. To learn more click here.

The five most fiber-rich plant foods:

legumes (15–19 grams of fiber per US cup serving, including several types of beans, lentils, and peas),

bran (17 grams per cup),

prunes (12 grams),

Asian pear (10 grams each, 3.6% by weight),

and quinoa (9 grams).

Rubus fruits such as raspberry (8 grams of fiber per serving) and blackberry (7.4 grams of fiber per serving) are also exceptional sources of fiber

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Brickle Drop cookies- the best cookies I’ve ever made…but I bet they’d be better with a kitchen aid mixer

A few weeks ago my husband was craving Wendy’s on our drive to Wilmington Beach. Never mind that I packed us a healthy picnic. I was feeling indulgent so I tried their toffee coffee treat. I’m not sure that I have ever had toffee before. It was so delicious! Ice cream has never been in my diet. I like frozen yogurt but just don’t care for ice cream. I know, crazy. But this stuff was awesome.
I searched my favorite online site and went through my cookbooks at home looking for recipes with toffee. Surprisingly, this one is adapted from the back of the brickle ‘o bits toffee bag.
I have been experimenting with this recipe and have decided that it is best adding chocolate chips and breaking up my own toffee bars so that the toffee bits are larger.
Some day I hope to have fancy cookware: a kitchen aid mixer or Le Creuset bakeware, for example. Today, I have my eye on these cute aprons from Anthropologie ($28).  My wants have changed some, having embraced the role of housewife.
I was not thrilled when I was given a vacuum cleaner for mothers day two years ago. But if my husband wanted to buy me a kitchen aide mixer this year for Mother’s Day, I might just jump up and down. If you see him, drop him a hint.
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups (8 oz) toffee bits (Heath bar works well)
1. Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheet
2. Beat butter, sugars, vanilla, and salt in large bowl until blended
Add eggs; beat well.
3. Sir together flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
Stir in toffee bits.
3. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly, remove to wire racks. Cool completely.
Makes about 6 dozen. I make large cookies and this recipe made over 3 dozen.
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Top ten plants to purify indoor air

Yesterday I bought some pretty flowers for our front porch and a few herbs for the back yard to plant next to the three tomato plants a friend  gave to me. I enjoyed the added beauty so much that I went on a little shopping trip today for an indoor plant to help cleanse the air in our home. I was drawn to a two foot tall palm that was wearing a tag that said “air purifier.”It was a decent size and only ten bucks (and I was in a hurry as I was shopping with a squirmy toddler) so I purchased it.
I LOVE our home. It is incredibly energy efficient. The doors and windows are sealed well, the entire house has walls of double paned windows in every room. We can open the shades to warm up or close the drapes to keep heat in. Our utility bills are quite low. Yet this energy efficiency presents a potential problem- indoor air quality.
In the past I have had  philodendron, pothos, and peace lilies primarily to keep the indoor air clean but now I have a toddler who puts anything and everything into his mouth. In case you did not know, peace lilies are poisonous. (The other two did not make the top ten list, thought they are on the top fifteen) And I just read that English Ivy are poisonous to pets. I recommend keeping the plants out of the reach of children or pets anyway but for my clear conscience, I needed to state the obvious.
According to NASA these are the top ten indoor plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, TCE, and carbon monoxide from the air.
  • Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea Seifritzii
  • Chinese Evergreen – Aglaonema Modestum
  • English Ivy- Hedera Helix
  • Gerbera Daisy- Gerbera Jamesonii
  • Janet Craig – Dracaena “Janet Craig”
  • Marginata – Dracaena Marginata
  • Mass cane/Corn Plant – Dracaena Massangeana
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Sansevieria Laurentii
  • Pot Mum – Chrysantheium morifolium
  • Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum
  • Warneckii – Dracaena “Warneckii”

To learn more about the nasty chemicals: trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the NASA site click here
NASA also noted that some plants are better than others in treating certain chemicals.

Here is a chart to make it a little easier to look at which plants help remove which pollutants:

Pollutant                         Source                     Plants that Remove Pollutant

Benzene Inks, oils, paints, plastics,rubber, dyes, detergents,gasoline, pharmaceutical,tobacco smoke, synthetic fibers English Ivy, Dracaena marginata, Janet Craig, Warneckei, Chrysanthemum, Gerbera Daisy, Peace lily
Formaldehyde Foam insulation, plywood, pressed-wood products, grocery bags, waxed paper, fire retardants, adhesive binders in floor coverings, cigarette smoke, natural gas Azalea, Philodendron, Spider plant, Golden Pothos, Bamboo palm, Corn plant, Chrysanthemum, Mother-in-law’s tongue
Trichloroethylene Primarily used in the metal degreasing and dry cleaning industries; also in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives Gerbera Daisy, Chrysanthemum, Peace lily, Warneckei, Dracaena marginata

For an average home of under 2,000 square feet, the NASA study recommends using at least fifteen samples of a good variety of these common houseplants to help improve air quality. ( 15…that’s a lot! But anything helps.) They also recommend that the plants be grown in six inch containers or larger. I also read one 6″ plant per every 100 sq ft.

*Information obtained from The Foliage For Clean Air Council and National Academy of Sciences. Again, the link.

I love the flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardens outside in the Spring. But after reading all of this and writing it out for the blog, I am inspired to go out and purchase more plants to beautify the inside of my house  and keep the air quality as high as possible for those I love, myself included. I noticed two gerbera daisies blooming outside. I may just pot one and bring it inside now that I know it has indoor healing benefits too.
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Wild About Mushrooms

Last night I used mushrooms for two different purposes that I loved, so I thought I would share them here along with a few brief tidbits on the wide array of benefits mushrooms may provide in your life.
1. My face: Origins: Plantidote Mega Mushroom lotion/serum
The ladies will understand this one: I am on the never ending quest for the perfect facial lotion/serum for my skin. My skin has changed some over the years, mostly due to hormones I believe. Currently I have the next to impossible to treat without breaking the bank with multiple products- combination skin. Normal to dry cheeks, somewhat oily T- zone. And quite a bit of redness in my skintone, not rosacea, though this product claims to treat both.
Everything I try either strips my skin of the good oils and dries it out or leaves a residue and breaks it out. On top of which nothing I have tried has actually treated anything for which I have purchased the product: fine lines, uneven skintone, not even blemishes. I am only on the second week of this product but so far I have had great results.
I noticed my skin was smoother the second day I used this. It healed my skin irritations,  is very soft and smooth, and I currently have no blemishes. I haven’t been using it long enough to know if it will even out my skin tone or make my fine lines disappear. I’m not sure that I am convinced any serum can actually do that. But so far, I am in love.
2. A fabulous recipe:   Shrimp & shiitake stir fry with crispy noodles
It’s healthy too!
1-1/2 tsp cornmeal
1/ cup chicken broth
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
small head bok choy
1 lb uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
2 tbsp minced fresh gingerroot ( i skipped this, didn’t have any)
1 clove garlic ( I used 6, we love garlic)
 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup chow mein noodles
hot brown rice, optional
In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal, broth and soy sauce until smooth; set aside. Cut off and discard root end of bok choy, leaving stalks and leaves. Cut leaves from stalks. Slice leaves, set aside. Slice stalks.
In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry shrimp in 1 tbsp of oil until shrimp turn pink. Remove and keep warm.
Stir fry the ginger, garlic and pepper flakes in remaining oil for 1 minute. Add the onion, mushrooms and bok choy stalks; stir fry for 4 minutes. Add bok choy leaves; stir fry for 2-4 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
Stir cornmeal mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or untl thickened. Add the shrimp; heat through. Serve with rice if desired. Sprinkle with chow mein noodles.
<nutritional facts: 1 cup stir fry with chow mein noodles equals 288 calories; 10 g fat (1 g saturated) 15 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 24 g protein>
Shiitakes have four to ten times the flavor of common white button mushrooms. In addition to their robust/pungent, woodsy flavor and meaty texture, shiitakes provide high levels of protein (18%), potassium, niacin and B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They have natural antiviral and immunity-boosting properties and are used nutritionally to fight viruses, lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Lentinan, an immunostimulant derived from shiitakes, has been used to treat cancer, AIDS, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease, and other conditions with impressive results. Researchers S. Suzuki and Oshima found that a raw shiitake eaten daily for one week lowered serum cholesterol by 12%.
Shiitake skin creams for firmer, brighter Skin
Many cosmetic companies are making skin creams using shiitake mushrooms because shiitakes contain kojic acid. Kojic acid prevents the formation of melanin, or pigment, in skin, resulting in a brighter, more even complexion. In addition, kojic acid has an astringent quality that temporarily tightens the skin and makes it taut. Manufacturers of shiitake skin creams include Kinerase, Skin Ceuticals, DDF, BeComing, SCO, origins, Chanel, and so any more. If you are concerned about the cancer causing hype of hydroquinone, kojic acid is a natural and safe alternative.


Polysaccharides stimulate the immune system
The basis of the mushroom’s impressive health properties are complex carbohydrates called polysaccharides that build the immune system. According to mushroom researcher and cultivator Jeff Chilton:”These compounds have been the primary focus of research due to their ability to inhibit tumors in laboratory test animals. Mushroom polysaccharides act by enhancing host defenses rather than directly killing tumor cells. For this reason they are called host defense potentiators (HDP).“The specific effect of these polysaccharides is the activation of macrophages and T-lymphocytes, stimulation of interferon (a cellular protein produced in response to infection which acts to inhibit viral growth), and the overall enhancement of cell-mediated immune response. They have no toxic effects on humans, and are clinically safe.     

5 ways to incorporate mushrooms into your daily diet:
add to your soups, salads, or sandwiches
add to scrambled eggs or omlettes
add to a veggie burger, or on your hamburger for that matter
add to your pizza
add in a stir fry
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My skin cancer story

This picture to the left is me in Jamaica the summer before the diagnosis. I did wear a hat everywhere but I wore SPF 4 most of the time that I worked there. One of those summers, I met some girls from Brazil who had this magic tanning oil. We knew a hurricane was coming in the next day so we thought it would be a great idea to lay out all day and tan since we wouldn’t see any sun for a week. They looked fabulous. I spent the week covered in aloe, cucumbers and taking mineral baths. I’m still looking for a photo of this experience. I’ll post it when I find it.

Part of my story: I have a not so attractive 2 inch scar on my arm from the second surgery to remove a tiny mole. I had little idea. I went into see the dermatologist because my skin had been breaking out due to hormones and my OBGYN referred me. I had never had a body scan to look at freckles so I agreed to get checked out.

The mole on my arm was pretty small. As I learned the ABCD’s of skin cancer: A is for asymmetry, B is for border (irregular), C is for color (changes usually) and D is for diameter (larger than a pencil eraser); I found that mine fit some of the criteria. It was asymmetric, changed color- from skin color to dark pink/brown, and over the years would occasionally bleed and scab.

Unfortunately, I also have, well, pretty much all of the risk factors:

  • Having fair skin, red or blond hair– I am a natural redhead
  • Having light-colored eyes– I have green/blue eyes
  • Sunburning easily– always the first time or two each year
  • Having many moles, freckles or birthmarks– have freckles on shoulders a few random ones elsewhere, check
  • Working or playing outside-  growing up- all the time and promotional  modeling was often outdoors all day long
  • Being in the sun a lot as a child– we had a lake house and  a pool and did not wear much sunscreen at all
  • Having had a serious sunburn– several where I blistered
  • Having had skin cancer, or having family members who have had skin cancer– my g grandmother had it
  • Tanning in the sun or with a sunlamp– again: lakehouse, pool, Barton Springs, tubing, working in Jamaica
  •  I had two biopsies after this initial visit  and was shocked to get a phone call as well as a folder full of information in the mail a few days later that said I had melanoma staged 1. I remember sliding down the wall while on the telephone silent and kind of in shock. I scheduled the surgery soon after and my father drove me there, stayed in the waiting room and drove me home. The reality of it all didn’t hit me until later on. I certainly feel blessed that I had a good doctor that diagnosed it early and that it had not spread to my lymph nodes or anywhere else. So many people are not so lucky.

    I grew up with a pool in the backyard, in the neighborhood, a lake house, vacations to the coast, Barton Springs close by, and rivers to go tubing on. And let’s not forget Schlitterbahn! I don’t recall putting on much sunscreen growing up. I can’t blame this on my parents. I’m sure I didn’t want to wear it anymore than I wanted to take my medicine -which explains why I kept taking antibiotics over and over again because they weren’t working- I wasn’t taking all of them. Nevertheless, I remember going to a fancy makeup counter at the mall at 17 and being told I had sun damage, dry skin, and a wrinkle under my eye already. Seriously, 17. I have worn eye cream every day since but I can’t say that I was great about wearing sunscreen until the melanoma scare.

    Our culture promotes the idea that tan is beautiful. It makes you look thinner, more fit, more attractive. Who wants to be pasty white? We can call it milky white or peaches and cream to make it seem more appealing but I wanted to be tan like the pretty girls at the pool and the gym and in the magazines.  Later on I realized that most of these bronze tanned, white teethed, blonde bombshells were not naturally blonde. They had more melanin in their skin and could handle more UV rays without damage. They didn’t have as many of the risk factors above either. Why did I want so badly to be something that I was not? Why could I not embrace my uniqueness?

    It was through this experience that I began to appreciate my differences as a redhead and to take care of what I came to learn were a few of my assets: Many women worldwide, especially in the Autumn season, color their hair the color God gave me at birth. When I was a little girl, my Nana use to take me to the salon and have her hair color matched to mine. What a compliment! I notice more and more people around me wearing color contacts. I was blessed with colorful light eyes. Though I did much damage to my skin the first quarter of my life, I hope that wearing sunscreen and staying out of the sun from my mid 20s on will profit me less wrinkles, age spots, and damage as I age, hopefully gracefully.  And when I think I must look tanned, I get a spray tan.

    The pamphlets at the dermatologists office say that 90% of the sun damage we accrue in life occurs before age 18. That is a startling figure. Those of you with young redheads in your life, help them embrace their differences and encourage them to protect their skin, eyes, and hair. They will thank you for it when they are older and you may just protect them from skin cancer.

    Here are a few suggestions for protecting yourself from sun damage:

    **note that it is important to get some sun exposure ~ (walking to and from you car counts) to get vitamin D  

    -stay out of the sun between the hours of 10am and 3pm when UV exposure is greatest

    -wear sunscreen- check your SPF, look for UVA and UVB protection, wear water resistant if swimming or sweating, apply generously, and ideally 20 minutes before exposure, reapply

    -wear a hat

    -wear sunglasses

    -cover up- wear light loose fitting clothing when possible to avoid over exposure

    -stay hydrated

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    My Top 10 favorite things about every day life with baby Justice

    (Justice is 16 months today)

    1. First thing in the morning when I walk into his room

     – the look on his face & when he reaches up his arms for me to pick him up.

    2. Random hugs and snuggles

    3. Eskimo kisses

    4. His outrageous giggles and sense of humor
    5. Dressing him in cute little boy outfits











    ………………………………………………….6. Watching him explore the world around him and experience things for the first time:


    snowflakes in the winter,

    grass in the spring,

    sand at the beach,

    the smell of the flowers in our yard,

    the sound of airplanes in the sky,

    tastes of new foods

    7. Sitting on my lap to read a book

    8. Teaching him new concepts or games

    9. Going for walks and the playtime afterwards, especially the park


    10. Staring at him while he sleeps


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    Justice’s Top Ten Favorite toys- 12-16 months old

    1. Bubble mower

    2. Pool with canopy- Walmart- $9

    3. Indoor/outdoor tent/tunnel- Bed Bath and Beyond $15 with coupon 

    4. Lightning McQueen push and ride car

    5. balls, cars, and trucks of any shape or size

    6. book with flaps or animal sounds

    7. any toys that sort and stack or nest, we have them in the bath tub, the kitchen and play area

    8. his MAM pacifier- while not technically a toy, he uses it as such.

    Next are toys that we want to buy based on playing with them at friend’s houses:

    9. a coupe car or a sand/water table

    10. a wagon- he is always collecting items outside and handing them to me or putting them on his bubble mower to push around. Later he piles them all up in the backyard.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

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