Mature woman looking in mirror

Overcoming Self-doubt while Living with a Chronic Illness

(BPT) – Many people impacted by rheumatoid arthritis experience feelings of self-doubt – but a head-on approach can lead to self-love.

The mind is directly interconnected with your physical body, and while this stands true for everybody, it is something people living with a chronic illness are reminded of every day.

For people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – an autoimmune disease of the joints that impacts approximately 1.6 million people in the United States – it can be challenging to stay mentally and emotionally positive when your health is always on your mind. The symptoms of RA and their effect on physical functioning can impact overall well-being, which can lead to feelings such as self-doubt.

Does our physical health affect our mental health?

When first diagnosed with a chronic condition like RA, many patients may struggle to accept their disease. The emotional process to acceptance can be difficult, but try to understand your condition better and make a conscious choice to face it head-on.

Further, managing symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness, and fatigue can make it difficult to do common everyday tasks, which can lead to mental and emotional impacts.

So how can you overcome self-doubt?

Turning self-doubt into self-love

For people living with a chronic condition like RA, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to settle. That’s why taking one day at a time is critical in any approach to self-care.

Take the first step by becoming more aware of your emotions and feelings when it comes to the management of your RA. Own your experience with the disease by recognizing and accepting feelings of frustration, anxiety, or guilt about your RA in order to refocus your emotions toward resilience, hope, and joy.

Here are some additional tips and tricks to combat self-doubt:

* Ground yourself: Balance out the negative by thinking about the positive aspects of your life. In doing this exercise, remember that sometimes the positive things are small and simple: a bouquet of fresh flowers on your dining room table, a book that makes you laugh out loud, or a phone call with an old friend. Directing your focus toward these positive aspects of your life can make a huge difference!

* Set a timeline: It’s okay to acknowledge negative feelings sometimes, but don’t let this go on for too long. Give yourself a deadline for when it’s time to mentally shift your focus.

* Invest in yourself: Take some time each day to read, listen, or watch something that uplifts you.

* Set the mood: Create a set of your own soundtracks! One playlist might bring back good memories, another might make you feel motivated to take on a busy day, and perhaps another makes you feel calm and relaxed. Music is a powerful tool, and setting the mood through music is a fun and easy way to practice self-care and redirection of your energy.

* Reflect on your self-perception: Focus on what defines you as a person and learn to accept who you are. Remind yourself of a time when you overcame self-doubt. Ask yourself, “Am I talking to myself the way I would talk to my spouse or my friend?

* Connect with others: Surround yourself with people who love and encourage you. You may also find solace in connecting with others living with RA, whether it is online or in-person.

* Most importantly: Understand your own body and your own needs on your journey to self-love.

Above all, make time for yourself; this alone is an act of love toward yourself! Making time for yourself can take on many forms, including those listed above as well as things like going for a walk, taking a bath, even taking a moment to enjoy the view out of your kitchen window! Making “me time” happen is what can ultimately help you look beyond the negative!

“When I was first diagnosed, I struggled to keep things going,” says Elaine R., patient advocate and administrative assistant living with RA. “Even though I was unable to do my usual yoga routines, I did feel a sense of relief from my yoga music and deep breathing. I think focusing on the positive things in your life, no matter how small, is a great idea. Little joys are a necessity.”

If you have a chronic disease like RA, it’s important to remember that it does not define you and there are steps you can take to better manage lifestyle challenges as a result of your condition. With research and communication with your rheumatologist or other healthcare professional, there are ways to prioritize your health and choose self-love over self-doubt.

For more tips on how to overcome self-doubt and negative emotions, and choose self-love while living with RA, visit www.Arthritis.com.

Content was provided by Pfizer.

Read more

The Organic Label is the Gold Standard [Infographic]

(BPT) – A new USDA study affirms that the organic label is the most comprehensive, most transparent and most tightly regulated food certification in the world, and points to the flaws in single label claims causing consumer confusion. With the proliferation of label claims over the past three decades, consumers’ misunderstanding continues to escalate. For organic dairy pioneer Straus Family Creamery of Northern California, which became the first 100 percent certified organic creamery in the United States in 1994, and is an innovative organic leader to this day, the organic label stands unequivocally for integrity in sustainable agriculture and organic food production.

Read more

5 ways to jump-start your heart health

(BPT) – If you’re looking to improve your heart health, each day is all about making a choice that moves you in the right direction. You’d rather stay in with a big bowl of ice cream. But maybe today, you could click off the TV set and take a walk with a friend.

It’s easy to see why heart health is a pressing concern. One in three adults live with one or more types of cardiovascular disease, according a review published in the journal Circulation.

Over time, changes in the heart and blood vessels can lead to a host of devastating problems, including heart attack, heart failure and stroke. On top of that, lifestyle factors, such as poor diet and a lack of physical activity, lead to one in five deaths in the U.S., according to a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Public Health.

The good news is as the weeks and months pass, these healthy choices do pay off and make meaningful shifts in your health profile.

Turning these choices into habits is well worth the time and effort. Choice by choice, you could see big improvements.

1. Reach for whole foods

Diets abound, but the classic Mediterranean-based diet always comes up as a winner for heart health. It’s simple to follow because it’s made up of whole, healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, olive oil and fish. In 2013, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine said switching to a Mediterranean diet can prevent 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and heart disease deaths in high-risk people.

2. Get up and move more often

The Surgeon General says 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise each week promotes good heart health. To get started, visit your doctor to find out what is safe for you. Then work activities you enjoy into your routine, whether it’s a walk in the woods, a leisurely bike ride or swimming laps at the community pool.

3. Seek the company of others

This may not come up at the doctor’s office, but the time we spend with friends and family does reward us with better heart health. Isolation is linked to depression and that’s linked to higher rates of heart disease. Pick up the phone and call someone. Schedule lunch with an old friend, plan a special day with younger relatives or sign up for an activity.

4. De-stress and decompress

If you constantly feel the effects of stress in your body, it may be time to take steps to reverse that. Scientists haven’t found definitive proof, but they believe stress could trigger inflammation, a precursor to heart disease. So go ahead, and seek some joy: Laughter releases “good” HDL cholesterol. Exercise is also a proven stress buster, and studies show a mindfulness mediation practice reduces blood pressure.

5. Know your risks

Hopefully, you’re already making those annual doctor visits because your blood sugar, blood pressure, weight and cholesterol can all tell us something about our heart health. But what you really want to know is whether there is fatty buildup in your arteries, because toocan lead to stroke, peripheral vascular disease and carotid artery stenosis. Doctor office tests offer indicators and warning signs, but they don’t tell you how much you’re blocked.

Luckily, there’s a safe and affordable test that gives you the hard data on what is happening inside your body: vascular screening. If you think learning the truth will discourage you, one study indicates the opposite may be true.

The report published in the Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education says people who had vascular screening reported more positive changes to their health several months after their vascular screening than the control subjects who weren’t screened. For example, 61 percent of screened respondents said they ate healthier foods since the screening, versus the 46 percent who were not screened.

Truth is empowering and it can give people a powerful incentive to change, even if the news isn’t what you’re hoping to hear. To get your own vascular test, find out when Life Line Screening is coming to your community. You’ll get a results pack you can take to your doctor, so you can work on a plan together to improve your health.

To find out when a Life Line screening clinic may be scheduled in your area, visit www.lifelinescreening.com or call (877) 754-9631.

Read more
Vettis

Infuse life into the bath for a spa-like oasis

(BPT) – Today, more than ever, homeowners gravitate toward design elements that transform the bath into a spa-like oasis. Designers look to incorporate pieces inspired by the natural world to bring renewed energy into the room and create a soothing environment. From fixtures inspired by booming waterfalls, to neutral color schemes and natural light, nature infuses life back into luxury bath design for a serene sense of calm.

Neutral calm

Light colors such as cool grays and muted blues evoke tranquility and peacefulness. Neutral colors for walls and fabrics create a soothing aesthetic that fosters relaxation in the space. To create visual interest within a neutral palette, incorporate varying shades of earth tones to serve as complementary accents throughout the room — from decorative rugs and plush towels to cabinetry and tiling.

Nature’s inspiration

Elements inspired by nature work together to produce a sense of relaxation in the home’s oasis. Intuitive in design, the Vettis Bath Collection by Brizo combines solid proportions and angular architecture with an optional four-sided open chamber that mimics the sensory experience of a waterfall. Inspired by the strength found in nature, the defined edges of the spout create a balanced aesthetic, while subtle facets offer visual depth. Paired with natural stone accents, this collection evokes elements of natural inspiration.

Stone serenity

A freestanding stone tub makes a luxurious statement to enhance the spa atmosphere. Sleek, oval architectures provide an organic contemporary touch, while rectangular basins deliver a strong geometric focal point. Take the spa-like experience even further and incorporate the use of essential oils. Lavender and chamomile reduce stress and encourage sleep, while peppermint and lemon oils increase focus and mental alertness in the morning. From modern to transitional aesthetics, a freestanding, natural stone tub paired with the sensory infusion of essential oils creates the perfect at-home getaway.

Living accents

Natural lighting and live plants blur the line between the great outdoors and the enclosed space. Large floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights serve as eye-catching accents while also naturally illuminating the room. Hanging succulents and potted bamboo plants are additional decor options to bring nature indoors without sacrificing clean, simple design.

Read more
31197133_wide.jpg

Healthy eating at holiday parties? It’s possible

(BPT) – The holidays bring a lot of temptations from every direction if dieting or watching your weight. Holiday parties and get-togethers can be a healthful-eating challenge. Caught up in conversation among friends and family, surrounded by tasty food and drinks, it’s easy to lose track of what and how much is being eaten. Registered Dietitian Sarah Galicki offers tips for staying the course through the holidays.

“There are a lot of calories packed into this time of year. You’re doing your holiday baking, people are dropping off candy and treats, there are parties with all-you-can-eat buffets and creamy drinks like eggnog, so it’s important to be prepared. It is possible to navigate the holidays without gaining weight by doing these things.”

Eat first. Never go to a party hungry. If you do, chances are you’ll wind up eating too much, too fast. Eat a snack before you go, such as some Greek yogurt, which is loaded with protein and calcium. Add fruit for extra taste and nutrients, and top with pistachios for crunch and good fats.

Drink wisely. If you want to indulge a little bit, have some champagne or white wine. A 4-ounce glass has approximately 100 calories. By comparison, a cup of traditional eggnog has 344 calories and 19 grams of fat (11 grams saturated fat). Skip the creamy drinks. The best bet is to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. Drink a spritzer made with sparkling water, cranberry and a lime instead. It looks festive, tastes great and has hardly any calories.

Fill up on finger foods. Bite-size appetizers limit the calorie impact. A good option? Pistachios. They’re great to snack on; 49 have exactly 150 calories, and they satisfy that crunchy craving. Plus, they’re full of nutrients and fill you up. The healthy fats will help regulate your blood-sugar level throughout the night, which is helpful if you’re drinking. Wrap some up decoratively and take along for a hostess gift to be sure there’s a healthy choice on hand.

Survey your options. Mindful eating is always key in any situation. Once the buffet table opens, take a visual sweep past it before jumping in line and making your selections. This way you’ll avoid piling one of everything onto your plate needlessly when you eventually pass through.

Don’t be first in line. The food in a buffet line looks pretty in the beginning. Once people serve themselves, it’s not as appealing and you’ll eat less.

Get a small plate. This trick helps limit portion size.

Avoid the white stuff. Given other options, skip the white rice, white pasta and white bread. They’re loaded with calories but no nutrients. Choose items with whole grains instead. They’re full of nutrients and have fiber, which will fill you up so you won’t eat as much.

Delight in dessert. Dessert is probably the toughest temptation of all. But there’s no reason to skip. Most of us have a sweet tooth. Satisfy that sweet craving with some fresh fruit. To make sure it’s available, bring some as a hostess gift; it’s always welcome.

“Overall, pace yourself,” advises Galicki. “Enjoy the food and festivities.”

Read more
31733865_wide.jpg

From cancer nurse to cancer patient: One woman’s story

(BPT) – Throughout her career, Lindsay Norris had a close connection with cancer, helping others battle the disease. Then one day, it became even more personal.

The 33­-year-­old oncology nurse still remembers the moment she heard the news of her own diagnosis — Stage 3 colorectal cancer. “I’ve been in those conversations so many times,” she said. “I’ve shared a plan of care so many times. I’ve explained this stuff so many times.” Lindsay knew the cancer journey but now she was the one on the receiving end of the conversation.

Living with cancer

While the magnitude of a cancer diagnosis cannot be denied, a Pfizer-sponsored survey of over 1,500 cancer patients and caregivers to assess resources, tools and general perceptions of cancer shows nearly 85 percent of the patients surveyed have a positive outlook on cancer and 83 percent have been inspired to make positive changes in their life following their diagnosis. In fact, nearly 90 percent of patients surveyed believe cancer has forced them to prioritize important things in their life and 3 in 5 patients surveyed said cancer allowed them to discover the “real me.” That said, day-to-day life with cancer is challenging and the same survey shows a majority of those patients and caregivers surveyed say it would be helpful to have an all-in-one mobile tool or app while managing life with cancer, stating some of the most helpful resources would be the ability to keep track of questions that come up during the day (77 percent) and during medical appointments (76 percent), keeping track of medications (71 percent) and being able to communicate with loved ones (71 percent). Pfizer recently launched LivingWith(TM), a free mobile app to help patients and their loved ones manage life with cancer and organize certain important information in one place, which may help to address some of these tasks and communication challenges.

While Lindsay has adjusted some things in her life since her diagnosis, her commitment to her work as a nurse has remained steadfast and each day she comes to the hospital as both patient and professional. “I figured I have to come every day for treatment anyway, so I might as well work,” she said of juggling care for her patients with her own treatment schedule. “I’ve always taken pride in my job and taking care of my patients. I have always tried to put others before myself.”

Of course, like most people with cancer, Lindsay, a mother of two young children, has her good days and her bad days. On her good days she can go without taking a nap and is able to make dinner for the family and enjoy bath time. But on her bad days, she simply can’t enjoy these activities and that’s when her husband steps in to help. The missed opportunities sadden her, but she understands these struggles are part of living with cancer and refuses to let them define her.

She still remembers breaking the news of her diagnosis to her family and her 3­-year-­old son Harrison referring to the disease as mom’s “cancer owie.” He said to me, “Mom, after your cancer owies are all gone and you’re done taking your special medicine, you can have a sleepover in my boys­-only fort.” Lindsay keeps this goal in mind, and while her battle with cancer is far from over, she’ll have her sleepover in that fort.

Chronicling a patient’s story

Lindsay’s story is one of several featured now on ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com, a novel program sponsored by Pfizer that allows people to share inspiring stories and follow along on Facebook and Instagram to receive and share daily stories of inspiration. Lindsay is extremely proud to be part of the campaign and is hoping the LivingWith(TM) app and her story connects with others. “I want to make it a positive experience. And hopefully when my son is an adult he’ll look back and be proud of the way his mom handled it. The best piece of advice I received is to ‘do everything you can today, and then do everything you can tomorrow.’”

Lindsay and others involved in the campaign are interested in the possibilities of the LivingWith app, particularly how it may give patients and caregivers a sense of control when it comes to managing the many aspects of life with cancer such as building a network of support from friends and family to get help with daily tasks, recording and remembering important information from doctor visits and finding information about local events and nutrition articles. It even provides a section to track those “cancer-owies” that Lindsay’s son noted, to help people provide an accurate assessment during their doctor visits. Join Lindsay and others affected by cancer who have downloaded LivingWith(TM) from the Apple App store or Google Play and visit ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com to help you or a loved one manage life with cancer.

Read more
Spasticity-Stroke-1280SFW

Understanding Spasticity After Stroke

(BPT) – In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds.[i] Though stroke death rates have declined in recent decades, it is a leading cause of serious long-term disability,[ii] taking a toll on both survivors and their caregivers. It’s important to understand the many ways strokes can impact survivors, including a disabling yet often overlooked condition known as spasticity.

It is estimated that approximately one million adult stroke survivors in the United States are living with some form of spasticity,[iii] a condition in which they experience an abnormal increase in muscle tone or stiffness of muscle.[iv] Stroke survivors may not experience spasticity immediately; in fact, it could occur weeks to months afterwards – long after a patient leaves the hospital.[v]

“The focus after someone has experienced a stroke is so commonly on preventing a second stroke that rehabilitation goals can leave patients and their caregivers feeling unprepared for a larger discussion about the post-stroke symptoms they may be experiencing, including spasticity,” said Dr. Atul Patel, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician, Kansas City Bone & Joint Clinic. “It’s critical that patients and caregivers understand that even if a person has been experiencing spasticity for years, there are ways to help manage the condition.”

Spasticity is caused by damage to nerve pathways of the brain or spinal cord that control voluntary movement,[vi] and can impact limbs in both the upper and lower body. Upper limb spasticity (ULS) can affect the thumb, elbow, wrist and fingers,[vi] while lower limb spasticity (LLS) produces muscle stiffness in the ankle and toes.[vi]

Patients with symptoms of spasticity can be treated by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare experts that may include a neurologist, physiatrist (specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation), physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other specialists depending on the cause of the underlying disorder. Depending on the severity of the condition and the patient’s treatment goals, treatment options for spasticity include oral medications to reduce the tone in the muscle; physical therapy regimens, such as muscle stretching and range of motion exercises, to help prevent shortening of muscles; or an injection of botulinum toxin to help reduce muscle stiffness.[vii]

Indications
BOTOX® is a prescription medicine that is injected into muscles and used:

  • to treat increased muscle stiffness in elbow, wrist, finger, thumb, ankle, and toe muscles in people 18 years and older with upper and lower limb spasticity.

It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective to treat increased stiffness in upper limb muscles other than those in the elbow, wrist, fingers, and thumb, or in lower limb muscles other than those in the ankle and toes. BOTOX® has not been shown to help people perform task-specific functions with upper limbs or increase movement in joints that are permanently fixed in position by stiff muscles. BOTOX® is not meant to replace existing physical therapy or other rehabilitation that may have been prescribed.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

BOTOX® may cause serious side effects that can be life threatening. Get medical help right away if you have any of these problems any time (hours to weeks) after injection of BOTOX®:

  • Problems swallowing, speaking, or breathing, due to weakening of associated muscles, can be severe and result in loss of life. You are at highest risk if these problems are pre-existing before injection. Swallowing problems may last several months. Spread of toxin effects. The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms including: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing.

Please see additional Important Safety Information below

BOTOX®, a prescription injectable therapy, works by blocking signals from nerves to muscles, reducing those contractions caused by spasticity.[viii] In adult patients diagnosed with upper or lower limb spasticity, BOTOX® is injected by a trained medical specialist – such as a neurologist or physiatrist – using a fine needle directly into the affected muscles. Patients or caregivers who want to learn more about spasticity and where to find a BOTOX® specialist can visit www.botoxspasticity.com.

Living with spasticity can make some of the simplest tasks more challenging. Below are a few tips to help survivors and their caregivers:

  • Stay physically active. Find an exercise routine that can be performed easily.
  • Manage stress. Practice relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, gentle stretching, and other techniques to help reduce stress.
  • Join a support group. Support groups can allow survivors and caregivers opportunities to share experiences with others dealing with spasticity.

Most importantly, talk to a healthcare provider about symptoms after a stroke. People who experience symptoms of spasticity should continue to seek treatment from a healthcare provider who specializes in the condition to help manage the impact of post-stroke symptoms, as well as to prevent another stroke.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION (continued)

BOTOX® may cause loss of strength or general muscle weakness, vision problems, or dizziness within hours to weeks of taking BOTOX®. If this happens, do not drive a car, operate machinery, or do other dangerous activities.

Do not receive BOTOX® if you: are allergic to any of its ingredients (see Medication Guide for ingredients); had an allergic reaction to any other botulinum toxin product such as Myobloc® (rimabotulinumtoxinB), Dysport® (abobotulinumtoxinA), or Xeomin® (incobotulinumtoxinA); have a skin infection at the planned injection site.

The dose of BOTOX® is not the same as, or comparable to, another botulinum toxin product.

Serious and/or immediate allergic reactions have been reported, including itching, rash, red itchy welts, wheezing, asthma symptoms, or dizziness or feeling faint. Get medical help right away if you experience symptoms; further injection of BOTOX® should be discontinued.

Tell your doctor about all your muscle or nerve conditions such as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, myasthenia gravis, or Lambert-Eaton syndrome, as you may be at increased risk of serious side effects including difficulty swallowing and difficulty breathing from typical doses of BOTOX®.

Tell your doctor if you have any breathing-related problems. Your doctor may monitor you for breathing problems during treatment with BOTOX® for spasticity. The risk of developing lung disease in patients with reduced lung function is increased in patients receiving BOTOX®.

Bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infections (common colds) have been reported. Bronchitis was reported more frequently in people receiving BOTOX® for upper limb spasticity. Upper respiratory infections were also reported more frequently in people with prior breathing related problems with spasticity.

Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you: have or have had bleeding problems; have plans to have surgery; had surgery on your face; weakness of forehead muscles; trouble raising your eyebrows; drooping eyelids; any other abnormal facial change; are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is not known if BOTOX® can harm your unborn baby); are breastfeeding or plan to (it is not known if BOTOX® passes into breast milk).

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Using BOTOX® with certain medicines may cause serious side effects. Do not start any new medicines until you have told your doctor that you received BOTOX® in the past.

Tell your doctor if you received any other botulinum toxin product in the last 4 months; have received injections of botulinum toxin such as Myobloc®, Dysport®, or Xeomin® in the past (tell your doctor exactly which product you received); have recently received an antibiotic injection; take muscle relaxants; take allergy or cold medicines; take sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.

Other side effects of BOTOX® include: dry mouth, discomfort or pain at injection site, tiredness, headache, neck pain, and eye problems: double vision, blurred vision, decreased eyesight, drooping eyelids, swelling of eyelids, and dry eyes.

For more information refer to the Medication Guide or talk with your doctor.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see BOTOX® full Product Information including Boxed Warning and Medication Guide.

© 2017 Allergan. All rights reserved. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

BNO111874 11/17


1) Centers for Disease Control. “Stroke Facts.” Available at https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm. Accessed November 27, 2017.

2) The Internet Stroke Center. “Stroke Statistics.” Available at http://www.strokecenter.org/patients/about-stroke/stroke-statistics/. Accessed September 19, 2017.

3) Data on File, Allergan, Inc. Global Safety and Epidemiology: Spasticity and comorbidity following five disorders: stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and cerebral palsy in adults, 2009.

4) Esquenazi A. Falls and fractures in older post-stroke patients with spasticity: consequences and drug treatment considerations. Clin Geriatr. 2004;12(8):27-35.

5) Wissel J, Schelosky LD, Scott J, Christe W, Faiss JH, Mueller J. Early development of spasticity following stroke: a prospective, observational trial. J Neurol. 2010;257(7):1067-1072.

6) Mayer NH and Esquenazi A. Muscle overactivity and movement dysfunction in the upper motoneuron syndrome. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am 2003;14:855-883.

7) Mostoufi SA. Spasticity and its management. Pain Manage Rounds. 2005;2(5):1-6.

8) BOTOX® (onabotulinumtoxinA) Prescribing Information, April 2017.

Read more
32138453_wide.jpg

Entertaining tips: Worry-free ways to clean before your guests arrive

(BPT) – For many of us, this is the best time of the year to spend with friends, family and lots of food. The weather has turned colder, the clocks have shifted back and we’re ready to invite guests over to eat, laugh and make new memories for the new year.

Let’s face it, because you spend more time indoors this time of year, you’re also probably a bit more anxious when it comes to keeping the house tidy and making sure you’re keeping yourself and your guests healthy. So, what’s the best approach to cleaning up before your get-together starts? You’ve likely heard this before, but it’s true: Clean only what your guests see. There’s no need to push all your furniture into the middle of the room to clean your baseboards or grab those dust bunnies from underneath the china cabinet. Of course, you want the guest bathroom to be shipshape, as well as a few of the following areas, before guests arrive.

Home is where the oven is: Most people like to mingle in the kitchen (hello bacon-wrapped dates!), so you want it to smell like all your wonderful food, not harsh chemicals. While you might be tempted to clean every inch of the kitchen, keep it simple and remember to clean as you go, especially during food prep. From raw cookie dough to chicken wings, you want to be careful not to cross-contaminate surfaces, so disinfect and clean those food-prep areas often, including cutting boards. (Use a product like PURELL(R) Multi Surface Disinfectant, which contains no harsh chemicals, to keep those counters and prep stations worry-free.) Don’t let those dirty mixing bowls pile up, either. Rinse as soon as you can and load them into the dishwasher.

The hangouts: After the kitchen, you probably know where your guests will gravitate. Maybe the kids hit the basement or rec room and sports fans huddle in the family room around the TV. Vacuuming and dusting are a must, and put away all the non-essential items. Place anything you don’t need into your laundry basket and stash it in the laundry room.

So many things to touch: Now think about all those hands touching surfaces like doorknobs, remotes, toys or playpens, especially if you have little ones crawling about or you’re expecting lots of toddlers. No one wants to be sick, especially when there is fun to be had. To prevent the spread of germs, disinfect those often-touched items and surfaces with PURELL(R) Multi Surface Disinfectant, which not only kills 99.99 percent of germs on hard surfaces, but also sanitizes soft surfaces and other areas in the house where you normally wouldn’t use traditional products.

Runny noses: For every hostess gift or side dish people bring, you should also expect some sniffles and sneezes. Keep your guests comfortable by putting out some boxes of tissues and an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in key areas, like near the buffet line and next to the tissue box.

A little elbow grease and some targeted cleaning should leave you plenty of time for the really important stuff: cooking, eating and enjoying time with your loved ones.

Read more
32068721_wide.jpg

4 great gifts for your green-living friend

(BPT) – Here’s a stat for you: More than 145 million Americans report being alarmed or concerned about climate change, according to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Yes, over 145 million. That’s more than a third of the nation’s total population. Are you one of them? Whether you are or not, it’s a safe bet someone on your holiday shopping list is and you’d love to find the perfect gift that matches their passion.

Living an environmentally healthy, sustainable lifestyle is a personal thing and one every environmentally conscious person does a little bit differently. To complement that, Cool Effect is offering you the chance to personalize a great gift for those eco-conscious Earth lovers this holiday season. With a wide variety of carbon-cutting projects and flexible options, you can personalize the perfect gift package for anyone on your list. Cool Effect, a non-profit, has already done the work for you and created the holiday gift bundles below.

Breathe deep, breathe clean

Share the gift of clean air, literally, with The Cuckoo Combo. This pack, named for the threatened bird, supports efforts to capture methane and reduce nitrous oxide emissions while generating income for local communities.

Through your gift of this package, your loved one will be able to support the Native American Methane Capture program in Colorado that is converting this otherwise harmful gas to clean energy. They will also support technology initiatives to keep nitrous oxide emissions in check through the Mississippi-based Nitrous Oxide Abatement initiative.

Blown away with options

Most people have heard about the potential power opportunities that exist in wind harvesting, but it’s those living a more sustainable lifestyle that are especially excited about it. Support that enthusiasm with The Big Fan gift pack.

Your gift will support the creation of renewable energy wind turbines in Costa Rica, leading to long-term clean energy independence and jobs for local workers.

The wind turbines created through this initiative will provide power to 50,000 people and save 11,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. Your gift can help make it happen.

The power of poo

Initially this might seem like a white elephant present, but the aptly named Poo Package is actually a very real, important environmental project that anyone on your list would be grateful to support.

Using biogas digesters, animal waste — a source of harmful methane emissions — can now be turned into clean, usable energy. Your gift helps farmers in India build their very own biogas digesters that reduce these emissions while providing enough energy to power a neighborhood of Indian homes.

A brew-tiful gift

What’s the perfect gift for the environmentally conscious coffee drinker in your life? How about a package that supports the long-term sustainability of their favorite beverage? The Brew-tiful Gift package supports efforts to reduce logging in coffee growing regions, which reduces Earth-warming emissions and the hotter, drier climate they create that hinders coffee growth.

Through support of this gift pack, your loved one will be working to protect nearly 450,000 Peruvian acres from deforestation while also reducing firewood use in Honduras by nearly 50 percent — and those are initiatives everyone can drink to.

Pick the perfect project for your loved one today

These four projects are just a sample of the myriad environmentally conscious efforts your family and friends can support through your gift. To learn more about any of these projects or to shop other options and find the perfect gift, visit CoolEffect.org. Each project you find there can be customized to your price point and the passions of your loved one and they all support the same ideals of making this planet a greater, greener place to live during these holidays and all that will come after them.

Read more
1 2 3 70