9 tips for eating sanely during the holidays

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, … but Thanksgiving dinner got the better of me this year. Continue reading “9 tips for eating sanely during the holidays”

Why your home is probably contaminated

skullAccording to healthychildren.org, did you know that every year over half of the 2.4 million people who either swallow or come into contact with poisons are under the age of six years of age?

And it’s no wonder. Look in your kitchen or bathroom cupboards. Really look. What do you see? If you’re like most Americans, you see a whole lot of skulls and crossbones.

Our homes, believe it or not, have a higher air contamination and poorer quality than some smoggy cities. And it’s all due to what we use inside of it. And the worst part is that because our homes are not open to the elements, that “stuff” just never goes away.

My partner and I have been slowly but surely shedding the toxic materials we come into contact with in daily our lives. We started with clean food and organic gardening. Next, we started to really pay attention to our environment. And this past weekend, we decided to “clean house.” Literally.

I’ve been cleaning bathrooms and kitchen counters with simple ingredients for over a year. It’s pretty simple – any surface just needs any one or more of the following: Vinegar, Castile soap, baking soda, and an essential oil. Personally, I use:


  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Lemon or Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • Salt for the really encrusted areas

Kitchen surfaces

  • White Vinegar & Castile Soap in a spray bottle
  • Lemon or Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • Salt for the really encrusted surfaces or pots/pans

But there were still so many bottles of leftover cleaning chemicals that I just didn’t know what to do with since I’ve made the change. They stayed in cupboards and on shelves, collecting dust. When we picked up a book on natural cleaning recipes recently and discovered that we had all of the ingredients we needed to go cold turkey natural, we finally made a pact to thin out our supplies.

When we began rooting through under our sinks and in the cupboards, we were both pretty amazed.

“Look at all of these different cleaners!” my partner exclaimed. There was a separate product for each application: Floor washing, toilet cleaning, tub scrubbing, … you name it, we had a bottle for it. And then we looked at our new cleaning armory – we had five items. That’s it. Five universal cleaners. How on earth did we get to this point, we asked ourselves, that we felt that we needed such a ridiculous amount of toxic products in our homes?

Because which cleaning stash would you rather have your child accidentally get a mouthful of? One could kill your child – the other, “at worst, would give them a tummy ache for a day,” my partner joked.



But what contaminates your home may not always be what you expect, either.

For example up until a year ago, I had a slight obsession with scented candles and oils. They were everywhere. I always loved going to certain scented oilspeople’s houses, because the moment you walked in you were enveloped with gorgeous smells that said “You’ve come home.” I’ve tried and tried, but I didn’t burn enough candles to keep that amazing scent of apple pie or vanilla ice cream circulating my home.

But then I began to read what really was in those things – just terrible chemicals that smelled good, but were ultimately toxic. Anything that has an artificial scent like Glade air fresheners or plug-ins, or scented candles just contaminates your home with nasty chemical compounds that have been linked to asthma, allergies, and even cancer.

Needless to say, I don’t burn candles anymore. More natural alternatives I have adopted are:

  • Burning sage/”smudging”
  • Incense sticks or cones ( composed of an herb, a resin and a wood, but some have pros and cons)
  • Essential Oil Misting or Burning

I also have began filling my home with plants. Not only does it add life and color to your home, but they do a lot of air filtering for you!

Still feel like your home is your nice, clean castle that’s safe for you and your family?

Meaning of “mother”

Meaning of “mother”

I don’t often write editorials anymore…I got tired of repeating myself every year, every week. But as Mother’s Day neared, it was too personal not to express what mothers mean in my life. This was an editorial I wrote for my newspaper this past week… *Love* to mothers and daughters everywhere. 

I don’t often write editorials anymore for my newspaper…I got tired of repeating myself every year, every week. But as Mother’s Day neared, it was too personal not to express what mothers mean in my life. This was an editorial I wrote for my newspaper this past week… *Love* to mothers and daughters everywhere.

By Lindsey Gemme
Motherhood. The word alone seems like a sentence in and of itself. It implies an intricate amount of things, for both mothers, as well as those who have mothers.

As I prepared to write about mothers for this week’s edition of the Enterprise, I thought starting out with a definition of motherhood would be the perfect beginning in preparation for Mother’s Day this Sunday.

n. 1. the state of being a mother. 2. the qualities or spirit of a mother. 3. mothers collectively.

I don’t know about you, but after seeing the above clarification of motherhood, I couldn’t help but feel a little … underwhelmed.

Personally, defining and articulating what motherhood means has been a theme of my thoughts for the last year. So, I suppose for Mother’s Day, I can only celebrate what motherhood means to me as a woman, and daughter.

As women, our relationships with our mothers are probably the most unique. Women, especially for those with just one daughter, own the roles as their daughter’s life support, psychiatrist, best friend and confidant, mediator, marriage counselor, shopping buddy, teacher, and even martyr for her children’s betterment. She will lay down her own life to make sure her children are guaranteed a better life than her own. Even when her children are well grown with families of their own, instinct prevents her from ever dropping the role of “mom.”

In my family, our matriarchal connection is the strongest bond I’ve ever known. My mother is an only child, as well as myself. We both built strong connections with our mothers, and across generations with each other. I was never more proud to go out into public on a shopping excursion or day trip, arm-in-arm with these two women. We often got many comments from people that three generations of women were out enjoying one another’s company (cue the ‘We are Family’ song?). My grandmother, though, was the glue. A woman whose boundless energy and selflessness, thoughtfulness, and positive attitude was like an undeniable gravitational pull, and I fell in love with her more and more each year as I grew into a young woman. She was my mother’s best friend, and as close to being a second mom to me, as well.

Last year, though, I unexpectedly lost the love of my life – my grandmother – during the very early days of spring. It was March 25, during a very important cluster of celebrations in our small family unit: Her death cleft the generational bond three days after her own birthday, a week after mine (both of which we spent in the hospital by her bedside with diminishing hopes of her recovery), and two weeks before my mother’s.

This year will mark the second Mother’s Day my mother will mourn the loss of her own.

And so, relearning how to live life without that safety net that a mother can be between us and the world, has been a difficult one.

And it has made us appreciate the role she had in our lives all that much more.

I know for any daughter, a mother is the toll-free, 24-hour hotline we have on speed dial when we need to share our triumphs, and to seek comfort during our tribulations. We benefit from her wisdom, even if we only see that in 20/20 hindsight when we’ve ignored her advice the first time around and made our own mistakes. A mother is always there to help us up when we fall short, and be our cheerleader as we gain momentum.

Whether she uses tough love or positive reinforcement, a mother keeps us on the straight and narrow for most of our life. She is allowed to say, ‘I told you so,’ and inevitably will ‘hope your kids are as difficult as you were.’ No doubt the women in my family were always headstrong, and this was said often.

She’s the one we help drag into the 21st Century (try teaching a woman in her seventies what an internet browser is, or to check her voicemail on her cell phone).

A mother is the one that loves you incredibly, and drives you the most crazy than anyone else in the universe. She’s the one you hug the tightest, and have the loudest fights with. A mother is one you lose patience with the fastest, but forgive the quickest.

She’s the one that has always been there, life’s security blanket, and you never expect to lose – even as she starts to have to ask you several times to repeat yourself, her glasses get thicker, her body and mind slower and more frail. You try not to see it.

She’s been the flawed prototype you’d based most of your identity on as a growing woman, and the one you’ve been terrified to turn into as you get older.

But when the day comes that she’s suddenly not there anymore… there’s no one you’d be more proud to even come close to emulating.

And that is how I would describe motherhood. So ladies, celebrate your mothers this weekend: It’s not an easy role to take on. And it’s one they’ve willingly taken on – for life.