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3 Engaging Autumn Activities To Enjoy with Your Family

 

During fall, there are countless activities competing for time. Whether it’s a soccer tournament, the re-birth of homework, yard work or a Friday night football game, we are often pulled in many directions. But what about slowing down and exploring the outdoors? Drop the mobile devices, put down the textbook and experience something new this year.

    Enjoy a fall visit to an apple orchard. Autumn is a great time to visit your local farm. Peak harvest season is in full swing and there are many opportunities to learn about agriculture. Use your local orchard as a chance to explore the many varieties of apples. Take an afternoon and explore the trees from the ground up. Once you get back home, the fun doesn’t have to end. Structure a fun “taste test” activity and discuss the uses for each variety. Let your kids research the different apples you brought home and set-up the challenge to name each one by favor or look. Beyond learning about the uses for apples, your youngsters will take an active interest in your next grocery trip.

      Visit your local composting facility or recycle your fallen leaves and build your very own compost pile. Compost is often referred to as the “gardener’s gold.” Created from collected natural and decomposable materials from the lawn, composting is an excellent way to witness the wonders of the natural world. We spend hours raking and bagging fallen leaves into brown bags for pick-up at the end of the curb, but what happens to those brown bags full of leaves? There are local facilities that process and compost for the well-being of our landfills and earth.Whether you are visiting a farm or enjoying an evening watching the trees lose their leaves, consider using these recreational activities as a chance to learn about the natural world.

        Find your local pumpkin patch to pick your very own jack o’ lantern. There are few traditions as popular as carving a pumpkin, but too often we lose our favorite creation to decomposition on the front porch. This year, instead of picking up your melon from a cardboard bin at the grocery store, try visiting a farm with a pumpkin patch. Do you know how many seeds are inside a pumpkin? Use your trip to the patch as a fun opportunity to explore math. How many pumpkins grow on each plant? How many plants are in one row? Story problems come alive when given a real-life context.


          Chewy Cherry, Almond and Cacao Nib Granola Bars

          Do you love chewy Quaker granola bars? If so, you will love this sweet and chewy recipe to make your own DIY cherry, almond and cacao nib granola bars! It's the perfect way to make those summer cherries last through the fall and winter months… and healthier.

          Eating granola may help lower your cholesterol and prevent certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. It's a type of breakfast cereal consisting of whole grain oats, nuts and dried fruits. The oats are commonly toasted with a small amount of oil and sweetener, giving the cereal a crunchy texture. Whole grain oats and nuts, two main ingredients in most granola, contain dietary fiber. From just 1/3 cup of granola, you'll get about 4 grams of fiber. Although it's indigestible by your body, fiber helps to regulate digestion and prevent constipation. It may also help control your blood sugar and promote a feeling of fullness after eating, allowing you to cut calories with less hunger. Soluble fiber found in oats is particularly helpful for lowering bad cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber binds to bile acids, which contain cholesterol, in your digestive tract and removes them from your body. Cacao nibs are chocolate in their purest form and have so many health benefits, they are one of the highest sources of antioxidants you can find and they are also great sources of flavonoids, fiber, magnesium and potassium. 

          Ingredients

            • 2 cups rolled oats
            • 1 2/3 cups toasted buckwheat* OR brown rice krispies
            • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
            • 1/4 cup ground flax meal (optional)
            • 1/2 cup cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips
            • 1/2-1 cup dried cherries (my recipe for homemade dried cherries is below)
            • 3/4 cup honey (may use brown rice syrup if vegan)
            • 1 cup creamy almond butter
            • 1/4 cup coconut oil
            • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
            • Pinch of salt
            • Dried Cherries
            • 4 cups fresh cherries, pitted

              Granola Bar Directions

              1. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
              2. In a medium bowl, combine the oatmeal, buckwheat OR puffed brown rice cereal, sliced almonds, flax meal, cocoa nibs (or mini chocolate chips) and dried cherries.
              3. In a small sauce pan, add the almond butter and honey. Set the pot over medium heat, stirring often until melted and smooth. Once the mixture starts to bubble, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla + salt.
              4. Pour the almond butter mixture over the oats and stir until combined.
              5. Press into the prepared the pan.
              6. Cover the bars and place in the fridge for at least one hour or until set.
              7. Cut into the bars and store in a cool, dark place or in the fridge. The bars will last at least 2 weeks.

              Dried Cherries Directions

              1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
              2. Spread the cherries in an even layer over the parchment paper.
              3. Place in the oven and cook for 4-6 hours or until the cherries are dried. This may take more or less time depending on where you live. Start checking on them around 3-4 hours.
              4. Store in a sealed container.
              8 Yoga Festival Essentials for $20 or Less!

              Going to a yoga festival this summer? Jessica Walsh shares with us via Yoga International her must-have yoga essentials to take with you! "I make a point to attend at least one yoga festival or conference per year. I’ve been outdoors in the mountains and the desert and inside lots of hotel ballrooms. Over the past five+ years of attending, I’ve cultivated a list of what I would consider "essentials" to bring along in order to get the most out of the experience and to avoid spending a bunch of extra money at the event," Jessica explains. "Your festival packing list will likely be a little longer than if you were just going to a yoga class, but buying in advance can help cut costs."

              She's picked out some of her favorite yoga festival essentials that won't leave you feeling guilty about how much you’re spending. Often frustrated by overpriced yoga products, all of these options can be found for around $20 (or less!). If you struggle with spending too much on gear, then keep reading; Jessica has picked out some of her favorite yoga festival essentials that won't leave you feeling guilty about how much you’re spending.

              Anything-But-Basic Bra. If you generally find that a comfortable and supportive bra allows you to flow freely on the mat, consider this a must-pack item! I’ve practiced in enough uncomfortable bras (bras that were scratchy or pulled on my neck) to know that the right support can make all the difference when it comes to having an enjoyable class experience.

              Shorts. If class is outside, you’ll probably want a pair of shorts for when the weather is warm and sunny. RBX shorts from Target ($16.99) are a nice option because they are a little longer than average, so you won’t constantly be pulling them down during your practice! There’s a hidden pocket and flat-lock seams to ensure comfort. They come in a few different colors, the "military green" being my favorite.

              A Good Pair of Capris. I like to have a pair of capris with me during outdoor festivals just in case the weather is rainy or just cooler than expected. If you're sleeping outside, they're also a good option for keeping a bit warmer at night. And during indoor events when the AC is on full blast, having something more substantial than shorts can help to keep the goosebumps at bay. While the typical yoga brands certainly offer a wide selection of capris, for a more affordable option you can scope out the active-wear section of your favorite mall, department, or online store for a practice-worthy pair.

              Yoga Bags. Keep your mat in this handmade bag by iLoveHeyJute ($8.06) made from jute, natural plant fiber, hessian, burlap, organic cotton. The pouch is useful to store a few other small items that you might need during class, and might even allow you to get away with not carrying any other bags to class!

              Beat the Bugs. It would be ideal NOT to spend the weekend scratching at bug bites, right? (Plus, the threat of Lyme disease kind of freaks me out, and we should all try our best to prevent it!) This all-natural bug repellent from Sweetly Citron (16.95) is a great choice to keep the bugs away. (If you don't believe me, check out all of the great reviews on Amazon!)

              Fun Flip-Flops. Flip-flops are easy slip on and off when you're coming and going from your classes; plus, if you get a unique pattern they’ll be easy to spot in the inevitable crowd of shoes waiting by the door. (Believe me, you don’t want to end up frantically trying to figure out which of the many pairs of black flip-flops are yours!)

              A Headband to Keep the Flyaways at Bay. A good headband will keep the flyaways out of your face so that you can focus on the yoga, not your hair!

              Water, Water, Water! (and something to drink it out of) Don’t forget to drink lots of water during the festival! A nice water bottle makes it that much easier to stay hydrated.

              Fancy Finger and Toenails. Why is this an essential? Because you’ll smile every time you look at your fingers or toes! I highly recommend this awesome non-toxic nail polish from Scotch Naturals ($15). I’m a girly-girl and love painting my nails so I’m happy to find this option that’s safe for my body too!

              These are just a few of the things you’ll want to pack for your yoga festival. We want to hear in the comments what essentials you pack!

              7 Ways to Usher Good Vibes Into a New Home

              After moving into your new home, try these tips to set a welcoming (and abundant!) tone. New homes are all about new beginnings, so no matter what kind of vibe the previous owners had, start fresh! Here’s how to bid adieu to the old vibe and bring new (and good!) energy into a new home.


              Start with a deep cleaning. Before moving into a home, it’s a worthwhile splurge to have a professional come and give the house a good deep cleaning. From hard-to-reach windows and cobwebs to old bathroom scum, or even a musty smell of the old owners’ cologne, starting fresh begins with starting clean. Try putting citrus rinds in your disposal to freshen drain smells.

              Bring on the sage. After the deep cleaning, let’s do some deep cleansing. Sage, whose name means “to heal” in Latin, will help cleanse your home of old energies. To rid your home of stale energies, purchase (or forage!) a bundle of dried sage (also called a smudge stick), and when you are ready to start cleansing, have a fire-safe bowl and cup of water at the ready. Open all the doors and windows in your home and light the smudge stick. Once it catches fire, blow it out, so that it’s smoldering. Holding the bowl underneath the smoldering sage to catch the ash, slowly walk through each room of your home, letting the smoke billow all over the space, especially in the corners where old energies like to hang out. When you are done, extinguish the stick in the water. Try purchasing a sage spray (you can find it at health-food stores) and spray any old belongings you’ll be bringing into the new place before transitioning them into your new digs.

              Make an entrance. According to the principles of feng shui, the front door greatly impacts the flow of Chi energy into the home. To make sure the good energy can make its way inside, remove any obstacles (from clutter to fallen leaves) that may block a clear pathway to the front door. Try adding plants to either side of your front door, such as the money tree plant, which is said to help maintain balance and harmony in the home. (I’ll take it.)

              Enliven your space (and improve your air) with plants. Now that you’ve got money tree plants at your front door, let’s go ahead and add plants to the inside of the home. Try adding a lucky bamboo plant — they are said to attract auspicious Chi energy. Let’s also throw a rubber plant in the mix, which, according to a study conducted by NASA, is a top houseplant for removing air pollutants. Give your plants a spritz of water every couple of days — it’ll keep ’em happy.

              Add symbols of abundance. Symbols of abundance, from real baskets of fruit to paintings of baskets of fruit, can give the home feelings of abundance. Surround yourself with fresh flowers and fruits to bring abundance into your home.

              Set your intentions. It’s amazing what a little clarity can do to help define (and keep up with!) the happy vibes. Before moving all of your belongings into the home, spend some time sitting in each room and set your intentions for each space. Think about the kind of energies you want to bring in and the kinds of experiences you want to have there. Feel the pure potential that moving into a new space can generate in your life.

              Use the power of color. After your intentions are set, use color to help meet those intentions. Interested in a strong entrance to the home? Try black (or a deep charcoal) to generate a strong energy. Want to add cheerful energy to your living room? Try yellow. Want to usher joy and excitement into the bedroom? Try red (but use it in small doses as it’s a very powerful color). Want to invite freshness and vitality to your kitchen? Try mixing different shades of green. Color is supremely important, but good natural light is also key: Open your windows often and let as much natural light as possible flood into the home to maximize the good vibrations.


              *Read the full article via Trulia.com

              The Ugly Truth About Summer Allergies

              As if a runny nose and red eyes weren't enough to ruin your warm weather look, summer allergies can gift you with even more than you've bargained for this year. In fact, some unusual symptoms can leave you looking like you lost a round in a boxing ring.

              "Summer allergies can cause severe symptoms for some sufferers, and can be just as bad as the spring and fall seasons," said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "Symptoms aren't always limited to the hallmark sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Black eyes, lines across the nose and other cosmetic symptoms can occur."

              Even if you've never before had allergies, they can suddenly strike at any age and time of year. You might want to consider visiting your board-certified allergist if these undesirable signs accompany your sniffle and sneeze.

              • Allergic Shiner: Dark circles under the eyes which are due to swelling and discoloration from congestion of small blood vessels beneath the skin in the delicate eye area.
              • Allergic (adenoidal) Face: Nasal allergies may promote swelling of the adenoids (lymph tissue that lines the back of the throat and extends behind the nose). This results in a tired and droopy appearance.
              • Nasal Crease: This is a line which can appear across the bridge of the nose usually the result of rubbing the nose upward to relieve nasal congestion and itching.
              • Mouth Breathing: Cases of allergic rhinitis in which severe nasal congestion occurs can result in chronic mouth breathing, associated with the development of a high, arched palate, an elevated upper lip, and an overbite. Teens with allergic rhinitis might need braces to correct dental issues.

              According to the ACAAI, pollen, mold and insect stings are common allergy culprits during the summer months. But fresh produce, such as celery, apples and melons, can also cause allergy symptoms. This is known as food pollen syndrome, cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables and some tree nuts.

              "Summer allergy symptoms can easily be mistaken for colds, food intolerances or other ailments," said Dr. Foggs. "If your symptoms are persistent and lasting for more than two weeks you should see your allergist for proper testing, diagnosis and treatment. Finding and treating the source of your suffering can also clear up other unwanted symptoms." For more information about seasonal allergies, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

              Chill Your Summer with Green Detox Kale Smoothie Popsicles

              We all know you can make ice pops from fruit, coconut milk and even cocktails. But what about veggie popsicles? Yes, carrots, kale and even asparagus are also perfect popsicle (and smoothie) ingredients. Try a refreshing way to get your vitamins in a pretty popsicle form. (If you don’t have the time or patience to freeze them, simply whip up the following recipes as a smoothie. Cool off at the end of a long summer day, and load up on antioxidants while you’re at it. Get your greens with this creamy, banana and kale-based popsicle. Lime and banana add a tropical taste—you’ll never know there’s kale in these!

              Ingredients

              • 1 cucumber, cut into chunks
              • 3-4 fresh kale leaves, roughly chopped
              • 1 banana
              • ½ cup coconut water
              • 1 lime, juice only
              • 1 tbsp raw agave nectar

              Directions

              1. Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
              2. Evenly pour into the popsicle mold, freeze and serve.
              A Tasty Homemade Travel Snack That Doesn't Need to Be Refrigerated

              Hitting the open road this summer with your little ones? Pack a tasty and healthy treat that is sure to satisfy even the most picky eaters! Although these bars won't meet everyone's dietary restrictions, they are free of dairy, refined sugar, tree nuts, and gluten!

              Think of this recipe as a template and adapt it to your own preferences. This combination of certified gluten-free oats, naturally sweet raisins and dried apricots, and roasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Holding the mixture together is coconut oil, peanut butter, brown rice syrup, flax seeds, and apples.  The bars are just lightly sweet, and despite not having any dairy, they're nice and buttery from the coconut oil and peanut butter. (Substitute another nut or seed butter if you can't have peanuts.) 

              Cakey, Oaty Energy Bar Ingredients

              • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
              • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
              • 3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
              • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
              • 1 1/4 cups apple sauce
              • 1 teaspoon vanilla
              • 3 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
              • 1/2 cup raisins
              • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
              • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
              • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
              • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
              • 1/4 teaspoon salt

              Directions

              1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8"x8" baking pan with parchment paper.
              2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the melted coconut oil, peanut butter, and brown rice syrup and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Add the ground flax seeds, apple sauce, and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
              3. In a large bowl, combine the oats with the dried fruit, seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
              4. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan, pressing with your hands to create an even surface.
              5. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Lift out and cut into 12 pieces.
              6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Wrap individual bars tightly for transporting. 
              Upcycling Idea: DIY Balsa Wood Planter

              Extra tones of green. Living oxygen. A home is so much prettier with some plants scattered around. Chances are, you want to inject some plant love into your home but are intimidated when it comes to the cost of creating this setup. Traditionally, for each plant you would need to buy a pot, and you wouldn’t be doing yourself a favor because they are expensive. Also, and most importantly, it’s not eco-friendly to always have to buy everything, is it? There's no need to spend big bucks on planters and flower pots. Look around the house or scour thrift stores and flea markets for unique vessels to hold plants, herbs and vegetables. Try this DIY below to make your own balsa wood planter thanks to Fall for DIY.

              The term upcycling is relatively new, as it was coined in 1994 by Reiner Pilz, stating that “what we need is upcycling where old products are given more value not less.” Upcycling is similar to recycling in that it helps create less garbage, thus minimizing environmental impact, yet it differs in that it involves giving something old a new use. Upcycling helps reduce CO2 emissions by using old materials instead of new ones. In fact, for every ton of discarded textiles used again, 20 tons of CO2 is prevented from entering the atmosphere. Upcycling also saves you money, as it allows you to find new uses for old clothes that no longer fit or the like. It also promotes sustainable innovation and creativity, and can provide fun crafting time. Finally, it helps preserve our precious resources.

              Materials

              • Balsa Wood Sheets
              • Card
              • Ramekin
              • Sand Paper
              • Craft Knife
              • Glue
              • Pencil

              Directions

              1. Your smaller circle needs to be the size or the ramekin and the larger will be the size you would like to planter to be. Check this fits onto the balsa wood sheet before marking it out.
              2. Once you have made the two circles cut out the doughnut shape you have made.
              3. Use this as a template to cut out enough balsa wood doughnuts to house the ramekin. Also cut out one circle of balsa wood leaving in the centre. Starting at the full circle glue each doughnut on top of the last to build up the sides of the planter.
              4. Leave the glue to dry and then sand down the sides until they're smooth. If you want you can add a few layers of varnish to finish the wood but I quite enjoy it with the raw balsa.
              5. Push the ramekin into the planter and fill with plants!
              5 Yoga Tips To Get You Through The Holidays


              Whether you practice every day, three times or once a week, maintaining your yoga practice this time of year can be difficult. There are parties, busy work days, travel and over-all hectic scheduling that can pull you away from your mat. The problem is, many of us can get stressed this time of year, and lose sight of what the holidays are really about. More than ever, our yoga practices are enormously important to keep us sane. It’s been proven that yoga can reduce stress and adapt our brains to think more level-headed. But let’s acknowledge, that yes, it’s hard. Consistently making it to your mat is the most important — and yet one of the hardest — things to do. Try these little tips and tricks thanks to Naomi Abbot to keep your yoga practice consistent no matter what the external forces may be.

              Set up a yoga area at home and leave it there. Find a space in your house where you can build a little yoga area. Lay out your mat, keep your blocks set up, and have some incense nearby. It’s much easier to make yourself hit the mat if it’s there ready and waiting. It’s even better if it’s at home because then you don’t have to go anywhere to actually get your yoga in. It’s also especially handy if you like to do early morning yoga. You can easily wake up and wander to your mat, letting yourself fully awaken as you settle in with your breath and begin moving your body.

              Get a space heater. In most states, December is cold. It makes you want to do, well, nothing. To overcome that, have a little space heater set up near my yoga mat, and turn it on 5-10 minutes before you hit the mat. By the time you come back into the room, the space is nice and warm. It’s like a little escape from winter, and makes the yoga practice that much more sweet. Not to mention you’ll really get a sweat going once you get into it.

              Sign up for a streaming service. With all the crazy scheduling and travel this time of year, it can be hard to make your yoga studio’s schedule fit with your own. That’s why streaming services are a great supplement to your class regimen. Late at night, or in a hotel room — you can pull them up whenever and wherever you’d like. Most only cost $10-$15 a month, so you won’t be breaking the bank, and you may even be incentivized to get in more yoga than you did before. Some streaming services that are great to check out include Udaya, My Yoga Works, and YogaGlo.

              Take a minute to plan your week. It’s much easier to get in yoga when you pre-plan which days you should do it. Do yourself a favor, and sit down on Sundays to think through what’s coming up over the next seven days. Plan which days you will hit your mat, and then try your hardest to stick with it. Be sure you’re not just filling every free moment with yoga though. Be realistic. Planning your week also involves making time for socializing and down time. Every life needs balance.

              Shorten your practice. Some days, you just won’t be able to get in those juicy, sweaty 90 minutes. That’s ok. Just 15 minutes of yoga is better than nothing. Even sitting cross-legged on your mat and doing breath work is beneficial for the mind. Sometimes you’ll plan to do 20 minutes, and you’ll end up doing 60 once you get going. Whatever you have time for, do it. The important thing is getting on your mat.

              This article was originally published on the Free People blog.

              Avoid the Christmas Bloat The TCM Way

               

              With the holiday season in full swing, many are enjoying festive parties. Unfortunately, the fancy feasts that accompany many of these events cause bloating that doesn’t do justice to the dressy clothing you don — ugly Christmas sweaters, notwithstanding. It is possible, however, to enjoy a night out without having to suffer discomfort. Dr. Melissa Carr, a registered doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), caring for patients in an integrative medicine clinic in Vancouver shares with us how to use natural ways of avoiding the bloat.

              The first and most common sense approach to avoid bloating is to avoid overeating. Eat more slowly to allow the body to signal that you are no longer hungry, and stop eating before you are stuffed. Bloating can also occur from swallowing air, so try to avoid activities most likely to cause this, including chewing gum, drinking through a straw, smoking, and drinking carbonated drinks — just another reason to give up cigarettes and pop. In addition, some people swallow more air when they are nervous, so practicing some relaxation techniques may be helpful.

              Certain foods are also more likely to cause bloating. Rich, greasy foods take more time to digest, so limit their quantities. Legumes — beans and lentils — are well-known to be gassy foods because of their indigestible sugars, called oligosaccharides, that need to be broken down by bacteria in the intestines. Legumes are more easily digested if they are soaked for at least a few hours and rinsed prior to cooking.

              Since many people do not produce enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down milk sugars (lactose), dairy may be a trouble food. Some cannot tolerate any dairy at all, while others do OK with yogurt and aged cheeses, as the lactose is at least partially broken down by bacteria. If you know that you are going to be eating foods that are likely to bloat you, consider taking a digestive enzyme blend before your meal. Drink dandelion tea to help stimulate bile production so you can break down fatty foods. Chew fennel seeds after eating to ease gas. And take a probiotic supplement to support a healthy colon.

              Because bloating can also signify more chronic health issues, such as gastritis, Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, colitis, chronic constipation, hernia, parasitic infection, gallstones, ovarian cyst, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and food allergies, it is important to get checked out if the symptoms are ongoing.

              Traditional Chinese Medicine offers many herbs, acupuncture, and food recommendations that can support digestion, treat and manage diseases and symptoms, and improve overall health. If bloating is putting a damper on your celebrations, know that there are many options beyond avoiding everyone in Scrooge-like fashion.

              *This article was originally posted on 24 Hours Vancouver.

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