Winter Solstice’s Gift

Earth’s annual cycles hold a myriad of hidden meanings just waiting for us to crack open and unfold, making life on this planet even more meaningful and interesting! Viewing through a farmer’s lens, we see the unmistakable effect the seasons have on our very existence. Thank you, farmers, for really knowing the seasons and keeping us alive!

FullSizeRenderphoto credit: Marley McCann

But, for most of us, keeping up with the seasons is about adapting our wardrobe and outdoor activities, and if we’re in tune with the local farmers, eating food that’s in season. All seasons bring us abundant gifts, we have only to open them.

As the Earth tilts us furthest from the sun, Winter Solstice brings us the darkest day all year. It’s an end, an axis point flinging us into another year. Bring it on! We can adopt all phases of life within one year, even winter’s ominous endings, because we know spring is just around the corner to bring forth new beginnings… Again.

FullSizeRender.jpgphoto credit: Marley McCann

Tapping into that darkness. Observing the stillness, the quiet. Embracing the inner hermit. Early to bed.

We will get through this… All of this! Because life would be too easy and imbalanced without challenges. Winter allows us time to reflect without action, plan what’s next, and rest before spring’s awakening.

How to Change Your Brain

Sure, you can change your mind, but can you change your brain? Science says, “Yes!”

According to a great article I read recently, there are a number of things that have been shown — through scientific studies — to make a difference. Read on for a list of seven things that may actually improve your brain:

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1) Exercise
Everyone knows that they should exercise, but most people think of their waistline, not their brain, when they hop onto the treadmill. It turns out that physical activity is a very important factor when it comes to brain health and cognitive function. In fact, exercise is linked to greater brain volume, improved thinking/memory skills, and a decreased risk of dementia! According to a study published in the journal Neurology, older people who engage in vigorous exercise tend to have similar cognitive test scores to people who are 10 years younger!

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2) Foods and Spices
Here is another aspect of our health that tends to be dictated by our waistline: our diet. Eating lots of processed carbohydrates and sugars certainly affects our figure, but it also affects our brain! In a study conducted at UCLA last year, researchers found that feeding fructose water to rats with brain damage actually impeded their recovery…and that even healthy rats experienced cognitive decline when placed on the same diet. On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids (think fish, eggs, walnuts, etc.) seemed to reverse some of the damage! Another study showed that turmeric — a spice found in curry dishes that is touted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties — may be linked to a reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

While there is probably not a single food or spice that will turn the tides, a diet that is high in whole foods and low in sugar is probably your best bet at maintaining health. Given the fact that about 1/5 of our energy resources are dedicated to powering the brain, we should give it some consideration when we reach for a snack!

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3) Vitamins and Minerals
Of course, any vitamin or mineral that is good for your body is good for your brain, too! However, there are a few that are more directly related to brain health: vitamins D and B12 and iron. Science may not be able to explain precisely why our brains need vitamin D, but it has shown that a lack of it is linked to cognitive decline. Similarly, vitamin B12 deficiency can have negative effects on the central nervous system and lead to memory loss. Iron plays an important role throughout the body because it carries oxygen to all of our cells! Keep in mind that while supplements may seem easier to take, your body is actually better able to absorb vitamins and minerals that come directly from food. Click here for an a-to-z list of vitamins and minerals and the foods that contain them.

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4) Coffee
Most of us are probably happy to think that our coffee addiction is actually doing something good for our bodies! Beyond simply keeping us alert, coffee consumption can actually reduce the risk of depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Next time someone tries to hassle you about being a coffee addict, just tell them you are getting your daily dose of antioxidants!

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5) Meditation
There may be thousands of years’ worth of anecdotal evidence to prove the value of meditation, but the experimental evidence to go with it has only arisen in the last decade or so. Studies have shown that meditation may be related to increased brain volume in certain parts of the cerebral cortex. Furthermore, it is associated with decreased activity in the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for our response to fear or stress) and the default mode network (which is active when our mind is wandering). Those who practice meditation regularly can expect improvements like increased attention and concentration!

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6) Education/Mental Activity
This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when people think about “improving” their brains. Things like learning a new language, playing an instrument, or doing a crossword/sudoku puzzle are all helpful (and fun)! Not that any of these things can necessarily prevent disease, but they can reinforce our cognitive reserve — that is, the mind’s resilience or ability to function adequately in spite of damage.

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7) Sleep
We are pretty big fans of sleep here at Lifekind, so this may be my favorite thing on the list! We spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping, so it makes sense that it would have an effect on our health. Lack of sleep has a negative effect on the body and the mind and has been associated with things like poor attention, difficulty learning, and decreased creativity. There is plenty of debate about precisely how much sleep is needed, but seven hours is a pretty good rule of thumb!

With all of the hard work that our brain does around the clock, it certainly deserves a little extra attention. Even though we might not be able to fit in all of the items on this list every day, it is at least nice to know that there is something we can do to improve our most complex (and intriguing) organ!

Choose the Winner of the Lifekind Staff Pumpkin Contest

This year staff members at Lifekind decorated pumpkins once again for Halloween, but we need your help in picking the best pumpkin.

Vote in the comments for your favorite and help us pick the winner. Voting is ongoing through October 31.

Bat_Pumpkin
Bat Lady Pumpkin
TinManPumpkin
Tin Man Pumpkin
Baseball_Pumpkin
Pumpkin Blowing Bubble
Giannas_Pumpkin
Gianna’s Pumpkin
got_candy_Pumpkin
Got Candy? Pumpkin
Grumpy_Cat_Pumpkin
Grumpy Cat Pumpkin
Pie_Pumpkin
Pumpkin Pi
Lifekind_Pumpkin
Lifekind Pumpkin
Puffer_Pumpkin
Fish Pumpkin
Snowman_Pumpkin
Tired Snowman Pumpkin
Spider_Pumpkin
Spider Pumpkin
Vomit_Pumpkin
Too-Much-Candy Pumpkin

 

 

Kale Demystified

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Still wondering about how to incorporate kale into your diet? Below are five easy ways to actually get kale into your body!

1. Blend it in a smoothie. Bam! Green smoothie.

2. Wash, dry, and toss with oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in a single layer, uncovered, at 300º for 10-15 minutes. Instant kale chips!

3. Add it to a salad, or use it to replace lettuce in a salad.

4. Put it on a sandwich.

5. Chop it up and sauté  with fresh garlic and soy sauce. Yum.

Don’t forget: Buy organic kale. Conventional kale is on the EWG’s “dirty dozen” list.

Growing kale is easy! It’s hardy, and can grow in a pot or garden bed. Harvest the lower leaves and it keeps growing and produces for 3-4 seasons. It will become a Dr. Seuss-looking thing with all the growth on top of the strong stalk.

Uncomplicated Kale: A Haiku

Kale is delicious,

just add it to your dishes.

Don’t overthink it.

Easy Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

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Cooler weather has finally arrived, and if you’re anything like me, you may be feeling a little torn between seasons. I’m not quite ready to let go of the late nights and river trips that come with summer,  yet I love the clothes and food that come with autumn…namely, any food that contains PUMPKIN!

Well, I have a solution to your inter-seasonal woes: pumpkin ice cream. It combines the best parts of both seasons, and it’s even pretty healthy!

This is one of those no-fuss recipes that only calls for a few ingredients and doesn’t require a lot of fancy kitchen gadgets — my kind of recipe. The bananas give it a wonderful, creamy texture without the use of dairy or gluten. I love the flavor of maple syrup, but you can always substitute honey (use about 1/4 cup). Also, you have a few options when it comes to the pumpkin puree. You can either use the stuff from a can or make it yourself (the preferred method). Pumpkin packs a full punch of vitamins and minerals, so the fresher the better! (Click here for a how-to lesson on preparing pumpkin puree.)

Here is the recipe:

  • 4 bananas, sliced and frozen (overnight will do)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Use about 1 1/2 tsp of pumpkin spice from the store if you don’t have the individual spices on hand. Easy!

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Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a sealed container and freeze for about 24 hours. Allow the ice cream to soften a bit before scooping and enjoy.

Happy autumn!

 

Top 10 Customer Favorites

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We’ve just wrapped up another great year here at Lifekind and we would like to take a moment to look back at the products that made our customers happiest in 2013.  So, here’s a list of last year’s Top 10 Customer Favorites (in no particular order) and a brief description of why they’re so great!

10. Certified Organic Cotton Towels

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First up, we have our lovely 100% Certified Organic Cotton Towels.  These generously sized terry towels feature a twill pattern and a 550-gram weight – making them both elegant and absorbent!  Our customers love the softness of these towels and many of them comment on how nicely the slim binding avoids puckering after being washed.  Your skin is most vulnerable after you bathe, so it is important to choose your towels carefully.  Our towels are free of dyes, chemicals and pesticides – just like all of our products – making them a great way to finish your bathing routine!

9. Pure Organic Sheet Set

Next we have our 300-thread-count sateen sheet sets.  Just like the name states, these sheets are PURE (free of all the icky things I just mentioned above).  Who would want to sleep on anything less?  These sheets are soft, durable and all-around a great value!  Each set contains one flat sheet, one fitted sheet and two pillowcases (except for the twin set, which contains one standard case and the king set, which contains two king cases).  Many customers purchase this set as the first step in their transition into an organic sleep environment.  What better place to start than with the first thing that touches your skin when you crawl into bed?

8. Organic Flannel Mattress Pad

Eighth in line is our double-layer essential Flannel Mattress Pad.  Our catalog says, “If you purchase only one accessory for you mattress, this should be it!”  And the continued popularity of this product reminds us that it’s true… think of this pad as the sponge between you and your mattress.  Your sheets keep you cool and clean and your moisture pad provides a moisture barrier, but the flannel pad soaks up any spills (and can be washed in hot water, unlike wool).  The corner straps keep the pad in place without making your mattress feel more taught.

7. Certified Organic Dust-Mite & Bed-Bug Barrier Mattress Cover

This item is a must-have for anyone with allergy concerns!  Our 100% certified organic cotton mattress barrier cover has a tight weave to keep out invaders while still allowing your mattress (and your skin) to breathe!  By skipping out on the synthetics you also skip out on the “crumpling plastic” noise you get with some other mattress covers.  The heavy-duty zipper is brass (so it won’t rust) and makes it so much easier to remove and wash the cover.  Our barrier cover is also available in different sizes and depths, so we are sure to have what you need.

6. Organic Embroidered Toddler Pillow

Our certified organic cotton toddler pillow with the included embroidered pillowcase is a best-seller online – and who could be surprised?  Not only is it totally adorable, but it is safe for the little ones who use it!  The boudoir-sized cotton pillow is just the right size for a little head, and the cotton sateen material of the pillowcase is soft to the touch.  All of the cotton in this pillow – from the batting to the cover to the pillowcase – is certified according to the Global Organic Textile Standard (one of the highest organic certifications you can find).  While this is true with all of our pillows and mattresses, it is especially comforting when it comes to caring for our precious babies!

 

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5. Naturally Safer Pure Wool and Certified Organic Cotton Pillows

All of our pillows are popular!  The certified organic cotton speaks for itself, but you may be wondering what it means to buy Naturally Safer Wool… well, here’s the deal: our wool comes from sheep that are treated humanely and live on certified organic farms.  The sheep themselves are never fed any antibiotics or any food that has been treated with pesticides.  Which means that you can feel good about your purchase while it helps you feel good, too (by helping you sleep!).  Customers appreciate the fact that our wool and cotton pillows come in multiple sizes (Boudoir, Standard, King, Euro and Body) and multiple lofts (Light, Medium and Full).

4. Customizable Wool-Wrapped Natural Shredded Rubber Pillow

Then there’s our one-of-a-kind wool-wrapped shredded rubber pillow, which can be customized according to the loft/firmness you prefer!  The adjustments are made possible by the brass zipper, which opens into the center compartment of the pillow and allows you to remove/add the shredded rubber pieces.  The wool forms the outermost layer of cushioning and gives the pillow a uniform feel.  Our down- and feather-loving customers are thrilled that we offer a cruelty-free alternative!

3. The Wooly Pillow Top

Of the many pillow tops we offer, this one gives you the most “bang” for your buck!  Three inches of long-staple Naturally Safer pure wool creates a cloud-like sleeping surface and regulates your body temperature (which makes it a comfortable addition to your bed all year long).  Our wool and cotton fillings are always free of chemical fixatives, so the hand tufting is what keeps this pillow top fluffy.  This product boasts a GREENGAURD certification on top of its other designations, which means that it has been tested and meets low VOC-emission standards.

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2. The Euro Mattress

This is by far our most universal mattress – meaning that it is comfortable for the widest variety of people.  Whether you lean more toward a firm mattress or a cushy one, the Euro seems to do it all!  The reason for this is the natural latex core that comprises this mattress.  Natural latex (and when I say “natural” I mean 98% natural sap from a latex tree with 2% formatives, not the 20% natural latex which comprises most “natural” mattresses) provides 30% more pressure-point relief than memory foam, and none of the “sinking” feeling.  Natural latex has sort of a split personality: when you put direct pressure on it with your hand or butt, it gives, yet when your entire body weight is distributed across the mattress, the latex “pushes back” giving you the support you need.  Three firmness options give this mattress versatility!

1. The Euro Soft-Top

What do you get when you add a half-inch of med-soft rubber to the top of our best-selling Euro mattress?  The Euro Soft-Top!  This mattress is two-in-one: the rubber/wool cushion quilting gives this mattress a soft, “melty” feel on one side, while the reverse side is the traditional Euro.  This Euro Soft Top gives you a touch of luxury while boasting a more reasonable price point.  Like the Euro, this mattress is available in three firmnesses: medium, medium-firm and firm.

~  Bonus: Naturally Safer Moisturizing Lotion with MSM

We ran out of room on our top 10 list, but we just had to throw this one in because our customers love it so much!  The reason for this is in the ingredients list: methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).  This sulfur-containing therapeutic agent is derived from trees and has the natural ability to relieve pain and inflammation.  The superior moisturizing ability of this lotion will be evident from the very first use and with time it may even relieve the symptoms of arthritis and other similar conditions.  This lotion is hypoallergenic and free of cetyl alcohol, artificial preservative, animal products and parabens.  It is ideal for use on delicate skin (like the skin on your face, or your baby!).  And on top of all that, this lotion is available in “unscented” or our wonderful “lavender” option.

With our Annual White Sale going on right now, it’s an ideal time to order the products you’ve had your eye on.  Click here to check out our full selection!

Our Christmas Wish for You…

…is the gift of calm. While you prepare for your holiday activities, don’t forget to take moments to relax and de-stress. During this time of giving it’s easy to forget about your own needs. Remember, Santa knows if you’ve been good… to yourself, as well.

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Also, a reminder that we will be closed December 24th and 25th so our staff can enjoy some relaxing time with family and friends.

~Healthy Holidays from all of us at Lifekind~

Don’t we have to use flame retardant?

Frequently, callers ask us how it’s possible that we don’t have to use chemical flame retardants on our mattresses. “Isn’t there a law that says you have to?” they ask.
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Thank goodness, the answer to that question is no. The federal flammability standard — known as 16 CFR Parts 1632 & 1633 —  requires only that mattresses and certain other types of bedding pass flammability tests, not how  they pass. The tests involve exposing a mattress to open flame using an apparatus that locks down around the mattress (see video of a mattress made by our factory, OMI, passing federal flammability testing at youtube.com/watch?v=9LpAYM1-gVs). Unlike non-organic mattresses that are sprayed with dangerous chemicals to achieve flame retardancy, we use only our Naturally Safer wool to make our mattresses pass with flying colors. Phew!  🙂
For more information about the federal flammability standard, go here.  cpsc.gov/PageFiles/95861/mattsets.pdf

Caring for Your Wool Moisture Protector Pad

Our Wool Moisture Protector Pad is one of the most popular products we sell. It’s made of 100% U.S.-grown Naturally Safer® wool, made by us at our GOTS-certified organic factory in Northern California, and does a great job of keeping any mattress clean and dry.
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Because it uses the natural oils found in wool to keep the mattress dry and breathable, however, a little extra care is required when cleaning it. The care instructions we send with every moisture pad read as follows:
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* Some of our customers hand-rinse the pad in the bathtub and hang it up to dry, while others use the washing machine with warm water on the gentlest cycle and then tumble dry using the “air” setting with no heat. Either way, make sure the pad isn’t exposed to any friction or wringing, and that it’s kept away from any soaps or detergents.

* Customers sometimes ask if our Wool Moisture Protector Pad can be treated with lanolin, one of the natural oils found in the wool that make it naturally moisture resistant. This usually occurs in cases in which the pad has been stripped of its lanolin content after being accidentally washed with detergent. While lanolizing can be easily accomplished with smaller items such as wool diaper covers, it’s an exacting process that involves the emulsification of pure lanolin and then applying it to the entire product (watch the process at youtube.com/watch?v=YR4p20Onvr4). While we don’t claim that using lanolin will harm a moisture protector, we can’t guarantee that it will be effective either and, depending on the pad’s size, may have poor results.

* If your moisture pad retains any odor after rinsing, sprinkle baking soda on the pad while it’s still damp, then shake thoroughly after drying to remove the powder. This will help the pad stay smelling clean and fresh.

Have a question about the care of any of our products? Call our friendly Product Specialists at 800-284-4983.

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