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Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Kerri Vilaverde

It feels like an hour ago we were enjoying the summer at the beach.  A half hour ago, school started. And now, present moment, I’m getting email reminders about flu shots.  In the blink of an eye, it's time to think about cold and flu season. According to the CDC, flu cases start to increase in October and peak between December and February.   

And if you thought I was going to remind you to take preventative measures…….well babe, you are spot on.  You may have a future as a psychic someday. Here we go...

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  1. Wash your hands with soap and water several times a day.  Especially before eating or picking up your cousin’s adorable newborn. If soap and water aren’t available, grab a squirt of hand sanitizer.  

  2. Break the bad habit of touching your face, especially, the eyes, nose, and mouth.  The average person touches their face several times per hour. We don’t even realize we are doing it!

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  1. Sneeze and cough into tissues, not your hands.  Remind those kiddos too.

  2. Avoid close contact with sick people.  

  3. If you are sick, please stay home from work and school etc. until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hrs.

  4. Consider something to boost your immunity.  I like elderberry syrup or gummies. Elderberry can reduce swelling of mucous membranes helping with congestion and has been found to reduce the duration of colds and flu by a couple of days. Click here for our elderberry syrup recipe.

  5. Continue your healthy habits of exercising, eating lots of delicious and nutritious foods, and getting your 8 hrs of rest.

  6. Try to get a handle on your stress.  De-stressing can strengthen your immunity. That’s the best reason ever to finally learn how to meditate or try that yoga exercise video.

  7. Get some fresh air. Germs are not stronger in the colder months.  We just catch them more often in the colder months because we hibernate indoors where it is dry from the heat and full of everyone else’s germs.  If you can manage it, consider walking the few extra blocks instead of jumping on the subway. The air and vitamin D will do you good.

Confessions of a Green Swap Convert

Kerri Vilaverde


I keep seeing an ad pop up on my Instagram for these little reusable sandwich bags.  They are cute and patterned and look adorable. But I haven’t pulled the trigger on them yet.  I’ve always been a devoted ziplock girl. I LOVE ziplock bags. To try to reduce my impact, I wash and reuse them a couple times.  But still…I know…I need to kick this habit. And I know it's not my only bad habit. I know there are other things I shouldn’t be doing but I prefer to ignore that little voice in my brain.  It's time to stop ignoring it.

We all know the various dangers of plastics.  Not only to the environment but to ourselves and our children.  We all ran out and got BPA free bottles when the news told us to and stopped putting the Tupperware in the microwave.  I saw an article this week that says you should also not put it in the dishwasher! I didn’t know that. That was the kick I needed to finish my conversion to glass food storage containers.  And I need to switch the kid's water bottles from plastic to stainless steel. It’s ok to do these things one at a time. Changing a lifetime of habits is hard! (Or saying no to a free plastic water bottle apparently.)

In addition to the above, I came up with a list of ideas for easy swaps we can do around the house to help a little bit.

  1. Ditch that plastic shower curtain.  Especially if it is made from polyvinyl chloride AKA PVC.  They emit VOCs, phthalates, and potentially lead. Many large retail stores have either stopped using PVC or committed to phasing it out over the course of several years.  To be completely safe you can switch to a cotton or fabric shower curtain liner. Just be sure to wash it regularly.

  2. Paper Towels.  This was a huge thing in the house I grew up in.  We used paper towels for everything. Some of us, who shall remain nameless (my brother), still do.  Bought in bulk so you never run out. It is estimated that one person uses 45 lbs of paper towels a year.  Even if you love the cleanliness and convenience, think of the money you will save and can spend on something else!!!

  3. Plastic grocery bags….UGH.  We all have those reusable bags.  Put them on the front seat of your car so you don’t forget like me!  If you make a commitment to yourself to use them and have to walk back to the car to get them, maybe you won’t forget the next time?  Or maybe you will increase your steps on your Fitbit on shopping days. That’s good too.

  4. Plastic produce bags!  You don’t need them. You can bring your own reusable bag.  Or just put those avocados right in the cart. They are fine.

  5. Cloth napkins!  I’m proud of this one!  We made this switch a while back.  I have to thank friends that had us over for dinner for the idea.  Instead of actual cloth napkins, we used super thick and absorbent face cloths.  It felt so luxurious. I went and bought a package of face cloths in tomato sauce camouflaging colors!  Super-absorbable and cost-effective. To be even more green, you can cut them from old towels too!  

  6. Give up the K cups and go with old school brew.  Or get a beautiful french press and tell your friends it’s a more authentic experience... then invite them over to try it.  Maybe there is something to making coffee even more of an enjoyable event every day.

  7. Greenify your cleaning products.  This is so so soooo easy. Green cleaning products are available everywhere now, and at competitive prices.  If you are feeling ambitious there are lots of recipes on the internet to DIY. Or just let someone else do all the R&D for you.

  8. Compostable dog waste bags.  Seriously, are you putting the most compostable thing on earth into a plastic bag that will never break down?  Don’t quote me on the science there, but you get what I’m saying.

  9. Say goodbye to plastic wrap.   There is a really cool wrap that has beeswax over a thin piece of cloth to make it moldable and you just rinse and reuse.  

  10. Use a dryer ball instead of dryer sheets.  I tried a tennis ball but it made a latex smell all over the house.  I suggest a real dryer ball. Try one made of wool! No plastic or rubber smell to worry about.  Or try line drying if the pollen in your neck of the woods isn't trying to kill you.

If you stuck with me through this list you can see that I have some work to do.  That’s ok. We are all just humans trying to do our best. We can do this together.  What swaps are you going to make first?

Conserving Water

Kerri Vilaverde

 For Cuteness Purposes Only

For Cuteness Purposes Only

Things I Googled this morning:

  1. How does Leslie Mann look so young?

  2. How do I get a TED talk?

  3. What is the answer to “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck”? (I’m not kidding about this.)*

  4. Am I using too much water?

This is where my brain goes in the early morning hours when everyone else is sleeping. Truthfully, this is pretty tame.  I’ve Googled some crazy stuff in the wee hours before the sun comes up.

I’m still working on my New Year’s resolution (it’s a phased-in approach).  We started by throwing away less food and eating home more often. Less technology was also on the list.  Next up is reducing water consumption. In truth, we’re good about short showers, efficient appliances, and my son almost never flushes (much to the dismay of the rest of us!).  But I’m sure we could make some improvements all around.


On average, water pours out of the faucet at 2.5 gallons a minute.  I’m thinking of all the times I leave the faucet running….while washing fruits and veggies, washing plates, washing hands, or waiting for the water to get to the exact right temperature.  So these seem like great places to start conserving. Also, catching rainwater for the garden and using a car wash instead of washing my own car (car washes recycle their water). BUT, I knew all that.  Come on...most people do these days, right? The most interesting stuff I learned had nothing to do with household use.


In my research, I learned another way to conserve water...watching your “food footprint”.  I never consider how much water is required to produce the foods we eat every day. According to www.nrdc.org, it takes 1,850 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, 519 gallons per pound of chicken, compared to only 39 gallons per pound of veggies.  Replacing your morning orange juice with a glass of water could save 16,717 gallons a year. Swapping one cup of coffee a day for tea could save 10,950 gallons a year. Replacing one pound of beef with vegetables a week could save 94,193 gallons of water a year.  Those numbers are staggering. Why does it take so much water to make our food? Well, it’s a complicated answer but an estimated 80% of all water consumed in the U.S. is used in agriculture.

This really got me thinking about the stuff in my fridge.  What am I willing to give up and what are deal breakers? I don’t think I will be giving up my morning coffee, but if I never had OJ again, I wouldn’t miss it.  There are so many swaps we could all make every day that work for us and for our families. What are your favorite ideas?

*As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck, If a woodchuck could chuck wood.