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Road trip photoWith summer officially here and vacation season in full swing, Travel Expert and TV personality Kendra Thornton and I thought it would be fun to collaborate and share some tips for you and your family to stay healthy and keep in check while making your way around with the kiddos this summer.  First you’ll find mine, followed by Kendra’s.

Happy Travels!…

Healthy tips by Donna Perillo…

My family and I recently ventured on a weekend warrior road trip to Washington, DC – we thought it would be fun for our 6 year old son to visit some of the nations monuments and get an up close and personal look at the White House. All-in-all, it turned out to be a 10 hour drive (give or take a few potty breaks), but thanks to some good pre-planning we were able to navigate it free from fast food, digital devises and enjoyed some healthy family fun.

Pack a Cooler:

Load up the cooler with your favorite hummus, cheese cubes, veggie sticks and lots of water. I’m a big advocate of plastic free living so I like to re-use glass bottles filled with tap water, freeze them and then use in lieu of ice. Keeps things cold and a lot less soggy!

Bring Flip Flops:

Being obsessed with all things hand and foot, wearing socks in hotel rooms and flip-flops in showers (kids included) is a must. One the most common ways to contract a fungus or wart is in a public hotel room. Taking this simple, precautionary measure will prevent you and your family from coming home with an unwanted problem.

Ditch The Devices, Pack the Toy Shop

Remember the days of Eye Spy, the License Plate Game or Mad Libs? Leave all things that require WiFi on the kitchen counter and instead raid a toy store before you leave. Some great games to buy for those lunchtime rest stops are Old Maid, Uno, and Travel Mastermind.   Not only do they stimulate the minds of kids and adults alike, but they also help pass the time on those long stretches of highway.

At the end of the day, staying healthy at home or on the road is all about choices. My family and I really cherish our vacations and with just a little extra effort we’re able to enjoy real quality time together — with all the niceties of our healthy home!

Travel tips courtesy of Kendra Thornton….

Road trips deliver all the fun. They are fun to plan, and it’s always an adventure when you find some unique places to go to. When I’ve been out on the road, it’s always fun to indulge a little bit and try out food that I haven’t eaten before. It’s also gotten me into a lot of trouble. I know that going on road trips is supposed to allow for some indulgences, but I also want to make sure that I always stay fit because it’s so hard to work off the pounds later.

Pick the Right Hotels

There are a number of hotels out there that are choosing to provide healthy, organic meals and snacks for their guests. Their menus are great for kids as well because they have carrot sticks, apple slices and other fresh fruit in addition to veggie dishes that are really important to eat every day. I try to fill half my plate with vegetables at least once per day. It gets easier when you travel to restaurants that have tons of vegetable dishes and sides to choose from.

Can You Buffet and Diet?

There are a number of incredible buffets that I have been to on the road, but they all seem to offer those tempting rich foods that you really shouldn’t eat. I have indulged quite a few times and cried out afterwards in pain from being so full. I’ve learned to curb my appetite at buffets and only fill my plate once. I try to balance it with a lighter meal the next day that is mostly vegetables.

Drink Lots of Water

Another thing that has helped is buying a case of water and bringing it along on road trips. You can never have enough water in the car especially with kids. It’s important to hydrate, and it also makes you feel fuller.

Eat at Local Restaurants

Going to local restaurants is my favorite part of road trips. You get to experience all new ingredients, and typically they support local farms. Much of these farms are also organic and serve up a variety of dishes.

I love going on trips, and while it’s difficult to stay healthy on vacation, I know that I can do it if I plan in advance. A huge step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is booking a hotel with a great gym, mostly due to convenience. I booked a great place to stay for our upcoming trip to Orlando. With so many places to stay, the research process can be a bit hectic. Finding a resource where you can get the right information is extremely important.

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moms demand action logoWhether you’re a concerned parent or not, you can’t help but be aware of the rise in gun violence occurring in this country. So much so, that it’s almost become a staple topic of the evening news…a shooting in a school, a movie theater or just another disgruntled person gone haywire. Even if you’re a card carrying member of the NRA, it’s obvious that some sort of change needs to take place. My friend and fellow mom, Jamie, who also happens to be a very active member of Moms Demand Action, was kind enough to share some interesting stats about guns purchased for in home/personal use.

Did you know …
o The presence of a gun in your home significantly increases your risk of death – and that of your spouse and children – from a gun-related accident, suicide or homicide.
o The presence of a gun in the home for protection is more commonly taken over by and used against you by the intruder.
o If you were to properly and responsibly store a gun in your home, the likelihood that you could retrieve it in time to thwart an intruder is slim.
o The number of American children and teens killed by guns in 2010 was five times higher than soldiers killed that year in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
o Every day in this country 245 people are shot by guns.

If you’re interested in joining the conversation, visit Mom’s Demand Action. –even if you’re not a Mom, it’s still cool to join the cause!

Christmas tree in snow with colored lightsIt’s that time of year again when all of us who celebrate Christmas begin to decorate our homes for the season.  My childhood memory is of my father, pulling our fake Christmas tree down from the attic.   To me, this seemed so environmentally responsible– re-using it year after year and thus cutting down on the waste of its real counterparts.   But after the birth of my son, I started to look at this synthetic replica of nature and wonder “could this really be more eco-friendly than cutting down a tree?”  Turns out it’s not.  Most environmentalists would agree that real trees are the better choice.  85% of all fake Christmas trees are manufactured in China and are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), one of the most non-renewable forms of petroleum derived plastic–certainly not a product that I want in my home, nevermind sitting in a land fill.  Real Christmas trees, on the other hand,  are healthy for our indoor air quality, can be re-planted in a yard or even recycled and made into wood chips to be used  in many of our public parks.  Ever since my revelation, my families new tradition is to head into the woods of Pennsylvania, where we hand-pick and cut down our Christmas tree.  The part I love best about this new holiday tradition is that my son’s memories of Christmas will be one of a tree that comes out of the woods, and not out of a box.    Happy Holidays!

Rose GardenThere are many ways I like to relax, but one of my favorites is gardening.  There is nothing more calming than being outdoors and nothing more rewarding than being a part of a gardens beauty and growth.  Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting a garden guru named Bob, or “The Plant Whisperer” as I call him.   Bob has visited me and my plants a few times to lend his expertise –his last visit being just a few weeks ago to help with the fall pruning.  Below are some of his tips I thought I would share–basically my cheat sheet to help me throughout the year.  Happy gardening…

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Autumn…

Fertilize when the leaves start to fall.  You want to send the nutrients and energy to the roots, not the old leaves.

  • Organic Holly-Tone for Hydrangea and any Evergreens
  • Organic Plant-Tone on Rose Bushes, Trees, Crape Myrtles and Butterfly Bushes

Prune only when leaves start to fall or turn brown.

  • Hydrangea – cut off 20% of drooping and old growth.  No need to cut flowers – they give you’re garden a pretty look in fall and eventually most will blow away with the winter wind.
  • Sea Grass & Blue Salvia –  should be cut down entirely to the ground.
  • Roses –  cut back to 12” to 18”
  • Crape Myrtles – don’t prune unless its branches are horizontal and susceptible to breaking and splitting from the weight of ice and snow.

Spring…

  • In Spring & Summer fertilize flowers once a month. 
  • Hydrangea – cut off any remaining flowers in early spring.
  • Lilac Tree – prune branches only after it flowers
  • Release Praying Mantis eggs & Lady Bugs in the yard to help control pests and keep eco-systems naturally balanced.

 Gardening Notes:

  • An upright flower with yellow leaves means it needs food.
  • A drooping flower or leaf means it needs water
  • Water less often and deeply.  1” of water twice a week.
  • Always cut back at the point of new growth.
  • Cutting back branches that are lying on the ground or against the house just redirect the energy to the places where you want it to grow.
  • Too much mulch chokes a plant and doesn’t allow oxygen to its roots.  It also allows a place for slugs and mice to hide while they eat the soft bark.
  • Water when the sun comes up to prevent fungus on leaves and grass.

Healthy BlindsFor most of us eco-friendly buffs choosing non-toxic window treatments is indoor air quality 101.  But it seems that some manufacturers, and even consumers, need to catch up.  So here are a few key tips when it comes to buying window treatments and maintaining the health of your family at the same time:

First, here’s what you need to know:

  • Poor indoor air quality can cause asthma, cancer and other respiratory problems – especially in children and the elderly.
  • VOC’s found in window treatments and new furniture are the #1 source of indoor air pollutants.
  • The more sun that beats on a window treatment, the more the material will deteriorate and off-gas VOC’s over the years.
  • Solar shades often contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which continue to deteriorate and off-gas for the lifetime they are in a home.
  • Composite materials, such as hybrid shutters or blinds, are made with glues that contain formaldehyde.
  • Paints continue to off-gas for 3 to 4 years, even if they have no odor.
  • Fabrics are usually chemically treated with fire retardants, azo-dyes and ScotchGuard which contain PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate).

What can you do about it?

  • Research who you’re buying from.  Hunter Douglas makes GreenGuard Certified shutters and blinds that are made especially for schools and children.  Whereas The Shade Store offers a selection of GreenGuard Certified Solar Shades.
  • Select natural fabrics like cotton, linen and hemp that have not been pre-treated with chemicals.
  • Opt for shades made from bamboo and natural grasses.
  • Choose solid wood instead of composites.
  • Make sure paints used are “No VOC” and preferably water based.

Just a few, simple, educated decisions on your part can protect your health and  give you a pretty home too!

drinking fountainDoes anyone remember the bygone days of drinking fountains?  This week I had the pleasure of using two lovely ones –one at my son’s school and the other at my doctor’s office.   In an age where we are all conditioned to carry a water bottle, it was so refreshing (no pun intended) to conveniently walk up and take a free sip of water.   Shouldn’t we consider bringing back the drinking fountain as a cultural norm?  Personally, I would love nothing more than to leave my bulky Life Factory glass water bottle at home .  I wouldn’t have to schlep it around town and fear running out of water mid-day too –something that inevitably happens.   I think the first order of business for the new Mayor of NYC should be to bring back the fountain!  There are already 150 of the them scattered throughout Central Park and wouldn’t they be the perfect match to all those Citi Bikes!

EvergreenAmericanFlagTStainA few weeks ago my husbands beloved grandfather, Gerry Karlin, passed away.  At his funeral, an American flag was given to the family in honor of his service in the Marines.   My husband and I now posses this flag and have been toying with the idea of what to do with it–especially since we’re not really “flag people” per se’.  Over the last few weeks, this flag has triggered a conversation between us about what it means to be an American.  We started to notice how many homes wave this iconic symbol;  reminding us of the liberties American citizens have and how many people sacrifice themselves to allow us our freedom.  And, sadly, the evening news speaks volumes of the social injustices and fighting that still occurs in other places in this world.   Even at our worst, America is still the best.  So it’s in that spirit that this July 4th we decided to proudly mount that flag on our weekend house (one of our little American dreams).  Happy Birthday America and cheers to all the great people who make up this country!

Spring FlowersFor two years I lived in Miami, Florida and no disrespect to my fellow Floridians, but I really missed the change of seasons.  Each one has its special attributes, but Spring happens to be one of my favorites.  It’s all about change, new beginnings and rebirth.  There is so much to look forward to in these coming months –the blooming of beautiful flowers,  the arrival of endless days of sunshine and the return of pretty open toed shoes!  With such hectic schedules, it’s sometimes easy to let this season quickly pass by.  I try my best to make time for quiet moments to really take in the sights and sounds of this special season–sometimes it’s as simple as taking a slow walk in a park or stopping to watch the formation of a flock of birds returning from the South.  But most importantly,I take these brief moments to remind myself of what’s really important in life and to reconnect and “reboot” in the way that nature had intended.   Happy Spring!

For the last year or so, my husband and I have been involved in building our dream house at the beach.  In the process, we’ve been mindful to select eco-friendly building materials and products conscious of low VOC’s.  Too often we only care about our organic food and all-natural beauty products, but forget about the importance of our indoor air quality, especially when it comes to our children.  If you just put a little extra leg work into your home renovation, you can definately find reasonably priced replacements to unhealthy MDF and Formaldehyde based building products.  Here are just a few I thought I would share….

It’s never a perfect world…but every little bit helps!

Have you ever had a sandwich that looks good but tastes terrible?  Or a cookie that sounds delicious but doesn’t quite satisfy your cravings?  What is that missing ingredient!?  Simple,  it’s L.O.V.E.  Our wonderful neighbors across the street, at what is now cutely named Cafe Clementine (formerly Columbine), seem to procure all their delicacies with much care and affection.  It’s the special attention that the sole-owner Barbara and her staff give when selecting their breads, anti-biotic free chicken and rich chocolates that keeps us coming back for more.  This is very apparent as we watch devotees line up along West Broadway on damp, rainy days just to get some of their home-cooked soup.  If you haven’t tried Cafe Clementine’s food, it’s a TriBeCa must!  And the next time you’re out and about, take the time to seek out small, privately owned cafes and specialty shops…Trust me, you’ll taste the difference!