Giveaway: natural mosquito & tick repellent

20180508-DSC_1323 8.04.35 PM

As you have likely guessed, we spend a good deal of time outside – hiking in the woods, exploring the hills and valleys of the Driftless, and setting of for our favorite foraging, hiking, or paddling places.

Yes, I take my kids into the woods – desipte living in one of the most Lyme disease prevalent areas of the country.

Why the confidence? Because from early spring through late fall, we never (literally: never!) set out for the prairies or woods without applying our natural insect repellent, Shoo.

Day after day we rely on Shoo for tick, mosquito, and (when we’re further north!) biting fly protection.

We feel safe and confident when we use it, and so do our kids.

20180508-DSC_1305

But that’s just my take. Here is what our customers are saying about Shoo:

“This is the best bug spray we’ve used, hands down.”

“I think bug spray is on the top of our always wearing list!”

“Best bug spray ever!”

“It’s our go to spray! It works and is safe for the whole family.”

“This is a summer must-have for us!”

“This is my all time favorite product that you offer!!”

“Best bug spray around. My family loves it!”

20180508-DSC_1312

I’m hosting a giveaway for a 4 oz. bottle for you (and, if you choose, for a friend that you tag) on both the LüSa Organics Facebook and Instagram pages! Instructions for entry can be found on each page, and I’ll draw a winner next week. (If you don’t have access to Facebook or Instagram, feel free to simply leave a comment below and I’ll happily add your name to the drawing.)

In the meantime, order a bottle of shoo and add a comment to your order of ““SUMMER BONUS” to your order notes, and I’ll include a free lip balm of my choice when we ship!

Offer expires 6/1/18.

You can find Shoo (along with all of our outdoor essentials) here!

Safe, effective bug spray for the whole family. Effective on ticks, mosquitoes, and biting flies. #naturalbugspray #naturalinsectrepellent #rosegeranium #lymedisease

 

25 tips for an old-fashioned summer

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

When I was a child summer meant inner-tubes in the river, camping in the woods, and campfires beneath the stars. It meant chasing fireflies, picking wildflowers, and catching toads.

Summer was endless sunny bike rides, tangled tree branch forts, and calls of “be home before dark!” as we raced down the driveway.

But summer today – like much of life – seems increasingly busy for so many.

And while my family’s life here on the farm feels pretty slow and old-school, I recognize that we’re not the norm.

The norm, I suspect, is summer school and soccer league. Overnight camp and enrichment activities. Full schedules from June through September.

And when you add to this the constant allure of our glowing screens, an old-fashioned summer feels like something that went extinct generations ago.

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

But what if…

What if we made a choice to resurrect that old-fashioned summer break?

What if we brought back just a little of the slowness, the magic, and the dirt-under-your-fingernails experience of a hands-on, real-live summer?

No, you don’t need to give away your IPod, shut off the WIFI, or cancel your child’s slot at camp (we won’t be anyway). Because those things have a place in modern life, too. But what do you say we embrace our fast-paced lives while we remember what’s worth keeping from slower days gone by?

And if you did, what would your kids never forget about this summer?

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

Below are 25 simple and free ideas to make summer a slowed-down, pulled-back, just-right experience.

Many of the suggestions below are links. Click through for more details, ideas, and recipes.

Dig in for an afternoon, a week, or the whole season and delight in what unfolds.

Because these are the moments you will savor and remember.

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

25 Tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned)

summer vacation

1. Slow down.

There’s no hurry to get anywhere, so let’s savor where we are. You only have one chance at this day, this season, this relationship, this childhood.

2. Under-schedule.

Less on your calender means more space for the people you love. If your kids are accustom to a pretty full plate it might take them a bit to adjust. But when they do a whole world of possibilities will open up before them.

3. Make space for simple play.

I can’t say enough about the magic that this brings.

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

4. Invite friends over for a picnic.

And don’t clean first. Spread an old blanket on the grass and dig in. Memorable, real, and unplugged in the best way.

5. Have a campfire.

If only because it’s high time you teach your kids what “I hate white rabbits” means. (Or as my kids say it (between coughs), “I don’t like white bunnies!”)

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

6. Build a quick and easy backyard fort.

It’ll take you ten minutes and keep your kids entertained for the summer. No Pinterest perfection required. Just a bedsheet and some rope. Boom.

7. Make a habit of saying “yes”.

Can we go swimming? Can we have dessert? Will you read me a book? Embrace the yes and see where it takes you.

8. Stay up late chasing fireflies.

Because what could be better?

And besides. Bedtime is over-rated. (Just ask your kids.)

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

9. Blow some epic bubbles.

I mean honestly. How could you not? These bubbles will captivate everyone, young and old.

6a010535f3a090970c01b8d1261205970c-640wi.png

10. Go swimming in a lake.

Or the ocean. Or a creek. But get your feet wet in nature. And if the water is cold I double dare you to dunk!

11. Sleep out in your backyard.

With or without a tent. Under the moon and stars, just you and your family. Summer was made for this.

If you want to take the sleep out even further, plan a road trip to a National Park. Because the Parks somehow feel like everyone’s backyard.

6a010535f3a090970c01bb0840d6cc970d-640wi.png

12. Explore without agenda

Your block, a city, the forest, your home state. Make an adventure of it. On bike, on foot, by car, or by train, get out there and find new places to love.

13. Listen to your children’s stories.

As Catherine Wallace brilliantly put it, “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

Don’t wait. Start today.

14. Have less rules.

The world is safer now than it has ever been. Safer than when I zipped down the driveway with no helmet and was told to “be home before dark”. Children learn best through freedom, and we adults thrive with less “should” and more “want to” in each day.

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

15. Churn some ice cream.

Tonight, tomorrow, everyday. Always churn ice cream. It’s one of summer’s simple pleasures.

16. Go outside and play.

Games without rules, just you and your kids. Sword-fight with pool noodles or toss the softball, grab your rollerblades or find that dusty bucket of sidewalk chalk.

Play feeds our souls. Especially when we do it together.

And remember, we deeply need nature. Let yourself go into the calm bliss of biofilia. It will heal you in so many ways.

17. Prioritize joy.

So often “joy” takes the backseat. Work? Yes. Commitment? Always. Responsibility? Bring it!

But joy? Oh. We forgot about joy.

Joy fills us in ways that nothing else can. Put it first this summer.

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

18. Dance in the rain.

Barefoot. With your kids or alone. It can’t help but transform you. Note: dancing in the rain will cause epic laughter as well (which spins it’s own healing magic).

19. Make some play dough.

Because you might not want to dance in every rain storm this summer. Play dough will fill the leftover rainy days quite nicely.

20. Do something you’ve never done before.

Dye your hair pink, head out without a plan or a map, or cook some Thai food. Surprise yourself and find joy in the unexpected.

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

21. Get gloriously, unapologetically dirty.

When was the last time you made mud pies or jumped in puddles? Feel this summer in every possible way. In the garden, the woods, or the river, be in it. Without hesitation.

As an added bonus, getting dirty builds healthy immunity. Who knew?

22. Fear not the unscheduled days.

For they are the most delicious days of all.

23. Unplug.

For an hour, a day, or a whole juicy week. Unplug.

Make eye contact with your loved ones. Play board games. Bake cupcakes. Tell stories.

And do it all without the distraction of technology. You’ll leave your media fast feeling open, free, and deeply grounded.

No, technology isn’t bad, but a break now and then can be a wonderful thing.

25 tips for (a delightfully old-fashioned) summer vacation. | Clean

24. Fall in love with simple pleasures.

Because an old-fashioned summer is really about a return to simple. Simple priorities, simply joys, simple pleasures.

A meal on the porch, a bowl of hand-churned ice cream, a walk at sunset.

Make these your priorities this season.

25. And be nowhere else but here.

Because – honestly – where could be better than this?

This life of yours is more than enough.

 

Originally published in 2015 on my blog Rachel Wolf Clean.

 

25 free, fabulous ideas for simple summer fun. #parenting #summer #kids

Are you doing it wrong?

DSC_4008

My ridiculously sweet neighbors jogged past my house this morning with their kids. And as I watched them lope by – a vision of health and togetherness – an uninvited thought popped into my head:

“YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.” 

(Said to myself and not to them.)

“You don’t jog, and you sure as heck don’t take your kids jogging at 8 am. It would be so good for everyone if you did. Togetherness, activity, cardio, rhythm!”

I waved meekly at my superhuman neighbors. The voice droned on.

“You’d be better for it, and so would they. But who are we kidding? You’d hate it. And you’d hurt for days if you even tried to jog as far as the mailbox…”

 

You’re doing it wrong.

 

I had the same thought last week when another family rode bicycles past. Out on a grand adventure; out in the world and moving –  together. (What were we doing instead? I don’t remember, but I’m sure it didn’t raise our heart-rates.)

Sometimes that voice whispers in my ear when I hear stories of my children’s friends tackling epic projects for school or getting on an airplane without their parents. That voice, always whispering softly in the back of my mind.

I heard it once when a dear friend shared a video of her child in a gymnastics competition. She! Was! Amazing! But as I watched her vaulting across the floor I thought, “My kids don’t even know what a pommel horse is.”

And I wondered, “What if gymnastics was their destiny and I never even put it on the table? How do you know you are destined for something if you are never exposed to it?”

And there it was again. That voice.

You’re doing it wrong.

DSC_4930

BUT HERE’S THE THING.

No parent – no person – can do it all.

None of us can be All the Things to All the People.

And so what if instead of beating ourselves up for all the things we’ve gotten wrong, we surrender to the idea that our kids picked the parents that would do it right for them?

What if each of us landed in best possible scenario for becoming the best version of ourselves – whatever that life may look like?

What would that mean for you? 

It would mean that you pushing your kids hard at academics is just as right as me allowing copious amounts of space in which my kids can dream.

It would mean that gymnastics has no more – or less – value than learning how to draw portraits or how to make tinctures.

It would mean that a child staying tucked up safe and warm in their parent’s arms for as long as they need to is just as valuable as a confident wave and nudge from their mom as they board an airplane alone.

It would mean that we’re both doing it right – no matter how different our paths may be.

And so what if instead of beating ourselves up for all the things we've gotten wrong, we surrender to the idea that our kids picked the parents that would do it right for them?

IT WOULD MEAN THAT AS LONG AS WE’RE DOING OUR BEST WE CAN’T POSSIBLY BE DOING IT WRONG.

So for me, the takeaway I suppose is to embrace the idea that I’m doing okay, even if there are potholes in the path before us.

And to recognize that if I made space to offer gymnastics I wouldn’t also offer a front row seat to a goat birth in the barn.

That if I pushed my kids tirelessly toward academic success I would not make space for them to delve deep into the waters of self-directed learning.

If we had money for a new laptop my son might have a fast computer, but he wouldn’t have taught himself how to reflow a hard drive when the old one broke.

If I enrolled them in many lessons they wouldn’t learn their way around the kitchen, the workshop, and the woods in the ways that they have.

DSC_4294
Because we simply can’t be all the things. There just isn’t room.

And so to those who have told me, “You live the dream! I wish we could do half of the things with my kids that you do with yours,” know that there isn’t a single “right” path leading us there. For every gift we offer there’s another that we don’t.

And the lives that we have shaped for our children and ourselves – however different – each deliver the struggles and opportunities that will transform us in the way we were meant to transform.

And while my children may not thrive in a bustling crowd or under the pressure of filling out a scantron, they are undaunted by long strings of quiet in which to dream, create, and grow.

And while they may not know a pommel horse from a quarter-horse, one of them can teach you the difference between mullein and self-heal and help you deliver a lamb; and the other can explain in exhausting detail the difference between fission and fusion and teach you how (and why) to cold forge steel.

 

Am I doing it wrong? Maybe. But for today anyway I’m putting that side.

Because – as it turns out – I’m also doing it right.

 

And – as it turns out – so are you.

 

Originally published in 2016 on Rachel Wolf Clean

 

Are you doing it wrong? Silencing your parenting inner critic. LuSa Organics Blog : : Happy Healthy Family

Going palm oil-free

IMG_6530

It’s official – we’ve washed our hands of palm oil.

(Cue confetti!)

Beginning today, every LüSa Organics product is 100% palm oil-free.

It’s a change we’ve been working toward for years, and we couldn’t be more pleased. (All this, and just in time for Earth Day.)

Why did we make this change?

To put it simply: palm oil is unsustainable. (Read the reasons why here.) It’s an ingredient we avoid for our family when buying crackers or other packaged food at the store, so why were we using it in our soap?

Even if our palm oil was “better”, we wondered, did that really make it “good”?

Because despite the palm oil we have used for nearly a decade being certified orangutan-safe, certified deforestation-free, and organic, we didn’t believe that it was going far enough.

Because we believe that any added demand on palm oil (yes, even of the sustainable sort) increases demand globally.

palmoilfree.jpg

Help us celebrate this milestone with free soap! For every 4 bars of our new formula soap you buy, enjoy a 5th bar free. Choose from our Classic Soap Line or Goat Milk soaps.

To redeem simply order 4 or more bars of soap from the categories above, then add a comment to your order notes of “PALMFREE for ME” and we’ll add the extra bar or bars when we ship.

Offer good through April 25, 2018. Retail customers only, please. Locavore soaps not included.

 

The logistics of making this change were boggling. Team LüSa rose to the occasion and pulled it of with style and ease. I’m so thankful for the unflagging LüSa family; our passionate, conscientious customers; and for successfully pulling off this colossal transition.

Five steps to prevent tick bites

DSC_0360DSC_0410DSC_0199DSC_0342DSC_0355

Nature is our happy place.

It calms our minds and soothes our hearts, and we do our best to get out and in it every day that we can. Our Wisconsin farm is 40-some acres of prairie, pasture, and woods, and there is hardly an inch that we haven’t explored.

I’ve been asked time and again how we can feel comfortable heading out into the tall grass and underbrush living in a region with such a high incident of Lyme Disease, plus our own family history of tick bites and Lyme Disease.

Lyme is scary. I get it. Our family has had more than our fair share of Lyme. But what I wrote about my tick philosophy here still holds true.

I can’t let the fear win. Not when the woods, when life, when childhood are waiting.

DSC_0185

So we’ve dialed in our tick prevention game. That was the only reasonable answer we could devise. Since I wrote the post that is linked above, we’ve completely changed the way we approach tick season from a practical standpoint.

And it’s working.

Here is what we do these days to prevent tick bites and to keep our family safe and healthy, while we get out there and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Without fear, without anxiety, without reservation.

DSC_0275

Five simple steps to prevent tick bites

1. Rose Geranium Insect Repellent

Even before mosquito season, we consistently spray our skin and clothes with our LüSa Organics rose geranium insect repellent. I formulate Shoo with ticks in mind, and it never ceases to amaze me. This is our first – and perhaps most important – line of defense. We use it from the time the snow melts until the first snow falls the next winter. Because unlike mosquitoes, ticks are active for all but the coldest season.

We bring a bottle of Shoo along whenever we go out, and if we’re outside for more than an hour or so we reapply. I also spray it on our dog when he heads out to romp.

2. Appropriate clothing

Light colors make it easier to see ticks before they get to your skin and have a chance to attach. Choose long pants, socks, and closed toed shoes. We pull hair back and wear hats as well. Bonus points for long sleeves.

3. Tuck in your clothes

Ticks crawl up to get to the skin, and by keeping tucked in they have fewer entry points. Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks. It’s not the height of fashion, but it’s effective tick prevention.

4. Tick checks & laundry procedures

Back home after an adventure, we do tick checks, slowly and carefully looking over each other’s head’s and bodies for any interlopers. Then we each take a quick shower, being sure to shampoo well.

Clothes go straight into the laundry, and things that can’t be laundered (hand knits or other wool, for example) are checked for burrs; then they go into the dryer on hot for 10 minutes to kill any ticks before coming back upstairs. If woolens are wet line dry first, then throw into the dryer.

5. Sulphur Protocol

This last one is a little weird. But since we first gave the “sulphur protocol” a try three years ago we’ve had almost no tick bites. Really. We went from five bites for Lupine alone by mid April one year, to a single bite the whole next year. Yes, one bite is still one too many, but it’s certainly an improvement. (Afflinks follow.)

The protocol is as follows:

Week 1: Take 1/8 teaspoon of powdered sulphur (we use this kind) daily.

We stir it into water with a bit of Magnesium Calm instead of the molasses recommended in the link above (for flavor, and because we supplement with magnesium daily anyway).

Week 2: Take above dose every other day.

Week 3: above dose every third day.

Week 4: Take above dose once per week.

Week 5 through Autumn: Take above dose monthly.

(We originally found the sulphur protocol here.) I don’t know why it works, but I know that it seems to be working well for us, so I’m keeping with it!

DSC_0302

What if you are bitten?

No protocol is fool-proof. We sometimes forget our bug spray, or forget to reapply, or miss a tick during a tick-check. In the rare event that a tick does become attached, stay calm and follow this simple course of action:

First, use a tick remover to gently lift off the tick (we use this type). Avoid squeezing or pulling.

Second, support your immune system response. For our family we choose to take ledum 30C and support our immune systems with elderberry and astragalus tinctures. What is right for your family may be different, but this is our approach.

Third, tend to the bite site. While still in the field we apply a fresh plantain poultice, and back home we keep the skin moisturized and happy with this favorite balm.

What about antibiotics?

Some people treat with antibiotics after each and every tick bite. Others treat only when Lyme symptoms are present. Still others don’t use antibiotics at all. Educate yourself to the benefits and drawbacks of each approach, and make your own best, well-informed decision.

What are the symptoms?

Whether or not you are aware of having been bitten, I believe it’s a good idea to watch for signs of Lyme Disease in all members of your family. Symptoms are widely varied, and include brain fog, aching joints, headaches, on-and-off fevers, and flu-like symptoms. I personally develop deep fatigue, digestive pain, word-finding problems, and spelling issues. Everyone is different. Know your body and listen when something feels off. For many people symptoms come and go. This checklist is a great place to start when your evaluating symptoms.

What about the bullseye?

Not everyone presents a bullseye rash when contracting Lyme Disease, so don’t let its absence lead you to believe that your symptoms are not Lyme.

If you are concerned about Lyme Disease in your family, I can’t say enough about the importance of finding a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor. This is one resource for finding a LLMD, but there are literate doctors who are not on the list.

All of that said, by following the protocol above ticks have become a rare problem indeed for our family. Give the five steps a try, and report back with your experience!

 

What are your family’s tricks for keeping the ticks at bay?

newblogpingreen.jpg