Friday, April 27, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home

Five ways to clean away allergens:

1)  You don't need a steam cleaner to keep your home allergen free.  But, if you already own one or would like to buy one, try it to clean
a)  clothes
b) floors
c) carpets
d) windows.

2)  If you find that potted plants bother your allergies, you might do well with plants that grow in air or water.  These are neater and easier to grow anyway.
3)  If you store items like bird food, pet foods, potting soil, lawn soils, etc., don't let them sit so long that they become stale and moldy.
4)  When cleaning, especially in the bedroom of an allergy sufferer, give attention to windowsills and baseboards.  These are big dust catchers in a home.
5)  Remember that mildew grows in soap scum.  That's all the more reason to keep kitchens and bathrooms sparkling clean.

Do children with allergies ever outgrow allergies?  How about outgrowing asthma?  You may find that your allergies do wax and wane with time or that the things that trigger an allergic reaction may change.  Talk with your doctor to be sure.   

Visit the Cleaning Institute for more ideas about keeping your home free of allergens.


Monday, April 23, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home -- continued

Yay! We now have a clean garage!

Ironically, one of the things that can trigger allergies when you are cleaning your house to prevent allergies is the cleaning products and tools used.  I have a friend who was hospitalized for some days before the doctors finally diagnosed her problems as lung irritation being related to cleaning products.  She had to undergo a number of tests before this diagnosis was made.

In general, trial and error can help you determine what bothers you and/or another family member.  Cleaning products can cause respiratory allergies and possibly skin allergies, too.  Try different clothing detergents and different cleaning products.  Products that are more likely to be irritating will have strong fumes or odors.  Products that are delivered by some type of spray also may be irritating.  Products marked as hypoallergenic might be a better choice, but, again, you will have to determine whether or not it is safe for you. Green products may or may not be less caustic and less likely to trigger allergies. 

Good old fashioned cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are not as likely as commercial cleaners to trigger allergies, but make sure that you know how to use them.  

You may need to wear a mask while cleaning.  Also, use dusters that trap dust rather than just stir it into the air.  Be careful how you empty your vacuum's chamber or change vacuum bags.  Borax is a good old fashioned cleaner, but it can cause severe reactions, especially if you are exposed to too much borax dust.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Attack the allergens! 14 days to a sneeze free home.

Well, I wrote about pests such as mice and roaches while I was away from home..  Then, I came home to bees, bees, bees!  A swarm has settled in to an area on the outside of our home that neither local bee keepers or exterminators want to touch. I'm still working on a friendly and safe way to urge our visitors to depart.  In the meantime, we should have lovely flowers and tomatoes this year!


If you are in the battle, as I am, against allergy triggers in your home, you'll want to give your entryway and other door areas a thorough cleaning.  Naturally, as people and, for some of us, animals pass in and out of the doorways of our home, they track in dust, pollen, and other allergy triggers.

One simple way to trap many of these things is to have good quality mats or rugs both outside the door and inside the door.   Vacuum and otherwise clean these mats thoroughly.   This will not only help cut down on allergens in your home, it will help cut down on the amount of sweeping, mopping, vaccuming, and spot cleaning that you have to do in other areas of your home.  Trap the dirt quickly, at the door, before it spreads further into the house.

Otherwise, door areas need the same kind of cleaning that other areas do.  There is a need to dust the walls, ceiling, and doors.

Doorknobs often trap germs, so it's a good idea to give them frequent cleanings as well.

Note:  Some specialists think that one reason why so many of us have allergies today is that we grow up in environments that are so clean that our immune systems don't get needed practice in differentiating between truly harmful germs and substances and things that are not really harmful.  Thus, our systems go to red alert at the wrong times, and gear up to fight harmless pollen.  Still, if you already do have allergies, the best way to cope with them is to avoid the triggers, and that's where extra attention to cleaning comes in handy.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

14 days to a sneeze free home...Day 2

Well, travels have taken me out of  the home, so I haven't been there to continue my allergy trigger attack program.  However, I'm still researching so that I can get back on it when I get home.  I have learned one thing:  I can't outrun the pollen/allergy triggers -- at least not if I run only to other Southern states.  I'm also thinking that I need to be more on top of keeping suitcases dust free, lint free, and otherwise clean. 

Today, we'll deal with the yuckies.  These are things no one ever wants in their house, but we sometimes have to tackle them anyway.  Not only are they unpleasant, they can bring in allergy triggers (not to mention germs).  Cutting down your allergy risk factor is just one more reason to get rid of the following:

1)  Moldy or out of date food in the fridge.  (Guilty of leaving cleaning the fridge last on my list of chores!)
2)  Roaches
3)  Mice
4)  Foodstuff left in kitchen can -- take out kitchen trash and garbage daily.  Regularly clean your kitchen garbage can and your other trash cans. 
5)  Mildew in places like showers

Ok, let's get really yucky:  House dust is made up, in large measure, of dead skin cells from people and pets.  This is the stuff on which dust mites thrive.  Dust mites are a known allergy trigger for many people. So, get your dust cloths and dust mops out, wash your bedding, and consider using dust-free liners for pillows and beds! 

Here are two unpleasant carriers of allergy triggers that we are more apt to accumulate when we are older or become empty nesters after having reared children:

1)  Stale or musty air in parts of the house.  Keep the air fresh even in seldom used rooms or closets.    Open the door to these areas from from time to time to let the air circulate.  Use a fan to air areas like these.  Open nearby windows if this does not make your allergies worse.
2)  Old, unused clothing. 

Some say that if you suffer from seasonal allergies that you should keep your windows closed and rely on central air conditioning or heat.  Others say that indoor air is dirtier than the air outside and that allowing fresh air in can help tame your allergies.  I imagine that it all depends on what you are allergic to and where you live.  Talk to your doctor, experiment with open and closed windows and use common sense.   Do you have sneezing attacks when you go outside?  Open windows are probably not a good idea. If you feel better outdoors, they might be.  At some times of the year, airing out the house makes no difference in my allergy level and makes me feel a little better because the air is fresher.  At other times, the breeze brings in pollens that do bother me.


Monday, April 02, 2012

The Final Summit

In the Final Summit, 74-year-old time traveler, David Ponder, is charged by the angel Gabriel with heading up a summit of history's greatest figures. Mankind is headed for destruction, as well as a judgment from God. To escape this judgment, the summit must come up with an answer that shows God that people can improve things.

I enjoy science fiction, and I also enjoy writers like C. S. Lewis, to whom the author is compared. Thus, I hoped to enjoy the "Final Summit: A Quest to Find One Principle That Will Save Humanity". I did enjoy the first chapter or so, for the author set up some interesting characters and situations. Unfortunately, after a few chapters, I lot interest on two levels: 1) the writing and 2) the "spiritual" principles presented in the book.

As far as the writing goes, it seems to be mainly a vehicle for the author's message. Good fiction, especially good Biblically based fiction, can and should deliver a message. However, we should be able to glean that message from a well crafted plot, well rounded characters, and a story that draws our attention. The Final Summit gave me the feeling of sitting in a business meeting that wasn't going anywhere any time quickly. That surprised me, as the characters, both real and fictional, could have made for more interesting dialogue and action.

Speaking of action, the title leads one to expect a quest. There is a quest, but it is a quest that involves a lot of speaking and very little action. Moral and spiritual quests can be exciting to read about, but, somehow, this one left me snoozing.

As far as the spiritual principles are concerned, I didn't care for the strange mixture of business-culture self-help and Biblical imagery. The book discusses 7 principles for life. The book culminates in a two-word prescription for humankind's plight that is delivered by the summit council. These 7 principles and the one concluding principle are not bad in and of themselves. In fact, in the right context, they could be sound advice. If they were outlined in some other type of quest story, I don't think it would bother me that the author crafted his story around them.

However, the author sets these principles in the framework of an impending judgment from God, similar to that of Noah's day. Despite this, there is no mention of Christ or a savior-figure. The concepts of faith, mercy, obedience, and God's gift of true salvation are also strangely absent. In light of this, the two word answer not only seems lame, it's wrong -- dangerously wrong! It leaves the impression that the destruction of sin can be healed by our own efforts and human wisdom. Following that line of thinking will only lead us into more trouble! True answers are found in Christ and in God's wisdom.

The Harvest of Grace

The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall is an enjoyable read with interesting characters.  It's not great literature, but, then, I don't think anyone picks up a book in this genre with the hope of discovering The Great American Novel.  It's the kind of thing to read when you are curled up in bed with a cold, and you want to enjoy something sweet, predictable, and soothing.  I have many such moments in my life, and, apparently, a lot of other women do, too, for there are shelves upon shelves of Amish literature.     

I have read a few novels in this particular genre that I really have enjoyed.  I wonder, though, if the Amish are amazed that fictional tales of their lifestyle fill so many bookshelves. I also wonder if they are surprised to see their doctrine mixed with the doctrine of modern evangelicalism.  It seems ironic, given their desire for simplicity, that they have received so much publicity in this form.  I also hope that neither writers nor readers believe that Amish novels are the limit of Christian fiction. 

Perhaps, one reason why we are drawn to reading and writing Amish fiction today is that the Amish culture presents a way to develop modern characters who are wholesome.  I think women today are craving more wholesome subjects for reading.  Is that why Jane Austen has been so popular in the last few decades? I wonder.  Despite her satirical themes, her characters can be counted on to behave themselves tolerably well in your drawing room. There is a place for wholesome characters who live wholesome lives and who overcome their struggles by their faith. 

By the way, I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but my opinions are my own.