My new beauty secret or why my face smells like Italian food

After being plagued with seriously dry skin, as well as some patchy red spots on my face for the entire winter, despite putting on moisturizer and Kiss My Face hand lotion (figuring I needed all of the moisture I could get in Colorado’s dry climate), I have finally found something that has fixed the problem. It’s natural, non-toxic and most likely located somewhere in your kitchen. What could this miracle moisturizer be? OLIVE OIL!

oil_extravirgin.jpgI recall reading something a long time ago about using olive oil as a skin moisturizer, but then, not having a need for it at the time, it slipped right out of my head. However, I’d been racking my brain the last few weeks wondering if I would ever get over this skin condition and if maybe I needed to see a dermatologist, when the olive oil idea popped back into my head.

It certainly couldn’t hurt, I thought. So I went to the cabinet, got out the bottle of extra virgin olive oil, put a small amount on my fingertip, headed to a mirror in the bathroom and applied it to the dry patches on my face.

The very next day my skin looked a little bit better, so I started a nightly regimen with the oil. It only took a few days for there to be a dramatic difference and I’m kicking myself now for not taking before and after pictures.

Before you think I’m crazy, I will tell you that I did a Google search on using olive oil as a moisturizer and came across this post at The Frugal Life where a woman says, “I use olive oil for a moisturizer on my skin. It does a great job and I get compliments all the time.” I also found this thread on Thrifty Fun where a woman advises, “You should never use on your face something you cannot actually eat!” Good suggestion, especially in light of the recent findings on sunscreen. (Check out Skin Deep to find your moisturizer’s or any other cosmetic or personal care product’s safety level.) And then there’s The Olive Oil Source that recommends, “You’re not going to be using that much so use the best olive oil; extra virgin. Pure and Light olive oil has been chemically processed, avoid it.” So I’m a little relieved to find I’m not the only one who is doing this, though I wonder what Rachael Ray has to say about using EVOO on the face? ;)

Honestly, my face doesn’t really smell like pizza. :oP The only possible bad side effect that I can think of is if you apply the oil before going out in the sun you’ll likely cook your face. So I advise only putting it on before bed, and only a very small amount at that.

And now I’m kicking myself again for buying nearly $11 Cetaphil lotion (recommended by a dermatologist) this weekend to treat the dry skin on the backs of Ava’s arms. I totally should have tried EVOO first!

Best Shot Monday – 5/19/08

I’ve been slacking in the photography department and am going to use today’s post as an attempt to play catch up. My “best shot” will be at the end.

Between my birthday, Mother’s Day, Ava’s preschool May Pole Celebration, and every day life, there have been a lot of photo ops lately. Here are just a few (from the point & shoot and SLR). Oh, and I should mention I didn’t take the ones that I’m in. (Mouse over for captions.)

Julian LOVES his fruit. (Shirt from Polly Tod):
Julian eats a pear while wearing his “I love fruit” shirt - 5/4/08

My 33rd birthday (with a delicious carrot cake made by yours truly):
Happy birthday to me - 5/7/08Me and the kiddos - 5/7/08Julian is very eager to get his hands on the cake - 5/7/08

Mother’s Day:
a Mother’s Day walk with Julian and Ava - 5/11/08

The kids playing in the yard:
Julian in his new hat - 5/12/08Ava on the “new” playset - 5/12/08

I couldn’t pass up this photo op when I woke up before everyone else Saturday morning. Julian and daddy co-sleeping. :
Julian cosleeping with Daddy - 5/17/08

Ava’s Waldorf preschool May pole festivities:
Ava waiting patiently for her “crown” at the Maypole Celebration - 5/17/08Miss G putting on Ava’s Maypole crown - 5/17/08Watching her friend get her crown - 5/17/08Maypole dancing and singing - 5/17/08

More Maypole dancing - 5/17/08

– And my BSM –
You give a boy ONE piece of chocolate, step away for two minutes, and this is what happens…

Chocolate-faced Jules - 5/9/08
(Shirt from Trendy Tadpole)

Head on over to Mother May I to see what everyone else has in store for their Best Shot Monday posts.

red BSM button

Women, Children Resort to Eating Dirt Cookies in Haiti: The Global Food Crisis

This post is part of Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

If you live in the United States or North America and are reading this blog, chances are you’ve never known what real hunger feels like. Sure most of us have uttered things like, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse,” “I’m starving!,” or “There’s nothing to eat” while staring into a refrigerator or cabinet full of food (I know I’m guilty of all three), but the reality is that the majority of us always know where our next meal is coming from and we don’t truly want for much.

We may also complain about the rising food costs (again, I am guilty) and perhaps have had to scale back on the groceries we buy or forgo other luxuries, but we are still able to provide nutritious meals for ourselves and our families. We are very fortunate.

HaitiElsewhere in the world in developing nations, people are not so fortunate. The rising cost of food is taking it’s toll on the poorest of poor. In countries like Haiti, people are resorting to literally eating dirt in order to fill their bellies and stay alive. “Cookies” made from dirt, salt, and vegetable shortening have become regular meals for many Haitian men, women and children.

The price of food continues to rise and even the dirt to make the cookies, which comes from the country’s central plateau, has gone up in cost.

At the market in the La Saline slum, a two-cup portion of rice now sells for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk, and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared with food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day.

I thought long and hard about what topic to cover for Bloggers Unite for Human Rights. Given that I’ve already written extensively in the past about maternal health both because of my personal interest and CE position with BlogHer, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and tackle something I didn’t have much knowledge about. While there are so many human rights crises going on in the world right now – the Myanmar cyclone and China earthquake just to name a couple of the most recent – I decided on something slightly less in the spotlight, though no less significant, in hopes of educating myself as well as others.

Emerson - age 1Clara (age 3)A friend of mine named Heather is personally invested in the situation in Haiti as she and her husband (along with their two biological children) have been trying to adopt two children – Clara (age 3) and Emerson (age 1) – from an orphanage there since March 2007. I took the opportunity today to ask Heather some questions about their adoption experience thus far and find out more about how the food crisis is affecting the lives of the children in the Haitian orphanage. She was kind enough to share personal information and provide me with some pictures of her children.

Amy: Have the living/food conditions changed between your first visit to the country (and/or orphanage) and your most recent visit? If so, how? And when, roughly, were those visits?

Heather: Our last visit was in January 2008. The visit planned for April 2008 was canceled due to the rioting in Port au Prince over the rising costs of food. We have also visited in July and October 2007 and plan to go again in July 2008.

We aren’t able to see much of the country during our visits as our orphanage only allows us to visit on escorted trips and we are not allowed to leave the hotel while in the country. From what we see driving from the airport to the hotel, Port au Prince seems cleaner and there are more functioning traffic lights. There are still canals filled with garbage and wild pigs eating that garbage. There is still the stench of burning garbage.

The conditions in the orphanage appear about the same since our first trip in April 2007 with the exception of there being 50-75 more children in the 3000 square foot house where they live. We believe there are now approximately 150 children living in what is a mansion by Haitian standards. There is no yard – the house is surrounded by concrete which extends about 10-20 feet from the walls of the house. The property is surrounded by a 15-20 foot tall cinder block wall topped with broken bottles. Laundry is done by hand and hung anywhere possible to dry.

The infants are all kept on the main floor of the house – probably in what used to be the living and dining rooms. Children who are walking up to about age five live upstairs. They sleep in double- or triple-decker cribs with at least two children in each. The orphanage’s directors and their children also live upstairs. There is one bathroom. Older children generally live in one of the other two buildings the orphanage leases in the suburbs of Port au Prince.

Amy: How is the current food crisis affecting the orphanage?

Heather: Parents are given very little information about the daily life of their children, however, we know that they usually eat two meals per day and one snack. This food is usually rice and beans – little to no protein, dairy, or fresh fruits and vegetables. Their water is rationed as they do not have a safe source of water other then bottled water which is expensive. Infants are weaned off formula well before they would be in the US as the costs of formula are astronomical compared to rice and beans.

Parents are attempting to collect 36,000 pounds of food to be sent by container ship to the orphanage in July.

Amy: Have your visits to Haiti changed the way you look at food and food waste in our country of plenty?

Heather: Every interaction I have with other people, every show I watch on TV, every news report I hear or read, every purchase I make reminds me of the overabundance we have in our country and how just a small fraction of what we have would provide Haitians with “luxuries” they’ve never experienced – daily protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, proper medical care, shoes, and so on. Listening to people complain about the hardships in the US makes it ever so clear that we have absolutely no idea what true need is.

Amy: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your children, the orphanage or your experiences visiting Haiti in general?

Heather: This is the most painful process I’ve even participated in – politics taking precedence over children’s lives, the different value placed on children in a country where it is common for children to die, the lack of urgency, difficult communications, arbitrary laws enforced (or not) at someone’s whim. Every day we live with the reality that our children might die before they come home. Clara, at age 39 months, weighs 18 pounds. She has not gained any weight in 15 months. She has TB. This is in the orphanage where her biological mother brought her to receive better care than she could provide at home. International adoption is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. I’m not sure I will survive it with my sanity intact.

Heather’s children are at Foyer de Sion orphanage. She doesn’t expect Clara and Emerson to get to come home to the United States until 2009. If you’d like to make a donation (PayPal accepted) to the orphanage, please visit Sion Fonds.

What can we do here at home to help with the food crisis?

Aside from making donations to charitable donations, there are other things we can do in our own part of the world that can have an impact on the global food crisis.

– I wrote a couple weeks ago about why growing even a little bit of our own food is so important. Even if you only start a container garden for some herbs and a tomato plant, every little bit makes a difference.

– We can also reduce our meat consumption. Meat is much more costly to produce than grains and energy is lost in the process of feeding grains to animals. “Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.” – Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler

– Become aware of your food waste and look for ways to reduce it. Take smaller portions and go back for seconds if needed. Buy only what you will consume so you aren’t throwing away produce once it goes bad. Teach your children about food waste and how to reduce it.

Compost your food waste.

I want to hear from you too. What do you think will help with the food crisis? What are you personally doing to make a difference?

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Bloggers UniteToday bloggers around the world are uniting to blog about human rights. “Bloggers Unite For Human Rights challenges bloggers everywhere to help elevate human rights by drawing attention to the challenges and successes of human rights issues on May 15.”

I won’t have my human rights post up until later this evening – better late than never – but for now I want to share what others are blogging about today. Also be sure to check out CNN’s coverage of Bloggers for Human Rights and leave a comment with a link to your human rights post and I will add you to the list. Thank you.

What other bloggers are raising awareness about today:

To learn more and get involved, visit Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights tomorrow (May 15)

Bloggers UniteBloggers will Unite to raise awareness about Human Rights tomorrow. Will you take part? What will you write about? I’m still tossing around ideas on the topic I will tackle (there are so many to choose from), but I wrote over at BlogHer yesterday that it would be a great opportunity for people to write about maternal health or the relief effort for the people of Burma.

If you do blog about human rights tomorrow, please leave me a comment with the link to your post. I’d love to read it and compile a list of what all of my readers are raising awareness about.

Thank you. :)

Edited to add: By the way, I probably am not going to get to publish my post until the afternoon on Thursday since I didn’t get the opportunity to write tonight like I had hoped, thanks to a very wakeful little boy (who’s teeth will likely be fine by the way – per the dentist). ;)