Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Germs, Preventing the Flu

by Cindy Pitts Gilbert for February 2018 Gwinnett Citizen 
Dear Sister Knowitall,
This year’s outbreak of the flu is really serious and, I worry that my family and I are going to get it... I’d love some help knowing what to do to keep my family safe from getting sick this season. Sincerely, Flu Ninja Mama
picture credit from

 Dear Flu Fightin’ Mama,
That is such a huge question to answer. Short of becoming a germophobe or living on a mountaintop, if you interact with people, getting sick is almost inevitable. There are so many misconceptions about germs and bacteria. Colds and the flu along with various stomach bugs are viruses. The flu is airborne so being around someone with the flu increases your chances of getting it. The flu can also live on a hard surface for 24 hours but on a tissue for only 15 minutes. So it would make sense for anyone with the flu to stay away from other people, use tissues when you sneeze or a cough. Cover your mouth and nose wash hands before you touch anything. Please stay home. Whatever is waiting at work can wait. 

There are preventions that can help us fend against those mean little monsters that make us sick.
Wash your hands with normal soap and water often, Sing Happy Birthday all the way through 1 verse. Keep your hands away from your mouth. Why, because in between washing your hands there are more germs and you are constantly touching them. Consider investing in a box of gloves or keep napkins in the car. Make a hand sanitizer spray using diluted essential oils safe for the skin.
Here are some high germ-infested places:
• The gas pump, ATM and Credit Card machines the checkout counter. 
• Your cell phone, your glasses, You touch stuff then you touch them. 
• The phone at the office and your home phone 
• The pen at the pharmacy and doctors office how many sick people touched it before you got there
• The salt and pepper shakers on the table at a restaurant
• The grocery store shopping cart. 
• The bottom of our purse, the bottoms of your shoes. When was the last time you sanitized them? Many families have a take off your shoes at the door policy. 
• Your gloves and coat When was the last time you washed them or at least sprayed the gloves with some antibacterial essential oil or other natural cleaners. 
• Your toothbrush, the bathroom light switch the toilet handle the door handle the sink handles.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Scents of the Season

by Cindy Pitts Gilbert December 2017 Gwinnett Citizen
Dear Sister Knowitall,
I am looking for natural alternatives for my home for the holidays I want to avoid candles and store-bought scents if possible. Can you help? ~ Nosey Nelda Mistletoe
Dear Nosey Nelda,
There are so many alternatives to artificial scents for the Holidays. Here are a few simple scents of the Season;

Easy Hot Apple Cider 
Place apples in a large stockpot and add enough water cover by at least 2 inches. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. Strain apple mixture though a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Drain cider again though a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Serve hot or cold.

Homemade Christmas Potpourri 
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries OR 
1/2 cup dried cranberries. 
2-3 cinnamon sticks crushed. 
1-2 star anise optional.
1 tablespoon cardamom crushed. 
2 teaspoons whole cloves.
1/4 cup candied ginger.
1 vanilla bean halved lengthwise. 
1 fresh pine or 1 sprig rosemary.
Simmering Pot 
Get a pot of water simmering on the stove or the small, inexpensive simmering crock pots. Drop in a combination of natural aromatics like cinnamon stick, pine, orange peel, or cloves. 

Real Beeswax Candles 
Few things smell as heavenly as beeswax, with its potent honey scent. It’s a smell that never loses its charm and provides excellent alternative to the artificial candles. 
Few things bring out the warmth and comfort of the Christmas season like the smell of cinnamon: try in mulled cider or hot chocolate 

Orange and Cloves 
The delicious combination of orange to make pomanders to set out in bowls at Christmas. Pre-punch the holes in the orange with an awl or knitting needle, and the cloves should go right in. 

Evergreen Garland or Wreaths. Nothing says Christmas like the smell of fresh pines in wreaths and swags as well as fresh-cut trees. Peppermint Use Dried Peppermint to make peppermint tea. This makes a great alternative to candy canes 
Make a Liquid Candle 
Create a custom-scented candle with a mason jar, lantern wick, and any oil that burns—even the olive oil. Add your favorite aromatics, like vanilla bean, cinnamon, clove, pinecones, or oranges. More cost-effective than a wax candle, it will both look decorative and smell delicious.

Christmas with Essential Oils Many of these scents can be mixed and diffused or sprinkled on pinecones or clay balls or even potpourri: 

Pine, Cinnamon, Peppermint, Frankincense, Myrrh, Clove, Sweet Orange, Nutmeg, Anise, Sweet Ginger, Cedarwood. 

All of these are a pleasant scents to diffuse throughout the entire winter season to make your home feel like a cozy and inviting retreat from the harsh cold weather outside. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Don’t Drink the Snake Oil

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert   September 2017 

Dear Sister Knowitall
Help me, I don’t know where to start? There is just too many options and ways to be healthy I don’t know what do choose.  It seems like every other day there is a new book or fad to try to be healthy.  I know I should eat right.  What is right? Hundreds of diets and fads. I try to do the right thing  for us but sometimes the cookies are just too yummy to pass up and I get so busy I forget to drink my water and my kids may not always eat a breakfast of champions.  When choosing natural remedies How do you know who’s advice is really helpful and who are the hoaxers? 

Cookie Cravins

 Dear Cookie Cravins

First and foremost,  Stop beating yourself up.  Keep trying and when you falter, quote Scarlett, “Tomorrow is another day.” Stressing about it is just going to raise your cortisol levels and that isn’t good for your health either. You are right, there are so many options out there for natural remedies and unfortunately there are people who prey on your need to feel better or make a loved one feel better. 
There are so many people out there more interested in taking advantage of people than helping  them.  This isn’t new,  Remember the “snake oil”  sold by traveling salesmen that were more alcohol than anything else. Everyone has their own version of “Sister Knowitall,” that family member or friend that seems to have a just the advise you need.  It is hard to know who and what to believe isn’t it? 
Well I’d like to say believe me but the truth is, you have to be your own health advocate. You have to be willing to take control of your health and your families health and keep it simple,  make one change at a time. My motto is show me the research.  When I want to use a product, service or remedy I want to know it will work but I also understand that just like any medicine each individual is different and everything is not right for everyone.  I research something then I try my best to tear it apart. The eternal skeptic.  I try to disprove whatever it is until I convince myself that it is the right answer and then and only then do I give it a try.   It is like anything else that you study, history, politics, religion,  who to swipe left and who to swipe right. 
Our lives are full of choices. We are ultimately responsible for the choices we make.. I have done the research in many areas of health and wellness for myself and my family and I am always happy and honored to share the results of that research.  Is it right for you? Good Question? Let me know once you have done your own research. I'd love to hear your results.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dreaded Disease or Just Thirsty?

By: Cindy Gilbert | Dear Sister Knowitall, August 2017

Dear Sister Knowitall,
I’ve been having all these symptoms lately since the weather has gotten warmer. Someone told me to drink more water is that true? ~ Signed Waterworks Wilma
Dear Waterworks Wilma,
Our bodies are 60% water according to the USGS (Water Science School.) The brain and heart are comprised of 73% water. We have ample water in the U.S., yet we deprive ourselves. The old rule of drinking 8 glasses of water a day are gone. Your body needs half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. So if you weigh 130lbs you need to be drinking 65 oz. of water every day. 
If you workout and break a sweat you need to add an extra 8oz, drink a caffeinated or alcoholic beverage add an extra 8oz for every one you consume. Can you drink too much water? The answer is yes. If you drink so much that your urine is completely clear you need to slack off a bit. Your urine actually says a lot about your health. It should be slightly yellow. On the flip side if it is too dark you are dehydrated. How do you know if you are dehydrated? If you are thirsty it’s too late you are already dehydrated. Other symptoms may include:  
• Dry mouth
• Chapped lips
• Hangnails
• Brittle Nails
• Dry brittle hair
• Dry itchy skin
• Achy joints
• Muscle cramps
• Menstrual cramps
• Brain Fog
• Constipation
• Dizziness
• Tired or sleepy
• Urine is low volume
• Headache
It almost sounds like a disease doesn’t it? Here are some tips to help you on your way.
1. Use a cup or bottle with a lid and keep it with you.
2. Get on that scale and tally up that water intake you need per day.
3. Fill up a pitcher with the correct ounces needed per day.
4. If you want filtered water think about buying a gallon instead of water bottles and pour into your own cup bottle. The environment will appreciate it.
5. A gallon of liquid is 128 fluid ounces. Measure it out 1 time.
6. Get a water reminder app on your phone. Or set an hourly reminder to drink water
7. Drink a glass in the am before you do anything else.
8. Keep a bottle by the bed at night
9. Add fruit infusions to make it flavorful
10. Try some of the new flavored sparkling waters to help curb your soda craving.
11. Eat fruits and veggies that are mostly water like watermelon or cucumber.

Cindy Pitts Gilbert is Director of Training for Know It Training for Professional and Personal Development in Gwinnett County. She is also the Home Remedy Guru of the Blog Sister Knowitall: She has been learning natural home remedies after she developed allergic reactions to chemicals in household cleaning products.
Send your questions to:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sometimes You Have to Save the Pants

 by Cindy Pitts Gilbert, July Issue Gwinnett Citizen Magazine
Dear Sister Knowitall,
What is the difference between a Home Remedy and a Natural Remedy? Aren’t they the same thing?  Signed ~ Remedy Mom Newby

Dear Remedy Mom,
That is such a great question.  People ask me all the time do you have a home remedy for…   I often know a home remedy that isn’t necessarily natural, I prefer all the natural remedies of course, but let’s face it,  we don’t live in a natural world anymore so sometimes, on occasion I do share a home remedy  for a particular problem with the caveat that this is not a “natural” remedy.  Home remedy is simply using household products you are already using for another purpose.

Here is an example of what I mean.  A friend sent me a request recently for a home remedy to remove an ink stain from a pair of pants.  We know that ink isn’t a natural substance and trying to apply natural remedies may just lead to a lot of wasted time and frustration.

I  offered three suggestions starting with the unnatural remedy first, why well it is cheap and I know it works and doesn’t harm your clothes, however  this is not a natural remedy.  
You can remove pen ink from clothing with good ole hair spray.  Hair spray is not natural but will remove pen stains from fabric. Place a paper towel behind the stain on the underside of the fabric.  Surround the stain perimeter with water. This will help keep the stain from spreading.  Spray the fabric and wait 1 to 2 minutes then dab at the stain to remove. Some of the ink will pass into the paper towel. You may have to do this multiple times.  Ink is very stubborn.  The sooner you try to remove the easier it will come out.

I also recommended placing a sponge behind the stain and soak in a mixture of  hydrogen peroxide and baking soda which is a natural remedy. It also may not work if the stain has had time to set or in this case is Sharpie a permanent marker. Another helpful tip;  Do not put the fabric in the dryer or the stain will set.

The last remedy I recommended is a product called Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover, which the description reads;  is environmentally safe, non-toxic safe etc. It works amazing on stains of many kinds and doesn’t hurt fabric.
So to clarify, sometimes a remedy is a home remedy from a household product  that you already use and sometimes it is something created from nature like an essential oil, baking soda or vinegar.  I always prefer the natural remedy whenever possible but am realistic that the world we live in is not so natural and to save the pants the home remedy might be the wiser choice.
By: Cindy Gilbert | Sister Knowitall
Published: 2017-07-31 19:37
Date Modified: 2017-07-31 19:37

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Food Is Either Killing You or Healing You

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert, Gwinnett Citizen May 2017

Dear Sister Knowitall,
I got one of those BMI weight calculators at some event, according to this thing, based on my height and weight I am obese. Have mercy! Talk about a wake- up call. so of course I “googled.” Seriously, the older I get the worse it gets. I just can’t seem to lose. How on earth do I find the right diet for me? ~Signed, Maxi Me

Dear Maxi Me,
Stop beating yourself up. It is hard to lose weight as we get older. The key is to find what works for your particular body and eat to be healthy. Yet no one seems to tell you where those keys are hidden. It is easy to ignore our weight during winter, we all covered up in our cozy sweaters. When we see ourselves in a mirror in less clothing, and think “Holy Ham hocks Batman,” know you can do something to about it.
You know me I research it all before I make any decisions. I have found thousands of options that all seem perfect. So here are three keys to the weight loss kingdom: 1) Eat foods that regulate your blood sugar which will give you the willpower you need to keep going, 2) Eat foods that reduce oxidative stress 3) Eat foods that reduce inflammation. The best choice for me is always natural so I pick foods that don’t grow in a box or bag.

Hippocrates said it first, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” — which we translate to “food is medicine.”

The food-as-medicine movement has been around for decades, I am thrilled that more and more physicians and medical institutions are now making food a formal part of treatment, rather than relying solely on medications.
In response to the no-waste food movement, there has been an increase in edible plants in American backyards. In 2014, the National Gardening Association reported that 1 in 3 households were growing food—63% are millennials. So how do you start. This is the perfect time of year to start a little container garden or raised bed garden. It doesn’t really take that much to get started. Start small and ask questions.
If gardening isn’t your thing, stick to the produce department or local farmers markets. Food sustains life but is your food killing you or healing you. Here in Gwinnett we do not eat to sustain life, eating is a big part of our life. We make it an event. So make your eating clean and healthy fun. Learn to sauté and season rather than fry.

You are not alone Maxi Me, according to the CDC from our estimated population in Georgia: 10,214,8604.
• 35.2% of adults were overweight.
• 30.5% of adults had obesity.
• 17.1% of adolescents were overweight
• 12.7% of adolescents had obesity
• 15.0% of children aged 2 to 4 years in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program were overweight.
• 13.4% of children aged 2 to 4 years in WIC had obesity.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Trust Me-Don’t Try This at Home

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert, Gwinnett Citizen April 2017

Dear Sister Knowitall,
My friend and I have a debate going over several home remedies we have read about on the internet. I’m afraid to try some of them because I don’t want to make things worse than it already is.

Neither of us want to try them because there is just so much conflicting information out there. How do you know what works and what doesn’t. 

~ Signed Netty Overload   

Dear Netty Overload,I spend a lot of time researching home remedies. Why? Because I want to be sure that what I am doing to my home, my body or my family are all safe and effective. I also want to be sure that anything that I recommend is actually helpful and not harmful to the person or group I am talking too. We can be too trusting sometimes. Being cautious is a good thing, so how do you know?I want you to know I have suffered for my hard earned knowledge. You have to be willing to let go of a ruined item , and be realistic and responsible. You will also learn where the reputable sources are and which ones are full of cow poo. I have experienced some monumental home remedy fails over the years. Learning what works and what doesn’t takes time, patience and a willingness to experiment and possibly fail. After all, we have the light bulb because Edison was willing to fail 1,000 times. Here are some of my fails:

FAIL #1: Home Remedy for natural nail polish remover. -White Vinegar and Lemon Juice does not even begin to remove nail polish.

FAIL #2: Home Remedy for removing oxidation from headlights -Toothpaste did do a slight polish but does not remove the oxidation from my headlight.

FAIL #3 Pinterest has an unbelievable number of both good and bad remedies. Here are a few tried and failed attempts for cleaning the oxidation from aluminum baking pans. Baking Soda, Salt, White Vinegar, Coca Cola and Ketchup, all fails. I did find a winner however, I’ll save that for another column.

FAIL #4. This was my monumental and painful fail. I met a woman from Tennessee on a Facebook page for Etsy sellers. She was discussing this homemade hair removal process that has apparently been used in Ancient Egypt. It is called Sugaring which is; cooking sugar in a way that makes a wax either in a ball or that can be put on with a spatula, then using a hand motion they refer to as “flicking”. It is supposed to be less painful than waxing. You don’t have to let the hair get as long as waxing and in addition is it supposed to remove the hair follicle. Sounds amazing, Right? I was sincerely excited to try this. Long story short. I researched videos, the sellers website and even chatted with her several times on messenger. Did I “not” shave my legs for this? I felt totally prepared. NOT! 

All I have time to tell you today is; Don’t try this at home. This was a painful fail. To find out what happened in painful detail. read the full sordid story click here. 

The whole sordid story.. Trust me don't try this at Home, Sugaring, Waxing or Shaving

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert,
Dear Sister Knowitall,
Have you ever heard of Sugaring? Do you think it is better than waxing or shaving?
Hair Beware

Dear Hair Beware,
Your question intrigued me.  Sugaring was a totally new concept and  officially stumped Sister Knowitall. I took on this challenge for my readers as well as for me.  I personally hate shaving.  I have tried waxing, OUCH!  Threading was long drawn out Torture, and well kind of gross. Women holding thread in their mouths while ripping the hair from your  face.  Nair did not let me wear the Short Shorts.  It left numerous little chemical burn marks in many pores, How unsafe is a chemical rash and the smell was like a bad permanent.

So, this Sugaring concept captured me hook line and sinker. Natural, less painful than waxing, won't remove the skin like waxing can,  lessens the hair over time.  Of course I can't recommend a home remedy that I know nothing about so let's find out Miss Hair Beware, what is sugaring and will it be the answer to my own hairless hopes and dreams. 

I met a lovely lady on an Etsy Facebook page who shared her product information with me and I immediately ordered a trial size of the product. I let the hair grow while I waited  for the package to arrive only needed a 1/4 inch.  I can do that.. Good thing it was winter time. 
I read the information on the Etsy page and discussed with the maker of the product what sugaring is and how wonderful it is.  This is directly from the Etsy Store:

" Quote from Achemy of the Goddess: Body Sugar is the oldest hair removal method around, and has been used in Egypt since the Ancient Egyptians (around 1900 B.C.), as well as many other ancient cultures including the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Indians. Inspired by Alexander the Great, the women of Alexandria considered a hairless body to be the standard of beauty, youth and innocence and was considered not only esthetically pleasing, but highly sought after for cleanliness and good hygiene. Body Sugar is the purest and most natural way to remove unwanted hair for both men AND women, still…. and besides, ALL Goddesses need smooth, beautiful skin !!"

 Just a Sister Knowitall Side thought?  Why is it that since 1900 B.C. Women have been changing their natural appearance (ie hair removal) to be the standard of beauty,  and why oh why, are we still doing it?  Hm, that's a whole other blog.
Back to the task at hand,  In the meantime, I visited You Tube.  I wanted to learn as much about yanking the hair out of my body prior to actually yanking the hair out of my body.  You Tube has a great number of videos on the subject, including a video from the Etsy store owner sugaring her own legs  Lesson One.  Too much information on a subject can make things worse not better, If in doubt Ask?   Keep reading...

Cornstarch or Baby Powder
Finally my product came in and so did the hair.  I was a Sasquatch in the making. Yet, I was apprehensive at the same time and for those who know me well know that   I  will research a subject to death before I believe it is a real answer to anything.Sometimes I think my name should be Sister Researchitall.   In this case however; I believe less would have been more. I waited another week watched more videos. Some put the wax in a ball and spread it out, others coated their legs with it and flicked it off  with a spatula but I never saw any with denim strips of fabric, so with my arsenal of You Tube knowledge on a cold Saturday morning, I opened the contents of the package which included a spatula, a small container of brown syrup a little thicker than honey, a set of typed directions that conflicted with all my you tube knowledge, 2 small strips of denim,  a little packet of powder (cornstarch) and a little container of what I believe to be Aloe Vera Gel.  To begin I was supposed to exfoliate 2 days prior to sugaring, which I did.  I set up a chair in the bathroom and powdered my leg well with the cornstarch to prevent any skin removal. I then opened the wax  took my own spatula as the one included was a bit awkward and proceeded to  spread the wax on my leg.  I then attempted  to do this flicking motion I saw on both her video and countless other You Tube videos as this version of wax didn't seem thick enough to form a ball.  The result was OUCH, OUCH OUCH and hundreds of bruises appearing on the pores on my leg.  This was not working well at all hair was still everywhere, my leg was throbbing and I was a sticky mess.
 I grabbed a strip of denim and placed it on the hair patted it down  from my salon waxing experiences and pulled the strip against the direction the hair grows,  OMG, YOWZA and OUCHY.  Ok I'm done! I rinsed off the gooey mess and sent a message to the Etsy Store Owner with this picture.

What a complete disaster.  I explained my procedure and here was her reply.  It looks like you pulled against the hair growth and not with the hair growth.  You need to warm the syrup just a little to make is thinner. The flicking from the video is for is for Sugar Paste not Sugar Wax? What??? there are two different forms of this Sugaring.  I knew I didn't have a ball of wax but who knew there are so many forms of sugaring.  How did the ladies in 1900BC figure this out if I can't with the help of You Tube?  I am sharing this in great detail because I don't want you to make the same mistake I did and because there is a lesson to be learned about over learning.  I should have possibly asked a few more questions or asked the owner of the store more questions. After I asked her to share a video specifically on this method. I was amazed how many mistakes I had made from watching so many other videos.  
This is my leg a week later. Still bruised however, it did not hurt after the initial episode was over.  After seeing the new video I did have a much less painful experience. The hair was still very stubborn and I ended up shaving off the rest of the hair. I did not give up.  I made more denim strips and proceeded to continue my learning on my underarm area. I will spare you the pictures.  I did take some but they aren't nearly as dramatic, Hairy to Hairless over a period of 3 days. 
The results are as follows:
  • Sugar Wax... Not Paste

    Be sure the area is clean and dry
  • Warm the wax for about 10-12 seconds. 
    Spread a very thin coat of sugar wax onto the hair against the growth of the hair.  
  • Place the denim on and rub being sure it attaches to as much hair as possible
  • Yank as close to the body as possible in the direction the hair grows
  • If you still see hair add another coat of wax and pull with the same strip or a new one.
  • If you have stubborn coarse hair like I did, (thanks to genetics um Thanks. Dad) you will need to be patient and try again the next day or even the next until you get all the hair.
  • If you are left handed that side will be harder to remove hair from and will take longer.. ( I did shave a small remaining patch after 2 days of trying)  visa versa if your right handed
  • The sugar rinses off way easier than wax does and the aloe did a great job soothing the redness. 
  • It has been a week and a half and I haven't had to shave or wax my underarm since.  
  • I did order paste that is another blog stay tuned. 
Needless to say. I will not be trying this again without an experienced professional in control of the evil spatula and then perhaps not even then.  So remember ladies and gents. Sometimes research is not helpful and sometimes a home remedy is not something you should attempt at home ever.  

Friday, December 9, 2016

My Recipe for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert, Gwinnett Citizen December 2016

Dear Sister Knowitall,
Can I avoid the stress and anxiety I feel during the holidays?  I want to be present and enjoy time with friends and family. Sometimes I really just want to hop on the Polar Express and run away for the holidays.   ~Sincerely;  Mental Leedone

Dear Mental Leedone,          
Ah the time of year for peace on earth and joy to the world right?  For many of us it is anything but.  We have two opposing hormones working in our bodies based on how we react to life. Cortisol the fight or flight, stress hormone. Oxytocin the comfort and trust, love hormone. To get stress-free it makes logical sense to raise oxytocin and lower cortisol .  Oxytocin actually counters the effects of cortisol therefore, one might say that where there is love there can be no stress.  
photo credit:

Here’s my recipe for a stress-free holiday.
Breathe  into the bottom of your lungs, count to 10.  Breathe out slowly.  Repeat 3-5 times.  Instant relaxation.  Try a deep yawn, exhale to release cortisol from your body. When that pesky auntie sends your peace of mind off the cliff, yawn. She’ll think you are bored and cortisol goes down.
Stop worrying about what other people think.  Do your best, then let  go. Those who matter know your heart. What other people think of you is none of your business anyway. 
Don’t sweat the small stuff. We all have our Christmas calamity stories.  If you have one of your own this year, laugh it off. Like the year I spilled Ambrosia all over my dad. It can be funny memory for years to come.
When we cuddle hug or kiss, we get a dose of  Oxytocin thus the nickname the love hormone.   Get under that mistletoe, grab your partner, here we go, give’em  a hug and dose-si-do.  No partner?  Call your mom, her voice releases similar levels as being in close proximity or a hug. You know that bear hug kind of friend? Seek them out this season. They are oxytocin inducer for sure.   
Enjoy an epsom salt and lavender bath. Lavender is an essential oil known for relaxation. Epsom salt  pull toxins from the body and relieves tension in achy muscles.
Sitting daily,  15-30 minutes,  in mediation or prayer can make a huge difference in your approach to life. We see things more clearly and it creates a sense of centeredness. Enjoy the calm of twinkling lights or glowing flames of your holiday decor.
Picking the right gift may stress us out but the joy of giving to those in need can’t be matched. Have an attitude of gratitude; Accept where we are in life.  Smile and you’ll get one back. Laughter and exercise increase endorphins that are released by your brain to make you feel good.
Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts? Coincidence?  Munch on Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate the Vitamin C in the strawberries fight free radicals, reduces cortisol and dark chocolate releases endorphins. Win win.
Singing offers feelings of pleasure again from endorphins. Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out.  Caroling anyone?

Save this link: . Enjoy pictures of babies, puppies and kittens to put a little love in your heart. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Say What? Pink Tax, Less Pay It’s All in a Da

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly Illustrated 11/23/16

American’s are yelling foul.  The man who insulted and threatened their way of life is the most powerful man in the nation, with that comes fear. Has learned from mistakes? We can only hope. This isn’t a political article. It’s about women.  All women, who mother, want to mother, are in  the workforce and those who stay at home.   

Women who stand up for themselves and are insulted, disrespected or called nasty names.  Women who are meek and criticized for being  naive and trusting.  Women who are abused by men larger than them and you ponder, how can she stay, is she weak? Women who are raped and accused of asking for it or lying.  

This is about manipulation and the ignorance that shapes what we believe in this world. We need to see through the games, be confident, believe that we are worthy. We need self esteem we must help others to have self esteem as well.  This is a difficult road ahead of us since this election. Our task is no more difficult than the road our fore-mothers paved for the right to vote .

What was said about women during the campaign, women now have to explain to our daughters and sons. Who you voted for doesn’t matter now. What women believe about themselves does. 

Facts to consider; Women make 25% less than men for the similar jobs (  Women in heterosexual relationships still prepare most of the meals.  How often do we hear “Dad what’s for dinner?” Women complete  80% of the household and parental duties. Women spend more on the products and services, due to a pricing trend known as the pink or gender tax. On average women pay 7% more for similar products; shampoo, razors, blue jeans and deodorant that differ only in color, including pink toys.  Dry cleaning the same shirt costs more because of all the absurdities, the shirts do not fit on the press. Large retailers at ( show women’s pay more for senior care, baby care, health and hygiene. How do we be the change? Awareness is a start. 

Refuse to purchase gender specific items when possible.  If it seems the same it probably is.  Be the example. Work for gender equal companies.   Men your sons need to believe that you believe that women are worthy of respect. Your daughters need to believe they are worthwhile.  And ladies, if a man holds a door open for you don’t ignore the gesture. Accept the sign of respect and say thank you. Because you are worth it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ten for Ten for a Cleaner Clean

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  November 2016 Gwinnett Citizen 
Dear Sister Knowitall,

Can you share some natural replacements for some cleaners in our home. I have small children. I would really like to protect them from toxins in the chemicals in cleaners not to mention the environment.  
Sincerely, Non-Toxomom

Dear Non-Toxomom,

Natural cleaning companies can be  expensive. Here are some tried and true replacements.  With 10 ingredients I can replace 10 store bought products in your home that clean great.   
Image Source :

1) Baking Soda,  2) Coconut Oil, 3) Lemon,  4) Orange Peel,  5)Hydrogen Peroxide, 6)Essential Oil Staples: Peppermint, Orange, Lemon , Tea Tree and, Lavender, 7)Cinnamon,  8)Salt, ,  9)White Vinegar 10) Aluminum Foil

1) Goo Gone - Mix Baking Soda and Coconut Oil together, add a few drops of  orange essential  oil - removes sticky glue and labels from jars.

2) Microwave A cup of Vinegar can smell pretty strong. I prefer half a lemon. Run the microwave for 1 minute, then wipe out with a paper towel. 

3) GoJo- Grease Remover - Coconut Oil and Orange Essential Oil.  Mix in a container with a wide mouth and keep near the sink for that greasy man in your life.

4) Jewelry Cleaner-  Lay  aluminum foil in the bottom of the sink. Fill the sink 25% of very hot water.  Add Baking Soda and Salt and stir until dissolved.  Place your silver or gold jewelry into the water making sure that it touches the aluminum foil. Let soak 10-15 minutes.  Use a slightly abrasive cloth to polish the piece and enjoy the sparkle.  Remedy is not safe for items with pearls or costume jewelry made of  plastic, cheap metals or glue).

5) Comet/Ajax-  Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide- Spray Hydrogen Peroxide in sink or tub, sprinkle on baking soda, let set for 2-4min. Use scrubby .  

6) Bleach/Tilex - Tea Tree Oil, Baking Soda and Water,  Bleach does not kill mold it is a myth. It just bleaches the color. Have you ever noticed that it comes back exactly in the same patterns?  Mix tea tree oil, baking soda and filtered water in a spray bottle. Spray on mold and let it sit.  Spray daily to  prevent new mold.   Scrub away with a brush.   Sprinkle baking soda/tea tree  on heavier moldy area and make a paste with water. Wait 15  minutes, then brush away.  Porous embedded areas such as caulk, drywall, wood and cloth will be difficult if not impossible to remove.  Did you know that a a Peace Lily in your bathroom absorbs mold?  

7) CLR - for Rust Remover -  Make a paste out of water and baking soda.  Use a tooth brush, or just wet the item with rust and scrub away with a bristle brush.  Once rust has eaten away the metal it will leave a hole or groove in your item, so catch it early before it causes permanent damage. 

8) Brasso - for Copper Cleaner-  Ketchup.  Rub ketchup onto your copper item and let sit for 10 minutes min, longer for high patina areas. Use a little elbow grease for a sparkling new penny shine.

9) Windex - White Vinegar Lemon/Lavender Oil and Purified Water

10) Blood Remover - Hydrogen Peroxide, rinse with cold water only. Note that old stains won’t remove completely.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Just because it's natural doesn't mean it's safe

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert - Gwinnett Citizen  October 2016
Dear Sister Knowitall, 

I have a question about natural home remedy safety.  I mean if it is natural, it is safe for my family to use it, right?   

Sincerely, Crunchy Mom Wannabe
Dear  Crunchy Mom Wannabe,

Thank you. I am so very glad you asked this question.  I am actually speaking at a Health Fair later this month about this very topic.  Just because it's natural doesn't necessarily mean it's safe.  I mean think about it. Mold is natural, but I think we all will agree that it is not something we want in our homes or want to breathe.

Did you know that Penicillin was discovered in London in September of 1928, by Dr. Alexander Fleming, a bacteriologist at St. Mary’s Hospital? He returned from a vacation to find that a mold  - “Penicillium notatum” -  had contaminated his Petri dishes containing colonies of Staphylococcus. He was amazed to find that the mold prevented the normal growth of the staphylococci.  He cultivated  more mold to learn that it could be the answer for many infectious diseases.  (Source:  But we cannot assume that penicillin is safe in all situations.

Many people are allergic to Penicillin, including Sister Knowitall.  I break out in a very itchy  rash if I am given any kind of Penicillin. What works for one does not work for another.  So you see, natural healing is very personal. It is really important for you to find out what is safe for you. Use caution and do your own research in your quest to live a natural life.
Poison Ivy

That brings me to another point.  It is really important to read labels and find out what  the "Natural” label really means. Advertising can be somewhat deceptive; just because a label says something's natural doesn't mean you should put it on your body or in your mouth.

The FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term “natural” or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances."  (

A further read of “Natural” FDA labeling states that the policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, thermal technologies, and pasteurization irradiation.  Know what you are buying.

Lastly, let’s talk about essential oil safety.  This is a hot topic for me. This topic is "trending" right now, which is both exciting and dangerous.  I use essential oils daily, I am also a fanatic about essential oil safety. There are  three or four major direct marketing companies that are widely recognized. If you say the words “essential oils”  or “natural,” they will all raise a helping hand high in the air, itching to help with all that ails you.

Essential oils are amazing. When I decided to start making products, it was mainly for gift baskets for family. I didn't want to make a gift that hurt a member of my family or a friend, so I started researching. There are rules and guidelines for using natural products safely.  Just because you can buy essential oils, and just because someone gives you a natural essential oil from a company or a natural product store, doesn't mean it is safe for everyone.  I will give you a few examples, and if you want to hear more come to the Health Fair at which I am speaking later this month.

Rosemary is one of my personal favorite herbs and oils, but if you are pregnant, it could cause contractions. Therefore, it is not recommended for women to put on their skin or even breathe during pregnancy.

Peppermint is often used to  relieve sinus congestion, headaches and  muscle pain. It is in many over-the-counter pain relievers, even toothpaste. Some essential oil users and manufacturers recommend applying it to a cotton swab  in the nose or on the brow bone.  Some people can apply oils directly to the skin, but most cannot. It can cause burning.

Tea Tree is another amazing essential oil; when used properly, it can remove mold, ease yeast, and is a great insect repellent. It can also neutralize the venom of insects, such as bee stings or mosquito and ant bites.  It is not recommended for use on dogs for flea and tick control, as it can cause respiratory distress.  I once saw a very trusting esstial oil user recommended tea tree for  diaper rash, without even a mention about diluting.  Ouch! I almost had a coronary.  Tea tree in a sensitive diaper area is just going to  burn, no matter who uses it.

 Follow safety guidelines: 

•Do a small patch test


•Do not to use water to remove the oil if it does burn your skin. You should dilute with another carrier oil, such as coconut, olive or almond oil.

One last thought: “natural” is a way of life for me. It takes a lot of research, common sense and caution, but it can be an amazing journey to living a healthy, happy, simpler life.

Come see Sister Knowitall speak more on this topic: 
October 28th at 11:00am
Fall Into Health 9am-1pm  Bethseda Senior Center  225 Bethesda Church Road, Lawrenceville