Monday, July 30, 2012

Adventures in Online Shopping

My adventures in online shopping have been almost entirely positive. I have purchased cd's, books, beverages, clothing, shoes, organic food, herbal supplements, baby gifts, fair trade items, natural bath products, cruelty-free cosmetics, electronics, and the list goes on - almost always without a glitch! Online shopping is perfect for someone like me, who gets overwhelmed being out in the world too much, likes to take a little time to weigh my decisions, or sometimes know exactly what I want but do not want to spend a lot of time running around looking for it. Comparison shopping for a better price, or checking out customer reviews is as easy as the click of a button.

Here are a few things I have learned about being a savvy online shopper:

- If you are rarely ever home during the day, it is better to seek out online retailers that offer shipping by postal service (rather than courier)
- If you are shopping outside your own country, be prepared for the occasional unexpected expense (believe it or not, the biggest surprise I've had in this category came while importing some diet soda from the States for a diabetic friend! It was a gift, so I was willing to pay - but beware duty and taxes on even low-cost items!)
- Do read carefully, and remember what it is you are trying to find (I once got distracted while looking for a facial brush - one item was out of stock so I looked at some related items, but ended up buying a full-size body brush by mistake! It didn't look that big in the picture!) ;)
- Do support businesses whose mandates you believe in: your options are widened when shopping online, and it is easier to seek out companies that support fair trade, eco-friendly and cruelty-free practices, use organic ingredients, and so on. I love buying gifts from fair trade websites such as the Hunger Site - and my purchases even donate food to the hungry.

The only time I ever encountered the threat of credit card fraud, it was through a traditional retailer that had decided to broaden itself to including online sales. I received an email notification that my credit card may have been compromised; when I called my bank they advised me just to avoid using the card for awhile. A few years later the retail company went bankrupt - some things you just can't predict.

To reduce the threat of fraud, you may choose to use a credit card with a low credit limit for your online purchases, or use the pre-loaded variety (I've heard that the ones you can buy anywhere are not always accepted online - but you can also get these through your bank - I have used mine without difficulty)

If you want to purchase through an American website but they do not ship to Canada, there is a service called (and probably others) that offer parcel-forwarding services - I have not tried this, but have seen it recommended on websites where I've considered making a purchase.

For my recommendations on where to shop, plus tips on authentic living and making the world a better place, please visit my website

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Creative Gift Ideas

Pink Bud Necklace
Pink Bud Necklace by artsciencespirit
Design your own photo necklace online at Zazzle.

Customizing your party invitations, bridal party gifts, and thank you notes is a fun way to incorporate a theme into your special occasions. Websites such as Zazzle make it easy to do, and give you the choice to either support the work of independent artists, or create your own designs.

Simple Things Cards
Simple Things Cards by artsciencespirit
View other Shoe Cards

I theme I personally love is "fairy tales." From tiny ornate shoes reminiscent of Cinderella, to cottage windows, or frogs awaiting the kiss that will return them to their rightful place in the palace, I like to create images that remind us of childhood stories and universal themes. 

Fountain Frog Keychain
Fountain Frog Keychain by artsciencespirit
Create your own photo keychains from Zazzle.

Whether you are hosting a themed event, or just looking for a unique gift idea, why not browse the phenomenal pool of creativity on sites such as Zazzle? Get inspired: the possibilities are endless! :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Re-Examining Sleep Apnea

One of the health concerns I have investigated over the years is sleep apnea - the sleep disorder characterized by prolonged pauses in breathing while asleep, followed by gasping for air (often accompanied by snoring). Everyone who has ever observed my sleep patterns has commented on my bizarre, sometimes disturbing breathing (or lack thereof) during sleep, and I've always felt it would explain so many of my other daytime health challenges (headaches, chronic fatigue, anxiety, even digestive ailments - if we are not getting adequate oxygen and rest, wouldn't almost EVERYTHING suffer as a result?). However, two disappointing overnight sleep tests in different hospitals, years apart, showed no conclusive results. If the experts say "no," how capable do we feel of disagreeing? However, every so often the nagging thought returns, that I have to be my own best expert when it comes to my health and life experiences. So, during my latest bout of health-seeking appointments, I discussed with my acupuncturist and massage therapist the sleep apnea conundrum. Their responses were encouraging, and have given me hope to continue my quest for better health in this area.
My acupuncturist had an interesting suggestion: to try taking "Aerobic Oxygen" drops that you add to a glass of water both before bed, and upon waking, to help maintain blood oxygen levels even in the case of breathing disturbances. My own research revealed that there are also herbal formulas designed to help sleep apnea, by improving the quality of sleep and relaxation. Finally, my massage therapist said she would speak to a colleague about cranial sacral therapy for sleep apnea (she felt this might be especially helpful in my case, as I did sustain facial injuries as a child that may have had lasting consequences). Upon reading more about this, I discovered that there are many references to TMJ in relation to sleep apnea (TMJ is another definite problem of mine).... so, the plot thickens.
Interesting, isn't it? And yet we know that everything is related. I am at the early stages of this exploration, but will report any significant results as I experience them! For anyone suffering from chronic ailments, please do not give up... help can come from even the most unexpected of sources.