Make Your Own Sunblock

"Americans know that when they head to the beach they need to protect their skin, which usually means putting on sunscreen. But consumers need to know more than just the SPF rating on the bottle ..." (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Victoria Worth of Ashfield, MA writes:

There is a good article in the New York Times about sunscreens.  Below is the beginning of the piece and HERE is the link to the whole article.

“Americans dutifully slather on sunscreens every summer, hoping to stave off aging, wrinkles and cancer. But with each passing season, more questions are raised about whether the labeling and safety guidelines for sunscreens, created in 1978, are adequate or misleading. The Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, has been criticized for failing to approve new ingredients that are available in Europe.

“Research is also questioning the safety of certain ingredients that have been widely used for years. Just recently, Senator Charles Schumer of New York called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate reports suggesting a possible link between skin cancer and retinyl palmitate, now found in many sunscreen products.

“What should the F.D.A. do about sunscreens? And what do consumers need to keep in mind even if they cover themselves with a SPF 70 sunblock?”


Want to try making your own sun block? Local herbalist Tony(a) Lemos of Blazing Star Herbal School shares the following recipe.:

Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA

Sun Block Recipe

  • 1/2 c. St Johns Wort Infused oil
  • 1/2 cup unrefined sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
  • 2 Tbsp Orange  or rose or lavender water
  • 50,0000 IU’s Vitamin E Oil


  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp. borax powder
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined jojoba oil

All ingredients can be ordered from, or you can order the finished product from Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA by emailing

Family members as an accessory?!

Victoria Worth of Ashfield, MA writes:

Dear Hilltown Families,

You couldn’t imagine adopting a child for an hour or two a day, yet some people are actually hoping this will be a reality for other creatures whom we also consider part of our families. Legislation was recently passed in Boston to keep a dog-rental company, FlexPetz, from opening its doors there this summer. FlexPetz has made a business out of offering dogs for rent to people who are willing to pay hefty annual, monthly, and per-visit fees.

Anyone who’s ever had a dog knows how hard it is on dogs when their human companions are separated from them for even one day. Dogs thrive on routine. They need to have their own territory and must be able to bond with a “pack” in order to feel secure and happy. FlexPetz makes money at the expense of the psychological well-being of animals. FlexPetz caters to human convenience and sends the wrong message—that it is acceptable to trade dogs as if they were video games.

Legislation that will address this issue for the entire state of Massachusetts—House Bill (HB) 4753, An Act Prohibiting the Renting of Pets—has been introduced. If it becomes law, HB 4753 would make it illegal to engage in the business of leasing or renting dogs and cats.

The Massachusetts legislative session adjourns this month. If HB 4753 is not passed by the end of the session, FlexPetz will be allowed to begin the irresponsible practice of renting animals as soon as August in areas outside of Boston. Your help is needed now. Time is of the essence, so today, please politely urge both your House Representative and your Senator to support House Bill 4753, An Act Prohibiting the Renting of Pets. Be sure to identify yourself as his or her constituent, and include your name and address. The animals in Massachusetts are counting on you!

The Voices of Motherhood Project Seeks Mothering Stories

Voices of Motherhood

(c) Hilltown Families - Voices of MotheringVoices of Motherhood is a project which asks, “What Do We Think About Motherhood?” By recording personal stories about mothering, I hope to demystify myths and reveal personal as well as universal truths about the experience.

Because fathers as well as mothers nurture children, I will be interviewing 30 mothers, fathers and families. Each interview will take no more than 15 minutes, and we can meet anywhere that is convenient for you.

Please let me know if you are interested in being a part of this exploration.

I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to email at or call me at: 413.628.3261.

Thank you,

Victoria Worth

Spring into Art at CAM in Shelburne Falls

Art-ful Eggs: Batiked, Wooden & Collage
By Victoria Worth, for Hilltown Families

(c) Victoria Worth - Egg Art at the Children's Art Museum
This past Saturday morning at The Children’s Art Museum (CAM) in Shelburne Falls, my family joined several hilltown families to decorate eggs in celebration of Spring & Easter. CAM offered several ways to create and decorate, creating a festive and rich atmosphere to explore art with my daughter.

One method we were shown was batik egg art, using wax to draw patterns and words, then dipping into colors for a reverse affect. On wooden eggs we used stickers to decorate, an easier project for the very young kids. But my favorite was placing strips of colored tissue paper around an egg, creating a blended collage look.

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Valentine Contra Dance Fundraiser in Ashfield

(c) Hilltown Families - Valentine Contra Dance

A Heart-felt Dance Party

by Victoria Worth
for Hilltown Families

The songs are still humming in my head, and when I look down, my feet are still moving to a recent rhythm. Long after Saturday night’s Valentine’s Family Contra Dance has ended, the joyous gathering lingers on in my mind. At the Town Hall, good food filled our tummies downstairs, and when dinner was over, we joined a crowd of children and adults already moving to the beat of the music.

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