Color My World

Color My World

Coloring Books are the big ‘thing’ these days.

crayola

I loved coloring as a child, and the Crayola box of 72 with the sharpener and the book of ideas was one of my favorite things… right along with my Spirograph. I used this set until there were nothing but little stubs left!

I was an only child and I had a lot of time by myself, so coloring was a common pastime. I would sit for hours and color away. A new coloring book was a huge treat for me and would keep me occupied for weeks.

In my teens I found Dover Publications and even back then they had coloring books that were more intricate than the normal ones you found at the five and dime stores.  They also had paper crafting books that I loved…but that is a subject for another post!

These days Dover is just one of many that publish coloring books, but they still have an awesome selection of all sorts of books.

Coloring as a life-long hobby.

My fascination with coloring continued into my adult years.  I would search out the few available selections in the bookstore ‘art’ sections (remember, there was no internet when I was young) and at one time I had every book I could find. For a while, I got away from coloring, but when I was pregnant with my first child at 23, I found myself drawn back to it – it calmed me and I would color for hours at a time.  Of course at that point, (1983) I had given up crayons and began using colored pencils and markers.  I loved geometric designs and flowers, but I also had books of real life animals and objects for variety.

Those few people who knew I enjoyed coloring thought me a bit odd, but that was somewhat normal for me. Being an only child, I had always been a bit ‘different’ than my peers, so it didn’t stop me. Although I didn’t tell a lot of people about it because they did look at me like I hamarkersd two heads at times when I did.

So the baby came and I didn’t color much as I was much too busy raising children and working. However I never lost my love of it and would come back to it from time to time. The books and markers always remained part of my book collection through the years.

When I was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, I began coloring again. It again helped me stay calm and kept my mind and hands occupied through a difficult physical time when I couldn’t do other things that I loved.  People were more accepting of it as I was using it as ‘therapy’, but it was still not looked at as ordinary.

Why do we love coloring? What is the fascination with something we learned to do as children?

So why has this hobby taken a tremendous leap in popularity? Why all of a sudden are coloring books the hottest trend out there?

Currently 5 of Amazon’s top sellers are coloring books. That is pretty amazing when you think about how many books you can find at Amazon.

I don’t need a psychology degree to understand what draws people to coloring. I can tell you from my own heart.

pencilsSomething we all need these days is ways to decompress and coloring can do that for people who may not have other outlets.  Coloring is a way of ‘creating’ even if you are not ‘artistic’. You don’t have to be able to draw, you don’t have to come up with ideas, you just have to fill in the blanks. The very act of coloring is calming as it is a repetitive act, and it takes some concentration to fill in those little tiny spots. Your brain, normally filled with stress and all sorts of worries, turns inward and focuses.  It is much like meditation, or it can be if you allow yourself to just be in the moment of colors and lines and leave all your other thoughts behind. It is renewing and relaxing. We all know how bad stress can be for us, even if we don’t know the science behind it, and coloring reduces stress. I’m sure this is why during some of the most stressful parts of my life, I have returned over and over to coloring. I do many other creative things, but this is one I have always gone back to and will continue to keep in my creative arsenal.

While coloring you are also exercising the creative part of your brain – which doesn’t always get much use in the fact oriented society we live in. And you get to do it in a way that has no judgements. There is no right or wrong with coloring, you can do it however you want.  You can use crayons, paints, pencils, markers, gel pens, or chalk. You can color a picture with 12 shades of blue or a rainbow of neon or glittery colors. You can color the same picture several times finding new expressions and patterns in each one. You can color the same picture as someone else and it will be a totally unique creation, because you are unique and your creations will reflect that. However you do it, you will have a beautiful finished product that is rewarding to look at, and that can bring feelings of pride and accomplishment.. again, things we don’t always get a lot of in the rest of our daily life.

Coloring can be a solitary pastime, keeping one company during alone time, or it can be communal. You can join with other coloring enthusiasts and color together in social situations, throw a coloring party, or just share finished pieces with each other. Seeing other people’s creations can inspire you to try new mediums, color combinations or styles. In reality, you are collaborating even when you color alone as you are completing the vision of the artist who did the design to color.

Even if you never show the pictures to anyone, the time you spend coloring is not wasted time. In a world where everything we do is supposed to be productive and benefit everyone around you, isn’t it refreshing that there is something you can do that is just for you and there is no one who cares if, how or when you it?  Even if you choose to be social with your coloring, in the end, it is just for you. Tape your pictures to the wall, frame them, or put them in a box and never look at them again.. it is totally up to you! Very freeing isn’t it?

In the past couple of years, I have branched out from coloring to an art form called Zentangle and Zentangle inspired art – This is a way of drawing and creating lines in somewhat repetitive fashion and is another form of creativity that has the same effects as coloring. It is even used for therapy by health professionals.  Zentangle is normally done in black and white, but it can inspire you to further art and you can even color in some of your creations if you wish.

2550023

A few Zentangle patterns

Recently, I learned how to make some of my own designs to color – How cool is that.  Most of the pages I color are from coloring books, or found on Pinterest, but now, I even make my own. Here are a few of my original designs for you to copy and color:

(right click and use ‘save image as’ or ‘save to desktop’)

sumo1 sumo2

sumo10

sumo8

Please enjoy these designs and if you have never tried coloring, I hope I have inspired you to give it a try!

Yoga – Just Exercise, or Real Medicine?

yoga sit b&W

September is National Yoga Month!

red yoga matsI knew very little about yoga, except that several years ago there were a bunch of ladies who showed up every week in stretch pants, with water bottles and mats and they all disappeared into a classroom in the facility I was working in for an hour or so and left smiling.

I had been told by my church that I shouldn’t even consider Yoga as it was against my religion and would pull me away from God. So I looked suspiciously on the whole things and ignored it, worried about the poor misguided ladies in the class.

 

Fast forward several years, much enlightenment on my part, a lot less judgmental attitude (definite growth there!). I learned that Yoga is not a religious pursuit, although it can be very spiritual. It does not take away from any established religion and you can actually integrate your own forms of prayer into the meditative portions of your yoga practice, making it even more personal and effective.

 

Pink Ribbon Restorative Class

Yoga As A Powerful Healing Support

In 2011-2012 came a personal battle with cancer: during which time I found a ‘pink ribbon yoga’ class that was mostlybreathing and relaxation and a bit of movement to relieve stiffness and help us get in touch with our bodies. That helped me through the worst times of treatment and brought me peace.

I had to stop attending due to work schedules and I fell away from the practice at home. (I am happy to report that I have since returned occasionally and they are still going strong, providing  a safe place for those who are in need of peace and a community of acceptance and healing.)

 

 

Returning to the Healing – Yoga as a Life Saving Medicine

In 2014 came the slide into the depths of deep depression, anxiety and OCD – brought on by job stress and the PTSD I suffered following my cancer treatment. Yoga surfaced again in my life as one option to DO something, anything to try to help myself cope at a time when I had been termed passively suicidal by several doctors and with the official diagnoses of Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder, Severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Quite a bucket full of crap to carry around!

 

ohmWell, I decided that Yoga was cheaper than taking painting classes, and I figured it would at least be some exercise. I took the plunge, was generously gifted with a yoga mat and off I went to try some yoga that wasn’t specifically focused on my cancer since I was now considered a ‘survivor’ – whatever that meant, and wanted to do something to challenge myself and needed to stop focusing on the fear and trauma left by the cancer treatments and the aftermath.

What I found in joining a yoga class was a community, akin to the one that I had found in my ‘Pink Ribbon Yoga’ classes, but now I was stronger and could actually attempt Asanas and flow. Being desperate to still my mind and find balance and stability, I threw myself into my practice with a vengeance.

 

 

Don’t just take my word for it!

Rajan Narayanan, Ph.D founded the nonprofit Life in Yoga Foundation and Institute says “Any physical exercise done with breath awareness becomes yoga: anything done without the breath is just a physical practice.”

Yoga increases the body’s ability to respond to stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart and lowers blood pressure. That in turn suppresses sympathetic activity, reducing the amount of stress hormones in the body.

“Yoga may help prevent diseases across the board because the root cause of 70 to 90 percent of all disorders is stress”, says Narayanan.

 

This was exactly what I needed –
I was in the condition I was in mentally and physically due to stress.
What better way to address it than yoga.

 

 

 

Practice, Practice, Practice

Regular practice is essential, whether it is formal classes a couple of times a week or simply a few minutes a day, each day at home. The benefits can be felt within the first week or two and only continue to build. The beauty is, once you start feeling the benefits, you will WANT to keep practicing!

 

Yoga is not a one size fits all therapy, and there are a myriad of types and styles available. Whether , you are ill or physically limited in some way – like me when I first found it, or whether you are athletic and are looking for something to really challenge your body. There are yoga classes to be found that you can do quietly in a chair if you can’t even get to the floor, or some that will challenge even the most athletic and leave you drained, sweating and panting for breath. There are also many forms in between these two extremes.

 

The first professional-level medical textbook on yoga therapy is due to be published in 2016. One of the authors states:

“I believe these studies (referring to current studies) are systematically underestimating how powerful yoga can be. Science may tell us that it decreases systolic blood pressure and cortisol secretion and increases lung capacity and serotonin levels, but that doesn’t begin to capture the totality of what yoga is.”

 

It is not a magic bullet, but the lessons learned in class: focus, forgiveness, patience, silence, acceptance, perseverance – all in an atmosphere of peace, will follow you off the mat and into your daily living. For me, positive affirmations and intentions from the class and the community sustained me and reminded me that I was not worthless, that while I might not look like many of the yoga selfies out there while I practiced, it didn’t matter.

 

curvyyogiREMINDER: You DO NOT have to be THIN to practice yoga.  You can do yoga, no matter what your body size or current level of fitness !!!!

Granted, you might not do a ‘crow pose’ right away, but you can certainly start and not being rail skinny doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do this or any other pose if you patiently allow your body to guide you into it.

YOUR practice is YOUR practice and whatever YOU are capable of is beautiful, and as the weeks and months go on, you will see the growth, physically, mentally and emotionally. I certainly did as I continued my practice and I came from a place of very deep darkness and my yoga practice pulled me back into the light.

 

Yoga connects your body with your mind in a way that really cannot be explained until you experience it.

What I found was that my body grew stronger, my mind slowed down, my anxiety and OCD lessened, my depression lifted, and I was more able to deal with every day stresses. I no longer carry the weight of those diagnoses with me. Yoga freed my mind and emotions, while my body grew strong and supple.

I also got curvy! I didn’t lose weight, but I gained ‘shape’. For the first time in over 20 years, I had a waist.

As my body became stronger, I became able to do physical things that I was unable to do 30 years earlier as a young woman.

Best of all, I found myself remembering to breathe through stressful things instead of diving into self-loathing and criticism.

 

YOU can experience the joy and strength that comes from yoga.

warrior2

Celebrate National Yoga Month!

During September if you go to www.YogaMonth.org you can get a free coupon for a week of free yoga at many local participating studios.

GIVE IT A TRY.. hey, it’s FREE!  I have my coupon and will be trying out another studio with it! Each one is as unique.

 

Namaste

Pronounced: ‘na-ma-stay’

Translated roughly: “I bow to you”, or “I honor the spirit in you that is also in me”

The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we greet one another with namaste, it means, ‘may our minds meet’, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The bowing down of the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love, respect and humility.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Yoga has been know to help – Addiction, Anxiety Spectrum Disorders, back pain, cancer, depression, diabetes, endocrine issues, heart disease, hypertension, various mental health issues, Metabolic Syndrome, muscoloskeletal and neuromuscular complaints, neurological and immune disorders, pregnancy issues, Premenstrual Syndrome, perimenopausal and postmenopausal symptoms, respiratory issues, digestive issues, weight management, fatigue, self image, low-energy.

 

Picture Credit: http://bleepitsoftly.blogspot.com/2012/03/yoga-for-curvy-people.html#!

Food: Then and Now (or Why Do I Feel So Bad)

Food:

What do you think of when you think of food? When our grandparents thought of food years ago, what came to their minds was a lot different then what probably popped into your head.

Farmer_and_WifeFood, until just the past 50 or 60 years, was harvested from the ground or sourced from fairly local suppliers. You didn’t buy a lot at one time because the shelf life was short, and in some cases, you didn’t have the storage, refrigeration or otherwise, to keep it fresh for more than a day or two. Real food decomposes quickly, so you needed to eat it when you picked it. Coincidentally, this is when it has the most flavor and nutrition.

So, your vegetables were fresh picked and eaten, the excess were canned for eating during the months when things wouldn’t grow. Your meat came from the local butcher or from your own hunting success. That limited the amount you ate, as it too needed to be acquired in smaller quantities and eaten quickly.

Sweets were quite a treat as sugar was a high priced commodity. If you wanted something sweet, you generally had fruit. You looked forward to special days and holidays because, as it does now, it meant gathering with family and eating special dishes that you did not have the rest of the year. Food was a necessity and at times a celebration, and our taste buds were attuned to the unadulterated tastes of real food.

Doctor: House Call, 1888 Painting; Doctor: House Call, 1888 Art Print for sale
Doctor: House Call, 1888 Painting; Doctor: House Call, 1888 Art Print for sale(click picture to purchase)

 

Medicine was not as advanced. When people became ill, home remedies were the first line of defense. The doctor called only when it was very serious. No one ran to the doctor for pills and antibiotics every time they got sick. Yes, people died of things that are unheard of now due to modern medicines, but they did not linger for years with chronic illnesses. Until they got sick, they felt pretty darn good.

 

There is something wrong with the new picture.

 

 

Food and Medicine today:

Now you talk to most people and a majority of people just simply ‘don’t feel great’. They eat their fill of the food they buy at will at the store and have houses full of every imaginable edible treat. We have supermarkets filled with tens of thousands of ‘food’ products that were unknown to our grandparents. A variety that is overwhelming to our senses, and ingredients that are overwhelming our bodies. Restaurants line the streets offering every conceivable, mouthwatering variety of food at any time of the day.

We are so well fed that a majority of our population is overweight. A majority of people are on ‘diets’ to stop themselves from ‘over-indulging’ and feel guilty about what they eat. We sit mindlessly in front of our TV sets with bowls of snacks, or bags of chips and then we wonder why we can’t lose weight. We reach for high sugar snacks mid-afternoon as our energy is crashing.

The stuff that fills our stores comes in boxes, cans, plastic bags, foil packs, waxed cartons, jars, shrink wrap, etc.. You can buy a tomato and it will sit on your expiration-datescounter for a week and still look great. A loaf of bread might last two weeks. Some of the packages you buy, have expiration dates literally YEARS out from when you buy them.

As we age, we quickly lose our stamina and youthful shape. We blame it on kids, jobs, overburdened schedules, no time to cook, no time to fuss as we rush here or there. We have been conditioned to set our priorities on things, that while important, will not matter much if we lose our health.

We have thousands of new medicines to help us feel ‘good’. To cure the illnesses that plague us. And yet as a whole, we are sicker than we have ever been.

Definitely, there is something wrong with this picture.

Our world is full of toxins. They are in the air we breathe, in the water we drink (LINK TO ARTICLE), and the food we eat.

We can work to help clean up the environment, we can filter our water to help remove some of the toxins, but the most control we have over what goes into our bodies and how we feel is through our food.

2210_southwest_turkey_sandwich_ingredient

From Samantha Turner- Health Coach (click to go to her blog)

When you look at the list of ingredients on most of the ‘stuff’ in the grocery store, many of them are only nominally actually ‘food’. There is a little natural food substance in the product and the rest comes out of industrial plants where chemicals and things you can’t pronounce are mixed into the original food to enhance it, stretch it, change it, make it more appealing and make it more profitable for the company selling it. After all, that is how they survive, by getting you to buy their product.

The Turkey Sandwich on the Left for instance. How many ingredients does a turkey sandwich need?? How many of those things are chemicals that may be harmful to your health?

You buy the food like substances and eat them and you are ingesting all that ‘stuff’. Do you know what it is? No? Guess what, neither does your body.

Your body is awesome. It was designed to efficiently process food into every nutrient that you need to survive and live with optimal health. When you clog up the system with things that are not recognized as food, it doesn’t know what to do with them, but it tries. It processes them the best it can. Your liver gets overloaded with toxins, your body produces fat to encapsulate and store things your body cannot use and can’t get rid of. Next your gut breaks down and you end up with digestive issues, and new studies show that gut health is critical to everything, including brain health. Bottom line – you end you end up fat and sick because of all the toxic stuff in your system. At best, you simply don’t feel good.

Too much of this for too long and you end up with a chronic illness. Your body is an amazing biological machine, but everything has a breaking point. If you ask too much of it, or ask it to do things it simply cannot do for too long, it will break.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!!!!

Gramma (and Grampa) knew best!

Eat real food. Eat it fresh, as close to natural as possible. Stay away from things that are processed. Cut back on your meat consumption and try to only eat fresh, grass-fed meats (more expensive yes, but if you are only eating it now and then and less of it, it works out the same) to avoid the antibiotics and chemicals that conventional meat is laced with.

Fill your plate with things that have come out of the ground! If you are having digestive issues, try avoiding gluten for a while and see what happens. Try avoiding dairy for a few weeks, see how you feel.

 

I’m not saying to eat just salads! Simply base your meals around REAL foods. – Vegetables, legumes, fruits and grains can be used to make the majority of your meals.

 

Each person is different, so the complete solution for each will be slightly different, but the overall solution is to eat REAL FOOD. Our bodies were not designed to ingest chemicals and if you read any package of food, you are likely to find at least one thing in it that should not be in your body.

 

But It’s Hard to Change.  Overwhelming Even.  How Do I Get Started?

If you feel lost at how to go about this, there are people who can help. Not necessarily your doctor as they don’t receive much in the way of nutritional training, but as more and more information comes to light about the condition of our food system and what it is doing to us, there are more people who are working to help others gain better health through eating better food.

Be careful, there are a lot of people trying to cash in on this who really don’t know what they are talking about. Look for someone who perhaps has turned their own life around, or someone who has worked with others successfully. Don’t jump at ‘instant’ solutions and remember that ‘dieting’ is almost always a losing proposition.

From FoodTank.com Awesome site! Click to Visit

From FoodTank.com Awesome site! Click to Visit

Eating real food is a lifestyle change. It’s not as hard as you might imagine, and when you start getting those chemicals out of your body and start feeling so much better, you will be inspired to keep going. It becomes easy!!! That’s not like any diet I’ve ever tried!

Stay in touch on this site, leave comments with your questions below and I will help you find solutions. I do work one on one with a few people, but my time is limited, however, I will always answer questions here and that will also help others who may have the same questions as you do.

If you are uncomfortable leaving a public message, know that all comments are moderated, just tell me in your comment that you want a private answer!

I know that you can make the changes. I know because I did it and before I did, I would have bet you everything I had that it was impossible.  Now I couldn’t imagine living any other way!

Give it a try.  You have nothing to lose but excess weight and that daily sluggish feeling and a lifetime of energy and good health!

Time out for Health

STRESS!

We are constantly dealing with it. And that’s not all bad. Some stress is good for us, if we had none we would be bored.  But at times we let stress get the best of us.

Often it’s not our fault. Work, the demands of family, friends, agendas, social media and even plans for projects we enjoy, they all add up to being constantly on the go, constantly ‘plugged in’ with our minds whirling and our stress levels high.

This takes a toll on us, physically, mentally, emotionally.  There is an excellent article HERE at Healthline that goes into 20 ways that stress affects us. I’m not going to re-hash it here, I want to focus on other aspects, but I recommend checking out the article after you are done reading here.

Sometimes we think we operate best under stress, and for many people this is, in fact, true…for a while. But we ALL eventually reach a point where our bodies, minds and emotions hit that breaking point and we need to take that time out.

That’s what I did this weekend.  I have a ton of things on my ‘To-do’ list, but instead, my husband and I decided that instead of working the whole holiday weekend in the garden, on the website, on household chores, that we would set it aside, turn our backs on it and just do something completely different.

We went to the Botanical Garden in Naples Florida, and spent a few hours surrounded by the natural (and sometimes contrived) beauty of growing things. It was just under 100 degrees out, and I turned a bit red.. lol, but it was worth it. We stopped at the cafe on premises and had some wonderful fresh squeezed ginger limeade and a cooling snack of ceviche for lunch. Afterward, we stopped at a garden center and bought a small tree and some little plants to add to our own collection and today I ordered a ‘Silver Thorn Euphorbia’ from a garden center in Texas… apparently they are fairly rare, it took quite a while this morning to even find someone who sells them. But as you will see from the picture, it is a totally cool plant.

I want to share some of my pictures with you here so that you too can enjoy some of what we saw.  My photography doesn’t do the gardens justice, but perhaps you will get a sense of the grandeur, beauty and diversity of the incredible world that surrounds us.

Sometimes we need to just kick back and leave the world behind and enjoy the beauty.

 

So without any further chatter, I will be silent and share our day in pictures:

I took pictures of several of the waterlilies in the pond. So many variations!

I took pictures of several of the waterlilies in the pond. So many variations!

awaterlily5 awaterlily4awaterlily3awaterlily1

This one was interesting, everything grew out of a central point.

This one was interesting, everything grew out of a central point.

The lily pads were like trays at least 3 feet apart and you can see how big the flower bud is!

The lily pads were like trays at least 3 feet apart and you can see how big the flower bud is in the middle of the picture!…HUGE

A burgundy trumpet vine entwined with a powder puff tree.. stunning

A burgundy trumpet vine entwined with a powder puff tree.. stunning

This is called a Trailing Chenille plant.  the blooms are exactly what the description says..

This is called a Trailing Chenille plant. the blooms are exactly what the description says.

Croton plants are another that have endless variations

Croton plants are another that have endless variations

Coral plant bloom

Coral plant bloom

Philodendrons come in EVERY shape and size.

Philodendrons come in EVERY shape and size.

A Burle Marx philodendron-from Brazil

A Burle Marx philodendron-from Brazil

 

 

 

Even the plainer butterflies are beautiful

Even the plainer butterflies are beautiful

 

 

Bananas - I was at the gardens in December - This stalk was hanging, but there was no fruit at that time.

Bananas – I was at the gardens in December – This stalk was hanging, but there was no fruit at that time.

Pretty pineapples all in a row

Pretty pineapples all in a row

 

 

 

Pineapple close-up

Pineapple close-up

Orchids Garden beauty

Orchids Garden beauty

Orchids are amazing in their variety

Orchids are amazing in their variety

A riot of color, shape, size - all orchids

A riot of color, shape, size – all orchids

Peaceful reflection pool

Peaceful reflection pool

Brilliant bunches

Brilliant bunches

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

This one reminds me of a little man wearing a hat...lol

This one reminds me of a little man wearing a hat…lol

Seeming to hang magically in mid-air, the sun shining through it's petals

Seeming to hang magically in mid-air, the sun shining through it’s petals

Who says brown flowers aren't pretty? Just study this for a minute or two.

Who says brown flowers aren’t pretty? Just study this for a minute or two.

Zen

Zen

Silver Thorn Euphorbia - Rare - originally from Madagascar - truly awesome and unusual

Silver Thorn Euphorbia – Rare – originally from Madagascar – truly awesome and unusual

Silver Thorn Euphorbia

Silver Thorn Euphorbia

Succulent Garden

Succulent Garden

More incredible succulents

More incredible succulents

Ponytail palm - one of the more unusual little palms

Ponytail palm – one of the more unusual little palms

4 Simple Tips for a Happier 4th of July!

1. Hydrate!

No matter what you do this 4th of July weekend, chances are you will be spending some time outside participating in activities with family or friends.  Or even if you just decide to take some time and go to the beach or for a hike by yourself. It is summer and it is warm out there!

Your body always needs fluids, but even more when you are active or losing fluid by sweating or through exercise.

However, if you choose high sugar or artificially sweetened soft drinks you are defeating your purpose!

Instead hydrate with filtered water with a squeeze of fresh citrus or an infused  water like the one below:  Not only will your body get the benefit of the water, but the antioxidants and vitamins from the fruit will give you an extra boost.  Want to SUPER CHARGE?  Add a grind of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to the Pitcher for a kick of minerals and electrolytes!

RECIPE:

One of my favorite Infused waters combines the brightness of citrus with the refreshing taste of cucumber. As in any recipe you can vary the amounts to suit your taste, but start with this ratio and see how you like it. Slice all ingredients about 1/8 inch thick

2 gallons of water in a glass jar (decanter style is perfect, or use a dipper to dispense)

2 – 3 large oranges, depending on size

1 lemon, sliced

1 lime, sliced

1 large cucumber, sliced

1 handful of fresh mint (optional)

A grind or two of Pink Himalayan Salt (optional, to taste)

Directions

  1. Put oranges, lemon, lime and cucumber in the decanter jar. Using a long spoon, gently mash everything to release some of the juice. Don’t overdo.
  2. Gently crush the mint, if using, to release the natural oil and add to the jar.
  3. Add water to the pitcher, and stir to begin the infusion process.
  4. Drink/serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

*I recommend making this at least several hours before serving. The longer you let it sit the stronger the flavors will become. You can remove the rinds from the lemon and oranges. This will cut down on any bitterness, but it will also cut down on the antioxidants released into the water.

Some other great flavor combinations: (herbs work well with your fruit too)

Watermelon/mint

Grapefruit/Rosemary

Orange/Star Anise

Strawberry/Lime

Pineapple/Lime/Cilantro

Whatever fruit you have in the fridge or that looks fresh at the local market.

Which brings us to:

 

2.  Bring the Veggie Platter!

Find a local market and pick up fresh fruit, veggies or organic treats for your weekend gathering

 

Not only will you be helping yourself and your friends and/or family to feel better, but you will also be helping  your local economy by keeping your money in the community!

 

Fruits and Vegetables are best the fresher they are.  If they haven’t had to be stored and travel halfway across the world to get to you, you can be pretty sure they will be fresher and have more of the ‘good stuff’ that is good for your health still left in them.This may limit your choices a bit as you may only be able to buy what is seasonal to your area, but that might give you a chance to experiment with a fruit or vegetable that you might not have chosen otherwise.

 

Some vegetable are always better organic and some are ok when they are grown conventionally, The EWG (Environmental Working Group) maintains the ‘Dirty Dozen, Clean 15’ list every year. Here is a link to the current list.

 

Or Check out your local health food or natural food store and pick up some ‘better for you’ chips and dips for the 4th of July BBQ.

 

While you are waiting for those grass fed burgers to cook:

 

3. Soak up the Sun!!

We’ve been scared half to death by all the worries about the sun and skin cancer.  But as a result, as many as 1 billion people worldwide are now deficient in Vitamin D3 which is crucial to our health.  The trick is to just be sensible about sun exposure. The days of lounging, slathered in baby oil are a thing of the past…or they should be!

 

Sunshine has lots of benefits:

  • It releases endorphins, so it can enhance your mood,
  • It helps regulate melatonin production
  • It can treat neonatal jaundice and has been known to help fibromyalgia pain and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Getting out in the sun can help synchronize your biorhythms, something that often gets messed up these days when we bombard our retinas with light from glowing tablet screens for hours at a time, often late into the night.
  • There are a host of other benefits… these are just a few

 Again the trick is to be sensible!

  

Short periods of sun exposure with adequate skin coverage if you are fair and burn easily. Also the use of ‘natural’ sun screening products is recommended. Most of the commercial ones are full of toxic chemicals that are absorbed by your skin and like drinking soda to rehydrate, you would be defeating your purpose in being healthier.

 

Here are some links to alternatives to chemical laden sunscreens:

An umbrella,
A good hat,
Lightweight cover-up clothing

Wellness Mama — also a great article about sun exposure and a homemade sunscreen

DIYNatural.com — fewer ingredients, but still effective

 

You can probably also find a decent preparation at the Local Natural Food Store while your are getting those good for you munchines if you are not a DIY person… just read the labels and watch for those chemicals!

 No matter what else happens this weekend:

 

 

4. Find your Happy Place

 

Wherever that is, whether it is with friends around a BBQ, at a ballgame, hiking, at the beach, watching a TV show marathon (not all weekend, please get outside!) or reading a book on your back porch. Find time to get away from your normal weekday routine.

 

It is important for us to step back now and then, to do something that is not our normal day to day ‘thing’. It is good for our soul, our emotions, our mind and ultimately our health.

 

Being healthy isn’t just about getting fresh air, and eating right and hydrating. It’s about being a whole person. We can lose sight of that in the everyday rut of jobs, family responsibility (as much as we love them) and the troubles that life brings.

 

So take a bit of time for yourself this weekend. Meditate, Stand on your head, walk barefoot through the grass or on the beach, read a book.. ….the possibilities are endless. Just do something…..different

 

….And have a happy 4th of July holiday weekend!

9 Benefits to Growing your own Garden!

Baby Carrots (before thinning)

Baby Carrots (before thinning)

 One: It’s FUN!

– Do you remember being a child and digging in the dirt? Here’s your chance to be a kid again, get dirty and dig away! There is something satisfying at a soul level about the smell of the earth, of putting seeds in the ground and watching them sprout, or even just transplanting small plants and watching them grow bigger.

It’s fun watching the blossoms show up and then seeing the baby veggies, herbs or fruits grow big enough to eat.

 

 

 

Two: ENJOY NATURE and FEEL HAPPIER

– we spend so much time indoors these days, in offices, in our houses in front of the TV or computers. Unplugging and getting outside and working with nature has been shown to make people happier in many studies. Here’s one done by the University of Rochester that also refers to more studies you can check out.

Acorn Squash - grown from seed

Acorn Squash – grown from seed

Bonus: You get natural Vitamin D out in the sunshine, a vitamin that many people are deficient in. If you are concerned about getting TOO much sun because

you are extremely fair like me, here are some links to home made DIY sunscreens that don’t have all the toxic substances in them that are found in the store

bought versions.

DIY Sunscreen from Scratch Mommy

DIY Sunscreen from The Wellness Mama

Dr. Axe’s Homemade Sunscreen

 Three: CREATE BEAUTY

– Growing plants are beautiful. Take a look through any gardening book and just see the variety and incredible beauty of the plants available to grow in your area, no matter where you live. I happen to be fortunate to live in a semi sub-tropical area where we can grow things all year round, but even if you live in a colder region, there are plants that are adapted to your area. And gardening can move inside during the colder months. If you are growing food, there is no reason you can’t also grow some plants just because they are beautiful. Sometimes certain flowers are planted with vegetables in something called ‘companion planting’ as they are mutually beneficial, making your garden twice as beautiful.

 

Ginger Plant Flower

Ginger Plant Flower

Four: MEET NEW NEIGHBORS and FRIENDS

– People who love to garden and plant tend to find each other. You will find as you start to garden, you will start running into others that share your interests, at all levels and you will share tips, tricks, successes and failures and your circle of friends will grow along with your knowledge. There are even formal gardening associations, co-ops and seed sharing groups you can join if you are so inclined.

 

Moringa Trees

Moringa Trees

Manzana Banana Tree

Manzana Banana Tree

Five: ACCESS to UNUSUAL INGREDIENTS

– The grocery store doesn’t carry white eggplant and you love it? Grow it! You love foods of a certain heritage, but the ingredients are nowhere to be found locally? Many of them can be grown at home. Specific herbs, spices, fruit, vegetables or particular personal favorites are all yours for just a little effort on your part.

 

 

Six: SAVE MONEY

– Grow your own salads, veggies you eat a lot of (in my house this would be Kale!) pricey organic veggies, veggies and fruit in general. Sure there are some costs

Herbs, Japanese Eggplant and Cajun Bell Peppers

Herbs, Japanese Eggplant and Cajun Bell Peppers

in getting a garden going, but once you are up and growing, the only payment is in your time and a bit of sweat. Besides, remember, you are having fun, and getting all the other benefits at the same time. How much money can you save when you don’t have to buy a large portion of your weekly shopping list at the store?

 

Seven: REDUCE FOOD WASTE

– Compost! All your trimmings, yard clippings, etc. can go into a compost bin to make natural fertilizer. This will not only cut down on your garbage output and save money on costly fertilizer purchases, but it will help your plants grow better, increasing your yield. I’m not even going to post a link, just do a GOOGLE search for ‘easy home composting’.

 

Baby Organic Big Boys

Baby Organic Big Boys

Eight: FEEL HEALTHIER

– You can’t get a fresher tomato than one still warm from the garden. Once a fruit or vegetable is picked, it immediately starts losing nutrients. Even the farmers market (which is MUCH better than the grocery store) can’t compete with what comes out of your own garden for nutrient value. This makes the food you grow the optimal ‘health food’. Not to mention the things we talked about earlier, getting outside instead of sitting in front of the TV or computer, getting sunshine and exercise. There is no downside to this.

 

 

Nine: ENJOY INDOORS or OUT

Beans and Squash - Growing here in a raised bed. Both can be grown in tubs.

Beans and Squash – Growing here in a raised bed. Both can be grown in tubs.

– If you live where you don’t have a yard, you can adapt your gardening to containers in a porch, in an extra room, on windowsills, etc. There are many websites

and books available to help you adapt whatever space you have to grow things. If you are gardening indoors you get the added benefit of having living green things in your living space. Good for your soul, and for the air quality in your home. Again, I’m not going to include a link, because everyone’s situation is unique, but if you search for vegetable gardening indoors, or gardening in small spaces, urban gardening and similar phrases, I know you will find the perfect solution for your needs!

 

 Happy Growing!

HGFS

 

In April 2015, the Home Grown Food Summit took place online.  This was an amazing summit that covered everything from Growing your own food, to composting, to backyard chickens!  The summit is over, but you can still own it if you want, by HomeGrown_3DGraphicsclicking on the pictures to the left.  All the talks and bonus materials are still available.  If you are considering backyard gardening and growing even a portion of your own food, owning this Summit would be an invaluable resource!

Click on the Home Grown Food Summit pictures to purchase it now.

 

All garden pictures from my yard in Florida.
fairy flowersplumeria macroa prolific orchid  vietnamese gardenia  a more lemons