Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Stress...

Shocking as it may seem, there are probably very few people who have never experienced stress. Stress can happen in a minute or it may build over time. It can spur creativity but is more likely to leave you irritated, depleted, and even physically ill. Which is why, sponsored by The Health Resource Network (HRN), April is Stress Awareness Month, a time when care givers across the country will be increasing public awareness about both the causes and cures for stress, now seen as a modern day epidemic.
The word stress is a derivation of the Latin word that means to be drawn tight, which is pretty much how most stressed-out people feel. The words meditation and medication have the same prefix derived from the Latin word medicus, meaning to care or to cure, indicating that meditation is an effective and efficient remedy for a busy and overworked mind. Which is why meditation is the greatest gift you could give your self.
In essence, meditation is simply about calming our chattering monkey-like mind and being aware and present in this very moment. This is easier than we may think, yet so many people say to us: My mind is too busy; I can’t sit still; I can’t possibly meditate; I just fall asleep. This is because our mind tends to be all over the place chasing different scenarios, so that our ability to be completely here and now is challenged. Although being aware of the present moment is simple, we have spent so many years covering it up with all sorts of distractions that now we have to practice being still in order to reconnect with it.
During meditation we gently let go of distractions so we can genuinely be present. Like a child watching an ant walking down the sidewalk carrying a crumb, that is all that exists in her world at that moment. She is not thinking about what she had for breakfast, or what she will do with her best friend at her next playdate. She is only watching the ant.
Meditation enables us to stop trying, to let go of the story, the dramas, our stressed mind, and to discover an inner easefulness. Some people describe this as a sense of coming home, as if they had been away or out of touch with themselves without having realized it; others experience it as a huge relief as there is a release of anxiety and self-centeredness and they enter into a more peaceful state of being. The inner joy and happiness is incomparable. Personally, we don’t know how we would function in this mad, mad world without it!
Here is a simple and effective practice that can be done anywhere and at anytime of day. Practice for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or longer:
Sit comfortably with your back straight. Take a deep breath and let it go. Eyes are closed, breathe normally. Begin to silently count at the end of each out breath: Inhale… exhale… count one; inhale… exhale… two; inhale… exhale… three. Count to five, then start at one again. Just five breaths and back to one. Simply follow each breath and silently count. So simple!
(For step-by-step instructions for meditation and a guided video, click here.)

Help Sustainable Farmers: Join A Crop Mob

The New York Times recently did a story on a new group of young, landless North Carolina farmers, known as the Crop Mob, who volunteer to help on local, sustainable farms. Since the story was published, crop mobbing has become a social media sensation among foodies and sustainable farm advocates (like me).
As the group describes on its web site, “Crop mob is a group of young, landless, and wannabe farmers who come together to build and empower communities by working side by side. Crop mob is also a group of experienced farmers and gardeners willing to share their knowledge with their peers and the next generation of agrarians. The membership is dynamic, changing and growing with each new mob event.”
The group began in the North Carolina Triangle of Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, because there are many small, sustainable farms started by young farmers who often can’t get all of the work done alone.
Sustainable farming is labor-intensive work; the planting, harvesting, processing and even barn raising that this type of farming requires used to be done as a community effort and is often too overwhelming for one individual to handle.
That’s where the Crop Mobs come in. “The crop mob was conceived as a way of building the community necessary to practice this kind of agriculture and to put the power to muster this group in the hands of our future food producers.”
The monthly volunteer days or “Mobs” are announced informally by word-of-mouth and on the Internet. Anyone who is willing to work can just show up.
As outlined by the group, there are a few principles on how the Crop Mob works:
  • No money is exchanged.
  • Work is done on small-scale, sustainable farms and gardens.
  • A meal is shared, often provided by the host.
  • This is not a charity. We crob mob for crop mobbers.
Crop mobbing is growing and there now a number of mobbers popping up all over the United States and on the Internet including Seattle, Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Madison, Wisconsin; and California.
Those who live in the city or suburbs don’t need to feel left out. Even city farms, backyard, or community gardens can use mobs too, as the New York City Crop Mob illustrates. It is hosting its first mob on April 11.
If you are interested in joining a Crop Mob in your own area, check the interactive map to see if there’s one near you. You can also go here to get tips and info. and starting your own mob.
You can find them on Facebook and on Twitter.
Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.

Standing at a crosswalk....

Let's say you're standing at a crosswalk. And you're standing there with a parent, or perhaps anyone or anything that you have some sort of issue with or power struggle right now. The person/entity in "authority" asks, warns you, requests, or otherwise attempts to restrain/advise you from moving into the street at this time. You in your NEED to do so, in continuation of a comfortable pattern, your impetuousness, a need to assert your OWN personhood, or whatever ego driven reason, decide to step into the street anyway. Are you willing to accept the consequences of your actions, whatever they may be, or do you spend time and energy blaming the other person in some manner for what may transpire or even for what did NOT transpire? Think before you leap is the message of the day. Where and why and when do you render yourself a "victim" or draw someone else into your drama?" And why?  Later, "if only" doesn't help you if only you see what you want to see. It's not necessary to make drama. Stand quietly and wait for the right time for anything. To everything is a season and a reason. Things propelled by the wind end up wherever they do.St

Essential Oil Safety and Cats

Be Wary of Aromatherapy Claims for Cats
By Sue Martin
Please be wary of any animal practitioner or supplier of essential oils claiming that their products or techniques are completely safe to use with cats: the statement is both inaccurate and unsafe. No matter what their claims say, nothing will change the unique physiology of a cat.
Generally, essential oils consist of hydrocarbons or monofunctional compounds from mono-and sesqui-terpenes, together phenylpropanoids and other volatile aliphatic and aromatic substances.
Many terpenoids are rapidly absorbed orally and dermally by the cat's system and are metabolized in the liver. Due to their volatile nature, inhalation of essential oil components is also possible, and these enter the bloodstream via the lungs, also to be metabolized in the liver. The terpenoids and their metabolites are often conjugated with glucuronic acid (glucuronidation) and glycine depending on the type of terpenoid and animal species involved. The conjugated metabolites are usually more water-soluble and are easily excreted through the kidney and feces.
Cats are known to be deficient in their ability to eliminate compounds through hepatic glucuronidation (they lack enzyme glucuronyl tranferases). Glucuronidation is an important detoxification mechanism present in most animals except cats. Lack of this important detoxification mechanism in cats may result in slower elimination and thus build up of the toxic metabolites in the body causing toxicity problems.
Most people are aware of warnings that focus on the topical and oral administration of essential oils, but they are generally unaware that inhalation of essential oils can also be unsafe for your cat. Oils can affect a cat by absorption and inhalation just like for humans, and precautions should be used when repeatedly diffusing essential oils, since the development of liver damage can be a slow process without any visible symptoms.
When diffusing oils, try not to use excessive amounts of essential oil, and choose oils which have lower volatility's as far as possible. In addition, ensure good air circulation especially during the diffusion process, so that local concentrations of essential oil vapour are not built up in non-airchanged areas inhabited by the cat. Make sure cat can get to 'undiffused' air at any time if possible, and only diffuse in an individual room if cat does not have access i.e. make it a multi-room location.  Toxicology studies show that the feline liver usually needs 48 hours to process and excrete 'terpenes', thus allow 48 hours between end of last diffusion and starting another to avoid repeated exposure by inhalation.
As most of you probably know, humans become quickly used to the intensity of a beautiful aroma ("adaptation") and have the habit of 'freshening it up' and adding more essential oils, definitely not so good for the cat. To test this, leave the area for another area not affected by the diffusion for about 15 minutes, re-enter the room and you will again smell the aroma. Remember cats have many more olfactory receptors than we do and are probably trying to figure out why you use so much oil.
Following is only a very small sampling of the many unsafe applications and untrue claims for cats:
1. "Essential Oils are distilled from plants & through their processing & mixing with vegetable oils, they oxygenate your pets' blood system & soothe their emotions & nerves."
This statement is untrue, essential oils do not oxygenate an animal's or a human's blood, yet a certain multi-level marketing company espouses this myth as proven scientific data, whereas it is actually pure sales hype.
2. "This Essential Oils product has been developed for application in the ears of cats and kittens with ear mite infestation. Recommend daily application to both ears in infected pets to kill mites and control infection in ear canal".
Frankincense and Helichrysum in diluted vegetable oil base, apply several drops to each ear daily for 2 to 4 weeks.
PRECAUTIONS: Discontinue use if redness, swelling, heat or pain result from application of this product.
They offer precautions, as reactions will most likely occur. They do not tell you that placing the essential oils and vegetable oil in the ear will actually do more damage than good to the internal ear organs. That the oil blend can build up causing deafness and the cat's system is absorbing enough essential oil compounds to cause permanent liver damage or death.
There is no valid research that shows Frankincense and Helichrysum essential oils kill ear mites in cats, but there is proof essential oils are toxic to cats.
3.  A book on animal aromatherapy recommends using peppermint essential oil on a cat or kitten for respiratory problems and runny nose. 
The owner of a kitten wrote to me about how her kitten even after applying 2 drops of peppermint on its chest, as the book instructed, would not get better. First, I felt a stab of sympathy for the kitten because her owner had read and applied an unsafe application, and secondly, frustration that authors write such unsafe information. 
I told her she should have taken the kitten to a veterinarian as some respiratory problems can be life threatening or contagious to other cats. I then suggested she place two drops of peppermint on her cheek, as that is a tender spot but not as tender as the skin of 6-week-old kitten, to feel for herself to a lesser degree what her kitten is feeling. She wrote me back, "Sue, I thought you were wrong, I placed the two drops and felt nothing, but after about 30 seconds it started to burn and redden my skin, even after trying to wash it off, the burning is terrible. I feel so bad that I did this to my kitten, no wonder he is so upset and meowing so much. I will never put essential oils on my cat again and I am throwing away the book."
N.B. There are reports of respiratory failure in children when menthol (a major component of peppermint oil) has been applied to the nostrils.
4. Another big mistake is to apply the healing benefits of essential oils seen in the human situation to the feline situation.
5. Many make the mistake of applying an essential oil dosage suitable for a human baby to a cat, thinking that, due to its small size, if it is safe enough for a baby, it must be safe for cats. Babies do not have a cat's liver!
6. There is a debate about the use of hydrosols and cats. Hydrosols also named hydrolats or floral waters are promoted as 100% safe for use with cats, when there is no proof that this is so. Testing is not required* of hydrosols as it is with essential oils, so 99% of the suppliers don't even know what compounds are in their product.  No valid information exists to confirm that the use of hydrosols topically and internally with cats is safe, therefore using hydrosols on your cat may have unknown risks. Remember essential oils were once considered safe until cats started getting sick and/or dying due to their special liver physiology!
*There is one exception to testing required; Turkish Rose Hydrosol producers are required by Turkish Law to test and maintain the established high quality standards of their products.
Library of Congress Copyright TXu1-041-842 May 15, 2002 by Sue Martin

Spring Detox Tips

Time for a major clean-up! ...

By Marie-Andrée Guimont

Did you know that the human body also needs a spring cleaning? The goal of a detox diet is to give your body a rest and to eliminate toxins such as pesticides, synthetic products and atmospheric pollutants. After the cleansing program, your organs such as the kidneys, intestines, and lungs emerge as new to better perform their jobs and to make your body healthier.
Here are a few basic rules to help renew your system!
Water and Infusions
As a first step to purify your body, make drinking water a priority. We recommend drinking a minimum of a litre-and-a- half of water per day. In addition to drinking the recommended amount of water, prepare an infusion daily. You can use birch or orthosiphon herbs to prepare the infusion as to favour the elimination of toxins.

Start your day with a glass of lemon water; in a cup, pour equal amounts of hot water and lemon juice. Citrus is rich in vitamins, stimulates the liver, and participates in cleansing the body. It also helps balance the pH of the stomach.

If you can get your hands on it, fresh dandelion also helps with elimination. Try incorporating it with a tea or in a salad. Those who are reluctant to try fresh dandelion can opt for capsules of powder available in pharmacies.

Healthy and Fresh Foods
Be sure to eat at least five fruits and vegetables per day. It is ideal to eat them raw. And make sure to clean them well before eating them. For snacking, opt for fruit juice
Grapes act as a laxative; they relieve constipation and facilitate bowel movement. During your detoxification diet, integrate them to your meals in the morning, at noon and in the evening. Be sure to choose grapes that are ripe. If the fruit isn’t ripe enough, it can have the opposite effect of causing constipation.
Note: Select organic products that are devoid of chemicals and preservatives as to thoroughly purify your body.

The Method
After having read these basic guidelines, it now up to you to choose a program that suits your needs. It is advised to do a detoxification program three to four times a year, and ideally when the seasons change. In less than two weeks, you will begin to feel rested and more energetic. Depending on the method used, the program should last three weeks.  
Beware: the ultimate goal of a body cleansing should not be weight loss. That being said, by taking care of your body, it makes sense that weight loss may result.  

The Thrifty Kitchen: Cooking With Fruit and Vegetable Scraps

We try to shop organic as much as we can, and sometimes organic produce is considerably pricier than conventional. When you pay a premium for organic food, you want to get your money’s worth! Before you throw those fruit and veggie scraps into the compost bin, check out these ways to use the bits and pieces that you’d normally toss.
Swiss Chard
Chard leaves are the star in lots of tasty veggie dishes, but after chopping up all of those greens, you’re left with a pile of stems. The stems, or ribs, are actually great in recipes, too! They’re crunchy and slightly tangy. You can treat them like celery or onions and add them to stir fries, casseroles, soups, and stews.
Celery Leaves
Margie, the woman who operates the local Atlanta CSA Vegetable Husband, has a great suggestion for the leaves on the top of celery. She adds them to soups and stews for a deep, celery flavor. Celery leaves also work really well in salads of both the greens- and mayonnaise-based varieties. Just chop them up finely and mix them right in to add a little kick!
Mushroom Stems
Many stuffed mushroom recipes call for chopping the stems right up into your filing mixture, but these tasty leftovers have more uses than just that! Once you remove the tough part at the very bottom of the stem, try adding them to everything from soups and casseroles to salad dressings. You can toss your dressing into a food processor with some mushroom stems and process until smooth to add a nice, earthy taste to your salads.
Citrus Peels
After peeling that orange or juicing a lemon, you can take advantage of the zest before composting the rest! Citrus zest is the dark-colored part of the skin, and it’s perfect for adding a citrusy flavor to baked goods. You can remove it using a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Just wrap the zest in wax paper and put it in a container in the freezer. It should last a couple of weeks.
Home made, organic vegetable broth is a great catch-all for your scraps! You can save veggie leavings - like onion and garlic peel, carrot ends, mushroom stems, and stems from fresh herbs and spices - in a container in the freezer. Once you have enough, just put them into a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour, then strain out the scraps. What’s left is a wholesome, tasty veggie broth that’s just as good as (if not better than) the store-bought sort!
Becky Striepe is an indie crafter living in Atlanta, GA with her husband, two cats, and her trusty sewing machine.

Help Save the Ladybugs!!

Beyond being cute bugs, lady beetles (aka ladybugs or ladybirds) are incredibly helpful creatures, as many gardeners can testify. They protect crops by eating certain types of pests, and their presence reduces the need for insecticides.
Unfortunately, these gardeners’ best friends started rapidly declining in the 1970’s and ’80s according to researchers, and today some native species of North America are on the brink of extinction.
So where did all the ladybugs go?
The Lost Ladybug Project is looking into this question. The project, which began in 2000 after Cornell scientists partnered with 4-H master gardeners, is trying to find out where native types of ladybugs are living today and why so many have disappeared. An invasive beetle species imported from Europe and Asia is one possible culprit.
The Lost Ladybug Project has an unconventional research team. Over 50 percent of the participants in the project are under the age of 14, according to USA Today. And two key discoveries were made by 11-year old, Jilene, and 10 year-old, Jonathan back in 2006.
The project is specifically working to find and preserve three species: the nine-spotted or C9s, the transverse and the two-spotted. Approaching their goals with a “citizen’s science” model, leaders of The Lost Ladybug Project are encouraging anyone and everyone to help locate ladybugs: “Find ‘em, photograph ‘em, and send ‘em,” they ask. John Losey, co-founder of the project, firmly believes that “citizen science is the best way to educate and enthuse volunteers about the process of science and the best way to shed light on major environmental problems,” according to the group’s website.
Check out www.lostladybug. org for all kinds of interesting information about ladybugs. The site includes lesson plans, games, coloring books, and even a song–all focused on teaching kids to appreciate ladybugs and to participate in preserving the species.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

~Our Circle of Learning Craft Project"

I am in charge of every weeks craft project and this one week we decorated our belsom's. I have had my two for such a long time and every time I looked at them I thought they were so plane looking and when I found out our newest member did not even have one I decided we would work on them. As you can see my TEENAGER is being himself!!! Ugg it never stops. Hope you like watching.

~Interview with My Family~

I know I have not been here for awhile, but I am hoping to be here more often to tell you what is going on with me now that I am out on my own again and have time to do this. I thought I would share this with all of you here. The first video is ME.. yes ME I said. My sister was nice enough to take this during one of our days at the flea market.

The next video is of my son. He is walking the same path as me and we are learning so much together.