June Love Affair!

Love Affair is a little blog series that I'm experimenting with and am super excited to introduce. In a perfect world, these posts will manifest on the first of every month. In reality, as I'm a mom of two toddlers and run my own business, life...well, you know the saying.

Each month I'm going to share three products/items that I absolutely can't live without. And no, I'm not getting compensated for promoting any of these products (unless explicitly stated). I'm simply sharing products that I use and love. Working in the wellness industry, I'm often asked these sorts of lifestyle questions, so this is a great platform for me to organize my mommy brain and share my love affairs.

So here we go!

June Love Affair!

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1) Marble and Milkweed Rose, Cardamom and Sandalwood Botanical Fragrance:

Can you say yummy! This is definitely NOT your grandmother's rose perfume. While the charming and endearing, heart opening element of rose is abundant, so too are absolutely sumptuous and otherworldly sandalwood notes. The two scents play off of each other and are grounded perfectly by vibrant, peppery cardamom undertones. You know I don't do chemicals, and what I love about this company, as stated on their site, is the fact that all Marble and Milkweed scents are made entirely from precious natural botanical oils, resins, concretes and absolutes. No synthetics are used- ever! Oh, and the fragrance sticks to you all day long- JOY!

2) Pacifica Kale Juice Cleanse Mask:

A few months back, I took a good look in the mirror and decided I needed to do something about my tired mom of two face. Sometimes coconut oil (my go to) just doesn't fully cut it. I was so relieved when I found this super gentle AHA mask. It makes my skin so soft. I use nightly after washing my face with coconut oil. The AHA's are naturally derived from papaya enzymes and all ingredients are 100% vegan, cruelty free, paraben free, formaldeyde free and sulfate free. The result, healthy, happy, glowing skin. 

3) Veriditas By Pranarom Women's Deodorant:

I swear by this deodorant! I'm a yoga teacher, I move all day long and I have never been stinky or felt weary of raising my arms with confidence. The deodorant is made from pure essential oils and nothing else! Nothing.... The essential oil blends smell blissful. Just to be clear, the men's deodorant is awesome as well. The women's scent is floral while the men's scent is woodsy. It's like wearing perfume. Every time you move, a lovely burst of fragrance wafts upwards. Veriditas deodorants are non irritating, easy to apply (they come in roll on tubes) and a little goes a long way. Love, love, love....

See, this series is so easy and breezy ,) I'll be back with more in July!

Have you tried any of these products? Anything tickle your fancy?

 

Restorative Yoga

You’re lying on your back atop an ocean of blankets and bolsters. The room is quiet, the lights dim. So in tune are you with your internal rhythm that you can perceive the sound and feel of your heartbeat. You draw air in through your nose. Your inhale cools you as air floods into your lungs. You feel taller, more open. When the exhale finally comes, it’s warm, your face softens as you release any lingering tension from your body. Down into the blankets and bolster, into the mat and through the earth your tension dissipates — away. This is a taste of restorative yoga.


Restorative yoga is an invitation to slow down, retreat inwards and silence the chatter. In a culture where the ongoing mantra is a flood of “do, do, do — achieve, achieve, achieve — be better, better, better...” an invitation to quiet the mind, step outside of that headspace and into the body and realm of the breath is not only relaxing but life altering.

"The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear." - Rumi


It just may be that one of the keys to finding balance in the modern world lies in a consistent restorative yoga practice. 75 million American adults are currently living with hypertension — that is one out of every three people. 3.3 million American adults currently live with an anxiety disorder. 60 million American adults are affected by insomnia. 100 million American adults live with some form of chronic pain. Restorative yoga, with its emphasis on balance through the practice of connecting with the breath and quieting the mind, may be just the prescription we need.


Meditative and slow, Restorative Yoga draws upon the yogic limb of pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses, offering practitioners the opportunity to quiet the mind and cultivate peace. Integral to the practice of Restorative Yoga is mindfulness and meditation. To aid in this holistic process, Restorative Yoga calls upon the use of abundant props such as straps, blankets, bolsters and blocks which help the practitioner manipulate their body into a state of relaxation, which in turn helps to release tension, activates the parasympathetic nervous system and encourages the mind to be still. Unique to the practice, restorative poses are held for upwards of ten minutes. During this time, practitioners can be guided through a meditation, they can engage in pranayama and connect with their breath, or perhaps perfect stillness where the practitioner is invited to enter into a sleep-like state.


Research is beginning to point to yoga, Restorative Yoga in particular, as one of the best natural ways to combat stress-related illnesses and disorders. According to the Harvard Health Publications, over 55% of people who practice yoga on a consistent basis, conclude that it helps them get a better night’s sleep. Science supports this claim. The baroreflex, a reflex associated with blood pressure is activated during reclining and inverted positions (common to Restorative Yoga) and this activation promotes sleep and reduces stress hormones.

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 High Blood Pressure, dubbed “the silent killer”, is a particularly insidious condition affecting approximately 1 out of every 3 adults. A regular Restorative Yoga practice has the potential to greatly reduce your risk of high blood pressure. The science behind this is clear. With high blood pressure, the pressure of the blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels is extremely strong, causing the heart to have to work much harder in order to pump blood effectively through the body. In time, this can lead to hardening of the arteries, heart failure, strokes and heart attacks. Luckily, Restorative Yoga is particularly effective in reducing the diastolic number.

Blood pressure is gauged by reading the systolic over the diastolic. The diastolic number, which should be no greater than 80, is the most important number when it comes to a blood pressure reading. The reason Restorative Yoga is so beneficial to those suffering from High Blood Pressure has to do with the fact that stress is a major trigger when it comes to High Blood Pressure and slow, breath-centered Restorative Yoga helps with this. When practicing Restorative Yoga, the heart is not put under stress, the body's requirement for blood and oxygen decreases and the muscles soften and relax, activating the parasympathetic nervous system which stabilizes the autonomic (fight or flight) nervous system.

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In addition to counteracting stressful conditions, Restorative Yoga is detoxifying and cleansing, having a profound impact on the lymphatic system, due to pranayama practices. Deep, mindful breathing helps to better circulate helpful fluids through the body, encouraging bad fluids and toxins to become eliminated waste. In particular, poses that invert the legs, such as ‘legs up against the wall pose’ allow gravity to act naturally on the lymphatic system, the system in the body responsible for the filtration of toxins and circulation of antibodies.


Research shows that Restorative Yoga has the ability to lessen the severity of mood disorders and depression. The science behind this being that Restorative Yoga poses stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes the heart rate to slow, dilating blood vessels, which leads to an increase in digestive and glandular secretions which in turn, calm the muscles. A body in such a relaxed state is less likely to suffer from stress-related and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

"Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in. And this is the point of spiritual practice; to make us teachable; to open up our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are."- Rolf Gates


Due to their deeply therapeutic and calming effects, restorative yoga poses just might be the antidote for many of our modern western ailments. As outlined above, a regular restorative practice can help lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety and depression, assist with the management of chronic pain, and ease insomnia. It can also relax back and nerve pain, assist with flexibility, lessen the severity of arthritis, boost the immune system which has the potential to ward off a host of ailments from the common cold to cancer. Restorative yoga, rooted in the tenets of ancient yogic wisdom, is an often overlooked and arguably life-saving remedy.

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In gyms and studios, people are often attracted to the classes that promise the most sweat and the highest calorie burn, but what restorative yoga lacks in the calorie-burning department it makes up for in the department of therapeutic benefits. With yoga in the west shifting from its original roots in mindfulness towards an athletic trend and fitness phenomenon, restorative yoga holds at its heart the ultimate purpose and goal of yoga — samadhi, or union with the divine. Through deep introspection, connecting with the breath and quieting the mind, the practitioner of restorative yoga is able to transcend physical space, transforming, balancing, and relaxing their way to awakening the divine within.

Ready to give Restorative Yoga a try? Check out my virtual 1-on-1 restorative yoga private lessons!

 

 

so·journ - a temporary stay

Namaste Lovelies!

You are invited to sojourn with me through the pages of this blog - my virtual home where you'll find travel inspiration, balanced nutrition advice, organic and natural recipes for nourishing and beautifying your body and calming yoga and wellness tips.

Ignite your wanderlust, connect with and ignite your inner light!

Sojourn as long as you'd like!

 

 

7 Fantastic Lip Scrub Recipes for Soft Lips

7 Fantastic Lip Scrub Recipes for Soft Lips

I'm excited to feature this guest post from Sarah Smith, editor of the site- FixYourSkin.com.

 

We all know that many over the counter beauty products contain harmful chemicals. Making your own skin care products is the best way to keep toxins out. If you ever get dry or peeling lips, homemade lip scrubs are the answer.

You may already be using a scrub for your body, but lips are a sensitive area, that are often neglected. As the skin on your lips is thinner, they tend to get drier much faster than other parts of your body. Using a gentle exfoliant is the best way to slough off any dead skin cells to uncover soft lips. A lip scrub exfoliates lips while at the same time locking in moisture.

You may feel that DIY recipes require effort and time, which you don’t have a lot of. But the recipes mentioned below are well worth the effort and take hardly any time to put together.

1. Honey and Almond Lip Scrub

This nourishing scrub will leave your lips super soft. Almond flour is rich in vitamin E, selenium, and antioxidants. vitamin E is an essential nutrient that protects skin from free radical damage. For more information on vitamins and their benefits, check out this infographic.

14 Potent Vitamins for Younger and Healthier Skin

Hello, World!

 

Almond flour also has an abrasive texture to scrub away flaky skin, while the monounsaturated fat present keeps skin moisturized. Brown sugar adds extra exfoliation and honey is a natural humectant which attracts and retains moisture. Olive oil will leave skin moisturized.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Brown sugar

½ tablespoon Almond flour

1 tablespoon Honey

½ tablespoon Olive oil

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients together until a paste is formed. Apply this on lips and scrub gently for a few minutes. You can leave this on the lips for a few additional minutes if time allows. Wash off with lukewarm water. You can store any remaining scrub in a small jar.

2. Mint Lip Scrub

This mint scrub is made using a variation of the recipe mentioned above. The inclusion of Peppermint oil gives it an invigorating smell. This also gives a cooling sensation and has a calming effect on the body.

Ingredients

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon olive oil

1-2 drops of peppermint oil

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl to form a coarse paste. Apply this minty scrub on the lips and scrub gently. Let it sit for 5 minutes before washing off. Follow up with a lip balm to leave lips soft and tingly.

3. Chocolate Lip Scrub Mask

This DIY Chocolate Lip Scrub is customizable and super easy to make. Apart from the delicious smell, it is also extremely nourishing.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 small drizzle of honey

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients together to form a gritty paste. You can add more cocoa powder or olive oil to get the right consistency. To apply, take a bit of the scrub and massage it on your lips for a few minutes. This can also be left on as a mask to get the most of its nourishing benefits. Rinse off with warm water and apply a light coating of lip balm. This scrub can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

4. Ginger and Cinnamon Lip Scrub

Ginger is high in antioxidants and protects skin. It also improves elasticity and evens skin tone. Cinnamon stimulates blood vessels and plumps up lips.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together until they form an even mixture. To use, rub a small amount on clean lips and massage gently. Rinse off with warm water.

5. Coconut & Honey Lip Scrub.

This lip treatment packs a moisturizing punch while at the same time getting rid of skin cells. It is also easy to make so you can get soft, supple lips at home.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

1 tablespoon Honey

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

Instructions

Mix the coconut oil and honey together. Add in the sugar and mix to form a granular paste. Rub this mixture on your lips in a circular motion and rinse off with warm water.

6. Orange and Vanilla Lip Scrub

This is a revitalizing scrub that is made with orange essential oil, vanilla beans, refined sugar, and coconut oil. Orange essential oil is an antiseptic and has anti-inflammatory properties. Vanilla can help soothe skin and coconut oil moisturizes.

Ingredients

2 whole Vanilla Beans

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon Coconut Oil

2 drops Orange Essential Oil

Instructions

Slit the vanilla beans and scrape out the pulp. Mix this in with the sugar and coconut oil to form the scrub base. Add in the orange essential oil. You can also add some orange zest to heighten the fragrance. Apply this mixture on your lips, scrub gently and wash off.

7. Raspberry Lemonade Sugar Scrub

This lip scrub has a refreshing scent and helps scrub away dead skin cells. Lemon essential oil has antibacterial properties and lightens pigmentation. Coconut oil helps Fix Your Skin and leaves it soft and moisturized.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Coconut oil

1 tablespoon Table Sugar (Brown Sugar can be used as well, but this may alter the color and scent slightly)

2 drops Raspberry extract

2-3 drops Lemon essential oil

Instructions

Place the coconut oil in a bowl with the sugar and stir to combine. Add the raspberry extract and the lemon essential oil. Mix to form an abrasive paste. Apply this on the lips and massage gently. Wash off with warm water and follow up with a moisturizing lip balm. Store any remaining scrub in an air-tight jar.

Conclusion

You don’t need to buy pricey lip products to exfoliate your lips. These homemade scrubs can give you soft, smooth lips at a fraction of the price. They are also completely natural, so you can avoid putting harmful chemicals on your lips. The lip scrub recipes mentioned in this article are extremely effective. Using a lip scrub 2-3 times a week is recommended, as over-exfoliation can strip your lips of their natural moisture. It is most effective to exfoliate your lips at bedtime and follow up with a lip balm so that your skin can renew itself overnight. For more skincare and makeup tips such as choosing the best foundations for acne prone skin (2016's top 10), check out Fix Your Skin.

Coconut Oil and Green Clay Facial Cleanser: A Fresh Take on an Old Favorite

I'm a serial reinventor!

Every year or so I feel compelled to reinvent my favorite face wash recipe.

There's nothing wrong with the tried and true recipe. It's amazing!

But the more I study and learn about natural products, I inevitably develop a crush on a new ingredient and feel the need to work it into my pre-existing repertoire. Sometimes these experiments turn out great! And other times, I have to set my creations aside.

This coconut oil and green clay facial cleanser was one of the success stories!

I am all about vegetable glycerine!

I can't believe I functioned for so long, oblivious to it's magnificience!

Anyhow, the star of my new and improved facial cleanser is vegetable glycerine.

Vegetable glycerine is derived from plant oils (typically palm or coconut). The magic of glycerine is that it's a humectant and it attracts moisture to the skin. Your skin will feel so soft to the touch! Making this an even softer and moisturizing version of the original.

If vegetable glycerine is to receive a spotlight, then tea tree essential oil which I use often, but never in a facial cleanser deserves one as well.

Tea tree it turns out, with its invigorating tingle was meant for face wash. Antimicrobal, antiseptic, antiviral and stimulating, not only does it give your face a refreshing burst of energy, but it deep cleans in the most gentle of ways.

This moisturizing, soothing, blemish fighting, wrinkle relaxing, coconut oil and green clay facial cleanser is so easy to make.

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Here's what you'll need:

1 tablespoon French Green Clay powder

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

1 teaspoon Vegetable Glycerine

10 drops Tea Tree essential oil

1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E oil

Here's what to do:

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In your container of choice (I always recommend glass because plastic can leach toxins into your product) mix the French Green Clay and Coconut Oil until an almost toothpaste like consistency is formed. Add your tea tree, vegetable glycerine and vitamin E oil and stir with a spoon until smooth.

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This will last three months easily, but because the batch size is relatively small, you'll probably need to make this every month. I like to keep my batches small just in case. It takes minutes to whip up.

Directions for use:

Rub a dime sized amount of cleanser onto moist skin.

You'll find the green clay will act as a milk exfoliant.

Rub into your skin in a circular motion avoiding the eyes.

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Rinse with warm water and pat your face dry.

If you're into facial toners, this one is a must try and is the ideal next step!

 

Chesapeake Bay Beach: A Day Well Spent!

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The water was conspicuously brown truth be told. A little murky for my liking, but it was warm and gentle so I allowed myself to overlook the fact I couldn't see where I was wading.

After all the Chesapeake is bound to be a bit muddy, it's a bay after all. Right?

The air was blithe and breezy. Thin and cool despite patches of humidity.

It was seaside air. The air of ease and hope. The air of tranquility.

In the distance kayaks dotted the water, drifting towards the rainbow brushed horizon. Children played and splashed in the shallow water as couples lounged on towels, or walked the seashell studded beach holding hands.

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Wearing a dress and sandals, having stumbled upon the beach completely by accident, I found a seat on an overturned tree trunk as my boys splashed in the water and ran through the sea grass.

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It's been about a year since we moved to Maryland.

I'm still exploring, but I wasn't ready for this particular find.

I had been so busy getting to know the neighborhoods in Washington DC and Alexandria, Virginia, the Baltimore Harbor, and the gorgeous seaside stretches of quaint cobblestone studded Annapolis that I failed to realize I lived a mere twenty minutes from the Chesapeake Bay.

Literally, door to sand, twenty minutes!

I hadn't thought much about the Chesapeake.

I knew it was around here somewhere, but where exactly I wasn't sure. As far as beaches were concerned, I had my sights set on Ocean City and Virginia Beach. I looked forward to Chincoteague and Rehoboth, but the Chesapeake?

I had honestly written it off as a polluted has been.

I had no idea!

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Dotted with public and private beaches, the Chesapeake, despite having its very real and unfortunate issues with pollution is truly stunning.

Chesapeake Bay Beach was no exception.

Free and open to the public, the beach is almost hidden. Slightly forested until a small pine needle studded sandy trail opens up revealing an expanse of sea and sand, Chesapeake Bay Beach is the perfect way to spend a summer day.

Steps from the historic boardwalk, you can stroll the wooden planks in the direction of the many restaurants boasting the best crab along the east coast or you can simply retreat to the sand or water.

Relatively shallow, surprisingly warm and calm, the water is easy to swim and wade.

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And bonus, you don't have to worry about jelly fish or....sharks (gasp!)

There are fish though, tiny little things that weave this way and that in small schools.

And there are crabs. Lots of crabs.

So, perhaps maybe, you should watch your toes.

I know I will. You can't see where you're stepping after all.

When I go back, I'm going prepared and will make a full day of it. Beach bucket, Haviannas, swimming suit, fishing rod and an appetite for crab cakes.

Have you ever been to the Chesapeake?

 

 

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Harlem Tea Break at Serengeti Teas and Spices

Sometimes in the middle of the roaring chaos of the city you need to do something quiet, cool and restorative.

Sometimes you just want tea- a good cup of tea and a peaceful space to duck into. An inspired space that is aesthetically pleasing and a delight to the senses.

Sometimes you simply need a sanctuary, and if you're in Harlem on a hot summer day or a cold winter evening... for that matter, there's no better escape than Serengeti Teas and Spices.

Aromatic African, tea, coffee and chocolate blends made with love.
— Serengeti Teas and Spices Tasting Room

In the heart of central Harlem amidst the typical clamor and bravado of any given New York day, lies a most unassuming refuge. The art is astounding, the service friendly, the baked goods delectable and the tea (the main reason you're here) worthy of praise.

Serengeti Teas and Spices features a finely curated collection of African teas and spice blends.

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And if you didn't think there were teas specific to the continent of Africa...think again!

The continent boasts a vast array of teas and spices, like Rooibos tea (known for its powerful curative and antioxidant properties) and Sorrel. Conjure up images of Zanzibar (aka Spice Island) right off the coast of Tanzania and the famed trade routes positioning Africa smack dab in the middle of all of the action. African tea contains a host of influences from east to west and at Seregeti Teas and Spices one can enjoy long languid sips of the continent's finest masterpieces.

Enjoy your tea iced or hot! 

Enjoy your tea iced or hot! 

It. is. so. GOOD!

With over 100 teas to try, there is something for everyone!

But, if tea is not your thing, there's coffee. The coffee is good, but the tea (in my opinion) steals the show.

I can't get enough of their Hibiscus blends.

In addition to beverages, you can buy cafe breads and pastries.

A specialty cafe of sorts, you can come for tastings, you can bring your laptop and set-up shop, or meet a friend and grab a seat at the tea bar.

In fact, the entire shop is like a museum. Art is everywhere, much of it is on sale as well.

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And bring a little shopping bag, because you can buy tea, spice blends, coffee, chocolate and tea related gifts. The entire experience is a whimsical delight.

So if you're in New York City and you're looking for a unique place to visit or bring guests in and or around Harlem, Seregenti Teas is the place to go.

Location: 2292 Frederick Douglass Blvd, NewYork, NY 10027 (Harlem/NYC)

Family Friendly: Absolutely! (I bring my two and five year old and there is never a problem)

Hours: 10am-7:30pm

 

 

 

Why You Should Drink Alkaline Water

There are so many do's and don'ts when it comes to nutrition. It can make you want to scream.

I empathize. It can be overwhelming to track your omega-3 intake, make sure you're eating clean, count your calories, reduce the trans fats, up fresh raw fruit and veggie portions, limit your starch and carbs, eat three square meals a day, eat all three meals before dark and on and on and on.

But I do have one more good habit to push, and that is- Drink Alkaline Water!

Alkaline water?

What the heck is that you ask?

Well bare with me. I'm going to tell you all about it and then share with you a great recipe to make a glass of your own!

I was in Mexico on a wellness retreat when I first really understood the importance of an alkaline diet.

Sure I had heard people mention that it was important to eat alkaline foods here and there in the healthy food circuits in which I traveled but I was so caught up in being tri-doshic and vegetarian and at times vegan, raw and gluten-free that it was difficult to find space for yet another thing.

But luckily, going alkaline isn't too terribly complicated and once you understand the benefits, I'm sure you'll agree it's worth the effort.

So...why alkaline?

Remember that old saying - you are what you eat?

Well in so many ways that statement is true. The foods we eat contain acidic or alkaline properties. The alkaline or acidic properties in the food you eat directly alters the acidity or alkalinity- aka the ph balance of your body.

Ideally, you want an alkaline internal environment.

Most pathogens and cancers cannot survive in an oxygen-rich, alkaline environment. For instance, oxygenated water (hydrogen peroxide) is an effective infection killer, because harmful microorganisms consistently die in the presence of anything highly oxygenated.

Our typically acidic bodies cannot retain enough oxygen to function properly or fight infections. When a body reaches a pH level of 7.4 (alkaline instead of acidic), cancers become dormant, and at 7.6, all cancers die rapidly, along with every type of invader.
— Sarah C. Corriher

 

This being said, you want to eat more alkaline foods than acidic foods in order to maintain this balance.

As a general rule,  a diet of 60-80% alkaline-forming foods and 20-40% acid-forming foods creates and sustains this balance.

Um....so....what does that mean?

Typically foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds and herbal teas are alkaline while foods like grains, beans, meats, dairy products, fish, fast foods and processed foods tend towards acidity.

This is wonderful news if you're already a vegan, vegetarian, a clean eater and or are following a gluten-free regimen. You may (depending upon your food choices) be quite alkaline by default.

But, if like most of us, you're left scratching your head. One way to ensure that the acidic foods you consume are being balanced by alkaline foods is by drinking alkaline water.

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Now there are many different ways to make alkaline water. There's lemon water, there's the Himalayan sea salt method but my favorite blend is this- (It's quite tasty!)

Alkaline Water Recipe:

2 cups (16 oz) purified water

1 tablespoon raw apple cider

1 teaspoon liquid chlorophyll

1/2 teaspoon turmeric (liquid is best, powder will do)

Why raw apple cider vinegar?

Raw apple cider vinegar is unique in that it is alkaline forming to the body. It helps to balance the body's internal pH causing levels to become more alkaline and is a wonderful daily addition to the diet. In addition, raw apple cider vinegar has antibiotic properties (it's anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral which means it wards off infections and supports the immune system-never a bad thing!)

Why chlorophyll?

Green is my favorite color. Need I say more!

Okay, green is my fav, but all jokes aside, chlorophyll is magical. Chlorophyll is a natural detoxifier. Not only does chlorophyll have the ability to lower the body's internal pH creating an alkaline environment, but it also binds with environmental pollutants (a handful of toxic metals and carcinogens) helping to flush them out of your system resulting in an increase in energy and mental clarity. Another benefit of chlorophyll, a direct result of it's detoxification effect is clear glowing skin. Astringent and slightly minty in taste, the chlorophyll is a wonderful compliment to the raw apple cider vinegar.

Why Turmeric?

Turmeric is an Ayurvedic spice that happens to be highly alkalizing to the body. The bright yellow spice, a staple in curry, is mild in flavor, earthy and contains numerous curative properties. Turmeric is powerfully anti-inflammatory and has been used to treat cancer, arthritis, hypertension, ulcers, diabetes, colitis, acne and a whole host of other ailments.

The above recipe makes one serving of delicious alkaline water. Simply combine ingredients, swirl together with a spoon and enjoy!

The water is tart like lemonade, but not overpowering- perfect for a summer afternoon.

Note, if you're one of those people who likes their drinks sweet, then adding a teaspoon of agave or a tablespoon of raw maple syrup will do the trick!

So, keeping that 60-80% alkaline-forming foods and 20-40% acid-forming foods ratio in the back of your mind is helpful. But if you're not able to adhere to it as regularly as you'd wish, I have two words- ALKALINE WATER!

That Time Louis Armstrong Invited me Over for Dinner!

Something amazing happened the last time we were in New York!

Louis Armstrong invited us over for dinner!!!!

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No, I'm not delusional.

No, I'm not making it up.

It happened and I've got the photos to prove it!

You see, Louis Armstrong's home in Corona, Queens has been preserved as a museum- The Louis Armstrong House Museum. Which means, dinner with Satchmo can be a reality.

I'll explain...

The museum, Louis Armstrong's former home, has been left virtually untouched after the death of his wife Lucille.

A brilliant gem of history, the Louis Armstrong House Museum features artifacts from his life including his extensive collection of audio recordings which chronicle moments from his life.

On the ground floor, you have what feels like a traditional museum- pictures, instruments, memorabilia, a short film.

But once you round the corner and head upstairs an entirely different experience awaits you. Led by a tour guide, you're brought from room to room in the Armstrong's home.

In each room of the house, audio recordings are played and images are shown of the Armstrong's in that room.

The tour (no photos allowed) was so vivid. His clothes were still hung in the closet, the bed had the same duvet and pillows from when the couple was alive. Lucille's hairbrush remained as always on her vanity and Louis' liquor cabinet in the corner of his study remained half-full.

The recordings ranged from a practice session in Louis Armstrong's study to my favorite...

The recording in the kitchen during a dinner party the Armstrong's hosted. Here Louis himself, invited us to have a seat at the dinner table to try some of Lucille's famous baked beans.

It felt incredibly intimate.

You see, Louis Armstrong always had a vision of his home being a place where people gathered. When he and his wife were alive, they welcomed neighborhood children and expanded their backyard into something of a park-like oasis for entertaining.

In death, it was his wish for his home to continue to welcome folks, to be a place where people could gather, listen to good music and feel a sense of community.

After all, it was through being so open and in having a true desire to connect with people that he came up with the celebrated lyrics to "Wonderful World."

Seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is: see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby- love. That’s the secret.
— Louis Armstrong
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The magic is still there!

One feels Louis' warmth and presence the moment they enter.

And when I walked away, I was grateful to have had the experience of being invited to Louis Armstrong's house for dinner. It was once in a lifetime!

Thanks Satch!

Louis Armstrong House Museum

34-56 107th Street

Corona (Queens), NY

718.478.8274

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

June is my birthday month and as a way to celebrate my life, health and vitality I have chosen to experiment with my diet. 

I consider this to be a good experiment. An experiment that stems from my desire to fuel my body in a cleaner manner that is rooted in simplicity. 

So...  for the entire month of June, I've decided to go vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and clean! 

The first day was a bit rough. I was already mostly vegetarian and had vegan tendencies and tried my best to eat whole pure unprocessed foods but I wanted to see what it truly felt like to be a purist.  I got a massive headache and was grumpy because I didn't feel full. So I made some edits, incorporated more nuts and beans and I found my stride.

I must say I'm loving it so far! I've got more energy, my skin is glowing, my digestion is fantastic. 

Eating only whole, unprocessed, vegan foods has been a wonderful experience in mindfulness.

Finfing joy in simple foods I might have passed over for say...some bread and cheese has been invigorating. 

And the biggest surprise of all is the fact that I don't miss the sugar. Not at all!  (I have a notorious sweet tooth).

Experimenting with recipes has been fun as well. I love to eat and I don't agree that being healthy means giving up flavor.

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Speaking of flavor, these roasted curried cauliflower wedges are absolutely spectacular! 

They're an awesome side dish for anyone and if you're going clean, green and vegan like I am, they make a hearty snack that you can prepare both in the oven and on the grill! 

And they're so easy to make. 

Here's what you'll need: 

A head of cauliflower  

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon curry powder

sea salt to taste

Here's what you need to do:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse your head of cauliflower, peeling off any leaves.

If the stem is long you may need to give it a slice at the base of the stalk.

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Slice the cauliflower into steaks about 1 1/2" thick.

Lay the slices flat on a cooking tray.

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In a small bowl combine the coconut oil, curry powder and apple cider vinegar.

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Using a spoon or spatula baste both sides of your cauliflower.

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Place your tray in the oven. You'll want about ten minutes per side.  (You may also use a grill, but cooking times vary so keep your eye on your cauliflower !)

You'll know the dish is ready when the edges turn a crispy brown. 

Immidiately sprinkle with sea salt and then set out to cool before serving. 

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There you have it! A delicious vegan, clean, sugar and gluten free snack! 

 

A Perfect Day In Montreal- An Almost 24 hour Itinerary

old montreal

This February, as most people were hunkering down, and bracing for the polar vortex that dumped snow along the East coast, sending temperatures plummeting below zero, we decided it was the perfect time for a trip to Montreal.

Polar Vortex

As we made our way by car through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Albany, Rochester, Ontario and finally Montreal, we watched the thermostat dip and bob.

15 degrees...

5 degrees...

0 degrees...

-2 degrees...

-13 degrees....

It was a sunny, and I mean, deceptively brilliant, afternoon at -13 degrees when we pulled into the underground parking garage at the Gouverneur Hotel at the Place Dupuis in the heart of downtown Montreal.

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Unsure of how it would all work out, traveling with a four year old and a one and a half year old in the middle of a snowstorm on the Eastern coast of Canada, we simply took a deep breath and forged forth.

Yes, it would be cold.

Yes, we would have to layer and wear boots.

Yes, this trip would require several hot chocolate breaks.

Yes, there was snow, and ice everywhere.

Yes, we probably should have gone to the Caribbean, but we didn't and in the end, I'm glad we didn't.

If you should happen to find yourself in Montreal in winter, fear not. The city is well equipped to handle whatever amount of snow or ice mother nature should decide to throw its way.

With easy to navigate streets and authentically delicious French style hot chocolate and espresso drinks on every corner, get out and forge forth anyway. The city will reward you!

We had a perfect day out and about in Montreal. Here's our almost 24 hour itinerary:

Breakfast at Juliette & Chocolat on Rue Saint Catherine

Juliette & Chocolat is a local favorite featuring.....you guessed it, chocolate. To be specific, you'll find traditional French pastries, sandwiches and salads with a chocolaty twist. Intimate, modern and relaxed, Juliette & Chocolat is one of those cafes that is both child friendly (as long as your little one isn't prone to running and screaming), first-date romantic, Sunday brunch chic and a haven for location independent laptop clad hipsters.

Stroll down Rue Saint Catherine

A main thoroughfare, Rue Saint Catherine is hip and eclectic. Frequented by university students, this young, bohemian strip is home to every type of restaurant imaginable, quirky shops and lively bars. *Warning- just because it is snowy and icy, don't expect that streets will be fully plowed and salted as in the United States. We had an adventure making our way up and down the busy Rue Saint Catherine.

Explore the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec

Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec

This library is so much more than a library. A massive and super modern architectural gem, the Bibliotheque Nationales du Quebec is a literary and musical multiplex. The children's section is massive. The boys enjoyed the listening and viewing station where they were able to watch short animated films in French. It was a great way to expose them to the language. They also enjoyed the magnetic poetry wall and reading picture books in French. If you're a lover of music, the library has an extensive listening section.

Visit the Notre-Dame Basilica

In addition to being an active church with a large and tight knit community of worshipers, Montreal's Notre Dame basilica is a local historic gem and source of pride. The site of many important events including Celine Dion's wedding, the historic basilica is open to visitors who wish to take a moment of quiet repose, admire the collection of religious art and take in the astounding architecture. Visitors are also welcome to attend mass.

In addition to being an active church with a large and tight knit community of worshipers, Montreal's Notre Dame basilica is a local historic gem and source of pride.

The site of many important events including Celine Dion's wedding, the historic basilica is open to visitors who wish to take a moment of quiet repose, admire the collection of religious art and take in the astounding architecture. Visitors are also welcome to attend mass.

We met up with my friend Lynne for lunch and she suggested Olive et Gourmando. I'm so glad she did! The cozy eclectic and artsy interior was charming. The delicious food disarming! And the smell of baking bread, chocolate and wine- it was out of this world. The Kale Cesar made me so happy. The wine list was extensive (most bottles hailed from France). Also extensive was the list of local apple ciders. The fresh French pastries are worth a mention, so many types of croissants and cookies take up space in the shiny glass display case. It was so cozy inside, I almost forgot about the sub zero temperatures outside... almost.

We met up with my friend Lynne for lunch and she suggested Olive et Gourmando. I'm so glad she did!

The cozy eclectic and artsy interior was charming. The delicious food disarming! And the smell of baking bread, chocolate and wine- it was out of this world.

The Kale Cesar made me so happy.

The wine list was extensive (most bottles hailed from France). Also extensive was the list of local apple ciders.

The fresh French pastries are worth a mention, so many types of croissants and cookies take up space in the shiny glass display case.

It was so cozy inside, I almost forgot about the sub zero temperatures outside... almost.

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Spa Break at Bota, Bota, Spa-Sur-L'eau

Located quite literally on a boat at the old pier, the Bota Spa is a relaxing and warm oasis of rejuvenation in the heart of Old Montreal. One step onto the boat spa and you're transported to another world! A warm, eucalyptus scented world where dreams of Zen easily come true. You can spend a few hours or the entire day on this docked spa boat which boasts a wonderful restaurant, massage services, hot tubs, whirlpools, saunas and other forms of relaxing entertainment.

Located quite literally on a boat at the old pier, the Bota Spa is a relaxing and warm oasis of rejuvenation in the heart of Old Montreal. One step onto the boat spa and you're transported to another world! A warm, eucalyptus scented world where dreams of Zen easily come true. You can spend a few hours or the entire day on this docked spa boat which boasts a wonderful restaurant, massage services, hot tubs, whirlpools, saunas and other forms of relaxing entertainment.

Hot Chocolate Break at Cacao 70 Atwater

Rumored to have the thickest most delectable hot chocolate in town, Cacao 70 Atwater is the perfect way to recharge in the middle of or end a busy day in Montreal.

At let's face it, you deserve some delicious fuel after all of that walking!

 

Regardless of the season you visit Montreal is an amazing city!

This was probably my 8th or 9th visit. For whatever reason, I have only experienced Montreal in the winter. The city is spectacular blanketed in snow, but I look forward to a summer visit as well sometime soon so I can take in the long, lazy, sidewalk cafe studded summer evenings.

A new take on an old favorite!

Have you had the pleasure of a visit to Montreal? Would you consider vacationing there?

Beets Blu Takes the Guesswork out of My Vinyasa Yoga Sessions!

I was contacted by and received a complimentary heart rate monitor from Beets Blu in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated below for the purpose of this review are mine.

Yoga can be so misunderstood!

You see, here's the thing about yoga, people somehow can't seem to get the image of a guru siting stark still, legs crossed, eyes closed out of their minds and write the physical expression of yoga (there are eight limbs) off as a second rate form of exercise.

Ugh... you'll hear some people say, I want a REAL workout.

Or, yoga's a nice stretch, but I need more...

I am of course generalizing, but as a yoga teacher I hear a broad range of reasons why people opt out of yoga.

Now if yoga is just not your thing in the same regard that running (unless I'm being chased by something very, very frightening) is not mine, I totally get it. We must all follow our exercise bliss.

But for those people who would commit to a yoga practice if they could, say...track their heart rate in the same manner they are able to on the treadmill or for those people who need quantifiable proof that they are burning calories whenever they exercise, then Beets Blu has come to the rescue!

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Yoga is a form of exercise, but it's so much more than a form of exercise and because of this many people are confused about what it is.

Yoga emerged out of meditation. Yoga asanas or postures were developed as a way for yogis to engage their physical bodies and cultivate discipline in order to concentrate while deep in meditation. The physical practice of yoga traditionally, is secondary to the practice of meditation and breath work (pranayama).

To delve a bit deeper, there are 8 Limbs of Yoga- eight branches if you will emerging from the tree of yoga. The physical expression of yoga (asana) is merely one.

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Yoga's 8 Limbs:

1. Yama (Proper conduct and personal integrity- think behaving in accordance to the Golden Rule)

2. Niyama (Self-discipline in relation to spirituality ex) meditating, saying grace, attending religious services, etc.)

3. Asana (The physical postures of yoga)

4. Pranayama (Breath control. There are many breathing practices associated with yoga that help us connect with our breath)

5. Pratyahara (Withdrawal from the outside world, focusing inwards and detaching from our senses)

6. Dharana (Cultivating deep concentration through practicing the many limbs of yoga)

7.  Dhyana (Meditation as a way of quieting the mind)

8. Samadhi (Pure bliss and transcendence, the ultimate merge with the divine)

So you see, yoga is so much more than an hour of sweating it out on the mat. 

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But for many, it is just that.

In the West the physical practice of yoga has risen to the forefront and with good reason, the physical practice of yoga, the asanas are so healing and provide an ideal holistic workout. In pretty much every gym or fitness club you can find a yoga class these days.

Yoga provides a complete workout, particularly Vinyasa Flow classes where movements are linked together and between many of the standing poses one is asked to move through a flow sequence (hello cardio, core, strength training and stamina!!!!)

This physical practice of yoga is surprisingly demanding. One works on flexibility, stamina, strength training, core engagement and cardio simultaneously.

But unlike running on the treadmill or on the elliptical machine; unlike the exercise bike or circuit training where you can target certain body parts and measure your results- yoga comes without any fancy machinery or ways to concretely quantify your results.

Until now that is...

Thank you Beets Blu for making it so easy to track my heart rate!

I love my Beets Blu Heart Rate Monitor! It is so easy to use and I'm able to get a complete assessment of my yoga workouts when I'm finished.

The Beets Blu Heart Rate Monitor uses cutting edge EKG technology to collect accurate information and Bluetooth to send this heart rate information directly to your smartphone where your results are ready for you in the Health app.

How does it work?

1. Download the BB Utility App

2. Strap the Heart Rate Monitor on. It fits snugly against your skin around your chest area. I pulled mine right below my bra strap. The monitor is small, light weight and snug, I almost didn't notice it.

3. Connect your device to Bluetooth

4. Rock out on your yoga mat!!!!!!

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5. When you're finished, remove the device and take a look at the Health App (this app is automatic with most phones) on your smartphone. Go to vitals, and heart rate and there you will find your data.

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From your heart rate you can get an idea of whether or not you're working too hard or not hard enough when you exercise. It's a great way to set and measure fitness goals. You can also calculate the number of calories burned during a workout. Here's how:

C = (o.4472xH-0.05741xW+0.074xA-20.4022)xT/4.184

say what?!?

H= average heart rate (that number provided by the Beets Blu monitor)

W= your weight

A= your age

T= the length (time in duration) of your session in minutes

C= calories

Now everyone is different, and every yoga session is different, but I learned that on average I burn between 450-500 calories per hour when practicing Vinyasa Yoga for an hour.

That's a lot of calories! And I had no idea until I began to use the monitor.

Now I have clear estimates to provide those potential students who would like to try yoga, but are afraid they won't burn enough calories during their practice.

As I said before, yoga isn't about burning calories. It's about being present and going inwards and expanding your boundaries. But for those who are skeptical about its merit as a full body workout, the information collected by the Beets Blu heart rate monitor is priceless.

I can't wait to strap my Beets Blu on and hit the mat!

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The Beets Blu Heart Rate Monitor is compatible with any smart phone and with the following apps:

RunKeeper

Moves Tracker

Endomondo

Runtastic Pro

MapMyFitness

MapMyWalk

3,2,1 run

Walktastic pro

Walmeter

iSmoothRun

MapMyRide

Cyclemeter

Runtastic wintersport

Heartrate monitor

iCardio

BB Utility (this is the app I use- the results go directly to your Health app)

nRFready Utility

Seconds Pro

MotionX GPS

MapMyDogWalk

RoadBike

Cyctastic

CycleLog Pro

Map My Run

Runtastic

Runmeter

MapMyHike

iRunner

Strava Running and Cycling

Have you ever used a heart rate monitor to track your workouts?

Celebrating Memorial Day and Fleet Week in NYC on the Intrepid!

Memorial Day weekend  is a big deal in New York City!

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Not only is it a time to celebrate those who we've lost who have served, but it's also a time to give thanks to those currently serving. 

This year the boys and I celebrated aboard New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum! 

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It was awesome!

The USS Intrepid, a famed aircraft carrier is docked along Manhattan's west side and is a National Historic Landmark and museum/event space.

The intrepid was the perfect place for a Memorial Day event, especially since it was also Fleet Week!

There was live music, dancing, food and games in honor of our servicemen.

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Being Fleet Week, their were uniformed sailors, Air Force men and Marines all over the streets of New York.

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So grateful for everyone who has served!

Aurthur Avenue in the Bronx is the Best Place to Find Authentic Italian Food!

So, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. It just so happens that on our last visit to New York we rediscovered Arthur Ave.  

What's so great about that you say? 

Well, I'll tell you! 

Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is the best place to find authentic Italian Food in New York! 

I kid you not! 

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Hidden deep in the insane hustle and bustle of the Bronx lies the original Little Italy! Although many of those original inhabitants have moved away, an entire network of restaurants and shops remain. 

Aurthur Avenue in the Fordham section of the Bronx is an Italian food lovers dream! 

And our very favorite place to dine is none other than the neighborhood staple- Marios. 

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Historic, Zagat rated and full of charm, Marios will not disappoint. 

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 The service is fast and attentive. 

 The atmosphere, spacious, old world and family friendly. 

 The food is simply amazing! 

Everything is good! 

From the warm crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside bread and olive oil to the wine (and they've got quite a selection) Marios is sure to satisfy. 

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 The pasta dishes are light and bursting with richness. 

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 The dessert- I recommend the cannoli cream cake ( take a moment and imagine that).  I assure you that whatever you imagined was nothing close to the moist, creamy, richness of Marios cannoli cream cake!

Even the coffee that goes with the dessert is bold and flavorful. Every detail is expertly tended to.

Perhaps that's why people  come from all over the tri-state region to enjoy Marios. 

Marios ( 2342 Arthur Ave. Bronx)

So now you know!  

 

3 Natural and Organic Ways to Keep Spiders and Centipedes OUT of Your Home!

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I have a serious problem! 

Anyone who knows me, understands that I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say that I have a HUGE phobia of bugs- in particular spiders and (blech) centipedes. 

I probably need an intervention!

I've gotten into a minor traffic scrape because a bug flew in my car (it was HUGE! Downright Paleolithic, in my defense...) 

I've embarrassed myself countless times in public when caught off guard by a creepy crawly. 

And no horror has ever been more traumatic than my giant huntsman spider encounter in Mozambique!  

After living virtually bug free in New York City for the last 14-ish years, my bug phobia has returned full force since moving to the Maryland countryside earlier this year. 

I literally live in the middle of the woods. It's beautiful, it's serene, but creepy crawlers abound everywhere.  

A naturalista through and through, I refuse to resort to toxic chemical sprays. Instead, I've decided to fight back naturally and organically. I am on their turf after all. I don't want the creatures to die, I simply want to keep them OUTSIDE!!!!!!

If you also suffer from the occasional (or not so occasional) creepy crawler then here are three natural and organic ways to rid your home of spiders and centipedes and all of their little friends! 

1. Peppermint Essential Oil

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Spiders and centipedes HATE the smell of peppermint! 

Not only is the smell enough to keep them away from your home, but coming into contact with the oil burns them. They will retreat immediately!

To apply, I use a dropper and apply peppermint essential oil directly to cracks in the floorboard, underneath the radiator and around windows. 

For soft surfaces, like the perimeter of my bed and the sofa (I take no chances) I mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil with water in a spray bottle and spritz the mixture where I need it. 

This works like a charm!

 

The peppermint leaves my house smelling cool and fresh and keeps spiders and centipedes OUT! When guests visit, they're always commenting on how good my house smells (if they only knew why....)

2. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Similar to peppermint essential oil, spiders and centipedes can't stand the smell of eucalyptus (neither can mosquitoes or flies for that matter!) essential oil. 

I burn this oil in an essential oil steam diffuser. Eucalyptus smells so good and compliments the peppermint aroma coming from my floorboards. 

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Eucalyptus makes me feel like I live in a spa. Not only is the fragrance calming but it has medicinal properties. Eucalyptus is antimicrobial, antibacterial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic,  and decongestant, which means it is a natural air purifier, kills airborne germs and is also beneficial to individuals with chronic bronchitis, asthma and allergies.  

In a nutshell, you can't go wrong with eucalyptus! EVER!

 

3. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is extremely irritating to insects. Heck, it's irritating to humans if it gets in our eyes and mouth. 

Spiders and centipedes will go out of their way to avoid cayenne pepper which is why it is so effective when sprinkled outside around the periphery of a house and along exterior window ledges.  

IT REALLY WORKS!!!!

Let the bugs play outdoors so you can enjoy the indoors with this winning combination of natural and organic pest control.  

All of the above mentioned remedies are safe for humans, kids and pets (cats and dogs). 

Note: If you have pet rodents stay away from the peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils because the smell will upset them. Peppermint essential oil is actually effective in driving mice out of homes as well. 

Coconut Carrot Cake with Rose Buttercream Frosting

Sometimes, birthdays have a way of sneaking up on us. 

This year (and don't tell him I told you this!) my husband Mark's birthday shimmied into town way before I was ready! 

He was on tour, so it's not like he was around to remind me and I had the kids and I was finishing my novel and teaching yoga... I have legit excuses! 

Anyhow, the night before his birthday (he was scheduled to fly in the next day), the boys and I stood in the kitchen looking at each other trying to figure out what to do. 

We pulled out crayons and construction paper and made cards and a sign and then my four year old had a brilliant idea. 

"Let's make daddy a birthday cake!" 

"C-A-K-E!!!" my 21 month old shrieked recognizing something he loved to eat. 

My husband is not big on sweets but he does love carrot cake.  

The boys and I piled into the van and headed to the grocery store to quickly stockpile the necessary ingredients and get started on our birthday surprise.

The basis for this recipe came from The Joy of Cooking but I had substitutions in mind: 

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-Greek yogurt for moisture

-Pecans not walnuts (he doesn't like walnuts for some odd reason) 

-Grade B maple syrup to replace the white sugar

-Pineapple for sweetness and moisture

-Almond flour to keep the cake light and fluffy

-Coconut oil instead of butter (healthier and worked with my coconut twist on the recipe with the addition of shredded coconut) 

-Rose essence for the frosting (coconut and rose flavors are so complimentary) 

-I almost bought purple carrots then decided against it- I didn't want to be too weird. I'll save the purple ones for another recipe... 

Here's what we needed for our cake recipe

1 cup unrefined organic coconut oil

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

3 cups shredded carrots (I totally cheated and brought them pre- shredded. There's just not enough time in the day...) 

8 oz. crushed pineapple in fruit juice

4 large eggs

1 cup maple syrup (real grade B)

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Then for the frosting:

4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons rose water

Dried rose petals

 

Here's how we did it:

 

Once the oven was preheated to 325 degrees we set to work.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, we combined with a whisk ( to really break up the almond flour which has a tendency to clump) the all purpose flour, the almond flour, the baking soda, the baking powder and the sea salt.

Once fully combined, we added the nutmeg and cinnamon and set the bowl aside to focus on the wet ingredients. 

First, we combined the coconut oil, eggs and vanilla extract, whisking until fully blended.  

Next, we added the Greek yogurt, maple syrup and brown sugar, whisking until blended and smooth. 

Into the mix we added the crushed pineapples, shredded carrots, shredded coconut and crushed pecans. 

When this was blended completely we folded in our dry ingredient bowl. 

I greased (with coconut oil) and lined (with parchment paper) two 8x8 round cake tins and filled each 3/4 to the top with batter.  

Before bed, the boys and I mixed the cake ingredients together and popped the two rounded cake tins into the oven. Our coconut carrot cake with rose buttercream frosting was coming to life!

40 minutes later, the cake was cooling and I was making the frosting.

In a bowl I combined the powdered sugar and softened butter and blended as I added the rose essence and Greek yogurt. Once my frosting was perfectly smooth and creamy, I set it aside until my cake was fully cooled (about an hour).

I frosted the middle layer first making sure that my layer of frosting was nice and thick. With the rest I decorated the top and sides.

For my final artistic touch, I sprinkled gorgeous dried rosebuds on top and anointed the sides of the cake with shredded coconut.

Can I just tell you how absolutely delectable it all smelled!

It was so hard not to dig in right there on the spot.

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But I managed to hold out until the birthday boy came home.

Not to brag, but the cake was epic. As Mark said, "you need to break this one out on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter"- epic.

And there you have it. The story of our coconut carrot cake with rose buttercream frosting.

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May you enjoy this recipe as well for birthdays and holidays to come!

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 Pure bliss I promise you!

Luscious Lemon Cake: A Gluten Free Delight!

Now that we're pretty certain my youngest son has a gluten allergy, I've begun the great search for easy and delicious gluten free recipes.

There are a ton of gluten free recipes out there. Some are good, some not so good. Many are complicated employing a seemingly odd and difficult to attain collection of ingredients designed to mimic the chemical reaction of baking with gluten flour.

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I'm all about simple and clean baking. I need easy, quick recipes that I can rely on again and again.

I can't stand the aftertaste of xanthan gum and I'm not a fan of most gluten free flour blends.

Almond flour -I love!

I've been experimenting with recipes that call for almond flour and am slowly amassing a collection of favorites.

This lemon cake is one of them!

 

Moist, tantalizingly tart, and free of processed sugar, I feel good about giving my kids this dessert and I love the expression on people's shocked faces when I tell them they're eating a sugar free, gluten free cake- WHAT?!?

It's that good my friends!

Want to try my Luscious Lemon Cake? A true gluten free delight?

 

Here's what you'll need:

3 large lemons

3 large eggs

3 cups Almond Flour

1 cup pure maple syrup (I prefer Grade B)

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon lemon extract

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Here's what to do:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

To start, you'll need to thoroughly wash your lemons. If there's a waxy coating on the skin, try to get that off! Place your lemons in a pot of boiling water and bring to a boil then simmer covered for about 20 minutes.

Strain your lemons and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk your eggs together until fully combined. Add your lemon extract, the olive oil and the maple syrup. Set this bowl aside.

In a large bowl, mix your almond meal and baking powder together. Add to this mixture your wet ingredients from the small bowl.

Revisiting those lemons which should be cool by now. Slice them in half, doing your best to remove any seeds before placing the halves inside a blender.  Puree your lemons until you've got a lovely lemony puree.

Add your lemon puree to your mixing bowl.

Stir until everything is uniformly combined.

Grease a 9x9 circular baking pan. For consistency, I use more olive oil.

Bake at 325 degrees F for bout 60 minutes.

Allow to cool and set about thirty minutes before removing from the pan.

Adorn with powdered sugar and lemon slices or enjoy as is.

Either way, you'll love this lemony gluten free delight!

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