Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Scrub

Written by Jessie

Wintertime weather, compounded with hot indoor air, can drain vital moisture from our skin and cause irritations. Here is a simple recipe for a luscious body scrub you can make at home to help restore and retain the moisture in your skin through the winter season. 

Items needed:
Course sea salt 3-5cups
Carrier oil such as grapeseed or hemp (*amount will vary) 
Essential oil of your choice
Mixing bowl and spoon
Salt grinder or food processor
Small jar with lid
Step One: Grind Salt

Pour sea salt into processor and pulse until the salt is the coarseness you desire. Aim for a coarseness somewhere before kosher salt. Table salt would be too fine and may dissolve in the next step. (I used 5 cups of Bali Sea Salt for two small jars.)
When you have found your desired coarseness, pour the salt into a mixing bowl.
Step Two: Mix in Oil

Slowly stir in your oil a teaspoon at a time. There are no true measurements here so frequently testing the consistency with your fingers is key. You want the scrub to be dry enough to be scoopable but not crumbly, and just wet enough to leave a nice sheen of oily-goodness on your skin without being runny.  
*Note: If using saturated oil such as coconut, you will need to heat the oil to liquid form so it can be stirred into the salt. You will also need to use a tablespoon or so of unsaturated oil, such as grapeseed, to keep the mix from solidifying in the jar. 

Step Three: Add Aroma

This is where you can get really creative! 
Add your oil one or two drops at a time and stir. Give the scrub a full whiff before you add more. Essential oils go a long way and you want to avoid over infusing the salt. When you find the perfect aroma balance, scoop your scrub into the jar and seal the lid. 
Essential Oil Suggestions:
Grapefruit: Uplifiting
Lavender: Calming
Lemongrass: Balancing
Lemon: Energizing
Lime: Energizing
Ylang Ylang: Relaxing 
Patchouli: Balancing
Jasmine: Soothing
*Note: Essential oils have therapeutic qualities so I highly encourage you to do a bit of research in finding the best one. Always perform a spot test (one drop of EO to three drops carrier oil) on the inner side of your elbow to check for allergic reaction. Also, I refrain from using fragrance oils (different from essential oils) on my body as they are not 100% natural and can cause skin irritations.
Step Four: Enjoy!

Apply scrub to wet skin and use your hands or shower glove to lightly exfoliate. Always use before shaving and void using on the face. Pat skin dry with a towel. 
Feel luscious and hydrated and smell delectable! Scrub will keep for up to three months in a cool place. 
*Note: The oil from the scrub may make your shower or tub very slick. Be careful!
Happy scrubbing!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Seasonal Resolve

Written by Jonah Lisa

New Year’s Resolutions tend to get a bad wrap these days.  By the time we’ve got busy lives and kids and the thrill of a drunken night ringing in the New Year has long worn off, we’ve become cynical about making resolutions.  Most of us don’t even bother.  And if we do, we might do so with a sigh and half the feeling that resolutions are kind of silly.  Who really keeps them anyway? 

Let’s put that cynicism to bed for a minute and try to take back resolutions this year.  
After all there’s something really natural and incredibly useful about contemplating the past year and considering what we’d like to improve upon in our lives.  I’ve felt it strongly this year.  That sense of new beginning.  But I’m so culturally wired and the backlash is so strong that I still have that knee-jerk reaction against resolutions.  What gives?  I think I just need a paradigm shift.
I’ve spent some time noodling it and I think I’ve put my finger on follow-through being the problem.  While it’s great to look back and assess an entire year, thinking about the same goals for a year can be daunting.  Let’s be generous, most new year’s resolutions last until, what, March?  Well, instead of calling that a failure because we didn’t last the whole year, let’s just shorten the duration of the resolution and all it a success!   
Let’s focus on shorter-term, seasonal resolutions.  It’s a Win-Win!
We get to bask in that fabulous new start feeling, use the motivation of the calendar to make some changes and actually feel a sense of accomplishment by succeeding over 3 or 4 months.   Then we can reassess in March or April and make new resolutions right when the New Year motivation is waning and we’re starting to feel another natural beginning as Spring arrives!
For me those Spring resolutions will probably carry through summer, too and by September I’ll be feeling all different--ready to begin a school year and hunker down for the coming winter and change my focus yet again.  Time for new resolutions! 
This seasonal approach just feels way more organic to me and way less of a remedy for disappointment.  It also allows me to be more specific about the resolutions I set, which motivational experts will tell you is a key to success.  
Instead of being vague and saying I’m going to eat more healthy foods and exercise more--whatever that means--I can really target some specifics that feel right seasonally.  This year I’m resolving to cross-country ski more and learn to cook dried beans.  Doesn’t that feel way more doable?  In the spring I may aim for hiking to the top of some local mountains and drinking more green smoothies.  See what I mean?  
It’s really just a small mental shift but it takes resolutions back from “why bother” land and sets you up for success.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Healthy Herbal Chai

Written by Nicole

After the rush of the Holidays, I hope you’re all enjoying a quieter time and savoring the last of 2011. I know it can feel like a marathon—between social gatherings, shopping, cooking and staying up late to get it all done. With two small children, I also know that “burning the candle at both ends” will eventually lead to burn out. And when I start to rely on caffeine to get me through the day, I might feel energized in the moment, but I start to feel worn down and exhausted in the long run. 
With that in mind, I’d like to share a lovely herbal chai tea recipe to keep you warm and energized through the winter months—without caffeine. This blend contains Siberian ginseng to help the body adapt to stress, burdock root to help gently detox the liver, licorice to help balance the adrenals, Ginger with all of its amazing health benefits, and cinnamon and cardamom to warm you from the inside. Feel free to drink 3-4 cups each day for the best effects.

Healthy Herbal Chai Tea
3 teaspoons dried eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)
2 teaspoons dried burdock root
2 teaspoons licorice root
1 teaspoon dried ginger (or 2 tsp. fresh chopped ginger)
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cardamom pods
Simmer herbs in 1 quart of water for 20 minutes. Strain and discard herbs. Pour into a thermos or teapot to keep warm. Add milk and honey to taste. Tea will keep for two days in the refrigerator. 
This is a perfect tea to pack up and take on a winter hike with the family. You’ll enjoy the warming sensation as well as the health-promoting benefits this tea offers, leaving your body feeling nourished rather than drained in the long run.