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WELL BEING: Beat the Heat with Healthy Summer Drinks

22 Jul

Summer Cordials by Lynn Van Noy

It’s hot outside and the perfect time for some good old-fashioned sippers to keep your family happy and hydrated.

So many drinks to choose from; chillers, coolers, sparklers and cordials, oh my!

If you’re ready to beat the heat and get your spicy hydration on, here’s a few recipes to boost your immune system while cooling you off.

Herbal Iced Teas:

#1.  Quite possibly the most simple Summer treat of all.  Just brew a pot of your favorite herbal tea.  Let cool.  Mix together with a can of frozen orange juice into a 1 quart container.  Add water to taste.  p.s.  No need to add additional sweetener.  By blending with OJ, it’s already sweet enough.

Benefits include a smaller dose of caffeine than coffee, without the jittery negative side effects.  Not to mention, the orange juice will account for your daily allowance of Vitamin C.

#2.  Another twist on herbal iced tea is to simply make up a pitcher of Tazo Zen mint green tea, and then add thin slices of cucumber, lime, and mint leaves to garnish.  Tea-licious!

Raw Watermelon Refresher

This refreshing drink is ideal for all those juicy Grapeland watermelons.  Now you just need a little watermelon print umbrella to put in your East Texas drink.

Using either the blender or food processor, blend till liquefied.

  • 2 cups watermelon
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 seedless cucumber
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded
  • 1 very small jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1tbsp local honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a dash of sea salt to taste
  • garnish with cilantro leaves

Drink up!

Cucumber Lemonade

A rejuvenating burst of flavor.  Use your handy-dandy juicer for this little diddy.

  • 4 peeled organic lemons
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 4 Medjool dates (remove pits)

In a pitcher, blend concentrate with water and ice to your desired taste.

Raspberry Lavender Cordial

  • 3 cups of spring water
  • juice of 4 organic lemons
  • 1 4 ounce container of fresh raspberries
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lavender buds
  • 3 tbsp of local honey

Blend together and bring to a boil.  As soon as mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes.

  • pour through strainer into drinking pitcher
  • add juice of 1 more organic lemon
  • pour in 10 ounces of ginger-ale
  • add 2 cups of chipped ice
  • slice off long zests of lemon to flavor pitcher
  • stir and drink up

Ginger Sparklers

Ginger based drinks are especially welcome on hot Summer days when you have eaten too much at the BBQ.  The digestive aid of apple cider vinegar and ginger root should get that digestion and elimination back in order in no time.  Also good for kids who have a tummy ache from too many sweets at the Birthday Party.

  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp Agave Nectar
  • 1 cup water

Blend together and bring to a boil.  As soon as mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and let steep till completely cool.  Strain to make a ginger syrup.

Add 1 tbsp of ginger syrup to a glass containing 1/3 glass apple cider vinegar, 1/3 glass seltzer water, and your preferred amount of ice.

Summer is ripe with healthy fresh herbs, fruits, and flowers.  Refresh yourself and your guests the whole Summer through.  Cheers!

WELL BEING: The Art of “Single-Tasking”

7 Jul

In the Moment ~ Lynn Van Noy

Everyone’s heard about multi-tasking, right?  You know, getting as many things done, as quickly as possible, with the least amount of effort or time devoted to any one task.

Today, I want to talk about single-tasking.

Single-tasking is my version of focusing on one particular action entirely.  Think, laser-point attention upon one single task, one single moment.  Be here now.

Multi-tasking is a valuable tool when there is a necessary time-table like getting the kids to school on time, offering assistance in a crisis, or an important assignment is due at school or work.  It is beneficial to build goals into our daily life to create a system of accountability in terms of health, fitness, academics, finances, and so on.

Unfortunately, there are times we get so multi-task focused, we can turn everyday living into a goal-oriented process, creating unnecessary pressures and stress.  That’s when balance is needed.

For the most part, our daily experiences are not emergency based or urgent goals so we can slow down, enjoy the moment, allow our mind to be creative, and open the door for inspiration to waltz in when it pleases.

We can miss so much creative flow and personal feeling when we are racing to the finish line of a task, planning every detail, and blocking impromptu happenstance.  By the way, “happy” derives from the word “happenstance.”  Ups and downs are natural.  Life happens, why not welcome it playfully and allow it, without trying to force or control it.  That’s it, let life happen.

Let’s say, you’re making coffee.  Remember, just make the coffee.  No rushing off into the next room to do something else in the middle of the process.  By the time you get to the next room you will probably have forgotten what you ran in there for anyway.  Just one step at a time.  One simple action made consciously and completely.  Stay with it, and in time you will develop the ability to single-task brilliantly.    Enjoy the peace of mind that is a natural side-effect of single-tasking.

With practice, you can develop awareness even during busy times, consciously breathing through each step, reminding yourself of your deepest motivations as you go.

Having the opportunity to slow down and take one-thing-at-a-time comes easily for us here in East Texas.  Not many big cities, wide open spaces, nature abounds and the great sky is so big.  There seems to be little economy of time here.  No one talks particularly fast, like in some big cities where the “time is money” attitude is king.  In fact, we like to take our time talking, stretching out our words, adding syllables, weaving our expressions like a well-crafted, handmade blanket.

So take your time.  Single-task.  Enjoy the moment.

Take a walk.

Make a pot of tea.

Sit under a big old tree.

Ease into an herbal soak.

It doesn’t have to be anything important.  Only, be in the moment.

Sure it would be easier to single-task if you were all alone in a quiet space with no pressures or expectations, but that’s not how life usually works.  By choosing to single-task one small thing each day, you will grow more comfortable with the experience.

You have the capacity for massive joy and amazing experiences.  When you take the time to single-task, your ordinary moments can become extraordinary moments.

WELL BEING: Bath Salts

4 Mar

In praise of the “soak“, let’s talk bathtub remedies.

Specialty bath stores thrive because of one thing, a good old-fashioned soak never goes out of style.

Too cold from a day outside?  Take a warm soothing bath to balance your temperature and soothe your aching bones.

Too hot from a long strenuous work-out?  Take a surprisingly uplifting ice bath to rehab those muscles and speed recovery.

Want to treat someone to a luxurious at-home spa day?  Just give them a lovely bath salts set and they will thank you for your great thoughtfulness.

Why, even men like a nice herbal bath once in a blue moon!  But we won’t tell.

Bath Salts are a wonderful addition to any bath.  They generally fall into 2 categories:  sea salts and Epsom salt.

The benefits of bath salts are far-reaching.  Beyond simply being relaxing for mind-body wellness, research reveals well founded health rewards including pain relief and psychological consonance.

OVERALL BENEFITS OF SALT BATHS

  • increased peace of mind
  • physical and mental flexibility
  • stability and self-control
  • self-confidence
  • introspective thinking
  • mind-body rejuvenation
  • increased energy level
  • improved response to stress

BENEFITS SPECIFIC TO SEA SALT BATHS

  • skin hydration
  • skin tone and texture
  • skin cell growth
  • relieves Rheumatic disorders and arthritis
  • balances the central nervous system and peripheral nerve diseases
  • helpful for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • gently healing to post-operative patients

There are a number of natural raw salts to choose from including Grey Salt, basic Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and Dead Sea Salt.  Dead Sea Salts are specifically mineral rich, containing high amounts of calcium.

BENEFITS SPECIFIC TO EPSOM SALT BATHS

  • prevents artery hardening
  • improves the absorption of nutrients
  • flushes toxins from the body
  • eases migraine headaches
  • soothes muscle aches and spasms
  • restores Magnesium levels
  • lowers elevated blood pressure

Epsom Salt is pure Magnesium, so a soak in this salt will certainly help relieve any deficiency.  Magnesium plays a tremendous role in our over-all health and well being, regulating the activity of over 325 enzymes, improving nerve and muscle function, easing our digestive process and reducing inflammation.

When shopping for bath salts, be sure to check the ingredients.  The last thing you want is a bunch of unpronounceable chemicals swirling around your healing bath.  Look for the type of salt, essential oils, and natural herbs.

Better yet, make your own!

Creating your very own bath salts allows you to mix and match scents and textures for your ideal bath experience.

Here are a couple of recipe’s.  Feel free to play with ingredients to make your ultimate soak, or whip some up in a lovely colored glass jar as a sweet gift for a friend.

HIS CLEANSE & RESTORE

  • 2 cups Epsom Salts
  • 1 cup Dead Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup whole coriander seeds
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) Grapeseed oil
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) Avocado oil

HER CLEANSE & RESTORE

  • 2 cups Epsom Salts
  • 1 cup Himalayan Rose Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup dried tea rose petals
  • 1 T. Vitamin E
  • 3/4 cup Almond oil

Blend each mix together until smooth, breaking up any clumps and incorporating all the ingredients.  1/2 cup per bath is recommended.

A bath drain strainer will help catch the herbs at the end of your bath.  Also, make sure to have a bath mat down so as not to slip on the oils when exiting the bathtub.  Do not eat.  Be sure to put in a safe place away from the kids.

And of course, finish off the presentation by placing the fresh bath salts in the perfect His & Hers containers.

Happy soaking!

How To: Make Your Own Shampoo {Vegas Inspired}

30 Mar

Who thinks about homemade soap and shampoo while on vacation?  Apparently, I do.

Recently, I basked in the sparkling spotlight of the Las Vegas strip.  It was my first visit to Sin City and I felt sure people could tell I must be from Texas.  But us tourist types are out-of-towners anyway.  Not to mention, it happened to be NASCAR weekend and Texas was definitely representing.  Also, helpful was the big stamp of approval in the form of my monogram being emblazoned on practically everything; LVN for Lynn Van Noy, right?  Or was that Las Vegas, Nevada.

Larger than life statues of Greek Gods stood casually in front of the Forum and flashing billboards of Garth Brooks and Celine Dion lined the famous street bustling with people.  There was blissful reconnecting with my friends, fabulous food and world-class shows.  But all the way from the top of the Eiffel Tower down to the dancing fountains at the Bellagio, I had one thought in the back of my mind.

That big spa tub back in my hotel room was just waiting for me.

I imagined mixing essential oils and epsom salts for the most decadent soak.  Perhaps a milk bath with rose petals.  Pure Castile soap blended with chamomile flowers would make the perfect body wash.

So there I was ‘city center’ Vegas and all my oils and homemade scrubs were over a thousand miles away at home.  I should have been thinking about the frozen Bailey’s or laying out by the pool but no, I was trying to figure out where to buy any bath products using natural organic flowers and oils.

With one night left in this epic adventure, we happened upon a shopping mall, mostly in search of something to eat.  And there it was.  L’Occitane en Provence is a European based boutique specializing in all natural body products.  Needless to say, I spent a little money but it was no gamble.  Now I was ready, I had almond and lavender bubble bath and a variety of organic flower soaps.

Finally, I had a wonderful hour-long spa bath.  Definitely one of my favorite Vegas experiences!

So forget all about “what happens in Vegas” staying in Vegas and enjoy my favorite homemade shampoo recipe for a relaxing at-home stay-cation!

HERBAL SHAMPOO RECIPE

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 3 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp lemongrass
  • 2 tsp tea tree oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Castile liquid soap

Heat the water in a pot and bring to a boil.  If you have a strainer, place the rosemary and lemongrass in it.  Place the herbs in a container that can hold boiling water.  Pour the water over the herbs, mixing the herbs up.  Cover the pot with the herbs inside and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes.

When the time has elapsed, uncover the container and mix the herbs around a little more.  Remove the herbs from the container.  Mix the tea tree oil and vanilla into the water.

Mix the soap into the infused water, making sure the soap dissolves completely.  Because you’re mixing oil, water and soap it’s important that you mix very well, spreading the oil out as much as possible.

Pour the mixture into your container  and viola.. you’ve made your own herbal shampoo.  Let the shampoo cool and then place the cap on tightly.  This recipe makes about 12 ounces of shampoo.

How To: Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

2 Feb

Last week, I introduced you to the Green Team, a small group of friends and co-workers cutting costs consciously both on the job and at home.  During our interview, they mentioned making their very own homemade laundry detergent.  When I laughingly asked if the products would explode when I try to make my own laundry detergent, they all looked at me with an emphatic “no.”  Wow!  For long-time popular detergent brand-name users, they sure seem convinced that this simple inexpensive way to wash is the new way to go.

Several readers have requested the recipe’ to make their own laundry detergent.  Our friends found all 3 ingredients at Kroger in Palestine, Texas for under $9 in total.

That’s right, $9 for all 3 ingredients.  That equals 3/10 of 1 penny per laundry load!

Powdered Laundry Detergent

You will need:

  • Fels Naptha Soap
  • Washing Soda
  • Borax
  • Kitchen Grater
  • Large Bowl
  • Measuring Cups
  • Airtight Container

Blend these ingredients in mixing bowl and store in airtight container.

  • 1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap (use cheese grater)
  • 1/2 Cup Washing Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Borax

For light load, use 1 tablespoon.  For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.  Also, to get out major stains, let clothes soak in soapy water as a pre-wash.

Hint:  there are no suds because there are no chemicals or fillers.

You may also choose to scent your homemade laundry detergent with your favorite essential oil(s).  For example, freshen up your bed linens by adding a few drops of peppermint oil to the wash or create a spa feel in your bathroom by adding a few drops of lavender oil to your bath towel wash.  Remember only to use true natural essential oils and avoid any natural essence you have an allergy to.

Pure-Castile soap also makes a great laundry soap and in diluted forms can serve as a shampoo, body wash and dish liquid.  I use it in my refillable hand soap dispensers.

Green Team friend Jennifer Rowland was a little worried to use the cheese grater to shave up the Fels Naptha Soap but later remarked that it was cleaner than ever after she washed it from the soap grating.

Jennifer also passed along a few websites that inspire her to cut costs for quality and continue to support the environment, saying “The 4 women behind these websites inspire me to live frugally, plan meals and cook from scratch.  Two of them are really young also!  Guess there’s no age-limit for being wise with your time and money.”

Check out moneysavingmom.com, lifeasmom.com, thesimplemom.wordpress.com and miserlymoms.com.  Also, be sure to visit my website at lynnvannoy.com and share your favorite hints and tip for economizing and going green at home.

WELL BEING: Dry Brush Massage

21 Aug

As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I’ve studied many forms of therapeutic body work and massage techniques.  So when I was introduced to a therapy called Dry Brush Massage, I was not impressed at all with the name.  Clearly, a dry brush does not sound nearly as good as skilled hands and warmed essential oils.

However, that first impression quickly faded when I experienced the Dry Brush Massage.  It was relaxing and invigorating at the same time.  This therapeutic practice is truly unlike any other, especially since it is perfectly designed for you to do-it-yourself.

Consider, our bodies shed over 600,000 particles of skin every hour.  That’s one and half pounds of dead, dry skin sloughed off every year!  Dry Brush Massage is ideal for the exfoliation and detoxification of our largest organ, the skin.

Dry Brush Massage is an extremely cost-effective therapy since nothing more is needed than a simple spa brush and you don’t even have to book an appointment with a Therapist since you can easily do it anytime in the comfort of your own home.  You’ll be on your way to better circulation, glowing skin and a healthy flowing lymphatic system in just a few minutes each day by simply brushing your skin.

BENEFITS OF DRY BRUSH MASSAGE:

  • tones and firms skin
  • exfoliates dead skin cells
  • soothes and calms anxiety
  • boosts the immune system
  • encourages lymphatic flow
  • stimulates blood circulation
  • reconnects you to your body
  • breaks down and flushes out cellulite

WHAT YOU NEED:

Dry brush exfoliation involves the use of a dry brush on dry skin.  It is very important to get a brush that suits your own personal tastes.  Often found on the Health & Beauty aisle at retail stores, dry brushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The most popular dry brush on the market is made with soft natural fiber and has a long removable handle so that you can reach easily or remove the handle to hold the brush in your hand.

Dry brushes also come in a variety of bristle fiber; animal hair, nylon and synthetic plastic bristles.  The nylon and plastic bristle brushes are popular and inexpensive but tend to prick and damage the skin.

There’s no need to spend a lot of money or buy from a high-end spa.  I actually bought my dry brush from a local farm supply.  By a company called “Hot Licks”, it was apparently made to brush horses.  With hog hair bristles, I find that it’s just rough enough and just soft enough to suit my skin.  In 13 years of using dry brushes, it is my absolute favorite!

You may want to experiment with different dry brushes and different bristle types to find your favorite.   You can also use a loofah sponge, exfoliation gloves or a rough wash cloth.

DIRECTIONS FOR DRY BRUSHING:   

  • Dry brushing is ideal once a day.
  • Dry brush your dry body before you shower or bathe to get the maximum benefits of skin detoxification and cleansing.
  • Brush body in small gentle circular motions.
  • Use light pressure in areas where the skin is thin and delicate.
  • Always brush towards the heart.  By moving the circulation from the outermost points in, you are directing the lymph back towards the heart and taking the pressure off the vascular system.
  • WARNING: Stroking away from your heart can put pressure on the veins and lymph vessels, possibly causing ruptured vessels and varicose veins.

Try Dry Brush Massage.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good it feels and how positive your results will be.  Enjoy!

Send questions and comments to lynnvannoy@gmail.com or visit http://www.lynnvannoy.com

The information in this column is not intended as medical advice. Its intention is solely informational and educational.

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