Happy New Year!!

2011 is here, so let me offer you wishes for an abundance of HEALTH and HAPPINESS in the new year!!!! As you enter this new year; may all your goals be reached, your health be great, your love be extended and your wealth be increased....or something along those lines, lol!
2010 was challenging in many ways, physically and mentally. However, while it brought some very sad and difficult situations to bear, it also had some bright and shinning moments. My youngest Son married last Valentine's day, and my eldest Son had a Son of his own this past July. Being a Mother-in-law and a Grandma has truly been a joy and a blessing!
I was disconnected from the internet for about nine months, but now I am reconnected and have begun to set goals for updating and maintaining my web sites, as well as this blog. While I still do not see myself posting daily, I am simply too long winded to do that much writing daily, lol!, I will be posting between one and three times a week beginning this week.
I appreciate the good wishes that I was sent these past few months, and I want to thank you all for caring. I hope that you will forgive my lack of presence on the blog and stick with me as I get back into the groove of things.
Be sure to Look for MAKE IT YOURSELF MONDAYS because I still want to provide you with great, easy to make recipes. I will, however, be expanding to offer you some food recipes, as well as some nice gift ideas.

Spring is Here

Spring has sprung, which in Ohio means that one day it is beautiful, sunny and eighty degrees and the next it is cold, wet, dreary, and forty! For those of you familiar, you know this is no exaggeration! This AM we actually had frost on the ground, but at least today is sunny and it is supposed to be back to seventy tomorrow.
No matter the current weather wherever you are, one thing is for certain, summer is just around the corner on our side of the globe. This means that NOW is the time to be thinking about properly caring for those neglected feet. You know the ones! Those rough, nasty looking heels, and those dried out ankles and foot tops! It will soon be time to don those pretty, skimpy, sexy, sandles you got on sale at the end of last season and you want to look good doing it, don't you?
To prepare your skin and get your feet ready for their big summer shoe debut, check out my all natural foot paste, or my wonderful heel and elbow cream, which does wonders healing those dry cracks and callouses. You should also check out my organic orange body scrub so that you can get rid of all that dead, dry, nasty winter skin and get your whole self ready for the skimpy clothes of summer !!!

More wedding pics

OH IO This is done wherever and whenever a Buckeye visits another state, well these guys keep this tradition anyway, so the wedding was no different!
This is where they were collecting sand in a heat shaped bottle to save as a remembrance.
During the ceremony

It isn't hot, but it's not a foot of snow either!

This is the newly married couple on Fragnista Beach in Destin, Florida, on Valentines day. It ended up being about 55, but it was windy and felt pretty cool....still, we found out that Ohio was sitting in about 13" of accumulated snow. I'll take cool on the beach ANYDAY!
This is my Son and his soon to be wife, the day before the wedding, on Crystal Beach. Today was in the mid to high 40's, but Ohio was hit with a bad storm and is expecting almost a foot of snow before the night is over! Oh so glad to be here! This is Crystal Beach in Destin, Florida, our first day here. A bit cold (40 and windy), a bit overcast, but still very beautiful, and MUCH, MUCH better than the 4"-6" of snow that we left at home, in Ohio.
The happy couple is now on a cruise in the Bahamas and we are waiting for the warmer weather we are promised later this week! Meanwhile, Ohio is due some more snow tomorrow and again this coming weekend. I certainly will HATE the drive home to all that snow!!

Managing by Massage

The next part of Holistic treatments that I want to address is Massage. Massage is muscle manipulation, and it includes many types, such as acupressure, reflexology, polarity, effleurage, stroking, kneading, friction, rocking and others. Massage is used to stimulate circulation, reduce stress, increase suppleness and ultimately promote relaxation. Below are descriptions of some of the many types available.
Acupressure is an ancient Chinese technique that is based upon the theory that there are pressure points (called meridians) on the body and these points correspond to organs in the body. When pressure is applied to these points the energy pathways are stimulated and the corresponding organ and the connecting muscles are encouraged to relax.
The Alexander Technique is a bodywork system that is meant to improve posture and correct bad (physical) habits that cause stress on the body. It was named after its creator, F.M. Alexander, an Australian, in the 1890's.
Cranial Massage is the soothing manipulation of the pressure points of the spine, head, neck, and shoulders. It is meant to improve the floe of the cerebral spinal fluid through the nervous system, thereby relieving teeth grinding, headaches and back problems.
Effleurage is a massage term that is used to describe a long stroking motion that is intended to calm the nervous system.
In Energy Balancing, a powerful current of healing energy comes through the therapist's hands to heal areas of illness and injury. This technique is said to clear and charge the seven major chakras and auric the body.
Esalen Massage is a more modern variation of the Swedish massage. Its focus is on creating deep states of relaxation, beneficial states of consciousness and a general well-being. Developed by the Esalen Institute of Big Sur, California, unlike the Swedish massge, this massage is not focused on the relieving of muscle tension or increased circulation, it is more rhythmic and hypnotic and focuses on the mind/body as a whole. The Swedish massage, by contrast, is more brisk and focuses on the body.
Foot/Hand Reflexology is a technique which divides the body into ten zones which correspond with a specific reflex area on the foot or hand. When you apply pressure to a particular massage point on the foot or hand it helps circulation, promotes relaxation, and releives pain in one of these ten body zones.
Gommage is a cleansing and rehydrating treatment that utilizes creams which are applied to the body in long, massage type movements.
Developed by Joseph Heller, Hellerwork is a system of deep-tissue body work to reduce stress and offer movement re-education.
Hydrotherapy is one of the oldest methods known to man. It refers to all water treatments such as underwater massages, hot and cold showers, mineral baths and jet sprays, for example. These help in the healing process of almost any ailment as they provide both stimulation and relaxation at the same time.
Jin Shin Jyutsu is a gentle Japanese massage. This technique is based upon synchronizing the pulses in two body parts (called meridians), which then releases the body's natural pain relievers and rejuvinates the immune system.
Lomi-Lomi is a Hawaiian massage that utilizes a rythmical rocking method.
Lymph Drainage utilizes a gentle and pulsating massage or pressure to specific areas of the body which are located around the lynph nodes and toward the heart. It is used extensively for the head, neck, and shoulders during facials, and is meant to increase the lymphatic flow, which in turn increases the body's internal cleasing, aka toxin drainage.
Myofacial Release restores proper function and bio-mechanics to the body's facial system through manipulation of its soft tissue.
Pfrimmer Therapy, developed by Therese Pfrimmer, is a technique that is designed to stimulate circulation and regenerate lymphatic flow in order to detoxify and oxyginate stagnant tissues by manipulating deep tissues.
Founded by osteopath Dr. Randolf Stone, Polarity therapy is a massage technique that combines deep pressure massage with gentle stretching and rocking which is used to achieve correct body alignment
Reflexology is a system of massage specifically for the feet and hands . It promotes healing, improves circulation, and relieves stress in other parts of the body.
Reiki, while not a massage, involves touch so I will include it here. In Reiki, the therapist places their hands on (or just above) 12 areas of the body. The hands gently rest on (or over) each area for 3-5 minutes without any manipulation at all. It is an erergetic approach to healing and is meant to induce a deep relaxation by creating a nurturing and calming effect.
Rocking is a massage technique where where the hands gently rock or shake the body back and forth.
Created by Ida Rolf, the Rolling technique is an intensive, oft times painful, massage that is used to realign the skeletal structure, improve the energy flow and relieve stress caused by emotional trauma.
The Russian massage technique requires percise angels for the muscles and joints deep-tissue massage. It stretches the muscles out.
Shiatsu is a Japanese massage technique where gentle pressure is applied to the meridian points of the nervous system's energy paths. It balances and revitalizes the immune and the endocrine systems of the body and stabilizes its energy flow.
Sports massage is a deep tissue massage used for treating specific muscle groups. It is often utilized around the joints.
Structural Integration utilizes the manipulation of deep and superficial connection tissue in addition to movement education. It is a system that relieves the patterns of stress and impaired body functioning due to poor posture, acute or chronic conditions (such as low back pain, neck or shoulder injury).
Swedish massage is a European technique that has been around since the late 18th century. It combines many massage techniques, including, stroking, kneading, manipulation, and tapping of the muscle tissue. This massage is meant to increase the flow of the venous blood from the extremeties, thereby shortening the recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissues of lactic and uric acid, and other metobolic waste. It increases circulation without increasing the workload of the heart, relaxes muscles, and improves overall circulation.
Tapotment is a massage that involves a light, steady tapping that causes a slight vibration of the muscles.
Vodder Massage was developed in 1950 by Emile Vodder, a Danish born man. It involves manual drainage of lymph.
Watsu is an underwater Shiatsu massage.
Zen Shiatsu is a Japanese art that utilizes acupressure (finger pressure) to unblock and release energy channels, producing a generilzed well-being.
Electrotherapy Treatments utilize short waves, ultrasound, infrared rays and various other forms of electricity for its results.
Now that you have the basics of massage, next posting will be all about Herbal Treatments

The Aromatherapy Element of Holistic Treatments

This installment of the basics of holistic treatments is about aromatherapy.
In a nut shell, Aromatherapy involves the use of Essential Oils (EO's) in healing. To elaborate a bit, Essential oils are natural substances, the volatile oils that are extracted from grasses, flowers, herbs, shrubs, trees, resins, and spices. These oils contain a number of properties that affect the body on physical, psychological and/or emotional levels. They can soothe, relax, rejuvenate, heal, energize, reduce or relieve pain, act as antibiotics, antiseptics, antifungals, and/or antivirals. They work by stimulating the body to use its own healing abilities via the sense of smell.
The first step is to identify the oil or oils that will impact the ailment you are seeking to get relief from. There are currently around three hundred essential oils, however you only need seven to create a "first aide kit" that can soothe ailments from the common cold to heart palpitations, and from black eyes to sprained ankles. These much needed basics are; clove, geranium, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, rosemary, and thyme. For more details on essential oils see this previous post; http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/10/essentials-of-essential-oils.html or any of the several posts from October to December of 2008, where I go through the alphabet of oils, detailing their uses.
Once you have decided the oil (s) that you need to utilize, you must decide the best delivery method. Generally speaking, the oils must be either Essential oils can be absorbed through the skin, sometimes reaching the bloodstream, or inhaled through the nose, affecting the brain through the olfactory system. Know that essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin. Although technically there are a few exceptions to this rule, generally speaking, they should always be diluted in a carrier oil. Which carrier oil you use will be largely dependent upon your personal needs and tastes. Some oils are better for dry skin, some better for oily skin, and some have a longer shelf- life than others. You can read up on the differences in carrier oils here; http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/10/lets-get-carried-away.html
Certainly there are others that I didn't cover, just remember that experimentation is half of the fun, so try something new to you!
Pure essential oils can be added to bathes for a soothing experience, added to compresses to alleviate chronic or acute pain [chronic pain is a backache or arthritis, and acute is like a sprained ankle or headache], or diluted and used for treating body parts or even full body massages. They can be mixed in water and alcohol for a refreshing room spray, or vaporized in burners to eliminate unpleasant odors or to create an atmosphere where you can simply inhale and reap the benefits of that particular oil.
For inhalation, place 5 drops of essential oil on a tissue and sniff for five minutes. This is a fast and easy way to give yourself an inhalation treatment. You can also put a few drops on your pillow before retiring at night, or add 6 to 8 drops of essential oil to a bowl of almost boiling water, then lean toward the bowl, place a towel over your head and the bowl, and inhale for five minutes. This type of steam treatment is especially great for facials or cold and sinus ailments. For some great recipes see http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/06/step-two-to-facial-care-is-steam.html For massage add 15 drops of essential oil to any carrier oil, or mixture of carrier oils that you desire. Be sure to read the tips for massaging and see the recipes in this post; http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/09/reach-out-and-touch-someone-or-touch.html For bathing add 5 to 10 drops to warm bath water and soak for about 20 minutes. To prevent that oil ring around the tub, you can mix the essential oil in a cap full of pure liquid Castile soap or baby shampoo. You can also add 10 to 15 drops to an ounce of coconut oil and pour that into your bath. Compresses; For chronic pain such as aching joints, tired or sore muscles, backaches, earaches, etc., prepare a hot compress by diluting 4 to 6 drops of essential oil in a large bowl of almost boiling water. Dip a cotton sheet strip (about 4 inches wide) into the liquid and wrap it around, or apply it to the affected area. Repeat when the compress has cooled off. For acute pain such as headaches or sprains etc., prepare a cold compress by diluting 4 to 6 drops of essential oil in a large bowl of ice water. Dip a cotton sheet strip (about 4 inches wide) into the liquid and wrap around, or apply to, the affected area Vaporization; Add a few drops of essential oil to a light bulb ring, fragrance burner or diffuser. Dilution Rate; To be safe and effective, most aromatherapy formulas are blended at a 2 1/2% concentration rate. Although the number of drops will vary slightly with the density of the oil and the diameter of the dropper opening, you can use the following measurements as a pretty accurate base for measurements.
  • 2-3 drops of essential oil per teaspoon carrier oil
  • 7-8 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil
  • 15 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil
  • 500 drops of essential oil per liter of carrier oil
Essential oils are quite potent and you should NEVER take them internally without being under the care of a knowledgeable, professional practitioner. And, prior to your home use of these, you really should familiarize yourself with the indications and effects of the oils. Education is the key to being safe, as some of these oils can thin blood, raise or lower blood pressure, induce seizures, and/or negatively impact fetuses, and more . You should also report any use when giving medical history so that your physician will be fully informed. You certainly would not want to have surgery while using an EO that thins blood without you Doctor knowing ahead of time. For more information on essential oil safety considerations see; http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/09/essentials-of-using-essential-oils.html
Once again, this type of therapy is also being used by Veterinarians to treat dogs. To use for the dog you simply place ten drops of the chosen EO into a cup of hot water, and place the cup near the dog's head while they sleep. It works better if you try to keep it warm for about one half hour, using a candle or coffee cup warmer.
The following EO's are frequently used in treating dogs;
* Peppermint for gastritis
* Rosemary for certain heart problems
* Peppermint to suppress kennel cough
* Peppermint relieves itching if your dog has mange
* Geranium and Rosemary for oancreatitis
* Many oils are used for the treatment of various emotional issues
* Eucalyptus for pneumonia. **As with any medical problem, do not attempt to diagnose or treat without seeking professional services. This is obviously a serious respiratory problem and you should consult your Veterinarian as soon as symptoms are noted.

The Sharp Points of Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion and manipulation of "filiform" needles into various points of the body for therapeutic purposes or to relieve pains. According to traditional Chinese theory, the points where the acupuncture needles are applied are situated along invisible lines on the body, called "meridians". The life's energy, also known as "qi", flows through these meridians.
The goal of acupuncture then, is to balance the energy system of the entire body. In doing so, any problems will be corrected, and symptoms will cease. Each acupuncture point specifically corresponds to a line of energy, a meridian, and each meridian is connected to specific functions of the body. Therefore, any problem in the body can be treated by applying acupuncture to the point that connects/corresponds to the area that needs treatment.
During the acupuncture treatment, endorphins are said to be released from the brain, which leads to relaxation, and even sleepiness. This treatment modality strives to re-balance the body's energy system, which not only corrects the problem being treated, but positively impacts the body's energy level. Many people report an increased energy level post treatment.
Even when symptoms of an illness are not present, acupuncture points can be checked to make sure that none are deemed deficient. If a point is found to be deficient, treatment can then be initiated in a preventative nature, to avoid the development of problems that would result from this decrease in energy.
Actually, acupuncture is even being used by Veterinarians to treat dogs with conditions such as; arthritis, spinal disorders, hip displasia, allergies, kidney problems, and others. According to Holistic Veterinarians, dogs love it. They are reported to be relaxed during treatment and to evidence signs of increased energy after treatments. They are even [purportedly] excited for their next treatment. One thing is for sure, animals do not have the capacity to exhibit a placebo effect. If they do not like something, you will know it. So, if dogs love it, why not give it a try and see what you think?
Next up, a specialty of Unique Garden Essences, one of my personal favorites, and something that I have used regularly for many years, AROMATHERAPY!

Understanding Homeopathy

The "medicine" part of the holistic approach is called "Homeopathy". Homeopathy is based on the principle that "like cures like." Homeopathy demonstrates that a substance that produces a certain set of symptoms in a healthy person can actually cure a sick person having those same symptoms. Since this sounds confusing, here's an example; onions make your eyes water when you cut them, but if you have a cold with a runny nose, the likely remedy would be Allium Cepa, which is made from onions. Homeopathic medicine is intended to stimulate the defense systems, thereby allowing the body to heal itself, and just like most holistic treatments, the effects take time and improvement is usually gradual.
A history of the specific health problem is very important in homeopathy since prescribing medicine is based on the law of similars, as explained above. In holistic medicine all symptoms are considered important to the homeopathic physician, they want to know about changes in feelings and mental status, as well as all of the physical symptoms. This means that there are far more symptoms being considered in the homeopathic approach than in the traditional medical model.
Homeopathic medications are very sensitive, and when making the choice to use a certain remedy, a careful selection process has to be undertaken. This is best done by a professional, someone who has studied the body systems and can predict cause and effect accurately. Going to Aunt Susie's kitchen for a home treatment is NOT the way to go. Homeopathy is not something that you want to self prescribe, unless you really know what you are doing. Some remedies, in low potencies, are safe to be given by a knowledgeable lay person, but most should be prescribed by the professionals.
A homeopathic medicine is greatly diluted from its original form, often in parts per million. The amazing thing about homeopathy is that, the more dilute the medicine becomes, the stronger the potency. They can, however, be easily contaminated so be very careful not to touch them or the dropper. Most homeopathics can be purchased in a liquid form, but they are sensitive to light and heat, and must be properly stored in a cool, dry place. The more potent the remedy, the more sensitive it becomes, unlike Bach Flower remedies and some other holistic treatments.
As I previously stated, this is just a simplistic overview and I highly encourage you to further explore the world of holistic treatments, especially the homeopathic medicine modality.
Coming up next, Acupuncture. What is it, does it work? How does it work?

What is Holistic Medicine?

Since I create and offer all natural products, I constantly strive to educate myself about what nature has to offer and the effects/interaction(s) that those offerings have upon our mental status and other bodily systems. In becoming more "Earth based" myself, I have been studying alternative medicines and treatment modalities. Since many people are turning to these methods, and many more are curious about them, I thought that I would share some basic information with you. While this does not mean that I am encouraging you to self prescribe (please don't, these are potent treatments and should be administered by knowledgeable professionals), I do hope to encourage you to further educate yourself on the alternatives to the straight, traditional, medical model. I encourage you to open your mind to explore the possibilities!
First of all, the general term for all of these "alternative" treatment modalities is "holistic medicine", while traditional medicine is labeled as "allopathic" medicine. It is important to understand that the goal of holistic medicine is to treat the CAUSE of the problem, not just the problem itself. Most often, traditional medicine is aimed at simply treating the symptoms, never looking for or even considering the cause, the root of the problem.
Holistic physicians actually combine the knowledge and skills of regular/traditional (allopathic) medicine, with the holistic approach. To the patients benefit, this provides a broader range of healing possibilities, and it is also what makes this field of medicine so interesting and important.
Holistic medicine and treatments are more lifestyles than immediate fixes. While holistic treatments usually do cure the problem being looked at, they do tend to be at a slower rate than traditional medicine. Of course it also tends to be without the potentially harmful, synthetic drugs that traditional medicine routinely prescribes. The focus, if not key, to holistic medicine is prevention of the problem that causes the symptoms, while traditional medicine tends simply to focus on the problem at hand.
While there are many holistic treatments, the mainstays or the "basics", as I see them, are; homeopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage treatments, herbal treatments, nutrition and education. Of course these areas are very broad, and yes, there are many, many more that I did not mention, but I'd like to offer you an overview of these common treatment modalities. The first installment will be on "Homeopathy".

Wish for 2010

As this new year begins I wish peace, joy, love and happiness to all who dare to share their heart with another, be they spouse, friend, family, or stranger. We cannot receive unless we make room by giving! So smile at at least two strangers a day, smile at each of your family members (roommates, husband/wife, sister/brother, or whomever you live with) each day, say "I love you" when you do, don't go to bed angry, listen twice as much as you talk, offer an ear and a shoulder to those that need one. Basically dedicate yourself to do whatever you can, whenever you can, and as you can. Remember that you will never "find" the time for anything, you must make time for things that are important. And the things that seem small and unimportant today, are the things that you will look back on in the years to come and see that they were the big things. So make this year the year that you work on your heart's health. Share your love, your life and your heart. Increase your friendship and love quotient! I wish you all a very Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!