Witch Hazel Happiness

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

In the midst of this “real”winter we are having here in Philadelphia, it would be understandable to think ”No, we’ll never see spring again”. We all know it’s not true, but all the gray can sure make it feel that way sometimes. (Mind you, as I write this it is in the 40’s, raining and some serious thunder just shook my kitchen walls! Mother Nature is a trickster!)

To beat these winter’s almost over blues, may I recommend an aromatherapy treatment? It costs nothing and will boost your spirits instantly!

It’s called…Witch Hazel!

This lovely shrub that we see here in Philly (usually hamamelis x intermedia, a group of hybrids between H. japonica x H. mollis), begins to bloom late January/early February to late March and depending on the variety has an INCREDIBLE scent. Slightly sweet, fresh, a touch of citrus and spice and maybe a pinch of gardenia. Most often seen with varying shades of yellow or orange flowers. I find this plant to be very uplifting. So bright and cheery it just washes those winter blues away from me.

In the few blocks around our office in Washington Square there are three favored spots that I frequent to find this little lovely. Kahn Park at 11th & Pine has 3 or 4 varieties. Locust street close to the 10th street side and the Jefferson campus. And the medicinal garden at Pennsylvania Hospital on 8th & Pine. (Yes, I do stalk the witch hazel!)

When you find them, step in close and inhale deeply… Oh yes, the birds are starting to sing their early spring song…oh look the sun is peeking out from behind the gloom… ahhhh.., smile!

At the moment we are fortunate enough to have several branches of witch hazel gracing our office with it’s fabulous fragrance (thanks Dad!). We have a garden shed/garden musings display in our foyer for the Philadelphia Flower Show window contest and the hazels are doing their thing! Stop by and check it out!

Happy Witch Hazel hunting!

Fun Fact:
The native witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana or common witch hazel blooms in the fall to early winter and can be found all over the Wissahickon park and surrounding areas. It ranges from Canada to Georgia and west to Nebraska and Arkansas. The witch hazel astringent we use as a skin care product is an extract distilled from the young roots and stems of this plant.


Massage Therapist Insider Series: How Can I Make Massage a More Affordable Practice?

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Posted by Alicia McCarthy

Preventative care is on the tips of everyone’s tongue these days. Treating your body with kindness can sustain longevity, as it simultaneously creates a baseline for a truer sense of health. However, regular maintenance through bodywork can, for some, create a financial burden.

Much of this is perspective. Massage can be viewed as a luxury; something that in its extravagance, should be reserved for special occasions. Treating yourself once or twice a year to a celebratory massage is a lovely tradition, but seeing that tradition turn into a monthly ritual, will yield transformational results.

Getting to the point where you feel comfortable with adding massage to your health routine can be a simple as scheduling shorter sessions. If paying for an hour of massage every two weeks seems daunting, try booking a half an hour massage instead. These shorter sessions can provide results if you schedule them closer together. Communication with your massage therapist about the goal you want to achieve with a specific area of the body can make this possible. Once the area that you strive to change feels better, then you can reduce the frequency of massage.

Another way to experience bodywork without it draining your budget is to research promotional deals that massage therapists advertise. As licensed professionals, MTs are consistently required to add to their skill set. Often that means that they are looking for people on which to practice their new techniques. That way, you both benefit from learning a new way to bring your body to a better state of health!


True Confession! My Girl Crush (or at least one of them)

Posted by Judy Moon

I can’t help myself! I love the Oh She Glows food blog, Angela Liddon, and her new cookbook! There, I’ve said it out loud.

I first discovered Angela a few years back when my husband Joe and I were doing the Clean program. I was doing my best to be really creative with what we were eating so that we were satisfied and still sticking to the program. Joe is Italian and the man loves his pasta. Luckily for us, you are allowed to have brown rice pasta. I came across the recipe for Creamy Avocado pasta on the Oh She Glows blog and I was smitten.

First of all, she is just as cute as a button. I find her posts to be interesting, easy to read and I love her stories about her and her husband Eric and their travels and she is funny to boot! The recipes are vegan so they were perfect for our Meatless Monday’s.

I have made a lot of her recipes and find them all to be really simple, healthy and really tasty. I was super excited when I found out she was putting together a cookbook – I can rid myself of the folder that I dig through with all of the recipes that I have printed out! Clutter clearing – it’s a good thing.

Here is one of my favorite recipes from her and it is a staple in our house – Buon Appetito!

Creamy Avocado Pasta
Time: 15 Minutes
Yield: Serves 2
*my personal comments


  • 1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, to taste (I used 3 and it was super garlicky, but if you are not a big fan of garlic use 1 clove) *I use 3
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Basil, (probably optional)*I always use it
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 servings/6 oz of your choice of pasta (I used 3oz of spelt and 3oz of Kamut spaghetti) *I use brown rice
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • *I also throw a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast into the food processor
  • *If the sauce seems to thick, sometimes I’ve thinned it with a splash of warm water


  1. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado, basil, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy.
  3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest and black pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Please note: This dish does not reheat well due to the avocado in the sauce. Please serve immediately

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