What’s My Secret Weapon For a Good Night’s Sleep?

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Posted by Judy Moon

Magnesium oil. That’s right, magnesium oil.

First of all, I feel that sleep is underrated. I think we don’t really put enough emphasis on getting enough sleep, and the health benefits of good, quality, restful, restorative sleep. Webmd explains nine reasons to sleep more.

I personally don’t have a problem falling asleep, it’s staying asleep that was my problem. There are lots of reasons why this can happen for people.

So I have made going to bed a real ritual.

Herbal tea, no electronic screens after nine, my bedroom is a sleep sanctuary – no TV etc.,  I do my best to go to bed at the same time every night, I turn the lights in my home down in the evening and start sending the message to my brain – “hey, we’re going to sleep soon”, I use some lavender essential oil on my feet and at the suggestion of a health coach, I started using magnesium oil on my feet at night.

Pure magic! I now sleep like a rock.

Dr. Mark Hyman, refers to magnesium as the “relaxation mineral”, and here is a GREAT post about all of it’s benefits.

Ancient Minerals was the brand recommended to me. A drop of DoTerra lavender essential oil rubbed in to the bottom of my feet, 3 sprays of Magnesium Oil on each foot, socks, Bon Nuit!

I will warn you that the Magnesium oil is a little drying, so I make sure I am also treating my feet by exfoliating daily with a pumice and lathering them up with a rich moisturizer. I’d choose something with some rich Shea butter.

Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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Don’t Just Stand There. Let’s Get To It. Strike A Pose. There’s Nothing To It.

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Posted by Judy Moon

Queue the sexy male dancers with their open white shirts flapping in the breeze. I’m not sure if I’ve ever quoted Madonna before, but I love Vogue and couldn’t help myself.

I’ve been on a roll lately having lots of fun with words. Specifically the energy behind words and the effects that the energy of the words has.

As if all of that hasn’t been enough fun, a client recently gave me an article she thought I would like. I have the best clients who love to share things with me, from homemade Vidalia onion jam, foie gras from Paris, to this cool article Power To The People by Jennifer Altmann. The article is about Power Posing and how our bodies can make us feel more powerful, Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist has done research on how “our bodies change our mind, our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” The article discusses “high power poses” – those that convey strength – think standing like wonder woman with your hands on your hips vs.” low power poses” – closed positions, hunched over, limbs tucked together.

The research shows that standing or sitting a certain way has measurable effects. In as little as just two minutes – holding a Power Pose can increase testosterone levels and decrease cortisol, the stress hormone level. Not only does the body language affect how others perceive you, it affects how you perceive yourself.

Everything is energy, so it just makes sense that not only do words have vibrations that can affect us, but so do the postures and gestures of the body.

So I am totally stoked now to add a Power Pose to my morning ritual. The article and research talks a lot about using the poses in stressful situations, like right before you have to give a talk, or right before a job interview, but I think it would be a super-duper self care ritual to just start your day with some Mirror Work and then, strike a pose… Madonna music optional. Who doesn’t want to reduce their cortisol level? I’m in!

Here’s a link to Amy’s TED talk.

Break out your super hero cape and let’s get our strength and power on!

Saved by the Fermented Veg!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Well, it seems winter is leaving us and as much as I love it… I’m really ready for spring! I do my best to keep up with my fresh veggie consumption in the winter, making yummy salads with shredded kale and cabbage, but sometimes I really crave that brightness that new spring veggies provides. So in those last two very long months of February and March, before the

new spinach, radish and pea shoots, I made a few batches of fermented veg.

Super easy and yummy, fermented veggies are crisp, bright and a bit tart, all the right things to perk up a meal and my taste buds. They are also a great source of the good gut bacteria that we could all use a bit more of.

I made them regularly many years ago but fell out of the practice. Plus we have a nice selection of fermented veg makers in the city so the convenience of grabbing a jar off the shelf may have had a little something to do with it (a favorite is Cobblestone Krautery).

But I decided to get back to it myself. There are many websites and books out there to get you started. I went to Cultures for Health, just to refresh my memory.

There are a dizzying array of fabulous products on the site, but also a TON of great recipes to get you started and a good bit of information about cultured veggies and other products and the process of fermentation itself. I started with a variation on this Carrot Kraut recipe and I added red cabbage and leeks just for fun.

Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years and are used in every culture. Fermenting prolongs “shelf” life of foods and also bumps up the good bacteria that are already present in many foods by creating an environment for them to grow and flourish. These good bacteria feed our guts, improve digestion and enhance our overall health.

You can ferment lots of stuff! My husband has been making kombucha, his own red wine and pear cider vinegars as well as a lovely raspberry shrub! Oh and a bit of beer and sourdough bread too… maybe he should be writing this post! Oh yeah, maybe he was part of my fermented veg inspiration too.

A book he loves, and may be the fermentation “bible” for some is, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Talk about fermenting anything! This guy does it all and has written a very thorough and interesting book. Inspiring ferments from all over the world. Have fun!

“Pickled pea shoots” anyone?

Cheers!

Lovely Lavender

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

We had a sneak preview of spring weather on Tuesday, with warm sun and cool breezes. I stopped by the garden between clients to get a boost from the crocus and mini iris that have been blooming steadily for a few weeks now. I walked around the garden, catching glimpses of little goodies slowly but surely poking out of the earth. So good for the spirit to see that!

And I really only intended to observe… but suddenly I found the clippers in my hand, my jacket thrown aside and there I was, pruning away the winter!

I cleared the old, withered leaves from the lambs ear, cut the dried stems from the chrysanthemums and straightened the wire frame that will soon be entwined with a lovely, low growing pink clematis. Then I noticed the lavender plant toppling out into the aisle. “ Oh my, do you need a haircut!” I made sure some new growths were beginning to show and then began to trim away last years ramblings.

And I’m so glad I did! In a rush, that sweet, dusty, herbal fragrance was all around me. I’ve trimmed this variety of lavender many times but don’t remember it ever smelling so sweet. I was already in a chill state of mind puttering around with my plant friends but this just enhanced it ten fold. As I continued to trim, the intensity of the fragrance grew and so did the smile on my face!

I, like many people, love lavender. The plants are beautiful, in all shades of greeny/grey, with flat, needle like or feathery leaves and all different variations in scent. Used for centuries to brighten the spirits and calm the nerves, as well as an antiseptic and addition to foods. Nothing like lavender shortbread cookies! Yum!

It is our most requested aromatherapy oil at the massage studio, helping our clients (and us!) settle their minds and bodies and get back in tune.

Here are my favorite ways to use lavender:

  • Last year for my birthday Judy gave me a bottle of Hauschka’s Moor Lavender Calming Bath Essence. WOW! It is so incredible. I use it, as she suggested, around my temples or just a light touch around my eyes, along my nose and cheeks and then down the jaw line, before I go to bed some nights. It is so soothing, I can’t help but relax (Thank you Judy!)!
  • I put 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil in an Epsom salt bath and then soak away the day. Or just a drop or two on my finger tips and then run them through my hair before I get into bed and ease into sleep.
  • Another favorite is lavender honey. A local lavender farm in Tabernacle, New Jersey, owned and operated by Toni and Steve Price, sells their honey along with sachets and bath salts at some of our farmer’s markets in the city. Lovely stuff! They also offer “cut your own ”lavender days so check out their website if you are interested. Very cool folks!

Happy Lavender-ing!

Beat The Flu and Keep Away The Vampires!

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Posted by Judy Moon

Since there are still some colds, flus and viruses floating around here in Philadelphia, I thought I would share a recipe that I received from my sweet sister in law who is a hospice nurse. I am not sure of the original source of this recipe, so thank you to whoever came up with it.

My husband Joe was recently down for the count and I pulled this baby out of the recipe file and was not disappointed.

It was quick, simple, smelled divine, made my hubby feel better and I think it may have helped me too! (I somehow managed to dodge the flu!)

It may sound intense, I know – 4 whole onions and 2 heads of garlic- it sounds like a lot but it definitely mellowed as it cooked.

The recipe instructs you to strain it and just use the broth, which I did since Joe just wanted broth, but I tasted it with the onions, etc, before I strained it and it was mighty good. I will be adding this soup to our regular repertoire of go to recipes.

Old Fashioned Garlic and Onion Soup 
For colds, flu, respiratory infections or for prevention especially in winter season
4 large white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 whole heads of garlic, separated and peeled
2 tsp. thyme
4 tbs. olive oil
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
2 tbs. honey
4 tbs. each fresh basil and parsley
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
sea salt, fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large stockpot sauté the onions, garlic and thyme in olive oil until golden brown. This step sweetens and mellows the intensity of the garlic and onions. (To peel garlic cloves, smash the individual cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife and slip out of the skins.) Add the vegetable stock, white wine, and bay leaf. Slowly cook for 2 to 3 hours. Strain liquid, and then add honey, fresh basil and parsley, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and cayenne.

Onions and garlic are both antibacterial in action, as in the herb thyme. Cayenne pepper is recommended if there is a fever present, while basil and parsley are detoxifying herbs.

This is an excellent soup to drink during any type of infection or cold, or to simply enjoy as a first course to a meal.

Enjoy and be well!

What To Do When You Get Kicked In The Pants!

Posted by Judy Moon

I recently went to the most beautiful wedding. Good friends of ours got married in a park where the leaves were just starting to turn those soft beautiful shades of gold and the light from the sun peeking through the branches. They stood under an arbor that the groom made himself (it’s nice to have a handy man!), decorated with hydrangea and fall grasses and they spoke their vows to each other with all of us as witnesses. It was lovely. Not a dry eye in the crowd, not even my husband!

The reception was equally as wonderful – a brunch at Bolete restaurant,– farm to table food – chicken and biscuit sliders, halibut ceviche tacos, mushroom flatbreads, duck hash with poached eggs, butterscotch pudding, just to name a few of the highlights. The groom not only is handy, but is also a Mixologist and had a very swanky cocktail menu with catchy names.

Spending a weekend of fun, amazing food, raising your glass for many toasts is one of my favorite ways to spend time with friends, especially if you are celebrating such a special occasion. However it can also leave you feeling like you got kicked in the pants!

Luckily, I happened to see this “secret detox drink” that someone shared on Facebook. I love synchronicity – need a detox – here you go! I have done my share of cleanses, juice cleanses, etc, but I was looking for something new and not as extreme as the 21 day Clean program I usually do in January. This was appealing to me since it’s a variation on some things I am already doing daily- I already drink water with lemon and apple cider vinegar every morning, so this is just more of that with some cinnamon and some cayenne. Kind of like the Master Cleanse, but you only do this for 2 weeks and you just eat healthy meals. You just drink the secret detox drink 20 minutes before your meals. I will keep you posted on my experience and if it rejuvenated me at all!

Photo from Megan Keller Photography

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Who Needs a Hug?

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Posted by Judy Moon

I am a hugger, I will admit it.

I was recently saying good night to my peeps after a wild and crazy night of knitting and my friend Tina went to hug me and she said “whoops, wrong way” and switched directions. She knows I like to hug “heart to heart”. My friend Melissa questioned this right side wrong side conversation and I explained that when I learned the LifeLine Technique, I was taught by someone that instead of raising you right arm and leaning in towards the left, if you do the opposite you are connecting hearts when you hug. I love that! I do my best to convert anyone I hug.

It made me think about hugging in general and it’s history.

Wikipedia states – A hug is a near universal form of physical intimacy in which two people put their arms around the neck, back, or waist of one another and hold each other closely. If more than two persons are involved, this is informally referred to as a group hug.

My research revealed that hugging seems to be a natural innate thing that we do. Our bodies are hard wired for this type of connection.

There was a very cool study in the 50’s involving baby monkeys. They created these “surrogate monkey moms” out of wire. One mom had access to a bottle so the baby could eat, the other mom was covered with a fuzzy surface that the baby could cuddle into. As the monkeys began to thrive, the ones who spent more time cuddling with fuzzy mom did better than the ones who didn’t. Way cool!

So I’ve already mentioned that I dig the heart to heart hug, which by the way, totally throws some people off. Is ii because a lot of people are right handed? Is that hugging from the heart is too intimate for some? I’m not sure.

Brain research also shows that it takes 20 seconds of connection for the hormone oxytocin to be released. This is the same powerful hormone that increases during lovemaking, child birthing, and kissing. Oxytocin acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and increases the bond we feel with others. So whenever my husband gives me a hug, he jokingly will start counting to me.

Next time you give someone a hug, try switching it to the other side and if you are really feeling it – go for the 20 second hug- spread that oxytocin!

xoxoxoxo