Archive for December, 2011

~A New Year, A New Body~


In keeping in the spirit of the traditional New Year’s Resolution, I recently sat down and decided to do some brainstorming on what my future goals are, and how to accomplish them.  Thankfully, in this day and age, we have access to all sorts of tools to keep us on track. Seeing as I spend a good portion of my life around my computer, I decided to turn it into a lean, mean Resolution accomplishing machine. And with Google Chrome apps, like Skinnyo and Pocketsmith,  I am well on my way to getting things in order!

Skinnyo is a UK based site, started by a couple who were tired of trying to lose the weight on their own.  This site engages its viewers in weight loss “challenges”. The challenges  can either be set by yourself, or you are free to join others’ challenges.  The interface is easy and setting up your profile is quick. They even make it possible to post your challenges and accomplishments to twitter, Facebook and blogspot. They also have links to their own blogs, but sadly it seems the links are broken (a small oversight I am sure they will be quick to fix).

Pocketsmith helps keep your finances and monetary goals in check.  It is a bit long to set up if you don’t already have online bank statements.  The interface allows you to upload your online statements to the site and then the program sorts out your spending based on vendors; you can go in later and categorize the vendors based on what you purchase there (groceries, recreation, fuel etc). Pocketsmith allows for you to set specific goals, record the date you’d like to have said goals accomplished and then gives you a value to save out of each paycheck.  You can add bills and other payments you make on a regular basis, and your paycheck amount each month, and based on previous monetary activities, Pocketsmith creates a cash flow chart to keep you on the right track to monetary zen! I just started using this program and I already feel at ease each day when I open it up.

And the added bonus: These programs can be set in little widgets on your Google Chrome speed dialer!  It is streamlined, easy to use, and their designers were great at keeping both programs simple and pretty to look at while maintaining functionality! 


Night Time Sanctuary

“Hormones, weight gain/loss, focus, energy; our sleep patterns affect so much of our lives that it’s no wonder we feel so off when we don’t have a restful night’s sleep.  In a busy day to day life, however, it is not always easy to get your full eight (8) hours.  I know that often times, I don’t get anywhere near the amount of sleep I need.  The best way to handle this, is to make the most of the sleep you DO get (if it is impossible to switch around your habits to get more sleep). Turning your bedroom into a night time sanctuary is the best remedy I have found.”

~Clear any and all clutter from the room, especially around the bed. Fill it,instead, with things that delight and relax you.

~There is nothing like taking some time out of your day to relax and pamper your self before bed.  Turn a drawer in your bedside table into a mini-spa. Include nail clippers, cuticle nippers, rich balms for lips, hands and feet,  and don’t forget the silk eye mask to help soothe and cool tired eyes. A little TLC each night before bed not only relaxes you, but makes you softer and more refreshed when you wake! 

~Before bed, I, personally, like to have a cup of herbal tea. Speaking of filling your area with things that relax and delight you, my teapot, cup and saucer are a prime example! I keep herbal tea bags on a neat little tray inside my spa drawer. Boiling water and refilling my teapot is a cinch and in no time I am enjoying my herbal tea whilst pampering my tired little feet. Even if you’re not a tea drinker, keeping a decanter of water (or whatever you prefer to drink before bed) and a pretty glass can add convenience to your nightly routine.

~Sometimes, especially if the day has been particularly eventful, it helps to get it down onto paper. Studies have also shown that journaling can not only help clear your mind of worries, but also relieve stress!  However, some days are not as eventful as others, and it can leave the page looking a little empty.  One-Line-A-Day (5 year journal) was created with people like us in mind.  It is just enough room for you to jot down your most pressing thoughts, without the obligation of filling up an entire page. I found mine on Urban Outfitters, and I LOVE it.

~Along with your teacup and teapot, or decanter and glass, the top of your bedside table should be filled with sights, scents and sounds that relax and lull you.  Linen sprays are a must, candles, pictures of loved ones even a small music station with soothing music or sounds should be found here.

~When you climb into bed, nothing feels better than clean, cool sheets pillowy soft blankets and a pillow that is just begging for you to lay your head down.  Natural fibers for sheets and comforters, and a mattress pad will give your bed new life; and replacing your pillow every 1-2 years will help keep you sleeping on cloud 9.

~Keeping a clean organized room doesn’t always mean that everything has to be stashed away or hidden from site.  Choosing pieces that make you smile and look pretty means that you won’t be ashamed to display them, which also makes them more readily available. Some of these items :

~Robe – Stray from the typical bath-time terrycloth material and pick something soft and pretty that you can lounge in.
~Slippers – You spend all day on your feet, so once you get home slipping into little slippers that feel like clouds is a treat. Make sure they look as pretty as they make you feel.
~Pajamas – These should definitely make you smile when you see yourself in them.
~Linen Spray – Setting the mood for sleep is just as important as the act itself. Linen spray helps calm you by filling the room with a soft relaxing scent.
~ Blankets and throws – for those cold winter nights, or sick days, when you just want something plush to cuddle up in. 


Home Remedies for Lovely Skin

‘Tis the season to be Jolly. Also chapped, dry and itchy.  I love a cold Christmas as much as the next gal, but the dry, rough skin that comes with it is definitely not my idea of a bonus! Luckily, boys and girls, the winter season is the perfect time for some of the most nourishing ingredients you can find for skin care!  I’ll let you in on a few secrets, consider it my Christmas gift to you.

Pumpkin and Honey mask

This mas is packed with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal compounds.  It’s the ideal treatment for sensitive skin or those with Rosacea. It is also great for slowing the aging process by helping protect the skin’s natural collagen.

1/4 Cup mashed Pumpkin Pulp (canned is alright also)
1      Tbsp. Honey

Combine ingredients until smooth. Apply in the evening when you have enough time to dedicate 20 minutes to just relaxing. Be warned, this mask is very sticky and messy, so I would suggest wearing an old tee-shirt. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Your skin will not feel squeaky clean as with most masks because this mask super-hydrates the skin. Apply once a week, or whenever your skin is feeling irritated or in need of pampering.

Cranberry Face Scrub

Cranberries are loaded with a type of polyphenal anti-oxidant, and Ellagic acid. Ellagic acid blocks the formation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) which destroys the skin’s natural collagen. Applying ellagic acid topically may help prevent wrinkles!

1/4 Cup Cornmeal
2      Tbsp. Cranberries, freshly crushed
1       Tbsp. Buttermilk
2       Tsp. Honey

Blend all ingredients with a fork. Massage the scrub onto your face and neck for 2-3 minutes. Rinse with warm water.  Apply to clean damp skin once or twice a week.

Peppermint Patty Foot Scrub

Peppermint has menthol in it, which is both soothing and energizing. Peppermint also has antibacterial properties that fight infections and odors. You can also massage this into tired sore legs for an added mood lift.

3      Drops Peppermint Essential oil
1/2 Cup Fresh mint, minced
1      Cup Coarse Sea Salt
5      Tbsp. Olive Oil
1       Tbsp. Cocoa Powder

Combine in a small bowl.  Soak feet in warm water 10-15 minutes before scrubbing. Starting at your toes, knead the scrub into your skin in small, circular motions with your fingers. Work over the entire sole, concentrating on rough patches.

Cinnamon Sugar and Spice Body Scrub

Give your circulation an energizing boost that will make your skin glow! Cinnamon is naturally very stimulating and, as an added bonus, it has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that may help keep back acne at bay! 

1      Cup Raw Sugar
1/4 Cup Walnut Oil
1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Combine and spoon into a container that you can keep in the shower. Use circular strokes to massage a few tablespoons all over your wet body before rinsing clean.

Apple Juice Toner

Acetic Acid acts as a mild astringent and antiseptic to keep pores clean and bacteria free, while Malic acid, an antioxidant, shields skin from environmental toxins.

1/4 Cup Apple Juice (home made or store bought)
4      Tbsp. Witch Hazel

Pour into a clean bottle. Use a cotton pad to swipe over your freshly washed face morning and night. If you are prone to dry skin, stick to only once a day.

The beauty of these recipes:  All of these ingredients are usually found around the house already at this time of year. Those that aren’t, are inexpensive and long lasting! 

~And now for something completely different~

*Geeks out* 

As you are probably just now figuring out, I am a bit of a nerd.  What I am about to show you, will do absolutely nothing to disprove that. But it WILL make you giggle.



*giggle* *snort*

A New Direction in Life!

It is official! Yes, Ducklings, I have officially gone back to school to obtain my degree in Radiology.  While I still have quite a way to go, it is not going to be a walk in the park, even in the beginning. You see, the Radiography program, as all Health Science programs at university, is highly competitive. Only 20 students are chosen each year to be part of the program and, therefore, I need to be absolutely positive I am scoring in the top Percentile. Nay, BETTER than the top percentile.

As you can imagine, that puts great strain on one!  But there is hope!  I have dedicated my spare time to finding ways to keep organized, calm, and focused. I figured, while I am at it: Why not share it with everyone else?!   So, Enjoy Ducklings. I hope my entries provide some life Zen for others out there as well!


Yogic Detox: The Shopping List

As promised, here is everything you will need for your 7-day detox. Be sure to stock up on these things. The recipes can be made any time and having extra never hurts.

Ginger Root

Turmeric Powder
Raw Honey
Cumin Seeds
Fennel Seeds
Basmatic Rice
Mung Beans

Ghee (Clarified Butter)

Click me to learn how to make me!

Black Mustard Seeds
Hing (Asafetida)
Kombu or Wakame
Sea Salt
Burdock Root or Carrots

Green Beans
Bay Leaves
Leafy greens (Collards, Kale)
Cilantro or Parsley
Unsweetened, dried Coconut
Black Pepper

Optional (for snacking)

Vegetables for steaming

For Self-Care

Sesame Oil
Organic Triphala
Neti Pot
Glass Amber bottle with dropper

Yogic Detox: The Recipes

It’s never the wrong season for a quick One Week detox. IT revitalizes the body, makes you more focused and prepared to take on a new work out.  Or, if you’re just feeling a little less than your usual awesome self, it can help restore you to your natural glory.  Below are some recipes for a 7 day detox. A 7 day Yogic stretch regimen and shopping list will also be posted for convenience!  

You will also notice some terms used that might be foreign to you, such as: Kappha, Vitta and Vata Doshas. To determine which of these you fall into take the Dosha Quiz.

A word to the novice health nuts. While this diet is not impossible or harsh, it is important that you speak with your physician or dietitian before taking on this detox.

Ginger-Turmeric Tea 
(For Kapha Dosha)

1 Qt. of Purified Water
15 1/4-inch slices of fresh ginger root
1 1/2  Tsp. Dried Turmeric Powder
1/2 Tsp. of raw hone added to each cup you drink (optional)

Place the herbs and water together in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for fifteen(15) minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain. The tea will last for up to four(4) days in the refrigerator. It is best to drink the tea hot or at room temperature. Use the stove, not the microwave, to reheat. Add honey as needed.

Drink Two(2) to Three(3) Cups of tea a day between meals.

Cumin, Fennel, Coriander Tea
(For Vata and Pitta Doshas)

1 Qt. of Purified Watr
1 Tsp. Cumin Seed
1 Tsp. Fennel Seed
1 Tsp. Coriander Seed
1/2 Tsp. Raw honey added to each cup you drink (optional)

Place the herbs and water together in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for fifteen(15) minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain. The tea will last for up to four(4) days in the refrigerator. It is best to drink the tea hot or at room temperature. Use the stove, not the microwave, to reheat. Add honey as needed.

Drink Two(2) to Three(3) Cups of tea a day between meals.

Digestive Kitchari
(Makes 3 Cups)

1 Cup Basmati Rice
1/2 Cup Whole Mung Beans, soaked for at least 3 hours before cooking
4 Cups Purified water
2 Tbsp. Ghee (clarified butter)
1 Tsp. Black Mustard Seed
1 Tsp. Cumin Seed
2 Pinches Hing (asafetida)
1 Tsp. Fresh grated ginger
1 Stick of Kombu or Wakame (seaweed)
1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp. Turmeric

For Pitta Dosha Imbalance

1/2 Tsp. Dry Fennel Seed
Sliced Burdock Root, or 2 sliced carrots
1 1/2 Cups Fresh Green Beans
1 Small  Zucchini, sliced

For Kapha Dosha Imbalance

1 1/2 Tsp. Coriander Seed
1 1/2 Tsp. Oregano
3 Bay leaves
2 Cups chopped vegetables, including Zucchini, leafy greens, green beans

Rinse the rice and mung beans and soak for three(3) hours or overnight. Drain. If using vegetables, cut into cubes.

In a pot, warm the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds (and, if using, fennel and coriander seeds) and saute for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic.

Add turmeric (and, if using, other spices) mung beans, and rice. Then add water, Kombu, and ginger. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

If using vegetable, add starchy ones (burdock or carrot) halfway through the cooking. Zucchini and beans should be added 10 minutes before the kitchari is done. Greens can be added in the last five(5) minutes. If you need to add more water, do so, but the kitchari should be the consistency of stew when done.

Garnish with fresh Cilantro chutney and add salt to taste. You can have avocado with a little salt and lemon or steamed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, beets, green beans, asparagus, fennel, and summer squashes) as a side dish.

Eat enough to feel satisfied, about 1 to 1 1/2 Cups, and then relax for at least fifteen(15) minutes to support good digestion.

Fresh Coriander Chutney
Add one(1) Tsp. to your Kitchari for diversity

1 Bunch of Coriander (Cilantro or parsley)
1/4 Cup Fresh lemon juice
1/4 Cup Purified water
1/4 Cup unsweetened dry coconut
2 Tbsp. Fresh ginger root, chopped
1 Tsp. Raw honey
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 Tsp. Fresh ground black pepper

Blend lemon juice, water, and fresh coriander (cilantro or parsley) until the herb is coarsely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until it is the consistency of pesto.

Store, covered, in the refrigerator or up to one week.

Potassium Vegetable Broth
Drink up to Three(3) cups each day. This recipe makes two(2) days worth of broth.

5-10 large potatoes, any kind, peeled
8-12 Carrots, peeled
1 Bunch celery, chopped
2 Bunches of dark leafy greens
Enough purified water to cover the vegetables

Add the peels from the potatoes and carrots, and the chopped vegetables, to a pot and just cover with purified water.

Bring this to a boil and then simmer, covered, on low heat for One(1) hour.

Strain and drink only the broth. The vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator until the cleanse is over and cooked and pureed into soup.

There will be a shopping list for this detox as well. For novice participants, this list will also include images of some of the more obscure ingredients to aid in finding them at your local market!