Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tea Tree Oil "Magic Potion"

“Lavender, thyme and tea-tree oils have been used for centuries as antiseptics; their chemical compounds appear to kill microbes on contact.”
Andrew Weil, M.D.

About a week ago I noticed an itchy rash on the back of my left leg, small red bumps that I assumed was poison ivy. I thought maybe one of the dogs brushed up against my leg and that is where it started. I rubbed some Cortisone 10 on it thinking it would help. Fast forward a week and I now have the rash all over the backs of both legs and it is beyond itchy, more like a slow painful burn that doesn't go away. I have also tried using a couple other medical creams with no relief.

Today I was desperate for relief. My entire family including me has had a severe stomach virus sweep through our home. Each of us had vomiting and diarrhea for 12 hours straight. Today I came out of my virus fog to the hard work of massive loads of laundry and carpet scrubbing. Also, the rash was excruciating.

Something in my brain pulled up tea tree oil. I knew I had a facial soap in the shower with it (Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash with Organic Tea Tree Oil and Awapuhi from Trader Joe's). I grabbed it and started spreading it all over my legs. Within an hour I felt relief. My oldest son even observed that it looked better.

I googled tea tree oil and found these facts below. I will definitely have this on hand for summer.
"dr. k"

The health benefits of Tea Tree Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties like anti bacterial, anti microbial, anti septic, anti viral, balsamic, cicatrisant, expectorant, fungicide, insecticide, stimulant and sudorific.

The All-Cure name given to this oil is not a bit exaggerated. The Tea Tree oil can be used as a cure for almost all sorts of tropical infections and diseases. You name it and it has the cure for that disease. It is invariably found in almost all the households of Australia, particularly those having small children. The magical healing and disinfectant properties make it a wonder-drug. It also boosts up immunity.

•Anti Bacterial: It is said that wherever Mother Nature gave the diseases, she gave the cures there itself. The activity of microbes, bacteria, virus and fungi are at their peaks in the Tropics and hence most of the medicinal plants are found there too. Tea Tree is one such plant. It can cure some of the ugliest bacterial infections of the Tropics. Wounds, which are most prone to bacterial infections in this region, can be effectively cured and protected using this oil. Although this oil is seldom taken orally, but if so, in mild concentrations, can cure internal bacterial infections too, such as those in colon, stomach, intestines, excretory system and urinary system. It can also be used in treatment of Tuberculosis.
•Anti Microbial: Microbes prefer to keep safe distance from this oil, since it is an effective anti microbial. It can kill and keep away certain microbes (protozoa) which are responsible for causing Tropical fevers, malaria etc.
•Anti Septic: Open wounds are most susceptible to infection by bacteria and fungi and may result in septic or tetanus. Thus they must be protected well in advance. For this, Tea Tree Oil can be a wise choice as it is an excellent anti septic. It can be applied directly on the wounds, boils, sores, cuts and certain eruptions, as well as insect bites and stings, to protect them from infections. It is as good as any anti biotic, but without its adverse side effects.
•Anti Viral: Viral infections are very hazardous and re-appearing, since virus can survive under most intolerable conditions. They can bear unimaginable heat, cold and even poison, as they develop a protective shell called “Cyst” around them. Some viruses are intelligent enough to develop a new cyst each time they are activated, like the Common Cold Virus, to duck our immune system. They never die a natural death and can live dormant (neither live, nor dead) for even hundreds of thousands of years. They can be killed only if their cyst is ruptured using some compound or they are subjected to extreme heat which is beyond their tolerance. The Tea Tree Oil helps rupture this cyst in some viruses and can give protection against them. It also helps cure viral infections like common cold, influenza, mumps, measles, pox etc.
•Balsamic: The Essential Oil of Tea Tree has balsamic properties, that is, it boosts health. It promotes absorption of nutrients from food and gives protection from diseases too, thus proving beneficial for total health.
•Cicatrisant: The Cicatrisant property of this essential oil makes it heal wounds quicker and protect them from infections, as well as help neutralization of the scar marks and after spots left by eruptions, boils, pox, acne etc.
•Expectorant: Those who are suffering from cough and cold, congestion, bronchitis and other troubles associated with cold, are sure to get relief using this Tea Tree Essential Oil. It gives relief from cough, cold, bronchitis and congestion.
•Fungicide: The Tea Tree Essential Oil is as effective against fungal infections as it is against any bacterial or microbial infections. It inhibits fungal growth and cures diseases like dermatitis, athlete’s foot etc.
•Insecticide: It is obvious that an essential oil that is so deadly for those adamant and hardy bacteria and viruses, will be effective against insects too. Tea Tree Oil is an efficient insect deterrent and insect killer. It does not let parasites and other insects like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, flies etc. come near a person who has rubbed some of this oil on his body. It kills internal insects and worms too, such as intestinal worms like round worm and tape worm and others like hook worms.
•Stimulant: This essential oil has stimulating effects on hormones secretions, circulations etc. but more prominently on immune system. It boosts up immunity and acts as a shield against infections.
•Sudorific: Besides infections, another cause of diseases is accumulation of toxins in the body. These toxins are either generated by the body itself, as a by-product of various reactions, or get inside the body somehow. Our body too, has certain mechanisms to throw away these toxins. One of them is perspiration or sweating. It has many advantages. It removes toxins, moistens the skin, open pores on skin and keeps the body cool. Tea Tree Essential Oil, being a Sudorific, increases sweating and promotes removal of toxins like uric acid. It also helps remove excess water and salts from the body.
•Other Benefits: Gives relief from muscular pain, aches, sprains,
Few Words of Caution: No potent threats, except that in some rare cases it may be sensitizing to few people.

Blending: This Essential Oil blends well with Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Rosewood, Rosemary and Thyme essential oils.
This article was contributed by Aparup Mukherjee

Friday, April 23, 2010

Planting Perennials and Annuals

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

There's a few things I've learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can. Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

My basil and lemon balm are already in pots sitting out in the soft falling rain as I write. I just stumbled across this article about lavender and other wonderful things to plant. I also love the picture and want a garden to look like that.
Happy gardening,
Planting Perennials and Annuals That Last

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ten Years Strong

Ten years ago on my 30th birthday my mom had a surprise luncheon for me. She invited six friends from high school, college, and current. They did not know each other well. I was pregnant with my first child. A couple friends had just had their first babies. I casually mentioned to them that I wanted to start a book club. They all were interested in joining.
Soon after, I made invitations and invited them to the first book club meeting at my home the following month, May 2000. I asked them to bring any friends that would like to join. The book we read and discussed was Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom.
Ten years later our book club is still strong with the original members. Meeting once a month, we have shared in the births of many babies, life's extreme ups and many downs. They surprised me with a beautiful Tiffany silver medallion inscribed necklace from the Notes Collection. Here is my letter to them below.

Hi Friends,
I was blown away by last night. I want to thank you so much for the beautiful necklace. This gift means more than you will ever know. It has truly been my pleasure organizing our book club for ten years. We really have created and nurtured special friendships, trust, and a comfortable place to share our ups and downs. We are very fortunate to have each other. It is my hope we continue to grow and evolve as a group.

On a funny note, my daughter thinks the necklace has the "book club rules" written on it. I guess the only rules I can think of are to show up, have fun, eat good food, and maybe read some books. Everything in moderation, right?

Kirsten, Thank you for sharing your beautiful home and deck with us. Kord was wonderful and his dinner and drinks delicious. You both are glowing from happiness and love. The blooming wisteria is truly a message sent from heaven.

Anna - your sugar cream cake was sinfully delicious. I will share this coveted recipe. I know you never share catering recipes so we will guard it. The salad was also so good.

Most of all, thank you all for making the drive last night to share in an unforgettable evening. You are all such smart, strong, beautiful, and amazing women and I am proud to be your friend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Feeling The Force at 40

At 40, something magical happens to you--something liberating and rejuvenating and exhilarating. You acquire a healthy disregard for what other people think. You gain the confidence to define yourself boldly and on your own terms. You don't accept anyone else's judgments but your own. In short, you stop living your life for other people and start living it for yourself. The force is with you because, at long last, it is in you. Laura Randolph

It has been a little over a week since I turned 40. So far I love being 40. I am feeling more comfortable in my skin than ever before. That is why that quote above jumped out at me. I am feeling that "The Force is with me" at 40.

This year I am making the commitment to take better care of myself. A light bulb went off recently as I sat in the dentist chair as they told me it had been way too long since my last visit. I realized that I make sure my kids and dogs have regular dental and doctor visits but my own are few and far between. My youngest son is almost three and I just went back for a follow up check up with my OB/GYN. He also told me it was important to have yearly exams.

So, around my birthday every year I am making the commitment to myself to have those important exams. I truly love being a wife and mother. At 40, I now have the wisdom to know that if I do not take care of myself I won't be able to take care of everyone else that I love.

My actual birthday was fun. My little "Scout" and I met my mom at The Pita Pit for yummy sandwiches. My mom told the owner it was my 40th and he was surprised we were there to celebrate and gave me a gift card. That's as fancy as I wanted with little Scout joining us.

When my "bigs" and husband got home later that day they showered me with homemade cards - my favorite! When my quiet oldest son wrote, "Mom-I love you very much.", it was the best gift ever. My daughter gave me an extra thick purple yoga mat, and my son Indy gave me the New Moon DVD. I also received a new zoom lens for my Canon from my husband. He took us out to dinner at a nearby organic farm with a "Loft Restaurant" on one of the barns. The homemade ice cream was delicious!

Later that week my friend Tammy baked me a three layer carrot cake. We hiked with the kids to Tipi Hill, and then returned to enjoy the delicious cake.

I am just feeling so blessed to be where I am at 40. It is my hope to continue to learn and grow and keep becoming more of myself. May The Force be with you too!
Shine your light,

Monday, April 5, 2010

Whole Lotta Hiking

I am reflecting on the past week as my kids are back in school after their spring break. Little Scout just fell asleep so I wanted to write my thoughts. The weather felt like one of many gifts. Springtime in the Midwest is unpredictable and we had warm sunshine for most of the week. The grass got greener by the day and my daughter was thrilled to show me pale Spring Beauties and bright yellow Trumpet Lillies blooming in the woods.

Speaking of woods, we did a lot of hiking this week around the ranch. Near perfect weather and the fact that the kids are getting older are the main reasons. We all would take hikes together and then I was lucky enough to get the kids one on one. My husband took a couple days off so we could help each other give the kids precious individual time.

When I walked and explored with each kid individually, I was amazed by the extraordinary conversations we had. My son "Indy" guided me on an adventure through "shell valley" and up to "piston hill". They all have named the areas and know the land better than I do now. I truly know now what the "wonder years" are starting to mean.

This also makes me think of the book, Last Child in the Wood: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. In his book he discusses how nature can be a powerful stimulant and learning tool for children.

He summarizes that Neuroscience teaches us that what's important for a child's mental development is not necessarily the amount of knowledge he memorizes but rather how much of his body and brain he uses, and he writes how Nature stimulates all the senses. Research has shown that the stimulation of all five senses increases a child's intelligence and creativity. Thus, when children watch television or play video games instead of playing outside in the park or walking in the woods they're denied vital mental food for their growth.

Louv also writes that nature offers an experiential learning experience in that children can slowly come to understand nature and themselves by interacting and interfacing with nature. There's a wondrous process of exploration and discovery when a child interacts with nature.

I so agree with many insights in his book. I remember when I was eight years old I loved laying in the grass and looking up at the sky, and just dreaming. Yes, we do have a Wii, DSi, and online Club Penguin membership. Those things can be good in moderation for cold weather days and rewards for good grades. But when the sun is shining you will hear me tell the kids, "Go outside and play!" Just like my mom did.
Shine your light,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Perfect Cheese Pizza

My daughter and her friend helped me make homemade cheese pizza today. It was fun and delicious. I definitely recommend you try this at home with your kids and friends. It was a cheap and great pizza party.
Perfect Cheese Pizza

1 16 oz ball of fresh pizza dough wheat or white. I used wheat from Trader Joe's.
1 c. marinara sauce. My fave is Ragu Sun dried Tomato & Sweet Basil
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese or your favorite cheese blend

Preheat oven to 375.
Take dough out of refrigerator and let stand for 20 minutes.
Flour your work surface. Lightly oil your pizza stone or pan with olive oil. I also oil a rolling pin. Roll out dough to about 12 inches and place on stone. Spread sauce on dough. Add more than one cup if desired. Sprinkle with cheese and place in oven for 14-15 minutes or until bubbly. Let cool, cut and be ready for smiles.

Note: Next time I will make my own and add olives, fresh basil, mushrooms, crushed red pepper, and anything else to jazz it up. Can't wait!