Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is Your Olive Oil Really Olive Oil?

I'm still in shock as I write this so if I seem rather rummy, I am.  This news I read today really rocked my world and has my head spinning with questions of how I'm going to handle this situation.  I just found out that almost all of the olive sold in this country is not even real olive oil but rather a blend of other oils with minor traces of low quality olive  oil.  Can you believe it or did you already know?

How can this be?  I was upset enough when I found out that most of the honey sold in the supermarkets is nothing more than corn syrup, but this is even worse!  I mean, raw local honey isn't hard to get your hands on even if you live in the city.  You can purchase it at farmers markets, natural health stores, through co-ops and directly from beekeepers.  But who knows or lives near an olive oil farmer?  I don't know about you but I am tired of being duped and scammed and lied to!  Here is the link so you can read for yourself about the great olive oil hoax we've all been a victim of...

After reading this article how do you feel about olive oil?  Will you continue to purchase it in the grocery store or will you find a reputable source?  I use "olive oil" a lot in my cooking for its health benefits and in my herbal beauty products, so I depend on quality, which I believed I was getting with my expensive brand of organic extra virgin olive oil.  Now that I know better I will buy my olive oil from Mountain Rose Herbs, and you can too, simply by clicking on the banner on my home page.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue.  Will this change your oil buying habits or will you continue to purchase the same oil?  Let me know what you think by leaving a comment!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Nettle Vinegar To Combat Allergies

I don't know about you, but I and many people I know are suffering with seasonal allergies right now.  Pollen counts are high and bits of cotton float off the cottonwood trees, making some of us downright miserable.  First the eyes get itchy and red, then the throat gets tight and scratchy and last but not least the respiratory system jumps on the bandwagon to make breathing difficult and creating a dry cough that upsets the mucus membranes in your throat and just generally wears you out.  It may seem ironic that even though plants are causing me grief they are the first thing I look to when I want to relieve symptoms fast without taking prescriptions or even over the counter Diphenhydramine (Benadryl).  In the case of allergies the plant that soars among the rest for allergy relief is Stinging Nettle.  Instead of drinking Nettle tea every day, which can be a hassle when you work or just have a busy schedule, its easy to make a nice Nettle vinegar that you can take daily in a tablespoon with warm water to greatly relieve your allergy symptoms.

If you know you are prone to seasonal allergies it is a good idea to start dosing yourself with Nettle a good 4 to 6 weeks before Spring.  This will help prevent the onset of symptoms and should help ease the severity of symptoms if and when they hit.  Nettle is not only good for allergies but it is a powerhouse of nutrition, boasting so many vitamins and minerals they are too many to count here.  Preserving Nettle in vinegar is a tasty way to get in not only your medicine but a multivitamin too!

Making the Nettle vinegar is easy.  In fact its dummy proof!  It is a fun project to do with your children, especially if you can harvest fresh Nettle from your own yard or other organic source of Nettle.  The most important rule in harvesting Nettle is to wear gloves.  Nettle has small hairs under it's leaves that are actually like small needles, injecting a painful dose of "venom" (for lack of a  better word) that will leave a stinging rash on your hands.  Thus the nickname Stinging Nettle.  Believe it or not, some people (me included!) purposely sting themselves with Nettle in order to reduce inflammation in painful joints.  But that is a whole other story that deserves its own blog.  For now, just beware of the stinging leaves when you harvest Nettle and you will be fine.

To make a good medicinal vinegar you will need a large amount of fresh leaves, enough to fill a quart sized mason jar when all chopped up.  After you've filled your mason jar with the chopped nettle pour in enough organic apple cider vinegar to cover the Nettle and fill the jar.  Shake your mixture vigorously and place it in a cool place in your kitchen away from direct sunlight.  Shake it several times daily for 2 to 4 weeks.  After 2 weeks you can do a taste test to determine if the flavor is palatable to you.  The longer you infuse the Nettle in vinegar the better medicine you will get from it, but for some Nettle is an acquired taste.  Once you've determined that your vinegar is done you simply strain it and pour it into a bottle or jar with a tight fitting cork or lid.

When I strain my vinegar I line a strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a large measuring cup.  After I have strained the vinegar I pour it into a jar and let it sit for a few hours, allowing any leftover herbal material to settle on the bottom.  Pour the vinegar back into the measuring cup and pour out the sediment at the bottom.  Now pour your clean, filtered vinegar back into the jar and you have a lovely Nettle vinegar you can take daily by the tablespoon.  Your vinegar will make a great marinade, salad dressing or just plain medicine.

If you don't have access to fresh Nettle you can use dried Nettle which can be purchased at Mountain Rose Herbs, a wonderful provider of herbs and herbal products online.  You can visit and buy products at Mountain Rose Herbs via the banner on my homepage.  When making vinegar with dried Nettle you will only want to fill the mason jar 1/2 to 3/4 full when you pour in the apple cider vinegar.  Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh herbs, therefore you don't need to use as much.

Now that you know how to do it I challenge you to make your own Nettle vinegar.  If you don't suffer from seasonal allergies I'll bet you know someone who does.  If you have access to organic or wild Nettle, be a hero and share this wonderful cure with friends and relatives!

I would love to hear about your own experience with Nettles!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Ailment No One Wants To Talk About

Though it is not a fun subject or something we discuss with our friends, many people suffer from Constipation and will turn to dangerous laxatives to relieve their suffering.  Abnormal bowel habits can result from many things including (but certainly not limited to) stress, change of eating habits, medical illness and medications.  Constipation is a miserable condition to suffer through and I have to admit I've been a victim myself.  Luckily, nature, our wonderful provider of medicine and food, offers easy, gentle remedies that work as well, if not better, than what modern medicine has to offer and are much safer and better for your body.  I find these two remedies help immensely and save me from taking laxatives, which can cause cramping and griping pains in the gut, not to mention other problems.

Smooth Move Bran:
1 cup applesauce
1 cup coarse unprocessed bran
3/4 cup prune juice

Directions: Combine ingredients, mixing well.  Mixture will be pasty.  Keep in a tightly covered container in your fridge.  Take 1-2 tbsp of mixture daily followed by 1 full 8 oz. glass of water.  Within one week your bowels should be back to normal.  If the constipation persists try the treatment for one more week but take 2-3 tbsp of mixture daily.  Drink lots of water and avoid constipating foods.  This should do the trick!  By the way, it tastes great!

Flaxseed Glop:
Add 2 tbsp. of flaxseed to 3 qts. boiling water.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Cool and strain into container.  Take 2 oz. every morning with juice or water.  Taken on a regular basis this will keep you regular too!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Look Younger In Minutes!

I hate wrinkles!  Therefore I have found some great natural treatments to help my skin look and feel younger.  I would feel guilty if I did not share these simple anti-aging remedies with you!

Here is a good old fashioned recipe for an instant face lift, great for that special night out!  You probably have the main ingredient in your medicine cabinet.  This will leave your face feeling more tight and lifted.  I have also included a quick fix for those awful crow's feet that appear around out eyes.

Instant Face Lift:
Take generous a amount of Milk of Magnesia , probably about 2 tbsp (this is the best use for this laxative you will ever find!) and spread over face and neck.  Allow to dry for 20-30 minutes.  Warm up a small amount of olive oil in a pan.  When the time is up, use a bit more MOM on face with water to rinse.  Apply warm olive oil and wait 5 minutes.  Splash face with cold water and apply your regular moisturizer.  You will look five years younger and your skin will have a rosy youthful glow!

Instant Crow's Feet Minimizer:
Whip one egg white until frothy.  Spread generously under eyes and crow's feet areas.  Allow to dry completely.  Rinse gently and pat dry.  Apply olive oil or eye cream to follow up.  Your eyes will appear younger for a few hours, just right for that night out dancing or that class reunion coming up!

Have you ever tried these tricks?  Perhaps you have your own secrets to youthful skin.  I would love to hear your own ideas, I'm sure there are many out there!  I know I'm not alone in this battle to fight off old age!

A Few Easy Recipes

Happy Spring!  This is the time of year when many of you are out in your gardens, preparing and planting and at the end of a long gardening session, I don't know about you but I myself am pooped!  The thought of putting together a complicated meal has no appeal when you are tired and sore and covered in dirt.  So here is a recipe that is so easy it almost makes itself!  It is a recipe that my husband and I love.  We eat it often because it is delicious and so easy and quick to fix.  The prep is easy and it's a breeze to clean up.  It's perfect when you are short on time and want a good, nutritious and satisfying meal.  It's also a great recipe for your teens that might just be learning to cook.


Prep Time: 10 minutes                  Category: Main Dish (Lowfat)                   Servings: 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp. pepper or to taste (we like to double that amount)
1 8oz. nonfat or lowfat sour cream

Directions:  Sprinkle chicken breasts generously with pepper.  Spray nonfat cooking spray in large skillet and brown breasts on medium heat.  Turn to low heat and dollop sour cream over breasts and in middle of pan.  cover and continue cooking until meat is white all the way through.  The sour cream will become a delicious gravy that we like to serve over whole wheat pasta, brown rice, couscous or potatoes.

Per Serving:
Calories: 187   Total Fat:  1.4 grams (7% fat)   Cholesterol: 66mg   Sodium,: 118 mg


I have found a couple of kid-friendly recipes that are fun to make and great to eat!  Have fun with your children in the kitchen and teach them good habits early on.  They will thank you later on!


Baked Broccolini:  A recipe by 8-year-old Katie Helliwell who lives in San Diego, California.  I have not had the fortune of meeting this young cook; instead I found this delicious and simple recipe in “A Taste of Home” magazine, November 2010 edition.  Katie created this recipe on her own at the ripe old age of 8!  Not surprisingly, Katie’s ambition is to be a restaurant chef someday.

Prep/total time: 15 minutes     Yield: 4 servings

¾ lb. broccolini or broccoli spears
2 Tbsp. lemon juice   (remember, freshly squeezed is always best if possible!)
2 Tbsp. olive oil        
½ tsp. salt        
1/8 tsp. pepper

Place broccolini in a greased 15x10 baking pan.  Combine the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper; drizzle over broccolini and toss to coat.  Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving equals 97 calories, 7 grams fat, 0 cholesterol, 320 mg. sodium, 7 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams protein


Molasses cookies with an herbal twist:   I found this wonderful herb-filled cookie recipe in “A Taste of Home” magazine, November 2010 issue, a great issue filled with holiday cooking ideas.  I love this recipe because it’s a twist on an old favorite and chock full of healthy and healing herbs.  I make this recipe with organic flours, butter and sugars for an extra wholesome snack I can feel good about serving to my own grandchildren.  This is a great cookie recipe for the holidays or any time and will be a favorite of kids everywhere who will love to put on their aprons and help!

Prep Time: 40 minutes             Chilling/baking time: 10 minutes per batch                 Yield: 8 dozen

 ¾ cups butter, softened
½ cup each sugar and packed brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 egg    (or ¼ cup egg substitute)
1 ½ tsp. minced fresh gingerroot
2-¼ cups all-purpose flour  (you can also use wheat flour or half and half)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon         
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. each ground cloves and cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. each salt and ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. each ground white pepper, cardamom and coriander
¾ cup turbinado (washed, raw) sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in molasses, egg and ginger.  Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, cayenne, salt, nutmeg, white pepper, cardamom and coriander; Ad to creamed mixture and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 ½ hours or until easy to handle.  Roll into ½” ball and then roll in turbinado sugar.  Place 3” apart on greased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until set.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.  Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition Facts: 1 cookie equals 41 calories, 2 grams fat, 6 mg. cholesterol, 28 mg. sodium, 7 grams carbohydrate, trace fiber, trace protein

Diabetic exchange equals ½ starch

Here is a fun recipe that makes a delightful, healthy and delicious spread for bread, toast, crackers and anything else you can dream up.  I love to eat mine by the spoonful all by itself!

Herbal Honey

Fill a mason jar half to completely full with the desired herb.  Some great tasting herbs that work especially well for herbal honey are:

Hyssop, Elecampane, Garlic,  Ginger, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Horseradish, Sweet Marjoram, Oregano, Spearmint, Thyme, Rosehips and Rose Petals.  Use your imagination and whatever is growing in your garden!

Next, fill the remainder of the jar with honey and mix well by stirring and inverting jar several times.   Let the herbal honey sit for 3-7 days, then refrigerate.  This honey will keep for a very long time, if not forever!
Besides making a great spread this honey will make a wonderful marinade as well!  Enjoy!

Herbal Butter

Herbal butter is another great easy herbal project that will liven up any food you use it on or cook with.

Start by softening 1/2 cup of butter to room temperature.  Mix the butter with 1/2 cup of Olive Oil.  Finely mince the herbs you have selected and mix well into butter either by hand or with a blender.  Herbal butter stored in the fridge will last for about 2 weeks and if kept in the freezer is good for 2 months.  Some great herbs to use for herbal butter are:

Mushrooms and Shallots, Rosemary and Garlic, Dandelion leaves, Orange Zest and Catnip, dried Basil and Pine Nuts, wild berries and honey, and one of our favorites, Garlic and grated fresh Parmesan Cheese.

Have fun experimenting with different herbs and flavor combinations.  It won't take you long to come up with your own signature herbed butter that your whole family will love and ask for time and time again!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Apple Cider Vinegar For Amazing Hair!

Here is a real quick post about the simplest and cheapest hair conditioner in the world!  This cheap, amazing product will leave your hair shiny, bouncy and full of body and will cost you mere pennies per use!  I use it regularly and get many compliments on how shiny and bouncy my hair is!  Guess what it is...Apple Cider Vinegar!  Yes, that's right, something easy and cheap that may already be in your pantry!

It's very easy to use and you will be amazed at the results!  Not only does it give your hair movie star quality shine and body but each apple cider vinegar rinse will last through several shampoos!  After shampooing your hair, run apple cider vinegar through it as you would a normal conditioner, scrubbing the scalp and really working it  through the hair from root to ends.  Leave on for a few minutes while you soap up and/or shave, then simply rinse out.  Your hair will NOT smell like vinegar but it will look beautiful and hold your hairstyle in place.  It is amazing and once you try it I bet you'll stick with it as part of your beauty and hair regimen.

Give this amazing hair treatment a try and I can almost guarantee you'll stick with it for life!  Not only will it give your hair softness and shine without causing build-up, it will actually remove build-up from your hair without stripping the natural oils in your hair, something a clarifying shampoo cannot do!  I notice that when I  use it it lightens my color treated hair very slightly, not a full shade, but a tiny bit.  Keep this in mind if you color your hair and use before applying a new color.  It will clarify your hair as well as condition your scalp and leave it smelling fresh and clean!  You'll undoubtedly get compliments about your hair so be prepared to give away your new secret to incredible hair!

I'd love to hear what you think about this unique hair treatment so please let me know once you've tried it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Texas Vacation W/PICS!

I want to share with all of you the wonderful trip my sister Kim recently treated me to at her beautiful home in Texas a couple of weeks ago. I was very nervous about flying alone, not because I'm afraid to fly but navigating SeaTac airport and Dallas' huge Dallas-Fort Worth airport was very intimidating to me. Now that I've done it I am no longer afraid! I flew out early on a Sunday morning that was cold and drizzly in Seattle and arrived in Dallas to greet warm sunshine and my beautiful smiling sister. We stopped and had mexican food on our way to her home in Lavon, Texas and there my adventure really began. 

Here are a few pictures of Kim's beautiful homestead! 

I could post more but I think you get the picture! Here are photos of Kim's pottery studio and her husband Don's workshop! 

And some pics around the property! 


A few pics of inside the Brock homestead! 
 Kim gets tired of modeling for pictures! 
 This is a view of Kim's cowhide from upstairs in the loft. The floor plan is open and airy and allows for great natural lighting throughout! 
 The stairway leads up to the loft, a lovely space where Kim and Don watch TV and hang out in the evenings.

 This is Kim's large soaking tub. I won't bore you with pics of the rest of her bathroom but let me tell you that I could practically live in her master bathroom. It is nearly a religious experience, LOL! 

When we arrived at her house I spent the first hour taking pictures. I felt that I had arrived at a 5 star hotel with beautiful grounds and a gorgeous pool. We spent the day relaxing, chatting and getting "caught up." We had a healthy meal of stir fry that Kim made and then we enjoyed an awesome beverage my sister invented called a "Razatooey" which consists of Bacardi raspberry flavored malt liquor with raspberry flavored vodka and vodka-infused whip cream! Yum! Easy to overindulge! I'm not much of a drinker but with drinks that delicious I could be! 

On my first full day we decided to hang around the house and relax. We took the dogs for a walk on a large undeveloped property that is directly behind Kim's place. Don blazes a trail with his riding lawn mower for easier walking! 
 As you can see, the area of Lavon, Texas is greener than many parts of the state. I loved the trees and wildness of the property! 
 I found some lovely wildflowers that I've never seen in Washington state before, this one was my favorite. In the hot Texas sun the flower seemed to be on fire! I only wish my camera could have done it justice! 

We went to lunch that day at The In-n-Out Burger, mostly because I thought it was merely a fictitious restaurant from the movie "The Big Lebowski" and when I heard it was real I had to eat there! I don't usually eat fast food but I have to was a pretty good burger! 

That night we had a healthy lasagna with salad for dinner and tucked in early, anticipating our fun day in Dallas Tuesday. After a leisurely breakfast, and mocha for Kim 
we headed for Dallas, about 50 minutes from where Kim and Don live. We did part of the Dallas art walk, a fun tour of various sites throughout Dallas. We didn't do the whole walk but here are some of the highlights. We started with the Crow museum of asian art and here a few pics of some of our visit there: 


 This was my favorite piece in the Tantric exhibit. 

When we left the museum we walked around and found these various sculptures: 

 This was an interesting feature...when you touch the sphere with your hand you can change the direction of it's motion. I really liked it though the pic doesn't really show off it's beauty. 

As we walked we spotted this awesome mural painted on the side of an old building. I loved it and had to capture it on film! 
We finished up our long walk, several miles by the time we were done, at the Dallas farmer's market. It was full of beautiful colorful veggies and fruits and the vendors give you free samples which ended up being a great healthy snack for us after all that walking! 

 My sister is so beautiful! Look at that Goddess hair! 

We had fish tacos at a lovely cafe and enjoyed our food outside! 
 Me, hungry and waiting for that taco, which was spicier than our fish tacos here in Washington! My mouth was on FIRE! 

After our fun day in Dallas we went home and Don smoked a chicken and we got to eat corn on the cob. Now that may not seem like a big deal to you but here's the thing: my sister has had an anaphylactic allergy to corn since she was a little girl. Less than two years ago she would have died by simply touching a kernel of corn. Thanks to the NAET protocol, a natural alternative allergy therapy, she can now eat all the corn she wants. She can also sit in the grass and enjoy wheat products, both of which would also have killed her prior to NAET. Here is a pic of Kim enjoying her corn...

On my third day we hung out and broke in the pool for the first time of the season. We had a great time splashing around
 Since the pool is not heated it took us some time to brave going in all the way! But finally we did and OH! it felt so GOOD! 
After the swim we both felt refreshed and ready to do anything! 

 Me, the palest gal in Texas, LOL! 
 Lucky Kim has the figure to brave a two piece suit! 

On Thursday we lazed around house and property. Kim and I kindled together on her reading chaise lounge: 
We watched as the dogs enjoyed a swim: 
 Molly loves to swim, especially when she can combine swimming and playing with her ball! 
 Roxy just gets in and out to cool off. 

Don, who is such an awesome brother in law that I truly think of him as a real brother, is a power para glider and teaches people to fly. Here is a unit he bought while I was visiting: 
Here he is checking out the new wing: 
Kiting the wing: 
Don had planned to take me flying but the wind kicked up for my last three days so it was unsafe to fly. That gives me a great excuse to go back! 

Thursday night Kim and Don invited their good friends Brian and Prissy over, who brought their dogs. It was canine invasion night and I cooked Chicken Chili for everyone. It was a fun time of fellowship! Kim and Don have truly awesome friends! 

Friday we all decided to head to Dallas to have lunch at The Alligator Cafe. It was the cutest little restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating but we sat inside because I forgot my hat and my sister didn't want me to have a Lupus flare. She's such a great little sis! 
 Gotta love that alligator skin wallpaper! And here is what I ate...a very heatlhy meal of grilled alligator with a tomato and cucumber salad. I found alligator to be simply delicious and I know what you are thinking! "It tastes like chicken!" LOL! I thought it tasted like a perfect combination of chicken and pork with just a hint of beef. 
Curtis, our sweet little waiter, assured me that alligator is very lean and low in cholesterol and fat. He is planning a trip to Seattle soon and asked me to recommend a good place to eat. Of course I told him to sample our fine seafood here and recommended Salty's, my favorite seafood restaurant. 

On Saturday, my final day in Texas, Kim's friend Kim came over and we lounged in the sun all day, chatting and laughing and having "girl" time, something I don't get much of. The "other" Kim was a hoot and I only wish I could have brought both of them home with me! 

Here are a few more random pics of my time with Kim and Don: 
 This is an awful picture of me but it really captures Don at his goofiest best! 
 Don enjoys a beer after working with a new wing in the hot sun. 

 13 years married and going strong! 
 This is a pic of the propane tank that Don plans to make into a "submarine" and Kim is going to plant blue flowers all around. I will blog those pics when that project is done so stay tuned! Don is one of those guys who can build and make and create anything! I suggested he make it the yellow submarine but got a great big "NO!" for an answer, LOL! 

That about wraps it up. We got up EARLY Sunday morning to take me to the airport. I have to tell you that I did have an interesting TSA experience! I was, for some reason, chosen to be patted down. My pockets were checked and I had to remove my socks, apparently they were worried I was smuggling something between my toes. The worst part was that the gal then made me move my necklace to my back and stuck her hand down my shirt, into my bra and asked "Do you have anything in your bra?" To which I responded, "Aside from my boobs and your hand, NO!" The flight home, though not brutal, was full of turbulence and I was very glad to get back on the ground. The best thing of all was when I was riding down the escalator to baggage claim and saw my handsome grinning husband waiting there for me. I missed him so much on my trip and will NEVER go anywhere without him again! When I got home my dog went ballistic and showed me how much she had missed me as well. 

I am happy to report that I did not gain so much as one ounce on my vacation! I normally only weigh in once a month but for this occasion I did weigh in prior to and just after my vacation. I was proud of myself but honestly, it wasn't hard because my sister also eats healthy and we had so much fun we just didn't snack! 

Vacations are great but so are happy homecomings! Thanks for sharing my trip with me!