Sep 13

View From My Window – October 2013

Old BarneyWe haven’t really taken a vacation in years, so we decided to take a long weekend to get away and celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. On our way we first stopped at my brother’s sailboat. He and his wife sold their business and their house and now live on a sailboat. Soon they are sailing from NJ to the Florida keys for the winter! Now that is an adventure. We ended up going to Long Beach Island, NJ. When our kids were very little, for quite a few years, my parents rented a house there and invited all of us (their six children and our spouses and children). It was crowded and chaotic but we loved it and always had a good time. But as the saying goes, you can never go back home. It was great to go back but it wasn’t the same. Many of the places we liked to go were no longer there. The damage caused by Hurricane Sandy last year was still evident and sad, although it didn’t damage  the north end of the Island where we stayed. We did climbed to the top of “Old Barney” as they call the lighthouse. That was always an annual event.     

The beach and dunes get rearranged from time to time but the ocean is still the same. Going there after labor day was nice too. It’s not hot enough to want to take a dip, but I’m not that big into swimming in the ocean. I love walking on the beach and watching and listening to the waves. Dean can hardly get me away from the beach to do anything else. We haven’t been there in 20 years and I’m so happy we had a chance to go. Now I’m feeling refreshed and ready to go back to work.

Sep 13

4 Skin Care Tips for Autumn

imagesWell, autumn is officially here, and in much of the country that means cool, dry air. While we happen to like the change in weather, it can be really harsh on the skin. Here are some skin care tips to keep your skin looking awesome all year:

1. Stay hydrated.
Staying hydrated is important not just for the health of your body, but your skin, too. The drier air in the fall means you’ll be losing more moisture through your breathing and through your skin.

2. Up your moisturizing.
Whatever you do to moisturize during the summer, you’ll need to increase it during the fall and winter. This doesn’t necesarrily mean more work though. If you use a lotion during the summer, try switching to Shea Body Butter. It packs a bigger punch than a body lotion and you won’t have to put it on as often. It also has the added benefit of beeswax which helps prevent moisture loss in the dry fall air and even lasts through hand washing!

3. Hit the sauna
If you have access to a suana (many health clubs have saunas), use it! Saunas have many health benefits, not the least of which is improving the condition of the skin. Saunas dilate your capillaries, which brings increased blood flow to your skin. It opens up pores which helps release toxins and contaminates that accumulate in the skin. Sometimes the heat of a suana can be overwhelming in the summer, but stepping outside into the cool fall air after a session in the suana is a feeling we think you’re going to love.

Sep 13

Essential Oils: The Power of Tea Tree Oil

Essential Oils: Tea Tree

Essential Oils: Tea Tree

At Alabu we use the essential oil Tea tree for many different uses.

Tea Tree oil is not new, but many people have still not heard of it. In Australia, the Aboriginal people have used it for over one hundred years. But it was not until the 1920’s that the first report of tea tree oils antimicrobial properties was published.  Since then there have been a lot of studies regarding the effectiveness and uses for tea tree oil. Most of the research is being done in Australia, the main producer of tea tree oil.
If you are thinking of going out and buying any essential oils, make sure you are buying a good, quality oil that is packaged in a dark glass container.  Also keep in mind that there is no such thing as a therapeutic grade, it is a marketing term used to charge a higher price. Most essential oils will keep for at least one year, as long as you keep them away from sunlight and heat.  To get the longest shelf life out of your essential oil, store them in the fridge.  Health food stores carry brands that are perfectly acceptable.

I have already mentioned in a previous post that my son used it quite successfully to treat poison ivy, but it has many other uses. Here is more information from part of a lecture given by Robert Tisserand in October 2007 on the science and safety behind its use:

Soaps:    Soap containing tea tree oil has been shown to be very effective for skin blemishes, irritations and as a general antiseptic. Using the soap on a daily basis would be beneficial for acne, cuts, abrasions, foot conditions, fungal irritation and rashes.

Shampoo:     A shampoo containing tea tree oil helps in the control of dandruff, itchy scalp, ringworm, lice and seborrhea.

Antiseptic cream: a therapeutic cream containing about 5% tea tree oil helps heal sunburn, cuts, insect bites, rashes, athletes foot and a number of other skin irritations.

Acne control: Following the directions on the container, acne medication containing tea tree oil has been shown to be very effective at reducing the appearance and severity of acne.

Dental hygiene: Many dentists use tea tree oil as a mouthwash and to sterilize cavities prior to filling. Studies have shown that use of a mouthwash containing tea tree oil twice a day inhibits bacterial growth, reduces gum bleeding and helps control plaque.

Toothpaste:  With regular use a toothpaste containing tea tree oil can help reduce the symptoms and severity of gingivitis, halitosis, plaque buildup and pyorrhea.

Deodorant: Many deodorants contain aluminum and other ingredients that damage clothing and can irritate sensitive skin. A deodorant containing tea tree oil may help minimize the risk of bacterial buildup while its soothing qualities can help heal razor burn too.

Pet Products: Pet care products containing tea tree oil help to reduce itching and chafing skin, heal minor wounds and abrasions and promote a healthy coat. Applying a few drops of pure tea tree oil to ticks makes them back out of the animal’s skin while applying a few drops of pure oil to your pets bedding can control fleas.

For a lot more information on Tea Tree Oil, check out Australian Tea Tree Industry Association.

Want to try Alabu Tea Tree soap for yourself?

Potential Sensitivities:

Topical use of tea tree essential oil is safe for most people when diluted properly, but adverse reactions can occur. Disclaimer

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Sep 13

The Mall and Me

The Mall and me

The Mall and me

I had to go to the Mall, which I always try hard to avoid. But we were going to a wedding and I needed something dressier to wear. Our small town has two stores where you could buy clothes; Dollar General and Family Dollar. Yeah, so I was off to the Mall the night before the wedding; did I say I hate to go to the Mall?

So when I got there it was pouring rain and it occurred to me that I should do some other errands first; right I’m procrastinating. I made two stops in the pouring rain. I’m not running to and from my car like everyone else because I’m afraid I’ll slip in my sandals. I knew I should have worn sneakers! So I just got wet and tried to enjoy it.

A few years back the owners of this Mall decided it would be a good idea to remake the mall and instead of all the shops being inside, there are now little shops in the front of the mall so you can enjoy the weather going store to store outside while you are shopping. Yeah, I never thought it was a great idea for shopping in the northeast weather, but they look cute.

I went through all the clothes at two stores and I wondered who designs all these ugly clothes. At the third store I finally found some clothes I liked but they all seemed too small or too big. I finally settled on something and went to find a sales desk that was open.  I inquired at the first one I saw, if I could check out there. She said she wasn’t sure because she was new. I could see I had made her uncomfortable and tried to reassure her that was ok, no problem and moved on.

I found another sales desk and there was a line of sorts. It was a man in his mid 50’s and an elderly women sitting on her walker. I assume it was a son and his mom. He was buying her several outfits. She was sweetly telling him he was spending too much money on her. He was reminding her that the holidays were coming and she should have some nice things to wear.  Her son was so loving and kind. And she was almost apologetic. Her question reminded me of my dad; after my mom died he would ask us why we were so good to him.  I couldn’t help but smile at this pair.  I bought my clothes and left the store.

Then I saw a little way off in front of me a teenage boy and his dad coming out of a store. The father put his arm around his son’s shoulder. The son didn’t pull away like you might think a teenage boy would, he moved a little closer to his dad, that made me smile too. So my trip to the mall started out frustrating when I was trying to find something for myself, but turned into two beautiful glimpses of families loving each other. All in all it was a good trip.

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Sep 13

Foraging for Wild Mushrooms

foraging for wild mushroomsI’m a confessed wild mushroom hunter; I love foraging for wild mushrooms much to my husband’s (Dean) concern. He had learned as a child never pick or eat wild mushrooms because they will kill you. If you don’t know what you are picking he is probably dead right. It is true that there are some mushrooms that are poisonous and some that are edible and safe. You know that you can buy cultivated mushroom at the store, eat them and enjoy them without dying. But I do like picking mushrooms. I guess I like to live on the wild side sometimes. I only pick one variety.  I was shown how to find them and I feel pretty sure I can identify them safely (Dean starts to perk-up with the “pretty sure” comment). They are called pinkies and commonly grow in cow pastures. When I learned how to identify them from a friend, I was already an avid wild food forager. I have a natural ability to identify and remember plants. Dean is horrible at this (no offense, honey), I still have to point out poison ivy to him (not unlike my son and his friends poison ivy debacle!), as well as the weeds he left when weeding, and the plants he weeded by mistake.

Each fall when the weather is still a little warm but wetter than summer, I see their little white heads popping up in our pastures. Even though I’m pretty sure (there is that term again) at first glance they are true pinkies, I’m still careful to examine them and make sure they are not something else. Most notably, they are confused with a charmingly named mushroom called the Death Angel. Nice right? Yeah really, the Death Angel mushroom will kill you. I have harvested mushrooms and cooked them for friends and I feel very trusted when they are brave enough to eat them. Are you wondering if Dean eats them? Well, if you ask him, he will wink and say; “It depends if she is mad at me or not”.   :o)

 Dean says I’m crazy for foraging for wild mushroom; I don’t know, what do you think?

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