Thursday, September 29, 2011

Easy Recipe for Vegan Chocolate Cake

This is the easiest chocolate cake in the world — perhaps in the universe! You don't even need eggs, butter, or milk, and you probably have all the ingredients on hand. I use this recipe when I'm in a time crunch, because nothing needs to be creamed, beaten, or whipped; you literally just stir things together. It tastes like the best dark chocolate sponge cake you have ever eaten.
You really can please all kinds of people with this one. It happens to be vegan, since there are no dairy products in it. That sounds scary to some people, so don't tell them until after they've eaten about three slices!
2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 cups organic cane sugar
1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract
2/3 cup organic canola oil
2 teaspoons organic white vinegar
2 cups cold water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, or place liners in 2 muffin pans for 24 cupcakes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the vanilla extract, oil, vinegar, and cold water.
Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. The mixture will be quite wet, but this is okay.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. For cupcakes, the baking time is 24 to 26 minutes.
Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.

This recipe is from Organic and Chic by Sarah Magid and was taken from

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Positive Thinking Exercises

4 Steps to prove self-worth and settle for nothing less than success

Today, millionaires, happy people, and celebrities have come forward to discuss their loyalty to positive thinking exercises. In fact, so many have pledged allegiance to the power of positive thinking that you’ve likely given it a try. However, what you’ve probably realized is what many of these celebrities and successful individuals have been saying all along — thinking positively isn’t easy.

Like any other skill, you have to learn positive thinking. And you need to have a list of positive thinking exercises that you can rely on to block out the negative and embrace the good in your life. Here are some positive thinking tips that may take some time to implement, but can change the way you think.

Positive speaking exercises

According to RN Center’s nursing library, positive speaking can help you achieve positive results. When you say phrases like “I can’t;” “I’m not good enough;” and “I’m a bad mother, worker, person, etc.,” you start to believe that this is the truth. Instead, convince yourself that you are good enough to succeed by not only telling yourself that you can, but also repeating your affirmations — tell yourself that you’re good enough to deserve success.

Positive thinking exercises

RN Center’s nursing library recommends using a popular psychotherapy tool — creating a positive thought. Let the negative thoughts that begin to overwhelm you act as a trigger for the positive thought you’ve stored in your mind. For example, train yourself that as soon as you begin to think a negative thought like, "I'm a failure," switch tracks to your pre-stored positive thought, which could be something like, "I'm a great friend and a hard worker." Thinking negatively has the same effect as speaking negatively — you begin to convince yourself that your life is negative; you can’t be happy! When you train yourself to consciously choose positive thoughts, you choose happiness.

Negativity exercises

Even when thinking positively, you will experience some negative events in your life. However, you can choose to use those negative events as teaching tools rather than dwelling on them as exhibits of your failure. When you think of a negative event, do so in an analytical, academic way. Pick out the problem, and determine how to correct it in the future. But most of all, remember that what happened is in the past, and dwelling on it can only mean more failure.

Praising yourself exercises

When you do something well, give yourself praise. Often times, we’ve been raised to think this shows vanity. It doesn’t! It shows that you love yourself and want to improve your well-being. Every time you do something well, repeat praise for yourself in your thoughts. Also, store those positive moments in your memory bank for the future, when you can dwell on them to remind yourself that you are capable and worthy of success.

This post was written by E.C. LaMeaux for
Click here to purchase my ebook 101 Affirmations for the Mother-to-Be.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Take a Moment for Yourself

Creative Strategies sure to bring you a little peace.

Feeling overwhelmed? Block the steady stream of life’s slings and arrows with this relaxation regimen. With practice and a few stolen moments, you’ll discover a state of inner calm.
3 minutes...Get Grateful Focusing on what goes right in your day (and pushing aside what goes wrong) flips a switch in your brain and helps you stress less. Think of three positives a day: Your latest batch of split-pea soup was perfection; your husband unloaded the dishwasher (and you didn’t even nag him); your child taught you something today (Really, the Styracosaurus was a plant eater? But he looks so ferocious!).
4 minutes...Ditch Some Chores Delete one thing from your to-do list that you just won’t get to anytime soon: organizing the garage, cleaning out the attic, digitizing all the old photos. Now cross off an obligation that takes a lot of your time but doesn’t really enhance your life: organizing that fund-raiser you were drafted into, calling back that frenemy who never has anything nice to say. Aah, suddenly your load feels a little lighter.
15 minutes...Lend a Hand Assisting a coworker who’s in over her head can separate you from your own worries. Research shows, too, that helping others enhances your general well-being: It improves self-esteem, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, increases endorphin production, bolsters immunity and buffers stress. And you’ll be a hero to someone—who may just swoop in and save you someday. 

This post was written by Teresa Palagano for

Monday, September 26, 2011

Abdominal Massage

Abdominal Massages promote digestion and elimination, reduces abdominal pain and increases energy.

Technique: This massage should be performed when you have time to remain in a resting position for 5-10 minutes following the massage. Use massage oil or lotion and lie on your back with a pillow under your knees. Place the palm of one hand over the palm of the other hand. Gently massage clockwise around the entire abdomen. Once complete, gently knead your abdomen from right to left.

End this massage by gently gliding your hands over the entire abdomen. Beginning at your rib cage, slide your hands down to your pelvis, decreasing the amount of pressure each time until you are simply brushing the surface of your skin.  When your massage is complete, allow your arms to rest at your side while you relax.

This massage should not be painful. If you do feel pain, reduce the amount of pressure that you are applying to the area then continue.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hot Soba Noodles with Shrimp and Shiitake Mushrooms

Makes 4 Servings

What could be more soothing than a bowl of noodles and broth, piping hot? Add succulent shrimp and aromatic ginger, and you have a meal that nourishes both body and soul. To make fast work of this soup, buy shrimp that are already shelled and deveined or ask your fishmonger to do it for you.


16 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 (3/4-inch) piece gingerroot
4 ounces soba noodles
1 cup Chicken Stock (page 200)
Vegetable oil in a spray bottle or 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 cups spinach, trimmed, washed and patted dry but slightly damp
8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup diagonally sliced scallions


Place the shrimp and garlic into a glass or ceramic dish, and pour in the sesame oil and soy sauce; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Using a cheese grater, coarsely grate the gingerroot. Then, working over a small bowl, squeeze the grated gingerroot with your hands to extract the juice until you have 1 teaspoon.

Reserve the juice and discard the ginger pulp.

Bring a medium-size pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add the soba noodles; simmer for 5 minutes, or until soft. Drain and return to the pot; pour in 1/2 cup stock and keep warm.

Spray or grease another nonstick pan with vegetable oil, set it over medium heat and add the spinach; cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it just begins to wilt but is still a vivid green. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Spray or grease a nonstick pan with vegetable oil and set over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, shiitake mushrooms and any remaining marinade; sauté, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the remaining 1/2 cup stock and ginger juice; bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and firm to the touch.

Place equal portions of the spinach into warm soup bowls. Spoon the hot soba noodles and stock over the spinach and top with the shrimp and shiitake mushrooms. Drizzle 1 teaspoon lime juice into each bowl, garnish with scallions and serve.

This recipe, from Golden Door Cooks at Home, was taken from

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Peninsula Chicago

This 5 Diamond and 5 Star Hotel and Spa offers ESPA holistic treatments, yoga classes, afternoon tea, and an indoor swimming pool with striking views of the city. Enjoy the Peninsula Full or Half Day Spa Journey which includes a variety of aromatherapy massages and use of the Relaxation Lounge.

Dine at Naturally Peninsula which offers food for the mind, body and spirit, appealing to all five senses.

With views overlooking Chicago’s shopping district and Lake Michigan, you can rest comfortably within these stunning accommodations.  

This is a great hotel and spa experience for business or leisure.  For more information or to book your visit now, click here: The Peninsula Chicago.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Think Outside the Studio: Guide to Starting a Home Yoga Practice

How to do yoga at home and get results.

Fighting traffic to make it to class in time, remembering to bring your yoga gear, carving out a space for your mat amid the after-work studio crowds .... Yoga can sometimes be a less than Zen-like experience.
Starting a home practice can ultimately save time, energy and money — plus, no one will be checking out your rear view as you Downward Dog from the comfort of your own living room. Twenty minutes of yoga at home is often more beneficial than driving, parking and paying to practice for an hour at a studio.
While most yoga teachers will advise you to learn the fundamentals of asana (yoga poses) in a live class before getting on the mat at home, "Nothing replaces the home practice," says 25-year yoga veteran Rodney Yee. "Listening is the practice of yoga; it's so important to go into your own body and ask it to be your teacher. It is a time when you can find your own rhythm. It is where the genuine knowledge arises.
"Going to classes has many benefits, of course," he acknowledges, "but I have observed time and time again that it is when people start to practice at home that the real insights occur."
Beyond the reasons to start a home practice, today there are new ways to start one — ways that blur the lines between showing up in a live yoga class and rolling out a mat in your living room to do yoga at home.
Virtual yoga classes are more sophisticated than ever
Besides the many yoga DVDs and books on the market, online yoga classes and digital downloads are bringing home more of the benefits of a live class. While an instructor isn't physically there to observe your alignment and adjust your limbs hands-on, multimedia is the next best thing ... and for some it may be even better.
Yee's online yoga studio,  Gaiam Yoga Studio, gives you access to many hours of detailed how-to video demonstrating and explaining more than 75 yoga poses — plus a daily yoga practice guided via downloadable audio podcasts. Plunk those on your iPod and you've got the best of both worlds — an instructor's voice in your ear (let's face it, half the time you can't see her over all the other bodies anyway, or your face is covered by your hair or pressed onto your mat ...), plus the freedom to tailor your practice to your individual needs and pace, as Yee recommends below.
What you need to get started with yoga at home
The best reason to start a home yoga practice is that you don't need much to begin:
  • Choose or create a quiet, uncluttered space in your home for your practice, and stock it with the essential basic yoga props — mat, strap, blocks, blanket, bolster, etc. The space doesn’t have to be large, but it should be quiet, clean, open and sacred.
  • Set realistic goals, starting out with small pockets of time (10-15 minutes).
  • Begin with basic beginner's yoga sequences and expand your practice as your skills improve.
That said, it’s your yoga practice — so build it to best meet your individual needs.
"When I teach classes, I can tell just by watching who is practicing at home and who is not," says Yee. "People who are not practicing at home simply try to fit their bodies into my instructions as if they were following orders .... They are concerned mainly with whether they are doing it 'right.' But people who are practicing at home are inquisitive about instructions and test them out in their own bodies, asking themselves, 'How does this feel?'"
Which yoga poses should you do?
Some styles of yoga follow a set sequence of specific poses, but many instructors including Yee recommend a more open-ended approach.
"At home," he says, "you learn to listen to what your body needs that day, move at your own pace, and develop intuition about what sequences or kinds of yoga poses you want and need to do most on any given day."
If you are fatigued, you may want to do a more restorative yoga sequence. If you're feeling energetic, a more flowing, fast-paced or rigorous set of yoga poses may feel more satisfying or help you channel that energy. Many like to do anenergizing yoga practice in the morning and a calming restorative practice in the evenings.
But listening to what you need is more than a physical thing.
"As you practice your first poses on your own, try to cultivate an attitude of playfulness and acceptance," says Yee. "Being present during your practice means allowing yourself to be aware of whatever physical sensations, emotions and thoughts are currently arising. Be creative and spontaneous. If you approach your practice with a sense of curiosity, rather than self-judgment or competitiveness, you will find it easier to motivate yourself to practice — and you'll be more present when you do practice."
Sun salutations are a time-efficient way of practicing yoga because they thread together poses that involve different parts of the body. Sun salutes are also commonly practiced as a warm-up, followed by standing poses such as Warrior I, II and II — and ending with forward bends, twists and restorative poses.
As you advance, you may want to move into more challenging intermediate and advanced yoga poses such as arm balances, inversions and backbends.
How to stay motivated to do keep doing yoga regularly
Setting up a home yoga practice is only half the battle — now you have to roll out your mat and do it.
"The best advice I can give you," says Yee, "is to make your yoga part of your morning ritual. This means getting to bed 15 minutes earlier so your yoga practice does not cut into your sleep time. The second piece of advice is to sit down with your weekly calendar and begin to cross out any activity that is not serving you anymore (this takes being brutally honest).
But in this interview clip from the intro to his A.M. Yoga for Your Week DVD, Yee says the real key to staying motivated to keep doing yoga gets back to listening to yourself and exploring what you need with a sense of curiosity and creativity.
"Another significant way to support your home practice," Yee adds, "is to practice with a member of your family or a friend. Being held accountable by others can get you to the mat on the dreariest of days. Once you get to the mat, the magic often takes over after a couple of minutes, and you find yourself vibrating with the music of yoga."

This post was written by Meagan McCrary and Mary Jo Cameron for

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

1-Minute Breathing Exercise for Energy and Productivity

Breath and productivity go hand in hand. Incorrect breathing not only reduces your productivity levels; it can also lead to an increase in your heart rate, the same way sleep apnea quickens the pulse as the body struggles to take in oxygen.
Yoga breathing techniques offer a practical solution. Yoga has become a common form of stress management and exercise for overworked executives, and you can practice yogic breathing exercises without going to a yoga class.
Try this 1-minute breathing exercise to boost blood oxygen and productivity
Professional yoga therapist Felice Rhiannon uses this one-minute breath practice whenever she’s feeling frazzled or restless. It is a centering activity based on a slow inhalation and an incremental increase in the length of exhalations.
Inhale to the count of two
Exhale to the count of two
Inhale to the count of two
Exhale to the count of three
Inhale to the count of two
Exhale to the count of four
Inhale to the count of two
Exhale to the count of five
Repeat several times, then return to your normal breathing. Your improved breathing will help regulate the oxygen flow in your blood, making you more alert. With a sharper focus, you can stay on task and make fewer mistakes, saving you time in the long run.

This post was written by Christine Louise Hohlbaum for

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meditation for Healing

5 Simple meditation steps and tips for beginners

People struggling with chronic pain or other medical conditions can use healing meditation to feel better in body and spirit. Some report dramatic results from healing meditation, while others simply appreciate the reduction in stress that comes from sitting quietly and focusing the mind. Healing meditation often incorporates visualization techniques.

What to expect

While meditation hasn't been proven to cure specific ailments, patients report that it can be helpful when used alongside more conventional treatments. Meditation can help reduce anxiety, for one thing, which can potentially cause positive changes in your body. It's important to be open to the process and have faith that it will help, but be willing to give it time.

Guided meditation techniques

Guided imagery, in which you create mental pictures in response to another person's instructions, is commonly used for healing meditation. For example, if you have cancer, you might be asked to vividly picture your white blood cells fighting and winning against the cancer cells, and purging the bad cells from your body.

Personal healing images

You can use a healing meditation CD, or you can develop your own powerful healing images. For example, you might visualize your immune system as a train chugging steadily up a hill. Try to meditate on your chosen image often, at least once a day. You can also turn to it whenever you need a mental boost.

Preparing for healing meditation

When learning how to meditate, beginners often have trouble finding the best posture for meditation. Don't be afraid to experiment — there's no "right" way to meditate. Prepare to meditate by finding a quiet room without disruptions and take the following steps:
  • Turn off your phone and any other gadgets.
  • Dim the lights.
  • Sit in a straight-backed chair with your head forward, knees bent at a right angle and your hands on your thighs. You can also sit with your legs crossed or, if you're flexible, pretzel your legs into a lotus position. If sitting isn't comfortable, lie on the floor (it's too easy to fall asleep on a bed).
  • You can chant a mantra to yourself, such as " Om Mani Padme Hum," a Tibetan healing mantra, or use a simple word like "calm," "one" or "om."
  • Close your eyes, or try staring at a focal point.
The best advice for beginners just learning about meditation is to start simple. Quieting your mind for long periods is more difficult than it looks, so just carve out 10 to 20 minutes a day at first. All you'll need is a quiet space where you won't be disturbed.

Benefits of meditation

Regular meditation can help relieve stress, improve your ability to focus and lead to a better understanding of your own thought patterns and processes. Some people use meditation to enhance creativity, reduce chronic pain, treat headaches and even improve athletic performance.


Although most people meditate with closed eyes, many beginners find it useful to have a point of focus, such as a candle. Concentrating on the flame can make it easier to clear your mind.
When learning how to meditate, beginners tend to get frustrated by the persistence of outside thoughts — all the anxieties, to-do lists and random memories that parade constantly through the brain. Instead of fighting them off, simply observe them as they enter your mind and let them pass. Repeating a mantra to yourself is another good way to maintain your focus.

Meditation techniques for beginners

Breathing meditation and relaxation meditation methods are especially good for people first learning to meditate. With breathing meditation, you simply breathe deeply from your abdomen, focusing all your attention on your breath, inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
Relaxation meditation involves consciously visualizing the release of tension from your body, beginning at the head and moving slowly down to the toes.

Meditate in action

"Walking meditation" is another useful way for beginners to learn how to meditate. The key is to concentrate fully on each deliberate step, paying attention only to the present moment. Focus on the rhythmic motion of your legs and the feel of the ground under your feet. Other active forms of meditation include tai chi and qigong (both traditional Chinese movement therapies) and yoga.

Combine meditation With lifestyle choices

A healthy diet, regular exercise and good sleep all enhance the positive effects of meditating. Spending time in nature, getting out in the sunshine, spending time with loved ones and trying to maintain a good attitude should also improve your results.

This post was written by Kate Clark for

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Encourage One Another

When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.
-Acts 15:31 NASB

Take time today to encourage a friend, or any person that you come in contact with, who is in need of support.  You can greatly impact someone's life with a few kind words, a loving spirit, or a sincere smile.  You will be uplifted as you lift up those around you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Organic Meditations

Sit back, Relax, & Enjoy some Music Therapy!

Organic Meditations is brought to you by Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech.  This Royalty Free Music can be downloaded for your listening pleasure.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Relaxing Waves

You will need a yoga mat for this imagery practice.  Begin by taking a cleansing breath in, then out. Now, look at the image of the waves. Imagine that you are on the shore of the beach with your yoga mat. You feel the warm sun on your skin and watch the waves crash against the rocks in the distance.

Stand up straight with both feet together on the mat. Inhale and allow your body to relax beginning with your toes, then your legs, and your torso. Continue to feel the relaxation move up through your chest, then neck, and fill your head.

Imagine the soothing sound of the water around you. Continue to relax completely.  Release the tension from your thighs and pelvic muscles. Inhale deeply, and then slowly exhale. Continue to focus on the image of the waves. Recognize that your body is just as strong as the powerful waves. Inhale and then exhale.

Now choose to remain standing or to sit on your yoga mat. Mentally scan your body. Where there is tension, imagine that the healing power of rest and relaxation is sweeping over this area. Feel your body relax further. Place both hands on your belly and rest quietly with your eyes closed. Inhale deeply, and then exhale. 

Now roll your shoulders back, then forward. Rotate your head in a circular motion toward the right, and then toward the left. Recall the image of the waves and continue to inhale and exhale slowly. Continue breathing deeply for a few minutes enjoying this time of rest and relaxation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hand Massage
Hand massages improves circulation, increases flexibility and relieves tension.

Technique: Use massage oil or lotion for this massage. Begin by massaging the back of your hand. Stroke the back of your hand firmly, moving toward your wrist, then glide back toward your fingers. Move across the entire hand. Firmly massage each finger toward the fingertip.  Massage the palm of your hand, then repeat on the opposite hand.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tea Tree

-Boosts the immune system
-Eases colds, flu, and asthma
-Has antiseptic & antifungal properties
-Reduces and/or alleviates acne
-Acts as a stimulant

*Consult with your physician before using this or any other essential oil.*

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mindful Motherhood

By Cassandra Vieten


Apples help to regulate digestive function and lowers high cholesterol because of the soluble fiber it contains called pectin.  Apples also contain antioxidants in its skin which is thought to protect the brain against damaging conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease while reducing the risk of some cancers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Espresso Banana Muffins


2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. sea salt
1 ¼ cups chopped toasted walnuts
1 tbs. fine espresso powder
6 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/r cup natural cane sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt
1 ½ cups mashed overripe bananas (about 3 bananas)


Heat the oven to 375˚F, position the racks low in the oven and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, ¾ cup of the walnuts, and the espresso powder in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a separate large bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla, yogurt, and mashed bananas then briefly and gently mix in the dry ingredients. Overmixing will result in tough muffins.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, top with the remaining ½ cup walnuts and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out to a rack to cool completely.

Yields 12 muffins.

This recipe from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson (Celestial Arts) and was taken from

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blueberry-Yogurt Muffins

Yields 12

2 cups           all-purpose flour
1/3 cup         sugar
1 tsp              baking powder
1 tsp              baking soda
1/4 tsp          salt
1/4 cup         orange juice
2 tbs              canola oil
1 tsp              vanilla extract
1                    8 oz yogurt, low fat
1                    egg
1 cup             blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tbs              sugar

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in center of mixture.
  2. Combine orange juice and next 4 ingredients, stir well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring until moistened.
  3. Gently fold in blueberries.
  4. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly. Sprinkle sugar evenly on batter.
  5. Bake at 400F for 18 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans immediately, let cool on wire rack.

This recipe was taken from

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wait Patiently

"This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed."  -Habakkuk 2:3 NLT

There are times when we are forced to wait for the things that we desire.  Be encouraged. You will definitely see the fulfillment of your blessings when the appropriate time has come. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Corpse Pose
Benefits: This pose relaxes the body, calms the mind, helps relieve stress, fatigue, insomnia, while lowering blood pressure.

Practice: Begin by lying flat on your back with your legs extended and feet together and your arms at your sides. Inhale and exhale a few times as you begin to release the tension from your body.  Allow your mind to clear and empty.  

Inhale and release your legs, allowing your feet to turn outward. Relax your pelvis and your lower back.  As you release your arms, move them out away from your body, resting the back of your hands on the floor.  Then relax your shoulders, your neck, and your head.  Now, soften your tongue, nostrils, eyes and forehead.  Rest in a state of total relaxation and just be.

Remain in this pose for a minimum of 5 minutes or until you have reached a deep state of relaxation.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


There are times when we should reflect upon, and take part in, those things that were enjoyable to us as children.  Recall those simple everyday activities that captivated our attention and rendered us carefree.  Every now and then, I do just that.  

Here's my latest artwork from our son's birthday coloring book.  (He has one and so do I!)  Sitting down to color gave me such freedom and I felt very refreshed after "art class."  

The joy that the little things bring is significant.  Look around you and get creative!

Monday, September 5, 2011

-Relieves stress & headaches
-Stimulates the immune & lymphatic systems
-Soothes tired muscles
-Increases energy

(Grapefruit is photosensitive- keep out of the sun.)

*Consult with your physician before using this or any other essential oil.*

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Shoulder Massage
Massaging the shoulders relieves stress and tension while invigorating tired muscles.

Technique: Begin this massage by placing one hand on the opposite shoulder and firmly gripping this area using a squeezing motion. Slightly tilt your head away from the area you are massaging. Move your hand from the base of your neck to the edge of your shoulder squeezing the muscle firmly. Repeat these movements on the opposite side. Repeat this exercise several times as needed.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

How to Regulate Your Sleep Cycle

6 Steps for better, regulated sleep

Healthy sleep patterns are essential to our health and well-being. Without enough sleep, we cannot optimally function. Loss of concentration, forgetfulness, confusion and irritability are just a few things that can occur when we don't get enough sleep. According to The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library (MMOML), approximately half of the population has sleep difficulties some of the time.

If you have a sleep problem or just are not sleeping as well as you would like, you made need to reset your internal time clock and regulate your sleep patterns. The MMOML recommends the following steps to getting your body back on track and regulating your sleep cycle.

Step 1: Establish a set waking time and avoid daytime napping

When you go to sleep is very important, and having a set bedtime is helpful. Even more important, though,  is getting up each day at the same time. If you have trouble sleeping one night, but still get up at your regular time, your chances of sleeping well the next night improve more than if you were to allow yourself to sleep in or nap. It is critical to your sleep regulation that you keep your set wake time even on days when you don't have to be at work.

Step 2: Unwind with a relaxing routine before bed

Find a relaxing activity to help you unwind before bed, and make it a routine. The Mayo Clinic recommends gentle yoga stretches, meditation, listening to soothing music or bathing in warm water. Reading a book and doing other basic hygienic activities such as washing your face and brushing your teeth can also be a part of a relaxing bedtime routine that can help regulate your sleep cycle.

Step 3: Set your sleep environment

Eliminating as much noise as you can will help you regulate your sleep cycle. If you live in a city with traffic, try using a white noise machine, listening to nature sounds or wearing earplugs. Keep your bedroom at a temperature you find comfortable — not to cool or too hot. Turn off the lights, and block outside noise and light with heavy curtains. If it's comfortable for you, use pillows between your knees or under your waist to help maintain spinal alignment and reduce back discomfort.

Step 4: Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is essential to your overall health, including your sleep. Both the Mayo Clinic and the MMOML recommend daily exercise as an essential part of regulating your sleep cycle. However , exercising within five hours of bedtime is not advised.

Step 5: Avoid nicotine and avoid caffeine, alcohol and large meals before bedtime

Using nicotine anytime during the day can cause sleep disturbances. Caffeine consumed after lunch can make it difficult for some people to sleep at night. Don't let the initial feelings of relaxation and sleepiness fool you, restless sleep and waking too early are known to result from alcohol consumption. Eating more than a small snack before bedtime can also cause less than restful sleep.

Step 6: If you have trouble sleeping, get out of bed

If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't seem to fall back to sleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up, go into another room and engage in a relaxing activity. You may want to read a book, stretch or meditate. When you feel sleepy again, go back to bed.

This post was written by E.C. LaMeaux for

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mommy Needs a Spa Day!

The Phoenician Spa & Centre for Well-Being Scottsdale, AZ

Whether you Indulge in a Holistic Massage, Enjoy Afternoon Tea or Take a Stroll through the Cactus Garden, the Phoenician Spa & Centre for Well-Being has plenty to offer those seeking Mind, Body, Spirit Wellness. 

Enter this luxurious lobby.

Visit the Centre for Well-Being
Renew your mind in the Meditation Room
Or lounge by the pool.

Enjoy fine dining here.
Then retreat to the peace & comfort of your suite.

Oh what a Wonderful time to be had here at the Phoenician Spa & Centre for Well-Being because Mommy Needs a Spa Day!

Click here to visit The Phoenician.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Acupuncture for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

When it comes to the numerous discomforts that often accompany pregnancy, acupuncture is a supreme multitasker. From conception to everyday life with baby, the ancient Chinese system of healing can treat many of the most common aches and pains.

The first step to integrating acupuncture into your pregnancy is to find a licensed acupuncturist with extensive experience working with pregnant women. A qualified acupuncturist will be able to distinguish common pregnancy-related ailments from those that require conventional medical care. Acupuncture treatments are usually painless — the needles are extremely thin — and will not affect the baby unless the treatment is geared to specifically stimulate labor.

First trimester
During the first three months of pregnancy, acupuncture can provide relief from fatigue and migraines, as well as the pervasive nausea of morning sickness. A study published in the journal Birth found that women who were less than 14 weeks pregnant had shorter and less frequent bouts of nausea when they received acupuncture. The best news was that the treatment brought about immediate results.

Second trimester
As the pregnancy progresses, new physical challenges often arise. Weekly acupuncture treatments — an acupuncturist will usually assess the patient on an individual basis to come up with a treatment plan that will be most efficient — can help with heartburn, hemorrhoids, elevated blood pressure, edema, even excessive weight gain. It is during this period that an acupuncturist should be especially aware of symptoms that may require additional medical attention.

Third trimester
In months four through six, many pregnant women suffer from the strain of the growing baby. Treatment during this period can help sciatica, lower back pain, and pubic and joint pain. And, once the pain has been addressed, an acupuncturist can also spend time assisting the positioning of the baby. Acupuncture treatments received between weeks 32 to 36 can help the baby move into a head-first position. An acupuncturist will often use moxabustion —  burning of the herb mugwart next to an acupuncture point — to help a baby shift out of the breech position and into a more birth-friendly stance.

During labor, acupuncture can be used to reduce pain and/or to stimulate contractions when necessary. If needles are too difficult to integrate into the already overwhelming process of birth, acupressure can be used instead.

After birth, consistent acupuncture treatments can help bring the reproductive system back into balance while alleviating depression and treating back and perineal pain. For first-time mothers, acupuncture is also an excellent method of managing the stress and anxiety that often accompany the first weeks at home with your bundle of joy.

This post was written by Marisa Belger for
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