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レモンとハーブWhile we gear up for our ever popular Spring/Summer pedicure,  we thought we’d share an at-home version for you to preview while you dream of sunshine and bikini’s.  Not to worry – warm weather will be here sooner than you think!

Perfect for hands, feet or anywhere that needs a little extra love…

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup of course sea salt
  • 1/8 cup of extra light olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest

Gently combine the sea salt, the olive oil and the lemon zest in a bowl.  Using a simple kitchen mortar and pestle, crush the rosemary to help bring out the essence of it’s oils.  Add to the mixture.  At a basin or in the bath, take a tablespoon of the mixture and apply to skin in a circular motion to gently remove dead skin and dry patches.  Rinse with warm water.  The Benefits?  Rosemary Oil relieves muscle aches and pains. Lemon contains malic and citric acid, natural alphahydroxies that help to naturally slough off dead skin cells.  Sea Salt exfoliates and expels toxins.

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ImageFor years I have been the sole buyer for Sweet Lily Boutique – honing in on great all natural product lines and pretty handcrafted gift items for all of us to enjoy. It’s only recently that I’ve delved into the manufacturing side with our new Sweet Lily Hand & Foot Scrub. While I’ve always had an appreciation for a good product as the end user, I now also have great admiration for the people behind the making of it too. I’m not talking about large factory manufacturing, but rather the small kind – the kind that is started between two friends in a kitchen or the curious person who crafted a never been tried before formula. Then comes the collaboration – from the graphic design, to the unique packaging, to the label. So the next time you pick up that microbrewery bottle of beer, pretty hand poured soy candle or delicious jam from your local farmers market, take a moment to reflect on all of its details and you too will notice the passion and teamwork that went into bringing that one little nicety into your world. Enjoy!

moms demand action logoWhether you’re a concerned parent or not, you can’t help but be aware of the rise in gun violence occurring in this country. So much so, that it’s almost become a staple topic of the evening news…a shooting in a school, a movie theater or just another disgruntled person gone haywire. Even if you’re a card carrying member of the NRA, it’s obvious that some sort of change needs to take place. My friend and fellow mom, Jamie, who also happens to be a very active member of Moms Demand Action, was kind enough to share some interesting stats about guns purchased for in home/personal use.

Did you know …
o The presence of a gun in your home significantly increases your risk of death – and that of your spouse and children – from a gun-related accident, suicide or homicide.
o The presence of a gun in the home for protection is more commonly taken over by and used against you by the intruder.
o If you were to properly and responsibly store a gun in your home, the likelihood that you could retrieve it in time to thwart an intruder is slim.
o The number of American children and teens killed by guns in 2010 was five times higher than soldiers killed that year in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
o Every day in this country 245 people are shot by guns.

If you’re interested in joining the conversation, visit Mom’s Demand Action. –even if you’re not a Mom, it’s still cool to join the cause!

Christmas tree in snow with colored lightsIt’s that time of year again when all of us who celebrate Christmas begin to decorate our homes for the season.  My childhood memory is of my father, pulling our fake Christmas tree down from the attic.   To me, this seemed so environmentally responsible– re-using it year after year and thus cutting down on the waste of its real counterparts.   But after the birth of my son, I started to look at this synthetic replica of nature and wonder “could this really be more eco-friendly than cutting down a tree?”  Turns out it’s not.  Most environmentalists would agree that real trees are the better choice.  85% of all fake Christmas trees are manufactured in China and are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), one of the most non-renewable forms of petroleum derived plastic–certainly not a product that I want in my home, nevermind sitting in a land fill.  Real Christmas trees, on the other hand,  are healthy for our indoor air quality, can be re-planted in a yard or even recycled and made into wood chips to be used  in many of our public parks.  Ever since my revelation, my families new tradition is to head into the woods of Pennsylvania, where we hand-pick and cut down our Christmas tree.  The part I love best about this new holiday tradition is that my son’s memories of Christmas will be one of a tree that comes out of the woods, and not out of a box.    Happy Holidays!

Rose GardenThere are many ways I like to relax, but one of my favorites is gardening.  There is nothing more calming than being outdoors and nothing more rewarding than being a part of a gardens beauty and growth.  Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting a garden guru named Bob, or “The Plant Whisperer” as I call him.   Bob has visited me and my plants a few times to lend his expertise –his last visit being just a few weeks ago to help with the fall pruning.  Below are some of his tips I thought I would share–basically my cheat sheet to help me throughout the year.  Happy gardening…

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Autumn…

Fertilize when the leaves start to fall.  You want to send the nutrients and energy to the roots, not the old leaves.

  • Organic Holly-Tone for Hydrangea and any Evergreens
  • Organic Plant-Tone on Rose Bushes, Trees, Crape Myrtles and Butterfly Bushes

Prune only when leaves start to fall or turn brown.

  • Hydrangea – cut off 20% of drooping and old growth.  No need to cut flowers – they give you’re garden a pretty look in fall and eventually most will blow away with the winter wind.
  • Sea Grass & Blue Salvia –  should be cut down entirely to the ground.
  • Roses –  cut back to 12” to 18”
  • Crape Myrtles – don’t prune unless its branches are horizontal and susceptible to breaking and splitting from the weight of ice and snow.

Spring…

  • In Spring & Summer fertilize flowers once a month. 
  • Hydrangea – cut off any remaining flowers in early spring.
  • Lilac Tree – prune branches only after it flowers
  • Release Praying Mantis eggs & Lady Bugs in the yard to help control pests and keep eco-systems naturally balanced.

 Gardening Notes:

  • An upright flower with yellow leaves means it needs food.
  • A drooping flower or leaf means it needs water
  • Water less often and deeply.  1” of water twice a week.
  • Always cut back at the point of new growth.
  • Cutting back branches that are lying on the ground or against the house just redirect the energy to the places where you want it to grow.
  • Too much mulch chokes a plant and doesn’t allow oxygen to its roots.  It also allows a place for slugs and mice to hide while they eat the soft bark.
  • Water when the sun comes up to prevent fungus on leaves and grass.

yelp #1In this day and age, it seems as if we live and breathe the advice of others.  From suggestions on where to eat, cool places to hang out or even vacations to take, we all head right to those Reviews to help point us in the right direction.  As a small business owner, I do appreciate reviews, positive or negative, as it’s the honest feedback that makes better.    But here’s the truth, the good, the bad and the ugly,  on those sites we all have seem to become accustomed to living by.   The Good:  Review sites are definitely helpful in introducing us to new places–especially if we’re new to a neighborhood or looking for a specific food type, review sites can be a great starting point to help find us what we’re looking for.  The Bad: Very often unscrupulous business owners pay other companies to write  positive reviews on their sites and post bogus, negative reviews on their competitors sites.  Not very good for karma.    The Ugly:  Unless a business is paying for advertising, these seemingly honest sites will often hide their positive reviews.   And then, as part of their sales pitch, offer to remove unfavorable reviews in exchange for paid advertising.  Kind of ruins the whole point of this review concept, right?    My advice…let’s stop using review sites all-together and explore our world organically.  Try a new restaurant, stumble into that local bar, take a vacation to an unknown place and let’s be the judge for ourself.   If we don’t experience the good with the bad, then how can we truly ever learn to appreciate all the things we enjoy?

Pigs in the yardSince the arrival of spring, my family and I have been happily working in our yard– planting new flowers, trimming the hedges and basically doing all the primping that makes lounging outdoors so beautiful.   We have however, come upon a major bump in the road…how to maintain our newly planted grass.  Which brings me to the question…should we fertilize or not?  I’m sure you would agree when I say there’s nothing like a luscious green lawn.  But at what price?  Fertilizers are widely known to be responsible for many adverse human health effects, including leukemia and many types of cancer.  And let’s not forget  to mention that they pollute our surface and ground water, deplete the land of its vital nutrients and cause harm to animals and pets.  All this havoc is mainly caused by the long list of unsafe metals that exist in fertilizers including arsenic, lead, mercury, nickel, uranium and boron just to name a few.  So what’s a eco-conscious mom to do?  I’ve begun my search to find an alternative, but have only been able to come up with fertilizers that are good for small gardens or companies that claim to use organic only to discover their claims are not all true.  I promise to keep you in the loop on my findings, as I’m determined to find a better solution.  In the meantime, we’re going au naturale… I’ll take a healthy family over green grass any day!

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Next week begins National Fire Prevention and Awareness Week (Oct 7 – 13th).   I cannot stress enough how important it is to become of aware of this issue.  My personal eye opener happened a few years back when my family suffered a house fire.  Fortunately no one was hurt, but in a matter of minutes the entire house was gone. In big cities we are lucky to have buildings equip with life saving sprinkler systems coupled with fire departments that respond quickly.  In suburban areas, however, fire departments are mostly volunteer.  Which means it takes some time for them to get the call, mobilize and get to your home.  It’s for that reason that families need to have a very well thought out home escape plan and if you are doing any renovations or building a new home, you should consider putting in a residential sprinkler system.  We did and believe it or not, it costs less than a new driveway or your kitchen appliances.  The peace of mind, however, is priceless.  For more info on how to protect yourself from a home fire, proper escape plans and how to properly maintain your smoke detectors, visit this website.  www.nfpa.org