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parsley

by Molly Kay Stoltz

Urban Herbal Girl here. Have you ever wondered why they place that piece of parsley on your plate at restaraunts? To add color? To freshen your breath? Yes and no. Turns out it might be the healthiest item on your plate.

Parsley contains the more vitamin C than any other plant and the most iron of any green leafy veggie. It is very high in iron, beta-carotenel chlorophyll, and vitamin A, B, E, K, and folic acid. It’s pretty much awesome! I’ll take some parsley over iceberg lettuce any day. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Lydia Krupinski

It’s the eve of the eve of Valentine’s Day and you’ve totally forgotten to get a gift for your sweetie! What do you do? Make a handmade eco-friendly gift of course! Pinterest and blogs are teaming with easy tutorials that will give a personal spin on your v-day gift giving.

My favorite is the Birds on a Wire project. Unisex, stylish, and upcycled, this mini-art piece will speak volumes to your crush. Not into birds? Change up the subject to match your own message. This simple and easy-to-make project gives you the flexibility to take it in any direction you choose.

Do you have another suggestion for a handmade gift? Post your ideas in the comments below!

written by Molly Kay Stoltz

When I am sick or sore, when I’m uninspired, when it is dark and cold outside, or when I am stressed and need time alone, I take a bath.

Baths have become something of a luxury, but they shouldn’t be. Our lives are busy, and it is always easy to take a shower and get on with your day, but a bath forces you to slow down and think. And the benefits grow when you take a moment to add herbs or salts to your bath water.

The first thing to consider is the temperature of your water. Cool or room-temperature water can help to lower a fever or normalize your system, and can firm and strengthen you if you are able to brave the cold! On the other hand, warm water is soothing and opens your pores which can help you become decongested or eliminate toxins from your body, for example, after a hard workout or a massage. Read the rest of this entry »

by Lydia Krupinski
Do a search for eco resolutions and you’ll see a flurry of articles that will encourage you to use fabric shopping bags, change your light bulbs and skip bottled water. These are great tips for the entry-level eco-curious – but if we really want to push ourselves we should set the bar much higher. Isn’t that the point of resolutions in the first place? To challenge us to change behaviors and grow as individuals?

My mother had a brilliant insight several months back. When discussing sustainability movements and green trends she commented that, “What you are describing is how I lived as a kid.” And she’s right! Growing up in rural Poland my mother and her family rarely drove, grew their own food, mended clothes, and lived life simply, yet fully.

To make 2012 the year you make a real change – try to “Go Retro.” You’ll find yourself living a simpler lifestyle that will reduce your ecological footprint while adding a bit of vintage spice to your life.

Here are some potential “Go Retro” resolutions: Read the rest of this entry »

by Molly Kay Stoltz

Feeling a little indigestion from your last holiday party? You probably have the remedy hiding in your baking cupboard.

Just today at work I was a bit full from my lunch. I reached into my secret stash of tea, and found the ingredient I was looking for- cinnamon.

A cup of chai roobis later, and my stomach was back to normal!

Cinnamon is a tasty herb made from the bark of a cinnamon tree. There are many varieties, but we in the U.S. use cassia, or Chinese cinnamon.  However, cassia is not actually the “true” cinnamon. “True” cinnamon comes from Ceylon, and is much more pungent than the variety we’ve all grown up with. You can find different varieties at specialty spice shops if you are looking for a stronger tasting cinnamon!

Cinnamon has been used as far back as 2700 BC in ancient Egypt and China, and was widely used in medieval Europe on meats and with fruit. Today, we sprinkle it in stews and soups, steep it in teas, simmer it in curries, and of course, bake it in our cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pies. I can’t imagine my morning bowl of oatmeal without a dash of cinnamon.

Cinnamon isn’t just tasty, however. It has many benefits for your health, including soothing an upset stomach and aiding digestion, clearing urinary-tract infections, helping diabetics metabolize sugar better, relieving pain and inflammation, slowing the flow of blood, and killing disease-causing fungi and viruses. Cinnamon is a powerhouse herb, but is also relatively side-affect free- IN MODERATION, of course. IMPORTANT: Too much cinnamon will create a laxative effect. Don’t over-do it!

During the holiday season, when we do tend to overindulge on everything but cinnamon, it can be helpful to use cinnamon to break down fats during digestion and reduce intestinal gas. A spicy tea like chai or apple cinnamon tea or a spiced apple cider is a wonderful after-dinner drink.

Here’s a recipe for a spiced cider- add a dash of amaretto for an extra-special treat : ).

Spiced Cider

5 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
5 whole allspice kernels
5 whole cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 gallon apple cider
1 or 2 oranges

Blend cinnamon, star anise, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and apple cider in a large pot. Use a zester or grater to remove the rind of the oranges, and add to the cider mix. Add the juice of the oranges to the cider. Heat to just below simmer for several hours. Ladle into mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick.

And the extra-added bonus? Cinnamon has a germicidal effect. Using cinnamon may add extra protection from the flu and colds that appear during the holidays. So, here’s to cinnamon for keeping us healthy and happy as we go about our merry way! Happy Holidays!

Resources:

Cinnamon Health Benefits on The Modern Herbal

Cinnamon Varieties by Vanilla Review

If you have a full-out foodie on your shopping list this holiday season – don’t fear! Alisha of the blog i like it too! put together the following suggestions for getting the perfect gift for that gastro-savvy guest or friend:

1) Handmade Table & Bowls from Haymaker Shop

2) Bike Snack Sack from Green Heart

3) Chain Links Apron from Decorative Instincts

4) DIY Indian Spice Rub from Eating Well

5) CSA from Montalbano Farms

6) DIY 3 Bean & Barley Soup Mix from Eating Well

7) DIY Spiced Nuts from Martha Stewart

It truly takes a visionary to come up with a list such as this – and Caitlin Peters of Wanderlustings is just that! Her incredible taste combines with a soulful whimsy to bring Sprout Chicago these fantastic gift suggestions for women:

1) Navy Phantom Tights by Qoo Qoo Fashion

2) Vanilla Chai Perfume Oil by Long Winter Soap Co

3) Aqua “Life She Imagined” Print by Amanda Catherine Des

4) Craft Nail Transfers by Kate Broughton

5) Double Gal Vintage Bag from Bird Trouble

6) Bilbao Colored Handle Teacups by A Quartzy Life

7) Love Made Me Do It Ring by Manoy Metal

8) White Blouse by Arcelia Home

9) Gold Dipped Geo Earrings by A Merry Mishap

By Lydia Krupinski

As we are all busy running about trying to find the perfect handmade gifts for the season – many of us forget an essential – gift wrapping!

To keep you from procrastinating, and purchasing that gaudy roll of wrap that’s strategically placed at the register end cap, create your action plan now with these great easy-to-make alternatives that I pulled from my website Pierogi Picnic.

Newspaper – If you’re looking for something cheap and chic, newspaper is the best way to go. The high contrast black and white will give your gifts an elegant look with a rustic edge. For some great suggestions on how to best use this upcycled material check out Design Apothecary’s article here.

Paper Bags  - If you ever take a spontaneous trip to the grocer and are (gasp!) caught without your reusable shopping bags – never fear! Those old-fashioned paper bags can be put to use! The stock of paper that’s used for your average grocery sack lends itself perfectly for wrapping gifts. Check out this awesome post from My Home Ideas for some great tips on using this everyday item.

Looking for more tips? Read the full article here.

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