Summertime, and the living is easy … as well as scrumptious

Continuing on Summertime theme… this week is summertime FOODS, always a fun topic. Summer seems in part to be in about the food, specifically the fresh produce and veggies. Easy to find everywhere, fun to find at your local outdoor markets! Keep it local folks- support your local farmer (especially the organic ones) and your community will be better off for your actions.

Monday, today, we will start the week off with HERBS – hopefully your herb garden is flourishing by now. My mint is taking over already! (see photo!) MintThese wonderful words are from Kathy WeberWedge Wood Flowers: Herbs for culinary, medicinal and ceremonial use: She is one of the fabulous growers at the Whole Foods Farmers Market in Garden City on Tuesdays! There are 2 recipes (bottom of page.) One is from Kathy and the other is from Linda Nunes- the Healthy Eating specialist at Garden City Center Whole Foods. She made us this luscious salad last week as the taste sampler food for the day. Want to know what is being made this Tuesday? Sorry, it’s a secret you will have to come on down to see/taste for yourselves!

“Now that is it summer in our area, the farmers markets are filling up with fresh greens, strawberries, peas and herbs. All of these wonderful offerings from the fields will give us an early summer salad just right for us.
Snipping herbs regularly helps the herb plants grow bushy and full and provides more for us to use. Pinch the tops of the plants to prevent flowering and going to seed. If that happens, the flavor becomes bitter.  That is another reason why snipping herbs daily is a good idea.  If you have more herbs that you can use, dry the sprigs on a paper towel and store for cooking.
Use herbs in the summer to bring out the flavor in meals. Here are some tips where using herbs.  Use dried herbs when cooking sauces and soups. Dried herbs have more intense flavors.  Use fresh herbs in salads, as a garnish in soups or sauces, and add sprigs of parsley or basil in a sandwich. Then taste how good that is! (Note, from Ronfleur and Liz- put a bit of mint on my turkey wrap { turkey, a touch of low-fat feta dressing, lettuce and a sprinkle of mint} and it was WONDERFUL! ) 
Plan to enjoy the early summer time enjoying all the bounty provided to us and know that more is soon to come to us from the fields.”
Kathy learned to love herbs from her parents.  Her father lovingly tended his herb garden and often brought in lettuce, scallions, and parsley for a salad for supper.  Her mother loved to make herb tea from herbs that she dried for the winter and so she grew up understanding how to grow herbs and health benefits they provide. Currently she is studying to become a herbalist with Susan Clements. Learning to make tinctures, salves, and creams.
She has combined all her knowledge of herbs and turned it into a business,
Wedge Wood Flowers: offering a wide variety of herbs for culinary, medicinal and ceremonial use. “I love to help folks, learn to grow and use herbs. Along with my herbs, I make cold pressed soap using essential oils and clays. I often use herbs in making soap.  This year I can be found at farmers markets, Pawtuxet Village, on Sat., Whole Foods University Heights and Cranston on Mon and Tues. I also will be at Washington Co Fail in Aug, Woodstock Fair, and Hebron Fair in Conn. I can also be found at various festivals and harvest fairs. Information on where I will be can be found on my Facebook page, Wedgewood Flowers.”  Kathy’s email is wdgewood89@aol.comif you have questions for her.
Here is a recipe with snap peas from Kathy
Cook in water a handful of snap peas for 1-2 min. Toast 2T sliced almonds. Combine 2T oil, 2 T fruity vinegar salt pepper. Combine romaine or spring greens with 1/4 cup chives, and tarragon, add peas, and almonds
Here is the recipe from Whole Foods Market Healthy Eating Specialist,
Linda Nunes.
Combine fresh greens using red and green lettuce. Add sliced strawberries and chopped basil. Make a simple dressing by blending, 1 cup strawberries, 1T Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar, and 1 shallot.  Pour over the greens and enjoy the flavors.

Summer Beauty Skin Care tips – Natural of course.

Ronfleur Beauty tipsRonfleur and I wanted to chat with you about summer beauty al ‘natural. We sat down to write this post and we began by looking around and finding some good tips: some of it is common sense & some of it was news to us. Jolie jumped in and took us under her wing (Jolie is our local Herbalist: Beauty and Remedies) and she lead the way for our beauty feature today.

Jolies (and Ronfleurs) Summer Face Skin Care Secrets & Tips: The sun is happy to shine on us and we are happy to feel it on our skin but maintaining your skin during summer time is important. Did you know: Skin comprises between 12 – 15% of an adult’s body weight and your skin absorbs 60% of whatever you put on it.

1. Choose the Right Foods – Put into your body fresh veggies and fruits to keep the skin healthy and fresh.
2. Continue to drink lots of water. Even though you may not be thirsty, drink plenty of water through the day, not merely to replenish humidity lost to the heat but also to help flush toxins out of the body and keep your skin looking great.
3. Use Natural Homemade Cosmetics:  Some natural preservatives are:Tea Tree Essential Oil, Thyme Essential Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Bitter Orange Extract. Here are some words of wisdom for you. If you can not pronounce it then don’t eat it or wear it on your skin.
4. One of the secret of looking cool and fresh in summer lies in the cleansing routines. You should never go to bed with makeup on. Use a natural, homemade cream after washing: mix extra-virgin coconut oil with a couple of drops of essential oils of carrot seed and sweet orange. This fragrant, rich and creamy balm has antioxidant and emollient properties. While you sleep, it will slowly penetrate your face skin to restore its vital moisture and beauty.

You can try out this Refreshing Masque.
Yummy Natural Face Mask!: Cooling Papaya Masque©

4 tbsp ripe papaya pulp, mashed
½ tsp pure honey
A squeeze of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together. Apply on face. Leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse off with cold tap water.  (credit for this )

Ideas for your skin from your kitchen to keep you looking fantastic:

.    A teaspoon of cod liver oil supplies you with the daily requirement of essential fats (including Omega-3 fatty acids), as well as Vitamins D and A, which are crucial for rejuvenating cells and keeping skin moist and smooth.

.    Any skin care discourse which does not include a discussion of nutrition is lacking a fundamental principle of healthy skin care. Good health and beauty are synonymous.

.    Lacto-fermented products such as sauerkraut, yogurt, fish sauce and miso, are highly beneficial for your digestive tract. Good looking skin is a reflection of what you put in your tummy.

.    Avoid using sunscreen. Potentially deadly skin cancer (melanoma) is NOT caused by the sun, but by artificial chemicals in our food, air, and… laboratory-produced body care products! Moreover, exposure to the sun is the only way for the body to convert and use Vitamin D – one of the most important fat-soluble vitamins. A word of caution though, use sun in moderation.

.    Many of us believe that use of tanning oils on skin and then getting tanned is safe. But that is not true. No tanning oil prevents the sun. If it had prevented sun, you would not have tanned!

.    Try a natural body scrub. For clean and glowing skin, use a scrub made of equal amounts of corn flour and honey, once a week.

.    A great, easy exfoliation treatment is to use a little organic honey and a little sugar mixed together. The honey will moisturize your face while the sugars natural acids gently exfoliate without creating microscopic tears in your delicate skin.

.    Brew your own amazing body lotion. Combine a couple of drops each of essential rose and lavender oils with almond oil, and pamper this fragrant and delectable concoction on your skin after a shower or just before tanning. The results are truly wonderful!

Meet Ronfleur! A sizzling new member of Botaniumus.

Twinkles came to our community in the winter. In case you don’t remember she is the Goddess of the Shimmering Snow and is a true snow bird. She comes IN with the winter weather and she cares about the cleanliness of the snowfall. Toxins in the atmosphere, which make for “dirty snow” are devastating to her.

Well, now it is time for her cousin to come to town. Meet Ronfleur:(eef you vant to know vat my nem meanz luk it up; merci!) She is summer personified! She is carefree in personality but not in the Nature (i.e . the ecosystem.) She is all about fun in the sun BUT, her cause is Climate Change. A problem that is affecting people and the environment worldwide. Greater energy efficiency and new technologies hold promise for reducing greenhouse gases and solving this global challenge.

Ronfleur checks in and works with her cousin to see what they can do to help. Is climate change a concern to you? Are you willing to take these actions (recommended by the EPA) and do your part? … “You release greenhouse gases as a result of using energy to drive, using electricity to light and heat your home, and through other activities that support our quality of life, like growing food, raising livestock and throwing away garbage. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced through simple measures like changing light bulbs and properly inflating your tires. The EPA site listed below, provides over 25 easy steps you can take to not only reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce air pollution, increase the nation’s energy independence and save money.” As always Reduce, ReUse, ReCycle, ReThink.

Ronfleur - summertime
Ronfleur – summertime and the living is hot!

When this sun stands still!

The Summer Solstice: As Good as It Get

“The summer solstice is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun has been inching its way back into our lives ever since the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Rising slightly earlier each morning and setting a minute or two later every night, it graces us with light gradually gained. The change, the shift, is at first imperceptibly slow. But it is steady, and soon the minute-by-minute accumulation of daylight asserts itself in measures of hours. More and more hours of sun warmed shine.

By the spring equinox, the halfway point in the annual solar swing, the length of day and night is equal everywhere on Earth. The constant accretion of light continues for three more months until the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. That’s about 15 hours of sunlight in New York City and 21 hours in Fairbanks, Alaska. In Sweden, it is indeed the land of the midnight sun. And at the North Pole, the sun doesn’t set at all.

The seasonal ascendance of light and temperature is not — despite popular belief — due to our distance from the sun, but to the degree of directness of its rays. It would be logical on the face of it to assume that in the smarmy summer the earth approaches closest to the sun, and that we are furthest away from it in the cold, dark of winter. Not so. The earth reaches its perihelion, the point on our orbit which brings us closest to the sun, in winter (this year it was on January 1); and conversely, during summer (July 6, 2011) we attain our aphelion, the furthest reach of our range from the sun.

Though the distance from the sun is greatest in the summer, it is around the summer solstice that the sun sits highest in the sky. The steep path of its rays is angled directly overhead. Vertical. Its energy aimed arrow-like straight down on us. The summer solstice is the lightest, brightest, most brilliant summit of solar power. The peak, the potent pinnacle. The absolute apex of radiant energy extended toward us from our own shining star.

The summer solstice is the height of the glory of the season of the sun. And it is all downhill from there. For once it is as light, as bright, as ripe as it can possibly get, it just can’t get any better. It is then that the dark must begin to creep back. Back and back in tiny daily increments, bringing cold and death in its wake. The eventual return of the dark completes the annual solar circuit, the swing shift of sunlight.

On the solstice and for several days surrounding it, the sun stands sentinel at dawn, hovering, as it were, before beginning its descent into dark. It seems to stand stark still in the sky, which is exactly what the word solstice means — “sun stands still.” It stands proud and tall for our total admiration and enthusiastic tribute. And like the sun, we stand still and tall, as well, basking in its full attention.

If we celebrate the birth of the brand new sun and the return of the light at the winter solstice, we salute its vibrant expansive maturity at the solstice in the summer. We exalt in the season’s vital strength — and our own — even as we acknowledge its impending and inevitable loss of virility, fertility and ultimate demise. With bittersweet recognition of the impermanence of the season, we glory in that golden gift of heat and bright light. While we can.”

Written by Urban shaman, eco-ceremonialist, ritual expert and consultant

and Happy Birthday to Emily!