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When we reach the first of May, Earth has moved along its orbit to where the Northern Hemisphere is receiving an ever increasing flow of energy as each day is longer than the one before. The Sun is climbing in our sky, and everything in the Northern Hemisphere responds to its light. Indeed, we best be careful not to overdose on its luminosity that can burn and even cause cancerous effects that doctors warn about. We have reached the cross-quarter date that some past ages have considered to be the start of summer.

In Celtic tradition, the night of April 30 was thought of as the darkest of the year, when witches flew to frighten, spawning evil throughout the land. In response, people pounded on kettles, slammed doors, cracked whips, rang church bells and made all the noise they could to scare off the corruption they imagined to be moving on the moist air. They lit bonfires and torches and witch- proofed their houses with spring boughs. Such vigils were kept throughout the night until the rising of the May-dawn.

Beltane–the word means "brilliant fire" in reference to the Sun–became more commonly known as May Day. People danced around bonfires on hilltops, moving in a clockwise, or "sunwise" direction. Later generations would dance around a pole instead of a fire.

In the British Isles young men and maidens would go a-Maying on the eve of May Day, spending all night in the forests to return at day-break, "bringing in the May," adorning villages with spring boughs and blossoms. They might carry with them the stem of a tree, place it in the village, and decorate it with flowers, vines and ribbons. In later generations, people would dance around this phallic of the earth as participants in the fertility of crops, flocks, herds and humans. The celebration was for regeneration of life that comes with increased sunlight that is so noticeable when we reach the junction between vernal equinox and summer solstice.

Maypoles remain common in Scandinavian countries, and the trimmings are often left through summer and winter as a gesture to symbolically insure the coming of spring the following year. The meanings of the day have continued to change. In 1887, socialistic countries established May 1 as a day for working people to show unity in public demonstrations. In communist Russia, the day became one of political speeches and military parades. It is difficult to imagine drifting much farther from the origins of the occasion of reaching the point in our annual travels around our star when we feel the urge to celebrate the increase of starlight that falls upon our portion of ground to amplify the symphony of life around us. Maypoles seem so much more appropriate than do missiles aimed at the sky.

It is, after all, the location of Earth in its solar orbit that we celebrate on any anniversary. Your birthday, Independence Day, Christmas and all the others that are date specific are established by Earth’s orbit and are marked by reference to the Sun in our sky. If you wish, you could mark these days by knowing where the Sun would rise as viewed from some specific observing station. Your horizon calendar would be defined by the limiting northern and southern gateways for sunrise or sunset at summer and winter solstices. The equinox would mark the mid-point, and the cross-quarter dates could provide additional reference points for visualization of the passage of the year. You could add your own personal anniversaries that you wish to celebrate with the entrance and exit of the Sun on those particular days.

Native Americans occupying this land before us were watching the Sun migrate on the horizon. When it reached the place we have named "May" they were singing the songs that brought them into harmony with the fertility of Mother Earth and Father Sky. Their rewards were gentle rains, mixed with sunlight. Successively, as the Sun reached established "houses" on their horizons, they placed seeds in the soil: several plantings to assure good crops.

Calendar keeping people also watch the stars. In early May the evening sky in the west is marked by an arc of brilliant stars. Sirius in Canis Major, brightest star of the night is low to the southwest, setting in the dusk. Higher and a bit farther north is Procyon in Canis Minor. Then we come to the bright pair, Castor and Pollux, the Twins of Gemini. Still farther north is yellow-cast Capella in Auriga. Capella being the last of the group to set gives its name to this star- lit arch–"Arc of Capella."

Underneath the arch, vanishing from the evening sky, are famous winter stars. As May comes in, the Pleiades, a tightly-clustered group in the constellation Taurus, vanishes in the evening twilight, and mighty Orion follows them. Both groups have long been used for agriculture. The Navajo people refer to the Pleiades as Dilyehe’. "Never let Dilyehe’ see you plant," they say. Once the Pleiades are gone from the evening it is time to begin planting in Navajoland, and crops must be started before Dilyehe’ is back in the early morning sky before the dawn.

The cross-quarter day that is only vaguely remembered these days in the form of May Day certainly signals the onset of the most pleasant of times in our part of the world. Leaves are bursting out on trees, flowers in all the colors of the rainbow appear on deserts and make their way into the mountains. Farmers work fields and backyard-gardeners plant vegetables and herbs. This is a good time to look around at earth and sky with greater sensitivity and appreciation of emerging abundance that initiates the harvest we will surely enjoy in a few short months.

This article was modified from the original Von del Chamberlain to serve as an information source for all May Day cross-quarter events.

 

easter-egg-dyeing_242x158 Long before there was Easter, the egg was regarded as a symbol of new life and the advent of spring.  The decoration of eggs became an art form centuries ago and continues today as a delightful craft and enjoyable children’s activity as a precursor to the “hunt” for eggs and candy, enjoyed by children around the world.  Some of the historical techniques for coloring or decorating eggs include:

Etching:  This technique can be traced back to Macedonia and involves first dying the egg, applying a layer of wax in design, then bleaching off the color leaving only the wax-covered areas with color.
Krashanky:  This is one of the traditions coming out of the Ukraine and the word means ‘color’.  Krashanky eggs are dyed a solid, brilliant color, often red to symbolize the blood shed by Christ on the cross. 
Eggs_Pysanky2_248x225 Pysanky:  If you have never seen a Pysanky egg, you are missing a beautiful artistic craft.  I was gifted one at the World’s Fair in 1972 by one of our participants and it graced the windowsill in my kitchen for many years before it eventually cracked and had to be thrown away.  The term Pysanky means to write.  Intricate designs are drawn in wax on the eggs, a process similar to batik.  The eggs are then dyed many colors.  There are many regional designs and color selections around the various regions of the Ukraine. 
Egg_Original_Faberge Eggs Gold_207x238 Fabergé:  Undoubtedly the most famous and expensive decorated eggs known are those created by the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé in the 1800’s.  Made of gold, silver and jewels and opening up to reveal tiny figures of people, animals, plants or buildings, a total of 57 eggs were made.  They are now artifacts in museums across the world. The picture at left is the very first one made.  A glimpse into a stunning Fabergé exhibit in 2001 can be viewed here.

Binsegraas:  This Pennsylvania Dutch tradition is not widely practiced today, but involved wrapping the pith of binsegraas (a type of rush) in coils glued to eggs.  Then interesting shapes of calico cloth were pasted on the egg.  The Polish people have a similar tradition, using yarn formed into elaborate coils.

There are other forms of egg decorating that include gluing sequins, beads, flowers and bits of decoration onto blown eggs.  Blown eggs are also used for a cut-out diorama of a little scene viewed through the cut-out section.  In pioneer days, eggs were wrapped in calico or madras cloth, then boiled so the water released the dyes into the shells.  Since most fabric is colorfast, you will rarely see this today.

My favorite activity around the approach of Easter is to gather natural materials and ingredients to make colored Easter eggs with leaf and flower imprints.  This is a favorite tradition started when my girls were little and now carried on with the grandchildren.

Here are materials to gather to make the natural dye, arranged by color they will produce in final dyed egg:
Brown and tan:  Outer layers of onions, black/green tea, coffee, black walnut hulls
Yellow:  Tumeric, cumin, saffron, lemon rinds
Orange:  Paprika, chili powder, carrots
Red:  Fresh cranberries, cherries, raspberries, Spanish onion skins
Purple and blue: Blueberries, boiled red cabbage leaves, beets
Green: Spinach
Grey or slightly lavender:  Hibiscus flowers

Combine the dye source with 1 Tablespoon vinegar and cold water in a saucepan.  There are two different methods.  You can boil the eggs and dyes separately, strain the dye and add hard-boiled eggs in the shell to the hot liquid and let it soak until it reaches the desired hue.  Or, you can wrap uncooked eggs and cook them in the dye as they are being colored.  With the former method, if the eggs need to soak for more than 2 hours to reach the desired deepness of color, you may want to move them to the refrigerator if you will be eating them. Generally, however, natural dyes are going to create more earth-like subdued colors.

Here are the things you want to have on hand:
Botanicals2_298x230 Fresh herb, plant and flower cuttings.  The smaller the better, however, wrapping a large fern that covers an entire egg is a stunning design when finished.  Thinner, flat items are easiest to secure tightly.  Use your imagination. Dandelion flowers will impart a bright yellow splotch in the finished egg, adding a whimsical touch.  Other fresh botanicals will add a bit of their own color, along with imprinted texture and form.  It’s fun to let the process itself randomly influence the outcome.  Children love to do this; it’s biochemistry and art all in one . . . plus you get beautiful eggs to add Eggs_Natural1_238x235jpgto the Easter hunt or to share.
Pantyhose or cheesecloth, cut in squares that can be tied with wire or rubber bands to snugly keep plant material in place.  If re-using nylon squares or cheesecloth, be sure to rinse between eggs.  You’ll want a slotted spoon to turn and remove the eggs while they are in the dye bath, and you’ll want a couple of brown paper bags cut and laid flat to place eggs on to dry. 

Here are some tips:  Older eggs work best, buy them at least a week before boiling as newer eggs are hard to peel.  I think white eggs take the natural dyes better, plus you can create additional designs with wax to add bright white to the creation before putting on leaves and flowers. Shine up Eggs_botanical_Easter1_209x253 finished eggs when they are dry with a little olive oil rubbed in.  Eat those eggs!  Don’t waste them – make deviled eggs, egg salad or use in a salad.  Be sure to keep them refrigerated if you will be eating them.  Most of all, have fun, and encourage your children to experiment; you’ll learn new ideas from them.  If you do this project this year, send useaster_eggs_onion_skin_201x208 pictures of your creations attached as a .jpg in an email: samara@wingedseed.com, including your current mailing  address and we’ll send an aromatic surprise back.

Happy Easter and Spring!

 

skin_micro_180 In Leonardo’s time, scientists of his caliber rarely considered the skin to be anything more than a decorative covering, necessitating removal to study the more fascinating parts underneath.  Today, most of us know that our skin is our largest organ and serves as armor to protect all those precious inner parts.  To the naked eye, the skin doesn’t appear to be complex or interesting, and before the invention of the microscope in the 17th century we really didn’t understand how it works.

Now, we can see how intricate the skin actually is, along with the vital role it plays.  The epidermis (outer layer of skin) continually produces new cells to renew itself, while shedding outer cells as they die off and shed.  You might not know that much of the dust in a room is actually tiny fragments of human skin.  As much as thirty to forty thousand skin cells fall unseen from your body every minute. continually replaced by vibrant new cells rising to the surface. We might call this renewal system your “skinecosystem”.  Hah. Say that 10 times real fast.

The skin is also the body’s heaviest organ, weighing from 9 to 15 pounds in a healthy adult, usually around one-twelfth of your total body weight.  It’s primary function is to protect all those well-functioning inner parts from damage or harm.  Looking more closely through our microscope, you will see a subcutaneous fat layer just under the outer skin (dermis) that works like padding in a quilt to keep your body warm and absorb knocks and bumps.  The skin is so tough because skin cells contain the protein keratin, more prevalent in fingernails and toenails and less prevalent in softer skin such as that under arms.  Microscopically, you can also see those dead, flattened cells that interlock and overlap tightly packing together, making skin an excellent germ barrier. Your skin produces natural oils and waxes from the tiny sebaceous glands that keep the skin flexible and supple.  These waxes also contain the body’s own germ-killing chemicals, acting as disinfectants against harmful microscopic organisms.  Another important function of the skin is the production of Vitamin D when exposed to sunshine, a very important nutrient for a healthy immune system. It is also your body’s radiator, producing perspiration over the skin surface when necessary to cool you when your body overheats.  Overall, the skin is a pretty important organ and well worth taking care of.

Skin Permeability:

The epidermis’ outermost layer is called the stratum corneum, and is important for allergy and sensitivity.  The SC is comprised of a network of cells on the surface that provides immediate protection from the outside world and helps restrict loss of water.  This outermost layer requires lipids (fats) to form a healthy cutaneous barrier.  Combined with the dying cells that compact and form a sort of “cement”, healthy skin does a good job of providing a sturdy barrier.  However, when there is disruption in the number and compactness of the intercellular lipids, the skin barrier can become more permeable. This disruption can explain how some toxins might seep through SC cells, enter the tiny blood vessels in the dermis and subcutaneous fatty tissue and possibly spark an antibody-mediated reaction.  This explains why some people do not suffer with allergic contact dermatitis when exposed to poisonous plants. Their skin barrier is intact and able to effectively protect the body from the toxin.  Atopic dermatitis can also be sparked by numerous allergens, inhaled, ingested and contacted substances.  Some foods (especially eggs) or inhalants (dust mites and cat dander) have been established as being the most common allergens.

Causes of Skin Barrier Damage:

 
Essential fatty Acid Deficiency: 

Usually most Americans have adequate supplies of cholesterol or ceramides for the skin, both from dietary sources and internal metabolism, but they may not get enough polyunsaturated fatty acids (essential fatty acids, EFAs) that are only available through diet. The skin barrier requires an abundance of omega-6 essential fatty acids.

There are two primary types of omega-6 EFAs, linoleic acid and arachidonic acid, both of which are only found in foods. Linoleic acid is found in the oils of safflower, sunflower, corn, soy, and sesame. An enzyme is responsible for converting linoleic acid into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid that is needed to complete the skin surface lipid structure. GLA is found naturally in evening primrose oil, black currant oil, and borage oil.

Changes in Humidity:

rain_200 Exposure to humidity changes seems to cause an increase turnover rate of skin cells, which exhausts the oils in the skin barrier and exacerbates inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Dehydration:

Many of us know that we need to drink lots of water.  You may not know, however, how important it is for healthy skin. The surface skin is thicker than the interior tissues of the body. Circulation comes to the base of the skin, and the water has to seep upwards through all the strata of the skin to reach the outer layer. The exposed surface of the skin is also constantly losing water due to environmental factors such as sun, wind, and chemicals, to name a few. When the body itself is dehydrated, circulation to the base of the outer skin may be shut down as an emergency measure so that water is not lost through evaporation from the skin’s surface. Chronic dehydration shows in the face with wrinkles, lines and furrows. It’s best to drink filtered water. There are many quality filtration systems on the market.

Ultraviolet Radiation:

sunshine_220 We know that both types of UV rays, UVA and UVB, can lead to skin cancer and eye problems if left unprotected from the harsh radiation. What most people don’t realize is that UV radiation also increases skin permeability and can be a significant factor in sensitization. Studies have shown that skin lipid synthesis significantly declines 72 hours after UVB exposure but recovered after 96 hours, suggesting that UVB-induced barrier damage may not be permanent.  Wait a minute, you may say, you just told me that the skin needed sunshine to produce vitamin D, important for the immune system.  How many of you have a tendency to overdo when you do get out in the sun?  This is where the most damage occurs.  It is a fact that rates of skin cancer are typically higher in areas of the body that are generally kept covered and only exposed during sun bathing.  Regular, consistent, small amounts of exposure to the sun (without burning) has a protective effect on the skin, increases vitamin D, can improve mood, help with depression and myriad other benefits.  Rule of thumb is that a very fair-skinned person with northern heritage should only get 10-15 minutes of sun exposure over the majority of the body during peak hours.  Someone with darker skin and a heritage that originated closer to the equator should be able to get longer exposure without doing more harm than good.  So, moderate sun exposure can actually help reduce the potential for cancer risk.  It is difficult to get all the necessary vitamin D from dietary sources. So make sure you get moderate sun and avoid over-exposure, especially during peak sunshine hours.

We’ll cover more about  skin and its care in future blogs.

IN THE SAMARA SPA

You’ll find about forty-five natural Samara Botane formulated skincare products, including our Healthy Skin Hydrosol, Facial Massage Oil, several Herbal Steams, unscented and wonderfully scented lotions in single notes and blends, our fabulous Rosewater Crème and Rose Luxurious Lip Balm (made with real rose otto and absolute).  Just click here.  Superior cleansing with our carefully crafted handmade soaps (bars and liquid) can be found here.

 

Today is wet, cold and blustery here in the Cascade foothills, but we are braving it and continuing to get the garden ready to plant Poppies_Parking_Strip_300 this week in the hopes that we don’t have another freeze.  The picture at left is meant to give you one of many creative ideas if you are bored with grass in your parking strip in the city.  This is across the entire 60’ double lot in front of our Seattle (Queen Anne hill) house in the mid 90’s, a veritable field of Flanders’ poppies.  As one neighbor commented back then, “It appears we aren’t in Kansas anymore, Marcia!”  Annual wildflower mixes are inexpensive and can be directly sowed in spring for easy-care color and scent and will last well into late summer.  The key is to prepare good soil by tilling peat moss, leaf mold and additives (and hand turn to aerate well), smoothing surface before sowing the seed.  We made extra concrete walkways to allow crossing through without walking in the bed itself, although we did have the occasional “urban deer” as I called those moving too fast (joggers, kids on skateboards) to avoid tromping through. As you can see, little damage occurred and most walkers in our neighborhood went out of their way to pass by and enjoy the display.

TOO MUCH RAIN TO MOW?  If the lawn is wet because you’re getting more rain than you are used to, try spraying your mower blades with vegetable oil to help keep cut grass from sticking.  This will allow you to cut when grass is still slightly wet.  Keeping your grass at least 3”-4” tall will keep most weeds at bay by preventing them from getting sunlight to sprout.  Use a mulching mower and leave grass clippings to break down and provide healthy nitrogen (this provides about half what your lawn needs) as it breaks down.  Healthy grass should be aerated and fed (composted lightly) twice a year; not doing this will promote more weeds.  Remember: healthy soil/healthy plants/fewer weeds.   Talk to an expert to find the best grass seed combination for your climate and soil.  Reseeding should be done in the fall when you expect at least six weeks of 50-70 degree weather, the optimum temperature for grass seeds to sprout.

YOUNG FRONDS OF FIDDLEHEAD FERNS (also known as ostrich ferns) can be a delicious food.  The new fronds will be lighter in color than the rest of the plant, about 2” long and 1 1/2” in diameter.  Fiddleheads are safe to eat if cooked, they taste like a cross between asparagus and green beans.  They can be stir-fried or steamed, but they should never be eaten raw.  Cook no longer than 5 minutes for best flavor and texture.

THE MOST NUTRITIOUS GREENS to grow in your garden (or choose from your organic green grocer) are:
Arugula has a slightly peppery flavor; used in salads.
Beet – young leaves are best. Delicious lightly steamed.  When
     cooking the beet itself, add the leaves to the pot for extra taste
     and nutrition.
Dandelion – young leaves not exposed to pesticides are best.       
     Their bitter taste is excellent for digestive health.
Endive – a type of chicory that grows in a small, cone-shaped     
     head.  Has pale leaves and is slightly bitter for salads. 
Kale – My favorite garden green; choose thin stems/frilly leaves.
     Stir fry, steam, add to soups and pastas . . . many uses in
     cooking.
Romaine lettuce – full of vitamins and minerals.
Spinach – Very high in nutrition; can be eaten raw or cooked.

Tealight_Candle_Blue_150 Special this week only (through Sunday, May 9):  Take an extra 10% off all Samara Synergies.   Good time to stock up on First Defense  for the family’s flu artillery or Calma for aiding sleep.  Many others to choose from.  Orders over $35 will also receive a free decorative tea light holder (pictured at left).    Enter “Earth Day#4” (no quotes) in promotional code on checkout page.
http://www.wingedseed.com

 

As we continue to look at simple ways to be kinder to the Earth in our every day lives, I become acutely aware of our climactic Caleb_Tree_Farm_250 changes and challenges.  Here in the Cascade foothills in Snohomish county, WA, we are noticing a trend of colder winters and more often several feet of snow when we used to rarely get inches if any at all.  Early Spring is wetter and floods now happen earlier in the year and longer in duration and intensity.  Wind storms are more prevalent and there are more downed trees to deal with.  And, it’s hotter in the summer months, making it imperative to pay closer attention to the garden plants to insure they are well watered, mulched/composted and sometimes shaded from the sun’s intensity.   We continue the discussion with more ideas to create the optimum circumstances for success in the garden.

A COMMUNITY GARDEN is a wonderful way for urbanites to grow a flower and vegetable garden when you don’t have the space or want to interact with others in the community to create a more green urban environment.  This is also a fabulous way to introduce young people to the joys of growing their own food.  Here’s a few resources in larger cities.
Houston TX:  http://www.urbanharvest.org/
Buffalo NY: http://www.urbanroots.org/
Denver CO: http://www.dug.org/home.asp
Rutgers University has a community garden self help guide: http://tinyurl.com/c83fvu
If you start a community garden, make sure that the soil is tested to insure there are no contaminants like lead or other hazardous chemicals that might permeate the crops grown.  Some communities are starting gardens for the poor to help supplement the diminishing budgets of our older citizens and those who make do with less.   All of these endeavors are rewarding, and again, a good place to introduce children to a sense of ‘community’ while connecting them with Nature.

PLANTING SIMILAR SPECIES of vegetables, like broccoli with cabbage or Brussels sprouts should be avoided as they will compete for nutrients.  Companion planting is aesthetically delightful and helps improve soil while keeping pests at bay.  Here’s a great companion planting guide: http://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html

DIG DEEP when preparing soil for planting.  Digging adds air pockets which help repel root-dwelling insects and oxygenate the soil.  This helps plants put down healthy roots.  This is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to condition the soil.  All organic gardeners I know prefer to turn soil by hand after using a garden tiller.

Special this week only (through Sunday, May 3) take 10% additional in addition to your 5% web discount off all aroma jewelry and natural perfumes.  Enter “Earth Day#3” (no quotes) in promotional code on checkout page.
http://www.wingedseed.com

 

Last week, we talked about ways to be more gentle with the Earth Garden planted 2003_300 in our everyday lives.  It’s warm and sunny here in the Cascade foothills, so I thought I’d continue with ideas for your lawn and garden, thinking this might be where your attention is joyfully focused at this time.

GROW HERBS IN YOUR GARDEN; they are easy to grow and help encourage birds and butterflies, as well as other useful insects.  They are a great choice for planting between other flowers and vegetables to increase diversity.  Planting basil, oregano, cilantro, sage and tarragon alongside vegetables will remind you to use them together.  Having herbs in your garden is one more thing you can take off your shopping list.

LARGE PLASTIC BOTTLES can be used as mini-greenhouses, an excellent protective covering for seedlings.  Cut off the ends and there you go.

RAIN BARRELS are probably going to be a necessity in the future to help conserve water resources.  They now come in a range of sizes, shapes and colors.  Try a decorative one on the deck with a rain chain for melodic ambience and drain it under the deck into the deck-side plantings.   You’ll be surprised at the savings on your water bill and your plants will love you.

SOAKER HOSES AND DRIP IRRIGATION can reduce water waste by as much as 70 percent because their delivery system sends water directly to the roots, unlike sprinklers, which waste water through evaporation.

TRADITIONAL HEIRLOOM SEEDS are a better choice than hybridized newer varieties.  ORGANIC NATURAL FERTILIZERS like fish emulsion, bone meal and seaweed-based products are far better than synthetic alternatives. 

Special this week only (through Sunday, April 26) take 10% additional in addition to your 5% web discount off all hydrosols.  Enter “Earth Day#1” (no quotes) in promotional code on website
http://www.wingedseed.com

 

The time has come to take our responsibility for stewardship of our bountiful planet more seriously.  Focusing our attention only one day a year to img 050_250honor the Earth isn’t going to solve the myriad problems we are creating.   These problems will grow to overwhelm our children and grandchildren as we continue to ignore the realities of global warming and chemical pollution.  The signs of collapsing ecosystems,  endangered and disappearing species are all around.  In our busy lives, we sometimes procrastinate necessary changes.  We need to learn better ecological habits to reverse a destructive trend before it is too late.   This is the beginning of a series of short articles that will contain simple, yet effective ways to replace harsh chemicals that pollute the environment with safe, gentle natural alternatives and make our lives more in tune with the natural world.  We hope you join us in making these sensible choices.

HOUSEPLANTS act as natural air filters, through photosynthesis, using carbon dioxide and water and releasing oxygen as a waste material.  How symbiotic is that!  You can find delightful houseplants that require little care for every room of the house and never have to purchase synthetic chemical air fresheners again.  These commercial products only mask smells and coat nasal passages with chemicals that diminish your sense of smell.  Samara Botane has a lovely variety of natural environmental aromatic products to keep your home environment, car or camper fresh and clean.  Made with antiseptic and antiviral essential oils, they also limit germs and exposure to viral pathogens.  These come in synergies to use in a diffuser and aromatic room misters.  You can also make your own antiseptic spray by simply adding a few drops of essential oil to a spritzer bottle filled with water.  Try tea tree and lavender, sweet orange and cedarwood, rose geranium and lemon.

HOMEMADE WASHER SOAP can be made by mixing 1 cup baking soda with 10 drops each of lavender and grapefruit essential oils, adding drop by drop and mixing thoroughly.  Add 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of powdered castile soap.  Mix well and store in an airtight container.  Add 1/2 cup to each load of wash.   For really tough stains, dissolve 1/2 cup borax, allow to cool completely.  Add 1 cup distilled white vinegar and 6 drops eucalyptus essential oil.  Soak soiled clothes in this blend for 2 hours before laundering.

Special this week only (through Sunday, April 19) take 20% off all essential oils.  Enter “Earth Day#1” (no quotes) in promotional code on website
http://www.wingedseed.com

 

Many of us are reeling when we envision the negative impact the FDA Globalization Act of 2008 could have on small beauty businesses, and the resultant curtailing of consumer choices when it comes to handmade natural products.   The restrictive annual and product registration fees that could be charged under this act could become so burdensome that many of these small businesses would have to close their doors.  Some of our small business customers could be facing a $12,000 product registration fee for each formula for a bar of  soap.

Donna Maria Coles Johnson, CEO of the Indie Business Network has worked diligently to support and provide a wide umbrella of education and services to support independent beauty products manufacturers, most of whom began in their own kitchens.  Many of these companies, after years of diligence and hard work have now emerged as successful, thriving alternatives to mass produced big box cosmetic products. Donna Maria is a big reason for this success.  She now has rallied her legal skills and the energies of the IBN membership to stop this potentially stifling legislation.

Watch the video, then go to her blog  and sign on as a signatory to the petition.  

Indie_Business_Blog 

Then, contact your own representatives in Congress to voice your objection to this pending legislation.  Your choices will be dependent upon the ultimate status of this bill.

 

I’ve recently read that our food system is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse emissions.  When you think about bananas being shipped to a U.S. port, then transported by container truck to a distribution point, then trucked across your state to your local grocer, this begins to make sense. 

Here’s a great little calculator to help you compare the relative carbon impacts of your food choices.  The nifty thing is – if you reduce emissions by your eating habits, you will also be eating healthier and maybe learning to grow your own garden and shop at your local farmer’s market (supporting your regional food supply).

You handmade products manufacturers might want to look into being a vendor at your local farmer’s market.  You’ll make good contacts for fresh herbs and flowers to use in your products.  It’s a great way to expand your networking . . . all the time helping the environment.  Excellllent!  (Stroking imaginary beard.)  

 

Most of my friends are pretty savvy when it comes to knowing about and using natural therapies.  Believe it or not, there used to be a time when medical doctors had more to offer their patients than a prescription for pharmaceuticals.  Now, after a quick 5-9 minute consultation, this seems to be their ONLY remedy.  Unfortunately, many people are hastily and needlessly drugged because they think doctors are trusted experts.  When this "expert" slips them this small slip of paper, people think, "This MUST be the best answer." 

I was shocked when the pharmaceutical companies were allowed to advertise prescription drugs as if they were just like the other consumables that slick advertising seduces us to buy.  Turning patients into consumers was a bold move that cleverly switched medical necessities into consumer choices and ultimately has undermined the authority of the FDA to enact more tempered regulation.  The Center for Media and Democracy’s Mary Ebeling has written Beyond Advertising: The pharmaceutical Industry’s Hidden Marketing Tactics, a thoughtful look at this disturbing trend.  "What is surprising is that public health advocates haven’t made pharmaceutical rebranding and off-label promotions of drugs and medical major issues", she writes.  It is puzzling to me that the increasing consumer desire  for all things natural hasn’t become a rallying call for a direct challenge to this practice by the pharmaceutical industry.

Even the British Medical Journal  has admitted that there is evidence that pharmaceutical advertising in medical journals is influencing doctors’ behavior more than they might admit to.  A follow-on debate is also published by the BMJ.  A study by two York University researchers estimates that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on advertising and promotion than on research and development, contrary to the industry’s claim.  These statistics are a no brainer and one can easily connect the dots.

Most of you who read this blog are already making healthy choices to use natural therapies and embrace food and exercise choices to maintain health without a lot of prescription drugs.  The BMJ has also covered the rise of consumer groups in Europe who are rallying to prevent the EU from lifting a ban on DTP (Direct to Patient) advertising.

Privatization of hospitals, the percentage of costs that go to insurance companies and malpractice insurance costs are part of the problem for soaring health care costs.  Surely the increased expenses for pharmaceutical companies to advertise as heavily as they do is directly correlated with burgeoning health care costs to consumers.

Most bankruptcies in this country are because of catastrophic health care costs.  Four million Americans have no healthcare and just as many or more are underinsured.  It is time to demand a complete overhaul and implement a plan that promotes preventative therapies (including natural) and guarantees full health care for all Americans.   When Taiwan became a rich country, its citizens had been languishing in poor health for decades.  They moved quickly to universal health care and now its citizens are fully covered . . . and costs are far less than health care in the U.S.  The U. S. continues to put corporate profit above the health of its citizens, causing undo suffering.  We can do better. 

© 2008-2009 Marcia Elston Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha