August 26, 2010
My son, Sky, turned 21 in April, and is living about 2,000 miles away in another state. Geographically, that isâ€”heâ€™s pretty grounded. When he was younger, I remember feeling frustrated when he left the milk on the counter instead of putting it back into the fridge, forgot to put his guitar away, challenged me about the wisdom of vegetarianism, or failed to agree with me about the immense importance of whatever my cause of the moment happened to be.
Right now, several women in my life, all of whom I care about a great deal, are expecting new babies. If Iâ€™m honest with myself, I have to admit that I feel a twinge of envy about the adventures that lie ahead of them, and all of the beautiful moments, frustrationsâ€”and yes, argumentsâ€”that are likely part of their future. Having a grown-up, happy son is a wonderful thing, of course, and I get all melty inside when I hear one of his new songs, think about his growing list of personal accomplishments. But, a big part of me just wishes Iâ€™d wake up tomorrow morning and find the milk on the kitchen counter, a guitar on the sofaâ€”and hear the sound of his footsteps moving around the house. Itâ€™s a mom thing, I guess. I think Iâ€™ll go call my own mother. Maybe she even misses all those doors I used to slam.
August 24, 2010
|Itâ€™s a good time to start popping those red peppers that are showing up at the farmerâ€™s markets and grocery stores. Research has previously shown that peppers contain a source of salicylates, which are naturally occurring pain compounds. In addition, peppers contain capsaicin, which stimulates the release of endorphins. Here are theÂ six powerhouse foods proven to fight pain
Now, according to a recent report in Cell Metabolism (as reported byÂ Dr. Andrew Weil), the compound capsaicin, which is prevalent in peppers, may help with blood pressure control. In a study conducted inÂ China, researched reported that long-term consumption of capsaicin as part of the diet helped relax blood vessels.
This isnâ€™t the first time capsaicin has showed up in headlines lately, recent studies have also found that the topical application of capsaicin helps provide relief fromÂ osteoarthritis pain â€” with virtually no side effects.
So, what are you waiting for?Â Achiote Grilled Chicken with Willcox Peach Relish anyone?Â Pop a pepper today withÂ this red hot recipe!
August 18, 2010
Talk about an over the top spa â€“ itâ€™s the Spa at Vietnamâ€™s Nam Hai, a resort set on a mile-long beach of powdery white sand near Hoi An on the Central Coast of Vietnam.
I am here to spend a few days on the beach and to visit Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a magical historical site of old tiled roofs and wooden bridges and historical buildings by day and a magical place where hundreds of lanterns glow at night. But touring is exhausting. I need a spa treatment.
The Nam Hai Spa is a sanctuary set on a lagoon just off the beach where lotus flowers float in the water and the spacious light-filled spa pavillions are surrounded by palm and frangipani trees. Iâ€™ve never been in such a huge spa villa. It has a steam shower, en suite, dressing room, and floor-to-ceiling sun-filled windows with the lagoon just outside.
I choose their signature treatment, the Nam Hai Jade Massage (90 minutes, $250), a four-handed massage in which Oanh and Thuong, my smiling Vietnamese therapists, work in synchronized movements using techniques from around the globe: Japanese, Shiatsu Ancient Balinese, Traditional Thai and Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi. I am salivating just thinking about it.
But first, as is the Asian custom, they serve me ginger lemongrass tea followed by a footbath. They wash my feet, scrub them with a pumice stone, then dry them with a fluffy towel, and lead me to the treatment villa, a haven of serenity surrounded by the lagoon which makes me feel I am floating in the middle of nowhere.
I lie face down on the massage table and Â peek through the head opening to see seven frangipani flowers floating in a bowl of water.
Oanh and Thuong work either one side of my body together (one does my left shoulder and left side of my back while the other does my left thigh and calf), or both on an opposite arm or leg, so synchronically that it feels like one pair of hands. They do my feet, kneading with their knuckles, pulling my toes. I am in heaven. Their movements and both long and slow plus quick release techniques, coaxing out the knots. I lie in a trance inhaling Essential Oil of Chi, Jade, Orient, Imperial and Yin/Yang. In Vietnam, they believe that plants absorb the spirit essence of the land. Not only is my spirit being absorbed, but every ache in my body is melting away.
When itâ€™s over, I donâ€™t even have to sit up (I wouldnâ€™t be able to as I have now dissolved into a glob of happiness). The massage table is automatic, and gently raises my back to a sit up position, I teeter-totter back to the dressing room. Naturally, I am too relaxed to walk back to my room, so a driver arrives in a little golf cart to escort me the three minutes to the entrance of my sumptuous villa. I open the doors to the South China Sea and lie comatose watching the blue of the water, a smile on my face.
Where have you been that has left you in a similar state? Share your best spa experiences with us by leaving a comment below.
August 9, 2010
About a week ago, our resident raccoon showed up on our deck at dusk with six babies toddling along in her wake. They came, of course, to investigate the bird feeders Iâ€™d yet to take in for the evening, but when I saw the babies, and how thin the mother raccoon looked, I left the feeders hanging for a while longer.
I watched her as she held on to the post and stood to stretch for the sunflower seeds above. She was clearly still nursing her enormous brood, and looked skinny and exhausted. No doubt the forest ranger who lives next door would have been appalled at the sunflower dinner, but I really didnâ€™t care. And in case youâ€™re wondering, Iâ€™m not entirely without common sense when it comes to wilderness issues: the feeders come in every evening to discourage the rather large bear thatâ€™s lived in this neighborhood for at least as many years as we have, and I understand that leaving food out for the area wildlife is not a smart thing to do.
On the other hand, I remember very clearly being a newly-divorced single mom, and lying awake night after night, paralyzed with the fear of not being able to feed or provide for my tiny son. I donâ€™t have any idea if the raccoon mom worries about anything, of course. But the following night, I took the feeders in and left her an offering on the rail, some leftover grapes and most of an apple that we didnâ€™t finish with our dinner. Throwing them into the garbage seemed wrong, almost like a deliberate and defiant act in the face of another beingâ€™s obvious hunger.
Iâ€™d make the whole world a sandwich and a cup of tea if I could, but I canâ€™t. Like I hope most people do, I give when and to the degree that I can. But sometimes, the simple truth that others are in needâ€”and that includes raccoonsâ€”can be an overwhelming burden. One of my favorite quotes is by Edward O. Wilson:Â â€œA society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy.â€ An apple seems a small thing to share with a hungry mother. And I will continue to believe thatÂ compassion for all the life that shares this planet with us is a good thing to have.
August 3, 2010
I recently received a package from the St. Helena Olive OilÂ Company, featuring their latest olive oil creationsâ€”lavender body products, and have been smitten ever since. Mind you, I receive A LOT of products, and many have questionable ingredients and overwhelming scents. Based on founder Peggy OKelly’s philosophyâ€”preservation of body, mind, and soulâ€”her food and body products take the very best ingredients and keep them pure and simple. The lavender sugar scrub made with Sevillano extra-virgin olive oil (naturally rich in vitamin E), olive, shea and coconut butters as well as pomegranate extract smoothed and softened my stretched-too-the-max-pregnant skin and left me smelling heavenly not perfumey. That’s a lot for a pregnant mama to say. For only $24, this one’s a keeper.
August 2, 2010
Some of my most favorite spa experiences have been in Asia or Asian & Indonesian-inspired. And while there are several spa lines that attempt to transform the Asian spa experience to your Western home and lifestyle, many fall short. Juara skincare, however, manages to blend the East-meets-West in an affordable and heavenly package.
Created by Metta Murdaya, Yoshiko Roth, Jill Sung, and Tami Chuang, the line relies on such ingredients as rice, tea, ginger, sandalwood, and kombucha, while avoiding parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. We’re particularly smitten with their 3-step sets that include a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. And while Juara can’t transform my badly-needing-paint bathroom into a spa in the tropics, overlooking shimmering sand and water, it can make my skin look like its at least been there.
Giveaway! Juara is offering one lucky reader a $100 gift card to Juara Skincare.
Visit Juara’s website and pick at least 2-4 items that youâ€™d spend your $100 gift card on and comment here with your wish list. Please make sure you sign in to comment using a valid email address so that if you win I can contact you (your email address will not be visible, only to me). Only one entry per person, per household.
Ready? Set? Goâ€¦ And make sure you come back here to comment as your comment is your official entry!
ALL ENTRIES: Be sure to include your first name AND last initial or I won’t be able to include you in the random drawing when the winner is selected.Â This contest IS CLOSED.