30 April 2013

Kanelstrand is In The Top 100 Health Related Blogs to Follow in 2013

Kanelstrand is positioned at number 20 in the top 100 health related blogs to follow in 2013!

Here is a quick look back on the topics that got this blog to the top 100:
What is one thing you improved about your health in the past year?

Top 100 Health blogs to follow

An infographic by the team at CouponAudit

29 April 2013

Motherwort Helps Move Stagnant Energy

From the perspective of Chinese medicine tension, stress and irritability are said to be due to stagnant Liver Qi (energy). This can be due to problems with work, dysfunctional relationships, lack of exercise, withdrawal from Qi-moving herbs or drugs like tobacco, alcohol or marijuana, or genetic predisposition.

For women during premenstrual time Liver Qi often stagnates with hormonal fluctuation. The treatment is always to move stagnant Liver Qi. This can be done with exercise, practicing breathing exercises, acupuncture treatment or herbs. In extreme situations a change of job or end to a problem relationship may be required to restore the flow of healthy Liver Qi.

My favorite herb for moving stagnant Liver Qi and mental energy and calming irritability and anger is Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca.

Motherwort is exceptionally helpful for balancing emotional issues in women such as anxiety or irritability, whether related to PMS or menopause. It also helps smooth the menstrual flow for uterine cramping. For heavy bleeding or pregnancy this herb should be avoided.


Men can also benefit from Motherwort. I have had good results when giving this herb to both men and women under acute emotional stress. Above is a picture of one of my Motherwort plants from this winter season.

Motherwort needs partial shade. In hot climates such as Central Florida, it needs to be grown as a Winter annual. Harvest the leaves and flowers when the plant is in full bloom. Motherwort is a very bitter herb and it is easiest to take in tincture form.

You can grow Motherwort and easily make your own tincture from fresh or dry herb.

Simpler's Method for Tincturing with fresh herbs:

Chop fresh herbs coarsely and pack into a clean glass jar.

Add 80-100 proof plain Vodka or Brandy to cover the herbs completely.

Screw on the lid, label, and shake once a day.

Strain after 2-6 weeks, allow to settle, decant through filter paper.

Store in a dark glass dropper bottle. The dosage for adults is 1-2 dropperful.

Cory Trusty is a soap maker, community herbalist, organic gardener, and homeschooling mom to two girls. Cory and her family live in Daytona Beach, Florida. Cory's background is in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Biology.  She is sharing tried and true natural home remedies and mini lessons from herbal classes that she teaches. Cory works full time making soaps, shampoo bars, herbal salves, flaxseed heat packs and more for her website AquarianBath. Read more from Cory at the Aquarian Bath blog. Cory is also a Food and Gardening writer for EcoEtsy and has published in The Essential Herbal Magazine and on the Herb Companion Blog. Connect with Cory on TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus and Pinterest.

26 April 2013

Renew and Move Forward

This post is written by contributing author Anabel Bouza.

It is April, and the season is picking up its pace around here. The birds have calmed down some, but a few weeks back they were still tweeting – almost hysterically – in every tree, making me feel energized and inadequate at once:

You see, while the world was frantically renewing itself, I just sat there, still in my end-of-winter stupor. 

If you live in an area where spring is even noticeable, you probably know that it can be very brief; before you know it, summer has set in. My feeling of inadequacy came from knowing that this vernal spur goes as fast as it comes, and that I was wasting time by not tapping in to this resource to help me move forward.
Renew and Move Forward
Illustration by Anabel Bouza
Every year I take a page from nature's book, and see spring as the Go sign to reinvent myself. 

Nothing gets me moving like the realization that the sun is still up in the sky at 7pm, that it's time to plant seeds again, that people have sprouted on the streets once more, wearing no jackets... 

You want to spend every weekend and afternoon breathing in the perfect spring air.
You want to run outside and seize the brief season, but before you do that, you should dedicate some time to renewing yourself and your surroundings:

• Tackle new projects and ideas as they take shape in your mind. It is when you first come up with an idea that you have the most momentum and spark to dedicate to it. Seize that momentum! Maybe you'll feel so empowered afterward that you'll even dedicate the leftover inspiration to those older, unfinished projects you've been skirting.

• Try a new hair style! 

• I like to make a little ritual out of rehabilitating my warm weather clothes after the winter. Getting them from the far reaches of the closet and washing them all at once is really gratifying. Take the occasion to rethink outfit combinations (we emerge from the winter a little changed, I think) and to let go of the things you don't use.

• A reminder to change up your soaps and lotions to match your skin needs — they change with the season, you know.

• Embrace a new fragrance, or let a new color "tinge" your outlook!

• Revive a room. Remodeling is not required, it is as simple as just switching your furniture around. Incorporate new plants, hang lighter curtains to let the light spill in, get creative with the layout. I like to blur the outdoors/indoors boundary by picking some of the colors from the vegetation outside for my indoor plants. I think this invites the eye to jump from the windowsill (or flower box) to the trees beyond.

Fresh spaces will be waiting for you at home, and since you've made room in your mind for grand new things... go fill up on life lessons and adventures!

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things.

Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba - her strange homeland - where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. She's often found blogging as
Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. Her tiny family is comprised of husband & a turtle. Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter.

22 April 2013

10 Ways to Remove Calluses Naturally

A callus is a thick area of skin which has become relatively dry and hard due to repeated friction, pressure, or other irritation. Since repeated contact is required for callus forming, they are most often found on feet because of frequent walking. Calluses are generally not harmful, but may sometimes lead to other problems, such as skin ulceration or infection.

You can removing calluses naturally. It's quite simple to do, and you can use items that are already in your home.

N.B. Never try to remove calluses by cutting or slicing them. The risk of infection is too great. Besides, there are easier, less painful ways to remove a callus.

10 Ways to Remove Calluses Naturally
Photo: lipglossjunkie
The process of removing a callus consists of three steps: soaking, rubbing and drying. Here are a few natural alternatives to each of them. You can alternate between each of them to find the one that suits you best.

4 alternatives to soak your callused feet.

1. Soak your feet in chamomile tea to soften hardened skin for about 30 minutes. Don't worry if your skin gets stained because you can remove any tea stains easily later with soap and water.

2. Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda to warm water and soak the affected area. This will help dissolve the dead skin and begin the healing process. Soak for approximately 30 minutes.

3. Soak a bread slice in apple cider vinegar for about 10 hours o form a paste. Before going to bed put the paste on the callus and secure with a bandage. wrap it in a plastic sack and leave it on overnight. Remove in the morning.

4. Soak the callus in warm water with Epsom salts. The warm water softens your skin, and the salts help scrub the corn or callus away.

2 ideas on how to best scrub the callus away.

1. Using a foot file or pumice stone rub the calluses away. Use the file after you have soaked your feet or at the end of a shower, when your feet have been softened by the warm water. Rub your feet with a vigorous, circular motion. If you have a heavy buildup of calluses, rinse your feet often by dipping them back into the water. Also, rinse the pumice stone to get it wet again and remove the dead skin. Work until the skin turns pink for best results.

2. Another great way to scrub away unsightly a callus is to take a barefoot walk on a wet, sandy beach.

Dry the area completely. It is important that you don't allow this area to remain damp. Use a towel to remove all moisture.

Sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch on the area. This will ensure that the area stays dry. It will also help ward off infections.

Or you can:
- Make a mixture of 1 teaspoon lemon juice, one teaspoon dried chamomile and one clove of crushed garlic. Apply the mixture to your callus once or twice daily until it is gone.

- Cut 2-3 raisins in half and put them on the affected area, (with the cut facing the skin), secure with a plaster overnight. Repeat daily until the callus reduces or disappears.

- Use 1 onion slice, sprinkled with a few drops of lemon juice, and some salt. Tape them to the callus overnight. Repeat daily for a week to remove the callus easily.

- Crush 5 aspirin pills, add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon water to form a thick paste. Apply to the affected area and cover with a plastic wrap. Cover with a wet towel. Let sit for about 30 minutes. After rinsing with warm water, rub the callus with a wet pumice stone.

Repeat daily for beautiful, healthy feet.
10 Ways to Remove Calluses Naturally

How to prevent calluses
Even if you remove your callus, don't forget where it came from. Prevent calluses from reappearing by taking care of your feet.

Keeping your skin clean and dry can help ward off calluses.

Wear comfortable shoes that fit properly.

Wearing the same pair of shoes every day can lead to calluses.  Open-toed sandals are especially likely to cause your feet to develop calluses, so wear some enclosed tennis shoes with socks every few days to give your feet a break.

Wear shoes that breathe. Shoes made from natural materials, such as leather, allow more air flow to your feet than shoes made from synthetic materials.

Sometimes calluses can be confused with more serious medical conditions. It's best to consult a doctor about any health issue.

You should stop trying to treat your callus naturally at home and see your doctor if it is red and feels hot to the touch, if it cracks, bleeds and looks blue or if it doesn't improve after several days.

18 April 2013

Move: Change Perspectives

This post is written by contributing author Shelly Kerry. 

Movement can be about awakening the body and the senses. It can be about opening oneself up to new perspectives. It can be about expression and freedom.

If you find yourself in a job or working on a project that requires a lot of time in front of a computer or a work table, you might start to experience restlessness or aching body parts after just a couple of hours. This is because our bodies naturally want to move and our minds like to wander. Instead of fighting this natural desire forcing ourselves to work endlessly in the same position, let’s celebrate our bodies curiosity and let them stretch, move and breathe.

Photo: Shelly Kerry
I am generally a restless person unless I am entranced in a really awesome conversation, movie or writing. Fortunately, all work that I have done outside of my running my own business has required a fair amount of movement. And being an avid exerciser, sitting still for too long can become quite uncomfortable. I feel fortunate for this. My body is often able to keep up with my very curious mind. My body and spirit both crave new perspectives.

When I am writing, I take breaks every 30 minutes or hour, depending on the project. I start with a brain dump and then I take a walk. I come back. I write a rough draft of my post and then get up out of my chair and do something different. Usually this is a simple task like cleaning or doing the laundry. Then I go back, my mind fresh and my body limber and I create a final draft. These little breaks let me take a step away and they promote awareness, new questions and different answers. I don’t get distracted as easily when I am working. My body doesn't ache and I spend my day with a heightened sense of my surroundings.

Shelly is the founder of the program Creating Space, Mindful Living – motivating and inspiring people to run their businesses more efficiently. She helps others look at their personal and professional lives and explore what is and isn’t working. As a jewelry designer she has spent many years testing and honing the skills and discipline needed to run your own creative business while still having time for friends, family and fun. She puts her wealth of experience to use in the Creating Space service – healthy living advice to help keep you motivated and make the most out of your already busy schedule. She will help you find both the physical and emotional space so you can pursue your dreams and she’ll always insist there’s time for yourself. You can also find Creating Space on Facebook or contact shelly@creatingspacemindfulliving.com

16 April 2013

Tips from Real Simplifiers: How to Untangle Your Mind

Tips from Real Simplifiers is a new series of posts in which I am sharing useful tips on simplifying from the Kanelstrand readers. Send your unique working tips on simple living to info@kanelstrand.com. Let us simplify together!

Lisa of Plumeria Papercraft talks about the way she finds herself prone to being "tangled" into the complexities of everyday life. She says,
Whether it's "chemo brain," a bit of underlying, lingering post-traumatic stress, burnout from too many years of too much multi-tasking or a combination of all of the above, I have, at times, become more easily tangled, overstimulated and overwhelmed.

I'm working on practicing methods of untangling myself -- pausing, taking deep breaths, resting, mentally stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, trying to simplify, slow down, be mindful and work on better self-care, both physically and emotionally.
Here is Lisa's method of untangling her mind:

Life has a way of tangling our minds but what we often miss is that it also has a way of untangling them.

I find that often I end up in a similar position of being tired, overworked and generally apathetic on one level, despite of the inspiration that is flowing on the other. If I let the apathy prevail it ruins my creative work and overwhelms my emotions as well.

In similar situations, to get untangled and to "breathe in calm" I instinctively look for nature.

How about you? What tangles your mind and how do you untangle yourselves?

12 April 2013

The Secret to Happiness: Stay in The Moment

Happiness has concerned humanity for a whole eternity. Philosophers and poets have searched for the secret to happiness just as thoroughly as the average farmer. Through the years the recipes for happiness have evolved but have not changed much.

And yet, we continue to search for happiness because even though we do find it sometimes, we manage to keep it for just a fleeting moment before it's gone again.

On my quest to simplify my life and focus on my priorities I have found happiness in:

In fact, I have faithfully followed the positive psychology's teachings of visualizing my wishes and have encouraged you to do the same believing this will help me and you make them come true. I have often drifted away, daydreaming about possible situations or happier moments in life.

Illustration: Alias Ching
But this kind of mind-wandering is actually robbing you of your genuine happiness. 

Surely, you will argue that when people's minds are preoccupied with unpleasant thoughts it is natural for them to feel unhappy but the research Matt Killingsworth has led proves that people remain less happy regardless of whether their thoughts are positive or negative.

Even when your mind wanders to pleasant thoughts, you are less happy than when you are mindfully present in the moment.

Undoubtedly, training yourself to immerse fully in the present will increase your happiness. Do not overestimate daydreaming and wishful thinking. Get back to basics and do one thing at a time. Be here and now, right where happiness is.

Are you thinking of something other than what you are currently doing?

10 April 2013

Moving is The Closest Thing to Being Free

The Universe is my friend. It listens closely to my thoughts and whenever I am on to something really important it generously folds out its hand to me with its gift. Often it uses the hand of my husband or a close friend to award me with my next step on this journey to simplifying.

Thinking of writing about the importance of moving today I was slowly tuning into the vibe, going through reasons and benefits, reminiscing on my life full of movement and the ways it changed through times of stillness.

And then just like that, without knowing what I was researching my husband sent me this short line:

Moving is the closest thing to being free

You may have had enough of Willie and country music but my European heart still jumps at the sound of it.
Photo: photoprodigy
We are made to move and yet as the years progress, our lives become more sedentary, not only because we get older but also because of the changes in lifestyle. TV, computers, car transportation, etc. were supposed to benefit us and they do to some extent but they also harm us beyond belief.

Nowadays we spend an average of 9,3 hours a day sitting -- that is more than sleeping!

Because of our extended sitting time we should adjust our daily routines and incorporate walking or jogging. Use every opportunity to move. Look at chores like doing the dishes, cleaning and tidying up from another perspective and you will see that they are giving you the opportunity to move and keep healthy! Ironic as it may sound, your chores are making you free, so don't hate them, embrace them!

If you are not the jogging type of person (I am not either), you can simply walk. According to recent research only 15 minutes of walking a day can increase your life expectancy with 3 years. My husband and I try to walk at least 1 hour a day regardless of weather conditions.

It is important to walk on mixed terrain where you have obstacles and there is some inclination. This will engage more muscle groups while walking, which on the other hand will reduce the risks of arthritis.

Walking, especially out in nature reduces stress and anxiety, so there is practically nothing to lose. Here are 5 more benefits to walking.

Move any time you have the opportunity! Even if you think you don't have time, try to make space for moving. It should not be extreme, you don't need to be a master in sports to do it.

Moving is the closest to being free indeed. It keeps your inner mechanisms ticking in the right rhythm, it releases off endorphin to make you happy, it makes you feel alive!

Do you move as much as you would like? What do you do on days you feel you haven't moved enough?

09 April 2013

The Best Treatment for Dry Hair: Homemade Egg Shampoo

Dry hair happens to everyone at some point in their lives and no one is immune against it regardless of hair type or color. My hair used to get really dry and brittle in the winter not only because of dry air inside but also because I used to blow-dry it, which I no longer do.

In this post I will share the recipe I use to have an elastic and lively hair through all seasons which will not cost you anything. Yes, all the ingredients you need are already in your kitchen!

Some of the most common reasons for dry hair are:
  • dry air,
  • malnutrition/bad diet,
  • washing your hair too often,
  • harsh shampoos,
  • chemical processing,
  • blow-drying,
  • dandruff.
When the cause for dry hair is external, it is easy to make adjustments and revive it.

how to heal dry hair with natural homemade shampoo
Photo: Wet and Messy Photography
One of the best and easiest treatments you can give your hair is a homemade egg shampoo. Here is how to make it and restore (and keep) the moisture in your hair.

NB: This shampoo is best used fresh, so make it just before washing your hair!

Homemade Egg Shampoo For Dry Hair

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
Whisk the egg yolk very well, add the honey, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix energetically to blend.

Apply to wet (but not dripping) hair by massaging thoroughly into the scalp. Cover the whole hair. Let it stay for minimum 10 minutes -- the longer, the better. I usually stay for about 30 minutes.

Rinse with lukewarm water.

  • To reduce the smell of the egg, I use a mixture of vinegar and rosemary that I keep in a bottle. Just add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of water and rinse your hair. The vinegar+rosemary will not only take out the smell but it will also nourish your hair.
  • If you hair feels stiff after this treatment you might need to reduce the amount of honey or change the type of honey.

Want to keep your hair healthy? Here are more ways to do so:
What everybody ought to know about shampoo
5 natural alternatives to store-bought shampoo
Why I stopped blow-drying my hair and why you should too
7 green ways to deal with static hair
Birch and lavender nourishing hair lotion
Banana beauty -- revive your hair with bananas 
10 for washing your hair without shampoo

Have you tried applying a homemade egg shampoo before?

05 April 2013

Simple Living Tip: Don't Let Your Email Define Your Day

It has become obvious by now that we live in a digital era, a time when life has a second, virtual persona thus encouraging us to create our own alter egos online and start living an additional life on the Internet.

My Internet day starts roughly at the time of awakening with opening my email. There, I said it. I am not proud of myself.

One of the most unproductive ways to start my day is to open up my email first. I've read numerous articles why I shouldn't do it but here I am, the person who wrote about how to simplify your online presence, why multitasking is bad for you, and why you should unplug on a regular basis, admitting being addicted to getting emails and clearing her email inbox of unread ones.

Checking your email constantly is distraction disguised as work.

On a typical morning I would go through the 50+ unread emails that have accumulated in one of my inboxes since the night before and would often get carried away replying, reading, researching, etc. This might eat more than 2 hours of the most productive time of the day, when I am uninterrupted and my mind is still fresh.

And yet I go on, day after day.

Confession: My email inbox defines my day.

Often the emails I receive override the work plan I have set the night before and I find myself working on unimportant stuff and neglecting my art or writing. And yet I go on.
Photo: uncafelitoalasonce
Even now, when I am determined to write this post I feel distracted and need to check my email. Just in case there is some big news. Or anything to comment on. Or just in search of inspiration.

Two weeks ago I decided I will no longer let my email inbox define my mental activities and I mean to keep it simple and hassle-free. I committed to checking my email three times a day instead of living in my (three) inboxes, torn between hundreds of emails. As a first step I unsubscribed from a few mailing lists that proved to be disappointing. Then I created several filters to automatically mark notification emails from Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus as read.

What happened when I reduced email time
  1. At first I felt restless. Now that I had placed a limit on checking my emails I realized how dependent I was on distracting my mind while I should be concentrating. As days passed, the feeling faded although it hasn't disappeared completely yet.
  2. I became more productive. I am forcing myself back to the habit of staying concentrated for longer periods of time and I can already see the positive changes on my art, writing and real life responsibilities.
  3. Batch process. I stopped replying to emails the moment I receive them, thus reducing the amount of work. Now I batch process, which proved to be more effective both in terms of time spent and in work done. I spend 30 minutes in a concentrated batch-processing boot-camp replying to emails and writing down email related tasks.
  4. I stopped multi-tasking. If you follow me for a long time you surely remember my multi-tasking posts. Well, I am still on and off multi-tasking but I can already see that by taming myself email-wise I am seriously single-tasking again.
  5. My day depends on me. By not going through my email first thing in the morning I am now able to follow the plan I have for the day. Before I easily postponed my tasks for the needs of others, according to the time they enter my inbox. I don't call this egoism but organized sanity. After finishing with my most important tasks I am now ready to face the needs of the world (and I am ready to deliver much better results!)
  6. I am healthier. Plain as it may sound, by reducing the time I spend in my email inbox, I reduced the time I spend on my computer. Every day I make the conscious decision to go out and move more. My eyes are much better. If you remember their collapse after last years' Simple Living Challenge you know. To stop the development of my shortsightedness I have to spend 2-3 hours a day in sunlight. I am surprised that only one week into this my eyes' health has transformed.
  7. I am happier. But of course! I am moving more, I don't feel pressed by outer circumstances, I am more productive and I define the way my days go. What more can I ask of life?!
Photo: another.point.in.time
The mere fact that we all have access to a computer and Internet at home, at work, in our pockets does not justify our constant preoccupation with it. Being always present online robs us of our freedom to chose simple living and that is why we need to make conscious efforts to stick to our priorities and not to let distractions disguised as attractive conveniences take the best of us.

If I can do it, you can do it too!

By organizing your time you will regain control over the way you feel and the way you create. You will no longer feel that your life is controlled by circumstances and your life will be one shade simpler.

Now it's your turn, do you let your daily plans be defined by your email inbox or any other distraction? How do you deal with that?

02 April 2013

Why You Need to Simplify Your Life

More and more people around the world strive to become sustainable in their lifestyle, mindset and emotions but feel entangled in deeply rooted old habits or get confused by too many contradicting advices.

If you have decided to simplify your life but you don't know how to start, this post is for you! If you have already set on the simplifying path - jump right on in, we love company!
Photo: kanelstrand

What is simple living?
Simple living is an attitude to life that will help you live more sustainably, more deliberately and more happily. Among other things, simple living includes:
  • Identifying what is most important for you and eliminating everything else.
  • Doing what inspires you and being with the people you love.
  • De-cluttering (be it your mind, your everyday life or your virtual life).
  • Single-tasking and learning to diminish stress.
  • Striving to live frugally by wanting less and buying only what is necessary. 
  • Slowing down and being actively present in the moment.
  • Living a healthy life.
  • Striving to be green and sustainable as much as your surroundings allow.
  • Enjoying the simple pleasures of life.
  • Simplifying your goals, tasks and expectations.

Photo: kanelstrand
How to know when you need to simplify your life

  • You are way to deep in debt.
  • The clutter around you is overwhelming you and is keeping you away from taking the right decisions.
  • You have grown apart from your loved ones and even yourself.
  • You are stressed out.
  • You rarely do something for the fun of it.
  • The time you spend on the Internet is way too much and way too disorganized.
  • You are multitasking any time, anywhere.

I know all this may seem overwhelming but I assure you, there is nothing complicated in living a simple life. You don't need to withdraw from the world and seek a retreat to be able to achieve simplification. On the contrary, simple living is about engaging more fully in the world, but with a changed list of priorities. Simple living makes place for the really important things in your life and helps you appreciate more fully what you have and who you are.

The Simple Living Pledge
To help you re-evaluate your priorities in life, I invite you to take The Simple Living Pledge and participate in the discussions on Kanelstrand. Together we can grow much faster! I am looking forward to your insights, advice or your general thoughts on simplifying.

Take the simple living pledge

Let's do this together!
Together we can make a difference in a fast-paced, thick-skinned world. We can walk the path of conscious living by being the human beings we are, by embracing our weaknesses and turning them into strengths. We can live a simple sustainable life without going to extremes.