How to Create the Perfect Backyard for Relaxation and Stress Relief

Too often our lives are full of stress and tension. We find ourselves longing  for a place where we can retreat and find relief from the daily pressures that we face. Your backyard can become the perfect place for some much needed relaxation and stress relief.

Here are some great tips that will help you create a calming place where you can wind down, relax, regenerate to promote a better mind, body, and soul.

Put in a Garden

Putting in a garden is a great way to start transforming your backyard into that perfect place for relaxation. Gardening not only is an awesome physical activity but it also helps promote your mental health. It is a great way to relax and then seeing the results of your labour will give you amazing satisfaction.  

Gardening is also a wonderful stress reliever. It makes you focus mentally on a task so for a time you are setting aside your problems while you concentrate on the nature around you. It can also be a way for you to let your creative juices flow as you create your own work of art by adding, moving, and tending an endless array of flowers and plants on the canvas of your back yard. If space is limited or you live in an apartment, you can still do amazing things with plants in containers on your balcony or windowsills.

Replicate The Sound of Soothing Running Water

The calming sound of trickling or gently running water has a soothing effect on most people. According to an article in the Huffington Post, being around water often makes us feel calmer and even more creative. Installing a water feature in your backyard will not only add to the beauty of your outdoor space, but the sound of the water will act as an additional, much needed stress reliever.  

You can simply purchase a fountain or similar type of water feature from a gardening centre to accent one of your flower beds; or if you are really ambitious, you can go all out and create an elaborate man-made waterfall which cascades into a wading pond.  As an extra bonus, why not fill your pond with beautiful Japanese Koi or something more common but still as realaxing to watch – gold fish.

Add a Bird Feeder

Forget the television and the computer and take up a more natural watching experience – bird watching. Install a bird feeder or two in your backyard and before long you will have your own nature show, free of commercials.

Watching wildlife can be really relaxing as well as entertaining. If you decide to build your own bird feeder then it can also be a temporary stress reliever as you get to pound in all of those nails and release some of your built up tension.

Install a Shed Escape

Do you sometimes wish that you had a room that was yours alone where you could escape to all by yourself? There are times when all of us need some time to ourselves, to reflect or maybe pursue a hobby or interest in private. Perhaps you would just like to have a space that you could decorate exactly how you would like it and then spend time reading or relaxing in your space.

For most of us there just isn’t the extra room in our homes to have such a space. Well, maybe the solution is finding a space outside of your home.  Why not consider purchasing an outdoor shed or garden cottage that you can make your own. If you are concerned about the cost, there are great rent to own options that make this idea not only amazing but also really affordable.

Get A Cozy Outdoor Chair

Not only will having a comfortable chair to curl up in give you a great place to get off your feet after a long, tiring day, but it will also provide you with a lovely spot where you can read. Did I say read? Yes. Despite the temptation to pull out a mobile device when you sit down, why not pull out a good book instead. It may seem like an old fashioned thing to do, but reading is actually very beneficial to your mental health.

According to the article “Why is Reading Good For Me?“, by the BBC, studies have shown that reading may delay the onset of dementia. This is because reading stimulates our neural pathways. When we read, our minds re-create the scenes that we are reading about and combine them with our own memories and experience. It also suggests that reading can help us sleep and decrease any feelings of loneliness that we may be having.

Summary

So whether you choose to implement all or only some of our ideas, make sure you start taking some steps to look after yourself. The outdoors is a great place to relax and your backyard can become a wonderful haven for relaxation.  Whether you garden, read, bird watch or simply soak up the sun; let your yard become your oasis for well-being.

The post How to Create the Perfect Backyard for Relaxation and Stress Relief appeared first on Better Mind Body Soul.

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5 Ways To Bring Nature Into Your Home

Whatever the season is, there are many ways you can bring the beauty of nature indoors. Wether it’s cold winter mornings or warm sunny afternoons, having an indoor garden helps make our houses feel more like a home.

So, we will give you some ideas that will help you create your very own indoor oasis. 

Go Rustic

We all love the beauty of wood. However, if you want the wood furniture in your home to give it the feel of nature, use pieces that allow the wood to maintain its tree-like form. Rustic pieces like log end tables or a natural finish dining room table allows you to be trendy and chic. Add oil lanterns for a walk into the past. If you have a fireplace, stage some real logs stacked beside the fireplace in a metal holder.

Plant An Herb Garden

Herb gardens are a perfect addition to any kitchen. Use small tin pails. Hammer a nail in the bottom of the pails in several places to allow drainage. Fill the pail ⅔ way full of potting soil and high-quality potting soil and Plant herbs by Seed Needs.

Slip a tension rod under the pail handles and suspend them in a kitchen window. When you need to water them, simply pull the rod off and lower the pails into the kitchen sink.

Scents

It is not enough to have the look of nature, you need to have the scent of nature. You can do this will essential oils and diffusers. Other ideas include tying a bunch of fresh eucalyptus branches to your shower head.

Crush real peppermint and place it in a small spray bottle. Add water and shake until dissolved. Use this solution as a drawer freshener. This gives you a natural smell and it will keep mice out of the drawers (they will be looking for a winter home).

Wall Art

Select some beautiful leaves or wildflowers. Purchase some quality picture frames.Place the leaves into the picture frames and hang them on the wall. This is very sophisticated and classic look that will instantly perk up a room.

Sand Art and Rock Gardens

Collect sand from different beaches or buy it online. Display it in pretty vases. You can layer the colors or add seashells. This makes for a great and all natural room decoration.

Use a large tray and display your rock collection. Add gravel under the stone to hold them in place and give your rock garden a three-dimensional look. Place small hand rakes of wood on the tray for an added touch. Or for a more elegant look add candles to the tray and place the stones around them. When you burn the candles, the melted wax will drip on the stones beautifully.

If you are remodeling, select wallpaper with floral or greenery designs. Warm colors like pale yellow or light coral make great bedding and you can switch up the pillows and throws with Earth tones.

Use earth tones such as tan, clay, camel, and beige for the living room. This will be easier to change the decor when the holidays arrive. Earth tones come alive with red, green, blue, and antique ornaments.

It is very easy to bring nature into your home. The result is a home that is comfortable, warm and inviting. Make your home an oasis for any season with decor designed by Mother Nature.

The post 5 Ways To Bring Nature Into Your Home appeared first on Better Mind Body Soul.

7 Vegetables To Eat To Stay Healthy This Winter

Cozy blankets, a warm fireplace, and a rich hot cocoa are just some of the things we look forward to in winter. But during this time we fall short of our body’s needed nutrients as fresh produce is hard to come by. Fear not as we share with you some of the crops that grow in winter so you can carefully plan your winter food recipes, and not be stuck with just plain old potatoes.

#1. Carrots – The Antioxidant

There is a reason why carrots have always been a staple to soups and side dishes. Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A that is essential in strengthening our immune system. Despite being loaded with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Lutein, carrots can still satisfy your sweet tooth cravings as this root crop is known to give a sweet earthy taste to any dish. Tip: 

Try roasting carrots with some olive oil, salt and pepper before blending with soup stock to add a little extra kick and richness of flavor to your soup.

#2. Turnips and Rutabagas – Adds Flavor to Any Dish

Like every other cruciferous vegetable, this cancer-fighting produce hits the spot during this winter. If you’re trying to find a vegetable that is loaded with folate, potassium, fiber, and calcium, then these are the ones to grab. Mix thinly sliced turnips and rutabagas to your salads and soups as it produces a slightly sweet taste that balances out the savory flavors of a dish. 

#3. Kale – Low in Calories, Lowers Cholesterol

This vegetable is a star as it has fast become a staple for any health buff. From kale chips, to salads, kale has been getting all the attention. The reason for that is because it is a good source of calcium, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. When shopping for kale, dark colored brunches with small to medium leaves should be seen, and avoid getting those with brown or yellow colored leaves.

#4. Cabbage – Budget Friendly

Coming from the same family as kale, cabbage does not fall short on its nutrients and minerals. This cheaper version gives the same boost to your body without the added hole to your wallet.

 It has anti-carcinogenic compounds, fiber, and antioxidants.In some parts of the world, cabbage is used as part of a soup or broth.

But if you want too maximize its nutritional benefits, slice it up fresh and add to any fresh salad or side dish to create a crisp and clean flavor. This vegetable blends in easily with any savory dish.

#5. Beets – Natural Source of Sugar

The great thing about beets is that it can be stored for up to a month in the fridge. Place them in a clean plastic bag, and you can pull them out whenever you need a sweet earthy flavor for your dish. You can eat them fresh or roasted, and they also add color to your dish. Known as a natural source of sugar, these red vegetables add a sweet crunch for texture. This winter, load up on vitamins A, B, C, and Folate sourced from natural ingredients so you’ll have all the energy you need.

#6. Cauliflower

It may look pale, but cauliflower does not joke around when it comes to its health benefits. This vegetable is known to be a solid source of vitamin C, K, and Folate, and acts as a great substitute for starch when wanting a creamy texture to your dish. Cauliflower has a clean flavor, and so in some parts of the world rice is substituted with this vegetable.

 It can be grated or sliced and topped to any dish to add crunch, and it can also be baked with cheese as a healthier alternative to mac and cheese. There are a lot o

#7. Onions – The Flavoring

You might have forgotten about this important but vegetable, but this winter onions can spice up your dishes. Onions are a staple in our kitchen as they do not spoil fast, and they just blend with everything we cook. Despite being small and common, onions are loaded with vitamin C and fiber, and can lower bad cholesterol levels

It can be diced up and sautéed, added to soup, or even served thinly grated over salads and sides.

Stay Healthy!

With all the harvest you can get, have you thought of the dishes you’ll be making over the winter season? We’ve been stuck with the same potatoes and onions recipe for so long that we’ve forgotten how to mix and match these wonderful flavors during the season. Fresh produce is not that hard to come by, you just have to know what to look for. Leave a comment down below if you have any questions. If you enjoyed reading this article, don’t forget to share so your friends can join in too!

The post 7 Vegetables To Eat To Stay Healthy This Winter appeared first on Better Mind, Body, Soul.

Growing Organically in Phoenix For A Better Mind Body And Soul

There’s nothing as satisfying as immersing your hands into rich soil and growing your own food. With the debate over GMO’s and preservatives in foods, organic farming has become a very viable option for people who are concerned about the food that they eat. For a better mind, body, and soul, more local residents are growing organic vegetables and fruits in their own yards and it’s not just healthier for you, it’s also more gratifying, and the food just…tastes better!

If you live in Phoenix, you know that growing your own food can be a challenge. The dry, desert climate and baking hot summers mean extra care is needed for your crops. Don’t be discouraged if you attempt to grow some fruits and vegetables only to find that your first batch isn’t up to expectation; it may take some time to get your garden just right. It will be worth the hard work in the end.

As with any climate, certain foods and herbs grow better in certain weather and Arizona is no exception. With its ample sunshine, winter and springtime gardening make Arizona an excellent spot for gardening. The summer months, however, are unlikely to sustain a vegetable garden, due to the excessive heat and sunshine. Foods that grow well in Phoenix are broccoli, peppers, and eggplant, to name a few. Herbs like dill, rosemary, and oregano also do well in the Phoenix climate. Strawberries and tomatoes can grow in Arizona, but not without their issues; just when they start to ripen, the summer sun takes its toll on the crop.

Weather

Weather isn’t the only factor in growing your own crops in Phoenix; there are soil contentions and pesky insects standing in the way of you and your very own organic garden. Strawberries, for example, can be grown quite successfully in Arizona, but the alkaline in the soil is not generally conducive to a bumper crop…but concessions can be made with the addition of fertilizers and fish emulsion. The various pests that troll organic gardens are another setback, but one that can be fought and won, if you know your opponent, or you can hire​ the best pest control Phoenix has and ask them to rid your garden of unwanted pests. They are an organic, green pest control company, and that should be a priority when treating areas of the garden where food is being grown.

Aphids

Aphids are tiny sucking insects that can attack most herbs, fruits, and vegetables and can cause substantial damage to a garden if not properly controlled. Pesticides are a solution, but if you are growing your own food organically, you probably want to keep your garden as organic as possible, sans pesticides. First, check the area for aphids before you plant! If you find aphids on surrounding weeds or plants, prune the area thoroughly and then plant. Watch for these creatures in the seedling stage, and use a protective cover on your plants. Aphids love nitrogen fertilizer, so use a slow-release organic fertilizer to avoid nitrogen overload and make sure to daily spray off your plants with a steady stream of water. Organic options like seaweed extract, insecticidal Safer Soap, even homemade garlic sprays can help to keep aphids at bay.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are another pest you’ll find in your organic garden. They like the hot, dry climate of Phoenix and tend to like peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and a variety of other like plants. They lay eggs on the leaves and suck the nutrients right out of the plant. Plants with yellowing, white or tan spots and a cotton webbing on the underside of the plant are hints that you may have spider mites. The best way to combat these little critters it to use insecticidal Safer Soap or Neem oil all over the plants. Safer Soap made up of plant oils and animal fats, permeates a bug’s soft outer shell, causing them to dehydrate within a day. Neem Oil, an extract from the Neem tree, an evergreen tree found in India and South Asia, soaks into the soil, into the plant, and into any intrusive pest, causing them to stop feasting and killing larvae. Another good way of reducing spider mites is by isolating the plants, if possible, and spraying them down repeatedly with water. Introducing a natural spider mite predator can also help. Ladybugs kill spider mites and you can purchase them from a nursery; ask the nursery for more information.

Snails & Slugs

You may have noticed slugs and snails in your garden; they like to eat low-laying leafy plants and ripe fruits. There are several different types of slugs and snails in the desert, but all can be dealt with using the same methods. Copper tape is one effective deterrent to these pests; the pest’s body fluids work with the copper to create an electrical charge. By placing this copper tape around your garden, you have essentially set up a snail electrical fence!

Horn worms

Tomato horn worms thoroughly enjoy tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers—many of the crops grown in organic, Phoenix gardens. They start out as green caterpillars with a distinctive horn on their tail; eventually, they morph into large, gray moths. The caterpillars chew the leaves, stems, and fruit of the plant. The best way to fight these creatures is to hand pick them off of your crops an often tedious and time-consuming process. Btk and spinosad are two organic ways to fight back; Btk, a natural bacterium found in soil, will kill all caterpillars, so it should be applied directly to the underside of leaves and plants where the tomato hornworm will eat it. Spinosad is a relatively new insect killer that is produced by fermentation to control caterpillars and other garden pests. This newer, organic chemistry has proven to be effective and does not harm the environment.

While these are just a few of the bugs and pests you will need to combat in your organic garden, the overall experience of cultivating your own fruits and vegetables make it a worthy fight. Consulting with a local Phoenix nursery before you plant will help you to determine what to plant and how to effectively ward off any unwanted creatures. There are many organic options available to combat these pests, but it is important to investigate them first to ensure you are using the proper guard for your particular plants and the problems they face. Enjoying the literal fruits of your labor will make it all worthwhile!

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Christmas Recipes for All the Family

It’s that time of year again, December!! Which means two things, Christmas and Family. But that also means that we need a few Christmas recipes to whip out of the bag too. Nothing that comes with too much stress, and will feed a full table. So we thought we would share with you two of our favorite Christmas recipes that suit all the family.

ONE OF OUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS RECIPES OF ALL TIME – BEEF AND DUMPLING STEW

This one is always a winner, not so much for Christmas day but in the run up to Christmas. Party after party after party, it can get quite tricky to think of different dishes. The stew gives the wow factor every time, yet is so simple and effortless. It could technically be used at any time of year, but is nice and warming for the run up to Christmas. It also looks great in individual ramekin dishes so it’s posher for a dinner party. A Christmas dinner party to be specific. Just add some roasty’s, carrots and tender stem broccoli as sides. If you feel like being creative, toss the carrots in orange marmalade and add chopped up crispy bacon to them. Keep the broccoli simple with just a little butter and a scatter a few sliced almonds over them. Easy peasy.

MARCUS WAREING’S MINT BON BONS

I don’t know about you, but I always end up feeling completely stuffed after the main course. So much so that I couldn’t possibly fit in a pudding. These mint bon bon’s by the wonderful chef that is Marcus Wareing are just perfect for cleansing the pallet and settling that sweet tooth. You could make a load more than you need so that you have them for all of your Christmas Dinner parties. Or you could take the left overs as little Christmas gifts when you get invited to someone else’s for dinner.

Author:

Original article was written by author Becca Jordan from Furl.

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The Whys and Hows of Organic Oral Healthcare

The Whys and Hows of Organic Oral Healthcare

There are helpful bacteria that inhabit the mouth, these micro organisms protect the teeth and gums and help with digestion, but there is also harmful bacteria in the mouth that can cause cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis and bad breath. What is worse, infection and bacteria in the mouth can also lead to diabetes, pneumonia and cardiovascular disease. Thankfully, there are natural oral health methods you can use along with your high-powered cleaning tools from Pearly Whytes for the perfect oral health:

1. Oil Pulling

olive-oilAccording to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, oil pulling dates back all the way to ancient India. Today, the awareness of its benefits are quickly increasing; natural oil sales have suddenly increased in multitudes. Swishing coconut, sesame or olive oil in the mouth for 10 to 20 minutes pulls toxins from the mouth to prevent oral health issues such as:

  • Tooth decay
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Inflammation
  • Throat dryness
  • Cracked lips
  • Cavities
  • Acne

Oil pulling also whitens the teeth, boosts the immune system and strengthens the jaw and gums. It also eliminates the need to use conventional mouthwashes that contain toxic substances such as alcohol, formaldehyde, saccharin, sodium laurel sulfate and other harsh chemicals that contribute to migraines, cancers of the mouth, respiratory issues and even make animals suffer as it travels through ecosystem.

2. Tea Tree Oil Floss

tea-tree-oil1Tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and fights against fungi, bacteria and viruses that may be resistant to antibiotics. Opting for tea tree oil floss instead of the chemically waxed mint and cinnamon floss helps to reduce the risk of gingivitis, bleeding gums and unhealthy oral bacteria without inviting harsh chemicals to the gumline that often harm more than help. Tea tree has even been found to reduce gum bleeding in individuals with gingivitis.

3. Camu Camu

Camu Camu is a lemon-sized fruit from the rain forests of Brazil and Peru. This superfood can serve a vitamin C boost without using a synthetic vitamin supplement. Vitamin C reduces the risk of periodontitis, bleeding gums and gingivitis, and Camu Camu contains more vitamin C per teaspoon than any other food source. While getting the actual fruit may be a little difficult if you don’t live near the Amazon forest, there are many sources to purchases organic Camu Camu powder.

4. Abstaining From Unhealthy Foods

unhealthy foodsCarbohydrates made from white flour break down into simple sugars once they idle in the mouth; opt for products made of organic, non-GMO whole grains instead. Instead of drinking concentrated fruit juices high in sugar, opt for fresh-pressed organic and premium juices to receive essential nutrients without the tooth decaying effects of a high sugar.

5. Organic Toothpaste

Commercial toothpaste contains toxic ingredients such as sodium fluoride, glycerin, dyes, titanium dioxide and sodium laurel sulfate. Create a toothpaste composed of the antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial coconut oil and baking soda, which restores pH balance and presents a scrubbing texture with these easy steps:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • Peppermint oil (this is optional)

Use equal parts coconut oil and baking soda for the portion size you wish for.

  1. Mix both components into a container until it forms a paste.
  2. Add 10 drops of peppermint oil to mixture for optional taste.
  3. Store covered; refrigerate in warmer climates to maintain paste texture.

6. Incorporate Green Tea

Green tea is a tasty and relaxing drink, but it also holds a wide array of oral health benefits:

  1. Gum Health – The anti-inflammatory properties of green tea fights gum disease
  2. Prevents Cavities – Green tea lowers saliva acidity and controls bacteria to prevent tooth decay
  3. Fresh breath – Green tea eliminates the microbes in the mouth that cause bad smells

The most common way to consume green tea is to drink it in hot or iced form, but it is also available in green tea extract capsule form, in concentrate drops and tablet form.

7. Neem Oil

neem-treeNeem oil is extracted from the neem tree. While this oil has potent antibacterial, anti fugal and antiviral properties, it is not recommended that pregnant women, women who wish to become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers and children should use this product. If you are not in those categories, chewing on neem bark, spreading neem oil on floss or adding neem oil or powder to your toothbrush reduces the risk of gingivitis, canker sores and tooth decay.

As with all situations involving your health, consult with your dentist and primary care doctor for any issues that may arise concerning your oral health if no improvement occurs or the problems worsen. Also, make sure that these remedies do not adversely interfere with current medical conditions and medications. Here’s to good health without the side effects of conventional products!

The Whys and Hows of Organic Oral Healthcare is courtesy of The Better Mind Body Soul website

Mindful Tips

1. Choose a short mindfulness practice you can use every day or several times a day. For instance, notice the sensation of your breath at your nostrils for the length of three in-breaths and three out-breaths. Even in this short space of time, your attention will drift; bring it back to your breath calmly and without self-criticism.

2. Try a little acceptance at the start of the day. Mindfulness has two major aspects: returning your attention from mind-wandering to the present moment; and practising acceptance. Briefly look over what you are going to have to do today and accept it. This could include an annoying task or an unpleasant meeting or any of the other challenges in our day. Just accept it. Try to do this at a set time, for instance before you get out of bed in the morning, having breakfast, waiting for a train or tram and so on.

3. Make a “no problem solving” period part of every day. We have an addiction to mulling over problems and this exiles us from the present moment. Set a short period every day during which you promise not to solve a single problem in your life! During that time you will find it much easier to be present and mindful. Good times for this? During meals, when commuting or tidying for instance.

4. Find your anchor point. The “anchor point” is a practice or sensation that anchors you to mindfulness and helps you come back when you find yourself wandering off in your mind. Examples are: the sensation of your breath against your nostrils; the feeling of your feet against the floor, ground, or against the soles of your shoes; or the use of a silent word such as “returning.”

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