27 articles

Roller Derby!

rose quartz roller

A rose quartz face roller from Goop, naturally…

A couple of years ago, my husband showed up with one of these facial rollers in hand as a gift, saying he thought it would be something I’d be into. I took it as a mild insult, because this thing seemed to be the type of contraption used by eccentric silent film stars in the 1930′s who were terrified of aging, and it languished on a shelf for at least 6 months.

Until one day, just for the hell of it, I picked it up and rolled it around on my face. And like magic, I could actually feel the frown lines melting off of my forehead as if I’d just had an hour massage. It became a secret ritual… whenever I felt stressed out, I’d quietly pick up the roller, roll it around on my face randomly (while thinking of Nora Desmond) and then feel better.

After awhile, I decided to get more methodical about the whole procedure and began to actually look into what was happening. Was it fairy dust? Or is there some real science behind the magic? I scoured the web, did some first hand research, and happily discovered that those glamour queens of the olden days actually knew what they were doing. And there are a whole bunch of present day divas reaping the benefits of this little tool as well.

Turns out that facial massage actually reduces anxiety in many people (including me!) But also, it can detoxify the skin by stimulating lymphatic drainage. A roller can also be used to drain fluid from the face, reducing puffiness and increasing blood circulation to the cheeks giving the face a natural glow!

face map

Just follow these arrows to reach facial and mental serenity.

Here’s how you go about the whole ritual:

Start with a clean face, and be sure to apply whatever moisturizer or serum you love so that the roller can help you with a deeper and more even distribution. In order to really effectively drain the lymphatic system, you need to clear the passageways in the neck. So begin on your neck, gently rolling down towards the clavicle before moving to the face.

Once on your face, you want to roll outwards, away from the center towards your hairline to really get the juices flowing. Follow the lines on the diagram above and remember to be gentle. Too much pressure can cause capillaries to rupture. Once you are done for the day, be sure to clean your roller with warm soapy water before putting it away. And if you really want to up the ante, try storing your roller in the fridge. A chilled roller will tighten the pores and wake up a weary face!

So now that you’ve got the moves, what type of roller should you buy? The restorative motion works with all different stones— the difference is more about which crystal you want to introduce into your skin care routine.

Jade is a happy stone praised for emotional healing and eliminating negativity. It’s also known as a lucky charm, which makes it great for keeping you calm and feeling positive.

Rose quartz is all about love. It is nourishing, helps calm anger and is also very good for balance as well as strengthening the blood circulation.

Amethyst is a healer— it’s equally good with physical ailments as it is with caring for the nervous system. It provides hormonal balance, helps with insomnia and stress and encourages a general sense of serenity.

You are now armed with all you need to know. I started my journey with a rose quartz roller from Goop, but to be honest, I am tempted to pick up a jade and an amethyst roller too, just so I have all my bases covered!

2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Help them to help themselves

It has been a rough year. I don’t think I know a single person who isn’t exhausted, mentally, physically, spiritually, economically– you name it. So I hereby dedicate this first installment of my annual holiday gift guide to gifts that will help your loved ones take care of themselves. Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, and we lose the strength to persevere, all will be lost. For reals.

Goldie's mood mist no 9

photo courtesy of Goldie’s

Nothing says “Everything’s gonna be all right” like a cloud of beautifully balanced essential oil scented mist that is grounding and energizing, detoxifying and hydrating all in one. Goldie’s Mood Mist No 9 ($26) is going to improve the tone of your skin or the room you’re in, and everybody who gets near you will feel better. Which is actually a holiday gift for your entire community.

Red Flower 10000 Facial

photo courtesy Red Flower

If I had all the money in the world, I might just dump all of my other skin care products and exclusively use this 10,000 Self Care Beauty Practice set from Red Flower. You can get it all for $498 (it’s on sale!) and I promise you it is worth every penny. These creams and oils and soaps are unparalleled. But if I had to “settle” for their Hinoki mint mineral bath soak ($52) I would do so happily. And still feel like a queen. Or a king, for that matter.

Southampton Soap Co foot scrub

Photo courtesy of Southampton Soap Co

Sometimes there is no bathtub available. In these instances, however, a large pot will do nicely. Rubbing down feet with some Southampton soap cucumber mint healing foot scrub (from $25) and then soaking them in a pot full of warm water is like an instant vacation without having to deal with the long lines at airport security.

reflexology chart

While we’re on the topic of feet, reflexology is the science of massaging along specific energy meridians of the foot to help heal all sorts of physical ailments. Give a gift certificate for a 60 minute session at Perry St Reflexology ($125)… because we have all been marching since January 21 and our feet (and bodies) have had just about enough.

palo santo insence

Palo Santo incense ($20), or Holy Wood, wards off evil spirits and creates positive energy. And Lord knows we could all use some more positive energy these days.

Photo courtesy of Puerh

Photo courtesy of Puerh Brooklyn

A good cup of tea can make just about anything better. The turmeric/ginger blend (from $8) at Puehr Brooklyn Teashop might just be my all time favorite herbal tea. The anti-inflammatory qualities of turmeric mixed with the anti-oxident superpower of ginger make it powerful medicine. And a lovely teapot ($33) in which to brew these concoctions only sweetens the deal.

mndfl studio

Photo by Julia Robbs for Homepolish.com.

Meditation is probably the one thing that is most consistently recommended by doctors, therapists, yoga teachers and hippies alike for helping to relieve the stresses of this crazy world we find ourselves in. I have never, EVER, heard anyone say it is anything but beneficial. But it can be hard to start a consistent practice, which is where MNDFL Meditation Studios comes in. They provide the space and the teachers, so all you have to do is show up. Easy peasy. Think of a gift certificate from MNDFL like a gym membership for your mind.

A clean start for summer

eggwhite soap

This bar of Eggwhite Soap, or Eiwit Zeep as it’s known by the locals, hails from Belgium, though the Swedes are also known for their slightly different formulation of the same basic thing.

Now I admit that I am a sucker for a beauty product with old fashioned european style packaging, so when I saw this little bar of Eggwhite Soap, read the label which promised removal of all impurities and a fresh glow on the skin, I had to have it. The $5 price tag didn’t hurt either.

The timing is perfect… Summer has suddenly pounced upon us, and with the heat comes an extra layer of grime that requires a bit more effort in the daily face washing department. Who knew that generations of Swedish and Belgian women have been harnessing the protein rich power of egg whites, the soothing healing of chamomile and the deep moisture of palm oil and lecithin to keep their skin so lovely?

So much better than layers of foundation and powder. And much less expensive than dermabrasion.

I am wholeheartedly jumping right on this bandwagon.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Just in case you forgot…

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and I’m sure pretty much all of you have figured out what you are getting the mothers in your lives. (Plus you’ve probably already had the beautifully gift wrapped packages sent off ages ago!)

But if not, here are a few ideas of things that a mother like me might like… should you still be in need of suggestions.

red flower body cream

When in doubt, anything from my all-time favorite natural beauty line Red Flower is the perfect thing. All natural plus supreme luxury equals home run every time. Right now I’m feeling plum blossom silk cream, but you won’t go wrong with anything from their selection.

Jill Platner bands

Oh happy day… Jill Platner is having one of her rare sales! Run don’t walk… mother or no mother.

the metal lunch box

Our kids have their lunch boxes. Now it’s our mothers’ turn…

soi the bag light

Buy this little light so that never again will your beloved mother have to dump all the junk out of her bag to find the coat check stub…

white magic energy spray

What mother wouldn’t appreciate a little white magic energy spray?

bamboo calculator

I bet your mom remembers a time when everybody’s calculator wasn’t also their phone. And I also bet she wouldn’t mind going back to that time if her new calculator was made out of bamboo.

leff amsterdam steel tube bluetooth  speaker

Upgrade her sonic and visual situation at the same time with this bluetooth tube steel speaker.

And last but not least, Greenhouse Holistic Spa is offering a 2 for 1 deal on massages through the end of the week, so you can get one for your mom and pocket the free session for yourself!

Gift giving at it’s best…

It ain’t over till it’s over…

turmeric latte

Is this turmeric latte the answer to all of my problems? Maybe…

Sure it’s March, the days are getting noticeably longer (though that’s about to be rolled back a bit this weekend) and it was 70 degrees in New York City today. But don’t let that fool you. It is still very much cold and flu season. And there’s something nasty going around which I am determined not to catch if I can help it. I’ve upped the family’s daily dose of elderberry syrup and am trying (trying) to get enough sleep.

But the thing that I think may be really keeping me sniffle free (thanks to my friend Rita) is this most delicious ginger and turmeric latte which has now become part of my daily ritual.

It’s filed with all sorts of great things: turmeric (anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, supports liver function, plus lots more) ginger (which we all know is a wonder herb when it comes to fighting colds and flu) and, of course, coconut oil (which is as close to a nectar-of-the-gods as you can get in health terms). Add to that it’s almond milk base and you’ve got yourself an incredibly delicious soothing velvety mug of heaven.

It’s super easy to make (unless you are crazy like I am and feel the need to make your own almond milk, which is without a doubt better tasting, but which involves a bit of advance planning as you have to soak the nuts overnight). Start warming up a cup of almond milk. Then grate a teaspoonful of fresh turmeric and the same amount of fresh ginger into a blender with a tablespoon of coconut sugar, a pinch of sea salt and 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and combine. Once you’ve got that going, add the warm almond milk and blend till the whole mixture is smooth and frothy.

Here’s the original recipe on Goop, if you want a more traditional format. But whichever set of instructions you choose to follow, just make sure you try this… You won’t be sorry!

The struggle against the ravages of winter continues…

remedies brooklyn

I know that the traditional 14th wedding anniversary gift is roses, but we gave each other a lazy lunch and some herbal treats from Remedies Herb Shop instead…

My husband and I recently celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary! Hard to believe it’s been so long. I would say it feels like only yesterday that we were walking down the aisle together, but in reality it feels more like last week. Or maybe two weeks ago. Time has flown, but a lot has happened as well.

We had a glorious and slightly boozy lunch at Prime Meats, a meticulously wood paneled, slightly Germanic feeling, old New York kind of spot in Brooklyn’s Caroll Gardens. And then we wandered down Court Street and found ourselves in one of my current versions of heaven: a beautifully appointed herb shop.

Remedies has a long wall lined with jars of dried herbs, plus tinctures, creams, soaps, balms… you name it. I pretty much wanted everything. And the woman behind the counter (a friend of the owner’s) was a super knowledgeable practicing herbalist. Just the kind of angel one wishes were always a stone’s throw away.

We managed to escape with only 4 things (see the photo above) Burdock root to add to the bone broth I should have already made (but I swear I’m gonna do it this week!), some Hand to Hand salve for helping to repair dry heels and palms, a bundle of sage to burn for a little aromatherapy of the soul, and lastly, some charcoal soap with shea butter to purify as it moisturizes.

A lovely kit with which to begin year #14…

Monday, Monday– or a few links to some helpful post holiday cold & flu remedies

neti pot

Every home should have a neti pot. And this one is handmade out of ceramic (unlike the blue plastic one we have in our medicine cabinet) so it’s easy on both the eyes and the environment…

The day after thanksgiving, my daughter woke up with a sore throat and a barely audible voice. I’ve been in high octane remedy mode ever since… and I figure I’m not alone. So in honor of this particular and pernicious part of parenting, I give you a few links to some information and solutions to help beat that ubiquitous cold.

You probably already have some apple cider vinegar in your cupboard. If so, start sipping. You can also add a bit of cayenne pepper to the mix to help knock out that fever before it has the chance to really take hold.

An herbal face steam with thyme, rosemary and oregano will do wonders for your cough or congestion. Plus it’s kind of like turning your kitchen into a spa!

According to several studies, elderberry, when taken regularly, is as effective against influenza as a flu shot. I keep some homemade elderberry syrup in our fridge all season long.

We all know that Vitamin C is great against a cold. Why not make your own chewable tablets?

Omega 3 fatty acids boost the immune system, increase airflow to your lungs and generally make your brain work better by helping to strengthen the outer layer of your nerves. Clearly we all need to have some of this fat in our lives…

Astragalus is one of those plants that is on every herbalist’s list of things-to-take-all-the-time-during-cold-and-flu-season because, among other things, it boosts the immune system, supports liver function and gives you more energy. But did you know that it also helps to prevent white blood cell loss during chemotherapy?

And then, there is always the dreaded neti pot. No one likes them. But they clear up sinus congestion like nobody’s business.

Oh and ps… here’s a link to a post I wrote this past spring that lists a number of other remedies/supplements/etc you might want to consider as the temperatures fall and the health falters…

And suddenly, it’s cold and flu season again…

elderberry syrup ingredients

The makings of my family’s first line of defense against colds and flu.

It. Has. Begun.

On Thursday, we were all walking around in t-shirts. By Friday, my daughter was home sick with a runny nose and a low grade fever. The vast majority of my plans flew out the window, and I spent the day watching movies, drinking tea, reading and making this seasons’ batch of Elderberry syrup.

Elderberry is my favorite first line of defense against colds and flu… We drink the dark, flavorful elderberry tea almost every day during the fall and winter as a preventative measure. However, when the symptoms actually hit, I find the syrup to be even more effective. (The University of Maryland Medical Center has some good literature about Elderberry and how it works, if you want to go deep.)

This season, I found a recipe (from Wellness Mama) that includes ginger, cinnamon and cloves, three herbs which add a pleasing sweetness and complexity to the syrup, as well as their own immune boosting and antibiotic properties.

Here’s the recipe in all of its glory:

Black Elderberry Syrup, from Wellness Mama


⅔ cup black elderberries
3½ cups of water
2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon cloves or clove powder
1 cup raw honey (we get from our farmer’s market)


Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)

Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.

Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.

When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.

elderberry syrup

Here’s our fresh supply, ready to do battle against the evil viruses that plague us all this time of year…

Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

Who doesn’t want their aura to glow?

Heritage store rose aura glow

Granted, this seaside location is probably enough to get anybody’s aura glowing, but this sumptuous rose oil doesn’t hurt…

Yesterday, I visited my friend Nancy (of the berry pie and the white balsamic vinegar) and found myself in need of some moisturizer after going for a swim with our kids.

Leave it to Nancy to take dry skin care to a whole new level… instead of some normal after-sun style lotion, she handed me this Aura Glow Rose Oil by Heritage Store. I was immediately captivated by the idea of emerging from the bathroom with a glowing aura, and when I read the label (which simply states that “Edgar Cayce says this formula is nourishing for the skin”) I was hooked. Even before I knew who the hell Edgar Cayce was.

Turns out he was a bit of a psychic who, after lying on the couch and falling into a “sleep” state, answered all sorts of questions about topics ranging from skin care to diet to religion to astrophysics. Many of his “readings” were concerned with diet, exercise and the importance of the patients’ own role in health care. Because of these writings, he is often referred to as the father of holistic medicine.

Which you can read more about and decide for yourself how you feel about Cayce specifically and psychic readings in general. All I know is that this Rose Oil smells fantastic and my skin was all glow-y and happy for hours after I put some on.

Which is good enough for me.

So it’s come to this…

daily meds

Say hello to my daily companions: Copaxone, Chaste Tree Berry, Rhodiola, A “women over 40″ multivitamin, Omega 3, a bunch of Vitamin D, and Magnesium Theonate.

Today I have decided to call attention to the rarely mentioned workhorses of my daily routine. These are not beauty products, though they most certainly contribute to my well being and as such could fall under that umbrella. As could sleep (which rarely puts in enough of an appearance) and delicious food. And travel to exotic places. And spa treatments. And babysitters…

But I digress.

This is a photograph of just the medication (be it a super western injectable, or an herbal tincture) that has been prescribed to me for various conditions by people with certified medical degrees. It is a snapshot of my physical reality. And a reminder, in pill and liquid form, of my mortality. And I am sure I’m not alone here. I mean, I just saw a post about grey hair in A Cup of Jo, for Pete’s sake.

But rather than look at this impressive heap of ingestibles and feel sad or overwhelmed, I take it as a call to action. Both to be thankful that my health is as solid as it is and to motivate myself to actually do some of the projects I have been circling around for years. Because now is the time.

This blog is one of those projects, and I will be forever grateful to all of you people out there for motivating me to post and for reminding me that I am not just shouting into the void.

If any of you have questions about MS, hormonal imbalance, or benign fibrosis give me a shout. I’ve got lots of opinions. Oh and if any of you have found an attractive pill box out there, I’m all ears.

We can get to all of the more fun stuff– creams and oils and superfoods– some other time.