Tag Archives: Family Traditions

The Healthy Home: DIY Lavender Wands

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The purchase of a home changed my life. I never knew how much my perspective would shift after making such a large investment and commitment to something as basic as shelter. How foolish of me. Although I must admit, I always paid special attention to how our physical landscapes and environments influence our health, behavior, and our sense of “place.” When I lived in places that were dirty, dark, or cold I noticed a difference in my wellbeing.  When I heard yelling from the unhappy neighbors living next door, it was tougher to have sweet dreams or to go home at all.

Despite my awareness of the importance of living in a place that is safe and that reflects and expresses our true personhoods, I have often neglected taking care of my home (and therefore myself). For me, it has been easy to go on living in places filled with piles of laundry scattered here and there. It has also been easy for me to ignore dirty dishes. Generally speaking, it was not a hard choice to avoid developing the spaces I inhabited. That choice wasn’t the fault of my loud neighbor or a landlord’s requirement. It was my own choice. In addition to my lack of ambition, resources were often scarce. Excuses were always many. When can one find the time, the money, or both to make the repairs and enhancements necessary to make a home healthy and beautiful? What is a healthy and beautiful home, and why does it matter, anyway?

Well, it turns out there are many low-cost ways that can transform a space and make you feel good about the place you call home, whether you own or are just staying the night. As a renter, it’s easy to view your home as temporary, but that is not the way you have to treat your stay, and it is certainly no excuse to give up on making your home a healthy place to live. Unfortunately it took me until I actually bought a home to truly respect and honor the sense of place, security, and wellbeing that such a place provides for me.

Today I want to share a simple project that is on my to-do list that will create a feel-good sensation at home.  I find these wands to be the perfect project to look forward to as I wait  for the cold season to make its way out of Minnesota. Traditionally, women placed these bundles of joy in drawers to keep their underclothes smelling fresh and also to repel moths. Nowadays, they would be known as drawer scenters. They make a great gift and add beauty and health to any home. They are called, Lavender Wands.

The materials you will need to create your wands include:

  •  Thin string/fishing line
  • Odd number of fresh lavender stalks
  • 1 yard of ribbon optional

For basic instruction, I found this video to be helpful:

To see a more detailed step-by-step process with pictures, visit Homemade Gifts Made Easy.

Have garden space where you live or have access to a community garden plot? Check out Midwest Living’s How to Grow Lavender in the Midwest.

Can’t wait for fresh lavender to arrive? Check out lavender essential oils in the meantime. Put a drop on a cotton ball and sniff to your heart’s content. Although, be careful not to sniff too much, because while lavender offers relaxing properties, if used too much it will act as a stimulant.

How to Keep Your Holiday Tradition and Skip the Food Coma

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Mandala Reflections is excited to introduce guest blogger, Elisabeth Meyer. This post will hopefully be the first of many, because Elisabeth is an amazing cook! But most important, she is real. Read on to hear how she finds balance amidst extravagant holiday eating.    

For many of us, the holidays are a time to celebrate with loved ones…and lots of indulgences come along with all of the celebrations!  If you’re trying to eat healthy or stick to a specific diet, this time of year can feel stressful.   I know it always has been for me:  I would obsess over all the unhealthy food I was eating.  Mind you, I still ate it – but I felt terribly guilty about doing so.

I have a new, more balanced philosophy this holiday season:  I am going to eat the foods that are special treats for me, eat healthy when I’m at home by myself, and stop worrying so much about all of it.  For me, this means I will eat the special foods that my family makes at this time of year (lasagna on Christmas Eve, my grandfather’s homemade kolache, my dad’s French toast the day after Christmas) and any special foods that are offered at other celebrations (homemade Christmas cookies, for example) without guilt or regret.  I’ll skip the treats that I don’t get too excited about but often eat anyway just because they’re available (candy canes at the office, store-bought cookies and cakes).  And when I’m home alone in between the merriment, I’ll make the healthy foods that I’m accustomed to eating the rest of the year.  I can’t tell you how much better it feels to eat the foods I love and allow myself to really enjoy them, and consciously pass on all the extra junk that I never enjoy that much anyway.

In between the indulging and the abstaining, one of the things that keeps me grounded and tied to my commitment to eating healthy, whole foods is having whole grains for breakfast almost every day.  Breakfast is an easy meal to commit to eating healthily during the holidays, because most of the partying happens later in the day, and hot cereal is such a great way to start off the morning in the wintertime.  I like to cook a large batch of grains at the beginning of the week, and keep them in the refrigerator to reheat in small portions all week long.  A couple of my favorite recipes are below:

Cinnamon-Berry Quinoa

(makes 4 servings)

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1 cup quinoa (tip:  if you rinse quinoa before you cook it, it will eliminate some of the bitterness that people often associate with quinoa, and make it taste much better!)

2 cups frozen berries (fresh berries are great too, but not seasonally available for most of us in December!)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Chopped pecans and agave nectar or honey, to taste

Combine milk, water, and quinoa in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Stir in berries, cinnamon, and pecans.

Add agave or honey to taste just before serving.

Cranberry-Ginger Oatmeal

(makes 3 servings)

1 cup old-fashioned oats

2 cups water

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup sunflower seeds (shelled and unsalted)

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Bring water to a boil.

Add oats, raisins, cranberries, ginger, and a pinch of salt.

Reduce heat to low.

Cook until water is absorbed and oats are creamy – about 7 minutes.

Add sunflower seeds and syrup.

Serve with milk if desired.

Elisabeth Meyer owns and directs an early childhood center in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, where she teaches cooking classes for children and families that focus on natural, whole foods cooking.  She is also a holistic health graduate student at St. Catherine University, where she focuses her studies on child nutrition and a (lapsed) blogger at Cooking in Cathedral Hill, where she blogs about her favorite recipes and experiences in her own kitchen.