Stay in Shape During Pregnancy & Ease the Pain of Labor


We all know the importance of staying fit during pregnancy. Your OB or midwife will tell you to eat right, get moderate exercise, and of course drink lots of water. While walking, spinning class, or even prenatal yoga are great ways to maintain prenatal health, one of the best ways to actually prepare your body for birth is through dance.

I grew up attending the prestigious Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Pre-professional program. During these rigorous classes was the first time I learned how to connect with my body and control it. As a dancer you must be in tune with the music and the rhythm of the movement. And after having three children of my own, and supporting women as a birth doula, I believe the same can be said for birth.

Though no two births are exactly the same, there are some commonalities that most women experience: the undeniable change during transition where you have laser-like focus, the moment where you are ready to call it quits and wish someone else could deliver this baby, and if you allow it, the natural ‘figure 8’ like movement that your hips tend to make.

Each of my births took place in different locations (a traditional hospital, birthing center, and tub in my bedroom) but one thing was always consistent, making that swaying hip motion. Maybe it was because of my dance training or maybe it was some innate primal instinct we all possess, either way I knew it felt good.

A few months ago, the connection between birth and dance became so vividly clear that I knew I needed to share what I had learned with other mamas-to-be. Nancey Rosensweig, a certified nurse midwife based in upstate NY, who also happens to be an ex-professional dancer, echoed my sentiments by saying, “Surrendering to the natural movement of dance can be one of the best ways to prepare for labor.”

So I created Ready To POP Prenatal Dance as a safe, fun, and beneficial way for women to exercise during pregnancy and beyond. It incorporates simple ballet techniques for balance, hip-opening steps for stamina, and yoga postures for breath connections, all to music that makes you want to move and groove. As I tell all of my doula clients, “The sassy movements that got you pregnant are the same movements that will get you out of being pregnant.” *wink wink*

During pregnancy, dance helps your body maintain flexibility while toning your muscles. Throughout labor it can help move your baby into position and ease the pain of contractions. As a post-natal workout it can allow a new mommy a much needed hour out of the house and support a faster recovery.

As with any form of exercise, it’s important to work at your own pace and not over extend your ligaments, which are already loosened during pregnancy. Always consult your doctor before beginning any new routine and choose something that you really enjoy, which will help you stick to it.

Here are 3 simple dance moves to stay fit.
Demi-Plié 
How to Move: Start with your legs apart and your feet turned out into second position like in ballet. You can do this in the center of a room or with one hand holding onto a wall or a sturdy chair. Make sure your hips are square and facing forward. Your back should be straight and your core muscles should be engaged to maintain that posture. Now bend your knees stopping half way down, keeping your heels on the floor. Do this for 4 counts bending your knees to plié down, then for 4 counts straightening your legs. With each plié exhale, then inhale as you come up.

How it Helps: Labor is a tiring process. You use every part of your body when it comes times to push. This move allows you to stay in control while strengthening your legs and abdominal muscles. It also does wonders for your butt.

Rock it Out
How to Move: Standing in second position again, slightly bend your knees. Push your right hip out and straighten your legs. Bend your knees again and bring both hips back to center. Push your left hip out and straighten your legs. Now do that back and forth to the beat “1, 2, 1, 2” or to a song like Katy Perry’s “Roar” which is one of my favs.

How it Helps: This kind of hip-opening movement can also relieve lower back pressure during contractions and help align your baby into a proper birthing position.

Pump it Up
How to Move: Put both hands over your head like you are pushing up the ceiling. Do that twice. Now push both hands down on either side of your body towards the floor, twice. So the motion is up, up, down, down. Now as you pump up, slightly bend your right knee twice in front of you. As you push down, bend your left knee twice.

How it Helps: Aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes during pregnancy. It can also increase stamina for before, during, and after labor.

My Ready To Pop Playlist
Timber- Ke$ha & Pit Bull
Dark Horse- Katy Perry
Gone, Gone, Gone – Phillip Phillips
Treasure – Bruno Mars
Royals – Lorde
Burn- Ellie Goulding
Roar – Katy Perry
Wings – Little Mix

Find out more about Ready to Pop Dance Fitness!

What activity helped you most to stay in shape. Share your comments below!

Crunchy Love, 



Granolaville Gives Birth to Ready To POP! Prenatal Dance

I know I've been totally MIA.

But I swear I had a good reason!


Last weekend marked the start of something fresh and new for pregnant women who want to stay fit....and dare I say have fun too!!


But first let me take you back in time....


Late one night, about 5 months ago, I scrambled to send a text to a dear friend of mine, Dee Kelly.


The text read something like this:

OMG. I've hit the motherlode. Just had an amazing idea.
Dee and I have been friends for 20 years. Not only is she an accomplished professional dancer, mother, and teacher at the Hudson Valley Conservatory, but she is also a huge advocate for women's right when it comes to pregnancy and birth.

When I finally spilled to her what I had envisioned, a dance class that was fun, sassy, filled with hip-opening movement, and muscle strengthening technique she confirmed for me what I already knew.


Women, during pregnancy and birth, need to MOVE!

Fast forward to this past weekend and Ready To Pop was BORN!


We celebrated the launch with an amazing party at Clear Yoga Studio in Rhinebeck, NY. The space was open, filled with light, and the perfect spot to host our guests.

The ladies (and even a few men) were treated with massages fromMaternal Massage and Fitness owner Heather Kading.



Claire, one of my fabulous doula clients and the General Manager for the chic maternity line, Active Labor Gown, showed the versatility of the gowns. 

One lucky mama-to-be (and my demo model), Ellen went home with one!
We needed something to wash down delicious treats from NY Cake Poparazzi! (oreo cookie and brownie cake pops....WHAT!?!?!)

So, I was excited that Kim, from Glow on the GO juice shared some of her amazing new fall flavors. (my kids were sucking down the Coco Banana Blast) These fresh a delicious juices were a BIG hit with our guests.

Certified Nurse Midwife and ex-professional dancer, Nancey Rosensweig, touched upon the importance of movement during pregnancy and birth, even giving the example that the "figure 8" motion is a natural pattern many women intuitively make during labor.
Last, but certainly not least, I was honored to have Abby Epstein, Director and Executive Producer of The Business of Being Born, a movie that changed my life, speak about the importance of women having options all through out pregnancy.
Abby and Ricki Lake recently just executive produced a new film that I saw premiere at the Woodstock film festival, Breastmilk - The Movie. They are so committed to empowering mothers and thats why they rock.

No party is a party without some killer beats. After our fabulous speakers it was time to get our groove, with the help of DJ Mariano on the ones and twos.

With the help of a few brave ladies we gave a little taste of what to expect during a Ready To Pop class...lots of sassy hips, sweat, and a whole lot of fun!

I'm so grateful for the support, giveaways, and sweet dance moves everyone shared at our event.

And now it's time to get this party started!!!!

Check out our full schedule of classes, sign-up and bring a friend! Make sure you also subscribe to our email list to be the first to hear about special events!


Thanks again to everyone!


XOXO




The Truth Will Set You Free



I've fallen off. I take full responsibility for it. Actually, I've taken no responsibility for the fact that I got off track, lost my way, and have been doing a disservice to you, my lovely crunchy friends.

But that stops now.

You see I think there's a part of every one of us that wants to be "perfect". Seeking that impossible dream is bad enough, but what makes it harder to swallow is that you were doing it for someone else.

A boss you are trying desperately to impress. Your older sister, proving wisdom doesn't always come with age. That college professor who lacked to see your brilliance. Your husband or wife. Father or mother.

An audience of baby wearing, breastfeeding, clean eating, chemical-free, GMO hatin', natural product junkie, holistic lovin' peeps. (Yes I'm talking about you)

We all have our stories of trying to fill these enormous shoes. But the truth is, we'll never be truly happy living for others.

Were we created to think, dress, talk, walk, or act the same as the women down the street, or according to someone else's prefabricated idea of what being holistic, crunchy, or green should be?

Or are we here to determine our own story? Forming it all from what speaks to us from somewhere unknown.

Call it your gut like my new obsession, Ms. Olivia Pope, the divine, God, Allah, Yahweh, the collective consciousness, or Jiminy Cricket. No matter the name, it's that thing that tells you maybe you've taken the wrong exit, miles off in the wrong direction.

I'm doing a course correct.

I'm a human being who got caught up. Much like the now outcast Paula Deen, I was caught up in being "the expert" (or trying to be), in utilizing the latest marketing technique, in pretending to be bigger and more important to the world then I actually am.

I'm not trying to demean myself. I say this because I realize the world would not lose sleep if Granolaville were abandoned tomorrow, but I do realize I have a voice and people listen.

What's funny is that I'm actually a very private person. Under the mask of trying to be something I could be proud of, I closed off to only let you see and read what made me look like I had my shit together.

But if we are sticking to truth...that has been exhausting.

I'm a hot fucking mess sometimes. My kids eat hot dogs for dinner three nights in a row. I pretend  my boys swimming in the pool is an acceptable substitute for showers. I haven't ran in two weeks or juiced nearly as much as I should.

I've been putting shit off, letting things pile up, and been generally disorganized.

I'd forgotten how passionate I was about the power of women in birth and their right to have all the information. A zeal that was re-awakened by my awesome doula client and her awesome husband.

So no more excuses. You deserve better.

I can't live a life created so that others don't judge. Judgement is inevitable, so why not live a life that is true to you, the real you. Not some public persona.

You deserve for me to be authentically me. Talking about things that matter to you.

I love being a writer. I am truly honored that your eyes are reading these words.

So from now on I'm going to bring my 'A' game and write about the real topics in Granolavilles across the world, not the fluffy shit that crowds my Pinterest page.

I can't promise everyone will agree with me, or that I won't get flak for the things I write. But just know I offer these posts with the best intentions.

I hope you like it. I mean really like it. Not just with a virtual thumbs up,  but in a way that helps you, motivates you, inspires you, or just makes you feel....something.

If not, I'm OK with that too. All I can do is be true to me.

Do you ever feel like you are living your life for someone else? What helped you get back on track?

Love & Light,






6 Foods For Glowing Skin


Whether you're slathering them on your skin or including them in a fresh meal, these 6 foods will have lasting health benefits for your body.

Avocados

Eat em': These buttery fruits are leading the pack of superfoods. With their richness in antioxidants and essential fatty acids they will keep your skin supple and be great source of healthy fats. Spread on a sandwich or diced into a salad they are a delicious addition to many meals.

Wear em': Pureed avocado used as a face mask is said to increase collagen production and skin elasticity. They are also a great source of potassium, which is known as the "youth mineral".

Tea

Drink it: Tea has been an herbal remedy for thousands of years. More recently its antioxidant properties have been show to help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness. 

Apply it: Wanna bring out the natural highlights in your hair? Brewed teas like Chamomile and black tea can be used to amp up your locks. Just saturate your hair with 8 ounces of cooled tea, place shower cap over head, wait 15-20 minutes and rinse.

Almonds

Eat em' or Drink em': Rich in vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium, they are the most nutrient dense of all the nuts. The tryptophan in them can aid in relaxation before bed and almond milk is a great alternative to cow's milk (my kids love it).

Apply it: To make an invigorating body scrub, grind 1/2 cup almonds in a food processor until fine, combine with 2 tablespoons organic virgin olive oil and mix into a paste. In the shower rub on any rough spots like your feet or elbows and rinse for super smooth skin.

Cocoa


Eat it: Cocoa is made by fermenting and drying the seeds of the cacoa tree. They have a high concentration of flavanols, plant compounds with antioxidant properties (more than tea and red wine) that help protect skin from sun damage and improve blood pressure for coronary artery disease patients.

Apply it:  The flavanols help protect the skin from damaging free radicals from the sun. Get all over protection by adding 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to your bath water. 

Yogurt

Eat it: Consuming this creamy goodness can actually help brighten your smile. The calcium and phosphorus strengthens tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Non-fat organic yogurts are also high in protein, which is essential for collagen production in your skin. Yogurt also contains lactobacteria, intestines-friendly bacterial cultures that foster a healthy colon, and even lower the risk of colon cancer.

Wear it: Yogurt contains lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy that's great for sloughing away dead skin cells and unclogging pores. A simple plain yogurt facial applied two or three times a week will leave you with soft, supple skin—and save you a load of cash on beauty products.

Strawberries

Eat em': These red berries pack a powerful punch! The have over 100% of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C, which helps boost your immunity. Their anti-inflammatory properties can fight against many inflammatory disorders, such as osteoarthritis and asthma. Strawberries are also very high in fiber, which can help maintain regular digestion. Just make sure to buy organic as the non-organic ones are on the dirty dozen list.

Apply em': In addition to being a yummy snack when covered in chocolate they also help clear up acne and oiliness, make skin younger and smoother, whiten teeth, reduce under-eye puffiness, leave hair glossy and beautifully conditioned, and so much more!

What's your favorite "double duty" food?

Nourishing my skin in Granolaville,



If you want to GLOW during your pregnancy and beyond, check out my doula services over at Soulfueledmama.com

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Weaning Your Toddler: Take Back Those Boobs!



It finally, FINALLY happened!

I know I've been talking about it for months. Herehere, oh and again over here.

Each time I was convinced that I had reached the end of the line.

And I know you probably thought I was full of it with my grand proclamations followed by more of the same. But I've really done it this time.

As you can imagine, it's kind of bitter sweet.


Today I'm sharing with you how it all went down. So you or maybe someone you know can hear my story and know that there is an end in sight.

I'm switching things up from my usual blog post with a special video to share my success.


A big thank you to all my awesome and supportive mamas out there who held my hand through this 32 month journey.

You rock. For realz.

And to "the girls" thanks for hanging in there. You done good.






Crunchy Love,


If you want to find out EVERYTHING you need to know about natural parenting & birth, check out my doula services over at Soulfueledmama.com

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5 Foods For Healthy Hair


My hair has been on my mind recently. Far more than I care to admit.

8 months ago I took the leap and cut off all the processed ends to reveal my curly, soft and natural texture.

Since then I've been doing everything in my power to maintain length and keep the overall health of my hair. I've had good days and bad, but I have to say this natural hair journey has really made me take stock in more than how long it is or the products I put in it.

I don't know about the men out there, but I know most women care A LOT about the quality, texture, and overall fabulousness of their hair. I might go as far as saying that I...I mean some of us, can be pretty vain about our tresses.

It's OK to admit, I won't tell.

A woman's hair can be her badge of beauty, or a sign that she is a hot-mess without a mirror or a best friend. For most of us keeping it from breaking, being dry, or unruly is our only concern.

On my journey towards living the most natural life I can muster, I've discovered that my hair was the one thing I had sorely overlooked. Being a crunchy Black girl I had to overcome some deep issues (mostly the fear of looking like some cotton-pickin' slave), but I'm on my way.

Summer 2012
Summer 2013
NE WAYSSSS...I've now been free of the creamy crack for months (praise Jesus!) and have learned what my hair doesn't like (dryness, too much manipulation, ugly hats) and traded them in for practices like deep conditioning egg treatments and drinking plenty of water.

I've removed all the harmful chemicals from my hair product arsenal---stripping it down to only the bare essentials, and  replacing the necessary stuff with all natural products like Jason's Biotin Shampoo & Conditioner.

But wait! It's not just about what you put ON your hair, it's also about what you put IN it.

Our hair is a living, breathing, part of our body that needs all the same vitamins and nutrients to thrive. So if you aren't eating right, then you aren't going to have the shiny, voluminous hair you deserve. 

So do yourself a favor and feed your hair from the inside out with these 5 hair strengthening foods.

Salmon


This fresh water friend packs a one-two punch of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Without essential fats your scalp becomes dry and your hair as dull as 10th grade Math ( do you really care what time the trains will get into the station?). Just be sure to get wild caught salmon to avoid the antibiotics and other nasty stuff that gets pumped into many farm raised fish.  If you fancy a vegetarian or vegan diet include one or two tablespoons of ground flax seed in your meals for some plant-based omega-3 fats.

Dark Green Vegetables


Turns out Popeye knew a thing or two (although it makes me wonder why he was bald if he was eating so much spinach). Dark green veggies like swiss chard, broccoli and kale are chocked full of Vitamins B & C. Both contribute to creating sebum, an oily substance secreted from your hair follicle that acts as a natural conditioner.

Beans

They're not just a musical fruit! Legumes like lentils and kidney beans are not only a great source of protein (which your hair is made from) but they also provide an ample amount of biotin, which can prevent our locks from feeling brittle. Just make sure you don't plan on any hot dates after ingesting these bad boys.

Nuts

I am a HUGE fan of almonds. We drink almond milk, roast them, put them in salads, or grab a handful as a snack. Turns out pecans, cashews, and almonds contain lots of zinc. If you have a zinc deficiency you might notice a large amount of shedding when you comb or brush your hair. So save your hair, and stuff you face with nuts!

Eggs


While I know this won't work for my vegetarian lovin crunchy friends, the rest of us could stand a few more eggs in our diet if we want to load up on hair strengthening protein, B-12, and biotin.

Got any food tips for growing strong healthy hair? Share your crunchy wisdom below!

 Washing, Rinsing, Repeating in Granolaville, 



DIY Natural Sunscreen


You might be looking at my cartoonishly dorky logo and notice that yes indeed...I am Black. This comes as quite a surprise to many people, especially when they speak to me on the phone (what is a "Black" voice anyway?)

But I digress.

Growing up, because of my cocoa-brown complexion, I was under the impression that getting sunburned was not possible. Red skin, painful to the touch, only plagued my fair-skinned friends, not me. Apparently my crispy black shoulders, from two weeks at summer camp, didn't get that memo. 

Protecting your skin from the sun's UV rays is important, no matter what skin tone or ethnicity you are. Once I began using sunscreen---the highest SPF I could find---I thought my skin was shielded from any possible damage.

I've come to learn that most popular brands of sunscreen can actually cause more harm than good. While they do stop skin from becoming burnt, they do little to nothing to slow down the accelerated aging of skin or prevent cancer causing cells.

In addition, there is even research pointing to an increase in cancer when sunlight hits the synthetic or natural components of sunblock, causing cell mutation. Allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage are also found with the use of sun screens, especially those containing Oxybenzone, which is a chemical that allows other chemicals to penetrate the skin and is in nearly 600 sunscreens sold in the US (even those varieties marked safe for children).

Here is a list of chemicals to check for:

Aminobenzoic acid – carcinogen implicated in cardiovascular disease.
Avobenzone – carcinogen
Cinoxate – evidence of skin toxicity
Dioxybenzone – strong evidence of skin toxicity and carcinogen; hormone disruptor and has been found in waterways, soil and air. Has been shown to have a “gender bender” effect in animals
Diazolidinyl urea – carcinogen, endocrine, central nervous system and brain effects, skin toxicity and compromises the immune system
Ecamsule – carcinogenic
Homosalate – endocrine disruption
Methylparaben – interferes with genes
Octocrylene – found to be persistent and bioaccumulative in wildlife, liver issues and carcinogenic
Octyl methoxycinnamate – accumulates in the body, disrupts liver and is a carcinogen
Octyl salicylate – broad systemic effects in animals at moderate doses
Oxybenzone – carcinogen and contributor to vascular disease, may affect the brain and nervous system in animals
Padimate O – carcinogen
Phenylbenzimidazole – carcinogen
Phenoxyethanol – irritant, carcinogen, endocrine disruption
Sulisobenzone – strong evidence of skin toxicity, affects sense organs in animals
Titanium dioxide – carcinogen when in nanomaterial form
Parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-): Parabens may mimic estrogen which can disrupt your body's balance of hormones

So, how do you protect your skin from the sun without slathering on a cocktail of toxins? Well first thing is don't be afraid of the sun, just be smart. The benefits of sun rays, which is the only natural way to deliver Vitamin D to our body, are becoming more and more clear. Vitamin D deficiency is a huge issue for many Americans because of the indoor lifestyle many of us have adopted. It has been linked to a variety of issues including, breast cancer, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

Don't hide from the sun, just don't bake yourself like an oven-stuffer roaster.

When you are exposed normal amounts of sunlight make sure to wear loose fitting clothes, find shade whenever possible, and invest in a good hat. Foods high in Lycopene, like tomatoes have been shown to prevent sun damage, as well as animals who eat algae--- which are high in the antioxidant astaxanthin.

For those days on a beach or boat, when you know you'll be getting more sun than usual, you can make your own natural sunblock from items you can find at any health food store. Here's a great simplified version of a recipe I'm eager to try from Frugally Sustainable:

Ingredients

-1 ounce oil blend (Sesame oil, Coconut Oil, Hemp oil, Avocado oil, Soybean, or Peanut Oil)
-1 ounce beeswax (adds waterproof properties)
-1 ounce butter blend (i.e. Shea butter, mango butter, or cocoa butter)
-1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
-0.36 ounces zinc oxide powder ( you can find it in the diaper aisle of your grocery store)
-30 drops essential oils, optional just make sure not to use anything with citrus, as it could cause burns

1. Gather ingredients and kitchen tools.
2. In a double boiler, over low heat, melt the oils, beeswax, and butters.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly prior to adding the vitamin E oil, zinc oxide powder, and essential oils. Note: Wear a mask when working with zinc oxide, inhaling it can be dangerous.
4. Stir until zinc oxide is dissolved. 
5. Pour into a push-up or roll-up dispenser. This recipe will produce a product similar to a lotion bar or sunscreen stick. You could easily clean out and re-purpose a used deodorant or lip balm container. 
6. Allow to cool and harden on the counter overnight.

If this is too time consuming for your liking, virgin coconut oil has been shown to block the burning radiation from the sun. Try oiling up with that the next time you hit the beach. 

If you aren't into being a cosmetic chemist, you can also find the The Environmental Working Group's 2013 list of the best sunscreens available on the market.

Do you use sunblock on your self or your kids? Have you tried making natural sunblock?

Soaking it up in Granolaville,







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8 Steps to Growing An Organic Garden



There's something about this time of year that always excites me. I don't know if it's the potential that seems to blossom in the Spring, or the green buds peeking through the ground. Whatever it is I get pumped when I can dig my hands in the dirt, and start planting!

Creating your own organic garden can be a fun weekend project that takes little more than some elbow grease and a plan. Whether you are looking to put in a large plot or want to start out small, organic gardening can be as easy as pie...maybe even sweet potato!

So what is an organic garden? Well, its one that's cultivated without the use of fertilizers or herbicides to promote the growth of fruits and vegetables. Instead sunlight, organic soil, seeds and water can turn your backyard, or apartment balcony into an organic haven. From Organic Gardening:
When you garden organically, you think of your plants as part of a whole system within nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife and even insects.

Step 1: Prepare the Soil
Gardening soil isn't just dirt. In order to ensure your plants get all they need to flourish, you must first start with a nutrient rich base. If you need help determining the quality of your soil you can have it tested by your local agricultural office. Be sure to tell them you are planting an organic garden so they can provide the best mix of ingredients to start you off. The best time to test is in the fall, whatever you add in will have time to enrich the soil over the winter, and make for a beautiful harvest.

Step 2: Compost
You'll need to make sure you have a good mixture of organic matter like leaves or grass clippings which can be acquired right from your backyard. Decayed plants, vegetable scrapes from your kitchen and egg shells can provide a good start to your composting bin. Mushroom dirt is also a rich addition to your soil by improving drainage of clay dirt and increasing microbial activity. Stay tuned for our upcoming article on Composting 101.

Step 3: Choose the Right Plants
Picking the right planets for your geographic climate is an important step in planning your garden. While grapes may run wild in the North West, you'll find they are much harder to develop in colder North Eastern states. Choose vegetation that is well suited for the amount of light, moisture, and soil quality your garden will receive. Look for seeds or plants from your local farmers market that were raised without chemical fertilizers, and if possible were not genetically modified. Real food = Real Health.

Step 4: Give Your Crops Space
Plants you are harvesting should be grouped together in raised beds that can protect them from foot traffic. Grouping also reduces weeding and water waste. But be aware of the amount of space each plant will need to avoid over crowding and casting too many shadows.

Step 5: Water, Water, Water...but not too much
The best time to water your garden is in the morning when it is still cool, this leads to less evaporation and water consumption. If you water at night the plants may stay too damp and cause fungus growth. Always water the roots to avoid damaging leaves and flowers. Experts recommend substantial infrequent watering---about 1 inch of water per week.

Step 6: Weeding
Probably the least fun step of gardening is getting rid of those pesky plants that steal nutrients, water and sunlight from you beautiful food. But, no matter how time consuming, weeding is a necessary step to promote the full growth of your garden. As you are on your knees just think of all the fresh air and Vitamin D you'll be getting!

Step 7: Protect Your Plants
Whether its deer, ground hogs, or caterpillars, nature’s creatures always seem to find a way to nibble on or even eviscerate lovely gardens. Besides fences, netting, and Marigolds to ward off larger animals, there are some chemical-free ways to keep crawling critters at bay. The Daily Green suggests:
Organic weapons include Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacteria that disrupts the digestion of caterpillars and other leaf-eaters. You can also use horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps and garlic and/or hot pepper sprays.
Step 8: Harvesting
You’ve tilled, planted, watered, and weeded, so now its time to reap the rewards! Your organic fresh fruits and veggies can make mealtime a fun event. Have your kids pick from the garden right before preparing dinner---they'll make the connection that real food can be delicious. Share your harvest by giving a gift basket to family or neighbors. If you have an overabundant crop you can always freeze or can any leftovers until its time for next years batch.

However it's used, your organic garden can be a healthy and delectable labor of love.

Have you started your garden yet? Share your tips in the comments section.


Happy Spring from Granolaville,

 


10 Natural Ways to Ease PMS



Yesterday I was possessed. Not by some mythical creature, alien life form, or demon from the depths of Hell...well maybe it was a demon. (Men keep reading...this information could save your life too)

I should start by saying I've become a pretty patient person, but please don't ask my husband to confirm that. Actually, for a woman living in a household with 4 boys (yes the hubby is included in this count) I should get Sainthood for all the shenanigans I have to put up with.

I deal with never-ending piles of clothes on the bathroom, bedroom, and family room floors. I barely make a peep about the sticks, balls and Legos that I pick up each day, only to have them "mysteriously" reappear in another room minutes later. I've even gotten used to repeating what I just said 4 times without going to my "Black Momma" voice. ("White Mommas" have this voice too, it just requires a little less neck movement)

N-E-WAYS....the point is, I almost never lose my cool, until about 12 hours before my monthly fertility reminder comes to town, and stirs up a whole bunch of shit.

Last night it was like some ranting and raving lunatic had taken over my body and I could barely keep it together. Little things that I would have shrugged off sent me flying into the stratosphere, crashing back down to crazy Bitchville (which is not nearly as zen as Granolaville).

I could see myself being an utter nutcase, but somehow couldn't stop it. PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who has had these moments? If you haven't experienced the cramps, headaches, bloating, sugary cravings, depression, or high-flying mood swings than consider yourself lucky.

It is estimated that 50% of ALL women experience PMS, or premenstrual syndrome. That's a whole lot of unstable, doughnut eating ladies!

While not everyone shares the same PMS symptoms, it can be difficult for most women to find relief.

NEVER FEAR! I was a Googling freak this morning trying to find easy and natural ways you can deal with this stressful time and hopefully NOT have it end in your kids toys being thrown out, or your husband sleeping on the couch, indefinitely.


10 Secrets to Easing PMS

1.   Steer clear of sugar. Giving in to your sweet tooth could result in hypoglycemia, which is an abnormal drop of sugar in your blood once the tasty treat has left your system, leaving you feeling more irritable and lethargic than before.

2. Avoid alcohol. I know knocking back a glass of wine, or a Baily's Irish Cream with milk (not that I would know) might seem like a good idea to relieve stressful feelings, but since alcohol is a depressant you might end up feeling worse than you did. Also, "it disrupts the liver's ability to metabolize hormones, which can lead to higher-than-normal estrogen levels."

3. Stay away from salt. Eating foods high in sodium can increase water retention, causing bloating and breast tenderness.

4. Move your body. Aerobic exercise causes a release in happy hormones called endorphins that can help elevate your mood.

5. Get some rest. Interrupting your normal sleep pattern can make your fuse shorter than normal. Make sure to get a proper night of rest, some of these tips may help.

6. Calcium. Women with low levels of calcium have been shown to have a decrease in symptoms when taking this supplement.

7. Chaste Tree Berry. This South East Asian herb is very popular in Europe for reducing breast tenderness

8. Magnesium. This mineral naturally occurring in foods like black beans, peanuts, broccoli, and spinach has been shown to improve mood swings.

9. Evening Primrose Oil. This little flower has many uses, including aiding in ripening the cervix to induce labor, but for PMS it seems to only be backed up by anecdotal evidence of its efficacy. Never the less, many women throughout the world swear by its benefits.

10. St. John's Wort. For centuries, the flowering plant St. John's wort was used as a health remedy in Europe. Today, St. John's wort is best-known as a treatment for depression.

Do you have any secret remedies for easing PMS?

Regaining My Sanity in Granolaville, 









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Simple Juice Fast, After Breastfeeding




Hey Mama!

I hope you had a fan-freakin-tastic Mother's Day filled with all the awesomeness you deserve!

Now that the weather is getting warmer and nursing Nolan is waning, it's time to compensate for all those extra calories by getting my butt back into gear!

I didn't think I would ever say this, but I really love doing a juice fast!

It's a great way to jump start an exercise routine. By detoxing from all the chicken pizza you've been inhaling (I'm guessing), I've noticed my body responds quicker to added movement.

So for the next 5 days it's nothing but fresh juice, water, and raw veggies for me.

Check out the whole video to get all the details!



Ever done a juice fast? Did it work for you? Got any other tips for losing a few pounds fast?


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P.P.S. For personalized support throughout your pregnancy check out Soulfueled Mama!


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