Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Fairy Garden

I get anxious for spring this time of year so I made a visit to my local garden center. After seeing some of the adorable fairy gardens on display I decided making my own would be a great way to get through the rest of winter. I knew my fairy garden needed to be made from herbs alone. I choose Roman Chamomile, Gota kola, Thyme, Rose Geranium, and Rosemary, all have great aromas and textures. Some of these plants were pretty dense so I split them as I transplanted them into the wide clay pot I purchased. I'll save the part I split off to put in the garden in spring. As the herbs grow I will trim them so they will get denser. The rosemary and thyme will eventually hang over the side of the clay pot I hope. The rose geranium I trimmed quite a bit around the bottom so that it would look more like a tree and provide a shady place for the fairies to sit. The garden center had quite a few ceramic fairies and other 'paraphernalia' to choose from so if you decide to design a fairy garden be sure to get a pot big enough to fit all the fun options you'll want. But just looking at the miniature garden items; shovels, wheelbarrows, fences, chairs etc. was alot of fun in itself.

After filling the pot with soil I put a path down the middle made from crushed oyster shell. This was something we already had on hand for our chickens but you can find several bags of crushed stones at the garden center too. The fairies then went in right under the rose geranium tree where they seem to be comfortable. I found a frog outside that had broken off a globe in the garden and he wanted to be part of the garden too and talk with the fairies so he went in too; even though his size seems to be a bit out of proportion!
What do you do to help get through the last part of winter?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What are Wrinkles

Changes in the texture of the skin that appear as lines, creases or folds are called wrinkles. They are normal changes in the skin that occurs with aging. Medically, wrinkles are known as rhytides.

The two layers of skin include the outer epidermis which lies on top of the second layer called the dermis. With time there is a decrease of large structural molecules including collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans in the dermis. This leads to decreases in elasticity, firmness and structure of the skin resulting in wrinkles.
The cells of the outer layer or epidermis slow their rate of cellular reproduction causing the epidermis to become thinner with age.

With time the epidermis and dermis tend to separate some. This separation leads to decreased blood supply and nutrients to the cells of the epidermis.

Wrinkles begin as fine lines and deepen with time. They occur mostly on the face, neck, backs of the hands and the forearms. They are not physically harmful, but can of course influence a person’s self-perception, and lead to a lack of confidence.

Expression lines that occur on the forehead, eyes and the corners of the mouth from talking, laughing and frowning can begin as early as in a one’s twenties. These lines eventually deepen into wrinkles and folds that affect deeper layers of the skin. Wrinkling of the skin caused by sun exposure can show up in the thirties. In the forties as dry skin becomes a problem, lines begin to deepen and progress through the fifties and sixties.

This process of aging skin is accelerated by exposure to excess sunlight, environmental pollutants and cigarette smoke. Internal factors associated with aging skin include decreases in estrogen levels that occur with menopause and decreased in metabolic activity of the skin cells. Fair skinned people are also more prone to wrinkles. There is no real evidence that stress promotes wrinkle formation, but many of us feel we have ‘earned’ our wrinkles through life’s challenges.

Protecting the barrier function of the skin is an important way to decrease the formation of wrinkles. Use of a good moisturizer to help maintain water in the skin and prevent water loss can delay and diminish lines. Look for a moisturizer that contains water and high quality oils to help prevent loss of moisture from the skin. Humectants such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed proteins, even hydrolyzed oat products can help.

There is of course extensive research done each year to investigate possible ingredients for skin creams that can help in the treatment and prevention of wrinkles. Although many ingredients end up being marketing hype, there are a few ingredients that have potential to help decrease the appearance of wrinkles. The trouble is that some of the anti-aging creams are able to garner large price tags and it has
to be questioned whether it is worth the price without solid data to back up the claims.

Nutrients such as antioxidants help combat environmental damage and are important in diminishing wrinkles as well. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid, carotenoids and green tea. Most importantly using these nutrients topically can only go so far, what we eat is also very important so remember to eat fruits and vegetables that are high in these nutrients.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Knitting Winter Away

When its cold outside and the wind is howling do you tend to pick up your knitting needles? The repetitive action of knitting can be a contemplative practice that is both calming and distracting from the normal hustle. I like that it is a homesteading activity that was done as a necessity by previous generations so it gives continuity to humanity. I knitted as a child some but took it up again when I found myself sitting for with long periods watching my children's various activites. It's a good way to pass the time when sitting at soccer practice, horse riding, music lessons, supervising a play date or other kid oriented activites. My kids are older now so I don't often find my self watching so many events anymore. Although there is still wrestling, soccer and band.

I enjoy quick knitting projects so I find myself often knitting washcloths. They also partner well with the handcrafted soaps I make and can be sold together. The one shown above is one of my favorite patterns and is often called Grandmothers Favorite discloth on many websites. Nice cotton yarn is easy to find for these washcloths but I was excited recently to find this bamboo yarn shown above. My next project is a pair of socks and I've recently bought some wool and silk yarn for them. I might actually get to it if the cold and snow continues. Do you have knitting projects you are working on?


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