Everything Avocados

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Everything Avocados

Television, social media, billboards, subway adverts, Instagram pics, Facebook links, and Twitter feeds just to name a few. Avocados seem to be the rage in gastronomy, health and in just about any facet of life. As a child I remember “Nani” making avocado hair masks during our summer adventures at the beach.  She was confident that her Farah Fawcett locks were more lustrous and manageable after her deep conditioning treatments.  While these memories make my heart happy, it still does not answer the question … WHY are avocados the rage???

Historically, the avocado originated from south-central Mexico sometime between 7,000 and 5,000 B.C.  Despite its historical occurrence, it was several millennia before its cultivation. As a California girl, the Hass Avocado was a staple at our house complete with the historical lessons of the Hass Mother Tree in La Hambra Heights that survived the ice storm in the 1920’s and is the matriarch for all California Hass Avocados.  Clearly, avocados have longevity, but WHY so popular?? 

Avocado seems to embody just about the perfect collection of youthful regeneration, have a positive environmental impact, contain wellbeing properties, has perfect, natural packaging, and can boost any diet or dietary circumscribed dinner party. When consumed, they lower bad cholesterol, are rich in fiber and full of nutrients that are paramount for a healthy life. Sometimes called the Alligator Pear, this fruit is consumed in all corners of the earth and can be appreciated throughout all courses of a meal.

Avocado orchards are good for the environment.  The orchards absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen thus aiding in the renewal of our air supply.  Like a trusted friend who guides you during tumultuous times, they prevent erosion, they stabilize the soil and they can help filter rain water, thus creating better-quality water. Avocados advocate a loving world… They usually grow in pairs and need another avocado tree in close proximity to bear fruit as they do not self-pollinate.

Avocado is a welcomed guest at any dinner party.  They are dairy free, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, cholesterol free and they have over 20 vitamins and minerals.  If that was not enough to convince you that they are a perfect accompaniment, avocado adds a sun-kissed, glistening of heavenly silkiness to chocolate desserts.  Don’t you wish you could find an avocado on match.com?

A few months ago, my brother in law made a sarcastic laden comment implying that we were missing a subliminal, secret campaign by the avocado farmers around the world.  I scoffed at his comment, as per usual, reminding him that hidden agendas don’t always reign.  Well, I am here to stand (slightly) corrected…. Avocado are ALL around and for GOOD reason… 

Try our Cleansing Oil that contains avocado oil.

Cleansing Oil

Postcard Back Side FINAL NO AddressCLEANSING OIL – TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE OR SKINCARE ENLIGHTENMENT???

Growing up in a household that encouraged “back in the old country” solutions,  my life is peppered with hundreds of uses for castor oil,  avocado and cod liver oil to name a few. Our “Mima” solutions were a delicate (and sometimes marked with olfactory offensiveness) creations from the garden, the produce section, or the shelves of ethnic markets around Los Angeles. 

While I am a firm believer in the oil cleansing method, I can assure you that my experiences have not been without trauma and multifarious inquiry.  What is the oil cleansing method? Is it possible that using something with the viscosity of an enchanted balsamic reduction actually purifies and cleanses?

What is the oil cleansing method?  It is a cleansing method that uses oil to purify, cleanse and decontaminate.  How can oil do this? Oil dissolves Oil…. All skin types (even acne-prone) need your natural oils to lubricate and protect.  Cleansing oils use the “good oils” to eradicate the unwanted, bad oils. In addition to its purifying effects, essential oils are antibacterial, thus making it an ideal option for even oily or acne-prone skins.  

When you use the oil cleansing method, the cleansing oil binds with the impurities on the surface of your skin.  The scientific, differing properties between the cleansing oil and your natural oils allows for a natural removal of impurities and will not clog your pores.  Imagine for a moment you are driving with the windows rolled down on a well-earned road trip and your all-time favorite song is playing… the connection between that moment in time and your happy place is synonymous to the reaction between the cleansing oils and daily contaminations on your skin.

Many oil-free cleansers can eradicate the natural oils that our skin embraces and needs to reach the utopian state of natural pH balance and glow.  And who does not want to glow and be balanced??? We are thrilled to introduce our first ever cleansing oil that embraces the astounding benefits of the oil cleansing method.

NEW FACE Gabriela Gonzalez-Lamberson

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Mrs. Gonzalez-Lamberson began her career at Kodak and then began working in the International Tourism and Economic Development arena as the Director of the International division of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB).  During her tenure at the ACVB she represented the city with projects such as the bid for the Secretariat of the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as the route development of Delta Air Lines throughout Latin America.  Before returning to Atlanta in 2007 to become the Director of Southeast region for AeroMexico Airlines, Mrs. Gonzalez-Lamberson worked for the US division of the Swiss based company Kuoni as the Director for Europe and South Africa.

She currently serves as the Co-Chair for the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, is a member of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Initiative of the Girl Scouts of America. She is currently part of the educational committee with Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta.   She has served as president of the National Society of Hispanic MBA’s Atlanta Chapter in addition to serving board terms with the Hispanic Initiative of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, The Mexican Center of Atlanta, and the National Latina Business Women’s Association amongst others.   Amid her recognitions, she has been named Southeast Rising star by Southern Living, Women Leaders in Atlanta by Atlanta Woman Magazine and was chosen to participate in one of initial classes of the Coca Cola Diversity Leadership Academy.

With a passion for art and culture, she continues her philanthropic efforts managing a local non-profit that provides opportunities for cultural exchange, artistic expression and more overly, an opportunity for cultural understanding cultivating a path for global thinking.

Mrs. Gonzalez-Lamberson has an International Finance and International Marketing Degree from the University of Georgia.  She is passionate about health, wellness and keeping life full of laughter and legerity.  She lives in Atlanta and is married to Bart Lamberson who works in the flourishing film industry of Georgia and they have a 5 year old daughter, Gabriela Elisa.

The Royal Attraction of Neroli

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​The Royal Attraction of Neroli

The twisted, thorny branches of the Bitter Orange, Citrus aurantium, produce leaves, fruit and blossoms used for centuries — native to regions from Asia to Africa to the Amazon, the tree enchanted European explorers and traders who delighted to see it root beautifully in the Mediterranean climate. Their cultivations rewarded them with the fruit that became the basis for liqueurs like Grand Marnier and Cointreau, and flowers steam-distilled into neroli oil.

Of course, it took a princess to make that oil legendary…

Princess Anne Marie Orsini of Nerola, Italy, the duchess of Bracciano (1642-1722), adored the orange blossom flowers, using the essence in her bath and on her gloves. Her prolific demand led to the naming of the oil for her lands. A shrewd lady, Anne Marie ultimately acquired quite a bit of power throughout the courts of Italy, France and Spain … probably trailing the scent of orange blossoms along her way. Born into French aristocracy, she was married off at a young age, widowed twice and left in financial ruin at one point. Anne Marie learned how to manipulate the social system through savvy alliances and political diplomacy. She fashioned herself into one of the “It” girls of the day, one of THE women to have at court, and her circle became a noted salon as she entertained the leaders of the time. By successfully arranging the marriage of Spain’s Philip V to Maria Luisa of Savoy, she endeared herself to the young couple, entering their household and attaining a position of great influence during the War of Spanish Succession. Though that didn’t last — Princess Maria died of TB, the despondent king remarried and the new queen exiled Anne Marie back to Italy — she landed on her feet, and delighted the courts of monarchs until her death.

Did Princess Orsini cast a sweet-smelling spell on her audiences rendering them powerless to her charms? Perhaps Anne Marie had already figured out how to harness the energy of neroli and use it to her advantage — high concentrations reportedly cause euphoria or even mild hypnosis and then there’s that whole aphrodisiac aspect. Contemporary blends of the oil calm anxiety, balance mood, decrease tension, enhance emotional health, and stimulate cell production.

Our Body Mist combines neroli oil, cucumber and grapefruit for a royally refreshing spritz anytime of day. An ageless touch in a modern world.

Garden of Grace

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Garden of Grace

Our neighbors recently traveled to China to pick up their new baby. An extensive and exhausting adoption process culminated in a family journey across the world to a faraway orphanage. There, they were united with the 2-year-old girl waiting to officially become their daughter. They’ve named her Grace, after a revered grandmother and the hymn sung in church the day they’d made their decision to move forward with adoption proceedings.

Born with Down Syndrome, Grace has spent her young life in the Jinan Children’s Welfare Center under the care of a devoted staff. She’s received regular medical attention for various physiological and developmental conditions associated with her trisomy, but she’s been ready to meet her true family. Ready to find her authentic place in the world. And find it she did, when our neighbors flew over — parents, grandparents, and two elated brothers (adorable sprites, barely school-age themselves).

While they were away, a group of families lining our same street, discussed ways to celebrate Grace’s arrival. Her delicate transition needs made the idea of a huge homecoming party impractical, and they’d already been thrown a baby shower. So, we decided to give them something that would grow along with their family. Something that would provide a tranquil, constant testament of our affectionate support. Something that could inspire them the way their beloved family continually inspires all of us.

A garden. A friendship garden of hope, love and grace … for Grace. A garden bursting with  RED, the Chinese color of luck and happiness, and filled with meaningful plants.

As an amateur hobby gardener, I volunteered as project manager and went into the planning phase quite blindly, having only envisioned an explosion of red flowers. I started by mapping out the different areas of the yard, considering what they’d all see most often — the front curb and mailbox greeting them as they drive in and out, the walkways, the entry steps, an area directly in view from their front family room window. I puttered around various nurseries, reading tags, and started to piece together ideas. The garden plan became a little pattern for a patchwork quilt of flowers and plants, giving visual warmth as well as sentimental comfort. As I found plants I liked, I researched them selecting items representing Grace’s personal history and illustrating this first chapter of her new story.

Once all the plants had been selected and delivered, our neighborhood team met together on a clear (thankfully) Saturday morning with both adults and children eager to dig. The kids chattered gleefully as they worked, so excited to be a part of the project and to one day show baby Grace which flowers they’d planted for her. We showed them how to read the plant tags and place them in the right light, which width to dig their holes, how to loosen the roots balls and how deep to sink each one into the ground. We watched them pat the soil down, tucking in their charges with doting concern. As we finished, they beamed with pride, standing out in the street to admire our collective handiwork.

The curb area, in partial shade, already boasted bountiful oak-leaf hydrangea to which we added Chinese Snowball viburnum, Lenten Rose and soft silver lamb’s ear — fuzzy to the touch of curious fingers and known for it’s antibacterial properties. The mailbox now blossoms with bright red Double Knock-Out roses which should provide almost constant flashes of color until winter. Finally, we lined the entire approach with bright red impatiens — after all, they’ve been waiting for this precious gift for a long time.

We lined the walkways with cheer and color from red hot poker plant spiking upward like a Chinese firecracker or dragon’s tongue, red Gerbera daisies, the ‘Celebration’ variety of blanket flower and the familiar golden zest of rudbeckia. Gumpo white azaleas filled in a bare spot near the edge of the garage, and on the opposite end, at the base of their front steps a gardenia infuses the warm air with the glorious fragrance that’s made it a treasured flower of China for over a thousand years.

Throughout the yard, we found spots for special accents that spoke to me during my shopping and research. The Chinese glossy abelia brings a symbol of fortitude, it’s western cultivation almost prevented by 19th-century Malaysian pirate attack on the British sea vessel carrying them back. Nearby we tucked a ‘Little Princess’ spirea to delight the newest princess in our neighborhood, and honoring her darling big brothers, we planted two ‘Red Prince’ weigelas, also a 19th-century import brought from Shanghai to Britain by Robert Fortune.

To attract some butterflies for Grace’s enjoyment, we included Lantana camara, red bee balm, and red autumn sage. ‘Little Angel’ Shasta daisies, ‘Frosty Fire’ dianthus and assorted red daylilies soak up the rays in a sunny section while red annuals such as verbena, penta, salvia, vinca and petunia accessorize the open spaces between young plantings.

We created a small bed, centered prominently in front of their main window. As the family goes through the daily routine and the children play, they’ll all look out onto a white dwarf ornamental dogwood (Cornus florida) which will bloom each year at around the anniversary of Grace’s arrival. Red Hino-Crimson azaleas gather around the base of that dogwood, playing around in the dappled light and offering a special message — my research revealing that azaleas are a Chinese symbol of womanhood and referred to as “the flower of home” by some ancient poets. The flower of home… we’d planted over a dozen. Yes, sweet girl, you are home now and you will grow into womanhood in nurturing love, a blessing to us all.

Huānyíng huí jiā, Grace. Welcome home!

 

Are you dirty?

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I spent the weekend dirty. Filthy, actually. Sweaty and smelly. Covered in bruises and bites, scratches and scrapes. My legs now resemble those of a kid just bounding off the bus home from summer camp. Not sure if I’ll be able to squeeze in a manicure this week, so I might have a little explaining to do when clients and colleagues catch a glimpse of my thorn-pricked palms and ragged nails. An irritating throb between my ring finger and pinky marks the path of angry ants while red dots at my ankles either reveal the appetites of nibbling chiggers or an unwelcome poison ivy slap. Despite my battle wounds, I wish I could push away from my desk, skip the rest of my work week and dig right back into that dirt.  

My gardening projects never fully reach completion, instead rambling on and on like the vines I’m constantly pulling out of my way. This time, I managed to plant an entire new corner in a couple of days, but surveying it again this morning, I thought of possible changes. Then, I noticed the weeding and pruning needed on the opposite corner and, toward the back, eyed the perfect spot for some summer bulbs, a wide morning ray spotlighting an empty altar ready for the joyful choir of sun-worshippers — gladiolus, cannas, dahlias, perhaps more daylilies along the fence… definitely rudbeckia to smile up at everyone, proud of their signature black-eyes. The shady spots whimper for extra attention, too; under distant trees, a few hostas and ferns await companions in quiet repose hoping to see friendly foliage rooted before the neighbor’s English ivy encroaches on their mellow territory.

Such the grand and ubiquitous metaphor, isn’t it? From Eden to almanacs to everafter we cultivate our notions of life and love from the parables of the dirt. Technology, politics, even concepts of art, all change. Dirt remains constant. Century to century, through culture and custom, we dig and we plant. We marvel at what we are able to produce, whether for sustenance, sale or ornamentation. We battle invasive weeds, fret over failed crops and surrender to pests. We venerate the connection between bountiful gardens, healthy bodies and nurtured souls — celebrating the sunny spots that boast the brightest blossoms, resting in the calm shade requiring our mindful regard, watching carefully for threatening invaders and attempting to monitor our growth. We bandage our cuts and wipe away the perspiration. Then we crawl right back into the soil and we get dirty. Gloriously dirty.

Who else needs to dig?

Bumble Bees

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Bumble bees, native to the United States, not like the humble honey bee that was imported in the 1600s from Europe are in danger. As with all 250 species of bees, they are in dire trouble and dying off. That is why I delight when my backyard is a bevy of buzz with all types of bees. I try and plant as many bee friendly plants as possible.

A bumble bee is differentiated from the carpenter bee by having a fuzzy, hairy body. They live in underground colonies, and die in the winter, except the queen. The wings beat 130 times a second. They pollinate plants that are eaten by humans, birds and insects, like cotton, apples, cherries and tomatoes. Unlike the aggressive yellow jackets, they will not attract and sting you. While I took the photo, they were all oblivious to me, intent on the lavender.

Plant native plants in your backyard and leave empty underground nests that have been vacated by rodents free for them. And of course plant more bee friendly plants in your yard. And please don’t use chemicals, your plants love coffee grounds and your roses will flourish with them.

The Language of Remembering

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I’m a self-professed WordNerd. Perhaps that seems obvious for a writer, but my fascination with words extends deeper than the stories they can tell. I’ve been known to play with sentence structure for hours and get lost in a thesaurus searching for synonyms. After hearing or reading a new word, I practically leap to a dictionary to discover its meaning and origin. To me, the way a word develops, its etymology, reveals a story unto itself — so many thousands of words and phrases altered in context over hundreds of years as society changes its course.

Just as fascinating as the linguistic changes (at least from a WordNerd viewpoint) are the commonalities, proving that some emotions and situations stick firmly to our human condition… the dangling participles on our DNA. The ribosomes of our verbal cytoplasm build a vocabulary of love, hate, pain, joy, honor, deceit, pride, humiliation, peace and war.

War. As unending and constant as all the others.

Memorial Day rests on the calendar for this weekend. I annually clarify the point of Memorial Day to my children, lest they grow up believing this holiday’s moniker comes from instructions to remember ingredients for the BBQ sauce recipe: “It started after the Civil War as a national movement to honor the fallen soldiers of that conflict, and continued from there. We all take a day to reflect on those who sacrificed their lives for their country.” This year, I’m challenged for further interpretation by one of my younger ones (maybe a burgeoning WordNerd-let?) who wants to know exactly what a “Memorial” is, rattling off the other uses of the word — Memorial Day, Memorial Fund, In Memoriam, Memorial Foundation, Memorial Gardens, Memorial Hospital — and asking me if those are all for honoring soldiers. Nothing sparks locutionary research like the curiosity of a beloved little boy.

I tell him the moniker comes from the act of remembering, whether the life of a soldier or a friends and family or a heroic deed; to memorialize means to openly acknowledge our admiration for someone or something never to be forgotten. He needs to look it up… definitely a dangling participle of my DNA. As I expected, we find the the ancient roots of memoria in Latin and smarati in Sanskrit which denote “remembering”. Yet, unexpectedly, we find that the Greek terms merimna and mermeros convey “care and thought” and “causing anxiety” respectively; Welsh and Old English terms also equate these roots with “sadness, anxiety, mourning.” But, the favorite discovery by far turns up the legend of a Norse giant called Mimir who guards and ancient Well of Wisdom. That one stops us in our figurative tracks.
How powerful. We picture Viking warriors around a flame telling tales of Mimir, all of them understanding through these legends that knowledge is acquired by listening to the ancients. The Well of Wisdom overflows with lessons from the past, messages remembered and taught to the next generation. And isn’t that what we truly want from all of our various memorials — to hear the voices of our ancestors telling us how to move forward without them? Those proverbs may be etched in stone monuments, heralded in song, festooning doorways  or paraded down the street.  But, they are also whispered in prayers, blossoming in fields, gleaming from a baby’s eyes and glowing from a firefly. Are you listening? Will you remember?