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    Fire Cider Blog — Tips/Advice

    Oh Baby! Drizzle Fire Cider on Oysters

    August 5 is National Oyster Day, y'all!

    We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than to take a staff outing to Eat on North's Raw Bar for some divine Wellfleet Oysters. Heck. Yeah.

    We don't go anywhere without a bottle of Fire Cider, so out of the purse (don't tell us you don't have a bottle in your purse) and onto the bar it went. Now we're ready for those oysters to arrive.

    Oh man, our anticipation is through the roof!

    We've got oysters!...Look, look!

    Here we go...

    D'oh! Bethany has a slight miss of the target.
    A drizzle and slurp later, and we were on our way to an elevated state of peace and contentment. 

    So much documentation happening.
    Try a little dash of Fire Cider on your oysters today, and see what we mean. You won't want to have them any other way!

    Bootiful!

    SLURP.

    7 Steps to Establish Your Daily Meditation Practice

    It seems like everyone I know has a meditation practice, or is talking about starting one, which is awesome. But what are those of us with very busy brains to do? I have tried to start and maintain a short daily practice so many times only to realize, I've gone days or weeks without a 5 minute morning meditation. Sound familiar?! Well I'm happy to tell you I've learned a better way, and I've been enjoying meditating every day for the past 5 weeks.

    Starting a meditation practice is like learning any new skill, you need to start out small at a beginners level and work your way up to mastery. You wouldn't decide to take up running and go out for a 5 mile run on your first day, right? This is was what I was trying to do with my meditation practice–jump right in and expect my untrained, busy brain to suddenly be quiet and spacious.   

    Fortunately, I was given a very simple, step-by-step meditation practice to try by Dr. Van Deven, an Osteopath at the Osteopathic Group in our hometown of Pittsfield, Mass. You may have even heard a guided meditation similar to this at the end of a yoga class.

    Consider these warm up exercises your brain needs to get into shape for meditating. Start with mini-meditations throughout the day and slowly work your way up to one 30 minute daily meditation. I've been following these steps for 5 weeks now, and so far, I'm meditating for 9 minutes a day.

    Go at your own pace and know that you'll feel proud to say "I've meditated every day this month!"

    Need some incentive?  According to The Art of Living.org the health benefits of regular, daily Meditation are broad spectrum and pretty amazing:

    • Lowers high blood pressure
    • Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
    • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
    • Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
    • Improves the immune system
    • Increases the energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy
    • Anxiety decreases
    • Emotional stability improves
    • Creativity and Happiness increases
    • Intuition develops

    Sounds awesome, let's do this!

    Step One: Make a commitment to doing the following exercises. Re-read the benefits of daily meditation for motivation:

    Every time you meditate you'll sit or lie down so that you can completely relax your whole body. You can do this in bed, in a chair, in a car seat–but not recommended while driving! There are many ways to sneak in a quick mini-meditation!  

    1. Get comfortable, close your eyes and take a big, deep breath.  
    2. Start by focusing your breath and attention on your right arm.  
    3. Take a deep, slow breath and tell yourself–"my right arm is heavy and warm. My right arm is melting and deeply relaxed."  As you think these thoughts, focus on feeling your body relax.  
    4. Feel your muscles grow soft, feel your bones grow heavy and sinking towards the earth. Feel all of your tension melting.

    Do this 4 times a day for just 15 seconds or one complete slow, deep breath. That's it. Do this first step for seven days in a row.

    If you did four 15 second meditations for seven days, then you are ready for the next step. If you missed a few, that's ok! Just try again for another 7 days. Once you get one step, you can advance to the next.  

    Step 2: This week you'll do four 30-second meditations. Try 2-3 slow, deep breaths while focusing on your right arm melting and relaxing as described above.

    Step 3: This week you'll add your left arm to the meditation, four times a day, for a minute. Use a timer or just count three deep, relaxing breaths focusing on each arm and one breath at the end while breathing into both your arms.

    Step 4: By now, you have been meditating throughout each day, for three weeks or more. It took me four weeks to get to step three. You'll begin to notice that it's easier to focus and calm your mind. You have been exercising your brain and are gaining new skills!  

    Now you are ready to do three, 3-minute meditations every day this week. Relax and melt your right arm, then left arm, both arms and then add your right leg. I use a meditation timer app on my cell phone; you'll be surprised how fast the three minutes goes by! Try once upon waking, once during the day and again at night before you go to bed.

    Step 5: Same as above except you'll add your left leg and then at the end you'll focus on how deeply relaxed and warm your entire body feels. Increase to 6 minutes, twice a day. I meditate just after I wake up and before I go to bed, but find the best time for you and make a commitment!

    Step 6:  Same as above, increase to 10 minutes twice a day.  

    Step 7 and beyond:  The goal is to get you to drop into your meditative state once a day for 30 minutes. Once you are up to two 15-minute, whole-body meditations every day for at least a week, switch to one 20-minute meditation and then slowly build up to 30 minutes day. Once you have relaxed your entire body, it's perfectly great to use a different mantra or try new techniques. This sequence is designed to train your brain to meditate. Once you've got the skills, have fun trying out different techniques, guided meditations and mantras.

    Happy meditating!

    —Amy

    The Greenest Wrap: Romaine or Collard Sandwich Wrap

    One of my favorite ways to eat more greens is to use them in place of bread or crackers. Nothing against burger buns or sandwich bread, but we know that whole grains are best, well, whole! Skip the processed wheat and grab a bunch of crispy Romaine or collard greens instead. I use Romaine lettuce like a taco shell- fill it up with whatever you like- sliced avocado, tomato, homemade mayo and bacon for a healthier B.L.T. Bibb lettuce is soft, flexible and makes for a great little wrap. Want to eat that salad with your hands? Wrap it up in the biggest lettuce leaves from the outside of the bunch. Look at you, doubling down on your veggies!

    Using large collard leaves makes for a sturdier wrap that can hold such awesome summer foods as cheese burgers or the ultimate hummus wrap. You can use the leaves raw or lightly steamed -- these are best for hot foods or for bigger wraps. The folding is easy and unlike regular wraps, these stay sealed. The only prep work you need to do is to carefully trim the rough stems.  

    Cut the end of the stem off and then lay the collard leaf flat and slice off the rough stem that sticks up, so that the leaf is flat and entirely flexible, like in this photo from MindBodyGreen.com's tutorial on how to use collards like a wrap!

    Don't worry if you tear the collard leaf a bit; you'll get the hang of the stem trimming and can fold around any small tear.

    If you want to steam your collard leaves so that they are more flexible and easier to use and eat, there are a few methods that work well. This video from Plant PoweredKitchen.com has my favorite technique for when you just want to make up a few wraps. Get some water boiling in your kettle and open the spout so you've got a nice stream of steam coming up. Hold your raw collard leaf by the stem and wave it over the spout of steam, lightly steaming the whole leaf until it's bright green and soft enough to fold. Then trim off the stem as described above. Repeat until you have enough wraps.

    Or, follow the quick blanch method I found on Mind BodyGreen.com- bring a wide shallow pan of water to a simmer. Take your de-stemmed collard leaves and give them a 10 second dunk in the pan, one at a time, using tongs to get the collard leaves in and then out and into an ice bath. Dry in layers using tea towels. Once you've got all your wraps ready, fill as desired!

    The wrapping part is easy, and there are a number of ways to do it, but this photo tutorial from HonestFare.com is easy to follow:

    Add your filling to the center of one or two overlapping leaves. Fold the sides in to contain the filling. Then, starting at one long end, roll the leaf over the filling and keep rolling, making sure the ends stay tucked in. Slice in half and enjoy!

    Above: steamed collard wrapped burger with the works from Bareburger.

    Grafting Apple Trees

    In the town of Washington, Massachusetts, where my brother Brian and I grew up, there are a lot of very old apple trees. On my grandparents' old property, an 1800's farm house is surrounded by a handful of century-old apple trees. Two trees, side by side near the road, produce huge pink and red apples- it only takes a few to make a whole pie! I've never seen apples like these anywhere else. Back in 2009 we picked them to make hard cider as well as 5 gallons of cider vinegar, which we used to make a big batch of Fire Cider for ourselves!

    I love these trees and wanted to plant more of them so our whole family can continue to enjoy them. The way to grow more of the same variety of apple tree is to graft clippings from the tree onto root stock. So that's what we did!

    We ordered root stock and took some clippings from the apple tree in early March, while the tree was still dormant. The clippings, also knows as scions, hung out in our snow bank until it melted and then we kept them cool in our refrigerator. The root stock arrived on Monday and we grafted and planted six new trees yesterday.

    Measuring and trimming the scions for cold storage until the root stock arrives.

    I trimmed the scions so there were at least 3 buds on each. I also measured to make sure the diameter would match up with the root stock.


    Our six roots for our six new apple trees. Now we need to match up scions and roots and bind them together.

    Dana finds the scion to match the root stock and then cuts each end so they will fit together. 

    I wrapped each tree with a rubber band at the graft to keep it stable and then coated it with a healthy layer of bees wax.

    We planted six little apple trees yesterday. They'll get lots of water every day for the next two weeks; let's hope they are thriving by then!  

    DIY Deodorant- Easy, Cheap and Effective

    First of all, you smell fantastic, let's get that out there right away. Over the past few years I've cut down quite a bit on the body products that I buy and even how often I use them.  And I love to find recipes for things I can make for less at home! This recipe is for those of us who want to keep chemicals out of our bodies and keep our underarms fresh and dry. DIY deodorant is made with all organic ingredients, heck, you can even eat it, but don't do that, ok?  

    This recipe is super easy; you can even reuse that empty plastic container your last stick of deodorant came in! Or you can buy empty containers and reuse those. I got these from SKS, a bit expensive, but I was making them for gifts. The cardboard tubs are biodegradable and reusable, as well.  

    I purchased my ingredients from Starwest Botanicals but your local co-op may have these ingredients in stock.

     

    Organic Ingredients: 
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup baking soda
    • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
    • 2 tablespoons beeswax
    • 2 tablespoons shea butter
    • 1 teaspoon tea tree oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon essential oil- Bergamot or Lavender are both really nice
    Method:

    Combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the tea tree oil and the essential oils in a sauce pan over medium heat.

    Cook and mix well to combine.

    Let cool and thicken a bit, then whisk in the tea tree oil and essential oil.

    Pour into a container, reuse your old plastic deodorant container or even a small ball jar with a lid works well.

    Use as needed. It will help keep your underarms dry, while moisturizing your skin!