Story and Photos by Karen Granelle, Holistic Lifestyle Blogger
I have been dreaming of going to Italy for over 25 years. Now that our kids are both away at college, my husband and I decided to go for it and help soften the blow of the “Empty Nest” syndrome and celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary by going to Italy. So a couple of weeks after the kids were settled in their dorms, we headed off.
What I experienced during my trip to Italy was an array of continuous splendor for all of the senses…
There was so much to absorb and enjoy. I can understand why people love to visit this beautiful land of
The simple recipes bursting with flavor of fresh local ingredients. The melodic sound of the Italian language was like listening to a beautiful symphony. I couldn’t get enough. I had to record people speaking so that I wouldn’t forget the sound when I went back to my boring English speaking life. I was so pleasantly surprised at how many people we dealt with at the hotels and restaurants that knew how to speak English. We visited several cities and stayed in several different hotels, and each hotel welcomed us with open arms and with such warmth and friendliness. Each person was more beautiful than the next – on the inside as well as on the outside. They all dressed impeccably and looked like they just stepped out of a magazine.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and how she was gushing about the Italians. I felt like her! And also the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. I kept thinking about the main character when she opens the shutters of the apartment she purchased in Tuscany and marvels at the amazing landscape. I felt like her too! I always dreamed of going and experiencing these things and I finally did it!
I am only about 25% Sicilian (my maternal grandmother’s parents were born in Sicily) but it was very gratifying to see where my grandmother came from. Even though we didn’t see Sicily, I got to see “her people” and I felt a sense of belonging. So many people we saw looked just like family members and Italian friends of ours. Several people attempted to speak to me in Italian, assuming that I could speak the language because of my features. I wish I could have. It makes me want to learn the language now and go back!
This trip was nourishment for the soul. Getting out of our daily routines and surroundings and experiencing another culture, another way of life reminded us how much we appreciate nature and respect ancient history, art and new experiences with new people. It was rejuvenating and intoxicating and left us eager for new travel experiences!
It’s so important to have these experiences in your life. Whether it’s in another country or right in your own neighborhood. Get out and experience new surroundings and new activities. Immerse yourself into another culture or even your own culture. Learn as much as you can about your ancestors and where you came from. It will help you to feel a sense of belonging to know where you came from and will help you to appreciate the foundation of your family roots.
Photos and story by Karen Granelle, Holistic Lifestyle Blogger
This post contains an affiliate link.
This summer is bittersweet for me. I’m trying to enjoy every minute with my kids because at the end of August both are going away to college. My son is starting his Junior year and moving into an on-campus apartment and my daughter is starting her Freshman year. So the depressing term “empty nest” keeps popping up.
After a couple of years of experience with my son, I learned how unhealthy most of the food choices are at school and we’ve learned to add our own healthy products to improve the situation. So I thought I would create a shopping list with links to products that I recommend to help prepare your kids for their next few months away without Mom’s protective eye watching every decision they make. You’d be surprised how much a few smart items can make a difference and set up a good foundation for a stronger immune system – which is the best way to fight off viruses and the flu!
My son used the ZeroWater filter last year and really liked it. Its the only one that filters lead and other heavy metals. ZeroWater is the only filtration system that fits the FDA definition of purified bottled water. It takes a while to filter enough water to fill the whole dispenser, but that’s because the filter is working hard. I just feel that its healthier to drink filtered water – better than bottled. And its better for the environment. Actually, there is a very big movement happening to ban water bottles on college campuses. 90 universities and colleges have already started banning the sale of water bottles on campus due to the environmental hazards of plastic bottles and because the cost of bottled water is marked up so tremendously. That’s why I suggested that he try it and now I bought one for my daughter as well with a re-usable glass bottle.
Click Here to purchase this filter
Everything simply tastes better in a glass bottle.
These bottles do not stain, smell, or have a metallic/plastic taste. Glass bottles are free of chemicals including BPA/S, phthalates, PVC, lead and cadmium. If you’d like to be part of this revolution or if you just want your kids to drink more water, try out the ZeroWater dispenser. Water is the easiest and most cost-effective thing you can add to their diet to help keep them properly hydrated, to keep their brains functioning at maximum, to give them energy and to help their bodies feel great. No sports drink does this, only water can!
Click Here to purchase this bottle!
One of my favorite items for everything is an essential oil diffuser. This inexpensive one is perfect for a dorm room and just needs a little water and a couple of drops of the right oils, depending on what the student needs. It also lights up with different colors, which is really cool.
Click Here to purchase this diffuser now!
Try some lavender if they need to unwind and chill out after a long day or if its hard to fall asleep. If they aren’t feeling well, congested and coughing, peppermint oil or eucalyptus is great for opening the nasal passages and lungs. (Warning: Rosemary, fennel, sage, eucalyptus, hyssop, camphor and spike lavender are not recommended as essential oils if you have epilepsy. This is because these essential oils may trigger seizures in some people with epilepsy.) Be sure to order 100% pure, organic essential oils to get the purest oils.
This is a great way to get them to drink protein drinks/smoothies. Its a single serve small blender, easy to clean, easy to store.
1-2 scoops Garden of Life chocolate protein powder
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk or organic whole milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter
3-5 ice cubes
Click Here to Purchase
Garden of Life’s plant based protein powder. I’ve tried many different types of protein powder and both my son and I enjoy this one the best. It’s all organic, gluten free, 0 sugar (no artificial sweeteners either) 22 grams of plant protein, which is easy to digest and lots of probiotics and digestive enzymes, which are key to proper gut health which is the foundation to a good immune system.
Click Here to purchase
RXBARs are whole food protein bars made with clean, simple ingredients. Egg whites, dates and nuts are combined with delicious flavors to create a nutritious bar.
click the picture above or below to purchase
My son enjoys these because they are low in sugar and have minimal ingredients. I personally have a problem with them because they tend to be very chewy and get stuck in my teeth. I love the flavors, don’t love the stickiness. My favorite is Lara Bars:
Amazon is currently having a great sale on a box of 16 for $15.97! They are gluten free, dairy free, Non-GMO, Fair Trade Certified, and their wrappers can be recycled and upcycled. My favorite flavor is Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. They are 4-ingredient bars made from a simple blend of dates, peanuts, chocolate chips, and sea salt.
This sleep mask is made of 100% top quality 19mm natural mulberry silk on BOTH sides. The super soft, super smooth silk is light weight, breathable and protein rich, which gives you total blackout. One size fits all. Gentle, easy-to-adjust headband won’t tangle hair. Such a simple, inexpensive item, can make a major difference in the quality of sleep they can get. Especially if their roommate is on a different schedule or coming and going a lot.
I’m sure you thought I would say Vitamin C. Yes, that is also a good choice for supporting your immune system, but the real powerhouse vitamin that most of America is extremely deficient of is Vitamin D. The difference is, you need to have this level checked at least once a year through bloodwork ordered by your doctor with a 25OH Vitamin D test because it is a fat soluble vitamin that can cause problems if the level becomes too high. The standard that most Dr.’s offices go by is a level of 35 being “normal”. The Dr. that I work for likes to see it much higher than that – more like 50-60ng/mL A dose of 1000 iu of D3 a day is a very minimal dose to start with. Just make sure you get D3 not D2.
Vitamin D3’s role in immune health has long been established; vitamin D receptors are found on a number of immune cells, including lymphocytes and macrophages, supporting healthy immune cell activation. Vitamin D also supports cardiovascular function in some individuals and is now believed to help prevent cancer, it supports bones with calcium absorption and dozens of other health benefits. ‡
‡These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. Please be sure to consult your physician before taking this or any other product.
This blogpost contains affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will get a small commission. This does not affect the price at all to you. Thank you for your support. I hope this helps your planning for move-in day a little easier!
Raw honey is an amazing gift from nature. It contains 22 amino acids, 27 minerals and 5,000 enzymes. Minerals include iron, zinc, postassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. Vitamins found in honey include vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin. It also contains polyphenols which are antioxidants.
When you buy honey from the grocery store, you are getting ultra-filtered honey – a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, in order to prevent crystallizing. Usually they also add high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners that are cheaper than the natural honey which enables the distributors to get more product for their money, and sometimes even harmful antibiotics have been found. So you are basically left with fraudulent, unhealthy honey. But as long as it looks pretty, that’s all that matters right?
The American Beekeeping Federation is a group representing U.S. producers of non-ultra-filtered honey. They believe that real honey must have pollen. They petitioned the FDA to set a legal standard for honey, but they were denied. According to the FDA, honey is described as: “a thick, sweet, syrupy substance that bees make as food from the nectar of flowers and store in honeycombs.” (They literally took this straight from Webster’s Dictionary). The USDA stepped things up a notch by creating a voluntary grading system that lets producers put Grade A, Grade B, or Grade C on their labels, with zero enforcement. There are no existing programs that require the official inspection and certification of honey. Enforcement is based solely on responding to complaints. So if no one complains to the USDA about the quality of their honey, then manufacturers can continue putting whatever additives they want into their honey and still slap a Grade A label on it because they believe it’s worthy of Grade A.
China was illegally filling U.S. shelves with adulterated honey which contained chloramphenicol, a powerful antibiotic that can lead to a potentially fatal bone marrow disorder. It is not approved for food use in the United States, which is why the import of Chinese honey has been banned. You would think this means that we are safe, but if the honey has been ultra-filtered with the pollen removed, we now can’t track where the honey is from. Fraudulent manufacturers are still getting the cheaper honey from China and sending it to other countries first such as Indonesia, Malaysia and India, then importing to the U.S.
According to truththeory.com, “There are well over 30 commercial producers of honey that have no traces of pollen and lack beneficial vitamins and enzymes among a host of other natural constituents which are removed due to pasteurization and processing.”
1. Leaving it raw and unheated keeps the enzymes ,vitamins and minerals and amino acids in tact. These amino acids increase the growth of healthy tissue. Once it is pasteurized and ultrafiltered, the beneficial enzymes are destroyed and the pollen is removed and you are left with liquid fructose and glucose. This is what you are buying at the grocery store. The process of pasteurization began in order to kill the possibility of Clostridium botulinum spores that can develop in raw honey. Botulism spores are in air, soil, water and plants so it can be in the honey that the bees produce. The CDC recommends that people with compromised immune systems and babies under the age of one year should not consume raw, unpasteurized honey because their digestive system cannot handle this bacteria. Anyone over the age of one has a more mature digestive system where this bacteria will not thrive.
2. Desensitizes Allergic Symptoms
Natural, unfiltered, raw honey contains pollen. Consuming small amounts of honey from a local bee keeper (within 50 miles of where you live) means that you will be consuming some of the pollen from plants around your area. By exposing your body to small amounts of this on a regular basis, your body becomes desensitized and will no longer produce a “histamine response” or allergy symptoms. A 2013 study found that eating honey at a high dose (one gram per kilogram of body weight of honey daily) can improve allergy symptoms over a period of eight weeks. The honey consumption improved overall and individual symptoms of allergic rhinitis. (1)(If you’re allergic or sensitive to celery, pollen or have other bee-related allergies, you should not consume raw honey.)
3. Disease Fighting Polyphenols
Researchers say honey contains varying concentrations of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer Back in 2004, Researchers did a study with 25 participants. They each took about 4 tablespoons of buckwheat honey per day for 29 days. The more polyphenol-containing honey they ate, the higher the levels of antioxidants were in their blood. (2) An anti-oxidant called pinocembrin in unfiltered honey improves brain performance.
4. Fights Infection
It also has antibacterial, antiseptic properties inhibiting disease causing micro-organisms. It has been very helpful in treating skin infections, wound healing, burns, urinary tract infections, throat irritations, colds and coughs. A Pubmed study published in July, 2010 said honey has been shown to be a more effective cough suppressant for children ages 2-18 than dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine, 2 common ingredients in over-the-counter cough syrups.(3)
5. Promotes Better Sleep
Eating honey before bedtime re-stocks the liver with glycogen and ensures getting through the night before the brain triggers a crisis search for fuel, which would normally wake you up. (4) Having honey and cinnamon in hot water before bed is a delicious way to get a good night’s sleep and to also boost your metabolism!
I hope you find this information useful and decide to find a local beekeeper in your community to support. Check out “The Honey Traveler” Blog with a list of United States Beekeepers – Click Here
Do you love the way your house smells right after a good cleaning? Have you ever wanted to try a DIY natural cleaning product? I know I love using any alternative to the toxic chemicals that are in the common commercialized cleaners on the store shelves.
According to an article by Women’s Voices For the Earth: (https://www.womensvoices.org/safe-cleaning-products/basic/)
“Some chemicals in cleaning products have been linked to asthma, which is a growing chronic health problem. Several chemicals present in some household and industrial cleaning products have been identified as asthma triggers or are known to aggravate existing respiratory symptoms.
Some chemicals in cleaning products have been linked to reproductive harm, which includes changes in sexual behavior, decreases in fertility, menstrual changes, changes in the onset of puberty, cancers of reproductive organs, miscarriage, premature birth and other effects. Many scientists now believe that chemical exposure, even at very low levels, can have adverse impacts on the reproductive system”.
Check out my previous blog post about avoiding toxic household chemicals here:
That’s why you need to try my favorite set of essential oils by Plant Therapy they call the “Spring Cleaning Set”. The essential oils in this set are known for their crisp clean smell, getting rid of the toughest dirt and avoiding those toxic, harmful ingredients.
You’ll need to purchase a few inexpensive items in order to make several bottles of cleaners for different uses. Just click on each item to purchase through Amazon if you don’t have them already in your pantry.
What you will need:
Essential Oil Suggestions by Plant Therapy:
For bathrooms: Germ Fighter
For the kitchen: Tea Tree and Lemon or Citrus Burst
For floors: Peppermint or Lemon
For living spaces and bedrooms: Lavender
Our loved ones mean well when they give us that beautiful box of chocolates and our kids want to make us breakfast in bed with heart-shaped pancakes and cookies and cake…etc.
Don’t fall victim to the commercialization of this “holiday”. Our society has been conditioned to believe that we have to buy these processed confections full of artificial, harmful ingredients in order to show our love for each other. That’s CRAZY!
If you really want to show someone you love them, put some effort into making something with natural ingredients that won’t give them diabetes and heart disease!
If you need a little help getting on track with your wellness goals, download my PDF: Wheel of Holistic Wellness
It’s a nice visual tool to help you focus in on which areas of your life need the most improvement. Print it out and rate each section on a scale of 1-10 representing how satisfied you are in that section – 1 being the least satisfied, 10 being the most satisfied. Then focus on the area that has the lowest number and try doing something every day to improve your satisfaction in that area.
Only you can make the decision to improve your health. Why not start today?
As I have discussed before, I am approaching the big 5-0 soon and I’m feeling some of the physical effects that a lot of people my age tend to experience. Unfortunately after being in several jobs that utilize a lot of repetitive motions, and physical strains, my shoulder is starting to let me know that it is feeling the results of overuse and if I’m not careful, its only going to get worse.
I went for an MRI and I have partial tearing of one of the tendons that support the rotator cuff as well as tendinosis, and degenerative changes of the AC joint (basically arthritis) and some bursitis. So if I’m not careful, it can get worse and I could end up needing surgery. But I refuse to let that happen. unsplash-logoHarlie Raethel
I might not be able to stop the aging process, but I can help it along and support it as best as possible so that I don’t end up suffering through a surgery that requires heavy duty pain killers and months of rehab.
I tried physical therapy and honestly it made me feel worse. I then went to an orthopedic specialist who said this doesn’t need physical therapy, I just needed to let the shoulder rest but he also said not to stop exercising because he didn’t want the shoulder to become weak. Sounds kind of contradictory.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands and look online for exercises to help shoulder injuries. I actually ended up buying this e-book called “How to Prevent and Treat Shoulder Injuries”. I really want to build up the muscles around it and improve my posture to help prevent my situation from getting worse and to protect my other shoulder, which is starting to bother me as well.
It’s a 37 page e-book with pictures describing many different simple exercises that pertain to different types of shoulder injuries. She offers a money-back guarantee so if you want to protect your shoulder, I suggest you give it a try. Click Here!
I will keep you posted after a couple of weeks of doing the exercises and let you know how its going.
Almost 40 million Americans suffer from sinusitis each year. Sinusitis is inflammation of the tissue lining the sinuses sometimes causing an infection that creates mucus build up and pain and tenderness.
It can be caused by:
Anytime a patient comes into the medical office that I work in, they are prescribed an antibiotic for a sinus infection. Although recent research shows that your body should be able to naturally overcome mild or moderate sinusitis without medication¹. Certain essential oils can help with your sinusitis symptoms, the key is to start using them as soon as you start feeling any of the symptoms. The best oil to use for helping to clear out mucus and open the sinuses is Eucalyptus. It can also ease symptoms of respiratory conditions by dilating the blood vessels and allowing more oxygen into the lungs. Peppermint helps to reduce swelling of the nasal passages and helps with headaches, and Lemon also supports clearing out mucus in the nasal passages and sinus regions. You can use them topically by combining with a carrier oil like coconut oil, to rub on your chest at night or diffuse them in water with a diffuser so that you can inhale the oils while you work or at home. Inhalation of essential oils is an effective way to treat nose, throat and lung ailments. The properties of the oils are absorbed into the blood circulation faster by inhalation than by oral application. The diffuser also humidifies the air and helps prevent your skin from getting dry. You can also try a roll-on application of Peppermint for your forehead and temples. This helps relieve headache symptoms.
One more excellent oil that I recommend for daily use throughout cold and flu season is called Germ Fighter by Plant Therapy. It’s a combination oil that contains a unique blend of Lemon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon Cassia and Rosemary oils formulated to keep you and your family safe from germs. It smells like cinnamon and cloves – I love it. I even brought this one to work and we have been diffusing this one throughout the flu season. I swear it’s what’s keeping us all healthy!
Most diffusers cost between $20 – $40, depending on how much water you want it to hold and if you want alternating led lights. They come in various sizes and colors. I picked three different ones that I believe are fairly priced and the best quality.
Essential Oil Diffuser 300ml Anjou Aromatherapy Diffusers, Ultrasonic Aroma Humidifier (Up to 8H Use, Mist Control, Waterless Auto Shut-Off, 4 Timer Settings, 7 Color LED Lights, Wood Grain, BPA-free)
Dairy products cause you to produce more mucus and so does sugar. Sugar and alcohol suppress your immune system. You need to do as much as possible to support your immune system. Drink plenty of water, preferably lemon water (the lemon helps to loosen the mucus) or hot tea with lemon and get plenty of rest.
I’m on a mission to help other women take control of their health and well-being so they don’t have to be afraid of turning 50, 60 or 70 and beyond!
I’m turning 50 in 2018 and for a long time this was a scary number for me because my mom died of cancer 6 weeks before her 50th birthday. I was 25 years old at the time and a newlywed and it crushed my whole world. It didn’t make sense to me . Even though I knew she had cancer and watched her deteriorate over a few months time, I still couldn’t believe that she was gone. She would never see the birth of her grandchildren, I would never be able to ask advice about being a mom, or have an adult Mother-daughter relationship. Then when I became a mom, I was terrified of my kids going through the same thing.
As horrible as it was, this experience changed me and shaped me to be a passionate advocate for natural healing and taking responsibility for my own health. Making educated healthy lifestyle choices to have a better chance of living a full and healthy life and be there for my kids and grandchildren.
I refuse to let the fear of cancer consume me. Instead I want to let the fear be a catalyst for choosing to be healthy and helping others to focus on living their best life.
If you are struggling with your health and you keep coming up with excuses for your current situation or if you think declining health is because of your age…
IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO CHANGE YOUR MINDSET!
You have complete control over your life, your health and your happiness. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can make the decision today to start living a healthy lifestyle.
Think about someone or something in your life that is worth more than anything to you right now. Don’t let them down by ignoring your health! Find a way to make the committment of being around and healthy as long as possible.
You need to find your “Why”
Something that will drive you and motivate you to get you up in the morning with the intention of living the best life you can.
Instead of living a life of:
Start living the life of your dreams!
Let’s go after a life of health, love and happiness together. It’s time to invest in yourself!
Listen to this motivational video called “Desire” with motivational speaker, Eric Thomas.
I hope this helps to give you some inspiration for change!
I am currently working on putting together a FREE Wellness e-workbook called
Karen’s 6 Steps to H.E.A.L.T.H.
A Wellcare Plan for a well-balanced healthy lifestyle
Sign up for my blog and I will email you when the e-book is ready.
I’m sure you already know that you need to avoid sugar to lose weight. The problem is food manufacturers are very sneaky at hiding it in their products. They list it in the ingredients, but they are constantly coming up with new names for sugar to make them sound different and maybe even healthier to some people.
Please read this list of 57 names for sugar written by “The Huffington Post” and try to memorize it or bring it with you when you go food shopping.
No matter what you call it, if it’s a form of sugar, it’s going to have calories that will lead to weight gain. Especially if you are eating it regularly. That’s why it’s so important to be informed and learn how to read labels!
The most plentiful form of sugar on the market (hidden in 80% of processed foods) and most detrimental to your health is High Fructose Corn Syrup. It’s in everything from bread to salad dressings, barbecue sauce, yogurt, granola bars, even protein bars! Don’t be fooled by marketing techniques that try to make products sound healthy like “All Natural” or Nutritious”, “Healthy Alternative”. The only natural, healthy alternatives are actually made by Mother Nature not a food manufacturer. Unless there is actually no added sugars, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients at all.
If you do buy protein bars avoid any with high fructose corn syrup and more than 10 grams of sugar and less than 10 grams of protein. And absolutely avoid any artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose.
Check out this video posted by Mark Hyman, MD. He is Director for the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine and founder of The UltraWellness Center.
My heart goes out to all of the people affected by the recent devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida, I’d like to remind people how important it is to help others in need and it is actually good for your health!
So please go to this link and donate to “Hand in Hand” the telethon that is going on right now to raise money for hurricane relief.
After a year of divisiveness and protesting and violence against each other, we all need to stop and be grateful for everything that we take for granted and are blessed with every day in this country. Unfortunately it takes times of despair and crisis for people to put aside their differences and help each other. Read below how “Doing Good is Good For You”:
Avoiding exposure to toxic chemical ingredients is the first step to improving your and your family’s health. It might be impossible to totally avoid every toxic chemical in our environment, but take a few minutes to learn about some common ingredients that you can easily avoid and you will be on your way to a happier and healthier home.
A list of harmful chemicals that are found in products that most women use everyday.