Monthly Archives: March 2015

Orange Aromatherapy for Anxiety


The following article is by my nutrition guru, Dr. Michael Greger.  Each year, this Cornell medical physician conducts a search of empirical medical literature and publishes all the new findings on his website at  Viewers can search the site by topic.  He has  plethora of scientifically substantiated information about nutrition.  It is the most comprehensive website of its kind on the Internet.  The man knows of what he speaks!  Have questions?  Take them to Nutrition Facts dot Org!


Aromatherapy — the use of concentrated essential oils extracted from plants to treat disease — is commonly used to treat anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent class of psychiatric disorders in the general population. However, their treatment is challenging, because the drugs used for the relief of anxiety symptoms can have serious side effects.

Thankfully, credible studies that examine the effect of essential oils on anxiety symptoms are gradually starting to appear in the medical literature. However, in most of these studies, exposure to the essential oil odor was accompanied by massage. This makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the effect of the aroma itself.

A typical example includes this study where patients in the intensive care unit the day after open-heart surgery got foot massages with orange-scented oil. Why not back massages? Because they just had their chests cracked open so they have huge sternotomy wounds. Patients showed a significant psychological benefit from the aromatherapy massage.

But how do we know the essential oil had anything to do with it? Maybe it was just the massage. If that’s the case, then great—let’s give people massages! I’m all for more ICU foot rubs. “There is considerable evidence from randomized trials that massage alone reduces anxiety, so if massage is effective, then aromatherapy plus massage is also effective.” One study where cancer patients got massaged during chemo and radiation even found that the massage without the fragrance may be better. The researchers thought it might be a negative Pavlovian response: the patient smells the citrus and their body thinks, “Oh no, not another cancer treatment!”

More recently the ambient odor of orange was tested in a dental office to see if it reduces anxiety and improves mood. Ambient odor of orange was diffused in the waiting room and appeared to have a relaxant effect—less anxiety, better mood, and more calmness—compared to a control group where there was no odor in the air. No odor, that is, except for the nasty dentist office smell. Maybe the orange scent was just masking the unpleasant odors. Maybe it had nothing to do with any orange-specific molecules. More research was necessary.

So in another study, highlighted in my video, Orange Aromatherapy for Anxiety, researchers exposed some graduate students to an anxiety-producing situation and tested the scent of orange, versus a non-orange aroma, versus no scent at all. The orange did appear to have an anxiety-reducing effect. Interestingly, the observed anxiety-reducing effects were not followed by physical or mental sedation. On the contrary, at the highest dose, the orange oil made the volunteers feel more energetic. So orange aromatherapy may potentially reduce anxiety without the downer effect of Valium-type drugs. Does that mean we can get the benefits without the side effects? I’ve talked about the concerns of using scented consumer products before, even ones based on natural fragrances (Throw Household Products Off the Scent), and there have been reports of adverse effects of aromatherapy.

Alternative medicine isn’t necessary risk-free. For example, there are dozens of reported cases of people having their hearts ruptured by acupuncture. Ouch.

But the adverse effects of aromatherapy were mostly from skin irritation from essential oils being applied topically, or even worse swallowed. Certain citrus oils can also make your skin sensitive to sunlight.

Lavender may also help for both anxiety (Lavender for Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and migraines (Lavender for Migraine Headaches).

Bow Ties for Dogs??!! (Straight out of Portlandia)

Bow Ties for Dogs??!!  (Straight out of Portlandia)

I have written about the food cart “pod” that is a couple of blocks from our house.  It is an amazing gathering of carts that serve gourmet quality international food selections on the cheap.  We love it, both for the food and the low prices, as well as for the diversity of the crowd that gathers there.  In addition to the food carts, there are also a couple of cool shops, one in a double decker bus.

My daughter, Sarah, her daughter, Ingrid, and I took a stroll there over the weekend just to see what was going on.  They usually have music on the weekends and sometimes jugglers or acrobats or other types of free entertainment that Ingrid loves.  This week, we met a nice guy named Josh who had his sewing machine set up at a little table and was making bow ties for dogs.  Said he makes enough to support himself, which you have to admit, is very cool.

See?  This is what I love about Portland.  When people are broke, they don’t just sit around and complain about the economy.  They invent ways to make money.  This is my own way of thinking.    Here is a little video that I shot of Josh.  You’ll probably get a kick out of it.  Looks like a scenario straight out of Portlandia:


The Magical Power of Lemon Water



I felt emotionally exhausted and physically drained after my trip to another state week before last.  Saying goodbye to loved ones is always so hard, but in this case, it was absolutely agonizing.

Four funerals of friends over a 10-day span was just too much.    On the flight home, I asked the airline hostess for a glass of water with lemon.  Upon drinking it, I noticed that my mood was lifted rather instantaneously.   It was as though I’d just consumed a magic potion.

My mother has always extolled the virtues of lemon water.  For years, it has been my “go-to” drink.  I love it, and I choose it over soda every time.  If I want something bubbly, I will drink either San  Pellegrino or Perrier with a squeeze of lemon.  I love the stuff…so light and refreshing.  Little Ingrid now loves it, too.

None of us drink sugary soft drinks.


Among many other things the advantages of regularly drinking lemon water include:

  • Preventing  the growth of pathogenic bacteria and the decomposition of tissue
  • Cleansing the system of certain impurities, and also helping prevent certain diseases and infections
  • It is amazingly effective at dissolving uric acid (often the cause of pain and inflammation in joints) and other poisons in the body
  • It can help reduce symptoms of malaria, rheumatism, gout, rickets and tuberculosis…not that I have any of these diseases…

And I think it simply tastes good.

I keep a lemon half in a small glass container right inside my refrigerator door.  Each time I pour myself a glass of water, I grab the lemon and give it a little squeeze into the glass.  Doesn’t take much to impart a truly delicious flavor.  Although, in the summer, when mint is fresh and ripe, I might add a sprig or two of that as well, I never add sugar.   I’m sweet enough already.  😉

People with liver damage often turn to lemon water because its healing power is an excellent stimulant for the liver.   From what I understand, it helps liquefy bile and helps control excess bile flow. For liver complaints, it is recommended that one drink warm lemon juice one hour before breakfast.  Drinking it as a “tea” and drinking it in a cold glass of water provide different benefits and different taste sensations.

One of the most important benefits of imbibing lemon water with some degree of regularity, is its effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Lemon water assists in the process of digestion and elimination.  It also has an alkalizing effect on the body. Increasing body alkalinity is what you should be going for.  It is one of the key benefits of drinking lemon water.

Other benefits include:

  • Helps purify the blood and will also control a tendency to bleed
  • Assists in lowering high blood pressure
  • Reduces the amount of phlegm in the body
  • Relieves symptoms of asthma, allergies and other respiratory problems
  • Nourishes brain and nerve cells due to its potassium content
  • Helps dissolves gallstones, calcium deposits, kidney stones, and pancreatic stones

Basically, as we get older, our bodies “rust” (sort of).   Rust is, of course, the oxidation of metal. And scientifically, aging has been considered the slow oxidation of our bodies. Like those brown age spots on the back of people’s hands?  That’s just oxidized fat under the skin. Oxidant stress is why we get wrinkles, that’s why we lose some of our memory, that’s why our organ systems break down as we get older.  How do we slow down oxidation? By eating foods containing anti-oxidants. If you want to know if a food has a lot of antioxidants in it you slice it open, expose it to air—expose it to oxygen and see what happens. Does it oxidize, does it turn brown? Think about our two most popular fruits: apples and bananas. Turn brown right away—not a lot of antioxidants inside there. How to do you keep your fruit salad from turning brown though? Add lemon juice, which has vitamin C in it, an antioxidant, which can keep your food from oxidizing and can do the same thing inside our bodies.  Lemons are good for you and help slow down the aging process.

I also use lemon juice for countless other things around the house.  For example, I boil a few slices of lemon in about half a litre of water. Let it cool. Pour it in a spray bottle and voilå!   My own homemade air freshener!  I use it as a glass cleaner.  I use it to polish my silver.  I toss a lemon into the garbage disposal to make it smell good.  I use it in my homemade furniture polish.  I just love how it smells.

Lemons.  They’re a good thang!

Lemon slices background

Rest in Peace, Blake.


While an expected loss, the death of my friend, Blake, came as a sad blow this morning when I learned she had succumbed to her battle with cancer.   She was such an intelligent woman and loving spirit. Blake made a positive impact on many, many people.

Blake, you will be missed. 

Blake’s death makes the fourth friend to die in 10 days time….and gives cause to cherish even more, those that remain.  Sending love to my own friends and family this morning and sending love and support to Blake’s.



Today, I finished the wasp nest bird sculpture that I wrote about a few weeks ago.  This was one of the most challenging pieces I had ever done.   The huge wasps nest was teaming with live wasps when I received it from New York.  It was very dry, broken and crumbling….but I managed to work a little magic and to transform it into this weird creature that I have named “WaspLark”.1waspnestbird

The piece is going to my friends Scott Cohen and Anastasia Trania who found the big nest in upstate New York.

scott and ana

It was a difficult process and even a little creepy, handling the wasp nest, but I somehow managed to fashion a piece of art out of it….albeit a very strange one.


It is very rustic, but, as is customary for me, I did manage to add a touch of bling here and there.


Sometimes, an artist just has to allow the materials to dictate the piece.  In this case, I had no other choice.

Guitar Girl Commission


guitar girl

This is a prototype for a children’s art commission that I received this past week. I will be creating a series of these textural “Guitar Girl” mixed media paintings to into a shop that sells children’s furniture and art in the Napa Valley.  This one is a little messy, because I threw it together rather quickly.


Each piece is painted and burned into long, narrow birchwood panels and a variety of different papers, clays, paints and Perlex finishes are applied.  Quite frankly, I despise this style of art because everyone and their dogs makes it….but when a commission beckons, I respond.  The money is great and these are paintings I can throw together in no time flat.


I am thankful for the commission, and anticipate having fun making these.  There will be a variety of different characters, most of which will be somehow related to music.   Some will be sold on my Etsy site later on, and some will go into fabric designs and accessories.  Why not welcome Guitar Girl into your child’s life!

I’ll Have the 3-D Printed Luncheon Special, S’il Vous Plait

I’ll Have the 3-D Printed Luncheon Special, S’il Vous Plait

“Don’t expect to see this in your grocery store anytime soon.   One Dutch food designer thinks 3D printing with living organisms could be the future of sustainable food, creating crackers that sprout greens and mushrooms days after they’re 3D-printed into existence.

“A 3D-printer builds cracker-like structures made with seeds, spores, and yeast,” Yahoo Food explains. “In three to four days, when the seeds and spores have fully sprouted, it’s snack time.” The project is intended to demonstrate “how 3D printing could transform the food industry.” Designer Chloé Rutzerveld argues that by 3D printing food “you can make the [food] production chain very short,” with less transportation and land requirements.


While Rutzerfeld estimates it will be least eight to ten years before foods like this could hit the market, other companies are already utilizing 3D printing for other culinary endeavors. Chocolate giant Hershey’s will soon install a 3D printer at its Pennsylvania headquarters to enable customers to create custom-shaped chocolates, while tech companies have invented printers capable of extruding everything from Nutella to pastry dough.  ”   (end)

As with everything, there are positive and productive ways to use 3-D printers, just as there are negative ways.  People are already making guns out of them and doing other potentially dangerous things, but the good they can do is amazing.  Entire countries can be changed with this technology, which, in addition to being utilized in the food industry,  is being applied in the medical industry, in education and in other areas.  It has tremendous potential to make the world a better place.

Hats off to the inventors of 3-D printing technology!

Horse to the Water


I’ve been a Sam Brown fan for years.  Sadly, a lot of people STILL don’t know about her.  Take a listen…

As Close to Perfect As it Gets

As Close to Perfect As it Gets

We spent the day in a rural area, yesterday, walking in the sunshine and fresh country air within sight of Mt. Hood, at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest near Woodburn.  It took about 45 minutes for us to get there with Ingrid and her cousin, Madeline, in tow.  We arrived to 40 acres of stunning beauty, expansive vineyard views, the aforementioned distant mountains and the occasional mud puddle.  The main feature….the GREAT thing about going, was the color.  The long strips of brilliant blooming tulips were breathtaking.

1tulip dancer

I have never seen Ingrid have so much fun, ever.  She was wildly enthusiastic about the whole experience, which made John and I feel great.  We love to make our little sweetie happy!

There were giant wooden shoes!

1 giant shoes

And pony rides!

1pony ride

There were bouncy things….



And a plethora of scenic photo opportunities…

1 johnred

And more photo opportunities…

1ings and maddie

There were painted faces….

1 facepaint

…and there were other fun things to do…

1 cow ride

And, of course….there were flowers.  Lots and lots of flowers!

1 orange tulips

1 tulip fields

1 yelllow tulips

It was an incredible day!

This is the way life should be….and on most days, it is…at least for us it is.

To see more Tulip Fest Photos from our day, please click HERE.

The Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest is located at 33814 S. Meridian Road in Woodburn, Oregon.
Please call (503) 634-2243 for further details.