How the Pandemic Made Wine O’Clock Acceptable

Copyright: iridi

Shortly after COVID-19 caused a global lockdown in early 2020, many of us began to regard having a cocktail before 5 pm as acceptable. Conventional rules about how most people used to live were thrown out the window when we were suddenly trapped inside our homes, bored, stressed out, and uncertain about our futures. I don’t doubt for a second that many people turned to booze as a coping mechanism, to quell concerns over the mysterious virus which froze the world in trepidation, and to soothe anxiety over job security and financial wellness. Perhaps some individuals also turned to libations to manage the aggravation which resulted from the constant close proximity to family members from whom they used to be able to escape when they were able to leave the house for work. I suspect boredom has triggered a fair amount of drinking as well.

Copyright: ajlber

During full lockdown, alcohol merchants made it easy for people stuck at home craving a glass of cabernet sauvignon to order online or through apps and have ethanol elixirs delivered to their residences. Even now, with restrictions largely lifted, restaurants and other food-centered businesses have come up with cheeky suggestions on how alcohol can calm spirits ravaged by the chaotic and confusing events which COVID-19 created. It’s surprising to me how so many people who never drank on a regular basis admitted to drinking on a daily basis during full lockdown, because it smoothed the rough edges of a tumultuous and frightening time in history.

Dipping Into Indie Funk

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Copyright : skovoroda

If you were to listen to the songs which I have in my iTunes and Spotify libraries, you’d probably scratch your head in wonder over the vast assortment of genres which I enjoy. One of the reasons why I have so many different genres in my music collections is that I tend to obsess over a certain artist or genre for a while, soaking it up until I begin to get tired of it. The latest musical genre which has caught my attention is Indie Funk, and I specifically latched onto one band in particular, Magic City Hippies.

If you want to listen to music that has an easy vibe, catchy beat and tempo, and just puts you into a feel-good mood, then I would definitely recommend checking out Magic City Hippies, Cool Company, and other related groups which create this vibey, groovy music. The past several months have been pretty difficult for me, so I rely on my relaxing home space to provide consistency and comfort. This means that on most days when I find myself hanging out or working at home, I turn on the Magic City Hippies Spotify station. Friends and clients have actually commented on the station, asking about the musical artists featured. I’m not kidding when I say that indie funk can instantly put you into a great mood and cause stress to just melt away.

Here are a few YouTube videos from bands within this genre:

How Many Plants Is Too Many?

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Copyright : Elnur Amikishiyev

 

The year 2020 seemed to blow the lid off plant addiction and hoarding.  More people than ever before have developed an obsession for houseplants, which makes sense since we have all pretty much been going stir crazy since the beginning of COVID-19 and lockdown.  It makes sense that we all turned to these beautiful, air-purifying, living things to enhance our home spaces and give us something to focus on besides our troubles.

There is a fascinating psychology behind collecting plants which differs from accumulation of inanimate collectible items.  Houseplants can have an incredibly calming, stress-reducing effect on us, and they also nicely soften the look and feel of home environments while also cleaning the air.  In addition, the rewards of watching a plant thriving under one’s care are considerable.  I know that every time one of my plants pushes out new growth, I get almost giddy with excitement.  

To be honest, I don’t even remember precisely how last year’s plant obsession really started.  I remember seeing and ordering two  Epipremnum cebu blues on May 27th, and two Zamioculcas zamiifolia ravens on Etsy on May 31st, two weeks after my father’s passing.  After that, it’s kind of a green blur.  My indoor plant count is now at 140.  That’s enough for me, because I have run out of reasonable space.

I think my dad’s death, the lockdown and hysteria surrounding COVID, my two roommates suddenly bailing on me, the loss of work, the fact that my weekly in-person visits with my mom were halted for six months, all pushed me into a very specific nesting mode.  I wanted to spruce up my place, and make it cozy and cool.  I added an outdoor fountain which immediately attracted mosquitoes during the warmer months (lesson learned, but I still have the fountain).  I added comfy pillows to all the seating in my living room and den, imparting a Bohemian vibe which I really enjoy.

After lockdown began, I had no desire to hoard things like clothing or little knick-knacks, though I know other people who began accumulating such items.  Instead, I wanted all the plants which caught my eye, living things I could nurture and watch grow, which also helped to melt away my stress. Though I am not one of those people who talks to their plants or names them (a select few have names…more on this in another post), I am aware of every single plant in my home. I know if a leaf is turning yellow, if a specimen needs to be rotated to get more even sun exposure.

So how many plants would be considered overkill?  Though I think the answer is quite subjective, there is an interesting Australian article which analyzes the optimal number of plants one should have in a room:

https://www.bhg.com.au/how-many-plants-you-need-per-room

Plants not only clean the air, they have a relaxing and calming effect on humans, so why have a limit on the number of plants to pack into a space?  My personal take on this is that I think it’s a mistake to allow one’s plant collection to overtake essential areas in a home, such as a kitchen counter, coffee table, floor space in a shower, stairs, and doorways, with the last two creating hazards since they would impede a speedy exit if a natural disaster were to occur.  It’s also a bad idea to put plants in spots where they clearly wouldn’t survive, such as a very dark room with no grow lights added.

I have my plants placed so strategically in my home that no one ever guesses that I have 140 indoor plants.  Although I fully address the light and humidity needs of all my plants, I also make sure they harmonize with the space they are in and look like they belong where they are.   I will never be one to buy a massive shelving unit or glass cabinet in which to shove my plants, because I think it looks supremely unattractive, and also ironically doesn’t showcase the plants optimally.  Whenever I see a plant person with a large shelving unit which is littered with plants, I know that the plant person is the only one who can fully appreciate all the specimens on the shelves, because they all tend to get lost in one big jumble.

I’ve heard some criticism from a couple of close friends about my plant collection, but I know that they don’t have the same mindset that someone who is into plants would have, so I’m not bothered by the snide remarks.  Ultimately, what matters is how a plant person feels about their plant collection.

Review of Squeeze Dried’s Turmeric Citrus Drink

Want an easy and delicious way to get the benefits of turmeric, curcumin, orange, ginger and black pepper?  Try Squeeze Dried‘s refreshing Turmeric Citrus to combat inflammation, arthritis pain, and promote cardiovascular health.

Use the link here to order, and make sure to enter my code naito20 to get 20% off your order!

https://squeezedried.com/?ref=_tVU92F1hL7pB

Those Crazy Plant People

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Copyright : dolgachov

 

If someone had told me at the end of 2019 that in 2020, I would surpass the level of plant of obsession I experienced in 2000-2002, I would have argued that it would never happen.  Yet here I am, with over 100 indoor plants (119 at the time of writing this post, to be exact), still thinking about the next plant I intend to add to my wishlist.  I am in good company too, because there is massive and ever growing community of plant fanatics which is knit together by countless social media plant influencers, Facebook groups, and online plant shops.  As long as we continue to be sequestered in our homes and encouraged to continue to practice social distancing, the frenzy over hoarding plants is likely to intensify.

Plant people create plant communities inside their homes which serve as therapy and great comfort during the lockdown and social turmoil which has us roiled.  There are times when I will walk around my home, surveying the lush environment I have created, noting the character of each plant, and I honestly appreciate them all.  Then there’s the anticipation of ordering a plant online, which is akin to meeting a new potential love interest.  I can honestly say that I have become giddy after finding a coveted plant and ordering it.  And when a plant arrives in the mail, I want to open the parcel immediately, not only because I am concerned for the living thing inside the box, but I simply can’t wait to feast my eyes on the new addition to my plant collection.

Now that I am a “plant person” once again, I have picked up a tremendous amount of knowledge of nomenclature and plant care.  I have encountered a number of other plant people who could definitely be accused of being plant snobs, using terms like “etiolated” or “pubescent leaves”, and showing disgust when someone doesn’t know what they are talking about.  For the most part, though, plant people tend to be very positive, caring, and friendly.

 

 

I Think My Plants Dig Me :-)

 

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Copyright : followtheflow

 

For those of you who have plants in your home, have you noticed that your plants don’t look as healthy after you return home from a trip? I have consistently noticed in the past year that whenever I go on a trip, at least one of my plants is drooping, exhibiting brown leaf edges, or some other sign of less than optimal health.  I didn’t mind it quite as much last winter, when I only had six plants inside my residence, but by my second out of town trip in September, I had over 30 plants, and wasn’t very pleased by the fact that I came home to see half a dozen droopy, sad plants.  Four of my plants swung back to perfect health within three days, while two of them ended up in the houseplant graveyard.  Thing is, I was only gone for four days, and I returned the day before my regular weekly plant watering day.

Then in November, I made another four-day trip, and by that time I had over 50 plants.  I scheduled my trip so that I would once again return home the day before my weekly plant watering/assessment day, yet I once again returned to a number of plants which were not looking very happy.  I’m thankful that they bounced back to health, but I still can’t figure out why this keeps happening.

I only devote one hour, one day per week, to assess the watering needs of my plants, water the ones which need a drink, spray orchid plant food on all my Hoyas (Hoyas love it), and rotate the pots by 90 degrees clockwise.  I don’t fuss over my plants daily like some people do, not because I don’t care about my plants, but because my plate is always so full that I avoid plants which are fussy and require that type of attention.

My den and dining area, early February 2021

 

Now that my indoor plant collection exceeds 100, I truly wonder what would  happen if I were to take a short trip out of town.  And though plants don’t have feelings per se, why is it that my plants are so much healthier and perkier when I spend more time at home?  As weird as this may sound, I’m almost convinced that plants pick up on our energies, and since I admire my now sizeable plant collection and appreciate every single specimen, I believe my plants sense that.  I know that in general, I have a very green thumb, and had discovered that talent about a quarter century ago, but my recent foray back into houseplant cultivation somehow seems different.  I feel much more connected to the plants in my home, and though I don’t talk to them, simply looking at them makes me happy.  I think they know how I feel.

I read this comment on a blog post about plants on The Smiling Gardener which I found quite interesting:

About fifty years ago as an enquiring hippy I ran atest with my wife to see if plant groth could be affected by love and hate . Four pots of garden soil had the same number of seeds sown in them and were placed together in a window and watered the same amount. The pots had either
1) no treatment
2) SM 3 seaweed liquid feed
3) Projection of love or positive feelings every time we passed
4) Projection of hate or bad mental feeligs every time we passed
Now this sounds quite unscientific and already plenty of room for doubters and skeptics to burst out laughing.

The results ?
No treatment -several seeds germinated plus a few garden weeds.
Seaweed treatment – as above but more seeds germinated and more garden weeds.
Projection of ‘love’- a veritable jungle of germination.
Projection of ‘hate’ – NOTHING germinated

Obviously no prejudiced person could even consider these results as indicative of anything but I always found them very interesting . May even try it again in different format fifty years later.

  • ron daguerre

 

Feel free to check out the links below, both of which explore the idea of whether plants have feelings.  At the very least, there is scientific evidence that plants send chemical signals to each other through the air or soil.  Could my plants be chatting it up about how groovy my home is, how the humidity and the grow lights and natural light are (hopefully) just right?

https://www.houseplantscorner.com/post/do-plants-get-lonely

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/do-plants-have-feelings-expert-answer

 

 

 

Great Mineral Oil Free Product For Angry, Reactive Dry Skin

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Copyright : magone

 

I had spent the last two months of 2020 searching high and low for a natural, rich, mineral-free cream which I could use on my very parched, eczema-tortured skin which developed as a result of an overly aggressive CO2 laser treatment, a 2 month reaction to mineral oil, and the cold, dry winter air. After searching high and low in an effort to find a solution, I stumbled upon a product which fit the bill: Ultra Repair Cream from First Aid Beauty. From the very first application, I got INSTANT relief, and my skin drank this stuff up. I slathered it all over my neck, chest, shoulders, and forehead, and all the itchiness went away almost instantly. Ahhhhhh…

While the cream is extremely thick, almost like frosting, it absorbs quickly and beautifully, and hydrates like a dream. Another thing I appreciate is the fact that this product is fragrance free, and that there is just a nice, clean, very faint neutral scent from the ingredients themselves.

Though I suspect that I will go through the 8.8 ounce tub pretty quickly in an effort to finally heal my angry skin (my entire upper body is suffering), I think it is well worth it, especially since so few creams out there are mineral oil free, and also since this, along with only two other products I have tried (Skyn Iceland Arctic Repair Cream, and La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Balm), have the ability to calm my reactive skin to a point where I don’t feel like I have a million ants crawling all over me.

I will most definitely purchase this cream again. And again. This may be a new holy grail of moisturizers for me!

Chronic Back Pain: How to Sleep Through It

Check out this great article by Karen Weeks on getting a good night’s sleep while battling chronic back pain.  Karen has more great content on her website, https://elderwellness.net/

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One of the comforts of going to sleep at the end of the day is the privilege of leaving behind your worries for eight hours. However, if you’re living with chronic back pain, that worry sticks around in addition to the fact that you won’t be able to fall asleep right away, compounding your problems. Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult if you’re suffering from back pain, but there are ways to make it happen. Dr. Stacey Naito presents tips for learning to love falling asleep while living with chronic back pain.

Yoga Before Bed

Practicing yoga before you head to bed for the night can help stretch your sore muscles and give you a better chance of falling asleep right away. The ancient practice has numerous health benefits, and research has shown that practicing yoga regularly may even reduce the need for pain medication. There are many different poses you can do that are beneficial for back pain. Doing a few poses before bed will help strengthen your muscles and improve your posture, leading to less pressure on your back in your day-to-day life, resulting in less overall back pain.

Utilize Your Smartphone

Technology is there to help you in most areas of your life, including your sleep. There are a number of different apps available aimed at helping you sleep better at night. Sleep Cycle is an alarm clock app that monitors where you are in your sleep cycle each night and wakes you at an optimal time within your preferred time frame so you feel the most refreshed. White Noise allows you to play soothing sounds from your phone to help you either drown out outside noises or add sound to a too-quiet room. Calm is a leading meditation app for beginners, allowing you to try out the art of meditation in order to calm down your mind at night.

 

Note that some of these apps stay running throughout the night in order to monitor your sleep or to keep you from waking up sporadically. Make sure that your smartphone has enough battery life! You’ll also want to ensure that your home internet connection is running smoothly. Fast and reliable internet service will give you the freedom to run any of these apps overnight without worrying about being disconnected. 

Improve on Your Sleeping Position

We all have preferences when it comes to our sleep positions. Thankfully, there are different ways to improve your preferred sleeping position to help lower your back pain. For side-sleepers, add a pillow between your legs and pull your knees a little toward your chest to stretch out your lower back. If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, place a pillow under your pelvis and forgo the pillow under your head (or switch to a flatter one). For those who like sleeping on your back, place a pillow beneath your knees to add a slight curve to your spine.

 

Whatever the cause of your back pain, know that it doesn’t have to sentence you to a lifetime of insomnia. Chronic back pain can impact your daily life in a number of different ways, but don’t let it control how much sleep you get at night. Lack of sleep impacts your life even more, causing you to become disoriented, unfocused, and unable to finish your day’s tasks. Use these tips to sleep easier at night and reduce your chronic back pain one night at a time.