Saturday, December 22, 2012

My switch to all natural Henna - Part 3

I am not exaggerating when I say I have been loving the switch to all natural Henna, and I have eagerly awaiting the next round with Teresa - the trooper that she is for going through this with me!

Since October's posts [in case you missed Part 2 or Part 1], purchase, and treatment, I have had tons of comments on the color and health of my hair... Henna has - no question - improved the overall body and hydration of the hair strands and health of my scalp as well as giving it a more natural color tone than I've had since I started coloring it red 4 years ago.

After the first dye, I went back to the girls at Mountain Hair Studio here in Steamboat and had them give me a once-over. While it didn't totally blend the full length of my hair (Teresa cut off about 3-4" of the dead ends, but the bottom 5-6" of my sternum-length hair still had darker, merlot colored ends), there were no "hot roots," and the tone looked more natural, continuing to settle for about 10 days after the dye. It also covered the gray evenly and completely, which everyone was impressed and surprised with.

I have really thick hair, so it's always "bled" for about 2 weeks after dying, and the Henna did the same, but the dye didn't stain anything (towels, clothes, hands) permanently as the synthetic dye did, and the rinsing out color was more orange than merlot - faded, and barely noticeable on the shower floor after the 2nd or 3rd rinse. 

But this is what I'm most eager to share: in addition to Henna coloring, I tried HennaSooq's shampoo bars and oils and have been delighted with both, and I have two bars yet to try!

CLEANSE:
First, I am amazed that these tiny bars last as long as they do - I bought the small $2 samples that are about the size of a bite-size candy bar - but I'm even more amazed that they not only shampoo my scalp well, they actually condition my hair.  So much so that I am not using conditioner except maybe once a week. (Switching between what HennaSooq post recommend: Oyin's Honey Hemp Conditioner - which I find to be a little oily - and what I've used for 3 years: Diva Curl, which I still adore.)


To test them all, I ordered Argan, Berhempsu, Cocoveda, and Soapnut (above) shampoo bars, and HennaSooq threw in a tiny sample of the Honey bar. I wanted to find out which was my favorite before committing to a larger $7 bar because I knew that with the variety of ingredients of all of them, one or two would likely work best for my scalp (very dry) and hair (very thick and wavy).  And I was right.

I haven't tried Argan or Berhempsu yet, but so far love Soapnut the most out of the first three I've tried.

Because it was the tiniest, I started with Honey, which left my scalp a squeaky clean (literally). I liked the smell okay -lemongrass and apricot- but it foamed too slowly for my thick hair (although all of them foam very minimally without the sulfates, which I've been avoiding for about 7 years now anyway) so it did just an average job of conditioning my locks. 

After Honey I tried Cocoveda, and it actually left my hair too oily - it's PACKED with nourishing oils (shea, sunflower, coconut, and 6 Indian herbs) - so I thought this might be my favorite and best for my scalp but I just didn't like the dirty-hair look.

Then came Soapnut.  It's very conditioning and I LOVE the smell (rosemary and peppermint); it's quite refreshing and brightening. Plus it seems to foam the most so I can apply it evenly to my thick hair, and I can easily run a comb through my hair (still amazes me each time) immediately.

Again, the bars last so long even at sample sizes, and I shampoo so infrequently (2x/wk) now that I haven't had a chance to get to the Argan or Berhempsu, so I will update on those when I do, but at just first smell, I still like Soapnut the best.

MOISTURIZE
I also experimented with the oils, purchasing both the tiny samples of Cocoveda Hair Oil and the Mimosa Butter, as well as the Brahmi and Amla powders for a hot oil treatment.

I LOVED the smell of this Cocoveda oil, and it's PACKED with nourishing ingredients, so I don't need much, even with my quantity of hair. I put it on the ends after a shower when my hair is wet, and it works like a light gel, but better - without any residue - calming the frizz, keeping my wave, and keeping the ends from drying out in the winter cold.  And it lasts - in 8 weeks I've used half of the 1gram sample I got!

For a month I switched between the oil and the Mimosa Butter, which is more like a salve than an oil, also packed with healthy ingredients, also with a lovely smell. But I found the butter left my hair a little greasy, and so I now only use on the very ends a few times a month, and occasionally on the dry patches of my scalp behind the ears. What it is also recommended for - and I found it splendid for during today's second treatment - is protecting my skin at the hairline during a Henna dying - way better than the nasty petroleum-based stuff most stylists typically use.

So for daily use, what I find works great is simple coconut oil, which I use exclusively on my skin now for lotion, mixed with whatever essential oils I feel like for the day. Even in this super-dry and frigid winter climate we're in now, I only need it once a day (if that!), and when I get out of the shower, I just put some of the excess from my hands on the ends of my hair.

Last, the Amla and Brahmi hot oil treatment was great for my scalp plaque psoriasis. I have only done it twice, and leave it o overnight, sleeping on an old tshirt.  I used primarily coconut oil, with a little castor oil and sunflower oil, (about 1/3 cup total) - you heat it up slowly and on low, with about 1-2 Tbs of Amla and Brahmi, then apply it to the scalp, working to the ends, and wrap your hair in a towel so it stays warm.  It nourishes my scalp for at least a week, and washes out very easily with the shampoo bars the next morning. In general, I found my psoriasis to be fading with all of this, that is until the holiday sugars overpowerd me (which seems to aggrivate the condition).  When I return to a good diet in January, I will do a few treatments to really cleanse my scalp, so look for more on that in Part 4!

HENNA
As for the dying, I think I'm getting it down to my own catered technique as everyone else seems to as well.  For me, I activate the Henna for 12 hours because it's cold here.  This time I had about 120 g of the last batch left (frozen, which works great) - 100 or so of Henna, 10 of Indigo (for tone), 10 of Amla (for maintaining the wave and brown tone) - so I only mixed 100g of new Henna this time, with warm Chamomile tea to add some highlights, adding 20-25g of Indigo and Amla right before the application, which takes Teresa about an hour total to do my whole head of hair.  I didn't have her trim my hair this time since the ends are very healthy still (I'm hoping this also enables my hair to grow longer, which it's never been able to grown much past my shoulder blades).  When she's done, she wraps my head in plastic wrap and I leave it on for 6-7 hours.  I will out before bed this time, since last time's sleeping on it hurt my neck, and washing it out at 3am was a tiresome experience. 

Eventually I will try coloring only the roots as opposed to the whole hair, as some women suggest to do, since the Henna doesn't seem to fade once it's set in with 3-4 applications and since it blends superbly.

For those of you looking to switch to the healthy dying alternative, I hope these posts help you! If you want to see some recipes for tones, I found this Henna recipe charts page:
http://www.mehandi.com/shop/hairinstructions2.pdf

Happy Holidays!

Read Part 4











Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My switch to all natural Henna - Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

Henna Gods, I am truly impressed. Granted, my mantra has been, "the Indian women have such beautiful hair..." so the results had to be good.  But even so, my hair looks awesome. A more natural shade of red than the chem dye- slightly lighter than my natural brown tone (is that possible? is that from the chamomile?)- than I've ever had in the four years that my stylist and I have been tampering with tubes of colors like Michelangelo. Not wine red, not Redskins red, not Mahogany-Obsidian red.  I had been shooting for my mother's red. Scottish/Irish red, a dark Ginger. I think I'm finally there, or damn close.

So how'd we get there? Here's the last 48 hours:

10pm Monday
Large ceramic bowl
Mixed 300g of fresh organic Rajasthani Indian Henna powder with 3.5c of warm chamomile tea from distilled water, steeped for 20 minutes and cooled with 6 cubes of ice
Covered with plastic wrap, left on counter

9am Tuesday
No "red" leaking from mix (dye activation) so I put the bowl on the heating grate and cranked the heat
Tested dime size on my palm for 20 seconds, turned palm orange (it's activating!)

12pm
Put bowl in the sun to quicken the activation (mild heat does so)


445pm
Arrive at Mountain Hair Studio
Mix 30g Organic Indigo powder and 25g Organic Amla powder with 1c warm water and let sit 45 min
 
5pm
Teresa uses clarifying shampoo to remove last remnants of synthetics on the hair follicles, no conditioner
Comb out hair (ouch), trim hair (removed 4-5" of very dry, splitting ends)

530pm
Add Indigo and Amla to Henna and mix well
Add 1/4c DivaCurl Conditioner and mix well


535pm
Begin application (it took one full hour)

640pm
Plastic wrap entire head with small pieces, then one large encompassing piece
Wrap head with old long sleeve shirt, pack up my good and head home

7pm
Freeze remaining Henna mix, about 100g

10pm
Lay old shirts on pillows and go to bed

3am Wednesday
Wake up with sore neck and the "I'm over it" feeling
Don the plastic gloves, grab the bottle of conditioner, and rinse under gallons of running water
Tub looks like a pottery studio sink; mud is no longer green, it's a deep reddish brown, but cleans very easily, no staining on tub
4 rinses with conditioner, and still running slightly orange water, but too tired to continue
Wrap head in dark blue towel and return to bed

8am
Take a full shower, one application of DivaCurl deep conditioner, leave in 15 minutes while showering
Rinse, then rinse with COLD water (ouch) to lock it in, stops bleeding orange
Dry, and apply about 1T coconut oil and essential oils to hair ends and scalp evenly



Initial Comments:
Yes, it's a long process.  But so is gardening with all the seeds and nurturing and planting and watering and harvesting and canning and putting the garden to rest, and it's well worth it. I feel the same way about this.  As Teresa said, it takes a lot of "client participation," and no, you don't have to use a stylist to apply it, but my hair is so thick and I am so inexperienced and clumsy when it comes to applying dye (trial and error many years ago), and you have to apply the mud-like henna mixture so thick and arrange the hair just right, that it was worth having her do it.

The total cost the products was $45 for the 600 total grams of Henna, Indigo, Amla, and Brahmi (the last of which is for a rinse for the psoriasis, not for the dye portion) and shipping, but next time I will only spend $14-25 on Henna, occasional repeats of the others (don't got thru them quick), as well as maybe Cassia for the summer, and shipping. Add that to what I pay Teresa for shampoo, trim, and application and it's still pretty darn cheap.

I loved the smell of it, but it took a bit to get used to; we all spent the hour trying to place the smell. It's earthy and weed-like, like steeping nettles or sweet grass clippings. And its STRONG. I still smell it, despite the 1/2 cup of conditioner and essential oils.

My scalp plaque psoriasis is usually pretty aggravated after we color my hair. I expected it to wake me up in the night even with all that mud on my head for hours. It didn't (it was the weight of it and the plastic wrap that woke me up), and in fact, when feeling around my scalp, I can't feel any plaques, and itching doesn't yield any skin!


My reasons for the formula I chose: 
Chamomile: a lot of recipes suggest lemon or apple cider vinegar to both bring up natural highlights and activate the color, but both are reported to dry out your hair. Chamomile is gentle, and will help bring out the natural highlights.
Indigo-10%: most recipes suggest 25% Indigo but I knew I could always go darker, and I wanted my roots to blend in evenly. I was surprised the Henna lightened the rest of my hair, I was prepared to and had anticipated for doing a darker mix if I had to, but I'm pleased with the color. Indigo tends to be gritty and hard to rinse out, so I wanted to use less of it.
Amla-8%: the Amla amount shouldn't matter, but I've read anywhere from 5-20% mixture of it with Indigo if you want to retain your natural curl while enhancing and darkening the effect of the Indigo. Because I was using so little Indigo and because I wanted to retain the waves (Henna can slightly straighten your hair), I went with the Amla addition.
8 hrs processing: I was shooting for 12 but didn't make it. I've read anywhere from 4 to 12 hours and the longer you leave it on, the richer and deeper the color gets.

I've read that it'll take a few days for the ginger tone to calm down (I almost hope it doesn't!), and I'm sure that once I use shampoo (not supposed to for at least 3 days) my scalp will be a normal color, although its not that noticeable, and not any more tinted than it ever was from synthetics.

Overall I'm extremely pleased, and sold on Henna!  Because it's so good for you, I will likely do Henna more often than I did synthetics (9-10 weeks), 6-8 weeks or when my roots begin to show, and then only trim my hair every other time.

A big thanks to Teresa for being such a good sport in trying something new!

More to come on the between-dyes rinses with Brahmi, oil treatments, natural shampoo and conditioners I'm trying, and other Ayurvedic hair care!  (Read Part 3)

Monday, October 22, 2012

My switch to all natural Henna - Part 1

DisclaimersA) The topic Henna is clouded by volumes of misinformation, and B) I'm no expert.

BackgroundI have been on a quest to go 100% "all natural" (in all aspects) for a decade, and hair color just happens to be my last chem standing. I have been DIYing bathroom and kitchen stuff for inside and outside the body for a very long time... but specifically within the last 4 years I have been doing so to manage- and hopefully remedy- two conditions I have developed, one recently, one a long time ago: psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. I have tried gluten free, grain free, vegetarian, sobriety, urban farming... I have made DIY lotions, washes, cleaners, salves...  and because I believe others could benefit from what I've studied, I have been writing along the way (arthritis, DIY, gluten free, grain-free, psoriasis, see list on page's bottom left for more).


Topic
So after a month's worth of extensive research on Henna, here's what I've found. The reason I am finally making the switch from chemical dyes, is that I recently realized my psoriatic arthritis showed up shortly after I started dying my hair to cover the gray. Coincidence? We'll see. 


Henna powder

Research
Where I started my research was at www.HennaSooq.com because these girls care deeply about their clients and their products, are thorough in explanation and research, and committed to buying, using, and selling only 100% natural and organic Henna that is from a fresh crop of the plant.  They have dozens of great testimonials, an informative blog, monthly discounts and specials, and each product page in their store has an extensive description of how to work with that blend of Henna. What I also love about HennaSooq is due to their dedication to whole health, they are donating products to women battling breast cancer through the Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October. Super awesome.

But I have been to a dozen other websites, and I have learned more about Henna that I ever cared to, although I'm glad I did.  

Henna, also known as Mehndi, is an all natural flowering plant that it strengthens and fortifies the hair, and despite being green in color, dyes both the skin and hair red. It has been used for thousands of years, so its a trusted, reliable and valued beauty product in nearly every country across the globe. It is native to semi-arid climates of Africa and Asia, and Henna's coloring properties are due to lawsone, a burgundy organic compound that has an affinity for bonding with protein. 

Henna plant


Misinformation
The "misinformation" that I started with was that Henna is difficult to work with, it's messy, lumpy, didn't always work, isn't really "all natural," is an all-day or overnight process, isn't permanent and dyes your hair orange.  While none of this is true, the immediate myth worth dispelling is the naturalness of Henna.  Pre-formulated Henna in a box - even from the healthfood stores- isn't 100% natural, that IS a fact. It's likely old, and therefore won't dye right or at all, and it still has some additives that aren't natural, and will counteract with whatever you already have on your hair (such as metallic or acid additives that will turn your hair green)(1). So as with anything, when you decide to go all natural, know your ingredients, use as few as possible, and mix it yourself. HennaSooq only gets their Henna straight from India, made from recent crops only, and vacuum sealed for freshness.

As for the rest of the myths, if it's messy or lumpy, you aren't mixing it right.  If it dyes your hair orange, it isn't natural or you have totally white hair and you haven't blended it with the appropriate herbs to adjust the color. As for timing, you can either make it an all day process or use faster activating Henna if you're too busy to.  And last, Henna is relatively permanent, but after three applications, it's locked in for good.

History
More on Henna's history, it is a staple in Ayurvedic hair care. Even if you don't want to dye your hair, the Cassia Obovada, Amla, Brahmi and Bhringraj plants are amazing strengthening and supplementing herbs for the hair and scalp. Brahmi is even used for psoriasis and eczema.  For tones, all Henna stores sell several varieties of Henna for reds: organic Jamila Henna from Pakistan is lighter, Rajesthani Henna from India is darker burgundy, Yemeni Henna from Sana for deep reds that cover gray very well, or Moroccan Henna. You add Cassia for more copper tones, Indigo, Katam and even walnuts for brown tones, and a two step Indigo process, also with and coffee beans or teas for blacks. Many people also add chamomile, cinnamon, paprika, and other herbs to the process for health and tones, and essential oils for health and aroma as Henna is known to have an earthy smell to it.

As you may know, Henna is not only used on the hair, and many know it for its impermanent skin art history.  But Henna's properties are so holistic that it has been used historically on the body to help treat wounds, soothe burns, remove fungus, improve the nails, purify the blood, loosen the muscles, relieve backache, repel insects, and plenty more. It can be used as a poultice, a rinse, and a salve, but it should never be ingested.


Hair Dying with Henna
A big plus for hair dying is that Henna, specifically the all-natural organic kind, is all-covering, IE it will blend well over previous chemical treatments, blends existing colors and roots, and covers gray well. Everywhere I've researched, all reports tout these benefits. However the reverse is not applicable - if you try to chemically treat your hair after applying Henna, the dyes will not take (which I found interesting).


Switching to the process of Henna comes with only one foreseeable drawback to me:  It is unquestionably a longer process. 
1. The Henna must be premixed and left to activate and release its dye either for several hours, even overnight. This process can be quickened with low heat (for instance if you left it on the radiator), but it's still going to take a few hours. 
2. Then your hair needs to be prepped (you can apply it dry, but it's better if it's been washed, not conditioned, and trimmed). 
3. The Henna is then applied, another lengthy process that can take up to an hour, and the head is then wrapped with plastic and left to continue to activate for up to eight hours (I've found that many users just wrap it very well and sleep on it). I've read conflicted reports about application, most state that they start with a strand at the crown chakra and build a bun clockwise to the hairline, applying piece by piece. One report I read said that this bun action can cause the hair to be pulled, so for some who have delicate follicles, this can cause slightly more hair loss just after the process.
4. Last, the removal is no easy process either. Users discuss many ways to rinse, either with whole bottles of conditioner and gallons of water, swishing endlessly in the tub, or standing for 30 minutes under running water.  Either way, it requires a lot of water.
5. You don't want to wash the Henna'd hair for 3 days, but the color you're left with upon rinsing will be much brighter than the color that settles into your hair be the end of the week, and during that time, you will likely have bleeding. 



Keep reading Part 2...


References: 

www.hennasooq.com
www.mehandi.com
www.hennacaravan.com
http://m.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-using-henna-for-hair.htm   http://www.hennaforhair.com/ppd/index.html
http://hennablogspot.com

http://www.hennapage.com/henna/how/index.html
http://www.naturallycurly.com/
http://forums.longhaircommunity.com

Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJlpwQv08q8&feature=relmfu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqNAchJU0Bo&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6306Q0WH7cA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grEUY943pjQ&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQicWXfm8IY&feature=relmfu


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfZyn0c8eHU&feature=related

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ken and Jaudz Steamboat Wedding

Congratulations to Ken and Jaudz of Steamboat Springs, CO on their nuptials this weekend, it was an absolute pleasure shooting their wedding! They were married at the Steamboat Springs Botanical Gardens and scooted down to the Community Center for their reception. Jaudz had family come in all the way from Taiwan, which was an extra special treat!









For more of Andy's wedding photography, see
Portfolio on Flickr
Wedding Photography Package Pricing
Wedding Website- Printroom



Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kyleigh and Dave's Steamboat Wedding

Congratulations to Kyleigh and Dave who were married this last weekend at the Botanic Gardens with reception at the Community Center. In true Steamboat "Bike Town USA" fashion, they asked their guests to ride in and commute via bike to the dinner. The bride and groom were chauffeured to the center on Big Mountain Pedicab. It was an honor to assist pro Paula Jo Jaconetta for this spectacular wedding! For more of Paula, see www.naturalightimages.net






For more wedding photos from Andy's AJDesign and Photography see:
Portfolio on Flickr Wedding Photography Package Pricing
Wedding Website- Printroom AJDESIGN on Facebook

Monday, June 18, 2012

New SCD chef blogs

I've found some amazing blogs out there that I thought to share, as I've found some great recipes here after 6 months on the SCD diet and getting bored with the few staple things I make weekly (granola, muffins, yogurt and smoothies, cottage cheese), salads, and restrictions.  I am craving bread again. And due to my latest class and needing to lead by example, I am losing my interest in meat's low vibrational energy.  So I went on the hunt for recipes that were grain free and meat free. I know, I know, what the heck does that leave? Well, I found some excellent options.

I have found kindred spirits out there in these blogs, and know if you're reading this, you are one too. Enjoy!


http://www.againstallgrain.com
Love this girl! Fish tacos! Meringue Cookies! Bread! Pizza! Yes. There's a lot there to love.

http://www.nourishingmeals.com
Grain free, sugar free, and vegan chocolate brownie cupcakes. OMG.

http://www.grainfreeliving.com
Educational too - a list of where grains are hiding (life was so simple when I was just gluten free!)

http://www.organicthrifty.com
While this site isn't as restrictive, the vegan and grain free sections are great (I just wish it had less ads)
Eggplant chips, waffles, creme brulee. YUM.

http://realsustenance.com
Same with this one, you have to sift through the gluten recipes, but look for the banana bread!

http://www.cucinalibera.com/2012/02/grain-free-lasagna-with-white-bean.html
Ditto again, but OMG Lasagna!


I hope this helps you get creative, my juices are stirring and I'm excited to branch out while I push through another 6 months on this crazy diet!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ten great homemade Green Cleaning solutions

We just switched the very last of our not-so-clean cleaning products (the wet swiffer's hardwood floor spray with water, vinegar and lemon essential oil), and it prompted me to share this. These solutions have been used for centuries until the last fifty years, and they do a better job, keep our lungs, minds, and skin happy and healthy, and well, are just plain cheaper!  Make the switch...

Here are "The Basic Ten" products you can use to clean just about anything, courtesy of GreenAmerica.org:
1) White vinegar: An antifungal that also kills germs and bacteria.
2) Baking soda: Eliminates odors and works as a gentle scouring powder.
3) Borax: The common name for the natural mineral compound sodium borate, eliminates odors, removes dirt, and acts as an antifungal and possible disinfectant. Use with care around children and pets, as it can be toxic if swallowed.
4) Hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration): A great nontoxic bleach and stain remover, as well as a proven disinfectant.
5) Club soda (fresh): A stain remover and polisher.
6) Lemon juice: A pleasant-smelling nontoxic bleach, grease-cutter, and stain remover.
7) Liquid castile soap: An all-purpose cleaner, grease-cutter, and disinfectant. “Castile” means the soap is vegetable-based, not animal-fat-based.
8) Corn meal: Great at picking up carpet spills.
9) Olive oil: Makes a wonderful furniture polish.
10) Pure essential oils: Adding all-natural, organic essential oils to your cleaning concoctions can add wonderful scents to your housekeeping endeavors. Some—such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils—also may have antibacterial, antifungal, or insect-repelling properties.

Make the switch for spring cleaning and your home, pets, kids and body will thank you!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Shooting the Moon [repost]

In preparation for the SuperMoon out this weekend, I thought it apt to share the post I read last year by Peter West Carey from the DPS!  Use low ISOs, long exposures, and definitely a tripod to capture that beauty tomorrow night (or tonight, or Sunday night!)

First, remember the moon has its own Golden (or Magical) Hour for optimal effect. The Golden Hour for moon photography has a twist though. Because the moon’s rise and setting each night varies by nearly an hour each day, unlike the suns, you have to do a lot of planning ahead. Or just have dumb luck, look to the East and notice the moon is rising. If you prefer the planning route, this site from the US Navy provides both moon and sun rise and set times for any day or location you’d like, both US and International. And then using the graphical information at Full Moon Calendar.net, it’s easy to calculate the best time for shooting. A full moon rising usually gives the most dramatic shots as the moon is coming up just as the sun is setting (within about 20 minutes, give or take). So using either of the resources mentioned here will get you in the right ball park. And don’t forget to check your local weather forecast for rain.


Moon Next, you’ll need a setting. While a picture of the moon by itself is always nice, placing something else in the frame will give a point of reference and bring quality to the moon. Catching it right as it comes over a mountain or desert or even the ocean. Place it between some trees, buildings or with action in the foreground. Anything that catches your fancy will do. But make sure the object is distant enough to help emphasize the moon. If you aren’t zoomed in enough, the moon will appear as a mere bright speck in the sky. So grab at least a 200mm zoom lens before you head out for best results. The longer the lens, the better (all images in this post were shot around 400mm). Renting a lens for a few great moon shots is another option that won’t break the bank and allow you to experiment.

Another reason the Golden Hour is so important is contrast. The ideal time to capture the moon near the horizon is when you can still see the horizon. If you were to capture the moon long afterPhotographing Moon the sun has set, say 3 hours, the foreground subject matter will not be illuminated and may not show well in the image. Or if the sky is already black, the moon will show as just a white blur if you attempt to brighten foreground objects. The image at left was taken in Utah just 20 minutes after the sun had set over the mountains to the West. If much more time had gone by, the clouds and hillside would be much less illuminated and the moon would have been less ‘oranged’. This time right around sunset can bring some interesting colors to the moon and is often referred to in the Autumn as the harvest moon.

While the Golden Hour for the moon is great for full or near full moon shots, you can still use the traditional Golden Hour around sunrise and sunset to capture half or crescent moons. This will take a little more work as the moon will be further off the horizon and thus subject matter will need a little more work in framing, but it can be done with great affect.

Spot metering will be your friend in shooting the moon. If your camera has it, use it while metering off the moon. Experiment with bracketing to bring out other objects in the frame. If your camera doesn’t have spot mode, it may still have a bracketing feature. Moon Photography Tips Use this along with biasing the exposure to underexpose everything. It’s better to have the foreground a little dark than the moon be completely blown out with no detail.

Lastly, give yourself time. Time to scout out a good location. Time to understand that unlike the sun, the moon’s rise and set move North and South by quite a bit each night. So take the time for a month or two to get to know the moon and its habits. You’ll be better set to capture a beautiful image with just a little effort.


More comments from pros are below his post here
And other cool posts on the subject:

And how to shoot a lunar eclipse!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Auto-filtering your Social Marketing and Blogs so you only post once


If you want to start doing social marketing for your business, you've likely been told that you need to  join them all, but you think, it sure sounds like a waste of time posting to Facebook AND Twitter AND LinkedIn AND your blog when you want to publicize something.  Well you don't have to. 

Since someone just asked me for this today, I thought I'd post the methodology we use at AJDesign.
Topics included in this post are:  (skip ahead if you're already a go-getter!) 
I. Twitter to Facebook
II. Facebook to Twitter
III. Twitter to LinkedIn
IV.  Blog to Facebook or Twitter

I. Steps to filter Twitter posts (Tweets) to Facebook wall if you use Twitter more: 
  1. Login to Twitter
  2. Click on View my profile page (top left)
  3. Click on Edit my profile (top right)
  4. Click Post your tweets to Facebook (bottom right)
  5. Click Sign in to Facebook and Connect your accounts
  6. Fill in Email and Password and click Login
  7. And click the box of either profile or page that you want to post to
  8. If FB pages don’t show up in that list, try again (sometimes they don’t)
  9. Click disconnect any time you wish to end this service

II. Steps to filter Facebook posts to Twitter thread if you use Facebook more:
  1. Log in to Facebook
  2. Type in FBtoTweet in the search bar and click “go to app”
  3. Click Sign in with Twitter and login
  4. Click Authorize App
  5. Click “Click here to manage pages”
  6. Click Allow
  7. Click on pages you want to sync with Twitter
  8. Anytime you want to stop this or if you’re noticing double the tweets, come back to the app page and click “Stop Auto Updates” on the top right or click “Disable” next to any account you wish to disconnect.
NOTE: Don’t do both I & II, or you’ll have double the posts (for half the pleasure)!

III.  Steps to filter your Tweets to LinkedIn
:
  1. Log in to LinkedIn
  2. Hover over your name (top right) and click Settings
  3. Make sure "Profile" tab is selected on bottom left and click "manage Twitter settings" bottom right
  4. Click "Add a Twitter Account"
  5. Plug in your Twitter user name and password and click Authorize App
  6. Click Save Changes
  7. Come back to this settings tab when you want to "remove" any account you have filtering here.

IV. Steps to filter your blog to Facebook or Twitter by using FB’s “Networked Blogs” App:
  1. Type in https://www.facebook.com/networkedblogs into browser
  2. Click Go To App on top right
  3. Click Blogger Dashboard on top right
  4. Click Register a new blog
  5. Fill in the blog web address
  6. Fill in information
  7. Claim the authorship
  8. Either A) have a friend confirm you or B) place the widget on your blog site
  9. If B) Click Verify Now
  10. Once confirmed or verified, click Syndication (top left)
  11. Choose the blog you’d like to syndicate and click either Add Facebook Target or Add Twitter Target
    (whichever is first in your filtering stream above)
    (don’t do both if you have done the filtering either way above)
  12. Click “Add” next to the page you would like the blog to filter to
  13. Customize the post if you so choose

More reading on managing your own marketing:





Thursday, April 5, 2012

Moon Hill Dairy: raw milk farms and buying local

Today was a magical morning; I got to finally visit the local farm where I get my milk, Moon Hill Dairy, which is located about ten minutes north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. There are four new calves that I went up to photograph, but as always with a working farm, there was more in store for me when I arrived. 

"You want to feed one of the new calves?" Were the first words out of Lisa's mouth when I walked up. DO I??  Apparently her mother - new to the process - isn't taking to her calf, as she wasn't "mothered" herself. The poor white calf loves attention like a puppy, and I got to sit with her, scratch her, help her stand up, massage her weak legs, and yes, give her the biggest baby bottle I've ever seen.  What an amazing process, this thing called life!

But before tending to Baby White, as I started calling her, there was more business to be done on the farm.  We rounded up the "ladies" to bring them in for milking, leading them into the stalls one by one, feeding them some yummy nutritional snacks while they wait, and after Lisa sterilized the milking equipment, she got to milkin'!  It was the first milking Baby White's mamma, Sage, who produced something called colostrum, a yellower milk filled with antibodies and extra nutrients for that new mammas produce to help the calves grow strong. We saved all of Sage's milk/colostrum for Baby White, who drank a half gallon from my hands in about 5 minutes flat!

 

Raw milkeries in Colorado have to belong to the RMAC and follow strict standards; each batch of milk is always tested before we drink it (or make yogurt out of it, as I do), members of the farm are required to buy into a "herd share," and pay startup and weekly costs to help manage, board, and care for the herd. Moon Hill Dairy's herd is made of heritage breed cows, which produce a very high quality and quantity of milk- today's yield was about 35 gallons, and they are about to have a grand summer feeding on grassy goodness.
There are a ton of benefits from using raw milk from a local farm; raw milk is nutrient-rich, and isn't pasteurized, homogenized, or full of any antibiotics, hormones or chemicals that commercial cows are fed.  It's tolerable by most who are lactose intolerant, and it can be used to make great yogurt, cream, cheese, and more.  The yogurt I make from the milk has millions more pro-biotic and healthy enzymes than commercial yogurt does (which my "SCD" diet requires, and it prohibits the raw milk in the first 6-12 months). 
While buying from a local farm is often a little more expensive, it supports your local economy, which sustains your neighbors and regional livelihood and fosters community growth.  Family farms are proven to care more about their animals' physical and emotional wellness, putting more care into their products and as a result, into yours and your family's bellies.  Family farms welcome tours from their members, educating both adults and children about the process of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, as well as the forgotten process of where our food comes from. 

It was an absolute pleasure photographing the ladies and their calves today while learning more about my local dairy and the people who work there! 




Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Photographing Macro [repost]

As many of my friends know, I have an addiction to photographing flowers, so when this email came into my inbox last week, I couldn't help but repost it!! It's got some great tips and it reminded me of what to think of when I'm shooting those small beauties.

To join Digital Photography 101's list at PEPhoto click here: https://pephoto.lifepics.com

Photo Tip #137: Photographing Spring Flowers
Spring Flowers


Greetings Fellow Photographers!


The seasons are changing again! Springtime in North America presents some incredible opportunities for taking photos as the snow melts, flowers bloom, and the weather warms up. Whether you step into your backyard for a little fresh air, or arrange a hike with your friends and family, try to spend some time outside in the coming weeks, and don't forget your camera!

Close Ups
You've probably seen some gorgeous close up photos of flowers and plants. A lot of these photos are taken when the flowers are in full bloom, but you can still capture some amazing close up shots of flowers as they are beginning to sprout and bloom. Consider investing in a macro photography lens for your DSLR camera, or set your camera to Close Up mode. If you want to try something a little more advanced, set your camera to Aperture Priority mode, and play around with different aperture settings. The aperture affects how deep or shallow your depth of field is in the photo. The higher the f-stop number, the deeper your depth of field will be. Experiment and have fun looking at the different results. Close Ups
Angles
A close up shot of a gorgeous Spring flower as the primary subject is a lovely shot, but try spicing things up a bit with your angles and perspective. For example, move the flower from the center to the corner of the frame, or shoot only part of the flower rather than the whole thing. Try shooting up or down at the flower, rather than straight on. Changing your angle and perspective can lead to a much more unique and interesting image. Consider using a tripod if you have one, especially for high aperture settings, which result in longer shutter speeds and are more susceptible to blur. Angles
Background

Backgrounds

In many cases, your background will be blurry or out of focus in a flower shot, especially in a close up. However, you still need to be mindful of what's behind (and in some cases, in front of) your subject. A blue flower close up will stand out much better against a red or white background, as opposed to a background of similarly-colored blue flowers. Or, and early yellow rose might be more vibrant with a blue sky in the background than the side of your house.

Weather Tips
Even though you've waited all winter for a sunny, warm day, your best shooting times are morning or evening, when the sun is low on the horizon. Overcast days are great for spring photography as well. Also, a windy day may cause blur in your flower photos. It is not necessarily a bad thing; blurred flowers can make stunning photos, but it's something to keep in mind. Bring something to block the wind, if possible. Pack for weather changes as well. Winter may be over, but rain or even snow storms can still creep up quickly this time of year. Make sure you have the proper clothing and protective gear for your equipment. Lighting
Digi's Inspiring Photos!
Throughout this year, I will share some of my favorite photos with you to give you a bit of inspiration and background information on how a photo was captured and created. Some may be photos I shot, while others might be from other pro photographers.




Inspire


This marco, or close up shot, was taken in some nice forest shade with just enough light coming into the scene to give it depth. The background, as in most close up work, is blurred out, but is a colorful counter to the subject, and shot at a very low angle, making the subject seem larger in the frame. This was shot with a DSLR and 60mm macro lens using all natural light.
Digi

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Partying with a restrictive diet - yes, it can be done!

If there's one thing that people on restrictive diets complain about, it's attending public functions and being able to eat holistically.  And the reverse goes the same- when someone I know is hosting a party I'm attending, they're always worried about how they can feed me.  Here are some things to think about if you're either person, struggling with hosting or attending a public function.  Whether you're the dieter or the host, your tummy and your friends' tummies will thank you for taking a moment to include these few tips. 


For the Dieter:

Be honest:  Tell it like it is. 
Don't be ashamed of your special needs, but don't be a pest about it either.  If they ask, let them know what you can't eat, and if they don't ask, kindly suggest some of the options below. Whether your reason is weight, medical, or just a life choice, everyone is different, and it's ok to state your differences.


Be proactive:  Always travel with something.
If you aren't asked to bring food, or asked for your input on food provided, you probably already do this to protect yourself, but always travel with something to tide you over. Get in the habit of grabbing something from your fridge before you go out.

Ask the kitchen:  You always get more with (figurative) sugar.
Whether the party is catered or a friend is hosting, ask if they mind if you sneak into the kitchen to find something you can eat.  If you're a vegetarian, vegan, eating gluten free, grain free or paleo, avoiding sugar, alcohol, or something else, I guarantee the chef has heard it before, and I double-guarantee your friend will want you to eat rather than go hungry. 

For the Host:

Always think of variety: What color is your food?
I often attend functions where there are just finger snacks. And they consist usually of crackers, bread, bruchetta, breaded or flavored meats, pretzels, and other white or beige items.  Remember to add variety to your offerings - be it a veggie platter, a fruit platter, un-sauced versions of whatever veggies or meat you are providing, variety is always better, for you and for your guests.

Share the load: What can your guests bring?
Most family and friend gatherings involve the guests bringing some of the food.  You're in control here, so tell people to bring what you don't have- make a list and include fruit, cheese, local meats and produce, raw vegetables, and start marking things off when people ask.

Offer both kinds: With and without.
As stated above, many sauces and dressings have sugar or corn syrup, or milk, and other things many people on a restrictive diet can't have.  So as you're fixing, offer two versions - with, and without.  It sounds like twice the work, but it's actually half the work. 

This also goes for those many friends who are now alcohol-free.  And it saves you money to offer drinks without alcohol, and encourages those who are considering driving home, to keep drinking and enjoying the fun without.Virgin mojitoes, peppermint and lavender tea, real lemonade w honey, smoothies, the list goes on.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Internal Linking provides better Search Engine Optimization

WIKI: Search Engine Optimization(SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a Web site or a Web page in search engines via the "natural," or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic"), search results.

A beautiful Web site is nothing without SEO, and there are many ways to direct traffic to a Web site to move you up the search engine ladder and get you to the top of Google's first page when someone searches for you, your business, or your topic.

In addition to providing great content, one of the best ways is Internal Linking: an internal link is a link to
another page on your own website.  Like inbound links (your Web site's link on other sites), they help build up your ranking for search engine results pages (SERPs) and are 100% within your control.  Both are equally important, as inbound links offer credibility (from peers) that your site alone can't create. 

But linking to yourself throughout your site is just as important, as it magnifies your presence on the internet without doing anything other than repetition. To make sure the repetition is right however, take some tips from the pros at Hubspot:  

How a search engine understands an internal link: it’s looking at how many pages on your website link to that page, and how they link to it.  If every page on your website links to something, it must be important to you -- like your homepage, or your blog’s homepage. If the only links to your blog are from your ‘About Us’ section, and nothing from your homepage or your website’s main navigation, you have already sent a strong signal to search engines. Your blog is not very important. If your blog is in the main website navigation,  however, Google and Bing will treat it like one of your top pages.

The page being linked to should provide an in-depth explanation of the linked keyword or phrase. To get the most out of internal linking, select one page (the best you have!) for which you’re trying to rank in the SERPs, and always link to that page in your internal links.



If you continually link to different pages, you’re splitting any linking authority among two pages instead of one, making your link half as useful. So be consistent in your efforts to rank for a specific keyword or phrase by linking to the same page. place relevant content around the link 

Also, don't underestimate Anchor Text, is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. Think of it as a caption, and include keywords make it clear what the link is.  The copy around the linked text should also be optimized. Crawlers read the anchor text and the words around it. So seeing a relevant keyword near the linked copy helps in search engine optimization.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gratitude Monday: Why I love my online organizers

The online tools I teach to small business owners are the ones that are most inexpensive (or free!), stable, reliable and most importantly, always improving.  I look for applications that have the same priorities - making online marketing and communication easy for business owners.

Today's blast from MailChimp is a perfect example. The headline: Every 4 weeks we launch new features. 

An online tool can't get more up to date than that.  I have half a dozen clients using this program, and knowing they all got that email today too made me giggle.  What a proactive little monkey!

It takes me weeks, sometimes months, to share the plethora of online gifts that I love with my clients, but in brief, here are some of the wonderful tools (in order of  why I appreciate them) that I use for my own businesses, which to me, speaks volumes when I learn from the my own online gurus. In this fast and vast technological age, we are all students just keeping up with the pace-setters like Google and Facebook.

#1: Google. In 2010 I let go of Microsoft's late-blooming organizational assistance and moved all of my email accounts and calendars into Google. Now six Google and POP accounts coexist dynamically in my inbox.  It took a little while to get used to, as anything does, but I found that the reliable online storage, folders, bundled email threads and colored coding, shared calendars and documents, chat capability with video, and survey-to-spreadsheet stats systems far exceeded anything I could find from either MS or Mac, or other online hubs for that matter.  I do have two Yahoo accounts and an MSN/Hotmail account that I use for spam, signups I won't read, and online orders and when I go in there to check something, I am infinitely frustrated by the outdated platforms, lack of organizational tools, and overall ignorant format of the email system.  If you haven't switched to Google, you probably don't spend a lot of time on email. I am also on my second smartphone with the Android system and that's a whole other blog post in itself: Why I Heart My Droid. It's an addiction, and those of you with one surely understand.

#2: Hootsuite.  Once I started managing too many Facebook and Twitter accounts to handle them alone, I started paying for Hootsuite and the low $5 cost per month is worth it.  I can post from my phone, PC, laptop, or iPad, and my favorite trick is to gather a week or a months worth of posts and schedule them in advance.  If a client simply can't manage to post every day, and many can't, I can get done in 30 minutes per month what would take some an hour a day to research and post.  There were some predecessors to Hootsuite, Tweetlater and Tweetdeck for example, that many of us got sucked into when Twitter first launched, but none of them are as organizationally masterful as my Owl. Of course I've named her Hedwig.

#3: MailchimpI have three words for Mailchimp: Free, easy, and fun.  There are dozens of options for mailing systems out there, and for years, we used Aweber with only very little complaint, because it was pretty inexpensive.  Also worth mention, several of the businesses I work with have used Constant Contact, and it's got a great thing going, so I won't dog it too much. But my biggest beef with them is that the nickle-and-diming they do can be frustrating if you have a small list and very little budget for online marketing.  With the rise of giants like Facebook who store thousands of images for free, storage for pictures is one thing that I just can't justify $5 a month for with Constant Contact. So Mailchimp's free-for-2500-names plan is a no brainer for most of my clients, and for the largest one, the $50 they pay a month to manage a list of nearly 5000 names is well worth it as well.  In addition, the ease of its overall system (for some it may take a few times through it, because it is, thankfully, quite thorough), the plethora of campaign styles, and the segmentation of your list and overall list management are three more A+ marks for the monkey.  Plus, he gives you daily tips, sends you weekly reports, and as stated above, adds new features each month.  Come on!

#4: Weebly and WordPressTied for fourth are the two platforms for Web development that I teach. These two systems are so incredibly easy and cheap - if not free depending on the simplicity of your site - that while I've thought about adding other guns to my arsenal (tempted by new ads on TV and posts from my peers), I just haven't bothered to go there yet.  Even if I have a client who wants her site to look entirely unique, we troll the vast catalogs for a design-specific template.  I have used Weebly for 2 of my own personal businesses and WordPress for our largest one with an online store, and have never been dissatisfied in three years.  Many people get confused with WordPress, thinking it's a blogging system, but its backend is a vast landscape of geekdom that will manage and allow growth for any size of Web site, online store, and yes, blog.

Of course it goes without saying that the free marketing and even super-inexpensive budget-specific advertising on Facebook is a must. If you have a Web site and don't have a Facebook page, you're missing a huge marketing tool.  Twitter and LinkedIn are very specific, and I only refer businesses to those tools for reasons I won't get into here, but Facebook is THE giant of them all, it's unquestionable. 

This is just a start, but a good place to, when developing your online presence in our ever-changing world of technology and the World Wide Web.

May all your businesses be successful and abundant, and in the words of one of my favorite companies, Life is Good:  Do what you like, like what you do!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stricter and stricter with SCD - research is a must

As you know, I do my research.  I have three amazing women helping me clear out my food allergies, gut issues, and body in general (liver, lungs, emotional trauma) but there's a reason we know our bodies best and should listen to them - no two patients are the same.  And no two practitioners are the same.  Because mine are from three completely different schools of teaching (India, China, US), I am certainly getting some mixed messages while I'm clearing.  So that leads me to doing my favorite - research.

Take vinegar at night to clear out the liver? Well supposedly not a good idea if I'm a Pitta.
Take supplements to build good enzymes? Not if several of their ingredients are on no list.
Take acidophilus instead of making my own yogurt? Nope, contains inulin.
Take aloe juice to cool and clear out? (All three said this one!) SCD says no, plain and clear:
 http://pecanbread.com/new/Sup1.htm ~ A great resource list at the Kids & SCD blog.  I was even unsure about Xanthum Gum, and found my answer there.

And I've had plenty of people tell me that they know what's best for me because they're on the GAPS diet - I found out early on that I can't confuse SCD with GAPS - while both are good for autism and other psychological disorders, SCD is stricter - no corn, for instance - and to me seems better for clearing out the gut entirely.

I was already well trained to read the labels on everything from being off gluten for 3 years, but SCD has made me take that to the extreme.  EG: Low and behold individually packaged Celestial Seasonings tea (the kind they serve at restaurants) has Soy Lecithin.  The only flavor that doesn't is Peppermint, and ironically, that's on two of the doc's lists to drink regularly.  But if you buy the box of Celestial, where all loose bags are in one compartment, there's no soy.  There's logic in there somewhere, but it sure is counter-intuitive.

I've also found that I'm not very good at making my own liver stimulating tea blends taste very good, even if I add a boat load of honey.  But Yogi Tea's Detox Tea blend contains all the key ingredients to help clear out and rebuild strength in my liver, and it actually tastes good without a bit of honey.

Other ingredients you're not sure about are easily found on the list at the link above - sorbitol, sucralose, "flavoring"... all of it is a no no.

Which brings me back to the overall mantra of SCD:  If you don't know what it is, if you can't harvest it or hunt it, if it comes in a can or from a big-business factory, if it's GMO, processed, or ____-ized, etc etc, don't ingest it.

Not only is this good practice for those like me who are clearing out their bodies and starting new, it's good practice for anyone who wants to protect themselves against future disease, align themselves with the creative source and manifest, and support local farming for sustainability.  Three stellar reasons to say no to ingredients you can't pronounce, spell, or define.

Whichever you choose, SCD, GAPS, paleo, or raw, a natural diet requires discipline but it's truly sustaining for you and your world, and well worth it.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Kukicha Tea for cleansing during SCD diet and way more...

Having been off coffee since going on the SCD diet, and boosting my existing Scotch-Irish-induced adoration for tea, I've found a new favorite: the naturally sweet and nutty Kukicha tea, also known as bancha twig tea or winter tea (how perfect).  Kukicha comes from the tea tree Camellia sinensis, just as it is the case with green tea, white tea and black tea and is made from roasted and aged twigs, stems and coarse leaves of the tea plant.

I was introduced to Kukicha at my last Tea Party by my Ayurvedic Practitioner for cleansing and healing my liver ~ but the benefits of kukicha tea are numerous, it is an important part of the macrobiotic diet (truly taken from Ayurvedic tradition) and it is considered to lead to stable health and longevity.  Sold!


Kukicha tea's benefits come from its alkalizing properties and is good for the prevention of numerous diseases by balancing our levels of acidity.  Here's where the SCD diet comes in:  diets containing white flour, sugars, dairy products, eggs and meat, raise the body’s acidity and eventually results in fatigue, premature aging, weakened immune system, heart, kidney or bladder conditions, problems with weight, joints and bones. So while cleansing these from your system, Kukicha is a natural and easy remedy for easing the process.  Also extra good in the winter and flu months, Kukicha combats virus-induced colds and influenza. Sounds like a winner.

What I like about it is that I don't have to add much (somedays any) milk or honey to my "cuppa," it's naturally sweet taste reminds me of a powdered dandelion "instant coffee" I've been trying to find since living in Scotland in 1997. When medicine tastes like this, it's easy to take daily.

Kukicha is abundant in a variety of minerals, vitamins, and flavonoids, is anti-cancerous, discourages the growth of tumors, promotes digestion and cleans the body of toxins due to its high content of tannin, which  can even free the body from nicotine and radioactivity which is why it is recommended to people who take many medications.

Kukicha also regulates the levels of blood sugar, while by lowering high blood pressure, so it prevents strokes and heart disease, and also promote weight loss as well as slows down the aging process.

Not only good for those flushing their system on the SCD diet, Kukicha is a great tasting tea to add to your daily routine to stay healthy and clean out the daily toxins we ingest and assume from our modern environments.

Siting: http://ic.steadyhealth.com/health_benefits_of_kukicha_tea.html

Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Month Grain Free!

They say the first month is the hardest, so I'm feeling pretty good that the first month wasn't actually that hard.  I won't lie, I went through a bad second-week chocolate withdrawal when my brain let go of that addiction, I had two straight weeks of adrenal fatigue, and getting used to making everything from scratch took some effort that I just barely had during that fatigue.  But coming out of the other end of that feels magnificent and the patches of psoriasis are already practically gone - and going gluten free didn't really affect them really at all - and when I pay close attention to the quality of the nuts I'm eating, and soak them, the arthritis has also been non existent.  I've finally started feeling like not only can I handle this for a short term (my naturopathic doctor said 6-12 months, probably more like 6 for me), I will likely take many of these practices with me far into my future food consumption.

Since I have taken the time to do some quality research this month, I thought it would help some to share.  The most eye-opening research I did was read Breaking the Vicious Cycle, learning about all the conditions that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet had worked for, and how the health of our intestines equally relates to the health of not only our immune system but our psyche as well.  SCD has been documented to work for auto-immune diseases like psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis, Chrohn's Disease, and MS (and more), as well as Autism and Schizophrenia - a concept also found in the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), which is very similar.  The two centuries of medical studies listed in this book were worth reading it alone, but its resource section of recipes in the back is what I keep going back to it for.

In addition, the author has an online listing of the illegal foods that was very helpful during those first two weeks when I was still adjusting: http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/legal/legal_illegal_a-c.htm 

A few more great recipe resources I've found are:
http://nourishedandnurtured.blogspot.com/2011/03/easy-grain-free-breakfasts-for-weekday.html


http://www.scdrecipe.com/recipes/
http://www.scdiet.org/2recipes/indexa.html
http://scdlifestyle.com
http://www.scdforlife.com/p/beyond-scd-repcipes.html
http://pecanbread.com/recipes.html
http://grainfreefoodie.blogspot.com/

Locally, we have some great resources as well.  
  • Moon Hill Dairy is where I now get my raw milk from to make yogurt.  On SCD you're not allowed to drink the liquid milk but I have to say I tasted it and it's delicious.  
  • Deep Roots is a great resource for recipes, buying local, and natural living.
  • The Weston A Price Foundation chapter in Steamboat is a new group that will be teaching the practices of this natural-food method as well. 
I've also purchased an Excalibur 5-tray dehydrator and dried bananas, pineapples, apples, pears, and zucchini, and will start making crackers out of seeds and yogurt chews.  And I've found that on Amazon, I can buy 16-count boxes of Lara Bars for $16 (1/2 the price of buying them singly locally) if I sign up for the auto-mail program, which I set first to 3-month increments and can cancel at any time.  Lara bars and other raw and seed bars have been saving me, since I do find that I need to eat something, even small, about every 2-3 hours.


One thing I've struggled with is eating out, and I've learned the hard way that there are better and worse choices for that.  Of course salads are always an option, but they get boring and don't fill me up.  One thing I've learned is that my body really does need a lot of the meat proteins, but I have to be careful on where that meat comes from and what the animal eat.  So I've been supporting the restaurants that buy local, grass fed meat the most, which feels good for our local economy anyway.  


So far so good!  Suggestions and links welcome!