Category Archives: Home & Garden


Himalayan Salt & Salt Lamp Benefits

Business Spotlight

What are Himalayan salt and Himalayan salt lamps? Salt is one of the substances that our body needs. Salt regulates and maintains our blood pressure. It is also vital for our nervous system. Sodium chloride is essential for brain growth and the development of our neurological functions. Our adrenal glands need salt to function and the adrenal glands secrete 50 of our body’s hormones that we need! We also need salt for our metabolism and digestion.

Himalayan salt is mined from the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan. It has no environmental pollutants that can harm our bodies. Salt from these mountains dates back 250 million years. Eighty percent of Himalayan salt is sodium chloride. The remaining 20% contains 84 trace minerals that our body needs. Himalayan salt is an unrefined salt and doesn’t contain any of the chemicals found in traditional table salt.

For years, many European countries have used salt mines and hot salt springs to promote a sense of rejuvenation. People rest and rejuvenate in salt mines and caves, in spa-like ambiance in many cases, for periods of time to help aid their mood and overall sense of calm. Why are the salt mines so beneficial? Quite simply, the very dry, negative ion environment of a salt mine is the key. There are many places in America where you can also enjoy salt springs or salt caves. Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia are places where you will find natural salt springs. Manmade salt caves are also located in 57 places in the United States.

It depends on who you talk to or what you read about as to the benefits of the Himalayan salt lamps. Most agree that it’s a huge chunk of salt which draws moisture into it. Once the water vapor comes in contact with the salt lamp, the pollutants are believed to remain trapped in the salt. Since the lamp is heated, the salt dries out and is able to continue the cycle of attracting water vapor and pollutants, releasing the water vapor back into the air, but holding on to the health-hazardous pollutants. There aren’t any scientific studies focusing specifically on Himalayan salt lamp benefits. However, there is good reason to believe that a real Himalayan salt lamp may provide some health benefits given the other salt research out there, as well as many encouraging user testimonies. These include antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, loosening of excessive mucus and speeded up drainage, and removal of pathogens (i.e., airborne pollen). The salt lamps are believed in general to purify the air, ease allergies and asthma, and reduce electromagnetic radiation by producing negative ions to remove the positive ions in our environment. They are also believed to provide a calming effect which can boost mood and promote sleep.

The Nature Cottage has recently opened a Himalayan Salt Therapy Room known as “The Zen Den.” The room contains 20 Himalayan salt lamps in various colors and sizes. We have three treatment options varying from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. The 60 minute treatment also includes a heated or cooled Himalayan neck wrap and a Himalayan salt brick foot treatment. Complimentary beverages and aromatherapy are offered as well. You can enjoy the benefits of the Zen Den by calling 336-843-4297 for an appointment. Individuals and small groups are welcome.

We also sell Himalayan salt lamps that come from the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan. They all come with dimmer cords which are UL tested for safety. Come in and see the variety of salt lamps that are available. The Nature Cottage is located at 21 S. Main Street in Lexington.


Traditional Irish Recipes

Irish tradition is part of our area with many decedents originating from Irish linage.   Here are some traditional Irish staples that are sure to give you the luck of the Irish.

Irish Soda Bread


5 c. sifted all-purpose unbleached flour

3/4 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter

2 1/2 c. mixed light and dark raisins, soaked in water for 15 to 20 minutes and drained

3 T. caraway seeds

2 1/2 c. buttermilk

1 large egg, slightly beaten



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter 2 (9 by 5-inch) bread pans.

Stir together the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the butter and mix very thoroughly with your hands until it gets grainy. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.

Add the buttermilk and egg to the flour mixture. Stir until well moistened. Shape dough into 2 loaves and place in the pans.

Bake for 1 hour. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Cool in the pans for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe Courtesy of Rick Curry


Guinness Cheese Spread


1⁄2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, cut up

2 oz. blue cheese, cut up

3 oz. cream cheese, cut up

1 tsp. caraway seed

1 tsp. paprika

1⁄2 c. Guinness stout



Combine cut up cheddar, blue cheese, and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor or blender.

Add caraway seeds, paprika and beer.

Process until smooth.

Transfer to a serving bowl or crock.

Serve at room temperature with crackers or spread on soda bread or hamburgers.


Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie


1 T. olive oil

1 tsp. black pepper

1 lb. ground beef or 1 lb. lamb

1 large onion, finely diced

3 -4 large carrots, finely diced

1 c. frozen peas

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped

2 T. flour

1 T. butter

1 glass red wine

2 T. tomato paste

2 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 c. chicken stock

1 large quantity mashed potatoes (estimating 1 lb. or 6 c., fresh or leftover)

1 egg, beaten

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)



Pre-heat oven to 400° F.

Sauté carrots in the olive oil until they start to become tender. Add in the onions and sauté for a minute or two, then add the meat. Season with black pepper and thyme. Cook until browned then drain fat.

Add the butter and peas. Sprinkle with flour and stir through. Add tomato paste, wine, and Worcestershire sauce.

Let this reduce slightly then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have thick, meaty gravy. Season to your taste.

Remove from heat. Grease an oven proof dish** (9×13 works best) with butter and add the sauce.

Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if using.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.

Serve as is or with some crusty bread to mop up that yummy sauce!



Making a Splash with Water Features in the Garden

By Nikki Phipps

Want to add additional charm and tranquility to your garden? Incorporate a water feature. No matter what size or type of garden you have, there are a number of water features that will fit into any design or space, as well as any budget. A garden pond can add special qualities to nearly any landscape.

Vinyl or fiberglass pond liners are widely available at garden centers or through water garden suppliers. These come in a variety of sizes which offer flexible options to easily suit your particular needs. They can also be placed either above or below ground, so if your space cannot accommodate a large water pond, such as with balconies, containers make excellent alternatives.

Nearly any type of watertight container can be easily transformed into a miniature garden pond. If it’s not watertight, PVC liners are available at most garden centers which will help to waterproof your container. Half-wooden barrels and galvanized washtubs are the most commonly used.

Place your pond in a location that receives at least 4-6 hours of full sun. Make certain that your site is leveled off as well. If your space permits, stick your mini pond in the ground to help minimize the chances of it freezing over. Dig out the soil, keeping it large enough for your pond liner or container to fit into. Level off the bottom and add an even layer of sand. Place the liner or container inside and fill in around it with the excavated dirt. Add some water and approximately 3-5 plants, depending on the size of your pond. Water lilies, cattails, water hyacinths, and sweet flag are exceptional choices. Conceal the outer edges of your pond with additional moisture-loving plants and rocks for further interest.

Moving water adds character to the garden, and both waterfalls and fountains make pleasant accents. Garden centers and professional pond retailers offer many types of easy, do-it-yourself kits that fit nearly any budget or garden design.

Waterfalls can flow over rocks or run down retaining walls. They can be formal or informal. There are numerous resources available for waterfall ideas; however, different landscapes will affect the overall design. Therefore, to achieve a successful waterfall design, be sure to choose an area and design that will fit into your specific landscape.

Fountains always make wonderful additions to any type of setting, and fountain kits can make this possible. Fountains come in an array of choices to suit your personal preferences; they can splash, gurgle, spray, drip, etc. You can place your fountain just about anywhere. For instance, the bottom of a small pond or even a large container such as an urn, planter, barrel, or strawberry jar can create stunning homes for your fountain. Place the fountain pump in the bottom of your pond or container and follow the instructions included with your kit. Enhance the fountain with stones, pebbles, and plants.

Hollowed-out bamboo canes can also be transformed into serene water features. For example, drill some holes in various areas along the cane. Attach the cane, in an upright position, to a submersible pump placed in the bottom of a large container, such as a half-wooden barrel. Fill with water, plug it into a nearby outlet, and relax to the soothing sounds of water trickling from the cane.

You could also place a stone basin among a group of plantings. Make sure the basin is large enough to catch water. Hollow out 3/4 of a bamboo cane and cut this into two varying lengths, one long and one short, with the shorter piece hollowed only halfway. Slightly angle the hollowed end of the short cane (this is where the water runs out). Meanwhile, place a submersible pump in a reservoir behind the basin and secure in place using stones. Insert vinyl tubing through the large piece of cane, fastening the bottom part to your submersible pump. Drill out a hole near the center of the small piece of bamboo just large enough to fit the top of the larger piece inside, running the remainder of vinyl tubing through the small cane. Once secure, seal this with a waterproof sealant such as caulking (clear). Conceal the reservoir with plants. Fill both the basin and reservoir with water, plug it up, and enjoy its soft trickle effect.

If ponds, waterfalls, or fountains are not your thing, even the most subtle of water accents, such as basins and birdbaths, can add a sense of peace to your garden. Birdbaths can be nothing more than a shallow dish of water sitting on an over-turned container.

There are endless ways to add water to your landscape; simply use a little creativity and see what happens.

Author Bio
This article was written by Nikki Phipps and sponsored by Gardening Know How, your source for gardening information.

Article Source: 



Eggs-tra Special Easter Activities

The Easter Bunny is getting close to his visit and I’m always looking for new Easter-themed ideas and activities for my kids. Sure, dyeing Easter eggs and planning an Easter egg hunt are always staples, but I wanted something new and fresh. So I asked around and I’m sharing here some of the great ideas several of my teacher friends offered. Have fun with these exciting Easter activities!

Matching Sound Game. Fill plastic Easter eggs with different materials such as dry pinto beans, small pasta, gems, pompoms, tiny puzzle pieces, and pebbles to vary the sounds they make. The kids pick one egg and shake it, then pick another one. If it sounds the same as the former one, put the pair in the carton side by side. If they have different sounds, just leave them off to the side.

Ice Easter Eggs. Place some crafts or glass stones in a balloon, fill it with water using the tap, tie it off, and place it in the freezer overnight. You will get a beautiful ice egg. It’s very interesting to retrieve the treasure inside by cracking the eggs open.

Easter Bunny Cover Up. Print out an Easter bunny face image. This is an interesting estimating game, using different sizes of pompoms to cover parts of the bunny’s face. The most challenging part is that you have to estimate how many you need. Just see how close you can be and your estimating skills can be improved in this way.

crosstossCross Toss. Prepare all the cups in a tray and insert rolled purple paper to make a cross. Throw all the purple Easter eggs in the purple cups. The kids will surely have fun and they can also improve their shooting accuracy.

Easter Egg Spoon Balancing Activity. This balancing activity is so funny. Hold the handle of a wooden spoon to balance the Easter egg, and then set a distance to walk while making sure that you don’t drop the Easter egg. This idea can improve the balance ability for kids.

Coin Counting Easter Activity. This will give your kids plenty of practice to count coins and match them correctly with the written amounts on these Easter eggs. Write with marker an amount of money on each plastic Easter egg. Place change out for the children to use. For each egg they need to count and add up the money to match what’s written on the egg.

Word Family Easter Eggs. If your kids have trouble memorizing words, this would be a funny and helpful Easter activity to help them learn. Make a few family eggs with different words. You can make the correct word by spinning the each half of the Easter eggs.

Egg Tower Challenge. Lay out a pile of plastic Easter egg halves and instruct the kids to start building. I challenged them to see who could build the tallest tower. They counted the plastic egg halves as they added them to their towers.

Easter Egg-ercise. Add an activity inside each egg. Five bunny hops, three rabbit jacks, etc. Have each child perform the activity written inside of the egg when they open it. Egg-ercises can also be done as a group.