Category Archives: May 2015


Essential Oils at The Nature Cottage

An Introduction to Essential Oils

By Susan Hilton RN, MSN

Essential Oils have been used for centuries. In the history of mankind it seems that the Egyptians were the first people to make extensive use of aromatherapy and aromatic herbs, and included their use in religion, cosmetics and health and wellness purposes.

Aromatic essences and resins were used extensively in the embalming process. It was thought that most essential oils were produced in Egypt by the method known as enfleurage extraction. But the Egyptians did have access to the distillation method through the Mesopotamians, as distillation pots have been found at Tepe Gawra dating back to about 3,500 BC.

essential-oils (1)The medicinal wisdom of the Egyptians was taken over and absorbed by the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates (c.460 – 377 BC), the most well-known physician of that time, was also a firm believer in treating the patient holistically and included aromatherapy massage as a treatment.

The term aromatherapy as we know it today was first coined in 1937 by the French chemist and perfumer Rene Maurice Gattefosse. He was not a believer in the natural health movement, but was interested in the properties that essential oils exhibited.

In 1910, Gattefosse burned his hand badly in his laboratory and, using the first available compound handy, treated his badly burned hand with pure undiluted lavender oil. This not only immediately eased the pain, but helped heal the hand without any sign of infection or scar. He also found that minute amounts of essential oils are absorbed by the body and interact with the body chemistry.

During the Second World War, as a result of Gattefosse’s experiments, Dr. Jean Valet used essential oils with great success to treat injured soldiers. In the 1950s, Marguerite Maury started diluting essential oils in vegetable carrier oil and massaging it onto the skin using a Tibetan technique, of applying oils along the spinal column in the area of spinal nerve endings. She was also the first person to start the use of “individually prescribed” combinations of essential oils to suit the needs of the person being massaged.  Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the use of essential oils and aromatherapy has become a major part of alternative and holistic health systems, and now has a huge following across the world.

So, what are essential oils? Essential oils are the volatile liquids of the plant. They are the essence of the plant. They are obtained from properly distilling any part of the plant, including the seeds, roots, bark, stems, leaves, fruit, flowers or branches.

Essential oils are convenient, quick and easy to use. They support the body and help it to come back into balance without harmful side effects or the use of chemical based products. The molecule size of essential oils is so small that they can immediately penetrate the skin and cell membranes. They contain oxygen molecules that can transport nutrients to cells that are nutrient and/or oxygen deprived. Our cells need oxygen!

Essential oils are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants strengthen the body’s systems to help prevent the damaging effects of aging, poor diet, and the environment, and they help to eliminate free radicals.

Essential oils soothe muscles and joints. They support the immune system. They soothe digestion. They revitalize aging skin and soothe irritated skin. Essential oils benefit green household products. Essential oils are non-toxic and promote wellness.

Essential oils can be used by three methods: topical application or direct application on the skin; inhalation of the oils; internal consumption by taking them orally. Internal consumption may include swallowing a capsule of oil, placing the oils in a drink or putting them directly in your mouth. Please check to make sure your oils can be taken in this manner!

Most edible (ingestible)  oils are designated by the following labels:

GRAS – Generally Regarded as Safe. Examples are Lemon, Orange and Peppermint essential oils.

FA – FDA Approved Food Additive. Examples are Clove and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oils.

FL – Flavoring Agent. Examples are Eucalyptus (certain species) and Valerian essential oils.

At The Nature Cottage we have a knowledgeable staff ready to help you with your health or wellness issues. We offer several therapies using essential oils as well as consultations to review your history to determine how essential oils can benefit your health. We’re located at 208 E. Center St in Lexington.


Cool Summer Recipes

Chill Out with Cool Summer Recipes

130626-Summer-fruit-punch167367469-676x450Nothing is better on a summer afternoon or evening than a refreshing cold beverage. Unwind and relax with a few of these amazing summer refreshments. Share a glass and share the love of summer with your friends or neighbors. Many of these recipes will be great for baby showers, bridal parties, outdoor summertime fun and a wealth of other occasions. So, come on and chill a little!

Melon Ball Punch


  • 25.4 oz. sparkling white grape juice
  • 2 c. clear lemon lime flavored soda
  • 1 c. lemonade
  • 1 small ripe watermelon
  • 1 small ripe cantaloupe
  • 1 small ripe honeydew melon
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 2 limes, sliced, plus more for garnish if desired

In a pitcher, stir together the juice, soda and lemonade, then put in the refrigerator to chill and blend together. While the juices are in the fridge, use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh of the melons. Place the balls on a foil lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Let them stay in the freezer until frozen through. Once frozen, add melon balls to pitcher as well as mint leaves and sliced lime. Do not add all the melon balls at one time. Make sure you have room to stir in the pitcher. Refrigerate for 30 additional minutes to let all the flavors blend. Serve cold in a glass and add additional melon balls as ice cubes. Garnish with lime and mint and enjoy!
Blackberry Sage Cooler


  • 15 medium size sage leaves
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 8 oz. blackberries

Bring water and sugar to boil over high heat and keep on heat until sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat. Crush sage leaves with a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon. Add the sage leaves to the simple syrup and set aside for approximately 15 minutes for the sage to infuse the syrup. While it infuses, puree the blackberries in a blender. Once pureed, send through a fine strainer to remove all the seeds. To serve add one tablespoon of puree and one tablespoon of sage syrup to a glass and fill remaining with club soda. Add a fresh mint leaf or blackberry garnish to the glass and serve.

Lavender Lemonadedownload (7)

  • ¾ c. water
  • ½ c. sugar
  • Frozen lemonade concentrate (or freshly made)
  • 3-4 organic lavender buds

Heat water and sugar on stove until sugar is dissolved, then add lavender buds to infuse mixture. Remove from heat and let cool. Add prepared lemonade, minus one cup of water, to pitcher. Strain lavender from syrup. Add syrup mixture to lemonade and stir. Let refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. For coloring you can add one drop of red and one drop of blue food coloring to ¼ cup of water and add into mixture. Note: Instead of using lavender buds, you can use lavender essential oil. Please check to ensure essential oil is 100% therapeutic and safe for ingestion.

Quick, Healthy conversions

  • 2 c. sugar = 1 c. honey
  • 1 c. sugar = ½ c. agave nectar
  • 1 c. sugar = 1 c. coconut sugar

Homemade Sports Quencher

  • ½ liter ginger water (recipe below)
  • 1 liter water
  • Juice of 3 small lemons
  • ½ tsp. sea salt (or omit or add to, if necessary)
  • Honey to taste (can substitute Stevia or sweetener)

Ginger Water

  • 1 medium ginger root
  • 1 liter water
  • Honey or stevia to taste

Cut ginger root into large coin size pieces. In a medium size pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool and then add desired sweetener. Store in fridge.

Mix all ingredients together and place in fridge for at least 30 mins. Drink and Enjoy!

Snazzy Up Your Glass: Freezing Ice Cubes for Flare

Add a little pizazz to your cup this summer with these frozen ice cube ideas. Take an ordinary drink and make it extraordinary with a few simple ideas. Color, ingredients and even flowers will add a beautiful punch to your summertime favorites with these iced up ideas.

Crushed Up Fruit Cubes

Take your favorite fruits like watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, or any fruit of your choice. Fill each ice cube mold with fruit and top with lemonade. Freeze and add to water or tea for a delicious treat full of antioxidants.

Coffee Cubes

Many of us enjoy the taste of fresh coffee but a warm cup during the summer might not be what you enjoy. Instead, freeze left over coffee and add to your favorite cup of coffee for a cool summer treat that won’t dilute the taste of your next cup.

Lime & Mint for Mojitos

download (8)Instead of having to crush mojito ingredients, prepare them early in ice cube trays. Mince mint and lime and add to water in ice trays. Once firm, add to a glass and lightly mince. Add additional mojito ingredients and keep your glass fresh with flavor.


Wine Coolers

Leave the ice tray at home for this catchy idea. Simply place grapes of your choice (purple or green) in the freezer and add to your favorite wine to keep it good and cold. Use the green grapes for white wine and purple grapes for red.

Ice Koozie for Bottles

For your next party, make this neat ice koozie for liquor bottles. Cut off the top of a 2 liter bottle. Insert liquor bottle into plastic liter bottle. Add water to fill one third of the plastic bottle and add fruit, flowers or coloring of your choice. Place in freezer. Once frozen, remove and repeat the steps for the middle portion of the bottle and then finally the last third of the bottle. When it’s time for the party, remove the plastic bottle form and place on table for a pretty display of your favorites.


Don’t forget your little four-legged friends with this fun Pupsicle. Take any cake mold and fill with doggie toys and treats, then fill with water. Place in freezer until firm. Remove and place on a cake plate or doggie bowl to keep them cool, too!




Summer Picnic Tips

Take Safety on Your Picnic

Jeannie M. Leonard

Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent

iStock_000017115104XSmall_300x199Picnicking is a special part of many summertime activities. If picnic foods are not handled safely, they can cause food borne illness. To prevent illness, take safety on your picnic.

Picnic foods can be hazardous for several reasons. Food receives a lot of handling. Picnic foods—such as potato or macaroni salads, sandwich fillings, hamburger patties, and cut watermelon—often receive a lot of handling during preparation. Handling increases the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria.

Food is not cooled rapidly after cooling is another hazard. Some common picnic foods require precooking and are prepared in large quantities. Cooked foods must be rapidly cooled by putting in shallow pans and refrigerating immediately after cooking so harmful bacteria does not grow. Warm temperatures promote bacterial growth.great-picnic-food

Another hazard is that equipment to keep hot food hot and cold food cold is usually not used and food sits out for long periods of time. Warm temperatures support the growth of harmful bacteria. The longer food is at warm temperatures, the more likely food borne illness will result.

The following guidelines will help keep your picnic food safe:

  • Wash hands before handling food and use clean utensils and containers. Dirty hands, utensils, containers and any work surfaces can contaminate food with harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Do not prepare foods more than one day before your picnic unless it is to be frozen. Cooking foods in advance allows for more opportunities for bacteria to grow. Cooked foods need to be rapidly cooled in shallow pans. Spread the food out in as many pans as is needed so that food is no more than two inches deep. Over 67% of reported cases of food borne illnesses are due to improper cooling. Frozen foods can be used if thawed in the refrigerator.
  • Mayonnaise-based foods need to be kept cold. Mayonnaise alone is too acidic for bacteria to grow in it. However, when mayonnaise is mixed with other foods, (particularly those that have been handled a lot and/or are protein foods), bacteria can grow if this mixture is kept too warm.
  • Cut melons need to be kept cold. Many people do not realize that melons, such as watermelon and cantaloupe, can cause food borne illness. Bacteria, such as Salmonella and Shigella (common causes of food borne illness), are often present on the rind. Therefore, be sure to wash melons thoroughly before cutting, then promptly refrigerate cut pieces. Melons, unlike most other fruits, are not acidic and so can support the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Keep cold food cold. You need to keep cold food at 40 degrees F. or colder to prevent bacterial growth. To do so, pack cold foods in a sturdy, insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Freeze your own blocks of ice in milk cartons or plastic containers for use in the cooler. Put cold foods in water-proof containers or wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and completely immerse in the ice inside the cooler. If using frozen gel packs or containers of homemade ice, place them between packages of food. Keep the cooler closed until ready to use the contents.
  • The trunk of your car can reach temperatures of 150 degrees F., so it is best to transport coolers in the passenger area of the car. When you arrive at the picnic site, put a blanket over the cooler and place it in the shade to maintain cold temperatures. Keep the cooler closed until ready to use the contents.
  • Keep hot food hot. You should keep hot foods at 140 degrees F. or hotter to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Takeout foods or foods cooked just before being transported to the picnic can be carried hot. Wrap hot food in towels, then in newspaper, and place inside a box or heavy paper bag. Keep these foods warm on a lit grill or use within one hour.
  • If you cannot keep cold food cold and hot food hot, take foods that do not need refrigeration. For example, peanut butter sandwiches, dried fruit, nuts, unpeeled fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), jelly sandwiches, unopened cans of food (meat, fish, or fruit), cookies, cakes, and crackers are all good choices.
  • Wash your hands. Pack moist towelettes if you think your picnic site might not have hand washing facilities available. Hands carry harmful bacteria and viruses that contaminate food and cause illness.
  • Pack plenty of utensils and dishware. Never use the utensils and dishware that have touched by raw foods, such as meat, fish and poultry, to store fresh or cooked foods unless they have been washed between uses. Juices from some raw foods contain harmful bacteria that can contaminate other foods and cause food borne illness. Because proper washing might be difficult at a picnic, pack extra plates and utensils to prevent cross-contamination. Better yet, consider using disposable plates.
  • Whether you are cooking indoors or outside on a grill, meat and poultry must be cooked thoroughly to ensure that harmful bacteria are destroyed. Grill raw poultry until the juices run clear and there is no pink close to the bone. Hamburgers should not be pink in the center.
  • Prevent contamination of food by insects by keeping the foods covered. Many insects can carry harmful bacteria and viruses on their bodies.
  • At the end of the picnic, you should throw away leftovers, because most of them have been sitting out for more than one hour and have had many people handling them. The more time that food has been sitting at unsafe temperatures, the more likely harmful bacteria has grown.
  • Cold foods kept in a cooler that still has ice may be safe. If the ice is melted, throw out the food. Cold water cannot keep foods cold enough to be safe.

Summer slim down

It’s About More Than Weight loss

By: Julie Williams

101612535312873362_bsfdfkow_c3Slim Solutions of Lexington has served the community for over 16 years. With a bachelor degree in sports medicine as well as having spent eleven years in the medical field, my knowledge of the human body and how it operates is extensive. Most recently, I’m working on a certification from UNCG as a health coach. I feel all these attributes will help me as the new owner of Slim Solutions.

Slim Solutions Weight loss and nutritional support is a program developed to help individuals become healthier through weight management. The program has been approved by the NC Board of Dietetics and Nutrition. The program we offer concentrates on your overall health. Through various health coaching techniques we teach you on how to become empowered to change your life by emphasizing healthy eating habits, learning about portion sizes and how to read nutritional food labels. My goal is for you to become an active participant in your weight loss goal. I want to partner with you give emotional support during the weight loss journey to change your life. Weight gain can be affected by many variables; medication ,hormones, digestive issues, low metabolism, age, lack of sleep 210709-kak-pohudet-v-sportzale-i-sauneand stress, to name a few. The program allows an individual to lose about 2-3 pounds per week by eating real food from the grocery store or restaurant. All weigh-ins are confidential and done one on one allowing you to feel comfortable.  Weight loss can be difficult and having someone to listen to you and help inspire you to maximize your own abilities. There’s not a quick fix, no pills or injections, but a lifestyle change that lets you lose weight in a healthy way. Slim Solutions is the solution to a slimmer you by changing lives one pound at a time.

I look forward to the future of Slim Solutions and to working with all of you. I would like to thank the community and the clients for supporting me through the transition. Call today for a free consult 336-224-5325. Follow us on Facebook or at: or

Slim Solutions Weight Management System Over View:

  • Preliminary Phase: In preparation for the weight loss phase your body must be cleansed of retained salt, refine sugar and caffeine. This phase approximately last six days.
  • Weight loss Phase: The food plan best suited for your individual needs will be assessed and outlined for you along with behavioral modifications and emotional support.
  • Transitional Phase: Once your goal weight has been achieved, a strategic method of caloric increase will begin. Your body’s metabolic rate will become more stable. Then graduation into maintenance may begin.
  • Maintenance: We provide the structure and skill development necessary to remain successful at maintaining your new goal weight.