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Mar 12, 2019

Minimalism and Tidiness

by Aspen, Herbal Authoress

Hello, Dear Readers!

Last time you will hear from me in a row, with everyone at Expo West and my vacation coming up, scheduling got in the way of variety. Ah, well! 

Today my mind is on the topic of Minimalism and tidiness. It took me a long time to realize that my mother, bless her heart, is a giant airhead. Just as an example of how she floats through life, she has literally hundreds of pairs of reading glasses. If she loses a pair, she just buys another pair. She can't keep track of her phone, and when her office got too cluttered she simply got a new desk and started a new office in another room rather than going back and finishing the multiple projects she had started. Needless to say, her house is a disaster of clutter. It took me a long time to realize that I had picked up a lot of that disorganized penchant for clutter and that it was adding major stress to my life. 

I only really began making major efforts to change my habits when I realized that I was going to be a single mother with a full-time job and a business to run. I realized that my time was finite and that I needed to operate more efficiently if I was going to be able to give my son the quality time he deserved, rather than constantly spend my time trying to manage everything. I began researching minimalism and tricks to keep things tidier. Here is what has made the biggest difference for me:

  • Marie Kondo - y'all know this. Go through your house and if you don't have a use for something or it doesn't bring you joy, get rid of it. I couldn't believe even in my bedroom at my brother's condo that I share with my son, I managed to get rid of about 15 garbage bags worth of stuff that I wasn't using. Now I have more space for the things I do use, and I can have the second tip:
  • Have a designated home for everything: If there is no specific place to put your items, you eat up energy later when you need them again and have to search to find them. This is especially important for me in the morning when I am trying to get all of my food and my son's food, along with all the things we will need for the day (cell phone, headphones, diapers, shoes, etc.) The one that really gets me is lids for food containers. I insist we pair them together as soon as they come out of the dishwasher. It takes up more space in the cupboard, but nothing is more stressful than trying to find a tupperware lid when you are running late! 
  • Follow the 1-touch rule: The 1-touch rule means that when you are done using something, you are only allowed to touch it once to get it back where it belongs. For example, if you come home and take your jacket off, you can either drop it on the couch or a chair, which creates a second chore for you later, or you can put it away immediately, only touching it once, with and not have to think about it again. This was a game changer for me. I started realizing that I would, say, change my clothes and leave them on the floor, creating more work for myself when the laundry hamper was literally five feet further. I felt so stupid realizing my own inefficiency and started wandering the house, muttering "1-touch" like a crazy person.
  • Create routines: The most recent routine I have put in place that I am actually quite enjoying is with the dishes. I cook a ton, and my kitchen is the one place where I truly need a lot of equipment to enjoy what is both my hobby and one of the most important things I can do for my child, which is set an example of a healthy lifestyle and relationship with food. But it does mean a LOT of mess, and I was finding it difficult to keep my toddler out of the dishwasher long enough to load the knives. So the past few weeks as I have cleaned up the kitchen after my flurry of daily morning meal-prep, I have been turning on My Little Pony, giving him a bowl of snacks and some milk, and plopping him down in front of it. This is the only screen time I have ever allowed, and the 20 minutes it takes me to unload and reload the dishwasher is well within the AMA's recommendation for screen time for his age, and it is the only screen time he is allowed. He enjoys it, I enjoy it (is there an adult equivalent of Bronies for females?) and I leave my kitchen clean and reset for when I get home after work, which reduces my stress levels.

And in the end, for me, that is what Minimalism is all about. It reduces my stress and helps me feel more in control of my life. What helps you feel less stressed?

Mar 12, 2019

Becoming an Effective Political Advocate

by Matt, Herbal Head Honcho

Politics are like the weather—people like to complain a lot, but they hardly ever do anything about it! Luckily, politics is slightly easier to change, though it definitely takes longer to see those changes (Here in Utah, we say that if you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes!). Sometimes the pace of political change can seem glacial, but when enough people get behind an important idea, change can come with remarkable speed. Here are a few principles to help jumpstart your political activism:

  1. Your government representatives work for YOU. So when you speak, they want to listen! Your support and vote are important to them. Don’t be shy about approaching them with issues that are important to you.
  2. You are not alone in trying to get your representative’s ear. Each Congressperson currently represents about 711,000 people and each US Senator represents from 563,626 to 37,253,956 people. They can’t personally meet with everyone, but luckily, not everyone is trying to meet with them. Just by making an effort you improve your chances!
  3. Your representatives have staff. Use them! Representative track lots of issues and delegate them to employees for day-to-day monitoring. In many cases, the subordinates may know the problems you are dealing with better than their boss, and they have the boss’ ear, even after you go back to work. Staff members can be your best friend or your worst enemy, so treat them right.
  4. Your representatives are BUSY, so be respectful of their time. Get straight to the point and tell them what you would like them to help with, and how.
  5. Understand the process and be informed. It won’t help your credibility if what you are asking for is impossible, or was soundly defeated three weeks ago. If you understand the lawmaking process, you can better contribute to the discussion.
  6. Every bill is assigned to a committee for initial screening. Work with members on the appropriate committees to make sure your bill gets early traction.
  7. Get bi-partisan support. If your bill or issue appeals only to one party, then its chances of success are minimal. Influential members of both parties will help your issue get serious consideration.
  8. Representatives have differing priorities and objectives. Not every representative may be aware of your issue, and they may be fighting other battles so they may not want to lead out on your topic. Still, if you can find an ally elsewhere to carry the ball, you can at least get your representative to vote in favor of your pet project when it comes up.
  9. Some representatives may just see things differently from you. That’s okay. You don’t have to win all of the votes to your side— only the majority. Treat other views with respect, even if they disagree, because you may yet need their vote on another issue. This is a good rule for life in general, even though it runs counter to the current polarized style of national discourse.
  10. You are not the only person interested in your issue. Organize with others to multiply your voice and make it heard! The more you educate people, the better your chances of success!
  11. Representatives can do more than just make laws. Sometimes a Congressional press conference, letter, subpoena, or hearing can be all that is needed to change the course of public policy. Be creative!
  12. Be persistent. Few legislative successes come easily or quickly. Keep after it until you succeed.

Although these principles are written with an eye toward Washington DC, they also apply to state and local issues right up to the United Nations. Remember the old adage—all politics is local. Representatives listen most to the people they represent, so local connections are always the key to getting things done. Getting your neighbors involved with you on a cause you believe in can be both fun and rewarding and can help make your world a better place.

Finally, don’t limit yourself to thinking locally. Involve friends you meet from other places too! They can work on their representatives, whether they live across town or around the world.

Armed with these simple ideas, you can do a lot! Whether you want to help bring about world peace or save Franklin’s bumblebee (or both!), you stand a much better chance if you work smart! I hope this helps, and I hope to see you on the Hill - you will find me there advocating in just these ways for the supplement industry!

Mar 12, 2019

March Window to Wanderlust 2019

by Abbie, Graphics Goddess

Mar 7, 2019

Dealing With Different Personalities in Your Family

by Aspen, Herbal Authoress

Hi, everyone! Sorry, you have to hear from me again, everyone else is off in sunny California for Expo West! I hope you got to go and run into our team, they are great people!

Today my thoughts are on dealing with conflicting personalities. See, I am taking my first vacation in five years with my family. I am an over-preparer in general, mostly because I am a nervous person. So it doesn't surprise me that when my family (Boomer parents, my 2 brothers, my sister and her nuclear family with 5 kids) decided to go on a cruise, somehow I ended up being the one that researched, picked, and booked the cruise. I handled all of the finances, ensured everyone knew what travel documents to bring, combed through port activities, and set up my mom's birthday surprise.

 Stereotypically the youngest isn't the responsible one, but honestly, I think everyone is pretty happy to not have to deal with the details, and I feel more comfortable knowing what is going on and that everything is taken care of. Because I am terrified of ending up on a ship and realizing I forgot, say, extra binky's (disastrous), and because I am actually pretty scatterbrained, I start planning early. I watch video blogs, I've pretty much read the entire website, and I keep a packing list going daily so that when my brain flits across a detail, I don't forget it later. I figure over a three week period my brain will probably cover everything, but if I leave it to the last minute, something will slip my mind. 

So this morning I called my sister with one of these fleeting thoughts (snorkeling equipment for my niece). She had said that she thought they had snorkeling gear, but she wasn't sure and had needed to check. So I was following up so I would have plenty of time to order it online if necessary. I about got my head ripped off! I guess I had been pestering my laid-back sister a little too much with my over-planning. She snapped that she wasn't even going to think about the cruise until two days beforehand when she was going to get all the laundry done and then start to think about packing. 

This is something that I absolutely cannot fathom. Only two days of planning for a family of seven? OMG! What if she doesn't have something they absolutely need readily on hand? How would she even find anything in her house so jam-packed with junk (another personality difference - I stick to minimalism)? What if it took her much longer than expected to find some necessity, leaving her stressed and crunched for time later? DO THEY EVEN HAVE LUGGAGE TAGS???

Considering how different our styles are, I'm honestly surprised it has taken this long for me to get on her nerves. But when it comes to family, the only way to survive it is to accept other people as they are, and not as you would want them to be. I think my sister and I are both pretty good at that, and about recognizing that while we are extremely different, that doesn't mean that one of us has the higher moral ground or the right to look down on the other. We just are the way we are. Not right, not wrong, just different. I can't fathom the chaos of five children (1 with autism) and I can't stand the noise of her house for very long. But she can't fathom raising a kid as a single parent working 50 hours a week. 

So bottom line, being a family is more important than what makes us different. We (at least I do) recognize the merits of different personalities, and don't get stuck in a trap of thinking one way is necessarily better than another. And when it comes to family, sometimes that is the only way to not kill each other!

Mar 7, 2019

Water Wisdom - Making the Most of Your Yard's Irrigation

by Abbie, Graphics Goddess

We all know how much water is wasted by spray sprinkler systems across America, but did you know that your old sprinkler system can be converted to drip irrigation? When my husband and I moved into our current house, it came with a PVC sprinkler system that was installed sometime in the 1980s and ran underneath every inch of the yard. It was frustrating because I thought we were limited with what we could change or modify, but it turns out that the world of irrigation has advanced a lot since Back to the Future was in theaters.

If you have a PVC spray system like we do/did, keep reading to find out how to make some cheap and practical changes to your yard and your water bill. Drip irrigation is a much smarter way to water because it keeps the water on the ground and close to the root systems of the plants you are keeping alive, which leaves much less room for evaporation and waste.

The biggest hurdle in drip conversion is water pressure. While spray sprinklers take lots of pressure, drip doesn't need much, and if you just start running drip hose off your spray pipes without any kind of pressure adjustment, POP! You'll blow the drip hoses or fixtures right off. There are different ways and places where you can adjust your water pressure to accommodate a drip system. The best way would be to replace your current sprinkler valve with one designed for drip irrigation. A handyman or sprinkler professional can take care of this for you, or there are many Youtube tutorials dedicated to this topic. This will take care of your pressure right at the source, and everything you modify on that line afterward will be pressurized and ready to go. Our yard had five different valves wired into cramped spaces in our yard, so this wasn't really an option for us. If you're in the same pickle, fear not! There are other options.

We opted for pressure regulators on the individual heads of our system. This way, we can run drip hose right out of the existing pipes in our yard, and the pressure regulators are working on each line. We used octopus style heads for our garden boxes since we wanted to deliver an individual nozzle to each plant in that area. However, our flower beds needed more of a blanket approach. For the flower beds, we chose to run half-inch tubing that had drip holes every 18 inches, to ensure an excellent soak to the entire bed. Now we don't have barren spots where the old sprayers couldn't reach, and our water bill has gone down substantially! Drip irrigation doesn't have to be left on as long to penetrate the soil, and because we run them in the middle of the night, the water is allowed to penetrate deep into the roots before the heat of the day comes on and tries to evaporate it. We still have rotor spray heads on the lawn portion of our yard, but it has been great to be able to run spray on that area, and drip for the rest of the beds simultaneously.

A staff member at your local hardware or irrigation store can help you tailor a modification to your current system, and YouTube is a wealth of knowledge to help you on your way to wiser water use!

Mar 7, 2019


by Nichole, Magical Marketing Millenial

Hugelkultur (hoo-gul-culture), or “mound culture,” is a gardening technique where a mound is constructed from decaying wood debris and other compostable plant materials and planted as a raised bed. The term coined in 1962 by Herrman Andra, who was inspired by the diversity and success of plants growing in debris. It’s popular now as it is sustainable and effective in desert climates. Because they retain water, there is no need for irrigation. They provide a constant source of nutrients for plants - no fertilization needed. A large bed might provide 20 years of nutrients, and the composting materials generate heat, extending your season.

To start, you need wooden logs and branches to fill the bottom of your raised bed. Avoid trees like Black Walnut or Cedar, because they naturally produce pesticides, herbicides, and other counterproductive elements. Then add pine needles, grass clippings, leaves, straw, cardboard, and other compostables to your mix. Spread it over the logs and branches as a filler.  Top with compost and then plant. Add some nitrogen to the soil if you plan on using the boxes right away, or plant crops that add nitrogen to the soil. The non-decomposing wood will use the nitrogen in the earth to begin the decomposition process, then become self-sustainable.  Good luck!

Mar 7, 2019

March 2019 Organtics

by RidgeCrest Herbals

Feb 20, 2019

What Makes You Happy?

by Aspen, Herbal Authoress

What Makes Me Happy

My life has been a real challenge for a long time now. I have been faced with challenges more difficult than anyone in my family ever has dealt with, and it is all kind of coming to a head this week as my divorce is finalized. Because things can feel so dark and endless right now, I want to talk about what makes me happy. Do you know what makes me happy?

- Vegan recipes from

- Seth Meyers

- Clean Sheets

- Cosleeping with my baby and having him snuggle up to me at night

- My job at RidgeCrest Herbals and the feeling of family and support here

- Putting away the laundry

- Grocery Shopping

- Designing the images for the newsletter

- Yoga

- My bestie from high school, John, and his partner Cole, who started going to the gym with me on Sunday mornings when they found out I was going through a tough time

- My brother Bryce, who picks up my son from daycare almost every day and watches him for several hours to help me save money 

- My sister Dee, a nurse with five kids who set up her phone so that my number rings through even when she silences it at night so I can call her if I am worried about something going on with my son

- Cooking healthy food from scratch

- HOT baths - like lobster-red hot

- Going to the farmer's market. I cried when it ended last fall.

- Coffee. God, I love coffee.  

- Hate-watching The View (Sunny is the only one whose opinion is worth a damn!)

- A clean house on a Sunday night so you feel ready for the week ahead

What makes you grateful? Even in the worst of times, a spirit of gratitude for the things that you DO have can help you power through the rest and find the light at the end of the tunnel. Start your own list, even if it is just something silly like drinking cold water out of the tap (I love that). You will start to find a longer list than you expected.

Feb 20, 2019

February 2019 Window to Wanderlust

Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, Oregon - Photography by Abbie Warnock-Matthews

Feb 5, 2019

Mental Health Manifestations

by Connie, AP/AR Rocker

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person's thinking, feelings, or mood. Such conditions may affect someone's ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even with the same diagnosis. 

Recovery, including meaningful roles in social life, school, and work, is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process. 

A mental health condition isn't the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes. Genetics, environment, and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime, physical abuse, mental abuse, etc. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too. 

One in five adults experiences a mental health condition every year. One in seventeen lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In addition to a person's directly experiencing a mental illness, family, friends, and communities are also affected. 

Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. The normal personality and behavior changes of adolescence may mimic or mask symptoms of a mental health condition. Early engagement and support are crucial to improving outcomes and increasing the promise of recovery. 

There are many forms of mental health problems including: 


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a developmental disorder where there are significant problems with attention, hyperactivity or acting impulsively. 


Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes, but when it becomes overwhelming and repeatedly impacts a person's life, it may be an anxiety disorder. Severe anxiety can interfere with your daily activities such as: going to work, leaving your house, being around other people, etc. Many people try to hide these feelings from others, if it gets this severe, you do need to contact someone to help you understand what you are going through and why! For some, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Others, it is traumatic events they have gone through. This should not go untreated, the sooner it is detected, the easier it is to take control of the situation. 


Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that makes it difficult to socialize and communicate with others. 


Bipolar Disorder causes dramatic highs and lows in a person's mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. 


Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by severe, unstable mood swings, impulsivity, and instability, poor self-image, and stormy relationships. 


This is a mental health condition that requires understanding and treatment. The sufferer may experience loss of hope, overwhelming sadness, and difficulty functioning. It is a very serious epidemic in this day and age. It is even affecting young children, so pay attention for signs of social withdrawal. I have suffered from depression and anxiety all of my life, and it took me until I was 45 to address the issue. Sometimes It is something you don't want other people to know about you because it makes you feel like an idiot for not being able to control your emotions and feelings. I can't even imagine a child (who do not deserve to be experiencing these kinds of feelings) having to deal with this condition. There are so many suicides these days because children do not know how to deal with this type of disorder. We must stay involved with our children and be aware of their behavioral patterns, talk to them, help them understand these symptoms, and make sure they know that you are there for them. 


Dissociative Disorders are a spectrum of disorders that affect a person's memory and self-perception. 


Psychosis is characterized as disruptions to a person's thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to recognize what is real and what isn't. 


OCD causes repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do certain actions (compulsions). 


PTSD is the result of traumatic events, such as military combat, assault, an accident or a natural disaster. It can cause anxiety, flashbacks, dissociative episodes, rage, and more. 


Delusion Disorder is characterized by strong beliefs that are often within the realm of possibility (such as a cheating spouse) but do not correlate with reality. When presented with the truth, the person is unable to recognize it over their previously fixed ideas. The person may otherwise be able to function normally, so it can be difficult to diagnose.  


Schizoaffective Disorder is characterized primarily by symptoms of Schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as depressive or manic episodes. 


Schizophrenia causes people to lose touch with reality, often in the form of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior. 


This disorder is characterized by long-term patterns of self-obsession and an overinflated sense of self-worth. Narcissists can exhibit anti-social behavior such as selfishness and lack of empathy. They are often obsessed with achieving power and status or their physical appearance. In relationships, they commonly gravitate toward overly empathetic people who will accept their controlling/abusive behavior.  


Children who experience abuse or neglect at a young age, do not have consistent, responsive caregivers, or who are separated from their caregivers for long periods of time are shown to have difficulty with personal relationships and attachments later in life. They are more likely to struggle with emotional dysregulation, substance abuse, and tumultuous personal relationships as adults.  


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