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«Gold Standard of Thin Janice Rowland & Kathleen Rowland Copyright 2012 Petals in the Gazebo Press, Kathleen Rowland Cover Art Copyright 2012 Mariya ...»

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**** Making flower pens is easy. My pens tend to match the seasons because of silk flower availability at craft stores. Make flower selections. Buy electrical tape, craft glue, and green florist tape. At home, cut off flower tops, leaving a leaf and part of the stem. Tape the flower to the top of a ballpoint pen with black electrical tape and then wrap it in spirals with green floral tape, gluing it with “disappearing” craft glue. The pens look cute grouped into a flowerpot, or give them away individually. People like them because they are easy to find on a desk.

**** Fresh flowers are a mood brightener. This uplift is instantaneous when we step into a florist shop. At home, make an inexpensive arrangement with a bouquet bought at the farmer’s market or grocery store. Posies of smaller flowers tend to look best in shorter, stouter vases, whereas longer flowers tend to look more elegant in taller vases. However, you can always cut your flowers to the required length to fit the shape of your vase before you start arranging them.

Place flowers in your chosen vase and place the larger, more dominant flowers in first so as to create the focus. Try placing these flowers at different angles to make the most of their individual shapes and to give the arrangement a balanced feel. You should then add the smaller flowers and finally the foliage to fill any gaps and accentuate the mix of colors.

**** Feathered friends will flock to your backyard after you make a quirky birdbath from an assortment of garden-variety flowerpots. The top that holds water is a 14″ pot saucer. The other pots are 8″, 9″, and 10″. Paint the outsides of pots in wicker white, and then add color.

Plaid, stripes or wiggly lines look fanciful. Or use foam stamps for motifs such as flowers, birds, butterflies, and ladybugs. Finish by painting with an outdoor matte sealer to finish your shabby chic birdbath.

**** Almost any plant can be trimmed into a topiary. Using a pair of hedge clippers, it’s easy to shape herbs, shrubs, and even small trees into desired shapes. Recently I clipped off all lower branches of a row of six-foot whispering willow trees and shaped upper branches into harmonious ball-shaped structures. Formal garden design gives us a sense of peace and comfort.

It’s tidy. My willow tree row is planted in the ground, but most topiaries are in urns or pots.

Some topiary candidates are upright rosemary, verbena, fuchsia, a small rose bush, small leaved tree, boxwood, and juniper.

**** If you’re concerned that your age makes you less attractive, here’s an interesting update: researchers found that when women were shown a series of images, the older women were far less likely to recall the negative pictures than younger women. The reason is that with age, the brain’s emotional amygdala is increasingly modulated by the rational dorsolateral frontal cortex, blunting negative input. This information comes from Roberto Cabeza, Ph.D., professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. If blondes have more fun, gray-haired women have even more! Is your hair turning gray? In order to avoid the nasty line where natural hair grows out, many women are choosing not to color their hair.

**** Taking care of Mother Earth makes us feel good. Worldwide, humans have played a negative role in the environment when our activities release huge amounts of heat-retaining “greenhouse” gases. Whenever we visit our parks, we try to reduce our impact in these ways:

Pack it in, pack it out. Dispose of trash, looking out for recycling receptacles. Carpool. Gather family and friends and visit parks together. Reuse. When going on a picnic, instead of paper plates, we use reusable plates and plastic ware. The water required to wash dishes is minimal compared to the waste created by disposables. Check your tires. Adequate tire pressure reduces emissions. Walk on the wild side. Instead of driving through the entire park, we park and explore on bicycle or foot, getting the benefits of fresh air and exercise. Camp smart. We camp in a tent or cabin instead of an RV, saving money and fuel, as well as significantly reducing carbon emissions.

**** Plant cultivation is pleasurable, whether inside or out. The long blooming time of orchids adds to the joy of growing them. Or plant a tiny Japanese maple in a pot and grow it as a bonsai.

Grown outside, lavender, once it’s established, is a low-maintenance and drought-tolerant plant. It’s a Mediterranean herb that thrives in hot, sunny locations with well-drained, alkaline soil. There are many different varieties. To dry a fragrant bunch, tie it upside down until moisture has evaporated. Enjoy the fragrance all year round.

My next-door neighbor, Kendra, grows lavender. Her mother grows it on a bigger scale at a lavender farm in Oregon. At the moment, I’m imagining the wonderful scents of a field on a foggy morning. Lavender is a natural stress and cold cure. Anxiety wreaks havoc on our immune system by lowering levels of the white blood cells that fend off invading cold, flu and other viruses. Luckily, the fix is as easy as taking a whiff of lavender. In a new study, two key types of illness-fighting white blood cells returned to near normal levels in stressed animals who inhaled R-linalool, the natural compound that gives lavender its sweet aroma, reports the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. This same effect holds true for humans. Turns out, R-linalool balances an overwhelmed mind and body by calming more than 100 genes that have gone into stress-related overdrive! Other plants that contain R-linalool are jasmine, laurel, sweet basil, and lemon balm.

**** Visit an art museum. One of my favorite haunts is the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, once a station for the Red Car trolley line. This industrial space is now home to the Santa Monica Museum of Art, plus two dozen art galleries, a cafe, a bookstore, and offices.

**** Bunnies make interesting pets. We have two, both “fixed.” Some live happily as house bunnies or on a porch, but we live in California and keep our bunnies outside. In the morning we move Dee and Irv from their hutches to a pen in the yard, arrange boxes that have cut-outs for tunneling, and put out food and water. When they’re in their big pen, they sniff around. After they feel safe and relaxed in their environment, they run. This is entirely for their amusement.

They leap, twist around, land, and take off again. They are little chariots of fire and enjoy each other’s companionship. Sometimes our daughters put a harness and leash on Dee and take her for a walk in the park. For some reason, Irv doesn’t care for the harness.

**** When the weather gets warm and sunny, we spruce up our outdoor spaces. They belong to us, and we spend time there. Whether it’s a balcony or backyard patio, a new piece of outdoor furniture adds cheer. Buy or sew covers for rattan chair cushions. A wooden picnic table or bench might need painting or refinishing.

**** There are three tricks to make a home feel larger. When small rooms look more spacious, you increase the value of your home.

 Going monochromatic with neutrals (beige, ivory, or light green) is great for enlarging space. Upholstered furniture in a light tone blends nicely with lighttoned walls. Lighter tones reflect light while dark colors absorb it. The result is a peaceful airiness.

 Enlarge a cramped bedroom with a mirror on one wall and a small lamp placed opposite. Light will bounce off the mirror, making the room feel larger.

 The reflection of a plant also does wonders by extending depth.

**** A front door expresses the heart and soul of the home. A screen door gives a casual look.

Change things around a bit with baskets, twig furniture, and welcoming potted plants.

**** Feel cheery in giant polka dots. Thanks to designers, oversized dots are this season’s hottest pattern. Use them to give your spring and summer wardrobe a splash of graphic color. Buy a polka dot sheet and make into a tablecloth for the backyard picnic table. Consider covering your food journal with polka-dotted fabric. Do any of you remember the cartoon character, Polka Dottie?

**** Set out a pretty bowl of fruit. A research breakthrough for healthy eating and weight loss came from a Penn State study. Two weight-loss groups ate the same calories, but one group (called the Water Group) lost five more pounds than the other group and said they felt more comfortably full. Average weight loss per week was three pounds. The water group ate foods rich in water and shrunk their waistlines by two inches in six months. Melissa Hershberg, M.D., analyzed results from the study. Water rich foods tend to be high in volume, low in calories, and are consumed in higher volume. The Water Group ate 25% more food by volume.

Fruit is 80% water. In another study, subjects who ate three pieces of fruit a day lost 33% more weight than those getting the same calories but no fruit. An added bonus is that fluid dilutes the building blocks of sugar and reduces the need for the blood-sugar hormone insulin. Insulin encourages fat storage in general and belly fat storage in particular, explained Dr Hershberg.

Currently in the U.S., about one if four people are obese and half are overweight. Obesity is implicated in serious health problems, including type-2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

There’s no mystery about excess body fat; we pack on pounds because our caloric intake exceeds our caloric needs.

Tuck the Seven Secrets into your little gold suitcase and bring them wherever you go.

 Secret Number One: For optimum fat melting, use your personalized formula to calculate your daily calories; seven times your present weight is your daily calories.

 Secret Number Two: Pretend to weigh twenty pounds less. Visualize yourself as a smaller person eating smaller quantities.

 Secret Number Three: Plan your food for the day, and then keep yourself honest with a journal. Include how hungry you are, where you’re eating and when, and how you’re feeling.

 Secret Number Four: Choose an exercise routine, and get moving for thirty minutes every single day.

 Secret Number Five: Keep to a rigid schedule for eating and drinking water because rigidity is essential for creating new habits.

 Secret Number Six: Get enough shuteye. If we’re tired, our bodies hold onto fat.

 Secret Number Seven: Embrace the mind-body-spirit connection that underlies self-confidence. When we’re doing what we need to do for ourselves, we enjoy being in our own skin. The Gold Standard of Thin takes you on a positive journey.

–  –  –

Blatner, Dawn Jackson. The Flexitarian Diet. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2009.

Drayer, Lisa. The Beauty Diet. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2009.

Easwaran, Eknath. Take Your Time: How to find patience, peace, and meaning. Tomales, CA:

–  –  –

Fried, Robert. Breath Well, Be Well. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 1999.

Holt, Cathy. The Circle of Healing: Deepening Our Connections with Self, Others and Nature, Berkeley: Talking Birds Press, 2000.

Myers, Marc. How to Make Luck. Riverside, CA: Renaissance Books, 1999.

Nilsson, Lennart. The Body Victorious: The Illustrated Story of Our Immune System and Other Defenses of the Human Body. New York: Delacorte Press, 1985.

Ornish, David. Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease. New York, NY:

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Pelletier, Kenneth. Sound Mind, Sound Body. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Rossman, Martin L. Guided Imagery for Self-Healing. New York, NY: New World Library, 2000.

Pepper, Erik, Gibney, Katherine H, Holt, Catherine F. Make Health Happen. Dubuque, Iowa:

Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2002.

RoAne, Susan, How to Create Your Own Luck. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2004.

Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: the Dark Side of the All-American Meal. New York, NY:

–  –  –

Seligman, Martin. Learned Optimism. New York, NY: Pocket Books, 1998.

Snowdon, David. Aging with Grace. New York: Bantam Books, 2001.

Tierno, Philip, PhD, The Secret Life of Germs, New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, January 2002.

Vaillant, George. Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life. New York, NY: Little

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