Friday, 15 May 2015

5 Reasons Why Camping Can Bring You Happiness

The Great Outdoors is not for everyone. It’s raw, dirty, and you're exposed to the elements. And there are bugs. Fortunately for us, we chose the right time of the year and did not encounter one mosquito. The flies at times were a tad annoying, especially in the desert.

No matter how rugged (or fancy) your outdoor adventure, there are qualities about camping we won't find elsewhere in one complete package. What could be better than that? If you’re a camping veteran, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re new to the scene, grab your backpack, you’re going to love this.

We are now 5 days back from our 6 day adventure up North. I have finally caught up on all the laundry and cleaning and packing away of camping gear. As I have gone about each of these tasks, fond memories and feelings of gratitude come to mind as I empty beach sand from the pockets of shorts and sleeping bags and...everywhere! Camping is connecting with nature and can bring you so much happiness!

Slowing Down
As soon as you hit your campsite, it’s like time has been reset. Setting up your “new living space” can be a meditative process. Yes, it is slightly challenging with small children. Our two big boys were able to manage Baby P whilst Mr Man and I set up camp. She probably ate a few too many honky nuts, but that's the fun of camping, the rules get relaxed a little. Cooking food outside forces you to slow down. I loved our early morning toast and french press coffee from our little gas burner stove. We would all sit around in camp chairs rugged up from the early winds blowing in cold off the desert, munching toast and watching the sun come up over the trees. And the birds, such sweet songs. The simple act of sleeping outside can bring about a symphony of sounds that even the best app can’t mimic.

Quality Time
This is by far the best thing about camping. It’s THE reason to go camping - even if you go alone. Quality time can come in many forms: hiking, building sand castles, fishing, throwing rocks in the water, etc. Whether you have small children or not, you can collect rocks, leaves and nuts and seeds, shells, or whatever else you find in your travels. It’s a sliver of time where you can truly connect with family, friends, and remember yourself. And the absence of electricity makes for great conversation as you reconnect over games of cards or colouring in by the halogen lamps.

At first glance, camping doesn’t seem creative. But nothing could be further from the truth. The second you start planning your trip the creativity begins. It forces you to think about how you’re going to accomplish normal everyday tasks, like cooking. Mr Man and I began collecting our camping gear and adding to it over a couple of months. We bought 3 large 60L storage containers and separated all the items. One was for food (dry goods), one for cooking equipment and plates etc and the other for camping gear - ropes, batteries, torches etc. And the creativity doesn’t end until the moment you leave (when you have to get creative about how you’re going to repack everything - including your newly found, nature-y loot). Journaling, painting, even singing and playing guitar around the campfire allows the creative sparks to fly.

Appreciation in the Little Things
It should go without saying that roughing it in the bush or sand dunes for a few days puts things in perspective. While sleeping under the stars is enjoyable, there is nothing like returning home to your comfy bed. Ditto for basic daily amenities - like showers and electricity. A camping trip is an opportunity to observe the small details of life and those around you.

Healthy Habits
It’s only natural to pick up extra activities when visiting the great outdoors. Walking, hiking, and fishing along with surfing, kayaking, and swimming, camping encourages all sorts of healthy activities. Often these activities have a way of following you home and leading into other forms of self care. You may find new healthy habits popping up, whether it’s finding a new local hiking trail or fishing more. In our beautiful South West town, we have several amazing coastal spots available for weekend camping trips. We have made a commitment (weather pending) to get out and camp in our area more regularly, and plan for a longer camping adventure further away in Spring.

Camping comes with a handful of challenges like getting the baby to sleep in a kinder tent in the family tent and how to perfectly toast a marshmallow, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to enjoy your family, and everything nature has to offer. And THAT can bring you happiness.

I'd love to know what you love about camping and when you last went and where.

Nic Nurtures

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Lavender the great leveler - 5 ways with lavender

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love affair with lavender. The essential oil of English Lavender, lavandula angustifolia is a regular of mine and I use it daily. The aroma brings about a sense of comfort, well being and calm. My Nanna used to have some growing in her garden in the Perth Hills and I have fond memories of playing outside amongst the rosemary and lavender on those weekends when I would stay the night at her house. The sweet aromatic scent always put me at ease and me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I still feel that way today.

Lavender has been used for thousands of years and it has a wide list of applications. It is especially valuable for skin care and skin conditions as it promotes skin cell regeneration and kills bacteria, is antibiotic, antiviral, may prevent scarring and ease pain. As a cut flower, lavender is dried to be used for clothes and linen fresheners, as a tea with slices of lemon, in muffins and cakes, as a herbal pillow, in a therapeutic heat pack for tired achey muscles or loving displayed in vases around the home. 

One of the great properties of Lavender is it's ability to increase energy within the body, enhancing the function of the glands, whilst strengthening the body's systems. Lavender helps the body to achieve balance by relieving cramps and spasms and reducing inflammation. It eases problems of the digestive, respiratory and urinary systems and is an extremely effective pain reliever, making it's use perfect for the massage setting. It's anti-inflammatory properties provide relief from problems like, arthritis, sciatica, headaches, muscle tension, cramping and menstrual pain.

As an essential oil, lavender has many applications. Using an oil burner, you can create a calming and relaxing aroma that permeates through the air. Drops can be added to your bath or even on a handkerchief to place under your pillow for restful sleeps. Lavender can be added to a base oil for massage to ease and relax tired and aching muscles. Blend lavender with eucalyptus oil and you have a powerful concoction that will assist in healing colds and flu, infections, and ease depression. I frequently massage my children with just a few drops of lavender in some coconut oil before their bedtime or after a big day of sport. Diffusing lavender in an aromatherapy diffuser makes for a calming, peaceful and sleep inducing environment in Baby P's bedroom.

When it comes to Stress, there is nothing better than lavender. Lavender is the great leveller. It can create a sense of calm and clears mental chaos. It has the ability to harmonise and balance every aspect of our bodies and minds. Lavender reduces stress and calms the nervous system, lifting feelings of depression and easing headaches and insomnia.This is why lavender was the chosen flower for my wedding. The flowers have beautiful blue and purple hues and a lovely vintage feel. For our wedding, I used lavender everywhere, creating lavender button pins for the gents, lavender bouquet for myself and bridesmaids and a white chocolate and lavender wedding cake. The bouquets and decorations were the perfect sensory experience for the wedding. The mood was calm and relaxed and the atmosphere romantic and spiritual, the lavender so lovely to look at and smell. 

Five Ways with Lavender:

  1. Feel it. Have a lavender massage. Be it deep relaxation or deep tissue, a massage that uses lavender oil is bound to make you feel energised.
  2. Soak it. Have a lavender bath. You can use lavender essential oils directly in the bath, or perhaps lavender bath salts or lavender bath bubbles are more your thing. This bath will have a calming and soothing affect on your whole body and mind, promoting good sleep.
  3. Smell it. With an essential oil burner, place 15 drops in a diffuser will keep your home or office smelling amazing and will create a comforting environment.
  4. Grow it. Plant lavender bushes in your garden and along your paths. This bush is very hardy and smells great. The essence of the flowers will be released each time you brush past.
  5. Drink it. Take a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers, a few slices of lemon and your favourite teapot and you've got yourself a nurturing herbal tea that will soothe your insides.
Nic Nurtures