Saturday, September 29, 2018

An Interview with Sarah Peach

by Chelsea Morning
Find out why magic is so important, how she started doing "Imagination Shoots" and what "Friend" she's most like!
Half gypsy, half mermaid, Sarah Peach is a mythical force of stunning beauty, amazing strength, magical creativity and above all else, love.
She's a free-spirited, whimsical soul; wild at heart, child at heart, a coven of proud ancestors in tow. Vast and brilliant, there's no lie in her smile, the word impossible won't cross her lips, she'll create another world on a whim, and be back in time to make dinner. Her eyes can see beyond the ordinary, able to capture the colors of our world, our inner beauty, our outer glow. She reminds us that we truly are magic and made from the stars. 
I couldn't help but feel a sense of wonder and enchantment interviewing local portrait photographer, Sarah Peach.
When did you first become interested in photography?
My first specific memory of falling in love with photography was when I went to NYC with my school's marching band when I was 14. This was during film days, and my camera I brought with me popped open and my whole roll of film was exposed... and the back wouldn't shut. I was pretty devastated I lost all those photos. I had to buy a disposable camera and just deal with it. My sister, knowing how upset I was, and a few close friends helped me recreate those photos by back-tracking our whole day. But even looking through the lens of a cheaply made (super overpriced) disposable camera, I couldn't help but notice how much I loved it. Even though I lost all those other photos, I created new ones with the people I loved. And my love for photography grew from there. 

Your photos are full of beauty, creativity, spirit and a lot seem to come straight from another era or even of another realm. I love how you're not the traditional portrait photographer! How do you feel your "nontraditional" perspective helps you in capturing the perfect shot in your couples/marriage portraits, family, maternity and senior year portraits?
I always hope, even on a traditional shoot, that I can somehow capture magic. I feel like everyone has a little magic in them and I try to bring that out. I think my nontraditional approach to shoots really helps me think outside the box, whether I'm doing an Imagination Shoot or a wedding.
You specialize in what you call Imagination Shoots, where clientele can be portrayed as whimsical mermaids, mythical woodland sprites inspired by the natural world, legendary unicorns, enchanting witches, royal maidens, all within stunning magical settings transported from faerie dimensions and fairy tales. It's truly an otherworldly concept. How did it become your specialty?
Part of it is because ever since I was little, I've loved magic and fairytales. And, thankfully, I never outgrew that. The rest of it came when I had my daughter. She became the most magical thing in my world, and my love for everything magic became her love, too, and she became my muse. I would photograph her, and she would ask for things that no one else would, like "can you add a rainbow in the sky?", or when she lost her two front teeth, "make me a vampire" or "make me have wings!!". And I would never know if I could do it, but I'd spend hours trying. And I'd always come up with something fun, even if it wasn't perfect. It was like modern day dress-up with my daughter and being able to bring her imagination to life was magical. It became something I wanted to do everyday and I knew I had to incorporate it into my business.
From mermaid tails to antler headdresses to Harry Potter, the costumes of your Imagination Shoots are fantastically amazing! Do you have a huge wardrobe of beautiful attire to choose from or are all ensembles customized?
Sometimes clients provide their own wardrobe and accessories, but I also get a lot of my stuff from thrift stores or my own closet. I am also lucky enough to be friends with the owner of Pointe Foure, a local vintage clothing store. She is sweet enough to lend or rent out clothing for me quite a bit. The mermaid tails I own are specially made by a company in Colorado called Swimtails, and I'm hoping to get some more very soon. I also love to create, and I make a lot of the headpieces you see in my shoots. 
I feel like if I called you up to schedule a photo shoot as a mystical gypsy fortune teller, complete with a crystal ball and caravan, you'd say, "Not a problem!". How important do you feel it is in today's world to connect with our magical side and to let our inner spirit essence shine?
My family actually comes from gypsies! My grandma still has my great-great grandmother's crystal ball. I think connecting to your magical side and inner spirit is so so so important, especially in today's world when people forget to just take in all the beauty and magic around us. And a lot of that comes from our own history and family. I love the quote, "We are the granddaughters of the witches you could not burn." Because not only is it important for us to connect to our magical side, it's so important to pass that down. I brought my daughter up having a strong spirituality and love for our church and God, and I also brought her up with a broad imagination and a love for nature, magic, reading, singing and creating. Keep the magic and beauty alive through the next generation!
You're a family oriented person, it's so sweet how you literally shout with joy your adoration for you daughter and your husband! What do you think you've learned from photographing all different kinds of people and the celebration of all the different kinds of love?

I love love! I know it's cheesy but it's my favorite thing. I think that's why I love photographing weddings and seeing smiles and capturing joy on a mother's face when she looks at her new baby. I think what I've learned photographing different people and different kinds of love, is that love looks different to everyone, but as long as it's real, it's the most beautiful thing in the universe. 
10 Little Questions (because it's the little things that mean so much!)
What's your favorite sound?
My daughter's voice
What smell do you love?
There are shops in the Morocco section of Epcot I always have to walk through when I visit, because they are so beautiful and I absolutely love the way they smell. It smells like the perfect blend of different herbs, spices and incense all mixed together. Every time I smell something even remotely similar, my brain takes me back to a specific shop there with a thatched roof, as the sun is peeking through the ceiling and all the different colors of fabric are flowing in the wind.
What mythical creature are you?
Definitely a mermaid!
Rotary dial phones or cell phones?
I like to look at and take photos of rotary phones, but for functional purposes and photo storage, cell phones.
What "Friend" are you most like; Rachel, Ross, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler or Joey?
100% Phoebe, I actually get compared to her quite often.
You're a witch, what's your signature spell?
I'm going to dive into the Harry Potter world real quick and say, "Lumos" since I'm afraid of the dark.
What's your favorite herb?
What's your favorite essential oil?
What gemstone do you love?
Hematite or Unakite, I can never decide between those two.
What is the universe trying to tell us?
I don't think the universe tells us anything as a group, I think it tells us all different things, you just have to listen or look for your own message. My messages aren't specific words or anything. More like images (ironically) or sounds and feelings. Just the beauty of the world around us. Watching the sunset. Taking a walk in the woods and listening to the birds. Petting my cats. Listening to my daughter sing. My husband's laugh. They aren't exactly messages, more like the things that are the most beautiful- maybe appreciation and thankfulness are my messages.
Facebook: Sarah Peach Photography
Instagram: @mrspeach @sarahpeachphotography

SNOWFLAKE OBSIDIAN: Gemstone of the Month

"Placed on the sacral chakra, Snowflake Obsidian calms and soothes, putting you in the right frame of mind to be receptive before bringing to your attention to ingrained patterns of behavior. It teaches you to value mistakes as well as successes.
It is a stone of purity, providing balance for the body, mind and spirit. Snowflake Obsidian helps you to recognize and release "wrong thinking" and stressful mental patterns. It promotes dispassion and inner centering. With the aid of Snowflake Obsidian, isolation and loneliness become empowering, aiding surrender in meditation." -The Crystal Bible

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Day of the Dead

By: Amy C. Keiper, also known as the writer, LC Harrison

Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is traditionally about a three day celebration coinciding with All Saint’s and All Soul’s Days and even All Hallow’s Eve, usually around November 2 each year, starting activities on November 1. It is an ancient tradition from Mexico and the Aztecs, and is a time to honor ancestors, spirits, and souls of the deceased. In modern times the traditions of Day of the Dead have blended with All Saint’s and All Soul’s Day. All Soul’s Day is a time to honor departed loved ones, just as the Day of the Dead, when families decorate the tombs of their loved ones. In Day of the Dead, there are a few separate celebrations: one for children, one associated with All Saint’s Day, and one for celebrating and honoring ancestors. The celebration centered on children is the first activity for Day of the Dead. During this time children set up altars to acknowledge the spirits of deceased children. Around All Saint’s Day it is believed adult spirits visit their loved ones. Lastly, families go to cemeteries and decorate the tombs of their ancestors. The symbols associated with Day of the Dead are Marigolds, sugar skulls, and skeletons. There are often lavish and colorful decorations including these symbols. Families often take favorite incenses, foods, fruits, beverages, and mementos of loved ones with them to the cemetery. There are even toys set out for departed children. It is a time for remembering, and celebrating the departed with joy and love; as well as, a time for connecting with spirit and ancestral wisdom. Common activities include setting up small spirit altars, decorating sugar skulls, making decorations, and even dressing in costumes much like Halloween. Face painting is also practiced, and masks may be worn. Altars may include candles (often chocolate scented), marigolds (usually common or Tagetes Marigold, but Calendula is also used), photos, a bowl of salt to represent the continuity of life, fresh fruit, favorite foods and items of the departed, incense, and sugar skulls. There is also the art of paper cutting known as Papel Picado which is practiced making images of cheerful skeletons out of colorful tissue paper, that looks almost lace like when finished. Pan de Muerto, which is a bread consisting of flour, eggs, milk, butter and yeast, often flavored with anise seed, or orange zest, or even sometimes cinnamon is made. Pan de Muerto is sometimes even shaped into the form of skulls. This bread is placed on altars, and enjoyed throughout celebrations. There are also similar traditions around the world that bring even more ways to connect with spirit. Many are familiar with the traditions of Samhain, which have become associated with Halloween. Such as the custom of dressing in costume to fool spirits that were thought to wander between the otherworld of spirit and among the seen world, as the ancient Celts felt the veil would be more thin on the dark nights surrounding October 31 and November 1. The Celts would visit among neighbors sharing poetry and receiving nuts and apples. Like Day of the Dead, during Samhain food and other offerings were placed for honoring ancestors and visiting spirits and fairies. In Japan, Obon is a time recognized in July and August for honoring ancestors, and is considered a time when ancestors may visit loved ones. Aside from festival activities, lanterns are hung for Obon to guide loved ones as they journey, there is dancing, respect is paid at graves, and offerings of food and flowers are made at temples and home ancestral altars. At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are placed in rivers, lakes, and the sea to guide spirits home. Another tradition for spirit comes from the Norse and is called Álfablót or the Elven Sacrifice, where spirits of nature and the departed warriors are honored. Álfablót is a time for ancestor worship and celebrating the life force of family, and has a second celebration around the Winter Solstice to honor female relatives. Prayers and offerings of mead and food were made and addressed to ancestors and the Elves for protection during winter, and for an abundant return in spring. For incorporating these traditions and to add connection of spirit to your own activities, consider when decorating to add marigolds, which are a symbol of the cycle of life, death and rebirth, as well as other flowers like heather for ancestral wisdom and favorites of loved ones might make for nice decorations along with paper lanterns, lights, and sugar skulls and skeletons. You could decorate with candles in favorite colors and anoint them with a chocolate perfume oil. There are endless possibilities in making a colorful and thoughtful space to remember loved ones and connect with spirit and ancestral wisdom.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

CYPRESS: Essential Oil of the Month

Cypress is an evergreen tree, and the essential oil is extracted from its young twigs, stems and needles. This tree is often found in cemeteries and is linked to ceremonies of death, but the oil has many health-promoting qualities. Cypress oil is antiseptic and is often used in lotions and creams for healing wounds. It is often used in natural deodorants, as it has a spicy and somewhat masculine aroma. It is astringent and can help with skin and muscle tone. Used as a scalp oil, it helps to tighten the hair follicles and prevent hair loss. Cypress oil is antispasmodic and can be used to soothe leg cramps and pulled or sore muscles. The scent is calming and relaxing and it can help to relieve stress and anxiety when used topically or in a diffuser. It blends well with citrus scents.
Try this recipe for a skin firming serum, using cypress oil!

5 drops cypress essential oil
5 drops geranium essential oil
8 drops patchouli essential oil
1 drop sandalwood essential oil
1/4 cup carrier oil of choice
Blend in a small glass bottle and massage into skin at night.

by Kristy Baird

CALIFORNIA POPPY: Herb of the Month

California Poppy is native to the southwestern United States. It is the state flower of California. The flowers are usually orange, though they can sometimes be purple or yellow. They have four petals and close at night.
Although it does not contain opiates (though it is related to the opium poppy), this poppy is a skeletal relaxant that encourages restoration of the nervous system, and it is nonaddictive. It contains an alkaloid called protopine, which is similar in structure to morphine, but has different effects on the body, helping to relax. The Cahuilla Indians once used the plant as a sedative for babies. Today, it is used in the treatment of anxiety, bedwetting (due to stress), insomnia, headache, over-excitability, pain, restlessness, stress and toothache. Tincture of California Poppy can help with persistent coughing. Topically, California Poppy can be used as a compress to relieve pain and inflammation.
World-renowned herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy suggests grinding California Poppy seeds into a meal, mixing them with honey and then forming the paste into "cakes". These can then be dried in the sunlight and given to children who have trouble sleeping or relaxing.

by Kristy Baird

Friday, September 21, 2018

Herbal Defense: Care of Colds and Flu

As autumn changes to winter, many factors conspire to weaken the immune system and make us vulnerable to colds and flu.
It's true that a cure for colds and flu does not exist, but research has shown that herbal medicines offer the potential to help the immune system stave off these bugs, as well as to speed healing if one does manage to hit you.
Knowing which herbs to use and when in the cold cycle to take them are keys to using them effectively.
The best way to take care of colds and flu is to prevent them in the first place. Two of the best immune strengthening herbs are Astragalus and Schisandra. Begin using them before colds and flu strike.
If you wake up with a scratchy throat and a stuffy nose, take heart: it's not too late to shake it if you use this one-day regiment of:
30-40 drops Echinacea extract or 1-2 capsules every two hours.
500mg Vitamin C every two hours.
1 Tbsp. Elderberry extract every four hours.
Plenty of fluids to process the waste products left by the war between the germs and the body's white blood cells.
One note on Elderberry extract- there are several elderberry-based remedies on the market, but none contain the active principle isolated by Dr. Mumcuoglu in a product called Sambucol TM. (Look for it by name). It was proven to inactivate viruses. IT was effective in clinical trials against all known A and B viruses, something the yearly flu vaccine cannot claim. And just remember this, as you age, your body progressively loses its ability to create antibodies to vaccines: only about half of the elderly who receive flu shots can respond with antibodies strong enough to give them protection. Also, a vaccine is only effective against a single specific virus and there are hundreds of viruses known to cause colds and dozens that cause flu. With vaccines it is impossible to get protection against each. But this elderberry extract is marketed as a health-food product rather than a drug so it cannot claim any therapeutic effects on the labeling.
If you do catch a cold or get the flu from lack of preventative measures and it has persisted for three or four days where your throat, sinus and lungs are severely inflamed, you're coughing up thick phlegm and your chest is tight and sore, now is a good time to try Goldenseal and Osha. Take Goldenseal or Osha only until the inflammation is gone, then stop. Caution: Do not take either of these herbs if pregnant.
Keep your immune system in peak performance. Stop in to Chicory Hill Herbs for information on dosage. Don't be caught short. Be prepared to fight back against colds and flu.

By Judy Burger

Himalayan Institute: Humanitarian Spotlight

This month's spotlight is on the Himalayan Institute, one of our vendors, located in Honesdale, PA.
"A leader in the field of yoga, meditation, spirituality and holistic health, the Himalayan Institute is a non-profit international organization dedicated to serving humanity through education, spiritual and humanitarian programs."
The Himalayan Institute's Humanitarian programs serve impoverished communities through rural empowerment and integration. Through job creation, supporting community health and providing public libraries to rural areas they help to lay the foundation for generations of meaningful change. Check out their website at for more information or to make a donation!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Book Spotlight: Alchemy of Herbs

Did you know there’s a powerful herbal medicine chest in your kitchen?Imagine being prepared for that next cold, scrape, headache, digestive issue, stressful day, or sleepless night with simple ingredients from your cupboard. Instead of pills, reach for: Cinnamon Tea to soothe your throat . . . Garlic Hummus to support your immune system . . . Ginger Lemon Tea for cold and flu symptoms . . . Cayenne Salve to relieve sore muscles . . . Cardamom Chocolate Mousse Cake for heart health . . . A glass of Spiced Cold Brew Coffee as a powerful antioxidant . . .Alchemy of Herbs will show you how to transform common ingredients into foods and remedies that heal. What were once everyday flavorings will become your personal kitchen apothecary. While using herbs can often seem complicated or costly, this book offers a way to learn that’s as simple and inexpensive as cooking dinner.With the guidance of herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt, you’ll understand how to match the properties of each plant to your own unique needs, for a truly personalized approach to health for you and your family. In addition to offering dozens of inspiring recipes, Rosalee examines the history and modern-day use of 29 popular herbs, supporting their healing properties with both scientific studies and in-depth research into herbal energetics. Grow your knowledge of healing herbs and spices and start using nature’s pharmacy to feed, heal, and nurture your whole family!