Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ayurveda as Home Remedies (Health Tips)

Ayurveda as Home Remedies (Health Tips)

Constipation: Copper pot, fill it with drinking water, keep it overnight (room temperature), next morning warm up the water and drink it first in the morning.

Gas – Abdominal: Drink Ginger juice 1 ml to 2 ml with warm water. And / Or Drink Club Soda with some salt & Black pepper powder. Common Cold: Ginger powder, Ghee (Clarified Butter) & Jaggery (Brown Sugar) mix them together in same quantity and have it first thing in the morning.

Indigestion: Ginger powder, Ghee (Clarified Butter) & Jaggery (Brown Sugar) mix them together in same quantity and make small balls size of small marbles and have it after each meal.

Poor – Metabolism: Ginger powder, Ghee (Clarified Butter) & Jaggery (Brown Sugar) mix them together in same quantity and make small balls size of small marbles have it after each meal.

Cough: Apply Vicks Vaporub (or similar products) on the chest & gently massage clockwise. Also take a 1 glass of milk, add 1 tsp. of Turmeric powder, warm it up, and drink it. You can repeat it several times of day if you wish or according to the condition of person.

Vomiting: ½ gram of ground cardamom, mix with 1 tsp. Honey and have it slowly. And / Or Drink Club Soda with some salt and black pepper powder added.

Worms: First thing in the morning, Eat 1 small piece of Jaggery (Brown sugar) then wait for 5 minutes and eat 1 tsp. of Caraway Seeds or Caraway powder.

Acidity: Drink 1 glass of milk with 1 tsp. of Ghee (clarified butter) Colic Pain (Stomach Pain): Take a ½ gram of Asafetida (Hing Powder / Indian Spice), then mix it with little water make a paste of it and fill up your Belly button (umbilicus), lie down for 15-30 minutes and you will release some gas for few times, after that you will be fine. Fat Remover / Weight Loss: Boil 1 glass of water, cool it down then add 1 tsp. of Honey and drink it. Do this every morning. Or take 5 – 10 gms. of Triphala Powder boil it with 1 ½ glass of water for 5 – 10 minutes, then cool it down little as the temperature you can handle to drink, drink it everyday.

Paralysis: Black pepper powder mix it with Sesame seed oil, warm it up & massage on effected areas regularly.

Debility (weakness): Take a 1 glass of Milk, add 1 tsp. of Ghee (clarified butter), add little bit of Ginger powder, warm it up and drink it regularly. And / Or Eat Chick peas, split chick peas, roasted chick peas. And / Or Eat 5 Dates with Ghee (clarified butter), everyday in the morning.

Eye Problems: 1 tsp of Triphala powder, soak it whole night in the one glass of water, next morning filter it with cheese cloth and wash your eyes with it several time a day. Do it regularly, it makes big difference.

Ear Problems: If you have whistling sound eat Pecan nuts (walnuts), And / Or Sesame seed oil or Ghee (clarified butter) warm it up on low temperature and pour 2-3 drops into ears regularly.

Tooth/Gums Problems: Sesame seeds oil or Clove oil, massage gently with your fingers on teeth & gums every morning. Always use soft brush, don’t brush your teeth more then one time, but if you will like to then use your finger then brush. There is some great Ayurvedic toothpowder/toothpaste available at Ayurved Centre, 416-778-9341 Sleeplessness /

Insomnia: Massage Ghee (Clarified Butter) or Castor oil on the feet before going to the bed daily for 5 to 10 minutes.

Mental Disorders: Massage Sesame seed oil / Ghee (Clarified Butter) gently on the forehead, scalp regularly any time of the day or do it at night, next morning do shampoo. And / Or Soak 2-5 almonds over night in the water, next morning, remove skin of almonds and have it.

Piles: Take cotton and soak it with castor oil and apply and placed on effected areas and keep it for while.

Bed Wetting: Do massage with Ghee (clarified Butter) on the abdomen (clockwise) for 5 to 10 minutes, before going to the bed on regular basis. And / Or Chew Black Sesame seeds (5 gms), before going to the bed And / Or Coriander powder with Sugar (10 gms. Each), mix it together & have it 2-3 times a day in summertime only.

Night Discharge: Small towel soak it with the cool water and placed on the abdomen & then go to the bed. And / Or First thing in the morning, swallow 3 pieces of Black Pepper, then eat 2 tsp of Ghee (Clarified Butter) regularly.

Sexual Weakness: 1 or 2 tsp. of Ashwagandha Powder (Indian Ginseng), 1 tsp. of Ghee (Clarified Butter), 1 cup of milk & sugar for your taste, boil it for 5-10 minutes then drink it with temperature you can handle as hot or warm. Do it regularly in the morning or once a day. Also eat 1 tsp. Chyavanprash twice a day, regularly. And / Or Eat Urid Dal (lentils) in your food. Also have warm milk and butter in your meals. If you have less Sperm Counts then fry 5 to 10 gms. Onions into the Ghee (clarified Butter), twice a day. Skin problems / Prickles / Eczema / Acne /

Pimples: Gently massage affected areas with Ghee regularly then after 2-3 hours take a shower or sleep over with it at night. Take a shower only with Sandalwood soap or Neem Soap only. And / Or make a paste with Milk, Sandalwood powder & Rose water and apply on effected areas, when its dry take a shower with warm water not a hot water and again only use above mentioned soaps.

Hair Loss: Regularly do massage on the crown area of the head with Ayurvedic Medicated oil and use Ayurvedic Shampoos (but when you do massage always use your palm not a fingers because your nails will cut your hair more).

Eye problems: Massaging Castor oil on your feet regularly not only improves your vision but may be help you reduce numbers on the glasses.

Low Blood Pressure: First thing in the morning, 3 pieces of Whole Black Pepper swallow it regularly.

Monday, March 14, 2011


As an ayurveda practitioner I would love to share some tips for common beauty problems. Ayurveda says that every condition of the skin needs to be examined according to Vata, Pitta or Kapha constitution; their imbalance in the body will be reflected in skin imbalances.

Here are some general tips to try on different skin conditions. I have used them on my patients and have found them very useful.
• Fresh orange pulp application on face once a week. Orange has a cleansing effect and it also improves skin complexion.
• Dry orange peel powder paste to apply on face twice a week, for removing blemishes.
• Apply raw papaya and papaya seed juice on swollen and infected pimples. Papaya has antiseptic effect and improves complexion, and cleanses and tonifies.
• Apply ripe tomato pulp twice a week and keep for at least one hour before wash. Tomato is good to remove blemishes and increases skin’s complexion.
• Fresh methi (fenugreek leaves) for blackheads and acnes. Methi seeds have good antibiotic and cleansing effect on the skin.
• Grated potatoes for various black spots, infected boils, acnes and blackheads. Potatoes give bleaching action and smoothness.
• Apply fresh mint juice for acne with big lesions and pus formation. Mint leaves are very good to remove infections and good for blood purification.
• Lemon juice and cinnamon powder, in equal amounts. Make paste to apply locally. Cinnamon is improves complexion and lemon removes excess oiliness from the skin which is the main cause for acne vulgaris.
• Apply nutmeg (jayaphala) in milk on acne - it disappears quickly. The astringent property of nutmeg dries the acne fast.
• Paste of turmeric and neem in milk on oily skin. Neem absorbs the excess oil and turmeric works as antibiotic and purifies blood.
• Turmeric in mint juice on infected skin conditions. Both are good as antibiotic and for purification of blood.
• Sesame seed paste on dry skin conditions. Sesame is good for vata pacifying and tonification of the skin.
• Sandalwood (chandana) and turmeric in rose water for good skin complexion.
• Cinnamon is very good for skin complexion - apply with honey once a week to increase your beauty!

Saturday, March 12, 2011



Women who wear makeup - see Uma Thurman - should carry out a routine of cleansing, toning and moisturing turn back the clock each evening, as well as washing the face in the morning. 5 Minute Makeover Cleansing will remove old make-up and the grime and grease that have been accumulated during the day.

Remove mascara Lashes Unlimited with a cotton bud dipped in eye-dipped in eye-cleansing lotion. To make the job easier keep your hair off your face.
Remove the eyeshadow - Artistic Palletes - by gently wiping it off with a pad of clean cotton wool moistened with eye-cleansing lotion.
Pour a little face cleansing cream into the palm of one hand and dab it generously over the nose, chin, forehead and cheeks --- using two fingers of the other hand.
Massage the cream into the skin, starting under the throat, using a gentle upward motion.
Continue massaging the cream up to the forehead, using the fingertips.
Gently massage the cream from the eyes to the nose.
Massage cream back over the chin, which is particularly prone to blackheads. Use the index finger.
Remove the cream from the face with tissue pads in each hand. Start under the chin and work over the cheeks and on to the forehead


Toners remove all traces of dirt, make-up or cleanser that remain after cleansing.

Immediately after cleansing apply toner to the forehead and cheeks on a pad of corron wool
Apply the toner to the crevices around the nose.
Apply the toner to the crevices around the chin.


Without moisture, the skin will not remain smooth and supple. The face is exposed to the drying effect of the weather, so moisturisers -- which form a film over the skin -- contain and augment the natural moisture.

Using the tips ofthe fingers, dot moisturising cream lightly all over the face.
Press the fingers of both hands into the centre of the forehead and work the cream slowly outwards. Pat the cream gentlyaround the eyes.
Work the cream around the jawline, chin and mouth with the middle fingers of both hands.
Massage the cream over the throat with alternating hands, using upward strokes from collar-bone to chin.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adobe Unveils ‘Wallaby’ Flash-to-HTML5 Converter

Even though its Flash technology is used as a punching bag by web standards fans, Adobe has been working hard to embrace HTML5. The company released its own HTML5 video player, and Adobe Illustrator and Dreamweaver CS5 contain a number of new HTML5 export tools. Now Adobe is turning its HTML5 attentions to Flash with the release of Wallaby, a new Flash-to-HTML5 converter.

Wallaby is a free Adobe AIR application that allows designers and developers to convert Adobe Flash files (FLAs) into standards-based HTML5, CSS 3 and Javascript files.

Wallaby isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, but you can grab the pre-release version from Adobe Labs if you’d like to experiment.

Adobe first showed off Wallaby at the company’s MAX conference last year and the target use was pretty clear: Apple’s iOS devices. Since iOS doesn’t support Adobe Flash, developers using Flash for their web content need an alternate solution for iOS mobile devices — enter Wallaby.

Because iOS is the primary use case for Wallaby, the generated code relies on some WebKit-only CSS features, which means that Wallaby’s results won’t work in every web browser. In other words, Wallaby is not yet a magic bullet for those who’d like to make the jump from Flash to HTML5. For example, any timeline animations in your Flash file will be converted into CSS 3 Animations.

It’s great to see Adobe using the CSS Animations standard, but sadly the animations spec only works reliably in WebKit-based browsers (Safari, Chrome and Mobile Safari). Once other browsers implement CSS 3 animations, Wallaby could become a more useful, general purpose tool.

Wallaby also won’t convert some Flash elements to HTML5 because there simply is no HTML5 equivalent. For example, Flash’s blend modes and some Flash filters won’t convert, but Wallaby will warn you when something in your FLA file won’t be exported to HTML5. For a complete list of supported Flash features, see the Wallaby documentation page on Adobe Labs.

Wallaby’s biggest Achilles’ heel is that it can’t convert ActionScript to JavaScript.

Adobe’s Tom Barclay, senior product manager for the Adobe Creative Suite business, tells Webmonkey that, for now, the primary use case for Wallaby is converting simple Flash banner ads into something iOS users can see. For that use case, Wallaby works well. For anything beyond it, you’ll have to break out your text editor and tweak things by hand.

But just because Wallaby won’t do it for you, doesn’t mean it can’t be a starting point for converting more complex Flash movies. Wallaby will even preserve any instance names in your Flash movie, making it easier to do the AS-to-JS conversion yourself.

Right now Wallaby is at the preview-release stage and Adobe is looking to gauge developer interest. If you’ve got suggestions for how Adobe can improve Wallaby, or want to let the company know which Flash features you’d like to see added, be sure to let them know.

Barclay did not rule out the possibility that Wallaby might one day be able to turn ActionScript into JavaScript (both languages are based on ECMAScript and have considerable overlap).

While Barclay said Adobe has no firm plans at this point, he hinted that eventually Wallaby’s conversion tools could be rolled into Flash Professional itself as an export option. For now though, if you’d like to take Wallaby for a spin, head over to Adobe Labs and download a copy.

See Also:

View the original article here

Chrome 10 Brings More Speed, Sandboxed Flash

Google has released version 10 of its Chrome web browser. Chrome 10 is a major overhaul for the Chrome line, with better performance, new malware protection, a sandboxed Flash Player and GPU accelerated HTML5 video.

If you’re already using Chrome the update should be applied automatically. If you’d like to try out Google Chrome, head over to the Chrome download page.

The most noticeable visual change in this update is the new preferences page, which is now a tab in your browser, complete with URLs to all the various settings. There’s also a new search box on the preferences page, which allows you to quickly find the setting you want without wading through every tab and menu item.

If you’re a fan of Chrome’s sync features, this release adds support for encrypting your passwords with your own secret sync passphrase. The new encryption setup works much like Firefox’s sync encryption — just create a passphrase and enter it on every machine that syncs to that account. Chrome sync has always worked well, but if you’ve been holding off because it wasn’t encrypted, well, now you can dive in.

Under the hood Chrome 10 packs a brand new, faster version of Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. Google has previously claimed a 66 percent improvement over Chrome 9 on the V8 benchmark suite, but of course that benchmark suite was written specifically for Chrome. At this point JavaScript benchmarks have come to seem largely irrelevant — it’s hard to tell how much improvement comes from optimising for the benchmark, which doesn’t necessarily translate to real-world performance gains. Let’s simply say that Chrome 10 is fast; faster than Chrome 9 and, in my experience, on par or faster than Firefox 4 and Opera 11.

Google has also enabled support for GPU-accelerated video in Chrome 10. Provided you have a capable graphics card, HTML5 video should be considerably easier on your CPU.

Other behind the scenes changes include sandboxing the Flash Player to avoid crashes and possible Flash-based security flaws, as well as a new update check that will disable any outdated plugins when it finds them. And yes, the linguistic whimsy of the new “obliterate web history” message did indeed make it all the way to the Chrome 10 final release.

Internet Explorer 9 to Arrive March 14

Internet Explorer 9 Beta on the Windows 7 desktop

Microsoft has announced it will release Internet Explorer 9 onto the web March 14. Internet Explorer 9 will be a massive overhaul for IE and brings much needed standards support, speed boosts and hardware acceleration.

The first Platform Preview of IE9 arrived nearly a year ago and since then Microsoft has released several more previews and betas. Along the way, IE9 has gained support for more HTML5 features, CSS3 improvements and better hardware acceleration.

IE9 will be good news for web developers since it adds considerable support for HTML5 and CSS3. Its predecessor, IE8 doesn’t support any of HTML5 and is widely blamed for holding back efforts to create a better web.

Microsoft is hoping to change that with IE9 which not only supports much of HTML5 and CSS3, but includes hardware acceleration for faster performance and privacy protection settings to stop websites from tracking your movements around the web. IE9 is also no slouch when it comes to JavaScript performance thanks to the new Chakra JS engine.

We took a look at the HTML5 and CSS3 features in IE9 last year, but Microsoft has added quite a few more since then, including support for CSS3’s 2-D transforms and new selectors, HTML5’s semantic elements, the WOFF font format and the geolocation API.

In terms of web standards IE9 is light years beyond anything Microsoft has previously released. Granted, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome are somewhat further along with the more experimental features of HTML5, but given IE’s dominant market share worldwide, IE9 should be a huge boon for HTML5 adoption (provided users upgrade).

We’ll be sure to give you a full rundown on everything that’s new in IE9 when it arrives next week.

Microsoft Kicks Off Campaign to Kill Internet Explorer 6

Microsoft has launched a new campaign to rid the web of Internet Explorer 6. The company’s new IE6countdown website tracks IE6’s dwindling market share and encourages developers to paste a code snippet into their websites, telling any IE6 users to upgrade.

According to Net Applications, IE6 still has a 12 percent user share worldwide. In the U.S. the number is just under 3 percent, but in China it’s still almost 35 percent. That means millions of people are using a browser that’s older than Gmail, Ubuntu, Borat and even The Euro.

You’d be hard pressed to find a web developer that doesn’t want to get rid of IE6. In fact, many websites — including, for example, Google — long ago stopped supporting IE6, but having IE6’s creator jump on the “let’s get rid of IE6? bandwagon is encouraging.

The problem is that some users have no choice but to stick with IE6. There are still some sites on the web that require IE6 and even more in private intranets. Telling users who need IE6 to access these sites to upgrade isn’t going to solve the problem. The problem is with the websites, not the users. The IE6countadown site has a section devoted to IT staff and corporate users looking to upgrade, but there’s little the company can do for those with sites built only for IE6.

The other problem with Microsoft’s upgrade campaign is that it directs users to install Internet Explorer 8 — already two years old and soon to be replaced by IE9. Why not hold the campaign until IE9 is here and users can upgrade to an even better browser?

Simple — IE9 won’t be available on Windows XP. And if you’re using IE6 you’re on Windows XP (or something even older). It’s a depressing thought, but if you’re still using Windows XP, IE8 is as good as it will ever get unless you switch to a different web browser.

If you’d like to join in Microsoft’s campaign, the company has put together a cut-and-paste code snippet that will display a banner telling IE6 users to upgrade. The graphic isn’t the prettiest thing around, and you’ll want to add some actual text to the alt tag. But the big change we suggest making is to the link — point your users to a more modern browser, say Firefox or Chrome, rather than the IE8 upgrade page. That way people can enjoy the modern web, but still keep IE6 around for those times they need it.

Mozilla’s ‘Web o’ Wonders’ Shows Off New Firefox 4 Tricks

Just ahead of the final release of Firefox 4 Mozilla has unveiled a new HTML5/CSS 3 showcase to demo some of the new web standards support coming in Firefox 4.

Google and Microsoft both released similar efforts to showcase Chrome and Internet Explorer 9, respectively. And, of course, there was Apple’s effort, but, thanks to some poor coding decisions, Apple’s showcase only works in Safari.

Mozilla’s new Web o’ Wonders website will work in any modern browser, though the video elements use the WebM codec, so you’ll need either Firefox 4, Chrome or Opera to watch the movies. Refreshingly, Mozilla’s Web o’ Wonders doesn’t conflate the various new web standards under the singular banner of HTML5 — SVG, JavaScript, CSS 3 and HTML5 are all called out separately, by name.

Right now there are only three demos on Web o’ Wonder, but Mozilla plans to add more, and you can submit your own experiments for consideration. The three experiments of the site now showcase HTML5 video, WebGL rendering and various CSS 3 and JavaScript techniques combined under the heading “design.” Particularly worth checking out is the HTML5 poster experiment which covers just about all the new HTML5, CSS 3 and JavaScript support in Firefox 4. Curious developers can click the “learn more” link to reach Mozilla’s developer page for each new feature listed.

Perhaps the best news, which arrives alongside the new demos is that Firefox 4 RC1 is just about done, with the final release likely not far behind it.

Web Notifications API Hints at a Brave New Real-Time Web

Google recently added a desktop notification option to Gmail — whenever a new message arrives you’ll see a pop-up window letting you know. Gmail’s new feature works a bit like the popular OS X app Growl. it’s handy, but there’s a big catch — it only works in Google’s Chrome browser.

A truly cross-browser, cross-platform real-time alert system for the web is still a little ways off, but there is already a standard in the works and the W3C recently announced the first Public Working Draft of the Web Notifications API.

The Web Notifications API attempts to bring the world of desktop notifications to the web, with the browser serving as an intermediary. The web solved the real-time updates problem some time ago. Take Twitter, for instance, the website offers a continuously updated feed of your friends’ tweets in real-time. But, all the updates in world are meaningless if you don’t know they’ve arrived.

The next step forward in the real-time web is to move from real-time updates to real-time notifications. Right now one of the biggest advantages of using — to stick with the Twitter example — a desktop Twitter client, is that it can run in the background, popping up alerts whenever you receive new messages. Twitter.com running in your browser can’t pull that off right now.

But that’s precisely what the Web Notifications API will allow websites to do. The API provides a mechanism for web apps to talk to your desktop, passing along notifications from sites you’ve authorized to send updates. The spec does not specify exactly how to display the notifications, that’s left up to the user agent since what works best on your desktop might not work so well on your Android phone.

The possible applications go well beyond Twitter and e-mail. Attempts to build distributed social networks could benefit from real-time notifications, as would chat apps, news alert apps, banking apps and countless others. Combining the advantages of the web — accessible nearly anywhere with no app store restrictions — with a cross-platform notification standard just might open up a new realm of web apps.

While the Web Notifications API is still a draft, Google’s Chrome browser has already embraced it and the spec has managed to progress from editor’s draft to public draft in just eight months, which is near lightning speed for the W3C. Now it’s time for other browsers to start adding support for the Web Notifications API so developers can begin to experiment.

Thousand of APIs Paint a Bright Future for the Web

ProgrammableWeb's stat for API protocols and data formats

Once a novel idea that seemed limited to Flickr, the web-based API is now everywhere you turn — Twitter, Foursquare, Google Maps and thousands of other sites offer up their data in the form of an API.

APIs mean that third-party developers can build their own tools and mashups, which in turn helps to fuel the popularity of the web service. It’s hard to imagine where sites like Flickr and Twitter would be today without APIs.

In fact, these days some web services don’t even bother launching websites to go with their APIs — the API is the service. The SimpleGeo API, for example, doesn’t really have a corresponding website, it’s just an API that can be used anywhere, including inside mobile apps.

And APIs aren’t just something for external developers anymore. Increasingly web services are building their own sites and tools around their APIs — after all, why bother with an API if you aren’t going to use it yourself? Twitter is a good example of the “eat your own dog food” approach to APIs; Twitter’s website and its mobile clients are both developed off the same Twitter API that outside developers can tap into.

Former Webmonkey writer Adam DuVander, now Executive Editor at ProgrammableWeb, recently announced that ProgrammableWeb, an API tracking site, now lists some 3000 web-based APIs. To go along with that milestone DuVander breaks down some of the trends in today’s APIs.

It will come as no surprise to those actively developing or using APIs, but the overwhelming trend in APIs is moving toward serving JSON data over a REST interface. As DuVander notes in his post, how many “REST APIs” are truly RESTful is debatable, but certainly SOAP is on its way out and HTTP coupled with OAuth is the future.

When it comes to the data APIs serve up, XML is still the most used format, but JSON is hot on its heels and growing much faster. Even though there are still more XML APIs, the more recent the API, the more likely it’s serving JSON. In many cases — like Twitter’s streaming API and Foursquare’s updated API — companies are rapidly moving from XML to JSON.

The biggest thing that sticks out from ProgrammableWeb’s API trends is that the API, once a sort of “hey, that’s cool” option for progressive websites, is now a first class citizen of the web. Perhaps eventually something better than the REST/OAuth/JSON combo will come along, but the the API and the idea behind it — making data available to the entire web — isn’t going anywhere.

Opera 11.5 Preview Shows Off Hardware Acceleration

 OpenGL accelerates Opera 11.5

Opera Software has released a hardware accelerated preview of the coming Opera 11.5 web browser. For now the

hardware acceleration is only available for Windows systems with OpenGL 2.x compatible graphics card and drivers. Eventually the company plans to expand Opera’s hardware acceleration support


to include Direct3D and any OpenGL capable system — Mac OS X, Linux, mobile phones and web TVs.

If you’d like to try out the latest preview build, you can grab a copy of the experimental build from Opera.

Hardware acceleration is the latest hotness in web browsers. Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4 and Chrome 9 all offer varying degrees of hardware acceleration. The idea behind the trend is to hand off as much rendering as possible to your graphics card, which is generally better at drawing things on screen than your main CPU. For more details on how hardware acceleration works and why it’s good for browsers, see our earlier write up.

The chief problem with hardware acceleration is that differences between graphics cards make it difficult to implement. Internet Explorer 9 has sidestepped that problem by limiting hardware acceleration to Windows 7, while Chrome continues to limit hardware acceleration by compatibile graphics cards.

Likewise, for now, Opera’s hardware acceleration only works with a limited set of compatible graphics cards. However, Opera’s long term plans include supporting Windows XP and other platforms (provided they have compatible graphics cards), something Internet Explorer, for instance, will not be doing.

To see if your graphics card is supported, download the Windows preview version of Opera 11.5 and head to opera:about. Check the “Vega Backend” entry, if Opera reports that it’s using OpenGL, congratulations, you have hardware acceleration enabled. If it says “Software,” you’re out of luck.

If you’re an Opera fan, or just want to try hardware acceleration on a platform that other browsers don’t yet support, the preview is worth trying, but keep in mind that this is not a stable release. There are still numerous bugs — in particular, SVG rendering doesn’t seem to work — and Opera 11.5 won’t be finalized for some time. The next step on the Opera roadmap is 11.1, which will not support hardware acceleration. However, Opera plans to continue releasing updates to these early 11.5 builds even as it works to finish up Opera 11.1.

OpenGL Tutorial #0a: Getting OpenGL Set Up on Windows

OpenGL Tutorial #1: Basic Shapes

OpenGL Tutorial #2: Transformations and Timers, Part 1 of 2

OpenGL Tutorial #2: Transformations and Timers, Part 2 of 2

OpenGL Tutorial #3: Color

OpenGL Tutorial #4: Lighting, Part 1 of 2

OpenGL Tutorial #4: Lighting, Part 2 of 2

C++ OpenGL Lesson 5: Shading Models

The Future of CSS: Finally, Sane Layout Tools

Woolly, the CSS sheep.

HTML5 and CSS 3 offer web designers new semantic tags, fancy animations, server-side fonts and much more, but that’s


not the end of the story. The next major development in web design will likely revolve around one of the things neither HTML5 nor CSS 3 have yet addressed — page layout.

For all the great new tools in both technologies, the task of making page elements arrange themselves the way you’d like remains an imperfect process at best. Floats, absolute positions and the occasional bit of JavaScript will get the job done, but that’s a lot of code for something as basic as positioning elements on the page.

Surely there’s a better way. For example, wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply define a box and then position child elements within that box using a few lines of code? Perhaps something like this:

section { display: box;}section p#first { box-flex: 3;}section p#second { box-flex: 2;}

These CSS rules tell the browser that our section tag should be a box. Within that box are two paragraphs that should be displayed side by side, with one of them taking up slightly more space than the second. The browser calculates the width of the two p tags by looking at the ratio in the box-flex rule and then displays the results — no floats, pixel widths or other rules necessary.

If that sounds good to you then you’ll be excited to know that the code above will actually work in the latest versions of Firefox, Safari and Chrome, which all support the W3C’s Flexible Box Layout Module.

The catch — because there’s always a catch when it comes to emerging web standards — is that the W3C is planning a considerable rewrite of the Flexible Box Layout syntax. In other words, experimenting with the Flexible Box Layout rules is fine (and vendor prefixes are your friend here), just don’t actually use it in production code. For a great tutorial on how the Flexible Box Layout rules work, check out Google developer Paul Irish’s write up on HTML5Rocks.

The Flexible Box layout Module isn’t the only tool the W3C is considering for improving the layout tools in CSS. There are two additional standards under consideration — Template Layout (based on Mozilla’s XUL syntax), and Grid Positioning. The three use different syntaxes to accomplish similar things, so it’s unlikely all three will end up official specs. Currently the Flexible Box Module and the Template Layout Module are the more actively developed of the three.

For a great overview of how each of these three modules work, check out the video below of web developer Peter Gasston’s recent talk at the London Web Standards meeting. Gasston calls the talk How We’ll Lay Out Websites In 2016, but we’re optimistic that these tools will be available in most browsers much sooner than that.

[Update: You can also check out the slides from Gasston's talk over on SlideShare.]

Of course there’s an elephant in the room — Internet Explorer, which does not currently support any of these tools (some of the Flexible Box Layout tools turned up in an early preview release of IE9, but they appear to have been removed in the latest preview). But there’s some good news, particularly in the case of the Flexible Box Layout module, which already has a JavaScript polyfill for older browsers.

Cool as the Flexible Box Layout Module is, it’ll still be some time before you can use these new rules in production. Floats, absolute positioning and other awkward layout tools will be with us for some time to come, but at least the promise of something better is starting to appear on the horizon.

URL Hunter: a Cool Game, but not HTML5

 Gaming in the URL bar

If you need a mindless morning diversion, URL Hunter (link opens in new tab), a simple ASCII text game that turns your URL bar into the playing field, fits the bill. Be forewarned though, it’s going to leave massive, meaningless tracks in your browser history. Still, if you don’t mind the history garbage, URL Hunter is surprisingly entertaining.

One thing URL Hunter is decidedly not is HTML5.

Its creator, developer Corey Johnson of Probably Interactive, calls URL Hunter “ridiculous” and clearly didn’t mean it as a serious effort. Nowhere on the page does he mention HTML5 (technically the page does use an HTML5 doctype, but otherwise there’s nothing HTML5 about it), but that hasn’t stopped several prominent tech news outlets from declaring that URL Hunter uses HTML5 and the canvas tag to work its magic. Further proof that no one uses view source anymore.

In fact URL Hunter just uses JQuery to call some custom functions that randomize a string of text in your URL bar, creating the game. URL Hunter isn’t doing anything you couldn’t do five years ago (which isn’t meant to diminish URL Hunter).

That said, we’d like to see a re-write of URL Hunter that does use HTML5. In particular, the HTML5 History API. New elements in the History API offer a way to visibly change the URL in the location bar without triggering a page refresh. The canonical example of why this is useful is a JavaScript slideshow where each new image has a permalink. Using the History API each new image can update the URL bar as the images change, but the page never needs to reload. You can accomplish the same thing now with # URLs, but the History API offers more complete URLs.

The History API works in Safari 5, Mobile Safari 4.2.1+, Chrome 8+, and Firefox 4 and, provided you use it correctly, gracefully degrades for browsers that aren’t up to the task. Mark Pilgrim recently added a chapter to his Dive into HTML5 that covers the History API in detail, complete with working demos. There’s also a simple example on HTML5Demos and the GitHub blog offers a behind the scenes look at how the site uses the History API to handle its “slider” navigation.

Granted, using the History API wouldn’t change much about URL Hunter, and apparently you don’t even need to use any HTML5 for the tech media to declare your efforts HTML5, but we’d be impressed.


Our skin faces a constant barrage of chemicals everyday from pollution to harsh chemically formulated products that strip the skin of its natural balance. These simple Ayurvedic home remedies help you to attain a clear, healthy and glowing complexion. Ayurveda mentions many simple natural ways to maintain a healthy and glowing skin. Using these natural ways, one can stay beautiful for a longer period without having to suffer the side effects of the chemicals.Below are some simple 'secrets' SUPER BEAUTY TIPS. Mix equal quantities of cucumber juice, rose water and lime juice. Wash the face and apply it overnight. Rinse off in the morning. This clears the complexion and keeps it healthy. 
Take 50 ml. of raw (not boiled) milk and mix a pinch of salt and two teaspoonful of lime juice in it. Use it as a cleansing lotion. It helps to clean the deep pores of skin.
Mix equal quantities of lime juice, glycerin and rose water. This lotion if applied to the face regularly at bed time is very useful in removing pimples, blackheads and other stains of the skin. It makes the skin soft, and can also be applied to other parts of the body (hands, feet etc.)
Take 50 ml. of tomato juice and mix with one teaspoon of lemon juice. Apply this mixture to the face. It helps to make the skin soft and glowing.
Take equal quantities of turmeric powder and wheat flour and make a paste with sesame oil. Apply it to the face to remove unwanted hair.
Apply orange juice to the face for smooth and soft skin. 
Take 30 ml. of cabbage juice and mix one teaspoon of honey in it. This mixture, if applied regularly to the face, helps to keep the wrinkles away.
Make a paste of raw carrots and apply it to the face. Wash it after one hour. The skin will become glowing.
Regular application of mint juice to the face helps to remove stains. 
Try out some of these simple natural remedies for smooth, clear and radiant complexion.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The Three Pillars of Beauty

Maharishi Ayurveda (MAV), the modern, consciousness-based revival of the ancient Ayurvedic medicine tradition, considers true beauty to be supported by three pillars; Outer Beauty, Inner Beauty and Lasting Beauty. Only by enhancing all three can we attain the balanced state of radiant health that makes each of us the most fulfilled and beautiful person we can be.

Outer Beauty: Roopam

The outer signs of beauty - your skin, hair and nails - are more than just superficial measures of beauty. They are direct reflections of your overall health. These outer tissues are created by the inner physiological processes involved in digestion, metabolism and proper tissue development. Outer beauty depends more on the strength of your digestion and metabolism, the quality of your diet, and the purity of your blood, than on external cleansers and conditioners you may apply.

General Recommendations for Outer Beauty

As we will discuss, the key to skin care is matching your diet and skin care routine to the specific skin type you have. Meanwhile, there are some valuable recommendations for lustrous skin, hair and nails that will be helpful to everyone, regardless of skin type.

1. Diet: Without adequate nourishment, your collagen layer thins and a kind of wasting takes place. Over time, your skin can shrivel up like a plant without water from lack of nourishment. To keep your skin plump and glowing:

A. Eat fresh, whole organic foods that are freshly prepared.

Avoid packaged, canned, frozen, processed foods and leftovers. These foods have little nutritional value and also they are often poorly digested which creates impurities that localize in the skin. The resulting buildup of toxins causes irritation and blocks circulation depriving the skin of further nourishment and natural cleansing processes.

B. Favor skin nourishing foods.

Leafy green vegetables contain vitamins, minerals (especially iron and calcium) and are high in antioxidant properties. They nourish the skin and protect it from premature aging.

Sweet juicy fruits like grapes, melons, pears, plums and stewed apples at breakfast are excellent for the skin in almost everyone.

Eat a wide variety of grains over different meals and try mixed grain servings at breakfast and lunch. Add amaranth, quinoa, cous cous, millet and barley to the wheat and rice you already eat.

Favor light, easy to digest proteins like legume soups (especially yellow split mung dhal), whole milk, paneer (cheese made from boiling milk, adding lemon and straining solids) and lassi (diluted yogurt and spice drinks).

Oils like ghee (clarified butter) and organic, extra virgin olive oil should be included in the diet as they lubricate, nourish and create lustre in the skin.

Use spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper to improve digestion, nourish the skin and cleanse it of impurities.

Avoid microwaving and boiling your vegetables. They lose as much as 85% of their antioxidant content when cooked in this way. Steaming and sautéing are best.

Caring for outer beauty through knowledge of skin type

Besides these general recommendations the key to Outer Beauty is to understand the difference in skin types so you can gain the maximum benefit from your individualized skin care regimen. MAV identifies three different skin types based on which of the three main metabolic principles (doshas)- present in everyone, but to different degrees- is most dominant in your body.

Vata Skin

* Description: Vata is composed of the elements of air and space. If you have a vata skin type, your skin will be dry, thin, fine pored, delicate and cool to the touch. When balanced, it glows with a delicate lightness and refinement that is elegant and attractive. When vata skin is imbalanced, it will be prone to excessive dryness and may even be rough and flaky.

* Potential problems: The greatest beauty challenge for vata skin is its predisposition to symptoms of early aging. Your skin may tend to develop wrinkles earlier than most due to its tendency to dryness and thinness. If your digestion is not in balance, your skin can begin to look dull and grayish, even in your 20’s and 30’s. In addition, your skin may have a tendency for disorders such as dry eczema and skin fungus. Mental stress, such as worry, fear and lack of sleep, has a powerful debilitating effect on vata skin leaving it looking tired and lifeless.

* Recommendations for care

With a little knowledge, you can preserve and protect the delicate beauty of your vata type skin. Since your skin does not contain much moisture, preventing it from drying is the major consideration. Eat a warm, unctuous diet (ghee and olive oil are best) and favor sour, salty and sweet tastes (naturally sweet like fruits, not refined sugar) as they balance vata. Avoid drying foods like crackers. Drink 6-8 glasses of warm (not cold for vata types!) water throughout the day and eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Going to bed early (before 10 PM) is very soothing to vata and will have a tremendously positive influence on your skin. Avoid cleansing products that dry the skin (like alcohol-based cleansers) and perform Ayurvedic oil massage to your whole body (abhyanga) in the morning before you shower.

Pitta Skin.

* Description: Pitta dosha is composed of the elements of fire and water. If you have a pitta skin type your skin is fair, soft, warm and of medium thickness. When balanced, your skin has a beautiful, slightly rosy or golden glow, as if illuminated from within. Your hair typically is fine and straight, and is usually red, sandy or blonde in color. Your complexion tends toward the pink or reddish, and there is often a copious amount of freckles or moles.

* Potential problems: Among the many beauty challenges of pitta skin types is your tendency to develop rashes, rosacea, acne, liver spots or pigment disorders. Because of the large proportion of the fire element in your constitution, your skin does not tolerate heat or sun very well. Of all the three skin types, pitta skin has the least tolerance for the sun, is photosensitive, and most likely to accumulate sun damage over the years. Pitta skin is aggravated by emotional stress, especially suppressed anger, frustration, or resentment.

* Recommendations for care

Avoid excessive sunlight, tanning treatments and highly heating therapies like facial or whole body steams. Avoid hot, spicy foods and favor astringent, bitter and sweet foods which balance pitta. (Again, naturally sweet, not chocolate and refined sugar!) Sweet juicy fruits (especially melons and pears), cooked greens and rose petal preserves are especially good. Drinking plenty of water helps wash impurities from sensitive pitta skin. Reduce external or internal contact with synthetic chemicals, to which your skin is especially prone to react, even in a delayed fashion after years of seemingly uneventful use. Avoid skin products that are abrasive, heating or contain artificial colors or preservatives. Most commercial make-up brands should be avoided in favor of strictly 100% natural ingredient cosmetics. And be sure to get your emotional stress under control through plenty of outdoor exercise, yoga and meditation.

Kapha Skin.

* Description: Kapha dosha is composed of the elements of earth and water. If you have a kapha skin type your skin is thick, oily, soft and cool to the touch. Your complexion is a glowing porcelain whitish color, like the moon, and hair characteristically thick, wavy, oily and dark. Kapha skin types, with their more generous collagen and connective tissue, are fortunate to develop wrinkles much later in life than vata or pitta types.

*Potential problems If your skin becomes imbalanced, it can show up as enlarged pores, excessively oily skin, moist types of eczema, blackheads, acne or pimples, and water retention. Kapha skin is also more prone to fungal infections.

* Recommendations for care

Kapha skin is more prone to clogging and needs more cleansing than other skin types. Be careful to avoid greasy, clogging creams. Likewise, avoid heavy, hard to digest foods like fried foods, fatty meats, cheeses and rich desserts. Eat more light, easy to digest, astringent, bitter and pungent (well-spiced) foods as they balance kapha. Olive oil is the best cooking oil and a little ginger and lime juice can be taken before meals to increase your characteristically sluggish digestive fire. Take warm baths often and use gentle cleansers to open the skin pores. Avoid getting constipated and try to get some exercise every day to increase circulation and help purify the skin through the sweating process.

Inner Beauty: Gunam.

Happy, positive, loving, caring individuals have a special beauty that is far more than skin deep. Conversely we all experience the quick and deleterious effect on our skin from fatigue and stress.

Inner beauty is authentic beauty, not the kind that shows on a made-up face, but the kind that shines through from your soul, your consciousness or inner state of being. Inner beauty comes from a mind and heart that are in harmony, not at odds with each other, causing emotional confusion, loss of confidence, stress and worry. Inner peace is the foundation of outer beauty.

Maintain your self-confidence and a warm, loving personality by paying attention to your lifestyle and daily routine and effective management of stress (I highly recommend the TM technique for its scientifically-verified benefits on mental and physical health and reduced aging.) You will also be healthier and feel better through the day if you eat your main meal at midday and make a habit of going to bed early (by 10 PM is ideal.)

Remember, kindness, friendliness and sincerity naturally attract people to you. On the other hand, being uptight or tense makes people want to walk the other way, regardless of your facial structure, body weight, or other outer signs we associate with attractiveness.

Lasting Beauty: Yayastyag

In order to slow the aging process and gain lasting beauty there are two additional key considerations beyond those already discussed,

1. Eliminate toxins and free radicals in the body: The main deteriorating effects of aging come as toxins and impurities (called ama in Ayurveda) accumulate throughout the body. These toxins may begin as free radicals in the body, or over time may become oxidized into free radicals, all of which contribute to premature aging in the body. For lasting health and beauty it is essential to avoid and neutralize free radicals, to prevent impurities of all kinds from accumulating and to remove those that have already become lodged in the body.

The most powerful cleansing therapy in Maharishi Ayurveda is 'panchakarma' therapy, a series of natural treatments ideally performed twice yearly, that involves 5-7 days in a row of massage, heat treatments and mild herbal enemas. Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of undergoing this cleansing program once or twice a year to prevent impurities from accumulating, localizing and hardening in the tissues. Just as we change the oil in our cars regularly for optimal performance and lifespan, Ayurveda recommends that we cleanse the “sludge” from our tissues on a regular basis through panchakarma treatments.

Best of all, panchakarma treatments are luxurious, blissful, and make you feel (and look) completely rejuvenated in just a few days time. I have had many a patient who told me that friends asked them afterwards if they had gotten a facelift, they looked so fresh and youthful!

Other free radical busters include: reducing mental stress, eating antioxidant foods like leafy green vegetables, sweet, juicy fruits and cooking on a daily basis with antioxidant, detoxifying spices like turmeric and coriander.

2. Add rejuvenative techniques to daily living:

The daily activities of life in the modern world systematically wear us down and speed up the aging process. Ayurveda maintains it is crucial to practice daily rejuvenative regimens to counteract the stressful wear and tear of everyday life. According to Ayurveda the most important rejuvenative routines for your life are:

Going to bed by 10:00 PM. This simple habit is one of the most powerful techniques for health and longevity, according to MAV.

Meditate daily. Any meditation that does not involve concentration (which has been shown to increase anxiety) can be very helpful. I highly recommend the twice-daily deep rest and enlivenment of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, whose benefits have been verified by over 700 published research studies.

Eat organic, whole fresh food that is freshly prepared. There is an Ayurvedic saying: 'Without proper diet. medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need.' Be sure to avoid those leftovers, processed and microwaved foods for better nutrition and vitality.

Perform Ayurvedic oil massage in the morning (abhyanga). Morning oil massage purifies the entire body, reduces anxiety and stress, helps prevent and heal injuries and supports circulation. It is especially helpful in creating a radiant complexion and keeping your skin youthful. Research shows it may also help prevent skin cancers.

Practice yoga asanas. Maintaining flexibility and circulation is key to health.

Practice pranayama (yoga breathing) techniques. Pranayama enlivens the mind and body. Ideally practice the following sequence twice a day. Asanas, pranayama and meditation.


Everyone's unique beauty shines forth when they have radiant health and personal happiness. Beauty is a side effect of a balanced, fulfilled life. Supreme personal beauty is accessible to everyone who is willing to take more control of their health in their day-to-day life through time-tested principles of natural living.

For most of us, beauty is not a gift but a choice. Every woman can be radiantly beautiful simply by beginning to lead a healthier life. You will be rewarded by the glowing effects you will see in your mirror each day and the powerful, bliss-producing effect your special beauty has on everyone in your life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Ayurveda and Beauty: Top Ten Ayurvedic Beauty Tips
In this special newsletter, our ayurvedic expert from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians discusses the top ten ways to feel and look beautiful all year long.


Q: There are so many beauty products to choose from. How do you know which ones to use?

A: Have you ever tried a skin care product and found it just doesn't feel right for your skin? While you may have unctuous, smooth, unwrinkled skin, your friend may be plagued by dry, thin skin that wrinkles as it ages. Still another will have sensitive skin that breaks out or turns rashy when exposed to harsh skin care products. Or a fourth friend might have a combination of two of these (i.e. sensitive overall, dry in patches).

These different skin types are not only recognized in Maharishi Ayurveda, they form the basis for your customized skin care program. Once you figure out your skin type, it's easy to choose the right products to create beauty from the inside and the outside.

The three basic skin types--Vata, Pitta and Kapha--are based on the three doshas. Look at the description below to see if you recognize your skin type.

Vata Skin Type
Vata dosha is light, dry, and cool. If your skin is thin, dry, fine-pored, delicate and cool to the touch, you probably have Vata skin. When out of balance, it may become excessively dry, rough or flaky, or be subject to dry eczema or skin fungus. Vata skin tends to wrinkle more as it ages, due to the dryness of Vata dosha, and can take on a grayish or dull quality if your digestion is not in balance. If you have Vata skin, you are particularly sensitive to mental stress, which tends to show up in a tired, stressed look.

Pitta Skin Type
Pitta skin is more fair or rosy in color, soft, warm to the touch, and of medium thickness. These qualities, along with blond and red-colored hair, correspond to the warm, fiery Pitta dosha. When out of balance, Pitta skin types can suffer from skin rashes, breakouts, acne, liver spots or rosacea. Pitta skin is usually more sensitive, and emotional stress can cause you to blush when embarrassed or experience breakouts, canker sores or rashes when under stress.

Kapha Skin Type
Kapha skin is cool to the touch and is thicker, softer, oilier and smoother than the other two types. This is similar to the oily, smooth, strong qualities of Kapha dosha. If your skin is pale and your hair thick, wavy, oily and dark, you probably have Kapha skin. People with Kapha skin don't tend to form wrinkles until very late in life. When out of balance, Kapha skin can suffer from excessive oiliness, enlarged pores, blackheads, pimples, moist types of eczema and water retention.

Q: Once you know your skin type, how do you customize your skin care routine?

A: Knowing your skin type gives you clues as to what you should eat and how to plan your daily routine to balance and nourish your skin. Knowing your skin type also gives you the key to customizing your skin care routine. For instance, the M•SPA Youthful Skin routine has four steps: cleansing with the Youthful Skin Cleansing Bar or Youthful Skin Cleansing Gel; toning with the Youthful Skin Toner; replenishing with the Youthful Skin Oil, and nourishing with the Youthful Skin Cream. While all of these products are designed for all the skin types, how often you use them will vary, depending on your skin type. Here are some examples.

The Key to Vata Skin
If you have Vata skin, your skin doesn't retain as much moisture as other skin types. For that reason, adding moisture is your priority. Apply the Youthful Skin Cream generously on your face before you go to bed at night and in the morning after cleansing. The Youthful Skin Cleansing Gel is especially designed for dry Vata skin, because it restores moisture balance at the same time as it cleanses and removes make-up. It's also best to use Youthful Skin Oil each night before bed. Avoid skin care products with chemical preservatives or ingredients because these will only dry and damage your skin.

Keep your skin moisturized from the inside by drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day and eating plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Eat warm, nourishing foods and avoid drying foods, such as crackers. Be sure to keep a regular routine and regular eating habits. Get to bed early, and include a daily abhyanga or oil massage to moisturize your entire body. Use Vata Churna and Vata Tea to nourish and balance Vata skin.

The Key to Pitta Skin
If you have Pitta skin, your treatment program should focus on calming your sensitive skin. You'll want to stay away from excessive heat and too much direct sunlight. Tanning salons, steam facials and long hours in the sun can damage your skin. One of the best ways to calm your skin is by calming the tactile nerves. The Youthful Skin Cream contains Sensitive Plant and other natural essences of herbs that not only deeply moisturize but deeply nourish the tactile nerves as well. Because Pitta skin types have more oil in their skin, you probably want to apply the Youthful Skin Oil every other day instead of every day. Use cool temperature water for cleansing and bathing, but not ice-cold, as that can freeze the pores in the skin.

Avoid hot, spicy foods and too much exercise in the sun. Pitta Churna and Pitta Tea will have a cooling, balancing effect. Make sure you fall asleep before the Pitta time of night, which starts at 10:00 p.m. Avoid synthetic chemicals, preservatives and harsh ingredients on your skin and also in your food. Eating organic foods of the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and drinking pure water will help calm your skin and stop breakouts.

The Key to Kapha Skin
Proper cleansing is the most important thing you can do for Kapha skin. Frequent deep cleansing should be the basis of your beauty regimen. To do this ayurvedically, first loosen the impurities by lubricating the skin. Pat your face with warm milk for five minutes before you go to bed. Then in the morning, use Youthful Skin Clay to exfoliate. Because you've loosened the impurities first, your skin won't be damaged when the impurities are released. Repeat this routine twice a week.

On a daily basis, cleanse with the Youthful Skin Cleansing Bar and apply the Youthful Skin Toner. Use Youthful Skin Oil only every second day. Choose your moisturizer wisely to avoid oily build-up on your skin. Ayurvedic texts recommend herbs that detoxify as you moisturize, and these herbs are found in the Youthful Skin Cream. This formula prevents oiliness from building up on the surface.

You'll also want to avoid eating foods that are excessively oily and heavy. Eat more light, astringent and bitter foods, such as cooked vegetables prepared with Kapha-pacifying spices such as those found in Kapha Churna, and sip Kapha Tea. Olive oil in small quantities is a good cooking oil for Kapha types, as it is light and easy to digest. Make sure you exercise every day to keep your body's detoxification and digestion systems in good order.

Q: What if you have combination skin? For instance, what if your skin is generally dry, but sometimes you have oily patches?

A: That would probably be Vata-Kapha skin. If you have dry yet sensitive skin it is probably Vata-Pitta; and if you have oily and sensitive skin it is probably Kapha-Pitta.

For combination skin, you'll want to look to seasonal recommendations. For instance, you'll probably find the dryness increasing in Vata season, when the weather is cold and dry. During that season favor the recommendations assigned to Vata skin. In the cool, moist spring, when digestion is more sluggish, you'll probably find that your skin is more moist and that excessive oiliness becomes more of a problem. During that time of year, follow the beauty regimen for Kapha skin.


Q: It seems like eating skin-friendly foods are an important way to nourish your skin. Can you go into more detail on that?

A: Eating healthy foods is important for several reasons, especially to provide the building blocks for skin cell regeneration. If you eat foods that are old or dead--such as leftovers, frozen, canned or processed foods-these are of little nutritional value, and that will show up in your skin. Worse, these foods are difficult to digest, and end up creating impurities. If you eat them over a period of time, ama (digestive toxins) can build up, clogging the pores and the internal channels that carry moisture and nutrients to the deeper layers of the skin. Aging skin, wrinkles, and a dull, gray look is the result of ama in the physiology. Eating foods grown with chemicals and prepared with synthetic preservatives and additives can create the more reactive toxin known as amavisha, and can result in breakouts, rashes and other skin problems.

Q: So what should you eat?

A: First of all, you should follow the dietary recommendations for your body type, skin type and season. These foods will help nourish your particular skin type and bring balance to your whole mind-body system. Secondly, Maharishi Ayurveda recommends certain foods to nourish all skin types, and overall health as well.

Fruits for suppleness: Eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits, including a stewed apple or pear for breakfast, to enhance suppleness of the skin.

Grains for intelligence: Eat a variety of whole grains to nourish your skin with a variety of minerals and the full range of nature's intelligence. Recommended grains include quinoa, cous cous, millet, barley, amaranth, rye and wheat. Combine them in different ways for variety or eat a different grain at each meal. Vegetables for fiber and vitamins: Eat a variety of vegetables cooked in skin-friendly spices. Leafy greens are especially good for the skin. They really do make your cheeks rosy because they provide nutrients such as iron and calcium, which help to nourish the blood and skin tissue.

Spices for detoxifying:
Maharishi Ayurveda always recommends using spices in cooking because they aid digestion, which helps overall health and is especially helpful in detoxifying and nourishing the skin. Turmeric is probably the best friend of the skin, because it purifies the deeper layers and also is a potent antioxidant. Cumin, fenugreek, black pepper and turmeric purify the blood and fat tissue. Black pepper and turmeric also cleanse the nutrient fluid and the sweat (the waste product of fat tissue).

Skin-Nourishing Spice Mixture
3 parts turmeric
6 parts coriander
6 parts fennel
1 part black pepper

Proteins for nourishment:
Eat plenty of proteins that are easy to digest. These include pulses such as yellow split mung bean dhal and organic dairy products such as whole milk, panir (fresh cheese made from whole milk) and lassi (yogurt blended with water and dash of cumin and fresh mint). These light proteins are suitable for all skin types, although people with Kapha skin will want to eat more astringent dhal than the sweet proteins such as panir. Nut butters such as Almond Butter is a delicious way to add protein to your diet, and they contain many nourishing herbs as well.


Q: I guess we've all heard the saying that a woman needs her beauty sleep. Seriously, how are deep rest and beauty related?

A: Getting a good night's sleep is very important for maintaining youthful skin. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, try going to bed earlier, before 10.00 p.m., as you will find it easier to fall asleep during the Kapha time of night (6:00-10:00 p.m.). Avoid stimulating activities at night, such as watching TV or working on the computer. Eat your evening meal a good two hours before you go to bed, so your food can digest before you retire and you can sleep comfortably. Blissful Sleep I is a Maharishi Ayurveda formula that is especially designed for Vata sleep disorders, characterized by difficulty in falling asleep.

If you fall asleep easily but find yourself tossing and turning, awakening often, or awakening between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. with so much energy that you can't fall back asleep again, these are signs of a Pitta-based sleep disorder. For this situation, avoid spicy foods such as chilies and sour foods such as vinegar. Be sure to eat enough at dinner--sometimes night awakening can be due to hunger. Go to sleep well before 10:00, as that is the junction point between the Kapha and Pitta times of night. If you fall asleep after 10:00, in the Pitta time, your sleep will take on the active quality of Pitta rather than the settled, deep sleep that results when you fall asleep in the Kapha time. Avoid exercising at night, and stay away from TV or movies that are violent or display negative emotions, as these can disturb Pitta dosha. Before bed, drink a half-cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of Rose Petal Preserve mixed in it. It's a delightful drink and the Rose Petal Preserve is an effective way to calm Pitta dosha. Deep Rest is especially formulated to balance Pitta-based sleep problems, and is designed to help you sleep through the night.

If you sleep long and soundly but still wake up feeling exhausted, this may be due to a Kapha-based sleep disorder. For this you will want to balance Kapha dosha by making sure you get enough exercise during the day, rise well before 6:00 a.m., and eat lighter, less oily foods. Eat a light dinner several hours before going to bed, in order to give your body time to digest. Deep RestI is designed for exactly this sleep problem, and if used over time, can help you feel more rested and alert when you awaken. Of course, if you continue to feel exhausted, it's a good idea to consult an ayurvedic expert to find out if there is a deeper imbalance that needs to be corrected.


Q: In today's stressful world, we need something more than a good night's rest--we need a way to keep everyday stress and strain from showing up on our faces.

A: What you say is true. If a person is under continuous mental or emotional stress, it shows up on the face as a drawn, dull look. And because stress and lack of sleep go together--one can cause the other--it's important to address both of them.

For removing mental and emotional stress--and for building resilience to stress--the most effective thing you can do is the Transcendental Meditation® technique. It is the most powerful way to remove emotional, mental and physical stress--more than 600 research studies have proven its effectiveness.

One woman reported that after spending time on an extended Transcendental Meditation course, her friends thought she'd gotten a face lift! The daily practice of Transcendental Meditation can be your best beauty secret.

Q: Are there other ayurvedic ways to reduce the effects of stress on the skin?

A: The Worry Free herbal tablets and tea are excellent ways to reduce mental stress, which often shows up as a frown on the forehead and premature wrinkles. Research done at the University of California at San Diego on the Worry Free herbal formula shows that it actually lowers cortisol levels, which is a hormone related to stress. But along with this natural tranquilizing effect, it also makes the mind feel more alert. This is a remarkable quality--to reduce stress but also increase alertness--and is especially significant because it is completely natural and has no negative side effects.


Q: : The ayurvedic approach to beauty goes beyond cosmetics and external beauty to true beauty from within. Can you talk a little about this difference in approach?

A: Basically, Maharishi Ayurveda talks about three types of beauty: inner beauty, outer beauty and lasting beauty, the kind that doesn't fade with age. Everything we've talked about so far helps create inner beauty, and that is reflected in the skin that you show the world.

Besides eating the right foods, getting enough rest and meditating regularly, one other way to boost your skin's beauty from the inside and to look more youthful is to take Youthful Skin tablets or Radiant Skin tablets. Radiant Skin nourishes the internal functions responsible for building new skin cells, including liver function, pure blood, the temperature and healthy glow of the skin, moisture balance for supple skin, and efficient digestion and nutrition. Radiant Skin creates healthier building blocks to make new skin cells; removes impurities in the blood that can build up in the skin; enhances the natural ability of the sweat glands to eliminate toxins; and nourishes all the layers of the skin. It restores youthful glow. Radiant Skin tablets are especially helpful for Pitta and Kapha skin types.

Q: And what about the Youthful Skin tablets?

A: The Youthful Skin formula helps prevent the ravages of stress, fatigue and aging from taking their toll on the skin. It promotes firm, unwrinkled skin at any age. Famous herbs such as Sensitive Plant are especially helpful in promoting mental calm, and contented emotions, because it nourishes the nerves. Other herbs balance skin temperature, moisture and elasticity. This traditional ayurvedic combination nourishes the seventh and deepest layer of the skin, the Rohini layer, which supplies the other layers with vital nutrients, and is the interface between the blood and the skin. The Youthful Skin tablets are formulated for all skin types, but are especially useful for Vata skin.

Q: Are there any other herbal food supplements that you recommend for the skin?

A: To nourish your skin and your entire mind-body system, take Maharishi Amrit Kalash regularly. The Rejuvenation for Men or Women formulas also strengthen and balance the entire system from cells to organs. ReGen Vitality supports skin health and appearance.


Q: It seems like beauty treatments need to address the whole body, not just your face.

A: Yes, it is very important to nourish, moisturize and cleanse the entire body with only the best herbal ingredients, because your skin is connected to all the aspects of health--mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and sensory. It is the largest organ in the body. It plays an important role in purifying toxins, is connected to all the nerve endings in the body and is a seat of Vata dosha.

Q: What do you recommend for cleansing the body?

A: It's very important not to disturb the natural intelligence of the skin with harsh chemical cleansers. For this reason, we've recently developed a number of natural, herb-based cleansers for the entire body.

The new Youthful Skin Body Cleanse is our most luxurious cleanser, designed to moisturize while it gently exfoliates and cleanses the pores. It contains Marshmallow and the pure essences of Lavender and Sweet Orange to maintain the pH balance of the skin. The oat extract exfoliates gently, without damaging the skin.

Renewing Body Wash also moisturizes and nourishes the skin as it cleanses, and contains the soothing and purifying herbal essences of Brahmi, Holy Basil and Peppermint. Like all of our cleansers, it contains Grapefruit Seed extract as the only preservative.

You can also choose a cleansing bar made in a pure vegetable glycerine base and especially formulated for your skin type. Choose a bar for Dry Skin (Lemon Grass), Sensitive Skin (Sandalwood) or Oily Skin (Citronella). The Rejuvenation Cleansing Bar balances all skin types.


Q: : What about massage for keeping your skin healthy and beautiful?

A: Daily ayurvedic massage (abhyanga) is a traditional way to remove stress and relax the body. If you start your day with an oil massage, you'll increase luster and skin tone appreciably. Many people find that a morning oil massage is so invigorating that they no longer need coffee to feel awake in the morning, which is an added plus for your health and your skin, since caffeine taxes the liver and is aging to the skin.

Using warm, organic, cold-pressed Sesame Oil is recommended for most skin types, because it lubricates the skin, cleanses the pores, and penetrates the lipid barrier, replacing tired, toxin-clogged lipid cells with fresh lipid cells.

Better yet, use oils that have been infused with nourishing and balancing ayurvedic herbs to get the most value from your morning massage. The herb Shankapushpi is a powerful herb for dissolving stress and soothing the nerves, and it is found in Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Men or Ladies, which is suitable for any skin type. This is our premier massage oil for reducing stress and aging effects on the skin, and the unique combination of herbs help it to absorb quickly so it reaches the deepest layers of the skin to nourish from there.

Persons with Vata skin can also use Relaxation Massage Oil, which contains the soothing essential oils of Frankincense and Sweet Orange in an almond oil base. For Pitta skin, use Cool Sensation Massage Oil with its coconut base and for Kapha skin use Invigoration Massage Oil, which contains stimulating essential oils in an olive oil base. Follow your morning abhyanga with a warm bath to allow the impurities that have been dislodged to flow into the digestive tract, from where they can be easily eliminated.

Massage also helps sleep, and if you are having trouble falling asleep, try massaging Rejuvenation Massage Oil on your lower arms, legs, hands and feet before going to bed.7.


Q: I understand that you've developed a new body moisturizer, the M•SPA Youthful Skin Advanced Lipid Support Body Glow, which has some of the same properties as the Youthful Skin Massage Oil.

A: Yes. While a full-body daily massage with herbal massage oils is the ideal beauty and health treatment, sometimes people don't have time to massage. Or they feel it is too messy or oily for them. The Advanced Lipid Support formula is a convenient way to provide moisturizing support and nourishment for the deeper layers of the skin on its own, or, better yet, as an additional supplement to a full-body abhyanga with an ayurvedic massage oil.

When you apply the Advanced Lipid Support formula after your morning bath or before bed, massage it into your body using the same types of strokes as for the abhyanga: back and forth over the long bones and circular motions over the joints.

Q: I've heard that many people feel extremely calmed and invigorated after applying this moisturizer. What are the ayurvedic herbs it contains?

A: It contains Shankapushpi, Gotu Kola and Sensitive Plant to pacify Vyana Vata, improve ciruculation and maintain proper tactile sensitivity. These herbs also nurture the seven layers of the skin and support the sweat glands. Silk Cotton Tree, Indian Madder and Woodfordia help enhance the skin's resistance to photosensitivity. Other herbs help the skin resist environmental irritants, and still others provide deep nourishment to the skin and retard the effects of free radicals and aging. The result is truly silky, youthful skin that actually glows with health.

One woman told me this experience: "I was feeling overwhelmed with the holidays and an unexpected death in the family. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I'd aged ten years in the last few days. So I decided to give myself a treat. I locked the bathroom door and lit a Blissful Heart aroma Candle. Just inhaling the soothing scents of Sandalwood, Peppermint, Lemon and Thyme made me feel emotionally lighter. Then I warmed up some Youthful Skin Massage Oil and gave myself a long, luxurious massage. I felt the oil soak deep into my body and it seemed like it was not only nourishing my skin but the delicate nerves as well. By then I'd drawn a bathtub full of warm water and added Calming Therapeutic Bath Salts. I could literally feel the tension leaving my body. After bathing I applied Youthful Skin Advanced lipid Support Body Glow, which made my skin feel like the comfort of the massage was continuing on and on. By inhaling all the delightful scents of these products and feeling their herbal magic working, the strain of the past weeks lifted, and I felt completely relaxed and even happy again. When my husband saw me he said, "Wow! You look terrific!"


Q: What can a person do to make his or her hair shiny and thick at any age?

A: Basically, whatever you do for your skin in terms of diet and routine is going to benefit your hair. To take care of your hair, you must also take of your bones, because hair and nails are the by-products of the transformation from bone to bone marrow tissue. If your bone tissue is healthy and sufficient in quantity and quality, then your hair's quality and quantity will reflect that.

To nourish your bones, hair, and nails, be sure to eat lots of calcium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, milk products and sesame seeds. Calcium Support contains excellent sources of vegetarian calcium, such as Pearl Bhasma and Conch Shell Bhasma. More importantly, it contains herbs to help your body to absorb calcium from food and other supplements. Herbal Absorb Multi-Mineral also enhances absorption of needed trace minerals, which if missing, can cause the hair to become dull and thin.

Q: What about cleansing and conditioning your hair?

A: How often you cleanse depends on your hair type (which usually corresponds to your skin type). People with Vata skin and hair will need to wash their hair less often, because they will have dryer hair and won't need to cleanse natural oils as much. Pitta hair needs a moderate amount of cleansing, and Kapha hair, because it is the most oily, needs the most, usually every day. Outer contaminants, such as air pollutants, cigarette smoke and dust also collect on the hair, so if you are exposed to them you will need to wash your hair more often.

There are a number of ayurvedic herbs that nourish your scalp as they cleanse, and these are contained in Maharishi Ayurveda shampoos and conditioners. You can choose shampoos and conditioners for Normal to Dry Hair (Vata hair) or for Fine or Thinning Hair (Pitta hair). Both shampoos and conditioners contain traditional ayurvedic herbs to nourish and cleanse the hair and scalp, and they are free of harsh chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate, DEA and petroleum byproducts and preservatives, which destroy the luster and glow of hair. Instead, they're made with a base derived from beets and coconut, and use grapefruit extract as a preservative.

One of the unique and powerful ayurvedic methods for caring for the hair is a warm oil massage of the scalp. The massage motion helps increase circulation, cleanse the pores and purify dead skin cells--all of which promotes healthier hair growth. The oil is lubricating, and the herbs in the oil, such as shankapushpi and gotu kola have keshya value-the ability to nurture the hair externally and internally.

It's easiest to use the same massage oil that you use for your skin: for Vata hair, use Relaxation Massage Oil or almond or sesame oil; for Pitta hair use Cool Sensation Massage Oil or coconut oil, and for Kapha hair use Invigoration Massage Oil or olive or sesame oil. If you can leave the oil in for at least an hour or two before washing it out, that will have a greater value.

Q: : What if you have problem hair, such as premature graying or dry, flaky scalp?

A: Problems with dull hair, hair loss or premature graying start in the liver. When the liver is strong, it filters out toxins. But if it is weak or overtaxed, the impurities can accumulate in the scalp and hair follicles, causing problem hair. Healthy Hair and Nails is a food supplement that directly addresses these problems. It nourishes liver metabolism and the ayurvedic sub-doshas responsible for natural hair color and brilliant luster.

As for dry, flaky scalp, we have an internal and external solution to this problem. A dry, flaky scalp is actually caused by a digestive disturbance. Healthy Scalp is a food supplement that directly addresses the root of this problem by correcting the digestive imbalance that leads to dry, flaky scalp. Overall, the formula improves moisture balance for a smooth, supple scalp, increases the circulation to scalp, enhances the natural color of the hair, helps the liver burn off and eliminate impurities in the scalp, and helps build the hair by nourishing the metabolism of the blood, fat and bone tissue, all of which are related to hair health.

Our Herbal Flaky Scalp Shampoo is a natural, coconut-based shampoo to help promote healthy hair follicles and a smooth, flake-free scalp. It contains Claradendron infortunatum as well as essential oils such as Lavender and Sweet Orange.


Q: How can you keep track of all these recommendations?

A: One thing you can do is keep a beauty calendar. On the calendar you can write down your customized daily routine. For instance, you can write down your normal routine for cleansing, toning, nourishing and moisturizing your skin. You can also write down special beauty routines, such as using the Youthful Skin Herbalized Clay once or twice a week for deep exfoliation. You can also write down reminders to yourself to eat the right foods, to go to bed early, to take time to massage.

Q: What about seasonal routines?

A: That's a good question. A beauty calendar can also help you keep track of the ayurvedic seasons, which is especially helpful if you have combination skin, because your entire routine will change more dramatically with the seasons.

In the dry and windy winter (Vata Season, November-February), for instance, you'll want to nourish your skin more with more moisture. During that time you'll want to be especially careful to do your daily massage, and to use Youthful Skin Cream morning and evening. During the cool, wet spring (Kapha Season, March-June), your body is naturally detoxifying, and you'll want to pay more attention to cleansing. And in summer (Pitta Season, July-October), when your body has more heat, you'll want to calm your skin and protect it from the sun. Both your health and your beauty will benefit by adjusting your diet and daily routine to take the seasons into account.

Q: It seems like making yourself feel more beautiful is a good way to make yourself feel good, period.

A: Yes! That is the beauty of Maharishi Ayurveda. It's recommendations are so holistic, so natural and supportive to all parts of the mind, body and spirit, that when you do things to create more beauty you're actually improving your health and well-being too.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Smoke alarms review and compare

Smoke alarms come in two main types: ionisation or photoelectric. It’s been known for many years that photoelectric smoke alarms usually respond faster to smouldering fires, while ionisation alarms respond faster to flaming fires. Our test of 15 battery-powered smoke alarms, including photoelectric, ionisation and dual-sensor models, confirms there are major performance differences between the two types of sensor, even though all the smoke alarms tested meet the Australian Standard.

See our free smoke alarms buying guide for detailed information including types of alarms, how to install and maintain them, and other fire safety tips.

Watch our video for a quick explanation of the two types of smoke alarm and how they work:

Manufacturers aren't always clear about the capabilities of their smoke alarms. Chris Barnes tells us what to look for.



Brooks PFS100TY Family Gard FG888DCAUS Fire Sentry SS168 HPM D45/2 Kidde 0915CAUS Bedroom Lifesaver 1925 Quell SA702 Wormald WRS109MK2 twin pack


Brooks PFS3105TYCH Fire Smart FS0916 First Alert SA710CNAUS Quell SA1000 Wormald WRS001PH

Dual sensor (with both ionisation and photoelectric sensors)

First Alert SA302CNAUS Ultimate Dual Sensor Kidde PI9000 Dual SensorUse the player below to listen to the CHOICE Radio podcast on this topic.

Mattress survey


It's that time of year again, when mattresses go on sale with price tags boasting up to 40% off. So it's timely that the results of our mattress satisfaction survey are in. This survey of 3500 members ranks the major brands and retailers. The results are based on genuine user-experiences. Coincidentally, our US and UK sister publications, Consumers Report and Which?, also ran mattress brand satisfaction surveys, with very similar top results to ours – Tempur brand mattresses took out the number one slot in all three countries.

While you’ve asked CHOICE many times to test mattresses, experts tell us that bed comfort is all about personal preference (see our mattress buying guide for tips), so shopping around is vital. With retailers selling so many brands, mattress types and models – which are often the same brand under a different name - the choice is never easy. Furthermore, the bed industry is driven by discounts and conspires against meaningful price comparisons.

Something else that came through strongly in your feedback were issues around returns and general dissatisfaction with the terms of the warranties. It seems in the subjective world of mattress comfort, the manufacturer has final say. CHOICE's Fair Warranties campaign is compulsory reading, so you know your rights before you hand over your money.

Tempur Sleepyhead Sultan Makin MattressesMadison Simmons Dunlop Sealy Slumberland A.H. Beard Sleep City Dunlopillo Sleepmaker Crown Mattresses 3500 CHOICE members who bought a mattress in the last five years:

Rated how satisfied they were with their mattressTold us the main reason they purchased a brand (price, comfort, durability, recommended by someone else) Identified whether they purchased an inner spring, foam or latex mattress, and how much they paid Advised if they would buy the same brand again Identified whether the mattress had improved their sleep. Mattress retailers More than 2500 CHOICE members who bought a mattress in the last three years:

Rated their retailer on cost, product range and customer service Identified if they tried out their mattress before buying, and for how long Advised whether they received a discount from a particular retailer Told us if they returned their mattresses to the retailer – and, if so, their reasons and any problems they experienced.

Making the House Pretty: Hiring a Home Stager Means Hiding Some of The Unmentionables

Before Karen Thornton, owner of Visionary Staging, came to stage my house, I had had some warning.  I was told she helps a home seller create a fantasy world, one in which the people in the home for sale do not clean, diet, or get dirty.  As such, when I decluttered my house I took pains to store or hide any cleaning supplies, garbage cans, personal hygiene products, etc.  I also took down and stored personal photos, photo albums, kids’ art, and anything that indicated the presence of actual people.  I wanted the house to look like a Pottery Barn photo shoot.  The best I could do on my own resembled a 10-year-old, yellowed and wrinkled copy of an Ikea catalog, but it was a start.

Karen started her visit by introducing her overall philosophy:  “You’ve done a great job over the years turning your house into a home,” she said.  “Now it’s time to turn your home into a house.  For sale.” The two, I learned, are very different things.

From the front lawn to the back wall, one end of the house to the other, even the inside of the kitchen cabinets, Karen swept her eagle eyes over every view and listed her instructions within nanoseconds.  I was pleased when she complimented the open spaces and color choices in our rooms, but I knew my arrangements were not perfect.  She walked through our house for about an hour and a half, telling me what to do with my stuff as I scribbled furiously to keep up with her.  As one might expect, Karen’s list included rearrangement of furniture, storage of pieces that don’t fit, addition of artwork to bring the eye across a room, etc.  But what I found most fascinating was the philosophy itself.

It’s not just about making the house look pretty.  “Everywhere they look in your house, I want the buyer to see a happy successful couple.  You’re on your way up.  You’ve grown out of this house, you need more space.  If they buy and live in this house, they too can be happy and successful.”  Creating more space in a room creates the illusion that we live here comfortably, that we fit in this house, that it’s not too crowded and there’s plenty of room.  Adding a splash of a coordinating color to the opposite side of a room draws the eye across, making it look bigger.  The right placement of sofas and chairs around a fireplace suggests a cozy chat or reading nook.  Art hung the right way gives a room a more vertical feel to make the ceiling seem higher.  Karen pointed out all the very minor changes I could make to use my own furniture and accessories to best showcase my house.

These concepts may be taken for granted in design, architecture, or real estate circles, but I have never once thought about them.  I simply buy and put stuff in my house because it looks nice, it’s comfortable, or it’s cheap enough that if the kids destroy it, I won’t care.  After moving our living room furniture around and relocating the kids’ toys to a previously unused space, however, I feel like a blindfold has been removed from my eyes.  I gleefully launched myself into the long list of tasks that Karen left behind, so quickly that I forgot to take pictures of what it looked like “before.”  This is a small tragedy because I can’t show you the remarkable transformation that these small changes created.

Karen has been staging homes for 18 years – long before the industry was even called staging, mostly hired by agents who are having difficulty selling a property.  She specializes in occupied homes which present the challenge of a homeowner’s resistance, so she plays “bad cop” to the agent’s “good cop.”  Quite often Karen’s work is the difference between a property selling quickly or staying on the market for a long time.  The seller may have to live uncomfortably for a while, putting most of their belongings in storage or moving that comfy couch away from the TV, but as she puts it, “would you rather live uncomfortably for a week and sell your house or comfortably for six months while nobody’s making an offer?”

Karen’s manner as she sweeps through a home is professional and authoritative.  Some of her instructions are repeated several times, like “nothing on top!” as she clears off a table or chest surface, and “That piece goes away.  Just away,” when disapproving a battered old accessory or piece of furniture.  Typically, her initial consultation lasts about two hours, and the homeowner then implements her suggestions and emails photos, at which point Karen will send back further notes and changes.  That process costs about $500.  Depending on the size of the property, her team will also come in and do everything from rearranging furniture to clearing out junk and repainting walls.  She also has a warehouse of furniture and accessories to utilize in the event that appropriate pieces don’t already exist in the home.  Custom jobs like this are priced accordingly, and can take as little as one day.

I ran around clearing out clutter before she came the same way I clean the house before the cleaning person comes to clean.  I didn’t want to be the worst house Karen’s ever had to deal with.  To put me at ease, she shared some stories of past clients, like the woman who was very attached to the tens of bottles of shampoo that crowded her master bathroom.  “I don’t know which one I want to use on any given day,” the woman whined when Karen suggested she get rid of those bottles to better show off the space.  On the other end of the spectrum was the couple whose immaculate Hollywood home delighted Karen at every turn.  “This is great,” she thought, “I have nothing to do here!”  Until she found the master bedroom closet, which was stacked floor to ceiling with carefully arranged private materials.  After she recovered from the shock, Karen gave them what I now understand to be one of her signature instructions.  “Gentlemen,” she said.  “This needs to go away.”

Not that she is saying that anything is wrong with these materials, but a house needs to be presented as a blank canvas in which anyone can imagine themselves making a home.  To that end, any religious icons, team or school memorabilia, or evidence of political affiliation should be stored away, too.  You don’t want a UCLA grad who otherwise loves your home to change her mind because of the shrine to USC in your family room.

In the days since Karen’s visit to my house, I’ve looked at everything in it with a new perspective.  The pile of packed boxes in the garage has grown, and our home has taken on a sleeker, less crowded look.  Far from being less of a home, it feels more inviting, more comfortable, and more….well, more everything good. And just as I had feared, the staging transformation makes me not want to leave anymore.  But at least I’m more confident that prospective buyers might be as pleased with our house as I am.

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