December 22nd, 2015 marks the winter solstice and the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice officially occurred at 4:48am UTC, or 11:48pm EST on December 21st. The Earth is in close proximity to the sun, though the northern axis is tilting away from the sun. The winter solstice is often followed by cold temperatures. Depending on your location, winter may not be as cold or have much snow due to the strong El Niño effect this year. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and longest night of the year. The winter solstice is of high importance in many cultures across the globe.
Lemon Balm (No Copyright Infrngement Intended)
Melissa Officinalis, commonly known as Lemon Balm, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is best known for its lemon scent and flavor, and striking resemblance to mint. Lemon Balm belong to the same taxonomic family as mint Lamiaceae, along with commonly used herbs, such as basil, rosemary, and sage. Native to the mediterranean region (Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and Central Asia), Lemon Balm can grow to be 28 to 59 inches tall. The scent and flavor of Lemon Balm comes from its flavor constituents (terpenoids), specifically, citronellal (24%), geranial (16%), linalyl acetate (12%), and caryophyllene (12%). Lemon Balm is often used in cooking as a flavoring agent in ice creams and teas, and can also be used as a pesto. Lemon Balm is believed to treat gastrointestinal tract, bile, nervous system, and liver disorders. Lemon Balm essential oil has been shown to have a calming effect in early scientific research.
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Have a Happy, Healthy, and Safe July 4th Weekend!
The Dead Sea is best known as one of the most saline bodies of water on the planet. The Dead Sea is had an approximate salinity of 34% in 2011. The high salinity of the Dead Sea is a difficult environment for flora and fauna to survive, hence its common name. The Dead Sea has no outflows to other bodies of water (endorheic) and is located between the African and Arabian Plates, bordering Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. The Dead Sea Salt and Mud are frequently used in cosmetics and skin care due to the high mineral content and believed therapeutic and healing ability. The volume of the Dead Sea has steadily declined over several decades due to diversion of its source input the Jordan River. The Dead Sea is being used as a source of freshwater (once desalinized) by various countries due to water scarcity in the region. The Dead Sea is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world with a depth of 997 feet (304 meters).
Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is a rare geomagnetic phenomenon that occurs in the upper latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. The Aurora Borealis is characterized by green and yellow colors, with blue and red occurring on a less frequent basis. An aurora occurs when charged particles from outside the Earth’s atmosphere enter and cause ionization and excited atmospheric constituents. This results in an optical display of emissions known as ‘lights.’
It is now officially Spring!!
Synonymous with winter, “freshness,” and wellbeing, peppermint is believed to be native to a vast region spanning Europe, Northeast Africa, and West Asia. Peppermint is a perrenial herbaceous rhizome that grows between 12 to 35 inches in height, with broad dark green leaves that are 4 – 9 centimeters in length and 1.5 – 4 centimeters in width. The plants flowers are 6 – 8 millimeters in length and approximately 5 millimeters in width, with petals that are light purple in color. Contrary to popular belief, Pepermint (Mentha piperita) is actually a hybrid species, being a natural cross between Watermint (Mentha spicata) and Spearmint (Mentha aquatica). Peppermint is commonly used in aromatherapy as it is believed to promote memory, calm, and alertness. Peppermint oil(Mentha piperita) is also used either topically or internally to treat a variety of conditions including nausea, vomiting, irritable bowels, indigestion, sinus and respiratory infections, colds, gas, cough, muscle pain, headache, toothache, treating viral and bacterial infection, among several other reported uses. Peppermint is also used to flavor various candies including breath mints and candy canes, which are typically sold during the winter.
Orchids are flowering plants that belong to the family Orchidacae and type genus Orchis. Orchids of any species are perennial herbs that grow either monopodial (single stem) and sympodial (old and new growths). The pictured orchid is a Phalaenopsis cultivar with an unknown origin.
Across the globe, the new year is celebrated on January 1st on the Gregorian and Julian calendars. New Years Day is celebrated at the stroke of midnight in each time zone and typically features fireworks, confetti, and other decorations. The tradition of celebrating a new year is linked to ancient Mesopotamia, though the current iteration is based on ancient Rome who dedicated the New Year celebration to Janus, of whom the month of January is named.
December 21st, 2014 marks the beginning of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth is in close proximity to the sun, though the northern axis is tilting away from the sun. The winter solstice is often followed by cold temperatures. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and longest night of the year. The winter solstice is of high importance in many cultures across the globe.