What Is A Breast MRI?

What Is A Breast MRI?
Provided by Breastlink

Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is an extremely helpful, non-invasive imaging tool used to evaluate mammographic abnormalities and identify early breast cancer, especially in women at high risk. An MRI does not involve radiation exposure and does not replace screening mammography. Instead it provides a powerful supplementary tool for detecting and staging breast cancer.
What Are The Clinical Indications For Breast MRI?
 Surveillance of high risk patients: Recent clinical trials have demonstrated that an annual breast MRI can significantly improve the detection of cancer that is otherwise clinically and mammographically hidden in patients with a >20% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Breast MRI may be indicated in the surveillance of women with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer (BRCA1, BRCA2) or in patients with a strong family history or history of chest wall radiation for treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
 Determining the extent of disease of a recently diagnosed breast cancer: After a biopsy confirms the presence of a breast cancer, an MRI can be helpful to determine how large the tumor is and if there are other areas involved in the same breast or in the other breast. This is helpful for determining the best surgical option.
 Unkown primary cancer: MRI may be indicated in patients with no mammographic or physical findings of a primary breast carcinoma as MRI may identify the hidden breast cancer. Alternatively, if no MRI evidence is present, it would exclude the breast as the potential site of the primary cancer.
 Assessment of chemotherapy response: Breast MRI may be employed before, during and/or after a course of chemotherapy to evaluate treatment response and the extent of residual disease prior to surgical treatment.
 Silicone implant integrity: Breast MRI is the best test for determining whether silicone implants have ruptured, and to what extent.
 Supplementary problem solving tool: Sometimes an abnormality seen on a mammogram cannot be adequately evaluated by additional mammography and ultrasound alone. In these rare cases, MRI can be used to definitively determine if the abnormality needs biopsy or can be safely left alone. A breast MRI may also be an option for screening high risk women with dense breast tissue in conjunction with a mammogram.
During a breast MRI, the patient lies face down on a platform specifically designed for the procedure. The platform has openings to accommodate the breasts and allow them to be imaged without compression. An intravenous contrast agent is injected, and the images are obtained. The exam takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour. Once the exam is completed, a board-certified breast radiologist will interpret the images and send a final report to your physician.
A patient should discuss with their physician if they would benefit from a breast MRI. Breast MRI is covered by private health insurance and Medicare for qualified patients. However, it is important for patients to check with their individual insurance plans, as coverage may vary.
The Chrysalis at Breastlink in Rancho Mirage is a comprehensive breast health center providing individualized treatment plans including risk management, imaging, surgery and oncology. 760.324.4466.

The Beauty of the Golden Spice

The Beauty of the Golden Spice
By Dipika Patel

When I say turmeric what comes to mind? Is it ‘one of the main ingredients in Indian Curry Powder’? Yes, turmeric has been known for its culinary uses in Indian for centuries; however, did you know that it has also been used as an effective beauty product for just as long?
Because of its many Ayurvedic (medicinal) properties, turmeric has also been celebrated and applied for millenniums in wedding ceremonies and extensive holy rituals – especially in India. Even today, this tradition takes place all over the world. I remember as a child attending several Indian weddings where turmeric paste is rubbed onto the face, arms and legs of the bride and groom (yes, guys, beauty is important for you as well!). This ritual prepares the couple for their sacred union representing an outer appearance of soft, glowing, and radiant skin. The ritual also represents both the holy and spiritual aspect of purity and connectedness before the marriage ceremony.
Turmeric belongs to the ginger family and its main active compound is ‘curcumin’ which is antiseptic, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory, thus helping to restore the pigmentation, tone, and texture of your skin. You can even heal cuts and bruises by applying a pure paste made of just turmeric and water.
So how can you enjoy this inexpensive beauty secret at home? Tumeric is best applied as a facial mask and although there are several different recipes, I am sharing my own personal favorite which is the particular blend used in Indian wedding ceremonies. This recipe can be used for normal to oily skin and will leave you feeling great after long, hot days here in the desert.
Ingredients: 2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour, 1 tbsp organic yogurt, 1/8 to 1/4 tsp turmeric powder (according to skin tone)
Mix all ingredients together to form a smooth paste. Apply a thin layer on your face. Once it is dry (approximately 15-20 minutes), you can scrub in a circular motion as if you’re exfoliating your skin, and then rinse your face with lukewarm water.
You can change the amount of turmeric in the recipe according to your complexion. For fairer skin, start off by using half the amount (this will help in preventing staining of the skin). For a tan or darker complexion, use the suggested amount as this will bring out the glow in your skin tone. Also keep in mind that turmeric will stain cloth, so a dedicated wash cloth and towel are recommended.
There are many benefits from this particular face/body mask. The yogurt helps to improve your complexion and is soothing and cooling; the garbanzo bean flour effectively removes dead skin cells and will give you a soft look and youthful glow; and the turmeric assists in fighting acne and uneven skin tone.
Turmeric which is also known as “haldi” in most parts of India was derived from the Sanskrit word of “haridra” which means golden colored. In Sanskrit turmeric has more than 53 different names due to its magnificent properties and connections to its natural healing powers.
You can find quality turmeric here in the desert at many places including Savory Spice store on El Paseo, Clark’s Nutrition, World Market and Fil-Ann Oriental Mart in Cathedral City.
Dipika Patel, the “Queen of Nutrition,” is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Intuitive Healer, AromaTouch Therapist, and Chef & Cookery Teacher and can be reached at [email protected] or 760-821-3119.

Grocery Shopping Tips

Grocery Shopping Tips

Don’t let grocery shopping get you down. By coming to the store prepared, you are more likely to have a successful trip. Use the tips below to help jump-start your next grocery run:
Stick to the outer parameters of the store. This is where fresh foods like veggies, fruits, and lean meats usually reside. Save the center of the store – where pre-packaged and processed foods reside – for last or avoid it all together.
Arrive prepared. Create your list ahead of time to help guide you as you shop and avoid purchasing less healthy items.
Be flexible with the produce section. Look for produce that’s in season.  TIP: You may be able to tell by looking at the price because food items in season are usually cheaper (and taste better too!) so look around before you start stocking your cart.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Hunger can lead to impulse purchases.
Buy healthier canned fish or lean meat.  Look for items packaged “in water” and not oil, and labeled “no salt added” or low sodium (lean meats are those with less than 10g total fat per 100g serving of meat.)
Buy canned or frozen fruits and veggies.  This helps avoid food spoilage, which can waste money and food.
When buying canned veggies, buy items that are labeled “sodium free” or “no salt added”. Buy frozen veggies without sauces, seasonings or salt. Before cooking or serving canned veggies, rinse them off to get rid of excess sodium. When buying canned fruits, look for items canned in water, “100% pure fruit juice,” “natural juice” or labeled as “no sugar added.”  Buy frozen fruit without added syrups, sweeteners or sugar. Also look for these labels on canned goods: “light,” “salt free,” “high fiber,” “made with lean meat” and “low sodium.”
Focus on the grains. When buying grains and breads, look for items that list “whole grain” in the ingredients instead of “enriched flour” or “multi-grain.”
Divide the snacks. When you get home from the store, portion out your snack foods into individual serving sizes in baggies. This will save you time in the future, help you avoid overeating, and may be cheaper than buying snacks that are already pre-portioned into individual packs.
Use the Apple Test when hunger strikes. Before you reach for a snack ask yourself, “Am I hungry enough that I would eat an apple?”  If you answer yes, then you are probably physically hungry, so grab a healthy snack!  If you answer no, but you would eat a cookie, then you are probably bored or thirsty, so go for a walk and drink a bottle of water.
For more information and healthy tips, visit www.heart.org.

Not Just Another Pretty Face…The Benefits of a Therapeutic Facial

Not Just Another Pretty Face…The Benefits of a Therapeutic Facial

I am not one to pamper myself often. I know that facials are an important cleansing process for the skin, but I tend to spend my time and resources on therapies that improve overall health and well-being. That is why Diana’s “therapeutic skin care” caught my eye.
Diana Hurt is a licensed esthetician with a certification in Lymphatic Facial Massage (LFM) from Soma Therapy Institute in Rancho Mirage. In addition, she has completed two of three levels towards achieving Reiki Master status (Reiki is a form of therapy in which the practitioner is believed to channel energy into the patient in order to encourage healing or restore wellbeing. Dr. Oz’s wife, Lisa, is a Reiki Master). Diana’s combined education and training results in beauty treatments with the added benefits of lymphatic drainage massage and energy work.
What does this mean? The lymphatic system is the body’s garbage can. It includes many tiny lymph nodes throughout your body located just under the skin. These glands store fat and toxins and will continue to store them unless they are drained. In your face, the result can be puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines. Aerobic exercise, yoga and stretching, and most effectively lymphatic massage, can successfully drain your lymph system.
Diana’s therapeutic treatment includes the cleansing, masks and moisturizers you expect in a facial, and is coupled with an hour of very light methodical massage starting in the clavicle area and working up through your face and head.
“The nodes are located just under the skin with little flaps that allow the fluid to pass through,” explains Diana. “If there is blockage, I can sometimes feel pea sized sacs of fluid that will release. We use gentle touch to allow the flaps to open. If too firm, it will cause them to close.”
While these treatments are good for overall health, Diana notes that they can be most beneficial for chronic swelling, puffiness, and for pre- and post-surgery. “Activating the flow before surgery prepares your skin for healing. After surgery, and with your doctor’s recommendation on timing, lymphatic drainage can help speed the healing process significantly.”
LFM can also be a natural remedy for removing bags under the eyes. While this usually takes a series of treatments, Diana teaches her clients how to work on themselves at home in between professional treatments.
You leave Diana’s office feeling the usual pampered way, and you will actually feel the movement and drainage taking place in your face. For me, this “active” feeling continued for about 24 hours. I woke up the next morning and my bright and shiny face was still tingling with movement. After this treatment, the beauty was certainly more than just skin deep.
For more information on the benefits of Lymphatic Facial Massage for general health and recovery, call Diana at 760.275.4479 or visit her website at www.SkinTherapybyDiana.com

Inspiration Begins at The Spa Esmeralda

Inspiration Begins at The Spa Esmeralda

A Desert Health® Review
Living in the Desert, we tend to forget that we are surrounded by world-class resorts with award-winning services and amenities. Summer is an ideal time to take advantage of the special offers from these top notch properties.
Such is the case with the Spa Esmeralda at The Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells. The Spa Esmeralda takes elegance and pampering to a whole new level. Although visiting a spa is often considered a luxury, summer specials make it easy on your health care budget. If you were inspired by Mickie Riley’s story (Health Is A Choice, pg. 1) or embarking on a new health regime, the Spa Esmeralda is a great place to start.
I had the pleasure of experiencing a 90 minute Compression Wrap Therapy at the Spa Esmeralda and found it to be an amazingly uplifting therapy. I left feeling completely happy and genuinely good to the core. I honestly wanted to dance out the front door!
There are a few specific elements which contributed to this exuberance. First of all, the treatment is multi-faceted including 8 different therapies designed to remove water weight, cleanse your blood and detox the largest organ, your skin. It takes place outside in the open Desert air under a curtained cabana (weather permitting). The natural heat aids the process and feels magical.
Secondly, the products used are all natural and made from Chinese herbs and minerals. The product line, Jadience, was developed by Anna Ragaz, M.D. from actual Jade stone which is said to contain natural infrared properties that cleanse and heal. The Jadience ingredients include such healing herbs as Burdock Root, Mulberry Bark, Goji Berry and Ginseng.
Last but certainly not least was my therapist, Jessica. She is one of those special souls who may possibly know more about you than you know about yourself. She was trained at Soma Therapy Institute here in the Desert and her physiological knowledge is an asset to her trade.
The Compression Wrap begins with a soft, full body scrub on a water therapy table followed by a soak in a spa tub sprinkled with fragrant rose pedals. You are treated to alkaline water as you relax under the clear desert sky.
After your soak, you are painted with a serum of herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine to cleanse the blood. You are then lightly wrapped and placed in a soft cocoon of coverings. Now, I’ve had wraps before and didn’t care for the tight claustrophobic feeling I experienced then. This was nothing like that. The unimposing wraps felt as if you were tucked in a soft sleeping bag. The head, neck and shoulder massage that takes place for the 20 minutes you are bundled, certainly makes the time fly as well.
The wrap is followed by an application of a cellulite reducing serum (in places you need it most) and then stimulated with jade stone rollers bringing the natural infrared effect to skin cells. You finish with a light, full body massage using Jade and Ginseng body lotion and a shot of Jadience Total Body Detox drink.
Did I mention that at the beginning and end of your treatment, your measurements are taken? I was selecting this treatment more for the detox properties than weight loss, but was pleasantly surprised at the combined total of 5 inches lost throughout my legs, waist and arms.
I highly recommend a visit to the Spa Esmeralda this summer. Through July (and maybe August) they are offering the 90 minute Compression Wrap for $145 and 60 minute Detox and Slimming Wraps at $109. If you are inspired to begin a new health regime or need a refresher, a detox therapy at the Spa Esmeralda is a great place to start!
For current specials and more information visit www.SpaEsmeralda.com or call 760-836-1265.

Breast Augmentation: Decisions for Surgeon and Patient

Breast Augmentation: Decisions for Surgeon and Patient

Dr. Mo Zakhireh
It’s an honor to take part in educating the residents of the Desert by contributing to Desert Health®. My name is Mo Zakhireh (zak-a-RI-ah) and I am a local board certified plastic surgeon in Palm Desert. I have been in the desert for seven years and was formerly on staff at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Today I’d like to discuss breast augmentation. My friends joke that I have an easy job – putting in a pair of implants and the patients go away happy! That’s not quite the scenario. As the surgeon, I have five to seven layers of decisions to make correctly. Furthermore, the combination of the decisions will have a cumulative effect on the surgery.
During the consultation, patients first get sized with sizers in a special bra. Then I educate them on the concept of body flow and symmetry. Our job is to balance the shoulders into the hips, using the breasts. If I do my job well then the patients look slender with an accentuated waistline due to symmetry. So size IS important!
The next question is ‘saline versus silicone.’ The shells on saline implants get dried out. The salt water leeches the moisture out of the shell and this leads to rippling and a harder feeling implant. The newer silicone gel implants are designed for the Silicone Jello to release 1 to 2 drops of oil into the shell each day so the shell is lubricated. This leads to a much softer shell which is stretchable and that does not ripple. The newer silicone Gel implants no longer leak because the silicone is in Jello form, in contrast to the older implants where the silicone was oil based and would ooze into the body. However, I’d like to clarify that the information about silicone causing cancer was false. Unfortunately, the media promoted that rumor. Think of it this way… our beautiful desert environment is made of silicone (sand), so according to this misinformation, we should all be suffering from cancer due to silicone exposure.
The surgical approach is also very important. Surgery is very traumatic to the body so the surgeon has to pick the shortest route to achieve the task at hand. The breast crease approach avoids all the vital structures of the breast (milk ducts, nerves, and blood vessels) and does not affect breast feeding. Also it is the place where a surgeon can anatomically get under the pectoral muscle without cutting, tearing, or irritating the muscle. In my opinion, it’s important to put the implant under the muscle for better breast cancer detection (radiologist can read the mammogram better). Also, the muscle will keep the implant softer and give natural, long term results.
If you’re considering breast augmentation, please educate yourself and choose your surgeon carefully. Cheers to your health!
Dr. Mo Zakhireh is a board certified Plastic Surgeon based at The Cosmetic Surgery Institute of Palm Desert. His practice focus is cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the face, breasts and abdominal region. 760-837-0364  www.csipd.com

Why Not Natural…When It’s Effective & Affordable?

Why Not Natural…When It’s Effective & Affordable?

A Desert Health® Review
A healthy diet shows in your skin… fruits and vegetables literally nourish your body inside and out. So why don’t we pay more attention to the products we use on our skin?
I’ve long wondered if natural skin care products are as effective as the much-hyped “miracle brands.” So when I heard that The LiveWell Clinic was offering skin care treatments featuring an all natural product line, I had to give it a try. The treatment was invigorating, and I walked away with a complete product kit for $29!
LiveWell’s certified esthetician, Jadranka, has eleven years of luxury resort experience and extensive skin care knowledge. The clinic chose the Juice Beauty Certified Organic product line to ensure they are offering clients and employees the safest products and services.
“Your skin is the largest organ of you body. What you apply to it should be safe enough to eat since you will absorb it into your system, just like food. If you are using chemical based (non-organic) make-up, peels, lotions, and sunscreens you are adding chemicals to your body on a consistent basis. In some individuals this can lead to rashes, chemical sensitivity and/or stress on your liver and detox system,” states LiveWell’s Dr. Nicole Ortiz.
Jadranka used Juice Beauty’s anti-aging products on me with ingredients like apple, lemon, and grapes along with “age-defying” peptides, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin antioxidants. I could feel the active ingredients (natural enzymes) in the pumpkin and green apple which created a tingling feeling when heated. The smells were mouth-watering.
My hour treatment included exfoliation, extraction, hydration, massage and misting. And with Jadranka’s guidance, I was sold on the idea of using natural skin care products. When finished, my smiling face truly felt like a shiny green apple.
I took home the Juice Beauty ‘Organics to Go’ package which included a 30 day supply of cleansing milk, green apple peel, antioxidant serum, nutrient moisturizer and hydrating mist spray….all for $29. I couldn’t believe the prices for FDA certified organic products… and I love them!
If you are looking for a natural skin care option, I strongly recommend a facial with Jadranka to try the Juice Beauty products. There are several lines for different skin types that range in price from $29 to $65. (www.JuiceBeauty.com) Jadranka offers a variety of facials starting at $60.
For more information or to book your appointment, call the LiveWell Clinic at 760.771.5970.

Natural Luxury at the Spa Esmeralda The Perfect Gift for Mom (or You!)

Natural Luxury at the Spa Esmeralda The Perfect Gift for Mom (or You!)

I am convinced that one of the greatest gifts you can give a loved one is the gift of time. Time to slow down, relax and let the body rejuvenate. As you think of that special something for your Mom for Mother’s Day, consider a spa treatment at one of the desert’s magnificent world–class resorts. Not only will she enjoy the treatment, she’ll also enjoy the escape from her daily routine and the ability to relax into a full day of luxury and pampering.
In March, I celebrated my birthday and was treated to a day at the Spa Esmeralda at the Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells. I scheduled it for the day after my birthday celebration for what I anticipated would be a much needed detoxification. It turned out to be the perfect plan.
I was delighted to see that the Spa Esmeralda now carries an organic facial line. I’ve been using organic fruit and plant facial products for the past three months and really like what they have done for my skin. I find them to be incredibly toning and hydrating – and you have to feel great about the fact that you are only applying things you could eat, like apples and mandarin oil, to your skin.
So I settled on a massage and a facial, arriving early to take advantage of the spa pool, steam room and beautiful relaxation lounge. My massage therapist was Jessica Blaisdell, whom I have raved about before, and my esthetician was Krystal Creech. Both have worked at the Spa Esmeralda for over 8 years and are exceptionally knowledgeable about their products and trade.
Krystal said that more and more of her guests are requesting organic products, which was interesting to hear. The Spa Esmeralda features a certified organic line called ilike (i-LEE-key) which has been made in Hungary for 50 years. Hungarians have a long history of using locally available products in their healing treatments. (Sometimes it seems we’re playing catch up with our European counterparts when it comes to health care).
Due to the soil, the somewhat dry climate, and the abundance of sunshine, Hungarian herbs and fruits are proven to contain higher concentrations of active ingredients and aromatic agents than the world average. Using these ingredients, a woman lovingly known to the region as “Aunt Ilike” has been creating organic skin care products since the late 50’s. Her grandmother was the village herbalist and always told her that “all we need to maintain health and beauty can be drawn from nature around us.”
Ingredients in the ilike line include rose petal, grapeseed, lemon balm oil, resveratrol, flaxseed oil, peppermint, mineral salts and trace elements. Krystal noted that many of ilike products they chose to carry address aging skin, which can be more sensitive and dry. “Because of the soil, the products are mineral rich and can restore missing elements; they are also vitamin rich since they use the entire plant.”
My luxurious facial included a rose petal cleansing milk applied with the soft, rotating Clarisonic cleansing tool “for a deeper, more invigorating cleanse,” followed by a rose petal toner, a sulfuric exfoliator, and extractions.  Krystal chose the quince apple gel mask for my skin type followed by a calendula hydrating mask. Because the products are so pure, they are very active and you can feel them tingling. I love that aspect of natural products. It is a very different feeling than that which you get from products with active chemicals (and natural products smell delicious too!)
While each mask was setting, I was treated to relaxing hand, foot, neck and scalp massages. Ahhhhhhhhh.
My afternoon at the Spa Esmeralda was the best birthday gift I received this year. It allowed me time to leave everything else behind and simply focus on regenerating and rejuvenating. Those treasured benefits last much longer than the day, and are the perfect gift for Mom, your loved ones…or you!
The Spa Esmeralda is located at the Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells. They are open 7 days a week from 8:30a-6p Sun – Thurs and til 7p Fri-Sat. The ilike line of products is available for purchase and range in price from $40 – $70 per item. For more information or to schedule treatments, call 760.836.1265.

Healing Through Water

Healing Through Water

After spending a relaxing week in Curacao in the Dutch Caribbean, we realized this tropical paradise contained a secret of life. And it may be found in the turquoise clear waters that surround this tranquil island.
Locals will tell you that the sea can cure any ailment. In fact, the Arawak Indians, the first inhabitants of the island, utilized the oceanic caves’ natural spring waters for their healing powers. If you are ridden with the flu, a sprained ankle or even suffering from sadness, they say, ‘jump into the ocean and all will be healed.’
In the definition of SPA–“sanitas per aguam” which is Latin for healing through waters–I find that there is merit in taking a plunge. The number one cause of illness is stress–whether from work, relationships, or finances. There must be something we can do to ease the stress and promote healing from within. So do as the Romans do! The Romans took baths and used hot thermal waters to detoxify and relieve many symptoms including arthritis and other joint issues. It was more than just your simple bath, salts and bubbles. The Romans created a bathing ritual that included bathing, sweating, steaming, massage and relaxation. Fortunately here in the Desert, we can enjoy a similar ritual at one of many local spas to achieve a peaceful mind and body.
Start off by feeling comfortable in your body, enveloped in a cozy robe. The spa is one place you can be yourself: no discrimination, no comparison to the person next to you. The spa accepts people of all shapes, sizes, gender and occupation. It invites you to come as you are and let go of stress in your life. Sit quietly on a chaise lounge and explore the outdoors, or take refuge in a dim relaxation room while allowing your thoughts to wander freely.
Begin with a Eucalyptus steam to sweat and draw out toxins, while applying a chilled washcloth to cool down your face and neck. Next, enter a dry sauna, to raise body temperature and create dry heat of relief. Add to the experience with a tightening facial mask while lying in the steam or sauna, chilled cucumbers on the eyes, and a Moroccan Oil mask on your hair.
Then step into the healing waters of a warm bath filled with aromatic sea salts that encourage your soul to leave the body. The hot waters surround, bringing relief to the back, neck, shoulders, legs and arms. It allows you moments to reflect on yourself and start the healing process. Escape to a stress-free world and become enveloped in water. The minerals found in Dead Sea salts include Bromide, Sodium, Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium. Over thousands of years, since the ancient Egyptians, people have utilized the sea for therapy to relieve joint disorders, skin conditions, allergies and to promote anti-aging. These special minerals assist in calming the nervous system, increasing blood circulation, relaxing stiff muscles and promoting lymphatic drainage. Typically we look to expensive medicines to cure ailments, when natural resources are often less than $2.00 per ounce.
Enhance your spa experience with more hydrotherapy by partaking in an outdoor rain shower. Close your eyes and imagine you are standing in a waterfall of cool water rushing down from head to toe. This will lower body temperature and cause blood vessels to contract, creating an awakening experience. Wash away your worries, along with facial masks and hair products, for a deep cleanse. By the end of this spa hydrotherapy ritual, you will feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
Enjoy the spa facilities once a month along with a therapeutic massage to relieve tension and stress. The spa is not only about pampering.  It helps take care of one’s mind, body and soul. You may find that healing waters will help to relieve back and body pain and banish stress from your life.
Karina Chung is a desert native specializing in creating new spa experiences and working internationally with Hyatt Resorts. Karina has returned to the desert as Spa Director at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa. She is enthusiastic to introduce indigenous products with healing properties and to support local health for both individuals and businesses through this beautiful wellness facility. Contact Karina at 760.674.4100.

10 Ways To Make This Your Best Christmas Ever

An image of 10 Ways To Make This Your Best Christmas Ever

1

Enjoy the build up

Sometimes the best thing about Christmas is the expectant build up. Don’t let all the little things that make Christmas extra special pass you by in a blur of frantic present wrapping. To make this your best Christmas ever sit back, put your weary over-shopped feet up and take a big sip of your favourite festive mocha – your state of mind and Christmas spirit will thank you for it.

2

Christmas movie night

Everyone has a favourite Christmas movie, so why not invite a few of your friends round or gather up the family and arrange a Christmas movie night? The rules are this: everyone should bring one Christmas movie they love and a Christmas treat. Then you just need to sit back and enjoy It’s A Wonderful Life, Love Actually or, for those more action-packed movie fans, Die Hard.

3

Read a Christmas book

To make this Christmas your best ever you should definitely peruse the Christmas section at your bookstore. Imagine settling back into a comfy chair with a cheeky pre-Christmas drink whilst reading about plucky Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol or, for those of you who like a more humorous and modern read, Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris. If you often find yourself too frazzled around Christmas to pick up a book try a Christmas poetry anthology; The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems is a great choice.

4

Shop online

Okay, so the internet is nothing new but, despite the fact that you can buy pretty much everything online for less, people still traipse around overcrowded shops, only to get blasted by advertising and persuasive shop layouts that make us buy dud presents no one wants and have to queue for 25 minutes for the privilege of buying said gifts. Trust us, for the majority of the gifts you need to buy, you’re best to stick to online stores. You can shop around for the best price and look out for stores that offer a free delivery service.  

5

Write a letter to Santa

Okay, so you may not have written a letter to Santa since you were nine years old but, although a little childish, this year posting a letter to the jolly feller who lives in Lapland might help you more than you could guess. Yet rather than adding material items to your wish list, write down some personal goals, like finding a new guy or girl or overcoming your fear of spiders. Then in your letter try to suggest ways Santa could help you achieve your goals come Christmas day. You might be surprised by the solutions that you write and what changes your wish list to Santa might create.

6

Gingerbread house

What says Christmas more than a gingerbread house? If you’re not a dab hand in the kitchen, don’t worry; reach for your plastic and buy a cheap DIY gingerbread house kit. To make your gingerbread house that bit more special create it with your partner, friend or child and make it personal to you and your lives. Remember though, this Christmas activity can be tricky so stick to having a two to three person gingerbread house team to avoid creative hissy fits and a food fight.

7

Easy Christmas biscuit tree stack

This easy Christmas biscuit tree stack is simple, effective and will make you look like you’ve had Elf help this year. Simply make or buy a biscuit dough, cut out 10-14 stars (the stars need to go from large to small in size) and bake until cooked. Once cooled ice each biscuit with white icing. Once the icing is set stack the cookies; the largest star should sit at the bottom and the smallest star should sit at the top. Your holiday guests will love this stack.

8

Christmas tradition

The best way to make this your best Christmas ever is to start a new tradition. You could invite your family or friends to each buy a new Christmas decoration for your tree or you could go on a special Christmas eve walk and stop in at a cafe for a Christmas treat. Make your Christmas tradition something that you look forward to and make sure it’s meaningful to you.

9

Get the best wrapped presents award

If you’re anything like us you’ll know that your dream of having elegant and perfectly neat Christmas presents to give to your loved ones is a dream that is never going to become a reality. Yet wait, we have good holiday news for you and your kin! Go to your local store and ask for their unwanted cardboard boxes. Then simply pop all of your awkward to wrap items into relevant boxes before wrapping. If you don’t have enough time for this devious wrapping trick just buy pretty boxes and add a bow or ribbon to decorate.

10

Get involved

The best way to make sure this is your best Christmas ever is to get involved in all the Christmas activities in your local community. Go ice skating, take part in a Santa run, go to your local carol service, visit the most decorated house in your area or go to a craft fair. Get involved with as much as you possibly can to make sure this Christmas is memorable and meaningful.