Calendula

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Calendula is one of the most versatile and useful flowers in my opinion.  It is also a cheerful pop of color for your garden or planted in a container.  It is a hardy annual that I find blooms almost year round.  It has been used since ancient times as a food source, plant dye and cosmetic.  It is soothing, antiseptic and an excellent skin healer, especially for dry, cracked skin and chapped lips.  I like to add petals to creams and baths.  Fresh petals are best. You can also dry petals for year round use and in making powders and bath products.

Here is an easy recipe for you to try at home:

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Calendula Foot Powder

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 Tablespoons baking soda

! Tablespoon dried calendula petals, finely ground

1-2 drops calendula oil or geranium oil (optional)

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a dry jar or resealable bag and shake gently to mix.  Pour the powder into a clean, dry container  To use:  Sprinkle the powder on clean, dry feet and gently massage into the skin, especially between the toes.

Yield: 3 ounces

 

Have a beautiful day!

Let me know how you use Calendula for skin and hair care —

 

xoxo

Janice

Growing and Using Luffa Sponges

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I just got home from Asheville, NC and the Mother Earth News Fair where I gave a talk on “How to grow and use Luffa Sponges”  Here is some of the information I presented. Many people are surprised and delighted to learn that a luffa is not a sea sponge but a plant in the cucumber family that can easily be grown in your own home garden.

They are super easy to grow and just need sunshine, water and a place to climb — In about 90 days you will have a full grown gourd that when soaked in water and peeled becomes the bath sponge or household scrubber we have all come to know and love.

There is an excellent article in the March/ April issue of Mother Earth Living Magazine written by Hannah Kincaid, Editor-in-chief.

Luffa seeds can be ordered online and found at most garden shops near the gourds.  I recently discovered The Luffa Ranch in Murphy, NC and they too are a source of seeds and all things Luffa.

Start your seeds indoors and plant outside when there is no chance of frost for most locations this is around Mother’s Day in May.

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Soaking and clipping your seeds also helps them germinate and sprout sooner.  I would recommend doing this.

Give your luffas plenty of sunshine and water and a place to climb and in the Fall you should have sponges ready for harvest.  They should turn brown and you can hear the seeds rattle around inside.

Soak your luffas and peel off their outer skin inside you will have the fibrous skeleton that is used to cleanse your skin.  Make sure you keep your luffa super clean and dry between uses.  you can clean your luffa in a pot of boiling water, in the dishwasher or in the washing machine when you wash your towels.

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Here is a simple luffa cleanser you can make with the green outer peels of the young plants.

Green Luffa Skin Cleanser

1 cup green luffa peels

1 tablespoon aloe vera gel

1 teaspoon raw honey

1-2 tablespoons water

  • Blend together. To use: Massage into damp skin.

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You can also make a simple sugar scrub using grated luffa — simply grate dried luffa with a kitchen cheese grater.  Here is the recipe:

Soothing Luffa Sugar Scrub

1 cup raw sugar

1 /4 cup almond oil

1 /2 teaspoon vitamin E oil

2 Tablespoons grated, dried luffa

  • Stir together. To use: Massage into damp skin

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I hope you try growing luffa this year and if you do — send me photos of your garden and how you are enjoying your plants!  I will check back in the fall when I harvest mine this is what they look like right now

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Happy Growing!

xoxo Janice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Beauty

I am back from Texas and my talk at  the Mother Earth News Fair event in Belton, Texas.  I thought I would share a few of the recipes I presented there.  Garden plants have been used for centuries to cleanse, nourish, and treat our bodies.  Using the plants in your yard or from a local source is a great way to treat yourself!

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Menthe Hair Rinse

This minty rinse will rid your hair of soap residues and restore your natural acid balance, often stripped by modern shampoos, leaving your hair cleaner and healthier.

Ingredients:

1 /4 cup fresh mint leaves, gently crushed

1 cup mineral water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Place the mint leaves in a glass bowl. Heat the water and pour over the fresh leaves letting them steep for several hours. Strain out the leaves, and stir in the vinegar. Pour into a clean container. To use: Pour over your hair after shampooing. Let sit for a few minutes then rinse with the coldest water you can stand.

Yield: 8 ounces, enough for one rinse

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Fresh Parsley Facial Mask

Finely chopped, parsley is soothing to blotchy or troubled complexions. To deep-cleanse and freshen normal-to-dry skin add some parsley to a few tablespoons of sour cream, or for oily skin to a well-beaten egg white or aloe vera gel. Spread the mixture onto your face and leave on for 15 -20 mines. Rinse well with warm water.

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Calendula Foot Powder

Calendula or “pot marigolds,” have bright orange-yellow flowers that bloom profusely from spring to fall. Sometimes, given the right growing conditions, even year round. The dried flower petals have antibacterial properties and combined with baking soda make a soothing, deodorizing foot powder.

Ingredients:

1 /4 cup cornstarch or rice flour

2 tablespoons baking soda

1 tablespoon finely ground, dried calendula petals

1-2 drops essential oil of geranium

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a dry jar or resealable plastic bag and shake well to mix. Pour the powder into a clean, dry container. To use: Sprinkle the powder on clean, dry feet and gently massage into your feet, especially between your toes.

Yield: 3 ounces

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Thanks again Texas for a great time! next fair is in Asheville, North Carolina April 28-29.  I can’t wait –

xoxo Have a beautiful day,

Janice

Natural Beauty with Corn

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I know all you modern farm girls  love corn – it is one of the most versatile of the natural grains and can be used from head to toe to keep your skin clean, soft and comfortable.

Corn often gets a bad rap because so many food products are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.  But there are other corn base ingredients that are naturally good for your skin and hair.  Ground Corn Meal is an amazing skin scrubber.  Cornstarch is a soothing natural powder and also used to make gel lotions and corn oil is a soothing and moisturizing oil that works wonders on dry skin.  Here are a few of my favorite recipes using this farm favorite.  Enjoy!

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Corn Flour or Cornstarch – Easily found in your kitchen cupboard or at the grocery store

Corn Flour Lotion

Corn Flour or Cornstarch makes a light, non greasy lotion that is perfect for soothing dry, chapped hands.  This is an old fashioned recipe that some of you may remember your grandmothers using.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable glycerine

2 tablespoons corn flour (cornstarch)

/2 cup distilled water

2 tablespoons rose water

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients in an ovenproof glass container.  Heat until just boiling and thick  a few minutes in the microwave or on the stove top.  The lotions will be clear and jelly like: stir thoroughly and let cool completely.  To use: Massage into your skin.

Yield: 6 ounces

Note: If your lotion is too thick you may thin it with more water or rose water.

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Fresh ground yellow corn meal — For fun try blue or white cornmeal in recipes

Corn Meal Dry Shampoo

Using a dry shampoo can be an effective way to remove grease and dirt from your hair without getting it wet.  It can be a bit messy so make sure you stand on a towel or lean over a sink while “shampooing.”

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon cornmeal

Directions:

Massage the cornmeal into your scalp and let sit for a few minutes.  Leaning over a sink or tub gently brush your hair with a natural bristle brush to remove the cornmeal.

Yield: .5 ounces (one shampoo)

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Pure Natural Corn Oil perfect for soothing dry skin

Corn oil and sugar body scrub

Pure corn oil makes a nice all over natural body oil it also can be used as the base for a moisturizing and cleansing body scrub.  This is the perfect treatment to even out a fading tan and get your skin super clean.

Ingredients:

1 /4 cup corn oil

1 Tablespoon corn meal

1 /4 cup raw sugar

2-3 drops essential oil of sweet orange

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients and spoon into a clean container with a  tight fitting lid.  To use:  In the bath or shower massage sugar scrub into damp skin then rinse well.  You may follow up with more natural corn oil to lock in moisture.

Yield: 3 ounces

 

Happy Fall !! You are beautiful

xoxo Janice

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Body Mask

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This has always been the time of year for fresh pumpkins and pumpkin products but it seems like we have all gone even more pumpkin crazy lately — pumpkin is not only for pies and jack-o-laterns anymore — Pumpkin is Beautiful!

I appreciate pumpkin as a beneficial beauty ingredient.  Pumpkin contains fruit acid enzymes that work like alpha hydroxy acid.  The real plus is that these enzymes remove dead skin cells with less irritation than commercial products.  The lovely orange pulp also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it naturally soothing.  this treatment is well suited for all skin types, especially sensitive one.

Fresh Pumpkin Body Mask 

Ingredients: 

3-4 cups fresh pumpkin flesh with seeds

In a food processor, process the  pumpkin flesh for 1-2 minutes until you have a smooth, grainy puree.  To use: Standing in the tub or on an old bath towel, massage the pumpkin mixture into your skin starting at your feet and working your way up.  this mask is mild enough to be used on your face.  Let the mask rest on your skin for 5 minutes.  Then rinse your skin in a warm bath or shower and pat dry.  You may keep any leftover mask in the refrigerator or frozen for future use.

Yield: 16 ounces

Happy Fall and I will share a few more of my favorite “pumpkin” DIY beauty recipes this month.  I would also love to hear any recipes that you use, leave me a comment and I will share.

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Happy Day,

Janice

Hops for Health

This is the year to celebrate all things Hops, as it was chosen as the 2018 International Herb of the year.  Hops may best be known for giving your favorite IPA a bitter taste, they are also a valuable health and beauty ingredients.

I will be teaching a workshop in February at Mother Earth News Fair in Belton, TX.  I hope if you are in the area you will sign up and join me in making dream pillows and hop infused bath bombs.   Here is the workshop sign up link: Hops for Health Workshop.

The following is one of my favorite recipes  for a a rich body butter to try at home this winter.  Hoppy New Year!!

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Calming Hops Body Butter

This is a rich skin soothing body butter.  It can be used to soothe classic dry skin spots such as elbows, knees, feet and hands.  Coconut oil is easily absorbed into your skin.  Both Calendula and Hops help reduce inflammation.

Ingredients: 

1 tablespoon dried hops flowers

1 Tablespoon dried calendula petals

1 /2 cup coconut oil

1 Tablespoon cocoa butter

Directions: 

Mix together all ingredients and gently heat until the coconut oil and cocoa butter is melted.  Let the mixture cool completely and sit for a few days for the oil to become infused with the herbs.  Gently reheat the mixture and strain out all solids and pour into a clean container.  To use:  Massage a small amount of the oil into your skin.

Yield: 4 ounces

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“Don’t worry be Hoppy — You are beautiful!”

xoxo Janice

 

 

 

 

Beauty from the Hive

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I am getting ready today for Oregon Honey Festival this weekend in Ashland, Oregon and just finished making some Lip Balms and thought I would share the recipe.  I am a fairly new beekeeper but I do love my bees and what they have done for my garden.  They are also some of the best “natural cosmetologist.”  Their raw honey and beeswax is amazing and I love using it in my DIY beauty recipes.

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“Honey You’re the Balm” 

This is a simple to make lip balm that is perfect for keeping your lips soft, smooth and protected.  Feel free to experiment with the basic recipe using your own favorite oils.  If you don’t have access to beeswax you can easily purchase some at your local natural food store or from beekeepers.

Ingredients: 

1 tsp. beeswax

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. Cocoa Butter

1/8 tsp. raw honey

Directions:

Gently melt all ingredients and stir well.  Pour into clean lip balm containers or small jars.  Let cool completely until solid.  To use:  Spread onto your lips.

Note:  This balm can also be used on other parts of your body where you need a bit of extra conditioning such as elbows, knees or heels.

Yield: .5 ounces

Have a sweet day and remember to “Just BEE You”  that is the best beauty tip!

xoxo Janice

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Spring Time Beauty

Happy Spring — I have sunshine here today and warmer temps so it is finally starting to feel like spring around here after a long very wet winter.  I have moss growing places I never thought it would grow haha — I am also learning about hops this year and speaking at the International Herb Conference in Michigan this fall.  So more on that later in other posts.  For now I am planning my skin care garden and using my spring veggies and flowers.  Here are a few of my favorite “Spring” recipes.

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Lettuce Cleansing Lotion 

Lettuce from the garden or farmer’s market makes a wonderful facial lotion that suits sensitive skin types.  This simple solution will also relieve sunburned or irritated skin.

Ingredients: 

1 /2 head fresh lettuce

4 cups water

Place the lettuce in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  Strain off all solids and pour into a clean container.  To use: Massage a small amount of cleanser onto your face and neck.  Rinse well with warm water.  Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 16 ounces

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Fresh Carrot Mask 

This is an ideal facial mask for normal to oily skin.  Carrot juice is rich in Vitamin A, often referred to as the “beauty vitamin” because of it’s benefits to our skin and hair. You can make your own fresh juice or purchase carrot juice at the market or natural food store.

Ingredients: 

2 Tablespoons fresh carrot juice

2 Tablespoons powdered buttermilk

Mix together the juice and buttermilk until you have a smooth creamy mixture.  To use:  Spread on clean sin and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes.  Rinse well with warm water followed by a cool water rinse.

Yield: 1 ounce

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Lilac Bath Oil 

The name lilac is a Persian word for “flower”, and it was in that country where that the plant was first discovered.  Lilacs are one of my favorite spring flowers and I have several bushes growing in my yard.  I love the beautiful flowers and their delicate scent.  The fresh flowers make s lovely bath oil.

Ingredients: 

2 cups fresh lilac flowers, removed from the stem

1 cup castor oil

Gently crush the delicate flower buds and place them in a clean jar.  Warm the castor oil in the microwave but do not boil just warm to the touch.  Pour the oil over the flower buds in the jar.  Let the jar sit for 2 weeks.  After the mixture has sat and you are happy with the scent.  Strain the oil into a clean container and discard the flower buds.  To use:  Pour a tablespoon or two into your bath as you fill your tub.

Yield: 8 ounces

 

Happy Spring — For more recipes and ideas check out my book “Natural Beauty at Home” 

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Janice 

 

Simple Skin Scrubs

Cleansing scrubs are an important part of your healthy skin care regime.  They exfoliate or remove dead skin cells, which improves the texture of your skin and allows it to retain more moisture.  This in turn, enhances the efficiency of your creams, lotions and body butters.  Depending on your skin type, cleansing scrubs should be used two to three times a week to keep your skin clean and healthy.  Scrubs are not limited to the face; they can be used all over the body to keep skin soft and glowing.  Don’t forget classic rough skin areas such as knees, heels, and elbows.  When making scrubs to use on your face, grind the ingredients as finely as possible.  Treat your skin with care and gently scrub in a circular motions.  Here are a  couple of simple skin scrubs for you to DIY at home.

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Favorite Cleansing Grains

Whenever I ask people what their favorite cleansing scrub is, I usually get three answers; oatmeal, cornmeal, or wheat germ.  Each one of these on their own are an effective simple scrub combined they create and even more effective scrub.  Oatmeal is cleansing and softening.  Cornmeal is deep cleansing (especially helpful at removing blackheads) and wheat germ is gentle, mild and soothing to your skin.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oatmeal

2 tablespoons cornmeal

2 teaspoons wheat germ

Mix all ingredients together and place in an air tight container.  To use: Combine a teaspoon or two with equal parts water or cleanser to create a paste.  Massage gently into your face and neck.  Rinse well with warm water and pat dry.

Yield: 2 ounces

Note you can also use this scrub on your body — you will just need to use more approx 1 /2 cup.

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Citrus Peel Scrub

Whenever you use citrus fruits save the colored part of their peel.  This is where all the essential oils are and when dried and finely ground they make an effective skin scrub.

Here are the steps to follow:

Remove the colored part of the peel; this can be done with a zester or sharp pairing knife.  Dry the peels thoroughly; this can be done in four different ways

Sunshine: Lay the peel on a rack to air dry near a sunny window

Microwave: Place the peels in a microwave safe ceramic bowl and microwave on low until dry (about 5 to 6 minutes).  Allow to cool completely.

Oven: Arrange the peels on a cookie sheet and place in a very low temperature oven for several hours or overnight (remember to turn the oven off when you go to bed).

Food Dehydrator: Use an electric food dehydrator and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for drying citrus peels.

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Now that you have your dried peels.  Coarsely grind them in a food processor or clean coffee grinder.   To use:  Mix with a bit a water to form a paste and massage into clean skin.  You can also combine your dried peels with other ingredients such as raw sugar, cornmeal or sea salt.

Note: sea salt is too harsh and abrasive for facial skin but fine for your body just avoid sensitive skin areas.

 

Let me know if you have any recipe requests or a favorite scrub recipe of your own!

Keep Glowing,

xoxo Janice

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Astringents, Toners and Skin Fresheners

Astringents, toners, and skin fresheners are important to healthy skin because they keep your complexiabon clean and your pores clear.  The cleaner the surface of your skin, the more efficient it is at absorbing and retaining moisture.  Many people like to use an astringent on their faces after cleansing.  They can also be used throughout the day, especially if you have oily skin.

One of my favorite and free skin toner and freshener is pure, ice cold water.  Splash your face with cold water after cleansing or anytime you can use a boost and your complexion will glow.  It also seems to energize your whole body and spirit.  This is the perfect toner for those with dry or sensitive skin.

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Another classic Astringent that I am sure most of you have in your bathroom right now is witch hazel.  This is a product that my grandmother taught me to use and I still do to this day.  Witch hazel is a plant whose bark ad leaves are made into this wonderful product.  You can create your own astringents using it as a base and a few drops of essential oil or you can also add it to creams and lotions.  My grandmother used it to soothe her tired eyes.  She would soak cotton pads then lie down with them over closed eyes for 10 minutes each day in the afternoon.

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Green Tea is also an excellent toner especially helpful in healing and treating troubled or acne prone skin.  This is because it contains antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, which help to strengthen your skin’s natural defenses.  Simply brew up a strong cup of tea using a few bags or loose tea leaves and let cool completely.  Apply the cold tea to your face with cotton and do not rinse off.

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Let me know what are some of your favorite ways to use astringent and toners in your daily routine? Have a beautiful day!

xoxo Janice

For more Astringent, Toner and Skin Freshener recipes and treatments check out my DIY Natural Beauty Book – “Natural Beauty at Home”

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