LAVENDER

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Lavender is such a useful and beautiful flower.  It can be used for body, mind and spirit as it has tranquil and pure properties that are useful in calming and cleaning both your body and your home.  Fresh flowers make a wonderful skin cleansing toners, creams, cleansers and baths.  Dried flowers are also useful in the bath and in herb pillows and ratchets.  The essential oil is an essential home beauty ingredient.

Lavender also is a good insect repellent and will keep your linens and bed sheets fresh and sweet smelling.  Lavender has also been used in health care as it has antiseptic properties.

You can visit lavender farms this time of year or grow your own.  Lavender is actually a very easy plant to grow.  They don’t need a lot of water and love sunshine.  Harvest fresh flowers and dry them for year round use.

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Here is one of my favorite lavender recipes to make at home:

Lavender Skin Freshener 

This simple skin toner is perfect for all skin types even sensitive skin and will keep your complexion fresh and clean.  It is also a nice pick me up throughout the day or after working out.

Ingredients: 

3 Tablespoons distilled water

2 Tablespoons witch hazel

2-3 drops essential oil of lavender

1/2 teaspoon raw honey

Directions: 

Mix all of the ingredients together. Pour into a clean bottle with a lid. To use: Apply to your face using a clean cotton ball.

Yield: 2 ounces

 

Refresh, Relax and Enjoy!!

Janice

xoxo

Let me know how you enjoy lavender !

Attar of Roses

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Fragrant rose petals are used to make a volatile oil or “Attar of Roses.” Which can also be used to make rosewater.  Use only fresh unbruised petals that have been picked in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the strong afternoon sun has warmed them.

Attar of Roses

Ingredients:

2-3 cups fresh rose petals

Coarse salt such as sea salt or kosher salt

Directions:

Make sure the rose petals are clean and dry.  You may gently wash them with cool water and dry them between a layer of cotton towel or paper towels.  Place a layer of the petals inside a clean ceramic crock or large glass jar.  Over each layer sprinkle a thin layer of salt just covering the petals. Repeat this process until the jar is full.  Cover your container tightly and place in a cool, dark spot for several weeks (3-6 weeks). The salt extras the moisture from the petals which should collect in the bottom of your jar.  Strain the liquid through a coffee filter or several layers of cheese cloth. This is your scented attar of roses.  To make fresh rosewater, add a drop or two of this oil to one cup of distilled water.

Yield 1-2 ounces

 

Note save the scented salt and use in bath soak recipes or salt scrubs.

 

Fresh rose petals can also be dried and added to bath salts, sugar scrubs and facial cleanser recipes.  They are natural astringent and cleansing.

 

Have a beautiful day,

Janice

 

Celebrate Mom

Happy Mother’s Day!  This weekend celebrate and honor your Mom with a  bit of self care for both her and yourself.  Taking time out to be thankful for the Mother you had or have is important.  Many of the qualities we love (and ones that drive us crazy) came from our Mother.  Here are a few easy DIY self care gifts you can whip up at home to tell Mom how beautiful she is to you:

Herbal Bath Salts

Add your favorite dried herbs or flower petals to a jar of pure epsom salts.  Tie up with a pretty bow and let Mom take a long relaxing soak.  You can also package with her favorite tea or a new book for her to read in the tub.

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Dream Pillow

Stitch together a little fabric pillow and fill with relaxing herbs such as lavender or hops that Mom can tuck under her pillow at night or place on her bedside tables.

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Breakfast in Bed

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This is a classic Mother’s day gift that never gets old — Here is an easy recipe for lavender scones that taste as beautiful as they look.

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Lavender Scones 

Ingredients 

3 cups flour

3 /4 cup sugar

1 T baking powder

1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers

1 /2 teaspoon baking soda

3 /4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk together dried ingredients. Add butter and mix until mixture resembles coarse flour.  I do this with my hands but you can use a fork or spoon.  Stir in buttermilk and vanilla and mix until you have a rough dough.  Knead 5 times on floured board and form into two rounds.  Cut into 8 triangles and arrange on cookie sheet (I use parchment paper on sheet).  Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake until golden brown 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool

File: 16 scones

 

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair Smoothies

 

Everyone loves a good smoothie — they are quick, healthy and refreshing!  They also a way to get a healthy dose of fruits, veggies and protein.  Smoothies can also be a treat for your hair that your locks will love to drink!  These four recipes will help tame, highlight, hydrate and cleanse your tresses leaving you with naturally beautiful hair.

Use these “Hair Smoothies” on clean just washed hair as you would any conditioning hair product.

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Calming Avocado Conditioner 

Tame flyaway and frizzy hair with this moisturizing and calming combination.  Avocados hydrate while bananas condition your hair.

Half a ripe avocado, peeled

Half a mashed banana

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons honey

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until creamy. Apply to clean, damp hair. Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse well and style as usual.

Yield: 4 ounces

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Lemon Highlighting Mix 

Brighten your hairs natural color with fresh lemons.   Lemons highlight and milk conditions your hair.

1 banana mashed

1 cup whole milk or almond milk

Juice of  a whole lemon

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until creamy apply to clean, damp hair.  Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.  If it is a nice day you may want to sit outside in the sunshine. Rinse well and style as usual.

Yield: 8 ounces

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Hydrating Mango Hair Smoothie 

Fresh mango and yogurt are cleansing and hydrating for dry hair.  If you don’t want to use fresh eggs you may substitute half an avocado in this smoothie recipe.

1 /2 cup fresh mango chopped

1 /4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

1 egg yolk

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until creamy. Apply to clean, damp hair. Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse well and style as usual.

Yield: 4 ounces

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Cleansing Green Tea Rinse 

Use this mixture as a detoxing and cleansing rinse for your hair after shampooing to remove styling product residues and get your hair super clean.

1 cup strong green tea (made with 2-3 tea bags), cooled

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons baking soda

Place all ingredients in a bender and process on high until well mixed. Massage into damp hair and let sit for 15 minutes. Shampoo and condition as usual.

Yield: 8 ounces

 

You are beautiful!

xoxo Janice

 

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Natural Beauty with Sea Salt

Going back to Kauai this week and will have to visit these salt ponds and also load up on locally harvested sea salt — Aloha!

Janice Cox

On my recent trip to the island of Kauai,  I was lucky enough to visit a salt company – they sell a variety of culinary salts featuring the Hawaiian red salt produced on the islands. This mineral rich salt gets it’s rosy hue from the natural volcanic clay on the islands. A short drive from their shop, is an actual salt pond where sea salt is made as it has been for centruries.

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Fresh ocean water is allowed to evaporate in small man made ponds leaving behind the pure sea salt. Salt is one of the oldest beauty ingredients and in fact was once used as currency in many parts of the world because of it’s value.

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I like to use sea salt in the bath a spoonful of coconut oil and a cup of sea salt thrown into warm bathwater leaves my skin clean, fresh and silky smooth.

Using…

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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

Hops for Health

Hoppy New Year!

Janice Cox

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 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…

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Holiday Bath Bombs Recipe

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I love to make my own gifts and these “Bath Bombs” are perfect for everyone on your list who loves a good bubbly soak! Bath bombs are everywhere lately and some can be a bit pricey but they are super simple to make at home with a few standard kitchen ingredients and natural beauty items.  They do contain citric acid which is what give them their bubbly effect.  This is used in canning and food prep and can be found in some grocery stores or ordered online.

Here is my basic recipe:

Holiday Bath Bombs

Ingredients:

1 cup baking soda

1 cup citric acid powder

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup Epsom salt

1/2 cup coconut oil melted

Optional : dried herbs, essential oils, matcha tea, food color

Directions:

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients.  If you want a color you can add to the dry ingredients and stir slowly.  You may also add a tablespoon of matcha tea, dried herbs or more colored epsom salt.   Melt the coconut oil in the microwave or on the stovetop.  Slowly add to the dry ingredients and mix well you will have a mixture that looks like wet sand.  I use my hands but a small spoon or fork works.  Then pack the mixture tightly in a mold — I used plastic christmas ornament balls but you can use anything muffin tins, silicon molds, cookie cutters.   I un-mold after a few minutes and place my bombs on a cotton dish cloth on a tray and let them dry overnight.  You could also leave in the mold.  To use:  Drop in a tub full of warm water and enjoy!

Tips:

  •  Grease molds with coconut oil
  • Do not use any water and make sure all our equipment is dry
  • You can spray the mixture with alcohol  or witch hazel if it starts to dry out or add more oil.

 

Yield 6 bombs

Merry Christmas !

xoxo 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