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

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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Epsom Salts and Roses

It is spring and my roses are beginning to bloom !  I just sprinkled them with some epsom salts to give them  a boost of minerals.  It reminded me what a great combination these two really are.   I love to soak in epsom salts in my bath.  I also love my roses!  Roses are a natural beauty ingredient because they are naturally cleansing yet gentle for all skin types and their scent is uplifting and romantic.  I decided to combine the two into a lovely floral bath salt that is perfect for gift giving or pampering yourself and enjoying your own roses.   Make sure you use garden roses as they not only smell the best but are also free of pesticides.   You can also use your roses in making rose water, scented body scrubs and in facial masks.

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Here is how I prepare my petals for use in beauty recipes:

First I picked a bunch of roses — you can also enjoy them as an arrangement and when they start to fade, then use the petals.

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I picked off all the petals and let them air dry for a few day.  I know some people use food dehydrators or in the oven on low but it is really just as simple to let them air dry and give them a stir once a day — it usually takes a few days to dry. I use an old basket but a cardboard box or cookie sheet works well also.

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I like to chop my petals  up in the food processor this makes them easier to work with and also makes your tub easier to clean.  All the fine bits and pieces easily go down the drain. But this step is totally up to you.

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I found a huge bag of epsom salts at my local grocery and it even says on the label good for plants and your body!   These natural salts were discovered in the well water of Epsom, England and have been used for hundreds of years.  Chemically, Epsom salts are hydrated magnesium sulfate and sulfur.  Magnesium helps with seed germination and the production of chlorophyll in plants.  They also help soothe sore muscles as they are astringent and help boost your circulation.

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

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Garden Rose Bath Salts

Ingredients:

1 cup Epsom salts

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup dried rose petals

4-5 drops essential oil of rose (optional)

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients and pour into a clean container.  To use: Pour into a warm bath and soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 10 ounces

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For gift giving I like to use a bit of vintage linen and lace tied into a bow and add a fresh rose.  You could also do a whole “Rose” theme basket — with a fresh bouquet, rose oil, rose bath salts and rose water.

 

Have a beautiful day!

xoxo Janice