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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Natural Beauty with Lavender

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My lavender is blooming and that signals the start of lavender season!!  I love this peaceful and tranquil herb because it is so easy to grow and also can be used to calm and clean both my body and my home.  It also signals the start of Summer !  Plan a visit to a local lavender farm or plant your own.   I like to think of myself as a “Lavender Farmer”  I don’t have a huge farm but the plants in my garden provide myself and my friends with a years supply of lavender.  I use my lavender in creating bath and body products, sachets for my home and in cooking.  Lavender is perfect for scones and added to coffee and lemonade.

How I “harvest” my lavender flowers is simple –I know a lot of people tie them up into cute bunches and hang them from racks and I love this idea but I don’t always have that kind of time.  Here is what I do:

I lay a cotton tablecloth on the grass next to my plants and cut off all of the flowers after they have bloomed but before they are totally dried out.   Cut just above the green leaves and you will even get a second crop in many parts of the country.

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I then let my lavender dry in the sun — if it is windy where you are you can also do this inside.  I then sort of “Pat down” the lavender stalks and collect all of the fragrant flowers that have fallen off.  You can also save the stalks they make lovely fragrant “fire starters” when bundled up.

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Once you have your dried lavender you can use all on their own or mixed together with other ingredients.  IMG_7863

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for you to try:

Lavender Body Mist 

When you are feeling stressed this is a light fragrance you can spray around you or even on your sheets before going to bed at night to help you sleep.

Ingredients: 

1 cup witch hazel

1 tablespoon lavender flowers

2-3 drops essential oil of lavender (optional)

Directions: 

Mix all of the ingredients together and let sit overnight.  Strain out the lavender flowers and pour the liquid into a clean spray bottle or container with a tight fitting lid. To use: Spray onto your skin or air around you.

Yield: 8 ounces

 

Relaxing Lavender Bath 

A lavender bath is not only relaxing it also has skin soothing and healing properties.  Lavender is a natural antiseptic which makes it an ideal bath for calming a bad rash, sunburn or insect bites.

Ingredients: 

1 cup dried lavender flowers

2 cups oatmeal

1 /2 cup baking soda

Directions: 

Place all the ingredients inside a food processor or blender.  Grind until you have a smooth, fine powder.  The powder should have the consistency of whole grain flour.  Pour into a clean airtight container or a resealable plastic bag.

To use: pour 1 /2 cup into your bath as you fill the tub.

Yield: 28 ounces

 

Lavender Mouth Rinse 

Lavender freshens your breath and cleans and disinfect your whole mouth.  This is a mild, almost tasteless mouth rinse that has an airy, floral fragrance.  You can also use this as a skin freshener.

Ingredients: 

1 Tablespoon lavender buds

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons rosewater

Directions: 

Place the lavender buds in a glass bowl and pour the boiling water over them.  Let the mixture steep until cool then strain.  Add the rosewater to the lavender water and pour into a clean container.  To use: Pour a small amount into a clean glass and rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth and gums.

Yield: 8 ounce

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For more recipes check out my book Natural Beauty at Home.

Have a beautiful day!

Janice

 

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

Icelandic Beauty

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My daughter and son in law just went on an amazing trip to Iceland and brought me back a mud mask!   This is not any mud mask but one from the famous Blue Lagoon.

Most mud or clay masks work in the same way.  They help exfoliate and deep cleanse your complexion.  As they dry they also help remove or draw surface impurities and debris from your pores and skin.  What makes mud mask different is where they originate.  Blue Lagoon Mud is some of the finest in the world.  It is made from geothermal silica mud, a unique and natural active ingredient.  It can be used on both the face and body.

You don’t have to travel to the blue lagoon to create your own mud mask at home, but I want to  now book a trip to Iceland after hearing their stories and seeing photos of this amazing country.   Here is an easy recipe for you to create your own at home mask:

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Natural Mud Mask

Clay or mud masks are some of the oldest natural beauty treatments still used today.  You can find a variety of natural clays at your local natural food store and online.  Remember you never want to use the mud from your yard as it can contain bacteria.  You want sterilized clay or mud that is safe to use on your skin.

Ingredients: 

2 tablespoons natural clay

1-2 tablespoons distilled water

Directions: 

Mix the clay mask fresh each time using equal parts clay and water.  Stir well until you have a smooth paste.  To use: Spread the mixture on clean skin and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes, until dry.  Rinse well with warm water followed by cool water and pat your skin dry.

Yield: 1 ounce, enough for one facial mask

Note:  You can also mix your clay with soy milk, sour cream or aloe vera gel and if you are a fan of using essential oils add a drop or two to your mask for a bit of aromatherapy. 

 

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þú ert fallegur! 

(You are beautiful!)

xoxo Janice

 

 

 

Turn Your Bath Into A Spa

 

We can all use a bit of pampering every now and then but a trip to a high end resort or spa may not be on your calendar or in the budget.  Not to worry with just a few simple “At Home” touches you can turn your own bathroom into your own private retreat.  Here are some Easy spa touches that anyone can do:

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Fresh Cucumber Slices 

Immerse fresh cucumber slices in water for half an hour in your refrigerator.  Lie down and place them on closed eyes.  Water makes cucumbers cool, gelatinous and very soothing.  You can also Create a soothing facial mask using fresh sour cream, honey or a bit of cooked oatmeal.

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Spa Towels: 

Soak cotton hand towels in warm water with a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil (lavender, peppermint, sweet orange). Wring out and roll up.  Microwave for 20 seconds.  Massage a rich lotion or natural oil into your hands and feet and wrap then with these warm spa towels.

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Music: 

LIsten to soft music thats evenly paced with minimal lyrics or use nature sounds to set a soothing mood in your spa room (bathroom).

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Tea:  

Make a pot of chamomile or your favorite herbal tea to sip in your bath.  Use a favorite cup and really treat yourself.

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Bath Salts: 

Mix up these relaxing bath salts and soak for 20 to 40 minutes.  Really take the time to relax and unplug .  You may also want to light candles or place a bouquet of fresh flowers on the counter to focus on.

Ingredients: 

2 cups epsom salts

1/2 cup baking soda

5-6 drops essential oil such as lavender or rosemary (optional)

Directions: 

Mix together all ingredients.  Pour into warm bath as your fill tub.  Stir until salts are dissolved.  Soak for 20 to 40 minutes.

Yield: 20 ounces, enough for one bath

 

You are beautiful and amazing!

xoxo Janice

 

Natural Beauty with Sea Salt

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 sea salt in the bath creates your own “mini ocean” and recent studies have discovered that bathing in salty water not only detoxes the body but also makes our skin stronger and able to retain more moisture.

I also like to use sea salt in making body scrubs and polishes. Here is a simple recipe:

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Sea Salt Body Polish 

1 /2 cup sea salt

1 Tablespoon baking soda

2 Tablespoons light sesame oil

1 teaspoon vitamin E oil

Mix together all ingredients and stir well.  You may add a bit more oil if needed.  You want a smooth, grainy paste.  To use:  In the shower or bath massage into damp skin with long flowing strokes.  Avoid sensitive skin areas.  Rinse with warm water and pat skin dry.  note:  oil in scrub could make your shower floor a bit slippery, you may want to put a towel down to stand on.

Yield: 4 ounces

 

Enjoy and Glow!  You are beautiful

xoxo Janice