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

 

 

 

 

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 

 

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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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