Friday, April 29, 2011

About Face

   Come May Day morning, I can be found collecting the dew from the plants of the garden and applying it to my face,in the hope of acquiring the year-long, magickal glamoury that is known to be imparted with the observance of this annual ritual. I am fortunate to have pretty good skin. It is very fair and thin; so light in fact, that as an infant, my Mother claimed she could see the beating heart through my chest! Phlebotomists (blood specimen takers) love me,as my veins are readily accessible for their sanguine collections. As a young woman, I faithfully wore Chanel's "Porcelain" foundation year round,as it complimented my delicate facial skin tone.Upon reaching middle age,I consulted a dermatologist and allowed him to laser the broken capillaries that the ravages of time had incurred on my visage. He also gave me the pronouncement of roscacea( a sensitive skin condition with a redness response trigger to a type of antimicrobial protein called "cathelicidin").

    Aside from only using products that are organically plant-based and not tested on animals, the toner called "Queen of Hungary's Water" is never something that I want to be without in my skincare routine. Variations of it's legendary gypsy formula can be obtained (I like Thayer's Rosewater/Aloe formula for myself,and my teens swear by their astringent Lemon variety) or can be made when fresh herbs are in season.

  • 6 Parts Lemon Balm
  • 4 Parts Chamomile
  • 1 Part Rosemary
  • 3 Parts Calendula
  • 4 Parts Roses
  • 1 Part Lemon Zest
  • 1 Part Sage
  • 3 Parts Comfrey
  • Vinegar to cover ( organic apple cider or wine vinegar)
  • Rosewater and/or Witch Hazel extract
To Make:
(1) Place all the herbs in a wide mouth jar and cover with vinegar. Be sure there is about one to two inches of vinegar above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and let sit in a warm spot for two to three weeks.
(2) Strain. Set the liquid aside.
(3) To each cup of herbal vinegar add 1/2 cup rosewater and/or witch hazel.
(4) A drop or two of essential oil such as lavender or rose can be added.
(5) Bottle in sterilized glass of a dark color,if possible. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely ; but you can keep it in a refrigerated spray bottle to have a refreshing, warm-weather skin spritzer.

 This versatile herb-infused liquid can also be used as a hair rinse,after-shave, or foot-soak(add a few drops of tea tree oil to the mixture for this purpose). Use additional rosewater, if a more perfumed scent is desired. Other facial blessings are the applications rose otto oil for softening time lines & soothing inflammation, calendula flower tea for its skin-healing properties, and the use of facial steams to deep-clean the complexion,as clean skin retains more moisture.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eostre's Egg Salad Recipe

What to make with those left-over,hard-boiled eggs? How about this colourful salad that showcases seasonal flowers,herbs,& greens in the bargain? Delicious when eaten with pumpernickel bread or plattered and sprinkled with calendula petals & green onions.

         ~Ingredients~ : 13 hard-boiled eggs,3/4 cup olive oil-based mayonaise,2 teaspoons yellow mustard,2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish,1 rib celery(leaves included,minced),2 tablespoons chive snippets,2 tablespoons tarragon leaves(chopped),1 teaspoon smoked paprika,1 teaspoon sea salt,& 1 teaspoon of ground white pepper.Set aside a generous handful of freshly chopped calendula(pot marigold)petals.

           ~Preparation~ :  Dice eggs and put into a mixing bowl : add mayo,mustard,relish,celery,herbs,& seasonings. Mix thoroughly and then, stir in calendula flowers.Refrigerate for an hour or so before serving atop a bed of mixed greens(such as watercress,arugula,Boston lettuce,etc.).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bathing Beauty

Washing your body with commercial products can remove the protective oils from your skin. Vegetable based soap, with emollient ingredients like glycerine,shea,or cocoa butter, is the purest choice for cleansing. Organic essential oils can be added to bath water but skin type should be considered before choosing the fragrance :

        ~ Normal ~ jasmine, neroli, patchouli, & ylang ylang

        ~ Sensitive ~ German chamomile, lavender, or geranium
        ~ Oily ~ Lemon, orange, cypress, & bergamot

        ~ Dry ~ clary sage, German chamomile, myrrh, or lavender

After bathing, apply a small amount of natural oil to nourish and protect skin. Almond, jojoba, and cocoa butter are suitable for all skin types. Young skin is partial to coconut,apricot kernel, and olive oils, while mature complexions will benefit from argan, avocado, and evening primrose oils.
Use products that are free from synthetic additives that can be toxic. Some ingredients to avoid are parabens, sulfates, silicones, color, and parfum.                 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Green Spring Cleaning

Simple cleaning alternatives are  healthier and more economical  to store-bought products. Modern cleaning chemicals can trigger headaches,allergies,and asthma and pose dangers to pets and children. A few old fashioned methods will benefit your being and dwelling considerably :

Choose natural cleaning agents :

Borax ~ removes mold & mildew,is a disinfectant,and softens water ; use with soap flakes to whiten clothes but remember to wear rubber gloves when applying.

Baking Soda ~ works as an abrasive & disinfectant to gently remove dirt and grease ; pour the contents of the old refigerator boxes down drains to freshen them and add it to other cleaners (like laundry detergents) for water softening and effective cleaning & rinsing.

Vinegar ~ disinfects,inhibits mold, and cuts through grease ; apply white vinegar to windows with old newspaper and wipe away grime with a clean shine,removes coffee & tea stains,and freshens air.

Soap ~ use biodegradable,real soap made from vegetable oils (like castille soap) and customize it with the addition of fresh herbs and/or essential oils : both add disinfecting and aromatic properties.

Fresh Floor Cleaner ~ Mix the following trio into a bucket of water : one quarter cup of environmentally-friendly liquid soap,1 cup organic vinegar ~or~ 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice,and one cup of strongly brewed herbal tea.

Vinegar Of The Four Thieves* ~ Take a generous handful each of fresh lavender,rosemary,sage,wormwood,rue,& mint : place in a large earthenware crock.Pour four quarts of organic vinegar over the herbs,cover,and steep in the sun for two weeks.Strain through cheesecloth,and pour into sterilized glass bottles : add a clove of garlic to each one.After the contents settle and clear,pour off sediment.Use as a general cleaner to freshen rooms;sprinkle about in damp weather.

 * note: this legendary plague recipe has many variations and for best efficacy should be made with Midsummer herbs (so that they are at their highest potentency).