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Friday, November 18, 2011

Autumn in Florida

 I'm loving the Bald Cypress pine cones forming right now and the leaf litter under the tree.
 Nature's mulch, spread naturally under the trees provides nutrients and minerals, plus it looks beautiful and helps to feed the earth.
One of our sweetgum trees getting ready to change colors. 

Who doesn't love those little delicate Rosemary flowers? Almost always in bloom here in Florida. We have Rosemary shrubs in abundance around our home.

 Goldenrod makes a brilliant fall appearance with it's golden "rods" of color. I love the old red rusty wheelbarrow in the background.
My new Aster plant given to me by my friend Sharon at Maple Street Natives.

Scorpion Tail. I love this plant, up close it's really like a scorpion's tail. From far away, the delicate white flowers looks dainty and cute. White flowers are essential in the landscape because they help light up the landscape naturally in the evening.

Lavender in bloom again. I enjoyed another harvest again this weekend. Who says Lavender can't grow in Florida? They were wrong.

I love this happy, little meadow of our Mimosa lawn. No grass, no water, no fertilizer. And still green.

And, lastly, a handful of acorns. Walking around in the yard I love the crunching beneath my feet and I know the trees are being fed. 
I hope you have a happy day today and enjoy some sights and sounds of native plants in your area!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A few of my Favorite Fall Things

No-Bake Autumn Apple Crisp made with large organic Gala apples

My six-year old daughter's homemade pumpkins

The purple hues from Florida native Muhly Grass blowing in the wind

Shells, seabeans, and driftwood from a family walk on the beach this past Sunday. I love all the natural colors. One day I want to use some of these natural colors to match paint to paint rooms in our home. 
When we go to the beach, we bring two bags: one for collecting beach treasures and one for collecting trash (on the walk back). The trash we pick up is almost always 99% plastic. I'm so not a fan of plastic! But, it feels so good doing little things like that for the environment, especially our friends the sea turtles.

When I served the Autumn Apple Crisp last night I included it with the main course, it's so healthy! Here's the recipe:

Colleen's Autumn Apple Crisp

2 Large Apples, cored and cubed (skins left on)
1 C. Dates, pitted
1 C. Almonds
1/4 C. Honey
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1. Place 1 C. Almonds, 1/2 C. Dates, a few drops of Vanilla, pinch of cinnamon, and pinch of Salt in food processor and process until chunky. Set aside.
2. Place 1 apple (chopped), 1/2 C. Dates, 1/4 C. Honey, pinch of salt, teaspoon of Cinnamon, and few drops of Vanilla in food processor. Process until smooth. Add second apple and process until chunky.
3. Spread apple mixture on top of crust and sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes.

Note: if you have a dehydrator you can place this dish in dehyrator at 104 degrees to warm for an hour or so, or put it in your oven (no higher than 104 degrees) for an hour.
Enjoy! :-)

What are some of your fall favorites?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall DIY Skincare Recipes

Throughout history, women have been making their own handmade skincare products and pampering themselves from head to toe. Whether it's something simple like an oatmeal honey masque on a Saturday night in, or more involved such as a lip balm or face cream, crafting homemade recipes are not new. What's also not new though, is women who are so busy that they forget to take time for themselves in the way of a skincare ritual.
Did you know that pampering your skin can actually release important chemicals in your brain that help to relieve stress, anger, and unhappiness? These feel-good chemicals (endorphins) are the brain's natural pain-killer and can be 3 times more potent than morphine! You should take a few minutes at least a few times each week to do something special with your skin, and changing it up helps to keep it all fresh, fun, and exciting.

Here are some fresh ideas for skincare pampering that are in tune with the the seasonal change (autumn-inspired):

Honey Vanilla Face Cleanser
 Honey is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial making it perfect for using on the skin. Vanilla is comforting, warming, and using fresh vanilla beans give the added benefit of a gentle exfoliation.
1 Bottle Face Petals Cleanser
Vanilla Bean or Vanilla Extract

1. To keep this cleanser fresh and easily emulsified, keep a small bowl (with lid if possible) in your bathroom near your cleanser.
2. Add 2 Tablespoons of Honey and 1 scrape of your Vanilla Bean or a Teaspoon of Vanilla extract together and mix.
3. Pump a few squirts of the Face Petals Cleanser into your small bowl and add a few drops of your honey vanilla mixture.
4. Stir to incorporate.
5. Apply a tablespoon of this mixture to the face at the same time.
6. Massage into your skin and then rinse.
(Keep this fresh mixture by your sink with a lid on the bowl for a few days. When you need more just mix up another batch.)

Coco-Avo Eye Makeup Remover
Fresh avocados are filled with vitamins and nutritive oils. Using this as an eyemakeup remover keeps the area around the eyes soft and supple.
1 Avocado, pitted
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
a few drops of Eyebright Overnight Serum

1. Mix all of your ingredients together in small bowl with lid.
2. Wipe a tablespoon of your mixture over the eye area, and follow with wiping mixture away with cotton pad or cotton ball.
Can be stored in the fridge (this is really nice when chilled) for a few days. Leftovers can also be used in a masque.

Aloe & Avocado Healthy Hair Masque
If you've spent your summer in the pool or out in the sun, this masque is wonderful for helping to revive dry or damaged hair with simple ingredients. Avocados are amazing for restoring dry hair back to health.
1 Avocado (pitted)
1 Tablespoon fresh Aloe
1/4 C. Masque (you can use a basic clay or one of our fine masques, Berries & Roots makes an amazing hair masque)
1/4 C. Coconut Water

1. After mixing up your masque mixture (1 part masque powder to 1 part liquid) add a mashed avocado and your fresh aloe vera and incorporate into the mixture.
2. Apply masque to entire hair shaft and leave in for 10 minutes. Rinse and shampoo as usual. 

Don't forget to add in some relaxing music, or enjoy spending time with friends while pampering each other. Kids love these ideas too! (I have 3 little girls, trust me!)

Have you done anything special to pamper your skin, hair, or body lately? Does this post make you want to?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Delicious Labor Day Recipe

As the summer comes to an close here in Florida (we do have a little bit of a temperature change thank goodness) Mango season is also coming to an end. Locally, we drive about 10 minutes to a local mango farm in Merritt Island, FL which happens to be one of the most ideal places to grow mangoes, and they are delicious. When we first started going to this farm, we had so many mangoes that I had to come up with lots of recipes so we could use them up. You can only have so many mango smoothies!
So, I came up with this farm fresh dish that I make just about once a week at least. Here's the recipe:

Mango Farm Salad
1 Mango (peeled and sliced)
1 Avocado (pitted and sliced)
2 Cups Fresh Spinach
1 Large Tomato, chopped
1 Cup Frozen Corn (dethawed in warm water for 5 minutes)
1 Cup Pecans
1 Lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup or Agave
2 Tablespoons Tamari
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
Pinch of Salt to taste

Throw all ingredients into a large bowl and toss. If you have too much liquid you can strain it out. Serve immediately.

Yesterday I didn't have corn when I made this - and I usually made it with corn. But it's just as good without.
I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day and lots of relaxation time with friends and family!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sewing Facial Pad Tutorial

Yahoo for a new shipment in of Bamboo Fleece and Hemp fabrics! The Bamboo is on the top and the Hemp on the bottom. You can see the Bamboo is a little thicker and the hemp looks just like a washcloth material. I just love creating with these two baby-soft fabrics, so it was time to make a fresh batch of Facial Pads. You don't find quality fabrics like this in stores these days, so it's so fun to have the opportunity to create something from scratch with a high quality fabric such as these.

To make the facial pads, I trace the circle shapes on the fabrics with an erasable marker, circling around just a basic lid. I pin the fabrics together and then cut them all out with a rotary cutter. 
Lots of circles!
Once all the circles are cut out, I pin all the layers together. Then I sew each one by hand, on my handy-dandy sewing machine. After they are sewn, I make tiny snips around the circles and wash them in my handmade soap. Then they fray nicely around the edges.
Ta da! Luxurious facial pads all ready to go! Perfect for a softening facial wash, eye makeup remover, or even deoderant applicator. These fabrics are so strong, that they wash up beautifully for many uses.
Now, if I can just decide on what else to use this fabric for, maybe a soothing aromatherapy neck wrap, or some eye pads? Hmmmm the possibilities are endless! Any suggestions?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beautyberry Harvest

Recently I made another harvest of these beautiful beautyberries. They are so spectacular in the fall - their bright colors can be seen from far away. 
To dry them, I lay the berries on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate for two days at 105 degrees. That way, their natural enzymes aren't compromised in the process.

Then, I do two things with them: one is I use them in the Elderberry soap for more berry power, and two, I make a glycerine extract for Beautyberry Bug Banisher.

Aren't they beautiful?

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Piece of Cake

Remember the Handmade Soap photo tour I gave you last week? Well, here is one of the end-products of that work session. Mandarin Poppyseed with a hint of Patchouli, it smells divine and I just love how it turned out, I want to touch it, but I'm afraid to cut it because I don't want to ruin it's beauty. Not yet, anyways.
But in a little over a week I'll make the first cut, and you can come and get a slice of Mandarin Poppyseed soap cake at the Brevard County Farmer's Market next Thursday, August 25th. I'll be there with soaps, facial care products, and a secret surprise to be announced next week. I'll let the Market Manager announce my special treat that I'll be bringing, so stay tuned. I hope you have a "piece of cake" kinda day today!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Arts & Science of Soapmaking

Have you ever wondered what goes into making a bar of soap?

We start out gently heating the oils and butters to 95 degrees F.

We use over 50% olive oil in our formulas, which makes it excellent for sensitive skin. Other oils/butters we use include: Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Castor Bean Oil, Jojoba, Coconut Oil, and Sunflower Oil.
Next, the wooden molds are lined with a natural biodegradable liner.

A lye solution (water and sodium hydroxide) is prepared just after the oils begin melting, so they arrive at the same temperatures about the same time.
After the desired temperatures are met, the lye solution is slowly poured into the oils/fats mixture, while stirring.

You can see how it the oil and water combination quickly starts to thicken. It's not thick enough yet though. Stirring must continue for up to an hour to get the mixture to "trace."

Getting there, but not yet ready.
You can see the soap leaves a "trace" left on the surface. This is how I know the soap is thick enough to pour. If you pour it too soon without it tracing, the soap will separate. Soapmaking is both an art and a science!

Once the soap has traced I quickly add in my herbs, veggie/fruit powders, or clays. This batch happens to use Poppyseeds.
After the dry ingredients are added (Poppyseeds) I now will add the essential oils. But there's only a little window of time so I have to act quickly.
This batch, I'm making a soap bundt cake. These special cakes are available on special order and make beautiful bridal/baby shower favors, displayed on a cake pedestal. Or, they are also lovely sent to a special someone in one of our fabulous kraft cake boxes. (If interested, you can inquire with us for more details.)
The rest of this batch is poured into the wooden molds. 
Ta da! Sweet Mandarine Poppyseed. Essential oils used include: Mandarine, Sweet Orange, and a touch of Dark Patchouli.  Sprinkled gently with organic Poppyseeds. This batch will be available for sale on August 20th, 2011.

The soap loaves will now be covered with wooden boards and a heavy blanket where they will sit overnight to solidify. Once the soap has solidified, it will be removed from the molds (about 24 hours later) and placed on our soap racks so the air can circulate and help cure them within a 5 week period. Then, they will be ready to cut and sell.
I hope you enjoyed a little peek into my soapmaking workshop. More workshop sneak peeks to come!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Fresh Summer Bouquet

Rosemary is such a fun, versatile, and beautiful fragrant herb to use in crafts.

My mother-in-law was coming into town and I wanted to do something special and fresh for our dinner table. Here's how to make a fresh rosemary lined bouquet. I used a mason jar - the same jar I use for my Aromatherapy Soy Candles and Roots & Flowers Deoderant Powder. This is a great way to re-use your jars. You could even put some glass marbles or sea shells in the bottom.

Jut cut your rosemary to desired length and begin wrapping around your jar. Secure with a rubber band and then hemp or a pretty ribbon. Fill with water and fresh flowers.

So many flowers, so little thyme. Happy summer!

Do you craft in the summertime with fresh herbs? What are you favorites?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Recipe for Keeping Cool with Spa Water

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get a massage and while sitting in the waiting room I enjoyed some of their "Spa Water." I'm not sure if that's the official name, but I'm sure you've seen it somewhere, sometime in a spa. You know, water that looks so pretty with cucumbers or lemons floating around, and tastes just as good? So, I just had to try and replicate the awesome memory of my spa time with this homemade Spa Water. Maybe - just maybe - it could bring me back to that peaceful relaxation.
Best of all, I found out that after you make this you can leave it out on the counter, and the lemon/cucumber "ice" will keep you looking and feeling "cool" all throughout the day. Seriously, I had forgotten about it on the dining table, and a few hours later I went and poured myself another, and it was nice and cold. Just what the doctor ordered.

To start, slice up your fresh lemons, cucumbers, kiwi, etc and place the slices in a muffin pan with enough water in each muffin area to cover your slice.

After taking out of the freezer they should easily pop right out. On a couple of them I wedged them out with a knife, but most came out with little effort.

I dumped them all into a bowl. Aren't these ice cubes just pretty?

Place them in your favorite summer pitcher and add water. That's it! Now take a little spa time in your home and slice up this soothing refresher that is sure to beat the summer heat!