Super Foaming Handwash

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Look at any bottle of hand soap on the market today and you will notice that the first ingredient in often Water. The rest of the ingredients are probably chemicals with incredibly long names but lets stick with water for the moment. It seems a little crazy to be spending so much money on a product that we can get from our kitchen tap doesn’t it? This only really struck me when I made my own foaming hand wash. I’ve been using this for about 2 years and it’s a good no nonsense, no frills soap that the kids love to use too. You can vary the fragrance for a change and it takes mere minutes to make. You will need an old Foaming Soap Dispenser so perhaps collect a few before you switch to making your own because you won’t want to buy commercial ones after giving this a try!

Ingredients

Water
Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castille Soap (any fragrance)
Almond oil
Essential oil (optional)

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Start by taking a clean foaming hand wash bottle and filling it with tap water. Leave a good few centimetres of space for the other ingredients. The foaming hand wash lid is quite bulky and you don’t want it to over flow.

 

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Add 1 Tablespoon of Dr Bronner’s liquid soap to the water.

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Add 1/2 teaspoon of almond oil. You can also add some essential oils too at this stage. I love using citrusy oils like tangerine, lime and sweet orange.

 

 

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Put on the lid and hey presto!

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It looks exactly the same as commercially bought Foaming hand wash but it feels and smells much better and it’s a fraction of the cost! Frugal and Functional and (if you add some essential oils) a little bit Fancy too!

DIY Face Scrub

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We’re on Easter holidays at the moment and it’s been lovely to take a break from the usual routine and enjoy some lazy days. I’ve been a real squirrel over summer harvesting and drying flowers for potions and teas and now that I have some time I thought I’d whip up a batch of incredibly easy facial scrub from The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara. It’s called Fairy Face Scrub but I call it Garden Scrub (!) because many of the ingredients came from my garden 🙂 The best bit about this recipe is that I get to use one of my latest gadgets; The Grinder. When I first bought it I loved grinding up all sorts of things. I loved the grrrrr grrrrrr grrrrrr that reduced the substance to dust. Now I tend to grind in large batches. I’ll dry a couple of orange skins and grind them up and store them in a glass jar so I can get a good few potions out of one grinding session.

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I got these for Christmas from my sister. They are the cutest measuring cups ever and they are dinky sized so can measure spoon measurements. I adore using these for my potions. I only ever make small batches of any homemade potion because I don’t use preservatives so need to measure in tiny amounts – perfect!

Ingredients
2 Tbsp ground almonds
1 Tbsp fine oatmeal
4 tsp powdered dried rose petals
4 tsp powdered dried orange peel
4 tsp powdered dried lavender flowers
4 tsp finely grated cocoa butter
1 Tbsp mango butter, roughly chopped
2 tsp almond oil (or more if a little dry)

The ingredients are just gorgeous aren’t they!

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These petals haven’t retained their scent as much as I’d have liked but there is still some colour. Apparently the best rose to dry is Rosa gallica officinalis or the apothecary’s Rose which is more fragrant dried than fresh. I’ll be looking out for one next Spring.

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Here is the beautiful ground up orange peel that made my house smell so delicious as it was drying. I also use dried orange peel (in chunks not powdered) when I make fire starters (more about that in the winter).

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Oats and ground almonds are probably in your cupboard right now.

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You just need two types of butter for this recipe; mango and cocoa butter. Mango butter is the large white lump and cocoa butter is the yellow/creamy coloured one.

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1 teaspoon of lavender going in…. anyway, here’s how I make Garden Scrub. Grind up the oatmeal if it looks a bit too chunky. Then grind the rose petals, orange peel and lavender flowers.

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Put all the dry ingredients in  bowl.

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and grate in the coco butter.

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Give it all a good stir and you will begin to see the texture of the face scrub come together.

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Add the roughly chopped mango fat.

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Finally add the almond oil. Give it all a good stir and you will get a thick paste like consistency.

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Spoon it into a pretty jar and firm down. It looks good enough to eat but don’t! To use, put a small blob into your palm and mix with a little warm water. Rub gently over your face to reveal silky smooth skin! The butters leave your skin really smooth and soft and the scent of orange and lavender will linger to remind you of those sunny days pottering in the garden.

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Bath Salts for Water Babies

Hmmm…I feel a bit granny-ish writing this post because it’s all about bath salts and, lets face it, aren’t they the kind of present you dread receiving at Christmas time? In fact, I don’t even know if you can buy them any more! However, there is more to the humble bath salt than meets the eye and it’s definitely up for a retro revival. The reason I’m even humouring an alternative to my usual bubble bath is that the bubbles turn out to be Really Bad for you. I know. Annoying isn’t it. I’ve often wallowed away a pleasant hour or so up to my chin in bubbles but the bubbles are caused by Sodium Laurel Sulfate and the fragrances in the bubble bath are more often than not synthetic chemicals which gets a big thumbs down from me. Knowing that the skin is the largest organ in the body and that is absorbs these chemicals like a sponge I need an alternative.

I love dipping in and out of my many Green Beauty DIY books and playing around making potions but this next recipe is a real delight to make and one of my favourites. Once you have the ingredients you can stir it up in 5 minutes flat. In NZ just go online to Go Native otherwise Amazon is a good source of raw materials.  You can also add whichever essential oils you like but for aching muscles make sure you include Juniper and, together with the mineral salts, you’ll feel the benefits. Fennel is one of my all time favourite oils. It’s really fresh and zesty and energising. However, feel free to add your own favourite scent; ylang ylang, cedarwood, geranium and orange for spice or lavender for relaxation or rose for a real luxurious soak.

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Ingredients
175g Dead Sea salt
175g Epsom salts
150g Fine sea salt
60g Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
60g powdered green clay
25 drops Juniper oil
25 drops Fennel oil
50 drops of any combination of citrus (lemon, grapefruit, orange)

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Simply add all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix to get rid of any lumps.

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Add the oils and stir through then decant into a glass jar of some description.

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Add about 3 Tablespoons to your bath or more if you like. Most of the mix will dissolve but you will get a bit of green mineral salt lurking around. This may well put you in mind of sitting in a swamp but Go with It and remember the minerals are seeping into your muscles and giving them a lovely massage as you soak! Bliss!

The Magic of Calendula flowers

Just picked calendular

If you only grow one flower in your vege garden or allotment then make it Calendula Officinalis. It is garish and perhaps even a little bit tacky but it will reward you in so many ways. As well as being an excellent companion plant for your Veges (it will deter many pests that would otherwise attack your edibles) it is also a medicinal wonder drug. I want to persuade you to grow this cheerful little flower and show you how to extract it’s wholesome goodness and turn it into an indispensable medicine that you’ll reach for again and again.

So what kind of benefits can be derived from Calendula? Well, Quite A few actually. If made into a lotion or balm it can be applied to a number of skin ailments like mild burns, stings, inflammation, nappy rash, cuts and bruises, eczema, athlete’s foot and acne. It has the magic qualities of being antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and also anti-fungla. Quite a little trouper really.

It’s one of the easiest seeds to grow that I know of so a great one for children. Just sprinkle the seeds into trays of compost and cover lightly. They’ll start sending out little shoots within a week or two. Then transplant them to a sunny spot in your garden. They cope with most soil types and semi shade and will also be very happy in a little pot on a balcony or patio. Keep them well watered.  If you want to be really clever and keep a continuous supply throughout summer for harvesting then sow another batch a few weeks after your first batch and again a few weeks later. I did two sowings this year and my first lot are still merrily flowering while my later batch are about two weeks away so I should have enough.

Harvesting is so easy and you can’t harvest too often. They will send out more buds the more you harvest (just like sweet peas) so get picking. Pick once all the morning dew has dried out and snip just above a leaf node.

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Make sure you select the most perfect, pristine flowers.

Perfect Specimin

Here’s a good specimen….

past it's prime

…..this one is a little past it. To dry the petals I like to dry the whole flower head.

Close up Calendular

Lay them out on a piece of muslin and turn every day or so.

Muslin Close up Muslin

They are a very sticky flower and you want a dry crisp flower so drying takes a little while. You’ll know they’re ready when you can pull away the petals with ease. Any resistance means they’re Not Quite Ready.

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See how crispy they get? Then fill up a clean jar with the petals.

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Now we can make a Calendula infused oil. Making an infused oil is so easy but you do need to have  a little patience (as Gary Barlow was right to point out). Take a clean, sterilised jar and fill three quarters full with dried calendula petals. Then fill the jar to the top with olive or sunflower oil. Make sure the petals are completely covered with the oil to prevent them from going mouldy.

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Looks very pretty doesn’t it.

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Label the jar with the date and leave it in a sunny spot for 3-4 weeks to work it’s magic. Give it a little smile and a gentle shake when you pass by. I’m going to leave mine for 4 weeks to extract every last drop of goodness. You can find recipes that say you can heat the oil with the petals very gently for a few hours to create an infused oil. However, I prefer to wait. Speeding things up can be a bit spooky for my liking; a bit like microwaves really (double spooky). Just be patient and you will be rewarded with a beautiful ingredient. I’ll show you how to make a balm for general ouchies and one for putting on itchy bites (as we call them over here) or general insect bites.

Row of Calendular

Lip Balm Giveaway!!

I used to sometimes listen to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 with Kirsty Young. Celebrities are asked to imagine they were castaway on a desert island and to name their 8 favourite pieces of music, a book and a luxury item that they couldn’t do without. I’ve often wondered, in the unlikely event that I were inadvertently stranded on a desert island, what on earth would my luxury item be? It’s changed over the years from blue/black volumizing mascara and wonderbra, to hair straighteners, complete set of Friends DVDS and TV to Bodyshop kiwi fruit lip balm. Yes lip balm. In all honesty my luxury today would be lip balm but not as I knew it 15 years ago oh no. My luxury lip balm of choice today would be my own home made one. What my former mascara wearing self would say to that I’m not sure; it’s all part of the journey and my journey has decided to come almost full circle. I used to be pretty eco conscious in my teens; save the whale, anti-vivisection, save the ozone layer and a paid up member of greenpeace. Then I went to uni, graduated, got a job, got married and had children and forgot about the whales in the midst of being Generally Busy With Life. My eco self has had a chance to re-emerge albeit in a slightly different guise; growing my own veges, reducing the toxins in my house, reducing my carbon footprint, leading a simpler life and, most recently, making my own beauty products. I’m not a huge consumer of beauty products but I do like a good moisturiser and lip balm. I thought I’d start with Lip Balm.

Ingredients

I recently swapped some freshly chopped deciduous tree logs with a friend (she wanted to grow mushrooms) in exchange for bees wax and honey so I had two of the ingredients already for this recipe. Had a dribble of sunflower oil left in the bottle (just enough yippee) and peppermint essential oil. That’s all you need.

Bee Beautiful Lip Balm
20g beeswax
25g sunflower oil
10ml honey
Few drops of essential oil, peppermint or orange

Melting

Measure out the ingredients in a bowl that isn’t too precious to you. Melt the wax, oil and honey together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Awaiting oils

Once melted carefully decant into your little pots and add a couple drops of essential oil per pot and stir through with a cocktail stick. Do this quickly as the the liquid can set really speedily! Leave to cool with the lids off and Hey Presto! You have lip balm that is free from nasty preservatives and horrible chemicals hurray! It’ll last about a year or give some away as gifts.

Finished

Mmmmm a little bit of minty luxury in a pot.

I am doing my First Giveaway! I have two little black pots of this lip smackingly yummy balm ready and waiting to go to two Good Homes!

Lip Balm Giveaway

All you need to do is answer this question….”If you were Castaway on a Desert Island and could have one luxury, what would it be?” Post your answer in the comment box below and the Winners will be announced here and on my Facebook Page on Monday 25th November. Closing date is Sunday 24th November. Winners can Message me their postal addresses on my Facebook Page. Good Luck! If you feel like returning the love then please Follow Me for more tips and hints on Living a Greener Life!