It may feel like we have been within winter’s stormy grip for a long time, but we still have just under two months to go. Not to make anyone gloomier, but winter isn't done with us just yet.
Regardless of how much winter we have left, there are plenty of natural things we can use to help us get through the coldest and dreariest days.
With the chilly air and the rain, we spend more of our time inside breathing stuffy air. Which means we are more prone to catching sickness during the winter. Here are some options for naturally combating cold and flu season.
Elderberry Syrup - Elderberry syrup works wonders for making us feel better when we are sick. The berry grows in abundance here on the north coast, but never eat the berries raw. In raw form, they are poisonous. Look for recipes online for how to process foraged berries, or purchase some from a reputable source.
Ginger - Upset stomach from too much holiday dessert, or maybe the stomach flu? Ginger is a great option to ease that icky tummy. You can chew on candied ginger, drink ginger tea, or eat soup with ginger added to the broth.
Prevent with Echinacea, Zinc, and Vitamin C - If you are around sick people, or are just feeling a bit off, you can try to reduce your symptoms before they get worse by taking echinacea, zinc, and vitamin c.
Mood Boost Through Scent
Sometimes you need a mood booster throughout the day. Perhaps it’s been raining for days on end, and you are feeling especially blue. Or, you could be snowed in and have a powerful case of cabin fever. Grab some pine boughs from outside, or add some oils to your diffuser.
Pine toner - for a little boost of peace and tranquility every morning and night, put a pine sprig in your toner. If you aren’t keen on trying this with your fancy face toner, buy a bottle of witch hazel - it’s inexpensive and a top-notch toner.
Diffuse to destress -
Lavender - Use lavender if you need to reduce anxiety and calm yourself down. Use it before bed or during your morning meditation.
Lemon Balm - Reduce stress and anxiety with lemon balm. Drink it in a tea, cook with it, or diffuse the oil.
Chamomile - Use chamomile to calm yourself if you are feeling anxious or upset. It is delicious in tea.
Even if dieting wasn’t on your New Year’s list of goals, you could still alter your diet if you find yourself sad and depressed during the winter.
Reduce Sugar Consumption - Diet plays a huge role in not only how our bodies perform, but also how our brain performs. Feed on junk and sugar, and your brain doesn’t know which chemicals to release. If you want to feel better and ease the winter blues, reduce your sugar consumption.
More Veggies and Fish - B12, folic acid, and Vitamin D are all things our bodies need more of during the winter. Taking supplements is fine, but the best way to absorb and process things through your body is through natural, healthy, delicious foods.
I'm definitely ready for Spring, how about you?
This year I challenge you to pick one plant you really want to grow. It can be a flower, a fruit, a vegetable, a shrub, an herb.
Whatever that one thing is, learn as much as you can about that one plant. What conditions does it grow best in, are there benefits, can you cook with it, what pests does it attract, what are its strengths or weaknesses?
What if, every year instead of trying to learn as much as we can about everything and feeling far behind, we learned a ton about one thing. If you become an expert on one plant a year, think about how much garden knowledge you will have. Think about all the wonderful things you will grow perfectly!
Who's to say by year two or three you won't have the capacity in that old brain to become an expert on two plants.
If you do try to master more than one plant per year, make sure you have the time to devote to both. There is nothing sadder than dead plants in the garden.
Let me know what you plan on becoming an expert on this year, and I would love to see pictures of your success!
Photo Credits: Joe Baladez(also the one who maintains MB's garden:)
Winter, or dry skin season as I like to call it, is upon us. It’s inevitable that the cold air, the significant differences in temperature between inside and out, and if you have wood heat, that your skin will be dragonesqe at some point this season. Here are some winter skin hacks to help you avoid the scales.
Moisturize after your shower
Adding a moisturizer to your skin right after a shower is the most productive time. Your pores are warm and open and ready to accept moisture. You can use any moisturizer, but I’ve found that body oils work best for me. They go on smoother than lotion, and the good ones don’t get on your clothes.
Lip balm is your friend
There is nothing worse than smiling and having your lip crack open because it’s so dry. Be kind to your lips, and keep lip balm applied. The extra barrier between the fragile skin of your lips and the harsh winter air is a good thing.
Moisturize your hair
Believe it or not, your hair can feel the effects of winter just as your skin does. There are so many great ways to hydrate dry brittle hair. You can run your hands through your hair after applying lotion (be careful some creams can make the hair look very greasy), you can add a coconut oil mask before a shower, even a leave-in moisture spray applied after you wash your hair.
Hydrate from within
The best method to dealing with dry skin is to prevent getting it in the first place, and the best way to do that is to make sure you are always adequately hydrated. Don’t skimp on your daily water intake just because it isn’t hot outside. A hydrated inside is a hydrated outside.
Be gentler with your skin during the winter months. By scrubbing your skin too hard, you can remove the top layer of skin, which exposes the next more sensitive layer to dirt and dryness. Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing and reduce your sugar scrub use to once a week during the winter.
I hope you can thwart the dreaded winter skin this year with the help of these tips.
MB Botanicals has a new product, and I think you are going to love it.
Now you can enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy wherever you are. Just add your favorite essential oils.
If you are stuck in traffic on your daily commutes, try adding lavender to a pendant and hanging it in your car.
Lavender will also work wonders hung near your bed at night to help ease you into sleep. This works exceptionally well if you are staying in a hotel or anywhere that is not your bed.
Need some energy and focus while at work? Add peppermint and rosemary oil to a pendant hung near your desk.
Are you trying to quit tobacco products? Add some drops of black pepper essential oil and wear the pendant to reduce cravings.
Go ahead and get creative with the pendants. Add your own oil blends, and have fun with it. Place the pendants wherever they will be beneficial to you.
How are you using your pendants? Send me pictures and comments here on the blog or my Instagram or Facebook pages.
Our lives are exceedingly busy, and it seems like it gets harder to get things done as the years pass. One excuse we should never use when it comes to our skincare routine is “I’m too busy”. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars or spend more than two minutes to have magnificent skin all day long.
Let’s take a look at what a 2-minute morning skin routine looks like.
Step 1: Cleanser
A good cleanser is the start of it all. You want one that removes dirt and makeup but doesn't strip your skin of natural oils or moisture. With that said a good cleanser doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. I moved away from fancy cleansers a few years ago and started using a natural bar soap. Bar soap on your face, what! Yes, not all bar soaps are created equal. A good bar soap with nourishing oils and minimal ingredients is key. You want it to clean and not dry out your skin. One of the many reasons I started making my own and now offer them to you. My favorites for the face are the Chamomile Tea and the Calendula Facial Soap.
Step 2: Toner
Using a toner after washing your face benefits your skin in many ways. Add a bit of toner to a cotton ball or reusable cloth and apply to your face, paying particular attention to your problem areas. The toner removes any dirt or oil that your facial soap may have missed. However, is it necessary? Not always, especially if you have a good cleanser. Depending on your skin type a toner can do wonders but try to limit to once a day or every other day. Many toners contain alcohol that can dry out your skin. So look for one with a limited amount of alcohol.
One of the great things about toners are that if used consistently, you will see a drastic reduction to blackheads and overall acne breakouts.
Step 3: Serum/Moisturizer
It is essential to look for a high-quality serum or moisturizer that contains the right ingredients for your skin type. Serums/moisturizers have a big job. They soak deep into the skin to moisturize, condition, clean, as well as tighten the skin to make it look firmer and younger. It is even said to reduce and prevent wrinkles. It is a definite must in your daily routine.
There are many options out on the market and they can be expensive. Remember just because it's expensive, doesn't mean it's the best for your skin. Read the ingredient labels. More ingredients on the label doesn't mean it's actually better. Look for items by skin type. Oily, sensitive, dry skin all have different needs. I usually change up my serum in the winter since my skin gets a little dryer. With my combination, acne prone skin I use Face Potion #9 during the summer and switch over to FP9 Advance the rest of the year.
Step 4: Sunscreen
Don't forget the sunscreen. Sun damage is one of the best ways to age yourself prematurely. Protect against UV rays and wear sunscreen – even in the winter.
There are many ways to get sunscreen in these days. One of my favorites is in foundation or tinted moisturizers. Also make sure it has at least and SPF 15. SPF 30 is even better, especially if you are going to be out in the sun all day.
It doesn’t take much to have gorgeous skin, but you must be consistent. A skincare routine can take fewer than 5-minutes out of your morning, and your skin will look radiant, reduce/prevent wrinkles, and have fewer acne breakouts.
The benefits of treating your skin nicely in the morning far outweighs the time it takes.
Do you ever feel bad just throwing used up product containers in the recycle or trash? Not to mention, some of the containers are cute. I thought I would put together some fun ideas for people to repurpose those empty product containers.
Each section gives you different ideas for some of MB Botanicals specific containers. Hopefully, these ideas get your creativity flowing.
Sugar Scrub/Body Butter Tubs
Serum & Beard Oil Bottles
Lotion Bar Tins
Bath Salt Bottles
Lip Balm Tubes
Foot Balm Tubes
Remember to rinse them out well before use. A sudsy bath with liquid dish soap, or vinegar and warm water solution should remove the left behind product.
To clean glass oil bottles that have a lingering scent, try adding baking soda to the bottle and letting it sit overnight.
Remember to recycle or reuse when you can.
If you reuse an MB Botanicals container, I would love to see it. Tag me on Instagram and use the #reuseMBB to show off your creations.
Summer is nearly over, and we have been cruising around in our sandals all season. We tend to take more care of our feet during the seasons when they are exposed, but I believe a year-long foot routine is necessary for proper foot health. I have some tips to keep your feet looking summer-fresh all winter long.
Epsom salt soaks
Soaking your feet in Epsom salts helps in numerous ways. The magnesium in Epsom salts is absorbed into your skin and reduces inflammation, assists in healing irritation and skin conditions, and controls foot odor.
Remember to use lukewarm water for your foot soaks to prevent drying out your skin.
If you suffer from dry, cracked skin on your feet, you will benefit from exfoliating your feet at least twice a month. There are many ways to exfoliate: you can use a loofah, pumice stone, salt scrub, one of those wild grinding devices that spread dead skin everywhere, a washcloth or just use Alluvium Scrub (a soap and scrub in one).
Exfoliation removes dead skin from the feet and prevents more damage from occurring in the form of calluses and painful cracks.
You can also use Epsom salt as a scrub to exfoliate dead skin from your feet.
Do not exfoliate more than once a week, or you risk further irritation.
One of the most important ways to keep your feet looking beautiful is to moisturize often. Your feet will profit from a daily moisturizing routine right after a shower. The skin is warm; pores are open and receptive to moisturizer.
You can use lotion or body oil to moisten and nourish your peds. If your feet are especially dry, you may benefit more from a thick shea based cream, or body oil.
Our shoes are the main culprit (along with age and genetics) that cause dry, irritated skin. There are ways to protect yourself from this shoe damage. Along with all of the methods mentioned above, using a salve on your feet, like MB Soothing Foot Balm, before putting on your socks or dress shoes will keep your feet safe from blisters and calluses.
With a little extra attention to our feet through these dark and dismal days of fall and winter, they should be in tip-top shape for the next sandal season.
Purchasing skincare products can be a frustrating task. Not only do you want something that will work well, but you don’t want to use a product laden with harmful chemicals. As consumers, we need to be aware of what our products contain and look for ones that are good for our skin and our health.
The horrible fact is that we cannot rely on the FDA to correctly regulate what we purchase. The FDA regulations for skincare products only check that companies are putting the right ingredients and wording on their packaging. They do not restrict what goes inside that packaging.
We must research the harmful ingredients ourselves and carefully analyze each product’s ingredients label. We should not blindly trust that because a product is on the shelf at our local drug store, that that product is going to be safe for long-term use on our skin.
Skincare product companies use many different chemicals for many different purposes, all of this dictated by the consumer. We want things to have a long shelf life. We want the product to be visually attractive, and we want it to be a consistency that feels good and smells pleasant to our senses. All of these demands add more chemicals into the products we purchase.
Companies use preservatives (chemicals) to ensure their products last a long time on your bathroom shelf. Did you know that some companies use formaldehyde as a preservative? Formaldehyde is not something I want on my face while I’m still alive. They also use parabens to inhibit mold growth – but parabens have also been shown to cause breast cancer. I would gladly buy products in smaller amounts to avoid the need for preservatives and cancer.
If you see the word “fragrances” on a label, you should proceed with caution. Companies do not have to list what chemicals they add to come up with the product smell you want to buy. Not all of the ingredients in a “fragrance” recipe will be safe to put on your skin. Look for products that list the fragrances they use, or ones that use natural ingredients for their signature scent.
While we are a long way from pure transparency on the products we purchase, we are making strides. In an article by the Environmental Working Group at EWG.org, they outline how Proctor & Gamble will begin disclosing their fragrance ingredient list online. It will still take some research on the part of the consumer, but we are getting closer to being able to trust companies aren’t taking shortcuts to make a buck.
Not only are most chemicals harmful to our skin, but often combining different chemicals can have even worse effects. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are two of those chemicals. These are used in products to get them to foam. When combined with other chemicals, they can become a carcinogen – causing a good deal of damage to internal organs.
Chemicals to Avoid:
We don’t need to toss all of our products and make our own, but we do need to be smart about shopping for products that will benefit our skin and our health. By educating ourselves what chemicals to avoid, we can have gorgeous skin and reduce the harmful effects chemical loaded products can cause.
The best thing you can do for your skin, other than having a daily skincare routine, is to pay attention to what you are putting on it. Start reading labels, purchasing products with fewer chemicals, and being an advocate for transparent labeling.
There are times in all of our lives when we lack the motivation to get things done. I’ve been dealing with this myself lately. One thing that always helps me to find my focus and sit down to accomplish something is diffusing essential oil blends.
There are plenty of oils that help you find the motivation to do those heavy tasks or to get out of bed with energy and enthusiasm instead of gloom and pessimism.
Here you will find a list of essential oils that will help either calm your stress or energize you. Following the list is a few essential oils blends for you to diffuse or wear.
There have been many studies on peppermint and its effects. Peppermint is known to bring focus to the brain. Many schools provide peppermint candies to test-takers to help calm and stimulate the mind at the same time. If you need to focus or a spark of creativity, reach for peppermint oil.
What is better than motivation from the forest? Black Spruce assists in better self-image and strength. Imagine you are taking your strength from the mighty spruce tree while you are tackling those big detailed projects.
Citrus oils such as grapefruit, lime, and sweet orange are uplifting and energizing. The fresh and crisp aroma of citrus oils will help you feel motivated in whatever you are doing. It is the perfect oil to use when you need a soul lifter.
If you feel the need for a kick in the motivation pants, diffuse black pepper. Black pepper oil can be helpful when your mind is fatigued, and you need some positive stimulation.
Lavender is calming so you can get your head in order. Using lavender oil is also a great way to motivate you into sleep. If you are having a difficult time sleeping, try rubbing a lavender body oil or lotion on your feet and chest before bed. You can add diffused lavender oil to your room at nighttime as well to help you wind down. We all know that without proper rest we aren’t as productive as we should be.
Chamomile also produces a feeling of calm. Chamomile enables peace and tranquility, which can lead to better productivity and feelings of accomplishment.
Frankincense oil is a great stress reliever. If you are feeling overly anxious over a difficult task you need to finish, frankincense is the perfect solution. It can ease your negative thoughts as it surrounds you with its encouraging scent.
Motivation Essential Oil Blends
You can either drop these blends into a diffuser or mix them with a carrier oil and apply them to your wrists, or on an aromatherapy necklace.
5 drops Orange (or preferred citrus oil)
3 drops Lime
3 drops Frankincense
2 drops Peppermint
2 drops Ylang Ylang
Wake Up & Work Blend
3 drops Chamomile
3 drops Bergamot
2 drop Wintergreen
1 drop Cedarwood
Focus on it Blend
3 drops Orange (or preferred Grapefruit)
3 drops Peppermint (or Wintergreen)
3 drops Lime
3 drops Frankincense
Get it Done Blend
4 drops Black Spruce
3 drops Chamomile
3 drops Lavender
2 drops Ylang Ylang
Create it Blend
3 drops Black Pepper
3 drops Orange (or Grapefruit)
3 drops Frankincense
3 drops Lime
You don’t have to diffuse the oil or wear it around your neck to get these powerful benefits. You can also use lotions or body oils that contain some of these amazing essential oils.
As always, take care when using essential oils when pregnant or breastfeeding, and around your pets.
I hope you find these tips to boost motivation and drive helpful. If you use a different blend to motivate yourself, I would love to hear it.
Here we are at our last edible botanicals installment. It has been so much fun writing about how to turn flowers and herbs into pure deliciousness. Here, we will wrap up with a small compilation of some tasty botanicals that you will want to try.
You can use the petals of the marigold plant in many different ways. As with the rose petal, make sure you remove the white area that connected the petal to the plant. The white area is bitter and can throw off the taste profile of your dishes.
You can add marigold to soups, salads, casseroles, and meat dishes. You will want to think savory when coming up with a recipe that is perfect for the addition of marigold. This flower has a peppery saffron like flavor that complements salty or spicy foods.
I can think of nothing more extraordinary looking than a squash blossom on a plate. They remind me of some gorgeous sea creature – graceful and unique. And, there are some unique ways to use them in the kitchen.
Many people make fried squash blossoms. You can stuff them with cheeses, meats, and spices. Or, if you are reducing your intake of fried foods, you can stuff them full of whatever creative thing you can think of and bake them in the oven. However, there are other ways to enjoy this elegant blossom. You can add them to soups, stews, sauces. You can even add them to grilled cheese sandwiches, paninis, or quesadillas. Go wild and create something amazing.
The flowers of the sage plant are a delicate purple masterpiece. They taste like a milder version of the sage leaf, and you can use them in any recipe that you would add sage. Pork, chicken, and fish all would benefit from a garnish of sage flowers – not only is it tasty, but these petite flowers will add some serious appeal to your dish.
Add to soups, sauces, meat dishes – whatever makes you squeal with inventive glee.
While you are flexing your artistic muscles, why not add sage flowers to a homemade cake? You could even combine with rose petals to create a gorgeous presentation that is difficult to resist. If you do this, please send me pictures!
The flowers I’ve mentioned in these posts are not the only ones you can add to your cuisine; they are just some of the most popular. Once you master the edible botanicals within these posts, get out there and try some new ones. Remember to research if the flower is edible before consuming, and ensure that you are using a plant that has not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
I hope these posts have inspired you to create something delicious and amazing. I would love to hear what you’ve tried.