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.
Right now is the perfect time to use roses in some creative dishes. My roses are in full bloom at the moment. Every time I walk by them, I get a whiff of their romantic scent. There are countless opportunities to use rose petals in the kitchen. I’m going to share a few, and I hope you can try one or more. You will not regret the delicate flavor adventure roses can offer.
The great thing about cooking with roses is you can use any variety of rose. You do not have to look for a specific breed. Just head outside and start plucking some fresh petals. The only caution here is that you don’t want to use petals from a plant sprayed with pesticides. The more fragrant the bloom, the better taste you will have.
Once you have a basket full of yummy roses, you will want to remove any white area where the petal came off the plant. These areas are bitter and can throw off the flavor profile of your tasty creations. The extra work is well worth the result.
Rose Tea and Rosewater
Rose tea is a gentle and soothing beverage that can boost your mood and quiet your nerves. You can make it as bold as you like – however you make it, you will love it.
To make rosewater: add 1 part fresh petals to 3 parts water in a saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until the petals have lost their color and then remove from heat and let cool completely. Once the rosewater is cold, strain through cheesecloth to catch the petals. Store in a glass bottle. The rosewater will keep longer if stored in the refrigerator.
To make rose tea: You will follow the same recipe as above, except you will skip the cooling step, strain the rose water into a mug, and enjoy.
See below for how to incorporate rosewater into your baked good.
The great thing about rosewater is you can use it for more than an addition to cakes or tea. It works great for sunburn relief and as a skin toner.
Now, take that rosewater you just made and substitute water used in the recipe for the rosewater. Add to cakes, cookies, bars, whatever makes your inner music play.
You can also decorate your baked good with rose petals. Adding rose petals to your baked goods will add romance and delicacy. You can add as few or as many as you like, and you don’t have to use only the petals. Try using small rosebuds on the bottom layer of a cake for something genuinely gorgeous.
Rose Infused Alcohol
If you are in the mood for a romantic and delicate sipping sensation, make rose-infused vodka. I did this last year, and it is yummy. Moreover, it is incredibly simple.
To make infused alcohol: Add rose petals to the bottom of a canning jar, and add the desired amount of vodka. Next, put a lid on the jar, shake it up good, and store it in a cool dark place. Continue to shake the contents every time you think about it – usually once a day. The infusion should be ready in a few weeks. I like to walk by and take a test taste every so often to see how the flavors are developing.
Rose sugar is unbelievably easy to make and delicious to bake with or sprinkle on cereal, wine glass rim, or anything you feel needs a romantic kick.
To make rose sugar: Layer petals and then sugar a few times in a glass jar, put a lid on it, and let sit for a few weeks. You will have fragrant, delicious sugar to adorn your creations.
Rose Petals on Salad
I eat salads a lot. However, every so often, I get a little bored with them. What better way to jazz up a boring salad than to add a few rose petals? Add some mandarin orange slices, strawberries, or blueberries along with the rose petals to make it even more magical.
I can think of nothing more delicate than spreading rose infused honey on a fresh, warm scone or biscuit. As with most of these recipes, making infused honey is truly easy.
To make rose honey: Fill a mason jar with fresh or dried rose petals, and then pour raw honey to cover the petals. Using a spoon, remove any air bubbles that developed. Add more honey if necessary, cover the jar and let the infusion work its magic for a few days. You can strain the petals from the honey, but you don’t have to.
Candied Rose Petals
Making candied rose petals is simple, and they are beautiful (and edible) garnish to anything. Add them to ice cream, drinks, cakes, or just pop them in your mouth.
To make candied rose petals:
Use an egg wash to cover both sides of each petal and then roll them gently in sugar. Lay them on parchment paper and let them sit overnight. That’s it.
These are just a few ways to use rose petals for cooking or baking. Have you used rose petals in your kitchen? Do you have some delicious recipes you would like to share? I would love to hear them.
Here we are with part two of our edible botanicals series. This week we are discussing something that I am passionate and excited about – lavender! Lavender is incredibly versatile. Its floral scent is calming, and its appearance adds romance and beauty to any dish. Lavender is perfect for drinks, baked goods, glazes, and as a garnish.
When cooking or baking with lavender look for the Munstead variety for the best flavor. You can use any variation of lavender, but each variety will give you a different taste outcome.
Baked goods are a great candidate for the addition of lavender. It is especially delicious as a pairing with citrus desserts. The lavender melds deliciously with citrus flavors – think lemon lavender pound cake, orange lavender shortbread. YUM.
There are a few things to think of when baking with lavender – you want to enjoy the floral flavor without chewing on the flower parts. The best way to grind up the flowers is to use a coffee grinder dedicated to herbs. The ground lavender can be mixed with the recipe’s allotment of sugar and combined that way. Alternatively, you may choose to make a syrup from your lavender (straining the flowers after the infusion is complete). The method depends on what you are making.
Pairing lavender with citrus flavors also reduces the impact of the strong lavender flavor. Lavender can easily overpower any dish, so use restraint when adding it to recipes that don’t have a guideline amount. When experimenting with adding lavender to recipes, start conservative and add more the next time you make the recipe, if necessary. No one wants to feel like they are eating straight lavender flowers.
The lavender sprig is a gorgeous addition to baked goods and meat dishes. Its scent can calm and ease stress, and its appearance is something that adds whimsey and delicacy. Adding decorative touches of lavender to cakes, drinks, and meat dishes can take the visual presentation of a plate up a level or two. Try this for your next dinner party or birthday event and wow your guests.
You can also utilize the leaves of the lavender plant to make your own Herbs de Provence to flavor potatoes, salmon, lamb, chicken or pork. Add dried lavender leaves with thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano for a delicious homemade herb mixture. Bonus points if you grow each of the herbs in your garden and dry them yourself! The flavor and appearance of the herb mix will be worlds better than anything you can buy in the store.
Try adding dried lavender flowers or leaves to different sauces to make homemade meat glazes. You can add these to anything from chicken to salmon. You can use many different glaze mediums – honey, vinaigrette, butter, olive oil. Imagination and the lure to your tastebuds are your only limitations when it comes to cooking with lavender.
Lavender can even make drinks more exciting. You can dry your homegrown lavender to make a homemade hot tea blend. You can start with a simple syrup containing lavender and add to iced teas, lemonades, smoothies.
You can start your day with a lavender infused smoothie, and end it with a floral libation. You can make lavender infused vodka by adding ¼ cup lavender flowers per 750ml of vodka. Shake the mixture and put it in your freezer for four to seven days for a delicious alcohol infusion. Also, check out the Yummly website for tons of great lavender drink recipes. You will not regret it.
I hope you found some inspiration to add lavender to your diet. As we all know, lavender is fabulous for calming the body, but it also adds some great flavor to food and drink. Have you cooked or baked with lavender? If you have, I would love to hear what you thought of it.
Most people think dandelions are a weed – a nuisance that should be sprayed with weed killer and mowed over. However, there are some great reasons to let your dandelions grow, or at least harvest them from someplace other than your lawn. These little ‘weeds’ are full of flavor and vitamins.
Dandelions contain a vast amount of vitamins and minerals. Those include Vitamin C, calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, potassium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and fiber. It’s astonishing that we trash these loathed little plants, and treat them so poorly when they provide such benefits to our health.
One of the best things about the dandelion is - you can eat the entire plant – from the leaves, flowers, roots, and crowns. If you choose, you can gain benefits from every piece of the plant – and use each part in different dishes or applications.
Dandelion flowers are very versatile – you can make syrups, jellies, honey, vinegar, and wine. They can be used to make dandelion tea and added to salads.
The entire flower head(or crown) can not only provide nutritious elements, but it can also add a unique and exciting look to any dish. You can batter and fry the heads and use as a side dish or an edible garnish.
Dandelion leaves are a great addition to green salads. They can also be stir-fried with other veggies for a delicious and nutritious meal. Most people find the older leaves to have a bitter taste and prefer to use the small young leaves when eating them raw. You can remove some of the bitterness from older leaves by cooking them.
The roots can be roasted and used to make dandelion coffee. I suppose if the world runs out of coffee beans, I might resort to dandelion coffee, but until then, I think I will stick with what I know.
Do you cook with dandelions? I would love to learn how you utilize them in the kitchen!
*A word of caution – make sure you harvest your dandelions in an area that does not use weed killer or other pesticides or herbicides that can be harmful when ingested.
It’s finally summer – the days are hot and the nights are warm. You are probably spending more time outside and enjoying trips to the beach, the park, neighborhood BBQ’s, and walking the dog. With the warmer weather and the stronger sun, we need to alter our skincare routines to keep up with all that sun time. Following are some tips for keeping gorgeous skin during the summer.
Never forget to apply sunscreen before heading outdoors. While sunscreen is vital year-round, it is especially imperative during the summer months while the sun is at its strongest. Not only does the sun cause sunburns, cancer, and contributes to early aging of the skin, but it also causes embarrassing discoloration.
Invest in a daily facial lotion that contains SPF to protect your face throughout the day. If you are especially active, apply your moisturizer more than once.
If you plan to have an active day outside, look for a waterproof sunscreen and reapply every two hours to get the most protection. You should also use SPF 30 at the least.
Hydrate your skin
Hydrate your skin both inside and out during the summer. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and eat foods rich in water – the majority of these are fruits and vegetables. Look for melons, grapes, celery, and lettuce.
Body oils work well to add a lot of moisture to your skin. You will also want to apply lotion to your face and body after showering. Post-shower is the time when your pores are most receptive to moisturizing.
The summer is the best time to exfoliate your skin. Sugar scrubs work wonders at removing dry skin and dirt lodged deep in your pores. Due to excessive sweating during the summer, you tend to have more buildup in your pores that can be difficult to remove with just a typical facial wash.
Vitamin C, Collagen Peptides, and Omega 3’s
Don’t forget to take your vitamins. Vitamin C contains collagen to help you have healthy, youthful skin. Vitamin C also combats free radicals that make our skin age prematurely.
Collagen Peptides also help keep your skin young and firm. They come in powder form that can be dissolved in coffee or tea easily.
Omega 3’s are the perfect way to add healthy fats into your diet if you don’t eat much fish or avocado. Healthy fats help our skin look radiant and soft.
You can enjoy all of the summer activities and protect your gorgeous skin at the same time. Put together a summer skincare routine and stick to it to have radiant skin all year long.
There are a plethora of different herbs that will not only look gorgeous in your yard but are also useful in your home. Each herb has many different uses – from adding flavor to soups or salads to clearing up skin issues or easing an upset stomach.
It doesn’t matter if you have a large outside space to plant or just an apartment balcony. Herbs are flexible when it comes to being in containers. Many times, as with peppermint, growing in containers is ideal.
The following herbs are easy to grow and will provide you (and the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds) with beautiful and useful plants.
Plant lavender in full sun and make sure the soil is well drained. Lavender does not like having wet feet. It does best if planted in a rock garden or on a slope to ensure proper drainage. Honey bees love lavender and can be seen buzzing around the beautiful purple blooms.
Lemongrass makes a stunning landscape grass. While lemongrass enjoys a lot of moisture, it needs good drainage to prevent root rot. Lemongrass can also be grown in large containers and looks lovely as a fixture on a porch or walkway.
Peppermint should be grown in containers unless you want the plant to spread through your lawn like a weed. Peppermint sends off runners that will take over quickly. It should be planted in an area that gets sun most of the day, and it should be watered often.
Rosemary likes to be in full sun with good drainage. It needs to be trimmed of dead wood each spring and enjoys small trimmings throughout the summer and fall. It is a fragrant herb used mostly for white meats, soups, and sauces. You can even add a few sprigs to olive oil for a delicious infused oil.
Sage does well in a container or planted in the ground. It blooms in early spring with delicate pink or purple flowers and can be harvested from regularly. It’s easy to grow and the cuttings can be hung upside down to dry – and can be used to flavor your favorite holiday dinners.
If you are a fan of cooking with basil, it is a must-grow herb. It can be grown on your kitchen window sill – and can be harvested from whenever you need it. It also makes a beautiful addition to any garden with its dark green leaves and fragrant aroma.
Chamomile has both a perennial and annual breed. If you want a perennial – plant Roman Chamomile. If you are more interested in the annual – look for German Chamomile. Both have delicate daisy-like flowers that attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. It is often used as a companion plant in the vegetable garden to protect other plants from harmful insects.
Otherwise known as the pot marigold, calendula is a beautiful plant with bright yellow and orange petaled flowers. The calendula plant will not only add interest and color to your yard, but it also attracts beneficial insects and is used as a companion plant in the vegetable garden.
Whether you are planting these herbs for their beauty or their usefulness - they are sure to please the gardener with their ease of growth and their ability to attract pollinators and other helpful bugs.
Perhaps you’ve heard of bergamot, and perhaps you haven’t. Bergamot comes from the rinds of the bergamot orange tree. It is used in Earl Grey tea, many perfumes, as well as skin care products. It has a spicy citrus scent and is a great option for beautiful skin and hair.
While bergamot has many healing properties which include reducing depression symptoms and increasing digestive functions, this article will focus more on the skin care aspects of bergamot.
Like so many other herbs and essential oils, bergamot contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit skin irritations and acne.
Bergamot is a great skin cleanser. You can find beauty products that contain bergamot or add some oil drops to the products you already own. It is best to use at night as bergamot can increase your skin’s photosensitivity.
If you suffer from oily skin and clogged pores, bergamot can help. It will remove the icky buildup in your pores and even out the oils in your skin.
Due to cicatrizant (a property that encourages healing) in bergamot, it is a natural scar healer. It can reduce the appearance of scars and works well to even out skin tone. If you have acne scars or dark spots on your skin, using the bergamot oil can make your skin tone even and youthful looking.
Bergamot is also an excellent oil for taming wild curls or frizzy hair. The oil will soften the hair and leave a gentle scent behind.
Add a few drops of bergamot oil to your shampoo and wash and condition as normal.
Always dilute bergamot oil with a carrier oil. Never apply directly to the skin. Some people can have a sensitivity or an allergic reaction to the oil.
It is always a good idea to spot check a small area on your arm before applying to the face to ensure you do not have a bad reaction to the oil.
Spot treatment for Acne
Mix bergamot oil with a carrier oil of your choice. I recommend Jojoba oil as it is great for Acne prone skin.
Apply bergamot mix directly to the pimple or blackhead.
Leave this on your skin overnight.
*Using it during the day can have ill effects if you expose your skin to sunlight.