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:)
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.
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.
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.
Sweet orange oil comes from the peel of the orange, not from the fruit of the orange. It contains heaps of vitamin C, as well as many other healing properties. All of that and it smells delicious too. Sweet orange can heal wounds and skin conditions, relieve pain and depression, sanitize your kitchen, and increase your libido. If you don’t use orange oil around your home, you might want to after reading what it can do for you.
There are numerous ways to use orange oil. You can add drops to a diffuser to relieve depression, anxiety, and help ease you into sleep. You can add it to a carrier oil to use as a massage oil, add it to your shampoo to add shine to your hair or use it in skincare products to improve your skin. Mix orange oil with water to clean your kitchen or add to the dryer to add a crisp clean smell to your clothes.
Sweet orange oil can help with acne, increase collagen, protect against sun damage, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is a great addition to any skincare routine.
Look for skincare products that contain sweet orange oil, or make your own. Add a drop or two to aloe vera and apply to your skin. Always use a carrier oil, and make sure you spot check before applying to your face for the first time.
Diffusing sweet orange oil in your room before bed can help calm you into a peaceful sleep. It can help treat insomnia by lowering your stress levels and calming your mind so you can fall asleep easily.
Orange oil can decrease swelling in the body’s tissue providing you relief from muscle and joint pain.
Orange oil increases blood flow and increases a person's feelings of contentment. Try combining orange oil in a carrier oil to make your own massage oil, or diffusing it to boost a lethargic libido.
As a natural disinfectant and antiseptic, orange oil works wonders on disinfecting and healing wounds.
Depression and Anxiety Relief
The next time you are feeling depressed or anxious try diffusing sweet orange. It reduces the pulse and naturally reduces the body’s cortisol levels. You can also add orange oil to a carrier oil and dab it on the wrists – just inhale the scent when you need a calming breath.
Gas and Constipation Relief
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, orange oil works great for stimulating the bowel to relieve constipation, and to reduce gas in the digestive tract.
Orange oil contains antibacterial properties so it works great as a natural cleanser – with the ability to prevent many bacteria, including E. coli.
It also works well to get rid of ants. If you have ants crawling across your kitchen counters, spray an orange oil solution to remove their scent trails.
Combine orange and bergamot oils to a spray bottle of water to make a powerful, and chemical free, kitchen cleanser. It can be used on any kitchen surface, and it will smell amazing.
Immune System Boost
Orange oil boosts the immune system with its antioxidants and free radical fighters. It’s like drinking orange juice when you start feeling sick, with way less sugar. Diffuse the oil nearby or add to a carrier oil and rub on the bottom of your feet and/or your chest.
Sweet orange boasts so many beneficial properties, it is a great addition to any home.
Do you use sweet orange oil for any of the above uses?
Do you use it for something not listed above?
I would love to hear about it.
Lemongrass is a gorgeous tropical grass that boasts many healing properties, and it tastes great too. If you are looking to add ornamental grasses to your yard, think about planting some lemongrass. It is a beautiful plant with long draping blade and a rich citrus scent. Lemongrass grows quickly and gets rather tall when mature, about 3 to 4 feet high. The grass adds a delicious lemon flavoring to food. It also makes a pleasant and healing tea.
Lemongrass can be consumed orally – and it should be! You can add it to soups, sauces, and stir fry. It can also be applied topically to the skin or diffused into the air.
If you want to grow your own lemongrass for use in the kitchen, plant either the East or West Indian variation.
Here's some other great uses for Lemongrass.
Eliminates bacteria and yeast
Lemongrass contains antimicrobial properties which can help treat bacteria and yeast within the mouth. It can even help fight cavities. Drinking lemongrass tea can boost your oral health.
Lemongrass can reduce inflammation in the body. If you suffer from inflammation within your body try drinking lemongrass tea.
Lemongrass’s analgesic properties can help get rid of a headache, ease muscle cramps, and muscles spasms.
Healthy Skin and Hair
Lemongrass contains both A and C vitamins. These are both great for your skin. It can relieve skin issues from acne to eczema. Look for skin serums or skin care products that contain lemongrass essential oil. It can also help fight dandruff. Just add a few drops of lemongrass essential oil to your normal shampoo.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol
Lemongrass has been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate. If you suffer from high levels of any of these, try adding lemongrass to your diet. That being said, do not stop taking prescribed medications without speaking to your doctor first.
Drinking lemongrass tea can help keep your digestive tract healthy and happy. If you have an upset stomach or cramping, reach for the tea. It has been used for digestive issues since ancient times.
Due to lemongrass’s ability to reduce inflammation, and its pain fighting qualities, it is a great option for those who suffer from joint pain.
Cold and Flu
Lemongrass is packed with Vitamin C, and contains antibacterial and antifungal properties which can help reduce the effects of the cold, cough, and flu. Add a few drops to a bowl of steaming hot water and inhale the steam to relieve symptoms.
Lemongrass essential oil added to a diffuser when you are feeling depressed or anxious can help relax you and calm your anxieties.
While citronella is known as the go-to insect repellant, lemongrass has a milder scent but can also be a great repellant option. Lemongrass can even kill fleas when adding a few drops of lemongrass essential oil to water and spraying on your pet.
Lemongrass is great for freshening up the home. Add a few drops to baking soda and spread over carpets before vacuuming. Let it it sit for a little while then vacuum. Your house will smell wonderful.
Pour boiling water over 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh (or dried) lemongrass. Let steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain the lemongrass out of the water and enjoy!
Lemongrass is one of my favorite scents! Stay tuned for more MB Botanicals products with Lemongrass.
Peppermint is incredibly easy to grow; it is probably one of the easiest herbs to grow yourself.
*A word of caution – never plant any of the mint family directly into the ground unless you want it to spread everywhere. The mint family sends out runners and it will soon take over your garden like an invasive weed. If you don’t want this to happen, try planting in containers.
Peppermint is a beautiful plant with vibrant green leaves with tall purple scented flower towers. If you plan to harvest your own peppermint, you will want to harvest from the plant prior to flowers forming.
Peppermint can be used in three different ways. The leaves can be used in cooking or to make a tea. The essential oil can be used in a carrier oil, skin care products, or creams. And the peppermint capsules can be consumed like a vitamin.
*Caution: Those who suffer from GERD – gastroesophageal reflex disease should avoid consuming peppermint.
It is also suggested that you speak with your doctor before adding peppermint supplements to your diet. Some medicines or other supplements can have a negative reaction with the addition of peppermint.
If you suffer from indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, or irritable bowels; peppermint may be able to help ease your pains. Peppermint increases the flow of bile, thus reducing indigestion. It also contains antispasmodic properties which can reduce stomach spasms and pain associated with irritable bowels and diarrhea.
Peppermint soothes and relaxes the body and mind. It can help ease a troubled mind and relax you enough for you to sleep. To use peppermint at bedtime, you can diffuse peppermint oil in a diffuser near your bed. For extra relaxation try combining peppermint, lavender, and chamomile oils in the diffuser. Or, you can drink a combo of peppermint and chamomile tea just prior to bedtime.
Peppermint contains anti-microbial properties that fight the nasty bacteria that can grow in your mouth. Try gargling with a few drops of peppermint oil mixed in a small glass of water. You can also add a drop of peppermint oil to your toothbrush to brush the bacteria off your tongue after brushing your teeth. Or, if you want a quick breath freshener, you can always chew on the mint leaf itself.
There are some schools that provide peppermint candies during test taking. They do this for good reason. Peppermint helps the brain focus on the task at hand. Peppermint can help when you find yourself having a difficult time concentrating on an important project. Try peppermint tea, peppermint candies, or diffusing peppermint oil when you need to get something done.
I like to drink peppermint tea when I start to loose focus from staring at a computer all day. Helps reign me back in and makes me stay away from mindless snacking.
To reduce the affects of tension headaches or migraines you can either use an application of peppermint oil in a carrier oil to your forehead or neck, or you can diffuse peppermint oil near you. Peppermint can help sooth muscles and reduce tension.
As stated above, peppermint is good at reducing muscle soreness. You can apply a diluted peppermint oil in lotion or cream to your sore muscles to reduce the pain and discomfort. Because peppermint contains anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-spasmodic properties it is one of the best things to slather on your muscles.
Peppermint is also great for tired feet. I have a nightly ritual of massaging Soothing Foot Balm, which contains Peppermint, into my feet before bed. Works great to relive tired feet as well as making them soft.
If you are feeling a little more sluggish than usual, try diffusing peppermint oil or drinking some peppermint tea. While peppermint does not contain any caffeine, it will energize and rejuvenate you. It even works well when applied or consumed before a workout.
Colds & Flu
Peppermint is a natural decongestant and expectorant. If you are suffering from a stuffy head, try peppermint tea or diffusing peppermint oil in your room. Its antiviral properties help clean the air of viruses. It is also a natural fever reducer. Try using a few drops of diluted peppermint oil to the back of your neck and to the bottoms of your feet.
Peppermint packs a powerful punch, no matter how you use it. It can ease colds, stomach issues, and muscle soreness. And it can help you sleep or wake you up and rejuvenate you. And it’s incredibly easy to grow yourself for use in cooking and to make your own tea.