When I say “basil”, do you think “pesto”? Pesto made with sweet basil just happens to be one of my most long-standing addictions, but with over 50 different varieties (possibly as many as 150!) distributed around the world, basil is about much, much more….
Since ancient times, basil has found its way into our food, medicine and cosmetics. It’s antibacterial and antiviral, and a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, and calcium.
Basil has been used medicinally to ease headaches, sore throats, coughs, nausea, and to ease nervous tension. It’s also reputed to strengthen dry or brittle hair, restoring hair’s natural luster and shine.
One of my favorite hair rinses is a strong tea made of Basil leaves and Lavender flowers. You can pour it over your head and catch the runoff in a bowl to keep repeating, or do it lazy-style like me and just dunk your head in a bowl.
A twist on my recipe: substitute Holy Basil (Tulsi) for the Sweet Basil. For Brunettes: try a Basil and Rosemary blend. For Blondes & Redheads: try a Basil and Chamomile blend.
To make this aromatic, strengthening hair rinse, use 2 Tbsp of herb per cup of water and steep for at least 15 minutes.
I missed publishing my Summer Solstice Newsletter a couple of weeks back because I was ‘down with disease’. Yup, I’m now a member of the rapidly-growing Lyme Disease club (my husband, Hawkeye, became a member last year).
Near-drought conditions, extended-higher-than-normal temperatures, and being sick has made our ‘micro-farm kick-off year’ even harder than we anticipated.
Hawkeye has been managing the off-site garden all on his own, while I’ve struggled to keep our on-site garden even just limping along. The fatigue I had for weeks from Lyme made it impossible to do much more than get out of bed some days….
Garden News: Harvested a bumper crop of Garlic * Calendula, Marshmallow, Holy Basil (Tulsi), Self Heal, St. John’s Wort & Yarrow in bloom * Echinacea, also in bloom, is really spreading and looks ready to take over the garden * Soaking the logs to push the next Shiitake flush * The resident woodchuck has a new garden favorite to munch: Horseradish leaves!
Crafting News: Made White Sage-infused oil for the first time. Don’t know why I waited so long to try it! I planned to use it as an achy muscles massage oil (it’s said to be a good remedy for insect bites too), but it smells so incredibly good that I’ve been rubbing it on for no reason at all 🙂
First year in the expanded garden is off to an amazing start! We took advantage of the unbelievably mild weather and got planting nice and early. Lots of seeds are already sprouting up: radish, hakurei turnip, broccoli raab, mizuna, peas.
The star of the show for me, though, is the Chickweed. She has spread from a few isolated strands in a corner to several little patches throughout the garden. And right now, she’s full of tiny white flowers. A glorious Springtime sight!
(The largest, most succulent patch is taking over one side of a meant-for-vegetables, big raised bed. Hawkeye keeps mentioning it’ll have to be moved. I haven’t told him yet I’m letting it stay. You can never have enough Chickweed, right? Plus, I figure if Chickweed is thriving there, it’s too shady for veggies anyway…. )
I depend on Chickweed for my bodycare, but today, all I can think about is pesto!
Chickweed Pesto Ingredients:
2 cups fresh Chickweed
½ cup fresh Basil (or Parsley, Cilantro, Arugula, Garlic Mustard, whatever green you’ve got)
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp sunflower seeds, pine nuts or almonds
¼ tsp salt
½ cup olive oil
My method isn’t too fancy. I add the seeds/nuts to the blender first and chop them up, then add and chop the garlic, then add the greens, salt and oil and blend it until it’s smooth.
At the D.I.Y. Herbal Spa meetup last Sunday, we briefly touched on hair care, and Brittany mentioned she makes her own shampoo with liquid castile soap, herbal infusion, apple cider vinegar, and I forget what else.
Because shampoo is packaged in plastic bottles and because I’m getting pretty hardcore about getting plastic completely out of my life, I’ve been relying on my homemade olive oil bar soap to wash my hair.
It’s workable, but does take more effort, like needing a vinegar rinse. So I was really intrigued by Brittany’s recipe!
BIG THANKS to Jennifer Goodheart at Acadia Herbals, Brittany Wood Nickerson of Thyme Herbal, and everyone at the “D.I.Y. Herbal Spa Meetup” on Sunday! SO much fun to relax and swap tips and recipes with other bathtub goddesses while sipping Jennifer’s delightful Jasmine-Lemongrass tea 🙂
Brittany advocates using salt scrubs to keep skin exfoliated and moisturized for its optimal health, and explained how this also supports our lymph and nerves.
She demonstrated an easy-to-make recipe that I know will leave you feeling just sparkling:
1 cup finely ground sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. lemon peel powder
add a few drops of lemon, sweet orange or grapefruit essential oil if you’d like to make it aromatic
I talked about my great love for tub teas (of course!) and all my favorite ingredients for a bathtub spa including salts, baking soda, oatmeal, and apple cider vinegar.
Vinegar restores skin and scalp’s natural pH and is said to draw pollutants out of the body. A soak in a bath with a little vinegar can help relieve sore muscles, itchy skin and sunburn (*but be aware that vinegar can irritate open sores and sensitive skin).
Herb-infused vinegars are really simple to make and make a fabulous addition to your herbal pantry. Some of my favorite blends are:
3 parts rose petals, 1 part spearmint
1 part rosemary, 1 part lavender
2 parts lavender, 1 part lemon balm, 1 part lemon peel
All you need to do is add 1 oz. (weight) herbs to 2 cups apple cider vinegar. Let it steep for 1 – 2 weeks, then strain.
To use, add ½ to 1 cup of vinegar to the tub when it’s filled. Makes a great salad dressing too!