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Read any good labels lately?

If you’re a compulsive label-reader like me, you know a good label is hard to find! Even natural brands succumb to the necessity of synthetic preservatives to protect their water-based products from contamination.

Most annoying though is when ingredients aren’t fully disclosed. (Hiding preservatives under the name ‘parfum’ is low, and hiding essential oils under the term ‘proprietary blend’ is not much better. I get that makers are worried their special essential oil blend will be copied. I just think it’s more important for the user of that product to know *everything* that’s in it in case of allergies or other sensitivities.)

And what about ingredients that weren’t grown organically, harvested ethically, or traded fairly?

These are the things I worry about, and I know you do to. It’s why I take extra care when sourcing ingredients for our farm-made skincare, working with a few select suppliers and growing many herbs myself.

You’ll always get the full monty here. When the skincare is natural, handmade, full of herbs, and 100% vegan, it’s a label that makes for good reading.

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Wear Your Herbs: Echinacea

echinacea

Because I’m limited to how many plants I can have in my small space, I look for plants that are multi-talented and can be used in different ways.

Echinacea (or Purple Coneflower, currently blooming all over the garden and bringing in hungry goldfinches) is one you probably know as an immune-stimulating medicinal herb, but its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties have an important place in your first-aid kit too.

Plants for a Future, a charity researching and providing information on ecologically sustainable horticulture, lists Echinacea in its database saying the plant has long been used by North American Indians as a universal application to treat the bites and stings of all types of insects.

It’s used also as a pain killer and healing agent for burns, to reduce pain and prevent infection in recent wounds, and to clean out wounds that become infected.

Use the tincture, or make yourself a nice healing salve.

The past few years, I’ve been making an olive-oil based salve with Echinacea flowers, Rose petals, Comfrey leaves, Yarrow leaves and flowers, and Holy Basil leaves and flowers. The blend works well, soothing irritation and speeding up the healing time on the nicks and scrapes I get so often from my habit of gardening without gloves.

Are you using Echinacea topically? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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Lookin’ this good, everybody gonna swoon

Spring Lettuce in the garden

It’s actually almost embarrassing how in love with Lettuce I am…. 

One of the first things I can eat out of my garden in the Spring, Lettuce’s amazing variety of colors, textures, and flavors is enough to put me into a swoon.

And more than just a pretty face, Lettuce is rich in vitamin A and potassium plus has some vitamin C, calcium, iron, and copper.

(*except Iceberg Lettuce, which is very low in nutritional value)

 

Lettuce fits into my small-space garden rule which requires plants to do double-duty: Besides eating it, you can wear it ;)

A lettuce face mask helps restore skin’s natural pH, soothes rough skin, and can help heal pimples.

 

Put lettuce in a blender to pulp, then massage onto skin. For a fancier version, add a little olive oil and lemon juice. Olive oil is a great moisturizer, and lemon juice a gentle astringent that cleans and refines pores.

 

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Chamomile in the Springtime Garden

chamomile

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is one of the first signs of green in my Springtime garden, and a very welcome sight it is!

A member of the Daisy Family, Chamomile contains calcium, potassium, vitamin B2, flavonoids, coumarins, and salicylates. The flowers are used for their antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and vulnerary properties.

The flavor is described as both sweet and bitter. You’ll notice its appley aroma which is just how it tastes, but if you make the same mistake I did and steep your tea extra long (medicine-making style), it becomes really bitter!

Chamomile is used in skin care to soften dry skin, clean pores, clear acne, and reduce puffiness. It’s also a key herb to use for healing wounds and inflammations such as burns, itches, and bug bites.

Try using Chamomile in a steam to ease nasal congestion. Used as a bath herb, Chamomile can relieve stress and calm cranky children.

I also like to use Chamomile to make a massage oil that soothes sore muscles and aids relaxation. This oil is wonderful on sore, swollen feet!

 

* If you are sensitive to Ragweed you may be allergic to Chamomile. Be careful when you first try it. Otherwise, it’s considered very safe.

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