Homemade salt scrub

Another thing I notice as the weather turns colder, and the daylight ebs away is that my skin becomes much drier, and I like to take care of it with a salt scrub every now and then. I have very sensitive skin.

Very easy to do yourself and doesn’t cost the earth (like palm oil)

I use sea salt.

Maldon sea salt pyramids

Maldon salt crystals From the lovely ‘justinsomnia’ blog

Unrefined salt is in many ways much better for your health so I tend to only buy this, in fact it may be pretty scandalous how underated it is.

It is nothing like your refined salt manufactured largely for industry and added to our bought food products.

We have many well known sea salt producers right here and you will easily find something much more local than dead sea salt

You need aboout half a cup of your chosen carrier oil and a cup of seasalt

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Sea salt scrub and honeysuckle moisturiser for hands and feet.

The salt will scrub away dead layers of skin and the oil moisturises.

I added some dried lemon balm to mine

Store in the fridge

Simple

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Lemon balm from the garden

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Why infuse oils?

We have all seen those fancy bottles of olive oil with a sprig of rosemary or a dried chili in them, so it may already be obvious to you that they are useful for cooking and for salad dressings. You may not have realised that its pretty easy to make your own beauty products and even oils with medicinal properties using what you may already have in your garden.

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Almond oils infused with rose petals, calendula, viola, honeysuckle, lavender and chamomile. Olive oils infused with basil, oregano, roemary, and lavender.

This is interesting to me, and others, wishing to minimse the destructive impact we have on the environment when we purchase products loaded with chemicals. Often these products sold to us by the beauty/personal care industry use a lot of unnecessary packaging which may not be recyclable either. I have found as a mother, that baby products are often the worst offenders. I have also found my children and I have very sensitive skin and an ‘overload’ of chemicals/perfumes seems to act as an irritant if anything.

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honeysuckle is an extremely useful plant for us with medicinal preoperties and provides great nesting material for birds.

Everything we need we can find in nature. Nature provides well for us. I would like to avoid products that dont benefit me a great deal but casue a lot of detruction, products like palm oil (usually just labelled ‘vegetable oil’) The palm oil industry is linked to deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes species like the orangutan could become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers less than 3 years.

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I dont think any beauty/hair/luxury product is worth that! so I want to do what I can. Especially when its easy and the alternative benefits me so much more. I am a happier person if I focus on what I *can* do and I make efforts, than if I feel I have no choice but to be a part of something that makes me feel so terrible. Making my own gives me a bit of relience to a level of consumerism that feels more and more ‘forced upon’ us. Its fun, I like to create, experiment, explore and learn. Especially with my children. I like to create beautiful things for myself as a treat to enjoy and as gifts for family and friends. I know that what I make does not have those undetermined infinte effects. I know I have grown the flowers and herbs from open pollinated seeds that can be saved year on year from my plants. Without chemicals, no fertilisers, no pesticides. I have created an expensive luxury hand crafted organic product for virtually no cost at all. It feels good. It works too.

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Good quality almond oil infusing wiuth chamomile and viola for eczma and dry skin patches.

Uses for the infused oils I make: (Some of these stay as oils and some I am hoping to make into creams which I will be blogging about here. You can grow all of these things very easily if you dont have some already.)

viola infused oil -eczma

chamomile infused oil -soothing dry skin and eczma

rosepetal infused oil -reduces inflamation and eczma acts as an emollient for dry/blemished skin

calendula infused oil -regenerative properties, very soothing helps reduce dry and blemished skin

honeysuckle infused oil -sore throat, fever, skinย & scalp issues, antibacterialย & anti-inflammatory properties

lavender infused oil -conditions skin, soothes rashes.

Oregano is also great for skin I find it quite powerful for my face and prefer to use a water infused with oregano as a gentle toner/astringent

Culinary oils can be frozen in ice cube trays for when you need them, you can make them with fresh or dry herbs. Dry lasts longer than oil with fresh herbs if you want some ready on the counter for sald dressings etc. Fresh needs to be used fairly quckly.

How to make Kombucha and Kefir

How to make Kombucha and Kefir

I came across Kombucha and Kefir through friends. When they described what they were making and and how they were using it I was fascinated. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (lovely pro-biotics.) This is what both Kombucha (kom-boosh-a) and Kefir (keh-fear) are made with, though different types with different ingredients. I was intrigued, science experiments, food products, knowledge and creativity all in one go, excellent. It doesnt get more interesting than that for me (except maybe using the SCOBY from Kombucha to make into shoes and clothes! more on that later.)

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Some my Kombucha brewing in jars (you can see the SCOBY)

ย Some of my Kefir ready to use



KOMBUCHA

Kombucha is expensive as an organic healthfood drink. I have to also point out that success rates using the bought ones as a starter tea are low. It seems there isnt enough of the good stuff in what you can buy. More reason to make it. It starts out as a sugary tea, which is then fermented with the help of a SCOBY that is very close cousins to the mother used to make vinegar. The scoby bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a fizzy, refreshing healthy beverage full of probiotics with low sugar. Lets take a moment to imagine carbonated sodas..

The SCOBY

The cool stuff that floats on top, it’s rubbery and slightly spongy, brown stringy bits hang from it. My 12 y old boy thinks its weird and fascinating. So do I. It would seem the bacteria and yeast form this jelly-like layer of cellulose at the top of the kombucha to protect the fermenting tea from the air and help maintain a very specific environment inside the jar and shield it from unfriendly bacteria. It has been around for a very long time -before our modern disinfectants and anti-bacterials ๐Ÿ˜‰ If the SCOBY is healthy then the Kombucha will be. It is a living thing and changes are normal and will usually reflect changes of the environment (your kitchen) It will smell nasty and cheesy rather than vinegary if something has gone wrong. If you see signs of mold, throw it all away and start from scratch. If the scoby becomes black, or develops green or black mold, it is has become infected or is past its life span and will also need to be thown away. Look after your magical weird and friendly SCOBY and it will look after you. Make your tea carefully and peel off the bottom (or oldest) layer every few batches. You could give it to a friend to start their own along with enough brew for a starter tea. Failing that you can purchase them online, be sure to validate their quality. You can also make your own starter tea using cider/unpasteurised white vinegar. Starter tea is acidic and keeps out the unfriendly bacterias during early brewing.

KOMBUCHA RECIPE

Im going to start you off with a small amount because I assume you only have one or two SCOBYs from a friend and a couple of jars. Most online recipes have double this.ย  Dont use antibac to wash your hands ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • You need around 3 pints of water and boil this for 5 mins to purify it
  • Add 3/4 tea bags (or a tablespoon of loose tea)
  • Stir in 100g sugar til dissolved and leave it to cool (you can try green or oolong too, but avoid flavoured. Earl grey is said to be difficult as it has a higher oil content.)
  • Wait until room temperature before adding the SCOBY and prepare your jar as you would for a preserve (in the oven on a low setting for 10 mins is fine.)
  • Add to your jar when cool then add the starter tea or vinegar (should make up around 10%)
  • Slide the SCOBY onto to the top (do not wear gloves) cover with cheesecloth or paper towels and secure with an elastic band. It needs to be breathable but able to keep out fruit flies.

I now have a ‘Kombucha cupboard’ The scoby multiplies with every use and you keep a continous cycle going.

  • Place somewhere warm and preferably dark (certainly not in direct sunlight or a draught) and where it wont be knocked. for around a week to 10 days check on it occasionally, you should see the SCOBY growing and the stringy bits forming. It may be positioned anywhere in the jar. You can taste it once it smells vinegary, if the SCOBY has formed use it now if you like it or leave it til it has a more appealing flavour.

    When it is ready to bottle you can prepare your tea for the next batch and have it ready for your SCOBY Which will have made you a baby, so now you have 2! Remember to save your starter tea’s from this batch before bottling. Bottling creates carbonation, and adds the fizz. Be aware of the lids you choose if you carbonate, I use the swing top bottles.To carbonate bottle up to the top and leave on the work top for 2-3 days then refigerate before use. You can flavour kombucha with freshly squeezed fruit juice or pieces of fruit/herbs in the bottle or you could add flavouring ingredients and leave with the cheesecloth cover for a day or two, then strain and bottle so it has no bits. It tastes better cold and this stops carbonation (and fermentation if you go on holiday)

    ย This is an Oolong tea brew that is carbonating with orange

     

    If you ever forget a batch and leave it brewing too long it is still useful (dont believe the wiki how on this and throw it away!) It makes kombucha vinegar which can be used in home made hair and beauty products, cleaning products, salad dressings and marinades ๐Ÿ™‚
    Almost forgot. This is really cool. Remember one scoby will make whatever size batch you require. You could make a bathtub full and it will make a bath sized scoby! If you dried that out what could you do with it? well this lady made a bit of an interesting breakthrough in the textile industry with shoes and a skirt! ๐Ÿ˜€ http://blog.ted.com/2014/02/05/the-skirt-and-shoe-made-from-kombucha/ Are you getting ideas for patchwork scoby’s? or you could just compost them.

    Kefir

    You’ll be pleased to know this is a bit easier. You will need a friend to donate a little with some grains in, the Kefir grains are the SCOBY. Milk Kefir (you can get water kefir too) is a lot like the expensive yogurt drinks you can buy but they are a lot more expensive and less effective. Kefir also has the added beneficial yeast as well as beneficial bacteria. It also reduces the lactose content of the milk by quite a bit. Add the grains to your prepared jar and add your milk to the jar, you could experiment with how much to use, the grains will grow and multiply over time. Then leave the jar in a warm spot in the kitchen until it thicken, typically a day or two.
    The flavour changes over time and becomes more tart and thick when it begins to seperate into curds and whey, at this point or just before you should stir the jar again and strain the grains to use again. The liquid is your lovely creamy, tart, probiotic drink. You can make it into fruit smoothies or even leave the kefir to a point where you can make cheese my straining through a cheesecloth and pressing. My grains are still multiplying but when I have enough I want to have a go at this! You could flavour kefir cheese too with fruit or herbs. Store unused grains in the fridge or pass on to friends ๐Ÿ˜‰ You can also eat them or compost them.

Kefir can be used just about anywhere that buttermilk, yoghurt or cream cheese may be used. Other great ways to use kefir are:

  • In smoothies
  • To tenderize meat instead of yoghurt
  • Served with fruit
  • In a cold soup
  • In an ice cream recipe
  • Poured over cereal
  • Used instead of yoghurt to make
  • In a healthy milkshake recipe
  • As a leavening agent
  • In place of buttermilk in baking
  • As a starter for a sourdough recipe
  • To make a herbed cream cheese, or a fruit-flavoured cream cheese
  • To ferment grains or flours
  • To help dephytinize grains, cereals, nuts and seeds
  • In a salad dressing
  • In a pasta sauce

I have to link to this mans blog and Kefir crusade. It has anything and everything else you might want to know about kefir ๐Ÿ™‚ http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

Craft teas

ย You can make tea with whatever you like and its fun to experiment with combinations. I added two small slices or one large slice, of dehydrated pear and a tablespoon of dried rosehips (mine are whole crushed ones) to the infuser in the centre of my teapot and it made about 2 cups. An ordinary teapot and a strainer works just as well ๐Ÿ˜‰

You can experiment with many many flavours and even tea bags or tea pot potions as I call my larger ones. I recently made some little bags for using herbs and dried flowers in foot and bath soaks (also on this blog) so I used more of these for teas as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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blending flavours

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A finished ‘tea pot potion’

some of my favourite and more unusual combinations:

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They make great gifts and Ive recently put together someย  gift sets of retro or vintage tins (you can reuse any tin or moisture proof container) to house a variety of flavoured bags. Home made gifts that do not cost the earth! Chemical free, no carbon footprint in making these, all completely natural straight from my garden! I know people will delight in receiving these as a gift. I would.

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I also drink many of these rather than purchasing ordinary tea bags.

Earlier on in the year I attended a permaculture course with Graham Burnett from Spiral seeds, one of our tasks on the course was to analyse the open ended effects of a cup of tea made with a supermarket brand compared to a home made lemon balm tea. Which offers more degree of control on shockingly limitless effects.

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sorrel (from the garden) and ginger. A great combination!

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What goes into your branded tea and what you get out!

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Permaculture system with you at the centre puts you in control!

Home made foot or bath soak recipe

Homemade foot or bath soak recipe:
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warm water to fill your bowl, 2 tablespoon of seasalt 1 tablespoon of epsom salts, 2 tablespoons of dried coconut milk powder, 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda few drops of lavender essential oil. Rosepetals and lavender from the garden -could add mint or lemon balm. I also used it in the bath with the addition of clary sage oil and some fresh rosepetals for extra relaxation Just mix it up and play around with it, the salt and oils soften and condition skin
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I also made some little bags to blend dehydrated flowers and herbs in for use in the bath or with feet if the idea of loose doesnt look comfortable. I made these as gifts for family and friends! Great way to minimse your effect on the environment as opposed to purchasing something filled with chemicals! Also hand crafted with love which I myself would defitnitely prefer to receive as a gift!
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