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Homemade Holiday Gifts: Cinnamon Peanut Brittle

I have studied herbalism for many years and enjoy using the knowledge that I have gained to create both simple and complex herbal remedies, delicious teas, tisanes and brews, and to make natural skin and hair care products.  I get to share a lot of this knowledge in my weekly column on hellogiggles.com as The 21st Century Herbalist.  Once a week I like to repost the column here, just in case you missed it!

Original publish date: October 11, 2012

s we continue to celebrate the multi-generational traditions of women, I can’t help but think of all of the wonderful recipes that have been passed down through the women in my family.  This time of year always puts me in the mood for peanut brittle but not just any peanut brittle, I look forward to my great-grandmother’s cinnamon peanut brittle.  It’s that little bit of cinnamon that makes this treat feel unique to my family and always makes me nostalgic.

The cinnamon tree is native to India and can now be found in many parts of the world.  The bark has long been used as a delicious flavoring in many types of food but it also has many medicinal benefits too.  This spicy bark is warming and works as a mild, yet effective, digestive aid.  It also has antiviral properties that make it great for fighting infection.

There are so many peanut brittle recipes out there, so feel free to just add a bit of cinnamon to one of your favorites.  If you don’t have a favorite, then I’d love for you to share in my family’s tradition and make the version below.  It makes a yummy treat that can be wrapped up and given as treats to your co-workers, family and friends.

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Moisturizing Pumpkin Body Whip

I have studied herbalism for many years and enjoy using the knowledge that I have gained to create both simple and complex herbal remedies, delicious teas, tisanes and brews, and to make natural skin and hair care products.  I get to share a lot of this knowledge in my weekly column on hellogiggles.com as The 21st Century Herbalist.  Once a week I like to repost the column here, just in case you missed it!

Original publish date: September 27, 2012

or those of us in the northern hemisphere, Autumn is officially here!  Bring on the pumpkin flavored lattes, bagels, cream cheese, muffins and any other food we can flavor with delicious pumpkin and spice flavors!  Mmmm…I love it all.  Along with all of those yummy foods it’s also pumpkin season for your skin.  Yup, pumpkin for your skin.  It is so moisturizing and packed with nutrients that help bring out the subtle glow of your skin.

Next time you’re in the grocery store or at the farmer’s market pick up a pie pumpkin and give this great body whip treatment a try.  It’s a great way to pamper yourself after a long week of studying, working or before a big date. Later, as winter weather sets in and your skin starts to get a little dry, use this recipe to rehydrate your skin and even your hair.

This recipe is part of this month’s celebration of the multi-generational traditions of women.  It is a classic recipe that goes back generations and uses simple, natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize your skin.

Ingredients:

  • A small to medium sized pie pumpkin
  • 1 c. full-fat, unflavored yogurt
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil

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Celebrating the Multi-Generational Traditions of Women

Most of the images on my site are photographed by myself, however; this lovely image came from istockphoto.

I have studied herbalism for many years and enjoy using the knowledge that I have gained to create both simple and complex herbal remedies, delicious teas, tisanes and brews, and to make natural skin and hair care products.  I get to share a lot of this knowledge in my weekly column on hellogiggles.com as The 21st Century Herbalist.  Once a week I like to repost the column here, just in case you missed it!

Original publish date: September 20, 2012

enerations ago, there were tiny homes cobbled together by the people of the surrounding village, with each neighbor helping the next to create a community.  Inside these little homes you’d find simple furnishings and functional décor.  Keep looking and you’d notice a fire burning low in the hearth and table made of heavy wood, flanked by empty chairs and benches awaiting their occupants. On shelves sat tools worn with use, yet cared for by the very hands that worked them so hard.  If you were to open the cupboards, drawers and cabinets you’d find them brimming with trinkets of nature, bottles of herbal brews, oils, salves and lotions. This is where the secrets of generations past were stored.  This is where the true old wives tales were born and this is where they were passed on.

As an herbalist participating in traditions that were started long before I came into existence, I’m interested in the beginnings of these sacred practices.  When I use my mortar and pestle, I imagine the wise hands of elders cupping the hands of young ones, showing them the motions and flow needed to grind the herbs.  I picture small bottles of golden oils filled with the essences of plants and pure waters from rain, river and well, being set out for the brewing that was to come.  Around a table sat women of generations each with a journal, some as large as tomes, filled with the knowledge of their years.  Each book was tabbed with bits of ribbon and string, bookmarked with feathers and scrawled with herbal recipes. Back then (and even now) there were the few that could understand the plants, they were attuned to them and they knew how to use them.  It was the plant walker that usually became the medicine man or woman of the village.  As an herbalist of today, it is these medicine women of the past that I think of when making healing herbal brews.  Learning about traditions that started long ago and were enacted as hearth fires were lit, foods

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The 21st Century Herbalist: Volume 1, Issue 16

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So we all want healthy, glowing, blemish-free, perfectly hydrated skin, right?  But how to get it?  Stores are filled with countless products and it can be difficult to figure out exactly what products you need, what order you’re supposed to use them in and how often you should be using them.  This month, we’re sorting through it all and starting from scratch. Starting with step 1 and building on it until we end up with a complete skin care routine for your face, customized for your skin type. I’ll even include DIY recipes made with simple, all-natural ingredients, many of which are the basis for most of the skin care products on the market today.

Before we get started on DIY Skin Care Month, you’ll need to define your specific skin type because your skin care routine is a lot like

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The 21st Century Herbalist: Volume 1, Issue 15

It’s the last week of One Ingredient…One Great Fix Month and as promised in last week’s post about milk, this week is all about honey!  I don’t know who it was that first thought to smear this sticky, golden goo all over themselves, but I’m sure glad they did. Honey is incredibly beneficial to your skin and easy to use.  You’ll want to make sure you’re using raw honey because the high heat used during the pasteurization process can destroy some of the naturally occurring compounds that make honey so great for your skin.

Honey as a Cleanser
Honey is a gentle, all-natural cleanser that won’t dry out your skin like soaps can.  To use it, keep a bottle of honey in the shower

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The 21st Century Herbalist: Volume 1, Issue 14

Milk and honey are two ingredients that just seem to go together naturally.  Since biblical times there have been references to the “land of milk and honey”.  John Lennon and Yoko had an album called Milk and Honey and Margaret Atwood named one of the stores in her novel The Handmaid’s Tale “Milk and Honey”. (Aside: If Hunger Games has you itching for another dystopia story, this is a good one.)  So milk and honey have solidified their place in culture, but why?  Why are they so great?  There are a lot of reasons, and in this week’s installment of One Ingredient…One Great Fix Month, I’ll share some of the reasons that milk is so great for your skin…it’s not just for cereal anymore!  Then next week, we’ll explore the loveliness that is ooey, gooey honey.

Milks Derived From Animals

There are, of course, different types of milk (skim, 2%, whole) from different sources (cow, goat, sheep), but they all contain some

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The 21st Century Herbalist: Volume 1, Issue 13

It’s week 2 of “One Ingredient…One Great Fix” Month and this week I’m chatting about hydrogen peroxide. You may know it best by its use as a cleanser for minor cuts and scrapes, and of course by its classic packaging. Found in the first aid section of your local drug store, it’s the one in the dark brown plastic bottle topped with a white cap and a basic label displaying its contents. This brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide is so much more than just a first aid solution, its also the active ingredient for, what I’ve heard is, a billion dollar industry — teeth whitening.

Next time you’re in the drug store, grab a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and walk it over to the oral hygiene aisle.  Check the active ingredient for most of the whitening toothpastes, mouth washes and whitening cream, gel and strip kits, it probably says hydrogen peroxide. If it’s not the active ingredient, I’m willing to bet that it’s still listed somewhere in the ingredients.  That’s the same stuff that you’re holding in the brown bottle and it only costs about $3.

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The 21st Century Herbalist: Volume 1, Issue 12

It’s the start of “One Ingredient…One Great Fix” month and I’m starting with one of my favorites, apple cider vinegar. You probably know it best as a culinary ingredient, but it’s so much more than that!  I initially intended to give you “one great fix” but apple cider vinegar is so versatile that I couldn’t help myself and I had to give you two great fixes.

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
Remove Product-Buildup, Add Shine, Soothe Itchy Scalp

You know all those crazy hair styles you’ve been sporting lately?  Your shampoo can only do so much to remove all of the product that you use on your hair and the product that it leaves behind will build up and lead to dull hair.  You can also experience lack luster locks because your conditioner may contain glycerin*, which coats your hair making it soft and shiny.  It also attracts dust and dirt, which then sticks to your hair and creates buildup.

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