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Giving Thanks: Keeping it Simple

Gratitude Jar from katienormalgirl.com

My gratitude story.

‘Tis the season for giving thanks. It’s about taking a moment to stop and look around you with the specific intention of being grateful – and sometimes I need the reminder. I get so caught up in goal setting and goal accomplishing and I tend to neglect being grateful for all of the wonderful, little things that have already happened.

I also feel like there can be an inherent pressure in giving thanks. As though I must be deeply profound when declaring gratitude. Is a simple, “thank you for a good hair day,” enough? I also worry that I’m not being grateful often enough. Some people write five things per day, others don’t do any at all. I know that I want to be somewhere in the middle but who has the time?

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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.

…read more (you’ll be redirected to my column on hellogiggles.com)

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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

…read more (you’ll be redirected to my column on hellogiggles.com)

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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

…read more (you’ll be redirected to my column on hellogiggles.com)

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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.

…read more (you’ll be redirected to my column on hellogiggles.com)

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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.

…read more (you’ll be redirected to my column on hellogiggles.com)

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DIY: Reusable AND Refillable Dryer Sachets

It’s time to ditch your dryer sheets and embrace the latest trend in simple, sustainable living…dryer sachets!  These chemical-free, all-natural alternative to dryer sheets have been growing in popularity, and this week I’m going to show you how to make your own dryer sachet, that is both reusable and refillable.

Often dryer sachets are sewn shut on all sides and are not refillable without some difficulty and it’s this ability to refill them, that makes this project unique.

These dryer sachets are an easy-sew project, perfect for beginners and can be done by hand or using a sewing machine. It’s also a great opportunity to upcycle old t-shirts, or use up old scraps of fabric from other projects.

I like to take some time on a Sunday afternoon to make a batch of these that can be kept in a basket next to my dryer. As you’re making them for yourself, remember that they also make great housewarming gifts, teacher presents or can be a unique addition to a baby shower gift basket.

Tools & Materials Needed:

  • Iron and firm surface to iron on
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape or quilter’s square
  • Sewing machine or needle (if sewing by hand)
  • 4 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ piece of fabric (cotton or linen) and coordinating thread
  • 4″ strip of industrial strength or decor velcro*

*Make sure you are using industrial strength or decor grade velcro for this project. It has double-sided “teeth” that are strong enough to stay closed while tumbling around in the dryer. It can be sew-on or stick-on, for added security, you’ll want to sew it into the sachet, either way. Continue Reading →

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The Many Uses of Olive Oil, Part 1: Basic Skin Care

Olive oil has many wonderful uses outside of the culinary world. In my new series, “The Many Uses of Olive Oil”, I’ll share some great alternative uses that you may not have considered before. Let’s start with some basic uses…no mixing, no blending, no fuss required!

I like to keep a small bottle of olive oil (ideally pure olive oil, not extra-virgin or virgin) next to my bathroom sink, to make application easier. As you’re getting ready for bed, give each of these a try.

Cuticle Moisturizer
Shake the open olive oil bottle with your finger over the bottle’s opening, this will get enough olive oil on the tip of your finger to apply to your cuticles. Repeat until you’ve massaged some olive oil into each cuticle, that’s it!  This will keep your nail beds healthy and prevent dry, cracked cuticles.

Lip Balm
Once you’ve got some olive oil on your finger tip, just apply it to your lips as well…they’ll thank you for it!

Deep Moisturizer for Eyes
Use your ring finger for this application, as it is the weakest finger and the skin around your eyes is very delicate.  Gently dab a small amount of olive oil beneath your lash line.  Then starting at the outside corner of your eye (remember to use your ring finger), gently move your finger under the lash line to the inner corner of your eye, then up into the crease above your eye.  Try not to apply directly along the upper lash line, it’s an easy way to get olive oil in your eye (ouch).  The natural oils in your skin, will mingle with the oil you rubbed into the crease of your eye and this process will moisturize the lid of your eye, up to the lash line.  Continue to gently massage the oil around your eye in this clockwise circle until you’ve rubbed a thin layer all the way around.  No additional eye moisturizer required.

Rub any extra olive oil into your hands and have a good nights sleep!

Additional Information
- Olive oil is great for every skin type, especially for those with dry or allergy prone skin.
- Olive oil won’t clog your pores.
- It seems counter intuitive but olive oil is very beneficial to those with oily and acne prone skin.

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