Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A-Z of Herbs: Anise

This is the first in a series of posts about herbs - an A to Z.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) or aniseed is a flowering herbaceous plant native to the Mediterranean and southern Asia, which has been cultivated for thousands of years.  Anise grows best in a sunny, well-drained, sheltered spot and makes an excellent companion plant when grown with lettuce, tomatoes or spinach.

There is evidence of both medicinal and culinary uses in Ancient Egypt. The Greeks used it to treat digestive problems. 

The Romans used it as an aphrodisiac. It was one of the ingredients in the spiced mustaccus cake - a forerunner of the modern wedding cake.

Aniseed - with its distinctive liquorice aroma - is the fruit of the anise plant.

Some ways to use Anise/Aniseed

1. Having both antibacterial and anti-microbal properties anise is often used in mouthwash. A simple one can be made by combining one teaspoon each of fresh mint leaves, fresh rosemary and anise seeds. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the herbs and leave to steep. One cooled strain and store in the fridge.

2. The seeds can be infused to make an antiseptic tea that may help to soothe coughs and sore throats.

3. As a companion plant.

4. To relieve colic.

5. Chewing lightly roasted seeds can help to freshen breath.

6. Soaps and ointments made using anise oil can be beneficial for oily skin and mild acne.

7. As a natural insect repellent.


  • Anise is not recommended for use during pregnancy. 
  • Anise is not the same plant as Star Anise.
  • This article is not intended as medical advice.
  • Excessive use should be avoided.

I link up here.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Green Clay Purifying Mask

Green Clay is best suited for oily or combination skin. It helps to lift impurities from the skin. 

German (blue) chamomile essential works to soothe and heal sensitive or irritated skin.

Aloe vera juice is a very mild astringent that suits most skin types. It c an help to relieve irritated skin and restore the natural pH of your skin.

This mask works well on sensitive acne-prone skin, that can't stand grittier exfoliant masks or scrubs.

Green Clay Purifying Mask

To make this mask you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon fine French green clay
  • 2 drops German chamomile essential oil
  • aloe vera juice

In a small bowl combine the clay with enough aloe vera juice to make a smooth, spreadable paste. Add the chamomile essential oil and stir to combine.

To use: Spread the clay mixture over the face and neck and allow to dry - about 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and follow with moisturiser.

This makes enough for one mask. Discard any unused mixture.

You may like to try:
Apple Toner - for oily, blemished skin
Black Tea Toner - for oily skin

I link up here.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

How to make Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is very simple to make - you just need a couple of ingredients and a wee bit of patience.

Take 5-7 vanilla pods and split them in half lengthways. Put them into a glass jar or bottle (you may have to cut the split length to fit) and completely cover the pods with vodka. You can you rum or bourbon in place of the vodka for a different flavour.

Cap the bottle and shake gently. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place for at least one month (2 or 3 months for a more intense vanilla flavour), shaking occasionally.

As the vanilla steeps the vodka will darken - it's supposed to do this!

Madagascan vanilla beans are the most commonly used and easily sourced. They give the traditional vanilla flavour and aroma. Using African beans will give you a slightly smokey flavour. Tahitian vanilla beans are lighter, fruity and with floral notes.

You may also like:
How to make Mint Extract
Vanilla Honey Lip Balm

I link up here.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Blog Post #100

I started this blog back in February 2014 to run alongside the "other" Alba Rosa - my small business making handmade soap and skin care products. The plan was to write abut soap and the soap-making process. 

This blog post (if the title hasn't already given it away) is the 100th to appear on Alba Rosa - artisan soap and more. I've written a few posts about soap making, but the blog has grown and evolved beyond that to cover many other topics.

Readers will find recipes, a lot of DIY skincare, a few simple craft ideas, herbs, natural remedies, gardening and a bit more.

I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my posts and hope that you'll continue on with me for the next 100 posts.

It also seems like a good time tweak a few things. So you may notice some small changes to the look of the blog over the next month or so - but nothing too drastic!

Thank You 💜

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Coconut Oil Cleansing Balm

Coconut oil works well as a make-up remover and moisturiser on it own. Adding cocoa butter and essential oils both nourishes the skin and and gives your skin tone a boost.

This cleanser is good for most skin types, but particularly dry skin.

To make this you will  need:

Gently melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil in a double boiler. Remove from the heat. Pierce the vitamin E capsule and squeeze the contents to the butter/oil mix. Stir in the essential oils. Transfer to a small, lidded pot or jar and allow to cool.

To use: Gently massage a small amount into your face. Rinse with warm water.

Will keep for up to three months. In very warm weather the cleanser can get a bit soft, so you may need to keep it in the fridge.

You may also like to try:

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

I link up here

Monday, 2 May 2016

Vanilla Honey Lip Balm

This takes a little more effort to make than some lip balms, but it's worth it. 

To make this you will need:

Place the oil, honey and wax in the top of a double boiler. Gently warm over a low heat until the wax is completely melted. 

Remove from the from heat. Add the vanilla essential oil and stir to combine. 

Now beat the balm for 30-60 seconds. This is to prevent the honey from separating out as the mixture cools. Once the mixture begins to cool and thicken it can be transferred into a small pot. Leave it to set for a couple of hours then it's ready to use.

The balm will keep for up to 12 months. Makes approximately 40g.

A note on wax: Candelilla wax can be substituted for beeswax if preferred.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

I link up here.