Saturday, 15 April 2017

How to make Honey Mustard

I seem to have been chopping a lot of onions this week making jars of onion relish and onion marmalade. To take break from watering eyes here's a recipe for Honey Mustard. It can be easily adjusted to taste.

Honey Mustard

To make this you will need:
  • 8 tablespoons in total of mixed black and yellow mustard seeds
  • 150mls white or white wine vinegar
  • liquid honey
  • salt
  • light olive oil
  • a small jar

Using a food processor or mortar and pestle grind the mustard seeds together until you have a paste. It doesn't need to be a completely smooth paste - a bit of texture is fine. 

Put the mustard seed paste in a non-metallic bowl. Pour over enough vinegar that the seed paste is just covered and stir. Repeat this process adding a vinegar a little at a time until the seeds have absorbed all they can, Stir well between each addition.

Add a little salt and honey to taste. Try the mustard after a few days - if you find the taste too strong it can be mellowed by adding a small amount of light olive oil. If you find you've over done the olive oil let the mustard stand for a couple of days, then pour off the excess. 

Once you're happy with the flavour, pot into a sterilised jar and seal. The mustard will be ready to use in about two weeks.

You may also like to try:
Pickled Garlic
Peach and Chilli Chutney

Monday, 3 April 2017

Eleven ways to use Calendula

Calendula is a hardy plant, with daisy-like flowers ranging in colour from vibrant orange and yellow through to pale apricot. Calendula will grow in most conditions, but prefers a sunny spot. It is most often used in traditional medicine for it's skin-healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

1. Calendula Infused Oil

Many of the ways to use calendula in this round-up are based on either a calendula tea/infusion or calendula infused oil. Both are simple to make although the oil does need to steep for a few weeks. Always make sure that the calendula petals used to make teas and infusions are spray and insect free. Learn how to make an infused oil here or it can be purchased here.

2. DIY Paw Balm

Once you have your calendula infused oil there are many ways to use it. If you have a dog you may like to try making DIY Paw Balm. Paw balm helps to create a barrier between the sand, snow, ice and grit that can be be hard on the pads and get between the toes of your dog's paws.

3. Oatmeal Bath Bags

These combine calendula oil and oats to make a soothing bath for sensitive or irritated skin. Learn how to make Oatmeal Bath Bags here.

4. In the bath

If you don't have time to make bath bags add a handful of petals to warm bath water

5. Calendula Tea - for sore throats

Calendula is most widely used for it's anti-infammatory and skin-healing properties, but here is the base of a throat soothing tea. Recipe here

6. For you scalp

Steep a handful of dried calendula petals in boiling water. Allow to cool, then strain out the petals. The cooled "tea" can be used after shampooing to help relieve an itchy scalp.

7. Calendula Cleanser

This simple two ingredient cleanser can be used with any skin type, but is best suited to dry skin. Learn how to make it here.

8. Hot Spots in dogs

Make an infusion using the same method described for the scalp rinse. This can be gently dabbed or sprayed onto the area.

9. Mouthwash

The same cold "tea" infusion described above for scalp care and hot spots can also be used as healing mouthwash.

10. Edible Flowers

Calendula has quite a mild flavour. Fresh calendula petals (spray-free) can be added to salads for a bit of colour. The petals keep their colour when cooked and can be added to rice as an inexpensive alternative to saffron.

11. Chamomile & Calendula Bath Salts

In a non-metallic bowl or large jug combine the following ingredients:

Mix will to disperse the oils through the salt mixture. Store in an airtight container. Leave a few days before using so the oils can infuse the salts.

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Friday, 31 March 2017

Easy Avocado Face Mask

This is a simple to make mask suitable for most skin types - and a great way to use up an avocado that's getting a a bit over-ripe.

Easy Avocado Face Mask

To make this mask you will need:

  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons liquid honey

Mash the avocado until smooth and creamy. Stir in the honey and yoghurt. You want a smooth consistency that's not too runny.

Apply to clean, dry skin avoiding the area around your eyes. Leave for 10-15 minutes. Rinse of with warm water, then follow with your usual moisturiser.

This makes enough for one mask.

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Monday, 27 March 2017

DIY Cold Sore Balm

DIY Cold Sore Balm

Some studies indicate that lip balm made with lemon balm infused oil may help lessen the symptoms and reduce healing time for cold sores.

This simple recipe uses beeswax, cocoa butter and the herb lemon balm to make a healing balm.

In a small double boiler slowly and gently heat:
  • 30mls of lemon balm infused oil (see below how to make an infused oil) 
  • 7g beeswax or candelilla wax
  • 7g cocoa butter

Once melted add:

Pour into a small, clean jar and allow to cool. Makes approximately 1/4 cup of balm.

Instructions for making an infused oil are here. Simply use fresh or dried lemon balm in place of calendula petals.

Lemon Balm

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Friday, 24 March 2017

Sweet Coffee Body Scrub

This simple scrub uses a mix of sugars to exfoliate and stimulate skin, while coffee can help to draw out impurities. Plus a little cinnamon to warm and aid circulation.

Sweet Coffee Body Scrub

To make this you will need:

½ cup ground coffee
1-2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
60ml jojoba oil or sweet almond oil

Combine the first three ingredients with enough jojoba or sweet almond oil to create a mix that it wet, but not too runny.

Best used in the shower. Massage gently into the skin for 5-10 minutes then rinse. Follow with moisturiser.

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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lavender Chamomile Bath Soak

Lavender Chamomile Bath Soak

To make this you will need:

Combine the salts and dried herbs in a bowl and mix well, In a small jug or cup combine the sweet almond oil and lavender essential oil. Stir to combine the oils then slowly add to the salt-herb mixture. Stir again.

Cut a muslin square approximately 16cm x 16cm. In the middle of the square place 4 tablespoons of the mix. Bring the edges together and tie securely. Pop the bag into the bath and enjoy. The remaining mix will keep in an airtight jar for up to 6 months.

Five favourite bath soaks

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Twelve ways to use Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender is probably one of the most widely available and well-recognised of all the essential oils. Here are just a few ways it can be used.

1. Lavender Water

In a spray bottle combine 5 drops of lavender essential oil with 150mls of distilled water. Shake well before using. This simple spray can be used to freshen a room.

2. DIY Flea Spray for Dogs

The flea spray has a clean, fresh, but subtle, smell. It can be used both as preventative and as a treatment for fleas. Learn how to make it HERE.

3. Deodorising Powder for Feet

Unfortunately sometimes you just can't avoid smelly shoes. This recipe for a deodoriser, suitable for both feet and sneakers, is (like most of my recipes) simple to make and does the job well.

4. Chamomile Toner

The first of three toner recipes all using lavender essential oil. This soothing chamomile toner is very mild and suitable for most skin types. Get the recipe HERE

5. Elder Flower Toner

Elder Flower Toner is very gentle so is well suited for sensitive. It's made with only four ingredients and you can leave out the lavender essential oil if you prefer.

6. Lavender Toner

This is a simple to make toner is easy to make with only three ingredients and is particularly suitable for young teenage skin. Get the recipe HERE.

7. Itchy Bites

A few drops of lavender essential oil can help to ease the itch of insect bites. Always take care when applying essential oil directly to the skin - not all essential oils should be used in this way.

8. DIY Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer doesn't take the place of washing you hands, but it's useful when you have little or no access to clean running water. DIY Hand Sanitizer utilises the antibacterial and anti-viral properties of lavender essential oil.

9. 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. Coconut Oil Cleansing Balm is good for most skin types, but particularly dry skin.

10. Olive Oil and Rosehip Night Cream

Extremes of weather can suck the moisture right out of your skin. Olive Oil and Rosehip Night Cream can be used at night or of you have really dry skin that needs a boost use it as a rich day cream.

11. Eczema Soothing Facial Mask

While this mask can take some time to make it's definitely worth it. Learn how to HERE.

12. Headaches

A little lavender essential oil gently rubbed into the temples can help ease a headache.

You may also like:

Five uses for Rosemary
Six ways to use Thyme
DIY Paw Balm

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Saturday, 11 March 2017

How to make Comfrey Fertiliser

Comfrey brings bees into the garden and makes an excellent companion plant. 

Comfrey is a good source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. The leaves can be used to a make a rich liquid fertiliser, particularly suited to potatoes and tomatoes.

To make Comfrey Fertiliser you will need:

  • comfrey leaves
  • a 10 litre bucket
  • water
  • a large stone or brick

Half fill the bucket with comfrey leaves. Place the stone on top of the leaves to weigh then down then fill the bucket with water. Leave the bucket in the warm, dry, sheltered place to let the fertiliser "stew" for about a month.

After a month strain the liquid and bottle. Label the bottle. The rotted leaves that remain can be used as a side dressing in the garden or added to the compost heap.

To use: dilute the comfrey liquid before using. For every cup of comfrey add two cups of water. The diluted mix can be used to water or as foliar feed for established plants. For young plants dilute the comfrey liquid 3:1.

NOTE: Comfrey leaves are quite prickly and can irritate skin so gloves are a good idea.

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Eucalyptus - Tea Tree Cleaning Spray

There are a lot of recipes that use a mix of vinegar and water to make a household cleaning spray. It can be quite effective, but this simple spray cleaner takes it a step further by adding the combined the antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties of tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils. 

Eucalyptus - Tea Tree Cleaning Spray

To make this you will need:

Combine all the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well before using.

To use spray on kitchen or bathroom surfaces like sinks, showers or bench tops, then wipe with a clean cloth.

Stored in a cool place, out of direct sunlight the spray will keep for at least 12 months.

Note: if you prefer not to use vodka leave it out. Instead increase the quantity of water to 1½ cups .

You may also like to try:

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Friday, 3 March 2017

Pickled Garlic

Even if you're not a liker of garlic you may want to give pickled garlic a try. Pickling mellows the "garlicky-ness" of garlic more than you might think. Pickled garlic goes well with cheese and crackers or spiced meats.

As with most of my recipes (food or skincare) it's not complicated.

Pickled Garlic

To make this you will need:

  • 8-10 garlic bulbs
  • 500mls white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 90g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon plain salt
  • 1 teaspoon per jar of either mustard seed or fennel seeds (optional)
  • 2 x 250-300ml jars with good lids

Separate the bulbs of garlic into cloves and peel. 

In a saucepan bring the vinegar, salt and sugar to the boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the garlic cloves to the pickling liquid. Bring it back to the boil and simmer for five minutes.

Transfer the garlic cloves to sterilised jars. Add the mustard or fennel seeds if using. Carefully fill the jars with the hot pickling liquid. Seal.

The garlic will be ready to use in about a week, but improves over time.

You may also like to try:

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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

How to make Rose Water

Rosewater smells gorgeous and has many uses including skincare, as a linen spray, in soap making and cooking. Plus it can be quite easy to make at home.

To make rose water you need:

  • 3 cups of rose petals (choose fragrant petals that insect and spray free)
  • 3 cups of distilled or purified water
  • 1 teaspoon vodka (acts as a preservative)
  • salt
  • cheesecloth
  • 700ml  glass bottle or jar

Place the rose petals in a non-metallic bowl with a tiny pinch of salt. Bring the water almost to the boil (but not actually boiling), then pour over the rose petals. Leave the petals to steep for about an hour until the petals have lost their colour and become translucent. Strain the rose water through cheesecloth and decant into a sterilised bottle.

Stored in the refrigerator the rose water will keep for up to 4 months.

Rose Water Toner

Combine all ingredients in a small glass bottle and shake well. Apply with a cotton pad avoiding the eyes. Will keep up to 10 days in the fridge.

You may also like to try Rosie Oats Face Mask. This is a simple mask that combines soothing oats and rosewater. It's very gentle and suitable for most skin types. The recipe is HERE.

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Friday, 24 February 2017

Six Ways to Use Thyme

Thyme is a easily gown perennial which will thrive in a sunny spot with good drainage.

1. Infused Vinegar

Place a few sprigs of thyme in a glass bottle. Fill the bottle with white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Cap the bottle, then store in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks. The vinegar can be used as a base for salad dressing.

2. Hair Loss and Dandruff

I haven't needed to try this one. To make a scalp treatment which is said to stimulate hair growth steep one generous handful of fresh thyme in a litre of boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Strain and cool. Massage into the scalp daily.

To help relieve dandruff symptoms steep one small handful each of fresh thyme and fresh rosemary in a litre of boiling water for 15-20  minutes. Use as above.

3. Digestion

Thyme is said to help the body digest fatty foods. Add a few sprigs of thyme to the roasting pan or casserole dish when cooking fatty meat.

4. In the Garden

Thyme will bring bees into the garden, but will also help to deter moths and some flying insects.

5.  Mouthwash

When making toothpaste or mouthwash at home add a few drops of thyme (thymus vulgaris) essential oil. Thyme is antiseptic and is an ingredient in some commercially produced mouth washes.

6. Cinnamon Thyme Sore Throat Tea

Place 2 teaspoons of dried thyme and one cinnamon stick into a small teapot. Pour 2 cups of boiling water into the pot to cover the herbs. Allow to steep for 6-8 minutes (you can adjust the steeping time depending on how strong you like your tea).

Pour into a tea cup or mug through a strainer. Sweeten to taste with honey.

Makes 2 cups. Drinking two or 3 cups a day may help to relieve cold symptoms.

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Berryfruit Facial

Berries are rich in antioxidants and fatty acids to soothe and repair the skin; while almond meal acts as a gentle exfoliant.

This can be made with fresh or previously frozen and thawed berries. If using thawed berries you may need to use a little more almond meal.

Berry Fruit Facial

To make this  you will need:

  • 1 large ripe strawberry
  • 1-2 ripe raspberries
  • 2 blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground almond meal or almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon manuka honey

Mash the berries together well. Stir in the honey. Add the almond flour a little at a time, stirring well, until you have a spreadable paste.

Spread the mask over a clean face and neck. Leave for about 15 minutes then rise off with tepid water. Follow with your usual moisturiser.

Suitable for most skin types.

Makes enough for one mask. Discard any unused mixture.

NB: Berry juice may stain some fabrics.

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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Oven-dried Tomatoes

Oven-dried tomatoes can be used to add flavour to pasta dishes, as pizza topping, in casseroles and baked dishes. This recipe is best suited to smaller varieties such as cherry tomatoes. If using larger tomatoes you may need to extend the cooking time a little.

Oven-dried Tomatoes

To make this you will need:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • a selection of herbs (optional)
  • screw top jars

Heat the oven to 120⁰C. Cut the tomatoes in half (or quarters if they're large) and place cut side up on oven trays. Bake for 2 hours until the tomatoes are well cooked, but not completely dried out.

Pack the hot tomatoes into sterilised jars. Cover with hot olive oil and seal.

If adding herbs layer the hot tomatoes with basil leaves, slices of garlic, oregano etc.

Stored in the fridge the tomatoes will keep for several weeks.

You may also like to try:

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Turmeric Face Mask

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic and astringent properties. It is to said to stimulate blood flow, keeping skin healthy and helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Care is needed when using turmeric - a little goes a long way. Use too much and it may stain your skin.

Turmeric Face Mask

To make this you will need:
Combine the turmeric, milk powder and essential oil in a small bowl. Add water a few drops at a time, stirring between each addition, until you have a smooth, spreadable paste.

Apply to your face and throat, avoiding the area around the eyes. Leave for 10-15 minutes until the mask has dried, then rinse off with tepid water. Follow with your usual moisturiser as needed.


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I link up here.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Calming Catmint & Lemon Balm Tea

Catmint is rich in vitamin C. Tea made with fresh or dried catmint leaves can soothe the symptoms of a cold, calm restlessness and help sleep to come more easily. 

Combining catmint with the calming properties of lemon balm this tea is both soothing and pleasantly refreshing.

Calming Catmint and Lemon Balm Tea

To make this you will need:
  • 2 teaspoons dried catmint
  • 2 teaspoons dried lemon balm
  • honey or lemon (optional)
  • boiling water

Place the dried herbs directly into a tea pot or infuser. Pour over 1 cup of boiling water and leave to steep for 5-6 minutes. Strain then add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten or a dash of lemon juice. 

You may also like:
Bedtime Tea
Calendula Tea
Cinnamon & Thyme Sore Throat Tea
The Tea Drinker's Gift Guide

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I link up here.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

DIY Flea Spray for Dogs

Following on from last month's recipe for DIY Paw Balm here is a recipe for flea spray. As with most of my recipes it is simple to make once you've gathered the ingredients. 

The flea spray has a clean, fresh, but subtle, smell. It can be used both as preventative (citronella works to repel bugs) and as a treatment for fleas. It can be sprayed on you pet and pet bed.

To make this you will need:

Add the essential oils to the spray bottle. Top up with water, then shake to disperse the oil.

To use: Shake the bottle, then spray your dog lightly after brushing or bathing. Keep the spray away from eyes, noses and ears.

If your dog has come into contact with an animal that has fleas wash the dog and his/her bed then spray both regularly until there is no evidence of fleas.

To help prevent fleas was your dog's bedding regularly in hot water. If you dog has a favourite rug then wash that too. If your dog is allowed on the furniture vacuum daily.

Regular brushing, especially before and after a bath, can help break the flea cycle.

If you chose to use a different essential oil please ensure that it is safe for dogs.

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