health

Herbalism: My Favorite Tools

As a baby herbalist, I feel fortunate to have so many tools at my disposal. Plant identification apps, online herbalist courses, and countless hours of discussion on YouTube have really opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of the herbalism world.

Today, I’ll be sharing a few tools that I’ve found invaluable in my growing herbal practice. If you’re interested in taking your wellness back into your own hands, I implore you to research safe and effective plants that you can incorporate into your wellness plan, and then venture out into preparing those plants in different ways: as infusions (teas), tonics, tinctures, poultices, and more. The more that you experiment, the more that your knowledge grows. I hope this little list of tools helps you. Enjoy!

One of my first major investments into my herbal practice is my drying rack. I love using this when preparing herbs that I harvested myself, or when I purchase a bundle of fresh herbs at the store. This one by Adwaita is large, and can accommodate a lot of plant material. I use this almost every day, as I frequently find myself eager to preserve my fresh herbs.

After trying to crumble herbs by hand a few times, I knew that I needed a mortar and pestle. This one has a really nice weight and ergonomic design. I love that it doesn’t shift around when I use it: the weighted base keeps the bowl firmly in place. It also has a sleek look that I enjoy.

I regularly prep my herbs on this cutting board. It’s a large and attractive workspace: using it is always a pleasure. I sometimes use it to take photos of some of my herbs as I’m trying different blends. I love this work surface!

Eventually, I’ll be standardizing some of my preparations, so an inexpensive digital scale was a must. I purchased this last week but I haven’t used it yet: I’m looking forward to eventually offering my herbal mixtures and I fully intend to be consistent in my formulations.

These are my favorite herbal tools at this point, and I’m slowing growing my collection to include all of the tools that I need to create the herbal products that I enjoy using. That’s all for today: let me know if you use anything like the items that I mentioned above!

beauty · health · life curation

June Empties

Hi friends! I was feeling a little unwell, so I skipped yesterday’s post, but I’m making up for it by posting a HUGE June empties post! I am amazed at how much product I emptied last month. In a future post, I’ll explain why I’m focusing on empties and the overall goal of this little project. For now, here are my thoughts on my June empties. Enjoy!

So I have a LOT of perfume samplers/minis. I adore scent so I like to purchase trial sizes so I can try a fragrance without having to make a huge commitment. I had a trial set from Commodity which I had planned to review but I ended up disliking most of the scents so I didn’t bother to write about it. However, there were three fragrances I really enjoyed, and I ended up using the last of those this past month. Magnolia, Mimosa and Tea were lovely fragrances that I look forward to wearing again. On a side note, I saw that Commodity closed unexpectedly on March 31st, but the brand was saved by an investor and is experiencing a reboot, so the fragrances can still be purchased at this time.

Magnolia by Commodity
Mimosa by Commodity
Tea by Commodity

Onward to skin care . . . I really love The Ordinary, and I’ve discussed it multiple times so I’ll spare you my profuse praise. However, I used up my Argireline Solution this past month. I love to use it on my smile lines and forehead creases. I’ll purchase more after I use up some of my other products for facial lines (like The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin).

Argireline Solution 10%

As far as body care goes, I finished using my mini L’Occitane Amande Shower Oil. I got this as part of a L’Occitane gift set earlier this year. This product smells incredible: floral yet slightly musky at the same time. The scent doesn’t linger, but the moisturizing effects remain after scent dissipates. Once I use up some of my other body washes, I’ll repurchase this.

L’Occitane Amande Shower Oil

Now onto hair care. The funny part of my hair care is that it’s minimal at best: I don’t spend a lot of time on my hair, though I anticipate that will change in the upcoming months. I use these very inexpensive conditioners to detangle my hair prior to shampooing. My hair is kinky/curly so I use a lot of product to detangle and moisturize. VO5 and Pantene are low-priced so I don’t mind being a little “heavy-handed” when applying. When I’m running low on deep conditioner, I will use the Pantene to help “stretch” the product.

VO5 Passion Fruit Smoothie conditioner; Pantene Curl Perfection conditioner

After shampooing, I apply a deep conditioner to help moisturize my hair and restore the protein balance. I recently finished this jar of Aphogee Curlific Texture Treatment and I must say that I’m VERY impressed with this product. I noticed that my hair retained a “stretched” state once dried, and my post-shampoo detangle session was a breeze. If you want a product that can help elongate the hair in preparation for stretched or straightened styles, this is a great product to try.

Aphogee Curlific Texture Treatment

After shampooing and deep conditioning, I moisturize using the LOC method – Liquid, Oil, and Cream products, applied in that order. My liquid product of choice is Infusium 23 Leave In Treatment. This bottle was large, so it took a while to use it up. I occasionally tried other liquid leave-ins, but I always end up coming back to Infusium 23. I only wish that the product was in a different bottle (with a spray top). I ended up transferring the liquid to a spray bottle for easier application.

Finally, I finished a tube of an eco-friendly toothpaste that I purchased. Hello Epic Whitening Toothpaste has activated charcoal and acai berry, along with mint for freshness. The product is black but it brightens the teeth as you use it. I love the flavor and I enjoyed the results. I’ll certainly use it again, but I have a TON of toothpaste that was gifted to me (long story LOL) so it will be a while before I do a repurchase.

Those are my empties for June! I love that I have so many items that I’m using up completely before repurchasing. It feels good to know that I’m being smart with my money and purchasing from an empowered, instead of desperate, emotional space. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

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beauty

Review: Pixi Rose Tonic

I will be showing a bunch of my May empties tomorrow, but today, I wanted to spotlight one noteworthy “empty”. This is a product that I’m certain I will purchase again.

The Pixi Rose Tonic is a refreshing product that I tried for a few days in May. For those that have been here for a while, you all know that I use a slightly modified version of the Korean ten-step method, which calls for a toner (to balance the skin and remove any traces of makeup or cleansing product) and an essence (to add additional nourishment to the skin). So this rose tonic was intriguing to me: I wanted to see whether it was more like a toner or if it was more similar to an essence.

Pixi Rose Tonic

This gentle, alcohol-free product combines the features of a toner with some of the benefits of an essence. Yes, it is a toner: it will help to balance the skin, neutralize the skin mantle (this prevents the mantle from being compromised, which can result in damaged, more sensitive skin), and remove any remnants of makeup or previously applied skin products. However, the product contains aloe vera, chamomile, elderberry, tea extract, and the extracts of several different rose variations (including Rose of Damascus and dog-rose). These act as skin soothers to leave the face feeling clean yet hydrated and nourished.

One of the ingredients in the tonic is dog-rose essence

My bottle was a sample size, so I didn’t have enough product to use for longer than about 10 days. However, I LOVED the way that this made my face feel. My skin felt hydrated and not stripped at all. I also love that this product didn’t conflict with any of the other products that I use on my face.

My sample was teeny-tiny but I was still impressed with the product

Would I recommend this? Absolutely! I intend to purchase another bottle as soon as I’m done with my current toners. I looked at a few vendors to see who had the best price, and the cost on the Pixi website is significantly less than Amazon, and a bit less than Ulta. This is NOT a sponsored link, so if you’re curious about the product, please know that I’m endorsing it without any personal motivation LOL!

That’s my review on Pixi Rose Tonic. Have you tried this product before? I’d love to hear all about your experience with it!

beauty · life curation

The Novice Gardener’s Digital Toolkit

untitled designAs this is my first year cultivating a true flower garden, I’ve been eager to learn as much about the plants surrounding my home as I can. Sadly, I don’t know much about plants and I don’t have any nearby friends or relatives that can easily identify the bushes and trees in my yard. Desperate, I reached out to my Facebook family, and they didn’t disappoint! They made some excellent recommendations to help me get the information that I need. So, since I have some great tools at my disposal, it’s only right that I pass them along to you!

PlantSnap and PictureThis have been my constant companions over the past few weeks. I love that I can take a picture of a plant and process the picture through both apps to get a good idea of what kind of plant it is. I find that PictureThis has more reliable results than PlantSnap, but I love them both and find them very easy to use. I really enjoy the fact that the apps allow you to identify plants for free, and PlantSnap even lets you know that you can identify 25 pictures per day before a paid account is required (I’m not sure how many pictures are allowed using the free membership of PictureThis, but I imagine that the number is similar). The biggest advantage to PictureThis (other than the higher identification reliability) is that it automatically keeps a log of the pictures that you’ve submitted, so you can easy review previously identified plants within the app. For PlantSnap, you have to manually save the photos to a collection in order to retain that information.

YouTube has so many great videos for learning more about the wild plants growing near you: I simply cannot list them all! However, you can search for wild edibles by clicking here and you will find the most popular videos on the topic. Of course, you may not be interested in plants that you can eat; however, edible plants are fascinating to me, and the fact that many “weeds” are also edible and nutritious makes it a topic that I think may interest some of you, as well. As I continue exploring various YT channels, I’ll make a post in the future listing the best gardening channels that I’ve found.

Finally, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has been one of my favorite references during this growing season. Viewing the zone map and using other USDA resources has taught me a lot about what kind of zone I live in, as well as the different zones within my state.

Do you have any digital tools that you use for your garden? I’d love to hear all about them!

beauty · luxury

Bath Bombs: The Finished Product!

Happy Friday, friends! I’m skipping Fibro Friday since I wrote about my fibro experience a couple of days ago, which was Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. So, instead, I figured I’d used this Friday to post an update of the bath bomb project that I mentioned previously.

I looked at a couple of recipes, all of which had a basic set of shared ingredients. I ended up using this one posted on the Byrdie website. I purchased everything I needed from the Dollar Tree and Amazon. I purchased a bath bomb/ice cube mold but, if I may be honest, I don’t think you need it. Decorative mold trays are much better, as are the inexpensive condiment containers (usually with 8 or 10 containers in a pack) that you can purchase at the Dollar Tree.

Here’s the bath bomb mold I used: I preferred using a condiment container as a mold instead. I’ll end up using this for large ice cubes instead.

I used the basic recipe as shown on Byrdie, then I added my own twist to it. I put in 4 drops of yellow food coloring (just to give a hint of color) and several drops of lemongrass essential oil. I also unraveled a single chamomile tea packet and threw the contents into the bath bomb mix, for flair.

Here’s the finished result!

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I love the intoxicating smell of lemongrass. If you love citrus scents that have herbal/grassy notes, then lemongrass is one that you should try for yourself. This bath bomb smells heavenly. I’m not concerned with it being moisturizing: I really made it for the aromatherapy benefits. However, the bath bomb also has coconut oil, so it shouldn’t leave my skin feeling stripped and dry.

I’m excited to try this! Have any of us you tried anything similar? Let me know in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

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beauty · life curation · luxury

Embracing Natural Beauty When You Can’t Leave Your Home

Last week, I shared a post about how I’m enjoying the natural beauty around my home. I’m fortunate to live in a suburb where I have a yard, beautiful plants, and a climate that is conducive to growing the kind of plants I enjoy.

For those that aren’t able to walk outdoors and take in natural beauty (either because of strict quarantine measures or due to living in a “concrete jungle”), I wanted to share some links to websites and YouTube channels that highlight natural beauty around the world.

My current favorite is the Keukenhof Garden in Holland. With millions of stunning tulips bulbs planted, the garden is a feast for the eyes. I’m thrilled that I can take in all of this natural beauty from the comfort of my home.

 

There is also the US Botanic Garden (located in Washington, DC). This incredible garden used to have many fascinating public events and was a wonderful resource for anyone interested in learning more about botany. At this time, however, you can do a virtual tour as well as many online programs. You can even do “yoga in the garden” online every Saturday during the pandemic.

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(A double flowering lenten rose, from the US Botanic Garden website)

Another lovely garden that I used to visit regularly during my workday was the Enid A. Haupt Garden. This stunning pocket of serenity was my perfect place to “get away” when I needed some time to relax away from the office. I always walked around the “parterre”, though this was only a small portion of the garden.

UrninHaupt-1280x720

(A photo of one of the urns in the Haupt Garden Parterre)

In my hometown, there is an incredible botanical garden. At Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, it is also possible to do a virtual tour. These gardens are particularly special, because of their stunning annual butterfly exhibit.

light-and-graceful-butterfly-Phuong-tran-cropped-600

(Elegant butterfly featured on the Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden website)

If your city has a public garden or other outdoor space, you can probably do a virtual tour (a quick Google search should let you know if virtual tours are available). Do you have a favorite garden to tour? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

 

beauty · life curation

Embracing Natural Beauty

With all of this “free” time at home, I have been concentrating on slowing down and enjoying the simple pleasures around me. The main pleasure I’ve indulged in regularly is taking in the stunning beauty of the flowers and trees surrounding my home. Here are a few of my favorite photos. Enjoy!

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My hot pink azaleas

A yellow rose bush that is beginning to bloom

Baby pink rhododendrons

My Japanese maple (the leaves are stunning!)

I find that spending a little time walking the perimeter of my home does wonders for my mood and my energy. Embracing natural beauty has such a calming effect on me. I also planted some irises, tigridias, and gladiolus bulbs that I’m patiently waiting to bloom. When those flowers bloom, I’ll take more pictures and share them with you all.

health

Fibro Fridays: Nervine Herbs

In the quest to reduce my fibromyalgia symptoms and treat my condition with as few chemicals as possible, I’ve began exploring and experimenting with natural supplements. I don’t claim that these options will work for everyone, but for those that are curious, there are certain plants that may relieve some of the common symptoms associated with fibro.

Untitled design

I have been reviewing The Woman’s Herbal Apothecary by JJ Pursellquite a bit over the past few months. This book offers a condensed herbal dictionary and a host of natural remedies to try. One of the best things about this book is how the various effects of certain herbs is summarized for each plant listed. I was intrigued by the herbs that have nervine properties.

My constant companion over the past few months

Nervine herbs can influence the nervous system. It can soothe the nerves and reduce the reaction within the nervous system. Since fibromyalgia is essentially an overactive nervous system that exaggerates sensation in the body, a nervine herb could, theoretically, relax some of those nervous responses and cause the system to calm down.

Below, I’ve listed some of the nervine herbs outlined in the book (the author includes several more).

  • Angelica Root
  • Black Cohosh
  • Chamomile
  • Gotu Kola
  • Hop Flowers
  • Lemongrass
  • Sage
  • Skullcap
  • St. John’s Wort

I’ve personally used chamomile tea, and I’ve made a tea from fresh sage. I have noticed that I am noticeably more relaxed after consuming either tea. I may eventually try experimenting with using these teas as a way to wean myself off of prescription medication, but for now, I’m pleased with the gentle effects from occasional use.

My current favorite chamomile tea blend

On the occasions when my grocer runs out of sage,I’ll order it from Amazon

Have any of you tried any nervine herbs? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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*Disclaimer: this post is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor for any medical recommendations and advice.

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