Natural Health
Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.


A Delicious Tour & Tasting Through Mount Gilead Farm

 

What is more delightful than finding a hidden gem ‘experience’ on vacation? I am so excited to share this gem with you. Alex and I recently booked a trip to the Smokies and what a breathtaking experience.

For our first Airbnb experience, we hit the jackpot! We started our trip at a beautiful cottage in the Smokies & ended our trip at a lovely Bed & Breakfast about 2 hours away. I was pretty glued to our cottage with the stunning view of the Smoky Mountains but we did break out for one excursion & I am so glad we did! 

Just outside of Asheville lies a beautiful town called Leicester, NC. With rolling green hills, farm houses, winding country roads & mountain views, Leicester looks like it is straight out of a painting.

We booked our trip to Mount Gilead Farm and French Broad Creamery for our working farm tour. Little did I know just how much Alex & I would enjoy this fantastic day trip. So much so, that I just had to share with you. If you are taking a trip to the Smokies or Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I highly recommend you stop by and visit our new friends.

When we arrived to this beautiful 48 acre farm nestled in the rolling hills and mountains of Leicester, we were greeted by Zachariah who helps run the day to day operation of the farm with his family. It was such a joy taking a tour of this 1st generation family farm & with his wonderful story telling abilities and knowledge, Zach really helped us to jump right in. It would suffice to say we made some new ‘forever friends’. I felt like I was walking through a painting and with breathtaking views, precious animals (horses, donkeys, chickens, goats and more) it was the BEST way to just be in nature and relax.

Fueled by a dream & desire of Zachariah’s father, Robert (Farmer Bob), a retired Professor, and his delightful wife Kathleen, Mount Gilead Farm & French Broad Creamery was started. As we walked around asking questions and engaging, I learned that the whole family each has a piece in the beautiful design unfolding at the farm. It is a real ‘family affair’ and I just loved that! When you can take a love for the land & animals and combine it with the love of family... a beautiful thing unfolds. 

Farmer Bob and Kathleen have four amazing kids each contributing their own individual strengths to Mount Gilead Farm and French Broad Creamery. Robertino, the eldest, is an amazing host, cook and entertainer for brunch tours. Gabriel is the next son who frequently volunteers his free time from being a boat captain in Charleston to come up and help with projects around the farm, organization & systems around the farm and even bought a camper for a farm hand to stay in! Zachariah is in charge of the day to day operations & caring for the animals and land with his father. He is amazing at what he does and truly, you’d think he had lived the ‘farm life’ forever. Lastly, Robert & Kathleen’s daughter, Sophia, helps with the social media & marketing for the farm, working with the website & is getting ready to host the first ‘Mount Gilead Farm’ wedding to test the waters on a possible future wedding venue.

As you can see, this beautiful family all dove right in to make Mount Gilead Farm & French Broad Creamery what it is today. In just a few short years, this family went from a mere dream to a productive farm yielding the rich rewards of their obedience. The animals are healthy, happy and thriving and the food, goat cheese and delicious produce goes to supply locals with the best (truly delicious) food. It really is a wonderful thing to see a family excited about producing food as it should be. Wholesome, nutritious and nourishing to the body. 

As we toured this pristine land, we got to pop in and visit the goats and I laughed after we left the farm and told Alex  “You don’t know a great day until you’ve been hugged by a goat”. The animals all have their own unique personalities & stories. For instance, the Donkey who made her home on the farm & found her boyfriend (the horse) there who she is now glued to. You can hear more about that cute story from Zach when you tour their farm. The farm dog, Max, also chose Mount Gilead to be his ‘furever’ home and he is happy as can be just running around the farm with you as you tour it. He rolls in the grass, laps water and does his job just bringing a smile to your face. 

As we ended the tour, we circled back around to the front of the farm where there was a lovely tree providing just the right amount of shade and a picnic bench just beneath it with a checkered linen and spread of various homemade goat cheeses, homemade goodies, farm fresh salad, dressing and produce ready for lunch. It was so beautiful! We sat with our feet in the grass (grounding) and talking to Zach as we ate lunch.

Zach recalled stories of his family, the farm and shared about the love his mother has for hosting others. He even recalled how in his college days she would invite others in to stay and live with them so that they didn’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of costs associated with college living. His Mother, Kathleen, came out to visit us with her bright clear smile and warm heart.  I can spot genuineness from a mile away and it flows plentiful on this farm.

As Kathleen helped to serve us during lunch, I randomly snapped a picture of her hands doing so. Serving. Then I thought, I wonder how many hearts these hands have served? Sometimes it is not about ‘what’ is served but the hands that serve. From raising babies, hugging others, lifting others up, serving who knows how many meals... I thought to myself  “these hands tell a story”. 

It was seriously one of THE most delightful experiences. The weather was perfect and it was the most appropriate picture of seeing the rewards of all of the hard work that goes into this farm. It started with a tour and ended over laughs, good conversation and food that came right from the land we were on. It was witnessing the work behind the food. The love behind the homemade soaps and baked goods. The circle of life and how it all goes into a working farm. Nothing is wasted here. The land isn’t just ‘used’ for what it can provide but lovingly nurtured and turned appropriately.

At Mount Gilead Farm & French Broad Creamery, it is not just a ‘tour’ but an experience. Truly. I can’t wait to come back and visit this warm family soon. In the meantime, I highly recommend you book your experience. From petting goats, bottle feeding baby goats and taking a delightful farm tour & tasting, they offer so much! In the near future they will have a 1 bedroom vacation rental available to book so you can stay on the farm yourself. Trust me when I tell you, Alex and I will be doing this. I can’t wait for you to have your own experience here... make sure you tell me all about it! Make sure you leave your comments and I will be sure Farmer Bob, Kathleen, Zach and the whole family see them.

Blessings on your journey! 

Here is how you can find this Family, Farm and book this experience yourself: Facebook: Mount Gilead Farm & French Broad Creamery; Web: www.frenchbroadgoats.com; Airbnb Experience: abnb.me/esf5k7ooLZ


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Get Your Glow On: Stephanie’s Original All-Purpose Scrub Recipe

 

As a licensed esthetician (skin care specialist), my clients often ask me about what they can do to improve the texture and radiance of their skin. In addition to my customary sage advice that includes observing good lifestyle habits, drinking plenty of water and eating a whole foods diet, minimizing stress, living in joy, and avoiding excess sun exposure, I always ask if they use a gentle exfoliating facial scrub on a regular basis. Why? Well, allow me to impart a bit of educational "skinformation."

The epidermis, the thin outer layer of the skin that is visible to the eye and protects the body, renews and replaces itself completely every 30 to 60 days or so. This timetable varies with age, health, lifestyle habits, skin care regimen, and environmental factors. The younger you are, the more rapid the cellular turnover and natural sloughing of spent epidermal cells. As you age, the skin’s metabolism naturally slows, resulting in slower cell turnover and a potential buildup of surface dead skin cells. Gentle, consistent exfoliation is essential to aid in the removal of this dry, scaly, lackluster layer, revealing a fresher, smoother complexion that will more readily accept beneficial hydration from a toner, astringent, facial steam, mask, or moisturizer.

I practice holistic skin care, meaning I eschew products containing unnecessary synthetics, irritants, and useless fillers, as well as modern exfoliating treatments such as harsh chemical peels and microdermabrasion that can compromise the long-term health of the skin and its protective microbiome. I prefer instead to use products based on organic plant ingredients and extracts that nourish and support the functioning of the skin, including facial exfoliants that are uber gentle, yet effective, and I incorporate plenty of facial massage during my treatment sessions to stimulate circulation, tighten muscles, and boost product penetration. Yep, I give great facials that leave your skin smiling!

The recipe below is unlike most commercial facial scrub products that contain rough bits of gritty pumice, ground apricot kernels, walnut hulls, or plastic beads (an environmental no-no) - which serve to mechanically exfoliate your skin. Instead, my formula contains softer, soothing, mildly abrasive ingredients that accomplish the same goal while being much easier on your delicate skin.

Stephanie’s Original All-Purpose Scrub Recipe

This recipe will definitely do that for you if used several days per week. It’s actually the very first skin care product that I ever made! I was about 15 at the time, and I’ve used and loved it ever since. It leaves your skin feeling very smooth and satiny and, as a bonus, it doubles as a facial mask: after cleansing your skin, simply apply a thin layer, let dry for 20 minutes, and then rinse.

Note: This recipe calls for oatmeal, almonds, and sunflower seeds processed or ground into “meals”. You can easily grind these ingredients by using a clean coffee grinder (in which you don’t grind coffee) or use a small food processor. Or, you can purchase pre-made oat flour and almond meal. I rarely find sunflower seed meal, though, so this ingredient will probably have to make from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ground oatmeal or oat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal (use raw almonds, not roasted)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed meal (use raw seeds, not roasted)
  • 1 teaspoon ground, dried peppermint, rosemary, or spearmint leaves
  • Dash of cinnamon powder (optional, but it adds a pleasant hint of spicy fragrance)
Yield: 1 cup dry ingredients

Liquid additives:

For dry skin: Approx. 2-3 teaspoons full-fat coconut milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half

For normal skin: Approx. 2-3 teaspoons coconut water, almond milk, or low-fat or whole dairy milk

For oily skin: Approx. 2-3 teaspoons distilled or purified water or aloe vera juice

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly blend all the dry ingredient in a small bowl using a spoon or small whisk, or shake them in a ziplock plastic bag.
  2. Pour the mixture into an airtight storage container. Label and date.

To Store: No refrigeration is required for the dry scrub mixture, but for maximum freshness and potency, please use within 6 months. Store in a dark, cool cabinet.

To Apply: In a very small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the dry scrub mixture with enough of the appropriate liquid to form a spreadable paste. Allow the paste to thicken for 1 minute. Now, cleanse your face and throat with your usual cleanser, pat dry. Next, using your fingers, gently massage the scrub onto your face and throat for 1 minute. Rinse well with warm water. This scrub is so gentle that you can use it daily, if you wish. Otherwise, please use at least twice per week. Follow with moisturizer.

Recipe excerpted from Pure Skin Care: Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty © 2018 by Stephanie Tourles, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Stephanie Tourles is a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist, and gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism. She has also written many other books, including her best-selling, Organic Body Care RecipesHands-On Healing RemediesRaw Energy In a GlassRaw Energy; Pure Skin Care; and Naturally Bug-Free (all available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store). Visit her website www.StephanieTourles.com to learn more, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


 

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Herb Infused Waters for Summer Hydration

Hydration is key when summer hits, and while I love ice water, sometimes a hint of flavor can make water feel a bit more special. Plus, herb infused water is an easy upgrade when entertaining, your guests will be impressed!

You can use any combo of herbs, fruits, and edible flowers that you like, here are some of my favorite combos:

1. Lemon Balm and Mint: lemon balm has a sweet lemony flavor that add brightness while mint will add that refreshing cooling effect. Lemon balm is known to relieve digestive problems, anxiety, lower blood pressure, aid in concentration and is antiviral (1). Mint is known to also relieve digestive bloat, upset stomach and vomiting (1). A lemon balm and mint water infusion would be great on a hot day, when you might need a mood lift or feel extra stressed.

2. Watermelon and Basil: cubed watermelon adds a touch of sweetness while basil pairs well with summer fruit. Basil improves circulation and soothes headaches while being antimicrobial (1). The contrast of pink plus green makes a great spring and summer refresher. Watermelon can also be substituted with strawberries for a fun twist.

3.Mint and Cucumber: cucumber water is classic ‘spa water’. Add sliced cucumbers to impart a touch of flavor and add mint, which can relieve upset stomach and cools you down at the same time.

4. Chamomile: alone, chamomile has a sweet apple flavor, pair it with lavender, lemon balm or stevia leaves for a sweeter twist on herb water. Chamomile is known to promote relaxation and relieve stress, ease stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea (1) and is also loved by children. The cute white flowers will give this infusion a feminine look, great for a girls day or night.

5. Strawberry and thyme: strawberries add vitamins, sweetness and a pale pink hue. Thyme adds a distinct herbal flavor and brings benefits such as soothing sore throats, stimulating the immune system and can help fight urinary infections (1). Together they make a tasty pairing fit for any summer entertaining, or as a treat after an afternoon working in the garden.

Water infused with herbs is a healthy, sugar free alternative for any time of the year, but especially refreshing during the warm months. When infusing waters, roughly chop, tear or bruise the herbs to release their oils and scent. In a pitcher or large mason jar, infuse water and herbs for a least 2-4 hours before serving for the best flavor. Throw in a few edible flowers such as calendula, pansies, borage, rose petals or chamomile for an extra layer of color and interest. There is no wrong or right combination when it comes to infusing water with herbs- use the flavors you like and use the herbs you have on hand!

(1) Chown, Vicky; Walker, Kim. The Handmade Apothecary. Sterling Ethos, 2017.

Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then she has run California based Flicker Farm to accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs, pasture based poultry and sells goats milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Facebook


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Growing, Propagating and Using Aloe Vera

aloe vera plant

If you only have a little space in your garden, or perhaps even just a balcony or a sunny windowsill, you should definitely try growing some Aloe vera. Easy to care for, aesthetically pleasing, and very useful, these plants have been a fixture in hot climate gardens for a long time. 

Aloe vera is a succulent perennial evergreen plant that originates in the arid, hot climate of the Arabian Peninsula, which means it is ideally suited for dry, semi-desert conditions, and does very well with frugal watering. Keep your plant in well-drained soil and allow it to drain thoroughly between waterings. Aloe vera does great as a potted plant or planted directly in the soil. You will probably need to water more often if you keep your plant in a pot, though.

Most gardening guides say that aloe vera does best in full sun, but I have found that in a very hot climate such as ours, with many hours of glaring sunlight each day, my aloe plants get burned in full sun and the tips of their leaves dry up. I keep mine in dappled shade underneath a large mango tree, and they thrive that way.

Aloe propagates by offshoots, which means that once your mother plant is big enough, you will have new little plants growing from the bottom. Make sure you have enough room for them all, as they can multiply really fast once they get going! To separate the young plants, dig gently around the roots, reach down and, moving the roots around, disengage the offshoot from the mother plant. If you grow your aloe in a pot and the offshoots are close to the pot’s sides, you might have to remove the whole cluster of plants, separate the young ones, and put the mother plant back in.

You can also try collecting aloe vera seeds. The plant has tall, impressive flower stalks with multiple yellow-orange blossoms. Once the flowers dry up completely, you can collect and germinate the seeds, but I have never bothered, because offshoots are by far the easiest way to get more plants.

A small pot with a young aloe vera plant can be a great gift to neighbors and friends. I like to give mine away to whoever happens to stop by, and always have plants to spare. 

Aloe vera gel has wonderful cooling and soothing properties. Use it on burns or insect bites to reduce itching and swelling. I like to keep a few aloe vera leaves in the freezer and use them as needed. The gel quickly defrosts when applied to the bite or burn, providing the additional soothing comfort of cold. 

Image source: Creative Commons

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband, and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Amazon.com Author PageConnect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blogRead all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.


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Dandelion Benefits Biodiversity, Soil and Your Health

Dandelion Field With Blue Sky

Photo by pixel2013

Did you know there are tons of amazing and medicinal actions dandelions can perform for both your health and the earth? Just to confirm, yes you read that correctly: We are absolutely talking about those yellow flower bearing “weeds” that seem to grow just about anywhere and everywhere.

To many people, these highly prolific plants, are often thought of as a nuisance or an eyesore amongst a garden or well-kept lawn. However, if more people knew about some of the incredible actions dandelions can perform, they would likely be welcomed in any garden, lawn, or pathway.

Dandelion’s Benefits to Biodiversity and Soils

Dandelions play a very important role in the livelihood of many ecosystems, as they are one of the first blooming plants in springtime. This makes dandelion an essential food for bees and other pollinating insects in the early spring months, when most varieties of flowers have not yet bloomed. Getting some fuel from dandelions, bees and other insects then go on to do the important job of pollinating numerous plants and crops. In fact, the Urban Pollinators Project housed at the University of Bristol, found that dandelions are the most visited urban plant by important pollinators out of all plants growing in urban settings.

Not only do dandelions help support the pollinator populations, they are also extremely helpful in facilitating healthy soils. One of the ways they do so is by restoring soil mineral content. This in turn produces more nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, and other crops. This is especially important in areas where soil has been degraded of essential minerals from industrial farming practices.

Dandelions have also been found to help create drainage pathways in compact soils. This can prevent the stagnation of ground water and potential puddling in a garden or flooding in an ecosystem. Because of this, dandelions can be highly beneficial to your garden, especially if you’re growing root vegetables (beets, carrots, potatoes, etc.) in dense soil.

Health Benefits of Dandelion

Inflammation. Incorporating Dandelions into your day-to-day can be very beneficial for your health as the functions they can perform when ingested are vast and varying. For starters, this yellow “super plant” is very anti-inflammatory which is extremely important for overall vitality. A 2006 Harvard Health study has stated that chronic inflammation can be thought of as the common factor in causing most illnesses.

Digestion. Dandelions have been seen to help with a variety of digestive disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, heartburn, and constipation. When taken prior to a meal, they can increase your body’s natural production of hydrochloric acid, which in turn aids with protein digestion.

Kidney support. Dandelions are also considered a “diuretic” and support the kidneys in reducing water retention. Believe it or not, dandelions can also help with detoxification and support the liver with the numerous actions it performs to rid our bodies of toxins.

Skin. Just in case you aren’t convinced of dandelions super powers; you should know that even its stem can be useful! Dandelion stems are filled with a substance that can be used topically on unwanted skin conditions such as warts.

So now that you know some of the many ways dandelions are incredibly helpful for both human health and the earth, the next time you see one you might choose to marvel at it, honor it for its amazingness, or pick it to use it. Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn how to incorporate dandelions into your diet in a variety of unique ways such as, your salads, stirfrys, teas, and even baked goods!

Meghan De Jong is the founder of Meg De Jong Nutrition, her personal nutrition platform, which offers tons of seasonal recipes, food growing tips, and nutrition education. She works with clients one on one to provide “garden-to-kitchen” nutrition support, and is the author of e-book entitled Eat to Nourish. She currently is creating a 4-part guide to seasonal eating. Check out the spring edition, then connect with Meg on Facebook and Instagram.


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Healing Herbal Salves: Chickweed, Calendula and Cannabis

 

The growing season can provide many different medicines straight from your yard or garden, sometimes wild and sometimes cultivated. Here are a few of my favorites to make for our family from our farm:

Chickweed Salve

Chickweed is a wild, edible "weed" that pops up in the cool weather of late winter and early spring in our area of Northern California. Nutritious {full of trace minerals and vitamins} and delicious in a salad, Chickweed applied topically also has a cooling, drying and healing effect on the skin which can aid in treatment of minor burns, cuts, rashes and bug bites. Also acting as an astringent, a compress of fresh Chickweed is helpful in pulling out splinters. Chickweed can be identified by the single line of hairs that run along the stalk and the cute white flowers that bloom with maturity.

To make a topical salve, cut your desired amount of plant, equal to the volume of oil you will be using, and allow to wilt overnight. Wilting the Chickweed decreases the moisture content, which decreases the chance of spoiling your infusion while still allowing the fresh properties of the plants to be used. After wilting overnight, cover the chickweed in the oil{s} of your choice for infusion. I also like to run this through the blender a bit to really increase the surface area of the plant for infusion. To maximize the strength of the infusion, using a crock pot on the lowest setting {‘warm’ on my model} heat the chickweed and oil mixture until dark green in color, over several hours. Once infused and darkened in color, strain the solids out with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Mix 1 cup of infused oil with 1oz of beeswax {more in very hot climates} to create a solid salve and store in a glass jar or metal tins.

Calendula Salve

Calendula not only makes for bright and cheery flowers in the garden, the edible petals can add some fun to a salad and make a healing salve to use year round. Calendula comes in a range of colors from yellows, to pinks, to oranges. Calendula has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer, antimicrobial, and to promote wound healing. Think of it like a herbal Neosporin! Calendula is very easy to grow and easily reseeds itself for years of harvests. To make a topical salve you’ll want to harvest the flowers just after blooming and before setting seeds, cut at the bottom of the flower head right where it meets the stem. The more you cut, the more will bloom! Dry these flower heads where they have good airflow {to prevent mold} until fully dry, then infuse the oil{s} of your choice over a period of weeks until your infusion is golden in color. Strain the spent flowers through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth and either compost the flowers or I sometimes feed them to my chickens for any leftover nutrition. Mix 1 cup of this infused oil with 1oz of beeswax {more in very hot climates} and store in glass jars or metal tins.

Cannabis Salve

Another favorite topical salve of mine is cannabis salve for pain, healing and more. For more details on the why and the how you can find my article on cannabis here.

If DIY isn’t your thing but you would like the benefits of either chickweed or calendula salve, you can find both in my Etsy shop here, straight from our farm!

Growing, harvesting and crafting homemade salves can be a rewarding and easy way to incorporate more of nature into your life.

Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then she has run California based Flicker Farm to accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs, pasture based poultry and sells goats milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Facebook.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Skin-Soothing Chamomile and Olive Oil Body Butter Recipe

Chamomile Body Butter Recipe Ingredients

Photo ©Michael Piazza Photography. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Your skin “eats”. Did you know that?

It sure does!  It “eats” or absorbs up to 60 percent of what you apply to it (to what degree depends on age, condition and temperature of your skin, state of current health, and the molecular size of product ingredients).

Now that you’re aware of this, doesn’t it make you want to use only those body oils, lotions, creams, and body butters that are made with natural ingredients versus products concocted with synthetics and deleterious fillers (artificial colors, fragrances, mineral oil, propylene glycol, parabens, etc.)?  As a licensed holistic esthetician, herbalist, aromatherapist, and author, I’ve formulated skin and body care recipes for the last three decades and I’ve figured out — with much trial and error - how to design these recipes so that the average home cook can become a master kitchen cosmetologist — able to churn out effective personal care products that rival their commercial counterparts.

All-natural skin conditioners, whether rich and semi-heavy or light and silky, improve the skin’s barrier function by sealing in moisture and preventing evaporation.  They also lubricate your skin, improving overall suppleness and elasticity. Applying some type of nurturing conditioner, be it a hydrating moisturizer, silky body oil, or thick butter (like the recipe below) or balm, is a daily essential, a vitally important skin care step that should never be skipped.

Chamomile and Olive Body Butter Recipe

Homemade Body Butter Chamomile Recipe

Chamomile and Olive Body Butter, photo by Stephanie Tourles

This herbal butter deeply feeds your skin from the outside and especially benefits inflamed, irritated skin.  It also makes a fabulous cleansing cream and facial moisturizer for all skin types and a wonderful nail conditioning cream. It even works well to moisturize the ends of dry, frizzy hair if applied sparingly, and is a restorative after-sun cream.

This recipe includes both German chamomile (Matricaria recutita, syn. M. chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, syn. Anthemis nobilis) essential oils.  When combined, they offer many beneficial properties for uncomfortable, distressed skin: calming, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, and antihistamine.

Important tips: Read this before you start melting and blending any ingredients! Blending homemade creams, lotions, and body butters takes practice.  You’re attempting to combine oily and fatty ingredients with water-based ones — which naturally repel each other — and get them to stabilize chemically and form an emulsion. Just as occurs with homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, or gravy, though, when watery ingredients and fats are blended properly and at the right temperatures, magic happens! A fabulous cream appears right before your eyes.

In order for everything to blend properly, the fatty mixture should be approximately the same temperature as the watery mixture — about body temperature or slightly cooler.

To make your body butter thicker or firmer, add a tad more beeswax or shea butter. Experiment and see which one produces the consistency and texture you like best. Shea butter will always remain softer than beeswax and it takes much, much longer than beeswax to thicken as it cools.

Prep Time: Approximately 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes to completely cool and set up

Yields approximately 2 ¼ cups

Ingredients:

• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil or chamomile-infused olive oil
•¼ cup unrefined coconut oil
•2 Tablespoons beeswax or vegetable emulsifying wax
•1 Tablespoon shea butter (refined or unrefined)
•1 cup distilled or purified water; or chamomile, lavandin, lavender, or rosemary hydrosol
•1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
•10 capsules 200 IU vitamin E oil
•30 drops German chamomile essential oil
•30 drops Roman chamomile essential oil

Note: You may add ¼ cup of commercial aloe vera gel or juice for added skin-healing benefits, but if you do this, please reduce the water or hydrosol to ¾ cup.

Directions:

1. Heat.  In a small saucepan over low heat or in a double boiler, warm the olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter until the solids are just melted. Do not allow to simmer, just gently warm the ingredients. In another small pan, warm the water or hydrosol (and aloe vera gel or juice – if you decided to use it) and the vegetable glycerin, and stir a few times until the glycerin dissolves in the liquid.

2. Cool.  Remove both pans from the heat.  Pour the oils/wax/shea butter mixture into a blender and allow to cool for approximately 10 to 20 minutes, or until it begins to turn slightly opaque. Leave the lid off the blender during the cooling process. Time will vary depending on the temperature of your ingredients and kitchen. DO NOT walk away and forget what you are doing and allow this mixture to get too thick or it will not blend properly and you may have a difficult time getting it out of your blender.

3. Blend.  Now, place the lid on the blender and remove the lid’s center plastic piece. Turn the blender on medium speed. Slowly drizzle the water and glycerin through the center of the lid into the vortex of swirling fats below. Almost immediately the cream will turn off-white to very pale yellow and will begin to thicken.

If the watery mixture is not properly combining with the fatty mixture, turn off the blender and give the body butter a few stirs with a spatula, being sure to scrape down any residue from the sides of the blender container. Then replace the lid and blend on medium speed for another 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat this process once or twice more, if necessary, until the texture is smooth.

Turn off the blender and add the vitamin E oil (pierce the capsule skin and squeeze the contents into the mix) and essential oils. Put the lid back on, then blend for another 5 seconds or so, until the body butter is smooth and thick. It should be a pale greenish-blue color.

4. Package and cool. Pour or spoon the finished body butter into dark glass or plastic storage containers(s) — 1- to 4-ounce containers are recommended. Lightly cover each container with a paper towel and allow the blend to cool for about 30 minutes before capping and labeling.

To Store:  This body butter is best stored in a dark, cool cabinet. Use within 60 to 90 days. If your storage area is very warm, please use the butter within 4 weeks for maximum potency and freshness. On the day you notice any mold growing in your container, toss it out and make a fresh batch.

If, after a few hours or days, water begins to separate from your body butter, don’t worry. You can pour off the watery liquid and use the resulting super-thick product as a foot, shin, knee, or elbow balm. The mixture can separate if the temperature of the fatty ingredients and that of the watery ingredients are not relatively equal and cool enough when the two portions are blended. Keep trying — making perfect creams and butters is an art!

To Apply: Immediately following a bath or shower, slather this butter on your damp skin — really massage it in. Because it’s very concentrated, begin with 1 teaspoon at a time. If your skin has an oily residue after 5 minutes, you’ve used too much. Simply wipe off the excess with a towel and use less next time around. Body butter may be used daily, if desired.

Recipe excerpted from Pure Skin Care: Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty (c2018 by Stephanie Tourles). Photo ©Michael Piazza Photography. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Book Cover Pure Skin Care

Stephanie Tourles is a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist, and gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism. She has also written many other books, including her best-selling, Organic Body Care RecipesHands-On Healing RemediesRaw Energy In a GlassRaw Energy; Pure Skin Care; and Naturally Bug-Free (all available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store). Visit her website www.StephanieTourles.com to learn more, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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