Herby beautiful

With all the herbs growing like mad, I thought it was time we had another herby pampering session!

Rosemary Hair Tonic

Rosemary is an excellent substitute for mildly medicated shampoos, and this tonic also helps control greasy hair and enhances the shine and natural colour.

You will need: 

  • 250ml/8fl oz fresh rosemary tips
  • 1.2 litres/2 pints bottled water.
  1. Put the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes, then allow to cool in the pan.
  2. Strain the mixture and store it in a clean bottle. Use after shampooing your hair. 

Feverfew Complexion Milk

Feverfew grown prolifically in the garden, self-seeding all over the herb beds, and this is a welcome use for some of this over-enthusiastic plant. The milk will moisturise dry skin, help to fade blemishes and discourage blackheads.

You will need:

  • One large handful feverfew leaves
  • 300ml/½ pint milk
  1. Put the leaves and milk in a small saucepan and simmers for 20 minutes.
  2. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan then strain into a bottle.

PS. Feverfew flowers

If you haven’t got feverfew sprouting everywhere like I have… it can be cultivated easily; it is especially pretty grown in tubs and pots in the greenhouse or conservatory.

Hang bunches of flowers upside sown and leave to air dry; use as a decorative addition to flower arrangements.

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Herby hair tonics

All my herbs are growing like mad now and I hate wasting them, so am always looking for ways of
using them. These two hair treatments are lovely – it’s so nice to produce your own natural products – and they’re really easy to make!

Parsley Hair Tonic

Parsley stimulates the scalp and gets the circulation going, which aids hair growth and adds shine.

You will need:

1 large handful of parsley sprigs

2 tbsp water

1.            Place the parsley springs and water in a food processor

2.            Process until ground to a smooth purée. Apply the green lotion to the scalp, then wrap your head in a warm towel and leave for about an hour before shampooing as normal.

Lemon Verbena Hair Rinse

Add a delicious fragrance to your hair with this rinse. It will also stimulate the pores and circulation. Lemon verbena is worth growing in the Garden, if only so that you can walk past and pick a wonderful scented leaf.

You will need:

I handful of lemon verbena leaves

250ml/8fl oz boiling water

1.            Pour the boiling water over the lemon verbena leaves and leave for at least an hour.

2.            Strain the mixture and discard the leaves. Pour this rinse over your hair after conditioning.

 

 

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Fennel Cleanser for some clean living

Fennel is a herb that self-seeds all over the garden, so once you have planted it, supplies will be no problem. The plant has an aniseed aroma. This mixture gently, but thoroughly, cleanses the day’s grime away.

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp fennel seed
  • 250ml/8 fl oz boiling water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp buttermilk 
  1. Lightly crush the fennel seeds, pour on the boiling water and allow to infuse for about 30 mins.
  2. Strain the cooled liquid into a small bowl and add the honey and buttermilk. Transfer to a clean bottle and keep the mixture refrigerated.

Fennel Seeds

The tall graceful heads of fennel seed add height to a cottage herb garden. The seeds are valued for their distinctive aroma.

Fennel bulb

Surprisingly easy to grow, fennel is a versatile vegetable and its aniseed flavour is unusual and adds a twist to any meal. The fennel bulb can be used raw, thinly sliced and added to salad, braised or roasted. The fronds of the plant, before the seeds develop, also make a very pretty garnish.

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A treat for your feet!

Our poor feet will have spent most of the winter months stuffed into socks and jammed into boots so now it’s time to show them we love them and give them a bit of pampering!

Mint Footbath & Massage Oil

This soothing footbath is great any time of the year for tired feet, but especially good now if you follow it up with this wonderful mint massage oil. Use the massage oil just before bed and it will smooth and soften your feet as you sleep… If you apply the massage oil at some other time do be careful not to slip.

Mint Bath:

  • 12 large sprigs of mint
  • 120ml/4flo oz cold water
  • 2.4 litres/4 pints boiling water 

Massage oil 

  • 1 tbsp almond oil
  • 1 drop mint essential oil

1. Place the mint in a food processor and add the cold water. Process well until it becomes a green purée. Pour this into a large bowl and add the boiling water. Once the mixture has cooled to a bearable temperature, soak both feet at once until the water is too cool to be comforting.

2. Gently rub your feet dry with a soft towel. Mix the almond oil and the mint essential oil and rub well into both feet.

I think we quite often neglect our feet but, once you’ve tried pampering them, you will find how relaxing and soothing it is and how generally ‘content’ it makes you feel… sigh!

PS. Mint is another ‘essential’ herb as far as I’m concerned. Last week I suggested you grow bay and parsley, and to that list I’d add mint. However, mint is a herb to keep your eye on! Always keep it in a pot as it will spread and grow very quickly and take over everything else if you let it.

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Herbal Pleasures

Happy New Year!

I thought we’d kick off 2012 with some personal pampering – I’m sure we’ve earned it after all our hard work over the festive season.

I love natural products and making your own beauty treatments is so much more rewarding than opening jars and sachets and fighting with fancy packaging… and you can feel extra virtuous as you’ll be saving yourself a fortune as well! So here are two of my favourites, simple – but lovely… 

Chamomile and Honey Mask

Although this mask makes you look a bit strange while it’s on your face (best not to answer the front door!) it’s worth it as it smooths and softens skin beautifully. Chamomile flowers are usually easy to find in health food shops as they are often used for making chamomile tea.

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp dried chamomile flowers
  • 175ml (6fl oz) boiling water
  • 2 tbsp of bran
  • 1 tsp of clear honey, warmed

1. Pour the boiling water over the chamomile flowers and allow them to stand for 30 minutes. Then strain the infusion and discard the chamomile flowers.

2. Mix 3 tbsp of the liquid with the bran and honey and rub this mixture all over your face. It may be a little stiff at first, but will smooth out over the skin. Leave the mixture on your skin for at least 10 minutes then rinse off with warm water.

Herbal Bath Bags

These are much more fun than putting commercial bubble bath into the water. Tie them over the taps and make sure the hot running water is going through them – this will release lovely herbal scents that will relax and comfort you.

You will need: 

  • 3 x 25cm (9in) diameter circles of muslin
  • 6 tbsp bran
  • 1 tbsp lavender flowers
  • 1 tbsp chamomile flowers
  • 1 tbsp rosemary tips
  • 3 small rubber bands
  • 3m (3yds) narrow ribbon or twine

1. Place 2 tbsp of bran in the centre of each circle of muslin. Add the lavender to one bag, the chamomile to a second and the rosemary to the third.

2. Gather each circle of material up and close with a rubber band. Then tie a reasonable length of ribbon or twine around each bag to make a loop so that the bag can be hung from the hot tap in the stream of water.

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