• white yarrow flowers close-up
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    Got Skin? Get Yarrow.

    Yarrow flowers close-up (image courtesy of trakaislapsis/123RF)   Yarrow is a plant many people recognize as it’s commonly seen in gardens and growing wild. It has a pretty flower and is a beneficial companion plant both for vegetables and herbs. It’s the go-to herb to treat wounds and cuts as it disinfects, stops bleeding by speeding blood clotting, promotes tissue repair, and reduces inflammation. (To get the medicine though, it has to be the Yarrow with white flowers. Modern, colorful cultivars don’t have it.) In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, Yarrow is astringent so it’s used in skincare to reduce the size of pores and the appearance of fine lines. Most often found in…

  • Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    How to use Sage Balm

    Herbal balms are a simple, natural way to care for your skin. Similar to herbal salves which are made with oil and wax, balms also contain vegetable butter, making them extra rich and moisturizing. Balms can be used for both healing and beauty. I use them all the time for everything from daily moisturizer to gardening nicks and scrapes to seriously dry hands and feet. Garden Sage is a great herb to use topically, alone or in combination with other herbs. Because Sage has antiseptic properties, it can be used to treat cuts and wounds. Sage is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and has been shown to help with acne as well as…

  • calendula petals in oil
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    Calendula brings the Glow

    Cold, grey, and rainy today. I’m thinking about cozying up with one of my favorite plants, a golden beauty long associated with fire and the Sun, Calendula. Calendula officinalis is her botanical name, but she has been known by many different names including Pot Marigold, Merrybud, Marygold, Summer’s Bride, and Ruddles. Calendula’s petals, leaves, and stem contain carotenoids which are vitamin A precursors with antioxidant activity. Used topically, it’s excellent for all skin types, and especially good for sensitive, dehydrated / dry, chapped / inflamed skin, wounds and burns. I use Calendula in one of my skin care blends for its ability to improve skin’s condition by refining pores and encouraging cell renewal.…

  • Natural Skin Care

    Let’s Bee the Balm

    Borrowing from Caroline Casey, host-creator and weaver of context for “The Visionary Activist Show” on Pacifica radio station KPFA, “The world is on fire, so let’s bee the balm!”. The idea of bee-ing the balm is why I started gardening with medicinal herbs. Besides being medicine for me, they’re also medicine for bees and other insects, animals, other plant communities, and the earth itself. Gardening (like veganism) is direct action. I take it literally too, as I make vegan skin balms. I’ve been in that place where you try to be blind to an ingredient you don’t want that’s in a product you need. Using that product leaves you feeling, you know, not great.…

  • Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    Shades of Green

    Gathering together some of the herbs used in my salve and balm (pictured left to right: Lemongrass, Green Tea, Chickweed). Aren’t they beautiful? I love all the different shades of green. The aroma is pretty plantastic too! Seems obvious, doesn’t it, that Paradise would be plant-based and full of herbs.

  • Natural Skin Care

    So down on plastic

    Hype. Spin. Noise! How nutty it is that in this age of information, we can’t tell what’s real. My remedy has been plugging in to the garden. The natural world is the really real world, and spending time there puts the made-up, plastic world around us into sharp focus, showing it as a bit ugly and kindof insane. I love watching friends’ expressions as I give them a garden tour. Everyone feels it when they’re surrounded by the plants- a bit of awe, a bit of swoon, and a feeling that this space is somehow different, special; more happy and relaxed; more real. That feeling is what I love about things that are handmade with plants. The…

  • In the Herb Garden,  Natural Skin Care

    Signs of Spring

    We have a big patch of green in the middle of the foot of snow in the backyard- a bumper crop of chickweed growing in our cold frame with the spinach I planted last Fall. Hawkeye still kindof thinks of chickweed as a nuisance, but for me, it’s a favorite! One of the first plants to appear in Spring, you can eat it like spinach and it’s a very helpful medicinal. Awesome in bodycare too, I love using soothing chickweed in oils and salves for irritated skin. Learn more about chickweed the way I first did, from herbalist Susun Weed: “Chickweed Is A Star“

  • Natural Skin Care

    Shiitake Soap Surprise

    Unveiling my first-ever batch of Shiitake hand-milled soap. These cocoa butter soaps are palm oil-free, made with our farm-grown Shiitake, and naturally scented with Bay, Amyris, Ravensara, and Lemon essential oils*. (*I think this blend was inspired by some recent island hopping in the West Indies- It occurred to me as I was cooking the soap. I’d originally planned a sage/cedarwood kind of thing.) Soap takes several weeks to cure, so I have a bit to wait before I can start one of the best parts of my job: product testing!

  • Natural Skin Care

    Good Soap.

      When I’m not in the garden, I’m in the studio crafting vegan bodycare with herbs and veggies. Here’s my latest: ‘Lettuce & Lavender’ cocoa butter soap with poppy seeds for a little scrub and lavender, fennel, and marjoram essential oils for an intriguingly herbal scent. One of seven new blends coming soon! Gentle, creamy, softly aromatic, handmade with natural ingredients. And palm oil-free. My idea of a good soap.

  • Natural Skin Care,  The Latest News

    Hand-Milled Soaps Returning

      Now that the weather’s turning colder and the farm is slowing down, I’m able to get back to work in the bodycare studio… Our hand-milled soaps are returning, with new ‘flavors’ and a new blend of oils that will stand up to your shower (I LOVE my old 100% Olive Oil soaps, but they do have a tendency to melt… ). My new blend still uses Olive Oil, but it’s combined with Coconut Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Cocoa Butter, and Castor Oil, giving a firmer yet very gentle soap that won’t melt in your shower. They still have a luxurious lather (a little more bubbly than straight Olive Oil, I think), are scented naturally with essential oils,…