How to Make Violet Facial Toner

violet9It’s spring here in the Mid-Altantic, and with it comes violets! In the past, I have posted recipes using these delicate purple flowers, including violet syrup and violet cordial. Besides being pretty, tasty and nutritious, violets also make a wonderful ingredient in natural skin care.

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They are moisturizing, toning, antiseptic, and healing. And violets contain significant amounts of mucilage that help soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, redness, and sooth irritated tissue. Violet flowers and leaves are excellent for dry, sensitive skin. Following is a recipe for violet facial toner, which you can make with either Apple Cider Vinegar or Witch Hazel.

Apple Cider Vinegar makes a great facial wash and toner, since it is great at removing excess oils and helps balance the pH levels. It has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties and also contains alpha hydroxy acids, which help remove dead skin cells, resulting in a healthier-looking complexion.

Witch Hazel has astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and makes a great facial toner, even by itself, for all skin types. Be sure to use a true Witch Hazel extract, which contains mostly Witch Hazel and less than 20% alcohol.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (1 quart) distilled water
  • 1 cup violet flowers and leaves
  • 1 cup organic apple cider vinegar or organic witch hazel
  • Lavender essential oil (optional)

violet2Boil the water. Then make an infusion by pouring the water over the violet flowers and leaves in a glass or ceramic container. Cover and let stand for 1 hour (the closed jar keeps the water-soluble vitamins from escaping in the steam).  Strain out the flowers and you will have a beautiful purplish-blue liquid.

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Combine the violet infusion with the vinegar or witch hazel. Pour into sterilized bottles and store in a cool, dry place. The vinegar and witch hazel act as natural preservatives, so this mixture will last quite a while.

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Use this cleansing, pH-balancing, restoring toner after washing your face.  Apply with clean sterile cotton balls or pour a small amount in your hand and splash on, avoiding your eyes.

Both versions have mild, pleasant scents, but if you’d like something a little more flowery, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Artist of the Month: Michelle Sasscer, Babus Toys

IMG_8997The following post is by Michelle Sasscer, owner of Babus Toys, Herban Lifestyle’s April 2014 Artist of the Month.

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Women have traditionally learned their crafts from their mothers and other family elders, and Michelle Sasscer is no exception – her mother taught her how to knit, albeit over the phone, 3,000 miles away, while Michelle was laid up with a broken leg in a 3rd floor flat in San Francisco.  It was very slow going at first, and she timidly moved from basic stitch swatches to washcloths to eventually scarves.  After a multi-year hiatus, she returned to the craft in earnest in 2011, relishing the opportunity to nestle into an easy chair with gorgeous yarns and new patterns.

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But it wasn’t until 2006 that she learned about felting, and when she finally started to experiment with the technique, she was immediately, completely hooked.  Something about the smooth, fuzzy, warm wool texture and apparent magic of all of those stitches melding into one thick solid material, was irresistible.  And not coincidentally, this all came about while she was making toys and decorations for her newborn son, Nicholas (who was nicknamed “The Babus”, in utero, just like his daddy had been).  The moment she saw Nicky’s reaction to his first set of felted wool teething rings, Babus Toys was born, at least in her mind.  Many years later, Michelle has created toys and treasures for babies as well as children of all ages.  Using choice, sustainably produced yarns from Michigan and Peru, as well as an organic line from Australia/US, Michelle makes every piece by her own design and with her own hands, from that original Gnot teething ring to nesting finger puppet sets, to mermaid dolls, even ornaments (once she even made a bride and groom squid couple as a wedding cake topper). Oh, and her mom Ruth is still helping her out, doing yeoman’s work as a supplemental knitter.  Michelle works out of her home in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

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Babus Toys can also be found in Michelle’s Etsy store, on Facebook, and at Eastern Market in Washington DC.logo

How to Make An Herbal Vinegar Hair Rinse

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One of my most popular offerings is my natural shampoo bars. My customers love them because they are gentle, effective and don’t strip the oils from their hair, so no conditioner is required. But, depending on the hardness of their water, some of my customers find it helpful to do a vinegar rinse once per month to keep their hair its shiniest.

No matter what type of shampoo you use, vinegar rinses are helpful in restoring your hair’s pH balance. They are also great for oily hair, itchy scalp, dandruff, dull hair, and other scalp conditions. You can easily make your own vinegar rinse, and the addition of dried herbs allows you to customize it to the needs of your particular hair.

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To make your own herbal vinegar rinse, mix 4 tablespoons of dried organic herbs with 8 ounces of organic apple cider vinegar.

For light hair, you can use a blend of 2 tablespoons organic rose petals and 2 tablespoons dried organic chamomile.

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For dark hair, you can use a mixture of 2 tablespoons dried organic nettle and 2 tablespoons dried organic lavender.

IMG_8807Place your herbs and vinegar in a clean glass jar, cap tightly. Label the jar with your herbs and the date. Allow to infuse for 6 weeks in a cool dark place, shaking the jar daily.

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After 6 weeks, strain out the herbs and pour your herbal vinegar into a sterilized glass jar with a plastic cap (vinegar can erode metal over time). The infused vinegar will keep for at least a year if stored properly in a cool and dry place.

vinegar8 vinegar9To use, mix 1-4 tablespoons of your herbal vinegar with 1 cup of water. Pour this mixture over clean hair, working into scalp. Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then rinse with clean water. Or, you can leave it in and allow hair to dry. Enjoy your happy, shiny hair!

This can also be used as a facial toner. Simply apply to clean skin with a cotton ball or cotton cosmetic pad. Because this formula is alcohol-free and non-drying, you don’t need to rinse it off.

 

How to Make Gift Tags from Repurposed Cardboard

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I like to offer tea to anyone who visits my studio, so I keep a box filled with a variety of herbal and black teas. Last week,  I refilled my tea box with the two most popular flavors, which happen to be made by Tazo.

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As I broke down the boxes to put in the recycling bin, I noticed the beautiful pattern on the inside of them, and realized they would make wonderful gift tags. You can do the same with any other lightweight cardboard. Whenever I come across packaging that has an interesting pattern or a colorful solid side, I make it into tags.

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A while ago, I purchased a hole puncher designed specifically for making gift tags. While this is a super-convenient way to make them, you can also just cut out your tags freehand.

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I like the classic tag shape of this particular punch. You can find a similar one by Uchida on Amazon.

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I then used a small-sized round hole punch to create a hole for a string or ribbon.

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Finally, I threaded a 14″ piece of twine through the hole. And, voila, a lovely repurposed cardboard gift tag. I was able to make 10 tags from a single box. You can have fun experimenting with different packaging. Happy crafting!

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Green Festival Coming to Pier 94 in NYC on April 26th

600x250_NYC-BannerOn Saturday, April 26th, and Sunday April 27th, thousands of New Yorkers are expected to attend Green Festival New York at Pier 94. Green Festival will bring together the most trusted companies, innovative brands, national and local NYC businesses, pioneering thinkers, and conscious consumers to Pier 94 to promote the best in sustainability and green living.

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Green Festival offers something for everyone, with the widest selection of products and services to work green, play green and live green – from food, fashion, pets, kids, yoga and health, to energy, construction and design. People can shop and enjoy vegan, vegetarian, organic foods, hands-on demos, educational activities and learn from inspirational speakers.

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There will be speakers and performers throughout the day, including following. More speakers will be announced as we get closer to the event dates.

  • Matthew Dillon, Agricultural Policy & Programs Manager at Clif Bar & Company
  • Erin Schrode, Millennial Inspiration
  • JustFood.org Executive Director Jacquie Berger
  • NYCVegFoodFest.com founders Sarah Gross and Nira Paliwoda
  • Holistic Moms network President Nancy Peplinsky Massotto
  • Performances from DJ NappyG

And this year, Green Festival will introduce the new “Green Festival Award,” which will recognize the achievements of companies and brands that are transforming the way we live with innovative green solutions.

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The Green Festival will be held on Saturday, April 26, 2014 & Sunday, April 27, 2014 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Pier 94 in midtown Manhattan at 55th Street and the West Side Highway. The best subway stop is the 59th Street, Columbus Circle.

For more information about Green Festivals, visit http://www.greenfestivals.org. You can also follow them on Twitter at @GreenFestival.

Green Festivals, Inc. organizes Green Festival®, America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event. Green Festival is a vibrant, dynamic marketplace where companies and organizations come to showcase their green products, services and programs, and where people go to learn how to live healthier, more sustainable lives. Green Festival is inspiring and empowering consumers, communities and businesses to work green, play green and live green. Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the organization produces Green Festival events in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Artist of the Month: Soyini George, YiniBini Baby

Booties10BThe following post is by Soyini George, owner of YiniBini Baby, Herban Lifestyle’s March 2014 Artist of the Month.

When Soyini George was a little girl living in Guyana, South America, her mother used to take her to visit her Great Aunt Jean. Aunt Jean was a vibrant conversationalist, often waving her scissors about as she pinned and gathered the fabric to make the most pretty dresses. It was here that Soyini learned about the love of handmade. Aunt Jean’s husband, Uncle Reggie had an award-winning, colorful garden, that all of the bees seemed to fight over. These special memories serve as an inspiration for Soyini’s line, Yinibini Baby, adorable handmade clothing and accessories for little ones.

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The Yinibini Baby collection comprises of dresses, onesies, booties, bibs, burp cloths and more! Pieces are made out of cotton, organic cotton or cotton blended fabrics. Her original illustrations are based off of childhood stories and memories. Soyini went through a rapid growth spurt as a child, and so became much taller than her classmates. This was the inspiration behind the “Too Tall Birdie and Friends” illustration that can be found on onesies and the Organic Reversible Bib.

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Soyini’s Yinibini Baby collection of organic cotton onesies, organic bibs and booties will be at the Herban Lifestyle store for the month of March. Stop on by to get cuteness for the baby in your life!

yinibini-baby-and-bump-82For more information about Yinibini Baby, visit http://www.yinibinibaby.com.

Artist of the Month: Steven J. Magner, Designer

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Into the Woods Soap label designed by Steven J. Magner

The following post is by Steven James Magner, Herban Lifestyle’s February 2014 Artist of the Month. He designed a label for our limited edition Into the Woods Soap, available exclusively at the Herban Lifestyle store.

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At first I wanted to be a professional Baseball player. That never materialized so I decided the University of San Francisco was the next best choice. Nineteen and fully immersed in the Bay Area as a Marketing Student I started focusing on the creative. One thing led to another — including a move to Los Angeles — and now I am designing to my heart’s content. My inspiration is drawn from Wolfgang Weingart, Josef Muller-Brockmann and many other Swiss Style designers. I have been branding professionally for over four years and continue to love every minute of it! magner_printouts_1 2014_web My belief is that good design creates connections. These connections are developed by communicating your style in a relevant, accessible way. Your logo, business card and website say something about your brand and tell your customers something about you. As an artist, I spend time working closely with clients on their projects, as well as collaborate with other creatives in the field. magner_printouts_1 2014_web3 magner_printouts_1 2014_web2 You can see more examples of Steven’s work in his online portfolio.