Join us at the new Whole Foods in Ashburn, VA for free samples, demos, specials & more!

shampoo bar family

I am thrilled to announce that the new Whole Foods Market in Ashburn is carrying my line of shampoo bars!

So, I will be demo’ing and handing out samples of my shampoo bars on Friday, July 31 from 11am-2pm, Saturday, August 1, from 9:30am-2:30pm and Wednesday, August 5, from 3:30pm-7:30pm, 19800 Belmont Chase Drive, Suite 160, Ashburn, Virginia

There will be many other local makers demo’ing their products, and lots of special offers including 30% off health and wellness products. Hope you can join us!

And for those of you who live outside of the area, please feel free to use coupon code SHAMPOO10 to receive 10% off your order at the Herban Lifestyle online store.

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Tea Tree Toothpaste and Other Natural Ideas for Dental Health

image copyright Preserve Products

The following post is by guest blogger, Allison Brooks.

Since we humans come from nature, why separate ourselves from her bountiful remedies? Studies over the past 15 years have shown an increasing interest in natural healing, and many integrative doctors use complementary treatments to treat patients for a variety of ailments. Increasingly, dentists are adopting the trend by helping treat certain oral ailments using non-invasive therapies. There are several Maryland and DC dentist offices that use herbs and other natural remedies to treat a plethora of ailments. They also offer advice on the subject to practice natural routines at home.

Gum disease, also known as gingivitis or periodontal disease, is one of the oral ailments that can be treated with natural and herbal remedies. It affects the deeper supporting tissues of the gums and the infections then spread to the lower parts of the tooth. Gum disease is triggered by plaques formed around the enamel of the tooth. The plaque is formed from a mixture of bacteria, starch and sugar. If the plaque is not removed mechanically by frequent brushing, the plaque will harden underneath the gum line, which leads to gum disease. The main symptoms of gum disease are swollen gums and/or bleeding gums.

image from healthysnips.com

Tea tree oil is a natural substance that has been associated with dentistry for hundreds of years. And in the 1920s, Dr. A. R. Penfold published research showing that a tea tree salve could be used to rid gums of infection and leave behind a completely germ free surface. After more scientific evidence proved the tea tree’s effectiveness, it became a basic household remedy for oral and skin infections. Tea Tree toothpaste is now commercially produced and is very effective in alleviating the symptoms of gum disease (although it does not remove plaque surrounding the tooth).

Brands like Desert Essence and Jason Natural offer toothpaste with tea tree, and are available at natural food stores, including Whole Foods. It is best to go with tea tea products like these, since it is not recommended that you use undiluted tea tree for oral care. The Intelligent Dental blog offers recommendations and cautions to keep in mind when using tea tree. For example, tea tree oil should never be taken internally, since it can cause nerve damage and other problems if ingested. People with celery and thyme allergies should not use tea tree oil, since tea tree shares a potential allergen, d-limonene with these plants. And pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid using tea tree oil.

image copyright The Telegraph

Cranberry Juice really helps in the prevention and the progression of gum disease. It does this by taking away the bacteria’s ability to stick to the tooth. Concentrated cranberry is available in a pill form at most natural food stores. Cranberry juice is also a rich source of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is one of the most popular cures for gum disease. Vitamin C repairs cell damage and connective tissues especially along the gum lines. This vitamin is also a very powerful antioxidant which helps by removing free radicals. The antioxidants help to eliminate the free radicals that are responsible for most of the gum damage being caused. And Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore strongly reduces the chances of developing gum disease. While it is available as a supplement in many milk products, sun exposure is an excellent source for vitamin D (although you have to balance this with the need for sun protection to prevent skin cancer!).

While these natural remedies are a great way to enhance healing and prevent disease, the mechanical action of brushing the teeth is the best method of preventing gum disease. Brushing regularly, flossing, eating a balanced diet with adequate amounts of Vitamins C and D, and regular dental checkups are important in supporting your dental health.

Allison Brooks recently graduated from University of Mississippi, with a degree in biomedical  anthropology. She is currently living in Florida, and doing field studies to support an ethnography on the effects of biomedicalization on Bolivian cultures. Her current studies have peaked her interest in traditional and natural healing remedies, and have inspired her to spread the word about nature’s healing bounties.

How to Make Orange Blossom Star Cookies


One of our favorite Christmas time rituals is the making of the cookies. And one of our favorite recipes is for stelline d’oro (little golden star cookies) which comes as a bonus in Tomie dePaolo’s children’s book, Clown of God. If you have young children, I highly recommend you buy the book (or any by dePaola).

I wanted to share the stelline d’oro cookie recipe with you, but because it is copyrighted, I can’t include it here. So instead, I offer you my adaptation. The orange blossom water (available in gourmet shops, or Italian or Indian groceries) gives the flowers a unique delicately floral flavor. The original recipe contains saffron, which adds a warm earthy flavor. I recommend you check it out. Anyway, here is my recipe:

The cookie dough:
2 cups unbleached organic flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup organic butter*
1 cup fair trade evaporated sugar
1 cage-free organic egg
2 tablespoon orange juice

The glaze:
1 tablespoon warm water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 cup fair trade confectioners’ sugar
Natural vegetable coloring (optional)

Colored sugar (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) together. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the orange juice to the butter/sugar and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time, mixing well. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 4 sections. Roll out each section until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Cut with a star shaped cookie cutter (sometimes we use different sized stars to make it look like the night sky). Place cookies on a baking sheet that is either lightly greased, or covered in parchment paper (my preference). Bake at 375-degrees for about 6 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown on the edges.

Cool on a cookie rack. Once cooled, glaze the cookies, using the following recipe:

Mix the glaze ingredients together until all lumps are gone. You can tint the glaze with food coloring (I use India Tree natural vegetable colors).

Glaze the cookies and, if you want, sprinkle with coarse colored sugar (I use Joby and Marty’s Amazing Colored Sugar, which I buy at Whole Foods).

Voila!

*Make sure you use real butter, as butter substitutes will keep the cookies from holding their shape

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Lavender Sugar Cookie Recipe

I have had a life-long love affair with herbs. And back before I first started making my herbal bath and body products, I made the journey to Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, CT to see the abundant herb gardens, arranged by theme (I recall most vividly the Shakespeare Garden and the Saint’s Garden). I planned my visit to coincide with one of their herbal luncheons, which featured several dishes, all seasoned with herbs. The standout for me was their lavender cookies. It was such a unique idea, and such a lovely flavor.

As I thought about what kind of cookie to bake today, I recalled those wonderful cookies, and decided to try to recreate them. I made them look a bit more festive for the holidays, adding a tint to the icing and sprinkling them with colored sugar. Following is my recipe, which turned out very well, if I do say so myself!

1 stick of organic butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup fair trade sugar
1 organic (local, if possible) egg
1 tablespoon organic milk
1 1/4 cups organic, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons organic dried lavender flowers*
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
a pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Cream the butter, then gradually add the sugar, beating until light. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, the beat until thoroughly combined.

Mix the flour, lavender flowers, salt, and baking powder together, then add this mix to the butter mixture. Blend well. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheets covered in parchment, about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

You can decorate them with a simple icing.

Pour a 1/2 cup of boiling water over 2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain, then add 4 tablespoons of the liquid to 2 cups of powdered sugar, blending until smooth. Add coloring to tint, if desired, and decorate with colored sugar sprinkles. For the icing, I used India Tree natural vegetable colorants, which, unlike most brands of coloring, do not contain petroleum-based ingredents. And for the sugar sprinkles, I used  Joby & Marty’s Amazing Colored Sugar, which is also colored only with vegetable dye. Both of these are available at Whole Foods.

*You must use culinary grade lavender, so as to avoid any unwanted chemicals. My favorite source is Mountain Rose Herbs, which offers a vast variety of organic and pesticide-free dried herbs.

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A Couple of Baby Bath Product Recipes

bathAs promised, here are a couple of baby bath product recipes that you can make in your own home!

Oatmeal Isn’t Just for Breakfast Bath:

Put 1 cup of oatmeal in a blender or food processor, and pulverize until it is a fine powder. Place in a muslin bag, or a square of cheesecloth tied with a string or rubber band. Place in baby’s bath water. This is makes a nice everyday skin-soothing bath.

Homemade Baby Wipes:

2 drops tea tree essential oil*
2 drops lavender essential oil*
2 cups distilled water
1 vitamin E capsule

Mix the essential oils in the water in a spray bottle. Cut open the vitamin E capsule and squeeze the contents into the oil/water mixture. Mix well. To use, simply spritz onto a soft cloth (like these biodegradable unmoistened wipes), and use as you would a commercial wipe. Please note: because there are no preservatives in this mixture, keep refrigerated and use within one week. The tea tree oil and lavender are natural anti-bacterials, but it will not keep forever.

* Use organic essential oils, whenever possible. You can find pure essential oils at Whole Foods, or online at stores like Mountain Rose Herbs. Make sure to never use fragrance oils, only pure essential oils in any products that you make for your baby. Fragrance oils can contain up to 200 different ingredients. Common side-affects can include headaches, dizziness, rash, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation.

A New Way to Do Yoga

DSCN3473This post is by guest blogger, Julia Guarino. 

Yoga is, for me, the ultimate workout. I began my athletic career as a dancer, and later a gymnast and diver, thus it seemed natural that as an adult I would gravitate toward a workout that not only provides strength and stamina, but also balance and flexibility. But, of course, you do not have to be a gymnast to enjoy the practice of Yoga, and over the past 12 years as I have grown as a Yoga practitioner, I have also witnessed the popularity and availability of Yoga practice grow, as it is recognized as an excellent way to increase flexibility and strength, and is actually good for your joints.

For many, the greatest barriers to practicing (as with any other form of excercize), is often time. Additionally, yoga practice tends to be very expensive (often $16 – $20 per class). But for Derik Mills, founder of Yogaglo, this became not a barrier, but inspiration. Yogaglo is a new online studio, where students can take unlimited classes for a membership fee of $18 a month. These classes can be accessed online from anywhere, or can be taken in person in Santa Monica, CA. Classes are offered at varying levels of difficulty, in yoga styles that include Vinyasa Flow, Anusara®, Pre and Post-natal, Ashtanga, Hatha and Meditation. A variety of lectures are additionally offered, and the website, www.yogaglo.com, offers guest speakers, blogs, and information on their nonprofit partners. As a Yogaglo member, you can choose which nonprofit partner 5% of your membership goes to!

As Derek Mills, says, “There is a need for a more accessible, affordable yoga practice that will attract and unify students from around the world who have different experience levels and resonate with different yoga traditions. Under this premise, I built a website and studio that deliver the essential teachings of yoga and a business that makes a social impact by funding non-profits in which we believe.  As we navigate our way financially and spiritually through our current global crises, Yogaglo offers an affordable, time-saving solution and  a much-needed sense of community that is accessible to all.”

 I, personally, find many things about Yogaglo appealing, from its social mission, to the price, to the green nature of the e-commute to the studio. Although I will still often choose to practice in the presence of an instructor – especially important for beginners, I believe – I regularly practice with a DVD, and the chance to practice in my home with a live instructor is a wonderful opportunity!

Mary’s Note 6/16/09: I just heard form Yogaglo that they will be hosting an event along with LA Yoga called “Here Comes the Sun,” a free summer kick-off festival celebrating the yoga community, local businesses and non-profits working together for social change. The event will highlight philanthropic efforts in the Los Angeles community by featuring a marketplace of local vendors who share a passion for giving back to the neighborhood and world at large. Here Comes The Sun is truly a party with a purpose so join us to enjoy great music; shop and sample select products, all whilst learning what businesses are doing to give back. Local vendors will offer food and beverages, and the Hypnotic Gurus and DJ Drez will be providing the evening’s musical entertainment. Sponsors include Lululemon Athletica, Tom’s Shoes, Whole Foods Market Santa Monica, and many more businesses that are working toward social change.

The event will be held on Friday, June 26th from 5:00pm-10:00pm at the Yogaglo Studio, 1800 Berkeley Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404.