Thursday, 16 September 2010

Making herbal beauty gifts for Christmas

You may have guessed I like making things. :-) Not just the potion making but also the craft aspect of decorating and packaging the potions, both for myself and for friends and family. It is something I find very relaxing and rewarding, and I suppose is part of a very Cancerian love of the home and homemaking. In also contributes to my enjoyment of making products that I sell through Amiya Natural Beauty - the opportunity to share quality products beautifully packaged.

Ok, so you've also guessed that this is a bit of a plug for Amiya... what I'm so excited about is a herbal beauty gift making workshop that I'm planning to run in October for Amiya. It will be here in my home, in Leamington Spa, and participants will get to make two herbal beauty products which they can then package in some lovely dark red glass containers. I'm going to provide wrapping, ribbons, decorations and labels so that people can put the finishing touches on these really personal gifts.

I think this is going to be a really fun event. If you're interested, or know someone else who might be, you can find out more on the Amiya website.

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Making an elderberry elixir

I love that moment when I've just made some new potions. I get to watch over them for the weeks it takes for them to be ready, and then have the anticipation of straining them off and trying them. I share this because I've just made two elderberry potions in readiness for the winter months. The first is simply an elderberry tincture - elderberries in vodka. I've made this for the last couple of years and taken it throughout the winter to help ward off sniffs and snivels, particularly nice in this warming winter tea.

The second is an Elderberry Elixir, which I haven't made before. I went gathering on a early morning walk yesterday (isn't it wicked how the biggest, juiciest elderberries are always at the top of the tree!) Just hearing the list of ingredients gets the taste buds tingling: elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, rosehips, orange peel, brandy and honey. Yum! I've followed a recipe from Sarah Head, which she in turn has based on a recipe from Kiva Rose. You can read the full recipe on Sarah's blog.

I can't wait to taste this as apparently its scrumptious. In terms of how to take it, Sarah writes:
Take 1/4 - 1/2 dropperfull of Elixir every two to three hours at the first sign of illness. You MUST take the Elixir frequently rather than having a bigger dose further apart, it just won't work that way. Use the same dosage if you are actively ill. For a general preventative dose, I suggest 1/3 dropperful every four hours or so.
I wonder why it needs to be taken so frequently to work? I'm making this mainly for my mum as she isn't so keen on tinctures. I like the idea of having this in a dropper bottle as it will make it easy to carry around and take frequently.

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Sunday, 12 September 2010

A spicy and energising chai tea

There was dew on the grass and a certain chill in the air as I went for a walk this morning. Autumn's a-coming and as the days start to draw in a little I've been thinking again about herbs to energise and protect in the coming months. I've been drawn to the recipes in Rosemary Gladstar's book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, and in particular those for "longevity and radiant well-being". I recently made her Brain Tonic Tincture.

I'm trying to drink a bit less coffee so I decided to make the "Longevity Chai", about which Rosemary writes:
"A robust, spicy herbal blend originating in India, Nepal and Tibet, chai comes in literally thousands of varieties. The following chai blend is especially formulated for longevity. Serve it hot or chilled with frothy steamed milk."

I didn't have all the ingredients so I adapted it slightly and made up my own quantities as I went along. My version contains: black ceylon tea, ginger, cinnamon flakes, sliced licorice root, broken up ginseng root, some crushed cardamon pods, some rose petals, cloves, a few crushed black peppercorns, and a little nutmeg. As I was making this as a gift I also had fun decorating the jar:

I tried the tea this morning and its absolutely delicious, very tasty and a nice alternative to a morning coffee. I gently heated about a tablespoon of the mixture in a large-ish mug of water, with the lid on, for about 10-15 minutes. I don't have a milk "frother" so I just added some milk and a little honey to taste. Mmmm! This could become another winter favourite methinks. :-)

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