Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Simple Herbal Gifts for your home or gifting to others

We've been busy crafting, creating, sewing and baking here as we got ready for our Little Bird handmade sale (last weekend), and are preparing simple gifts for friends and family.  We also just offered a workshop (this past weekend) on herbal bath products here at Little City Farm.  During this fun hands-on class participants got to make a variety of herbal bath items to take home.

Here are some of the herbal gifts we made during the workshop.  These 6 simple herbal gifts can be made in only a few minutes, and are perfect for any occasion (holidays, birthdays, pregnancy, new mom, wedding favours, gifts for friends, when someone is ill, for kids, etc).  What we like is that they use simple ingredients (including herbs from your own garden if possible), are health-promoting, are consumable (i.e. they will be used up and not sit around as more "stuff" to clutter the home as so many gifts can), and are easy to make.  They are fun to make with kids, who will enjoy the hands-on mixing, blending and shaping, and using (our 7 year old loves to help make these herbals).  The recipes are below.

1. Herbal Bath Bombs
2. Herbal Lavender Sachets (or dream pillows)
3. Herbal Bath Salts
4. Herbal Facial Scrub
5. Herbal Lip Balms
6. Herbal Bath Oil

1. Herbal Bath Bombs (pictured above)
Yields: aprox. 17-20 small bath bombs/balls

1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup citric acid (available at the pharmacy, or from soap supply shops)
1/2 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp oil (light vegetable oil – e.g. almond oil, apricot oil, sunflower oil)
1 Tbsp water (or flower water/witch hazel)
2 tsp pure essential oil
+ pinch of dried herbs optional (e.g. rose petals, lavender, calendula, chamomile)
+ extra oil and water as needed to get proper consistency

1) Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.
2) Mix wet ingredients in a glass measuring cup.
3) SLOWLY add wet to dry, a few drops at a time.  Don't let mixture fizz.
4) Add dried herbs into the mix, or layer lightly in your molds.
5) When mixture is the consistency of wet sand (good enough to build a sand castle) pat into molds.
6) Great molds are mini muffin tins, silicone baking containers of all shapes and sizes, or shape into balls by hand (or purchase bath bomb molds from soap supply stores).
7) Let dry about 5 min, then unmold and let fully dry 2-3 hours until very hard.
8) Store in glass mason jars with tight lid until use.

2. Herbal Lavender Sachets (or "dream pillows")

Method 1:
Stuff organic lavender into cotton sachets, either small squares or rectangles sewn by you, or purchased cotton muslin pouches.  They can be embellished with embroidery.  Keep under pillow for a peaceful sleep.  Dream pillows can add a pinch of hops and mugwort for magical dreaming.

Method 2:
Dried herbs can be stuffed into a reusable muslin pouch and floated in the bath.  The herbs will steep in the warm water and give a healing, therapeutic bath.  Best done in a shallow sitz bath.  Lavender is relaxing and also soothes skin irritations.  Rosemary and peppermint are invigorating and refreshing.  Rose petals are soothing and luxurious, good for all skin types.  Yarrow is healing for minor skin irritations, nicks and scrapes.
3. Herbal Bath Salts
Epsom salts are amazing for our body's health on so many levels, cleansing, reducing toxin load, alkalizing the body, adding minerals, reducing muscle pain and skin inflammation, alleviating migraines and stress, and so on.
Yields: makes enough for 3-4 baths

2 cups epsom salts, coarse
3/4 cup sea salt, coarse (Dead Sea salt if you can get it)
1/4 tsp (15 drops) essential oil (e.g. lavender, citrus, rosemary)
1-3 tsp clay, optional (e.g. rose clay, white clay - clays add silkiness to water, and minerals to body)
1-3 tsp baking soda, optional
1 tsp dried herbs, optional (e.g. calendula, lavender)

Mix all ingredients well.  Store in tightly sealed glass jars until use.  Use about 1/2 cup per bath.
Use on a weekly basis to reduce toxic burden on body and maintain good health.
4. Herbal Facial Scrub
Yields:aprox. 3 1/2 cups cleansing grains mix

2 cups clay (e.g. white clay is good for all skin types)
1 cup oats, ground finely OR cornmeal
1/4 cup almonds (ground very finely) OR poppyseeds
1/8 cup lavender, ground finely

Mix all ingredients well.  Store in tightly sealed glass jars until use.  To use, take small amount in hand and add enough water to make a paste.  Use as facial or body scrub, rinse off with warm water.

5. Herbal Lip Balms
Yields: aprox. 14 lipbalm tubes

2 Tbsp sunflower oil  (or other light vegetable oil – apricot oil, almond oil, or even olive oil)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp cocoa butter
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp pure beeswax
1/4 tsp essential oil (10 drops)
(choose one or more: lavender, grapefruit, mandarin, orange, tangerine, lemon)
a few drops vitamin E oil

1) Melt all oils (but not essential oil) and beeswax in a double boiler over low heat, until just melted.
2) Drop a small amount onto a cold metal spoon, let it cool to test for proper consistency.  Add a bit more beeswax if lipbalm is too soft, or more oil if lipbalm is too hard.
3) When consistency is right take off the heat.  Now add essential oil and stir.
4) Pour carefully into lipbalm tubes.  Leave off caps until the lipbalm has set.
5) Label and give away as gifts!  Best if stored in a cool location.

6. Herbal Bath Oil

1/2 cup (4 oz) light oil such as apricot, almond or sunflower oil
40 drops pure essential oil (e.g. cedar, rosemary, ylang, lavender, orange, lemon, bergamot, rose)
(if pregnant, please read up on essential oils before using them - some should not be used during pregnancy - rosemary and bergamot are to be avoided).

Mix oil and essential oil together in glass mason jar, cap tightly and shake jar well to combine.
Use 1-2 tsp in warm bath. These oils nourish the skin, and essential oils add healing, therapeutic and relaxation value to your bath.  Please note that bath oils make the tub slippery, so be careful getting out.

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