Induce Relaxation – DIY Herbal Footbath

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Herbal footbaths are a great way to end the day. I would much prefer a fully immersed bath but since my “busy” life  doesn’t always provide the necessary time for this to happen, a herbal foot bath is a great alternative.  I like to enjoy a herbal foot bath while watching a movie or reading a book. This helps to sooth my tired feet and relax my mind in preparation for bed.

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Sage, lavender, rosemary, rose petals & magnesium.

Herbal foot baths help to:

  • Relieve muscle soreness and tension,
  • Promote circulation,
  • Encourage relaxation,
  • Relieve stress and anxiety,
  • Promote restful sleep.

The preparation is pretty easy and quick, which is always a bonus for “us” mums.

Things you’ll need:

  • Bowl/bucket large enough to fit both of your feet comfortably and fill up with water.
  • Kettle to boil water.
  • Jug of cold water.
  • Towel large enough to cover the bucket.
  • Fresh or dried herbs such as mustard powder, ginger, lavender, hops, sage, rose petals & rosemary are all good options. You can grow most of these fairly easily or they can be sourced in health food shops & online.
  • Essential oils such as lavender, orange, bergamot (optional).
  • 1/2 cup of Epsom Salts. Sourced in supermarkets.footbathsteps

Let’s get started:

  1. Place all the herbs and epsom salts into the bucket.
  2. Pour 5 drops of your chosen essential oil (optional) on top of the dried herbs.
  3. Fill 2/3 kettle with water and put to boil.
  4. Fill a separate jug with cold water.
  5. Take all your items next to the softest and most comfortable chair/place where you can sit. *Remember to get your movie or book and cup of tea ready before sitting down.
  6. Pour your boiled water into the bucket with the herbs.
  7. Slowly add the cold water to adjust the temperature. It is important to keep the footbath water very hot. It should be hot enough to be almost uncomfortable but without burning the feet.
  8. Slowly immerse your feet into the water. If it is burning your feet then add a little bit more cold water.
  9. Cover the bucket with a thick towel to keep the heat in.
  10. Refill the bucket with hot water as it cools.
  11. Enjoy the footbath for 20-60min. Once you are finished save the herbal water to throw in the garden.

DIY Rejuvenating Choco-Expresso Mask

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I love chocolate and I love coffee even more! So when I stumbled across this recipe I was very excited. I’ve made some alterations to the original recipe to suit my preferences. The mask is for rejuvenation and it is great for brightening the face. It injects life into a tired complexion and it is fantastic for dark and tired eyes. It is also said to help tighten the skin and thus help lessen wrinkles. All in all it is an amazing facial mask. Plus it is cheap and quick to make.

Chocolate Expresso Facial Mask

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup ground organic coffee.
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder.
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of milk (preferably cow’s or almond).
  • Juice of half a squeezed lemon (optional – if you choose to use lemon juice avoid going in the sun after applying the mask).
  • 1-2 tbsp raw honey.

* Choose organic where possible.

IMG_5836What to do:
  1. Mix coffee and cacao powders together in a bowl.
  2. Slowly pour the milk into the bowl  until you reach a consistency that you like and mix.
  3. Slowly add the lemon and honey, while mixing.
  4. Apply on the face, using gentle circular motions.
  5. Leave for 20 minutes – maybe have a cuppa while you wait 😉
  6. Rinse off with warm water.

*Any mask leftovers that weren’t used can be stored up to 3 days in the fridge.

Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing!

Lawn to Lunch

Lawrence Halprin once said that “The great challenge for the garden designer is not to make the garden look natural, but to make the garden so that the people in it will feel natural.”

Screen ShotLooking at my front yard I knew that their had to be change, I didn’t feel natural in it. The small pine trees were out of place and other ornamental plants just looked a little odd for a permie gardener.  I also knew that I wasn’t too keen on mowing the lawn every Sunday. And remembering Bill Mollison words that most lawns are purely cosmetic in function and that the owners of lawns should be taxed,  I decided to turn my ‘lawn into lunch’.

My mumma has fond memories of growing up in Adelaide, in an area of urban gardens. On her way home from school she would graze on the neighbours fruits and organic tomatoes. So we both decided it would be fun to create a front garden that kids could pass and grab a quick snack on the way home from school.

A dear family friend was visiting and said she would lend a hand to permablitz the front yard. After a quick visit to the greenhouse my mum and Nicola came back with several fruit trees. A little exaggerated, maybe, but we decided to plant them all.

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The first step was to remove most of the ornamental shrubs and a few pine trees. The “mulch” of these trees were used to back fill a raised garden bed. Nothing went to waste.

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Weekly Pick

Removing lawn sounds easy, but in fact it is a daunting task. After marking the pathways, we turned all the grass sods with a garden fork. Some people don’t bother turning the sods but we wanted to fasten the process of killing the lawn.

We went the traditional permaculture way and placed wet cardboard onto the turned grass sod. Compost was placed on top of the cardboard to raise the bed a touch. This was slightly unconventional gardening but we wanted to get the fruit trees in before the rains started. Then we added mulch, mulch and more mulch.

As we are an impatient bunch, we planted straight into the cardboard making sure that there were no grass roots left near the hole. A seedling was planted and the hole filled with mushroom compost with the focus on giving the babies a good start 🙂

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First paw paws of the season

A couple of months later, so many cherry tomatoes and chillies. Sage growing wild underneath the daisies. Eggplants and basil living happily next to each other. Some of my neighbours love it whilst others seem a little horrified. Yet I have organic fruits, herbs and vegetables in place of a green mat.

And yes, whilst my mumma was weeding, a little neighbour passed and asked for some tomatoes. My mum filled up the little girls t-shirt with tiny tomatoes and glanced at me looking pleased with herself.

 

Hot Buzz: Lawn to Lunch is made up of a group of people who have a passionate interest in promoting backyard self sufficiency.

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Lawn To Lunch in The Front Yard

 

DIY Avocado and Honey Facial Cleanser

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Today, I am sharing one of my favourite facial cleanser recipes. It is totally delicious and all naturalmade with avocado oil, raw honey and castile soap. Plus, it only takes about 5 minutes to make.

Avocado oil is renowned for it’s powerful ability to penetrate the skin. By penetrating the skin it removes toxins and impurities built-up in the pores. It also leaves the face feeling hydrated and smooth. Avocado oil is high in vitamins, antioxidants, proteins and unsaturated fats, which all feed the skin. It is also believed that it may help reduce signs of ageing and improve extremely dry skin, eczema and sun damage.

Honey has been used as a face wash for thousands of years. It has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which help to clear breakouts and blemishes. It also helps to maintain the skin’s natural moisture levels keeping it soft and smooth.

Castile soap is primarily made out of olive oil or vegetable oil. All natural ingredients and it is used in this recipe to help clean the pores.

“The basic concept of this skin care and cleansing method is that the oil used to massage your skin will dissolve the oil that has hardened with impurities and found itself stuck in your pores” The Oil Cleansing Method.

Why make the change? Most conventional facial cleansers are full of toxins, which have been linked to endocrine disorders, skin disorders, hormonal imbalances and birth defects. See the link bellow for more info.

Avocado & Honey

Facial Cleanser Recipe

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Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil (commonly found in health food stores or online)
  • 2 tablespoons of pure raw honey (commonly found in local farmer’s market)
  • 2 tablespoons of Castile soap (commonly found in health food stores)
  • 2-5 drops of your preferred essential oil – I like orange and/or grapefruit to invoke joy and happiness (commonly found in health food shops or online)

*Choose organic when possible.

*When possible choose glass bottles and/or jars for storing. Alternatively, choose BPA free plastic containers and/or tin containers.

facial2Equipment: medium bowl, whisker (electrical is best for achieving consistency), measuring cups and spoons, 1 pump bottle and 1 small jar.

What to do:
  1. Pour the avocado oil, honey and castile soap in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk all the ingredients until it forms a nice creamy consistency – about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the drops of essential oil and mix with a spoon.
  4. With a funnel, pour facial cleanser into a pump bottle or jar, might take a few minutes as the facial cleanser can get fairly thick.
  5. Pour any leftovers into a jar and place it in the fridge for storage (last about 2-4 weeks).
  6. Use facial cleanser 1-2 times a day. “I like using mine just before bed as it cleanses my skin but also leaves it moisturised overnight.”

*Ideally it is best to allow your skin to breath overnight without any moisturises or oils. You can wash your face before going to bed and then moisturise it in the morning, to protect your delicate skin from the sun.

Step-by-step of how to wash your face:

  1. Wet a small towel or flannel with warm-hot water.
  2. Hold it over your face for about a minute to open your pores.
  3. Repeat step 1 and 2 until you feel like your face is warm. “I do mine about 2-4 times.”
  4. Pour a dollop of facial cleanser onto your palm.
  5. In a circular motion, gently massage the cleanser on your face. Be extra gentle around the eyes.
  6. Rinse the facial cleanser off with warm water.
  7. Pat the face dry
  8. Apply moisturiser (during the day).
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Organic Facial Cleanser

Raw Avocado and Honey Mask

Raw avocado and honey can also be applied as a mask. Simply scoop out some avocado (not the oil) and mix it in with raw honey. Apply it to your face and leave for 15-30 minutes. “I like to do it when I’m watching a movie”. 😉

Hot BUZZ: CHOICE – Chemicals in Cosmetics

The Art of Superabode

Superadobe or earth bag building was developed by Nader Khalili, an Iranian American architect, writer, and humanitarian. He developed the superadobe system in 1984, in response to a NASA call for designs for human settlements on the Moon and Mars. It wasn’t taken to the moon but the project was used after the Persian Gulf War when refugees were sent into Iran. This is when he applied his research to emergency shelters.

Nader built monolithic dome-shaped structures with arches out of grain bags and polypropylene tubes filled with dirt; any kind of dirt, even dry sand (with cement). His buildings tended to be solid as a rock and where tested to withstand earthquakes.

When my family and I arrived to live in Brazil, my dad Andre Soares was lucky enough to visit Cal-Earth in California. He loved the technique and was determined to bring it back to Brazil. In 2000 he started creating small superadobe structures. The public reaction in Brazil was mixed. As you can imagine, some people thought it was crazy, others considered it a great proposal for the Brazilian reality.

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Superabode dwelling at Ecocentro IPEC

At the time, Permaculture courses were happening regularly at Ecocentro IPEC so there was great demand for a closed kitchen. The weather and sometimes-cheeky monkeys would interfere with the cooking of the meals in our open space. Andre decided to create a social project of participatory architecture. The aim was to include the women that used the kitchen in the design and construction of the building.

So during one of our Permaculture Design Courses (PDC) the challenge was given to the students and many interesting projects resulted. These were presented to the local women’s group with the task to produce the kitchen. They made several appropriate changes and then decided on the final design. The group and the wider community also participated in the task force constructing the largest adobe kitchen in Brazil. And, as they say, the rest is history.

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Superadobe kitchen topped with a dome made from hand pressed bricks

Construction

Super adobe is possibly the fastest way to build walls with earth without machinery. It is a very flexible technique that supports various types of soil. Unlike other natural building techniques, there is no need to sift the soil through a frame. With a bit of physical effort, the walls are erected quickly.

Super adobe only requires simple tools:

  • A piece of pipe that will serve as a funnel (adapted from 250 mm PVC pipe)
  • Lengths of polypropylene bags (acquired in rolls)
  • Manual tamper (or ramming tool)
  • Barbed wire (to use in between courses)
  • Buckets (to move earth)
  • Rubber mallet (to shape and finish the walls)
  • Pliers, shovels, hose

The bag used for erecting walls is a large roll of polypropylene (coil), about 40 cm wide. The roll is cut into pieces the length of the courses to be laid, leaving a small extra length at each end of each course to be tucked at the end.

The procedure is simple. The bags or tubes are filled using a suitable pre-moistened earth laid in running bond. The PVC pipe works like a large funnel, making it easier and faster to introduce earth into the tube. After a course has been laid, it is thoroughly compacted with hand tampers.

superadobe IPEC

Two strands of 4-point barbed wire are laid in between every row, which act as a “velcro mortar” cinching the bags in place. This provides exceptional tensile strength while allowing the rows to be stepped in to create corbelled domes and other unusual shapes.

Important:

It is essential that the bottom of the walls be sealed from direct contact with the soil to prevent moisture seeping through the building. When making a foundation, we use sand and cement to the ratio of 9:1. Complete the necessary courses until the foundation reaches a height of 20cm above ground level. It is very important that each course is very well pounded before the next. There is a point of compaction where you can “feel” the material as solid as a rock.

Superadobe walls can be structural and a few details of construction allow you to anchor a roof on to it. It doesn’t require the construction of columns or beams. The top of the wall requires a course similar to the foundation. Lintels are a tricky thing and arches over the doors and windows are easier built.   Electrical and hydraulic installations can be built into the wall after compaction.

Like other natural building methods, super adobe has its pros and cons:

Pros

  • Organised and clean work.
  • Easy to learn and master the technique
  • Fire proof walls
  • Speed in the construction process of the walls
  • Use of local materials
  • High thermal mass in solid earth (40cm thick)
  • Low investment with support materials

Cons

  • Need special care and details to seal against moisture
  • Requires at least 5 people for running a medium-sized work team
  • High physical requirement for manual builders

Remember that the final product is hand made, and as such it is unusual to the eye accustomed to pre-fab industrial structures. So, if you like things that say “hand built” grab a bag, earth and start creating!C

Boom  Liminal Village 2014
Superadobe Liminal Village – Boom Festival 2014

Hot Buzz: Nader Khalili was passionate about Rumi. Listen to one of his translations.

Read Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks and Techniques by Hunter and Kiffmeyer

 

 

 

Going Up – Vertical Gardens

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Cucumbers growing vertically in my backyard.

To the extent that urban apartments are getting smaller, houses are getting bigger and the garden spaces are shrinking. This brings interesting challenges if you want to create an edible garden. You don’t need a big space if you want to grow larger plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peas. Vertical gardens are perfect for patios and balconies, no matter the size.

The possibilities of using edible plants to create privacy and protection in the garden perimeter are limitless. Before creating a vertical garden, ask yourself some questions:

  • How much natural light do I have?
  • What vegetables, herbs or flowers grow with this amount of light?

Once you understand more of the challenges you face, you can start researching the needs of plants. With a little creative pruning and using ropes and wires to direct plant growth, plants can be targeted to achieve shapes and magnificent features. You can get high productivity in a small area, using fences to cultivate vines and by creating guilds of companion plants.

 

Growing Up

 

My son's snow pea tipi.
My son’s snow pea tipi.

Tripods and trellis

Tripods can be used for plants that like stretching to the sky and at the same time, serve as a protection for other elements such as a small worm farm. Remember that all garden structures must be created to improve the species growing conditions. If the structure is creating dark areas in the garden for other plants include objects that reflect light.

A metre and a half is the ideal height for a vertical frame in a garden space. Higher than this may cause instability of the structure. To encourage lateral growth, it is necessary to prune the top of the plant. This will not damage the plant, rather it will encourage the plant to sprout new side branches or side shoots along the main stem and will allow the ripening of fruits already placed.

High Walls

If your garden is enclosed by a high wall or fence, think that this may be an opportunity to extend your outdoor space. When a high wall or fence is used only to separate the neighbouring land, the shadow is an inevitable result. Highlight the fence with vines, plants and colorful decorative objects in order to transform the wall in a beautiful vertical garden.

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Vertical garden ideas in my backyard.

Walls can be used to grow plants and vines that resist wind. In cold climates it may be possible to use the sun next to plants that prefer the heat. Simple gardens can be created by simply hanging gardens onto the wall structure.  Mix flowers with herbs to attract beneficial insects.

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Hanging gardens at Boom Festival 2014

Pergolas

30-12-2003 Pergolas can be added to provide shade and privacy, extending living areas and maximising the benefits cooling the house. A pergola can also be used as a small nursery to plant seedlings and of course, to grow food.

My pergola brings a little charm to the house, creating a relaxing place to meditate, read or just watch the garden grow. The grid of the pergola allows room for vertical growth in areas that can function as shaded natural corridors. They can be covered with grapes, kiwi, passion fruit, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, beans or even just roses.

Hot Buzz: Patrick Blanc is the master of green walls. His walls are not edible but they give you great ideas for creating beautiful edible gardens. Read more from the master of green walls

 

Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing ❤

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Avignon – France

Workshops at Rainbow Serpent Festival 2016

Just got back from Rainbow Serpent Festival in Melbourne Australia. What a fantastic week spent amongst creative, transformational people, friends, family and colourful festival goers. During the festival I had the great experience of teaching two workshops, both with great outcomes.

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Upcycling Garden Workshop

My first workshop was about Upcycling in the Garden. We focused on Zone 1 and how to get your backyard farm kick-started. We discussed the pros and cons of urban permaculture,   then got our hands busy and created a Pop-up Upcycled Garden for the Rainbow Permaculture space. Participants were given the challenge of reusing urban junk to make an edible garden. A lot of fun was had, and I really appreciate all the people that got into the groove.

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Upcycling Pop-up Garden

The second workshop, Garden Goddesses – How to Make your own Beauty Products was taught with my friend Catherine Mason from BushFlow Herbals. People learnt how to make their own Goddess Spread, Healing Balm, Mermaid Hair Lotion and Coconut Body Lotion. We also spoke a little about the sustainability of natural beauty products and the harmful ingredients in commercial beauty products. (Here is a link to Cat’s blog where she writes about ingredients to avoid). The workshop flowed beautifully and participants were very involved and enthusiastic.

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Garden Goddesses Workshop

See our recipes on this link: garden goddess recipes

I invite you to join me this weekend at Earth Frequency Festival for my Backyard Alchemy workshop to be held on Saturday and Sunday (please check timetable for exact times).

Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing ❤

My Son’s Pallet Cubby House

Since moving into my urban house I have really enjoyed upcycling pallets. This is my son’s upcycled cubby house made out of pallets. It only took a few hours to make and he really loves it. It barely cost anything and it is a space where he can express his creativity and play. He can also paint without boundaries.

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The making of the cubby house.

My son and I also created a little garden on the side. We then planted climbing beans. The beans will keep the cubby house shaded and cool. Plus if I steam the beans and add a little tamari sauce and coconut oil it becomes one of my son’s favourite dinners. Green beans are high in dietary fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, which thus support my son’s steady growth.

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Pallet cubby house with climbing beans.

 

Permie check-list:

  • Recycling resources
  • Space for my son to play
  • Support for climbing beans = dinner for my son
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Kids that plant greens, eat greens ❤

 

Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing ❤

 

Need deep relaxation? Make a herbal pillow.

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Dry Herbs

Herbal pillows have been used by Shamans and Healers for centuries. They were used to calm restless sleepers, relieve bad dreams, comfort sick people and ward off bad spirits. They also believed that dreams were messages from the gods and that certain herbs could enhance these dreams.

I find herbal pillows very relaxing. Sometimes when I’ve had a stressful day or a hectic study session, I find that my facial muscles are tense. Placing a herbal eye pillow on my face induces deep relaxation of those muscles.  I also keep a sack of herbs in my pillow case to promote peaceful sleep. I wake up rejuvenated.

Herbal pillows provide a subtle yet effective way to invoke the healing properties of herbs. They are great for helping babies and children sleep. Not to mention that they are quick, easy and cheap gifts for family and friends.

Herbal Pillow To Induce Calmness and Relaxation

See more herbal pillow mixtures bellow.

Ingredients:
  • 15g of dry rose petals
  • 15g of dry lavender flowers
  • 10g of dry lemon balm
  • 5g of dry chamomile
  • 1 tbsp of dry rosemary
  • 15cm x 30cm cotton sack (see pattern bellow)
  • 1 cup of rice or linseed (the rice/linseed creates a gentle pressure over your eyes inducing relaxation).
  • Drawstring bag
  • Airtight glass jar to store any leftover herbal mix.
Instructions:
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Draw String Herbal Pillow

For a quick and easy pillow: One of my favourite herbal treatments to help me when I am experiencing insomnia or a restless night.

  1. Fill a drawstring bag with 1/2 – 1 cup of your chosen herbs; draw strings and tie closed. Place inside the pillow case. This is a really quick and easy way to introduce herbs into your sleeping ritual. Great for babies and children.

For a decorative eye pillow:

  1. Sew a 15cm x 30cm cotton sack and sew a Velcro opening (optional).
  2. Mix the dry herbs and rice.
  3. Place the herb mix into the sack.
  4. Stitch the sack closed or close the Velcro.
  5. Store any leftover herb mix in an airtight glass jar.

Note: Change the herb and/or rice mix once the smell has dissipated (mine usually take about 1-2 years) if the pillow is kept dry. Throw it in the compost or use as mulch.

PILLOWS
Herbal Eye Pillow

Other Herbs to Put in Your Pillow

  • To invoke feelings of comfort and reassurance when your on the move – use a combination of passionflower, rose, clary sage, marjoram, geranium and ylang ylang.
  • For supporting convalescent rest – two tablespoons each of lavender flowers, catnip, lilac blossoms, mugwort and marjoram with 1 teaspoon of spearmint or peppermint can help give hospital patients relief from the powerful odours surrounding them.
  • For headache relief – use a small pillow with a combination of eucalyptus, peppermint and flax seed.  The flax seed creates a gentle pressure over your sinus passages.
  • To help promote lucid dreams – use a combination of the essential oils clove, mugwort, anise and Clary Sage in your scent pillow. Another good combination for your lucid dream pillow is: rose, helichrysum, sandalwood, palo santo and patchouli.
  • roses
    Roses In My Garden

    For stress relief – combine hops, mugwort and sweet marjoram.

  • To relieve troubling nightmares – use a combination of rose petals, rosemary, lavender flowers and hops.
  • To inspire vivid and creative dreams – use a combination of rose petals, mugwort, hops, lemon verbena, lemongrass, jasmine, mimosa, mint, cloves, orange peel and marjoram.

 

*****

The material in this article is not meant to replace a professional diagnosis and or treatment. A small amount of people may react indifferently to certain herbs due to biochemical individuality. If irritation occurs, stop using.

For the Mermaid Tribe – DIY recipes from the deep blue sea!

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When I dive deep into the twilight zone of the blue sea I encounter serenity in the silence. A profound sense of peace rushes through my entire body and tail. Such magic! Shimmering rays of sunlight guide me back to the surface of the sea. The crispy fresh air is so invigorating. I feel the heat of the sun, and in a moment I loose sense of time.  And as you can imagine, we mermaids can get burnt by the sun. So I use these recipes from the deep blue sea to keep my mermaid hair and skin silky, and soft.

Mermaid Hair Lotion

This mermaid potion is incredibly hydrating and excellent for dry or split hair. If  you surf or spend a lot of time in the sun then this lotion is for you! It is also great for people who have dyed and bleached their hair many times. Enjoy ❤

  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (helps to prevent hair damage & promotes shine and softness)
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil (highly moisturising and nourishing)
  • 1/2 tsp kelp or seaweed powder (high in vitamins and minerals, which helps support healthy hair growth)
  • 2-3 drops of rosemary essential oil
  1. Mix all ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Then pour into a squirt bottle.
  3. Shake together and apply to the length of your mermaid hair.
  4. Leave the lotion in for a couple hours.
  5. Wash out with shampoo and warm water.

 

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After-Sun Relief

To help reduce inflammation, cool and moisturise sunburned skin, use one of these simple herbal remedies.

#1 Apply a thin coat of aloe vera gel (my favourite) to reddened areas and allow it to dry. Reapply the aloe vera if more relief is needed. Leave some aloe vera gel stored in your fridge for an extra cooling effect.

#2 Apply a thin coat of yoghurt to reddened areas. Leave for 20 minutes then gently rinse with cold water.

#3 Spray pure lavender water on sun-damaged skin to keep skin hydrated, help prevent peeling and promote the regeneration of cells. Fill a spray bottle with water and add 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil. Store in fridge for an extra cooling effect. Great to take on long aeroplane trips to hydrate the face 😉

#4 Once the initial burning has passed use this massage oil to help your skin recover quickly. Add 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil to 1 tsp of a carrier oil, such as sweet-almond or avocado oil, and massage onto affected area.

 

“This is who I have always wanted to be.
A mermaid.”

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Dive smoothly into the deep, enjoy the sun and sea, and make sure to take good care of your lovely self.

Thanks for reading!

Hot BUZZ: More about kelp!