Put on the Christmas Pot

20161209_045919-5No, that’s not an invitation to waddle up to the holiday groaning board and eat everything until you burst!

Now that wintry weather is here and we shutter our windows to biting winds and snow, your home may start to feel a little stuffy and stale. Simmering spices are an easy and non-toxic way to freshen and fill the air with the delicious scents of Christmas. To help put your household in a festive mood, use this simple method and try these Yuletide simmering spice pot blends:

Add ingredients to a small pot of boiling water and boil for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat and let pot simmer gently, uncovered, for as long as you like. Top up water level as needed; do not let pot boil dry.

20161209_055903-5Christmas Fruitcake: fresh apple, orange and/or lemon slices with skin • handful of fresh cranberries (optional) • 2” to 3” cinnamon stick or a pinch of ground cinnamon • a few whole cloves • pinch of ground nutmeg • a few slices fresh ginger or pinch of ground ginger (optional)

Spice Route: orange slices and peel • cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon • 2 to 3 bay leaves • a few whole cloves • a few cracked cardamom pods • pine needle sprigs

Cranberry Woods: several fresh rosemary sprigs • handful of fresh cranberries • orange slices and peel • cinnamon stick

Spiced Orange: orange slices and peel • 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks • 2 tbsp whole cloves • 5 whole star anise

20161209_064643-6Adjust quantities (or omit) according to preference. Keep children and pets away from the stove and pot, and turn off the heat if you leave the house. Simmering spices are for home fragrance only; do not ingest.

Original artwork © 2016 Valerie Barrett.

Ill Humours & Old Medicine

dsc_3166-6In medieval Europe, herbalism and medicine were practiced chiefly by monks, barber surgeons and village wise women. These healers would base their treatments on what they saw in nature; they’d note the plants that animals ate and the effects the plants had, and would then use the same ones on their patients. Sometimes plants would be used to treat the body part they resembled, or would be chosen for the warming or cooling effect they were thought to have on the body’s constitution. Charms, curses and counter-curses were also important tools of the trade! Monasteries maintained charitable healing centres where folk could come for their cures; herbs commonly found in infirmary gardens included betony, chamomile, comfrey, dill, hyssop, lavender, rue and sage.

If you were living in, say, 12th century England, you would most likely be familiar with the following ailments, as well as their remedies and the people who administered them. (Hark! If squoodgy things make your tum-tums go weak as water, read no further.)

Ague:  Fever and chills

Barber Surgeon:  Trained in monasteries, barber surgeons looked after soldiers during and after battle, and were expected to do everything from cutting hair, giving enemas and pulling teeth to bloodletting, setting broken bones, amputating limbs and other surgeries. Talk about multitasking!

Bloodletting:  3,000-year-old medical procedure still in use today. In the past, patients would be bled from various parts of the body to regulate the humours [See Humours] and “cure” their disease. Unfortunately, this procedure weakened the patient and encouraged infection, and patients sometimes died not from their malady but from the therapy itself. (Charles II and George Washington are famous victims; Washington, suffering from a throat infection, was drained of 3 litres of blood in less than 10 hours and died the next day.) Modern bloodletting is known as therapeutic phlebotomy and is used in western medicine to treat conditions requiring the reduction of the number of blood cells. See Scarification.

Botch:  A bump or sore on the body

Bubo(e):  Also known as gavocciolo, a swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, armpits or neck, usually oozing pus or blood; the most common symptom of (but not limited to) bubonic plague

Catarrh:  Acute influenza; inflammation of the mucous membranes

Chilblains:  Painful, itchy red or purple swelling on the hands or feet from prolonged exposure to cold

Dead Man’s Tooth:  Application of the tooth of a deceased person to heal an open wound

Fat of a Hanged Man:  After a hanging, the body was left to dangle for days, probably as a cautionary example to the public. As putrefaction progressed, greasy excretions would drip and form a puddle under the deceased. Gross, but, hey, it is almost Hallowe’en! This fat (and other body parts) would be collected by the executioner, who did things like set broken bones and sell herbal medicine on the side; it was rendered and made into a salve thought to benefit a number of ailments, including arthritis, lameness and broken bones. Shakespeare refers to this practice in Macbeth: The three witches add “grease that’s sweaten / From the murderer’s gibbet” to their bubbling potion.

Flux:  Excessive discharge or hemorrhage of bodily fluids, especially diarrhea; also a women’s menses

Humours:  It was believed that all diseases were caused by the imbalance of the body’s four “humours” (blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile, which correspond to the elements of earth, air, fire and water). Bloodletting and purging were the chief methods of ridding the body of ill humours.

Gout:  Known since antiquity as “the king of diseases and the disease of kings”, this is the red, tender, hot swelling of a joint (inflammatory arthritis) usually caused by genetics, obesity and a diet high in rich meats and alcohol.

Gripes:  Digestive upset or food poisoning, usually caused by eating unrefrigerated or improperly cured meat

Headache:  A mixture of goat’s cheese and bull’s blood was drunk to cure an aching head. No guarantees as to what it did to the stomach.

Herbarium:  A room housing a collection of preserved plant specimens and their associated data

King’s Evil:  Scrofula or tuberculosis of the neck and lymph glands; so-called from the time of Edward the Confessor because it was believed disease could be cured by the king of England’s touch.

Leeches and Maggots:  Introduced to a wound to help prevent blood poisoning and infection. By sucking blood, leeches draw away toxins, and maggots consume decaying flesh, thus cleaning the wound.dsc_3194-4

Lepers:  Known to the ancient Greeks as elephantiasis, and today as Hansen’s disease, leprosy is a not-very-contagious bacterial infection thought to be caused by respiratory droplets. An effective cure, discovered in the 1940s, involves using antibiotics for several months. Before this, however, leprosy was thought to be highly contagious, spread simply by being near an infected person, and there was no cure. (The other common belief, that leprosy causes toes and other appendages to rot and fall off, is a myth; nerve and tissue damage and secondary infection are the real culprits.) Lepers caused fear and panic wherever they went, and as a result became social outcasts, relying on religious houses for charity and medical assistance. In the Middle Ages, they were required to carry a bell to announce their presence; this also served to attract attention for charity. Leprosy features prominently in two excellent books:  The Leper of St. Giles, a Brother Cadfael mystery by Ellis Peters, and The Island by Victoria Hislop.

Mandrake:  Perhaps because of its resemblance to the human body and the fact that it’s hallucinogenic – as well as extremely poisonous and potentially deadly – Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum), a member of the nightshade family, has a long history of use in magic ritual and medicine. It’s mentioned in the Bible as an aphrodisiac/fertility aid and appears many times in literature (Shakespeare, Donne, Beckett, Steinbeck, Conan Doyle, Rowling) and on screen (Excalibur, Robin of Sherwood, Harry Potter), particularly as protection against the devil.

Mould Poultice:  Bread or yeast soaked in honey and applied to an open wound to halt infection

Officina:  The storeroom in a monastery where herbs and medicines were kept. The species names officinale or officinalis (eg. lemon balm, Melissa officinalis) are a clue that the plant was used by monastic healers.

Physician:  Not the neighourhood GP, but medieval academics who worked in universities as medical observers and consultants. Although they often took up residence in castles to tend their wealthy patrons, physicians considered surgery beneath them, and rarely performed it.

Purge:  An emetic to rid the body of poisons; purging often made the condition worse, not better, as it tended to dehydrate the body

Rale:  Wheezy, congestive rattle in the lungs, and the “death rattle” often heard just before the patient shuffled off this mortal coil

Scarification:  One of several types of bloodletting, in which a scarificator, a small box containing multiple sharp blades, was used to scrape open the skin. Other methods of bloodletting included arteriotomy (puncturing a vein at the temple), venesection (at the elbow), cupping (placing a heated glass dome over broken skin to remove air and blood by suction) and the application of leeches.

Simpling; Simples:  Distilling and brewing herbs; the resulting medicinal brews and distillationsdsc_3227-8

Stillroom:  The distilling room in a great house or castle where herbs and flowers were hung to dry, and medicines, preserves, cosmetics, alcoholic beverages, cleaning products and soaps were made. The final products would be stored and dispensed here as well, making the stillroom part laboratory, part brew house, and part infirmary. Think:  Claire’s work- and storeroom at Castle Leoch in Outlander.

Tetter:  Sore, pimple, mark or scar; the scab of a healing wound

The English Sweate:  Sweating sickness was a baffling and highly contagious disease which ravaged England and Europe in a series of epidemics during the 15th and 16th centuries. The cause is still unknown, but a form of hantavirus has been suggested as the culprit. The onset and progression of the Sweate was sudden and dramatic; one could wake up in the morning feeling perfectly fine and be dead before nightfall. Symptoms included an immense sense of dread followed by chills, then the “hot” (sweating) stage, followed by extreme exhaustion, collapse and, finally, death. Some people did manage to recover from the earlier stages, but that didn’t guarantee immunity; many suffered multiple relapses before finally succumbing. It was believed at the time that bloodletting and working up a “natural sweat” by vigorous exercise could ward off the disease. The outbreaks stopped as quickly as they had come, and by 1578 had completed disappeared from England.

Wale, weal, welt:  Ridge or line on the skin

Wen:  Benign boil or cyst, usually on the scalp or face

Whelk:  Raised lesion on the skin; acne

Wine & Egg Whites:  After a patient had been bled, the incision would be dressed with a mixture of strong wine and egg whites. This isn’t as odd as it seems:  the alcohol’s anaesthetizing and sterilizing properties as well as the astringency and binding qualities of egg whites may actually have helped.

Worms:  Were thought to cause cavities

Ye Olde Apothecarie: Electuaries, Oxymels & Cordials

Behind a studded oak door, in the shadowy, stone-lined stillroom of an ancient castle, a healer thumbs through the parchment pages of her leather-bound herbal. Her patient, a lad of ten, sits with his mother beside the hearth, at once shivering and sweating in the grips of a troublesome ague. He coughs, his bony body shuddering painfully, and his mother hastens to tuck a woolen shawl more snugly around the ailing boy’s throat. The wisewoman slides them both an appraising glance, thinks a space, then nods and closes the book with a decisive thud, sending the candles sputtering. She bustles about the workroom, taking down herb jars from a cupboard, opening a pot of dark golden honey, her mortar and pestle at the ready. She knows what to do…

The wisewoman – perhaps someone like Claire in Outlander – likely chose an electuary, oxymel or cordial to treat her young patient. These are old-time remedies that most people have never heard of, but which some folk still use today.

20161012_122046-3Electuaries are herbal pastes made by mixing medicinal powders with a sweet binding agent (an excipient) such as honey, sugar-water syrup, nut butters, maple syrup, molasses or jam. In the past, they were a common way to make any unpleasant-tasting medicine more palatable; electuaries can be used today to help ease mild sore throats or colds, i.e. minor complaints which do not require a doctor’s supervision. The consistency can range from a syrupy liquid to a thick paste; adjust the ratio of sweetener to herbs for the desired texture. A good rule of thumb is 1/4 tsp of each dried, powdered herb to 1 tbsp honey. Electuaries can be eaten right off the spoon as needed (usually one teaspoon a day for a short period; do not overuse), rolled into lozenges, stirred into hot water, milk, tea, a smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal, or spread on fresh or toasted bread. Here are some choices for cold and flu season; use another type of sweetener if you don’t like or can’t use honey.

Cold Buster:  Powdered echinacea root and/or sage in honey
Vitamin C:  Equal parts hibiscus and ground rosehips in honey
Throat Lozenges:  Equal parts powdered peppermint leaf, sage and marshmallow root in honey thick enough to roll into a marble-sized ball (to suck on); roll lozenges in marshmallow root powder and set on parchment-lined cookie sheet to dry; store in jar.
Be Well:  1 tsp dandelion root powder, 1 tsp slippery elm powder in 2 tbsp honey
Tummy Tamer:  Equal parts powdered ginger and peppermint leaf in honey to calm upset stomachs
Get Your Rest:  Chamomile in honey

Cautions:
⇒ Never give honey to children under two years of age.
⇒ Do not give lozenges to small children, as these could be a choking hazard.
⇒ Before taking any herb, be knowledgeable of its benefits, risks and contraindications. If unsure, consult a licensed health care professional before embarking on any kind of therapy.
⇒ Avoid using if you are on medication or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
⇒ Honey is high in calories and high on the glycemic index, so use in moderation.

Oxymels are made by combining honey and apple cider vinegar, both of which have health benefits, with herbs. The ratio of vinegar and honey varies depending on taste; if you prefer a sweeter oxymel, use 1 part vinegar to up to 5 parts honey. For a tarter mixture, use 1 part honey to 3 parts vinegar. I’ve never made an oxymel, but the method seems simple:  fill a jar 1/4 to half full of herbs; mix raw honey and apple cider vinegar, pour over herbs and continue filling the jar to an inch from the top. Close lid tightly and let sit in a dark, cool place for 6 to 8 weeks. Shake or turn the bottle upside down every day or so. Strain out the herbs and store in a tightly-closed jar for up to a year.

Cordials can be syrup, a boiled infusion of honey and fruit, leaves or flowers, or an alcoholic liqueur. (Remember when Diana gets tipsy on ‘raspberry cordial’ – which turns out to be currant wine – in Anne of Green Gables?) Alcoholic cordials, also known in bygone days as robs, were taken for medicinal purposes. Non-alcoholic varieties made with sugar or honey are more common these days (technically speaking, a syrup is made with fruit juice and sugar, and cordials are made with honey). They can be taken for their health benefits, or used to flavour drinks, as sauces, or simply sipped on their own.

dsc_2965-5How to Make Elderberry Cordial:  For centuries, people have been easing cold symptoms and warding off the flu with a cordial or syrup made from black elderberries (Sambucus nigra), which contain Vitamin C and immune system-boosting antioxidants. Throw in the benefits of honey (antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory) and rob’s your uncle – you’ve got a delicious, versatile and healthful old-time home remedy!

2/3 cup dried elderberries (available at health and natural food stores and online)
3 ½ cups water
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp whole cloves
1 cup raw honey (Manuka or buckwheat are great for colds)

To a medium saucepan, add water, elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from heat and mash the berries with the back of spoon or other flat object. Pour the liquid through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl; discard (or compost) the berries. To the lukewarm liquid add the honey, mixing well. Pour the cordial into a glass bottle or jar and allow to cool completely. Keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator for two weeks or more. Elderberry cordial can also be frozen; try pouring into ice cube trays and thaw for individual servings when needed. Makes 2 cups.

To take:  Children ½ tsp a day during peak cold and flu season; Adults 1 tsp a day. If you get sick, these amounts can be doubled until you start feeling better. Take from the spoon or add to hot water for a soothing drink.

Cautions:
⇒ Elderberries can be a mild laxative, so use in moderation.
⇒ Please see other Cautions above.

8 Simmering Spice Recipes for Autumn

20161007_121135-7Fragrant simmering pots are a great way to use up herbs and spices from your holiday baking cupboard, plus the peels and leftover bits of fresh fruit you prepare anytime for eating.

Measurements are guidelines only; adjust to your preference. With strong-smelling herbs like lavender, you may want to designate an old pot you no longer use for cooking. For full instructions on simmering spice pots, click here.

Try some of these combinations to fill your home with the warm scents of Fall:

  1. Autumn Spice: orange peel • apple peel • cinnamon sticks • whole cloves
  1. Bitter Lemon: lemon peel • 2 bay leaves • whole cloves • cinnamon sticks
  1. Spiced Pumpkin: (includes the five spices usually found in “pumpkin spice” mixes, plus vanilla) 1 tsp whole cloves • 1 tsp ground nutmeg • 1 tsp ground cinnamon • 1 tsp ground allspice • 2 slices fresh ginger • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Lavender Dreams: 1/4 cup dried lavender flowers • 4 whole star anise • 1 tsp ground nutmeg • 1 tsp whole cloves • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  1. Pumpkin Pie: canned pumpkin • apple cider (instead of water) • cinnamon sticks • whole cloves • nutmeg • vanilla extract (use a crockpot for this one)
  1. Just the Juice: apple juice or cider (instead of water) • whole cloves • cinnamon sticks
  1. Posh Spice: 1 cinnamon stick • 6 whole cloves • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. The Whole Shebang: peels of 1 – 2 oranges • 2 cinnamon sticks • 1 tbsp whole cloves • fresh ginger slices • star anise

Safety first! Keep children and pets away from simmering pots and stove • Check water level regularly so the pot doesn’t boil dry • Do not ingest • Turn off heat before leaving the house.

In Awe of October

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithout a doubt, autumn is the season I love best, and there’s something about October that’s just better than September. Don’t get me wrong; September is quite lovely, with clear azure skies and garden blooms giving way to fields of goldenrod and purple and white asters. But, as far as I’m concerned, most of that month is too much like August. After all, the equinox doesn’t occur until its third week, summer’s heat often clings with sweaty hands beyond the official start of Fall, and leaves don’t yet know whether they want to stay green or go out in a blaze of glory. October, on the other hand, is more decisive about its status as the All-Autumn-All-the-Time Channel.

In October, we’ll still have our share of warm, dry weather and cool evenings when a hoodie or knitted shawl seems like a good idea. Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated next weekend, and we all know what happens at the end of the month! But I also welcome October’s occasional moodiness: soft grey skies and the “Scotch mist” which laid a fine veil of gems across my windshield yesterday; the sharp tang of woodsmoke in the air; night fog looming like ectoplasm over creeks and damp meadows. More than the season’s showy reds, ambers, greens and golds, it’s the overall turning-inwardness we experience as the days shorten and the world of candlelight and shadow draws near that I find comforting, mysterious and quite wonderful.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have many ideas for autumn- and October-related posts which I’ll be sharing over the next weeks. Since this is the month of Hallowe’en and Samhain, I’m feeling particularly witchy (in all the right ways), so I’ll be talking about seasonal traditions, homemade brews and concoctions, herbal and apothecary lore, and old-time folk remedies geared especially for the upcoming cold and flu season.

Speaking of which, I greeted October, unfortunately, with a head cold. So today, to help clear my sinuses and impart my home with an autumnal air, I put on a pot of warm simmering spices. This easy home fragrance method has been around for years and beats using expensive, chemical-laden scented candles; not only is it delightfully fragrant, it helps humidify your home during the dry, colder months. Plus, there’s no need to go out and buy special ingredients. Just use whatever combination of fruits (fresh or dried slices or skins) you have on hand and whole or ground herbs and spices which a-peel to you, and don’t worry about exact measurements. With elements such as oranges, lemons, apples, cloves and cinnamon, you really can’t go wrong!

To Make Simmering Spices:  Fill a small pot with water, bring to a boil on the stove, add your ingredients and boil for a couple minutes more. Reduce heat and let pot gently simmer, uncovered, for as long as you like. Set a timer to check the water level every 30 minutes, topping up as needed. You can also set the pot to steam away on a woodstove or radiator; some recipes call for a crockpot. Keep children and pets away from the stove and pot, and turn off the heat if you leave the house. Simmering spices are for home fragrance only; do not ingest.20161003_114124-5Today’s Recipe:  Spiced Lemon & Ginger Simmering Pot

This zesty combination of fruits and ginger will help relieve those stuffed-up noses in no time!

  • A few slices each of apple and lemon (fresh or dried); I used some that had been in the fridge for a while – a good way to use up past-its-best fruit
  • 2 – 3 small slices fresh ginger root
  • 1 – 2 cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 10 whole allspice (optional)
  • 3 whole star anise (optional)

More autumn-inspired simmering pot recipes to come. In the meantime, try your own combinations, and if you have a favourite recipe, feel free to share it in a comment. Enjoy the bountiful scents of the season!

Apothecary Adventures: Making a facial toner

There are a jillion recipes out there for DIY skincare, bath and body products, and all kinds of claims about what they’ll do for you. DSC_1705 (4)As my interest in traditional herbalism and back-to-basic home therapeutics deepens, I’ve been eager to try some of them (always with a skeptical eye toward snake-oil claims, of course). I’m pretty picky, though; I want a simple recipe using only a few ingredients that are plant-based, organic rather than synthetic (although that’s not always possible, especially when it comes to fragrance), easily-available and inexpensive. And if those ingredients or the final product can multitask, so much the better!

I decided to start my cauldron-stirring with a facial toner, which is odd, since I’ve never used one  ̶  except for a summer years ago when I fell in love with a cucumber toner from either Crabtree & Evelyn or The Body Shop (can’t remember which). Perhaps my dry, mature skin is calling out for it! Toners claim to cleanse, tighten, refresh, soften, hydrate, balance pH levels, glowify, reduce inflammation and control oil. That’s a lot to ask from one product, but only time will tell.

Many incarnations are possible, including cucumber, tea tree, lavender, calendula, aloe & green tea, apple cider vinegar & mint — you name it. For my first effort, I settled on a popular combination:  rosewater, witch hazel (both have been used for centuries) and vegetable glycerin, which is optional. All of these have uses on their own, but together they make a good cosmetic. Here are some of their supposed therapeutic properties, as well as notes on brands, availability and cost:

Rosewater:  soothes, cools and balances; cleanses oily skin; rejuvenates, softens and tones mature skin and helps reduce signs of aging; delicate fragrance calms, reduces stress and contributes to sounder sleep

  • If you’re willing to sacrifice lots of roses that you grow yourself (without pesticides), it’s easy to make your own steam-distilled hydrosol.
  • Purchase rosewater at health/natural product stores, some drugstores, Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food shops and online.
  • My source: Heritage Store’s Rose Petals™ Rosewater, which contains only water and Rosa damascena flower oil. This is a multitasker; use as-is for aromatherapy, perfume, body splash or a simple toner. A rosewater + glycerin option is also available. I paid CAD $12.99 for a 240 mL (8 fl. oz.) bottle at my local Whole Foods store.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana):  astringent; controls oil and may help acne; tannins constrict blood vessels, reducing swelling and inflammation and temporarily tightening skin; cleanses dirt and oil; cools; eases pain and itching; use undiluted as a dressing for bruises, sprains and muscle soreness, abrasions, swelling, insect bites, razor nicks, minor burns and sunburns

  • My source: 100 mL Life™ brand Witch Hazel (manufacturer’s standard) from Shopper’s Drug Mart for CAD $4.99; contains ethyl alcohol. (I couldn’t find an alcohol-free distilled version, but it does exist.) Look for witch hazel in the first aid aisle.
  • Witch hazel doesn’t have a particularly attractive fragrance – it smells rather earthy to me – and the alcohol gave my first batch a slight medicinal odour. I added more rosewater to counteract it.

Vegetable Glycerin:  acts as a humectant, attracting and holding moisture to the skin; cleanses; softens rough skin

  • Can make your products sticky, so don’t go overboard. If you add too much, increase the amount of rosewater.
  • My source: NOW® Solutions 100% Vegetable Glycerine, which is made from non-GMO palm, grapeseed or coconut oil and contains no additives. (I’m a big fan of NOW’s body oils and the spot-on fragrance of their essential oils, all of which are reasonably priced.) A 118 mL bottle cost me CAD $8.99 at Whole Foods.

Rosewater, Witch Hazel & Glycerin Toner

No recipe, of course, listed the exact amounts for the size of bottle I had on hand (I wanted a small batch with nothing left over); in fact, the numbers vary widely. Generally, the proportions go like this:  mostly rosewater, some witch hazel, and a smidgen of glycerin. (How’s that for a recipe?!) To make a larger batch (keep some; give some as gifts), try 1 cup of rosewater, ½ to ¾ cups witch hazel and 1 teaspoon of glycerin. For my small bottle, which holds 80 mL (about ¼ cup or 2 oz.), I experimented until I got the right feel and fragrance:  non-sticky, non-greasy, and pleasantly rose-scented. I used:

  • 50 – 60 mL rosewater
  • 20 – 30 mL witch hazel
  • 1/8 tsp (6 to 8 drops) vegetable glycerin

If the rose scent isn’t strong enough for you, or you don’t like the smell of witch hazel, try adding a drop of rose essential oil or any favourite complementary scent, like lavender or peppermint.

Start Concocting!  Add all ingredients to a bottle with or without a spray top. Secure lid and shake to combine.

To Use:  Shake before each use. Spritz or apply witDSC_1705 (5)h a cotton ball or makeup remover pad to face and neck, avoiding eyes and other mucous membranes. Use after cleansing, to help remove makeup, or whenever you need a lovely rose-scented boost. Keep tightly closed; does not need refrigeration.

Easy Green Tea Eye Soothers

To soothe and refresh tired eyes after a long day or when you haven’t had enough sleep, try this simple method using green or black tea bags.DSC_1529 (9)

Steep 2 tea bags (I use pure, organic green tea) for 3 to 5 minutes, remove from water and cool in the fridge until chilled. Squeeze out any excess water and place the bags over closed eyelids. Rest with eyes closed for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove tea bags and rinse eye area with cool water when finished.

The tea’s caffeine and astringent tannins combined with the coolness help to temporarily reduce puffiness and dark circles by constricting the blood vessels just under the skin. Green tea also contains Vitamin E (an antioxidant) and amino acids which are beneficial to skin. Black tea, which contains more caffeine, is just as effective.

** Note:  To be used cosmetically only. This is not a treatment or cure for any disease or condition of the eye or skin.