Monday, July 21, 2008

Calendula - herb of the year

The Calendula plant (Calendula officinalis), specifically its flowers, is best known for its use in skin care. Pot marigold as it is often called has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Its ability to promote epithelial cell growth and healing of the skin has been well documented in both animal and human studies. Calendula also has purported immunostimulating activity that contributes to its wound healing ability. It is the flowers of calendula that contain these healing properties.

Calendula is useful for minor abrasions but also for leg ulcers, radiation burns, and surgical wounds. It can also be used internally for wounds such as stomach ulcers.

Calendula for skin care is primarily used as an oil infusion. Oil infusions are easy to make and can be done simply by putting a handful of dried calendula flowers in a jar and completely covering those flowers with an oil of your choice. I use olive oil for its anti-inflammatory properties or rice bran oil for its high content of phytoestrogens. Once the infused oil is made and the herbs are filtered out with cheesecloth, beeswax can be added to form a more solid product that is used as a balm for damaged skin. This infused oil can also be added to hand and body lotions, bath oils, salt scrubs or even soap for its healing properties. The high vitamin A content of this oil is also a plus for epithelial cell health.

Calendula is an excellent choice for for a hand balm for gardeners and can also be combined with healing herbs like plantain or comfrey. I make a balm that I call knuckle balm that is perfect for working hands on gardeners or mechanics. It soothes dry cracked hands that work hard. You can order this balm from my website or by email.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Colorado Cupboard

Colorado Cupboard is a unique gift shop in Longmont, Colorado where I sell some of my products. Located at 2001 North Main Street it is far enough north that it is convenient for travelers on highway 66 on their way to Rocky Mountain National Park. At the Colorado Cupboard you can find food items including reheatable meals, jewelry, art and gift baskets. All the products at the Colorado Cupboard are locally made so offer a uniquely Colorado experience. I sell skin care products there including lotions, balms, soaps and bath salts as well as flavored black teas, culinary herbs (Herbs de St. Vrain) and dream pillows. You can also find my newly developed natural mosquito repellant there, NoSkeeto! Owner Dayna Nixon can also make you a gift basket with any combination of locally made items. Their website is: Do stop by if you are local or visiting Colorado and support the local economy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Unlikely Lavender Queen Review

I was very excited about reviewing Jeannie Ralston's book "The Unlikely Lavender Queen" for no other reason than that it dealt with the subject of lavender. I soon found however, that this book is much more than Jeannie's memoir of her lavender farm, it is a book about life, change and acceptance.

As a high profile New York writer and editor, Jeannie Ralston was not excited about moving to Texas after marrying photographer Robb Kendrick. She lived for her trips back to New York. She soon found that Texas was not the only surprise Robb had for her. There was the second move to acreage in more rural Texas and the remodeling involved in their new house. As if that weren’t enough, after a visit to Provence to photograph lavender Robb was inspired to see if lavender would grow in Texas. With him being out of town often for jobs, Jeannie soon found that she was responsible for the lavender and decided to jump in with both feet. Through her skillful writing and storytelling we learn how she became not just comfortable in her new environment but also learned to love it. Could it have been the lavender that changed her?

Jeannie and Robb soon found the lavender business to be too overwhelming with their family life. In 2006, after being in business for 5 years, they sold Hill Country Lavender to their assistant, Tasha Brieger. They are now taking on new adventures in Mexico.


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