January 30, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Shiny Locks

Try this quick tip for keeping dark hair shiny. Chop some fresh rosemary leaves into a two cup heatproof measuring cup. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over and let steep for about 15 minutes. Strain out the leaves, a coffee filter in a small strainer works very well. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and cool to room temperature. Wash your hair and condition as usual then use the rosemary infusion as a final rinse.

Rosemary brings out the highlights in dark hair and conditions the scalp to help prevent dandruff. If you're a blond you can use the same procedure with chamomile flowers. Calendula flowers will help bring out the auburn highlights in any hair color, especially those leaning toward an auburn hue. If you don't want to mess with straining the liquids ask your local Wholefoods market or herb shop if they carry heat sealable tea bags. You can purchase them online at Majestic Mountain Sage.

January 29, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Love Ya Honey

I love honey! There, I said it and I'll shout it from the roof tops. What's not to love? Its thick gooey goodness goes from sweetening my morning tea to soothing my skin. Who could ask for more? We keep the bees in business at Bidwell Botanicals by using copious amounts of honey in our products. Why? Just to name a few benefits: Honey is a natural humectant. That means it attracts and retains moisture and that's good for your skin and hair. Honey is rich in vitamins, minerals, natural enzymes and amino acids that give it antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. See! And you thought it was just tasty on English muffins.

Here's a quick tip: Slightly warm about 1/4 cup of honey (dark and organic if you can get it). You only want this to be warm to the touch so be vigilant and don't over heat it.

While the honey is heating spin some old fashioned rolled oats in your clean coffee grinder or food processor. You can also use plain colloidal oats available as Aveeno. It comes in convenient pouches and you'll only need about a 1/4 of a pouch. Store the rest in a ziplock for future use.

Once the honey is warmed add the oatmeal and mix it up. Apply to a clean, dry face with your fingers avoiding the eye area. Gently massage the oatmeal/honey mixture with slow circular motions. This will stimulate your skin and help to remove dull skin cells. When the honey cools off enough to get hard to move around, about 5 minutes, it's time to rinse off the masque with warm water and pat dry. Apply a good facial moisturizer (with honey of course!) and marvel at your gorgeous glowing skin. How sweet is that!

January 28, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Beau-Tea

We promote natural skin care here at Bidwell Botanicals. I have had many requests to share information so I've decided to try and post one easy beauty tip every day. (The keyword is try!)

Do you have dark circles and puffy bags under your eyes? Try using a few bags of your own, tea bags that is, as cool or warm compresses. Have your morning tea and share a cup with a friend. Wring out the bags so they are still damp and leave them on a plate or paper towel until they are slightly warm or cool to the touch. When they're ready to use lie back, put one tea bag over each eye and relax for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and rinse your face when done to remove any residual tea. The tannins in the tea help to reduce puffiness and soothe tired eyes. Too rushed in the morning? Do it at night just before going to sleep.

Make sure you use caffeinated tea for the tannins. Try green tea as it contains a natural anti-inflammatory called Catechin (EGCG) that helps to ease puffiness and irritation. Use chamomile, lavender, rose or other herbal infusions for their soothing aromatherapy and anti-inflammatory properties.

January 20, 2009

Simplicity. That's the Ticket!

Back to basics. This is a phrase you're going to be hearing a lot of in the near future. We are starting to see it in commercials, magazines and TV shows. Basics can mean many different things depending on who you're talking to. It's all relative to a person's level of income, social status and location. For some it might mean eating at home once in a while and not driving the Hummer as much to save on gas. To others it will mean bringing back the ways of their parents and grandparents by making less expensive meals, using coupons or hanging their clothes out to dry.

However you look at it the time has come to cut back, do your part and make do. We're reducing what we spend on entertainment, food and luxuries. My children are adults now so it's a bit easier to control the budget, but we still have to feed and house four people and various pets so things can get pretty tight if we're not careful. One of the things I've started doing is going back to my mother's recipes. I grew up in a family of seven siblings with very little income but we always seemed to eat well and I never remember thinking I was going without. My family enjoys simple, flavorful foods that are easy to make and go a long way so it's a win/win situation for me.

I will share my mom's recipe for Spanish Chicken & Rice, but keep it under your hat. It's a family secret! The amount below will feed 6 hungry teenage boys or dinner and left-overs for an average family.

Spanish Chicken and Rice
  • 1 chicken cut into pieces (with skin or without)
  • 3 cups uncooked rice (I use Minute Rice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 cups chicken broth (you can use bullion cubes and boiling water)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (you can use any vegetable oil but EVOO tastes best)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350º F.
In a large frying pan heat 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. Wash and pat dry the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken to hot pan skin side down and brown lightly, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a 9" x 13" baking dish and bake at 350º F for 20 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking add 1/4 cup olive oil to the frying pan you used to brown the chicken. On medium heat add the chopped onions and garlic and saute until onions are soft.
Add 3 cups of uncooked rice and stir to lightly brown. Add the tomato sauce, herbs and chicken broth and bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

At this point the first cook time of the chicken should be done. Carefully spoon the rice mixture on top of the chicken and spread to cover. Bake uncovered an additional 20-30 minutes until chicken is done. We serve this with garlic bread and a big green salad. It is simple and delicious. You can gussy it up a bit by adding mushrooms, olives or peppers if you like but we adore it just the way it is. Leftovers are even better as the flavors have time to mingle!

My mother passed away some years ago and we all miss her terribly, but her creative frugal ways and determination to raise her family well will stay with us always. When I put the food in the oven tonight I silently thanked her for the important life lessons and wisdom to teach us to make do and make it good. I have a feeling that will come in handy these days.

January 5, 2009

No More Resolutions!

I officially resolve not to resolve this year. It's just too depressing when I make a resolution and then don't stick to it. I thought about it, really I did, but I just don't want to make promises I can't keep, even if they're only to myself. Maybe I could resolve to take life as it comes with just a bit of pre-planning of course. I should take it easy on myself for a while. I'm kind of burned out trying to be everything to everyone last year. Martha Stewart can rest assured that she is still the queen in that department.

If you're going to make a resolution try to make it something that you might at least attempt to accomplish. How about resolving to have ice cream or one small piece of amazing chocolate at least once a month? Grant yourself the indulgence of a spa day whether it is at a facility or in your own home. At least treat yourself to a pedi-mani and lunch with a girlfriend every now and then. How about a shopping trip and you can only buy things for yourself no matter how cute that sweater would look on your daughter. Yes, I speak from experience!

We women are much too hard on ourselves. We strive to be experts in child guidance, transportation, culinary arts, home decorating, garden design and domestic engineering but when it comes to giving yourself permission to take a nap, read a book or relax in the tub (God forbid!) we lose all focus. I say in 2009 we - you and me - decide that we deserve to relax and enjoy our lives. Easier said than done I know. If you can make resolutions to lose weight, get out and exercise, organize your files or quit smoking surely we could make the time to follow up on a few enjoyable resolutions. Happy New Year!