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As spring brings light and length to our days, our hair begins to come out from under our winter hats. Now is a great time to think treating your hair to a little extra TLC.

Healthy hair is actually more about doing less than about doing more. The loss of your gloss is actually due to the unhealthy practices of over washing, blow drying, and using chemical products. Even the best shampoo washes out the natural oils in your hair, leaving hair dry even after using conditioner. The first steps to healthy hair are wash your hair less, only once or twice a week. Rotate between shampoos to keep things balanced. Use a gentle, non-detergent based shampoo.

A healthy, balanced diet also contributes to both healthy hair and skin. Brushing your hair and scalp massages not only feel good but help to distribute your natural oils and stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles.

Instead of hair conditioner, consider using an herbal hair rinse or herbal vinegar rinse. You can buy an herbal rinse from companies like Honey Bee Holistics, with their Organic Rosemary Hair Rinse for itchy scalps, or a Sage Herbal Hair Rinse from Dragonfly Herbs. However, it’s also easy to make your own with a little patience.

Here’s a recipe for a vinegar hair rinse for dry hair.

1 oz. nettle

1 oz. marshmallow root

1 oz. calendula

Apple cider vinegar

Drops of an essential oil of your choice (peppermint or myrrh is great for dry hair)

Distilled water

1. Fill a quart jar halfway with the herbs. Cover them with the vinegar and cap tightly. Place in a warm spot for 3-4 weeks. Shake it daily to keep the mixture agitated.

2. After 3-4 weeks, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or double cheesecloth. Add the essential oils, rebottle it in a plastic bottle, and store this is your bathroom.

3. Before you take a bath, dilute the rinse with distilled water. For dry hair, dilute 1 part rinse with 6 parts water. After you shampoo, pour the vinegar rinse through your hair, massaging it into your scalp. Rinse with warm water and if you can stand it, cold water too.

You can play with the essential oils in this mix to give it different scents, but I chose peppermint not only for its properties but also because it is invigorating and awakens the senses. You can also use essential oils such as lavender or chamomile for normal hair, or lemon, patchouli, rosemary, and tea tree oils for oily hair.

I encourage you to get your hair out from under that hat, grab a friend, and exchange head massages with a drop of your favorite essential oil. You’ll thank me!

from Lydia Krupinski

I’m having a serious love affair with the Eco Etsy blog. Not that I’m biased or anything (I’m an official contributor), but I really do find myself enamored by the daily articles and encouragement that ensue. If you’re a clever crafter or a super greenie, you’ll find that the blog has something for everyone, no matter how new you are to the concept of conscious living.

An article that was posted last week brought this home. Despite all my knowledge of DIY, I have still never experimented with home cleaning products made by hand. But this article from the Eco Etsy blog has challenged me to give it a go – and I think you should too! Beyond making life healthier, creating your own cleaners will be easier on your wallet while eliminating all of the packaging that comes along with store bought products.

So if you’ve put off making your own tub scrub or floor detergent – make this week the one where you give it a shot! I’ll be sure to post my updated finds in the comments below, and I hope you will too!

posted by Lydia Krupinski

It’s the eve of the eve of Valentine’s Day and you’ve totally forgotten to get a gift for your sweetie! What do you do? Make a handmade eco-friendly gift of course! Pinterest and blogs are teaming with easy tutorials that will give a personal spin on your v-day gift giving.

My favorite is the Birds on a Wire project. Unisex, stylish, and upcycled, this mini-art piece will speak volumes to your crush. Not into birds? Change up the subject to match your own message. This simple and easy-to-make project gives you the flexibility to take it in any direction you choose.

Do you have another suggestion for a handmade gift? Post your ideas in the comments below!

written by Molly Kay Stoltz

When I am sick or sore, when I’m uninspired, when it is dark and cold outside, or when I am stressed and need time alone, I take a bath.

Baths have become something of a luxury, but they shouldn’t be. Our lives are busy, and it is always easy to take a shower and get on with your day, but a bath forces you to slow down and think. And the benefits grow when you take a moment to add herbs or salts to your bath water.

The first thing to consider is the temperature of your water. Cool or room-temperature water can help to lower a fever or normalize your system, and can firm and strengthen you if you are able to brave the cold! On the other hand, warm water is soothing and opens your pores which can help you become decongested or eliminate toxins from your body, for example, after a hard workout or a massage. Read the rest of this entry »

by Molly Kay Stoltz

Feeling a little indigestion from your last holiday party? You probably have the remedy hiding in your baking cupboard.

Just today at work I was a bit full from my lunch. I reached into my secret stash of tea, and found the ingredient I was looking for- cinnamon.

A cup of chai roobis later, and my stomach was back to normal!

Cinnamon is a tasty herb made from the bark of a cinnamon tree. There are many varieties, but we in the U.S. use cassia, or Chinese cinnamon.  However, cassia is not actually the “true” cinnamon. “True” cinnamon comes from Ceylon, and is much more pungent than the variety we’ve all grown up with. You can find different varieties at specialty spice shops if you are looking for a stronger tasting cinnamon!

Cinnamon has been used as far back as 2700 BC in ancient Egypt and China, and was widely used in medieval Europe on meats and with fruit. Today, we sprinkle it in stews and soups, steep it in teas, simmer it in curries, and of course, bake it in our cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pies. I can’t imagine my morning bowl of oatmeal without a dash of cinnamon.

Cinnamon isn’t just tasty, however. It has many benefits for your health, including soothing an upset stomach and aiding digestion, clearing urinary-tract infections, helping diabetics metabolize sugar better, relieving pain and inflammation, slowing the flow of blood, and killing disease-causing fungi and viruses. Cinnamon is a powerhouse herb, but is also relatively side-affect free- IN MODERATION, of course. IMPORTANT: Too much cinnamon will create a laxative effect. Don’t over-do it!

During the holiday season, when we do tend to overindulge on everything but cinnamon, it can be helpful to use cinnamon to break down fats during digestion and reduce intestinal gas. A spicy tea like chai or apple cinnamon tea or a spiced apple cider is a wonderful after-dinner drink.

Here’s a recipe for a spiced cider- add a dash of amaretto for an extra-special treat : ).

Spiced Cider

5 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
5 whole allspice kernels
5 whole cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 gallon apple cider
1 or 2 oranges

Blend cinnamon, star anise, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and apple cider in a large pot. Use a zester or grater to remove the rind of the oranges, and add to the cider mix. Add the juice of the oranges to the cider. Heat to just below simmer for several hours. Ladle into mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick.

And the extra-added bonus? Cinnamon has a germicidal effect. Using cinnamon may add extra protection from the flu and colds that appear during the holidays. So, here’s to cinnamon for keeping us healthy and happy as we go about our merry way! Happy Holidays!

Resources:

Cinnamon Health Benefits on The Modern Herbal

Cinnamon Varieties by Vanilla Review

If you have a full-out foodie on your shopping list this holiday season – don’t fear! Alisha of the blog i like it too! put together the following suggestions for getting the perfect gift for that gastro-savvy guest or friend:

1) Handmade Table & Bowls from Haymaker Shop

2) Bike Snack Sack from Green Heart

3) Chain Links Apron from Decorative Instincts

4) DIY Indian Spice Rub from Eating Well

5) CSA from Montalbano Farms

6) DIY 3 Bean & Barley Soup Mix from Eating Well

7) DIY Spiced Nuts from Martha Stewart

By Lydia Krupinski

As we are all busy running about trying to find the perfect handmade gifts for the season – many of us forget an essential – gift wrapping!

To keep you from procrastinating, and purchasing that gaudy roll of wrap that’s strategically placed at the register end cap, create your action plan now with these great easy-to-make alternatives that I pulled from my website Pierogi Picnic.

Newspaper – If you’re looking for something cheap and chic, newspaper is the best way to go. The high contrast black and white will give your gifts an elegant look with a rustic edge. For some great suggestions on how to best use this upcycled material check out Design Apothecary’s article here.

Paper Bags  - If you ever take a spontaneous trip to the grocer and are (gasp!) caught without your reusable shopping bags – never fear! Those old-fashioned paper bags can be put to use! The stock of paper that’s used for your average grocery sack lends itself perfectly for wrapping gifts. Check out this awesome post from My Home Ideas for some great tips on using this everyday item.

Looking for more tips? Read the full article here.

Tis the season to start planning your 2011 edible gardens. City dwellers must overcome the myth and fear that growing veggies is only for those with a stiff mortgage and plenty of land mass. Those of us who live in apartments and high rises can overcome this obstacle by employing some creative solutions:

Urbio Vertical Garden: This up-and-coming design team is currently collecting funds via Kickstarter to turn their urban jungle ideas into reality. Their concept of magnetic and adjustable plastic planters is brilliant, modern, and functional.  Let Urbio be your inspiration. Read the rest of this entry »

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