Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Anyone for coffee?

I'm so thrilled with my Cappuccino Coffee bar that I felt compelled to write about it!

Coffee is a buzz word these days, not only are we drinking it in huge quantities but it seems that coffee and the caffeine it contains offers many skincare benefits. Caffeine is a powerful anti-oxidant and also has anti-inflammatory properties; thus it can help reduce redness, even-out skin tone, prevent skin from premature ageing and on top of this it's a great exfoliator and leaves your skin feeling silky soft. Oh yes, I almost forgot, it's also said that caffeine reduces the appearance of cellulite.

I decided on an all-vegetable bar of soap with plenty of coconut oil, olive oil and shea butter. Once made I took away a quarter of the clear mixture saving this for the top layer and then added espresso coffee grounds (more caffeine in these!) to the rest of the mixture. Before pouring I added essential oils of patchouli and vetiver. This is a really great combination for this particular soap. Not only do these two oils contain great properties for the skin but the vetiver adds a dark chocolatey scent to the earthy patchouli. Mmmmm....


To complete the effect I sprinkled fresh ground coffee on the top.

This was made yesterday and today saw the great unveiling....


It looks good enough to eat and smells fantastic!

This is my second batch and the first was ready earlier this week and I can honestly say that this is one of the most glorious soaps I've ever made. It's rich and creamy and leaves your skin feeling fantastic. I use it on my face (yes, it's super mild) but it would be a great shower soap too.

A shower with this first thing and a cup of coffee at elevenses means you get a double daily caffeine hit. Nothing wrong with that!





Friday, 20 May 2016

Rosemary and Parmesan Crackers

Well here I am again trying to improve my memory by getting my daily fix of rosemary! Not in soap this time but in these scrummy rosemary and parmesan crackers.


Recipe:
60 g butter - melted in microwave
80 g grated parmesan 
60 g plain flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
sea salt
black pepper

Melt butter in microwave then add the rest of the ingredients and combine until the mixture forms a dough. It will probably be quite crumbly but firm it up with your hands and pop in the fridge for an hour. Roll out and cut (or press by hand) into small cracker shapes. Pop into a pre-heated oven (mine is fan) at 160 and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until browning at the edges.

Try not to eat them all at once!

Monday, 9 May 2016

The Power of Rosemary



For centuries rosemary has been associated with having a good memory and it appears that there may well be a lot of truth in this. However, this aromatic and fragrant
Mediterranean herb has many other useful benefits when it comes to healing, notably it can help with:-

  • stress relief
  • clarity and focus
  • boosting the immune system
  • easing headaches
  • alleviating join and muscle pain


It seems there is no end to the healing properties of this lovely aromatic herb.

My particular area of interest is its ability to help ‘future memory’ and mental clarity and this internet article (link below) provided by the BBC encouraged me to create a range of skincare products containing pure rosemary essential oil (rosmarinus officinalis). Naturally, I can’t make any claims for these products but I hope, when in use, they will provide an aromatic, refreshing and restorative boost.



The Khandala Rosemary Collections contains:-

  • A pure rosemary soap
  • Clear Thinking Balm (a specially formulated synergistic blend of essential oils designed to help clear the mind and enhance focus)
  • Rosemary & Spearmint Hemp Seed Lip Balm (with aloe butter and baobab oil)
  • Rosemary & Lemon Balm all-natural healing salve
Available on the website now!



Monday, 29 February 2016

Lemon Delicious!

A friend of mine has just returned from Spain where she has been helping a friend pick the new season's lemons and make marmalade. This conjured up such a wonderful picture that I felt determined to make something lemony...

...so here it is...luscious Lemon & Peppermint Lip Balm.



I've added peppermint and lemon essential oils to my usual formula of aloe butter, coconut oil, beeswax and skin-softening Baobab oil and this balm should keep lips soft and moisturised until we get our own hint of Spring.
Available on the website shop page now.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Wishing you a balmy Christmas!

My last blog of this year concerns my new super soft, super whipped night time balm. As anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a great fan of balms; they're so versatile and the whipped variety is a new departure for me. Instead of simply melting the oils and then pouring them I whip them up in stages three or four times until they contain air and are light and almost frothy. I keep the beeswax to a minimum, just enough to set the balm so that the end result is light but penetrative.

This beautifully fragrant balm also contains sweet almond oil, meadowfoam seed oil and shea butter....



Before the last whipping I add essential oil of rose geranium, one of my very favourite essential oils. This balm can be used as a cleanser with a muslin hot cloth but I prefer to use it at night when the aromatic essential oil will relax and calm whilst the oils will work while you sleep; they will soften and smooth and you will wake up to softer skin.


A nice little treat for Christmas Eve!

Happy Christmas to one and all.


Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Coconut Connection...

Sometimes I think I'm a bit slow off the mark.

For some time I've been wondering why my nails are particularly good at this time of year. When I say good I mean they seem strong, they don't split and I actually find myself having to cut them to keep them to a reasonable length. At other times of the year my nails are soft and tend to split very easily.

Today the penny dropped. This is the time of year that my soap making is at its height. I'm preparing batches daily for the Craft Fairs that lead up to Christmas and every day the first thing I do it to dip my hands into my supply of coconut oil.



Coconut oil is one of the few oils that is solid at room temperature so rather than pour it I have to cut it up into small pieces - rather as if I was making pastry. Hence each morning I wipe a fair amount of coconut oil from my hands. So there you have it...coconut oil is the reason my nails are so good. Not rocket science is it!

I realise that come December when I've stopped making soap for a while that my nails will revert to their previous poor state so this morning I decided I'd make a balm to treat my nails throughout the non-soap months. Of course I could continue to dip my fingers in coconut oil but I want something that is a little harder, more penetrating and with essential oils to soften my cuticles and excite my senses.

So this morniing I've formulated my Nail & Cuticle Repair Balm using beeswax, aloe vera butter and, of course, heaps of coconut oil. I've added a drop of Vitamin E for good measure and essential oils of red mandarin and neroli so the balm, I hope, will be an absolute joy to use.


Two small tins to test...


Almost ready...


Why has it taken me so long? Maybe I have a coconut for a brain!






Sunday, 9 August 2015

New Season's figs...

The wait is almost over....

The Khandala Fig Tree

For anyone who didn't know Khandala is the name of our house. Apparently it hails from India and was already on the house gate when we moved in 32 years ago. The fig tree was also here in a very sheltered position tucked away behind the garage. Last year we had to cut it back quite severely but it has rewarded us once again with what looks like a fairly good crop of figs. I can't wait!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

It's that time again....

My daughter, Rachel, and I have been on our annual pilgrimage to the Lavender Fields in Carshalton.


It was a perfect July day, hot and sunny and, as always, the purple vision just takes your breath away, not to mention the heady fragrance and the gentle hum of hundreds of happy bees.

We even resisted the temptation to jump...


I purchased a bottle of their Folgate variety essential oil which to me has a slightly more intense fragrance than some lavenders.

As a regular user of my lavender & camomile calming balm I felt that it would be good to create a night time moisturiser that also promotes restful sleep. So here we have it, my Sleep Easy Night Repair Cream...a double whammy you might call it!


Rich in cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba and rosehip seed oils this intensive moisturiser will work hard throughout the night whilst the essential oils promote calm and restful sleep.

Bliss!



Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The endless wonders of camellias....


This lovely specimen is a camellia (variety: Brushfield's yellow) and flowering in my garden at this moment. It's a magnificent bush especially when in full bloom and it started me wondering about the benefits of camellia oil. 
A little investigation was called for.

Some time ago I bought a small bottle of Camellia Tea Oil (Oleifera) - a light green oil extracted from the leaves of the camellia tea plant. It seems that this oil has been known to the Chinese since ancient times, largely due to the wealth of properties and benefits it provides. To name but a few:-

  • Emollient. The oil is exceptionally high in Oleic acid (Omega 9) and thus is a brilliant moisturiser being light and easily absorbed by the skin.
  • Being high in Oleic acid means that it is a good anti-oxidant which resists rancidity.
  • Anti-Aging - helps protect the skin from free radical damage
  • Anti-microbial - noted for its anti-fungal properties
  • Astringent - mildly astringent and therefore good at treating scars 
  • Anti-inflammatory - helps reduce skin inflammations
I should also add that Chinese women have been using Camellia oil for centuries on their hair and I can can see this fast becoming the new Argan oil.

However, for the time being I am using it for the products that I make on a regular basis and so far have added it to soap, a facial moisturiser and a skin treatment balm. I also plan to formulate a foot cream since its anti-fugal and emollient properties seem ready-made for this.


The soap is still at the curing stage so as yet I've not been able to test it but the formulation I've used will create a hard creamy bar with excellent cleansing and conditioning properties.

The moisturiser also contains wonderful meadow-foam seed and apricot kernel oils and is scented delicately with essential oils of rose absolute and rose geranium whilst for the balm, I've teamed camellia oil with skin-repairing rosehip seed so what a combination we have here!

No wonder I'm excited!!

STOP PRESS!

I've added a lip balm to the range. With such fantastic emollient properties it was a no-brainer.








Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Experiments with shampoo

Every so often I read the list of ingredients on the back of my bottle of shop-bought shampoo and heave a big sigh! Further reading on a lot of these ingredients has made me firmly resolved to make my own. I have no intention of making this commercially but I shall be happy when I can create a natural product that cleans my hair, keeps it shiny, smells good and doesn't leave me with a mass of tangles.

Last year I started to experiment. Initially I came up with a product that left my hair really clean and felt great on the scalp. The one big drawback was that it didn't condition the hair and that made it hard to deal with.

However, not to be defeated I have tried again and this time with much greater success. In fact I feel that I have made a product that is really pretty good and may save me having to buy commercial shampoo ever again.

Recently I read about a group of people with the unfortunate name of 'No Poo-ers'! These brave people have completely abandoned the use of shampoo and claim that their hair is now so much better as the hair's natural balance of oils has been restored leaving lustrous, shiny locks.

Now, whilst I'm not prepared to give up shampoo completely I'm hopeful that this move to hair cleaner with no potentially dangerous or controversial ingredients is a big step in the right direction

This is a recipe that is very simple to make and all the ingredients are easily obtainable. I'm sharing this with you.



Recipe for Homemade Shampoo

85g liquid castile soap (a natural liquid soap with no surfectants)
2g avocado oil
3g d-panthenol (pro vitamin B5)
8 drops essential oil of choice*

* I used 4 drops rosemary and 4 drops lemon myrtle essential oil. Lemon Myrtle is perhaps more difficult and more expensive to get hold of so lemon essential oil will work just as well. Mix well and pour into suitable bottle. Remember to shake well before use.

Liquid castile soap is readily available on many websites. d-panthenol similarly, although you may need to find a specialist skin care ingredient supplier.

In my next batch I plan to substitute wonderful Argan oil for the avocado oil so I'll add a note to this blog to report results.



Monday, 27 October 2014

Aloe Butter Lip Balms

This is the time of year I start thinking about lip balms and I've been experimenting with glorious, super-moisturising aloe butter. I've chosen a butter mixture of aloe vera in coconut oil which is perfect for balms and I've added peppermint essential oil for the 'zing' factor. I'm delighted with this lip balm which is gentle, moisturising and extremely re-hydrating. What more could you ask?


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The wonders of avocados...


I've always had a passion for avocados, that gorgeous creamy flesh that lends itself so wonderfully to french dressing and prawns. I'm also a total believer in the power of avocado oil and this week I've been using it in both creams and soap.

My Avocado Skin Softener is a beautiful moisturiser, made with sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, and of course, dark green avocado oil. I've added essential oils of patchouli and geranium for their skincare qualities and have ended up with one of my very favourite moisturisers.


Until now, I'd never thought of using it in soap but in fact research has shown that avocado is a particularly useful oil for soapmaking since it provides excellent conditioning and moisturising properties. So yesterday I set to in the soap kitchen and made a batch of olive oil and avocado soap.






I'm sharing my soap-making photos with you:-

1. Making
2. Pouring
3. Unmoulding 24 hours later
5. Cutting

This is a pure vegetable soap made with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil (sustainable), avocado oil, shea butter and castor oil. For any soap-makers who may read this, the INS value is 149.

I've scented this with an exotic combination of essential oils...bay, pine and rosewood.

I can always tell when a soap will be good. It's immediately obvious when you remove it from the mould. This one came out beautifully and I feel very excited about it, but... patience is a virtue!



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lavender Time Again

It's the time of year when I make my annual pilgrimage to the fabulous Mayfield Lavender Fields in Carshalton. This glorious suffusion of smell and colour almost takes my breath away.

Mayfield Lavender, Carshalton, Surrey.
I always treat myself to a bottle of their essential oil. They grow three varieties, last year I bought Grosso, this year I chose Folgate and I can't wait to use it.
As a rule I don't put it into my soap as this home-grown oil is so expensive that I feel it's a waste. Instead I save it for use in hand creams, lotions and of course my Perchance Sleep Balm.


Along with the locally sourced lavender essential oil I add essential oils of bergamot, frankincense and melissa which is the oil of lemon balm. 
Sweet Lavender Dreams!

In the same vein, I've today made some Lavender Calming Balm. This is 'bliss' in a pocket-sized tin. Along with the Folgate lavender essential oil I've also added a few drops or rose absolute. Definitely helpful for those stressful moments.



Friday, 11 April 2014

Dandelion & Honey Soap

I'm sharing a recipe in case there's any other soap-makers out there who read this and may want to know what to do with all those pesky dandelions which seem to appear overnight at this time of year.

Yesterday I collected a large bunch of dandelions both the leaves and flowers. I washed them and then poured boiling water over them and left it to steep overnight, thus making a lovely dandelion infusion.

My soap recipe consists of soyabean oil (Trex to those in the UK), coconut, olive and (sustainable) palm oils; and finally a small amount of natural beeswax.

This morning I measured the precise quantity of dandelion infusion, pouring it carefully through a strainer. It looked a very murky shade of greeny brown. I wasn't filled with confidence.


However, on adding the sodium hydroxide, it immediately brightened to a lovely mustard yellow which remained stable when I mixed the lye with the oils...


Using beeswax in soap can be tricky; it traces quickly so you have to work fast. In fact, mine behaved better than I expected and it took about 10 minutes to bring it to a nice trace. At this point I added the honey (1 dessertspoon) which I whisked in with an electric beater and then added essential oils. I used sweet orange, cassia (cinnamon) and rosemary.


So here you have the final picture of the soap being poured into the mould. It's now insulated and I shall take a peek tomorrow. I fully expect it to have lightened in colour but I can live with that. Pale yellow is better than dirty green!

Watch this space...!!

14th April 2014 UPDATE

I unmoulded the soap last night; it's beautifully hard and a dark orange colour rather than yellow. It's reminiscent of Wright's Coal Tar Soap.


I doubt if it will alter much in colour whilst it's curing so I'm fairly happy with this. However, with so many dandelions around I've tried a second experiment today infusing the flower heads only and using a colourless fragrance oil. This may lead to a lighter coloured soap. I'll keep you posted!

21st April UPDATE

No further colour change to report. I guess that the Dandelion & Honey Soap will stay this colour. The second batch using flower heads only turned out an identical colour! 



Thursday, 30 January 2014

Love is in the air......

With February 14th fast approaching I thought it was time to make a few romantic and luxurious products.



I had started with the soap, which I made last October. It's a pure vegetable soap fragranced with essential oils of Vetiver, Lavender & Ylang Ylang - a rather sensuous affair!

Today I've made a super-luxurious lip balm flavoured with spearmint essential oil and a truly lovely rose hand cream which I've put into handbag-sized tins which always prove popular.

So here we have it...the Valentine's Day Trio...


"All you need is love"....well I am from Liverpool!