Tag Archives: Mint

A Friday facial? Yes… why not!

Unfortunately, it is not in a high end spa.  Today, I have done the glamorous task of defrosting the freezer.  It is one of the worst tasks of housework I think… next to oven cleaning.  And ironing.  Instead of whining about it and feeling miserable, I cracked on with the job, getting it done as quickly as I could.

domestic goddess

As an aside, can I totally recommend using a steam cleaner for the job?  Obviously it will work better if it can be detached from the mop bit… but luckily, mine can be.  45 minutes later, the glacier from the last ice age which had taken residence in my freezer is no more, and the freezer contents actually has some breathing room.

In addition, my face has been steamed, just like in a spa.  But, you know, with less glamour.  Sopping wet towels from the run off and kneeling on a concrete floor contorting yourself to get the icicle hanging at the back of the freezer is not really the scene I would like to have when opening my pores.  But I will take it!

spa steam

So, it got me thinking what sort of facials I could whip up at home, using natural ingredients and maybe herbs from the garden.  Off to my friend Google to see what I could find.  And of course it came up trumps!

mint 2

As it is summer (although the weather seems to have lost that memo entirely), I found several really good refreshing face masks.  The first one is made of fresh mint leaves (which are growing like crazy in my garden at the moment).  If you take a good handful of them, along with enough luke warm water for them to be blended to a paste, and then add a pinch of turmeric powder… you will have an antibiotic and refreshing face mask.  Leave it on the face, having avoided the eye area, for about 10 minutes and then wash it off with cool water.  Be careful only to use a pinch of turmeric as it is known for dying what it touches a nice shade of orange.  Just a warning there… though the antibiotic properties are more than worth it!

from bigoven.com

from bigoven.com

If you have a cucumber lying about in the fridge looking sorry for itself, you could peel it and mash up the flesh along with 1tbsp of sugar.  The flesh needs to be kept a bit chunky though as you don’t want a liquid.  Mix in the sugar well and then apply to the face and leave it for 10 minutes.  Wash it all off and pat dry and you will have brighter and refreshed skin.  It is really cooling for those hot, hot days, especially as you can make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.  It is also extremely good for sensitive skins.

lemon

Another really summery recipe requires strawberries and lemons.  I would be inclined to add the lemon to a cool drink of water and the strawberries straight into my mouth, but if you can bear not to eat them, mash them together into a spreadable paste.   You need about 2 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of yogurt and 1 tbsp of honey.  Mix it all together, apply to the face and leave it to dry.  Then you can wash it off and pat it dry.  Strawberries have salicylic acid which is great for calming acne outbreaks and lemon juice tightens the skin to refresh it.

If you use any of these recipes, you will have to let me know how they turn out… I think I might whisk up some of the cucumber sugar scrub and add some mint, to see how that works out!  Watch this space!

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My extremely productive gardening weekend…

I went into this weekend with a list as long my arm of the jobs I wanted to achieve in the garden.  You know by now that I love my lists.  This one was entirely in my head, and I am here to report, between us, my husband and I totally BLITZED it.  Everything on that list, and a few jobs besides, have been done.

lists

It took a long time.  Both of us must have been in the garden for nearly 7 hours.  14 man hours later though, the place has been transformed.  We have weeded and trimmed back the herb bed, and replanted it with various new specimens with plans for additional ones.  We have weeded the bed that runs from the herb bed down to the big greenhouse.  We have planted all the plants which had been languishing slightly in our little greenhouse.  We have cleared the patch of garden which eventually will be transformed into our vegetable patch.  We have also finished the initial weeding of the long perennial border as well.  And we gave the Broom a big old haircut (because it has finished flowering and had been getting in my way when I was cutting the lawn!)

 

So, the herbs we have now in our garden are Lemon Verbena, Sage, Thyme, and French Tarragon.  This is in addition to the Rosemary, Oregano, Chives and Lavender which were already there.  I am going to get some mint (and put it in a separate pot) and parsley, Basil and Coriander and plant them too.  Plus, I found that I have seeds for Lovage, Borage, and Bergamot as well as Fennel and Dill.

old herbal

Just with those herbs, my mind is filled with potential remedies.  In my minds eye, I have a recipe for a tonic using rosemary, tarragon and red wine.  When the Lovage, Borage and Bergamot come up, I am going to make some sleep pillows with lavender along with the potential colourful addition to a jug of Pimms in the summer weather of the Borage flowers.    Then I have the chance for mint tea from the mint plants once they are established, and making homemade pesto from the Basil.  I might also use the Coriander to make a version of pesto with a slightly lighter and brighter flavour (though my husband will complain it tastes of soap)

smelling flowers

I am so pleased with the work we have done, I think today I am just going to sit back and admire it.  Actually, if I tried to garden today I am pretty sure all my joints would stop working entirely, so it is probably just as well that I take some time to smell the flowers.  After all, there is little point in working hard to make the blooms come to life if you are not going to stop and admire them once in a while.

 

Our next wonder herb is Mint!

I think Mint might be the first thing I ever grew in any garden I was responsible for.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of it’s thuggish nature, and put one small plant in the soil expecting it to bush out and provide me with a lot of leaves for my purposes.  It certainly provided me with lots of leaves, but it spreads through the garden like wildfire.  If you do plant mint in your garden, make sure you plant it in a nice big pot to contain it slightly.  And if it spreads out of those bounds… get it.  Otherwise Mint will become the bane of your gardening life!!

mint 2

Mint is a perennial herb, with a creeping habit (see thuggish behaviour described above!) and it grows anywhere and everywhere.  You use the leaves when you cook or medicate with it, as the stalk is a bit woody and the flowers don’t really have much to offer the party.  Except bees.  Bees love the mint flowers.  Mint leaves are packed with phytochemicals and that is a very good thing indeed.  Phytochemicals are powerful anti-oxidants staving off illness and even slowing the rate of ageing.  They also have a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

 

Mint is anti-bacterial.  It helps prevent infections of all kinds.  Bacteria, fungi and yeast are all killed by mint, and there is even some research to indicate that viruses aren’t very pleased if you use mint against them.  I am loathe to say that it is an anti viral herb, because that would be a very rare herb indeed, and I don’t want you to think that if you have a virus, mint will sort it out.  It’s good, but I fear it is not that good.

mint plant

Most people know that a cup of mint tea (made with a sprig of mint with 4 or 5 leaves on it and boiling water poured over it, and then steeped for 3 to 4 minutes) is a fantastic way of completing a meal.  Particularly if that meal as been quite rich and quite large.  Mint is a fabulous digestive calmative, it prevents spasms in the intestines and it has been shown to help with symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

mint tea

A topical application of mint essential oil, which has a large component of menthol, has been shown to be effective in controlling the pain of headaches and some injuries.  It can help calm travel sickness, and it may even help those who suffer from allergic reactions.  Mint is a fabulous addition to your skin routine (antibacterial = anti acne!), would make a fine ingredient for a homemade mouthwash, and if you want to cut down on your salt intake, flavour your food with mint.  Salt and mint really do not work together, so the more minty it is, the less salty you want it to be.

mint imperials

It doesn’t matter whether you use peppermint or spearmint, the important bit is the mint.  Unfortunately, this does not mean you can go out and stuff your pockets with Mint Imperials, Candy canes or Wrigley’s Double Mint Gum.  Sweeties are not the best way of taking in the chemicals of mint.  Go straight from the plant.

How to get, and keep, clear skin.

I am 40 years old, and I still get acne.  It is so annoying.  To those people who said “you will grow out of it”, no, actually, I haven’t.  My husband tells me that it is because I have active skin and that is the key to looking younger.  He thinks I should be grateful.  Ummm.  No.  Not really.

 

So I was looking for some remedies for clear skin.  Here are some of the ideas I came upon during my research.

from bigoven.com

from bigoven.com

Cucumber is great apparently.  It prevents pimples, blackheads, wrinkles and dry skin.  Sounds perfect!  Apparently, the skin and cucumber share the same level of hydrogen and so it makes it easier for cucumber to mask all the problem areas.  It helps to soothe and soften the skin.

papaya

Apparently, Papaya is also useful for the skin.  It aids in removing dead and damaged skin cells..  Topical application of the juice of the papaya fruit can help reduce freckles or brown spots, although I have to say I like freckles.  Freckles are cute.  Its the pimples I am not keen on.  Apparently, papaya is so good for the skin because it contains the enzyme papain which helps to break down inactive proteins in the skin, and that is what makes it so great.

coconut

Then there is the miracle ingredient around all over the place at the moment.  Coconut.  We already know that the oil is awesome for pretty much anything you can think of, but apparently using the water from the coconut will keep it blemish free.  I have a slight problem with coconuts.  Where I live, in the middle of the midlands of England, coconuts are not available.   And I can’t justify the miles entailed in ordering it.  Onward to another potential remedy then.

olive oil 2

Olive oil.  Apparently, using olive oil and warm wash cloths is a really excellent way of cleaning your face.  The heat draws out all the dirt and stuff from the skin, without stripping away the oil in the skin.  So those days of annoying dry spots on the skin will be over.  How would it help the acne?  Acne is caused by glands in the skin producing excessive amounts of a substance called sebum.  The excess amount is produced when the skin is stripped of all the oils in it by really caustic cleansers, and the body makes up for the loss and makes more besides.  This sebum blocks the pores giving you whiteheads or blackheads, and if those get infected, it causes those tell tale cysts and spots.  Using olive oil as the cleanser should stop the skin producing those excess oils.  I quite like this idea.  I might try it.  Let’s face it, Olive oil is cheaper than anti-acne cleansers!

mint

Mint.  Now this I have a HUGE amount of.  It bolted in the garden and it is popping up all over the place.  Apparently mint is useful in treating eczema, insect stings, scabies and other skin infections.  Apparently the active ingredients are Vitamin A and salicylic acid which is the newest “boutique” ingredient in all those really expensive drug store creams advertised on TV and in magazines.  Apparently this acid loosens up the skin cells allowing them to shed easily so the skin looks all glowy and healthy.  Mint is also astringent, so that can help tighten up those pores too.

lemon

Finally, Lemon.  Lemon removes the skin of dead cells via citric acid.  It is a traditional method of removal of freckles, but we know my opinion of freckles.  Luckily I have a stock of lemons in because I love cooking with lemon in place of salt, so this might be useful to me too.  

 

 

Will you be using any of these remedies?  Let me know if you do, and we can see if they actually work!