Amazing photographer Sarah McTernen blessed my with blog with the “One Lovely Blog Award,” which is a fantastic and organic method of recognizing interesting blogs and sharing them with the world. Sarah is based here in the Tacoma, WA, area and she creates art that is both visually appealing and intellectually stimulating. Oh yes, I’m a fan.

The “One Lovely Blog” challenge is to identify 15 other blogs to share. My Google Reader is chok full of blogs that I follow on a regular basis, so I didn’t think it would be very difficult to choose which ones to pass this award on to. Unfortunately, it proved more challenging than I anticipated. As it turns out, there are more than 50 blogs I ached to share with you, so paring it down to 15 took some time and consideration. These are the 15 I have chosen, in no particular order, and I look forward to sharing some of my other favorite blogs with you in the future.

Domestic Diva Ramblings
Gilding the Lily
Tahini Too
Craft Leftovers
efen-þrówung
The Inch of Difference
VeganYumYum
Sweeter Than Me
Vegan Crunk
Hey Lucy
Vegan Lunch Box
Tacoma Mama
Gluten Free, Soy Free Vegan
Kind Over Matter
FatFree Vegan Kitchen

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As early as 3000 BCE, herbs and oils were used on the hair and body for their ability to heal, strength, soothe and restore. Herbs are a great natural addition to any beauty routine and they’re frequently added to body lotions, facial serums and even toothpaste. However, their therapeutic benefits for hair are often overlooked. Although many natural product lines do include essential oils and herbal extracts, there’s no substitute for going straight to the plant for many beauty benefits.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to do that is with herbal hair rinses. When you combine herbs with hair-healthy benefits and steep them in warm water, making an herbal tea, which is used to drench the hair and scalp. One or a combination of helpful herbs can be used, depending on the desired result. You can use different herbs to lighten or darken your hair, to prevent dandruff, promote growth, strengthen brittle locks and tame difficult hair. Whatever your haircare concern, there is likely an herbal solution.

Given my love of natural treatments and my lifelong struggle with my mane, I’ve put my heart and soul into the research and development of my upcoming line of herbal hair tea products. The products will hit the Etsy store in just a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, I want to share a few of my favorite herbs with you. I’ll be using these, among many others, in the new line.

ChamomileChamomile
This flower brings out natural blond highlights in light-colored hair. It’s commonly added to shampoos and hair treatments for its ability to smoothe and soften. Chamomile is a classic de-stress herb when you’re feeling overwhelmed or tense. It’s also soothing to an irritated scalp.
Note: Chamomile is a member of the ragweed family, so it’s not recommended for anyone with moderate to severe ragweed allergies.

Rosemary
Leaves of the rosemary plant have been used for thousands of years to enhance the warmth and depth of dark hair. It is also used to prevent hair loss and help stimulate regrowth. Rosemary is considered helpful to all hair types.

sageSage
Sage leaves are traditionally used to restore color to greying hair, but they also help strength weak hair. I also personally love the way it smells.
Note: Not recommended for use during pregnancy.

witch_hazelWitch Hazel
This herb is known as a skin tonic, but it is also useful in gently treating and cleansing oily hair and scalp. It’s safe for all hair types and leaves your hair feeling clean and soft.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into herbal education. If the benefits you’ve read about sound too good to be true, I encourage you to try my herbal hair teas as soon as they hit the store! You’ll be amazed at how economical and easy they are to use, as well as the difference they can make in the look, feel and manageability of your locks.

TeamTACI have two pieces of Etsy news to share with you all, and I can’t decide which I’m more excited about. I’ll ramble on, and then you can come to your own conclusions about my level of enthusiasm. :)

First, I’m happy to announce that I’m co-founding a Tacoma-area Etsy street team! I’m partnering with Jeananne of ArtWhims and we’ve dubbed ourselves Team T.A.C. which stands for Tahoma Artisan Community. Our hope is to build a network of South Sound sellers, linked in a common desire to promote our craft, boost sales, and enrich the local community. You can stay in touch with news of the team on our Team T.A.C. blog. So far, there is a small but eager group of Etsians ready to get active in the community, and we’re looking forward to what we can accomplish as a team.

My second piece of news is personally exciting because the topic is near and dear to my heart. herbsFor the past couple of months, I’ve been developing a line of herbal bath teas and herbal hair care rinses using 100% certified organic herbs and essential oils. This project has challenged not only my herbological knowledge but also my creative bent, and I’m looking forward to unveiling these products very soon. Keeping with my desire to live simply and naturally, this line will offer therapeutic herbal benefits for every mood and hair type. Stay tuned right here to the blog, and I’ll be announcing the release date soon!

Let me start by mentioning that this isn’t an entry about my products. For a change, I thought I’d share a few of the products that keep me going throughout my workdays and weeks. I’ve had ginger on the brain lately, which is not uncommon for me, and I thought that’d be the perfect thing to share with you all on this cold, rainy Friday morning. So, here are a few of my favorite ginger-y things:

1. Organic Ginger Aid® tea from Traditional Medicinals.

gingeraidI adore ginger tea, especially with just a little bit of honey. This blend also contains lemon myrtle, so it has a natural sweetness already. The ginger is spicy and strong and not for the uninitiated. Since ginger naturally aids in digestion, this is a perfect pick-me-up for a sour stomach, when you’re feeling just a little bit “off,” or when you’ve overdone it at the buffet.

I enjoy this tea morning, noon and night. It also makes a really nice iced tea, when combined with an herbal berry blend. Consider other applications as well, such as baking with ginger tea instead of water (result: killer spice cake, baby!).

2. Original Ginger Chews from The Ginger People®

My first taste of an Original Ginger Chew happened a few years ago at the Seattle VegFest. On the way home, I stopped off and bought a whole package. These little bite-sized treats are a perfect sweet snack when you’re really craving something you can gnaw on. One “chew” is usually too much for me in one mouthful, so I tend to bite them in half and save a piece for later. They are sweet, super ginger-y, and surprisingly satisfying for just a few calories. (Two chews = 40 cals.) These ginger folks offer a whole line of fantastic ginger products and I’m looking forward to trying their Hot Coffee Ginger Chews soon!

3. Orange Ginger Nuun from Nuun

nuun1

My latest ginger favorite is a new one. At the Portland PCTA Trail Fest last weekend, I picked up a sample of Orange Ginger Nuun (pronounced: noon). Part of their “active hydration” line, Orange Ginger Nuun is a sports drink tab that you dissolve in 16oz of water. The ginger in the final product is very mild. It’s the essence of ginger flavor without the spicy kick, which is a natural match for anything orange. It’s packed with electrolytes, it’s sweet without being overbearing, and it’s earth-friendly. One plastic tube makes 12 drinks, effectively saving 12 plastic bottles (if you were previously buying pre-bottled sports drinks).

So, there you have it, my all-time Top 3 favorite ginger items. Well, as of right now. Ask me next week, and it’s likely I’ll have picked up a new ginger favorite or two!

There’s a brand new item available in my Etsy shop today! It’s a one-of-a-kind set of 3 Button Note Cards that come with matching envelopes. I’ve taken bi-fold cards and embellished them with earthtone buttons in different patterns. Since these cards are blank inside, they’re perfect for any occasion or no occasion at all!

cards1

Do you like this design but not the colors? Leave a comment and tell me what kind of color combinations you’d be interested in seeing. Or, visit me on Etsy and send a message there. I’m also available for custom orders!

Spring is a great time for turning over a new leaf. Whether it’s just a little spring cleaning or a major life change, the sweet newness of fresh buds on the trees invites us into new eras.

pineapple2

Light, crusty and oh so sweet!

In honor of spring and of turning over, I’m sharing a recipe for Spring Pineapple Turnovers using my Pineapple Upside Down Jam. Pineapples may be sweet enough on their own, but to enhance their flavor and create the illusion of cake, we’ve combined them with organic brown sugar and pure vanilla extract from Mexico. This jam is perfect for your morning English muffin, paired with peanut butter in a sandwich, or baked into turnovers!

These Spring Pineapple Turnovers are done mini style, for a yummy bite-sized dessert (or breakfast pastry!) that doesn’t overdo it. I’m using puff pastry for this recipe, something we veggie-ites used to think we couldn’t have! After all, it’s just layers of dough and butter-butter-butter, right? Well, if you’re a so-called veggie-vore and you’re ambitious, you can make your own puff pastry, using a recipe like this one and substituting Earth Balance for the butter. Oooooor, you can take the less ambitious route and wimp out (like me) and buy a package of Pepperidge Farm® puff pastry, which is not only vegan but free of trans fats.

Ok, enough puff talk, let’s get down to the business of turnovers!

Spring Pineapple Turnovers

1 sheet Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry
Approx 1/3 cups Pineapple Upside Down Jam
flour, for rolling surface
9 maraschino cherries, optional

Thaw the puff pastry until it’s easy to handle (about 40 minutes). Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2-inch squares (I use a pizza cutter for this).

Spoon 1 tsp of Pineapple Upside Down Jam onto the center of each square. Brush the edges with water and fold diagonally, to create a triangle. Press the edges with your fingers or a fork to seal. Place on an ungreased baking sheet (or Silpat) about 2 inches apart.

pineapple11

That's my jar. Get your own!

Bake 12 minutes or until golden. Cool about 5 minutes on a wire rack, and then proceed to nom.

Note:
Don’t own a rolling pin? Neither do I! I’ve removed the label from a straight-sided glass bottle, and do my rolling with that. Rummage through your recycling bin, and you’ll find rolling pins of all sizes!

Variations:
For a spicy pineapple treat, add 1/4 tsp minced jalapeño to each square before sealing.
For more of a tropical delight, add 1/4 tsp shredded coconut.
For all you chocoholics, add 1/4 tsp grated chocolate (of your choice).

Some sources say that caffeine can be absorbed through your skin. I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know how true that is, but I do know that the smell of coffee in the morning can make a beautiful difference in any day!

buzz1

Get your buzz on!

If you share my sentiment or you just wanna know what all the “buzz” is about, you’ll love my new Brown Sugar Buzz Body Scrub. It’s virtually guaranteed to leave your skin smooth and your eyes just a little wider than before. I’ve crafted this blend using organic brown sugar, organic (and fair trade!) coffee, sea salt, olive oil, and just a little squeeze of ginger and lemon oils for your aromatic pleasure. Imagine a deep, dark cup o’ joe, sugared and spiced, with the faintest fresh kick of citrus. Now imagine swimming in that nice warm cuppa! Brown Sugar Buzz will make that little coffee fantasy come to life for you.

When you slather a palmful of Brown Sugar Buzz on your elbows, knees and heels, just remember this cautionary mantra: “I must not gnaw on my extremities, no matter how tasty they smell!”