How To Love Yourself

What are your Valentine’s Day memories? Sure I received flower and candy gifts over the years but I'm remembering those days when my Mom and I bought those little inexpensive Valentine's Day cards for my classmates. Did you do that? You made sure to get a card for everyone, even if you didn't know them, so no one would feel left out.

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As children, we are taught to love others, but we are rarely encouraged or taught to love ourselves. This has always puzzled me, since you cannot give  something that you don't have.

Recently, I read an article by Deepak Chopra with tips on how to love ourselves more. You can read it here https://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/love-yourself-unconditiona…

At RENEW BOTANICALS, we want you to love yourself too! ...In addition to the inner love you give yourselves as outlined in Deepak Chopra’s article, we feel taking care of yourself so you look and feel your best is also part of loving yourself.  We believe that our products can hep you do that in a very personal and positive way.  For an extra “love boost” for yourself may we suggest the following?

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1.    Get enough sleep.

 Renew Botanicals organic and vegan body lotions

Renew Botanicals organic and vegan body lotions

2.    Take a few extra minutes after you shower or bath to apply some body lotion, butter or oil.  If you can spare even a few minutes more, slowly massage the product into your skin.  Our body lotions would be perfect.

 Aging With Attitude Facial Serum by Rene Botancals Organic Skin Care

Aging With Attitude Facial Serum by Rene Botancals Organic Skin Care

3.    Add one luxurious but effective skin care product to your regime like our Aging With Attitude Facial Serum.  Handcrafted in small batches with the finest organic ingredients to give you radiant skin at any age.

It is our hope that you will find just the right combination of products  to complement the quiet space you carve out to show yourself the love, appreciation and acceptance you deserve.

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Question: How do you celebrate yourself? Do you carve out quiet time to reach inside and find and show love to the best parts of yourself? I'd love to hear about it -- and if any of our products help you do that, do tell!

Thank you for reading, and leave a comment below.

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When Life Hands you Lemons

Life constantly brings changes and sometimes when least expected.  Recently due to circumstances that were beyond my control I had to move my skin care studio.  Not only did I have to move but I had two weeks to find new digs and that is no easy feat.

I would be lying if I didn't say I was worried.  A Massage Therapist associate of mine had downsized some time ago to a one room studio that she shared with an Acupuncturist and Esthetician.  Luckily, I remembered that the Esthetician recently left and I contacted her regarding the space....and the rest as they say is history.

I am back working with a fabulous massage therapist that I worked with  for many years. The space is lovely and very convenient for my clients.  So as you can see, life handed me some lemons but I made lemonade.  So what does this mean for my clients?  Well, except for different hours nothing will change.  Same facial services, same handcrafted organic skin care products. So if your are in Baltimore, come in for an appointment and share a glass of lemonade with me...seriously.
 

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Milestones

The definition of a milestone is a significant event in your life.  I certainly am experiencing that.  In a few days I turn 65.  Wow, that is mind boggling to me. But it has been a great and interesting 65 years and I look forward to more experiences on my journey.

While not technically considered milestones, I cannot help but reflect that this year marks 26 years practicing esthetics, 12 of those years as a solo Esthetician, 10 as an Aromatherapist and Herbalist, and 9 as a formulator of organic skin care products.

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Certainly I am more than just my career as an Esthetician.  I am a strong, passionate woman that is a wife, daughter, sister, a gardener, a foodie, avid reader, and so much more.

And since most milestones are celebrated, I will be celebrating mine with my husband, family and friends but I also want to celebrate and give something to my clients, many who have been with me a very long time.  So while I rarely discount my services or put my products on sale I decided this was the time.  Each of my regular clients coming in for a facial this month will receive a goody bag.  In addition they will be automatically entered into a drawing for a prize.  There will also be a drawing for anyone who purchases products in house.  A surprise discount on a facial to be announced and last but not least on June 3, there will be a BOGO Sale for all online purchases.

From 12:01 am until 11:59 pm June 3 purchase any Renew Botanicals Organic and Vegan moisturizer and you will get a free cleanser of your choice.  Simply choose your moisturizer and cleanser and use the code sixtyfive at checkout 

or choose the special BOGO for Aging With Attitude by purchasing the Aging With Attitude Facial Serum and Elixir and receive of free Oil Cleanser.  Use code birthday at checkout

I look forward to many more years or bringing you healthy radiant skin.  And I wish you all a happy journey and enjoy your milestones.

Herbal Profile: The Often Maligned Dandelion

The Herbal Profile is a new feature to my blog posts.  Once a month I will feature an herb, and what better way to start then with the first herb to pop up in early Spring.  Notice I call it an herb, though many refer to it as a weed. It is the bane to the suburban dweller who considers a pristine green lawn sprayed with pesticides a thing to be admired.  But this wasn't always so. 

According to some sources, it wasn't until the 1800s that dandelions were removed from lawns. Recordings dating back to Roman times as well as Egyptian, Greek and Chinese show the reverence for this beautiful flower. In fact people migrating to different countries brought the seeds with them because of their medicinal benefits.  Every part of the plant is useful.  As mentioned it can be used for medicine, food and even dye.  Dandelions are more nutritious than most of the vegetables in your garden. Try them in a salad or stir fry.  Herbalists use the dandelion is aiding digestion due to its bitter principles. It is said the root can improve bile flow which would help alleviate liver congestion, bile duct inflammation, hepatitis, gallstones and jaundice.  Dandelion leaves create diuretic activity which can cause considerable weight loss.  In skin care dandelions provide a rich source of vitamins A, B, C, D and trace elements.  The root is is beneficial in promoting clear skin.

What is a bit ironic is that dandelions are good for your lawn. Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the earth and help reduce erosion. The deep taproot pulls nutrients such as calcium from deep in the soil and makes them available to other plants. Dandelions actually fertilize the grass. So there is no need to be spreading harmful chemicals all over your lawn.  So give them a try.  And even if you don't like the taste or plan to use them in healing, just admire these tenacious pretty yellow flowers. Bees love them too!  Would love to hear your comments, recipes and thoughts about the dandelion.

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The New Year and Health Resolutions

I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year.  Among all the resolutions many of us make, losing weight and eating healthier usually top the list.  I am no exception, since I am not one to deprive myself of the food and drink I love during the holidays.

And while eating healthier is always preferable, a detox cleanse diet is not the best approach during the winter months.  As an Herbalist and Holistic Esthetician my goal is to be in balance within myself and with nature and I recommend this to my clients as well; a healthy body means healthy skin (remember our skin is our largest organ). For me, as the seasons change, the foods we eat, the herbs we use change too. If you live in a cold climate like I do, winter is a time for rest and nourishment.  This includes more sleep, meditation, and nutrient rich foods.  Juicing and eating cold foods like salads are counter intuitive to what our body needs.  Doesn't it make sense to eat the foods that are in abundance this time of year,?  Root vegetables for example. And doesn't it make sense to prepare foods by using methods such as braising, soups, stews, roasting? 

Whereas in the summer we naturally want lighter foods, cooling foods and who wants to turn the oven on for hours and braise a roast or veggies when it is 90 degrees outside?

Here are some tips for getting back to a healthier you this winter:

  • In addition to root vegetables, add other seasonal veggies such as winter squash and leafy green. 
  • If you eat meat make sure it is grass fed and add bone broth to your diet.
  • Limit sugar intake and when you do use a sweetener make it raw local honey or maple syrup
  • Use warming herbs and spices.  Sip some Chai
  • Take time out to rest, meditate.
  • Take a bath with relaxing herbal bath salts

We can still get on track by gently detoxing and eating healthy this winter and save the cleansing/ juicing for the Spring.  After all, both Dandelion and Nettles are the first spring herbs and probably the best detoxifying herbs. If we look to nature, she has the answers.

SKIN NOURISHMENT: Showcasing Winter Squash and Pomegranate Seeds

The saying goes "we are what we eat"; and we are.  This is so true when it comes to our skin.  Since the skin is our largest organ it stands to reason what we eat will affect our skin.  We now know that an array of colorful vegetables and fruits are good for usMany are rich in antioxidants which help fight free radical damage (I will get into this in an upcoming blog post).  So with fall upon us, bringing an array of beautiful vegetablesI thought sharing a recipe for one of my favorite side dishes would be fun.

I found this recipe on Epicurious.com a few years ago and changed it up a bit to fit my likes. I replaced the Dandelion greens, which are a spring green, with the arugula; swapped out the delicata squash for the acorn and lastly switched the pine nuts for pumpkin seeds.  The change of the pumpkin seeds for pine nuts was done because I have found finding pine nuts that are not exported from China very difficult and costly.  The pine nuts from China seem to leave a metallic taste in my mouth.  Also pumpkin seeds seem to fit with the fall and are very rich in vitamin, antioxidants and protein.

ARUGULA SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS, PUMPKIN SEEDS AND ACORN SQUASH

Ingredients

3 tablespoons pomegranate juice

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons butter, divided

 1 medium acorn squash, halved, seeded, cut intowedge

1 pound arugula greens, thick stems trimmed, leaves cut into 2-inch lengths (about 12 cups)

3/4 cups pomegranate seeds

1/4 pumpkin seeds, toasted

Preparation

  1. Whisk pomegranate juice and vinegars in bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Rewhisk before using.
  2. Melt 1 teaspoons butter in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of squash wedges. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer squash wedges to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat 2 more times with remaining butter and squash wedges. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
  3. Preheat oven to 450°F. Transfer squash to oven; bake 20 minutes.
  4. Mix greens, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts in large bowl. Toss with half of dressing. Divide among plates; top with squash. Drizzle with dressing.

If you are not Vegan adding some goat cheese or feta makes a nice accompaniment. 

AGING WITH ATTITUDE

This week, after two years in the making, I am so excited to announce that I have launched my new line, Aging With Attitude.  Not only is this line a labor of love but is a reflection of my beliefs regarding aging.

 Aging With Attitude by Renew Botanicals

Aging With Attitude by Renew Botanicals

I really dislike the term" anti-aging".  Our society looks down on aging but in many societies it is considered a privilege and the elders are revered.   I think we all should consider it a privilege and a gift, after all what is the alternative?  So I embrace it.    Julia Louis-Dreyfus said to New Beauty Magazine (and I agree) “I hate that word, [anti-aging]! It should be something positive, like pro-aging.”  That is why I named my line Aging With Attitude.  I don't want to spend my life acting like a victim of aging.  Freaking out over every line, spot, or gray hair.  BUT I still want to look fabulous. 

And you can and should look fabulous.  Accepting the fact that you are getting older does not mean you should neglect yourself.  Your skin is your largest organ.  So it stands to reason that we need to respect and care for it as we do the rest of our body.  As every article, and our doctors tell us, we should eat a healthy diet, get exercise, and keep our minds active as well.  Beauty starts from the inside, both in health and in our minds.

As we get older our skin and body go through many changes.  I want to help you embrace those changes by helping you look and feel your best. Using the correct products for your skin will keep your skin looking radiant. The correct ingredients for your maturing skin will keep it looking smooth and subtle.  Aging With Attitude will give you glowing beautiful skin for the woman you are now.  No false claims about erasing winkles; just the truth.  By taking good care of your skin you can be stunning at any age .  The key is to start now. 

  Aging With Attitude available at www.renewbotanicals.com

Aging With Attitude available at www.renewbotanicals.com

 

 

 

 

 

Tea Time

Let me start off by saying I am a coffee lover.  It is part of my morning ritual.  The aroma fills the house and gets me going.  I love that first sip.  BUT as fall approaches I think about cocooning in the evening with a cup of hot tea.  Through the dark winter months there is nothing more soothing, warming and nourishing to my soul than a cup of herbal tea. Of course herbal teas are so much more than that.  I will discuss different herbs and there healing properties in future posts.  Last fall I started experimenting with different blends.  My husband who has never been a tea drinker accepted a cup one evening of my Night Repose blend that I created using Chamomile, California Poppy, Oatstraw, Skullcap and with a touch of Rooibos.  He told me the next morning it was the best nights sleep he had in a long time.

We also love to drink a chai spice with astragalus, cocoa and turmeric.  Not only is it delicious, it is a great for your immune system. So I am now making my Night Repose tea blend and Chai Spice available at my studio.  I will be adding other tea blends in the very near future and don't forget my elderberry syrup kit to fight cold and flu.

 

So make yourself a nice cup of tea, sit back and relax!

10 Skin Care Mistakes Keeping you From Healthy Skin

Day after day people book appointments with me for facials.  Some have skin care problems such as acne, rosacea or pigmentation issues.  Others come to maintain healthy skin and slow down the aging process. But many come because they are having issues that can be quickly remedied by following these 10 easy steps.

1.Use the right products for your skin type.  Following the advice from a DIY blogger may not work for you, since your skin may be very different from theirs. One size does not fit all.  Get your skin properly analyzed by a professional.   

2.  Cleanse your skin properly.  First make sure you are using the right cleanser for your skin type.  If you wear makeup, you must cleanse twice.  Once to remove the makeup, second to clean the skin.  After cleansing, your skin should not feel tight or taunt.  If so your cleanser is too drying.

3.  Moisturizer.  This is very important for everyone, even those with oily skin.  Not applying moisturizer especially to wet skin will cause the water to evaporate leaving your skin dehydrated.  Your skin will overcompensate for the loss of hydration which can lead to break outs, and the most common condition; dry cheeks and oily t-zone.

Renew Botanicals Organic and Vegan Moisturizer

4. Over Exfoliating .  This has become one of the biggest problems in the last few years because so many companies are putting exfoliants into their cleansers such as jojoba beads or alpha hydroxy acids.  Even products that say "gently daily exfoliant" should not be used every day. That is not to say exfoliation isn't important because it is, but once or twice a week is enough.  Once or twice a week you are removing the dead skin but more than that you are actually removing the protective barrier which can cause inflammation, moisture loss and sensitivity.

5.  Sunscreen.  Wearing sunscreen everyday should be part of you daily regime.  Besides protecting your from skin cancer, nothing will age you more than too much sun damage.  It is important to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 25-30 (more is not necessary).  If you are going to be out in the sun all day, reapply.  Avoid sunscreens with chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.  Stick with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as your only active ingredient, although I prefer just zinc oxide.

6. Drink Water.  Keeping hydrated is important for your inner health and outer beauty.  Your skin is your largest organ and if your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky which may have the same results and lack of moisturizing (see #3).

7. Picking at Your Pimples.   When you pick, pull, squeeze your pimples you are causing damage.  This can lead to scars, which are far worse than the pimple.  It can also lead to irritation and inflammation and most of all infection.

8. Eat Healthy.  As mentioned above, your skin is your largest organ so what goes in your body will reflect on your skin.  Eat lots of fresh veggies, fruits, lean meats, healthy fats and complex carbs.  Cut back on dairy, sugar bad fats. Choose organic and grass fed dairy and meats, whenever you can.

9.  Clean Your Makeup Brushes.  Obviously dirty brushes will introduce bacteria into your makeup and on your skin.

10.  Throw away expired products and makeup.  Most products and makeup have a shelf life.  Using products that have expired can introduce bacteria into your skin.

In addition to following these tips, treat yourself to a facial at least 4 times a year, if you can do it more often all the better.  Make sure you are using the right products for your skin and check ingredients.  Remember glowing skin is healthy skin.

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An Ounce of Prevention

Flu and cold season is just around the corner.  If you are like me, you prefer to find a natural way to prevent yourself from getting sick, or if you do lessen the severity of the illness.  Which is exactly what my husband and I have done for the past few years.  Each year in the late summer/early fall I make a batch of Elderberry Syrup and take some each day.  I have not gotten sick (knock on wood) and my husband felt like he was coming down with a cold last year and increased his dosages.  He felt better within 2 days.

“Recent research from Israel and Panama has demonstrated that elderberry juice (Sambucus nigra) not only stimulates the immune system, but also directly inhibits the influenza virus (Zakay-Rones et al 1995; Mumcuoglu 1995)."  Paul Bergner, Herbalist.

If you would like to try and make your own syrup this is my favorite recipe

ELDERBERRY SYRUP

Ingredients:   2/3 cup dried elderberries,  1 cinnamon stick,  1 tsp -1 tbs ginger root,  1 cup raw local honey (you can add more or less depending on your taste)

Place all the ingredients in a pot, except honey, add 3 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-45minutes.  Smash the berries and strain.  Add1 cup Raw honey and brandy.  Refrigerate.  Will last 2-3 months.

Take 1 tbs daily to ward off illness or a tbs every 2-3 hours if you are sick.  For children use half the dose.

Optional Ingredients:

Brandy, Astragalus, Echinacea, Orange Peel, Cloves

Note: Please use only raw honey and add the honey after cooking...heat will destroy the important enzymes in the honey.  I would also recommend not replacing the honey with any other sweetener as honey has it's own healing properties.

                                                                                           Elderberry syrup simmering

                                                                                          Elderberry syrup simmering

Do you have a favorite recipe for Elderberry Syrup or any other cold and flu prevention ideas.  Please share and here's to a healthy season.

Please Say No To Palm Oil

Recently, I was on a quest to find some handcrafted soap that was free of Palm Oil.  It amazed me how few manufacturers, from the smallest to the largest are still using Palm Oil in the U.S.  I could find many handcrafted soap makers in Australia and Europe but not here.  I am happy to say I was able to find an amazing company, Unearth Malee.  Not only are their soaps free of Palm oil, but they use organic ingredients,  and no synthetic fragrance.   This is not a review of their products but I did want to give them a shout out. 

You may be asking yourselves, why are you so against Palm Oil?

Palm oil from the oil palm tree is a high quality versatile oil.  However, it grows only in the tropics where it has had a disastrous effect on the environment.  According to the environmental group Friends of the Earth, it is estimated that 87 percent of Malaysia’s deforestation was due to palm oil plantations.  Their researchers also estimated that if nothing is done to alleviate the rising rates of deforestation, orangutans could become extinct within 12 years.  The palm oil trade is destroying orangutan habitats, endangering other rain forest animals, contributing to the high levels of carbon emissions, and has placed Indonesia as possibly having the world’s fastest deforestation rate (Greenpeace sources estimate an area equivalent to 300 soccer fields per hour).  And according the the World Wildlife Fund "Large areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems with high conservation values have been cleared to make room for vast monoculture oil palm plantations – destroying critical habitat for many endangered species, including rhinos, elephants and tigers. In some cases, the expansion of plantations has lead to the eviction of forest-dwelling peoples."

In 2004 The World Wildlife Federation and teamed up with the Palm Oil Industry and launched RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).  Many manufacturers especially small companies proudly state they are using sustainable Palm Oil, however, this is not as benign as many of them think because the rules are riddled with loopholes. 

The environmental groups Greenpeace International and Wetlands International argue that such loopholes allows palm oil firms to join RSPO and improve their image despite the fact that very little palm oil has yet been produced according to the sustainability criteria. And The Jakarta-based Center for Orangutan Protection has directly opposed the certification scheme. The group said last year that it found two RSPO member companies clear-cutting forests that were home to orangutans, sun bears, and Borneo gibbons. "It has been six years after RSPO was put into operation but forests are still cleared and orangutans are continually killed," said Novi Hardianto, the Center's habitat program coordinator, in a press release. "All criteria on sustainable palm oil and certification process are merely public lies."

Because of it's versatility, Palm oil is used in so many products, ranging from margarine, cereals, sweets and baked goods, to soaps, washing powders and cosmetics. (If you are a vegan and use products by Earth Balance beware that they use Palm Oil in many of their products.) And you have to practice due diligence if this concerns you, because often times it is listed as an ingredient on product labels, with the term ‘vegetable oil’ often being used instead.

So, please practice consumer awareness and I hope that the next time you are shopping think about who and what will be affected by that product. 



The Truth About Antibacterial Products

Finally, after 30 years of sitting on a ruling the FDA announced that unless manufacturers can prove that antibacterial soap is safe and more effective than using soap and water it will have to be removed from shelves by 2016.

For those of you wondering what is wrong with antibacterial products here are some facts, the ingredient in these antibacterial products, Triclosan can:

  • They can create antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria - The World Health Organization calls it "a threat to global health security"
  • Some studies have found that, in animals, triclosan appears to interfere with the body's regulation of thyroid hormone.   If this is the case in humans, too, there are worries that it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer.
  • It may cause allergies
  • It is harmful to the environment.  It is still found after going through sewage plants and has been detected in streams and other bodies of water where it disrupts alga's ability to perform photosynthesis.  
 The bottom line is using triclosan as an antibacterial wash is really no more effective than good old hand washing with soap and water according the the Center for Disease Control...just use soap and wash for about 30 seconds...singing the alphabet song if you like.

The bottom line is using triclosan as an antibacterial wash is really no more effective than good old hand washing with soap and water according the the Center for Disease Control...just use soap and wash for about 30 seconds...singing the alphabet song if you like.

 

In my skin care practice and when I make my skin care products I never use any product or  ingredient that may harm humans, animals, or the environment and many like myself have been fighting long and hard to get these harmful products off the shelves.  So a small victory but a victory nonetheless.

How The Right Foods Can Keep You Cool Pt 2. - Some recipes

To follow up last weeks post I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Pitta summer recipes.

VICHYSSOISE  (cold potato leek soup) makes 4 servings

While this is not generally found in classic Ayurvedic recipes, all the ingredients are and it is one of my personal favorites for a hot summer evening coupled with a salad.

  • 1 tbs butter or ghee
  • 2-3 leeks
  • 5 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 cups water or chicken broth
  • pinch of thyme
  • chives for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup organic grass fed half and half or whipping cream

In a large stock pot melt butter over low heat. Add leeks and cook for 10 minutes or until translucent . Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add thyme and stir well and continue to cook for 12 minutes.

Add  water or chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, partially covered for 30 minutes.

Puree soup in blender or food processor and cool.  When cooled add cream and sprinkle with chives.

COCONUT RICE  makes 4 servings

I like to make extra and eat it for breakfast. I then add some blueberries and almonds.

  •  2 cups  jasmine or basmati white rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup good-quality coconut milk (not "lite")
  •  2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp. dry shredded coconut, unsweetened or sweetened

Place rice in rice cooker. Add the water, coconut milk, salt, and shredded coconut. Stir well (use a plastic or wooden utensil to avoid scraping off the non-stick surface). Cover and set to cook.

Once your rice cooker switches to "warm" mode, allow another 8-10 minutes for rice to finish "steaming". This will ensure your coconut rice is fully cooked and pleasantly sticky.  Gently fluff.

For breakfast heat with additional coconut milk or water and add blueberries and nuts  and pinch of cinammon and cardamom  may be served cold.

Hope you enjoy!  Please share your favorite recipes.