Archive for the ‘beauty’ Category

The girls are getting ready for showing projects and doing a demonstration at the County Fair this year.  Sophia’s demonstration is about different ways that herbs can be used.  She will show that one of the ways herbs are used is with personal care products. 

In preparation for her demonstration, we made homemade herbal shampoo using herbs from our garden as well as dried herbs and flowers from the co-op.  All the herbs and flowers are organically grown. 


You’ll need:

• Basic plain shampoo or castile soap (we used Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Baby Soap – liquid form)
• Glycerin
• Your favorite herbs (fresh or dried)
• An empty bottle (about 20 ounces – we used 16 ounces and had some extra shampoo leftover)

For the herbs, you will need either:
1/4-1/2 cup of dried herbs
1/2-2/3 cup fresh herbs

You can also add a few tablespoons of dried citrus zest to the mixture as well.

The amount you use depends on how strong you like your herbal shampoo to smell. Some herbs have a stronger smell than others do, so you might need just a small amount of one herb while needing a larger amount of another.

Sophia measuring fresh rosemary.

Note:  For one batch of shampoo, we used 1/4 cup dried lavender and 1/4 cup dried rose buds.  For the other shampoo, we used 1/3 cup fresh rosemary and 1/3 cup fresh mint. 


Mix the herbs with 2 cups of water in a pot on the stove and heat without boiling for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Let the herbs steep for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stirring lavender and rose buds.


You can either strain the herbs from the water, and move on to the next step, or you can put the water and herb mixture in a blender to reduce the size of the chunks of herbs and leave them in your shampoo. It is all a matter of preference. (I strained the herbs and flowers from the water.  A few pieces snuck into the water, but not many.)

Straining the water from the rosemary and mint
after steeping the herbs for 30 minutes.


Add 1 cup of basic unscented shampoo or castile soap to the scented water and stir or whisk gently.

Stirring castile soap into the scented water.


Add 1 cup of glycerin to the mixture and stir or whisk well.

Pouring glycerine into shampoo.


Pour your homemade herbal shampoo into a bottle and enjoy!

Sophia pouring shampoo into a bottle
while I hold the funnel.
The lavender-rose shampoo turned out much darker than the rosemary-mint shampoo.  Both smell equally strong, so there doesn’t seem to be a difference whether we used dry or fresh herbs. 
However, there is something to be said for being able to go to your garden and pick what you want your shampoo to smell like…without all the chemicals that store-bought shampoos have in them.

The girls worked together to
fill Olivia’s bottle of shampoo.

The girls are so excited to use the shampoo, and each likes the scent of shampoo that they made.


Read Full Post »

As I think back on the past week, I am grateful for…
:: Seeing all the birds visit the feeders – especially the six cedar waxwings that came to the cherry tree yesterday.
:: For the cats and dogs who seem to warm the room up on cold winter nights.
:: Making a nice New Year’s Day dinner with Sophia, and trying new recipes from a Russian cookbook.
:: Programs that are available to help my parents navigate the journey of Alzheimer’s Disease.
:: Being able to develop new skills with caregiving, and see that they are helping my parents.
:: Time to play games and read books to my daughters.
:: Two reminders this week – one from a friend and one from a movie – to be okay with who I am and what I have to offer.
On Sophia’s tenth birthday this past week, she wanted to see the movie “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”  It’s the third movie that Disney has produced in the Narnia series (though it’s the fifth book in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis).  It’s an excellent movie with  touching and inspirational themes such as: resisting temptation, sustaining faith/belief, perseverance, responsibility, facing fears, the honor in bravery, and the desire for a greater country.

One scene was particularly meaningful (and timely) for me.  It was a reminder that each person is valuable and needs to be comfortable with her appearance, skills, and personality.  This is a particularly special message for girls, no matter their age.

In the movie (and book), “Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” Lucy has long compared herself, unfavorably, to her beautiful older sister, Susan. So Lucy’s greatest challenge here is the temptation to turn herself into Susan—via the magician’s book.

She recites a spell and is thrilled when she sees herself as Susan. Then, despite the protestations of Aslan, she rips the page out of the book and takes it back onboard the Dawn Treader to recite again. When she does she’s whisked back to England, this time transformed into Susan—and finds that, in so doing, she’s almost wished herself away.

In the movie, Aslan says, “Lucy, what have you done child? You wished yourself away. You doubt your value, don’t run from who you are.”

Sage advice for our times, when many girls try to conform to a standard template of beauty or pretend to be someone they are not. 

Read Full Post »

{this moment}

Hummingbird in Flight

{this moment} – A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

Read Full Post »

Sophia, Olivia, and I collect stamps from around the world. Stamp collecting is a wonderful way for kids to learn about geography, history, visual arts, and different themes they want to learn more about (e.g., horses, wild animals, birds).

These are some of the bird stamps from my collection. Entered this in the county fair and received a blue ribbon for it (the top part of the display includes the information that follows).

Throughout the world there are over 28,000 stamps with birds on them (including overprints and surcharges).

On the stamps, there are over 3,500 species of birds depicted (including extinct and prehistoric bird species).

There are 174 countries that have more than 50 bird stamps. Of those, Gambia has the most stamps (470).

Two of the countries featured in this collection are in the top 15 countries having more than 50 bird stamps: United States (321) and Australia (303). The most popular bird featured on stamps is the bald eagle (270).

This collection features 32 different bird species with stamps from different 16 countries.

The birds featured include: barn owl, barn swallow, black-necked stork, blue duck, brolga, brown kiwi, comb-crested jacana, condor, crane, dove, crimson rosella, Eurasian Bullfinch, European robin, great gray owl, gray-headed woodpecker, gray partridge, gyrfalcon, laughing kookaburra, little kingfisher, pheasant, red-breasted merganser, ring-necked pheasant, rock wren, saker falcon, saw-whet owl, snowy egret, stork-billed kingfisher, sulphur-crested cockatoo, variegated fairy wren, white tailed kingfisher, willow tit, and wood duck.

The countries include: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Great Britain, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and United States.

Read Full Post »

At The Shrine of Guadalupe, there is a beautiful Votive Candle Chapel. These are some of the many candles in the largest candle rack in the United States. The rack contains 576 votive candles; and measures 14 feet high and 12 feet wide on each of its four sides.

My parents, Sophia, Olivia, a friend of the family (Maureen), and I visited the Shrine. For me, this was one of the prettiest places at the Shrine. I could only imagine how beautiful the chapel is in the dark when many of the candles are lit and glowing.

Read Full Post »

Ready to Eat
Originally uploaded by
Pictures by Ann

Took a short respite to South Padre Island (Texas) and Port Isabel for a few days at the end of April/beginning of May.

I wanted to see the world’s largest barrier island (South Padre Island) at a time when it isn’t crowded with college students and tourists. A simple internet search showed when college spring breaks are scheduled. Booked the trip for 2 weeks after the last one. It was perfect…the island was quiet and almost desolate in areas.

One day, I visited South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Here’s the link to the organization:
http://www.worldbirdingcenter.org/sites/spi/index.phtml . It’s a very nice facility with a wooden boardwalk and resting areas/bird observation areas.

This was one of the many herons that were enjoying the center’s natural areas. Saw quite a few birds – many that I have never seen in Minnesota.

Just down the road from the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is Sea Turtle, Inc. The organization rescues and rehabilitates sea turtles that have been injured in the wild. Some are able to be released, but others are severely injured and would not survive in the wild. They are kept at Sea Turtle, Inc. and cared for there.

Read Full Post »

One of the benefits of living in the country is that you can have a lawn full of “beautiful yellow flowers” (according to my 9 and 7 year old daughters) and no one cares. There’s no need to spray chemicals on your lawn to achieve that perfect, dandelion-free, green grass.

Rather, each morning we awake to brilliant yellow “flowers” dotting the vibrantly-green grass. When one’s perspective changes from seeing dandelions as weeds to seeing them from a child’s perspective of flowers…then everything just seems to be just that much more joyful.

Even more inspiring, is taking a closer look…getting down on your hands and knees…and looking – REALLY looking – at the detail that is in each of these little flowers.

Up until this year, I’ve always looked at the “big picture” – the hundreds of dots of yellow in the sea of green. This year, I took some time to look at some of them closely. It was well worth the time.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »