Archive of ‘Natural Living & Beauty’ category

4 Ways to Try Edible Violets this Spring

edible violets on cupcakesAre Violets Edible?

Violets can be used for more than violet crowns and bouquets. Although sometimes considered a lawn weed, violets are edible as well as beautiful. Just make sure they haven’t been sprayed with chemicals and wash them first. To make gathering wild edible violets easy, I use a $3 mini colander from World Market. It’s only available in store, so here are some other ideas if you don’t have one near you. It’s also great for herbs, berry picking and other small garden harvests.

The shade loving flowers are blooming right now in the Midwest. If you have them, don’t let your chance to eat flowers pass you by this spring. They’re here for a limited time! Try these four recipe ideas for preparing edible violets in a beautiful way.

Violet Flower Recipe Ideas

Wondering how to eat violets? The pretty purple flowers add a luxurious touch to meal time. And according to the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, the flowers contain soluble fiber. Win.

Violet Flower Tea

Fresh or dried violet flowers and leaves make a light, refreshing tea.

Violet Flower Cake Garnish

Frost a cake and add the flowers (cut off the stems) as an all-natural, organic, vegan and gluten free cake decoration. Pair it with a homemade cake banner for extra flair.

Violet Flower Salad

Add a handful of violet flowers to a salad for a pop of color. The flowers don’t have a strong taste so they blend right in. Violet leaves are also edible so try adding those to a salad too.

Violet Flower Ice Cubes

Add a floral touch to drinks when entertaining. Just freeze violet flowers into the water when you’re making ice in a tray. So easy!

Violet flowers add a touch of natural whimsy to your meals that will delight your guests. Some children (and adults!) might need a little encouragement to eat a flower, but it’s a great opportunity for understanding and appreciating the culinary gifts the wild world has to offer.

Better Hair Naturally

Supplements for healthier hairThis post is sponsored by Eu Natural.

Want better hair? You and me both. I’ve been trying to get hair that isn’t constantly breaking since, oh, forever!

Here are some tips for simple things you can do to get stronger hair with less breakage.

  1. Sleep on silk. It’s well known in the beauty world that silk pillowcases create less friction so they’re better for your skin and hair.
  2. Supplement your diet with biotin (aka Vitamin B7). You can take biotin itself, or in a combo supplement like the one I tested for this post, Vibrance by Eu Natural. This one has biotin plus other B vitamins and ingredients that are beneficial for healthy hair. Read on for a more in-depth review later in this post!
  3. After washing your hair, gently squeeze it dry–don’t wrap it up in a towel on top of your head because that increases breakage!
  4. Shampoo less often. Give your hair a longer break between washes. Washing is actually drying and strenuous on your hair (who knew?).

Product Review – Vibrance by Eu Natural

So on to what I thought of the product! What I liked right away: it’s made in the USA, is gluten, wheat, and dairy free, and never tested on animals. It’s available on Amazon and has a 90-day satisfaction guarantee.

Here’s a photo of the ingredients list:

I took this supplement for 8 weeks, which isn’t long enough to see any substantial change in my length since I have naturally slow growing and brittle hair. Overall I felt a change in my hair’s thickness and shine that I’m really happy with and I’ll continue to use this product. I was also surprised that my nails, which usually get brittle in the winter, are really strong too. For more nail tips, you might also like this post.

What are your best tricks for healthy hair?

Fall Product Reviews

Product reviews from the Pink Paperdoll blogIt’s been a while since I did a product review post, so I’m excited to share some items I’ve been really liking lately. Maybe some of them will work for you this fall, too. I was given samples of all the products below to try, but received no other compensation for this post and all opinions in the following honest fall product reviews are mine.

COCO floss

A company has finally figured out how to make flossing fun. I was recommended the product by another blogger, Storybook Apothecary. The company is run by a sister team in San Mateo, CA. I fell in love with their packaging. The floss comes in a cute little cardboard slide box with metallic printing. The flavors such as strawberry and orange would be perfect for kids or anyone wanting to switch it up from predictable mint. I love using it because the fibers really seem to clean better than regular floss. The downside: it’s about double the cost of drugstore brands.

Luv Michael Granola

This is a locally sourced snack that gives back! How? According to the Center for Disease Control, autism is the fastest growing developmental disability. In the United States, 500,000 teens with autism will age into adulthood over the next decade. 90% of adults with autism are underemployed or unemployed. These are staggering statistics, but this company is creating change by employing young adults with autism to make yummy, healthy granola. It’s sold in 2-ounce packages perfect for snacking. Not only are the ingredients top quality and tasty, sales of the product support a U.S. company enhancing the lives of adults with autism.

Evian Spray Mist Travel Size

I first learned about this product through a previous review post I did. Though I enjoyed the product for being as natural as you can get (it’s water and nitrogen), I wished it came in a smaller package for travel. Well, here it is! 1.7 fluid ounces in a cute little canister. I use it for quick skin hydrating on road trips or flights and my bridal emergency kit when I coordinate weddings. It’s good for misting hair and makeup for a quick touch up/pick me up during long days, like weddings. If you feel ridiculous buying pressurized water, just think about the last time you were on a really LONG flight and your skin turned dry, dry dry. Whether you’re in a fall wedding or have holiday travel coming up, this little spray bottle might come in handy.

Pick Your Own Berries Season

What to wear berry pickingSummer isn’t complete until I’ve gone blueberry picking at least once. Maybe it’s because I grew up near a pick-your-own berry farm, or more likely because there’s no other food in the world I like quite as much as blueberries. There’s also just something so rewarding about being involved in procuring the berries you eat and seeing the land where it’s grown.

The season varies every year for blueberry picking, because the crops are sensitive to moisture and temperature changes. I’ve been picking in the Pacific Northwest as early as June and in Wisconsin as late as August. Some years there hasn’t been a crop at all, which is disappointing to say the least!

The general rule for the Midwest is early summer strawberries, mid summer blueberries and late summer raspberries. So not to worry if you’ve missed strawberries and blueberries where you live, there might still be raspberries on the horizon.

Here’s what I’ve learned from years of faithful berry picking.

what to wear berry pickingWhat to wear berry picking

When choosing what to wear berry picking, consider clothing that you don’t mind getting stained. Blue and black clothes for blueberry picking work out well. Pants or shorts are ideal because picking berries can require crouching and sitting on the ground.

A hat to keep the bugs and sun off your face. Need hat inspiration? Here are three of my  favorites, at different price points:

What to bring:

Bug spray.

A cooler with a tray and/or container to transport your berries home in.

Cash, as some berry farms don’t take credit cards.

A small child or two. Berry picking is a fun activity for little ones, so give the kids in your life a chance to learn about farming, food production and nature if you can!

What to leave at home:

Your pets! Most farms don’t allow dogs.

Picking baskets and buckets. The farm will supply these, though you can bring your own if you prefer.

What to know:

Call ahead! Most berry farms are small family operations that will close if they get picked out or if there’s inclement weather. Before you drive way out into the country, confirm that the farm will be open when you get there.

Not all farms are pesticide free, so do your research ahead of time if you prefer organic produce.

what to wear berry pickingWhere to pick:

Find farms near you at pickyourown.org.

What berries are in season near you?

Bee Safe Gardening: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now

Bee safeToday we’re talking about something dear to me: bees! Our bee populations are in trouble, but you can use these bee safe gardening practices this summer to start standing up for bees.

Plant More Flowers, Less Grass

Bees are starving on our turf grass lawns that provide no nutrition for them in the form of flowers. Even worse, for years over half of store-bought plants and flowers have been grown with bee-killing chemicals called neonicotinoides. If you maintain your own lawn, stop using sprays and chemical mixes that contain these insecticides right now. For what to avoid, start with this list from BeSwell.org. While you’re there, download a free poster like this one:

Bee Safe Gardening

Next, consider using a bee-friendly lawn seed mix that includes clover for them to snack on. Bonus–it’s also less maintenance than a pure turf grass yard. Did you know that once all lawns contained white clover? As standards for pure green lawns grew, the clover was eliminated–along with an important food source for bees.

If you don’t have your own lawn, consider talking to your Home Owner’s Association about the importance of helping our bee populations survive.

Buy the Right Potted Flowers

When you buy potted flowers, ask: were they grown using neonicotinoides? (These are sometimes called neonics for short.) Sometimes, the sellers will have NO idea what you’re talking about. I won’t buy anything there. However, awareness has been growing tremendously and many gardeners are conscientious about creating a bee safe yard. When I shopped at Lowe’s recently, the nursery staff was well aware of the issue and assured shoppers that as of this year they are 100% neonic-free.

bee safe garden

Advertise Your Bee Safe Gardening Practices

You can get a little “Bee Safe Yard” sign that announces your commitment to the health and safety of the planet. Get your sign for a small donation at Humming for Bees.

Pure green turf isn’t better! A bee safe yard is the most beautiful yard of all. Together, we can change our standards of yard beauty–bee safe gardening is the best solution for bees, and for us.

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