Herbal soap-mania

During September, I suffered from intensive soap-mania. After a summer break I felt hungry to create a couple of recipes. According to my last resolution I only worked with herbs and pure natural oils, no additional fragrance or coloring. At the first sight, the soaps might be considered boring and similar each to other. They are not models for a beautiful photo, but they still can please in the bath, especially if you are a natural type.

Working on my original recipes, I do only a small batch of each, so the recent mania didn’t overload my stock.

The shampoo bars became the first creation. I cannot imagine washing hair with the commercial products anymore, even though I did it for the most of my lifetime before. I love the natural character of my shampoo bars, as well as the flood of herbal effects that I put there myself.

Actually, I made three different recipes of shampoo bars. The first one, based on herbal powder from birch leaves and linden petals with a lot of hemp and olive oils, was enriched in the water phase by the root of burdock, other birch leaves and also aromatic myrtle leaves. Unfortunately, the lye required for saponification is a killer of gentle natural scents and you must have extremely developed senses to feel it in the finished soap. But the shampoo bars number 1 are almost ready to use.

The shampoo number two is based on herbal powder from wild thyme with pinch of Moroccan clay, traditionally used for hair care even without soap. Among range of natural oils I would like to mention adding of the neem oil which is extremely kind to hair and especially to skin of the skull. Back to herbs, I made distilled herbal water again, this time from decoction of wild thyme, horsetail, burdock and hops. This recipe could treat weak hair and problematic skin.

The third recipe of shampoo is based on chamomile and yarrow with pinch of handmade powder from oatmeal. The water phase is enriched by the same herbs plus hops. Among oils, I used a lot of almond oil and shea butter, so this shampoo is going to be calming and nourishing.

I also succeeded to make an excellent lavender soap. I went for almond and shea butter, coconut, castor and olive oils, honey and beeswax. This time I got the soap of velvet consistency, I almost wanted to eat it. I believe that honey and beeswax made an excellent job inside, cannot wait to test it.

Having a really nice honey, I repeated the trick with another recipe. I tried to use honey solo, without beeswax support. I wanted to combine it with cocoa butter but actually I was out of it. No way to wait for supply! So I took an old comfrey ointment made from castor oil and cocoa butter only (comfrey infused inside). And because I am crazy about writing the exact amount of ingredients every time, it was easy to calculate the soap even from the ointment. Also, I couldn’t think about herbs because comfrey was already there. I decided for chamomile in water phase perhaps because it fits with honey well. Again, I got a velvet soap, still waiting on the shelf.

Last, but definitely not the least was a Master of wilderness. This recipe isn’t boring! I used oak bark powder and crushed juniper berries for coconut oil infusion, and thyme, bay leaf and allspice for distilled decoction. The power of wilderness slightly won over the strength of lye, so the scent remained present. The truth is that I used also a few drops of my own juniper tincture just before finishing the soap.

You see? So much original recipes and herbal combinations, and the rules of soap-making process force me to wait about 6 weeks. Of course, I could fulfill this period of time by making other soaps, but it would be near to perpetual motion 😊 Nothing to say about tons of waiting soaps in my tiny space. So I have to spend my days differently. Fortunately, there is a beautiful Indian summer outside and walking is one of my favorite disciplines.

With love, Ivana

P.S. All my recipes are palm oil free, I work with coconut oil instead.

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Sitting in darkness

The wind storm came last night suddenly, shortly announced by lightning and rain. After a few minutes the electricity supply went off, so the options what to do became limited. No light, no tea or coffee, no internet and unfortunately the low battery level on my mobile at that moment.

What to do in the middle of darkness besides lightning candle if you have one. First, I used the rest of battery for reading e-book, hoping to get electricity soon back. But one hour later I was still in the dark, the phone completely dead.

I wasn’t sleepy at all, so I took a paper and my set of color pencils, wanting to draw an intuitive picture, a small candle next to me. I must say that was an interesting experience!

I picked up pencils blindly and had only a rough idea which color has been used. After two hours of layering colors, I had tired hand and tired mind, but still I was sitting in dark. No chance to see the result before bedtime.

Fortunately, the electric people worked overnight and the supply was restored early in the morning and life has returned to normal civilization mode, if we can call it that.

But that leads me to the question: What would you do in case of blackout, home alone? Yesterday I really suffered from lack of inspiration, please give me some tips I might use next time. Thanks a lot!

Love, Ivana

Mirror, mirror, tell me…

Recently I have noticed how many trees of Larch (Larix decidua) are fresh and green as in early spring unlike the others that proofed passing tropical summer by falling yellow leaves. Looking down I saw the finest hay instead of grass under every Larch on my way, while the isles of new green appeared on other places after few rains in last days.

It almost looked that Larch had a unique ability to keep water for its solo needs and not to share it with its close neighbors. At that moment I saw the evil Queen from Snow White, because especially this summer a drop of water was a step to survive. But Her Majesty Larch didn’t care about survival of the others but only about her own beauty and freshness.

From strange reasons I felt disappointed. It hurt my naive fair-play attitude and broke the current idea of larch as a fragile individual to be protected. Even as a little girl I touched the soft larch needle rather than plush toys. I admired the courage for being different from other conifers because children knew how classmates could punish otherness. I loved this extraordinary tree as well as walks around the river in my hometown, where they grew much and witnessed my teenage years and dates.

I still love the scent of larch that is similar to pine, but slightly softer. I love the exclusive homemade “honey” from the young cones full of tasty resin, and I love the beauty of larch wood in shades of red. But from now, I will never believe that Larch is weak.

Thinking about it I realized that Larch in the system of Bach flower remedies helps to increase our self-esteem and self-confidence. So, there must be some, right?

Later I also had to admit that during my lifetime I often wanted to protect those who had demonstrated weakness but didn’t really need my support. This was a bitter pill to learn from Larch, but thanks for it!

With love, Ivana

Getting ripe!

To better understand my excitement you have to know, that my living space is tiny. I have neither a garden nor a balcony, but I decided to grow tomatoes on windowsill.

Because of zero experience, I investigated suitable varieties on internet. I chose for two with feminine names, both starting with V. I would like to think that V meant victory, but it was V like Venus and Vilma.

I spent my time with them from seeds, trying to grow strong plants and kill permanent doubts.

I have already harvested a few of gold Venus fruits. They were extremely small but yummy! And there are still many of them on plants, waiting for the right size and color.

Vilma should be slightly bigger and red, see the picture above. I couldn’t wait to taste and check the redness every minute. Approaching the goal, my impatience and salivation rate increases.

It’s too early for evaluation, but it seems to be clear that efficiency of growing tomatoes on windowsill isn’t high. On the other hand it brought me adventure of growing and harvesting yummy fruits, even small in numbers.

Call me crazy, but I think I will repeat it next year again! Your experience and recommendations for a gardener without garden are welcome.

With love and humility,

Ivana

Sleeping summer

There are people who come to life with the sun and have almost no limits. On the contrary, my body switches to hibernation as soon as it’s too hot or hot for too long. And it has been so over the past few weeks!

I was paralyzed by the weather and worked only on autopilot as if I was drugged. Feeling sleepy, but without possibility of true sleep at night. Who would call it cooling when the daytime temperature in the shade is the same as the temperature of human body, and at midnight it is only ten degrees less? For weeks! And they forecast the hot hell will continue…

Luckily, some rain came today and brought happiness to my soul. I walked (not danced) in the rain and absorbed the drops by the whole surface of my body. It was so different from common shower. Although the shower was more comfortable, the rain today was more cleansing because it touched not only the body but also the soul, perhaps because I was so thirsty for it.

Later I noticed that the portion of today’s rain was nothing for the nature around. The soil remained dry and cracked, the fallen water somehow disappeared. Berries stay dried on the bush, sadly announcing low to zero harvest. And the leaves on the trees become yellow and start to fall as if autumn was already there.

One must be happy for a little thing and I’m looking forward to a nice sleep today, if possible without thinking of tomorrow’s hell.

Wishing you a pleasant summer,

Ivana

Being happy

Originally, I wrote a post called “Out of Eden”, wandering if everything was great and joyful in paradise, while outside it was only sweat, blood and thistle. But then, even my drawing looked too depressing. So, I slightly changed the angle.

During last days I’ve met several people who couldn’t find their joy. It was lost and they couldn’t remember anything what would make them happy. Some of them even blamed me I wasn’t able to understand because I have so many interests – sources of happiness. At that moment, it seemed that joy was a crime. As if the existence of joy meant the absence of problems.

It didn’t make sense to explain that I feel drowned in troubles sometimes. But I insist on my right to joy anyway. I cultivate my small sources of joy everyday, because they help me to overcome mistakes and suffering that are part of everybody’s life.

Finally, I realized that medicine is not the number of interests and activities, although they can help. The most important thing is to start reacting spontaneously, freeing joy from the fortress of control and social conventions.

And the truth is, I’ve always been a little rebel in this field. I laughed at places where it didn’t fit. Sometimes it was more cramping than real joy, but smiling has been part of my life philosophy for many years. And sometimes it’s really difficult to find a smile, but it doesn’t mean I’m not trying to do it.

So, today I announce a revolt against sadness and I’m sending the picture of a crazy joy to all who want to smile at least a little.

With joy and love, Ivana

From Hate to Love

As I have already mentioned, drawing is for me a matter of emotions, something between prayer and therapy. The picture above is 5 years old, but its story is still alive and here it is.

Once upon a time I woke up with a strong feeling of hate. There was no reason, I barely opened my eyes from sleep, but the emotion was there and I had a full throat of it. The hate almost choked me up even though it had no specification. It was a pure hate without direction, the feeling itself.

I had no time to think how strange it is or why it’s happening to me. I needed to give it away quickly otherwise that emotion could destroy my whole day. So I took the color pencils into my hand and tried to vomit the hate on the paper.

There was no intention to create a drawing, nothing to say about a beautiful drawing, it was a blind and wild scribble in the beginning. But as time passed, my soul and hand calmed down, and suddenly the first hearts appeared on the paper. It was a 100% automatic drawing, so I watched with surprise what my hand was creating. It took time, but I wanted to be sure that the hate had gone.

I would say that the original scribble is no more visible under waves of beauty and love. But I know how the picture was developed and appreciate the very personal experience that love is really everywhere, even on the bottom of hate.

Ivana