Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lavender and Flax Cleansing Grains

Have you ever used cleansing grains to wash your face? It's a really refreshing and invigorating experience. My skin felt and looked better after the first time I tried it and now I'm hooked. The all natural blend of clay, grains, seeds, and herbs act as a multitasking team to draw out impurities, exfoliate dead skin cells, unclog pores, and tighten and nourish skin. Throw in an herbal steam and a homemade moisturizer and you've got yourself a luxurious facial on a budget. You'll probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry and it only takes a couple minutes to mix up.

There are a number of good cosmetic clays to choose from. I used Bentonite clay from volcanic ash. French Green clay is a little more expensive but is extremely absorbent and effective for drawing oils and impurities out from your skin. For those with oily skin that is prone to acne, Fuller's Earth clay is the way to go. Good old White Cosmetic clay is the least expensive, is easy to apply, and is very versatile. The indulgent Rhassoul clay from Morocco is reputed to blend the best with water (I've found Bentonite to be kinda a pain in the butt to mix...) and is rich in Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, Silica, and SodiumChoose your favorite based on the needs of your skin, after all customization is one of the major benefits of making your own facial potions!

1/4 cup cosmetic clay
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons oatmeal
1 tablespoon lavender flowers
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed meal or 1 heaping teaspoon whole flaxseeds
1 teaspoon sunflower seeds
3 drops lavender essential oil
1 drop patchouli essential oil

Add clay, cornmeal, oatmeal, lavender flowers, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds in a food processor. Process until uniformly coarse. The clay will rise and create a lot of dust, so to avoid inhaling it let the mixture rest for a minute before adding the essential oils. Pulse several times to incorporate the oils, then transfer to a glass jar for storage.

To use, mix a small amount of the cleansing grains with water in the palm of your hand. Gently massage the paste on your face then rinse clean with warm water and pat dry. Follow with a facial oil or other moisturizer.

Makes about 1 cup

Thursday, September 5, 2013


The four-day drive West on I-90 was a toasty one, right smack in the middle of a heat wave. My mom and I had a really great trip nonetheless, making time for extracurricular activities like a stop in South Dakota to track down my great-grandfather's grave and have a picnic with him. My cats also joined us for lunch in the cemetery as did two wild turkeys and a pair of fawns.

I had been really apprehensive about the drive, specifically wondering how my cats would handle being in a car. They're sisters, both rescue cats with troubled kitten-hoods (their litter was found near a factory in Chicago, the kittens had been abused and some were even killed). All the surviving kitties were rescued and adopted. Ruby and Mabel were the last ones, waiting for their forever home (with me) for over a year and a half. They've both blossomed and are really social and playful cats around people they know well.

Copilot Mabel
Amazingly, they loved riding in the car and exploring new hotel rooms at night. Mabel especially loved to sit in the passenger's lap and gaze out the window at all the semi trucks, windmills, and fields of sunflowers. On a particularly clear night in Montana, I noticed she was staring up intently at the sky... it was the first time she saw the stars!

Ruby in the hotel, Minnesota
Our last day of driving was intended to be two days, but due to a hydroplane festival in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a Dave Matthews band concert at the Gorge, a Bob Sagat show and a rodeo around Spokane, we couldn't find a single hotel room until we made it over the pass. At that point, home was only a couple hours away so we just cranked up the radio and soldiered on. It was a 17 hour day in the car, going 860 miles!

It's good to be home. The cats are settling in and making friends with the family dog. The air is cool, damp, and fragrant with just a hint of saltiness coming off the sea. I'm surrounded by green instead of gray and I feel like I can breathe again! More on that later, I'm gonna take the dog for a walk.