Last weekend brought the most amazing autumn weather and we decided to go mushroom hunting in the nearby forest. Along for the walk came Java, my parents dog, always happy for a possibility to run free in the woods. It felt great being out of the city for the weekend, to be out in nature breathing clear autumn air. As an added bonus we found more mushrooms than we could possibly bring with us. Without even searching, we filled our baskets with black trumpet mushrooms.
I recently got back from a long and relaxing summer vacation. But spending a lot of time walking around barefoot on sand, gravel and grass had really been tough on my feet. They were full of deep cracks and crevices and not at all as soft as they usually are. And when my feet crack they really hurt. Since I find ordinary foot creams far from effective when it comes to healing cracks, I tried my way through the various oils and butters I had at home. My conclusion, without doubt, was that the one with most healing power, and with a clear effect from one day to another, was shea butter. However, I find shea butter a bit crumbly and not that easy to use as a moisturizer. Therefore, I decided to put together a lotion bar with as much shea as possible and only dilute it just enough to make it easier to apply not to decrease the healing efficacy. After several not very successful attempts with various oils, it was clear that coconut oil or any other liquid oil for that matter only seemed to prevent the shea butter from entering the skin. By just mixing the shea with only a small amount of beeswax, I got a much better result. Finally, I reached an optimal mixture consisting of 80% shea butter and 20 % beeswax. The result was a bar with firm consistency. It was easy to apply, did not crumble and yet was thick enough to stay in the cracks. To make it a bit more luxurious I also added a few drops of essential lavender and rosemary oils that both have skin healing properties.
80% shea butter
A couple of drops of an essential oil with skin healing properties (e.g. lavender, rosemary, German chamomile, palmarosa, frankincense, sandalwood)
Melt together shea butter and beeswax in a double boiler. Remove from the heat and add the essential oils of your choice if you decided to include any. Pour into molds and wait for it to set. I used small muffin molds in silicone, but any silicone mold works fine or you could even pour the mixture into empty lip balm tubes.
When I visited "Malin i Ratan" this summer, I couldn't help bringing one of her felted soaps back with me. An exciting new addition to Malins line of products. Exactly which ones of Malins organic soaps are available as felted versions vary. The one I have tried contained Red Clay & Rose - Oriental Scent of Patchouli. Seen in the picture with one of Malins practical and cute little soap bags. The soap looks absolutely fabulous sitting on the bathroom sink, like a little soft rock, and I keep getting compliments from my guests who wonder where I've found this wonderful soap. And the soap is actually really wonderful. It produces a rich, creamy lather, feels moisturizing and smells lovely. The only drawback might be that the felted wool prolongs the drying of the soap, compared to other soaps. On the other hand, the wool around the soap protects it and keeps it from floating away out on the sink, even after it has gotten really soft and wet. A hot tip is to keep several soaps and to switch between them, to give them a chance to dry every once in a while.
We love raspberry seed oil! It's an absolutely wonderful facial oil, rich in tocopherols, carotenoids and a bunch of other antioxidants. However, there has evolved an unfounded belief that this oil contains sun protection properties superior to many commercially developed sunscreens and you can often read on blogs and social media that raspberry seed oil has an inherent sun-protection factor as high as SPF40. It would be truly amazing if this were true, however, we have looked everywhere. There is NO scientific evidence that supports these statements. We also did our own test last summer. On the pale back of a willing volunteer, we applied locally Raspberry seed oil and different strengths of a commercial sunscreen. After 2 hours of sun exposure, we could not see that the raspberry seed oil provided any sun protection effect, whereas the protective effect from the SPF20 commercial sunscreen was easily distinguishable.
In conclusion, raspberry seed oil is a wonderful facial oil to use when spending a lot of time in the sun. Use it for its skin-caring properties and because its antioxidants most likely can help the skin to repair DNA damage, but don't forget to also apply a product containing a properly evaluated sunscreen agent to avoid getting a nasty sunburn.
For those of you who prefer vegan ingredients or are not really that into beeswax, here is a recipe for a completely organic, vegan lip balm with lovely, moisturizing cacao butter and a natural shine from coconut oil and carnauba wax.
What you'll need:
8 g Sweet almond oil
4 g Cacao butter
4 g Coconut oil
3,4 g Carnauba wax ( alt. 3g Candelilla wax)
Empty lip balm tubes or small tins or containers.
Melt together everything in a in a double boiler (or in a small saucepan or heatproof container in a slightly larger pan containing warm water). Pour the melted oils into the tubes or containers and wait for it to set. That is all!
This is the first in our series of lip balm recipes and probably the simplest DIY skin care product you can make. A real 5-minutes-recipe containing only two ingredients - equal proportions of coconut oil and beeswax. While any other oil mixed with 50% beeswax only turns into a brick-hard unusable mass, coconut oil and beeswax together becomes a lovely softening and protecting lip balm that stays on the lips for a very long time without getting sticky or making your lips look white and lifeless. A lip balm that also works great for Him since it is completely free from shine.
50% Coconut oil
One or more empty lip balm tubes (you can find them online or reuse an old one)
A lip balm tube normally has a capacity of 6-7 ml. I used 10 g of each coconut oil and beeswax and it was more than enough to fill up 3 tubes.
Melt together the beeswax and the coconut oil in a double boiler (or a small saucepan or heatproof container in a slightly larger pan containing warm water) and pour it into the tubes. Tip - if you're making several tubes, attach them together with a rubber band and they are less likely to fall over. That's all. It couldn't be easier.
Ever since we wrote the article about soap I have been wanting to try and make some soap myself. Cold processed, organic and natural soap, with complete control over the ingredients. Even if I from time to time have dabbled in DIY skin-care products, so far I have not yet made soap. Now I have finally come around to it. After careful studies of different techniques and ingredients, I decided to follow a basic recipe from Jan Berry who runs the blog "The Nerdy Farmwife", partly because it was simple and did not require other ingredients than I already had at home and partly because she is one of few big soap bloggers who make completely natural soaps free from palm oil and without additions such as sodium lactate, isopropyl alcohol, titanium dioxide or other non-natural colorants.
The chemist in me though, found it difficult to stay away from experimenting. To make one batch of 7-8 soaps, all of them the same, and then wait for 4-6 weeks to try them out seemed like an unthinkably slow process. So I down-sized the recipe to fit a silicon mold with 6 individual cavities and after I stirred the soap batter and reached so-called "trace", i.e. emulsified the batter with the help of a stick blender, I separated the batter into 6 containers in order to at least variate the additions. Honey, coffee scrub, crushed oat and 3 different kinds of clay; kaolin, green montmorillonite, rhassoul (top to bottom, left to right).
The result? First impression, it was successful. They hardened as they should and I managed to unmold them. They feel slightly soft, but that is supposed to be normal for soap containing high amounts of olive oil. With the muddled colors and irregular tops, they have a lovely natural and home-made look about them. How they are to wash yourself with? That, sadly, I will find out in 6 weeks time.
A freinds 10-year-old has been nagging me for a long time now if we cannot do some natural skin care together. That is something that must be encouraged! So now during the autumn break we took the opportunity to do some lovely, moisturizing whipped body butter. It is easy to make and feels luxurious this time of year. When the autumn starts to set in with shorter days and temperatures closer to zero and the skin needs something extra.
I usually mix 2 parts hard fat like cacao butter or cacao butter + shea butter with 1 part virgin coconut oil and 1 part liquid oil like almond oil. But you can also use organic cold pressed sunflower oil or canola oil. We also added a little bit of beeswax in order for the fluffy consistency to be less sensitive to heat. Adding a little bit of starch, like maizena to the oils before they cool make the butter feel less oily. Use what you find at home.
75 g Cacao Butter
75 g Shea Butter (alt. only Cacao Butter, i.e. 150 g instead of 75 g)
75 g Virgin Coconut Oil
75 g Almond Oil (alt. organic cold pressed sunflower or canola oil)
1 tsk Beeswax
5 tsk Maizena (or Arrow root)
Weigh everything except for the maizena and melt on low heat, either in a double boiler (or in a small saucepan or heatproof container in a slightly larger pan containing warm water). Add the maizena (stir it in a little of the oils first to avoid lumps). Transfer the oil mixture to a bowl and let it cool, either in the fridge or make a cold water bath in the sink. The oils shoud begin to set, but not completely solidify. Otherwise it is to hard to whip. When the mixture has set, whip it with and electrical whisk until it looks like whipped cream. Enjoy!
To get out early in the morning, just before sunrise and go for a walk, just you and your camera and to capture the first rays of the sun breaking through the mist when everyone else is rushing to work. That is luxury. Just the other day I did just that, to take pictures of Grenoble in morning light, the city that I live in since 6 years now. During the autumn, the mist covers the city like a soft blanket that slowly disappears during the late morning hours. I walked up to the old fort, La Bastille, to get a view of the whole town and the surrounding mountain chains, just as the sun climbed over the mountain tops illuminating the mist with a wonderfully soft golden light. What a reward. Only for me and a handful joggers while everyone else was stuck in trafic.
Summer is finally here and the wild flowers are fully in bloom. For those of you who want to know more about us, who are behind Nyponros, we now launch Nyponros Blog.
I live together with my husband and three kids in an apartment in Stockholm. I am trying to create some structure in the more or less chaotic, but wonderful life with small kids. I dream about finding the time to grow plants and vegetables in our yard, practice more yoga and learn how to make sourdough bread.
A few years ago Ulrika moved to Grenoble in the French Alps where she has found a better balance in life, with more time to enjoy the beautiful nature, see friends and do sports. Skiing in the winter and hiking and some rock climbing in the summer.
In addition to our great interest in natural skin care, we both love photography.
There is nothing more amazing than to get up really early to catch the morning light, or just hurry out after the rain just stopped to capture that magical light that only exists for a few brief moments.