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Early March and spring is right around the corner. I thought it would be good to take some pictures, check in with the herbies as they venture out into the chill. Imagine my surprise when, four days after taking pictures for this post, this happened:

Crocuses in a March snow

Crocuses in a March snow

Ah, March. In like a lion, true to fashion. Let’s see if it goes out like a lamb?

Elderberry

Elderberry, budding out from where we cut it back this past fall (our dog Rowan in the background). My husband was so worried we would kill it. Now he knows *grin*

Black Cherry

Part of our dwarf fruit tree plantings, this black cherry is now three years old and budding out all over the place!

Lavender

New growth on the lavender bush. We finally found a spot where it could winter over. Hurrah for south-facing walls!

rosemary2013-03_2

Rosemary. Isn’t she gorgeous?

Rosemary

All abloom – just beautiful

Garden rhubarb

Garden variety rhubarb (not the medicinal variety) busting out ready for pies…

Tansy

The tansy is starting to reach out for another year of trying to escape its pot…

St. John's wort

and the St. John’s wort, so eager for the returning sun

Marjoram

Our marjoram is a bit singed from the frost, but weathered yet another winter, the old girl

Lemon Balm

The lemon balm is creeping up between the fallen leaves

Feverfew

and the feverfew as well

Grapes

The muscadine grapes are starting to bud out – these guys are three years old, too, and soooo tasty…

Hyssop

Hyssop is interplanted with the grapes…

Vitex

The vitex still looks pretty barren, but soon enough it’ll be busting out in beautiful blooms

Vitex berries

Damon holding some of the dried vitex berries

Echinacea

The echinacea is starting to peek out in clumps here and there

Daffodil and santolina

Daffodil and santolina cuddling up close for warmth…

Daffodil

so lovely…

Crocus

and of course, the crocus, flagbearer of spring.

Stay warm everyone! And if you’re on the East coast, enjoy the snow and stay safe!

My friend Robbie and I spent last Friday afternoon having a high time making lotion, body scrub, and body wash. The one thing we didn’t get to was this sun lotion—I was still waiting for cocoa butter to arrive from Mountain Rose. I promised her however that I would save her a jar. We’re both fair-skinned, and speaking for myself, I need all the help I can get.

I really enjoyed Meghan Telpner’s blog on sun and sun protection, and had been wanting to make my own sun lotion. Using her recipe and a couple others as guidelines, here’s the recipe I came up with.

Melting waxes and oils together in my version of a double boiler

NOTES: If you don’t have a double boiler (I don’t), you can make your own easily enough by putting a canning ring or two inside a large saucepan, filling it partway with water, and resting a smaller saucepan inside of it, as shown in the picture above. The canning ring(s) will allow the water to flow around the smaller saucepan, just like in a double boiler. Also, I love using my immersion blender for the emulsifying process, but a powerful blender would do the job too, I imagine.

Also, use the purest ingredients that you can find—the borax is not your average store-bought borax, I get it from Mountain Rose and it’s cosmetic grade with no additional additives or surfactants. The oils are organic and unrefined whenever possible. And, should you happen to think, “Oh hey, cocoa butter wafers! Those’ll be easy to measure!”, you might want to order them in cooler weather, so you don’t get home to a melted bag of cocoa butter, which will become a brick once it cools from sitting in the sun on one’s front porch. Just saying. 🙂

Homemade Sun Lotion

  • 1/3 c. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. jojoba oil
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet almond oil
  • 1/3 c. cocoa butter
  • 2 tsp. vegetable based emulsifying wax
  • 1/8 tsp. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. distilled water
  • 1/4 c. aloe vera gel
  • 1 tsp. borax powder (pure cosmetic grade)
  • 10 drops lemon balm essential oil (or other lemony or minty oils, for insect repellant actions)

Place the first seven ingredients in a double boiler and turn heat to Medium. Meanwhile, combine in a bowl or wide-mouth quart jar (my preference for the immersion blender) the distilled water, aloe vera gel, and borax powder. Stir or shake well to mix and set aside. Continue stirring the oils in the double boiler constantly while it melts. Once all oils have melted together, removed from heat.

Place your immersion blender into the jar or bowl with the aloe mixture, and begin blending. Slowly pour the oils from the double boiler into the jar or bowl while blending—this will emulsify the lotion. Be sure to scrape all the oil out of the double boiler, as the citric acid granules tend to stick in the bottom of the pan. Continue blending the mixture, thoroughly aerating/emulsifying it until it is quite frothy and light, at least a minute. Add your essential oils and mix in.

Pour lotion into jars and allow to cool—it will thicken as it cools to room temperature.

Makes about 2 cups/1 pint.

Do you have any favorite sun lotion recipes or tips?

As an aside, make sure that when blogging you don’t forget that you’re heating milk in the next room to make yogurt, else big boiling milky mess will ensue. Ask me how I know. 🙂

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