Decorating for the holidays can be so much fun and you don't have to break a bank to make your home or office cozy and festive. In fact natural materials make simple, beautiful and elegant adornments to bring the Christmassy spirit into your interior space. Below you will find tips and ideas for decorating your table, Christmas tree, overall interior space with items you can easily find in the supermarket, the park or the local forest.
Oranges and other citrus fruits
Citruses happen to not only be in now, but they also make a nice addition to your table setting, on a christmas tree or anywhere else you want to level up the HYGGE feeling.
Use whole oranges to create a beautiful centre piece for the table. All you need is a few of those brightly coloured fruits and some cloves/aniseed. Using a zest knife create your designs and add cloves and aniseed.
Use the peels from already eaten citrus fruits to create ornaments for garlands, wreath or your Christmas tree. All you need is a cookie cutter, orange peels, think needle and a rope. Not sure how to do that? Check out this tutorial.
Dried fruits have been a traditional element in the holiday decor and create classic, yet simple atmosphere. These pieces make a wonderful decoration as a window/wall hanging, at the holiday table or as an enhancement to your gift wrapping. You can get these already dried but why not make them from scratch and fill your home with the divine aroma of sweet orange? Here is how.
Evergreen tree branches
We are blessed to live in a city surrounded by nature. When in Oslo you don't need to travel far to find broken evergreen branches on the ground. If you live a small apartment and you don't have much space for a whole tree, branches are your best alternative. Put the evergreens in a vase and place at your table. They not only look good but will also spread a nice Christmasy aroma. Add a couple of ornaments and you are all done.
Any kind of dry cones from an evergreen tree will look good as part of this natural decoration. They are easy to source and go well with everything. Put them together in a wreath for a stunning centre piece for the table or the front door. Use a hot glue gun to attach the pine cones to each other and to the base of the wreath. Dry cleaning hangers are perfect to use for that. Attach a ribbon or a rope to the pine cone and transform it into an ornament for your Christmas tree or to embellish your window.
Paper or ribbons
Another crafty way to decorate is by making ornaments from paper or ribbons. Here are instructions for two types of easy paper ornamentation.
Oranges are widely accessible in the autumn/winter season and create a magnificent ambiance to your home and presents. Drying citrus fruits is pretty easy and the result - gorgeous.
All you need is:
+ a few oranges, lemons, grapefruits or limes
+ a knife and board
Follow the steps below to make your own dried orange decoration ornaments.
How and where can we use these ornaments? These pieces elevate a boring gift wrapping into a thoughtful piece of art. Use them to decorate your table, window, fireplace or Christmas tree. For more holiday decorations check out this article.
Conventional cleaning products often contain chemicals and toxins that may harm our skin and health in general. On the other hand essential oils are all natural, safe (when used with precaution), practical and delightful to work with. Many of them contain powerful antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties that make them very effective at household cleaning.
Below we have described our favorite and, arguably, the best essential oils
for cleaning your home. You may use them on their own or blend them to increase their potency and take full advantage of their combined cleansing properties.
Another crafty way to decorate is by making ornaments from paper or ribbons. Here are instructions for two types of easy paper ornamentation. Choose a paper that is not neither too thin, nor too think so it will be easy for you to bend, yet strong enough to sustain some wear and tear.
1 type - lantern
+ Cut strips of paper with the same width, for example 1.5-2cm.
+ You need three lengths, 1 short, 2 medium, and 2 long.
+ Make sure all strips that come in pair (medium and long) have the same length.
+ Hold all strips and staple them on each side
+ Punch a hole on the topside and add a rope
2 type - nesting circles
+ Cut 5-6 paper strips - 11, 13, 15 and 17cm with the same width
+ Punch holes in both sides of all strips
+ Cut a 15cm rope and tie its two ends together
+ Take the shortest strip on one end and try to meet it with the other end
+ Put the rope through the holes in the paper strips
+ Repeat this process with the rest of the paper strips
Have you ever wondered about which soap bar from Neven's collection will suit you best? When formulating a new kind, we consider not only their physical attributes but also their properties.
Even though most of our bars suit the needs of most people, some will work better for a specific skin type while others will not.
Below you find general guidelines of our soap/shampoo collection to help you choose a bar for yourself or others.
This refreshing diffuser blend will jump-start your day and naturally enhance your concentration.
FOCUS + ENERGY
Rosemary strengthens the mind, increases creativity and helps with memory retention. Peppermint and blood orange promote clarity and alertness, while also evoking a sense of happiness. All you need is two minutes, a diffuser
and the essential oils above.
Neven's Rejuvenate face oil has been nominated for best face oil in the Swedish Organic Beauty Awards 2020!
We are honored and grateful that the jury has selected Rejuvenate oil as a finalist in the category "Best facial oil 2020". This is the second time we have ever participated in a green beauty competition and once again, our product reached the final stage.
What makes Rejuvenate face oil such a success?
In the second part, we look at more medicinal herbs and the essential oils from them. Lemon balm, St Johns Wort, and eucalyptus are starring here. For each plant, we first look at their medicinal properties and common ailments
they may help us relieve and then provide you with practical tips, tricks, and recipes you can make yourself.
In the first part of this article, we focus on elderberry, echinacea, and lavender. First, we look at their medicinal properties, the different forms we can use them and common diseases they may help us relieve. Then we provide you with practical tips, tricks, and recipes you can make yourself at home.
Everybody has been in a situation where we wish to clean our hands, but you have no access to soap or water. Portable bottles with hand sanitizers are more popular than ever.
Tired of hearing sanitizers are sold out?
Perhaps you have considered making your own but never had the time. Well, you have time now and good hygiene is always important. Besides, it is a great gift for your loved ones in these challenging times. I promise it will be better sanitizer than the alternatives in the shops.
We did some experimenting and lots of research to come up with some recipes for you featuring ingredients that are easy to find or substitute. So…
3 anti-viral recipes to help you protect yourself and your family.
Before making any of the following recipes, we advise you to read the safety notes we have included at the end of the article. Thank you for being mindful and considerate of your own and the safety of others.
Simple alcohol-free gel hand sanitizer
Tools and ingredients:
50ml bottle with a cap
45ml Aloe Vera gel
25 drops lavender essential oil (antiseptic, antiviral properties) *
- Mix all ingredients directly in the bottle.
- Shake well and use it to disinfect your hands.
*Just as effective you can use these essential oils: tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon-scented eucalyptus, chamomile, melissa, pine. They all possess antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Little’s hand sanitizer
This recipe includes essential oil concentration that is gentle enough and appropriate for children between 2 and 6. Do not use it if your children are younger.
Tools and ingredients:
30 ml spray bottle
20 ml ethyl alcohol or propyl alcohol
1tsp aloe gel
2 drops Lavender essential oil (antiseptic, antiviral properties)
1 drops Tea tree essential oil (antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, fungicide and immune-stimulating properties)
Distilled water, flower hydrosol (rose, chamomile, lavender) or chamomile and lavender tea.
- Pour the alcohol in the bottle and add the essential oils. Shake well and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. The essential oils will dissolve in the alcohol.
- Add the aloe gel into the spray bottle and cap. Shake well to mix the ingredients.
- Fill up the bottle with distilled water, hydrosol or tea. Shake well again and before use.
Refreshing lemony hand sanitizer
Tools and ingredients:
50 ml spray bottle
30 ml (2Tb spoons) ethyl alcohol or propyl alcohol
1tsp aloe gel
1tsp Neven soap (you may also skip this if you don’t have)
10 drops Lavender essential oil (antiseptic, antiviral properties)
4 drops Lemon-scented Eucalyptus essential oil (antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial)
6 drops Eucalyptus essential oil (antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral)
- Pour the alcohol in the bottle and add the essential oils. Shake well and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. The essential oils will dissolve in the alcohol.
- Add the aloe gel and Castile soap into the spray bottle and cap. Shake well to mix the ingredients.
- Label the bottle and voila! It’s ready to use. Spray on the hands, rub the liquid and allow it to dry.
Safety, handling, and storage:
- Store in a cool and dark place.
- Always check with a doctor or healthcare provider before using essential oils, especially on children or if you have a medical condition.
- Remember to take safety measures and to exercise caution when working with concentrated substances like alcohol and essential oils. Use gloves when making the product.
- The product is for external use only (hands, feet, inanimate objects).
- Moisturize if using this sanitizer frequently as alcohol tends to deplete moisture.
Direct contact with mouth or eyes must be avoided. Rinse thoroughly with cold water should sanitizer get in your eyes.
- Keep this product away from children and let them apply under supervision.
- This is a flammable liquid. Keep away from direct heat, flames, and sunlight.
- Using fresh aloe vera gel from your plant at home will not work. It is unstable compared to commercially sold.
Neven’s best-selling face oil - Rejuvenate - honored by an independent panel of judges from North America, Europe, and Australia who selected it as a finalist among over 300 other products for the 2020 Clean Beauty Awards
Essential oils are powerful natural medicine that can be incorporated in our daily lives to improve wellness, clean our home, repel pests and insects, improve our garden, enhance our holiday celebrations and so much more. This list includes the ten most versatile and useful essential oils for the home medicine cabinet.
Makes one large standard tart form; 8-10 servings
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup oat flour
1 cup pitted fresh dated
2-3 tsp virgin coconut oil
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt (we used Himalayan salt)
1 cup of coconut cream
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3/4 cup cashews
1 Tb coconut oil
Pinch of salt
To make the crust grind all ingredients in chopper or food processor until the mixture becomes a thick dough. It should be easily shaped into the tart form but if it's too wet add extra oats and if it's too dry add lemon juice. Line your form, press the crust into it and leave in the fridge.
Blend all filling ingredients until smooth. The desired consistency of the cream should be like a thick yogurt. Add some plant-based milk if it's too thick. Pour the mixture evenly into your form and bring it back to the fridge for at least a few hours.
Once the tart gets firm enough, garnish with some fresh foods and voila!
November rain, turning into snow.. The last autumn leaves cover the earth in hopes to bring it back to life with its majestic colors. We begin to add layers of clothing to keep our bodies warm. Our face, however, stays naked, unprotected and exposed to the harsh weather, which may lead to dry, flaking and cracking skin. It is a well-known fact that skin dries faster during the winter, as cold air holds less moisture than warm air. This process accelerates even faster in homes that use central heating system.
For these reasons our skin needs slightly different routine in the fall and winter months. We must use extra protection to keep our largest organ supple and moist.
Since I switched to 100% natural products in 2014, I have been using facial oils on a regular basis and completely abandoned the water-based moisturizers. What are face oils anyway? They are typically composed of vegetable and essential oils. In nature fat acts as insulation from the cold, defend our bodies from diseases and maintains our skin, hair and nails in good shape. That is why vegetable oils make the perfect treatment for natural winter skin care protection.
Nevertheless, some of us are still a little more conservative and feel reluctant to use oils in their skin care regime. If you have oily/combination skin you may think these products will make your complexion even worse. The truth is oily skin is mostly a result of over production of sebum - our skin’s natural lubricant. Our skin reacts to external aggressors such as extreme weather conditions by producing more of its natural oils in order to keep it safe. There are oils for almost any issue, even acne and irritation prone skin. The key is to use the right oil and the right amount of it.
Below you can read about 4 carrier oils that will keep your skin protected, healthy and radiant:
It is no surprise jojoba is on my list. Chemically speaking, this liquid wax is the closest ingredient to the skin sebum (the oil our skin produces naturally for its own protection). It possesses high emollient properties that help to lock moisture inside and to create an effective barrier to external elements, keeping the skin soft and supple. Dermatologists recommend it for all skin types because it has important minerals like zinc and copper, and vitamins B and E, which help strengthen the skin.
Unrefined avocado oil has deep green color, nutty aroma and rich nutrient value. It contains chlorophyll, vitamins A and D, as well as linoleic acid, which strengthen the skin by reinforcing the walls of the skin cells. The abundance of antioxidants provides great anti-ageing and mild naturals sunscreen properties. This luxurious oil penetrates the inner layers of our skin making it perfect shield from the chilly winter wind. Because of its viscosity the oil absorbs at slower rates. Mix it with lighter oils such as apricot kernel or almond oil and use not more than 25% avocado.
Rosehips offer the perfect oil for cold weather. Studies show rosehip oil reduces inflammation and comes in handy when the skin flares up from the bite of the cold air. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it soaks in our skin quicker than any other oil. The bountiful amounts of Vitamin C make this oil powerful tissue regenerator, preventing premature ageing, helping to fade wrinkles, marks and scars alike. Vitamin A, also called retinol is another valuable component that helps increase collagen- and elastin production. Both of these proteins pay essential roles in maintaining the skin youthful and flawless.
Many experts call this incredible oil from Morocco a liquid gold. As the other oils from this list, argan contains an abundance of vitamins, proteins and antioxidants that improve skin's elasticity and help prevent premature aging. Its rich and unique chemical composition restores the skin’s hydrolipid layer helping to reduce wrinkles, soothe dry, irritated skin and protect against the damaging effects of the weather.
How to use them
The tricky part with oil-based products is that one must damp the skin to help with the absorption. So either, leave your skin moist after washing your face or use facial oil along with floral mists.
Continuous "summer weather" hit Oslo with a joyous blast. A series of seriously warm waves, cool vibes and endless sunny days entice us to tan. Looking good and feeling good seem to be directly related to being in the sun. No wonder beaches and parks burst with people making the best out of open space, good company and generous sunny rays.
Even so, scientists have consistently proven that overindulging our spirit with intense solar exposure, may potentially lead to serious problems for our body. Those may vary from common ailments such as heat stroke, dehydration, and burnt skin to more severe, even terminal consequences. These facts cannot be denied regardless of your viewpoint. Nevertheless, big players in the cosmetic industry shamelessly disregard other important issues of concern. Some of them spend much cash on manipulating public opinion and even deceiving consumers who unknowingly protect their skin with a substance that, for example, damages body systems.
The market today offers an overwhelming number of sunscreen products, each of them claiming all sorts of things (that are likely to be false or misleading). How do you choose a safe product for you and your family? How do you decipher the complicated labels with dozens of chemicals that all sound alarmingly unknown and potentially dangerous? A great place to start is Think Dirty, an app that allows you to scan the product’s barcode and gives you a list with all ingredients which are rated in three categories: neutral (0-2), half n’ half (3-6) and dirty (7-10). Each ingredient has a profile with alternative names, why it is used and health impacts.The app has a database of more than 750 000 different products with the option to add new items to it. EWG (another good source of information on safe cosmetics) points out “despite the growing awareness of the dangers of exposure to sun’s ultra violet radiation and a multi billion dollar industry, melanoma rates have tripled over the past three decades. “ These results only point to one thing: the majority of suns protecting products are not doing it’s job - protecting.
Luckily, European countries support stronger regulations in cosmetic industry and sun creams produced here tend to perform much better in tests than those coming from the US. Each year the Norwegian Consumer Council conducts a test followed by issuing a report on some of the most popular brands on the local market. Even though the industry’s high standards only 8 out of 42 tested products scored well on efficiency and safety. The rest either contained hormonal-disturbing ingredients or contribute to environmental pollution (and indirectly affect us in the long term).
So what should we avoid when we look for sun protection products?
Many of these substances can be found in number of personal care products, not just sun lotions, so be aware and read the labels.
Widely used in sun creams, this substance act as a chemical sun protection agent. Because of its relatively weak UV absorption rate it is often used in combination with other sunscreen agents. Once absorbed by the skin and in our bodies, this substance acts like estrogen that can cause changes in sperm in men and may lead to endometriosis in women.
Other names: BENZOPHENONE-3, (2-HYDROXY-4-METHOXYPHENYL) PHENYL- METHANONE; (2-HYDROXY-4-METHOXYPHENYL) PHENYLMETHANONE; 2-BENZOYL-5-METHOXYPHENOL; 2-HYDROXY-4-METHOXYBENZOPHENONE; 4-08-00-02442 (BEILSTEIN HANDBOOK REFERENCE) ; 4-METHOXY-2-HYDROXYBENZOPHENONE; ADVASTAB 45; AI3-23644; ANUVEX; B3; BENZOPHENONE, 2-HYDROXY-4-METHOXY-
This is an antioxidant with controversial nature. Studies indicate that when applied on the skin in the presence of sunlight it may cause changes on biochemical and cellular level. In other words, it can lead to the development of skin tumors and lesions. Scary, right? Instead of protecting from cancer some products may actually be causing it.
Other names: AXEROPHTHOL PALMITATE; HEXADECANOATE RETINOL; RETINOL PALMITATE; RETINOL, HEXADECANOATE; VITAMIN A PALMITATE; AQUASOL A; AROVIT; OPTOVIT-A; RETINOL PALMITATE; VITAMIN A PALMITATE
This compound is used for its UVB filter properties, however it has been proven endocrine disturber, effecting estrogen levels and thyroid activity. Long-term estrogen exposure is linked to increased risk of developing breast cancer; lowering sperm count in men and altering reproductive systems in children and fetuses. If pregnant avoid this ingredient.
Other names: ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, 2-ETHYLHEXYL P-METHOXYCINNAMATE; 2-ETHYLHEXYL 4-METHOXYCINNAMATE; 2-ETHYLHEXYL ESTER P-METHOXYCINNAMIC ACID; 2-ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE; 2-ETHYLHEXYL P-METHOXYCINNAMATE; 2-ETHYLHEXYL-4-METHOXYCINNAMATE; AI3-05710; CCRIS 6200; EINECS 226-775-7; ESCALOL; NEO HELIOPAN
Petrolatum, petroleum jelly, and mineral oil
Byproduct of petroleum refining, this ingredient is widely used in personal care products for its moisturizing properties and long lasting shelf life. Sadly mineral oil or petroleum jelly can contain carcinogens which we would normally try and stay away from. Moreover it blocks our pores preventing our skin to absorb moisture from the air and release toxins. It can also cause irritations and acne.
This is organic compound used as broad-spectrum UV filter in sunscreens. Studies show this ingredient as weak hormonal disturber that may break down to toxic byproducts when exposed to sunlight. Other concerns include: enhancing absorption rate of other toxic chemicals (such as pesticides) and can cause skin irritations.
Other names: 3,3,5-TRIMETHYL- SALICYLATE CYCLOHEXANOL; 3,3,5-TRIMETHYLCYCLOHEXYL 2-HYDROXYBENZOATE; 3,3,5-TRIMETHYLCYCLOHEXYL SALICYLATE; CASWELL NO. 482B; CCRIS 4885; COPPERTONE; CYCLOHEXANOL, 3,3,5-TRIMETHYL-, SALICYLATE; EINECS 204-260-8; EPA PESTICIDE CHEMICAL CODE 076603; FILTERSOL ''A''; HELIOPAN.
Synthetic preservatives, like parabens and methylisothiazolinone (MIT)
These chemical substances are widely used in all sorts of cosmetic products for their antibacterial properties and the ability to extend shelf life of the end product. They are hazardous to the endocrine system, can cause allergic reaction, fetal impairment and neurotoxicity.
When you see this ingredient on the label does not mean one or two things. This can be dozens if not hundreds of different chemicals. The synthetic fragrances have links to headache, nausea, dizziness, skin irritation, and are associated with asthma and even cancer.
Other names: perfume
Other things to be aware of:
- Look for sunscreen that protects from both UVA & UVB
Sun's UV radiation can be classified into three categories depending on their wavelength: UVA (the longest of the three), UVB and UVC. The latest should not be of our concern since most of it is absorbed by the ozone layer and it does not reach the Earth. That leaves us with UVA and UVB. The first one makes 95% of sun's radiation reaching the surface of our planet. Even though, these rays appear less powerful than the UVB they are a lot more frequent and wide spread. Not only are they spread equally throughout the day and seasons but also go through clouds and glass. That is why many people wear protection every day. For a long time, I thought that since I live in Oslo where winters lack sunshine I didn't need a sunscreen on a cloudy winter day. Wrong! As UVA penetrates deep into our skin giving us this sexy tan at the same time it contributes to its aging and wrinkling.
When you get sunburn, that's UVB. The other layer of our skin - the epidermis absorbs those rays and takes the hit. If we get too much of them our skin turns red. They are responsible for damaging our skin cell's DNA and major contributor to skin cancers.
- Don’t be fooled by high SPF
If you wonder about products with higher than 50 SPF, I would simply avoid them. Here is why?
1. Insignificantly better sunburn protection
2. Poorer balance
3. High-SPF products may not really be high-SPF
Because of their convenience, sunscreen sprays have become more and more popular. Easy application and even distribution on our skin matters, but it is not the only factors that should affect our choice. As consumers, we have duty and responsibility to make informed purchase decisions based on the best interest of all others affected by our choices. For that reason I would not buy protective products in spray cans. Here is why...
Back in the day, there were compounds that damaged the ozone layer, so these chemicals were outlawed in spray can products. Nowadays, however, they contain other, modern ingredients that get into the air. Some of them are known toxins, carcinogen, or engulfed in mystery. From the air, we and our kids inhale these molecularly small compounds while nobody knows how they affect our bodies. Like it was not bad enough that people we like get a dose of suspicious chemicals when we spray our skin, but scientists actually have not studied the short and long term effects of inhaling them.
Green power smoothie
1 organic apple
1/2 lemon (juiced)
handful of kale
handful of spinach
2 cm piece ginger
1Tsp organic honey
1tsp bee polen
Strong sun rays really damage the skin causing it to age at a faster rate. Regular hydrating and restorative treatments can help your skin recover and glow after long days at the beach or in the park.
Try this mask after gently washing your face and neck with a mild cleanser. Avocado is rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients while cucumber cools and hydrates the skin. really nicely. Clay soaks up excess liquid and also feeds the skin with minerals.
1/2 small avocado
1/3 cucumber (ca 60g)
1Tbsp bentonite clay (or any clay by choice)
Mash the avocado with a fork and shred the cucumber into fine pieces. Mix in the clay and stir until incorporated. Cover the face and neck as you avoid the eyes and mouth. Enjoy :)
With a colour of the sun and the taste of a tropical garden, papayas are rich source of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, Vitamin C, flavonoids, B vitamins and minerals like potassium, copper and magnesium. Together they support eyesight, cardiovascular and immune systems; promote digestive health and reduce inflammation and acne.
You may think of papayas as sweet, but you can enjoy them in savoury dishes as well. From fruit salads and salsas to main courses and desserts, papaya is quite versatile.
This sweet and sour tropical salad is the ultimate breakfast or afternoon snack in the warm months.
1-2 Tbsp Honey
15gr Coconut flakes
For more ideas check out these recipes we’ve found on Huffington post.
This recipe is simple and you can easily prepare it during the week with a little bit of planning ahead.
180g quinoa, soaked for 2 hours if possible
250-300g fresh or frozen peas
2 spring onions
sprouts of your choice
1 batch Cashew sauce (recipe below)
1 batch Quick-pickled Radish (recipe below)
Rinse quinoa very well and add it to a pot with 1.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer until water is absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Add more water if you think it is needed.
Prepare the vegetables. Steam the peas separately or add them to the pot of quinoa a few minutes before its done. Slice the avocado and spring onion. Now it is a good time to make the sauce.
Place ¼ of the cooked quinoa in a large bowl, add all veggies including the pickled radish and drizzle with sauce. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste if you need extra taste.
1/2 cup raw cashew soaked for at least 3 hours
1/2 cup water
2 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic
4 Tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp himalayan salt
1-3 Tsp dill finely chopped
1/2 tsp raw honey (optional, but it creates a balanced taste)
Add all ingredients (except the dill) to a blender and mix until the texture is super smooth. Add the dill and stir until it is well incorporated in the sauce.
To speed up prep time, you may soak the nuts from the night before or make the sauce in advance. Be careful, because it does not keep more than 3 days in the fridge.
Quick Pickled Radishes
Makes a full 1/2-liter jar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. maple syrup or liquid honey
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 liter jar with tight fitting lid
Remove the top end of all radishes and slice them into very thin pieces.
In a measuring cup, combine vinegar, water, maple syrup, and salt. Stir well to dissolve salt and blend the ingredients. You can speed up the marination process by slightly warming the liquid before pouring it over the radishes.
Place a handful of radish slices at the bottom of the jar and add a few peppercorns and one clove of garlic. Continue to stack the radishes, peppercorns and garlic until you’ve reached the top of the jar. Pour the liquid over, completely covering the contents of the jar, discarding any leftovers. Place an airtight lid on the jar, and place in the fridge. Can be enjoyed 24 hours later, for up to three weeks.
We love Lavender. The oil from this aromatic plant is quite popular and widely used all over the world. In fact, we believe every home should have a bottle. Known for its relaxing effects on body and mind, lavender oil has gained popularity in natural skin care products and treatments. With its antibacterial, analgesic and antiseptic properties, it may effectively be used to cleanse cuts, bruises and skin irritations. In addition, its fresh, floral aroma calms the nerves and balances emotions. Having a small bottle of lavender in your purse or house is almost like having a personal first aid kit, perfume and sedative.
Below you can read about some of the most popular applications of lavender essential oil in your daily life:
Dilute 2-3 drops оf lavender in 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable/nut oil and rub in your palms, the temples, wrists and feet for almost immediate calming effect on the body. It takes about 20 minutes for the chemical compounds in the oil to reach your blood stream and react with your chemistry. For a more speedy effect, you can also use inhalation to draw the scent all the way into your amygdala - the emotional centre of the brain.
2. Sleep aid
Simply put a 1-2 drops on your pillow and relax in your bed. As an alternative rub the mix from above to your palms and feet. Enjoy!
3. Sun and heat burns
Lavender magically heals minor burns. It decreases the pain, redness and swelling. The aromatic oil also prevents scaring and stimulates the cells of the wound to regenerate quicker. Use a salve, balm or some other oil based product that lingers on the skin before absorption.
4. Insect repellant/Insect bite
Not only does Lavender repeal bugs but it aids in healing insect bites and stings. It also stops itching and reduces the swelling.
5. Cuts and grazes
Wash the affected area with antiseptic wash. Once the wound is clean drop lavender oil directly onto the cut/graze. It will stop the bleeding and kill bacteria.
6. Eczema / Dermatitis
These skin conditions are usually aggravated by stress and nervous tension. Aromatherapy massage with lavender helps relieve stress and tension. Take a bath with 2-3 drops of pure lavender oil or mix several drops of lavender oil in 2-3 tea spoons vegetable/nut oil and rub it on the eczema/dermatitis.
7. Nausea / Motion sickness
Place a drop of Lavender on your fingers and rub the area behind your ears and around the navel. If you wish not to put the oil directly on your skin (as it may cause irritation to those with very sensitive skin) you can place 1-2 drop on a tissue and sniff to relieve your symptoms.
8. Dry or chapped skin
Use diluted mix of lavender and vegetable oil and massage the dry/chapped skin.
9. Hay fever
Rub the blend mentioned above between your palms and inhale deeply to help alleviate the symptoms of hay fever.
Mix 3 drops of Tea tree and Lavender oil in 2 tea spoons vegetable/nut oil to give yourself a nice scalp massage. For best results, do this several times a week.
To stop a nosebleed, you will need a tissue paper and a chip of ice. Use a drop of lavender oil on the tissue and wrap it around a the piece of ice. Hold that up the base of your nose in the middle of your upper lip and let it remain there until it becomes uncomfortable or until the bleeding stops.
12. Cold sores
Dilute 2 drops of lavender and bergamot oil in 5 ml clear alcohol like vodka and apply directly on the cold sore when you notice it at first.
Apply a cold compress containing lavender oil to your head and lie down. Replace the compress with a new one when it reaches body temperature.
14. Sore muscles
Lavender oil can also be used to help relieve tight or bruised muscles. Use it in a massage blend and rub into the skin around affected areas.
15. Acne and other blemishes
Often caused by the skin’s overproduction of sebum and bacteria, acne plague many people. The antiseptic properties of lavender act effectively in managing them. Apply undiluted lavender oil with a cotton swab directly on the inflamed spot. If you have very sensitive skin use a dilute 1-2 drops of Lavender oil in a teaspoon of vegetable/nut oil.
A well-known fact is that our skin accumulates toxins and impurities much like a sponge. I have heard people refer to their skin as a “third kidney” as it plays an important role in removing “junk” from the body. Over the long term, these tiny unwanted molecules build up in your body and skin. Toxins may cause the appearance of pimples and blackheads, cause irritation, allergies, or even intensify the effects of aging.
The environment we live in and the conditions to which we expose our bodies determine how much and what type of pollution sticks to the skin. Air pollutants and smoke provide examples for external sources of “junk”. The synthetic and harmful additives in cosmetics and make up also add to the list of external pollutants of skin.
Makeup not only beatifies, it also pollutes the skin
Other harmful chemicals like pesticides and preservatives find their way from the inside: through the food and drinks we consume and especially through the bad habits we indulge like smoking and drinking alcohol.
Finally, the waste material of broken cells that the skin periodically replaces may also build up subduing the formation of new tissue. Our bodies subconsciously and naturally deal with those issues all the time.
Of course, we can consciously choose to aid the processes of elimination and recovery to help our organism be rid of toxins and to have beautiful, healthy skin. Having a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water provide the base for a healthy organism. Those factors, along with regular physical activities can really help your skin repair, clean, and rejuvenate. However this post will focus on 4 activities not related to food or exercise, though regularity helps. You may easily do them alone to stimulate the elimination of build up toxins naturally.
Eat well and drink much water
Eating well entails to choose a diet based primarily on fruits and vegetables. Among the best foods for glowing skin are leafy greens like kale and spinach, berries (especially blueberries), pomegranate, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, broccoli and sweet potatoes. After all we are what we eat. Our cells use the building blocks we give them to get energy and to create new tissue. Therefore, a beautiful and healthy skin relies on some menu planning, wise choices in the supermarket and imagination in the kitchen. Here you can find great ideas and recipes. Eating a variety of food groups in small portions throughout the day will help your body do its job better. For that you also need plenty of water. We are mostly made up of water anyway, so maintain the balance and drink even when you are not thirsty. Water not only maintains a healthy metabolism, but it plays main role in flushing toxins out of the body.
Exfoliate at least once a week
Everyone knows the benefits of exfoliation and we all need it to some extent - Some of us need to exfoliate more often that others depending on skin type and climate. I recommend it at least once a week in the shower or bathtub. It will help your skin shed dead tissue particles and lose toxins very effectively. The skin must be wet or oiled up. If done well, It stimulates the lymphatic system and blood flow both of which play key roles in detoxification. Use gentle exfoliates on tender skin areas like the face and never apply too much pressure in order to avoid redness and inflammation.
Treat yourself to a full body massage sometimes
Massage benefits your skin more than you think. It makes it more elastic and stimulates the formation of new tissue. Deep tissue massage raises the body’s temperature and increases blood flow, therefore it helps your organism "clean up" and recover from its daily operations. Certain points require firmer and deeper massage to release build up pressure or encourage proper lymph flow. The lymphatic circulation is one of the major ways our bodies throw out unwanted chemical compounds they accumulate.
Brush! Brush! Brush!
Brushing is another way to accomplish improved circulation of the blood through the skin and to shed impurities, or dead tissue. The difference with exfoliating is that brushing must always happen on a dry skin. Choose a gentle brush with soft hair and run it over your entire body. Always begin down with your feet and make your way upward using circular motions.
The action not only increases blood flow in the dermis, but it also stimulates your skin's nerve endings and exfoliates dead skin cells. Being tickled seems like an unwanted side effect, although one gets used to it after awhile. Remember to brush all surfaces, including the soles of your feet, armpits and the entire back. All motion should happen in the direction of your heart. If you choose to brush your face, you may do so with a specially designed for that gentle bristle. Personally, I have not done it. What I often do is a simple face mask that we will share in the next post.
Face masks maintain our skin healthy and glowing. They help us prepare it for the changing seasons, calm inflammation, clean its pores, and provide it with necessary nutrients. This particular mask, I blended is inspired by autumn colors and contains only three basic ingredients you can find in your kitchen.
Mix all ingredients until they blend well. Place on the face and neck while you avoid the areas around the eyes and mouth. Rinse with lukewarm water after the mask dries on your skin. Wash with face cleanser to remove the yellowish stain from the turmeric. Skip this step if you plan to stay home and relax. Finally, hydrate the skin with a facial serum or your favorite cream.
Turmeric is a root widely in Asian cuisine and traditional medicine. The powder gently exfoliates the upper layer of skin, leaving it silky-smooth. Curcumin, a polyphenol chemical that gives turmeric its vibrant yellow color, has excellent antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. It improves the skin tone and helps in treating conditions like acne, hyper-pigmentation, dark circles, Rocasea, eczema and psoriasis. Read more about the amazing health and beauty benefits of turmeric here.
People have harvested and consumed Honey for thousands of years, but not everybody knows about the wonderful effect raw honey has on the skin. It possesses natural anti-bacterial and antibiotic properties that make it excellent for preventing and treating acne and inflammation. Rich in antioxidants, honey increases skin’s ability to rejuvenate and slows down aging. It has also the ability to attract moisture from the air and retain it on the skin. For more ideas how to incorporate honey into your DIY home spa treatments check this article from TreeHugger.
Yogurt, too, benefits the skin in many ways. Its high lactic acid and nutrients content promote healthy skin. In fact, it was used in ancient India to treat acne and pimples. As natural moisturizer, yogurt aids the skin to increase its skin tone and elasticity.
Overall this mask will revitalize tired skin and help you get rid of dead skin cells and acne. It will improve the skin tone and tighten pores while retaining moisture. Try it and let us know how it feels.
Mila & Veli
We are guilty! Most of our soaps do contain palm oil. Early on in our soap making endeavors, we made this choice for two reasons. Palm oil contributes to a long lasting, hard soap bar with thick, stable lather. Also, all the soap making books we read recommended this oil, so we used it in our formulations as 15% of total oils. It was either that or animal fat.
Initially, we were ignorant of the negative impact that the production of this oil has on our planet. In fact, we loved how our soaps turned out which made it easier to neglect the negative issues surrounding one of the ingredients. After a year of soap making, however, we could not turn a blind eye anymore. No longer ignorant, we decided to act. We managed to achieve the same effects as palm oil by substituting it with a mixture of various other oils. New formulations were born together with important new realizations. Our soaps do not need palm oil, and we certainly do not want it. From now on, none of our products will even go near palm oil.
The ecological impact of oil palm plantations seems huge. The massive agro-business associated with this crop has been the direct cause of many problems: deforestation; endangered wildlife species; habitat destruction and fragmentation; pollution of soil, air, and water; social conflict and displacement of local communities.
Because oil palm plantations grow where dense and bio-diverse rainforests flourish, orangutans and many other species will not only lose their habitats, but also their lives. If workers or starvation do not kill endangered species, poachers will come for them on the newly built plantation roads. While it was difficult for hunters in the past to track rare animals in the dense jungle, now they can simply drive deep enough and wait for their victims to come in range for killing.
Indonesia and Malaysia’s tropical forests host magnificent wildlife – Sumatran tigers, rhinoceroses, proboscis monkeys, Asian elephants, barking deer, gibbons, and clouded leopards, among others, face tremendous threats and some of them imminent extinction. Yet these countries have given up a huge percentage of their land for deforestation and palm plantations. A few governments, individuals and corporations make billions while the planet loses its bio diversity that we may never regain.
Palm oil certainly raises concerns on which everybody should focus. We began reading about it and the more information we sought the more it became clear what we needed to do. Our eyes were soon open. Not long after our initial realization, a customer sent us an email to express her disappointment that our “otherwise such good soaps” contained this destructive oil. After this, we decided to quit using palm oil altogether and it was only a matter of time before we exhausted our inventory to do so.
We recently came across a video that pushed us to forget about the inventory and quit immediately. The video showed a young orangutan (one of the most severely affected species) that communicated with a deaf human girl using sign language. The dialogue was short, but with a powerful message. The primate pointed to a banana as her favorite meal after which she inquired what the human ate. The young girl explained that she ate peanut butter. “Your food destroys my home,” said the orangutan with a compelling facial expression. They are emotional beings not much different than humans, yet our civilization’s greed and economies of scale destroy them along with many other species of plants and animals.
Vanishing wildlife is only one aspect of the problem. Rainforests include 70% of world’s species of plants and animals (over 200 tree species per acre compared with only a few in Europe for example). These tropical jungles work through a lot of carbon dioxide to supply our atmosphere with oxygen. Therefore, they influence both local and global climate. Tropical forests play a crucial role in moderating temperatures, regulating humidity and in absorbing excessive rainfall to prevent floods. Complex ecosystems, such as those in South-east Asia, developed over millions of years, yet they will succumb quickly. Humanity’s greed will destroy them in a tiny fraction of that time. If you consider Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s plans, the end will be by 2020. They aim at developing an additional 50,000 square kilometers of rain forest by then. It is a shame to use the products of their plans, a shame we can no longer bear.
Many people would say that sustainable palm oil plantations provide environmentally friendly alternative to the mass produced oil in south-east Asia. The so-called “sustainable oil” seems just as bad and consumers become victims of marketing tricks, manipulations, and clever agendas to conceal what really goes on. Even those sustainable plantations need space to grow and for that trees and animals must die. Local communities of forest-dwelling tribes become either displaced from their homes or sucked into the palm-farming bubble. Those who “choose” to make a living by growing oil palm, survive entirely dependent on the industrial giant. The poor people of local communities live constantly exploited and underpaid- pawns in the big scheme of profit margins and production quotas. Unfortunately, the people of Borneo, Sumatra and Papua New Guinea cannot preserve their cultural heritage when they become palm oil farmers/slaves. Slowly but surely humanity will lose knowledge and traditions that cannot be quantified in monetary terms. Instead, these isolated, poor peoples will see their home, their jungle to become plantations. People have little choice but to work on for unfair wages and under terrible conditions.
Meanwhile huge conglomerates of corporations own the land, the palms, the oil and the means to extract it, leaving communities poor, dependent and miserable. Using a variety of different pesticides and herbicides, they poison the soil and ground waters for generations to come. Local governments only make it easier with tax breaks, subsidies, cheap resources, and land ready to be burned, ravaged, and replanted with crops that are not even native to the region.
As individual consumers, we have little power. But together as individuals of society, we can change the way we do things. Responsibility is key in stopping this crisis. Active involvement by consumers can help curtail the destruction of rainforests and wildlife. We can demand processed foods without palm oil. We can reduce its use in cosmetics. Consumers should be careful about what they buy and the contents. When palm oil must be used, we can choose suppliers that really care about true sustainability and fairness. Humanity is the biggest control organ of this industry because governments fail to govern properly. Whether we can avert a bigger ecological disaster will be a measure of civilizations’ stewardship of this planet.
Our customers often ask us about the effectiveness of salves against eczema or other chronic skin conditions, the symptoms of which require constant and continuous care. To put it simply, we would not call them "healing," if they did not do the job. To understand how and why they combat eczema so effectively, we must first look at the problem.
A barrier that sometimes breaks...
The skin- our largest organ - shields the inside of our body from the dangers of the outside environment such as solar radiation, infection and disease. It acts as a barrier that stops bacteria from reaching our bloodstream and yet, the skin cells allow moisture and some nutrients to enter. This important barrier, however, can easily become vulnerable to the constant attacks from bacteria.
Agents of infection called Staphylococcus aureus, for example, live on the skin of all people suffering from eczema and even on those who never had a breakout. Higher concentration of this microscopic plague leads to more severe consequences for our skin. Together these bacteria produce doses of protein called "superantigen" that, in turn, activate our immune system on a local level. The skin inflames and the barrier begins to crack. Its tightly packed cells sealed with layers of protective lipids are not so tight anymore. That causes moisture to escape the skin and leads to its cracked and scabby appearance. Those openings in our protective system only strengthen the bacteria and worsen the condition of affected areas. That is why eczema itches though scratching would not relieve the symptoms.
So what would?
Fight back using oil-based concoctions with antibacterial properties!
Because the levels of lipids on inflamed skin are much lower than those on healthy skin, the epidermis is less resistant to attack by bacteria. It loses moisture and dries until it cracks. Logically, supplying the skin with emollient and moisturizing substances from oil based salves, creams, and ointments helps in relieving the symptoms of eczema. The effect cannot be permanent, but with intensive use several times a day and sometimes over night, the symptoms disappear. Affected area reduces, softens and ceases to itch with time. Intensive emollient treatment reduces the need for additional therapy, such as steroid creams.
Most plant-based oils possess emollient and moisturizing properties, but the extent and potency of their effects on the skin vary between the different oils and among various individuals. Emollient are those compounds that soften tissue making it more elastic and pliable. Moisturizes, on the other hand, not only hydrate the skin directly, but they also help retain the moisture it produces naturally. Finally, humectant are substances that attract air moisture and keep it on the skin.
Our healing salves contain potent and pure base oils with all of the properties to fight eczema. Essential oils increase the therapeutic effects of the blend with strong soothing and antibacterial action. Salves belong to the ointment category of skin care products and are suitable for regular use on the body.
Ingredients in similar products vary, but as long as they consist of natural base oils and butters in additional to pure essential oils, these products will be successful in treating eczema. You should seek salve that works for your skin type and has a pleasant scent and texture. Use it regularly directly on and around affected areas. Also, avoid commercial soap and other strong detergents as they strip our skin of its natural lipids and worsen the symptoms of eczema. Instead, purchase natural soap rich in glycerin (humectant) and with added oils that make it milder.
We all know about the tremendous potential of essential oils to benefit us both physically and psychologically. They can improve our health, as well as our spiritual and emotional well-being. Ever since antiquity, man has used essential oils therapeutically and recreationally, as we know various ways to introduce them into our system, such as bath soaking, inhalation, or evaporation. Massage, however, has proven the most effective and pleasant method of application allowing us to absorb these magical substances through our biggest organ - the skin.
Massage itself is a great medicinal tool that has been part of many cultures and their traditional healing practices for thousands of years. In ancient India people believed that we become ill when we are in misbalance with our environment. They used touch therapy to help create balance. Ancient Chinese massage methods were established based on the idea that illness occurs when there is a deficiency or imbalance in the energy flow within our body. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, for example wrote: “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing.”
Massage offers great relief for many body ailments like pain, fatigue, and muscle tension. When used in combination with essential oils, however, it becomes much more effective as the oils and their application method mutually enhance each other for the greater benefit of the recipient. The potent combination of a healing touch with the therapeutic power of essential oils is unsurpassable for several reasons.
Although massage is performed superficially on the surface of the body, it affects the muscles directly underneath as well as on the underlying tissues, organs, and body systems. Physically, the different massage strokes increase circulation blood and lymph throughout the whole body leading not only to pain relief and relaxation, but also to effective distribution of the essential oils that our skin absorbs. The skin itself gets warmed up, increases its elasticity and opens up its cellular walls inviting all of the beneficial fatty acids, nutrients, and other substances into our bloodstream and from their within our whole organism. That is why, even if we help a particular body area, say a tense neck, by massaging it- the main effects of relaxation are felt in the entire body physically and emotionally. The mind and spirit are calmed together with the tight muscles. The accompanying feelings of well-being and connectedness represent the spiritual and energetic benefits of aroma-therapeutic massage.
Knowing the general effect of massage on the body, one can easily compliment its benefits with the proper blend of essential oils depending on the problems that need treatment. For example lavender oil has proven very effective antiseptic and antiviral aid for the body while it also relaxes the mind and calms the spirit. Therefore, it could successfully be used to treat muscle pain from an illness or prolonged exercise as well as a stress or anxiety disorder. Similarly, mint and rosemary improve our mood and memory, ease breathing and enhance concentration making them perfect if one has to study or focus on work. For deep depression, a full body massage with a blend of happy oils like orange, rose or geranium can do wonders.
The examples of aromatherapy massage blends are numerous, but one must remember that essential oils alone are very concentrated and powerful substances that must be diluted in base oils before coming into contact with the skin. There are different rates of dilution for the different oils and wide variety of carrier oils to choose from. Jojoba oil, for example, has similar structure to the sebum our skin naturally produces. That makes it perfectly emollient as it penetrates and nourishes the skin quickly and deeply leaving a silky feeling. Coconut and almond oils, on the other hand, are rich in vitamins and have complex fatty acids structures. This makes them ideal for general conditioning, dissolving essential oils and improving our skin’s elasticity. Almost any neutral oil can be used as a base, popular ones being olive, almond, grape-seed oil, but when making a choice, it is important that we consider unrefined, virgin oils before anything else.
September 16 2014
It has been an exciting year for Neven, as we embarked on transforming our hobby into a business. We want to thank all of our friends and family for their incredible support in the still ongoing process. The transition cannot be easy as there are many things to consider, decisions to be made and most of all, work to be done. However, what keeps us motivated is knowing that people believe in Neven and enjoy using our products. We value your willingness to try home-made cosmetics and appreciate your feedback that helps us grow and improve. We began by crafting natural body care products for our own benefits and in rebellion to the mass produced, full of harmful substances stuff you find in stores. Now, it feels even more rewarding to know that we can share the benefits of what we make with others. Currently, the only physical location we sell at is Blå Sunday Market in Oslo. People can find our products on Etsy, Facebook and, of course, our own online store at www.neven-body-care.com. In the near future we plan to appear in health and vintange stores around town as well as in any place with similar products and a desire for long term partnership. We Will continue to procure the best possible ingridients from different places around the would depending on the particular production in a given country.