Calendula soap for extra sensitive skin

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A year and a bit ago I had no clue what a cold pressed soap was all about or melt and pour or  hot pressed  (actually I had a tiny bit of information but very very tiny and this is a story for a future blog). I have learned in the meantime that making soap, artisan soap ... is an ART. Yep an ART with capital letters. When one starts to investigate  (loving Agatha Christie's books helped me big time) one opens Pandora's box. All sorts of things come out  .... the chemicals that the mainstream manufacturing companies add to the soaps, creams, shampoos on top of a sudden realisation of the tons of wasted plastic bottles,  small, medium, big used which end up in piles and piles all over the world from the bottom of the sea to the highest picks of the mountains. Am I suddenly preaching? Nope ... I was and still am guilty of using plastic bottles all over the house BUT, BUT, BUT ... I am slowly changing my habits ... it's been a year since I bought the last liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner ... yep I am pretty proud of myself ... everything starts with a single step. 

OK enough with the preaching and let's go back to the CALENDULA soap ... a soap recommended even to the people with very sensitive skin and even for children. 

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You might like to know that the healing properties of calendula petals are perfect for soothing an itchy skin as well. Most of the olive oil I use in the recipes is infused with calendula petals or with rose petals. The beauty of calendula petals is that they can be used as you see in the image, even in the mix, creating lovely random designs. The olive oil infused with calendula that has been used in the recipe makes a more moisturising bar, something you skin will thank you for. 

What are the ingredients in this soap? Here they are ... calendula infused olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, distilled water, lye... and yep that's pretty much it. 

Usually the soap needs 4 weeks curing time and it lasts for at least 18 months! 

A little tip 

In order to extend the life of your soap you can cut it in 2 or 3 and use them in different bathrooms. They will soon be available to buy from my new ETSY shop called Beehivecosmeticsshop. 

Calendula soap sensitive skin


What actually is a salt bar?

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I will admit that before buying the "Willow and sage" magazine I have never heard of a salt bar and I have never used one. So yes, curiosity made me try the first recipe and after 6 weeks of waiting for the first batch to cure, I really, really loved the result ... and I still do. It is a very versatile cosmetic product to make, there are lots of recipe variations and I know it will be a product I will always have as part of the Beehive Cosmetics range. 

But let's talk a bit about what is this soap, what does it do and what are the benefits. 

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Let's talk about the Himalayan sea salt bar. Given the name there is no secret that salt is one of the key ingredients in this product. And yes, one can use sea salt instead of Himalayan salt. Himalayan salt crystals contain minerals, small enough for our body and skin to absorb, providing amazing therapeutic benefits to skin, body and mind. The process I am using to make this natural product is called ....  cold pressed. But back to the minerals now .... 

Believe it or not but some of the minerals included are 

Chromium - known to fight cane and reduces skin infections 

Zinc - aids the healing and helps prevent scarring 

Sulphur - keeps the skin smooth and clear, helps diminish dry patches 

Magnesium - great for skin beaus it helps get rid of dry skin. This will also help improve the texture of skin and skin hydration. 

And last but not least Himalayan salt is known as a great exfoliator. 

So, in a nutshell, the Himalayan salt bars

                        - last a long time

                        -  is a great exfoliator

                        - it  moisturises of the skin

                        - it is creamy

                         - it  leaves your skin incredibly smooth

 

A classic salt bar recipe consists of: salt, coconut oil, mango butter. Of course there are lots and lots of variations and I will have quite types  for sale in the next few days from my brand new Etsy shop called Beehivecosmeticsshop. If you live in Eastbourne or in the neighbourhood areas ... you can buy my products from "The Beauty Vault" situated in the Enterprise centre. 

The truth is that a good skincare product does not have to be complicated. My products are eco friendly, cruelty free, natural..... whatever you read on the label is exactly what it is inside! 


Why Beehive Cosmetics?

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So, what is Beehive Cosmetics? What is in a name? Pretty much I can tell you. For me ... it's a connection ... a connection with my ancestors, a connection with my both sides of the family, my Romanian one and my Russian one. My maiden name is Stupu which one could translate .. the one who had beehive. I don't remember my Romanian grandfather but I know for sure that beehives were not part of their lives ... but surely it was part of that side of the family, surely some great grandfathers were beekeepers. I can go even deeper ... deeper down the rabbit hole and say that ... as a Romanian, I come from the Daci and Romans and the land where Romania is nowadays, was called DACIA. It is very well known that the Daci were passionate beekeepers ... the bees were very much revered by them so ... yes my Romanian side has a strong connection to ..the bees.

On the other side, the Russian side I know for sure (from stories) that my grandfather was a keen beekeeper and my mother used to remember time and time again how the honey was stored in huge wooden barrels and during the harsh Russian winters grandfather used to go and cut the solidified honey with a knife and bring it in the house.  

So ... of course when I was searching for a brand name for my cosmetics ... the name Beehive came to my mind .. it actually came during one of my very first days of TM (transcendental meditation) and it is here ... to stay.

OK now that we have an answer as to .. why Beehive Cosmetics ... why am I involved in this activity? Where does this passion to make my own cosmetics come from? 

 

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Simply because about a year and a half ago I came across a magazine called "Willow and Sage" .... I love magazines and I am always with my eyes wide open for whatever is new on the market ... the name attracted me, the design, the idea of recipes for natural cosmetics appealed to me as well. I am a keen cook and a keen experimenter so ... the idea of experimenting with nourishing oils suddenly appealed to me. At the time I was looking for an activity where I was able to simply relax and forget about business, forget about the reality around me ... simply be involved in an activity that is so demanding of ones attention that one is not able to think about anything else ... it is absolutely a way of ... living in the moment. And this is how my journey into cosmetics, natural cosmetics started .. with one recipe ... followed by another ... and another ... and I have started to give it to my friends to try, the positive feedbacks started to come back to me ... and ... here we are some months later ... I am launching my very first products under this umbrella ... the umbrella of BEEHIVE COSMETICS. To be continued .....

 


Introduction to the cold pressed process of making soaps

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I've been making cold pressed soaps for the last 6 months ... it all started out of the blue, after I bought a very interesting and colourful magazine called "Sage and willow". It took me a while to get enough courage to try this technique but once I did my first batch ... I was hooked ...and I still am. It is exciting to create new combinations, to try new recipes and to wait full of trepidation to see the result of your efforts. For this first short blog about the cosmetics I am busily creating in the Beehive Arts Studio I would like to tell you a bit about what is this process all about. So, here we go .... 

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COLD PROCESS SOAP

First of all you need to know that the soaps I am offering are handcrafted in the true traditional cold press method where I  use no heat during production. This means that all the precious, beneficial qualities of the oils are kept intact. During this cold method of soap making, vegetable glycerine [a humectant] is produced naturally during saponification, to enable us to offer the moisturising qualities of naturally produced glycerine soap.

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So, NO CHEMICALS, NO PRESERVATIVES, NO PALM OIL

I  do not use petro-chemical substances, preservatives or detergents. 

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Some of the basic ingredients are: 

Coconut oil Naturally antibacterial, moisturising, cleansing, nourishes the skin, adds creamy lather to soaps

Olive oil 

Skin friendly, generally well tolerated by the majority of people

Sweet almond oil 

High in vitamin E, helps to nourish and moisturise dry skin 

Cocoa butter 

Adds hardness and creamy lather to soaps, nourishes the skin

Castor oil 

Added to help boost bubbles.

More about this interesting process, the soaps, the properties in future blogs. 


Coconut and cardamon sweet potato soup and distant memories


Cardamon and coconut soup For whatever reason I am going to write about another soup, something new, something I've never cooked before. I truly love to experiment with new ingredients, new recipes ... I am never worried I might not like it or my husband might not like it ... the truth is that ... if you don't try  something new... you will be stuck in an illusionary  circle of "safety" and in time boredom and even intolerance (but about this at another time) 

So, cardamon .... the first time I came across it was in 1995 when I started to work for a few traders from Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan ..... as it is their custom, doing business is always better with a cup of coffee or tea in front of you and even better over a meal .. something they are very good at organising and cooking. So my first taste of cardamon came while sipping one of their Turkish style coffees with .. a few pods of cardamon or a pinch of ground cardamon. I loved the taste from the very beginning and to this day I use cardamon daily in my coffee..... I love the smell, the taste and also it reminds me of past experiences I really treasure. 

As we've recently acquired a freezer I am eager to try new recipes of soups and not only ... something to cook and store easily for the days when I am too tired  and I want to simply pick something up from the freezer and just heat up. 

The recipe below I have not only tried but loved and it will be clearly part of my cooking "repertoire" and also it will be in a creative book I am currently preparing. 

What do you need as ingredients? Here you are ... 

2 tbsp melted coconut oil or sunflower oil 

1 red /white onion chopped finely 

a small piece of fresh ginger grated

2 garlic cloves grated

2 medium size sweet potatoes peeled and diced 

1 tsp ground cardamon 

400 ml coconut milk

salt, pepper 

750 ml vegetable stock 

juice of 1/2 lemon or lime ( I love lemon in my soups so I use the juice of 1 lemon)

fresh coriander chopped 

roasted coconut flakes (optional) 

What's next? Simple ... just add all of the above in a pot, on the stove .. boil everything until the potatoes are soft ... blend them and ... voila ... start eating ... of course you can add the coriander at the end and the coconut flakes or you can blend them as well. 

Enjoy! 

One last thing about the cardamon ... apparently cardamon has a great stress relieving effect on the body, regulates blood pressure, stimulate the metabolism and improves digestion. 

Actually another last thing from me ....when I cook I always have music in the background or even a talk or a movie on the go ... when I write ...it s the same thing ... today ... I've been listening to a superb qawwali concert -  the Nooran Sisters are superb performers and singers so ... a feast for the ears and eyes ... listen to them. 

 


Zakuska, ajar a tasty Eastern European spread

 

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Although it is only mid August .... the preparations for autumn supplies has already started. I will always remember the smell of the roasted aubergines, roasted red peppers and long red peppers we call "capia" peppers in Romania. Zakuska was made by the majority of women, each using their own recipe, sometimes recipes well guarded as it was part of the family tradition and traditions ... are priceless. 

I've been making Zakuska on and off for a few years, using various recipes, Romanian, Russian, sometimes I added my own touch ..... I love Zakuska and probably always will .. it is not only tasty but it represents a tiny glimpse into a different way of life, slower, simpler .... 

Just in case you also want to make it, here is how: 

 

Ingredients

1kg long red peppers (roasted, peeled, deseeded) 

1kg aubergines (when you grill them ..they need to be pretty well burned ... and you need to keep turning them around) 

1 kg onions (chopped really really in tiny pieces)

1 l tomato juice/passata 

5 garlic cloves 

150ml sunflower oil

2 tbsp vinegar

salt, pepper even chillies if you want 

 

Just a few photos about how the chargrilled aubergines should look like before you take the flesh from inside. 

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First of all, you need to roast the aubergines, leave them to cool down, peel them and again leave the scooped flesh in a sieve for a couple of hours. Roast the long red peppers as well ( I do mine in the grill the same as the aubergines but one can do them on the barbecue ..... the taste is way, way better because it will have a stronger smoky taste) 

Next you need to peel the onions, cut them and put them in the chopper .. until you obtain small pieces. 

Add all of the ingredients in a big pot, stir nicely and make sure that you keep stirring the Zakuska from time to time for the next 90 minutes. In the meantime prepare your jars, fill them in  nicely and don't forget to taste from time to time :) I always do ... I love eating it when it is hot although the traditional way of  eating Zakuska is cold, on pieces of bread or if you are looking after your figure .....on lettuce leaves.  You can also add a few tablespoons on top of your pasta. 

What I do to prolong the shelf life :) is to heat the oven for 10 minutes to 160 degrees. When it reaches this temperature, switch off the oven and put in there the jars filled in with Zakuska without adding the lids .... 30 minutes later, add a few drops of oil in each jar, put the lids on and store them in a cool place.

You can start eating the next day or ... straight away .... bon apetite! 

 

 

 

 

 


Beetroot soup, painting, passion and flamenco

Red ... a colour I love  ... one colour, many shades ... each telling another story ... the beetroot red for me is the colour of flamenco .... deep, passionate, mysterious...... the colour of deep roots coming from beyond the times .... coming with the wisdom of the feminine lineage!

I love listening to flamenco music when I am painting ... I love listening to flamenco music when I am cooking as well .... it is a constant reminder that without passion ... nothing makes sense ... 

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This is exactly what I've been doing earlier today while in the kitchen ... I was listening to ...Miguel Povaeda and cooking  a new soup 

 

Beetroot and red pepper soup 

2 beetroots peeled and sliced

2 red peppers

1 tsp butter or sunflower oil 

1 onion peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove crushed

1 vegetable stock cube

1 later of water 

black pepper and a pinch of paprika

What's next? 

Just cut all of the vegetables, fry them lightly, add a litter of water and ... boil for 25 minutes until soft. That's about it .... liquidise it and .... done .... add a teaspoon of sour cream  and a pinch of zaatar and enjoy! 

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About yellow, paintings, fear and strength

There is a saying in Romanian that says "the colour of fear is yellow" ... and when one is afraid one's colour turns into yellow as well. 

One of my first free style paintings on a biggish scale is the one bellow  .....like always when one paints in an intuitive way, there is nothing planned, one allows images, colours to appear on the canvas, you follow the shapes that want to arrive ... your own will power and desire takes a second place .... there is yellow ... lots of yellow  ..... I know how I felt then .... I know that fear wanted to be expressed in one way or another .... sometimes painting helps you scream, helps you talk without using words ....... yellow .... fear ... loneliness ....  IMG_1657

But no, yellow is not only the colour of fear and loneliness .... it is the colour of the sun and warmth ... and the colour associated with the navel chakra, which is the centre of power, emotion, connection with one another, self love. 

Yellow is also a happy colour for me .... just like the happy pussycat, part of a "Funky pussycats series"

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And for whatever reason ... I have no idea why ... maybe because of the association with emotion and power, 2 in 1 , I associate yellow to tai chi  .... something I've been practicing for the last 2 years,  that helped me deal with incredible moments of fear and  despair and it brought me to a place of balance and optimism. 

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So colour .. the same colour has many meanings for me .... positive, negative, neutral .... 

And last but not least ... let's talk about yellow and ... soup .... yellow soup ... nurturing, healing, a joy for the eyes .... an absolute British classic with a twist 

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Leak and potato soup with a touch of turmeric 

3 medium size leaks 

3 medium size potatoes 

1 tsp of butter of sunflower oil 

pinch of salt, pepper and 1 Knorr cube 

1/2 tsp of turmeric 

1 litter of water 

What do you need to do? Just add all of the ingredients in a pot, fry them for a few minutes , add the water, simmer for 25 minutes and then using a blender for 5 minutes ... you are done ... a yellow soup, a symbol of whatever you want, of whatever makes you feel good.... I believe that the symbology of yin and yang is pretty relevant ... 

 

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About green, the heart and a soup

I am an artist! Colours mean a lot to me ... they heal, nurture, talk to me .... they call me and not the other way round. Green is not at all a colour I use in abundance in my paintings .. on the contrary .. and it is the same with my clothes ... up until 2 days you couldn't have found anything green in my wardrobe. But things have changed ...... 2 days ago I've felt an intense need for green in various shades ... so I have now a baggy green summer dress, Turkish trousers, a funky bag .... and yesterday I felt the need to cook ... a green soup ... all of this out of nowhere ... but was it really out of nowhere? Nope! I've realised that ... a year ago to the day.... .. my mother was leaving this Earthly dimension ... it was a blessing ... a big blessing for her... 

So ..... GREEN ..... I did a bit of research and green actually corresponds to the HEART chakra .... it's all about UNCONDITIONAL LOVE ... it is also the colour associated to my astrological sign .... 

Coincidence? Oh no ... I don't think so ... it's a sign ... a sign from the other side ... at least this is how I want to interpret it. Believe what you want to believe .... this is what you would hear me telling you time and time again if I were to know you in person. 

So ... I cooked a GREEN SOUP ... listened to Russian music (yes..... my mother was Russian)) ... and celebrated her departure ... celebrated my belief in reincarnation and my heartfelt wish for her to have a better and more exciting new life. 

And now .. here is the recipe just I case you might want to cook my green soup as well ... and a link to beautiful Gypsy Russian music. 

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Green Spinach and broccoli soup 

200 grams spinach leaves

1 small broccoli head (do chop it guys)

2 tsp butter or sunflower oil

2 leaks chopped

1 big onion chopped

2 garlic cloves

3 small carrots

a handful of parsley and lovage if you have 

1 chicken stock cube

1 litter of water 

juice of 1 small lemon 

salt, pepper, a pinch of paprika and a pinch of turmeric powder 

Add sour cream in your plate and freshly cut chives from the garden. 

Soups are the easiest thing in the world to make ... just melt the butter in a pan, ad the chopped vegetables, cook over low heat, add the water, stock cube, bring to boil and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Puree everything , add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and simply enjoy with a slice of cheese on toast .... and then,  put your feet up and watch a mesmerising gypsy music and dancing concert! 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Satish Kumar and a lovely poem

A few days ago I browsed through one of  my "Resurgence" magazines,  came across a lovely poem by Satish Kumar, loved it  and felt the need to share it. Enjoy! 

 

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"Whole body Prayer"

 May our legs be strong and steady

May our feet tread softly on the earth

May our stomach be small and soft

May our belly be full of fire

May our heart be large and loving

May our soul be simple and serene

May our mind be calm and clear

May our spirit be free of fear

May our mouth mind sweet words and kind kisses

May our eyes see beauty below, beauty above and beauty all around

May our ears hear words of praise and music of the cosmos

May our hands be generous in giving and grateful in receiving

May our arms find joy in embracing

May our body be a temple of love!