Why perseverance is important for all of us

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How many books on the subject of creativity do you have on your bookshelves? One, two, perhaps ten ... even more? who knows .... sometimes we buy beautifully colourful ones, with lovely designs, believing that they will be enough to get us going.... but how often do we notice that our enthusiasm for our lovely new book rarely stays with us for more than a few days .. so we start again, this time doing some of the exercises ... then we stop ... we put it on the side for later ... still dreaming about the time when we will use our creativity to create that amazing, amazing, magnificent ... "something" .. maybe a book, maybe a painting, perhaps taking that adventurous trip to a learning destination that we had been thinking about ....but somehow we kept postponing until later .... or a woolly warm pullover we decided one day with great enthusiasm to knit ... or that gourmet meal to cook using a recipe from one of the many superbly published books we have ....which too easily become photo albums of what might have been... 

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Everything but absolutely everything depends on our PERSEVERANCE, yes our perseverance .. Without it .. nothing happens ... we can of course tell ourselves that we do not have enough time, that we need to put aside an hour or two to start our creative project, but we are too listless and so prefer to chill-out on the sofa with something nice to hand to watch yet another something.... just for a few moments of course ........ to simply disconnect from OURSELVES. 

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I am just like you ... I get distracted by lots of things.......  but after years I have come to understand that practice, and practice, and practice makes it possible for me to open the gates to my imagination.....(because, like a rusty door, it always opens easier if it's oiled) and it's always amazes me that when refreshed and exercised, my imagination consumes me, it takes control of my hands and mind, that I can be making or sipping a coffee while my imagination is somewhere completely different enjoying itself.

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It is almost the end of February and, despite the distractions and the weather, I have continued to explore the endless possibilities for my own creative journey, helped along the way by the exercises suggested in my own book Be a creative explorer ....yes, I use my own workbook to help me to exercise my own imagination. February was a very, very dark, cold, windy, rainy month here on the southern coastline of England and I really loved hiding away from what was going on outside and completing a few more pages of my workbook (you can see the photos up and down this piece) which invites you to ... write a letter to yourself, to create a collage about the happy moments in your life, to draw perfectly imperfectly (like life itself), to colour in as it takes you then and there....and so on and so on. 

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Be a creative explorer invites you to get rid of the desire for perfectionism (because life is for living), to START NOW, to experiment, to make mistakes and to work out how to take advantage of them.... and in so doing to transform your emotions....to amazingly grow that sense that Yes I Can. Start now, start wherever you are, your imagination is waiting for you. 

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How do you open your creativity gates

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Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I was getting close to graduating from my mechanical engineering university in Bucharest and, whether by good luck or good forethought, I found that I did not have to look for a job in the engineering field because I was at the time, by pure chance and to earn some money, working part time as a PA for an English tv company attempting to negotiate a joint venture with our state broadcaster to operate a new commercial television channel. 

I found myself translating at high level and learning how to use a computer .. an Apple computer by the way. It was 1993 and I had never had access to or used a computer until then and, yes, once again .. with very little help I had to figure out how to use it .. on my own ... with tears, sleepless nights, and again tears . 

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I don't really know if that was the moment that was going to put a huge imprint on everything I was going to do further on in my career and life ... having to feel the fear and to start to figure things out for myself ... taking the road less travelled on so so many occasions. 

Years later,  here I am in a field I'd never dreamed of being in ... the creative field. Over the years, many people have asked me .. where do the ideas come from, how do I access the creative side of my mind, something so needed especially nowadays when stress, media over-consumption, electronic gadgets leave us drained, depleted. 

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That is why, as a response, some months ago I decided to self publish a workbook, something that people can take with them on the train, on the bus, on holiday, during commuting trips, when they go for a coffee .... when they sit at the kitchen table with 5 minutes for themselves or in the garden while relaxing on a Sunday afternoon .... 

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Just like it happened years ago ... I had no experience of putting together this type of workbook (yes I have self-published two creativity books, mainly about colouring, but this was a while ago) but I knew that perseverance, determination and purpose will help me find the way. And it did. 

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My  BE A CREATIVE EXPLORER workbook is about the fun of stimulating the imagination. It consists of 12 chapters, one for each month - below you can see what my first month's work looks like now that I have finished it. I am sure yours will look different but it's just to give you an idea. 

What each chapter does is to invite you to draw, to read (you have book recommendations, inspiring quotes) to colour in, to create collages, write your thoughts ... most pages have prompts to help you on your way ... You are invited to use watercolour crayons, acrylic paints, juicy pens (the really lovely ones to work with!) of all kinds, collage bits from your favourite magazines ..... 

Because creativity starts with a step ... followed by another one ... and another one .....it's  about what comes into your mind and the absolute joy for the mind of "what if...." I never look for perfection because it doesn't exist. Real life is all those things you just did and do, whatever the outcome, because in the end it's your work, no-one else's and memories are made of such things.

Be a creative explorer is available from Amazon, wherever you are. 

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The militant muse stories about art, friendship, camaraderie

 

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The Militant Muse - Love, War and the Women of Surrealism by Whitney Chadwick

“Being an artist” over the past centuries conveys an image of a field dominated by men. “Why was that”?  One could assume  that either women were not attracted by this field and instead preferred to embrace only the role of muses OR they were not good enough for the history of art to remember them. The truth of course is very far from either of these statements.  

 

“The Militant Muse” takes us to “moments in history”, the 1930’s, ’40’s, 50’s, providing a glimpse of the often-complicated relationships between muses and artists, showing how muses have sometimes “shapeshifted” into ground breaking artists themselves. It talks about feminine relationships, about inspiring and being inspired by each other, about strong human emotions, about the art of writing letters, emotional survival in traumatic times, about art as a way to “document” one’s reality and emotions - and last but not least, the importance of friendship and camaraderie. 

 

I was familiar of course with Frida Kahlo, Lee Miller, Valentine Penrose and was delighted to start researching the other characters of this book:  Jacqueline Lamba Breton, Leonor Fini, Leonora Carrington. 

 

What I can promise you is that by the end of the book you will have fallen in love with at least one new artist. For me it was Leonor Fini … her work made a huge impression on me. I found myself reflecting on her paintings for hours and hours. Be prepared to be amazed. 


How to make turmeric gold and break habits

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I could tell you that I am on a healthy lifestyle path and I came across the turmeric gold which is the best thing ever. This will be a lie. I came across the turmeric gold (the recipe you will find below) thanks to an on line course I've been enrolled in for the past 6 months, a course with Carrie Anne Moss, a course called Fierce Grace Collective. You can find out more about it at Annapurna Living website. 

It is true that I have tried to prepare for Peter a turmeric tea (using tea bags) in the spring and he absolutely hated it. Seeing his reaction I had no desire to try it myself so I continued to drink my beloved PG tips a few times a day, even late in the evening. I know for sure that this is clearly a habit ... a habit I would like to break. 

So when this month Carrie Anne showed us how to make turmeric gold ... I have decided to give it a try ... it looked really interesting, the colour is gorgeous  ... strong yellow but also some shades of amber  .....the whole process of making it ... magical .... 

After one failed attempt (yes I was way too impatient and skipped a few steps) two days ago I did my first batch of turmeric paste and ... my first cup of turmeric gold drink ... and I really love it! And who knows .... you might also like it! 

Here we go ... what you need .... 

Ingredients 

Turmeric paste

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup turmeric powder 
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil

Put the hot water on the stove, add the turmeric and start stirring it patiently for about 7 to 9 minutes until you will see a thick paste formed, the consistency of a thick sour cream.Turn off the heat and stir 1/4 cup of coconut oil. Stir until everything is incorporated in the mix.  Put it in a airtight container, maybe a glass jar and store it in the fridge. 

Golden Milk 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup of milk (any type ... cow milk, almond milk, oats milk, rice milk) 
  • 1 tsp turmeric paste
  • pinch of cinnamon and 1 stick of cinnamon as well 
  • pinch of pepper 
  • 1 star anise 
  • 1 tsp of honey or less (it's up to you and your taste) 

Put all of these ingredients in a pot, bring it to boil and ... done ... pour it in a mug, grab a book and ... enjoy! 


About the colour blue and earrings and the throat chakra

 

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Jewellery ... I love wearing it, who doesn't. Colour .. naturally I love understanding it and using it in my paintings. So I now include a hand made (by me) range of delicate earrings inspired by the yogi Chakras.

7 years ago or maybe 8 I was leaving a job in London and starting to create this blog Beehiveartsstudio... the blog suffered a few changes in terms of names ... I have settled on the beehive arts studio. At that time I was painting, doing monotypes, exploring many visual creative avenues  .... but my intense curiosity took me into more areas ... creative cooking, exploring the world of making natural cosmetics, making jewellery inspired by my own art, designing bags .... The name of the blog is so fitted to the way I am, to who I am ... and again .. the name is connected to my ..... maiden name .... which in Romanian means ... "the one who has beehives"  ....would you say that ... everything is "hidden" in the name? More about this in a later blog ..... 

Back to my first  pair of earring, the ones you see in the image and here  ....the teal blue ones, inspired by the throat chakra ... because I believe we all need to have our voices heard. Wear this pair of earrings when you need to express what you know and feel. Wear it in your next yoga class when you want to concentrate more on the way you communicate with yourself and the world around you.

I would also wear them in the office, when you feel that you need an extra support to ... make your voice heard, to talk about your ideas in front of your boss, to be able to communicate clearly and efficiently with the ones around you. 

Blue is also the colour that our human nervous system responds to when it needs to settle down, to become quiet, when we want to enter into a more peaceful mode, more dreamlike, when one is ready to start ones own meditative practice. This is why we do feel so good close to the sea, this is why many times, when life seems overwhelming I love a long walk by the sea because this brings me back to a more balanced self. 

Remember that ... colour heals, colour empowers us!


About Tove Jansson and the book Work and love

 

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How do you come across new books? Somebody recommends them to you or do you simply allow your intuition to take you to that special shelf and your hand stops at that particular book that actually has been waiting for you? I am definitely in the second category and this is how I came across Tove Jansson in the first place. I had no idea who she was, I have never heard of the Mumins but I was attracted by the cover of the book, the fact that it was the biography of a female artist, and that the book was peppered with lots and lots of images of her paintings, illustrations, on top of biographical images. I was in the gift shop area of  De la Warr  Pavilion in Bexhill and bought the book there and then. 

 

The book proved to be a success …. I have not only learned about the fascinating life of a woman artist born in 1914, I’ve learned about life in Finland, about the ups and downs of being a working artist, about living a life aligned to what mattered to her most … love and work, about her  timeless children’s classic characters, about the many facets of her as a mortal soul. Her views on life and non conformism reminded me of the Bloomsbury group you will also notice the similarities.  Reading “Work and love” by Tuula Karjalainen  will  be  a rich and wonderful experience as it will make you cry, laugh, be amazed and of course fall in love again with memorable characters like the Mumins as well as I am sure it will  be an opportunity to enter another person’s reality through her paintings and in such way, it help you connect to a free spirit of a different era. 


How to make a traditional Russian beetroot soup and a healthy energy bar

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We live in a world where cookery books seem like travel books - glamorous images of fresh vegetables and captivating words about the magical ingredients in the sauces are everywhere. As someone who has self-published books on creative subjects I know all too well the amount of effort that goes behind the production of a single book. And when that book has lots of beautiful, colourful photos the publishing process takes even longer and the time and effort involved producing it is truly incredible especially if you are doing it yourself. Small armies of people work behind  the scenes in publishing companies in order to launch these books. But I am not going to talk to you about the production of books. Not now! What I want to say is that .. today's cookery books are beautifully created and they deserve the eminence of coffee table books. 

Sadly, the large numbers of incredibly eye pleasing cookery books does not mean that people cook more on a daily basis. People seem happy to buy colourful cookery books, seem happy to watch fancy cookery programs, while munching on crisps and pop corn.............  We live in a more and more voyeuristic world!    It feels increasingly like we are going to the cinema to watch people ... cook!

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Years ago, while growing up in Romania, I remember we had two cookery books in our small flat...two books filled with black and white.....text ... no images ... none whatsoever. In spite of that or maybe because of that ... who knows ... there was always activity in our kitchen, my mother chopping vegetables, chopping meat, boiling, frying, cooking all sorts of lovely dishes without using loads of ingredients, with few spices. Yet, every day, day in, day out, after she returned from work, she always seemed able to produce tasty and healthy meals, every day ... I will always remember the yummy  smells reaching me in my bedroom across the hall. 

Believe it or not, cooking or preparing most of what you eat is not just about cooking it is also about relaxing and slowing down ...it is about sharing stories of the day around the kitchen table, about listening and about communicating in a warm and healing space, about being mindful ... there  we are ... the word so many people worship nowadays.  

The other day, on a very, very hot summer day I just felt the need to cook a traditional Russian beetroot soup. It is the type of a dish I remember enjoying when I visited my Russian family in Saint Petersburg and Orel. It is easy to make, delicious and healthy. 

Here is what you need to do:

Prepare the ingredients:

2 medium size beetroots peeled and grated

1 carrot peeled and grated 

1 onion peeled and chopped 

1 tomato diced 

4 small potatoes peeled and chopped 

2 litres of boiling water 

1 Knorr cube

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 grated cabbage

1 squeeze of lemon juice or more depending on your taste 

2 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves crushed 

1 table spoon olive or sunflower oil 

 

Now for the preparation: 

There's not much to do really. Just heat the olive or sunflower oil in a cooking pot, add the onion, sautee the onion for a few minutes, add the carrots, beetroots, potatoes. Sautee the lot for a further 10 minutes, add the bay leaves and the garlic.....then add the boiling water and then the cabbage and the tomatoes. Next ... nothing ... simply let it simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour and it's done. Enjoy it with a dollop or two of sour cream. Sour cream is a very popular addition to many dishes in Russia and I love it. 

I was never very good at cooking deserts, the type that my mother used to prepare, so any time I come across something sweet that I feel I can prepare, something that does not require the oven ... I am ready to have a go at it. 

The other day I came across something called Three Ingredients Energy Bar .....and of course I had to have a go. The result is not only pleasing .. it is really delicious and goes very, very well with a cup of Turkish coffee or tea. 

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So, here is the recipe;

 

THREE INGREDIENTS ENERGY BAR:

1 cup of almonds

1 cup of dates

1 cup of dried cherries 

....that's all

Put all of the ingredients together in a mixer, pulse until they are all mixed and chopped finely. Next, place the mixture on a plastic sheet or a non stick sheet of cooking paper, spread it evenly (use a roller), cover with another sheet of non stick paper and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Take it out, cut it in squares and store the pieces in an air tight container, in the fridge. They will last for a few good weeks (less the one's consumed ....so two days!!). You can of course make them in the shape of small balls if you want. 

They look very nice if you add some cocoa powder on top. The truth is that you can be very creative with this type of recipe and start making your own combinations using sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, raisins, raw cocoa and of course much more. 

 

Enjoy! 

 

 

 

 


Why reading is good for you

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Once upon a time reading was just the natural thing to do ... we were encouraged to handle and to feel comfortable with the different books in our kindergarten .... and our parents or our grandparents or our teachers read books to us. From the age of 8, in Romania, we were supposed to be able to read by ourselves ... some did so at an even earlier age. What I am saying is that reading was ... just normal ... just like eating, going to school, playing ... just normal ... part of the fabric of our life from the earliest age. 

Just like exercising, reading is a practice that improves the more you read... a practice that becomes a habit that stays with you for the rest of your life ....at least this is my strong belief. 

Confucius said that " No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance". I agree with him, of course I do! 

I grew up in a communist country where books were treasured and were obtained with sacrifices ... one had to queue for hours to buy a popular title ... for example Shogun ... I remember queuing for hours .......and not getting my hands on the book as the shop, as was not uncommon, ran out of stock in front in me. And old habits seem to become a part of life. I don't remember going into any of my friend's houses, then as a youngster or now as an adult, and not being confronted with rows of laden bookshelves - but then our generation grew up in a time when during the week we only had 2 hours of television a day and most of that was news or reports of great achievements!

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Nowadays everything seems to require an explanation ... why we should eat more vegetables - because it will positively impact our health, why we should exercise for the same reason, why we should drink lots of water (the quantity varies depending on which "specialist" you listen to) because ... and so on .... So, it looks as if these days it is helpful to show why reading is good for us in order to motivate people to pick up a book. If you need that extra encouragement here is why ... 

  • reading is ... exercise for the mind. Just like our bodies, our mind needs to be exercised in order to keep fit, yes it does
  • reading for 30 minutes a day flexes those mind muscles, it ignites your imagination, it makes you think, it energises your curiosity
  • reading ... slows your heart rate, eases the tension in your muscles 
  • reading .... increases vocabulary, improves your use of grammar, nurtures creativity
  • reading .....helps you express yourself with more confidence

And to really exercise the mind it's good to choose a diverse range of books to read from, various genres  .... 

It is true that for many,  television is way more tempting nowadays, computers, smart phones and the rest the same - but the stories they tell are so short, short clip after short clip, it's like looking through an album full of holiday snaps, it's not the same as experiencing the holiday, the whole full story, because something that puts the whole holiday story into proper context is always missing.  Sooner or later I believe we are going to pay a price for spending our time dipping into short clips of what is going on in the world ... our own sanity will be influenced by not seeing the whole story ... emotional, physical .......because 99% of life and living is not like the clip. 

Groucho Marx was pretty spot on when he wrote .... "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book." 

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How do you make calendula salve

Calendula salve

 

Years ago while still living in Romania I remember buying from a pharmacy,  calendula salve in a small white plastic container ... I liked the yellowish colour and as always when you buy something from a pharmacy you think ... oh boy it must be very complicated to make, this must be a secret only people with specific training know. Little did I know that 30 years later ... I will be making calendula salve. Of course it took me a while to get comfortable with the field of making natural cosmetics, of course I had to read lots of magazines, books, blogs, of course I had to try and make mistakes until I learned how to get the right balance of ingredients, the right temperatures, the right way to infuse oils. Nothing comes easy, nothing happens over night but if one is passionate and curious ........ magic happens. 

I love my time in the kitchen, weighting oils, being very careful to respect the recipes .... mixing and waiting for the oils to solidify ... and take the form they need to take. 

Calendula salve

The next phase is making the labels, creating them, printing them .... one cannot do things fast ... but slowly and with patience ... this is something I had to learn and probably my 3 years of tai chi practice helped and continues to help. 

So, the other day I made another batch of calendula salve. Why would you make such a product? Why should you have it in your cupboard and better still in your bag? Here is why! 

First of all you need to know that calendula salve is a traditional healing balm or ointment and it takes its name from the plants name Calendula officials, also called marigold. The plant has a high concentration of flavonoids which are actually antioxidants. Known to have anti allergic, inflammatory, microbial  properties calendula salve is ideal for treating a range of cuts, abrasions, bruises, sores, rashes, ulcers and fungal conditions. The salve also hydrates, nourishes and supports skin and can be used as face moisturises, lip balm for dry lips, bug bites ..... 

How do you do it? The recipe below is the most basic calendula salve.

First of all you need to infuse olive oil with dry calendula flowers. There are 2 ways of infusing the oil ... a quick one and a slow one (details in a future blog entry). 

Quantities: 

4 oz calendula oil

1/2 oz beeswax 

Once you have the calendula oil and beeswax you are ready to start the process. 

  1. Add water to the bottom pot of your double boiler, and then pour your calendula oil into the top pot and place above. You can also create a double boiler if you don’t have one. The main thing is that the oil needs non-direct and even heat to prevent burning.
  2. Bring your double boiler to a low heat and grate in your beeswax. Once everything has melted, stir the mixture, and then quickly turn off your burner.
  3. Now you can put this mixture into a liquid measuring cup to make pouring your final product easy. Slowly pour into each tin, and allow the salves to cool.

One hour later ... it's all done .... put the lids on, labels and ... that's it. Enjoy! 

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Cold pressed shampoo and apple vinegar rinse

 

 

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I've been making and using my own cold pressed shampoo for a year and a bit. It started out of my appetite for trying new natural recipes and simply because I wanted to see if ... I was or not able to make such a product. Only after that I realised that ... yes I will not buy anymore shampoo and conditioner from the shops and in this way I will not have to get rid of yet another plastic bottle. And also ... I realised that I was continuing a tradition that was actually normality for my grandmothers on both sides of my parents. 

There is so much we can learn from our ancestors, so many bad habits we can replace and live a life more in tune with our true selves and nature. But this is another story for another time. 

I would like to write a little bit about what and why do we need sometimes to use an apple vinegar rinse after we use a shampoo bar. 

OK so here we go. 

When you transition from a liquid shampoo in a bottle to a cold pressed shampoo, you might go through an adjustment period. Some people get used to it from the very beginning.  There are really many things that can affect the way the shampoo in a bar shape will work for each person. Some of the issue are linked  to  your hair, the water in your area, the products you use or used on your hair, the specific shampoo bar you are using and even your hair washing technique.

RAW APPLE VINEGAR 

First of all you might want to know that raw apple cider vinegar  is packed with nutrients, it brings back body and shine, it decreases residue and clarify, stimulates the scalp, decreases dandruff. The use of vinegar infused with a variety of plants and essential oils can be traced back to the Romans and even to the nineteenth century. 

It can happen that when you transition from a liquid shampoo to a cold pressed shampoo bar you are let with a "weird hair" feeling. This happens when the soap residue does not completely rinse out of your hair. It is very important to make a good lather and to RINSE properly the shampoo from your hair.  

HOW TO USE A SHAMPOO BAR 

You can of course rub the bar of shampoo directly on the hair but you can also rub the bar of soap on a sponge until you create a good lather and then apply it on you hair.  

Remember that ...... RINSING is key.

If you feel that you hair feels a little bit heavy and oily .. apply the apple vinegar and here is how. 

Pour, squirt or spray the rinse onto wet hair. Massage into hair and scalp and pay special attention to the ends. Let sit for a couple minutes. You can rinse the hair again or leave it on as the smell will disappear after a few minutes. 

MAKE YOUR OWN APPLE VINEGAR RINSE 

You will need to make an apple vinegar rinse solution by combining one part vinegar to 9 parts water, shake the solution and pour it in a spraying bottle or any glass bottle you have available. Keep it in the bathroom and use the solution with confidence. 

Sometimes I like to infuse the  apple vinegar rinse solutions with all sorts of dried plants or fresh or even I add some drops of essential oils but about all of this in a future blog entry. 

Orange shampoo bar