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When I read about this one I was absolutely intrigued. I’ve been making my own laundry liquid for years. But to be able to skip the grating and melting of the soap stage for a completely natural ingredient, especially one that is literally littering the ground outside our house right now, this was completely my cup of tea!

Conkers, the fruit of the Horse Chestnut tree,  were always gathered by us as kids to keep and play conkers with. We would thread a  shoe lace or piece of twine through a hole in the centre of the conker and then tie it off. The we’d hit them against our opponents one and whoever didn’t have their conker smashed to pieces was the winner.

 

  Conkers are full of saponins – a chemical found in plants that possesses soap like qualities, they produce a lather when mixed with water. And like a detergent they can bind with water as well as fats and oils. So in a wash they can bind with fat or oil or grease or dirt and wash them away!

Many of you might be familiar with the soap berry plant that can be used as a natural laundry detergent – the hard shell releases saponins when it absorbs water, it then acts as a detergent to release grime, dirt and oil from clothing.

Conkers have the same ability as they too contain saponins and here’s a handy little recipe for making a laundry detergent from them.

I harvested as many conkers as I could from the park beside our little Bia Beauty factory. I brought them home and gave them a good rinse to get any mud off of them. I took a handful of them and put them in a tea towel. Using a hammer I crushed them until all the conkers had broken open.

   

  I then placed the crushed conkers in a container and filled it with cold water. I left this overnight on the windowsill of my kitchen. The remaining conkers I put out in the patio to dry out to be used again each time I wanted to make more laundry liquid.

   

conker soap left overnight



    The next morning the liquid was cloudy and milky looking and had quite a lot of froth on the top. I strained the liquid off the conkers using a sieve.

 

conker laundry liquid



  I put on a wash and used about 75ml of the liquid and washed as usual on 40 degrees.

Results – I was pleasantly surprised, the clothes looked clean and actually smelt quite nice, fresh and clean even though I didn’t use any essential oils like I normally do.

Any liquid that has not been used can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. I will keep harvested conkers, washing them and drying them out in the patio ready to be used every week or two to make fresh batches of laundry liquid.
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Have you seen our new Youtube Channel  yet?   Every week we share video tutorials where we show you how to make your own simple natural products.   So far we have made…..
 
                     
If you like what you see be sure to subscribe to our channel by hitting the big red SUBSCRIBE button. Then you will receive notifications of all of our new videos and be part of our competitions and offers.   Thanks for watching!
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It’s a friend’s birthday this weekend and I’m planning to make her a body spray that could also be used as a room atomiser. I’ve made her a facial toner/room atomiser before and she loved it. I really love multifunctional products and toners/atomiser/body sprays are the definition of multifunctional!


She’s currently studying so I thought I’d make a Study Time/Party Time set. For Study Time I mixed orange blossom water and rose water with lavender, clary sage and rosemary essential oils.  For me this blend is relaxing yet focusing at the same time – lavender is antidepressant and soothing, clary sage is calming and rosemary is a mental stimulant. And then I added just a little Honeysuckle water because its scent is like a hug in a bottle.





For Party Time I mixed orange blossom water with rose water again and this time added ylang ylang, sweet orange and lemongrass essential oils. Ylang ylang is pretty and floral, sweet orange is, well sweet! And lemongrass lifts my mood big time. Combined I think it makes a beautiful fresh and sweet body spray.


I printed some pretty labels, stuck on a few cute stickers and the set is ready to go.


So these bodyspray/room atomisers can be used as a perfumed body spray, just spritz on the arm or neck or anywhere really. They are lovely spritzed onto clothes before wearing or on your hair. The study one would be great spritzed around your study area regularly. You could also make relaxing ones that you spray onto your pillow at night – enjoy experimenting. If you do want to experiment with essential oils then I recommend The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood


Study Time

45ml orange blossom water
50ml rose water
5 drops lavender
3 drops clary sage
2 drops rosemary
(about 1ml of honey suckle water – optional extra!)


  Party Time

45ml orange blossom water
50ml rose water
5 drops ylang ylang
4 drops sweet orange
2 drops lemongrass
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I’ve been watching the rose hips from my kitchen window waiting for them to be ready to make syrup – the most delicious of Autumn foraging treasures. Rose hips are the fruit of the rose. The wild dog rose is the rose most cultivated for its hips. Rose hips are an amazing source of Vitamin C – they contain 50% more Vitamin C than oranges. Because of this high Vitamin C content they make a great immune system booster. They are also extremely tasty when made into syrup! Recipe
  • Blitz the hips in a food processor
  • Cover with water
  • Bring to the boil and continue to boil for 20mins
  • Strain through a double layer of muslin – let it sit for as long as its needs to pass through
  • Measure the rose hip juice, for every 500ml add 325g of sugar
  • Heat slowly, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and then bring to the boil and boil for a further 5 mins.
  • Decant into bottles or jars and seal
  • Use within 4 months and refrigerate once open
We use it over pancakes, ice-cream and apple crumble. We also make a delicious cocktail with gin, fresh apple juice and rose hip syrup!!
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**Superfood Hacks!**

Our Skin’s Superfood is our Hero product. We absolutely love receiving emails and phonecalls from customers who have struggled with skin problems like eczema or psoriasis or scarring from burns who have used it and are delighted when it works for them. Tracey developed Skin Superfood when her boy Feidhlim was born and was suffering from psoriasis. It soon became apparent that it was an amazing healer for all sorts of skin problems or damage. As someone who has suffered from eczema and acne (yes, terrible-skin-itis) my whole life it was one of the reasons I wanted to work for this amazing family-run company. Most balms would “sit” on top of my skin but I found that Superfood, while rich, would just sink straight in. So! I thought I’d share a few “hacks” I’ve developed:



1. Sleepy-Time Balm: Mix two pumps of Superfood with three drops of lavender oil OR two drops of lavender and one drop of chamomile essential oils.
2. Foot Balm: A lovely lady named Leah from Canada got me onto this one, she’s a huge fan from across the Atlantic. Mix five drops of peppermint essential oil with two pumps of Superfood (you may need one of this mix for each foot if they’re thirsty!).



3. Sunburn Balm: Sea Buckthorn oil contains more Vitamin E than any other oil and contains a high percentage of essential fatty acids. It is highly emollient and is very easily assimilated and absorbed by the skin. Calendula is a wonder oil but still gentle enough for anyone to use. It’s soothing, antiseptic and antimicrobial so great for anything from psoriasis to athlete’s foot! Mix three drops of each with two pumps of Superfood, and be sure to cool your skin first to halt the damage in its tracks.

We’re giving away a Superfood for your best hack suggestion in the comments!
Catherine x
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Baby wipes are another of those products that you think should be gentle and natural but, surprise surprise, they are most definitely not. Most brands are full of synthetic fragrances and preservatives.



I really love the brand Water Wipes because they contain only 2 ingredients; water and grapefruit seed extract. But of course I love to make my own as well. And this has been my favourite recipe so far. I also love that you can use this recipe to make either disposable or  re-useable wipes.

Ingredients & Materials
420mls boiled and cooled water
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
1 tablespoon witch hazel
1 teaspoon sweet almond oil/evening primrose oil
1 teaspoon Dr Bronner Liquid Soap
1 teaspoon Vitamin E (you can get this from a capsule)
6 drops lavender essential oil
6 drops orange essential oil
Kitchen towel
A container & lid

Method
Mix all the ingredients together; be careful to completely mix the aloe vera gel.



If the kitchen roll is too long cut it in half with a sharp knife. Place the kitchen rolls in the container and pour  the liquid over. It will take around 10minutes for  the roll to absorb the liquid fully. You might need  to adjust the amount of liquid if you are using      re-usable material instead of kitchen roll. And there you have it! Simple, easy to make 100% natural baby wipes. They smell great, clean and moisturise the skin. I make a luxury wet wipe for myself as a great way to cleanse my face when I’m feeling a bit lazy i.e. after a night out! I replace the water with rose water and the essential oils with rose and neroli essential oils.


Luxury!!
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I’ve been reading Prannie Rhatigan’s Irish Seaweed Kitchen – it’s amazing, really gorgeous recipes. We all need to be eating (applying) more seaweed but I’ve never broken free from the idea that it’s for Japanese noodle soups and sushi. Here’s a great video of her talking about edible seaweed at the Science Gallery in Dublin:  

Prannie Rhatigan at SCIENCE GALLERY - YouTube

She also has some amazing recipes on her website to try out, like these duileasc (dulse) and cheese scones, mmm umami-good:
Duileasc (Dulse) Scones

Ingredients
  • 40g (11/2 oz) duileasc, toasted and crumbled
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 2 onions, chopped very finely
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 450g (1lb) plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 level teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 85g (3oz) butter, softened
  • 225ml (8fl oz) milk
  • 1 egg, beaten 85g (3oz) strong sheep or goats’ cheese or a strong cheddar, for example Mount Callan, grated
  • 25g (1oz) strong cheddar, grated, as above or a smoked cheese, or Parmesan, for sprinkling

Cook’s Tip:
To avoid re-rolling the dough, shape it into a square. Brush with reserved milk and egg mixture and sprinkle cheese on top. Using a large cleaver or knife cut the dough into 2.5cm (1 inch) lengths across and then down making a grid of scones each about 2.5cm (1 inch) square. Transfer the scones to the baking tray to bake as above.

Method:
Preheat the oven 210°C / 410°F / Gas 6 1/2. Lightly grease one large baking tray.
1. Heat the oil in the pan, add the onions and garlic and fry gently over moderate heat for 3 minutes until softened and transparent. Add the crumbled duileasc towards the end and mix gently to combine. Set aside to cool.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Stir in the mustard, cream of tartar and cayenne pepper. Dice and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well and pour in the milk and egg, reserving a little. Mix gently to combine. Stir in the cheese, and the cooled onion and duileasc mixture.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and flatten by hand or with a rolling pin, to a thickness of just over 2.5cm (1 inch).
4. Using a 3.5cm (1 1/2 inch) round diameter cutter stamp out scones and place on the baking trays.
5. Brush with the reserved milk ans egg mixture and sprinkle cheese on top.
6. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. Remove and cool slightly on a wire rack. Best served warm with butter.

Of course it is. Everything is best served warm with butter. And while we’re all wondering why we’ve not been combining seaweed and cheese forever, here’s a fantastic Kelp Lasagne Recipe from the wonderful Robin Harford who says:

Seaweed is highly nutritious and tasty as this kelp recipe will show, and something that we need to be eating daily as it is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and some say even anti-cancer. Kelp (Laminaria digitata) also known as oarweed or tangle, and in Japan as Kombu, is one of the most delicious and easy to recognise seaweeds. You’ll find it at low tide at the extreme lower part of the shore. Kelp is very high in iron and iodine, bromine, phosphorus, boron and zinc. It also contains protein, sugar, starch, fat, vitamin A, B1, B12, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium to name a few.

Kelp Lasagne
Ingredients
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1 large courgette
  • 8 lasagne sized strips of dried kelp
  • 4 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 500g chopped tomatoesFresh oregano, basil and thyme (chopped)
  • 3tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 100g butter
  • 80g plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 150g cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper

Method:
1. Soak kelp in warm water for 30 minutes while preparing other ingredients. When ready drain and pat dry.
2. Chop aubergine and courgette into 1cm cubes, then place in a frying pan over a high heat and fry briefly in 3tbs of water.
3. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Now add the olive oil and fresh garlic and tomatoes, along with the herbs, salt and pepper, and fry until cooked down and soft, then add the vegetables back to the pan and cook for 3 minutes.
4. To make the white sauce; melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour. Cook for 3 minutes stirring continuously. Slowly add the milk stirring all the time to make a thick sauce, then cook for 3 minutes.
5. Grate cheese into the sauce, saving some for topping.
6. Preheat an oven to 180C. In a large oven dish, layer some of the vegetable mix, then some kelp sheets and white sauce, and repeat until all the vegetable mix, kelp and white sauce has been used up.
7. Finish with white sauce on top and then add the last bits of grated cheese, and some sliced tomato. Bake for 30 minutes.
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My beautiful little boy, Milo, was born 6 weeks ago today. We are totally smitten and big brother Feidhlim is delighted with him too. I love how soft and delicate his skin is but it’s also a bit dry in places, especially around his little eyebrows. So I needed to create an ultra mild wash for him.

Conventional baby washes and shampoo are loaded with Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) in order to get the abundant foam and lather they create. But SLS started out as an engine degreaser and made its way into skincare. Today it’s found in most conventional brands especially that really popular brand we all know! It’s very drying particularly on baby’s skin. As well as that baby shampoos are usually highly perfumed.

So I decided to create my own version. Now to make a lathering product from scratch requires using detergents etc. but I wanted to make a simple product that anyone could recreate at home so I’ve taken a short cut and I’m using a castille liquid soap.

Dr Bronner’s liquid soap is fantastic stuff – for those of you who have never used it, its made with a few simple ingredients and you can use it as a shampoo, body wash, you can even wash clothes with it, its the perfect travel companion – back in the days when i used to go travelling!!

But it can also be a little bit drying if used neat so I’ve combined it with some other easy to access ingredients to make an ultra mild baby body wash/shampoo. You could also use this as a face wash if you have sensitive skin but still really want a foaming wash product.

Ingredients

60mls Dr Bronner, the Aloe vera Baby version 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel 2 tsps almond oil or olive oil or coconut oil a drop of vitamin E oil (use a capsule) 1 tsp of glycerine 160mls warm water

Method

Mix the ingredients together carefully to avoid foaming and lathering. Pour into a pump bottle, a foaming pump bottle would be best. You can use this fairly liberally, its going to foam but not as much as conventional brands. I use a natural sponge with mine and this really helps it lather. I got my natural sponge in Tesco in the baby section.



Next week I’m going to try making my own home-made baby wipes so stay tuned! If you have any DIY natural baby tips comment below, I’ll pick a comment at random and that person will win a Bia Beauty Baby Cream worth €10.95!


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Now we’re on the other side of Midsummer, we here at Bia Beauty HQ are eager to share our latest news!

  1. Today FM Appearance.
    Firstly, Bia Beauty made a surprise radio appearance on Today FM’s Dermot and Dave for “Jingly Bts” which involved the presenters composing a jingle for Bia Beauty to the tune of California Dreamin’ by The Mamas and The Papas. Many Thanks to Tracey’s friend Elaine who nominated us.

    Here is the link to the radio appearance of Today FM. http://www.todayfm.com/player/podcasts/Dermot_and_Dave/Dermot__Dave/36761/0/jingly_bits__bia_beauty

    The radio appearance caused a fantastic upsurge in interest of our products, attracting new followers on our social media platforms who were keen to learn more about our effective but natural ingredients. Bia Beauty Team listening to their new jingle.

  2. New Garden.
    Here at the office we have planted a container garden of lovely fresh herbs, wild strawberries, tomatoes and even birch trees, more information on this soon.Our new container garden.  

  3. The Sunday Business Post Interview.
    Our founder and CEO Tracey Ryan also featured in The Sunday Business Post, discussing the company ethos and future plans for our business with Elaine O’Regan.Tracey’s Interview with Elaine O’Regan.

  4. Bloggers Bia Beauty hampers.
    We have also treated beauty bloggers Lorna Jane Duffy, The Makeup Monster and Stephanie O’Quigley to a hamper bursting with Bia goodies, organic herb seeds, herbal teas and healthy snacks. They shared their pleasure of receiving their hampers onto various social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Check out Lorna Jane Duffy, The Makeup Monster and Stephanie O’Quigley Instagram accounts to see their Bia Beauty hamper.

  5. New Stockists.
    Lastly, we have lots of new stockists! Check out our updated website for stockist information near you.

Best wishes for any of you heading off on holidays, consider us jealous, and don’t forget to pack your Bia bits.
Team Bia. xx      
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Well I did say I was going to post every week….but life and work kind of got in the way!

In my last post I mentioned starting Couch to 5K. I signed up for it and started back in early Feburary. I’m very proud to report that I ran my first 5K last Saturday in a time of 31 minutes 50 seconds. I’ve been seriously bitten by the bug though and am back into training straight away for a 10K!!

I never thought I would say this but exercise has become addictive, I really feel like something is missing if I don’t get my daily fix of running or exercise classes. I would recommend the Couch 2 5K programme to anyone who wants to start running. You literally start with 60 seconds of running alternating with 90 seconds of walking in week 1 and you work your way bit by bit up to continuously running for 30 minutes or more.

You can download the app on your phone and do it in your own time but I had tried this method before and failed. This time I joined a class, we trained together every Saturday morning and did two nights “homework” on our own. Being part of a class really encouraged me to attend each week and stick with it. And it made it so much more enjoyable when we all took part in the 5K together on Saturday.

So google “couch 2 5K” and sign up for a local class, you won’t regret it!!

I’ve also been trying to eat “clean” these days, cutting out wheat, dairy and processed sugar as much as possible. These little beauty’s are making the job so much easier!! I’ve adapted the recipe a little from The Happy Pear Cookbook. They really do taste way nicer than regular Caramel Slices and you definetly won’t feel as guilty.



Base
180g dates
100g almonds
90g oatflakes
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut butter

-Process the dates, almonds and oatflakes until they resemble breadcrumbs.
-Melt the coconut butter and stir into the above.
-Add the vanilla extract and process
-Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and then spread this mixture out evenly.
-Put it in the fridge to chill


Carmel
180g dates
30g cashew or almond butter
100g coconut butter
pinch of salt

-Process the dates and add a little water until you get a smooth texture
-Heat the cashew butter and coconut butter in a pan until melted.
-Add this mixture bit by bit to the dates, processing until smooth
-Add the pinch of salt
-Take the baking tray out of the fridge and layer this mixture over the base.
-Put it back in the fridge

Topping
100g dark chocolate
2 tablesppons coconut butter

-Melt the chocolate and cocoa butter together
-Remove the tray from the fridge and pur the chocolate mixture over
-Return to the fridge to set.


And that’s it! Enjoy! If you would like to share your favourite recipe with us do so in the comments.
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