So, if you follow us on social media (on instagram here, or on facebook here) you might notice that we post photos of calendula more often than we do any of the other flowers and plants that grow in our Vermont gardens. There’s a lot of reasons for this, just as there are a lot of reasons that this is an amazing plant. It’s high-summer in our gardens now, and our calendula plants are booming. We thought we’d give this plant the homage it deserves in a blog post, because it’s just full of fun facts – and then, we figure we’ll do the same for some of the other fantastic botanicals that we get to know each summer. Calendula is known as a healing plant, and has been used for centuries to soothe skin irritations, inflammations or even full-on wounds like cuts or scrapes. Creams, salves and oils containing calendula are popular for reducing redness, rashes, rosacea or other forms of distress or visible inflammation on the skin, but its uses don’t end there: it’s great in teas (for soothing stomach issues), bath soaks, facial steams or tinctures, and has invariably healing, rejuvenating and calming. For our skincare formulas, we hand-pick our calendula throughout the summer (the plants grow through the season and continue to produce flowers even after they’ve been picked once – we love how productive they are!) and dry the flowers in our greenhouse. Then, we take the dried flowers and soak them in organic olive oil in a process of heating and cooling that pulls the benefits from the flowers and infuses the oil. It’s that calendula oil that we incorporate into our skincare, full of the fresh flowers’ healing properties. Did you Know? – Calendula makes a fabulous friend in the garden, as it repels pests like aphids or tomato hornworms, and is often used as a companion plant for growing veggies like lettuce, tomatoes or potatoes. – The petals are edible! Sprinkle some on a salad for a fun pop of color. They don’t really have much of a taste, so it’s more of a decoration. – The rich yellow color of the flowers has been used throughout history as a dye for fabric. – Calendulas are holy flowers in India, and necklaces made of them are often seen draped around the necks of statues of Hindu gods and goddesses. – During the American Civil War, calendula flowers were used in rudimentary first aid systems on the battlefields as antiseptics, as their cleansing elements help to purify the area to prevent infection. (Who knew!) Calendula is a great DIY beauty ingredient… you can make your own version of our Calendula oil above! Here is a wonderful recipe from Mountain Rose Blog:
“This medicinal oil is simple to prepare and has so many uses. The gentle, soothing, and healing oil is perfect for cradle cap, diaper rash, chapped or chafed skin, bruises, and sore or inflamed muscles. The oil can be used alone, or incorporated into salves, massage oils, lip balms, ointments, creams, and lotions.
Organic Olive oil Organic Calendula flowers
1. Place Calendula flowers in a clean, dry glass jar. If using fresh Calendula, wilt for 12 hours to remove most of the moisture (too much moisture will cause the oil to go rancid) before adding to the jar. Pour olive oil into the jar, making sure to cover the flowers by at least 1” of oil so they will have space to expand. Stir well and cap the jar tightly. 2. Place the jar in a warm, sunny windowsill and shake once or more per day. 3. After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth. Pour the infused oil into glass bottles and store in a cool dark place.
Heat Method: I prefer to infuse oils utilizing the solar or folk method described above, but heat can be applied if you need the oil quickly. To prepare, follow step 1 from above, but place the Olive oil and Calendula flowers in an uncovered container. Warm over low heat at approximately 100 degrees F for at least 3-5 hours, the longer the better. A yogurt maker, double boiler, or inside the oven with a pilot light on are all effective ways to heat the oil, just make sure to check the temperature occasionally to ensure that the oil isn’t getting too warm. Once the oil has infused, strain out the herbs using cheesecloth and package the infused oil into glass bottles.”
Original source for the recipe here.
From my living room window, I can see out across the driveway into the field that holds our family and company garden, and up the hill towards the forest, where our lavender grows. It’s a beautiful view, and this week it’s been growing like wild, with new seedling sprouting up and springtime plants like strawberries and chives already halfway towards adulthood. Left and right, something new is growing. The whole growing season in Vermont depends on the success of these last few weeks of May and the beginning of June, so needless to say it’s keeping us busy!
Years ago, when we founded our skincare company ,we knew that we wanted as many of the ingredients to be locally sourced as possible. Since we were settled on a farm and knew that we wanted the headquarters would be here as well, we thought – why not grow as many ingredients as we possibly can in our own fields? Our farm and garden provide us with a steadily increasing percentage of our raw ingredients every year. It’s absolutely awesome to have the whole process right here, on one property – from seed to serum.
Since we’re in a period of major springtime activity at the farm, we thought we’d give an update!
This year, we’re growing Tulsi, Lemongrass, Oats and Alfalfa – new plants for us! Plus, we’re expanding our rose garden - we’re planting Rosa canina for their rosehips, and Rugosa roses for their divine smelling petals!
The first herbs and flowers ready to be harvested are Chamomile flowers, Plum blossoms, and Lemon Balm.
We’re happy to see our Lavender, Meadowsweet, Thyme, Chamomile, Rose, Raspberry Leaf, Red Clover and Spearmint returning! We’re boosting the amount of lavender, spearmint and arnica planted this year.
Grape Hyacinth – some of the first things to sprout up in the garden – give a vivid color alongside the edges of our perennial beds.
The view from the Trellis, with rows of Lemonbalm on the left, and our Lavender patch in the distance.
The chives are already nearly a foot tall
A photo taken late last summer, with the beans growing high on the trellis.
Baby Lemonbalm plants, soon to be in the ground!
It was a bright, beautiful summer day when ELLE came to the farm with a team of photographers, stylists and makeup artists to shoot Tata for their upcoming Living story. We spent the morning selecting outfits, scouting the farm for the perfect spots, and working with Vermont-based makeup artist Vivian Infantino to get Tata looking picture-perfect (which of course took no time at all). I followed around with my iPhone all day, snapping photos from behind the photographers, which I knew would come in handy down the road.
The photoshoot has been released, in ELLE’S May issue, along with a wonderful article by by Justine Harman.
Here we are – at Tata’s farm, home, and office in Vermont!
Tata and the photographer planning the next few shots
Various outfits for Tata to try on and wear were hung about the house as we did makeup and prepared lighting.
Tata and makeup artist Vivian Infantino in Tata’s living room
An outdoor shot that we love, in the cool of the shade in front of Tata’s home
Tata in one of the many fields of the farm, for a stunning nature shot!
The Elle crew enjoying the late-afternoon sunshine after a long day
Tata with Hunter (5), Grace Paloma (4) and Tata Mia (2) having a picnic in the side yard!
We are so honored and happy to announce the Better Beauty Project campaign, an Earth Day celebration and collaboration with Maiyet. This project is our opportunity to give back this year, and we couldn’t have picked two more amazing partners to team up with: Maiyet, and the nonprofit organization Nest.
The hero of the Better Beaty Project is the Better Beauty Collection (pictured above), a four-piece set of our best-selling daily skincare essentials, presented in a custom, handwoven and reusable Varanasi-silk pouch. The pouch is available in 2 unique woven patterns, Gold and Royal Blue, and has a protective lining within, making it perfect for easy re-use as a travel cosmetics kit. Shop the Collection here!
100% of the proceeds of the Better Beauty Project campaign go directly to support Nest’s Edible Garden initiative for the silk-weaving community in Varanasi, India, where the woven silks of these pouches were created. We believe that food grown organically benefits people and the environment, so we love the fact that this initiative will bring knowledge of slow food and the organic movement to Varanasi – ultimately, it will culminate in the creation of an on-site garden at Nest’s new silk-weaving facility. What this means to us is that we’re able to promote sustainable agriculture and healthy eating in a community of craftspeople that works alongside Maiyet, our dear designer friends that we love.
Varanasi, India is often referred to as “the city of learning” – it’s considered the spiritual capital of India. Varanasi is also the birthplace of a 500-year-old silk weaving tradition used to create this one-of-a-kind bag.
Shop the Better Beauty Set!
Maiyet is pioneering a new luxury by creating a fashion brand that celebrates rare artisinal skills from unexpected places in the world, such as India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia and Peru. They’re deeply committed to creating partnerships with artisans around the globe, and work with those artisans to create exceptional products while promoting entrepreneurship, stability and prosperity in those communities. It’s a gorgeous fashion line – one of Tata’s personal favorite – and we love that their designs have an organic, natural, yet completely glamorous feel to them. Learn more about Maiyet here.
Photos courtesy of Maiyet
In Vermont, we love Boston because it’s just a 3.5 hour drive away, or a super-easy flight. And then, viola, you’re in this gorgeous, lively, fascinating and historic city! Okay, let’s get down to Tata’s favorite things to do and eat when in Boston. In the comments section below, let us know if we’re missing anything… so we can put it on our travel guide for next time!
P.S. – traveling somewhere soon? Don’t miss out on picking up an aromatherapy gift with purchase this week! (Tata’s never without them.) Enjoy a free 3ml Aromatherapy Treatment with any purchase over $150*. Pick your own! Enter the code of your choice at checkout! For a Mini Stress Treatment, enter OHM. For a mini Irritability Treatment, enter AAH. For a mini Bedtime Treatment, enter ZZZ. Offer ends 11:59 pm PST 2/28/14! Know which one you’ll go for? Head here.
1.Workout: Exhale, Back Bay. A city famous for its ballet also has the best Core Fusion Barre Class. Go figure! This ballet inspired, core-centric workout boasts flexibility and posture as an added bonus. I love to dance so this makes my travel workout feel like a fun activity, not a chore. Their Chill Yoga Class is another favorite. It infuses meditation and breathing exercises with long-hold yoga poses so it’s great for flexibility and peace of mind.
2. Dining Out: Life Alive, Cambridge. Flavor-filled, colorful, vibrant, therapeutic food. When you’re on the road, you can easily fall into the trap of not eating well for convenience’s sake, but here (for less than $10) you can grab a wholesome lunch on-the-go.
3. Fresh Food Market: Siena Farms, Waltham St. This is a food lover’s paradise. Local dairy, high-quality, fresh produce and lots of beautiful cookbooks. Everyone who works here seems very savvy and knowledgeable about the product. Sometimes they offer fresh seasonal jams and when they do, you should grab one! When traveling, this is a great place to pick up little snacks and fruit to take back to your hotel room when you’re trying to avoid the temptation of the mini bar.
4. Culture: Boston Anthenaeum! This library is truly something to marvel at. You’ll fall in love with the 5th floor reading room, it’s breathtaking and I wish more people knew about it. The Anthenaem hosts tours during the week on Wednesdays and Saturdays at noon if you’re interested in becoming a member. If you live in Boston, I highly recommend it… especially if you work remotely. If you’re traveling, try to arrange a tour!
Special thanks to Blair Breitenstein for the Tata City Guide girl illustrations. Blair is a Tata Harper Skincare fan and a Seattle city girl herself with a charming personality & great style. You can check out Blair’s sketches on her etsy shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/