Pretty Plants PLEASE!

One of my favorite past-times, and something I’m looking forward to continue after I graduate, is indoor gardening. As a student, there’s too much living situation and time-variability on a week to week or year to year basis to sustain an outdoor garden, so for now indoor gardening is where I find my peace.

There are countless benefits to keeping plants around your house or having an indoor garden. A little extra greenery present in our lives has been shown to help improve our ability to focus, relieve our stress, and minimize our attentional fatigue. Attentional fatigue comes from things that require us to actively focus on it, like a lecture or a meeting, rather than something we mindlessly pay attention to, like leaves rustling in the wind or a beetle crawling on the ground.

On top of the benefits of actually having plants in your home, there are lots of plants that can work seamlessly into your beauty routines! Between hair, face, and eyelash treatments based on plants that you can grow at home, having a home garden can actually provide you with a world of possibilities for taking care of yourself and being botanically-based BEAUTIFUL!

Succulent Plant for Succulent Lashes

One of my favorite members of my garden is my aloe vera plant. Amongst many other succulent and cactus varieties, aloe vera grows very quickly and can deal with a limited amount of light, which is especially great if you love the look of succulents and cacti but lack the South-facing, light-drenched window it tends to take to keep them alive. My aloe vera plant is at a West-facing window and has even survived a cold Illinois winter, so they are also pretty hardy plants! They also only need to be watered about once every week or two, which makes them very low maintenance!

Aloe vera is super useful beauty-wise for growing stronger, longer eyelashes. Aloe vera gel contains vitamin E, which helps promote strong hair growth. The gel from this cute plant also helps moisturize your eyelashes, and using it regularly can yield some serious results! Plus, it’s super easy to apply right before bed using a clean mascara brush or just your fingers.

Fresh Mint for a Fresh Facial 

There are a lot of herbs out there that work great for all-natural, DIY facials, my favorite being mint! Mint is a cool plant to have because it makes the air smell really fresh on top of being easily transplanted. If at any point you wanted to move a small mint plant into either a larger container or a garden bed, get ready for it to grow like crazy! They’re also very easy to take care of, since they grow quickly as long as they have adequate sunlight (8-10 hours/ day for most varieties) and get watered any time the soil starts to feel dry (and make sure, again, that this watering is done over the sink, and that it drains all the way out the bottom of the container before you put it back down!).

Mint is great for your skin because it contains a lot of vitamin A, which can help reduce oil production and strengthen your skin tissue. It also naturally contains salicylic acid, something you’ll find advertised in a lot of acne and breakout treatments. Salicylic acid is an exfoliate that is both gentle and effective at clearing pores and preventing future breakouts. This also means, however, that this type of facial has the potential to seriously dry out your skin. Mixing mint leaves with something like plain yogurt or honey helps keep the balance between having clear, exfoliated skin and hydrated, supple skin!

AvocaDO Your Hair a Favor

Avocado plants are something that have been a sort of dream for me since I was a kid, especially since I stubbornly want to be able to successfully germinate my own plant. It’s amazing how simple it is to do, I just haven’t found the time yet to try it! Luckily, it’s easy stuff: you clean the pit, stick about three toothpicks in it around the sides (like spokes on a wheel), then sit this little pit contraption on top of a glass of water filled almost to the brim. As long as you keep the water level up, you should have a cute avocado plant in no time!

Sadly, while these plants are absolutely adorable, they won’t bear fruit. The fruit producing plants are better brought at a larger nursery, already germinated and about a foot tall. These can grow to about shrub-size, so they’re easy to keep on the floor by a sunny window in a fairly large pot! And, once your plant starts producing fruit and you can harvest it, avocados can be made into fantastic hair masks that leave your hair feeling silky and smooth. Combined with banana, egg and apple cider vinegar, avocado masks leave damaged hair healthier and shinier than ever before, making waiting for harvesting time from the avocado plant well worth the wait.

Fantastic Florals

It’s FINALLY (nearly officially) spring, and that means things are starting to bloom! I worked as a florist in high school, so spring was my favorite time of year. We got in such a diverse selection of flowers from all over the world, and it always blew my mind what a wide variety of looks, smells, and energies each flower brought to our shop around this time of the year.

I could go on for hours about how wonderful flowers are. They’ve been shown to improve mental health and they look and smell great! In addition, flowers in a variety of forms provide people with health and beauty benefits outside of simply warming our hearts and bringing smiles to our faces.

Flowers are for Smelling

Whether your flowers are living, dried, or have been extracted in essential oils form, they are without a doubt incredible to smell. And the benefits of smelling flowers doesn’t stop at being delightful, as they can also be very good for things like sleeping, relieving anxiety, and some even have a few anti-inflammatory properties!

Lavender is a very popular floral scent to keep handy at home. It can be used topically for things like minor burns and bug bites, but it also has powerful calming abilities that allow it to ease anxiety and insomnia and promote restful sleep. (Let’s not forget, it’s still National Sleep Awareness Month!).

Geranium is another great flower to use in essential oil form, especially in wound treatment. This amazing floral can not only inhibit bacteria growth, it can also help heal scar tissue. By the same token, this oil can be used as a natural deodorant. Lastly, some findings have indicated that geranium essential oil has the potential to help mentally uplift people suffering from depression and anger issues, easing their levels of mental strain.

Many types of floral smells have corresponding health benefits, and can be even more powerful when used in combinations. This can be achieved by creating dynamic floral arrangements for your home, or by creating essential oil mixes that let you reap the most olfactory benefits as you possibly can! And, Plant Therapy makes a variety of floral and non-floral essential oils, and even a few mixes to help enhance the powers of many of these fantastic florals!

Flowers are for Eating

There are a surprising number of flowers that you can eat (I found a list of 60, which is just crazy!). They also provide a plethora of health benefits, depending on how you use them in food and what type of flower you choose to use!

For example, hibiscus flowers are often used in tea. Hibiscus tea has been used (sometimes combined with mint tea for a little flavor) for many years as a digestive aid, as well as to help lower cholesterol levels and potentially blood pressure levels too!

Violets are another striking flower that can be eaten and provide people with lots of interesting benefits. Violets are used as remedies for coughs and sore throats due to their surface-soothing abilities. Because of these same abilities, violets can also be used as topical treatment for things like eczema and acne.

Flowers are for Admiring

Like I mentioned before, flowers have actually been scientifically proven to make a positive impact on peoples’ behaviors and moods. Just having them around the house (again, even if they are dried or silks!) can seriously improve the outlook your household has on the world. And, just to further my point (and because it was fun for me), here are some of my favorite flowers to try arranging in your home or growing in your garden this spring!





Stargazer Lilies

Sweet, Sweet Sleep!

Wow it feels like a hundred years since I’ve written anything here! It’s been a wild month of sinus infections, graduate school acceptances (I’ll be moving to College Station, TX to pursue a Ph. D. in genetics in the fall! Woot woot!), midterms, new loves and lots lots more! But I’m happy to finally be back to writing.

With all the excitement, however, I haven’t yet gotten a chance to stop and celebrate that it is National Sleep Awareness Month! How wonderful is that?

Often we take our sleep for granted, or we simply don’t prioritize it enough for the wonders it works for our bodies. Sleeping has actually been found to be a key component in things like mood swings, dietary habits and weight loss! It does all that on top of helping rebuild our muscles after long days of working and thinking hard, yet we often say things like “I’ll just get a few hours tonight and I’ll be fine”, or “I need to be up all night just to get this done”, or the all-time-college-favorite “Whatever, I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”.

I’m guilty of pretty much all of these, but in honor of this glorious month I’ve decided to try and seriously prioritize my sleep. Hopefully, this emphasis on taking care of myself and nurturing my bodies natural repair system will help me better get through the tough stuff and celebrate the fun stuff! And in case any of you want to embark on this epic sleep journey with me, here are some things I’ll be focused on this National Sleep Awareness Month!

A Dreamy Nights Sleep

I’m a firm believer that dreams mean something, and I find that the better I sleep, the more I dream, and the more I dream, the more soundly I sleep. It’s a nice little positive-feedback-loop that keeps my subconscious light and my body well-rested!

I tend to have very vivid dreams, and while I know this isn’t the case for everyone, it’s still very important to acknowledge dreams when you have them. While there is no direct scientific link to sleep quality and dreams, it has been noted that since dreams reflect reality, often good dreams are a product of a good day. Good days tend to follow good rest, thus creating a similar positive feedback loop that I talked about earlier.

I’m focused on this because of those vivid dreams I have. I think writing them down is a great way to keep your mind both sharp and at-ease, by allowing you to express what goes on in your brain while you sleep without having to carry around the thoughts of where your mind was wandering to at night for a whole day!

I’m focusing on this by keeping a dream journal. If you’re interested in dream journaling and learning more about what dreams mean, Papyrus makes lots of really cute, bedside-table-sized journals and is great for reading all about different dream symbols and what they might mean for you!

A Satisfactory Nights Sleep

Sleep satisfaction is exactly what it sounds like: how you felt about your night of sleep. While sleep quantity is about how many hours you slept and sleep quality is about the condition of the sleep you got, this aspect of sleep is more about how it made you feel.

I want to focus on the way I feel about my sleep because this can make a big impact on your mood throughout the day. Feeling well-rested is just as good as being well-rested in many cases. Even if you only got a few hours of sleep, if you wake up feeling revitalized and ready to take on the day, you’re in a better position than someone who slept double the hours but wakes up still feeling tired!

I also want to focus on this because, especially on the weekends, I’m guilty of sleeping for many hours yet still waking up and feeling exhausted. I’m trying to listen to my body and rather than simply trying to stay in bed for as long as I possibly can, try to understand when my body feels ready for the day and I can get up (whether that’s at 7am or 11am), or when my body really does need that extra 5 minutes (or hour….or two!).

If you’ve ever experienced unsatisfactory sleep, some great ways to try to combat this are sleep-satisfactory supplements, such as Kavinace sleep support products, or trying out a sleep-cycle app like Sleep Cycle to wake you up at hours that are likely best of your body!

A Quality Nights Sleep

Finally, I’m trying to focus on getting quality sleep. While ensuring a quantity of sleep per night is not always realistic when things like work and school are so variable, quality is something a little more in my control that I’m hoping willing turn help with my other two focuses (previously discussed!).

Quality sleep encompasses a lot of factors, such as time spent in bed versus time sleeping, and the number of times you wake up during the night. I’m trying to increase my quality of sleep by only sleeping in my bed (rather than doing homework on my bed or scrolling through Instagram thinking about going to bed on my bed, and things like that!).

Other things that can improve sleep quality are things like adrenal sleep supplements (like those available through Gaia Herbs), or avoiding setting multiple alarms in the morning so that you only wake up once.

If you’ve already got good sleep in the bag, I’m proud of you. It’s no small feat to be aware of your sleep schedule, and to be able to acknowledge when you’re getting good sleep. Hopefully by the end of this month I (and everyone on a sleep-venture with me!) will be caught up to all of you good-sleepers.

Until then, sweet dreams!

p.s.- there just wasn’t enough room here to talk about all the cool things the National Sleep Foundation has on their website, so definitely go check it out to read more about the wonders of sleep!