Dye your Easter eggs naturally

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

If you’re looking for a fun experiment to try with your kids this Easter, consider dyeing your eggs naturally. Unlike those artificial dye kits sold in stores, natural dyes rely on ingredients like turmeric, cranberry juice, beets and berries. The result is a palette of pastels sure to bring a smile to any face. To help  you in your natural egg dye endeavor, we’ve gathered some of our favorite recipes for achieving the perfect shades of spring.

Yellow (via Serious Eats)
Combine a quart of water, one tablespoon of vinegar and six tablespoons of turmeric. Simmer the mixture until the turmeric has dissolved.

Red (via Serious Eats)
Chop one to two beets into cubes. In a saucepan, bring beets, one quart of water, one tablespoon of vinegar and one tablespoon of salt to a boil. Let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes.

Blue (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
Bring a cup of blueberries, one quart of water and one tablespoon of vinegar to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes and then strain blueberries.

Combine a quart of water, one tablespoon of vinegar and six tablespoons of paprika. Simmer the mixture until the paprika has dissolved.

To dye eggs, use a non-metal container and let the eggs soak until the desired vibrancy is reached. Natural dyes won’t have the same punch as artificial dyes so you may need to soak the eggs longer to get the shade you’re looking for. To ensure the eggs pick up as much color as possible, allow them to soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Clean narrow necked vases with denture cleaner

Monday, March 25th, 2013


In the spirit of the season, we decided to share our favorite cleaning tips to help you get your home fresh and ready for spring, like this trick for cleaning narrow necked vases. Simply fill the vase with hot water. Add a drop of dishwashing liquid and two denture cleaner tablets. Let it soak and then give a good rinse. Your vase will come out sparkly and clear.

Denture cleaning tablets are great for other household chores, like cleaning porcelain toilets. Simply drop a tablet in and wait for about half an hour then flush away stains.


Plant a cutting garden for fresh cut flowers all year long.

Friday, March 15th, 2013

The secret to having fresh cut flowers from your garden is to compartmentalize. Many gardeners plant gorgeous blooms in their flower beds as part of their landscaping. When it comes time to snip those blooms, they hesitate because they like the way the plant looks in the garden. It’s a part of the whole picture. That’s when a cutting garden is comes into play.

Unlike your manicured beds, a cutting garden is tucked out of the way. Since the whole purpose is to snip blooms, don’t fret over how the bed will look or if the colors will compliment each other. Instead focus on planting as many textures, heights and color options as possible. This will give you a variety of possible bouquets and flower arrangements. Consider planting in a row or in a grid formation, as you would in a vegetable garden. It will be easier to wee and simpler to manage your blooms this way. Don’t forget to consider greenery either. Select plants with good foliage to add into arrangements.

Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite picks for a cutting garden.

  • Zinnias
  • Dahlias
  •  Celosia
  • Iris
  • Snapdragons
  • Salvia

Spring cleaning your high efficiency washing machine

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

While it may seem counterintuitive to clean an appliance designed to clean, sometimes it’s necessary. Those of us with high efficiency washers may have experienced what we like to refer to as “washer funk.” This comes from humidity getting trapped in the main compartment of the washer. Many new models have made changes that remedy this issue, but for those of us without this new feature the only remedy may be some elbow grease.

Ask Anna has a full breakdown of how to get your washer sparkly clean. One word of warning, this is not for the cleaning faint of heart!

Step one: Clean the inside of the machine by wiping out with a clean cloth and white vinegar.

Step two: Clean the rubber seal around your washer door. This can harbor mold and bacteria. Make sure you pull back the seal.

Step three: Remove the detergent tray and clean. An easy way to do this is to soak it in a sink full of warm sudsy water and then wiping it down with a clean cloth.

Step four: Clean the inside of the detergent compartment, which like the rubber seal around your door, can also harbor mold.

Step five: Run a clean cycle or a large load cycle with white vinegar or bleach.

Step six: Wipe down the inside of the washer again to remove any stubborn residue.

Step seven: Leave the washer door open and allow it to dry out overnight.

Be sure to visit Ask Anna for full pictures and detailed directions on how to get your washer clean and odor free! She also shares tips for preventing odors, like using less soap.

Do you have any spring cleaning tips to share?

Paint hue inspiration from the home of Mathilde Labrouche

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Elle Decor recently featured the home of French designer Mathilde Labrouche. Tucked in the country side of the Southwest corner of France, the 18th century farmhouse features a color palette that includes navy, rust, peaches and taupes. Capture some of the rustic countryside, no matter where you live, with some Provence inspired paint colors.

Starting at the top left and moving clockwise:
Benjamin Moore Indi go-go (CSP-565)
Sherwin Williams Sage Green Light (SW2851)
Behr Sensible Hue  330E-3
Benjamin Moore Whipped Mocha (CSP – 350)

Our three favorite beauty uses for coconut oil.

Friday, March 1st, 2013

When you pick up your bar of South of France® soap, are you thinking about coconuts? Probably not, even though the luxurious and rich lather you’ve come to expect from our products comes to you courtesy of coconut oil. This versatile oil has been making waves in the health and beauty worlds for its many benefits and uses. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use coconut oil.

As a makeup remover.
Before you apply or imbibe coconut oil, make sure that you don’t have any allergies.  To remove makeup, simply massage coconut oil directly into skin. Use a warm, damp washcloth or cotton pad to gently remove oil, dirt and makeup.

To soften rough heels.
Before you go to bed, soak feet in warm water and exfoliate using a pumice stone. Dry feet and slather with coconut oil. Cover with socks and hit the sack. As you sleep, the coconut oil will soften skin and relieve dry, cracked heels.

As a shaving cream.
Many shaving creams are drying and can irritate sensitive skin. Next time, skip the foamy stuff and reach for the coconut oil instead. Simply smooth a thin layer of coconut oil over the area and shave as you would normally. Rinse with warm water. Leaves skin smooth, nick free and moisturized.


Bring a little classic Provence style into your home

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

The relaxed and simple style of the French countryside is an airy and beautiful aesthetic we love. Want to bring a little of Provence into your home? It’s easier than you think.

Keep a limited palette.
Don’t let your color scheme get out of control. Instead, keep your color palette limited and cohesive. When picking brighter pieces, look to nature for inspiration. The color of the Mediterranean ocean, brick color of the earth or warm peaches and pinks are all beautiful options. Aim for smaller pops of color against more neutral backgrounds, like these aqua finials from Anthropologie.

Choose natural materials.
When selecting pieces for your home, keep the materials natural and simple. Steer clear of lucite or highly lacquered pieces. Pieces made of natural wood will add a rustic charm to your space. To keep it from looking too hokey, keep the lines simple, as in this piece from Ikea.

Layer neutral fabrics.
Another simple way to bring the feel of Provence into your home is with white,cream and stone colored linens. Layering neutral fabrics in the bedroom or living room helps to create a clean canvas for accessories and curios. Focus on mixing textures and materials to create visual interest like with this quilted duvet and sham set from Pottery Barn.

Warm up with this hearty white bean and cabbage soup

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

One of our favorite cool weather crops is the humble cabbage and one of our favorite ways to eat it is in a hearty soup. This dish combines creamy white beans with tender cabbage in a savory chicken stock for a dish that warms you up even as the temperature drops.

White Bean and Cabbage Soup
1/2 pound bacon, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
one can of navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
4 sprigs of thyme, stems removed
4 cups of unsalted chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of water
fresh parsley for garnish

In a heavy bottomed pan, begin rendering bacon over medium heat. As the bacon begins to crisp, add onions, celery and onion. Cook for about two to three minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add all remaining ingredients. Allow the soup to cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes or until cabbage is tender and flavorful. Serve with fresh parsley.

Amber Rose: A romantic scent with lush florals notes and spicy undertones

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Nothing is as classic as roses on Valentine’s Day. That’s why we’re sharing our Amber Rose soap. This rich floral scent with spicy undertones makes it an indulgent escape, perfect for a day of love and relaxation. If rose isn’t for you, don’t forget to try some of our other great floral scents, like Lavender.

South of France® Natural Body Care
Where will we take YOU today?

Rich and savory rustic beef stew

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

This Valentine’s Day, skip the hubbub of busy restaurants, crowded waiting rooms and overly commercial dinner for two deals. Opt instead for some candlelight, good company and one delicious dish. In this rustic stew, beef shanks are slow cooked with red wine, bacon and aromatic herbs and vegetables. The result is a tender meal, full of robust flavors that tastes like you slaved over a hot stove for hours.

2 large beef shanks
1/2 cup of flour for dredging
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 an onion, chopped
1/2 cup of carrots
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/4 pound of bacon
3 fresh bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
cheesecloth or herb bag
4 cups of beef stock
1 1/2 cups of dry red wine
2 red potatoes, sliced
salt and peper to taste

In a dish, combine flour salt and pepper. Dredge beef shanks through the flour mixture until well coated. In a heavy bottom pan, add butter and bring heat up to medium. Add beef shanks to hot pan. Brown the shanks for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until a nice brown crust has formed.  While shanks are browning, add thyme, bay and rosemary to herb bag or secure in a cheesecloth.

Once shanks are browned, remove them and set aside. Chop bacon into small pieces and add to pan. Cook until pieces are mostly crispy. Add carrots, celery and onions to pan and allow them to cooke until onion is translucent. Add herbs, red wine, beef stock and browned beef shanks.

Cover and allow dish to simmer for 3 hours. Thirty minutes before the dish is done, add sliced potatoes. Keep dish covered. Serve with a slice of crusty french bread and chopped parsley.

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