this week’s contributor is lynn till. lynn is a plant nerd. and along w her friend, robin, she’s about to launch a company, linden beauty, that creates whole-plant-based skincare products. i need them to launch soon as they make the most incredible facial toner, serum, and lip balm. as a beta tester, i couldn’t get over the gorgeous and natural scents of their offerings — as well as the efficacy of them! you’ll be sure to hear more about linden beauty from me as they get ready to open up their online shop and start carrying their stuff in other denver stores.
A Denver Home Companion | lynn till linden beauty
After living in the Baker neighborhood of Denver for five years, our family moved to the City Park West area earlier this year. We moved from a late 1800s small, victorian urban homestead to a new industrial eco-friendly 2 bedroom apartment, it’s been a big and mostly positive transition. I’m now able to walk my oldest son, who’s in 4th grade, to school, which is hands down my favorite thing about our new place. We drive far less, are an easy walk away from the Denver Zoo, and have two full bathrooms now — which is a huge perk for this mama of three messy boys.

Yet I do miss having a chunk of earth to get my hands dirty in. Our chickens joined a friend’s flock when we moved. We still get their eggs, but I miss my early morning walks in the garden while they pecked and clucked around me. I miss seeing all my herbs popping back up in the spring. I miss carefully collecting from the stinging nettles patch to make our favorite bright green soup. And I miss prepping the raised beds for veggies. Luckily, the patio at our new place will work great for container gardening. Plus, the city is teeming with lovely little plants popping up around every corner: in side walk cracks and up and down the alleys. It makes for fun discoveries during our daily walks. I listed some my favorite springtime plants and their uses below. If you go urban foraging just make sure you know for sure what you are collecting, use common sense, stay away from places that might have been sprayed with chemicals and those that are in high dog traffic areas…and most importantly, have fun!

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) This much maligned weed is a true healing powerhouse, containing more vitamin A than carrots, plus vitamins B, C, D, choline, and inulin. The whole plant, root, leaves and flower are edible and considered medicinal and packed with antioxidants. Dandelion leaf tea is a cleansing and non-potassium depleting diuretic, making it my go to tea for cycle related break-outs and bloating. Plus the leaves make a lovely, slightly bitter addition to any salad and are seriously amazing sautéed w/ a bit of garlic. The flowers can be made into wine, jelly and can even be dipped in batter and fried up for dandelion breakfast fritters!

 Sweet Violet  (Viola odorata) I look forward to the delicacy of eating sweet violet flowers every spring. The aroma is to die for! All you need to do to candy them is paint their petals with egg white, coat with super fine sugar and let air dry for three days. Super easy. Their cooling, slightly slippery, fresh leaves can be eaten in salads, taken as a tea to relieve a raw throat, or crushed and rubbed on blemishes.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) If you have ever planted peppermint in your garden you know it has the ability to spread out and take over quickly. It’s also one of the first herbs to pop back up in the spring. Peppermint tea soothes belly aches, is helpful to sip during a cold, and is just plain delicious. I like throwing a handful of fresh mint leaves into the blender with some lime juice, greens, and ice for an energizing mojito like detoxing green drink.

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) Midwifes know this plant for it’s ability to slow bleeding after birth or during a heavy menstrual cycle and foragers know it because it’s in the mustard family and offers darn yummy, slightly spicy leaves in early spring. Shepherd’s Purse tea may help stimulate and tone the kidneys and urinary tract and helps clear uric acid for the body. This pretty weed has the cutest heart shaped seed pods and I’m such a plant nerd that I even had incorporated them into my wedding bouquet!

If you’d like to learn more about the awesome plants popping up in your neighborhood and how to use them or to share your favorite urban foraging recipe, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

For additional resources check out these helpful books:

thanks, lynn! i’m definitely gonna go take a look around my yard and neighborhood and on walks for these plants. i’ve never thought this is something i could do myself. also, i am so excited for you and robin and linden beauty.

if you are interested in contributing to A Denver Home Companion, please submit original writing (or ideas!) to emily [at] adenverhomecompanion [dot] com. though i may not be able to publish everything, i certainly consider all of them.

A Denver Home Companion | NIGHTTIME ROUTINE

after a full day’s work and a full face of day-old lotion and sunscreen and make-up, it’s time to get my face squeaky clean for a good night’s sleep. typically, nighttime routines should be more intense than washing your face in the morning (i use facial bar soap and daily scrub in the AM, but often people just splash w water or use face wipes. whatever works!) bc there’s typically a lot more gunk on there. the above items are what i use (or really want to have to be able to use!).

clockwise from left

what’s your nighttime routine? any products you swear by? 

A Denver Home Companion | best hair products for fine hair

continuing on my vain vein of posts about my favorite toiletries, we reach hair products! oh boy! without even reading the list you can see i am a Bumble & bumble whore. it’s true. for styling products they are the best. for reals. they make something for everyone and every sort of hair. there’s certainly been some trial and error when i’ve tried other B&b products not listed here. so this is my arsenal that i now stick to. mind you, dear reader, my hair is short, color-treated, fine, and stick straight. but, i’ve been told, i have a decent amount of it (so i’ve been instructed by my stylist to stop using the word “thin”). the following products may or may not be useful to you depending on your type of hair. as with my make-up, i don’t always use everything every day. but some days i go crazy and there’s a lot of product in my hair. really, it just depends on how i feel that morning or what i have going on later that day. so, without further ado: some explanations and links.

top row (left to right)

  • swissco tortoise wet comb/it says it in the name: perfect for detangling and combing wet hair.
  • mason pearson boar bristle brush/i must confess that i do not own this brush (yet!) but a useful knock-off. i became acquainted w mason pearson brushes when i worked at a high-end salon in chicago during college and those brushes, seriously, are amazing. it is on my list to save up for one eventually. the boar bristle tufts work wonders on fine hair. my knock-off, with boar and nylon tufts, also works great and will certainly suffice until it breaks (at which point a mason pearson will be mine!).

bottom row (left to right)

  • prep spray/a great base layer before treating w heat or adding any other products. particularly good for limp hair like mine. can be used on wet or dry hair.
  • thickening spray/does exactly what the name says. it gives great lift without being overly drying (which is how typical “thickening” and “volumizing” products work).
  • sumo tech/my hair, after being blown-out, still needs some oomph. it is that fine and limp and straight. i rub this in my palm and work it through all my hair –basically making it stand up crazy– and then lightly smooth down. it gives it texture and depth.
  • spray de mode/my favorite hairspray with a good but not crazy hold. i reserve this for days when i am really trying to get made-up and have my hair stand out (or up!).
  • brilliantine/this is a creme that adds some shine and more of a slept-in look. i don’t think i’ll  be replacing it when it runs out but it has served its purpose and is especially great on unwashed hair that just needs a little personality or on adding a finishing touch on my extra done-up hair days.

what products do you swear by? are you loyal to a certain brand or have you found that mixing and matching works best for you? what is your greatest challenge w the type of hair you have and how have you managed or overcome it? 

A Denver Home Companion | best makeup ever

here’s how i make-up my face (spiraling in clockwise from top left):

  1. smashbox camera ready bb cream w spf 35 — lighter than foundation but just as good (if not better!) coverage
  2. various cheek tints from benefit cosmetics — i choose a color depending on my mood, my outfit, or the weather!
  3. sonia kashuk blush brush — this for the powder, and a similar angled contour one for blush
  4. mac prep+prime for lips — a good base for painted lips
  5. mac ruby woo lipstick — a one size fits all sorta color. i feel just as comfy wearing this w my around the house gear as i do getting dressed up for a night out w my hubby
  6. stella nude eau de toilette (no longer available but here’s another one from the same line that i love)
  7. nars orgasm blush — also a one size fits all sorts color for cheeks. i put on a lot or put on a little depending on how feisty i’m feeling
  8. bare escentuals flawless radiance — some days i use this all over, some days i use just to highlight, some days i use it instead of the bb cream. it seems to work great to work as a concealer of sorts.
  9. sonia kashuk eyelash curler
  10. smashbox photo finish lid primer — i never wear eyeshadow so this gives my lids a nice, finished, matte look.
  11. maybelline great lash blackest black mascara w curved brush — hands down the best mascara out there.
  12. sonia kashuk eyebrow gel — i use this after i put on powder to shape and set my eyebrows
  13. smashbox photo op under eye brightener — i put this on last. it helps to lessen the perpetual dark circles under my eyes.

some days i use just the curler and mascara, other days i make sure there’s some rosy cheek action, and yet other days it’s all of it from the bb cream to the lipstick. the great thing about these products and the way in which i put them on is that they do a bang-up job at giving my fair skin a (relatively) flawless look rather than a done-up look. the best make-up job –i believe– is when you can’t tell it’s there but rather it just seems to accentuate features of the face. i’d agree. i don’t like shimmer and shine and lots of colors and heavy foundation. these products listed above –though there’s quite a few– work well together to create a made-up face that is as appropriate out for a cup of coffee or hanging out as home as it is for a girls night out or a sexy dinner date. and though i’m fair skinned, many of these products are versatile enough that other women w different skin tones could also use them as everyday products.

love toiletries and beauty products as much as i do? check out my other posts on my shower must-haves and base layer products.

A Denver Home Companion | BASE LAYER

spiraling in clockwise from top:

after the shower routine and before the hair and make-up routine, it’s the base layer routine. ya gotta prep that skin! this is my current arsenal for making sure my skin is fully moisturized and protected (the dryness and sun in colorado are brutal) and i’m pretty satisfied with the results.

however, i’m open to new ideas for a great overall body lotion and also i’m taking suggestions for face moisturizers with a higher spf. what do you use? have any insights into what works best for you?

*p.s. items not to scale. duh.