A Day in the Life of Miami Public Transport

Rest assured dear readership, this post has nothing to do with organic skincare or recipes to keep skin supple and soft ~ it’s a “late night rambling” on my part sharing moments that keep a smile on my face due to people I meet along my  way.   This post covers one bus ride on the #3 (running north and south on Biscayne Boulevard).  The following took place on a 15 minute bus ride:
Side note: until recently I’ve always owned a car and often noticed folks sitting at bus stops and wondered “how long you been waiting”?  At times I would stop my car, offer rides only to be viewed as “rather odd” and no one ever accepted a ride except once in Coconut Grove when riding my scooter.  I noticed a rather large elderly Jamaican woman at a bus stop carrying heavy parcels and I pulled up and asked “want a ride”?  Much to my dismay she said “yes” and hopped on the back.  With her weight we were almost doing “a wheelie” but none-the-less I delivered her to her destination and we had a grand time.  (Never know who you’re going to meet at a bus stop).  I should note that my scooter is a Honda Passport, the scooter Honda sent to Jamaica and the islands.  I trust she felt at home.  As I did …

I’m rambling; let me get back to yesterday and the #3 heading north.

I got on the bus and at the next stop a Haitian woman got on along with a quiet Haitian man (they didn’t appear to be together as she sat way in the back, he in the front opposite me).   As soon as the bus began to roll she began to speak loudly (very loudly) in Creole in what appeared to be a “testifying” manner.  She went on and on and every few minutes the man would silently whisper “yesssssss” which seemed to encourage her because she ramped up her volume and intensity.  I really have no clue if she was “testifying” or giving him hell but the “call and response” was lovely.  I do love me a call and response …
At the next stop an elder Caucasian woman got on dressed “head to toe” in red and white.  Glaring red and white.  She was wheeling one of those “back-packs on wheels” (that old ladies riding a bus haul their groceries and treasures in) and her rolling backpack was covered in huge (very huge) red and white polka dots.  Of course she sat next to me (I’m a magnet for audacious) and I said “I see that you like red” and she responded “I like to coordinate my outfits”.  I was momentarily at a loss for how best acknowledge an elder’s pride in dressing to match her rolling backpack but soon noticed her “golf ball sized ring” and complimented her on her accessory and she whispered “I paid a dollar for this ring” (of course I said “it’s lovely”).   During our ride I noticed she was fussing over her golf ball ring and bangle bracelets and began taking them on and off.  I asked “why” and she said “it may be too much”.  I responded “oh no, they’re lovely”.  She put them back on and we rode on in polka dot and golf ball bliss.
The next stop brought on an African American man carrying an Ironing board (I kid you not).  As Ms. Polka dot had vacated he sat next to me (no surprise there) and tried to stuff the Ironing board beneath our feet (it didn’t fit).  I said to him “gotta love a man that travels with an Ironing board”.  He turned and said “I love to iron, cook and clean”.  He then went on to tell me he was a disabled Afghan Veteran, tortured (he wouldn’t tell me where or how) but that he loved to paint mountains but had never seen a mountain (of course I told him of the Hudson River Valley and Catskill mountains) but when he began to suggest all that he could provide with his ironing skills, I was pleased that Home Depot and Whole Foods was the next stop and I got off #3 smiling and grateful to those I met along the way.
To my daughter (who I’ve embarrassed more times than we both care to remember) and always asks “why do you always speak to everyone”?  Well darling, if I don’t speak to strangers I would never know their story, have a smile on my face or place a smile on theirs.  Long ago (before your time) Nina Simone sang “have we lost the human touch”?  Your mom refuses to lose the human touch.

Feel free to leave a comment and tell me of the strangers you met today.  I’d love to hear your story …


Elise @ Mountain Spirit Botanicals

“Oil Pulling”

Although “Oil Pulling” is new to me, numerous people have spoken of its benefits (whitening teeth, removing plaque, healing receding gum lines, increased energy, reduced flu symptoms) so of course,  I’m game.

I googled “Oil Pulling” and it appears to have originated in the Ayurvedic tradition (using Sesame oil) but most people are “pulling” with Coconut oil.

How it’s done: in the morning I take 1 Tb. of Coconut oil and place it in my mouth and “swish” for 20 minutes.  I “swish” while making the bed, putting on coffee, straightening up the house and although it’s not my favorite morning ritual, I’m willing to give it a shot.  Truth? 20 minutes of “swishing” feels like 2 hours and I can’t wait to spit it out.  (It took me 3 days to work up to 20 minutes but I’m now on clock and “pulling” for 20 minutes).

I’m  currently in my first week of “Oil Pulling” and although I’m blessed with good teeth and health, I’m due to see my dentist next month and I’ll keep you posted on my results of  “pulling” Coconut Oil.
Side note: I have a customer (80 years old and still modeling) who’s been using my products for over 20 years and is one of the persons who introduced me to “Oil Pulling”.  Her teeth are white showing no stains or signs of aging.  (How many people in their 80′s have white teeth and discuss “Oil Pulling”)?
I was recently asked to formulate a product for “Oil Pulling” incorporating essential oils beneficial for teeth and gums.  If my personal experiment with “Oil Pulling” warrants this request, know your teeth will light up the night sky.  No flashlight needed.


Here’s a great link for additional information  http://coconut-oil-pulling.com/

Happy pulling,


Friday Night Special / “Dry Skin Brushing”

By offering Friday Night Specials (DIY recipes) my hope is to encourage “The Art of Personal Ritual” ~ the quiet time we take for ourselves and with those we love ~ to nourish our skin, hair and overall well-being and that you experience how taking this time “makes life that much more beautiful”.

I began my personal “bathing rituals” over 25 years ago when my daughter was young.  I raised her without television (we preferred gardening, making art and scaling our home to sit on the roof and observe the night sky) and before the age of cell phones, facebook, text messaging and computer games (blessings to be sure).  At the end of our day I would prepare a bath and we would sit in our tub and talk of our day while absorbing the aromas and nourishment of essential oils and other plant based ingredients.  We would laugh, fuss, complain … whatever our day held … and at the end of our bath “it all went down the drain” + we smelled divine, were nourished and relaxed and sweet dreams soon followed.  Side note: if your child has difficulty falling asleep, this was the first formula that I created which put my child out in a heart-beat.  I used this in her bath and then massaged her afterwards and she was a ‘gonner.  Sweet dreams guaranteed …


The inspiration and products that I currently offer began all those years ago while taking time with the one I love.  Although I’ve had wonderful life experiences, those quiet times with my daughter were the best of times. In our current fast passed society, if I can encourage you to “close things down” for only a weekend and focus on yourself and the one you love, then I know I’ve done right.

Friday Night Special

Women who contact me often complain of “dry skin” which can be caused by numerous factors: the products they’re using, cold or harsh climates, breast-feeding or entering menopause ~ all of which require the need to care for ourselves.
Dry skin brushing is one of the most effective means to slough off dead skin cells and encourage the formation of new, supple skin cells.  Dry brushing also breaks down cellulite and tones the skin and supporting muscles.  Below is information on dry skin brushing and links for you to research the benefits of taking a few minutes before showering to encourage healthy and glowing skin.
Stimulates the Lymphatic System:  the lymphatic system is responsible for eliminating cellular waste products.  By stimulating your lymphatic system and helping it release toxins, dry skin brushing is a powerful detoxification aid.
Exfoliation: dry skin brushing removes dead dry skin, improving appearance, clearing clogged pores and allowing the skin to “breathe.”
Increase Circulation:  dry brushing increases circulation to your skin which encourages the elimination of metabolic waste.
Reduce Cellulite: dry skin brushing may help to soften hard fat deposits below the skin while distributing fat deposits more evenly.

How to Do It

First you’ll need a high-quality brush. Look for one with bristles made from natural fibers. They should feel stiff but not overly so. Ideally, choose a brush with a long handle so you can reach your entire back and other hard-to-reach spots.  Here’s a possible selection:


Dry skin brushing should be done daily for best results and even twice a day if you like. Try incorporating it into your normal daily routine, such as doing your brushing before your morning shower and then again after work.

When brushing, always brush toward your heart which is best for circulation and your lymphatic system. You can brush your entire body (including the soles of your feet). Start at your feet and work your way up your legs to your arms, chest, back, and stomach.

The pressure you apply while brushing your skin should be firm but not painful (avoid “scrubbing”). Your skin should be pink after a session (not red or irritated) and you can brush for as long (or as little) as you’d like. An average dry brushing session may last between two and 20 minutes.




Happy brushing (and happy “no facebook, text messaging, internet access”).  Try this for just a weekend and take good care of yourself and the one you love …

Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan

The Art of Personal Ritual (and watching your man shave)

One of my greatest pleasures was to watch my sweetheart shave (in truth I could have sat for hours on the edge of the bathtub watching him shave).  In my opinion, shaving is one of the most beautiful rituals that a man engages in ~ it’s personal, intimate and self-admiration at its finest (not to mention that a man usually shaves half naked in a hot, steamy bathroom) a combination that quite frankly takes my breath away. 

In his shaving ritual a man creates “the perfect lather to coat his face, chooses the right blade to slide along his skin, rinses the blade every few strokes (while tapping against a porcelain sink to rid the blade of excess), rinses his face and slaps on an aftershave meant to seduce me”.  After his shave I observe his beautiful skin and “a smile as wide as the heavens” as he turns to show me his glory.  Oh Lord have mercy.  I have lived amongst Peacocks and observed how they “strut and fan their tail feathers” and Peacocks pale in comparison to my man as he turned to show me his freshly groomed face.  Without question, I was seduced.

To seduce him in kind, I created Mango Blossom Moisturizer, an exquisite blend rich in nourishing Tropical butters that give the closest shave, tone the skin while imparting a scent “that will make you want to sit on the edge the bathtub for hours.”  I know this to be true. 


Whether shaving yourself or your man, here are a few techniques to enhance the experience:

1.) Wash and scrub the facial skin using Lemon Twist Facial Scrub which removes dead skin cells and encourages the formation of new, supple skin cells.  (During showering is a good time – steam opens the pores and prepares the skin for shaving).


2.) Apply a light coating of Mango Blossom Moisturizer and always shave “with the grain /using short strokes”

3.) Rinse using warm, then cold water to close the pores

4.) Apply Floral Hydrosols to tone pores and refine complexion (if you suffer from razor burn or bumps apply May Blossom Toner to heal tissue damage)


5.) As a finishing note, apply a light coating of Mango Blossom Moisturizer to nourish and moisturize the facial skin.  Heaven I tell you; pure heaven.

Additional tips:  To preserve your razor blade, place razor in alcohol after the final rinse as water causes the blade to dull; do not shave the same area of your face numerous times as this will cause irritations; razor burn occurs when applying too much pressure to the face or shaving against the grain; and most significantly, if your man shaves with an electric razor throw it out!

A note to the ladies: although we don’t have beards, we have other areas that require shaving.  Numerous customers have stopped waxing due to using Mango Blossom Moisturizer while shaving.  Mango Blossom gives a close, smooth shave without leaving “bumps” and nourishes the skin. 

Enjoy …

Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan

Mountain Spirit Botanicals

Coconut Hair Conditioner

When I lived in the mountains, winters were extremely drying on my skin and hair.  To entertain myself + hoping not to succumb to “seasonal disorder”, I experimented with botanical concoctions to entertain myself and enjoy a luxurious treatment.

Oh yes indeed, I succumbed to a few “seasonal disorders” (ask my brother) but the following recipe nourishes dry, winter hair and also provides an opportunity to invite friends and make it a party …

Side note: although woolen hats are not necessary, I always applied this mask and then wore a woolen hat (to create heat) which helps the ingredients penetrate the hair and scalp.

2 tablespoons of olive oil (conditioner)
2 tablespoons of light sesame oil (conditioner)
2 whole eggs (softener)
2 tablespoons of coconut milk (voluminizer)
2 tablespoons of honey (softener)
1 teaspoon of coconut oil (scent)
Blend all ingredients and apply to freshly shampooed hair

Note: before shampooing or applying any conditioning mask to my hair, I always brush my hair (100 strokes as mom advised) which stimulates the scalp and distributes the natural oils throughout the hair and scalp.  Hair-brushing is wonderfully relaxing, especially when someone else is brushing your hair and you can sit back and enjoy the indulgence.

If you prefer not to make your own, I’ve created an exceptional formula “Coconut Hair Cream” which can be applied as above or used daily to style and condition the hair (and numerous customers also use this in their skin care regime.  http://mountain-spirit-botanicals.com/product/coco-hair-cream/


Warm regards and Happy Hair,

Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan

Friday Night Special ~ “Spirit Shine”

Although I thoroughly enjoy writing Friday Night Specials (gleaned from my Herbal library and personal “kitchen experiments”) I’d like to hear from you, my beloved readership, on what you would like to read. If you have questions or concerns please leave a comment at the blog or write to me personally (and privately) at mountain_spirit@earthlink.net and I’d be happy to answer your questions or cover topics you’re interested in or concerned about. I await your questions and look forward to your response.  And now on to this week’s special:

In featuring Friday Night Specials (DIY nutrient rich recipes for hair and skin) it is my hope to encourage “The Art of Personal Ritual” ~ the quiet times we take for ourselves to nourish and replenish our well-being.

Before listing this week’s special “Thyme & Fennel Seed Cleanser” I’d like to address our inner beauty and some basic steps to keep complexions clear and radiant.

As women, we undoubtedly experience the passing of time, a few too many late nights, environmental toxins and the everyday stress which all affect our well being and our complexions. Most assuredly, our lifestyle is revealed in our face (I once read “your naked face remains your signature”) which I believe to be true.

Our “naked face” (no make-up, foundation, etc.) reveals our spirit, what we eat, if we exercise, how many late nights we enjoy, how deeply we love or engage in our life’s passions. It is only our essence that can place “the sparkle in our eyes and the glow in our complexion”. Of this I am certain.

How we choose to cultivate our essence is a personal choice; however, we can “scrub, tone, apply masks and moisturize” but if we’re not aligned with our essence our complexions will most likely be lifeless; I encourage everyone to let their “spirit shine” and allow your inner beauty to be revealed. Take time for yourself … my recipes assist “quite time” as well as vital nutrients to nourish your complexion and overall well-being. Remember, the skin is our largest organ and absorbs deeply … what we place on our skin affects our health.


Before reading on, if you need to be reminded of your beauty, this song brings it home


Thyme & Fennel Seed Cleanser

2 sprigs of fresh Thyme, crushed ~ 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed ~ ½ cup boiling water ~ Juice of ½ Lemon. Mix Thyme and Fennel Seeds / cover with boiling water / add Lemon juice and steep for 15 minutes. Strain infusion and cleanse face. Remaining infusion may be kept in refrigerator and discarded after 3 days.


Medicinal properties / what you absorb by applying this recipe

Thyme: Aromatic, antiseptic, stimulant
Fennel seeds: antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory
Lemon: astringent, toner, exfoliate, vitamin C

Basics on keeping complexions cleansed, toned & moisturized

Steaming: opens pores, increases blood circulation and eliminates toxins while absorbing vital nutrients from flowers and herbs http://mountain-spirit-botanicals.com/product/floral-steam-2/
Cleanse: rids the skin of dirt, makeup and oils http://mountain-spirit-botanicals.com/product/lemon-twist/
Mask: removes residue deep within the pores and replenishes the skin with vitamins & minerals. (Although I don’t offer masks on my website, these DIY recipes contain ingredients available in your kitchen).
Tone: tightens & refines the pores & prepares the skin for moisturizing http://mountain-spirit-botanicals.com/product-category/facial-care/toners-and-floral-hydrosols/
Moisturize: replenish the skin with fluid & coats the skin with a protective layer http://mountain-spirit-botanicals.com/product-category/facial-care/moisturizers/

And here’s to your Spirit Shine,
Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan

Friday Night Special (food for the skin)

Avocados are currently abundant in my kitchen (my neighbor’s tree drops about 10 per day and I hustle to gather the bounty before the squirrels).  Yes, the squirrels are ahead but I’ve gleaned my fair share for my face and lunch (avocado salad with herbs and tomatoes from my garden) ~ my skin is nourished and I’m well fed thanks to my neighbor’s tree.  Supporting local?  You betcha.
By incorporating wholesome ingredients in our skincare regime (food for the skin) we also nourish our well-being as the skin absorbs deeply.  All that’s required to reap the benefits of nature’s bounty is to take some quiet time in our kitchens and personal care rituals ~ the results are nourishing, relaxing, and stunning.  I know this to be true …

 Squash & Avocado Masque

Recipe: 2 avocados pitted and peeled ~ 1 acorn squash, flesh only ~ 1/2 papaya, peeled and seeded ~ 1 lime, peeled and seeded ~ 1 Tb. lemon juice ~ 2 Tb. black tea ~ 1 tsp. alfalfa sprouts ~ 1 egg white.
Combine all ingredients in blender and whip until smooth.  After cleansing your face, apply mixture and leave on for 15 minutes ~ rinse off with warm water and pat dry.
This blend may be used up to 3 times per week (for nonsensitive skin, less for sensitive).  Shelf life: cover and refrigerate immediately, discard after 3 days.

Nutrition (what you will be absorbing by applying this masque)

Avocado: moisturizer; A, C, D, E; potassium; thiamin; riboflavin
Acorn squash: moisturizer; A
Papaya: exfoliant; A, C; papain
Lime: toner; C
Lemon juice: toner, C
Black tea: soother
Alfalfa sprouts: astringent; protein; minerals; C
Egg whie: ingredient binder

As always, the first one to send me a photo with this masque on your face gets a gift!

Warm regards,

Garden fresh ...

Garden fresh …



Friday Night Special

Here’s the good news ~ “Friday Night Special”~ featuring DIY recipes to keep your hair, skin and spirit nourished and glowing is back by popular demand!  All recipes will consist of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy products and natural ingredients.  Why?  Because it’s fun to slather ourselves with fruit and vegetables (ask my friend Sue about that) + the added benefit of applying ingredients rich in vitamins and minerals is our skin, our largest organ, absorbs deeply.  Here’s to plump and lovely skin while absorbing vital nutrients that benefit our overall well-being.

All recipes will require a small pot to simmer ingredients + a blender to whip it all up.  I’ll do my best to limit recipes with ingredients commonly found in our kitchens and gardens (fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and seeds) and in all cases “organic” is recommended.

Before I list the recipe for “Herbal Infused Honey” (exceptional facial mask or stirred into a cup of tea) here’s a brief overview of the medicinal qualities of Honey and what you will be absorbing:

Honey: “Rich in enzymes and among food groups, its enzymatic content is one of the highest.  Other constituents (to name a few) are calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins B2, B6, H, K & C”.  (Curative Properties of Honey and Bee Venom by N. Yoirish).  When used topically, honey is a humectant (slows down or stops loss of moisture from the skin); skin conditioner and emollient; gentle cleanser.  Oh my ..

Herbal Infused Honey
Local, raw Honey is always best

Dried herbs (your preference, Lavender, Rose, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Oregano, Chamomile, etc.)  Note: when selecting your herb you may want to consider your “skin type” and which herb may benefit your complexion (or your cup of tea).  I’m happy to assist in your selection if needed.

Fill your jar 1/4 way with dried herbs and top with local Honey and stir well, cap securely, place in a sunny spot and shake gently each day (add more Honey if herbs rise above the Honey).  Your infused Honey should be left to infuse for one week (or longer) and strain once desired outcome is achieved.
Tip: I like to work with 12/ounce Ball jars (they fit in my hand, don’t clutter valuable kitchen space and they’re still made in the United States).  Any jar you choose is suitable as long as it’s clean and sterile.
Your infused Honey can be applied to your face and body or poured over Ice-Cream or added to a cup of Tea.  Infused honey also makes a lovely gift.  Below are a few links for decorative jars so you can delight your friends with a nourishing gift made with love.
Note: if you’re a beginner or don’t “set up” or infuse on a regular basis, I suggest “Specialty Bottle” – they offer “no minimum” (you can purchase one or twenty jars) and their customer service and delivery is exceptional.




Here’s my give-away: if you create this recipe, your infused Honey will take a week to “infuse” and the first person mailing me a photo of their “infused Honey slathered on your face” by next Friday, will receive a free gift from me.
What’s in store for next Friday?  I’m considering “Quinoa & Kale Body Polish” or “Acorn Squash & Avocado Masque”.  What would you like?
Warm regards,
Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan (and lover of Honey Bees)


The Miracles of Plant Medicine & Plant Based Skincare

I recently had an accident while riding my bike which led to a deeper understanding of medicinal plants.  

Long story short: I swerved to miss someone, hit a glitch in the sidewalk and bounced against a tree with razor-like bark.  The bark sliced my arm so quickly and deeply that I had to get off my bike to cut my skirt and make a bandage.  Although my arm bled profusely, what particularly freaked me out was I could see inside of my arm ( I don’t like to see inside of my arm).  

I peddled home and washed the wound with Calendula Tincture (burned like hell) and the first poultice was Aloe, left on for an hour.  Next was the miracle plant “Comfrey” (Symphytum officinale) historically known as “knit bone” for its ability to knit back what has come apart.  I chewed the leaves to break down their cellular structure and applied the pulp to my arm, wrapped it securely (I could actually feel the skin tightening around the wound).  In less than 24/hours my wound closed and (thank you Lord) I could no longer see in my arm.  

At the time of the accident I was formulating Comfrey Facial Cream (pictured above) and applied its base infusion (roots and leaves) to my wound for the next few days and also applied the cream to areas that were bruised and discolored.  Now, 4 days later, all discoloration is gone, the wound is completely closed and new skin is forming over the deeper cuts.  

Do plants and plant based skincare heal?  You betcha! 

With gratitude to my Comfrey plant (yes, it relocated with me) and all that it has taught me over the years I’d like to offer a free gift with the first 10 orders for Comfrey Facial Cream. Hint?  I’m known for my gifts.

Comfrey Facial Cream has been custom formulated with pure botanicals known to heal tissue damage and is an excellent intervention for dry, sensitive complexions.  Along with its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, Comfrey stimulates blood circulation which firms the skin.  Oh my …


Added note: “Comfrey (Knitbone) is vulnerary and demulcent, having unparalleled wound and fracture healing action.  Comfrey has been praised throughout history as a premier healing plant used extensively in folkloric Herbalism internally and externally for the repair of innumerable body wounds and illnesses”.  James Green “The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook”.

Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan



Daffodils ~ Mangoes ~ March Special

Although spring has yet to unfurl her glory, after a long winter with windows and doors shuttered and numerous layers of clothing, you can imagine my excitement with seeing the green tips of Daffodils in my garden!

Daffodils represent (as Maya Angelou writes) “one more time”.  Although Maya was referring to love, the sentiment works for Daffodils and the promise of spring, one more time.
Daffodils also hold a personal memory; on the first day of spring my father would always bring my mother a bouquet of Daffodils.  I never fully understood his offering because he was not by nature a sentimental man; however, I knew by his bouquet (and my mother’s swooning) that Daffodils held power.  Perhaps it was observing this bouquet that set my course to study the spiritual and medicinal qualities of plants?  I like to think so.
Although I currently live in the mountains I am a Tropical woman at heart.  I don’t like to wear shoes, I prefer flimsy cotton dresses and I adore humidity, salty oceans and Tropical fruits ~ which brings me to my monthly special ~ “Mango Blossom Moisturizer”.  I love Mangoes and created this blend to pay homage to Tropical climates and to the nourishment and beauty these climates provide.
Mango Blossom is a light, penetrating moisturizer formulated with Botanical nutrients closely resembling “sebum”, the oil our skin naturally produces to heal & protect itself.

This blend is also exceptional for shaving – it gives a close shave, protects the skin from razor burn and bumps, nourishes the complexion and leaves your ‘fella with a scent that makes you want to kiss.  (I attest to that).  Numerous women have also stopped “waxing” as Mango Blossom gives a smoother, closer shave.  If you’re searching for “paradise in a bottle”, this one’s for you!

100% Pure, Organic Botanical ingredients: Mango Butter; Shea Nut Butter; Macadamia Nut Oil; Kukui Nut Oil; Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Avocado Oil; Sesame Oil; Essential oils of French Lavender, Vietnamese Basil and Cinnamon; Indonesian Benzoin.

Discounted throughout March to celebrate “one more time”


Personal request: for those who enjoy my offerings, if you would post this blog on your social networking sites I’d appreciate the support