Mary Helen Leonard, author of The Natural Beauty Solution and professionally trained culinary instructor, shares recipes, projects, tips, and stories about living a more natural, handmade, and creative life with her family in Austin, Texas.
It's kind of funny that I ended up having my first baby while writing my first book. The feeling of holding the first print copy of your book and holding your newborn baby in your arms is strikingly similar.
Of course you don't usually gaze upon your first book after hours of physical trauma, so there's one big difference. And naturally the love you feel for a living, breathing human being is much different than anything you could feel toward a stiff rectangle of bound and printed paper.
But still, the sense of wonder and accomplishment is unmistakable. You worked so hard for so long and here it is, in your hands. You almost can't believe it's real! As the minutes, hours, days, and weeks tick on after your "baby" has arrived you feel a mixture of excitement and terror as you begin, very slowly, but then seemingly all at once, to expose your precious bundle to the world.
While babies are almost always met with coos, cuddles, and words of praise, books aren't guaranteed such tender treatment. I held my breath as I waited for my first Amazon reviews to appear. I trembled as I read magazine reviews and blog posts.
New parents are certainly familiar with a fear of scrutiny, but the criticism they receive isn't usually so... public. Nor is it often captured in print - there for you to stew over or all eternity.
So it was with great relief, delight, and gratitude that I share with you some of the truly wonderful feedback my book has received so far. Guys, I am one proud mama.
The following are few quotes from happy readers:
"... This is really a bible for the person looking not just to make but to understand natural beauty products. The reference material in it, such as tables of natural oils showing their properties in beauty products, elevate the book above the level of a typical DIY recipe collection...." - Kathy Ciuci
"...This book is so inspiring! It's the kind of book I love: friendly tone, lots of extra troubleshooting tips and advice in the sidebars, and well-designed for easy reading comprehension. ...." - Hilah Cooking
"...Several cuts above the hippy dippy natural beauty selections you come across in the health food store, The Natural Beauty Solution is a chic lifestyle book that matches Mary Helen Leonard's signature look and feel of approachable sophistication..." - Kristin Sheppard
"Mary Helen Leonard's The Natural Beauty Solution coaxed the skeptic out of me... The approach is grown up rather than hippy and homespun." - Stylist UK compared The Natural Beauty Solution to another recent DIY beauty title in a recent issue and I'm glad to report that The Natural Beauty Solution garnered a glowing review!
You can find out even more about the book by checking out posts from The Natural Beauty Solution's Blog Tour! The following bloggers graciously shared their experiences creating recipes from the book. What fun!
If you enjoyed my book and you'd like to help support it (and the next one!) please consider adding an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. Or, if you are a blogger, please consider sharing the book on your platform. I can help by hooking you up with excerpts, photos, and sometimes even giveaway copies for your readers. Just shoot me an email and we can talk about the details.
Thanks again to everyone who has read The Natural Beauty Solution! Sharing the book with you has been an amazing experience.
Who's got two thumbs and is feeling the love so hard right now?
The Natural Beauty Solution Blog Tour is just wrapping up so I thought it might be fun to take a moment to thank all the wonderful bloggers who participated and to share a little bit about each of their posts.
Andrea kicked things off by trying out my recipes for hand-milled shampoo bars. Her soaps looked gorgeous! Andrea contributed one of the book's "Ask a Natural Beauty Expert" segments. I asked her to share some tips on keeping up with a natural beauty routine and she shared some sage advice.
"Transitioning to natural beauty care is truly a journey. Because everyone is unique when it comes to body chemistry and preferences, my suggestion is to embrace the process and keep trying until you find something that works. There is an element of perseverance that is required when it comes to natural beauty care." - Andrea Fabry
Too true! The transition period can sometimes be harrowing, particularly for hair care. Like most changes that are truly worthwhile it does take some time and effort, but the payoff is huge!
"The book is a visual dream with lush photos of fresh salts, nuts, bright fruits, and creamy emollients that will make you want to create every single recipe. My own beauty needs drove me straight into the arms of a brightening, freshening, exfoliating alfa hydroxy facial." - Kristin Sheppard
I was so excited to share my book with Kate Payne, who has authored two of her own amazing books on DIY living. The Hip Girl's Guide to Home Making and The Hip Girl's Guide to the Kitchen are must-haves for anyone looking to take a more hands-on approach to their everyday life. Kate tried out the Scrunch Spray from my book, using one of my favorite ingredients, neroli hydrosol, to give it a delicious scent.
"I love this spray, especially in the summer months. It’s hot outside and what’s more fun than starting off the day with a cool spritzer for the hair. I love the smell of orange blossom, so this is a total win for me and what makes me happy. If you prefer another scent, you can change up the hydrosol. It’s great to spritz periodically throughout the day as well to cool down and keep curls or waves fresh!" - Kate Payne
Amy's post for the blog tour was so much fun. She shared my recipe for a fresh Alpha Hydroxy Facial made with raspberries and yogurt. Amy even included some action shots of her trying out the masque.
"If you’re anything like me (lucky you!) you try to eat healthy stuff most of the time (with the occasional rugelach). But, your beauty routine is all bottled, chemical filled garbage. Hmmm. Mary Helen shows you how to clean out your current supply, stock up on natural ingredients, and make all your own homemade beauty recipes from lip balms to body lotion to soap and even face masks. Which is exactly what I tried first- the Alpha Hydroxy Facial is made from organic berries, yogurt and kaolin clay. That’s it!" - Amy Kritzer
I love that Elizabeth shared a shot of herself enjoying the Almond and Yogurt Body Scrub. In my book I suggest lounging in the tub while the lactic acids from fresh yogurt do their work.
"Most of us are often thinking about the types of food that we put into our bodies –– gluten free, vegetarian, low calorie, organic –– but I would venture to say that many of us do not think about what types of things we are putting the outsides of our bodies... Where does one even begin to transition out of the store bought product cycle and turn to for natural ingredients and simple recipes to do so? You turn to my pal, Mary Helen Leonard, of course." - Elizabeth Van Huffel
Christina is well-acquainted with living a natural lifestyle. In fact, she has a whole blog and cookbook filled with recipes for delicious plant-based foods. Christina decided to give the no-poo method a try using my recipes for Baking Soda Wash and Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse. She's sharing her no-poo journey over on her YouTube channel so be sure to follow along if you are thinking of making the leap yourself.
Thank you so much to all of the lovely bloggers who took part in The Natural Beauty Solution's blog tour AND to everyone who followed along. We gathered up a huge number of entries for the Ingredient Bundle Giveaway and I am happy to announce that WE HAVE A WINNER!
Congratulation to Shaunie Wyatt!
Shaunie, if for any reason you don't receive my email please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a private message through my Facebook page.
At long last my book has arrived. At this very moment copies of The Natural Beauty Solution are shipping out to all corners of the globe. Today I shipped books to Australia, Spain, Belgium, and the UK! I shipped books to strangers in Montana and friends in Connecticut. Books are making short trips across the city of Austin and long journeys to places like Colorado and California. It's a simultaneously terrifying and marvelous feeling to know that something you've written is about to be read (or at least skimmed) by so many people.
I can't thank those of you who placed pre-orders enough for your support over the last year. Each order was like a little vote of confidence - and that momentum carried me through so many moments of self-doubt. I really hope that you will love the book and enjoy the bonus goodies that are headed your way.
Now that the book is out there it's time for the fun stuff - demos, book signings, parties. Woo hoo! My release party was rained out so this Saturday I will be doing my first official book promotion at Faraday's Kitchen Store in Austin, Texas. I will be giving a free demo featuring three recipes from the book and I will be signing copies of The Natural Beauty Solution. Faraday's will have copies of the book for sale making this a great opportunity to get your hands on your very own copy.
PLUS, it's my birthday. Having a crowded room would be a wonderful birthday gift so if you are in Austin this Saturday come on out and make it happen!
Free Demo & Book Signing Saturday, July 11, 11am to 1pm Faraday's Kitchen Store 12918 Shops Parkway, Suite 540 Austin, TX 78738 Ph. 512-266-5666
By the by, books and e-books are now in-stock at major booksellers both online and locally! Look for The Natural Beauty Solution on Amazon, Wordery, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and in your local independent book stores. You can also get a signed copy directly from me through my Big Cartel Shop. Use discount code MMG10 in my shop to get 10% off.
Howdy friends! I've been hard at work whipping up bonus goodies for all of the amazing people who have placed pre-orders for The Natural Beauty Solution. Yesterday I wrapped up photos for the bonus recipe booklet and opened a huge box of supplies for making lip balms, craft kits, and ingredient bundles. Here are a few shots that I grabbed with my phone while I was working on preparing the high res picture for the booklet.
I'm really happy with the way this booklet is shaping up. It's safe to say that I learned an enormous amount in the time that I spent working with Kimberly Davis. Her photography for The Natural Beauty Solution floors me every time I open the book! I'm counting on it having a similar effect on all of you. ;)
Another thing I am excited to share with you all is the addition of Natural Beauty Ingredient Bundles to my Big Cartel Shop. These bundles are modeled after the three recipe chapters in my book and contain everything you need to create everyday recipes for facial care, body care, and hair care.
You can pre-order any of these bundles with the option to include a copy of The Natural Beauty Solution at a special discounted price. Pre-order bundles that include the book will also include the special pre-order bonus booklet containing three extra recipes not found in the book!
And that's not all...
From now until the book comes out on June 15 I will be offering a special 10% discount to my blog readers on both pre-orders of my book and pre-orders of my Natural Ingredient Bundles! Just use the discount code MMGPRE10 for any order in my Big Cartel shop.