Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Natural Care

There is such a sense of peace and calmness surrounding Melodie Tompkins' home, that I believe it overflows into her hand made natural skin care and body products. The day I visited, pet hens 'Baby' and 'Penny' strolled around the grassy yard searching for bugs, the air was rain-fresh clean, and the sky was filled with sunshine and cottony white clouds. I felt as if I had escaped to a place of solitude and rest.

Melodie and her husband Eric, along with their five children, are fairly recent transplants from Tucson, Arizona, having moved to rural Page, Nebraska about six years ago. Eric works with his father in their insurance business. Melodie, who besides having a degree in literature and loves to read, is a work at home mother who in addition to home schooling her children, has an interest in using plant materials and ingredients from her pantry to create body scrubs, dry shampoos, soaps, lip balms, face scrubs, healing salves, and 'bug bars'.

About six years ago, while still living in Tucson, Tompkins began experimenting with recipes found on line and in books to use in creating her skin care products. In addition to ordering many of her natural bases and additives such as bees wax and essential oils from on-line, she also grows her own sage and mallow. If a particular recipe happens to call for oats, she will simply reach for a container from her own kitchen food pantry.

Tompkins enjoys learning about plants that the Native Americans and the Pioneers used for their natural healing properties, such as aloe, and Plantain, a small herb that is often considered a lawn weed. One of her most favorite books on the subject is, 'Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains', published by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, which she has nearly 'devoured'. She praises the healing properties of the Plantain plant which is used in making her salve with dried calendula, vitamin E, and a natural beeswax base. She spoke of using this salve on a horse's open wound, with the results being the closing and quick healing of the injury. She also used it on their dog when he was hit by a car. His skin on one leg had been peeled back, and this salve dramatically enhanced the healing process. She says, "This is an all-purpose skin healer."

While I interviewed Melodie, she pulled a small grinder from her kitchen cabinet and proceeded to mix a recipe for for her face scrub: oats, dried chamomile, and ground sage, to which she added a few drops of oil to hold the mixture together. This would be placed in the palm of one's hand, and then rubbed on the face with a washcloth and then rinsed off.

Her soaps are made of all natural bases and additives. Her lip balms have a bees wax base and one can choose from various scents; lemon, peppermint, rose, pineapple, etc. The dry shampoo ingredients are oats, baking soda, and chamomile or lavender flowers. Body scrubs are made of coconut oil, scents, and granulated sugar or Dead Sea Salt (which has more nutrients than table salt) as an exfoliant. Tompkins says, "Our skin needs the nutrients just as much as our insides do." 'Bug bars' contain lemon eucalyptus and citronella and resemble soap bars. One would just rub the bar on their skin to ward off mosquitoes and biting bugs. She says, "I like to process the ingredients as little as possible because it retains more of the nutrient value. What you put on your skin is just as important as the foods we eat." She adds, "The less it's been tampered with, the better."

Her children assist with the home-based business by making the container labels on the computer and helping with the soap molds. Melodie enjoys selling her products to family and friends and giving them as gifts. She also has a few items on display in her husband's insurance office in O'Neill.

Melodie spoke of the difference between the culture in Tucson and here... "Most people who live here, have parents and grandparents here, so there are roots in the area." "There is a sense of community and being a neighbor... people go out of their way to help the people around them." She appreciates having her children "grow up in a place that's safe and very real, and the children in turn, feel neighborly." She says she "loves this area." "I like the slow life and the agricultural community."

Community. That's what we're all about.



  1. Do you sell your natural products online? I am intersted in purchasing some since I like natural products and I have sensitive skin as does the rest of my family.

    Thank you,

    Lisa Swingholm
    San Antonio, TX
    Native from O'Neill, NE

  2. Lisa, if you want to send me your e-mail address (mine is above my photo), I will pass it onto Melodie and she can contact you. Type in the subject line what your inquiry is about. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. This is so interesting! I just found recipies online I want to try myself.


  4. Joy, this is so refreshing and put together so well. What a fresh,country perspective of O'Neill and the people that bring it to life! I love your pictures and how it's all organized. Very cool site!


Let us know what you think...