Jana Blankenship, a Gardiner resident since 2014, recently published her second book, titled “Seasonal Family Almanac: Recipes, Rituals, and Crafts to Embrace the Magic of the Year.” The book, co-authored with Emma Frisch, is a hands-on resource for families to strengthen their connection with nature through recipes for cooking, wellness, personal care, and crafts suitable for each season. Blankenship is well-versed on this topic. Her first book, “Wild Beauty: Wisdom & Recipes for Natural Self-Care,” was published in 2019. Her business, Captain Blankenship, began in 2009, but her love for blending beauty products was discovered much earlier.
“I was always that kid outside making potions,” said Blankenship. “My mom was a fashion designer; growing up she saw my passion for alchemy and let me mix all her perfumes together. In the early 80s perfumes were so different than they are now, they were entirely synthetic, but so much more alluring.” Blankenship developed a sensitivity to the perfumes’ synthetic ingredients, but she still loved the scents of the natural world. Twenty years later she was living in Berkeley, California, and she noticed, “the hills there smelled like jasmine and citrus. I ended up going into a friend’s store and discovered this sterling silver compact of solid perfume and it smelled just like jasmine and blood orange, and grapefruit.” It was the first perfume she had experienced that didn’t make her feel sick. She found out the perfume maker, Mandy Aftel, lived nearby and Blankenship began studying with Aftel. Captain Blankenship started in her Berkeley kitchen in 2009. Her first products were essential oil-based perfumes, but the company grew to include skin care, hair care, and body care. Blankenship explained “my passion is really plant-based formulas and education around plant-based ingredients.”
The growth of clean beauty has exploded in the past five years, but back in 2009 there were few options. “You could find some products in a natural grocery store,” explained Blankenship, “but the scents were pretty simple and one-noted like lavender or vanilla. It was all about timing, there were so few options back then.” Eventually the market became saturated as the big skin-care companies entered the clean beauty market. Haircare products such as dry shampoo, sea salt hairspray, and hair and scalp serums were the first products Blankenship formulated back in 2009-2010 and the company is again focusing on hair care which still has room for innovation.
Blankenship met Emma Frisch four years ago when they were introduced by a mutual friend after they both had their second child. Blankenship said “it quickly became clear there was so much synergy between us. When we met, we were both independently pitching new book ideas to the same publisher, so we kind of compared what we were doing, and it turned out we had very similar ideas. Both proposals were about plant education and culinary recipes involving kids.” They decided to pair up and work together. The book has culinary recipes written by Frisch, and herbal and personal-care recipes contributed by Blankenship. They both worked on beverages and included nature-based crafts and activities for the whole family. The recipes and activities spread through the year, from early spring through late winter. There is also an element of wild harvesting and foraging for ingredients. The authors want this to be available to everyone no matter where they live, in a city or the country.
In addition to the recipes and activities written by Blankenship and Frisch,18 different women wrote pieces on various topics, ranging from Juneteenth to natural dental care. Andrea Draznowsky, owner of Gatehouse Greens in New Paltz, included a submission on microgreens. Both Ritualist and Inquiring Minds in New Paltz are selling this book and it is available for purchase online at Amazon and many independent book sellers.