Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve - rites and rituals

I had a lovely New Year's Eve Day... noontime met with some friends... afternoon with family (translate 'grandkids!)... early evening supper and celebration with friends, phone calls from distant family.  But now it's evening and I'm home. By choice.  Alone. Not necessarily by choice.
Tempted to just answer some email, play a game or three, curl up with a book. But this is the last night of what has been for me (and so many others) a difficult year.  I have an need for rite and ritual to mark the end of the year, and to welcome in 2011.
For me, of course,  rite and ritual must include my beloved aromatics.

This is MY New Year's Eve rite and ritual..  Hope others will share theirs.

First I cleaned out the fire place.  Not just shovelled out last nite and last week's ashes, but swept it ... perhaps not spotless, but clean.   And laid a fresh fire to be lit...next year.  The ashes were carried outside.  (I'll deal with them during daylight, but they are out of here.)

When I finish typing this, I'm going to burn some sage throughout the house, every room and closet.  I'm grateful it's unseasonably warm outside...Doors can be open so the sage smoke can remove all the negativity that has accumulated in this house.   If I had no dried sage, or couldn't smudge for some reason, I would spritz each room and area with white sage hydrosol. But tonight I burn the sage in a large sea shell, as I was taught.

After that... a cleansing bath.   planning Dead Sea and Himalayan Salts,  and white sage and sweetgrass hydrosols in the water.

(I had thought about our Detox Synergy, there is, after all, nothing more cleansing. But I don't WANT cleansing on a cellular level and the resulting sleep disruption tonight. So the sign and symbol of white sage and sweet grass will do nicely.)

After the bath...  a pot of "Relax and Sleep Tea".   and, hopefully, to sleep through my neighbors' fireworks and mother nature's fireworks that are slated in the earliest morning hours.

In the morning?  the Aromalamp will have bright citrus and sparkling white fir to welcome the New Year with joy... and before my morning coffee the year will start with a "Cuppa Happy Tea"

that will be my New Year's Eve ritual this evening. What will be yours?

However you choose to celebrate this last night of 2010...be safe... and we will greet you next year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Roast Roots

Too many Christmas Cookies, too many rich Holiday foods, (and lots more to come) and I found myself craving something simple and plain and down to earth and nourishing.

Roast Roots are (is?) the answer.

How I did them this time (because it varies)

Peel all of these and cut in approximately 1 inch dice:

1/2 a butternut squash (if there were more than one of me, I'd use the whole one. As it is,I kept the 'round' hollow end to roast with some sausage in it another day.)
1 Large Sweet Potato
1 or 2 carrots (can substitute the prepared baby carrots. I did.
1 small white turnip
1 large parsnip, peeled
1 large sweet onion

2 small Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters (leave them bigger because they cook faster.)  Red potatoes or Yukon Golds, scrubbed instead of peeled night have been better, but I used what I had.  I'm told others add a rutabaga (big fat yellow turnip) and/or some brussels sprouts. I've heard of celeriac, and even beets being used.

While you are peeling and chopping the veggies, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  I've seen recipes that say 375, but I was impatient.  Pour a bit of Olive oil into a jelly roll pan, or the largest SHALLOW pan you have. You want to be able to spread these out.  Put all the chopped veggies in a bowl, sprinkle lavishly with olive oil.  Now you get your hands dirty...toss the vegetables so that everything is thoroughly coated with the Olive Oil. (It's good for your hands; this time of year they are probably dry anyway.)   Pour into the oiled jelly roll pan, spread out.  Sprinkle VERY generously with rosemary, a bit of thyme, some peeled whole garlic cloves would be good but I forgot them.  Some fresh ground pepper, and they are ready for the oven. You can not use too much Rosemary or Thyme. 

I gave them about 20 or 25 minutes, then turned and tossed them a bit.  I added a very generous sprinkling of PANKO... Japanese Bread Crumbs.  Donna Maria Cole Johnson shared THAT secret when she was roasting summer vegetables.  Not essential, but good.

Obviously this isn't a recipe, but a throw together. But it's a great fast and easy lunch or supper.  I will probably get about four meals out of the pan I just made, and will enjoy them immensely.  By the time they are gone it will be time for Christmas dinner.

I've been told that a splash of balsamic vinegar makes them even better. I may try that with the leftovers. Or not.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Donations?

Most of you know we earmark 2% of every Wednesday's orders to our charity of the quarter.  Many of you have given generously over the years to help us support the chosen groups.

We've been donating to the Environmental Defense Fund for the past several months, as a response to the Gulf Oil disaster.  However, the year is drawing to an end, and we need to choose another "worthy cause"

The criteria are simple. Whoever is chosen must rate very well on the various 'evaluation sites' that determine where the money actually goes. We want the funds to go to recipients, not to fund executive salaries.   We normally use Charity Navigator, but there are others.

The Charity can not be simply local.  (We broke this rule in April when middle TN was devastated by once in a millenium flooding, but as a rule we try to keep the cause either national or international.)

Our experience is that our clients are more apt to support charities that make life better for women or children, either in the US or, even better, internationally.

In the past, some of the most popular causes have been Women For Women, helping women in wartorn lands rebuild their lives and their communities,  Mariska Hargitay's The Joyful Heart Foundation, helping victims of,  and working to prevent, sexual assault

You may read more about these, and other causes you've helped us support at our Donations page.

Now the question is, as 2010 winds to a close, what should be our "cause of the quarter" to start 2011.  Suggestions, please?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holidays at Nature's Gift

Mailing Deadlines:

According to the USPS website the deadline for domestic Priority Mail shipments to arrive by Christmas is Tuesday, Dec 21st.  They say that Express Mail will arrive in time if shipped on Wednesday, the 22nd.
For our international clients, it is already too late to ship to Africa or Central and South America.  For the rest of the world,  Europe, Asia, the Pacific Rim, International Express Packages must be shipped by Thursday the 16th.  We will ship Express Mail orders on the same business day if we have the orders early in our morning, no later than the following day received late in the day.    Military Mail:  the deadline for Priority Mail to every APO address has come and gone; however most of them will receive Express Mail Packages in time if shipped by the 18th.

FIFTEEN on the Fifteenth:

For our final celebration of 15 years on line, we will be offering 15% off all of our regularly discounted retail products on Wednesday, December 15th.  Simply enter the promotional code fifteen at checkout, press apply, and you will see your discount reflected on screen.  Please don't submit the order if you do not seen the discount, go back and apply it again. We will not be able to apply the discount retroactively. Nor will we be able to make any changes or additions to discounted orders.  Fast buys, bulk orders,  kits, special books, and any other product marked 'may not be discounted' will not be discounted.  PLEASE allow us a few extra days to pack and ship orders from the sale; our hardworking elves can be deluged.

Holiday Closings:

Since the last day we can ship your Christmas orders is Wednesday the 21nd, Nature's Gift will be closed for Holiday Celebrations (and cookie baking!) on Thursday and Friday Dec 23rd and 24th.   We will be in the office but closed for business the week between Christmas and New Years. Time for the annual inventory that always has me tearing my hair out.  IF you have a true emergency and need a package expressed mailed that can not wait, contact us and we may be able to get it out for you early that week. Other than that, all orders from noon Dec 22nd will be held and shipped after New Year's Day.

12 Days of Christmas Gifting:

Every year, from Dec. 25th through the true 12th day of Christmas, January 5th, one order will be selected to receive a special gift. In the past we have given away signed copies of my book, Bliss Bath, Aromatherapy Jewelry,  Skincare Products,  a wide range of our most popular products.  You can't win if you don't order. (Hint, the fewest orders are always placed on Dec. 25th, so the odds are best then.)

We may also be announcing some spur of the moment 12 day sales, so watch our Facebook Page and/or our Specials page.

Last minute gift ideas?  Read here:

To all of our friends...we wish you a safe and blessed and joyfilled Holiday Season, and thank you for letting us continue to be of service to you.
See you next year!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

If it works - stop doing it!

A recent comment from a client started me thinking...and with her permission I'm quoting the exchange.

Jane from Maryland had been a frequent client years ago.We'd not heard from her in perhaps a decade. She recently placed several orders, and commented about using the oils to combat the effects of stress.

In the course of our conversation she wrote:


Am so glad to brighten your week. As someone in business myself (I'm a nonprofit publisher), I know how much we all appreciate positive feedback.

I actually first became a Nature's Gift customer about 10 years ago when my kids were small, but then went back to a demanding job, caring for parents at end-of-life, and stress caught up with me. I've so enjoyed "coming back" to aromatherapy.

which led to a conversation about the subject of this post.   We find things that work, that are nurturing and self-caring... and when life gets busier; we stop doing them.

I say "we" because Jane and I agree that we both have a tendency to do this, and I have many friends who will do the same thing.
  • Starting my day with a few minutes meditation really smoothed my morning.  Of course now I hit the ground running and don't have time to 'sit and do nothing'...
  • I created our Bliss Bath to help me through a period of both grief and extreme stress. I used it almost every night.  Today, a quick shower is all I will take time for.
  • A cup of Chamomile tea every evening really helps quiet the "todo list" running in my head and helps me sleep better (even with lavender or SleepEase in my Aromastone.)  Of course I no longer take the time to steep it.
  • 15 months ago my son and daughter in law gave me a gift certificate for a massage.  The therapist is not nearby, but on the other side of Nashville. WELL worth the drive.  Did I make the appointment and go down there?    
These are some of the things that I have done in the past to take care of myself, and stopped doing.  Jane in Maryland stopped using the precious oils that relieved her stress and refreshed her spirit.

We are, of course, unique. No one else finds things that really do  make their daily life more manageable; and then stop doing these same things.  Right?

What has worked for you... and are you going to start doing it again?

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Shingles, again

    Google Health defines Shingles so:

    Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful, blistering skin rash due to the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox.

    They go on to describe the wide array of symptoms (almost all painful!) that occur with it, and say that it is normally a self limiting illness, but usually treated with oral antiviral drugs.

    I've never suffered from Shingles, for which fact I am well and truly grateful.

    Now...according to the law of the land, I am not allowed to make any statement that any product of ours can affect the course of a disease, or could possibly " cure, mitigate, treat or prevent" disease.

    I believe I can still quote Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, who writes in Medical aromatherapy: healing with essential oils that a dilution of Ravensara essential oil in a base of Calophyllum inophyllum (Foraha or Tamanu) can treat Shingles effectively.
    And Dr. Jane Buckle writes of the use of Ravensara in Calophyllum to treat Shingles, and, in fact, any sort of Herpes outbreak.  She writes in Clinical Aromatherapy "the most successful essential oil Ihave used has been Ravensara Aromatica. "

    Len Price, in Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage writes of Calophyllum (which he calls Tamanu "a combination of tamanu vegetable oil and Ravensara aromatica essential oil has been used successfully as a treatment for Shingles."

    What triggered this rash of quoting?  An email received this week from Dusti Martin in Longbow TX.  Dusti has been a client since before my oldest records,  I think I made my first major error on one of her orders... received an order from a Dusty Miller and Dusti Martin on the same day...and switched the contents.  Dusti obviously forgave me, because she's been ordering from us ever since.  At any rate, she wrote Oct. 11:
    I can really use your help with my new ailment!  Oct. 2 I felt "odd" in that I had a mild headache, felt weak for no reason I could think of, and the skin on the right of my torso was very sensitive to touch.  Wednesday night I discovered bumps on my right back waist (and they are multiplying and roaming along my right front).  I consulted WebMD for shingles and that was what I had.  On Thursday I saw my doctor who confirmed my hunch.  She prescribed an antiviral med to take 3 x daily for 7 days.  She also prescribed med for pain for when the blisters are gone.

    Long story short, I have no Calophyllum and none of your Ravensara Aromatica.  I do have a 5ml? bottle!  Can you help me out here not only with the carrier and oil, but also number of drops of Ravensara in the Calophyllum?  Massage directly on the bumps?  Apply how often?  Sorry to be such a novice but this is my first excursion into medical application. 

    I'm trying to get to where it's comfortable enough to wear jeans by next Sunday.  Our choir begins rehearsals for the Christmas Concert and I really want to participate!
    We immediately shipped her both Calophyllum and ravensara.  Yesterday (12 days later) she wrote:

    Hi All,

    Three weeks ago I was developing a case of shingles, only didn't yet know why I was feeling "odd".  My doctor prescribed an antiviral medication which I took the requisite seven days.  In the meantime, I contacted Marge after looking up the article regarding shingles on your web page.  I ordered the Calophyllum and Ravensara and added the entire bottle of Ravensara to Calophyllum, per suggestion.  That was on October 15.  By the 17th, I was able to fairly comfortably wear jeans to choir practice in the evening.  That in itself was amazing!  I've applied my "Wonder Serum" daily, several times a day this past week and I cannot describe adequately the improvement in the way I feel!  The extreme skin sensitivity is almost gone.  The spots/bumps are drying up and going away.  I am finally able to wear clothing with a waistband and am NOT in pain!  I can drive and not cringe with every bump or hole in the roadway.  I knew this solution would be helpful but I
     had no idea just how much or how quickly it would bring welcome relief :)

    Thanks so much,
    When I wrote asking her to share, she replied:
    Yes, PLEASE share it.  It's been a blessing, this "Wonder Serum", and it can help others IF they know about it!
    We've written about this blend for Shingles before.  In December 2001, our newsletter contained the following thank you:

    Beth Werner's husband John managed to contract a case of Shingles...
    Nasty, PAINFUL stuff.  Beth had us shoot some callophyllum innophyllum and some ravensara her way. This is John's Emailed message the day after he received it:

    Marge,

    The stuff Beth ordered for treating my shingles arrived today, and she whipped up a batch.  I put it on before laying down for a nap at 4:00 and popped a Co-Tylenol.  It was the best few hours of sleep I have had in a week.  When I woke up, the angry red color of the shingles had noticeably subsided.  The swelling in my eye lid was also greatly reduced.  (My wife says I have an eye again.)  Even Beth is amazed at how well it worked.

    Thanks,

    - John
    In October, 2002 From Juliana Lipe, in Shreveport:
    Hi Marge,

    Just wanted to give you some feedback on the Ravensara oil that I recently purchased for a friend with shingles. I did a 10% dilution in Calophyllum for her and she told me today that, in her words, "it healed me!" She said that it relieved the itching and healed the lesions that had plagued her for weeks. Another wonderful EO success!! Thanks again for your help!

    Juliana
     And some of you remember Courtney raving about her mother's finally believing that what we make available WORKS when, after dealing with a Shingles outbreak for almost a month she finally agreed to try "some of your snake oil."... the next morning she was singing our praises.


    Over the years we've had requests to offer this combination 'preblended', and always refused.  We finally decided that when someone is absolutely miserable and in pain they don't need to be measuring and blending. It seems an act of mercy to make the combination available preblended and ready to order.  So we are. Our description of Ravensara now gives a description of both the undiluted oil, and the Calophyllum dilution.    I hope the information given will be helpful to some of you.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Creating a New Blend for Sleep & Relaxation

    By Christi R. Pugh
    for Nature's Gift

    One of the most frequent inquiries we receive concerns using essential oils for insomnia & of course we always first recommend our Sleep Ease Synergy comprised of Lavandin Super, Roman Chamomile, Green Mandarine, & Sweet Marjoram. This blend proves effective for many clients & we continue to receive lots of positive feedback.

    Marge often mentions "taking a break" from certain oils so they don't lose their effectiveness & that includes synergistic blends such as Sleep Ease. A friend who has chronic sleep problems used it with success but the sleep issues began recurring after a period of time, so I decided to work on another sleep blend as a case study for the certificate course I am taking at the Integrative Institute of Aromatherapy founded & led by Laraine Kyle & Valerie Cooksley.

    Having heard about the relaxation benefits of Fragonia™ essential oil, I began thinking about formulating an anti-anxiety, sleep, and/or relaxation blend featuring it. The oils I selected for the blend all have calming & sedating properties: Lavender Mailette (angustifolia), Green Mandarine (citrus reticulata), & aforementioned Fragonia™. The aroma is quite lovely & soothing to this nose, with the Lavender & Fragonia fluttering underneath the surface of the Green Mandarine.

    After distributing small 2 ml bottles of the blend to my friend for the study as well as coworkers, friends, & family; I began getting feedback about the sleep benefits & without fail the blend enhanced the ability to fall & stay asleep. I can personally attest to it as well. It was diffused in a variety of ways, but mainly as a few drops in an aromastone near the bedside, or a few drops on a tissue placed inside the pillowcase.

    We've been calling it, "RELAX."

    For a 5 ml blend you will need:
    -1 5 ml glass cobalt bottle
    -Disposable pipettes for blending
    Use:
    -50% Green Mandarine (150 drops or 2 ml)
    -25% Fragonia™ (75 drops or 1 ml)
    -25% Lavender Mailette (75 drops or 1 ml)
    Optional: Small 2 ml amber bottles to share with friends.

    We don't recommend driving a car or operating machinery when using this blend, as it so relaxing. If you are searching for something to alternate with Sleep Ease or interested in trying a blend featuring Fragonia™Essential Oil, this would be a great option.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    An Aromatherapy Party

    My friend (and client) Angela Eaton recently mentioned that she was planning an "Aromatherapy Party" for some friends.  I asked her to share about it with all of us, and bless her dear heart, she has!


    Hello, fellow Aromatherapy Enthusiasts!

    I recently mentioned an aromatherapy party I planned to Marge, and she asked that I write it up in a blog post so that other folks could hear about it.

    I have been into aromatherapy for about six years. I’m not certified as an aromatherapist, but it has crossed my mind. I’ve made room sprays and massage oils for friends over the years, keeping a close eye on safety information. My friends loved them all, but never quite got into aromatherapy themselves. I wanted to share my hobby in a way that would let them play, too, so I invited them all for an Aromatherapy Party.

    At about five weeks I sent out an email with the invitation and three possible dates; whichever date had the most respondents would be our party date.

    About a month before the party, I decided what we would make, and I tried to do it in a way that wouldn’t break the bank. I had already decided to keep the party small for cost (I invited eleven, and after sickness and a family emergency, we ended up with 8) and for making it easy to help people with info about the oils (safety information, their effects, etc.) I looked at my kit and realized that I really only had three oils that I would think of for a perfume oil—rose, sandalwood, and jasmine sambac. I don’t buy sandalwood anymore to keep from contributing to global demand for sandalwood, and the other oils didn’t give my friends much choice, plus they’re the most expensive oils in my collection, and perfume oils take a lot of drops. So perfume oils were out.


    I had plenty of oils, however, for a nice room spray, bath salts, and a massage oil (tangerine, blood orange, clary sage, peppermint, bergamot, chamomile, geranium, black spruce, four kinds of frankincense, three lavenders, etc., plus dozens of samples). In all, I have thirty oils, but I would be comfortable having a party with a minimum of ten. Then, I ordered the rest of what I needed. I ordered the bottles I needed from specialtybottle.com, which has great prices and a ton of selection. I had purchased from them before and bought 1 ounce spray bottles, but I thought they were 2 ounces, so that’s what I bought for the party. If I were to do it again, I’d keep the room sprays at 2 ounces, but I’d make the massage oils an ounce so that people would be sure to use it all. I had not quite enough fractionated coconut oil for each person, so I ordered more of that, and I added grapeseed oil because one of my friends has a terrible nut allergy.

    Two days before the party I bought supplies for a cheese tray, paper plates, napkins, spoons, paper bags, and Epsom salts. I also bought fun fruity sodas like guava, mandarin, and pineapple, which were a nice non-alcoholic option for the afternoon (one of the guests brought amaretto sours).

    The morning of the party, at each place at the table, I set:
    ·       A paper plate with bath salts
    ·       A spoon for mixing the salts and oils
    ·       Latex gloves (no one ended up using them, but just in case)
    ·       A notecard for writing down recipes
    ·       A pen
    ·       A 2-ounce bottle with a dropper, filled with either fractionated coconut or grapeseed oil
    ·       A 2-ounce spray bottle filled with water (I used our filtered tap water. Technically, I know I should have used distilled, but I told them to just stop using the spray if it grew any mold, plus I knew from making them previously that they tended to use the sprays up quickly.)
    ·       A paper bag filled with two cups of Epsom salt (years ago I had purchased little metal containers for bath salts before I realized that you need two cups for a proper bath, so we put the scented salts in the little container and supplemented with unscented salts in the paper bag)
    ·       A printout of dilution ratios, figured for the 2-ounce containers (the bath salts can take X drops, etc.)

    In the middle of the table were mint julep cups with scent strips and pipettes. I also had cute Japanese paper and packing tape to make labels for the items. I decorated with irises and the plates and napkins were purple to match.

     
    The party was set from 1-4 on our back patio. A party like this could be done inside, but outside with maximum ventilation was best. As everyone arrived, they set their appetizers and desserts on our dining room table to go with my cheese and fruit tray. We ate and chatted for about an hour.

    We went outside to the aromatherapy table and I explained what items were at their place setting. Then I opened my kit and started handing oils around, explaining that some were acceptable only for room sprays (the citruses), some for massage and bath salts. I showed them how to use a scent strip, and how you could create a blend using scent strips (one drop per strip, then mixing and matching) before you committed to a blend.

    Then we handed around all of the oils and smelled them. My girlfriends were a little hesitant to actually start mixing the oils into their carriers and salts, but I encouraged them and they got started. They asked questions about different properties, and we mixed for about an hour and a half. It was great fun to share concoctions.

    When things were starting to wind down, I went and got a few of my favorite aromatherapy books, and they got a real kick out of the Gabriel Mojay’s book. The extremely specific blends for certain maladies were useful and amusing, and a few friends made more blends based on the book.

    We wrapped up around four. Everyone said they had a marvelous time and asked if we could have another party, maybe one where we made cleaning products. I said maybe I’d make it their Christmas gift.

    I hope this inspires you to have your own aromatherapy party!
    ~Angela E.


    My comments - what an absolutely GREAT idea!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing it with us all, Angela!!!

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Caring for the Care Givers

    Friends we've not met yet...  Laura is one of them.  We have been corresponding since at least 1998...she's been using our oils, and sharing her life and the healing work she does with us.  Laura is a massage therapist and Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner...a form of acupressure and energy work. And a Rose Lover.  When we first met she was living and working in Virginia...but like most transplanted New Englanders, she got home sick and found her way back to Eastern Massachusetts. 

    Over the years she has probably bought some of every Rose specimen we've offered.  One of her first purchases was some Rose Absolute, back in the 90's...she loved it.  I remember when we were able to find some Rosa Alba in 2005 - Laura was the first to order.   A true Rose lover.

    This week she seized the opportunity on the 15th to order a Rose Quartz Amulet for herself, and commented with the order: "Hi Marge! It's apple picking time up here in New England!
    I also want you to know that my patients are benefitting from my use of your wonderful oils. I felt that I needed the rose quartz to extend the healing to myself. Love to you!"
     
    I was struck by the 'extend the healing to myself"...  Laura is a healer by nature, and currently working in a Hospice...emotionally very draining work. We chatted some about Autumn in New England, and she added the comment "Really looking forward to my rose quartz--I have used rose oil for so long as a way to care for my heart, and I think the rose quartz will add something special."
     
    And I've been pondering ever since the need for the healers and care givers to give themselves the care and nurturing that they give their patients.

    And thinking how Rose is the oil for healing women's hearts, and spirits....and those who believe in the healing powers of gemstones say that Rose Quartz is the heart healer.

    One strong suggestion, tho....if you are planning on putting a few drops of your favorite Rose in a Rose Quartz amulet...do not use Rose Absolute.  Unlike distilled Rose Otto or Rosa Alba, Rose Absolute is deep rusty orange.  My pale pink Rose Quartz amulet has a permanent orange stain at the base. Quartz, unlike some other crystals, is absorbent.  

    Laura's Rose Amulet is en route by now...as I sit here writing, I wish I had thought to include a packet or two of our Rose Bliss Bath...my favorite heart and soul healer.
     

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Sept 11, 2001

    Just listened to Alan Jackson's "where were you when the world stopped turning" and was thinking of that awful morning.  Nature's Gift still ran out of this little house...we were waiting for folks to show up for work.  Albert was home, still recuperating from the first round of Cancer. He was watching TV in the family room/computer room... I was putting more coffee on, in the kitchen...  "come here...a plane just hit the World Trade Center"... I went in and saw the coverage on NBC...    Rick got off the bus in front of my house just after the second plane hit...   We circled the TV...  Wolfie pulled into the drive just before the Pentagon crash... we sat in a tight circle, in front of the tv...not able to believe what we were watching.  I was at the computer...someone in New York... Mynou? was posting what was going on in her neighborhood... I remember calling RoseAnn... 

    We called Annie, to see if she wanted to come over...no she wanted to be alone.  My daughter called..she and Steph wanted a prayer circle, could they come over at lunch and pray with us all.

    I called both my sons.  Both far from danger...but I think every parent needed to reach out to their children that morning.

    Jen and Steph arrived, with some friends and coworkers...we left the TV 'cause not everyone could fit in this room... sat in a circle on the living room floor, held hands, prayed and cried. Prayers for those trapped in the buildings, those on the planes, the heroes trying to save lives, the families, just now learning that they had lost loved ones.  Prayers for our country, for courage and strength, and wisdom.

    How ironic that the two men who shared that awful day with us, Rick, my oldest employee, and my Albert were both fated to leave us before a year was out.  

    And today in the midsouth men who call themselves Christians are talking of continuing the hatred that caused that terrible day. 

    I don't understand that kind of hatred.  I don't know of anyone who does.

    I started this blog article with a link to a song... here's another one... Let There Be Peace On Earth.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    A Mercury Retrograde to Remember (Forget?)

    by Christi Pugh for Nature's Gift

    We try not to get too excited over mercury retrograde around here, usually duly noting it, mentally preparing, & then having a laugh or a grumble depending on the circumstances which arise. I say “usually” because this mercury retrograde has been anything but usual. Normally speaking you expect a few mechanical and/or technical glitches, grit your teeth, and move on.

    From our experience this go around (it ends on September 12th), interpersonal communication seems to be most impacted. We love our clients and are always happy to share information or point someone in the right direction, however, the calls we’ve gotten this past week have been nonsensical in the “Who’s on First,” routine, sense of the word. I suspect if it weren’t so frustrating we could/would find it comical.

    I sent an email to Marge & T venting my frustration after what felt like the millionth crazy call:

    “Dear God:

    Please let this mercury retrograde come to an end. I am very tired of stupid questions.

    As in, "how do I know your Helichrysum you say is from Corsica & certified organic on the website, really is? How do I know it is what you say it is & also that it is not old or something else?"

    Lord, please, please, stop these communications snafus. If I've ever wanted a Mercury retrograde to end, this is the one. Thank you for your attention to this matter. That is all.

    Christi”

    Then there was the local woman who wanted to start her own aromatherapy business & after emailing a lengthy probing note, also asked Marge out to lunch to “pick her brain.” Marge politely declined via email, shared some resources that would be helpful, & gave requested input to questions she had asked. Initially, the woman responded thanking Marge. Hours later she responded again, in a rage, basically calling Marge a “know it all & unfriendly.” I couldn’t help but think: how ironic that an individual who comes to someone asking for their expertise & advice, would turn around and call that same person a “know it all,” just because she doesn’t like the answers received from the inquiry. (or perhaps was just upset that Marge turned her down for lunch.)

    You see what I mean. This mercury retrograde is just a bit crazy…and I am not even sharing the half of it. It almost makes one afraid to answer the telephone.

    Okay, one more: this morning someone called saying we sent their order to the wrong address. I wanted to make it right & was mortified. Then they told me that they forgot to change it to their new address when they submitted the order…but it was our fault for shipping it to the old address, anyway. Huh? How could we know their new address if they never shared it with us?

    Again, I reiterate my plea to the heavens. Let the retrograde be done & gone, at least until December 10th, when it makes its next unwelcome appearance. Then feel free to remind me again, “Who’s on first?”

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    "What can I bring????" - fast & easy recipes.

    This Labor Day I've been invited to two picnic/cookouts.  One near noon, with my children and grands, one early this evening with another big group.  The problem is that I have been going straight out all weekend. No time to cook, shop, etc.



    Dessert is easy.  I count on my well worn copy of The Cake Doctor.  (Yes, I can bake some wonderful cakes from scratch. Just ask my children. I baked both of my daughter's wedding cakes. But that takes time and energy that I sometimes lack.  So I count on recipes from The Cake Doctor and folks think I have done it all from scratch.)  My big KitchenAid stand mixer will hold TWO batches of cake mix with all the add ins... so last night after I came home, two fancied up sheet cakes went in the oven.   A quick pineapple/coconut glaze, and dessert was ready.

    This morning I needed two Salads... time for my trusty "Instant Calico Pasta"... A secret a friend who was a caterer in a past life shared.  The part that takes the longest is boiling the water.

    Have on hand:
    • 1 Box Salad pasta: rotini, Bow Ties, your choice
    • 1 bag/package Frozen Mixed Italian Vegetables (The brand I buy has carrots, zucchini, Italian flat green beans, cauliflower, I forget what else.)
    • A amall bag of frozen mixed color sweet peppers and onions is nice to have, but not essential.
    • Some sort of liquid Salad dressing.  Could be French or Italian, but those are more equally recognized, and the goal is to have people think you slaved.  I like Store Brand "Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette" but a "Roasted Red Pepper with Parmesan" has worked well.  
    Cook the pasta in boiling salted water as long as the box says.  Toss into your biggest drainer or colander.  Add the FROZEN vegetables to the scalding hot pasta and toss like mad.  The frozen veggies will cool the pasta; the steaming pasta will thaw and wilt the veggies, and voila...room temperature salad.  Toss with a generous amount of your chosen dressing (nothing with a mayonnaise base, the glory of this is that it can sit, safely, at room temperature on a buffet or picnic table for several hours.)

    If you have time you can add whatever other goodies seem appropriate...  I halved some presliced turkey pepperoni, snipped some deli ham. If you have some sundried tomatoes, snip them and toss in.  Olives would be good if you are an olive person. (I'm not!)  The frozen slices of pepper were fairly long, so I snapped them in half or thirds before adding.  The zucchini slices were huge, so I halved them. (A big heavy butchers knife will cut frozen vegetables nicely.) Coarsely grated or finely diced cheese is a great addition...I didn't have any, and no time to dice some.

    For two HUGE bowls (two parties, remember?) I used one box of small Rotini, one box of Farfalle (bowtie noodles), two packages of mixed vegetables, one package of frozen peppers, and a full 16 oz bottle of salad dressing. (Had used less, but the batch at the first party was a tad dryer than I would have chosen, so when I came home, added more dressing to the second bowl.)    Leftovers work well for lunch or dinner, although there are seldom any leftovers available.

    And that's what I brought to the two Labor Day parties.











     

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite...

    by Christi Pugh
    for Nature's Gift

    Recent headlines about bed bug infestations across the country are hard to ignore. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl!

    Luckily, no one at Nature’s Gift has encountered the problem so far. (Thankfully!) However, Marge considered staying at a hotel in Nashville for an upcoming conference & had second thoughts after word of a developing bed bug problem in the area. We also had an inquiry from a client about to go on vacation concerned about the possibility of encountering the little pests.

    So what can you do to combat these critters when traveling or staying in hotels?

    Essential oils recommended for combating insects include: Lemon Eucalyptus, Lemon Teatree, Cedarwood (we would use Atlas), Australian Blue Cypress, Patchouli, & Lavender Angustifolia. Some recommend Lemongrass, but the Lemon Eucalyptus or Lemon Teatree would likely be more effective. According to client feedback, our Skeeter Beater is an effective repellent for mosquitoes, fleas, biting flies, chiggers, etc. If I were in that situation, I would definitely reach for the Skeeter Beater.

    Perhaps making a spritzer from the Skeeter Beater Synergy in a 4 oz PET Cobalt atomizer bottle to spray on the mattress, box springs, & bedding, is a thought. Marge also was thinking if she did stay in the hotel, she would wear the Skeeter Beater Gel in bed, to sleep. Lavender on a tissue in the pillow case could also be helpful for sleep & relaxation.

    For the spritzer use 40 drops of the Skeeter Beater Synergy, a cap full or two of drugstore witch hazel, and about 4 oz of distilled water in an atomizer spray bottle. You will need to shake it up each time before use since the oil & water tend to separate.

    If you do become prey for the unwelcome parasites & develop an itch from their bites, Cajeput Essential Oil is very effective for treating fire ant & other insect bites, so it would probably work well. I know someone in Delaware who recently encountered bed bugs while visiting a friend. She was itchy & miserable. She called & asked, “What do I have that I could use for it?” I said, “Do you have any Cajeput?” Thankfully, she did. She used it on the bites & it gave her relief.

    Rather than using the Cajeput neat on the skin, try a 10% dilution in a carrier oil. Jojoba & Fractionated Coconut are both good choices as carrier oils, but I like to use Apricot Kernel as my carrier for bug bites since it absorbs so quickly, is safe on sensitive skin, & is helpful for inflamed skin. Use 60 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil to achieve the 10% dilution. (Quick reference dilution chart from the website) We’ve also gotten feedback that Helichrysum is soothing for bug bites, so that is another option. I personally prefer Cajeput because in my experience it almost always instantly stops the itching.

    Here’s hoping you don’t encounter bed bugs during your travels. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to be prepared!

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    What we already knew.

    I love it when research comes out "proving" what we already know to be true.

    For years I've been saying, on our website and in various forums, that Peppermint Essential Oil is stimulating, and that Ylangylang Essential Oil is relaxing.

    I just recently came across some research on the cognitive effects of both essential oils, as well as their effects on mood.  Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that the smell of peppermint enhanced memory, while Ylangylang impaired memory and seemed to slow mental processing.  At the same time, tests of mood before and after the cognitive tests showed that subjectively, the peppermint increased alertness, while the ylangylang decreased awareness, but significantly increased calmness.

    Not a surprise, but confirmation of what we already knew is always welcome!

    The full paper is available at Pubmed as well as other online sources.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Text Book Time

    We just shipped another carton of The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Sal Battaglia off to another college. It is amazing how many schools are using this guide as a textbook in their Aromatherapy, Natural health, or Spa courses.  And we've had a flurry of orders from Amazon.com for it, as well. (People would be better off buying it directly from us; they would save money, but I guess folks just automatically go to Amazon to bookshop. I know I tend to.) Our price is higher on Amazon than on our website, but we are still the lowest price reseller there.)  I don't see how people can be asking over $200 for a used copy!

    We just placed a reorder from the Australian publisher today, and the decline of the dollar has done us in.  The exchange rate when I last ordered was 78%...ie, One Australian Dollar cost roughly $0.78...Seventy Eight cents, American.  Today, the exchange rate was 90%..an increase of 12% in our cost.  For awhile we are going to hold the price steady; but if you are looking for a copy, I'd suggest ordering before my accountant sees the cost increase.

    You can read my review of the contents at the link above.  Martin Watt disliked it, if you google for book reviews; but a lot of others rave about it.   Make very sure, if shopping elsewhere, that you are ordering the second edition.  The first edition was quite a bit shorter, omitted several chapters.  If they don't show a photograph of the cover, I would beware.

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    A Gift of Roses

    The distiller who sent us our new batch of Rosa Alba and Bulgarian Rose Absolute sent us another gift.  A huge box of dried rose buds.  (Actually, since he produces other organic oils and herbs, he sent several packets of different dried herbs. We fell in love with the perfection of the wee rosebuds, and ordered more. They arrived with the oils, but until the end of this week we didn't have time to even look at them.  We still haven't decided what to do with them. Perhaps include a small sachet with our "Bouquet of Roses" sampler?  Perhaps gift some lucky client with some?  Perhaps add a sachet when someone invests in a LOT of Rose Oil. We shall see. In the meantime, they smell lovely.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Aromatherapy is Not for the Birds!

    By Christi Pugh for Nature's Gift

    We had a question via email about using essential oils around birds & Marge deferred to me since I am the only bird owner at Nature’s Gift. The individual was thinking of using Peppermint Essential Oil in the bird cage which we would not ever recommend! (she was having a problem with ants in the bird cage)

    Here’s my reply:

    I would not use Peppermint Essential Oil anywhere NEAR your birds. (or mine!) Birds are very sensitive & can go into respiratory distress very quickly & die.

    Some other ideas would be dried cut Peppermint Leaves or Peppermint tea bags in the bottom of the cage, underneath the grill but above the slide out tray. I personally use organic dry cut Eucalyptus Leaves (which the birds CAN eat) & Lavender buds in the bottom of my cage to deter mites, fleas, & other pests.

    I cannot think of any essential oil I would feel safe about using on or around my parakeets. The threat of respiratory distress due to the potency of the oils is just too great. That said, I do use some hydrosols on them via a spritzer or atomizer. Hydrosols are much more benign & they love being spritzed with Roman or German Chamomile Hydrosol. Again, I don’t think I would use Peppermint Hydrosol, though.

    As far as the ants go, I suspect your birds eat fresh fruit or maybe even some honey in their water? If so, that is what the ants are probably going for. In that case (and you may be doing this already), I would remove food cups & wash them at least daily with Dawn (or your favorite dish soap) & hot water, & remove any food scraps from the cage & wipe it down with dish soap & warm water and/or baking soda & warm water. I use an old toothbrush to clean crevices & other areas, & I would wipe down the area outside & around the cage & sweep & mop or vacuum the floor around the cage. I would do this every day.

    Sometimes in hot weather, ants are drawn to water sources. Make sure the water cups are up very high in the cage as a deterrent.

    Other than that, trying to locate the source where the ants are coming in to your house & treating it outside & at the point of entry would help. In that case, outside, Peppermint Essential Oil would be fine. In my house I place the oil on cotton balls around openings or inside my window frames. (places that can’t be accessed by my pets) I also use fresh garlic cloves in those areas which I was surprised to notice that this summer I’ve not had the ant problems of the past using both of those methods.

    You might keep a small spray bottle filled with soapy water nearby to spray the ants if you see them headed that way.

    Hope that helps!

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    The Explosion - or What the MSDS doesn't tell you.

    On Monday, June 13th, I was working at home, getting the shopping cart ready for our 15 on the 15th sale, when Christi called, to tell me that the Air Conditioning at work had gone out. T had already called a repair person.   I suggested we have the crew finish the orders from the weekend and then we could close up early. We agreed there was no need for me to go in there. No HVAC repair possible until Tuesday afternoon.

    About two hours after Christi's initial call, T, our production manager, called near hysteria. A full gallon bottle of Holy Basil essential oil (Tulsi, Ocimum sanctum) had exploded on the shelf.

     Perhaps a brief explanation of our physical layout is appropriate. Picture two rectangles, one about 2 and a half times longer than it is wide, a bit over a thousand square feet. That is the production and storage area.
    At one end, up a short flight of stairs is a smaller square, probably 400 square feet, divided in two. the half nearer the production area is our breakroom, kitchen and office supply storage, through a doorway is the office. Much more space than Christi and I need.  The "upstairs" and "downstairs" have separate heating and cooling units. For reasons unknown, one of the quirks of the air circulation causes the aroma of any oils being poured downstairs to be much stronger in the office.  We have an exhaust fan hanging over the pouring stations, but it really doesn't help. Christi and I will enjoy (or not) what is being poured that day.

     Okay, with that mental image in your mind...  Picture, against one wall of the production room, a set of metal shelves used for bulk storage. Gallon and half gallon amber glass jugs of non-perishable essential oils. (The perishable oils are stored under refrigeration; this is "cool room temperature" storage, under nitrogen.)

    Two thoughts entered my mind, first, how to clean it up, and second, what about the other oils?. I told her to start blotting the spill up with paper towels, to wear gloves, and to UNSEAL every other bulk product, to prevent another bottle exploding.  At that point, in all honesty, my main concern was protecting the rest of our inventory. I had never heard of a bottle exploding from heat, although it made logical sense, based on the laws of physics, that it could. I printed out a copy of the MSDS sheet for Holy Basil and headed for the office.

    When I arrived at work, most of the bulk products had been cracked open.  Because we didn't know how long the production area would be without air conditioning we started moving product into the walk-in cold room. Priorities were the most costly and/or the most fragile essential oils and blends first, when they were safely stored in the cold room.  After all the bulk oils and blends were stored, we moved the remaining carrier oils, lotions and creams, some of the retail sizes, everything that we were concerned about degrading in extreme heat.

    In moving some of the remaining bottles off the bulk storage shelf we found the bottoms covered with a white paste.  The spilled Holy Basil had dissolved the paint on the shelves.  Pause, put on Nitrile gloves. continue stashing products in the cold room or the (air conditioned) warehouse.  At which point we discovered that Holy Basil essential oil will eat through Nitrile gloves.  (Jim discovered that, as the only man available he was nominated to continue the cleanup.)   After the shelves were emptied, the actual shelves were moved outside into the air to be dealt with later.  He cleaned up all that was still damp and "wipeable" with towels. They also went outside in the trash.  Having done all we knew to do at that point, we finished the orders that had been in process, got them to the post office, decided that no one but me would come in on Tuesday, and closed up shop.


    On Tuesday I had someone come in to soap and water wash the floor and metal shelf framework, and the Air Conditioner Repair person came.  On Wednesday reopened for business. Since the production area was once again at "cool room temperature" we spent the day moving bulk and retail product out of temporary cold storage and back to their normal spaces. Then we started packing orders from the sale on the 15th. 

    My primary concern at that point was the integrity of our inventory.  Extremes of heat and cold can hasten the oxidation of essential oils, as well as the carriers we have, and I was worried about them.  I contacted the two most knowledgeable chemists I know - Robert Tisserand and Tony Burfield, both of whom reassured me that no harm had been done. Robert was even gracious enough to let us quote him:
    I don't think you need to be too concerned about quality degradation. In 48 hours or so, only so much oxidation can take place, and that's the only potential problem. Oxidation is a very slow process. I would guess that some of your oils might have lost a week or two of shelf life (out of 2-3 years or so) and I don't think you need to do any more than you are doing.

    Essential oils are distilled at very hot temperatures of course, and moving from liquid phase to gas and back is not in itself damaging. The explosion was about vapor pressure building up, and is dramatic and traumatic. But it's no more than that - a build-up of pressure. Shame you lost all that beautiful oil!

    Certainly you need to check each oil, but my guess is that they are all going to be fine! Basically, you're cleaning up a mess, and then things can settle back down.
    That was a huge relief.  but the mess was far from cleaned up.

    Over the course of the next week or 10 days we experienced various repercussions.  Remember I explained that the odd air circulation of our building intensified any aromas upstairs, in the office? The air intake for the "upstairs" air conditioner sits beside Christi's desk.  Air flow tends to be circular - into the office from the break room, around the room past the front door, then past my desk, past Christi's desk and into the intake.

    My computer desk sits perpendicular to that airflow.  During the next two or three days I developed contact dermatitis on one side of my face and neck...where the air molecules touched my skin.  

    Over the course of the next week Christi became physically ill.  She struggled on for a few days, took some time off, recuperated at home, became ill again immediately upon her return to the office.She experienced nausea, diarrhea, headache, then major major sinus pain and drainage from mucous membrane irritation, her  gastric reflux was affected, she experienced extreme fatigue and skin irritation. She had been sensitized to clove oil years ago, and the Eugenol in the Holy Basil did her in. 

    T, downstairs, was moving the computer right next to the area of the spill, on her knees, unplugging cables.  Mind you, the spill had been cleaned up days earlier; the floor scrubbed with soap and water, there was NO essential oil visible.  She ended up having to use our emergency eyewash fountain for the first time ever. The fumes coming off the floor tiles in that corner were enough to burn her eyes.

    At this point we did what we should have done the day of the spill; we called for help.  And getting help was not as easy as it sounds.  There are a lot of companies listed that claim to help with chemical spills (which is what we were dealing with.)  I called. they asked me to fax them an MSDS of the product. I did so, along with a GCMS showing that the spill was 65% eugenol. In many cases, I never heard back.


            * First suggestion for your Emergency Plan: Have industrial cleanup numbers on hand. If possible interview them in advance to see who is willing to respond to something that is not a HUGE industrial spill, but none the less is a hazard. 

    Finally a local "Air Quality" engineer came to visit. He, at least, knew what an essential oil was, talked of VOC's and contamination.  He gave us some concrete steps to take that we should have taken immediately.  Vic McCauley, from Roscoe Brown, Inc. was the only source of guidance and advice we had.

           * Next suggestion for your plan:   Baking soda or Cat litter. LOTS of it.  Buy it by 20 or 40 lb bags. Have at least one large bag on hand in your workroom or store room, and another in your blending room.

       1.  Baking Soda or Cat Litter.  both substances will absorb VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) from the air.  We should have dumped 40 pounds of cat litter on the spill the minute it happened.  Lacking that, we should have spread large, open trays of either on every table in the building, and changed them daily.  This is the single most important step that we could have taken.

    2.  We left EVERY fan in the building running 24/7, not just the exhaust fan over the pouring table (no where near the area of the spill.) but the bathroom exhaust fan, the ceiling fans that help rotate the air, ever fan in the building; and left one window cracked open to bring in fresh air. (Had the temperatures not been record-breaking hot, we'd have left doors open while we were here.)

    3. We had already known that the exhaust fan we'd built in when we renovated this building was not very effective.  We have installed an oxidizing air cleaner into the AC ducts in the production room.  For three weeks we used a 'stand alone' oxidizing air purifier in the office area.  And daily we filled cookie sheets with baking soda or cat litter, let them stand for 24 hours, and replaced them with fresh.

    All of this helped.  Christi was able to return to work, my skin was not getting any worse.  But alone, they were not enough to clean the air in our building, because every surface had been saturated with volatile molecules of Eugenol.

    Over the July 4th weekend, we had workmen come in.  The "Industrial Strength Solvent Resistant" floor tile, permanently etched by the spilled essential oil was removed.  The cement floor under the tile was sealed, prior to having new tiles put down.  The two corner walls near the spill were painted with KILZ, to seal any absorbed essential oil, then repainted.

    The metal shelf framework was scrubbed down with Acetone (this was Tony Burfield's recommended cleaner.) painted (again, with KILZ) to seal in any splashes of essential oil that did not successfully wash off.  New wooden shelves were cut to fit and painted.  In other words, every thing that had come in direct contact with the spilled oil was either removed or sealed.

    That total renovation, plus the new air cleaners took the aromatic level down a few notches.  We still smell Holy Basil when we enter the building, but it is gentler; no longer overwhelming.  We can now also smell *other* aromatics, for the first time in weeks.
    I don't know if the building will ever totally be cleared of the remaining traces.  I know all the cardboard shipping boxes are delightfully aromatic now.  We had to move all the bliss bath products out to the warehouse. Now that "the dust has settled' we can inspect them to see how much holy basil they've absorbed and decide whether to dispose of them, or let our clients buy them at clearance.

    Too much Holy Basil smells like sweet Clove Bud oil, from the Eugenol. After a month or more of drying down and removal, we are discovering a delightfully gentle floral trace in the dry down.  I don't remember experiencing that aspect in the past.

    I think we can safely ensure that our building will never have a problem with insect infestations, and I dare any bacteria to try growing there.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    I just love it

    A headline in a British paper last month:  Aromatherapy "makes labour easier" http://tinyurl.com/28eb9l3.   I love it when the press prints a story just stating what we've been saying for years. 

    Well, yes. Aromatherapy does, in fact, make labour easier. Trying to remember when I first wrote our page about "aromatic birthing" for the website.  I know it's been a few years since we put together the two "aromatic birthing" kits.    Nice to see public aknowledgement that these oils really do make the whole labor and delivery process easier and less stressful for the mom.

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Keeping the Skeeters Away

    by Christi Pugh for Nature's Gift

    For the time being it seems I’ve found a safer & more cost effective way to keep mosquitoes at bay in the nearest vicinity around my house…a spray of Lemon Eucalyptus in water & rubbing alcohol. Overall, Skeeter Beater is more effective, but for a large area, this can't be beat!

    I have a huge old oak tree in my front yard which keeps it very shady & often damp, so this year in particular with the record rainfall/flooding, I’ve been more concerned than ever about the pesky creatures. Every couple of days I go out and spray around my doors/doorways and around the porch areas, steps, & greenery closest to the house. I’m in and out a lot with the dogs and in the past we’ve always been bombarded by mosquitoes on the porch but so far this season, it has not been a problem.

    Of course we wear Skeeter Beater (I prefer the oil for the dogs) and have always spritzed a blend of the synergy and water on us as we came out for extra protection on our walks. Still the swarming mosquitoes were there in the porch area and we had to get through them to the sidewalk, which was a chore! (and kind of creepy, as I hate bugs!)

    We know Lemon Tea Tree is also effective and both it and the Lemon Eucalyptus are two of the main components in our popular Skeeter Beater Blend. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), actually recommends Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil as an insect repellent.

    For my concoction, I use a larger trigger spray bottle rather than an atomizer, just so I can more easily spray it outside and in larger areas. It is about 8 ounces size, I believe. (Our atomizers are 4 oz. Many trigger spray bottles are 16 & 24 oz.) Note also that I would not use a non Pet plastic bottle for use on skin.

    I fill the bottle with water about one third full, add anywhere from 60-80 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus, pour in a few cap fulls of rubbing alcohol, fill it with water again, and shake it up. Note that I don’t fill the bottle all the way to the top so I have room to shake the ingredients. The Lemon Eucalyptus has a very strong aroma, so I started with a smaller amount of the oil, and it seems to be having the desired effect.

    You could also use the Skeeter Beater Synergy or add some Cedarwood Essential Oil to the Lemon Eucalyptus. This is a wonderful all natural way to repel unwanted critters this summer as a supplement to our Skeeter Beater products.

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Memorial Weekend

    We've been busy playing catch up at Nature's Gift, recovering from the devastation of the flood, trying to create some order out of chaos. And I almost forgot that Memorial Day was coming.

    But we want to pause in memory of those who have given all, and those who are at risk today.

    A friend's son, Robby Fort, posted his tribute for Memorial Day weekend on YouTube, in honor of those who serve.   We thought you might enjoy it.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Dr. Oz Strikes Again

    I guess we should be grateful to Dr. Oz for bringing essential oils to his audience. But the level of misinformation he gives out is appalling.

    Three oils are featured in the above clip.

    Manuka  (leptospermon scoparium)... he demonstrates its NEAT use...slathered all over a woman's calf, to treat cuts, bruises, irritated skin.  Well...I hope I've written enough about the dangers of using undiluted essential oils on broken skin that you all know better than that.  He also stated that Manuka is related to Tea Tree, and that Captain Cook brought Manuka back to Europe after his voyages.  Well, Tea tree is a melaleuca, not a leptospermon, and while Captain Cook may have brought the leaves back, he certainly did not learn about the essential oil from the New Zealand natives.

    Lavender, for stress relief. We'll let that pass, although he did comment that it helped the libido.  Have never heard of lavender as an aphrodisiac, but we won't quibble.

    Peppermint, for indigestion, and for IBS.  For indigestion, yes.  For IBS?  Sorry, but the research done on peppermint oil for irritable bowel system stresses the use of enteric coated capsules so that the peppermint oil will not affect the stomach but will pass directly through to the bowel before the capsule is dissolved. Hard to see how Peppermint oil in water could reach the bowel prior to the stomach acting on it.

    I guess one out of three isn't bad.   Dr. Oz has such a huge audience who take his every word for gospel truth.  We appreciate his enthusiasm, but would really appreciate a bit of accuracy.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    New oils.... ohboyohboyohboy

    My friend Laraine Kyle knows of our search for Pinion Pine essential oil to make available to you all.  Two weeks ago she emailed me about a distiller she had talked to from the mountains of Northern Utah. She said she hadn't met him yet, nor sampled his oils, but she was impressed after talking to him. Of course I emailed immediately.

    Today the samples arrived.  Pinion Pine essential oil... clear and free and... absolutely wonderful.  White Fir...Abies concolor... clean, the scent of the deep woods.  Sagebrush... Artemesia tridentata.  I wish you could have seen T and I... I think we both got high just off the scent strips. We are both in love with the two conifers. The Sagebrush was a surprise, much deeper and more earthy than the Owyhee we offer, and I'm not sure yet whether or not I like it. After all, I'm a Yankee lady, and don't know what the scent of sagebrush is.  But I suspect our western friends will love it; and know that for ritual work it will be wonderful. Powerfully cleansing.  (Laraine suggests that it might be helpful in treating parasites, as well.)

    These amazing oils are from trees gathered high in the Utah mountains, near Grand Staircase National Monument and Bryce Canyon.  The trees have either fallen naturally, or are scheduled for cutting for firebreaks or other conservation.   The distiller does not use power tools in gathering the branches for his still; hand saws, not chain saws, no power chipper ... just man power. Nothing to disturb the pristine environment where they grow.

    Supplies of these rare and precious oils are quite limited. We will bring in all that he is willing to ship us to make available for you.  (The White Fir bows are not even wildcrafted; they are distilled from recycled Christmas Trees.)  The Balsam Fir has always been "my" Christmas scent, since it is the Christmas tree of my Boston childhood. I think those born and raised in the Rockies may find this crystal clear White Fir oil the scent of Christmas past.

    We are also bringing in supplies of the hydrosols, for emotional and ritual work.  We can't wait for their arrival to make them available to you.  Watch for the announcement in our newsletter and on our Facebook page.  

    We hope you will love them as much as we do!  I'm diffusing a tiny bit in my workroom even as I type.  The final touch to clear the lingering aromas from the recent flood, restoring both the air in this room, and my spirit as I type.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Flooding Devastation in Nashville, How You Can Help

    By Christi for Nature's Gift Staff

    We are all still in shock at the images & events we’ve seen unfolding over the past several days as flood waters overtook our beloved city of Nashville, surrounding counties, & other parts of the state. This historic flooding is extremely saddening & unprecedented for our area—basically we received an entire summer’s worth of rain (13-18 inches) in about a 36 hour time frame catching everyone off guard & leaving motorists & home owners trapped & stranded.

    Over fifty counties in Tennessee have been declared disaster areas & Nashville itself had to declare a state of emergency after torrential rains drove the Cumberland River to more than 50 feet & over its banks, while area rivers & creeks rose over and/or into homes, businesses, & iconic Nashville landmarks such as the Grand Ole Opry House, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Opryland Hotel, & the TN Titans Stadium. The death toll continues to rise as the flood waters begin to subside. So far 10 deaths have been confirmed in Nashville with the number nearing 20 statewide.

    Nature’s Gift closed on Monday after our Mayor asked us not to travel so emergency workers could continue their heroic rescue efforts. So many roads were closed in & around Nashville (many remain closed) that it was total gridlock. Even parts of the interstate system were submerged in water making travel to & from Middle Tennessee via car virtually impossible. Honestly, we needed the day off to try & absorb what is happening all around us & try to figure out what we could do to help our neighbors.

    The good news for our immediate Nature’s Gift family is that none of our staff suffered any major loss of home or family. Marge has a bit of water to clean up in her family room & carpet to be replaced & a new house guest evacuated from a flooded apartment. T had a scare Saturday night when flood waters covered her front yard. Sharon’s neighborhood of Bellevue is still engulfed in several feet of water but luckily she sustained no damage to her home. Yorleny, Jim, & I had no real damage to speak of at our houses. As Jim said to me this morning, a real feat considering how spread out we all live across the Nashville area. We are all counting our blessings & filled with gratitude.

    The President has said he will authorize FEMA funds for Nashville, which will allow the state & local government to access funds needed for our massive clean up & rebuilding projects. However, there are many families in need the majority without flood insurance who still need help, hundreds possibly thousands, whose homes have been devastated & escaped with only the clothes they were wearing when rescued. There is a tremendous need particularly in the interim for things like medicines, clothing, & transportation.

    We have chosen to give to & make our Charity of the Quarter this quarter, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s Tennessee Emergency Response Fund for Flood Relief. The emergency management agencies have endorsed this reputable nonprofit & I know they are responsible & will use the funds wisely & direct help to those individuals in most need.

    We will have a link set up on our site for donations in the next day or so making it easy for you to donate anywhere from a dollar or more when you place an order. In the meantime you may donate directly. We never dreamed when our hearts were going out to Haiti in January, that our hometown of Nashville would be experiencing such devastation just a few months later.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Considering Aromatherapy Books

    By Christi

    One of the most frequent questions we get is, “Which book would you most recommend?” My response is usually, “What is the purpose you are looking for?” The fact is, there are several great Aromatherapy books which focus on various uses for essential oils. (There are also some not so great ones out there!) Of course I am partial to Marge’s book Essential Oils & Aromatics for obvious reasons…however, it IS a great overall book to reach for.

    Here’s a list to help sort them out:

    Beginner’s Books

    1) Marge’s Introduction to Aromatherapy Booklet (not quite a book but chock full of helpful information) with safety information, blending tips, and a few recipes. It travels easily in a purse or back pack & makes a great gift for those just starting out.

    2) Marge’s Essential Oils & Aromatics, (also mentioned above), is a beautiful coffee table book as well as a practical guide to aromatherapy. It expands on information covered on the website & in the booklet.

    Physical Uses of the Oils

    1) Salvatore Battaglia’s Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, which I call my Aromatherapy “bible.” I find myself reaching for it daily for its wealth of
    information about the oils & body systems. Yes, it is heavy & expensive, but
    a worthwhile investment.

    Spiritual & Emotional Uses

    1) Gabriel Mojay’s Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit explores the Eastern side of uses for the oils, body balance, & energetics. I never tire of pulling this book out to read & always learn something new when I do so.

    2) Robbi Zeck’s The Blossoming Heart deals with emotional & spiritual uses. It is thoughtful & thorough & a complete delight. It is one of the first aromatherapy books I ever owned & I still use it regularly, particularly if I am in a funk or a friend is going through something & needs guidance. We also offer a companion “Energetic Oils Kit,” on the site, covering the oils mentioned in the book.

    Pet Care

    1) A subject near & dear to my heart is pet care & Kristin Leigh Bell’s Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals is the book to consider. Kristin is an experienced aromatherapist & is extremely knowledgeable. If you have pets & use aromatherapy, it is a must-have. (Note: We do not sell this book, but you may click thru our Amazon link to purchase.)

    For a complete listing of books we have available visit our books page or for other books we recommend, visit our book reviews.