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!!!!