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, 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 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 I sit here writing, I wish I had thought to include a packet or two of our Rose Bliss 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 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.


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 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!