Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sweet tooth - Peppermint

Holiday Goodies

It's time to start holiday baking, if you haven't already.  Two quick and easy treats that don't require lighting an oven, one copied from a new friend's blog, one posted in this blog about four or five years ago. And two more that take a bit of doing,but the results would be so very worth it!


I first had this White Chocolate Peppermint Bark at my daugher-in-law's mother's house one Christmas morning brunch. Yummy, and FAR too easy!

The classic recipe calls for

2 lbs white chocolate. (PLEASE use real white chocolate... the first ingredient in the list must be cocoa butter. If it's not...put it back on the grocery shelf.) And the so called "almond bark" that's offered looks like white chocolate, but it has a good amount of paraffin in it and leaves your mouth feeling waxy...oddly enough.
Enough Candy Canes (or red and white peppermint candies) to give you a cup if you coarsely chop them.

Obviously you can use less (or more) of everything. I had in the house, and used:

7 ounces of White chocolate
12 Oz White chocolate chips.

and three medium sized candy canes. (They were three for a dollar, that's why three.)
and...for my version... the KEY... our Midwestern Peppermint Oil (the one that I say is sweet as candy, remember?) I used ONE ml (20 drops) for this amount of chocolate.

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler if you have one, or a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. While it is melting, put the candy canes inside a HEAVY plastic bag, put that bag inside a second bag, and crush the candy with a hammer, a rolling pin, a heavy skillet...whatever striking instrument you have at hand.

Line a jelly roll pan or BIG cookie sheet with waxed paper or baking parchment.

When the white chocolate is melted, pour in the crushed peppermint, the one ml (approx 20 drops) of peppermint essential oil, stir well. Pour it onto the paper lined pan and spread it as thinly as you can.
EITHER... put the pan in the refrigerator at this point and let it sit for an hour or until hard

OR... while waiting for the white chocolate to set up, melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips with a pat of butter, and swirl bits of this over the white chocolate. Smear that around a bit to marble the dark chocolate over the white.

THEN refrigerate the pan for an hour...or put it freezer for perhaps 20 minutes. Once it's cold...break or cut into random chunks, put in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The cook gets to lick the melting pan and the spatula. Addictive. Very addictive.

Feeding a crowd?  Peppermint Popcorn Bark

This recipe came from a new friend, the blogger at Angela's Adventures.  She writes that this is incredibly fast to make, and is totally addictive.

Peppermint Popcorn Bark 

1 bag microwave popcorn, popped
5 or so candy canes, crushed. (Food processor helpful!)
12 oz Almond Bark or white chocolate.

Place popcorn in a very large bowl. Melt almond bark according to directions on the package. Stir the crushed candy canes into the melted almond bark and then pour over the popcorn. Stir until the popcorn is well coated and then pour onto wax paper and allow to harden. Once the popcorn is hard, break into pieces and enjoy or package up for gifts!

I would, of course, play with this some.  My comments above about the 'storebought' almond bark still hold, so I'd want to use some true white chocolate.  And a few drops of our Midwestern Peppermint would intensify the flavour. 

And from an old friend and client who is no longer with us:

Mint recipe - makes 75 to 100 mints depending on the size of your mold

1 1 lb. box 10X sugar (Confectioners)
2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
2 tablespoons crisco (tm)
1 teaspoon butter flavoring ( don't leave this out - I have and they are
just not the same)
2 tablespoons hot water
Peppermint eo
food coloring
Mint mold ( you can get these at most bakery supply stores - they are
thick small rubber molds )

Pour the first 3 ingredients together in a medium to large bowl.
To the hot water add a few drops of food coloring, 8 to 10 drops of Midwestern Peppermint Essential Oil - (I guess you could use spearmint, and maybe even rose) and the butter flavoring
Add to bowl and mix together with your hands until you have a very stiff dough. Press into mold\molds. 

and just a couple of weeks ago, Anita Read shared the following:

Opera Fudge

3 1/2 lbs sugar (use name brand, not store brand)
1 qt cream
1/4 heaping tsp Cream of Tartar

Put sugar and cream in a large kettle, stir until dissolved, then set on a flame. Stir until it begins to boil.

Add Cream of Tartar, then put in thermometer and stir constantly, moving the thermometer and stirring underneath to prevent sticking. Do not scrap sides of the pan.
Cook to 236 degrees.

Pour out on a marble slab moistened previously with cold water, and allow to stand until perfectly cold to the back of the hand. Cream the same as for bonbon creams, using a paddle to work it until it sets in a hard ball.

Cover with a damp cloth and let stand 30 to 40 minutes so that it will sweat enough to be taken up in the hands and worked. Don't be discouraged when starting to work the fudge, as it is very hard, but will soften up by kneading thoroughly.

Flavor with Natures Gift Peppermint Oil (Midwest USA) (about 15drops). (Don't use extract or a cheap brand of essential oil). Work into the fudge with your hands, and taste. (Add as much as you want for desired flavor.) Shape into small patties by rolling a small amount into a ball and flattening gently with your finger.

Melt dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet) and hand dip the patties in the chocolate.

For other flavors, instead of Peppermint Oil, you can add vanilla and chopped nuts, melted chocolate, chopped cherries or citron. Enjoy!
All this talk of candy has made me hungry, off to grind some candy canes and melt some white chocolate!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Favorites?

Experiencing New (to you) Essential Oils at Nature’s Gift: Any Favorites?

By Christi R. Pugh
For Nature’s Gift Inc.

We’ve introduced quite a few new essential oils, carriers, and other products this year and we would love your feedback! 

Here’s just a partial list of oils added in 2012:

Allspice, Buddha wood, Cade, Coffee, Hay Absolute, Hops CO2 Extract, Larch Needle, Ledum, Linden Blossom CO2 Extract, Red Myrtle, Mastic, Poplar Balsam, Rosa Alba (White Rose), Indonesian Sandalwood, and Zdravetz.

Granted, some we have offered in the recent and/or distant past, although it is possible you’ve never experienced some of these specimens.  I personally have been experimenting quite a bit with the Buddha Wood as well as reading research on it and believe it is an up and coming oil with many varied uses.

We also introduced the Harmony combination skincare line this year to a great response, and added Aloe Butter, as well as a variety of infused oils such as Blue Lotus, Coffee Blossom, Vanilla, and Golden Champa.  We are constantly sampling oils to from artisans and reputable producers to offer you the highest quality oils available. 

Have any new favorites?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Aromatically Thankful

By Christi R. Pugh
For Nature’s Gift, Inc.

Which essential oils have befriended you this year?  Any surprises?  Although we each have our favorite oils, it seems particular oils befriend us over certain seasons, providing support and comfort in seemingly intangible ways. 

We often see unexplainable trends in essential oil purchases, almost as if the collective consciousness “needs” a specific oil in that moment, which is carried out individually.  I take note when I am aware of extraordinary purchases and often ponder what could be going on.  That may sound a little other-worldly, but esoteric uses of essential oils are legitimate, too. (think vibrational or energetic!) 

Fragonia ™ has been my favorite oil this year.  Much like Lavender, it seems to be an adaptogen (although this has not been scientifically seconded), blending and melding together with nearly any other essential oil.  It is a main component in two blends the universe gave me this year:  Relax Synergy and Harmony Synergy/Anointing Oil.  These two blends are so very different, yet Fragonia ™ seems to bind each together energetically.

Rose also befriended me this year, providing solace and comfort in January when I lost one of my dearest and closest friends and later in the fall, when my grandmother, aged 95, crossed over.  Our Solace blend heavily features Rose. 

I can’t imagine life without aromatherapy.  I reach for oils every day and am surrounded by their healing energy at work and at home.  I constantly make new discoveries or experience oils in new ways.  It is an aromatic adventure and our Nature’s Gift community is truly a blessing and a gift, as we make this journey together, sharing and learning from one another about these precious healing oils.

We would love to hear which oils have befriended you this year.  Please share your thoughts and experiences with us.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Scents of the Season

O Christmas Tree: Evoking the Scents of the Season Via Evergreen and Conifer Oils
By Christi R. Pugh
For Nature’s Gift Aromatherapy

The question we most often hear this time of year is: which of your Conifer (evergreen) oils is MOST like the aroma of a Christmas tree? It is always hard to answer because depending on where you live different types of Conifers are traditionally used as Christmas trees, so the scent you are expecting can vary a bit. 

 For holiday time Marge prefers our Balsam Fir, the Christmas Tree of her New England childhood.  I am drawn more to Fir Grande and I suspect if you grew up in the West, you may feel more connected to the White Fir. (Our White Fir EO is produced from recycled Christmas trees!)  We also offer a wide range of Evergreens: Balsam Fir, Scotch Pine, Maritime (Sea) Pine, Cypress, Juniper, Atlas Cedar leaf, and Pinon Pine.  (Check out our new Pinon Pine Hydrosol!)

A neat trick Marge came up with if you are using an artificial holiday tree, is to fill one of the little terra cotta clay pots with the conifer of your choice and hide it in the branches of the tree.  Your home is then filled with the Christmas tree aroma via the essential oil in the clay pot—a suitable illusion to set the mood.  I like to put these little clay pots in the closet, laundry room, and other areas of my home, too.

Black Spruce ( Picea mariana)-Marge says this is the scent of the New England mountains, refreshing and uplifting.

Cedar leaf, Atlas (cedrus atlanticus)-Lush and green aroma invoking deep mountainous woods.  Distilled from the needles.

Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)-Fresh, green, and exhilarating. From young green tips and needles. Although our Cypress Oil comes from France, Cypress trees grow through out the midSouth and are a familiar sight here in middle Tennessee.

Fir, Balsam (Abies balsamea Canadensis) –Another special evergreen from Canada, from the needles of trees often used as Christmas trees in the Northeast and New England. More grounding and centering than some of the other Conifer oils.

Fir, Grande (Abies grandis)-Huge and full, rich and woodsy with a bit of tang! Stimulating and might be helpful for raising one’s spirit.

Fir, White (Abies concolor)-Christi’s favorite, from a high mountainous area in the Southwestern USA, clear, clean and crisp woodsy-ness.  (Artisan produced from fallen needles and recycled Christmas trees.) Evokes a feeling of freedom, may help reduce stress and tension.
Juniper Hi Altitude (Juniperus communis)-Fresh, bright, and cleansing aroma.  Suggested for use in meditation or centering prayer to clear the room or any space.  Christi has recently fallen in love with this oil describing it as bringing clearness yet fullness to a space, as if sensing one’s guardian angel or a loving embrace. 
Larch Needle (Larix laricina)-Our newest addition to our line-up of Conifers, Larch is the lightest, gentlest, and sweetest of these oils and is NOT an evergreen.  The oil is distilled from light, feathery needles, which drop each autumn.  Relaxing, said to stimulate creativity and intuition.

Pine, Maritime (Sea) (Pinus pilaster)-Marge says, “Somehow this oil from trees growing on the Mediterranean coast brings the sea to mind.  When I close my eyes I can visualize the scrubby pine trees that struggled against the ocean winds on my beloved Cape Cod and Christi says she can visualize the same trees from her travels to the Isle of Patmos, Greece.”

Pine, Pinon (Pinus edulis)-Ethically Wildcrafted from an artisan distiller in the Southwest from fallen needles and twigs.  Energizing, cleansing, spiritually uplifting and inspiring.

Pine, Scotch (Pinus sylvestris)-There are many inferior Scotch Pine specimens on the market and if you’ve never experienced a Scotch Pine to your liking or only think of it as a “bathroom cleaner,” then this is the oil to give it another try!  Organic, French, from needles, it is said to be helpful for physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, as well as a feeling of hopelessness or despair.  Marge describes the aroma as, “heady, the freedom of mountain tops!”
As you can see, there are many varieties of conifers.  If one doesn’t speak to you immediately from our descriptions, request a sample the next time you order.  Inspired by the glorious pine, I gathered pinecones and needles throughout my neighborhood and filled a festive basket for my porch this season.  My secret weapon for scenting is a little terra cotta pot with Pinon Pine and Balsam Fir, evoking Christmas memories and joy, each time I pass by. 

Another suggestion...  add a few drops of your favorite conifer oil to the individual cones.  I'm told this will add to the delight of a warm fire if you use the scented cones as firestarters, but I've not tried this yet.

Note:  Our terra cotta clay pots are sold out and we’ve been unable to source more at this time.  However, I am wondering if the little refill pads for the car scenter could be used hidden in an artificial tree or a basket like I mentioned above, at the least for a bit of ambience nearby. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hand Sanitizer Allergy?

Josh is in first grade this year. And his teacher has mandated that every student will use the commercial hand sanitizer the school supplies.

All was well for the first week or so, but as soon as the cool fall weather struck, his hands became red, chapped and raw.  At first we thought it was the alcohol in the commercial product, but I'm wondering if he might not be allergic to something in the product.

At any rate, his little hands were chapped, raw and painful!  His parents tried hand lotion, to soothe them, and it burned the raw irritated skin.

Finally his mom remembered the "care package" that had gone home from Tennessee with them. KleenHandz!   The aloe vera gel and lavender soothed the irritated skin, and didn't burn the way other emollients had.  And the antibacterial/antiviral essential oils should be an acceptable substitute for the commercial product that was causing him so much pain. I'm told that within two days all the irritation and redness was healed.

Yes, his first grade teacher says that he may keep his KleenHandz at school and use it every day instead of the commercial sanitizer.

I love it when we have success stories!  (And I wait for the day that certain family members will reach for a natural solution FIRST, not after the commercial product fails, but that day may never come.)

At any rate, if you are in a situation where you are obligated to use a hand sanitizer, and the one available to you irritates your skin, KleenHands might be a good alternative.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

MERCY, please!

The many uses of MERCY -
Ruth Gilbert, from Vancouver, has been a regular client for well over a decade. She orders a LOT of our MERCY Body Wash and Treatment Gel.  She recently mentioned some of her uses for it, and agreed to write a 'guest blog' article for us discussing it.
 Several years ago I had a MRSA infection in a surgical wound and after two further surgeries and 6 months of wound healing I never wanted another so when I saw that Marge of Nature’s Gift had come up with a concoction that might help fight such infections I immediately got some. I have no idea if it has done anything to prevent or treat a MRSA infection because fortunately I have not had one. However, I have found a multitude of uses for it. 
 The first came about because I had a rash on my legs that was originally diagnosed as folliculitis—an infection of hair follicles. Thinking it was bacterial I used the Mercy soap to wash it and the Mercy gel on it several tunes every day. It was ferociously itchy so I added some extra lavender, German Chamomile and helichrysum oils. It didn’t make the rash go away but it did help with the itch. It turned out not to be a bacterial infection but an autoimmune rash called lichen planus which has no cure. The worst thing you can do is scratch the rash because then it spreads, but you really want to tear your skin off. They prescribed a cortisone cream for the itch which had side effects and wasn’t nearly as effective as the MERCY gel plus oils which was extremely good at bringing down the itch and inflammation. 
 Now it is my go to concoction for any skin itches or irritations including insect bites and heat rashes. When I began having trouble with hemorrhoids I added some cypress needle oil and kept some cotton pads nearby for application. I found it both immediately soothing (though it does sting some) and very healing.
I also have an ailment called interstitial cystitis which is a non infectious bladder inflammation problem. When you have IC you really need to avoid urinary tract infections and you tend to get them frequently. So I began to wash my genitals in the shower with the mercy shower soap every time I showered. This radically reduced any uti’s and had the added advantage of keeping down yeast infection as well. We also use it to clean our bottoms to help with both hemorrhoids and any pain or irritation from acid burn. These are what I have discovered so far but of course, I will continue to experiment in the future.
Ruth Gilbert
We really thank Ruth for sharing her experience. And I am reminded that several nurses have mentioned that using MERCY liquid soap does seem to reduce the number and severity of UTI's among their clients.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to "smell" essential oils

Earlier this week we received an email from a new client. She had placed a rather extravagant 'beginning' order - lots of the "rare and precious" oils.   And wrote complimenting us on the quick shipping and excellent packaging..and added "I think I blew out my sense of smell one should smell ALL those beautiful scents al at one time. I will be more careful the next time."

We emailed back and forth all evening...and I realized that she had no clue how to first experience her new oils, and how to "clear her palate" so she wouldn't overload her olfactory nerves.... ie, "blow out her sense of smell."

If you have been working with the oils for a long time, everything here is probably familiar to you, but if not, we hope it helps.

1. How to smell an essential oil:

It's human nature to just open the bottle and inhale, and we all do that sometimes. But that is the worst way to evaluate the richness of the aroma of an essential oil or absolute.    Imagine the traditional Brandy Snifter, large and bowl shaped, with just a little brandy at the bottom.  The empty space in the glass gives room for the aromatics of the wine to develop and dance with each other, for a fuller experience.   

When you inhale from the top of the bottle, the aromatic molecules do not  have room to expand, to mix, to dance.    

At Nature's Gift, while we often will get our FIRST impression of an oil from smelling the top of the bottle, or a bit better, the bottle top (a bit less intense than inhaling directly above the bottle) the only way we will truly evaluate the complexity of an oil is on a scent strip. Yes, we offer "professional" scent strips; we use them ourselves, teachers use them to help their students fully experience the oils.  

Nature's Gift Scent Strips

You can make your own by cutting construction paper or lightweight cardboard/poster board into strips. 
Put one or two drops of the oil on the scent strip or dip the tip of the scent strip into the bottle.   Let the oil on the strip dry for a minute or two, then inhale.  See what you think of the oil initially. Wait ten minutes and smell the strip again.  Twenty minutes,  an hour, two hours.  Notice how the oil's (or blend's) aroma changes in time. Let it sit overnight and smell it in the morning. The lightest top notes will be barely perceptable the next day; the deep base notes, the woods and roots, will be deeper and richer tomorrow than they are now.

2. How to "refresh your palate":

The above description is all well and good if you have one new oil you want to experience and evaluate.  But what if, like my new friend mentioned above, you have a dozen or more.  Of course you want to sample them all, right now!  But I know that if I am smelling new oils, after about five or six they all start to smell alike.   "Olfactory overload" or, as my new friend said "I blew out my sense of smell."   There is a fast and simple remedy for "olfactory overload"    Keep a small jar of coffee beans. They don't have to be fancy organic French Roased Kenya or Hawaii beans. They can be discount store brand, as long as they are whole beans.   Open the jar of coffee beans, smell their aroma for perhaps a minute or two, and you can go back to enjoying your new oils.  I have no idea why coffee beans  "clear the palate" so you can resume playing with your oils and absolutes, I just know that they do. When we used to travel to trade shows as vendors, we always had a bowl of coffee beans on the sample table. We still use them if a large shipment of new oils come in. 

Hope this helps!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Essential Oils: Do They Ever Expire?

By Christi R. Pugh
For Nature’s Gift, Inc.
We recently heard from two longtime clients, who posed an interesting and important question:  “What is the therapeutic shelf-life of an essential oil?”  A follow-up to the question would be: “If the oil is past its therapeutic shelf-life, does it have any other uses?”

Shelf-life of essential oils truly varies from product to product.  A few precious oils even improve with age, such as: Sandalwood, Patchouli, Vetiver, and other rich, resinous oils.  However, as you may be aware, cold-pressed Citrus oils and some Conifers (needle oils) have a much shorter shelf life.  As a general rule, these oils run their course in 6 months to one year. (Pink Grapefruit, Sweet Orange, Lemon Rind, Pines, Firs, Spruce, etc.)

There are several key factors to consider: 

1) Always, always, always, store in a cool, dark place, and yes, it is okay to store essential oils in the refrigerator.  We store all of our Citrus and Conifer oils in the fridge at Nature’s Gift AND use a nitrogen blanket to prolong shelf life.

2) Topping off oil bottles with a nitrogen blanket like our Oxygen Barrier, prevents oxidation, and extends the shelf life of any essential oil.  Tighten tops well.

3) If you prefer not to use Oxygen Barrier, transferring the oils to smaller dark colored bottles like our cobalt or amber bottles can also be helpful.  You are trying to eliminate any extra head “room” between the oil and the bottle or the chance for oxidation.

Okay, so your fabulous Pink Grapefruit is over a year old because you completely forgot about it.  What now?  Well, even if it still smells lovely, it is probably not going to offer the therapeutic benefits it once did. 

In fact, I found a bottle of Pink Grapefruit under my car seat that fell and lodged there about three years.  I opened it and to my surprise, it still smelled great.  However, I ended up using it with soap and water to wipe down my stove and kitchen counters and put a tad in a clay pot diffuser in my laundry room, mainly just for the smell.  I never ever let any oil go to waste.  I add older ones to cotton balls and place them in strategic locations (drawers, cabinets, closets) and I also use them for mopping my floors.  (A few drops added to hot water and Murphy’s Oil Soap) 

Unlike Carrier Oils, essential oils don’t really turn rancid, so that is not a way you can tell if the oils are still “good” or not.  However, as Marge says, you can just tell sometimes, because they somehow smell “off.”  Maybe they are not as bright and vivid in aroma as they once were.  One way to know is to mark dates on the oils once they come into your possession.  This will eliminate the guessing game.  If you pour the oil into clear glass, you may see it has a cloudy effect.  This is also a tell-tale sign an oil is no longer therapeutically beneficial.  Other essential oils have a shelf life ranging from one to five years.

We’ve been asked why we do not put an expiration date on our retail essential oils.  The reason is simple.  We do not know what conditions the oil will be stored under once it leaves our hands, thus, making it impossible to calculate a true expiration date. Other than what we’ve discussed here, there is truly no firm expiration date for essential oils.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 12-A Few Odds and Ends to Wrap Up

12 Days of Christmas Crafting

Whew!  Hope you’ve enjoyed our 12 days of marathon blogging as much as we’ve loved presenting these recipes, tips, products, and ideas.  Definitely lots to think about when creating unique natural Christmas gifts, isn’t there? 

Before we briefly revisit all we’ve covered, let’s talk about two of our easiest ideas, which are:  making a liquid castile hand soap and pouring individual sample vials.  I love to keep a Benchmark Thyme liquid castile hand soap at my kitchen sink and sometimes add a few drops of Rosewood for my skin to keep my hands soft and nourished.  Benchmark Thyme is an excellent germ killer for germs of all types.  I’ve even used it to wipe down my counters and scrub, leaving the kitchen smelling clean and yummy! 

For a 4 oz Liquid Castile, add 10-12 ml of essential oil.  Gently rock it to blend and let it sit overnight on the counter.  Ours comes with a treatment pump for easy dispensing.  Add any oils you prefer, Lavender, Tea Tree, Manuka, Saro, or a bit of Lemon Rind.  With so many individuals experimenting with natural products these days, this is a great way to introduce aromatherapy to your friends and family in a relatable way. 

Our little glass sample vials hold enough oil for an aromatic evaluation.  These can be purchased on our site, as well as the disposable pipettes needed to measure the oil into the vials.  I love gifting my friends with samples of essential oils or blends first to gauge their reaction, likes, and dislikes.  It helps for future gifting or when they need a therapeutic blend.  Then I know better what appeals to their sense of smell.  For friends and family new to essential oil we recommend gifting our 10% dilutions or anointing oils, in skinsafe dilutions.

We’ve featured bath salts, bail jars, roller bottles, inhalers, shower gel, massage bottles, fractionated coconut oil, clay pot diffusers, kaolin white clay, unscented silk lotion, bliss bath, shea, aloe, and cocoa butters, virgin coconut crème oil, natural waxes, liquid castile soap, and sample vials over the course of this series.  For one final day, take advantage of special savings on these items.   Use the promotional code craft12 and receive a 20% discount on all the items discounted in the course of this series.

We’d love your feedback, hints, tips, and recipes about what you create!  Happy Christmas crafting, only 74 days till Christmas Day!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11: Creating Salves and Perfumes with Beeswax Beads and Floral Waxes

12 Days of Christmas Crafting

Today we tackle salves and natural perfume creations with special offerings for the season.  Floral Waxes in stock for a limited time: Jasmine Grand, Mimosa, and Rose.  As always we have emulsifying wax, and pure beeswax beads on hand. 
How to use these intriguing products you ask?  Floral waxes make delightful natural perfumes when scented with your favorite essential oils.  Our current offerings are more lightly scented natural waxes, so for instance with the Jasmine Grand, you might want to add more of the absolute to increase its intensity.  The same applies to the Rose wax. 
White Beeswax Beads
Gold/Natural Beeswax Beads

To make a solid perfume (our little lip balm pots/jars are perfect for these!):
-3 parts Jojoba
-2 parts Beeswax Beads
-1 part essential oil or blend
Warm the oil, add the beeswax beads and warm gently until melted.  Let cool until warm to the touch and starting to thicken. Stir in the essential oil, and pour into wee pots. We think it would be a great idea to make a few different perfumes and pour each into our little lip balm jars. Then you can give each of your friends a variety of your one of a kind perfume creations!  Marge offers too, that you can add a little cosmetic grade glitter if you are making gifts for children.

Beeswax beads are a staple for basic salves.  Marge’s friend Janice Sheplar advises a basic salve includes:
-2 oz  Beeswax beads (or wax of your choice)
-8 oz Carrier oil of your choice
-90 drops Essential oil or oils of your choice (½ to 1% dilution) 

Melt the wax and carrier oil together over a double boiler.  Warm the substance slowly over low heat.  Remember both the wax and carrier oil are flammable and high temperatures could be dangerous.  Also, high temps won’t achieve the desired results.  Blend together and allow the mixture to “cool” to around lukewarm temps.  Add your essential oil or oils of choice to the bowl and let it cool completely.  It may be poured onto a baking pan for cooling.  This way you can break it into little pieces.  If you would rather package it for “gifting” you can pour it into little PET plastic jars (1 oz or 4 oz.) or the wee lip balm pots we mentioned above. 

-For dry winter skin, add Calendula Infused Oil, Avocado Oil, and Lavender or Patchouli essential oil to beeswax beads OR
-Using the Rose wax, add Calendula Infused Oil, Rose Otto, and Sandalwood for skin softening luxury

People often ask us about the emulsifying wax we offer.  Emulsifying Wax is not a completely natural botanical product but because oil and water don’t mix, it is a component some use to bind warming oils with hydrosols, water, or teas, when making lotions or creams.  We offer it in a 4 oz size, perfect for experimenting with small creations.  Marge likes to use it to make her own face creams.

Our gift hints page has many more recipes, and if you are up for perusing our old newsletters, they too are a great resource for ideas.

Our waxes, beeswax beads, and lip balm pots/jars are available at special pricing today and tomorrow. Simply enter the promo code craft11, press apply, and see the 20% discount reflected online. (Some quantities are extremely limited!)

On the last day of Christmas creation blogging, we’ll recap the series, and offer tips for scenting Liquid Castile soap and other goodies.  Plus, if you’ve been unable to decide, it will be your final opportunity to take advantage of special savings on the products we’ve featured.  We look forward to hearing about your creations!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10: Working with Aloe, Shea, and Cocoa Butters

12 Days of Christmas Crafting

We’re back with more aromatic Christmas crafting ideas.  It’s our 10th day blogging essential oil and aromatherapy holiday creations and we appreciate you joining us on the journey.  On our final day, Day 12, we’ll recap everything we’ve featured, and share a special one day promotional code for more savings.  Tomorrow we’ll tackle waxes: Jasmine, Rose, Mimosa…and Beeswax bead concoctions. 

We’re often asked about the differences between our various Butters: Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Aloe Butter, and our Virgin Coconut Crème Oil versus butters. Today we’re tackling the topic with tips for working with these delightful deep moisturizers. (Perfect for dry winter skin!)

First let’s look at the “Butters,” Aloe, Shea and Cocoa.  Yes, our delightful whipped Shea Soufflé starts out as the firmer Shea Butter product.  We now make available two types of Shea Butter, the safely naturally refined (no hexane!) and the traditionally unrefined golden specimen from a women’s fair trade cooperative in Ghana.  The unrefined golden is creamy and pliable at room temperature in your hands.  We chunk the Shea to size and package it in baggies for ease of transport and use, however, PET plastic jars or PET plastic bail jars may be purchased on our website to hold your nifty creations. Which is better, you ask?  It is truly subjective and a matter of personal preference. Please note those with both nut and latex allergies should avoid any Shea product.

Extremely firm and solid at room temperature, our pure Cocoa Butter tends to soften as outdoor temperatures rise or with body heat from the hands, emitting an inviting chocolaty aroma.  As the thermometer drops outside, it is advisable to melt a bit and add your favorite carrier oil to soften.  Our Virgin Coconut Crème oil also combines well with the Cocoa butter.  This might be a good time to mention that Fractionated Coconut Oil, our favorite carrier due to its long shelf-life, is virtually odorless.  Don’t order frac. expecting to smell coconut, because you will be disappointed. 

Just introduced at Nature’s Gift this year and flying off the shelves is our new Aloe Butter offering. Certified Organic Aloe Vera, enfleuraged into Certified Organic (deodorized)  Coconut Oil.  Grown and produced in the USA. This unique combination is excellent on dry elbows and heels, we’ve discovered.  An odorless, white, instantly melting cream, helpful for chapped lips or hands and as healing and anti-inflammatory as it is moisturizing.  Warm it gently in a bowl of warm water to add your favorite soothing essential oils:  Lavender, Chamomiles, or even Poplar Balsam or Helichrysum for irritated skin or small wounds. 
What can be said about our organic Virgin Coconut Crème Oil, other than it is fabulous!  Smells like freshly grated coconuts, too! It liquefies much quicker than either Shea or Cocoa Butter, nearly instantly in your hands.  Ours is cold pressed from freshly grown organic coconuts and solvent free and can even be utilized in high heat cooking (over 350 degrees.)  I give it as a supplement to my dog Lexi to help keep her skin and coat shiny and soft. She always laps it up with enthusiasm, too.  Traditionally it is used to nourish skin and condition hair.  We offer it in our PET plastic 4 oz jars and Pet plastic clear bail jars. 

On to the recipe fun! Once upon a time we offered Belly Balm to help diminish stretch marks from pregnancy but quit offering it because the added carrier oils had a tendency to separate, not what we wanted in a commercial product.  However, women swear by the formula, and Marge tweaked it for her daughter-in-law and shares the recipe.  (Her daughter-in-law swears by it. Two big babies and not a stretchmark where she used the butter.)   

You’ll need a postage scale or scale that measures in grams for this project: 250 grams Virgin Coconut Cream Oil and 75 grams Cocoa Butter. Melt the Cocoa Butter, and stir into the Virgin Coconut.  The heat of the melted cocoa butter should be enough to melt the coconut. If not, warm gently just until liquefied. Blend: 7.5 grams Rose Hip Seed Oil and 21.5 grams Argan Oil. Stir in to the melted solid oils. Weigh and sift together 14 grams of Corn Starch (yes, from your kitchen pantry.) Sift over the balm and beat in until smooth.  (The corn starch gives a lovely powdery finish and makes the balm feel 'non greasy’.) These quantities will yield a full to the brim Bail Jar and perhaps a tiny bit left over.

Marge’s friend Janice offers basic balm how-to tips:

1)      Use a double boiler and heat slowly.  We recommend barely simmering water. (Note, if you don't have a classic "Bain Marie" or double boiler, put a glass or ceramic cup inside a saucepan of water, and heat to a bare simmer.)
2)      Keep in mind the butters and oils are flammable.  Always stay with them as they heat.  This is another reason to use the double boiler rather than direct heat.
3)      Some individuals use the microwave for heating/melting waxes or butters.  We prefer not to use the microwave for heating our all natural products. There is a lot of information on the internet about the negative effects of microwave energy on items subjected to it. While we don't know if this is a factor we prefer to err on the side of caution to maintain the integrity of our ingredients.

From our website: A Basic Balm is simply a choice of hard and liquid oils whipped together. I also add cornstarch to give it a "dryer" feel.
  • 4 oz. of one or combination of the following -Shea Butter, Mango Butter, Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1 to 2 oz. Liquid Oil of your choice (Depends on what you want to accomplish)
  • 1 oz. Cornstarch
  • 2 Teaspoons Antioxidant (Grapefruit Seed Extract, Vitamin E, Low Alpha Tocopherols) if desired.  Note: If you prefer skipping this step or don’t have any antioxidant products around, our Meadowfoam Oil can be divided among whatever carrier oil you use above and should extend the shelf life. Or simply select our longest lived liquid oils, the Meadowfoam, Jojoba or Fractionated Coconut Oil.
  • Combine the oils and beat on high in your mixer or with hand beater until light and creamy looking. Start adding cornstarch and beat in thoroughly until complete.
  • Add 45-90 drops of your essential oil or oil blend depending on what you want to achieve. 

Long post, but lots of information to share about butters.  Tomorrow is Wax Day on the blog.  We’ll cover our most recent natural wax offerings and ways to work with Beeswax beads. 
For now, take advantage of special savings on all of our butters (Shea, Cocoa, and  Aloe), as well as our Virgin Coconut Crème Oil and Meadowfoam Oil. Simply enter the promotional code  craft10 and press "apply" at checkout to see the 20% discount reflected online.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 9 - Crafting Blissful Baths

12 Days of Christmas Crafting: Creating a Blissful Bath Experience

Who doesn’t love indulging in an aromatic spa experience?  A quiet house, hot water, lit candles, a favorite book, a tasty beverage, and all complemented by the aroma of pure essential oils added to unscented bliss bath.  Treat yourself or your family and friends by creating your own personalized bliss bath blends.  It is fairly simple and quite rewarding.

Bliss Bath came about around ten years ago when Marge was going through a period of grief and loss in her personal life, resulting in increased stress.  A friend suggested she begin searching for ways to nurture and care for herself, so she experimented with a  formula for a “blooming bath powder.”  Eventually she settled on a more subtle yet soothing formula which became our popular Bliss Bath base unscented and chose favorites depending on her mood, adding Rose, Sandalwood, Neroli, and other oils as part of her pampering bath ritual. 

Although Marge initially used it as a stress reliever, the spa bath can be whatever you want it to be from a night-time wind down to a Saturday morning energizer.  Creating bliss bath for friends is fun and the bail jars offer an attractive presentation.  You can even add a bow or ribbon!

The rich and moisturizing bliss bath base is non-irritating (tapioca starch and jojoba oil) and suitable for most skin types.  As always, we recommend testing a bit on your skin just in case of an idiosyncratic reaction.  Also, the oil residue will make the tub slippery, so label your creation with a cautionary warning about slippage. 

If creating from the unscented Bliss Bath, add about ¼ cup additional Jojoba Oil, and 3 mls of your favorite essential oil or blend.  Remember not to use essential oils which are known mucous membrane irritants.  (For instance, I would stay away from most of the spice oils.)

Our bags of unscented bliss bath are much easier to work with than bail jars if blending your own creation.  I find it easier to blend this way and then add to an empty bail jar or jars for gift giving.   

Synergy ideas for Bliss Bath:

Destress, Relax or Reunite Synergy-All are calming stress relievers at the end of a long, hard, day.  Caution user to be prepared to sleep after this bath!

Harmony Synergy-Grounding, peaceful, excellent for any skin type.

Other blend ideas:

Contentment bliss bath-Lavandin Super, Ylang Ylang, and Patchouli-Very pleasing to the senses.  Use less Ylangylang than the other two oils.
Energizing bliss bath-Equal parts Pink Grapefruit, Thyme Linalol, and Rosemary.
 Energizing immune boost bliss bath-Ravensara, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Rosemary.

We offer pre-blended Bliss Bath in Rose, English Lavender, Cleopatra’s Secret, and Jasmine, but have always been adamant about making the Unscented available as well, for those who want to create their own special bliss bath experience or others with sensitive skin.  I love love love scenting it with Patchouli and Sandalwood, so calming, softening, and sensuous. 

Now through October 12th we are offering 20% off our unscented bliss bath and our bail jars. Use the promo code  craft9 at checkout, and press apply; you'll see the discount reflected onscreen.  Please check back tomorrow for more aromatic hints and Christmas gift crafting ideas.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 8: Creating a personal silken lotion with essential oils

12 Days of Christmas Crafting:

We’ve reached our 8th day of blogging aromatic Christmas crafting ideas.  Wow, who knew there were so many ways to share the essential oil/aromatherapy love with others?
Hope you are taking advantage of our special savings through October 12th on aromatherapy accessories for making these fun and helpful concoctions!  So far we’ve shared recipes and ideas for all natural bath salts, roller ball bottles, personal inhalers, shower gel, massage bottles, clay pot hanging diffusers, and kaolin white clay/masques. 

Today I wanted to remind you of our luxurious Unscented Silken Lotion base.  Very often, nearly daily, we are asked about scenting lotions with essential oils.  For years we did not offer lotion in our product line but after increased demand, we searched and sampled till we found the perfect Unscented Silken Lotion.  We do offer it pre-scented with our organic French Lavender Mailette essential oil, too.  It is light and leaves skin feeling silky and soft and makes an excellent facial lotion or travel lotion for the purse or backpack. 

Its contents are quite simple and include: Organic Aloe, Rose and Witch Hazel Hydrosols, Organic Coconut and Jojoba, and liquid Silk.  Yes, actual liquid SILK! Luxurious and pampering, for facial skincare, add Rose, Rosewood, Neroli, Carrot Seed, or Helio Carrot, Seabuckthorn Berry Co2, Frankincense CO2…for hands, Calendula, German Chamomile, Patchouli, or any of our Sandalwoods. 

We offer it in a 4 oz bottle with lotion pump, so for dilution purposes, use a pipette to measure out a maximum of a 2.5% dilution, which is 60 total drops (3 ml) of essential oil or blend added. Please note this is the maximum we would recommend. You might start with a 1% dilution (24 drops, total) and see if the fragrance is enough.   You may add the essential oils directly to the lotion bottle and leave for about 24 hours.  You may also want to gently rock it to blend the oil. 

What I love about the Unscented Silk Lotion is that it works with most all skin types and can be used all over the body.  I’ve found it pretty adaptable with most oils and very skin softening.  Soon we’ll be dealing with dry, rough, winter hands, and silk lotion will be a necessity.  You could also add Harmony, Relax, or Sleep Ease Synergies for relaxing night-time blends.

For gift giving, take a 4 oz and break it down into 1 oz sizes with our 1 oz cobalt PET plastic bottles with treatment pumps.  A set of 3 is just $3.99.  Make your own personalized blend and labels for a gift from the heart.  If you have friends or family with sensitive skin or allergies, try the unscented without any additions.  It stands well on its own, too! (To scent a one ounce bottle of lotion, start with 6 drops of essential oil [1%] and gradually increase up to a maximum of 15 drops.)

Use the promotional code  craft8  to receive a 20% discount on our unscented Silken Skin lotion and/or a set of three 1 fl oz cobalt PET bottles with treatment pumps from today through October 12.

We’ll be back tomorrow for Day 9 of our Christmas Crafting ideas, using our Unscented Bliss Bath, and another discount code for special 20% savings.