Tripod Thursdays- Spring Is Blooming 2011

Hi everyone! Well, even though it sleeted here today, Spring has begun and I have proof! Here are a few shots taken in this past week. While I had every intention of getting over to the lake shore and
photographing the ducks and geese, but somehow I just couldnt force myself to brave the cold for them! So here are a few of the early Spring indicators here in Ohio. I hope that you enjoy them!

And since I dont have too many Spring photos for you, here are some more of my soaps!

What's Happening Wednesday- Exotic Oils cont.- Kukui Nut Oil

Here we are at another Wednesday. What's happening? Well, I just finished a new perfume, but since it doesn't actually have any alcohol in it, it really is not a perfume, rather it is a fragrance oil for the body. Whatever you call it, I am very excited about this one, especially since I have not added a new perfume oil since the introduction of Fairy Nectar, almost two years ago. While I can't give away the surprise, I will tell you that this new scent is a tad bit sultry, with a hint of amber. Since I have a completely over-active imagination when it comes to names, I asked a friend to help out on this one. We ran a lot of names up the flag pole, but in the end, all the full moon, moonlight romance, and sensual summer night's were set aside for the simplicity of .....drum roll, please..... EMBRACE! 

My next project is actually something I really began a few days ago, when I set some herbs to infuse in olive oil. So, later today, I will be in the kitchen putting those herbs to use in Baby Butt Balm. I have formulated what I believe to be a great recipe for treating diaper rash, as well as preventing it! My Grandson, now eight months old, was of course my main motivation, but my Sister is also expecting now, and I want her baby to have a nice, healthy bum also! Next up, I will be doing a baby powder for her gift set, but that is for the weekend or early next week.   

Of course, I have also been quite busy making soaps. My last batch was one that you may  consider a bit strange, but I assure you there is good reason for its ingredients. It is a Tomato Face bar for normal to dry skin (I made one for oily skin a couple of wees ago). This bar has tomato powder (dehydrated tomatoes, ground into a powder), comfrey, and tomato juice, and has a nice amount of moisturizing oils in it as well. 
Why, you may ask, would anyone want to use a garden plant on their face? Well, tomatoes are a great source of beta-carotene and vitamin E, and these are both antioxidants. The tomato will purify the skin, while helping to refine enlarged pores, and soothing and balancing the skin qualities. Comfrey, on the other hand, will reduce any edema (swelling), as well as encourage the fast, healthy regrowth of damaged sin and tissue cells. So, we don't have to eat them, for tomatoes to do our body good!

My earlier tomato soap, for oily skin, is similar, but has a lower amount of moisturizers and some neem powder to help cleanse and remove excess skin oils. Here are pictures of both tomato soaps. The darker bars on the left are the oily skin ones, but the normal to dry skin bars will become a more smoother, darker red, like the red in the oily bars, once they begin to cure. The green should  also darken slightly, but it will not be anywhere near as dark as the oily bars. That brown appearing color is actually a dark green, and while the computer monitor does make it hard to see, it is rather brownish in person as well. That is the neem powder in it.

In case you are curious, the soap on the right of the tomato is citrus cilantro.

Tomorrow is Tripod Thursday, so pictures will be posted. I am thinking Spring, so probably some that I have taken during the past week and a half, as the buds have begin to open, daffodils are up, and the ducks are waddling around the lake, but it still looks pretty drab over-all, with just these small pops of color every now and again. Of course, that is what makes these hidden treasures so special! So join me tomorrow for Springtime in Ohio!
Then Friday we will continue with the exotic oils and butters posts, learning all about kukui nut oil, the Hawaiian wonder nut!  

Make It Yourself Monday- Banana Poodle Doodles

Hi there! It's Monday, so what are we making today? Well, Dallas and Gizmo have been very upset with me because I have been devoting all my time to making soaps and balms, so today is going  to the dogs! Here is a recipe for Banana Poodle Doodles!

Gather all your ingredients;

5 cups flour
1/4 cup peanuts, finely chopped
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
¼ cup all vegetable oil
1 ½ cups pureed banana
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Blend the egg, oil and banana all together, then add into the dry ingredients by pouring into the well and begin combining it all together.
Add some water, one teaspoon at a time, as it is needed to make a nice dough.
Once you are mostly mixed and have a dough texture, move your ball onto the table top and begin to knead. You may add more water as needed, but be sure to add only a small amount at one time.
Continue kneading until you have a good dough. Not too wet, not to dry, and everything is mixed thoroughly.
When your dough is right, form it into logs  2" to 2 1/2" high. Flatten so that log is 6" to 7" wide by 1" high. Then place on non-stick baking sheets or on lightly greased ones.
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Slice into 1/2" - 3/4" slices. Put back on baking sheets and cook for additional 20 minutes, or until a nice golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Once cooled, store in an airtight container or freeze.
When you freeze treats you need to make sure they are completely thawed before serving to your dog. This can take 60 minutes, but giving a dog a frozen cookie is dangerous, so it should never be done!

Frankly Speaking Friday- Illipe Butter

Although illipe butter is hard, and not liquid, it is still quite exotic, so I decided to add it into this series of posts, I hope you will indulge me! 

Illipe butter comes from the nuts of the shorea stenoptera which is a tropical tree that grows in southeast Asia, Borneo and Sumatra. The tree grows from 16 to 49 feet tall, and has two inch seeds which are enclosed in a thin shell, with wing-like attachments, similar to the whirly birds of maple and elm trees.
It flowers October through January, and after the nuts fall to the ground, never before, they are gathered by natives and set to dry in the sun. Once dried, the shells are placed in rice mortars where they are pounded with the pestles until the seeds break away from the hard shell. From there the whole nut, which is the seed, is sent to be rendered where it is cold pressed. The resulting butter is a hard creamy white to light yellow color, with a slight, nutty odor. The locals have been making butter from the illipe nuts for countless centuries, traditionally using it for both therapeutic and cosmetic purposes.

Illipe butters chemical composition parallels that of cocoa butter, and it has nearly the same triglyceride composition, but it is lighter and has a [slightly] higher melting point. This butter, which  is quite hard at room temperature,  melts quickly and easily when it comes in contact with the skin.  And, while it may be this high melting point that makes it a prized ingredient for soaping (as it creates a nice hard bar of soap), surely it is its skin benefiting properties that make it  prized for cosmetic applications.  

Illipe butter  is probably most renown for its skin softening quality, but it also has long-lasting moisturizing attributes. It  restores the skins elasticity, helps to reinforce its natural moisture barrier, reduces the degeneration of skin cells while restoring their flexibility and elasticity, and prevents drying which leads to the development of wrinkles. Illipe butter is used in a variety of sun protection and skin care products, as well as massage creams, soaps, balms, make-up foundations, and hair conditioners. It is beneficial for the treatment of numerous skin and hair disorders, especially chronically dry skin, mature skin, sunburn, sores, damaged skin, and mouth ulcers.

Illipe butter has a shelf life of two years, but it should be kept in a dark, cool location, away from moisture. You may use anywhere from 3 to 100% in your lip stick, lip and body balms, creams, lotions, hair conditioners, make-up foundations, and hard soap recipes. Try this exotic butter in your soap for not only a firm bar, but a highly moisturizing one. But for a real treat, use it directly on the skin, without any additives. You won't need much, because a very little goes a very long way!

*Reminder; references and bibliographies for informational posts are available by following the reference tab at the top of the page 

Tripod Thursdays-My Groupon

Have you heard of "Groupons"? If not, you should really check into it. Groupon is basically an E-commerce coupon. Based in several of the larger cities, they offer at least 50% off of one item a day. It could be anything from pizza to sword lessons, but when you sign up you will receive an email every day with the deal of the day. If you like the deal and want it, you have to purchase it right then, and you will also have a time frame with which to use it in. The expiration varies, some are in just a few days, and others give you months. Whatever the fine print is, you can see it all before you buy. In fact, if a set amount of purchases are not made, the deal will not "activate", meaning that anyone who bought the first several deals will be refunded and the deal cancelled. Not that I think that ever happens, but it is one of those fine prints.

Why am I telling you about this new phenomenon called Groupon? Because it explains how I came to be on the Shutterbug website at four am [the other day]. I had received a groupon  for a hard-backed photo book at, for only $10, regularly $30. Now how could I pass that up? Well, I couldn't, so I didn't. Problem was, you had to use the groupon within 3 days or it would revert to just a $10 credit. Since the book was normally priced at $30 I stood to loose $10 in value if the groupon was not used in a timely manner. So, when it dawned on me that I had not finished my photo book, I quickly got onto the computer and rushed to the site to complete my picture organization and finalize my book. Now that may seem easy to you, but I have well over 3,000 pictures on my computer. I am a Mother of two young men, one of whom married on the beach last year, and the other who became a Father about 8 months ago. I also have all these crafts that I make and dogs and cats that I love. In other words, I had a lot to choose from when it comes to subject matter for the book. Needless to say, it took me a VERY long time to make my book! LOL.

So here is my groupon, my good deal, my photo book, my memories. While it didn't end up with any pictures of my dogs or cats, it certainly does represent a lot of fun and, more importantly, a lot of love. Someday, I will show this to my first Grandson, as I tell him about how his Great, Great Grandma flew to Texas to see her first Great Grandson, his Daddy, be born. And how she was so excited to see his Uncle Jared get married, and how she looked forward to seeing his Daddy become a Daddy. And most importantly, how she loved us all.

What's Happening Wednesday

What's happening this Wednesday? Well aside from my forgetful mind, a whole lot of not much! Lol. I forgot all about posting today, until a friend mentioned my blog. So thanks Cathy! It has been so warm here, in the 60's, and up until a few moments ago, it has been sunny and bright. I guess I was caught up in Spring fever, because I haven't been able to bring myself to get on the computer! I have been making scrapbook pages for my niece that will be born in a few months, and I have been pruning indoor plants, taking pictures of outdoor ones, and bathing the dog, who has been enjoying the out of doors a little too much! With burs all over, I have ripped out more leaves and small sticks from his underbelly than are in the yard! Lol, Well maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but not much of one!

I received a delivery today of 7 gallons of different oils, and 10 pounds of cocoa butter, so I am good to go for more soap and some balms and perfumes! Yesterday, I cut a batch of blackberry amber soap. It is absolutely one of the best smelling scents! I love it! I am planning on making a perfume out of it, as well as scenting lotion and shampoo with it too! I am told that it is similar to that big company (the one I dont like! Lol) 's scent, and while I don't know about that since I never go in there, I do know that I really like it!  Here is a picture of my soap, I wish I could send its odor across the computer!
I was going to continue on about another project, but it is now storming and there is a lot of thunder, so I am going to call it a day. Tomorrow is Tripod Thursday, so you know there will be pictures, but I am going to review a recent project of mine, so be sure to check it out! Then Friday, I will be continuing the exotic oils posts with Illipe Butter, which I inadvertently skipped when I posted the Jojoba oil. So back we will go!
Have a great day, and if it is pouring where you are, like it is here, stay dry!

Teaching Tuesdays - Exotic Oils Cont.- Jojoba Oil

We are continuing with exotic oils, and today is all about jojoba oil, botanically known as Simmondsia chinensis, which is not really an oil at all, but a wax. Pronounced ho-ho-ba, this oil has been used  for centuries. Nicknamed Goat Nut, the jojoba is a member if the box family of shrubs, and can grow to be seven feet tall. It is a deep golden color, and has a mild scent. It is suspected that the Native American Indians of our Southwest not only used the extracted  oil from the seeds of the [desert] jojoba shrub for wound treatments and hair and skin moisturizers, but as a food source as well.

The jojoba shrub grows in desert like, arid climates throughout the world, although it is native to North America. Its seeds are crushed to extract the odorless, hypo-allergenic, stable, natural oil that we call jojoba. Jojoba actually is used to refer to both the plant and the extract. The oil from the seeds is unique, in that it is not really an oil, but rather a pure liquid ester.  The difference between an oil and an ester is small, yet quite large when speaking of properties. Vegetable oils have several alcohol groups on their molecules, and some have forked molecules, which will eventually oxidize, becoming rancid. Jojoba though, has only one alcohol group, and it is a straight chain molecule, therefore it isn't subject to oxidizing, and, in fact it is an anti-oxidant, so it will not turn rancid. It can, however, be affected adversely by sunlight, so it needs to be kept in brown glass bottles, in the dark, or in closed metal cans.

Sebaceous glands are microscopic glands in the skin which secrete sebum, an oily, waxy matter, which lubricates the skin and the hair of mammals, keeping them soft and moistIn humans, these glands are primarily found on the face and the scalp, but are present, to some degree, throughout the skin, except for that on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. 

Jojoba oil is unique for a couple of reasons. First of all, jojoba oil is chemically almost identical to spermaceti (sperm) oil, the pure ester found in the head of the sperm whale. Up until it became restricted, this oil was prized, and frequently used in high temperature lubrication, cosmetics and as car transmission lubricants. Jojoba makes the perfect substitution for this oil, and, as such, effectively helps to save the whales. 

Secondly, jojoba oil closely matches the molecular structure of human sebum, therefore it can easily and quickly penetrate the skin and the scalp, without leaving an oily residue. Additionally, as it mimics the actions of human sebum, it softens, lubricates, and protects the skin and scalp in much the same way that our natural sebum does. Its soothing properties are known to stop many skin issues and to offer protection from premature wrinkling of the skin, as well as premature aging caused by exposure to ultra violet radiation. It is a non-occlusive oil, sinking into the skin and hair follicles, offering extra moisturization. It is considered an excellent emollient, but it is called a "dry emollient", meaning that it should not be used at rates greater than 25% in skin or hair care, as it may feel too dry at a higher level. Because it will not evaporate like a water-soluble moisturizers, jojoba oil will provide moisturizing all day long.  Because of its closeness to the skins' sebum, it makes an excellent oil for treating conditions like psoriasis and acne, and is good for all skin types, especially sensitive and oily skin. It helps to unclog the skins' pores, remove embedded grime, and it also restores and conditions hair. 

When used directly on the face for routine care, you should use amounts lower than 10 drops. Higher amounts, those over 10 drops, can lend a shine to the skin. With this in mind, you may want to be more conservative with it during the day, say 6 drops at a time, which should actually balance oil production and reduce shine at the same time. Then, at night, before bed, you can apply a higher rate for better, deeper moisturizing, without worrying about shine.

Most manufacturers say that jojoba oil has a two-three year shelf life, but this can be well surpassed if it is stored out of sunlight. It does not become rancid 
or loose its antioxidants, even after long periods of storage. It can, however,  become cloudy and solidify as the temperature drops. But this is a normal process that occurs because of the hardening of the fats and waxes, and it will become stable when it gets to be room temperature, or close to it. 

*Check the References tab at the top of the page for the bibliography and references for this post.

Make It Yourself Monday- Colloidal Oatmeal

Today's Make it Yourself project is an easy one, but one that can not only save you money, but can provide you relief for several afflictions. What am I talking about? Colloidal oatmeal, that's what. Now you may wonder what colloidal oatmeal is, and I will tell you a big industry secret, it is simply ground oatmeal. Now it should not be eaten, and is not your breakfast cereal, but it is made from that same oat, the cooking kind, not the instant kind. 

So what will this oatmeal do for you? Oatmeal will help to smooth and comfort itchy, scratchy, and dry skin. Specifically, colloidal oatmeal works great to help relieve the dry skin patches of eczema, psoriasis, acne, bug bites, sunburns, and other minor skin irritations. It also helps relieve chicken pox, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and other itching and scratching rashes. When your skin is itchy and irritated, its pH level may be higher than normal. Colloidal oatmeal helps to bring the pH back to its normal levels, which in turn, reduces the need to scratch. To easily and affectively get the benefits of the oatmeal and its anti-itch properties, add oatmeal to a bath tub with warm water, then hang out and relax a while, as the infused water works to soften your skin. It   feels silky, coats, moisturizes, softens, and protects your skin, because when its added to bathwater it creates a milky dispersion, one that prevents the oatmeal from settling to the bottom of the tub rapidly. So the oatmeal stays mixed in the bath water, coating your skin. 

Colloidal oatmeal is simply oats that are ground into an extremely fine powder., and can easily be made at home. Many vendors get a good dollar amount for this "special" bath additive. But you can save yourself money by grinding your own. Just buy regular oats, not the instant ones and put them in the grinder, the blender or the food processor. Set them to powder and grind away. Test to ensure that the particles are small enough by floating some in a bowl of water. If the particles sink to the bottom right away, they need to be smaller. Also, when they are a correct size, your water should turn a milky color. 

Once ground, you can store in an airtight container and have ready for when you need it. It is easiest to do a whole batch of oats at once, and then you will have plenty for when you need it. When you do need it, run a bath with lukewarm water, not too hot, not too cold. A cold bath is just too cold to stay in, and a hot bath will only irritate the skin, not to mention that it dehydrates the skin, so a warm bath is preferable.Then, while the tub is filling, add two to three cups of the colloidal oatmeal, placing it under the faucet to help with dispersement. Soak in this bath for about fifteen minutes, and when you get out of the bath, make sure you use caution, as the tub will be slick, making it easy to slip and fall. When you dry off, make sure that you pat the skin dry, rubbing may irritate the skins' sore areas. You can take up to three baths a day, depending on the severity of your condition

Soaking in colloidal oatmeal is safe for everyone, children and adults alike,  and it even makes a good treatment for the family dog or cat. There are no known drug or ailment interactions, and it is it an allergen. So the next time bug bites are driving you nuts, or poison ivy has you itching and scratching all day, ir you are just tired of extra dry skin, try using this easy bath treatment!

Frankly Speaking Friday- Hemp and Hemp Seed Oil

This weeks Franky Speaking Friday is all about the weed, the doobie, the blunt, and for you, um, slightly older folks, the J, the Mary Jane (now that's a dater isn't it?). Okay, the Pot plant, there I said it! Lol. We are going to learn all about the cannabis plant! Why? Because the cannabis plant seed oil is our next exotic oil! 

Commonly referred to as the marijuana plant, hemp seed oil is derived from the seeds of cannabis sativa. What everyone needs to understand, is that there is a difference between the hemp that is grown and the hemp that is smoked to get high. The cannabis sativa is the variety grown for industrial use, while cannabis sativa indica is what is smoked. The indica variety generally has poor fiber quality, and is primarily used for the production of recreational and medicinal drugs. While the difference between the two types of plants can be seen microscopically, the major difference is the amount of tetrahydrocannaninol that they possess. Commonly referred to as THC, this is the stuff that gets you high. The oil seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, the ones that are approved for industrial hemp production, only produce minute amounts of THC, typically below 0.3% of the psychoactive drug that gets you high. While cultivars of Cannabis that are grown for smoking, called marijuana,  can contain anywhere from 6 to over 20% of THC.

The world's leading producer of hemp is  China, with smaller production in Europe, Chili, and Korea. In fact, hemp is legally grown in just about every country of the world, except for the USA. Yet, more hemp is exported to the United States, than to any other country in the world. The reason being, the US government does not consistently distinguish between the cultivars of cannabis, rather, it treats all cannabis plants the same, assuming they all are  high in THC.
Hemp has a tremendous commercial value. Aside from making a great food and cosmetic grade oil, hemp is also used to create sewing material, paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction materials, alternative fuel, health food, and medical products. 

As a crop, hemp is very environmentally friendly. It requires little to no pesticides, no herbicides, and no fertilizers. It is extremely low maintenance, growing just about anywhere. It is an ideal crop for organic sustainable farming, unlike cotton, especially because it is so quick and easy to grow. Also,  it does not require pesticides or a warm climate, nor does it require much rainfall to produce a good crop. It is said that growing just a few acres of this plant yields 8 times more paper producing material than 2 acres of trees. Additionally, hemp grows to maturity within 4 months of its planting, where trees take many, many years. 

The seeds of the cannabis sativa plant, hemp seed, contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain a healthy, human life. No other single plant source has the essential amino acids in such an easily digestible form, nor has the essential fatty acids in as perfect of a ratio to meet human nutritional needs. This oil has the lowest amount of saturated fatty acids at 8%, and the highest amount of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids at 80%, of any other oil. (Flax seed oil comes in second at 72% combined total essential fatty acids.) Hemp's nutritional advantage over other sources of fats and protein lies in this highly desirable balance of basic nutrients. Simply put, when eating hemp seed, nut and/or oil, our body obtains much of what it needs without the caloric ballast of non-essential nutrients. Yet, unlike fish and flax oil supplements and assorted protein powders, properly processed hemp seed offers these benefits with the additional bonus of a nice flavor profile. Simply stated, hemp tastes good! Fresh, cold pressed hemp oil, and hemp nuts, particularly when toasted, add a nice, nutty flavor to many dishes and pre- packaged food products.

Its seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, made into hemp milk (akin to soy milk), prepared as tea, and used in baking. The fresh leaves can also be eaten in salads. Products include cereals, frozen waffles, hemp tofu, and nut butters, to name a few. A few companies produce value added hemp seed items that include the seed oils, whole hemp grain (which is sterilized by law in the United States, where they import it from China and Canada), de-hulled hemp seed (the whole seed without the mineral rich outer shell), hemp flour, hemp cake (a by-product of pressing the seed for oil) and hemp protein powder. Hemp is also used in some organic cereals, for non-dairy milk, somewhat similar to soy and nut milks, and for non-dairy hemp "ice cream." Hempseed is an adequate source of dietary fiber, calcium, and iron, and contains antioxidants and chlorophyll. Whole hemp seeds are also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese. In fact, hemp seed oil has specifically been shown to help with the following medical conditions;  Osteoporosis, Menopause, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Premenstrual Symptoms, High cholesterol, high blood pressure, Weight loss, Poor circulation, Crohn's disease, Cardiovascular disease, Gall stones, Kidney degeneration, Immune deficiency, Irregular hormone levels, HIV virus, Tuberculosis, Low energy levels, and Low metabolism. And, in studies, adult users of hemp seed oil have also reported softer skin, stronger nails and hair after only a few weeks of using 1-2 Tablespoons of oil per day. 

Hemp seed and hemp seed oil is usually very safe for those unable to tolerate nuts, gluten, lactose, and sugar. In fact, there are no known allergies to hemp foods. However, in order to avoid conversion of the polyunsaturated fatty acids to unhealthy peroxides, which occur at higher temperatures, hemp oil and the hemp nut are both best used cold, it should never be fried. It may be easily added  to salad dressings, pasta, vegetables, smoothies, soups, sauces, hummus, guacamole, pesto, or other foods, after the heating/baking has been completed. If you must heat the oil, it may be gently heated for a short period of time.

Hemp seed oil is cold pressed and semi-refined by straining methods only (not heat methods), so the color is pretty light, similar to sweet almond oil. It holds a natural, medium (to light) odor that is distinctive, yet not unpleasant. As a cosmetic oil, hemp seed oil can be added to any body care or cosmetic product, including creams, lotions, facial or body oils, massage oils, shampoo, conditioner, shaving products, lip balms, soap, and just about any other product you can think of. The good percentage of proteins, natural fatty acids, vitamins and enzymes which the hemp seed oil possess, are easily absorbed through the skin, and as a result, any skin care formula made with this oil, will provide a more vitamin and mineral enriched product. Its anti-oxidants and moisture balancing properties help to heal and rejuvenate the skin, leaving it soft and non-greasy. It fights inflammation and protects the skin from moisture loss, acting as an emollient, all of which make it a great choice for any type of skin, but especially for sensitive skin issues. This oil is specifically known to help eczema, psoriasis, and acne, as well as dry scalp, and dry and/or damaged hair. 

When added to your cold process soap, the hemp seed oil will help to produce a stable lather, and  will leave the skin silky and smooth, even when only used to superfat a batch. As a base oil, you will need to keep its use to less than 40% of your total batch, in order to avoid too soft of a bar, but really, 20-30% is a better amount. Just keep in mind that, because of its low amount of saturated fats, hemp seed oil will spoil fairly quickly, keeping only for about 6-8 months. It is a sensitive oil that will degrade under excessive light exposure, and any fluctuation in temperature, therefore it must be kept in the refrigerator.

*See the Reference Link at the top of the page for references and bibliography for this and other posts.


Tripod Thursdays- Fout Legged Friends

Animals are a part of my life, and have been since I was born, Today I have two dogs and two cats. The cats adopted me, one when she was dumped as a tiny baby, and sick as could be, and the other, when she was pregnant, and as sick as could be. Today they are both happy and healthy and definitely the queens of this house! With college done, and my Son married, Lucky went off to live with his real Daddy, and I was demoted from Mommy to Grandma. So now I am left with Dallas and his speckled tongue, an eleven or twelve year old rescued chow mix, and Gizmo, my 3 lb Yorkie. What Gizmo lacks in size, he more than makes up for it in moxie, and HE RUNS the ENTIRE HOUSE, or at least Dallas let's him think he does!

Enjoy these pictures of my extended family!

What's Happening Wednesday- Exotic Oils Cont.- Emu

I know that it is hump day, or for our purposes, What's Happening Wednesday, but today I thought that I would keep going with exotic oils, and discuss Emu oil. I really didn't think you would want to hear more about my soap making, which is still what I am up to, and will be for a few more Wednesdays to come! Lol ! So let's discuss emu oil!

Emu oil comes from the prehistoric, Australian bird, the emu, a large, flightless, ostrich like bird. This bird is thought to have wandered the Australian outback for the past 80 million years, and can still be found there today! Its history can be compared to the Native Americans' relationship with bison, as this bird provided the Australian Aborigines with food, clothing, shelter, medicine ( it was used for wounds, aches, pains and skin protection) and spiritual sustenance. The emu has been valued by the Aborigines for thousands of years, especially for its healing powers, and it does indeed, have many natural qualities which are  beneficial to our health.

Emu oil is a by product of the Emu, after it is processed for it’s meat. It has a thick layer of fat, just under its skin on its back, and this is what is rendered, refined and sterilized, to get the oil that is used in cosmetic and medical applications. Unlike many other oils, the emu oil is beneficial to your health without the addition of any additives, either herbal or chemical. In fact, the fatty acid composition of this oil is very close to the correct composition of the fats found in [normal] human skin. Emu oil has been proven to be an intensive pain reliever in cases of chronic arthritis, strains, sprains, and muscle pain. And it is known to  possess; anti-inflammatory properties, with effects comparable to ibuprofen;  bacteriostatic properties, meaning that it inhibits the growth of bacteria, but may not prevent it; Hypoallergenic properties, which means that it is not known to cause skin irritation or have any side effects; is a non-comedogenic oil, meaning that it does not clog the skin pores; and it is [also] widely used as am accelerant for wound healing. 

When you look at the contents of emu oil, its benefits are not all that surprising. Emu oil contains Vitamin E, which is a major antioxidant and healing agent; Vitamin A, which is a known skin repairer, as well as another antioxidant; Linoleic acid, which helps to ease muscle and joint pain; Oleic acid, a proven skin cell regenerator and anti-wrinkle agent; Sapogens, which are skin softeners; and Terpines, which are known antiseptics.

Skin care products made with emu oil, because of the powerful antioxidants, will be great skin cell regenerators, and anti-wrinkle agents, actually improving the condition of aging skin. Additionally, products made with this oil are great moisturizers, capable of smoothing and conditioning even the roughest and driest of elbows, knees and heels. It is also good for reducing the itching and flakiness that often accompanies dry skin issues, as it forms a protective barrier after it moisturizes and lubricates the irritated skin. Emu oil is actually  a skin-thickening agent, as well, and it affords the skin protection from wind and other weather conditions, especially that of the face and hands. 

Not too mention the fact that, because of its natural bacteriostatic, anti-inflammatory, and cell regeneration properties, this oil would make a great addition to homeopathic balms. In fact, it is gaining popularity in the sports medicine world, as its properties make it a natural choice for balms to treat  muscle aches, pains, strains, pulls, sprains, and cramps, as well as minor wound repairs, especially when scarring could be an issue. It is also a good oil for recipes intended to; lessen the pain of chronic conditions, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia;  lesson the pain and scarring of burns and sunburns; reduce the appearance of stretch marks; alleviate the discomfort of eczema, psoriasis, diaper rash, and shingles; as well as ones that reduce the infection, pain and swelling of insect bites and/or stings. Emu oil has also been shown to help reverse hair loss, so you may wish to consider it in a shampoo or scalp conditioning type of treatment.  

 The anti-inflammatory, as well as the other benefits, of emu oil are considered to be long lasting. Because the human skin lacks phosphorus, and the fact that the chemical composition of emu oil is very similar to that of human skin, this oil, and its beneficial substances, can  quickly and easily penetrate the skin, to a deep level. Then, after it's applied to the skin, this odorless product goes on to moisturize and condition the skin's surface, leaving it smooth and non-greasy. Even after repetitive washings, the skin will still reap the benefits of an application of emu oil. 

When searching for warnings for the use of emu oil, all I found was a note that warned that not all emu oil sold on the market today is of animal origin. Just what the impostors are made with, I didn't find, nor did I find a way to tell whether you had an impostor or not. So my only suggestion is to purchase this oil from a reputable company. Additionally, I found warnings that some  
emu Oil is only rendered and filtered, not purified, so therefore it can contain contaminants. So be sure to read the fine print, and always choose the refined product. 

*As with all these posts, please make sure to read the references/bibliographies by clicking on the Reference tab at the top of this page.

More Exotic Oils- Evening Primrose Oil

The Evening Primrose is a pretty yellow flower, that blooms daily, in the evening, just around sunset, hence its common name. One of my nicest memories is of my Granny and me sitting outside, waiting for the flowers to bloom on this really cool bush! I was amazed by the fact that I could watch them open. In fact, they open pretty quickly once they begin, and I was always rather disappointed when the final ones bloomed. 

Oenothera Biennis is the botanical name for the Evening Primrose, and the oil we use comes from the seeds of the flower blossoms. While I purchase evening primrose oil from a vendor that sells organic, cold pressed oil, this oil is typically distilled by the use of the chemical, hexane. And, while my Granny's bush was intentionally planted, evening primrose is actually a common wildflower, found throughout much of North America, Europe, and even in parts of Asia. 

Historically speaking, Native Americans boiled and ate the nutty flavored root of the evening primrose for nutritional support, as well as a medicinal treatment for sore throats and stomach aches. Additionally, the leaves were used as poultices, to treat bruises and hemorrhoids. European settlers took the root back to England and Germany where it was introduced as food, and became known as German rampion, because it grew as a crawling vine. sore throats, stomachaches, hemorrhoids, and bruises. It was also a Shaker medicine that was sold commercially. 

In the past 20 years, the evening primrose oil has gained popularity for its medicinal properties, and it is now a common dietary supplement. It is prized for its abundant food, health, cosmetic and medicinal benefits. It is because of its many health benefits that the Evening Primrose Seed Oil is a wonderful supplement. It can be taken alone, or drizzled on top of salads or other prepared meals. While it is suitable for food use, you do have to exercise caution, as excessive ingestion may cause bloating or abdominal upset. You also need to exercise caution during the purchasing phase, as some manufacturers blend their Evening Primrose Seed oil with another carrier oil, which degrades the potency and the quality of the evening primrose, and it may also adversely affect your health, if it is not blended with another food grade quality oil.  

The seeds of the evening primrose are a rich source of linoleic and gamma linoleic acid, omega 6 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids. You may remember that essential fatty acids cannot be produced by our own bodies, so they must be obtained from dietary sources. While there are bad omega 6 fatty acids, like those typically found in the standard American diet, the good kind, the health-promoting kind, is what is contained in the evening primrose oil. It is these essential fatty acids that support our physiological functions, and are required, in order to maintain healthy cells and healthy body functions. These essential fatty acids affect our cardiovascular, immune, nervous, and reproductive systems. In addition, Evening Primrose Seed Oil has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, blood thinning and vessel dilator properties.   It has been claimed to be shown as an effective treatment for the following conditions; cramps, mood swings and breast tenderness associated with premenstrual syndrome, nerve damage associated with diabetes, memory deficiency related to alzheimers, attention deficit disorder, damage from multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus related inflammation, numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, and/or legs, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, symptoms related to Raynaud's disease, hypercholesterolimia, fibrocystic breast disease, skin ulcerations, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome,  weight loss, rashes, hives, and high blood pressure. 

Evening primrose oil is absorbed quickly into skin, where those essential fatty acids help to inhibit bacterial growth while encouraging antibodies, thereby  enabling the skin to better defend against infection and/or inflammation. For those with extra dry skin it is a wonderful soother, but it works especially well for the treatment of acne, rosacea, premature ageing, and eczema. Also, it is an excellent source of nourishment for the scalp, hair, and the nails. In fact, more than 30 [human] studies have reported the benefits of evening primrose oil for treating eczema and dermatitis. One study, of 1,207 patients, reported that evening primrose oil helped skin conditions that included itching, crusting,  swelling, and redness. 

If you suffer from extra dry skin, you can either apply this oil directly on the skin, or add some into your soap, lotion or cream recipes. A small amount of it  goes a long way, so it doesn't take that much to be effective. In fact, it is recommended that you use only 1 tablespoon of oil per 5 pounds of soap, when making cold process soap, but it should never be heated, so only add it at trace, never as a base oil. In other products, just add it after the heating phase is complete. It is best to store this oil in the refrigerator in order to help prolong its shelf life, which tends to be about six months

Even though herbal remedies are a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating diseases, I do have to caution you to seek professional care prior to beginning any new treatment plan, as many herbs and oils contain ingredients and/or possess properties that could interact with certain conditions and/or medications. That being said, Evening primrose oil is generally considered safe, when its used in recommended dosages, and the reported side effects are mild and rare. However, if you are taking this oil as a supplement, and you develop stomach pain and/or loose stools, you are probably taking an excessive dose, and you should speak with your physician about the issues. This oil is considered safe for use during pregnancy and lactation, but, since it possess blood thinning properties, should not be taken if you have any type of blood disorder or bleeding problems. Additionally, no omega 6 supplement, including evening primrose oil, should be used by people who have a seizure disorder, as it may induce seizures. 

Make It Yourself Monday- Easy Seaweed Scrub

 With winter beginning to appear in our rear-view mirror, it is time to evaluate what this season has done to our skin, repair any damage, and begin preparing for the revealing fashions of Spring and Summer. Today's Make it Yourself Monday project is just the thing to help you on your way to taming harsh, winter skin. 

This recipe is multi-functional. The scrub part gently, but firmly, exfoliates dead skin cells, smoothing the skin, and preparing its surface to more easily accept the nutrients and elements that are needed to replenish those which are lost on a daily basis [by the skin]. 
Since the molecular formation of the human blood cell and seaweed are very similar, nutrients contained in the  seaweed are easily able to be filtered through the skins' pores, and then travel directly into the bloodstream. This means that nutrients and elements such as potassium, magnesium, iodine, protein, copper, vitamins, calcium, and various other amino acids, will be pulled from the seaweed, and transfered into the body, restoring the balance that elements strip away. 

Kelp is the most popular form of seaweed used for healing and cosmetics purposes. Kelp is the common name for the large, leafy, brown algae that grows along the colder coastlines. Fresh kelp is often available in health food stores and many internet vendors, but using the powder, usually by adding water to form a mayonnaise consistency paste, will be just as beneficial as the fresh. 

For this Easy Seaweed Scrub you will need the following

1 lb Sea Salt -  Instead of  ordering this in from a vendor, you can actually get it, very inexpensively, at your local grocery store. Look in the condiment section, it will be in a container similar to your table salt, but with a "sea salt" label. I find that the fine grain works best. 

4 oz. Sweet Almond Oil

1 oz. Shea Butter 

2 oz. Melt and Pour Soap Base - Use whichever type you prefer

1 oz. Seaweed Extract or Seaweed Powder

1 tsp. Fragrance of your choice or 1/2 tsp. your choice of Essential Oil or EO Blend 

To begin, melt the shea butter and the melt and pour soap base in a pan, over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat and add in the almond oil and salt, mix well, then add the seaweed extract or powder, and lastly, the fragrance of your choice. Make sure that everything is evenly mixed, then pour out into a jar and allow to cool completely. 

Use this scrub as you would any other, making sure to keep the product away from your eyes. Be careful to not to introduce any water into your jar, as water droplets may facilitate microbe growth. In order to prevent this, with a dry hand, remove the entire amount that you will use in one application. Re-seal the lid and put the jar away prior to beginning your scrub, so that you cannot possibly be tempted to reinsert a wet hand into the jar. Wash your face and neck with this scrub, rinse and pat dry, then moisturize as normal.

Frankly Speaking Friday- Exotic Oils Cont.- Calendula Oil

Happy TGIF! Here in Ohio, it has turned, once again, from rain and dreary skies  to snowy, cold, dreary ones. For the past two days it rained so incessantly, that we were in the midst of flooding, then last evening, it switched over to snow! proving, yet again, we have some of the most "changing" weather in the country! Lol.

Today, instead of ranting about the weather, I want to continue the exotic oils postings, so we will be looking at calendula oil. Technically calendula oil is not really an exotic oil because it is not a true base oil, rather it is an infused oil. However, because of its properties and their benefits to our health, calendula oil is counted as an exotic oil for our purposes. This exotic oil is truly great for the skin, especially sensitive or abraded skin.  

Since it is not a base oil, it has to be created, and it is created by being forced to contribute its properties to another oil, a base oil. This is accomplished by extracting the flowers oil through steam distillation. The flowers are steeped in an oil, the petals infused with the oil. When the distillation process is complete, any oil that is left over is calendula oil. This oil should be a golden orange color, but will ultimately depend upon which base oil is used for the infusion. While virgin olive oil is generally preferred, any light oil, such as apricot seed, grape seed, or sweet almond oil, will do. In fact, if you want to  save yourself some money, you can.make a home version of an infusion, in other words, a tea. Depending upon your method and the length of time infused, it may not be as strong as a commercially prepared one, but it will still possess the beneficial qualities of calendula, and work in your home-made skin-care recipes. For instructions, check out this past post

Calendula, or calendula officinalis as it's known botanically, is another name for the pot marigold flower. This  perennial grows from one to three feet, and blooms once a month during season, but is usually treated as an annual in both the very cold, and the very hot climates, where its survival in the extremes is problematic. It is, however, easily grown  from seeds, although they do germinate better if they are stored for 6 months prior to planting, and they tolerate just about any type of soil condition. The flowers bloom all summer, and come in vibrant yellows and oranges. But, while they resemble a marigold, they are not a true marigold, and should not be confused with other plants, also called marigolds, such as the corn marigold, the dessert marigold, the marsh marigold and others from the tagetes genus.

The petals of the calendula flower are the part that is used in the steam distillation to create the oil. It is classified an infused oil, because the petals are steeped, infused, into an oil. The petals of the flower can also be dehydrated and used whole, ground into a powder, or eaten raw. In fact, calendula flowers are often added into salads and other dishes for their color. While its stems are technically considered edible, they actually don't taste very good, so are best avoided.                            

Calendula flowers contain calendulin, beta-carotene, other carotenoids, isoquercitrin, narcissin, rutin, amyrin, lupeol, sterols, and volatile oils. It contains a high amount of antioxidants, which protect the body against cell-damaging free radicals, called flavonoids. Research into this flowering plant has been ongoing for years, yet researchers are not sure what active ingredients are responsible for its healing properties, however, it does appear to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial effects. 

Calendula has been shown to, both, speed the healing of wounds, and to help prevent dermatitis in breast cancer patients while they are receiving radiation treatments. This is potentially because it increases blood flow to the affected area. Its oil, very mild and soothing, is a preferable treatment for dry and damaged skin, such as burns, rashes, wounds, and inflammation, as well as those simply with dry, chapped skin. In fact, calendula oil is so mild that it makes an excellent oil for babies and those with sensitive skin.

The dried petals are best made into an aromatic infused oil, a tea, or a tincture. The dried petals themselves, or the oil, make a great base for balms, salves, face creams, and other natural cosmetics. They are also used in soap, both for the properties, and for color. The dried petals are often used in tinctures, ointments and washes to aide in the healing of cuts, bruises, burns, and the minor infections that these can cause. Don't think it works? The next time you or your child has a bee sting, try chewing some calendula petals, then place the masticated petals on the irritated area, and see how fast the stinging goes away. Of course, if you really don't want to chew them yourself, just add the fresh petals and some water to a blender, and reduce them to a paste, then place the paste directly on the affected area. And, while you have that paste out, you may as well slather some on those varicose veins, where calendula has a proven track record for treating and healing! The tea, or tincture in water, can be swished and swallowed to help heal sore throats, gastric ulcers, or oral lesions. There are several other applications where calendula may be beneficial, both internally and externally. For more detailed information, check out one of the many home herbal medicines books, available at your public library for FREE, and several on-line sources, both for free, and with a charge.
Calendula seedling
                                             As previously stated, calendula is very mild, and unless you are allergic to its family, it is considered one of the safest herbs for use, even being highly  recommended for use in baby products, right along with lavender and chamomile. However, there is a concern that it may be a cause of miscarriage, so, until more is known, its use during pregnancy, either internally or externally, should be avoided. And, since its safe use during lactation has not yet been studied and established, it is also best to avoid it while nursing, as well. What we do know though, is that Calendula may be a central nervous system depressant, causing sleepiness and drowsiness, therefore taking it, along with other sedative medications, could cause increased drowsiness. This is especially true when combined with other medications, especially those that are used during and after surgery. In order to avoid potential issues, you should stop taking internal calendula at least 2 weeks before any scheduled surgery. Also, be aware, if you are allergic to ragweed or other plants in the asteraceae/compositae family, such as chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies and others, you should check with a physician prior to using any product that contains calendula powder, petals, or oil, whether for internal or external use, as you may be sensitive to it.