Friday- Frankincense and Myrrh

TGIF everyone! I hope that you have a wonderful weekend planned. I am hoping that my computer will be delivered tomorrow or Saturday, Monday at the latest, so my thoughts are really on completing my book. But I am still in a quandary about its format. Also, I really want to cover all of the things that people want to know about essential oils. All the questions that you have wondered about, but have had difficulty finding answers about. So please, if you have any questions about essential oils, using them, blending them, or anything else related to them, let me know. You can either comment here, or you can write me at Please put "book" in the subject line so that I can easily recognize it. Also, if you any specific area of interest that you would like to see expounded upon, please let me know that too. Next week I will be sharing some of my intended chapters with you, but I am pretty flexible at this point, so I will happily consider any of your requests! I really would like to offer the most detailed and user friendly reference book that has ever been published, so, as you can see, my goals are very lofty and your help would be appreciated!

A friend of mine made some frankincense and myrrh soap last night, and as we were discussing all the details that bath and body enthusiasts  like to discuss, I began wondering just how long these fragrances have been around. I know they are mentioned in the Bible, and soon we will be celebrating Christmas, ...please don't shoot me, it really is coming quickly!.... so I decided to get into the spirit of things and take a look at these two oils that date back to the birth of Christ. Today I'll introduce them and the conclusion will be posted next week, on Teaching Tuesday.  

The first thing that I found when I began researching frankincense and myrrh is that they have been in active use as incenses, ritual tools, and for their healing properties since at least 1500 bc. That is 1,500 years before Christ's birth. There have been times in ancient history when they have been considered so valuable that they were traded in equal weight and value to gold. In fact, during times of scarcity, their value rose even higher than that of gold.

Frankincense and myrrh are closely related species of balsams, commiphora myrrha (the myrrh), and boswellia carteri  (the frankincense).  They both originate in Africa and the Middle East, and both are resins. Frankincense is a milky white resin, while myrrh is an oleoresin. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin, making it a natural gum. It is waxey and becomes hard and glossy after it is harvested. The gum can be yellowish, clear or opaques, and as it ages, it darkens deeply and white streaks emerge. The resin is harvested from the small, knotted trees, where it is derived from the tree sap, aka the gum resin. When a tree wound penetrates through the bark of the tree and into the sapwood, the tree bleeds the resin. Myrrh gum and frankincense are both such resins. To harvest they wound the trees repeatedly and bleed them of their gum. Then the essential oil is distilled from the resin. Both frankincense and myrrh are prized for their alluring fragrance and both are known for their use as a sacred tool in many cultures. Frankincense Tears are known for their use in consecration, meditation, protection and purifying, while myrrh is known for protection, purification,
healing and magical potency.

Now that we have discussed the very basics, I will leave the rest until next week. So come back Tuesday, when we will explore the ancient uses of these resins, as well as the modern day applications. You may be surprised at what the science is showing/proving about these resins!

Tripod Thursday- Holidays on the way

wine charm w/ Swarovski crystals, amethyst & pink quartz

amber and carnelian

 turquoise, sterling silver and red coral 

serving tray

gift box

While most of these are for the Christmas at the cabin, or have been for there last year, the bouquet was one that I made for my Daughter in law's and Son's wedding, and the prayer shawl was a gift to my Mother last year, although I am planning on making one to sell.

What's Happening Wednesday-Holiday Preperations

As you may or may not already know, my computer mother board was fried recently and I have been using a back up dinosaur to get these posts up, check emails and orders. Well, great news! My brand new computer should be here any day now! It was promised to be shipped by the 29th, yet I received notification that it was already on its way. In fact, the new printer has already arrived.
Since this was my second experience with frying a mother board, I switched brands in the hopes that it will improve the longevity of the mother! Lol. Of course, since this was my second experience with the fried mother board, you would think that I would have learned all about "backing up", and would now be sitting pretty all my photographs and files safely on a disc or usb may think that, but you'd be wrong! All my label designs, all my book research and even a few chapters (yes, remember that I am writing a book about essential oils), and all of my photographs, as well as  a ton of recipes and saved sites are on that silly computer. So I will now have to pay someone to try and retrieve my information. Of course I have yet to do that for the first computer, but since this one has infinitely more stored in its memory, it will be a sooner, rather than later necessity.  One thing though, I am now an absolute convert to the backing up system. I do solemnly swear to back up on a regular basis from the first day of the new computer use to the last!

Besides the new computer and printer, I spent good portion of today working out what other products will make their way to the Christmas cabin this year. Just a few more weeks and I will be hauling it all over there! So what am I hauling? Besides the usual assortment of wreaths and wooden decorations, I will be taking a lot of sterling silver and gemstone jewelry. But this year I will be adding some cute, kitschy earrings too. In that department, small Christmas tree bulbs with bright colors will lead the way. I also will be making and taking [cut out] wood Christmas trees, about 3 feet tall, with the light holes cut out in the wood. These are painted and decorated in various themes.They are very unique and really cute, and they are versatile. They make a nice welcome by the front door, a night-light in the children's room,  or a wonderful decoration for the whole family to enjoy in the living room! I also have some small clear, plastic, ice cubes that are just screaming "Snowmen"! Additionally, I am still making melting snowmen (clay) ornaments, glass ornaments, and some centerpieces, floral and wooden (sleigh stuff always goes well there, and painted sleighs, even better !).
Of course I will also be taking a wide assortment of Unique Garden Essences products. And for the season, I have some really cute containers for gift sets that I can't wait to try out!

And one more project that should be finished within the next two website! I am finally going to open shop on a redesigned website. I am excited to do this, and since it was on my beginning of the year goal list, I can't tell you how pleased I am to be accomplishing it! I now have over 50 different soap scents that are cured and ready to go, and at least five more that will be ready for the holiday/winter season. In fact, I recently created a nice winter lavender blend, one I am calling "Spiced Lavender". It features pure Bulgarian lavender with a nice neroli and spicy under tones. This is another one that you won't find anywhere else because I created it! And since smell-o-vision has not yet been invented, I am currently deciding on a sample option for the web-site. I will, for the time being anyway, keep my etsy shop open. I will be adding some type of "sample" listing to the etsty shop as well, so there is certainly a lot to keep me busy these days!

What's happening in your neck of the woods this Wednesday? Please let me know your questions about essential oils and their use(es), as well as anything that you would like to make sure is included in my essential oil book. I would like to make sure you get as many straight forward answers as possible!

Make it Yourself Monday- Apricot [Blender] Moisturizer

For this recipe you will need;

6 dried apricots
2 cups of distilled water
1 ounce of beeswax
1 cup apricot oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
5 vitamin E caps broken open
*You can buy the oils, beeswax and aloe over the net from a lot of places, but I recommend 

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan and add the dried apricots. Boil for about 20 minutes, then set aside to cool. Place the beeswax in the top of a double-boiler and begin to melt over simmering water. Add the apricot and coconut oils to the beeswax, stirring constantly for about ten minutes until all is melted and combined, then pour into a glass container and set aside. Place the apricots and water into into a blender and blend until smooth, then strain through cheesecloth, discarding the solids and reserving the liquid. Put the liquid back into the blender and add the aloe vera and the vitamin E oil from the capsules. Blend together on low speed for a moment or two, then remove the lid (while still blending on low) and slowly drizzle the beeswax mixture into the blender. Continue to blend (on low) and drizzle until the mixture has the consistency of frosting. Keep a good eye on the mixture as you are adding the beeswax, you may not need to use it all. Once you have a nice frosting like mixture, pour it  into jars and store it in a cool place. As it cools it will thicken up. Apply to hands after every washing and as needed.   

Friday -

In case you could not quite figure out the photographs from Tripod Thursday, they are from a professional hillclimb. My Brother is actually a former National Champion and these pictures are from his last hillclimb, a few years ago. He retired to ensure that he would be around to raise his children, but  having ridden for several years prior, he certainly sustained more than his share of injuries during his career. Since my brother was following in his Fathers' footsteps, I began going to hillclimbs when I was a young child. Many of my summer weekends were spent in the motorhome, traveling to and from hillclimbs all over the eastern United States. In deed, I used to dream that I would be the first female rider. Although my dream changed as I grew, there was a female rider for a short time before I was old enough to participate, had that still been my goal. While I went to watch my brother a few times, I really stayed busy with my boys and their sports events, so I could not go to most. I did enjoy watching his last ride though, (no, the rider and bike in the middle of the hill are not my brother) it brought back a lot of memories, and there is no doubt about it, those few seconds of the hillclimbers (specialty framed bikes that run on nitro and methane) flying up those steep hills are quite thrilling. Of course, anytime you see a rider flying through the air without his bike it becomes quite scary, especially when that rider is someone that you know and love. I have witnessed the breaking of many  bones over the years, but for the most part, I have to say that the number of severe injuries have been relatively few for the number of men participating. Unfortunately though, there has been some severe injuries, life altering injuries. With this, or any other extreme sport, I guess you will always have this  risk, and that is probably why some, maybe even most, people go to watch these types of events.
As for me, my most extreme event is poring soap and trying to decide what herbs I will infuse into it! Lol

What's Happening Wednesday- Product Development

You may recall some past posts about Christmas at the Cabin, the two plus month long (juried) craft show that I participate in each year. Well I have received my annual letter, informing me of the due date for my products and consequently, setting my next business goal. So now the question becomes, what shall I introduce that is new this year? I always make clay melting snowmen, a variety of ornaments, wreaths, bath and body products, jewelry, and an assortment of holiday decorations. So what can I add? What is this years' big thing going to be? A few years ago the mason jar lights were big. Then there was the lighted glass blocks. And, of course, my melting snowmen were a huge hit when I first began selling at the cabin. While they remain a great seller, I have seen a reduction in numbers over the years. Of course, if I come up with a new item that is in the bath and body department, it will also benefit Unique Garden Essences llc. So that is what I am up to this Wednesday....thinking, searching and calculating about product development.

If you haev any ideas, please feel free to share! I certainly could use some help here, I seem to be old and tired these days, lol. Which means that the first thing I need to do is to open some of my essential oil blends for the mind and body. Energize and balance sound like the appropriate treatments to me! Okay then, I am off to open some bottles and get busy. What's happening with you this Wednesday?

Teaching Tuesday-More Healing Herbs

A few times we have gone over some of the reported healing affects of common herbs and spices. There are so many and this Fallish time of year, my thoughts are always leaning toward the herbs and spices, so here are a few more to add to your cabinet! 

Winter always makes me think of Myrrh, but what is myrrh and what can it be used for? Myrrh is a resin that is highly aromatic. Aside from the luscious scent that it produces, myrrh possesses antiseptic qualities, and is, in fact, found in many commercial toothpastes. As an antiseptic, its tincture is used frequently used to treat canker sores and gum disease, as well as minor cuts. When inhaled, its volatile oil is good for relieving congestion.

Another nice Fall/Winter spice is clove. Cloves are high in antioxidants, and are antiseptic and antispasmodic in nature. Direct use of Clove oil is a safe and effective treatment for toothaches. Additionally, cloves are a proven preservative. A ham studded with cloves will last a few days longer (in the fridge) than one that does not contain the cloves. In South America, people routinely drink clove tea and liquor made from cloves, to fight digestive disorders. Since the main ingredient in cloves is eugenol, it stands to reason that this herb would be useful in combating intestinal problems, as eugenol has been known to kill bacteria and viruses for quite some time. In fact, cloves are known/proven to fight e. coli ,  commonly the cause of "travelers diarrhea". Besides an antispetic, the eugenol in cloves also makes the herb effective as a painkiller. Here in the USA, this generally just means that you will find clove oil as an ingredient in most over-the-counter tooth ache remedies. But in other countries, poultices of clove are often used on the skin for cuts, bites and those sort of problems. Studies have shown that clove oil can help kill several strains of staph, and even one strain of pseudomonas, organisms that can cause skin infections. Aside from utilizing the clove oil, you can also make a paste from ground up cloves and water to use as a poultice. To make clove tea (for intestinal issues), use one teaspoon of powdered cloves per cup of boiling water. Steep for ten to twenty minutes, strain and drink when cool enough.

And, of course, what cool weather herb discussion would be complete without cinnamon? Cinnamon is also an antioxidant, and has antimicrobial properties. In fact, it improves insulin sensitivity while lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Eating 1/2 of a teaspoon twice a day, before meals, can help to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Cinnamon prevents infections and fights indigestion, and has been used for thousands of years. In fact, it is mentioned by ancient Chinese herbalists as far back as 2700 B.C., and modern day Chinese herbalists still recommend it for fever, diarrhea, and menstrual problems.  Cinnamon not only appears to help diabetics metabolize sugar, but it helps to soothe the stomach lining, suppress the cause of most urinary tract infections (which is e.coli), and the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections, cabdida albicans. Because of its tasty and versatile usage, cinnamon is probably the easiest treatment to incorporate into your life.   

Make it Yourself Monday- Nourishing Mask

Here is a recipe that you may be tempted to eat, but use it on your face and neck and you will look scrumptious! Take some carrots for their beta carotene and anti-oxidant vitamins, add some avocado for its high amount of vitamin E, and toss in some heavy cream for its calcium and protein, and you will get a facial mask that, when used regularly, will improve the skin's texture, diminish age spots and rebuild the skin's collagen.

You will need;
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cooked and mashed medium to large sized carrot
1 peeled, pitted and mashed avocado
3 tablespoons pure honey

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowel, mix well, then spread over the face and neck area, avoiding eyes and nostrils. Allow the mixture to set for 15 minutes, then rinse with tepid water and pat dry. Moisturize as normal.

Remember to keep your avocado pit, as it makes a wonderful (natural) massage tool. Just rub it and roll it against your skin to soothe tired muscles!   

Friday- The Yucca Plant

It's Friday! Yea! Today we are going back to the yucca plant. 
Remember that yucca grows primarily in the southwestern deserts of the United States, and it has a long history of medicinal and practical use, especially among Native Americans. It's been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, primarily the types that cause pain and inflammation, such as premenstrual syndrome, arthritis, and chronic headaches. It also has been used to treat skin conditions, ranging from skin cancer to the healing of wounds.

The Yucca plant is high in vitamins A, B, and C. It also contains potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, manganese and copper, which makes it very soothing to the intestinal tract. The plant provides nutritional support to the structural system of our body, meaning the bones, joints, muscles. 

There are many different species of the plant, and not all of them have been the subjects of clinical testing. However, researchers have isolated and studied its saponins, its active phytochemical. 
In fact, one study showed that this extract helped relieve joint pain and stiffness for about half of the participants, all of whom suffered from arthritis. And there are other studies that show that some  species of yucca may help to reduce headache pain, as well as promote cardiovascular health by improving circulation and lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
It is also used to treat gout, and to promote healthy liver function and  digestion. However, the over use of yucca has been noted to cause diarrhea.

The yucca has not only been used nutritionally and medicinally, but practically as well. Native Americas use/used the yucca to make belts, sandals, ropes, cords, baskets, and mats from this plant. 

The yucca blooms at night,  and has fragrant white flowers which attract a specific moth, the Pronuba Moth. In fact, this moth is the only insect capable of penetrating the yucca bloom due to its shape. Without this moth the Yucca would die out, because its pollen is too heavy to be wind-blown, so it takes the moth to fertilize and propagate.

Tripod Thursday- Wind Mills

Iwas excited to post a few great pictures today, ones that interest me beyond words. Unfortunately, the borrowed dinosaur, uhmm, I mean, computer that I am working on, has spent the past sixty minutes trying to upload pictures. So far, it has managed to make it through the first three. Since there are at least a hundred before the ones I need, I am throwing in the towel until the new computer arrives. While disappointed, I am not completely giving in. Please read about my picture subject and then follow the provided links for other pictures.

While traveling recently we came across quite a wondrous sight, one that was  just as intriguing as it was thought provoking. While driving along a stretch of highway in Indiana, the scenery suddenly changed from lush trees and other greenery, to wide open ranges with giant metal trees sprouting in rows, and stretching high into the sky. Having never seen them before, it was a rubbernecking experience for sure. Even though our first view was through rain soaked windows, it was still quite magnificent. Suddenly there were rows and rows of giant metal pin wheel appearing machines, stretching through the tree barren fields of the countryside. The arms appeared to be slowly turning in the inpercptable wind, which made for quite a sight, and truly piqued our curiosity. 
In fact, they provided the basis for conversation for the next several hundred miles! Of course, on the return drive, even though we used a different route, we were hopeful and anxiously searched for more fields of steel. The sun shinning  this time, we were not to be disappointed, as we entered a rest area, right in the middle of an open field of the metal windmills. Take a look at this video to see for yourself. Something, isn't it? Of course, the majority of the trip home was then dedicated to our speculations about these intriguing sky scrappers. Once home, a bit of research was soon on the agenda.

I found that Indiana is actually the home to four industrial wind farms. While some articles stated that they are all European owned, [even though there is one, Fowler Ridge, that is a joint venture between a West Virginia company and BP], others stated that the Benton County Wind Farm was developed by a Cincinnati, Ohio and an Oakland, California company. In fact, the Benton County Wind Farm was the state's first commercial wind farm, going on line in May of 2008. I am not sure why, but all of the wind farms are located in Indiana's Benton and White counties. 

So what exactly are they and how do they work? Well, the turbines have three blades that are mounted on 265 foot tall pylons. Each blade is 132 feet long, so the full height of each turbine is 400 feet. When the wind blows against the  blades, they turn like giant pinwheels. But, unlike their small paper counterparts, these pinwheels can generate up to 130 megawatts of power, which is their peak output. This peak output can be reached with a wind about 22 mph, but, oddly enough, higher wind speeds do not increase the output. In fact, when the wind reaches 55 mph, the blades rotate 90 degrees in their sockets so that their edges face inward and "dump" the wind. This is to prevent structural damage. Although not an American turbine, this video shows what can happen under severe circumstances. Thankfully, severe circumstances are a rarity, and in fact, the machine's problems can usually be corrected remotely, by workers that monitor them via computer from a control building. Still, there are some occasions when technicians must go out and physically scale the turbines. To do so, he must scale the three ladders that are inside the pylon before reaching the housing which encloses the turbine. As the wind rocks the housing which is well over 200 feet in the air, one is reminded that this job is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure! 

Here are a few pictures, please take a look! 


What's Happening Wednesday-Wine Festival

This coming weekend I will be traveling to West Virginia, where the Kirkwood Winery will be hosting their annual Wine Festival. I just completed some lotion bars  and a new lip balm to take, but I still have to design labels (the fried computer is still holding all my files hostage! lol) and of course I also have packing to complete. I think I will stay bust the next few days, don't you? 

I made three different types of lotion bars. When I say different types, I mean that there are three different recipes. I made a Silky Lotion Bar in Spiced Lavender, Embrace and Sugared Chestnuts. The Silky bar has jojoba and  avocado oils, along with shea butter and other ingredients. Then I made Embrace and Exotic Orange in my Luxury Lotion Bar recipe, which truly lives up to its name. Among other ingredients, it is comprised of jojoba and hemp oils, along with shea and cocoa butters. Then, the final lotion bar was made from Monoi de Tahiti, a rather exquisite (and quite expensive) specialty oil from Tahiti. [To read about this oil, please see this past post]. While some were made into actual bars, I also poured some into twist up containers (a la deodorant type tubes). My entire house smells so wonderful right now, it was quite pleasurable to leave and walk back in! Lol  
                                                                                                                                                                                         As for the newest lip balm, it is made with coffee butter and really has a  pungent coffee scent. Although Miss, "you aren't supposed to lick your lips" hates to admit it, it really does have a strong coffee flavor as well.  In addition to these newly created products, I have also been stocking up on foot and bath soaks, along with all the other regular items.

Speaking of regular items, as I was making a list of labels that needed to be printed, I realized that I have quite a large variety of soap scents. Probably too many..... but here is what I will be taking to the Wine Festival.

lavender chamomile, pink champagne, lavender eucalyptus, saged lemongrass, Arabian spice, berry wine, zuchinni flower, daisies, bergamot corriander, orchid rain, lilac, baby soap w/ goat's milk, kitchen soap (coffee), bamboo, peony, tomato facial soap (2 types, one for norm to oily skin and one for norm to dry), herbed citrus, cherry blossom, stormy seas, lavender, aloe lavender chamomile, coconut lime verbania, flowering herbs, kumquat lime, earthy lemon, hyacinth, zen, awaken, flowering grapefruit, Dead Sea Mud (citrus), blue rose, sparkling fruit, fresh koala,Tang dynasty, pear berry, white tea and ginger, Mediterranean flowering spa, red tea, juniper aloe and cedarwood, whispering willow, peaceful, moonlight, orange n clover, blackberry cedar and sage, woman, splendor in the grass, ceder saffron n amber, relaxation, pumpkin lager, whispering willow rain, Mediterranean country side, Fall apples, orchard wine, red current thyme, Autumn leaves, Forest, pinenut n blossoms, wine by candlelight, muscadine vineyard, spiced lavender, oak barrel cider lager, frosted winterberry, sugared chestnuts and mistletoe whispers.  Say that ten times fast, I dare ya! Lol   

Of course, I still have some scents curing for the holiday season too, so there will be more added quite soon! 

So now you know what's happening this Wednesday at my place, what's happening at yours?
I am hoping to be able to show you some interesting pictures tomorrow, and Friday we will finish the yucca discussion, so be sure to check back!

Teaching Tuesday-Yucca Root

I was so excited when I heard that my friend, who lives in Utah, had yucca in her yard. I immediately wanted some of the tubers so I could dry it and use it in hair care products,  but of course I just had to do more research on this plant. I wanted to know all of its supposed benefits, and all the ways it is being used today. Of course a lot of that information is still stuck on my crashed computer, but I believe that I can share enough to get you interested in this wonderful plant too!

Let me begin by saying that the Yucca is a genus of about 40 species in the Agave family. For more about the agave, see this post. Agave grow in warm and dry areas of Central America, North America and the West Indies. 
Before we can discuss the benefits of the Yucca root, we must explore the difference between Yucca and Yuca. These two common names refer to very different plants and confusion between the two names is quite common. Yu-CC-a is well known in the United States, especially in the central and western states. Yucca has long been used in hair and scalp treatments and arthritis and  rheumatism treatments, as well as for its high content of saponins, which basically just means that it foams like soap.  

Y-u-C-a root is also commonly known as manioc, cassava, or mandioca, and has the appearance of a long, tapered sweet potato. It has a rough, brown rind on the outside, and the inside, which is starchy, can range in color from white to yellow, to brown, depending on its variety. The Yuca plant is grown all over Africa and widely eaten in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. In fact, in many countries yuca is a dietary staple. It is usually boiled or steamed, with flour to act as a thickener, or additional ingredients to create noodles, cakes, and/or pastries. The Yuca is really quite similar to a potato, but it is much more waxy and fibrous than a potato.
   Yucca supplements are available in many forms, including liquid, powder, and capsules. While Yuca supplements are also available, but they are for different purposes. A buffered Vitamin C Powder is made from the yuca root, and sold as a supplement, and as well as its starch for fillers in dietary supplement capsules, or even for use in food products.

There has actually been very little medical research done with the yucca plant, but what little there has been suggests that, since the yucca has a lot of fiber in its makeup, it could possibly be helpful in reducing cholesterol levels. One study focused on the possibility of creating a new cholesterol lowering drug that blended a partially purified yucca schidigera and the Quillaja saponaria extract. This testing resulted in a decrease of LDL cholesterol in the blood plasma, as well as a reduction of symptoms in those with gastrointestinal involvement. We also know that Yucca root has phytosterols, and some [in vitro] studies have indicated that yucca extract has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities. For sure, just like with most plants and herbs, there is plenty of room for more testing and experimentation. 

Yucca root can be boiled and then flavored with herbs and olive oil for a delicious,  high fiber treat, or boiled, peeled, cut into small pieces, and added to your soups. While it is sold in many grocery stores, it is not very popular here in the US. 

Alexin is an extract that is obtained from the Yucca gloriosa flower. It is
an antifungal that also has steroidal properties. The Yucca schidigera is also known to be a medicinal plant, one that is native to Mexico. Many of the Yucca plants are a source of steroidal saponins, and are actually used commercially as a saponin source. The products of Yucca schidigera are also used as food additives, cosmetics and in the pharmaceutical industry. The bark from this yucca species, and many others, has phenolic compounds that have antiplatelet activity. Historically, this medicinal plant has been used as an extract, and proven itself to be an effective as an anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory agent. This yucca plant contains several physiologically active phytochemicals, which has diverse biological effects, including anti-protozoal activity. The phenolics have anti-inflammatory activity, and the Yucca phenolics are also anti-oxidants and free-radical scavengers, which may aid in fighting cellular diseases.  

In reviewing this post my memory has been triggered, and I am now thinking that I may have discussed some of this in an earlier post... I apologize if I have repeated myself too much. It is very late, or early, depending upon your view point, so I am going to stop here for now. I will review the balance of my info, as well as the old post, and edit accordingly. 

Make it Yourself Monday- Foot Soaks

My eldest Son came to visit this weekend (bringing my sweetie pie Grandson!) and, while out in the barn hunting through boxes of stored stuffed animals and such,  found a practically new foot soak basin. Since he stands on his feet at work all day, he thought that the basin looked like a pain management plan waiting to be implemented. While he may not know what goodies Mom has in her craft room, he for sure knows that Mom has GOOD STUFF. So first thing he did after asking if he could have the basin, was ask if I would whip him up something to put into it that would add to its heat and vibrating pleasure. Of course I couldn't turn him down, so I grabbed a mixing bowl and headed to the ingredient cabinets. I ended up making a nice blend that you can easily whip up for yourself or for your hard working Son.

I mixed some epsom salts with clay and spirulina. Then, to that I added some eucalyptus, wintergreen and lime essential oils. While he may have wondered about the ingredients,  he immediately said that he like the smell and was going to try it as soon as he got home. 
While this mixture would also be great for a full body bath tub soak, the  particular mixture of essential oils that I used are not. So if you want to use it as a bath soak, I suggest switching the EO's. You could try lavender, orange, eucalyptus, chamomile, or a mixture of these.

As for a recipe, try mixing two tablespoons of spirulina, with one half to one cup of kaolin or French green clay, with two to three cups of Epsom salts. As a general rule of thumb you should use no more than 10 drops (total) of essential oils. But if you would like to change it up some, you could take one ounce of your choice of carrier oil (I like sweet almond or olive oil the best), and add 15 drops (total) of your choice of essential oils. Then add a small amount of the oil mixture to either your foot soak or your bathing water. If you decide to add the oil, mix and store the oil mixture separately from the salt and powder portion. This will keep your soak fresh and extend its shelf life.     

Of course there are several ways to utilize foot soaks. You can easily utilize whatever you have growing or dried. Just take two cups of your choice of fresh herbs, or one cup of dried herbs and add to two gallons of near boiling water. Steep the herbs for twenty minutes then strain the liquid and pour it into the foot basin. Make sure that it is not too hot, and soak your feet for twenty minutes, then pat dry and moisturize.  

Freaky Friday

Due to technical difficulties this blog will not have another new post this week. My sincerest apologies, but look back next week for some interesting recipes and conversation!

Teaching Tuesday-Pumpkin Roll

The past few days have been fairly cool here in Ohio, and I have noticed that our trees are already beginning to change. These, along with my having to get inventory ready for the Christmas cabin, make me think of Autumn, which leads me to comfort foods. So here is one of my favorites, a Pumpkin Roll. This is based on a Libby brand recipe, and is pretty easy to master. But of course, the best part is that it tastes great! 


1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour *one baker swears by adding an additional tablespoon to the cup

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

   2 teaspoon cinnamon 

   1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon salt

   3 large eggs

   1 cup granulated sugar OR 3/4C of brown sugar, your choice 

2/3 cup pure Pumpkin puree

   1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

   1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened *see note in tips/hints

   3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

   6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened *see note in tips/hints

   1 teaspoon vanilla extract


PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle towel with powdered sugar.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

BEAT cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Tips and Hints

-Use waxed paper in the bottom of the pan before baking, then peel it off when the cake is done baking, apply new sheets of wax paper to the top and bottom of the cake and roll up. 

-Allow to cool for about 30 minutes, then unroll, remove wax paper, frost and roll up again. 

-Be sure to ring out the towel very well, and don't undercook the cake. If this is too moist it will stick to the towel and you'll have a mess. Roll the finished cake tightly in plastic wrap, and it will keep it's shape nicely as it chills.

-Soften the cream cheese and butter but do not let them come to room temperature. The filling needs to be soft enough to spread, but not so soft that it squishes when you roll the cake.

 -You can use a baking sheet instead of a jelly pan with good results, if you choose. 

-Try putting the powdered sugar covered towel on top of the cake while it is still in the pan, then put a large baking rack on top of that, THEN flip the whole thing over. This tends to be less messy and easier to accomplish. 

- Be sure to let the cake cool all the way in the towel before you try adding the filling, otherwise the filling tends to get too loose and it runs out the sides. 

- Even if you are in a hurry, allow the roll to sit at least 5 min after you invert it onto the towel, then roll it up. Unrolling it when it is still lukewarm is not a problem, just be careful when inserting the cream. If you use too much, it will come out the end. Many people use less than this recipe makes for just that reason, so feel free to decrease the amount you use. 

-After the roll is completely cooled, it is a good idea to wrap it in plastic wrap and then foil, and then toss into the freezer. It is a lot easier to cut the rolls when they are still slightly frozen, and this way you can make them ahead of time. They do keep really well. 

- For an unique taste treat, try substituting a good sized splash of Grand Mariner in place of the vanilla in the filling.

- Try cutting the roll in half and wrapping in a decorative towel, or a napkin tie with a piece of ribbon or raffia. They make great gifts for your friends and neighbors, or hostess gifts for all of your holiday parties!

If you are a visual person or would like to compare recipes, try looking at this

video  and happy baking!

Make it Yourself Monday-Fridge photo holders

Happy Labor Day Everyone! 

I hope that you are or will be enjoying good food and great company this holiday. And remember, when you get to work tomorrow you will only have four more days before the weekend! 

Since today is a holiday, the make it yourself lesson will be quick and quick. This project is appropriate for children of all ages, as it can be easily done with minimal adult assistance. It makes a great gift idea for the young crafter too!

You will need pom poms of various colors, white glue, magnet strip (cut into pieces) or you can buy the small circles or small squares and use 3-4 on the bottom of the clothespin, enough clothespins to make as many as you desire, and 2 eyes for each centipede made.

Simply have the child glue pom poms down the top of the clothespin and  magnet(s) on the backside. Then glue 2 eyes on the 1st pom. Once dry you can open the clothespin and put a picture of the little crafter in it for a great gift. Then the centipedes can make their permanent home on refrigerators, metal file cabinets, stove fronts, or even metal desks. They are great for displaying those great hand drawn pictures,  "A" papers, and special photographs. 


Have a Great Holiday Weekend

As we prepare to go into this holiday weekend I ask you to drive carefully and to be safe. I have to tell you all, that on our trip home from out of state, we had car trouble and had to exit the freeway. With little power steering, it was pretty rough, but we made it t a walmart where we were told we could not be helped. Still over 200 miles from home, the gps stated that the closest auto store was 300 miles away (I think it needs updated!). Fortunately for us, the nice young man that worked at walley world told us how to get to an auto shop about 5 miles away that should be able to help. Of course, he didnt know if we'd make it 5 more miles or how late they were open, but with several prayers we were on our way. When we reached the auto  shop we were told that one part we needed may take 3 days to get in, that they may not have the proper tool to pull the something to get to the something else that was broken in (do you appreciate my vast knowledge of automobile parts? lol) and that even IF they could get it all there in a timely manner, they may not be able to get it fixed by 7pm, which was when they had to close, no matter what. Did I mention that it was after 5pm already? Well more prayers went up and the Lord blessed us, cuz they got a generic something or other that could do the pulling they needed (the proper one had been discontinued and the proper ones were only at dealerships now), and they found the parts they needed, received them in time, and completed the work before 7pm. And bless his heart, the young manager even gave us a discount for the work.

While telling you this story may be slightly cathartic, the real purpose is because of what happened next. As we drove the next few hours home, my Mom and I discussed many of the variables and all of the "what COULD have happened" angels. Which led us to the differences between now and the "old" days, when people did not have gps's or cell phones, and how, even with all these things, we are still at great risk. I think that sometimes, if not most of the time, we feel too comfortable, to complacent, because of all of our modern day gadgets. But the fact of the matter is that these are machines, and machines fail us. There are dead spots where phones fail, batteries die at the most inconvenient times, and gps's can only tell you what is in them, so they are only as current as their last update. Even then, they are not always up to date. 

We have been spoiled by our advances, by our modern conveniences. So it is important to recognize this and make sure that we know proper safety procedures. Would you accept a ride from a man that stopped to assist you if you stopped on the freeway? We really need to plan for troubles and discuss the various possibilities, run through various scenarios. Not only for ourselves, but with our children that are old enough to be in these positions. Many of our teens do not know how to change a tire and would think nothing of catching a ride with someone because we have stopped educating them in these things and counted on the cell phones. But what if their cell dies, breaks, or fails? They need to know, and we need to review for ourselves.

So.....for instance, do you carry an extra blanket or two in the car, at least during the winter? Do you have water in the car? Not only for you if you become stranded, but for radiator issues too.  What about your spare tire? Is it in good shape? Could you get it out if you didn't have a man with you? My Mother had a blow out on the freeway recently and couldn't get the spare from its nesting place, the bolts were on too tight. While she could have changed the tire if she was able to get it out, could you? Many women don't know how to change a tire on their own, but this is something we should teach our children before they begin driving, and anyone who doesn't know, should get a lesson before they drive again! So consider all the things that could happen and play a "what if" game as you spend time with your family this holiday weekend. Educate yourself and your loved ones so that all of your holidays will be safe ones! 

Happy Labor Day!