Teaching Tuesday- Under the Radar EO's- Niaouli

Continuing on with the Under the Radar series, today we will be speaking looking at Niaouli Essential Oil, botanically known as Melaleuca viridiflora, and sometimes called  broad-leafed paperbark. The essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and twigs of this small tree, which is native to woodlands, swamps, and streams of Australia, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea.

The tree's leaves are thick, elliptic, and aromatic. Its flowers are cream, yellow, or yellow-green spikes. the fruits have numerous fine seeds and woody capsules. The bark is papery, hence its nickname, and it is peeled off in layers and used for many purposes.  The Aborigines made/make great use of this tree bark, including making bedding, shelter, containers, storage, boats, fish traps, fire tinder, and even wrapping corpses. Medicinally, they made an infusion from the leaves and drunk it, inhaled it, or used it in a bath to treat coughs, colds, congestion, headaches, fever and the flu  In fact, many still do.

While this tree and its EO are still used to treat colds and respiratory issues, it is also used quite a bit in perfumery. It is considered a middle note, and has a sweet, fresh, camphoraceous odor.  It possesses analgesic, anticatarrhal, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, bactericidal, cicatrizant, diaphoretic, expectorant, stimulant, and vermifuge properties. Because of its cineol content, niaouli oil will produce an expectorant action, which makes it very useful in cases of respiratory congestion such as; bronchitis, coughs, colds, sinusitis  and the flu. Additionally, this EO is beneficial when making remedies for; acne, asthma, boils, burns, catarrhal conditions, cuts, cystitis, fever, insect bites, muscular aches and pains, oily skin, poor circulation, rheumatism, sore throat, ulcers, urinary infection, and wounds.

It is generally considered a safe EO, without any special warnings. So the next time you are looking to expand your EO pantry, try some Niaouli oil! Just exercise caution. In the early 1900's many trees were imported to Florida under this name, but were later found to be a different cultivar. So when purchasing this EO, as when buying any EO, make your purchases from reputable companies and check the origin. If it is not from Australia or Madagascar, the largest producing countries, steer away from it.

Make it Yourself Monday- Facial Cleanser

Are you looking for a great facial cleanser? Well you can make your own quite easily, saving yourself money and ensuring that you will have great ingredients, with great benefits.

You will need some;
liquid Castille soap, 2 oz.
distilled water, 1 oz.
lemon, either juice a real lemon or use about 3 drops of EO
chamomile EO, 3 drops  If you cannot get the chamomile EO, try steeping some chamomile flower heads in the Castille soap, gently heating it for at least an hour. Do not allow it to boil. When it is done heating, allow it to sit and cool, then strain it and toss out the plant material.

Mix everything together and stir well. Pour into a plastic bottle with a flip top dispensing lid or a plain lid. Store this in the refrigerator when not in use. It should stay fresh for at least two months. Just wash your face and neck with this as you normally would, then rinse with tepid water and pat the skin dry. Make sure that you follow up by properly moisturizing your skin 

Fearsome Friday- Reward Yourself with Bath Butter

As you head into the weekend, I hope that you will take some time to relax and rejuvenate. A bit of time to reward yourself for the hard week that is past, and to prepare yourself for the week to come. To that end, I have just the multipurpose product for you to make! And, once made, it will last a while, so it is a gift to yourself that keeps giving! What am I talking about? A bath butter that pulls double duty as a solid perfume. How is this possible? Well, while this butter easily melts in the tub, creating a highly moisturizing and skin softening, it is stiff enough to be applied to the pulse points, offering wonderful scent and some on the go skin softening. It may sound a bit crazy, but why not smell good while moisturizing and why not moisturize while smelling good? With this neat recipe you can have it all!

You will need;
2 ounces beeswax
2 ounces jojoba oil
2 oz sweet almond oil (may use apricot kernel oil)
1/2 ounce EO blend

Heat the beeswax in a double boiler, over medium heat, until melted. As soon as it is completely melted, remove from the heat and add in the other oils, adding the EO last. Mix well and then pour into containers. You may use tins, small glass jars, plastic, as long as it is meant for high heat, or tubes. I like to put some of mine in the twist up tubes for ease of application, these I carry in my purse. While some I put into jars for the bedstand and the bathroom. Once poured, leave them sit on the counter until they are set, usually several hours.

As for using; When bathing, just scoop some out and toss it into the warm, running bath water. As soon as it warms it will melt like butter. Just exercise caution upon entering and exiting the tub, as it may be slippery.
When using as a perfume balm, rub onto skin at pressure points, behind the ears, and/or any rough patch of skin needing soothing.
With care, this recipe generally will last about one year. Make sure to store this product out of direct light, and remember that it will melt in heat. If it does, just set it aside to re-set, or pop it in the fridge to speed up the process a bit. Also, care must be taken to not introduce water into the product at any time. So make sure that it is stored with the lid tightly placed, and that you never use wet fingers to scoop out the product. Introducing water, even a drop, will introduce microbes that tend to grow nasty things.

As for the fragrance, you certainly can use whatever EO, or skin safe Fragrance oil that you like best. (If you do choose a FO, remember that many carried in the big box stores are not meant to be used on the skin, and can cause serious harm if used for this recipe.)
For a peaceful, calming, feminine scent, try this blend; 5 drops rose,  2 drops vanilla, 1 drop clove or all spice.
Of course orange blossom is always a sweet, pick-me-up scent. And, if you mix that with a drop of vanilla you get that dreamy, dreamcicle fragrance. Mix it with a drop of all spice and you will get a complex, dreamy, somewhat sexy fragrance.
Whatever you choose to scent with, I know you will enjoy this soothing, moisturizing, smell good balm, no matter how you use it!

What's Up Wednesday-Vote Wisely

I received this old joke in my email in box today. While I don't think it makes a good joke, it does, in my humble opinion, make a good parable.

Heaven or Hell ?

While walking down the street one day a Corrupt 
Senator (that may be redundant) was tragically 
hit by a car and died.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter 
at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St.. Peter. "Before 
you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We 
seldom see a high official around these parts, 
you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the Senator.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from the 
higher ups. What we'll do is have you spend 
one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you 
can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really?, I've made up my mind. I want to be 
in heaven," says the Senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the 
elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle 
of a green golf course.

In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in 
front of it are all his friends and other politicians 
who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. 
They run to greet him, shake his hand, and 
reminisce about the good times they had while 
getting rich at the expense of the people.

They played a friendly game of golf and then 
dine on lobster, caviar and the finest champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very 
friendly guy who is having a good time dancing 
and telling jokes.

They are all having such a good time that before 
the Senator realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves 
while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens 
In heaven where
St. Peter is waiting for him, "Now it's time to visit 

So, 24 hours passed with the Senator joining a 
group of contented souls moving from cloud to 
cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a 
good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours 
have gone by and St. Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another 
in heaven. Now choose your eternity."

The Senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: 
"Well, I would never have said it before, I mean 
heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he 
goes down, down, down to hell...

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in 
the middle of a barren land covered with waste 
and garbage.
He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking 
up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls to the ground.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulders.
"I don't understand," stammers the Senator. 
"Yesterday I was here and there was a golf 
course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and 
caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had 
a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of 
garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil smiles at him and says,
"Yesterday we were campaigning,

Today, you voted.."

Vote wisely!

Teaching Tuesday- Under the Radar EO's- Lovage Leaf

We are working our way through my list of essential oils that may not have ever been on your radar before. Today we will be looking at Lovage Leaf. If you are from the UK you are probably wondering why it's in this series, because it is commonly used there. But, if you are from the US you may never have even heard of it. So we are going to remedy that today!

Lovage leaf, botanically known as Levisticum officinalis, is often called "wild celery", and is native to much of Europe and southwestern Asia, with Hungary and France being the largest producing countries. The word "lovage" comes from "love ache", "ache" being a medieval name for parsley. This plant has been cultivated in Europe for centuries, where they utilize the entire plant. The leaves are used as an herb, the roots as a vegetable, and the seeds as a spice (especially in southern European cuisine), similar to fennel seeds. Lovage tea is drunk to stimulate digestion or applied to wounds as an antispetic. And, in the UK, an alcohol lovage cordial is traditionally mixed with brandy (2:1) as a winter drink.

Lovage is a perennial plant that grows five to six feet tall in just a matter of five years time. The stems and leaves are shiny green to yellow, and flowers are produced in umbels at the stem tops, and are yellow to yellowish-green. It flowers in late spring, and the fruit matures in the autumn. 

This herbaceous plant has a strong celery flavor (and scent), with a hint of anise. Its unique flavor profile can be used much like you would use celery or parsley, just use a lighter hand because it is strong. It adds great flavor to soups, stews, salads, meats and potato dishes. It is also used as a natural salt substitute, and said to be an aphrodisiac.

While every part of this plant is edible, it is only the leaves that are steam distilled for the essential oil. The Eo, just like the herb itself, has a long history of being used to treat digestive problems and skin conditions. The essential oil is considered to be a middle note,  and it has a warm, fresh, sweet and spicy green fragrance.  

 It possesses antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, stimulant, and stomachic properties.  Lovage is a strong oil with a distinctive aroma, therefore not much is needed in your blends. 

Lovage using formulations benefit conditions of amenorrhea, anemia, congestion, cramps, dysmenorrhea, edema, flatulence, gout, indigestion, poor circulation, rheumatism, spasms, water retention, and muscle aches and pains

A few drops in a massage oil blend will take advantage of its antispasmodic properties, and offer you an unique formula. Like wise, aging skin care formulations also benefit from the addition of this EO for its circulation building and edema decreasing attributes. I am sure you will find all kinds of formulations that will benefit from the addition of this Eo, now that's on your radar! 

Oh, don't use this EO during pregnancy. 

Make it Yourself Monday- Omega Three Salad

This weeks Make it Yourself Monday is all about healthy, good food! The following recipe is for a Salmon salad that is full of mega three fatty acids. In other words, the great for you stuff! It is especially good for diabetics and anyone who is trying to eat more healthfully.

You Will Need;
 2 Tbsp. of walnut oil (you may substitute canola oil)
 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
 2 small cloves garlic, minced
 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste, but the lower the better! 
 ground black pepper, to taste 
 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
 1 can (15 oz.) pink or red Alaskan salmon (wild is best)- backbone and skin removed
 1/4 cup light canola mayonnaise or other lowfat mayonnaise
 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
 Salt and pepper, to taste
 4 cups baby spinach leaves
 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

In small bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients for the
dressing and set it aside. Mix celery together with salmon, and toss it with
the mayonnaise and the lemon juice. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach with the dressing you made, and then top with the salmon mixture. Place the cherry tomato halves around the platter and then sprinkle the top with walnuts.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 212; Protein: 18 g; Carbohydrates: 3 g;
Sodium: 594 mg; Fat 14 g
Exchanges: 1 Vegetable, 2 Medium-Fat Meats, 1 Fat

Frankly Speaking Friday-Business Practices Rant

Two things really upset me on a professional level this week. First off, I belong to several professional forums and social media sites. On one of them, one specifically geared toward the makers of skin care products, someone actually asked if anyone had a good recipe for a shea butter sugar scrub that they would give them. Seriously, why would you ask anyone for their recipe? And why would anyone give another company their recipe? Obviously the asker must not create their own recipes, and I have seen this many times. A novice begins making something they saw in a book, then begins selling the same. To me, this is akin to theft. Isn't the whole idea to make your own formulations? Grrr. I have never sold a product made from a recipe that I did not create and people wonder why I guard my recipes so fiercely!

The second incident that got me on top the soap box is that one of my most favorite supply shops, Bramble Berry, really disappointed me. The Soap Queen blog did an interview with a "wildly successful" soaper, the founder of You Smell soaps. Since she was actually on the tv show, the Shark Tank, I was very excited to read about this, and quite anxious to view the tv episode on Hulu.

I was excited that is, until I actually watched the episode and read the blog post, and visited her web site. Then I became very upset that my beloved Soap Queen would promote this fledgling soap maker without even bring to light the fact that she has virtually no experience in making soap! Especially when Ann Marie, in the past, has always advocated education.

Am I the only one that got the fact that this woman designed her company for a class project, then immediately moved straight into selling her soap so that, according to her response to a Shark, she could "see how much people would pay for it."  There apparently was no testing and no learning about SOAP. Yes, she test marketed her pricing, her packaging, her logo, but when did she study and learn about making soap? How many batches of soap did she make before she decided to sell it?  All of the sudden she is considered an expert and a good business risk because she came up with a good name and a great label. Yes I would have given her an A+ in class for her marketing design, but I do not feel it is okay to make a few batches of soap and then start selling them! And by BB publicizing this woman, I feel that they are encouraging some rather poor business standards, and this is what disappoints me so greatly.

As an aside, if you watch the Shark Tanks show, you may notice that she eludes to the fact that the paper soap is something new that nobody in the USA is currently doing. Just do a google search and you will find several "how to" articles dating back several years, which show that this is simply not the truth.

I would never buy soap, or anything else for that matter, that I put on my body  from a relative newbie. Then again, she never actually says what kind of soap she makes. Maybe it is just a melt and pour. But if that's the case, she is very misleading on the website. A true marketing strategy for sure, but not very ethical in my mind.  Maybe I don't need to worry about it though, because nobody can actually get any soap from her web site right now. Hmm, the note says that it is all because of the Shark Tank show, so have patience and wait for the goodness....about 6 weeks or so, if I recall correctly. I would think that you would have a good supply of soap already set up to cure before you put up a sales web site, but maybe I just didn't take the correct marketing class.

Okay, that may have been a bit snide, but I am really tired of people who decide to make something and then sell it, using the public as their guinea pig. This is, in my opinion, the major reason that the House bill to regulate crafters came so close to passing, and why they are still trying to rewrite and strongly regulate Indie businesses.

What do you think? Does the experience level of the maker of your lotions and soaps make a difference to you?  Would you buy skin care products from someone you knew made a few batches and then began selling straight away? If you knew that the product maker took the recipe from someone else, would you care?  Be honest and share your thoughts.

It's Wednesday, What's Under Wrap?

I always say that Unique Garden Essences offers spa quality products for use in the privacy of your home. So this Wednesday, I want to revisit one of the most "spa like" treatments there is. While there are many "at home" treatments that can make you feel like you are in a spa, none other is quite so spa like, so luxurious as the Body Wrap. While the body wrap treatments are more time consuming than most facial or hair treatments, they are certainly well worth the effort. YOU are well worth the effort and deserve the indulgence!  In addition to the physical benefits of the various ingredients used, you should not ignore the spiritual aspects. So go ahead and wrap yourself in the ocean's best, and emerge like a new creation.... a mermaid perhaps?

To get going in the right direction, there are some tips that, when followed, will help to enhance your treatment. To begin with, before starting these, or any treatment for that matter, make sure that you remove all lotions, perfumes, deodorants, and dirt. The simplest way to do this is by taking a quick shower. When taking that shower, make sure that you use an all natural soap. If you don't have one, at least make sure that you use a mild soap, and preferably a non-perfumed one. Next, warm the tools. By warming the tools, towels, sheets and wrap ingredients you will help to retain your body's heat, thereby enhancing your overall experience. To this end, the use of a space heater is also recommended. By placing it near you in your relaxation area you will not only prolong the heat of the wrap for as long as possible, but will also increase your general comfort level. You can further intensify your treatment, as well as raise your body temperature, by sipping on some hot, herbal tea before your treatment. The cotton strips or sheet that you use to wrap should be immersed in water that is approximately 180 degrees F or 82 degrees C. Make sure that you wear rubber gloves to wring out the sheets/strips so that you can avoid burning your fingers. 
When you are ready to wrap, begin by wrapping the strips (snugly) around your legs, then move to your arms, and lastly do your torso. Make sure to tuck the ends of the strip under a wrapped area nearby to ensure a snug fit. Once you are finished, lay yourself on a plastic sheet (or a shower curtain) and wrap yourself up in it, then cover yourself with blankets, as this will help to maintain the warmth and heat, which helps to activate your treatment. Once you are finished wrapping, put on a warm robe and sit and relax for 20 minutes, unless otherwise directed. Keep in mind that it is very important that you do NOT attempt any physical activity immediately after your treatment. It is usually best to slowly remove the strips and simply roll into bed after relaxation type wraps. Showering shortly after most treatment is not recommended, so please do so only if the recipe/directions specifically mentions it.


For all recipes; 
First off you need to prepare. Select a relaxation spot, such as your bed, the bathtub or a lounge chair. Then cover the area with a plastic sheet or shower curtain liner. Set the space heater next to your relaxation area and turn it on. Place some blankets nearby so they will be handy when you need them.

Relaxation Wrap

1 Cup fresh, chopped, chamomile OR 1/2 Cup dried chamomile 1 Cup fresh, grated valerian root OR 1/2 Cup dried valerian root 1 Cup fresh, crushed lavender OR 1/2 Cup dried lavender 1 cotton or linen sheet cut into 3" wide strips 1 large pot for boiling water (a lobster or spaghetti pot works well) 1 plastic shower curtain liner or plastic sheet blankets Place the herbs in a large pot and fill with water, then bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for five minutes. With a strainer, scoop out as many of the herbs as possible. Then place the sheet strips in the pot and allow to steep for five minutes. Once your five minutes is up, remove the strips one at a time, as you use them, and wring out the excess water. Proceed to wrap yourself as described above, making sure to cover and relax for 10 minutes, after which you should remove the strips slowly and roll on into bed. Valerian has been used since ancient Roman times as a mild sedative, and is used today as a mild sleep aid and anxiety reliever. Chamomile offers calming and anti-spasmodic properties, while lavender lends its balancing, relaxing, and restorative properties, all of which combine to make this wrap the perfect end to a stressful day. Using this wrap just prior to bedtime will maximize its effectiveness, as will delaying washing until the next morning.
Detoxifying Wrap

1 Cup fresh, chopped lemongrass OR 1/2 Cup dried lemongrass 1 3" long piece of grated or minced ginger root 1 large pot for boiling 1 cotton or linen sheet cut into 3" wide strips 1 plastic sheet or shower curtain liner blankets place the lemongrass and the ginger in a large pot and filled with water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for another 5 minutes. Scoop out as much of the herbs as possible, then place the sheet strips in the pot and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the strips one at a time, as you use them, and wring out the excess water. Apply as instructed in the tip section above. Once completely wrapped, cover with blankets and relax for 15 minutes. After you remove the wrap strips, shower off. Ginger has been cultivated in Southeast Asia for over 2,500 years for its medicinal properties. It has been found to rid the body of flu-like symptoms, colds, and respiratory ailments, while the scent of lemongrass uplifts and rejuvenates moods. Lemongrass has tonic, invigorating and antiseptic properties, while ginger offers stimulating and cleansing effects, which makes this wrap perfect for part of your morning ritual.

Remineralizing Wrap

8 oz dried or powdered seaweed OR 3oz fresh seaweed water (enough to make a paste) 2 Plastic sheet or shower curtain liner blankets This wrap is probably best executed in the bathtub for ease of cleanup. Put a blanket (or blankets, enough so that you are comfortable) on the bottom of the tub, then set the plastic sheet or shower curtain liner on top of the blanket(s). While sitting in the tub, on top of the plastic, cover yourself with the seaweed past or the fresh seaweed, then wrap yourself with a plastic sheet and blankets. Relax for 20 minutes, then slowly unwrap yourself, remove the blankets and sheets from the tub, fill with warm water and relax for an additional 10 minutes. After the treatment pat your skin dry, and don't forget to moisturize. *Make sure that you use the space heater for this treatment. Seaweed wraps are a quick way to remineralize the body while replenishing the body with nutrients and elements that are lost on a daily basis, such as amino-acids, calcium, copper, iodine, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, protein, and vitamins. The molecular formation of the human blood cell and that of seawater is very similar, which allows nutrients from the seawater to easily filter through the pores of the skin and directly into the bloodstream. The most popular type of seaweed used for cosmetic and healing purposes is kelp, which is the common name for the leafy brown algae that grows along colder coastlines. Although using fresh seaweed is optimal, a seaweed powder (mixed with enough water to create a mayonnaise-like paste) will give you equally satisfying results.

Teaching Tuesday- Under the Radar EO's- Hyssop

In continuing the series of Essential Oils that may be Under Your Radar, today we will be looking at Hyssop EO.

Hyssop is one of the bitter herbs mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. It was used to purify the temples. And the Romans used it to disinfect the houses of the sick, and to protect themselves against the plague. 

Botanically named Hyssopus Officinalis, this brightly colored shrub ranges from roughly one to two feet tall. The base of the stem is woody and has many branches growing from it. The leaves are dark green in color and in the Spring they produce bunches of pink, blue, or (rarely) white, fragrant flowers. Under optimal weather conditions the herb hyssop is harvested twice yearly, at the end of Spring and again in the beginning of the Fall. The plants are usually flowering when harvested so that the flowing tips can be gathered. Once the stalks are cut and collected they are either hung for drying, or are stacked on pallets [to allow for drainage] and dried. After they are completely dried, about 6 days, the leaves are removed and the flowers and leaves are finely chopped. Once in this dehydrated form, the herb remains good for 18 months.  The Hyssop plant is often planted by beekeepers to produce a rich and aromatic honey. The fresh herb, as well as its dried form, is commonly used in cooking. It has an intensely minty aroma and the leaves are used as an aromatic condiment.  It is also used to flavor liqueur and is, in fact, part of the formulation for chartreuse. Essence of Hyssop can be obtained by steaming, and is used in cooking too, albeit to a much lesser extent. 

The essential oil of Hyssop is made by steam distillation. It is a middle note, with a sweet, richly herbaceous, camphoraceous fragrance. The thjone and phenol in the plant, and the subsequent EO, give it strong antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. It also possesses astringent, caminative, cephalic, *cicatrizant, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hypertensive, nervine, sedative, tonic, vermifuge, and vulnerary  properties.

In the market place, hyssop is frequently used in mouthwash and eye drop formulations. In fact, the expectorant action of this oil can be put to good use during cold and flu season by adding it to a balm/rub, or by putting some in a diffuser.  Aside from colds, coughs and flu, sore throats, asthma, and bronchitis, it can benefit conditions of dermatitis, eczema, fatigue, fevers, flatulence, indigestion, inflammation, leucorrhea, nervous tension, rheumatism, and wounds. 
It should not be used during pregnancy, by those with high blood pressure, or by anyone with epilepsy. Hyssop has high concentrations of thujone and other chemicals that stimulate the CNS (central nervous system). These chemicals can provoke epileptic seizures when taken in high enough doses. Just how high is high enough is an unknown quantity, so best to stay away from this herb if you have any epileptic tendencies. 

*Something that promotes the healing of a sore or wound by forming scar tissue.

Make it Yourself Monday- Bath Butter

What melts in bath water, smells terrific, and moisturizes your skin like nobody's business? Bath Butter, that's what! What is bath butter? Think of a cross between a bath oil and a body moisturizer and you will be close to this tantalizing and exotic treatment.

To make, you will need;
1   cup regular or deodorized cocoa butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup sweet almond oil
2 teaspoons olive oil
6-12 drops essential oil(s) of choice

The choice of deodorized or regular cocoa butter is yours to make, but keep in mind the EO(s) that you want to use, and how they will blend with the scent of the cocoa butter that you choose. Once decided, melt the cocoa butter in a double boiler on the stove. Then add the coconut oil. When they are melted, add the almond and the olive oils, stir, remove from the heat and add the essential oil(s). Blend well and when it begins to cool, after about 4-5 minutes or so, pour it into the jar or tin of your choice. Then set aside and allow to completely set up. You can place it in the refrigerator to help it set up faster if you choose. This recipe has a shelf life of at least 6 months, but care must be taken to keep water from coming in contact with the product. If water is introduced, the nasties will begin to grow and your product will be ruined, possibly within days of the contamination. So make sure to use a spoon to scoop it out of the jar and into the tub. If the spoon comes in contact with the water, don't place it back in the jar! How much should you use? That's up to you! Start out with one heaping teaspoon and add another one or two, or even three if you want! Just be very careful when getting in and out of the tub, as this will make the tub slippery! The butter should be, will be, firm in the container, but will melt in the warmth of the bath water. So sit back, soak, and relax as you treat yourself to this wonderful moisturizing treatment!

Friday- More Under the Radar Essential Oils-Ho Wood

Continuing on with the essential oils that you may be unfamiliar with, this next one is interesting, yet under the radar for most recreational EO users. It is Ho Wood. 
Botanically known as Cinnamomum camphora, this soft wood is very similar to rosewood, but with a much more renewable source. It is a large evergreen tree that grows to almost 100 feet tall, and is quite invasive. Its root system is massive and its spreading can disrupt urban drainage and sewer systems, as well as degrading river banks. Also, its leaves contain a high carbon content which damage water quality and fresh water fish habitats when they fall into rivers and streams. The camphor content in the leaves also serves to prevent other plants from germinating successfully, which ensures its success against potentially competing vegetation. Not to mention, that its seeds are very attractive to birds, and they pass in tact through the digestive system, ensuring rapid distribution. For these reasons, this tree has been deemed a "noxious weed" in many parts of Australia and Wales. It s also becoming a problem in the rain forests where it competes against eucalyptus trees, the sole food source of endangered koalas.

The tree itself has glossy, waxy appearing leaves that smell like camphor when they are crushed. In the Spring, it produces small white flowers and clusters of black berry like fruit among its bright green foliage. The bark is pale, rough, and has vertical fissures. Its wood,traditionally, was used to make the handles of Japanese swords and knives because it didn't scratch the blades (it's a soft wood). Today, it is most often used for the ornamental parts of houses and for cabinet making.

Cinnamomum camphora is native to Taiwan, Japan, China, and Indochina. It is largely produced by China and Japan, where it is cultivated for timber production and camphor. Camphor is a white crystalline substance that is obtained from the tree. It is usually sold in its solid, waxy form, and was an especially major industry in Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, where it was used medicinally and as a major component for smokeless gunpowder and celluloid. Primitive stills were set up in the mountainous areas (where the trees were/are usually found). The wood was chipped, then the chips were steamed. The camphor crystallized on the inside of a crystallization box after the vapor passed through a cooling chamber. Then they scraped it off and packed out to the government-run factories for processing and sale. Camphor was actually one of the most lucrative [of several important] government monopolies under the Japanese.
The essential oil of this laurel contains the volatile chemical compounds in all of the plant parts. The wood and leaves are steamed distilled for the EO's.  This is quite an unique tree, as it has six different chemical variants, these are called chemotypes. They are camphor, linalool, 1,8 cineole, nerolidol, safrole or borneol. In China, the field workers avoid mixing the chemotypes when harvesting by their smell. The cineole fraction of this laurel is used (in China) to manufacture fake "eucalyptus oil"  These chemical variants, the chemotypes, seem to be dependent upon the country of origin of the tree, and they are actually identifiable by the country. The   Cinnamomum camphora, grown in Taiwan and Japan, called "Ho Wood",  is normally very high in Linalool, usually between 80 and 85%. But the same tree, grown in India and Sri Lanka  has a high camphor chemotype that remains dominant. The Cinnamomum camphora grown in Madagascar, on the other hand, is high in 1,8 Cineole, averaging between 40 and 50%. This essential oil [from the Madagascar trees] is commercially known as Ravintsara. While many variables affect crops, which in turn affect the scent and overall quality of essential oils, this degree of variation is rare and quite unique.
Getting back to the Ho Wood EO, according to Mountain Rose Herbs, it is classified as a middle note, and it has a bright, warm, slightly woody scent. It is mainly used (in the US) in the perfume industry as a substitute for rosewood oil. It is steam distilled from the twigs, leaves and wood of the tree, and has analgesic, antidepressant, antiseptic, and sedative properties, so it greatly benefits anxiety and depressive disorders. It is generally a safe EO, with no known issues. 

Tripod Thursday- Making a Pain Balm

This weeks Tripod shots are of me making a pain balm for my Mom and Son. It has coffee butter in it, which accounts for why it is brown. It has many essential oils and some healing carrier oils as well, to take away that pain.

What's Up Wednesday-Delicious, yet Sensible Dessert

What do you do when the sweet tooth is yelling at you, but the scales are taunting you? This recipe is from a diabetic cook book, but you don't have to be a diabetic to enjoy its wonderful flavor or benefit from its healthy ingredients. In fact, there is no real "diabetic diet", rather there it is a lifestyle change, a healthier formulary for eating. So when you want, or need to cut back on empty calories, or are looking for a more heart healthy diet, I suggest that you look at recipes deemed "diabetic friendly". These recipes aren't bland and tasteless as you may imagine. In fact, I have found some truly tasty ones. But they all maximize the healthier ingredients, which generally cuts carbs, increases fiber, cuts fats and lessens calories. You really can eat healthier and still satisfy the taste buds!

This recipe is for a Banana Pecan Pie, and, while it looks lengthy, it really is easy and goes pretty fast. One reviewer wrote; 

"What a wonderful looking and tasting dessert! I cannot believe that something this tasty can be this healthy. YUM! The pudding is creamy and thick with a lovely taste and the base is soft, sweet and complements the filling nicely. I especially enjoyed the banana being layered between filling and base. The nuts I thought were a bit bland, next time Ill try toasting them first to bring out a bit more flavor.
I used an unsweetened soy milk in this with good results and choc chip sugar free cookies. I felt the margarine in the filling wouldnt be needed, so I left it out, which worked for us.
Oh and I didnt have a pan the right size, so I just made the recipe in muffin tins for tiny treats. So cute! :)..."

You will need; 


  • cup sugar free cookie crumbs
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
  • tablespoons margarine

Banana Pecan Pie Filling

  • medium bananas (reserved)
  • 1 ¾ cups skim milk
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple juice concentrate
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • tablespoons margarine
  • teaspoons sugar substitute
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

For Topping

  • ¼ cup sugar free cookie crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans


  1. 1
    To make Crust:
  2. 2
    Soften the margarine.
  3. 3
    Blend cookie crumbs, pecans, and margarine in a bowl to make the crust.
  4. 4
    Press the pie crust into a 9 inch pie plate.
  5. 5
    Chill for 30 minutes.
  6. 6
    To make Filling:.
  7. 7
    In a saucepan, heat all filling ingredients, except margarine, to a boil over medium heat, whisking until smooth (about 10 minutes). Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Scrape into a bowl.
  8. 8
    Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of margarine until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature. Slice the bananas.
  9. 9
    In prepared pie plate, arrange sliced bananas in 1 layer. Whisk cooled filling and pour evenly over bananas.
  10. 10
    To Make Topping:.
  11. 11
    Mix remaining cookie crumbs and pecans together and sprinkle over the filling. Chill the Banana Pecan Cream Pie for 1 hour before serving.
Enjoy! We would love to hear what you think about this recipe. So, if you make it, please remember to come back and share your comments!