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7 Things to Make with Violet Flowers

When I first joined Instagram (after much coercing on the part of friends and family who knew I would love all the pretty photos despite my aversion to social media), all the herbalists were posting about their Violet flower harvests and sharing their pretty recipes with the world. I was living in a 3rd story studio apartment in the middle of a concrete jungle at the time and had wanted to work with Violets but had never seen Violets growing in my area. My little balcony garden was full, so I couldn’t grow them then, but I knew that at some point, I was going to plant those sweet little blooms. They were the first plant I started looking for when we moved to the PNW last year. We hadn’t even pulled into our new hometown or seen our new home yet when I started telling Jon we needed to go scout out a few Violet patches in the wooded areas around us. Since then, it seems that I scatter Violet seed throughout my garden beds at least twice a year. I think it’s safe to say that I want Violets everywhere. If you like them too, here are a few ideas for ways to use them.

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1 - Make a Violet flower shrub.

I shared the recipe for this shrub on the blog a couple weeks ago. We like to use shrubs in homemade salad dressings, but you can also add them to orange juice or grape juice, Ginger ale, popsicle recipes, etc. They’re super yummy!

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2 - Violet flower syrup

Syrups are so simple to make and this version, made with sweet Violet flowers, looks so lovely that it would make a beautiful gift too! You can use it to dress baked goods, drizzle a bit on toast, or add it to drinks.

Bonus: It looks so pretty while the violet flowers are infusing! See the photo below.

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3 - Violet infused sugar

Infuse sugar with Violet flowers to add a touch of lovely flavor and color. The sugar can then be used to dress sweet recipes or in sugar scrub recipes that could use a dash of color. The sugar also holds the aroma of the Violets, so if its one of your favorites (it's one of mine!), you'll love the way the sugar smells!

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4 - Breast serum

Both Violet flowers and leaves can be infused into carrier oils to make a useful breast massage serum that helps support breast and lymphatic health. It’s a great daily-use product for women!

5 -  Add them to food

They’re gorgeous in salads, on top of shortbread cookies, as edible decoration on fancy desserts…and they taste great!

6 - Make candied Violets

Candying the flowers preserves them so they can be stored for a couple of months and used as pretty garnishes for your favorite dishes (if they last long enough!).

7 - Press them

Press a few Violets and Violet leaves. They can be used to decorate stationery, baked goods or keepsake boxes or added to your herbarium.

What are you making with Violets this year?

Much love,
Erin

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DIY Christmas Gift Recipe Roundup (27 Herbal Aromatherapy Gift Ideas for the Holidays)

It's no secret by now that I like to give away handmade herbal aromatherapy goodies. Since I know I'm not alone and 'tis the season for giving, I thought I'd share some of my favorite recipes here for you. I know many of you have already decided what you'll be gifting to your own loved ones this season, but I know there are others who are still making choices, so hopefully the timing of this post will be helpful. =) Each recipe is linked to the blog post or the magazine issue where it can be found in its entirety. Enjoy!

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Weedy Facial Serum     |     Cayenne Warming Salve     |     Herbal Paper

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Wintery Beeswax Candles     |     Ginger Sugar Scrub     |     Herbal Bird Feeders

Many of these recipes come from past issues of AromaCulture Magazine, but still many are from recipes and tutorials that can be found for free on our blog. I hope you enjoy making some of these this holiday season!

Have you ever given handmade gifts during the holiday season? Tell me about one of your favorites in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin


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AromaCulture's 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

The people who are closest to me in my inner circle know that giving is my love language. I love to give gifts. Thinking through things I can make or purchase for someone to make them smile and help them feel appreciated, finding or making whatever I decide on, then packaging the items up prettily, with intention and care, and sending them off to their new home makes me so incredibly happy. When my husband comes home with a surprise 'just because' gift for me, or an unexpected and thoughtful gift arrives from a friend in the mail, I practically melt. So you can probably guess that Christmastime is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. I like to give gifts all throughout the four seasons, but Christmas gives me a major excuse to love on people a little extra (and all at once!) so I tend to have a lot of fun with it.

If you like giving gifts too (or if you're just trying to come up with some new ideas for your gift list/wish list this year), and are looking for some ready-to-gift items (my DIY list is coming later), I've put together a list of some lovely items from some of my favorite small businesses that would appeal to your plant-loving friends here for you today. A few of the features even include interviews with the business owners!

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Let's kick off the gift guide with a special announcement, shall we? We now have 6-month and 12-month gift subscriptions to AromaCulture Magazine available in our shop! Give the gift of AromaCulture Magazine to your plant-loving loved ones this year.


The first item I'd like to share with you today is a new travel diffuser that was recently made available by my favorite diffuser-making company, Organic Aromas. I love that most of their pieces are made by hand (you can watch videos of their diffuser making process on their Youtube channel) and are customizable, and that they are super committed to making sure that your essential oils never come into contact with plastic. This is something that's important to me, personally, so I really appreciate that this brand specifically creates diffusers that keep plastic parts away from my oils.

This family-owned small business' new travel diffuser is battery powered (rechargeable), can fit in the cup holder of your car, and is made with anodized aluminum and glass. It has a built-in timer and is super easy to pack in your suitcase, so it's perfect for travel as well.

I've mentioned in the past that I've never found a car diffuser/travel diffuser that I like, so I tend not to share them. This new little guy, though, has changed that for me. It's officially my new favorite for diffusing on the road and in hotel rooms, though it definitely doesn't need to be reserved only for traveling.

 
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While everything from Lotus Wei is absolutely lovely, I'm especially loving their Aura Mists lately. Their signature flower essence formulas are combined with aromatic essential oils in these delicate, yet potent energetic mists, which are available individually or in a set of 6 that includes their famous Joy Juice, Inner Peace, Infinite Love, Quiet Mind, Inspired Action, and Radiant Energy blends. I've had them on my desk for a little while now and I love spritzing them throughout the day. They have such intricately beautiful aromas. Joy Juice, Infinite love, and Inspired Action are my current favorites.

 
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My favorite organic, medicinal herb seeds come from Richo Cech and his family over at Strictly Medicinal Seeds (formerly Horizon Herbs). Richo is an herbalist, herb farmer, and master storyteller. His books are treasured volumes in my herbal library. My latest acquisition from his shop? A stash of Sweet Violet seeds ready for planting. (I can't help but sow a few packets of them every year! You can never have too many Violets.) I talk more about my experience with this brand in this blog post.

 
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It's no secret that people who love herbs and essential oils tend to like other gifts from the earth as well. Song Yee Designs is one of my favorite silversmiths / jewelry artists. She creates absolutely flawless gemstone jewelry made with sterling silver and fine silver and hand-selected stones. I've purchased several pieces from her throughout the years (both ready-made and custom pieces), including this White Buffalo Turquoise ring, and I'm always more than pleased with her work. Learn more about her pieces here. (She's also on Etsy.)

 
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Prices vary based on the piece.


Speaking of gemstones and gifts from the earth, Manukoa offers a wide variety of gemstones and semi-precious stones, both rough and polished, along with White Sage smudge sticks and gemstone jewelry. Visit the shop here and enter the coupon code AROMACULTURE at checkout to receive 10% off any purchase over $40. (US shipping only.)

 
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Shown: Aquamarine spheres. Prices vary.


Some of you already know that I like to collect handmade pottery - especially functional pieces like mugs and small bowls and dishes that I can use and feature in the magazine with all sorts of pretty herbal preparations. (Jon and I are actually learning how to make our own pottery pieces right now, too!) This sweet mug was made by Summer of Kilned with Kindness, who is currently my favorite potter. Her pieces always make me smile - perfect additions to any collection and a lovely gift for the tea or coffee drinking friend in your life!

 
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If you don't already, I highly recommend purchasing essential oils from small local farms whenever possible. Being able to visit the farm and see the plants and witness the distillation process will change the way you view and use your essential oils. If you don't have a farm near you, you can 'borrow' one of my favorites - this exquisite Lavender (angustifolia) essential oil is handcrafted by hand in a copper still by our friends Sue and Derek Owen of The English Lavender Farm. It's the finest, most beautiful Lavender oil I've ever encountered (and I tried dozens this year when I was writing my Lavender book!) and you can visit their farm next year during Lavender season! ;)

 
 

Lavender Essential Oil - 10ml, $21


Need a geometric shelf to act as wall art or to showcase your crystals and trinkets? Stewart Landing Co. is owned by an artisan woodworker (who also works here at AromaCulture!) who handcrafts geometric wall shelves and planters using reclaimed wood and hand-picked cedar and pine. His stains are made by hand without chemicals. Wholesale options are available. Enter the coupon code AROMACULTURE at checkout to receive 10% off any purchase over $40. (US shipping only.)

 
 

Handmade Triangle Shelf (other shapes and sizes available): $39


We've shared their products with you before and we'll probably share them again because we just love them so much. Moon Valley Organics offers high quality body and personal care items made with organic herbs grown right on their farm. This Oatmeal Sage bar is our long-time favorite soap from their selection.

 
 

If you've never heard of Juniper Ridge, beware. You'll probably swoon once you take a few moments to look through their product offerings and watch the videos about their process. They make the finest trail-formulated botanical fragrances (distilling on location!) that we've ever found. We're long-time fans of their products. Check out this collection of sample colognes, which makes it easy choose a favorite so you can order a full size bottle.

 
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Another jewelry artist that I've purchased from throughout the years is Mallory Wingo of Wingostarr Jewelry. She handmakes the most beautiful wire-wrapped and beaded gemstone jewelry and all of her pieces are unique (many are one of a kind) and vibrant. This citrine slice necklace is one of my longtime favorites from her shop. She now offers a chakra-aligning version of it that features several different gemstones!

 
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I first found Katelyn's jewelry shop on Instagram a few years ago (we were living in CA at the time) and purchased this ammolite necklace, one of my favorite pieces. Katelyn specializes in electroformed jewelry made with copper and/or sterling silver. Her birthstone + quartz crystal necklaces are beautiful.

 
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Prices vary.


Jen Tao is an Instagram-friend who I originally 'met' on instagram through our mutual love for succulents. (Her instagram feed is incredible if you love them too.) She has partnered with another small business owner this season to make limited edition succulent dreamcatchers. They
will only be available in a limited amount and for a limited time, but you can order one here if you love them as much as I do! Grab one while they're available - they'll go fast.

 
 

Succulent Dream Catcher: $65
(photo from Jen's instagram feed)


Now, for some small business fun!

- the next few features include interviews with the makers -


The bath teas formulated by Denise for Wholly Rooted, her small-batch farm apothecary are exquisite. The aromas are intoxicating and they are absolutely lovely with their vibrant, hand-harvested herbal blends of unsurpassed quality. Pick up a few for your loved ones' stockings this season. They'll be delighted! I like to add a little bit of violet-infused oil to mine to make them feel even more luxurious and then massage the tea bag into my skin in the bath.

 
 

Set of 3 bath teas: $32

interview with the business owner: denise

Note: Denise's full interview is featured in our December issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

  1. Hi Denise! Thanks for taking time to share with us today. Could you tell us a bit about your story? How/when did you start working with plant-based ingredients? What was it about them that drew you in?

    I have always been a very eco-conscious person from food to body and home products. I also have been an avid gardener for many years - and all of that seems to coalesce into working with my hands, growing my own food and medicinal herbs, making a lot of my own bath, body and home products - not only to be more green and environmentally sound, but also to avoid allergens, to use what is local, to use what I connect with. What we put into our bodies is as important as what we put on our bodies and in our homes. All of this has driven me to pursue more advanced level courses  in herbalism, holistic nutrition and aromatherapy. Health and wellness encompasses our whole life, not just our food or exercise. As a gardener, you get to work with a plant from seed to mouth, which is truly a profound experience. Plants, their actions, chemistry, and tenaciousness are fascinating and I love learning about my local plants, the changes in habitat and migration of plant species due to our changing climate, and the impact of soil on nutrition and gut microbiota. Plants enrich my life, and are a part of everything we do! I am currently working on completing my clinical hours to get the official AHG RH (Registered Herbalist) designation. I feel like I’m never done learning, and plants, herbalism, aromatherapy and holistic health have so much to teach us, and I love working with and helping people. Plants have also helped my own healing, and learning about plants is a lifelong evolution based on where I am at each moment, and what my body needs.  
     
  2. What does your creative process tend to look like? When you sit down to create a new product, do you go through a list of steps or do you tend to lean more toward creative expression and go with your gut?

    I love to make items based on a need at home or for a friend. I love blending herbs, essential oils, and carrier ingredients to find a balance and synergy that not only fits the physical need, but also has other purposes such as uplifting the mood, helping with focus, or calming the mind. I tend to use products on my family and myself for awhile before creating bigger batches.

    I love working in my herbal studio with the twinkly lights on, music playing, and a vast quantity of fresh ingredients to create with.

    Both. I love knowing the properties of plants and essential oils and working to create a harmony that works on both physical and emotional levels. So many people are stressed, busy, anxious, nervous, frazzled and tired. Aromatherapy can really uplift and support emotional wellness, while the herbs and oils can support the skin and body. 

    I make all products in small batches, by hand, in my herbal studio. I like working in smaller batches as I think products should change seasonally and I like to be inspired by new ideas and ingredients based on what I grow, harvest, forage or preserve.
     
  3. Tell us a little about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

    Many of the products with oils are infused with plants I have grown myself in one of my gardens - my hilltop prairie home garden or in the calm and peaceful rural garden where I grow many medicinals surrounded by chickens, goats and bees. My herbs are also in the salves, bath teas, body oils and serums. I grow many of the herbs from seed to bottle, grown organically (though not certified). I harvest by hand all summer, and carefully dry all herbs in dehydrators, and store them in my herbal apothecary. My dried herbs tend to have so much more color and aroma than commercially dried herbs, because of how I harvest and dry in smaller batches. I also distill some of my own hydrosols in my copper still, and all other hydrosols I purchase are organic.

    I source other ingredients based on quality, a transparent supply chain, and organic as much as possible. I don’t mark up my products as much as most people do, which is a fault I suppose, but I want those good quality ingredients as well as pricing that is accessible. I hand make everything myself and make items in small batches, so it is a labor of love in many ways.
     
  4. Which of your products do you use most often?

    We use the chest rub every single night with my son who gets sniffly when in his bed. I feel like we use the salves by the gallon - my kids call it salve-ation, so I now call one of them by that name. Any little bump or scrape or blister  - all get the salve-ation. Body butters are used just out of the shower. We diffuse and use sprays at bedtime. I have used the facial serum and glow facial toner for months on myself now. We carry aromasticks with us everywhere we go (great for kids who need help transitioning)  and we use inhalers and steams when we have a cold. We have rollerballs in our home first aid kit and in the purse - for various things.

    I make custom products for people as well, and some of my favorites that we also use at home include shower gel, hand sanitizer, lotion blends, and massage oils.

    At home, we also make all of our own tinctures, glycerites, extracts, teas and more. We keep looking for a farm with a commercial kitchen to expand our offerings (and life) in the future!
     
  5. Where can our readers find you online?

    WhollyRooted.com - That is where the online shop is along with my blog with recipes and gardening tips, information on consultations, custom products and more! I also love to write and have articles in AromaCulture coming up! Wholly Rooted is on Facebook: facebook.com/whollyrooted, at Instagram at instagram.com/whollyrooted and Pinterest at pinterest.com/wholly_rooted.

The Tulsi Rejuvenating Oil from Apoterra Skincare is lightweight and rejuvenating, just as it promises. It smells divine and slightly masculine and the aroma lingers throughout the day. If you love the smell of Tulsi as much as we do, we think you'll adore this body oil. Apply it just after showering to soak up all of its oily goodness. It pairs perfectly with Apoterra's Tulsi Luminous Scrub, which shares its delightful aroma and leaves our skin feeling perfectly polished and soft. One of our favorite giftable sets this holiday season!

 
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Tulsi Body Care Set (also available individually): $63

Interview with the Business Owner, Dominique

Note: Dominique's full interview is featured in our December issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

  1. Hi Dominique ! Thanks for taking time to share with us today. Could you tell us a bit about your story? How/when did you start working with plant-based ingredients? What was it about them that drew you in?

    I have sort of always been fascinated by plants and the power they hold. I remember as a kid going into my mom's garden to collect flowers, herbs and earth and mixing all of it with liquid hand soap to make a "better" hand soap. It was a total mess, but the curiosity and desire to work with plants was there.  I actually went to school in a totally different direction - I wanted to work in the arts because I thought I could be more creative in that world.  So I went to film school and became a lighting technician for major motion pictures and television. It loved working on big movies, but it wasn't as fulfilling and creative work as I had hoped.  At the same time that I realized I didn't want to continue with my film career, I had this calling to learn more about plants so I decided to start studying foraging and herbal medicine on my own time.  Then one day a friend gave me a soap making kit and I fell in love. I went on to study botany at NYBG, took an intensive herbalism program through the Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine, and became a certified aromatherapist the the Aromahead Institute (a NAHA and AIA approved program).
     
  2. What does your creative process tend to look like? When you sit down to create a new product, do you go through a list of steps or do you tend to lean more toward creative expression and go with your gut?

    I start with an inspiration jump off point - whether it be a specific need (like clearing acne), a kind of product (like a facial oil), an ingredient I am really interested in working with or a scent concept.  From there I brainstorm formulations and write down my ideas.  I do a lot of research and often times my concept for the formulation will change a lot until I find something that I am very excited about.  When working with essential oils, I love using the Aromahead Component Database as a resource to help me determine which oils are the best choice.  Then I will source the ingredients I need (if I don't have them on hand) and will start working in the lab. Sometimes the formulation only needs minor tweaks, but other times I go through many versions over many months to improve scent, color, texture and effect.  

    When it comes to creating scents, writing them down and thinking them through is not always where I start.  I usually prefer to start with a concept ("bright citrus with sweet floral notes" or "calming and empowering") and then I will take out my essential oils.  I will smell my way to choosing the ones I want to work with, and start blending that way.  Once I have a blend I like, if I want the blend to have a specific purpose I will look up the oils I chose to see if they align with what I want them to do.  

    (B) A little bit of both!  It depends on what I am focusing on.  If I am focusing on the results, I like to first go with instinct in the ingredients I choose to put in the formulation, but then I will do research and adjust the formulation based on my findings.  If I am focusing on something that is for enjoyment, such as an aroma, texture or color, then I learn more by being hands on and creative, and will make decisions more based on my gut instinct.
     
  3. Tell us a little about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

    I only source sustainable and clean plant + mineral based ingredients.  I am a huge fan of working with raw plants and clays, but I also see value in plant derived actives that are usually produced in a lab.  I don't see the world as black and white, but more as many shades of grey. So we use raw plants, pure clays and salts, hydrosols, essential oils, oil infusions, herbal extracts (water or glycerin substrate), but also proven safe and effective vegan and plant derived actives like hyaluronic acid, coQ10, and vitamin C.  When I source my essential oils, I always make sure they come with a GC/MS report so that I can be sure of they quality and effect.  I also am pretty stringent about having traceability as far as the country of origin, year of production and certifications regarding my ingredients because this tells me a lot about the quality and sustainability of our ingredients.  When it comes to the lab produced ingredients, I will only source ingredients from manufacturers that are transparent about the raw materials they use in their process.  I share a lot of this information on our website through our batch # system which you can look up to find out, for instance, what country the chamomile essential oil in your facial oil came from and what year it was distilled. 
     
  4. Which of your products do you use most often?

    My toners! I use them as my morning cleanser, mist them on before applying my facial oil or balm, and mix them with my Activated Puirfying Mask. In the summer I use the Neroli Clarifying Toner because I tend to be more break out prone then. In the winter I use our Rose Hydrating Toner.  I also love misting them on throughout the day for a refresher and for aromatherapy (I make them with organic hydrosol blends). 

  5. Where can our readers find you online?

    You can also keep in touch by following us on instagram or facebook @apoterraskincare  www.apoterraskincare.comYou can shop, check out our blog, and look up our product's batch #s on our website which is

Bella Vista Naturals is a small family-owned farm in Georgia. They offer handcrafted apothecary products (salves, lip balms, lotions and scrubs, soaps, etc.) made and formulated by herbalist Anne-Marie Bilella, who has been published in prior issues of AromaCulture Magazine. One of our favorite products this season is her Spa in a Jar Kit, which includes 5 different products all specially developed to help you feel relaxed and pampered through the season. The herbal bath tea in this kit smells absolutely incredible!

 
 

Spa in a Jar Kit: $30

Interview with the business owner: Anne-marie

  1. Hi Anne-Marie! Thanks for taking time to share with us today. Could you tell us a bit about your story? How/when did you start working with plant-based ingredients? What was it about them that drew you in?

    In 1990, my husband and I moved from New York to Georgia to our place, Bella Vista Farm. I worked for different companies for a few years and after our son was born, I knew I wanted to find a way to work for myself. My child ate fast food and drank diet soda at the babysitters, all before the age of 2 and at that time I realized we need to get a hold on eating better and using chemical free products. My dear friend, Cyndi Ball of the Lazy B Farm and President of the National Ladies Homestead Gathering, helped me to get on the right path of good health. She taught me about farm fresh eggs, local meat, how to make cheese and most importantly to try herbal remedies. During the first year of the Ladies Homestead Gathering, I learned about wild weeds - Chickweed was my first obsession! I couldn't believe that weeds in our yard could nourish and heal our bodies. I created my first product, a salve with Chickweed and Plantain. Yep, that was 2011 and I am still obsessed with wild weeds! 
     
  2. When you sit down to create a new product, do you go through a list of steps or do you tend to lean more toward creative expression and go with your gut?

    My brain has all kinds of ideas constantly running around in it. I see a need or an ailment and start brainstorming about what herbs and what type of carrier I use for this new product. Sometimes folks will tell me about a product they would like or one they saw a recipe for and then ask if I can create it. Most of my products are tested on my Herbal CSA members. They usually get first dibs on any new product or limited quantity products.
     
  3. Tell us a little about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

    All the herbs and mushrooms are organic, homegrown without chemicals or wild harvested. We use organic vinegars, organic coffee, organic milk powders, high quality oils, butters, waxes. Not every oil/butter is organic but they are non-gmo. Our beeswax is locally sourced. 
     
  4. Which of your products do you use most often? 

    I use everything I make but most often, The Pit Stick(deodorant), Peppermint Lip Balm, Lavender Body Butter, Super 10 Stock Powder (mushroom/herb blend) and Holy Basil Tea. 
     
  5. Where can our readers find you online?

    Our products are listed on Etsy as of now, www.etsy.com/Shop/BellaVistaFarm visit the blog at www.bellavistanaturals.com, on Instagram www.instagram.com/mybellavistafarm, Facebook www.facebook.com/BellaVistaFarm

You can't go wrong with herbal tea blends, especially when they're formulated by small local businesses using hand-harvested local ingredients. One of our favorite brands at the moment is St. Fiacre's Farm. Their Coastal Cranberry Spice tea is outstanding! It features organic Hibiscus flowers, locally sourced cranberries and spicy, warming herbs, hand-formulated in small batches on their farm. CeAnne has offered you 10% off purchases in her shop if you use the coupon code AROMA17.

 
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Full tin (other sizes available too): $15

Interview with the business owner: CeAnne

  1. Hi CeAnne ! Thanks for taking time to share with us today. Could you tell us a bit about your story? How/when did you start working with plant-based ingredients? What was it about them that drew you in?

    My husband and I hand blend artisan loose leaf tea on our micro farm of around 2 acres. We both live, work and homeschool our four adopted children here on our small farm. We have been married almost 16 years and have adopted from around the world including Russia, Bulgaria and right here in Oregon. 3 of our 4 children have special needs and so it is important to us that we have not only a school environment but work environment that allows them to grow with as much help as we are able to give them. The farm life has been a blessing in regards to helping their delays from orphanage life.

    I've been into herbs since high school almost 17 years ago starting with aromatherapy before it was popular. I really started diving deep in 2013, taking online herbal classes and reading book after book on herbs and their medicinal qualities. Growing up a city girl compared to my husband, who grew up the son of a ranch hand in Montana, I wasn't much into gardening. The more I learned about herbs, the more I realized how easily accessible they are and easy to plant or forage. I found my love of gardening during that time and we started St. Fiacre's Farm and our line of herbal teas, lip balms and salves.

    The things that drew me into herbs most was their ability to assist in healing naturally without the side affects of chemical drugs (which I'm highly allergic to), how easy they are to access and how available they are to almost anyone. From foraging in the yard (think dandelions and blackberry leaf) to just grabbing herbs out of the produce section (basil & thyme), baking aisle (cinnamon, cardamom) or our own spice cupboards!
     
  2. When you sit down to create a new product, do you go through a list of steps or do you tend to lean more toward creative expression and go with your gut?

    Our products are created in a few different ways. We start with the reason we are creating it: Is it a request from one of our customers? Is there a local ingredient we have access to that we want to feature? Or is there a flavor we are going for? When I went to create our Coastal Cranberry Spice blend I had a mulled wine flavor in mind. It's such a lovely holiday flavor, warm and fruity with lots of spice. I'm allergic to alcohol and this tea blend gives those who can't or don't want to consume alcohol an option during the holidays. It tastes similar, looks similar, but the health benefits are much more. We were able to access cranberries from the Bandon, Oregon area which makes it that much more tasty!

    Our Farmer's Wife Raspberry blend on the other hand was made with women's health in mind and so the basis of that tea is herbs that are especially beneficial for women. Then there are customer favorites such as our Cascade Earl Grey, a lavender earl grey, which is a standard amongst black tea drinkers. And our Cherry City Chai which was created because I love Chai! But we wanted to feature a local farm in the area too and Cherry Country out of Rickreal is just wonderful. We toured their cherry factory and their chocolate room and are so excited to offer an heirloom cherry from Salem, the Royal Ann, in this blend.

    A little creative expression does show up because not only do these teas have to taste wonderful, but the artist in me insists that they look beautiful and we get many compliments on that at the farmer's market. 

    With our monthly tea club, I get to be more creative and create blends monthly for our members. These blends get to feature even more local ingredients because they are a smaller batch blend and can be highly seasonal without the demand from our wholesale accounts to have them year around. Our October blend was an Apple Pie Chai with Queener farm apples and our November tea club members received a Pumpkin HazelNOT Coffee that included pumpkin, marigold and calendula grown right here on our farm. It was so fun to blend because we know the story of those ingredients. Not only did we watch them grow here on the farm ourselves from seed to harvest, but our viewers on our Youtube channel got to watch the whole process too! They got to see where their tea came from and that is what gets us excited!
     
  3. Tell us a little about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

    We love to source local first. That could mean that we grow it here on our micro farm or it could mean that we source it from other local farms. Our ideal is that the bulk of our ingredients are sourced this way. We have plans to increase local ingredient usage even more in the next year. For the time being we have a few ingredents that come off of our own farm and most of our berries and fruits are local from Oregon. As mentioned earlier our cherries come from Cherry Country, apples from Queener Farms in Stayton, lavender from Eagle Creek Lavender Farm, cornflowers from Floating Petal Confetti in Shaw, aronia berries from Mt. Hope Farms in Molalla, haskap berries from an OSU test farm in Corvallis, and hazelnuts from King Fresh Hazelnuts in Silverton. We are always looking for new local farms to utilize when sourcing our ingredients.

    In the coming year we hope to increase our own plantings here on the farm. We ran some test plots this year as we completed the building of our tea studio (our work space for creating and manufacturing our teas on the farm). When we can't source the ingredients locally, we make use of organic bulk herb suppliers such as Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest-Botanicals. Local first and then quality Organic, both at once is ideal but not always possible.
     
  4. Which of your products do you use most often?

    The products that we use most often around are farm are our medicinal salves from arnica, calendula and plantain salve to our lip balms. When we are sipping tea we rotate based on our mood or need. Our Ma's Tummy Tea when we need some digestive assistance, Farmer's Wife Raspberry daily in the mornings, Cherry City Chai when we need a pick-me-up, Mountain HazelNOT Coffee when we need a dark, deep, rich drink without the caffeine, and Willamette Berry Pie for dessert!
     
  5. Where can our readers find you online?

    Our farm store is online at www.StFiacresFarm.com and we are also all over social media. Facebook and Instagram are our most popular locations. We also have a Youtube channel where we V-log weekly about our farm and include DIY farm life tutorials which include anything from how we built our 42 foot long green house to how to use herbs like borage and lemon balm. We share a little glimpse of our life here at the farm with our family. We also have a website dedicated to teaching others about growing herbs, using them and of course how to create their own tea blends at www.GrowCreateSip.com That membership is opening shortly.

Happy gift-giving! Share some of your favorite small businesses in the comments section below to spread some small business love this season.

Much love,
Erin


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Disclaimer: The new travel diffuser by Organic Aromas was sent to us by the company to share with you. Our review reflects our true opinion about this company and its products. They are truly our favorite diffusers and we can recommend them to you without reservation. The products that are accompanied by interviews with their makers were also sent to us by the business owners, who were awarded an opportunity to be featured in our holiday gift guide. All opinions shared are our own. The Lotus Wei aura mists were sent to us as a gift recently and we loved them enough to feature them here. All other products featured in this gift guide were purchased by us over the years and we are happy to recommend them to you.

Two Ways to Prepare Ginger + a Closer Look At the Herb

Note: Portions of this article have been excerpted from an article originally published in November's issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

If you give my husband a jar of candied Ginger, it'll be gone within a couple of days. A 4-pack of his favorite Ginger soda? Three days later all evidence of its existence will have vanished. A jar of Ginger spread in the pantry? He'll pop that thing open and add Ginger to all of the meals for the next week and there will be no remaining trace of it by the next shopping trip. He really loves Ginger. It might be his favorite thing ever. I like to say he has a supercharged cold constitution because he has such an affinity for the hotter herbs. He can brew his Ginger tea twice as strong as I could ever tolerate mine and he’s been known to eat Cayenne peppers fresh off the plant, whole. So, as you can imagine, he was pretty excited when I planted up a bed of Ginger in our garden this year.

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Ginger is a warming herb that stimulates circulation, helps to relieve nausea, and gets stagnant energy flowing again. It contains over 450 different constituents, yields a vibrant essential oil, and is one of the most versatile pungent herbs in the apothecary. I'm going to share two different ways you can preserve it here today: candied Ginger and pickled Ginger, and then I'm going to share some other ways you can use it and a few of Ginger's noteworthy test results.

HOW TO MAKE CANDIED GINGER

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Slice your peeled Ginger rhizome thinly (about 1/8") and as evenly as you can. A mandoline can be set at the proper measurement and used to keep all of your slices the same thickness, but a kitchen knife will do if you don't have a mandoline. Place the Ginger in a saucepan and cover it with water so that the water sits at least an inch or two above the top of the Ginger slices. Place the saucepan over low heat, covered, and simmer for at least 30 to 45 minutes, or until the Ginger has become tender. Strain the Ginger, reserving the liquid decoction. Weigh the Ginger, then place it back into your saucepan with an equal amount of organic sugar by weight, and add about half of the Ginger decoction back to the pan (save the rest). Place it over low heat and stir until the Ginger basically looks like a big sticky mess in the middle of the saucepan. At that point, strain the Ginger again (reserve the liquid) and spread it out on a cooling rack or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Separate each slice and toss it in sugar, then leave it to dry overnight before storing. The first batch of reserved liquid can be weighed and added to a saucepan with an equal amount of sugar to create Ginger syrup, which can be added to lemonades and sodas (or even drizzled over pancakes) and the second batch of reserved liquid is already a Ginger syrup and can be used the same way.

HOW TO MAKE PICKLED GINGER

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Slice your  peeled Ginger rhizome as thinly as possible, then sprinkle sea salt over it and leave it to set in a bowl while you prepare your pickling liquid. Combine equal parts pure water and vinegar (either rice vinegar, which is traditionally used, or raw apple cider vinegar) and a tablespoon each of organic sugar and sea salt for each cup of water you've used. Bring the liquids to a boil and dissolve the sugar and salt in the mixture. Transfer the Ginger to a heat-safe jar, then pour the freshly boiled vinegar mixture over it into the jar until the Ginger is completely covered. Let it cool, then store it in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 days before eating (it's safe to eat before then, but the flavor won't be fully developed yet). Consume within a month or two and keep refrigerated.

THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GINGER

  • Growing Ginger is pretty easy and the plants are vibrant and tenacious. They're always buzzing with beneficial insects and can live outdoors year round in growing zone 10, but in all other growing zones, it can be grown in a large pot and brought indoors during the cooler months. I planted mine in a raised bed this year, left it outside during our hot seasons and potted it up and brought it indoors for the winter.
     
  • Ginger can be used in cooking to add a layer of depth to the flavor of your dishes. I like to use a bit of the fresh rhizome when I cook, removing it from the dish just before serving, because it adds a hint of warmth and spice that leaves people saying, "This is so good! What did you put in here?" It adds some zest and energy to the dish without making everything taste recognizably like Ginger.
     
  • Perhaps most well-known for its ability to help soothe an upset tummy, Ginger stimulates the digestive system (and related organs), helps us to better digest proteins, and can be used to relieve nausea, indigestion, motion sickness, morning sickness, and a wide variety of other digestive complaints. One study found that it significantly reduced the severity of chemotherapy-related nausea symptoms for patients who were undergoing treatment.
     
  • As a stimulating expectorant herb, Ginger is often included in formulas that are useful when dealing with a cold or flu, sinus issues, lung complaints, and sore throats. It also boosts the immune system, which is especially helpful when dealing with symptoms of imbalance or illness. Ginger is often included as a catalyst in cold and flu remedies such as Fire Cider and Elderberry Syrup and I personally enjoy using it in facial steams when I’m feeling a bit stuffy or as if I might be coming down with something.
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GINGER'S TEST RESULTS
(references are linked)

One study of Ginger extract, combined with the extract of Garlic, found that they had an antibacterial effect that shows potential for use against multi-drug resistant pathogens, while another found that Ginger extract was notably antibacterial against two different strains of Streptococcus bacteria.

Ginger capsules were used in a study involving 120 college students who had primary dysmenorrhea and the results indicated that the use of Ginger significantly reduced the severity and duration of painful symptoms.

Widely studied for its possible use in the treatment or prevention of diabetes mellitus and related symptoms, one study found that Ginger could protect against the degeneration of renal cells and reduce the severity of damage caused by certain medications, while another study found that it decreased inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes. Yet another found that Ginger significantly reduced structural abnormalities in the hearts of diabetic rats. Diabetes patients using Ginger have experienced a significant reduction in blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL and VLDL cholesterol, while also finding that Ginger helps to protect the liver and kidneys, as well as from other diabetes-related complications.

Additionally, Ginger helps people to feel fuller faster, demonstrates antimicrobial and antifungal effects, effectively decreased sperm DNA fragmentation in infertile men, and, in one study, was found to have a potential anti-addictive effect against the chronic use of morphine. It’s also thought to help improve mental function in middle-aged women.

Ginger is consistently tested for anti-carcinogenic effects and has been studied for possible use to prevent / treat such cancers as colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and cervical cancer.

Practical Applications and Favorite Uses

Ginger can be taken as a tea when dealing with menstrual cramps that feel better when you apply a heating pad to your abdomen. Many people like to add Chamomile to the tea to make it even more effective. A warm compress dipped in Ginger tea or a poultice can also be applied to lower abdomen for the same purpose. To make Ginger tea, pour freshly boiled water over a piece of Ginger about the size of the tip of your thumb (you can also mince or slice the piece or use a bit of dried Ginger powder or a prepared tea bag), cover the mug, and let it steep for about 10 minutes.

Ginger can be infused into a carrier oil that can be used as a base for warming massage oils (think muscle aches and pains), salves and creams (warming, circulatory applications for cold hands or feet), or even scalp massage oils.

I love to add Ginger to hand and foot baths (or even full body baths), especially during the cooler months, to encourage healthy circulation, warm me up, and provide a little immune system boost.

A variety of smoothie chains offer juiced Ginger (you can make it at home too), which can be taken plain or used in Ginger lemonades and  sodas.

Candied Ginger can be stored in an airtight jar and kept in the pantry or your purse. If you deal with carsickness or food-related nausea, it’s a handy remedy to keep on hand. When you make candied Ginger, you also end up with Ginger syrup, which can be added to lemonades, sodas, apple cider and other drinks, or drizzled on pancakes, cornbread or muffins.

Include a bit of Ginger in herbal formulas as a catalyst that helps to boost the effectiveness of the other herbs in the formula. It’s wonderful for encouraging a quick-acting herbal synergy.

Ginger for Dogs

Sprinkle a tiny bit of powdered Ginger in with your dog’s dinner to help encourage healthy digestion. It also works especially well for dogs that are experiencing pain or symptoms of cold in their limbs. I like to use Ginger in my homemade dog food for our German Shepherd – adding it when I’m cooking up proteins, or even adding a piece to the water when I’m making the rice for her food is an easy way to incorporate Ginger into her meals (remove the chunk of Ginger before serving).

Ginger-infused carrier oil can make a great base for topical salves and creams that are massaged into the skin when dealing with symptoms of pain that are relieved by heat.

Note: If you have a dog that already leans toward a hotter constitution, Ginger may not be the best choice for your pup.

NOTES ABOUT SAFETY

Ginger is generally considered a very safe herb, but some herbalists recommend using it only in small doses when pregnant and others recommend avoiding it when experiencing symptoms of heat in the body or when using blood thinning medications.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like Ginger? Let me know in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin


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Herbal First Aid Recipe Roundup

We're celebrating our one-year anniversary of AromaCulture this month! Our very first issue was first released in November of 2016 and our extra spicy Anniversary issue is now available! I'm so excited to hit the one year mark and I'm immensity grateful for your support.

I thought I would spread a little bit of herbal love today with a recipe roundup post. Basically, a mashup of outstanding blog posts from other authors that I think you might enjoy. =) (With a couple of our own thrown in too.) The focus for this roundup is first aid remedies that incorporate herbs / essential oils and that you can make at home. You'll find the links to each person's original blog post with instructions for making their remedy below each group of 4 photos.

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Top row, left to right, then bottom row, left to right:

Fire Cider  |  Pine Resin Salve via TheHerbalAcademy  |  ElderBerry SyrupCalendula Comfrey Salve via Mother Earth Living

Happy remedy-making!

Much love,
Erin


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How to Make Elderberry Syrup + How to Use It

Elderberry syrup is practically a treat in our house. Fresh batches never stick around very long and I find myself making more often. I tested a lot of recipes when I first set out to develop one and finally settled on this one as my absolute favorite. Elder is one of the herbs that is associated with a rich history of folklore in seemingly every culture, perhaps because it is such a noteworthy and powerful herbal ally.

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The Elderberry used for medicinal purposes comes from the Sambucus nigra tree-like shrub, which produces clusters of dark purple berries in late summer to early autumn. It can grow to be up to 20 feet high and wide, but is often found at heights as low as 3 feet. The plant has a pith-centered stem and compound leaf structure with 5-9 serrated leaves. I have come across a few people groups who still hollow out the branches and use them to make flutes like this one. The branches produce clusters of small, cream-colored, twinkle light-like flowers that are also used medicinally, in food and skin care recipes, and that turn into the well-loved clusters of fruit valued by humans and birds alike.

Elder is fairly easy to cultivate and can be propagated by seed or with cuttings. It can thrive in almost any kind of soil, but does like moisture and some good compost. I like to plant Red Clover near its base once the plant has established itself to help nourish the soil. Elderberry seeds seem to have a higher germination rate when stratified (though I know some herbalists who don't think it's necessary) and can be planted in the fall season when they would naturally fall to the earth. Expect fresh little Elderberry seedlings to pop through that soil sometime in early spring.

Elderberries are a powerful peoples' medicine but they are usually best used after they have been cooked. The raw fruits can cause nausea and digestive issues when consumed because of the chemical composition of their seeds.

Elderberries are most well known for their starring role in Elderberry syrup - a traditional home remedy that is renowned for its ability to help people feel better faster during the cold and flu season. They have been studied a lot in recent years and some of the results of these scientific studies have been impressive, bolstering Elderberry's reputation even in western circles. Elderberry is indicated for a variety of cold and flu symptoms, respiratory infections, sinusitis, fever, coughs, and more. Energetically, it's a cooling and drying herb.

ELDERBERRY STUDIES

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INGREDIENTS FOR MY LAVENDER ELDERBERRY SYRUP RECIPE

  • organic Elderberries
  • organic dried Ginger root
  • organic Lemon juice
  • filtered water
  • raw, organic Sucanat (or whatever organic, raw, unbleached sugar you prefer to use)
  • organic Lavender buds (They must be English Lavender buds from certain varieties of Lavandula angustifolia plants - look for Lavender buds labeled as culinary Lavender, like these, which come from a friend's beautiful farm.)

Watch the video below to learn how to make it.

Notes

You can also make herbal syrups with honey instead of the sugar. For a long time, I did this because I prefer honey to sugar, but I ultimately ended up deciding that the consistency and shelf life of syrups made with sugar is so much better (in my opinion, anyway) that we now make them with raw sucanat (a type of unbleached, unprocessed sugar that is, essentially, dehydrated sugar cane juice) here in our house. Yay for nice thick herbal syrups! =)

What do you like to include in your Elderberry syrup recipe? Have you ever made any for your family?

Much love,
Erin


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How to Choose the Right Herb for the Person + Situation (& an exciting announcement!)

Y'all know I love spreading some herbal love and today one of my favorite herbalism teachers is preparing to open up one of her information-packed herbal courses for enrollment. You may know Rosalee as the author of Alchemy of Herbs, a beautiful herbal book that was published earlier this year. Today she is bringing back the Taste of Herbs course through LearningHerbs and...I'm going to be blogging my way through the course with you and hosting a course-a-long in our AromaCulture Facebook group! This particular course is all about learning how to choose the right herb for an individual person based on their particular situation. We all know that choosing the right herb for something can seem like a complicated ordeal at times, but Rosalee, ever the outstanding teacher, makes learning this skill so easy. I think you're going to love this course!

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What you need to know

Rosalee and John (from LearningHerbs) have made the first part of this online training free so that all of you can participate in it before the actual course opens for enrollment. This online training segment is such a helpful resource and, if you're on the fence about the actual course, will help you to see if the teaching style and course are right for you at this point. The free training segment also gives you access to the Taste of Herbs Flavor Wheel, which is an incredible tool that covers the 5 tastes of herbs that will be covered throughout the course. You can access the online training segment and the Taste of Herbs Flavor Wheel by clicking here. It's completely free - all you have to do is enter your email address to gain access. After we've all gone through the training video together, those of you who decide to enroll in the full course will be able to do so and then the fun part begins.

more about the extra fun part...

Something I've wanted to start doing here on the AC blog is share more of my thoughts with you as I actually make my way through courses. I'm always working on completing courses from different herbalism and aromatherapy teachers so that I can continue to grow in my own education and I want to start sharing my experience with them with you! I'm going to start doing that through this course by hosting a course-a-long. In addition to blogging periodically about my thoughts about the course here, I'm going to be posting weekly in our AC Facebook group about it. Those of you who are also going through the course will be able to jump into the conversation there in the Facebook group with me. We can encourage each other as we work through our homework assignments, share our "aha!" moments, and support each other as we all make progress through the course material. I'm really looking forward to it - I think it's going to be a lot of fun! =) I'll be posting a video about this particular course-a-long over in the Facebook group sometime today, so be on the lookout for that!

The First STep

The first portion of this course is generously being made available to all of you at no cost, so we all get to participate in this part of the training together. To get started, CLICK HERE, enter your email address, and you'll automatically be sent access to the first training segment and the Taste of Herbs Flavor Wheel. Once you've done that, check in to the Facebook group. I'll see you over there! =)

I'll be checking in with you with a course update in about a week. Happy learning!

Much love,
Erin


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Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Taste of Herbs. All opinions are my own.

Herbal Aromatherapy for Chiggers

I had never even heard of chiggers until my husband and I moved to Texas about a year after we were married. (We don’t live there anymore. We decided the West Coast better suited our lifestyle after a tornado hit our street, the whole year’s weather was altogether yuck, and we realized that the farmer’s markets…weren’t. No offense, but Texas just wasn't the favorite.) I was working part-time as a portrait photographer at the time and my work was focused on natural light and dreamy, outdoor settings. I spent one particular session sitting in the grass photographing a client and came home that evening wondering why my legs were so itchy. (I’m not allergic to grass.) I was thus introduced to chiggers. Nasty little things. At that time, the traditional remedy that was presented to me was to paint my skin with clear nail polish (which didn’t work). Fortunately, I don’t live in a place where I have to deal with chiggers any more, but if you do, here are some botanical remedies that may help you get through their assault on your skin and sanity.

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Herbal Applications

Plantain (Plantago sp.) – Plantain is a drawing herb with a reputation for quickly soothing insect bites and stings. It helps to draw out the source of irritation and inflammation quickly bringing relief to that itchy, irritated area. The leaf can be applied directly to the skin as a poultice. Either chew up a leaf, then pack it onto the area that’s itching, or crush the leaf in your fingers until it looks thoroughly wet, then rub it into the area. Follow up with another crushed leaf, spread out over the area. It will stick like an herbal bandage. In my experience, it’ll stay there until it’s no longer needed and then naturally fall off once its job is done, but if you’re especially active at the time, you may need to apply several leaves throughout the day. Plantain leaves can also be brewed into a strong tea (try double or triple infusing for added potency) and applied via a compress. In a pinch, the tincture can be applied topically as well.

Chickweed (Stellaria media) – Chickweed is a cooling herb that is commonly infused into a carrier oil that is then made into a salve for hot, irritated, inflamed skin ailments. It’s soothing and emollient and can also be used as a poultice applied to the affected area. You can make a double or triple infused tea and apply it topically with a compress as well. Tincture made from the fresh plant can be used when you don’t have access to the fresh plant.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – Yarrow is another cooling herb that acts as a disinfectant and can be helpful for cleansing the area. A liniment can be made by infusing the Yarrow leaf and flower in Witch Hazel and this can be applied topically to the affected area. The hydrosol and essential oil can also be utilized in topical applications for their anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing effects. The hydrosol especially helps to soothe the skin and reduce irritation.

Nervine herbs can be taken in teas or tincture form to help your relax through the irritation.

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Aromatherapy Applications

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – The first aid kit of essential oils, Lavender is proven to be anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing, and can help to reduce the irritation and redness caused by the chiggers. It can be applied neat, sparingly, for short-term, acute use, or it can be applied diluted in a carrier.

Rose (Rosa sp.) – Rose essential oil, though pricey, goes a long way and is wonderfully rejuvenating for the skin. Adding it at a very low dilution to your topical aromatherapy blend can help reduce irritation and may even help the skin to recover more quickly.

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) – The essential oil is incredible for helping the skin to recover from a wide variety of ailments and injuries. Add it to your topical aromatherapy blend in a low dilution to help soothe and support the skin.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) – Peppermint essential oil applied at a low dilution can help relieve the incessant itching caused by the chiggers.

Valerie Worwood recommends diluting 10 drops of Thyme ct. linalool essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil and applying it to the affected area throughout the day, then following up with a few applications of Lavender essential oil over the following days.

Other Applications

Adding a bit of raw apple cider vinegar to a full or local bath is one home remedy that many people swear by, while others prefer adding a bit of sea salt to the bath instead.

Clay packs – Clay is renowned for its drawing ability. You can hydrate it with a hydrosol or Witch Hazel and apply it to the irritated area the same way you would a clay face mask. Wrap the area with a warm towel to keep the clay moist throughout the application and rinse off when finished. Allowing the clay to dry may increase irritation instead of helping to reduce it, so make sure you keep that towel warm and wet (wring it out so it's not dripping).

What do you use to help you deal with the dreaded itch caused by chiggers? Let me know in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin


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How to Make and Use Mullein Flower Oil

You can’t miss Mullein! It sends its beautiful flowering stalks straight toward the sky and brightens up the environment with its sunny yellow blooms. Most people know of Mullein as the ultimate earache herb. The flowers are commonly infused into olive oil and used for relieving the pain of an earache. While this is the most well-known use for Mullein oil, it is beneficial for a variety of other applications as well.

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To make your own ear oil, you’ll need to find a Mullein plant cluster (not on private property and not next to a roadside) from which you can harvest a jar’s worth of Mullein flowers. After you’ve harvested your flowers, follow the steps in this blog post to create an herbal infused oil. The best time to harvest the flowers is in the morning after all of the dew has evaporated. The entire plant must be dry (fingers and your jar too) if you are going to pour the oil over your flowers right away. Alternatively, you can lay the flowers out on a screen or tea towel and allow them to wilt for a few hours before infusing.

Once your Mullein oil is finished and strained, you’re ready to start using it. I like to double or triple-infuse my Mullein oil to increase its potency, so the process takes a couple of months for me, but you could always use the quick stovetop method if you need it quickly.

Mullein flowers have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, calming, and sedating properties. It’s a good idea to reserve a bottle of your finished Mullein flower oil in your medicine cabinet or herbal first aid kit for earaches, but there are other ways you can use Mullein infused oil too.

7 Ways to Use Mullein Flower Oil

  • in first aid salve recipes for skin issues / inflammation
  • in chest rub recipes, especially for spasmodic cough
  • in a homemade cream for any kind of inflamed skin issue or dry, cracked skin
  • in a burn salve
  • use it plain for rheumatic joint pain (some say it’s helpful for TMJ)
  • as a base for a calming aromatherapy massage oil
  • as a massage oil for infected piercings (per Jim McDonald)

How do you use Mullein flower oil?

Much love,
Erin


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Herbal Aromatherapy™ for Smoke Inhalation

The Pacific Northwest has been covered in smoke for a few weeks now. In our area, we have reports of over a dozen fires burning nearby and we’re also dealing with smoke from fires in other states as well. There’s a mountain very near our home that we can’t even see this morning [at the time of writing this] because of the thickness of the smoke and our area has repeatedly been placed in the “unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality categories over the past few weeks. One of the closest fires is currently being sized at over 182,000 acres, has over 1600 personnel working to contain it, and isn’t expected to be contained until mid-October (it’s currently 5% contained). I saw a news article yesterday that said over 320,000 acres of Oregon are currently on fire [at the time of publishing, this number is closer to the 500,000 range]. When faced with circumstances like this, what can we do to support our health while dealing with the smoke (and stress) produced by such conditions?

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Lifestyle Adjustments

Stay indoors in an air conditioned building as much as possible. Keep your doors and windows shut and reduce your exposure to environmental toxins (cigarette smoke, propane, etc.) as much as you can. Allow yourself to swap vigorous fitness routines for more gentle, relaxing ones on the most smoky days. Limit vigorous outdoor activity or avoid it all together if you are in the sensitive groups category. Listen to your body – if you’re experiencing headaches, fatigue, or respiratory symptoms, take it easy and support your body with home remedies. Seek medical care if you have any cause for concern and, of course, follow your physician’s instructions, especially if you are a heart or lung patient. Allow yourself some extra space for relaxation while you’re dealing with all of the smoke in the air.

Environmental Support

Run air purifiers throughout your home. We were able to purchase a few HEPA allergen filters (we use this one, this one, and this one in our home) at the beginning of our fire season here and they have made such a noticeable difference. Running them at night has been especially helpful. I was waking up in the middle of the night with lots of congestion and discomfort before we started running them, but ever since we’ve had them going, that has virtually gone away. Himalayan salt lamps can also be helpful, but I would not rely on them solely.

Try to limit your exposure to allergens by running the vacuum a little less often (it can stir up dust and allergens), setting aside your smudging ritual for the duration (use Sweetgrass and/or White Sage hydrosols instead), and reducing your exposure to cigarette smoke or the smoke from incense.

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Herbal Support

My main allies throughout this fire season have been Hawthorn and Plantain (Plantago sp.) tincture. A dropperful of Plantain every couple of hours on the worst days has been helping to clear my symptoms quickly and on more mild days, a dropperful in the morning and one in the evening has been sufficient. After we come in from doing our garden chores in the mornings, I take a dropperful in orange juice and it has been tremendously effective for me. You could also consider using Nettle tincture, Mullein, or Marshmallow. The Plantain helps to soothe the mucous membranes and break down the excess mucous that accumulates because of the irritation caused by the smoke and inhaling other particles in the air. There are other herbs that can be used, but I have found that keeping it simple has yielded the best results for me, personally.

Daily herbal steams (or baths) can also be helpful. I usually include herbs like Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Thyme, Calendula, and Lavender in mine (one at a time or combined in a blend). Once the water from the steam application has cooled completely, you can use it to water the plants in your garden and add the spent herbs to your compost pile.

When you need an extra dose of respiratory support, a homemade herbal chest rub can be of great help. The recipe for my favorite formula was featured in March’s issue of AromaCulture Magazine. You can find that here.

Aromatherapy Support

Essential oils that help to open up the sinuses will be beneficial in steam applications, smelling salts, or topical applications like chest rubs. Sometimes using an oil that helps you to feel calm and relaxed will be just as helpful for you as any other remedy. Essential oils for respiratory support throughout fire season can include: Cedarwood, Lemon, Ginger, Eucalyptus globulus or Eucalyptus dives, Siberian Fir, Black Spruce, Norway Pine, Rosemary ct. verbenone, and Peppermint. Use 1 drop in a bowl of freshly boiled water for an aromatherapy steam application, include a blend of your choice in a jar/bottle of smelling salts, or dilute them in a topical application that you can massage into your chest and neck as needed.

ADDITIONALLY...

Pray for our firefighters and for lightning-free rain!

I hope you see smoke-free days very soon. What helps you to feel better when you’re dealing with fires in your area? Let me know in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin


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