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DIY and Recipes

How to Make Violet Flower Breast Serum

Violet’s heart shaped leaves and delicate purple blooms are perfectly suited to women-specific breast health applications. The nourishing herbal infusion made with Violet leaves and / or flowers can be taken internally to help support the health of the breasts and the lymphatic system. Violet can also be applied directly to the breasts as a poultice. For those of us who may not have time to lounge with Violet on our breasts, though, this serum recipe is a happy medium and it also adds the benefits of massage! Keep a pretty dropper bottle of it on your bathroom counter or at your makeup vanity to remind you to use it each day after you bathe.

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Violets are reputed to help dissolve lumps, reduce inflammation, induce relaxation and uplift the spirits. They are cooling energetically, so are beneficial whenever there are signs of excess heat.

 Ingredients

  • Violet flowers and leaves
  • organic unrefined olive oil
  • organic Jojoba or sunflower seed oil, unrefined
  • organic essential oil of Rose (optional, but if you do use it, make sure you choose the steam distilled essential oil, not the absolute or concrete)

Instructions

Gently harvest your Violet flowers and leaves on a dry spring morning when the flowers are blooming. Take care not to harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at any one time to ensure the health of the plant. Keep the flowers and leaves covered in your gathering basket to protect them from the sun (a tea towel draped over the basket works well). Once you’ve gathered enough to fill your jar, bring them indoors and spread them out on a clean towel or drying rack, in a single layer, to make sure they are clean, dry and critter-free before infusing them. It's a good idea to let the moisture in the plant material evaporate a bit before infusing.

Fill your jar with the leaves and flowers, then pour your carrier oils of choice over the plant material. Olive oil on its own is a bit too heavy and greasy for me for this kind of recipe, so I like to combine it with an oil like Sunflower or Jojoba to improve its texture a bit. Secure the jar’s lid, then leave the oil to macerate for 4-6 weeks. At the end of the infusion period, strain out the plant material. You can transfer the oil to your dropper bottle as needed and add Rose essential oil at a 1-2% dilution (very little is needed; it’s a strong smelling oil).

To use the oil, spray the breasts with Lavender or Rose hydrosol after showering, then seal in the moisture of the hydrosol by massaging a few drops of the Violet serum into the breasts, underarms, and other nearby lymph nodes. Allow the serum to soak in while you brush your teeth before dressing to avoid transferring any oil to your undergarments. (It soaks in pretty quickly and doesn’t leave any greasy residue.)

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! Do you already make a variation of this? Tell me about it in the comments section.

Much love,
Erin


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How to Make Comfrey Ointment

I first started learning about Comfrey several years ago when I found a couple of videos about it on YouTube. (I found the same videos again for you! This one by Yarrow Willard and this playlist of videos by Susun Weed.) When I first started learning, I didn’t really know what to make of Comfrey because every herbalist who wrote about it or spoke about it would preface whatever they said with a safety disclaimer. Because Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, there are some groups of people who caution against internal use of Comfrey, especially the root. You’ll have to make your own decision about what seems best for you regarding internal use of this plant, but do know that topical use of Comfrey leaf is safe and is extremely useful for repairing damaged skin. It’s the star of this ointment recipe!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 parts Comfrey leaf infused carrier oil
  • 2 parts Calendula infused carrier oil
  • 1 part beeswax
  • Organic essential oils of:
    Lavender (angustifolia) – 8 drops per ounce of carrier
    Helichrysum (italicum) – 8 drops per ounce of carrier (this is a pricier oil, but is unparalleled when it comes to skin-repairing properties; if you don’t have any on hand, use extra Lavender instead)

Instructions:

Melt the beeswax over low heat using a double boiler method, then stir in your carrier oils. Once everything is thoroughly incorporated, remove the blend from the heat and stir in the essential oils until everything is fully mixed. If you want your finished recipe to have a lighter texture as shown in the photo (more of an ointment texture than a harder salve texture), use a fork or stirring rod to mix the blend after it cools about halfway. Pour into sterilized tins or jars, add your label, and enjoy!

Comfrey has earned the nickname ‘knitbone’ because it is rich in a constituent called allantoin which can help repair damaged areas quickly. It’s great for skin wounds (though I wouldn’t use this ointment on a puncture wound or a deep, open wound), scrapes, burns, bites, stings and bruises.

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Do you keep Comfrey leaf in your apothecary? Let me know in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin

 


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Violet Flower Herbal Shrub Recipe

When Violets (Viola odorata and Viola spp.) begin popping their sweet little heads up above their green covers in late winter to early spring, we know warmer days are well on their way. Violets are one of the first plants I start working with in spring because they are one of the first to wake up and send their colorful light out into the world. After a gray and dreary winter, those pretty purple shades are welcome, both calming and energizing as my focus starts to shift back toward the tending of the garden.

One of my favorite things to do with the first batch of Violets is to infuse the flowers in vinegar, then use the vinegar to make a shrub. Around here, we like to use vinegar shrubs in homemade salad dressings, Ginger ale recipes and all kinds of popsicles when the days start to warm up. This shrub recipe is like a sweet tonic for the winter-chilled soul. I love it.

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To make your own, you will need:

  • fresh Violet flowers
  • organic blueberries
  • Raw apple cider vinegar
  • Raw honey

Gather your Violet flowers (leave some for the critters) and place them in a mason jar along with your blueberries. Pour your raw apple cider vinegar over the berries and flowers until they are covered and then some. Stick the jar in the fridge and allow the flowers and berries to macerate in the vinegar for 1-2 weeks (up to 4 weeks if you want a stronger flavor). Then strain them out of the vinegar and stir in some raw honey, to taste. Some people like to add equal parts honey to vinegar, while others prefer to leave their shrubs less sweet. Taste as you add until it seems just right to you.

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You can also use Viola tricolor (Heartsease) for this recipe if you don’t have Sweet Violets near you. Both are easy to grow, so I’d recommend sowing a few packets of seed throughout your garden (or your lawn!) if you can.

Are the Violets blooming where you are? Let me know in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin

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Herbal Heart Tonic Shrub Recipe

My husband has always been an apple cider vinegar fan. He was drinking vinegar as a sort of tonic long before drinkable vinegars became popular (it eventually became an “in thing” for awhile when we were living in southern California and, since then, it's seemed to become a lot more common) and long before I ever did. Once I started to really love Fire Cider, though, I began to come around. We now enjoy herbal shrub recipes, which are made of vinegar, honey, fruit and herbs. They’re  pretty versatile, lend themselves to experimentation, and make a great base for salad dressings! Shrubs can also be added to marinades, sorbets, popsicles, and homemade sodas. This particular recipe is for an herbal heart tonic shrub and it uses lots of yummy, heart-supportive herbs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Hawthorn berries
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • ¼ cup of Rose petals
  • ¼ cup of Hibiscus flowers
  • a tablespoon or so of Cardamom pods
  • 1 quart of raw apple cider vinegar
  • Raw honey, to taste

Click here to read more about Hawthorn and how it supports the heart.

Instructions:

Add your Hawthorn berries, Rose petals, Cardamom pods and Hibiscus flowers to a quart sized jar, then fill the rest of the jar with frozen strawberries (or fresh, if you have them available; we're in the middle of winter here, so frozen it is) and pour raw, organic apple cider vinegar over everything until it's all completely covered. I usually just fill the jar to the brim. Cap the jar, give it a good shake, then stick it in the fridge to infuse. I usually let mine go for at least a week or two, but you can infuse it for up to 4 weeks if you’d like your finished recipe to be stronger. My last batch infused for about 4-5 weeks and it turned out super yummy.

Once your recipe has reached the strength of flavor that you want, strain out all of the herbs and fruit and stir honey into your recipe. Some people like to use equal parts honey and vinegar while others like to cut back a little bit on the honey. Add it to taste to achieve the level of sweetness you prefer.

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How to Use It

You can take herbal shrubs the same way you would Fire Cider – a small amount on its own, daily or as needed, or you can mix a small amount of the shrub into sparkling water, ginger ale, fruit juice, or your favorite beverage of choice. They make great salad dressings, too, so feel free to experiment by tossing a bit of shrub with some olive oil and drizzling it over your vibrant bed of greens.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know if you decide to make it. I’d love to hear how you like it.

Much love,
Erin


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How to Make Pungent Digestive Bites with Spicy Herbs

I first learned about making herbal “balls” (I usually call them bites) from Rosemary Gladstar several years ago. Since then, I’ve taken to whipping up a batch of them regularly because I just love snacking on them and I enjoy knowing that I’m not just eating a cookie or something (not that I don’t enjoy a cookie now and then) – instead, I’m eating a nutrient-dense little bite packed with herbs. This particular recipe is one of my favorites for after dinner bites. It’s full of pungent carminative herbs that taste delicious and help support the digestive process.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 part organic sunflower seed butter, unsalted and unsweetened
  • 1 part organic raw honey
  • 1 part organic oats
  • ½ part organic chocolate chips (optional)
  • ½ part organic unsweetened toasted coconut flakes
  • ½ part organic Ginger powder
  • ¼ part organic Cinnamon powder
  • Pinch of sea salt

Start by combining equal parts of the nut butter, honey and oats and stir them together well until thoroughly combined. Add in your herb powders and stir, then mix in the chocolate chips  (optional) and coconut flakes. Form the bites into small balls and store them in a bowl in the freezer.

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What do you like to add to your herb bites?

Much love,
Erin


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How to Prepare Horseradish

I first met Horseradish in junior high school. One of the classes I was taking put together a traditional Jewish Seder feast as one of our assignments and we were each assigned to bring one of the elements of the feast to the class so we could all learn more about what happens during a Seder. I’m not Jewish, so the whole experience was new to me then and I found it all quite fascinating. One of the dishes that is still most memorable to me from that day was the prepared Horseradish. I now use Horseradish in a variety of herbal recipes, including a traditional Fire Cider, but sometimes I like to prepare it on its own so I can use it in other dishes.

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Tip: Horseradish is rich in volatile oils that aren’t altogether pleasant (they’ll burn your nose if you accidentally stand over the Horseradish and inhale it after grating it), so it’s a good idea to prepare Horseradish with a window open. The longer you wait to add the vinegar to the recipe after grating the Horseradish, the stronger and sharper its taste (and aroma) will be.

To prepare Horseradish, peel one fresh root and grate or chop it into more manageable pieces. You can then use a food processor or blender (or a mortar and pestle) to puree the Horseradish.

Add 3 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to each cup of Horseradish, along with about half a teaspoon of sea salt. Continue to puree until all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Store the finished Horseradish recipe in an airtight container in the fridge where it should keep for at least one month. I like to add it to smashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, but you could also use it in sour cream as a flavorful dip for fresh veggies.

The Cherokee peoples have traditionally used Horseradish as an antirheumatic and diuretic, as a remedy for colds and to improve digestion. It is used in many herbal traditions as a catalyst herb, much the way Cayenne would be used, and is stimulating and energy-moving. When you first taste it, you might think it is a bit strong and possibly even off-putting, but you’ll probably find that it grows on you pretty quickly. I know it has for me!

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How do you like to enjoy Horseradish?

Much love,
Erin

 


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How to Make Fir Needle Back Massage Serum

I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas and a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones! Today I'm sharing one of my quick recipes with you. It's a great serum that you can whip up in just a few minutes once you've got your oil infusions ready to go. One of my favorite nighttime routine recipes is a back massage cream that features Douglas Fir hydrosol as a key ingredient. It helps my back muscles let go of all of the tension they've held on to throughout the day so I can relax before bed. Once in awhile, though, I don't want to spend time in the kitchen whipping up up a batch of cream and I use this Fir needle serum instead. It smells like the forest and leaves me feeling relaxed and clear headed while melting all of those knots and tight spots right out of my back. I sleep like a baby when I use it!

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Fir needles are traditionally used for digestive and respiratory disorders as well as female complaints and skin issues, among other things. Their essential oils are generally anti-inflammatory and are excellent for opening up the airways. They help us to feel grounded, clear-headed, and relaxed so we can breathe deeply and act calmly and with good sense. I love using Fir essential oils and needles in self-care products like this one. I usually ask my husband to massage this serum into my back just before bed, but if you don't have someone to massage it into your back for you, you can give yourself a neck and shoulders massage with it or even massage it into your feet or arms instead.

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INGREDIENTS FOR MY FIR NEEDLE BACK MASSAGE SERUM RECIPE

  • 1 ounce of Fir needle-infused olive oil
  • 1 ounce of Peppermint leaf infused Jojoba oil
  • 12 drops of Siberian Fir essential oil (optional)

To start, you'll want to infuse your carrier oils with your herb. (I have a tutorial for infusing oils here.) Once your oils have been infused for the length of time you prefer, you can strain the oils and then you're ready to make this recipe. All you need to do is place 12 drops of the essential oil in a 2 ounce glass dropper bottle, then pour in the 2 ounces of herb-infused carrier oils. Shake well to incorporate, give the bottle a label so you don't forget what's in your serum (or when you made it) and then store it away from direct sunlight or heat. This product can be used daily.

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Have you ever used Fir needles or fir essential oils in your apothecary? Tell me about how you like to use them in the comments section below.

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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How to Make Yellow Rose Lotion Bars by Jan Berry

One of my favorite home herbalists and authors is Jan Berry. Her work is always beautiful and it is with much excitement that I am sharing one of her recipes with you here today.

Jan Berry is the author of 101 Easy Homemade Products and Simple & Natural Soapmaking. She writes about herbal crafting, DIY body care, and natural soapmaking on her website, thenerdyfarmwife.com. Her books are absolutely lovely; filled with inspiring recipes like this one. The books would make perfect presents for the DIY-er on your gift list! These pretty little lotion bars are positively giftable too. I hope you enjoy making them!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 oz shea or mango butter

  • 0.75 oz beeswax

  • 0.75 oz sunflower oil, infused with rose petals

  • 15 drops sea buckthorn oil, optional

  • 15 drops rose absolute

  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

    *If you don’t own a scale, use around 2 tablespoons each of shea/mango butter, tightly packed beeswax pastilles, and infused sunflower oil.

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INSTRUCTIONS

Melt the beeswax, butter, and infused sunflower oil together in a double boiler over low heat. Once melted, remove the pan from the heat. Add the sea buckthorn oil, if you’d like added color, along with the essential oils. Stir well and pour into small silicone or candy molds. Allow the bars to cool completely before removing from the mold. Yields 2 lotion bars that weigh around 1.25 oz each, or several smaller bars.

Rub lotion bars over your hands, elbows, knees and feet at night to help nourish and soften dry skin.


This recipe was written by and shared with permission from Jan Berry. Photos provided by Jan. I hope you enjoy making a batch of these pretty lotion bars!

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.