Thursday, December 3, 2009

Classy little photo ornaments...

If you're in need of a nice but-not-too-expensive gift for a hostess or relative or friend or mailman or etc. this season, hop on over to Pottery Barn Kids ASAP... they just placed a number of their Christmas decor items on sale, and there are some lovely little photo ornaments (round and square frames) with your choice of personalization "etched into the photo mat".  And shipping's free.  And the personalization's free.  So they're just $5.99 plus tax, and look super swanky.

I just bought about a dozen.  No, really.  I did.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

How to feel incredibly proud of yourself in November.

Forgive me.  I must brag a bit.

Steps to my happiness:

1.  Last month I bought a KHOZ Bids for Bargains certificate for a $190 room @ Basin Park for $90.
2.  KHOZ then lost my certificate (ie sold it to someone else) and instead gives me a Crescent Hotel gift card for $250.  (The Crescent is also in Eureka and owned by the same people.)
3.  I did some hunting online and noticed that Basin Park has a $199 deal for weekdays in November that includes all manner of extras, including the "best room available."
4.  I called and sweetalked Basin Park into accepting my Crescent gift card for their weekday deal.  Then I secured the honeymoon suite for a Sunday night and talked the husband into cancelling his Monday appointments (not necessarily in that order).
5.  While I was at it, I bought a $25 gift certificate for $3 via for dinner Sunday night.  (Um, if you do this, go for the DeVitos rather than the Pied Piper trashy biker grill.  Yeah, slight fumble there on my part.)
6.  I made an overworked husband very, very happy.  And tonight and tomorrow I get to:
Hang out with my husband in a beautiful stone-walled sitting room overlooking our wedding spot in Basin Park.  (Oh, and a jacuzzi tub.  And a huge bed.  But you don't need to know any more about THAT.)
Get a massage.
Visit my most beloved Mud Street for breakfast, and finally get to go through the Eureka historical museum at my own (snail's) pace tomorrow.
Eat lunch on the balcony.
Blow your $50 certificate in any of several art galleries.
And go home with $40 still left on that gift card.

This may just be my ultimate score EVER.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Essential Oil gifts

Happy Saturday Morning!  Long time no post! 

Gardener's Supply is one of my favorite catalogs... mostly for their gardening products, but their gifts and home products are beautiful and well-chosen as well.  I noticed that this season they suddenly have a huge array of aromatherapy products that would make lovely gifts and stocking stuffers.  Maybe this is catching on elsewhere in the world as well!

Here's a link that will show them all to you.  My favorites are the ones I could use (or give) with my own collection of oils, as I like to have much more information about the source and quality of EOs than they're offering on the oils they sell.  (Also, all their oils are priced identically... that's a bad sign, as they may have been diluted/messed with to make them match in costs/profits; as most of you know, there's a huge difference in the cost of different types of the pure oils.)

I'm eyeing that Monet Diffuser, but I'm not sure I could bring that into my house and let it leave as a gift!  That little terracotta owl is precious, too-- as is this chickadee that's on clearance.  And I know that Lanette abandoned her plan to buy the other diffusers (after hearing from Hannah and Darla that theirs hadn't lasted) and bought a Spa Mister instead, and is very happy with it.  (Although you can buy that spa mister cheaper here, with free shipping.)  And I'm totally enjoying my car diffuser, which turns my cigarette lighter into a therapeutic device!

Looks like code XNET8305 will get you 15% of a $50 order at Gardeners Supply right now. 

Are you giving any oil-related gifts this year?  Please share your ideas!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just a bit giddy.

Well, I was going to come put up a post about my latest find... a set of adorable vintage Christmas trees.

I put them on Ebay this time instead of Etsy, and put what I thought was a pretty outrageous "buy it now" amount on them of $59.99.  I shot pretty cruddy pictures, too.

They sold in less than a day! Can you believe that?!

I love feeing like other people appreciate my finds.  Now to get them in the mail ASAP so they'll be available for the buyer's holiday decorating!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Family Recipes

My grandmother passed away just after my daughter was born in January of 2006. One of the treasures that I received when my family was sorting through her belongings was her cookbook-- faded, stained, yellowed, and stuffed full of her notations and recipes jotted down on scraps of paper.

I'm determined to keep these two recipes in the family-- not because I'm particularly taken with them, but because they appear numerous times in the papers slipped into her cookbook. Apparently she kept asking for the recipes (both from my twin great-aunts, her sisters Sammie and Tommie) because she enjoyed the dishes so much, and didn't think she could locate her previous copy. Like most vintage recipes, they're not culinary wonders-- just simple, tasty food, prepared largely from pantry staples. This is small town church potluck food.

I put her notations below in italics. The lemon cake really is tasty; the Tallerina I have yet to try. (Looks like a good recipe for fans of Rotel cheese dip; we all know Velveeta's not really food, but does that keep us from loving it? NO.)

Lemon Cake

1 lemon cake mix
4 eggs
3/4 c oil
3/4 cup water
mis all ing together bake like it says o box.


1 cup powdered sugar
4 T lemon juice
mix togther

While cake is still hot, punch holes in cake with fork; pour icing over cake.

So good!

(or Tallerinna or Tallerina- it's spelled differently on each copy)
1 lb hamburger
1 can whole corn (drained)
1 can rotel
1 lb velveeta
1 can mushrooms
12 oz egg noodles
1 can tomato soup
(1 can) water (can from tomato soup)

Brown hamburger (drain)
Cook noodles (drain)
Add to hamburger, corn, rotel, mushrooms, tomato soup, velveeta (cut up), 1 can water
Pour this over noodles in a casserole dish.

All are cooked so it's ready to eat.
Will serve 15 or more people!
potluck dish
by (twins) Sammie and Tommie


Monday, November 2, 2009

Christmas gift for the Ozark lover

This is mostly a find of local interest only.

Iconic Ozark photographer Tim Ernst offers two photographs each month at a discount-- these Photos of the Month are about half off his regular prices.

I'm particularly partial to this month's Hawksbill Crag photograph. He says it's one of his favorite shots of the Crag-- and he's been taking photographs of this Arkansas landmark for over 20 years.

If someone knows and loves the Ozarks, they've hiked out to photograph (and stand upon) this gorgeous outcropping. What a beautiful gift! At $49.95, signed and matted, I can find a 16x20 frame at Michael's (or something similar) and have a fantastic gift at minimum expense.

...Just a thought for those of you who share my affection for the Ozarks... or love someone who does.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Toddler cough-- vanished.

I have a good story to share tonight!  Forgive me if this is a bit long; I'm trying to tell the story of how I thought through and selected a treatment.

Quinton, my nearly-two-year-old, got up this morning with a barking little cough.  Some chest congestion is fairly common for him-- he seems to have inherited my allergies.  However, this was that unhealthy, hoarse sounding sort of baby cough that makes a mom think, "uh-oh, here we go."

Except now, of course, Mom goes, "Hmm.... what can I try here?  Which of God's amazing plants was created to help heal my little fella today?"

I have a handful of aromatherapy books, all from different authors so that I can learn from multiple perspectives and backgrounds.  Most of them caution that "more is not necessarily better" and that many oils work best in smaller amounts rather than larger ones.  This seems counterintuitive to me, and I usually use the oils in higher concentrations than they recommend.  However, I've been wanting to try obeying their instructions-- less oils means less expense, after all!  If less works as well as (or better than) more, I'd be silly not to try it.

Another principle that I find fascinating is that essential oils work BETTER together than separately... that a blend of two or more oils will make each oil more effective than it would have been when not combined with the others.  (tip:  Lavender, in particular, seems to work as a fantastic "booster" for other oils.)  Again, this works against my sense of logic.  But I wanted to use a blend for my fella to see this principle work to end his cough.

With Quinton whoofing sadly as he played, I consulted my oil spreadsheet and pulled the oils I had that had mucolytic or anti-spasmodic qualities that would fight both the congestion and the cough.  I was about to make a blend myself for him.  (Yes, I'm slowly building an oil database.  I used to design databases for a living.  Nerdy, I know.)

But then I remembered:  I already had a blend on hand.  I bought a "respiratory" blend (made of eucalyptus globulus, eucalyptus radiata, eucalytus citriodora, pine needle, spruce needle, marjoram, lavender, cypress, peppermint, and myrtle) a few weeks back.  I don't own six of those ingredients, so I'd figured the $5 investment in a small bottle would be handy this fall.  Here was my chance to try it out.  At the last minute, I added a little cedarwood, frankincense and myrrh, because I love the scents and all have qualities that would help a congested cough.

So.  Into a 5ml bottle (about 100 drops), I placed:
3 drops respiratory blend
1 drop frankincense
1 drop myrrh
1 drop cedarwood
...and filled the rest with a carrier oil (jojoba, because it doesn't go bad or need to be refrigerated).  This is a blend of about 6% EOs to 94% carrier; still about twice as strong as several of those book authors would recommend.

I looked doubtfully at this little bottle.  So little essential oil in there!  And at 3 drops a rub, there's enough to use on Quinton's little chest 33 times.  How could this work?

You know the rest of the story, of course, because why would I be writing this otherwise?
Three drops of the diluted blend, rubbed into his little chest, with a little up onto his throat just in case that might be hurting him too.

The result?  NOT ONE MORE COUGH from that moment on.  I'm serious.  I put him to bed tonight still incredulous at how effective this seems to be.  Now, he may wake up with the cough in the morning again because I didn't continue the treatment-- I've had that problem myself with various things I've tried; once is often not quite enough to do the trick.  But it sure seems to have healed him, and I won't hesitate to use it several times tomorrow to finish it off if I need to.

It still blows my mind every time I get a result like this.  What a gift!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Friday, October 23, 2009

whole-house diffusing

It's chilly outside, and all of Harrison's (consenting) public schoolchildren are infected with the h1n1 virus this weekend via a spray vaccination they received at school this week.

Seems like a good time to stay home, make some hot tea, and to put some antiviral* essential oils into the air we're breathing this weekend.  Even something as simple as a cotton ball next to your desk (or inside your pillowcase) with a few drops of EO on it can help your body fight invaders like bacteria and viruses.

If you don't have one of those fancy cold-air diffusers like we enjoyed at Darla and Hannah's each Sunday night, try this:

Put 6 or more drops of EO on a tissue.  (Like Kleenex.)

Find your house's air intake for the heating system.  Tape it onto the grate.  If you can, block about half of the grate with furniture or something (I used old suitcases that were nearby) so that more air has to be pulled through the tissue.

Turn your heat up a degree or two to get the heater going.

Now go across your house to a grate and put your face into the warm blowing air.  Inhale.

Nice trick, huh?  It's likely not enough to disinfect every room in your house, but every little bit helps.  And hey, it smells nice.
A few antiviral EOs:

Black pepper
Cinnamon leaf
Eucalyptus (globulus or radiata)
Laurel leaf
Rock Rose/Cistus
Spike Lavender
Tea Tree
Thyme (ct. thymol or linalool)

...and of course, the Thieves-type blend so much of us love works great for this purpose as well.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Thursday, October 15, 2009

inhalers for the multitudes

Hey, everybody.  Is the oilblog a dead horse that I should stop beating now that the study is over? 

If not, let me know by sharing something for your fellow readers... if you don't remember how to post, email it to me and I'll take care of it for you!  (kimvsmithATgmailDOTcom)

Anyway, about those inhalers.  Our source has changed, as I 've found an even better deal.  I've got a bookoo of inhalers headed to me via Ebay from... Hong Kong?  Something like that.  Far away, I know.  I've not bought anything internationally on Ebay before, so we'll see how this works out.

Anyway.  I wanted to let you all know that I can't possibly use them all, and you can buy some if you'd like for $.50 each.  Click here to read our previous post about what these are good for.

That is all.  Carry on, oilfolk!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sinus congestion (Eucalyptus, Oregano)

Whether it's a sinus infection or a cold or other virus, try one of these:

Place about 5 drops of Eucalyptus in a coffee cup of hot water.  Cover your head with a towel, CLOSE YOUR EYES, and sniff the vapor for a few minutes.  (You can also just cup your hands around the top of the mug and sniff through an opening in them.)

Or sniff (as above) or diffuse any of the Carvacol-rich oreganos and rosemary, cineole.  This combination won't just clear your sinuses; it will also kill the bacteria, etc. up in there that could be causing the trouble.  It may take 48-72 hours for the full effect to be felt.

Why yes, I did finally come down with my kids' virus, what made you ask?  :)  (Actually left the house this morning without trying any preventative measures, knowing I was getting the crud.  By 5pm I was running a temperature, so I headed home and took Ibuprofen and made my first attempt at using oregano to fight a virus.  So far, I'm impressed, but we'll see how I feel in the morning.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Monday, September 28, 2009

Reusing glass bottles

Most of you know that glass bottles colored to shield the contents from light are best for the storage of essential oils; it helps to preserve their vitality.  It's best to have little dropper inserts inside the bottle's top, to keep you from spillling or dumping more than you intend onto your skin or into your blend.  And you need a tight-fitting cap to keep the oils from evaporating into the air.

(I hope that you also know that the nifty little eyedroppers with the rubber squeeze tops are a bad idea.  The reason is that the essential oils will eventually soften the rubber and turn it into goo, tainting your oils in the process.  Essential oils are POTENT, I tell you.)

Those bottles, even the littlest ones, can easily cost you at least $1.00 apiece when you factor in shipping.

So how do you keep your costs down as you start making blends for friends and family and every possible emotional and physical need in your own house?  You start trying to wash your emptied ones, that's how.

I can already hear you whining, 'cause I did too.

"I TRIED," you wail.  "THEY STILL SMELL LIKE WHAT USED TO BE INSIDE THEM."  I know.  The dishwasher doesn't help, handwashing doesn't help, multiples of both even don't completely take care of the smell.

That's because EOs are so potent, and so NON water soluble.  Washing is good, but it's not going to get it all out of there.  And sometimes you just don't want to mix a delicate sleep-inducing blend in a bottle that still reeks fairly strongly of cinnamon and clove, y'know?

I looked for a solution for quite a while, and finally stumbled upon a cleaning process recommended by Al and Penny at Birch Hill Happenings:

To clean the glassware: Soak in hot soapy water, rinse, rinse, rinse and then do a final rinse with alcohol such has vodka or a denatured alcohol. Don't use rubbing alcohol as it doesn't have a high enough alcohol content (look for 180 or 190 proof).  Let air dry.  Some essential oils can be very difficult to clean from bottles and you may need to soak them for several hours or days to remove the essential oil residue. Make sure not even a hint of oil remains or alcohol for that matter as this can ruin your new blends.
Hooray for reusing those pricey little bottles!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Carrier oils: Jojoba, Rosehip seed, Hazelnut

What's a carrier oil?  It's a non-essential oil that can be used to dilute, extend, or preserve a more volatile, precious, or potentially irritating essential oil.  Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils for massages, to make certain oils usable on children, or to keep overly strong oils from irritating the skin.  Several of them are scentless, and they are sometimes used by the unscrupulous to dilute and cheapen essential oils.  However, having some to use yourself is a good thing!

Jojoba oil  The only oil I've used so far is jojoba, which is actually a liquid wax extracted from the jojoba bean.  I selected it because it does not go rancid or need to be refrigerated, is apparently not allergenic, and because I read somewhere that its oil was similar to the structure of sebum (the oil in our skin), and so it made a good moisturizer. Using jojoba in a blend with other oils that tend to go rancid will extend their life, which is why you'll often see it sold in 10:1 dilutions with the most precious essential oils (like rose, helichrysum, and melissa).  Because of all these qualities, it is probably the most commonly used carrier oil.

Rosehip seed oil is a pricier carrier oil that comes from South America and apparently has some amazing skin-regenerative qualities.  It's uniquely good for wrinkle reduction, spot reduction, and healing of other kinds of skin damage. It's red in color, needs to be kept refrigerated, and will begin to go bad after about a year.  Its healing effects will be evident even if you dilute it to 10% in a solution, with 90% other (cheaper!) carrier oils.  Anandaapothecary has a well-written article if you want to learn more. 

Hazelnut oil is actually a bit astringent and therefore good for oily skins who still want to use essential oil blends.  It is well-tolerated by other skin types as well, though, and keeps the skin from feeling oily after application of oil blends that contain it.  It tones and tightens the skin, aids capillaries, and encourages cell regeneration.  I'm finding different opinions on how long it will keep, but it sounds like the refrigerator will extend its shelf life.

As you probably know, seeking out cold-pressed and organic oils will assure you the most natural and untainted product.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Monday, September 21, 2009

teeny tiny little magic bottles...

Most of you are probably finding that you have suddenly developed a need for tiny bottles to hold your blends, dilution, and concoctions-- and for sharing oils with friends and family as they start asking questions about this weird new hobby of yours.

I'm almost out of my handful of 5ml bottles that I first ordered.  These littlest bottles seem to be the ones that I use the most.  Most EO dealers use amber glass bottles, which have been the traditional color in aromatherapy (and in medicine in general) for ages.

However, one EO source uses something I've not seen before-- a dark blue, indigo-colored (almost black) glass that apparently blocks the wavelengths of light that are harmful to essential oils (and other "living" substances) while permitting the beneficial ones to enter.

I'm no expert on this, but I think it's fascinating.  Here's the link he gives on why he uses this particular source of glass-- there is only one company worldwide producing this stuff.

And here's another page from a natural living website about the glass, with some pretty wild pictures and information about its ability to preserve fresh foods.  This is what made my jaw drop a bit...

I'm looking into what it would cost to buy these rather than the typical 5ml bottles.  Right now it looks like I'd have to buy them by the case of 224 to get some.  That's a bit more than I need!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


order: rosehip seed and hazelnut oil

(I posted this as a comment on Hannah's earlier post about these oils, but it doesn't seem to be coming into my inbox, so I'm going to post it as its own separate post.  My apologies if it turns up twice!)

Hey everybody! I'm about to order myself some rosehip and hazelnut carrier oils to try Hannah and Darla's moisturizer recipe... but I'm going to order 8oz bottles, which is WAY more than I need. Anybody want to split the two bottles with me? 4 oz of each would be about $12, plus a little for shipping. (You can get jojoba at Nature's Wonders. I already have that.)

If three people want in, we can get 16oz bottles and it'll be a little cheaper.  I'll also be getting carrot seed oil if you want to split that.

I'll probably order late tonight, so speak up if you're in!  Comment here or shoot me an email, or call 870.414.1014 (my cell).


Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Friday, September 18, 2009

Lavender recipes

Just came across this article, and thought of my precious little ziploc bag of lavender buds that Hannah gave me... anybody else still have that unused?  Here are a few culinary options!

Lavender Recipes @ Herb Companion magazine's website

There are six recipes:

I'm thinking of enclosing mine in a little pillow to help Gracie or Quinton sleep, but these are definitely tempting.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Eucalyptus dives- chest/sinus congestion

I wanted to post this before I forgot that it happened.  (I find that happening a lot-- I sense a little issue, apply something, the issue goes away completely, and I forget all about it or to post it!)

I noticed last night that both Gracie and I had a little bit of a cough.  I had some tightness and wheezing in my chest as well-- a sign for me that I'm getting pretty congested in my lungs.  Neither of us felt badly, though, apart from that (yet).

Before her bedtime, I pulled out the Eucalyptus dives (also known as Peppermint Eucalyptus- probably because of the minty smell).  I'd bought this because it is safer for children and skin use than other types of eucalyptus, and because of this description on the provider's website:

This is a very unique Eucalyptus oil that I love having in my collection of essential oils. It is especially good for reducing thick mucus, great for that cold or flu that you just can't get rid of and the congestion that is driving you crazy! You can steam with it, or put it into a chest rub, cream or oil. It has a lovely aroma, is great to use with kids and adults, and is deeply effective.

Also great for getting rid of headaches when combined with Frankincense.

I diluted a drop in about 3 drops of jojoba oil for Gracie, and rubbed it into her chest, with a little swipe on her chin to increase inhalation.  (She told me she did NOT like the smell, but went to bed without further complaint.)  I put her to bed, and a few hours later, used a drop across my own chest and a few sniffs from my hands.

About five minutes later, all-- and I mean ALL-- the congestion drained out of my sinuses, down the back of my throat.  It was almost like a trap door had opened and sucked it all away.  I woke up this morning without a trace of the cough or the lung congestion-- and Gracie hasn't coughed either.

I can't believe that I have access to a substance that, with one drop, can drain my sinuses in five minutes and stop a chest cold dead in its tracks.  Unreal!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Disinfecting rooms with essential oils and candles/electric diffusers

...And I just found a link from Butch's page to some university research from 2004 that indicates that burning candles made with essential oils does help kill bacteria on surfaces in a room.

The researchers, Dr Lindsey Gaunt and Sabrina Higgins, have discovered that adding essential oils to the candle can destroy bacteria such as Escherichia Coli and Staphylococcus aureus on surfaces. Working with Professor John Hughes in the Bioelectrostatics Research Centre, Lindsey and Sabrina have been testing different essential oils, such as orange, thyme, and eucalyptus, which when dispersed into the air and combined with the ions produced in the candle flame, all have a powerful bactericidal effect.

Where candle use would not be appropriate, for example in a kitchen, the same bactericidal effect can be produced by using plug-in devices combining the appropriate essential oils and ions generated by an electrical discharge.

According to Lindsey Gaunt, the candles and electrical devices could be as effective as liquid disinfectants, together with the added benefit of being able to penetrate porous surfaces and fabrics in a room with very little personal effort.

This unique combination of essential oils and electrical ions has demonstrated a remarkably powerful bactericidal action, with up to nearly 100 per cent bacteria kill.

Very interesting!  If I'm reading this correctly, electric low-heat diffusers such as the Scentball (that's the cheapest source I've seen for those) would have the same effect.  And which oils you'd use would influence the effectiveness- read the link above for their findings.

Remember that essential oils are HIGHLY flammable; don't go dropping them into open flames on candles.  Flash fires can happen!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Turkish Rose Otto production

I just stumbled across this really fascinating page about how Rose Otto essential oil is produced in Turkey.  There are huge distillation facilities that are only used for a few weeks each year.  Check out those beautiful, huge old copper stills!  Great pictures-- wish they were bigger so I could see a bit better!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The goose is getting fat...

I hate to admit it, but this is the time of year I need to start thinking about Christmas if I want the holidays to be as stress-free as possible.  Thankfully, this year I have a new obsession that provides me with many opportunities for unique presents...

I heard that the Oilcrowd was discussing Christmas gifts, and I thought I'd ask:  Will any of your holiday gifts this year involve essential oils?  Here are a few ideas bubbling in my brain; no recipes for now, just ideas!

I'm planning on giving each family a 5ml bottle of lavender oil with a pretty little list of its possible uses.  It's just too amazing and versatile not to share, and lavender is safe enough that I feel okay giving someone a bottle who doesn't know all that much about oils.  (After all, that's how I got started!)

Four Robbers/Thieves oil blend products

I mixed up 30ml of thieves oil this week.  (And Marsha's right-- that recipe smells fantastic!)  I don't think I'll hand people a bottle of this oil, since it's a little caustic to the skin; instead, I'll mix up some disinfecting hand spray, foaming hand soap, and some of that great all-purpose cleaner.  The cinnamon/clove scent is perfect for the holidays, and it fights germs to boot!  Again, some kind of card explaining the legend and the oils' properties is in order here-- so they know that it smells great AND kills germs too.


Those inhalers we mentioned a few weeks ago are on my list for Christmas gifts as well.  Here are some of my possible creations for gifts:
Headaches:  lavender and peppermint
Stuffy Noses:  (this is called catarrh in those British aromatherapy books you're reading, by the way) possible ravinstara & cedarwood
Anxiety Relief: (aka Calm the Heck Down, You Crazy Relative...)  Bergamot, orange, lime, & vetiver
Immune Boost:  possibly a Thieves inhaler, or a mix of the strongest antiviral/antibacterial oils.  I'm reading amazing things about oregano these days...


I'm scoping out recipes for aftershave, and saving our pretty glass bottles.  (My favorites:  decorative salad dressing and maple syrup bottles.)  I'm hoping, with Aaron's help, to come up with some wonderful-smelling formulas that also nourish and help heal my favorite fellas' freshly-shaved faces.  I'll post a recipe when we've found one we like, but I'm thinking about oils like cedarwood... sandalwood... lavender... mmm.

Bath salts

Epsom salts and essential oils, plus an ingredient or two, will make a beautiful gift.  Refreshing?  Relaxing?  Therapeutic for when you're sick with a cold or virus?  So many possibilities!
Sugar scrubs
If you have never experienced the exfoliating/moisturizing one-two punch of a sugar scrub, you need to do this RIGHT NOW.  So much so that I'll break my intention for this post and go dig up a quick recipe.  This is from a site called; I can't link it tonight because the site is apparently down (I used Google's cache to snag her recipe).


  1. 2 cups sugar - I like a mix of coarse natural brown, and basic white; it makes a good scrub worthy feel. You can use just coarse brown or just plain white though. Do not use soft brown baking sugar.
  2. Oil: I like apricot or light olive best. Any oil that’s natural and from a nut or fruit will work. Baby oil (non-scented) will also work. Do not use cooking oil like corn - that will make a funky smell and a too-slick feel.
  3. Vanilla beans: Use whole organic, or in a pinch I’ve used organic vanilla extract (seriously, I was hard up). However, extract will darken your mix - no biggie though.
  4. Organic lavender essential oil.
  5. Any old container with a lid.


  1. Place vanilla beans in dry sugar. Cover and let sit for a week or two - the longer it sits the better the smell. If using vanilla extract, skip this step.
  2. Remove vanilla beans. Cover sugar until saturated (but not over saturated) with oil. Short on oil? You can also use a mix of oil and water - I know the two don’t mix, but in sugar it will work.
  3. Add a few drops of lavender oil. If you’re using vanilla extract add a few drops now.
  4. Use to scrub down your body either before you start the shower or during. Rinse well. Do not use on face or hair.
  5. This last a long time - i.e. it won’t mold or anything before you use it up. You can keep it in your bathroom. Also, contrary to what you may think, you won’t be sticky. You don’t need to wash this off with soap; plain water is fine.

One, you will feel smooth and smell delicious. Two, your bathroom will also smell great all day long. I’ve been reusing the same container for years. If you want to give this as a gift, look for short, squat, wide glass containers at thrift stores. You can also mix this up with various herbs and essential oils.

vanilla beansOther nice mixes I’ve tried include:

  • Grapefruit and peppermint
  • Orange, clove, and lemon
  • Tea tree
  • Basil and lemon
  • Cedar and lavender
  • Coffee (I ground a bit of espresso) and grapefruit
  • Almond and orange

Really the sky is the limit. The best thing about homemade body scrubs is how versatile and cheap they are. If you mess up, no big loss. It’s natural and degrades so no worries. If you don’t have essential oils around they can be a be more costly to get started with. I use oils for everything though so I have many. Also, one small bottle of organic lavender oil will make tons of this stuff. TONS. I saw some sugar scrub at the store and it was $22 - holy. I can make batches for that much money. Plus mine has no artificial anything in it.

Give it a try, you’ll love it.

Okay, your turn!  Share your own gift ideas below.  Then go down to your kitchen and make yourself a sugar scrub, and try it.  It'll blow you away.

(A special Oily Hello to Hannah and Darla, who are deep in Yankee territory with a whole herd of fellow oilnuts.  Share with us if you've got a spare moment and an Internet connection, ladies!)

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It is much too late to be writing this.

On so many levels.  For one thing, it's 1:30 a.m.  AND I AM JUST STARTING.  That right there is a recipe for a disaster of a day tomorrow.  What am I thinking?

Well, here's what.  I have not written down many scraps of memories of my kids lately.  The summer's gone, we only got to the pool once, and I feel like time is just slipping through my fingers like mad.  When will I record these things, if not RIGHT NOW, when it's pressing at me?

He's so lovely now, just on the cusp of walking, still a bit afraid, learning every day. 

He can walk, actually, and just usually doesn't.  Tonight, six steps at once, on his own, says Daddy-- no prodding, no propping-up-and-then-removing-support to force the walking.  Just six steps, all alone, to get to his daddy.  He'll be full tilt soon, and then LOOK OUT, because this boy does not care about the word "NO."  (And while the abrupt of the end of TV Time will make him scream at the top of his lungs, this consequence does not seem to keep him from crawling up to push every possible button on the TV equipment EVERY TIME HE GETS TO WATCH IT.  So we do a little dance every day:  put on DVD for him, let him watch happily, turn your back, buttons get pushed, return to TV and close armoire doors while chanting the apparently meaningless "no."  Screams of fury arise from the boy.  Rinse.  Repeat.)

He flaps his hands wildly at music, especially his favorites:  the Peep and the Big Wide World intro.  C is for Cookie song from Sesame Street.  The Sun and Moon on YouTube.  He claps, shrieks with joy, bobs up and down.  We wonder if he'll be a musician like his daddy, his enjoyment is so intense.

He also can spend amazing amounts of time by himself, entertained by his own thoughts or who knows what.  His crib is a refuge for him, and some days I go in to him at 10 am to find him wide awake in there, happily being alone.  (Hello Kid?  You Hungry?  You want that gigantic diaper changed?  Hello?)  I wonder about that, think weird Austistic thoughts sometimes.  But he's so engaged otherwise, I don't think it could be that.  Mom says I was a weirdly independent, content child.  Perhaps it's just me that is worrying me in him.  How odd.

He loves to splash in water, and if given the chance will happily dump his sippy cup into his high chair tray, shake by shake if necessary, and then happily fall to splashing.  He loves to ride in the car, loves to be rocked to sleep, loves to go outside.  He has a whole mouthful of teeth now, when just last February he was bare of them, and he hates to have them brushed.  His favorite food is, forever and ever, macaroni and cheese, followed by cheese, followed by any kind of starchy white stuff void of nutrients.  Bananas also are good.  Everything else is often rejected, meat most of all.  His most favorite toy is fistfuls of the magnetic letters that go on the fridge, carried around nonstop in his chubby little fists-- even all the way to Grammy's, somehow, without me noticing.

Last time we had him weighed, he was at about 6% in length for his age group, and 97% in height-to-weight ratio.  Baby's got butt.  I love it.  I need to take a picture soon before he starts walking and melts it all off in that way that toddlers do.

He can talk too, actually, just usually doesn't.  He babbles, but I'm starting to catch words in the babble more and more often.  I'm realizing that he is talking to us, we just can't quite understand all his words yet.  Every once in a while, he'll say something amazingly complicated, just once, often under his breath.  This week it was "allouicious," once of Daddy and sister's silly words.  What?!  And you can't say "more juice"??

I love him.  I sometimes worry about him-- his development is on such a different time table than Gracie's.  But he's a boy, a second child, and one who had both a major surgery and a slow growth rate during his first 9 months.  I feel like I need to cut him some slack.

But man, is he ever fun.  Three months till he's two.  Unreal.

Gracie is such a little lady, such a wonder.  Her vocabulary is fascinating, as is her adult mannerisms.  One of mom's friends described her as "three, going on ten."  That's about right-- unless she's tired, or very hungry, when she reverts suddenly back to a very impatient three.

I love my little not-little girl.  She's so inventive-- she can spend hours with her baskets of Little People and Disney Princesses, ferrying them around the house from "their house" to "their school" to "their Grammy's" and inventing adventures all the way.  She will earnestly request your attention:  "Mommy, I am talking to you now.  MOMMY."  She can spend ages on the disney and PBS kids websites all by herself, working through the learning games, answering all the questions correctly.  She knows the sounds of all the letters, something I did not teach her.  She loves caterpillars, planting things, sidewalk chalk, paint.  What does she want to be when she grows up?  "Just a Grammy," she says offhandedly-- which makes my mother tear up with joy, and me tear up watching her.

As their mom, at this point, I mostly want to learn to give them more of my full attention.  I feel like my house is never as clean as I think it should be, that my duties elsewhere are always calling me to give them some toys or TV or art supplies and then disappear to get something "important" done.  And then there's the less virtuous things that lure me away-- the computer, the Quest for New Hobby Knowledge, the flea markets.

But what can be more important than these days??  Why am I obsessing about my dirty kitchen, my little online vintage shop, my new fascination with essential oils, my Facebook account even, when I have these two perfect wonders in the house with me each day?

I hope that the next few months bring a More Focused Mommy to your side more often, my babies.  (You are my babies forever, you know, no matter how much you grow.)

...but you know, to have even the slightest chance of doing that well tomorrow, I have GOT to get some sleep.  So I'll cut this short and hope to write more soon.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from kimvsmith's posterous


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stomach upset.

(I can't believe I am posting about this particular issue on the internet.  But in the interest of education and to hopefully help the rest of you... here I go.)

The simple formula I've used twice this weekend is Valerie Worwood's formula for diarrhea caused by a virus.  It's on page 31 of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.  Her school of aromatherapy recommends that you dilute this blend in one teaspoon of carrier oil (jojoba, almond, olive, and the like) and massage in; I just dropped the oils into my palm and massaged them onto my stomach.  Both times, I've felt tremendously better within about fifteen minutes and for at least eight hours afterwards.

I'll go ahead and list the other two formulas as well so that you can match the cause of your troubles to an appropriate blend.

Viral diarrhea:

Thyme  3 drops
Lavender  2 drops
Tea tree 1 drop

Internal:  1 drop of eucalyptus, diluted in 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of honey.
(I think I'd recommend trying a "thieves" type blend on the feet or a drop internally as an alternative as well.  Trying this tonight!)

Nervous diarrhea:
Chamomile  1 drop
Eucalyptus  2 drops
Lavender  3 drops

Internal:  1 drop of peppermint, diluted in 1c water and 1t honey.

Food-related diarrhea:

Chamomile  2 drops
Peppermint  3 drops
Eucalyptus  1 drop

Internal:  1 drop of peppermint, diluted in 1c water and 1t honey.

Worwood's book is basically an encyclopedia of recipes like these.  The first two chapters list hundreds of blends that can be made to treat all kinds of conditions... just with a basic library of twelve single oils.  I can share those two chapters with anyone who'd like to have them; I've found it a great way to get started.

Somebody hit "reply all" to this via email and verify that we can make a comment that way.  Thanks!!

ps- I just got a phone call, and if you all could, please pray for my family tonight:  my parents were hosting a couple this weekend (Rose and Mike), and Mike's best friend came down today from Branson to play golf with my dad and Mike.  Afterwards, he had a heart attack and died-- in my mom's kitchen.  My sister did CPR on him until the EMTs arrived, but they couldn't save him.  I can't begin to imagine what everyone over there is going through tonight.  Please pray for wisdom and words for Aaron and I as well, so that we can minister to them through the next few days.  Thanks so much.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Monday, August 31, 2009

my best crockpot recipe

For Heather over at Beauty that Moves: my favorite crockpot recipe. I've modified it slightly to avoid that "overly crockpotted" mouthfeel, but if you're not as picky, throw it all in together and let the crockpot take care of everything.

Beef Barley Vegetable Soup

2-3 lb beef chuck roast, cut up into bite-sized pieces
2 T oil (or less)

3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2-4 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 bay leaf
1 T white sugar
1/4 t ground black pepper

4 cups water and 4 beef or veggie bouillon cubes (or 4c beef or veggie stock)
28 oz chopped stewed tomatoes

1 cup barley

salt and more pepper (to taste- may not be needed, depending on the bouillon/stock)

My way:
1) In the morning, use oil to stir-fry your meat on high, browning the outside. (Doesn't matter if the inside is cooked or not; the c'pot takes care of that. This gives the meat a better look- not as pasty-gray and crockpotty looking.) Deglaze the pot with some water, and set all aside for a moment.
2) Oil the inside of the crockpot for easy cleanup; then pile everything BUT the barley into the pot. Stir once.
3) Cook on low all day long.
4) When you come home, use a ladle to strain some liquid out of the stew; add this to a pot, heat to boiling, and cook your barley in it. (This way the barley doesn't get too soft, but still tastes like it's been in the soup all day.) Dump barley and any remaining liquid back into the soup.
5) Stir thoroughly once more and serve with whole wheat rolls. Leftover are even better the next day, and freeze well too.

Dump everything into the crockpot. Stir it up. Cook on low all day.

I'll come back and add a picture once it gets cool enough to warrant this being made for dinner. It really is delicious-- the whole is greater than the sum of its parts!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ice cream, retro style.

Found this today, and rushed home and took photos in hopes that I could (theoretically) get it to a new home in time for Labor Day weekend. 

Is it not amazing??  Once again I'm sorely tempted to keep an item...

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from kimvsmith's posterous


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Foaming hand soap infused w/ oils, homemade Thieves oil

When I recently placed an order at sunburst bottle company, I noticed that their foaming hand soap containers were on sale for .70 each.

I bought one for each bathroom in the house, and when they arrived, I mixed up a foaming hand soap formula with premade Thieves oil using this formula:

12-16 drops of the oil blend
2 Tbsp hand soap, shower gel, or similar liquid soap (unscented would be best- and avoid the ingredient triclosan.  Bad stuff.)
Water to the top of the container

I heated the water to help the soap dissolve into it, and stirred gently in a large mixing cup before pouring the mixture into the bottle.  That's it!  And now whenever we wash our hands, some of the essential oil formula leaves its scent (and its germ-fighting properties) on our hands.  Fantastic.

I'll be buying more of the containers soon... this project is going to become Christmas presents for our friends and family.  I think Thieves is a great holiday scent!

Homemade Thieves Oil

If you'd like to mix up your own Thieves blend, here are the oils involved in YL's blend:

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
Lemon (Citrus limon)
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
Eucalyptus radiata
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis CT 1,8 cineol).

And here are two recipes available in several different places on the web:

The Easy Recipe:

Equal amounts of eucalyptus, rosemary, cinnamon, clove and lemon.

The Less Easy Recipe: 
(our own Marsha's been very happy with this one)
Clove bud oil 8
Lemon oil 7
Cinnamon bark oil 4
Eucalyptus 3
Rosemary 2

(The ratio numbers can be applied to any measurement you'd like... drops, teaspoons, ml, etc.  There's a total of 24 parts in the recipe-- so if you're using teaspoons, you'll end up with 24 teaspoons of theives oil-- about 1/2 cup.  24 drops of Thieves oil would be about 1 ml, so multiply the recipe by 5 if you want to fill a 5ml bottle.)

Random Oil Fact:

Apparently there are between 20-35 drops of essential oil in each ml (or 100-175 drops in a 5ml bottle), depending on the thickness of the oil/size of the drops.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Saturday, August 15, 2009

busy Saturday; EO talk has moved.

Much to my amazement, something from my Etsy shop actually sold this week.  Which pushed me to list two more little items whose photos were already on my computer, waiting.  (I'd sort of lost faith in the Etsy idea ever taking off-- irrational, since I'd only listed three items.)

Those two little items, a victorian ring holder and a 1960-ish roller rink ashtray, sold within 24 hours.  Whoa!

So I allowed myself a trip to my favorite junk shop to shop a bit, and spent some time today listing a few more.  So encouraging!  We'll see how this goes.  (Pictures of a few of the items below.)

My oil fascination has pretty much transferred itself onto a group blog, where several friends and I are sharing tips and experiences with one another.  If you're interested in that, you can catch up with our chatter over there.  I may still do some writing on that subject over here, when I feel like I might be offensive to some of my "oilfriends" (who are Young Living enthusiasts) if I posted my mind too freely over there.  I want that to be a positive space, not one where we get into debates.

Okay, I'm out.  It's Saturday, and I want to think of something fun for us to do with our kids when they wake up from naptime.  Too much of my time with them lately has involved me trying to clean and feeling frustrated at the constant level of chaos in my house.  I think I may need to embrace the chaos a bit more.  They're only toddlers for a short while... the house can be well-kept later.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from kimvsmith's posterous


Friday, August 14, 2009

Book learnin'

Happy Friday, everyone!

There's a new post up at the Aromatics International blog today that contains a link to a new booklist of recommended publications on Aromatherapy.

I'm sure my eyes bugged out... there are so many titles that are brand new to me. is likely to get some business from me this weekend... some of these titles are very, very inexpensive over there.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chaste tree oil (vitex agnus castus) for PMS or menopause

I've signed up for a couple of aromatherapy email lists, hoping to glean some learning as the professionals chat amongst themselves, and there's an interesting conversation going on about treating menopausal symptoms with this essential oil.

From the general profile located here:

Vitex agnus castus has been used in herbal form for many hundreds of years. Native to Mediterranean climates, the plant is a member of the verbenaceae family. The berries are the part traditionally used, most often powdered in capsules or in a tincture. As the botanical name implies, the plant was used to promote chastity, and was so successful in quashing desire in medieval monasteries that it was added to the food as a seasoning, thus earning one of its common names, “monks pepper”. Most people know the plant as chaste tree. It has been used in Europe, and much more recently in the United States, for a wide variety of female hormonal imbalances. Many modern works on menopause, including Christiane Northrup’s “The Wisdom of Menopause”, reference the herb as a valuable tool

Some people are recommending the oil from the berries only, others are combining oils from the berry and leaves equally (1:1 ratio) and using that.  The testimonies are pretty impressive; just thought someone in our "crowd" might find it interesting.

I don't suffer from PMS badly enough to treat it (other than one, spectacular cramp per month-- I imagine that I'm ovulating, although I have no real idea), but I thought there might be others who'd like to check it out.

Comments from the email list:

I have clients who swear by it. I made up sniffies and they have found this stops the hot flushes.
I have had more success with the berries rather than the leaves.

Hi there! I have used chaste berry in both the berry and leaf oils,
separately as well as together along with the extract/tincture of the
chaste berries. I have had very good results with all three of what I just
mentioned. I grow chaste berry trees and make my own tinctures and oils
with great results. I have not had a hot flash until, persuaded by my dh,
went to a bio-identical hormone doctor about 2 months ago. This doc put me
on some "bio-identical" formula and presto I started having "hot flashes"
that were terrible. One week later I went back to my own natural hormone
balancing using chaste berry oil and rose oil. No more hot flashes and no
more new bio-doc. So I can tell you that the chaste berry oil, chaste berry
leaf oil and the tincture/extracts of chaste berry do work and work
exceedingly well. By the way I have been using chaste berry oils in my
hormone formulas since about 2000 with great results.

There are studies on this .. and I have a kit bag full of personal
testimonials that support what you say .. it does work for reducing hot
flashes. And Margaret did well to purchase both because the Berry is
stronger than the Leaf .. and some ladies want to find what is best for them
.. not everybody reacts the same. And good it is that Stacey was specific
in stating that the person is not on hormones .. if they were then they
should not use Vitex.  As for men .. they should not sniff it anyway .. it causes nausea in men.


Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Monday, August 10, 2009

Etsy gets rolling...

Well, it's raining and pouring outside tonight after a long drought.  How fitting.

Tonight, as I answered questions and pledged to get shipping info for a very eager Canadian buyer for my funky bird airpot, I took a second and listed a single solitary item:  a little vintage ring holder.  I haven't bothered to list much because my Etsy shop hadn't sold a single item, and I hated to waste time and effort on it if it wasn't going to fly.

To my surprise, it sold almost immediately.

Hooray for things SOLD!  I'll have to try listing more stuff in the next few days.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from kimvsmith's posterous


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Little oil joys.

1) I've had general grunge on my snow-white refrigerator for some time. My daughter slaps on a sticker and leaves behind a residue that collects dust and defies my cleaners and microfiber clothes; the handle develops a faint beige cast as dirt sinks into its somewhat porous surface (smart, designers-- make the HANDLE out of a texture that collects dirt). Solution? 3 drops of lemon oil on a little scrap of paper towel. Took a little steady rubbing, but man. It sparkles now.

2) Tonight: headache flickering at the edges of my vision from a busy day shopping and traveling; I need to work on the computer for a bit. Ibuprofen STAT? Not anymore! Peppermint on each temple, and a bit wiped under the nose. Headache faded away within half an hour or so.

3) Tempestuous bedtime toddler. Drop of lavender massaged into soles of her feet; within twenty minutes, she's sleeping. Can't prove it's related, but it was surprising to have her give up the struggle so quickly.

4) That all-purpose cleaner I mentioned the other day? REALLY WORKS.

I am so enjoying learning about these oils and their amazing abilities. Based on the successes I've had thus far, I've decided to invest a little more heavily. I ordered over a dozen new ones from Aromatics International this week. The day they arrive is going to feel like Christmas.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

homemade "Oxygen" cleaner.

Really. Some of these are so simple I feel guilty sharing them.

Homemade Oxygen Cleaner

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide

Just soak the clothing in it for 20 minutes to overnight and then wash as usual.
This will not harm fabric like bleach, and doesn't seem to harm colors either.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lemon eucalyptus insect repellant

Google "lemon eucalyptus" insect (including those quotes) and you'll be able to read about studies that show this oil is most effective as a mosquito repellent.

There is currently only one brand available in the U.S. that's using this oil as its active ingredient-- it's called Repel. I searched high and low for it this spring for my daughter, who attracts mosquitos like mad and then gets horrid red welts for weeks afterwards. She scratches them (even in her sleep), they bleed and don't get well, she gets more every time she goes outside... it's an ugly scene.

I bought the oil at the health food store (Aura Cacia, fairly poor quality brand but possibly okay for this purpose) and have been hunting to find a recipe to create a spray with it. Finally found one here.

Homemade All-Natural Mosquito Repellent


1 ounce jojoba oil

3 ounces vodka - Any type of vodka will do, but higher proof vodkas tend to work better.

1 teaspoon lemon eucalyptus essential oil

1 4-ounce spray bottle


Simply add the vodka and oils to the spray bottle. Make sure to shake the bottle well before using as the contents will settle.

Directions for Use

Spray on liberally before going outside. Reapply every 1-2 hours. Just as with commercial products, this mixture should not be ingested.

The author said it needs to be reapplied every 1-2 hours. Since we don't often stay outside much longer than that in the summer, that'll do just fine. No bugs, no toxic chemicals on my babies! (Always test for irritation on the forearm before rubbing an essential oil concoction all over you or your kids-- you know that, right?)


Homemade Fabric Softener!

I've been avoiding fabric softener for over a year now because I heard that there were a lot of heavy chemicals in it. (Sorry, that's all I know-- no specifics!)

Thing is, I'm sick of my towels being so rough. I found this today and I think it's worth a try. I sized the recipe down quite a bit so that I could fit it into a spray bottle without having the extra in a separate container.

Homemade Fabric Softener (yield: around 2.5 cups)

1.5 cups water
.75 cups white vinegar
.5 cup hair conditioner

Mix this in a container and stir. Do not shake it will cause foaming. Use the same amount you normally use in rinse cycle or spritz on wash cloth and throw in dryer.

Works great!


Monday, July 6, 2009

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent-type Stuff.

I went hunting for a good dishwasher detergent recipe tonight-- I'm finally out of my Cascade tabs and have been experimenting, trying to find a recipe that works for my dishwasher and hard water. (Read here for a quick summation of why it's a good idea to avoid standard dishwashing detergent. Also, it doesn't smell nice.)

The standard 1 part Borax to 1 part Baking soda doesn't work for me-- it clouds up the dishes terribly and doesn't clean the silverware well.

The recipe below came from a woman named Lynn at The New Homemaker. And guess what? ESSENTIAL OILS are involved. (I laughed when I found the recipe... EOs are stalking me, even on unrelated Internet searches!)

My modifications are below.

In a plastic container with a firmly fitting lid, mix:
1 cup borax (20-Mule-Team Borax, available in any supermarket)
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid (available in brewing stores among other places--if you haven't tracked it down yet but must try this formula, use two packets of Lemonade-Flavored Kool-Aid, ONLY lemon, or you'll dye your dishwasher! and ONLY unsweetened Kool-Aid!)
30 drops citrus essential oil--lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, or a mixture

Put all of it in the container, shake it up.

To use, put a tablespoon or so into each cup of your dishwasher. I've found I no longer have to use the scrubbing cycle but can get by fine with the short cycle, thus saving even more money. On average, it looks like this is about 8 cents a load compared with Cascade at 22 cents a load. Compare it with EcoVer or Seventh Generation and it's a steal. I have also started putting some of this in a shaker canister--the one I have we got at a restaurant supply, it's aluminum and was made for popcorn salt. I use it to clean my sink and anything else that I'd normally use Bon Ami on. Works great, and the essential oil makes it smell fantastic.

My "modifications":
The original batch I had did not clean well- at 1.5 tablespoons per load it didn't leave gunky stuff on everything like 2T did, but it did leave a haze all over everything.

Enter citric acid, purchased at the health food store, 1 lb for $5.99 (about 1.5 cups- 6 batches' worth). Also enter Washing Soda, found at a local grocery store for under $3 a 55oz box, to replace the baking soda and hopefully up the cleaning power. I'm mixing this up right now and will report back on efficacy.

I also put in five drops of lavender oil and ten drops of lemon (mine is wildly strong) rather than the 30 drops of citric recommended.)

Boy, does my kitchen smell nice.


All-Purpose Cleaner

Found this here.

This came from Karen Logan's "Clean House, Clean Planet". I mixed up a batch to try it one day and haven't used commercial all-purpose cleaners since. Good essential oil combos are tea tree and peppermint, orange and cinnamon, and lavender and lemon. Keep out of reach of small children as the borax is somewhat toxic.

16 fl oz (change servings and units)


* 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
* 1 teaspoon borax
* 1 1/2 cups very hot distilled or purified water
* 1/4 cup castile soap or 1/8 cup liquid dish soap
* 10-15 drops essential oils


1. Mix the vinegar and borax in a 16oz spray bottle.
2. Fill bottle with the water and shake to dissolve the vinegar and borax.
3. Add soap LAST and then scent with essential oil.

Use as you would any all-purpose cleaner. This mix can get quite soapy so you might want to have a cloth wet with just water handy to "rinse" with.


Dilution of EOs

Just came across a helpful chart in's free Intro course that I wanted to save for future reference. It's vital to dilute most oils before application to keep from irritating the skin.

(Guess you can see which of my interests has got most of my time these days... I am severely neglecting that little Etsy shop.)

Amount of carrier by weight Number of drops of essential oil
  1% dilution 2% dilution 3% dilution
1 oz 5-6 drops 10-12 drops 15-18 drops
2 oz 10-12 drops 20-24 drops 30-36 drops

The next obvious question is, how do you choose which dilution to use?
1% Dilution — Used for children under 12, and seniors over 65, pregnant women and people with long-term illnesses or immune systems disorders. A 1% dilution is also a good place to start with individuals who are generally sensitive to fragrances, chemicals or other environmental pollutants.
2% Dilution — Use for general health supporting blends for skin care, for natural perfumes, bath oils, and for blends you like to use everyday.
3% Dilution — Use this dilution when creating a blend for a specific, acute health concern, such as pain relief or getting a cold or flu.

When making larger quantities of blends such as 3 oz and above, you can begin by using less essential oil than suggested above, and see if that works. We find that we don’t need to keep doubling the amounts as we make larger quantity blends in order for them to be effective.

I broke these down for smaller amounts below:
1% dilution: 2-3 drops/tablespoon; 1 drop per 1/6 oz of carrier
2% dilution: 5-6 drops/tablespoon; 2 drops per 1/6 oz of carrier
3% dilution: 7.5-9 drops/tablespoon; 3 drops per 1/6 oz of carrier
(Possible volume equivalent: If 1 oz carrier = 2 Tablespoons, 1/6 oz = 1 teaspoon)


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Young Living, multi-level marketing, and finding alternatives.

I am not a joiner. It's not in my nature. My introduction to oils came from a respected friend who's using Young Living products-- which seem to be excellent. However, they do not test (or at least do not publish) tests on each batch of their oils, and the company is set up in a Multi-level marketing, Amway-type setup (which means that they have to make loads of profit to pay each level of distributors, all the way to the top, on every purchase). Their promotional materials, many of them available at the website and on YouTube, are beautiful and slick as well.

Then I looked through a couple of publications sold on their website (and via other bookstores, including Amazon). The Essential Oils Desk Reference and the book Healing Oils of the Bible look at first to be independent publications-- but once you begin reading in depth, it's obvious that the authors have a very deep connection to Young Living and its products. I don't mind a company publishing books on its products, but these give me the vibe that YL is publishing books and then trying to make them look as if they were independently researched and written. I don't think so.

All of this makes me a little uncomfortable.

Nonetheless, my first purchase of oils was through Young Living-- sorta. Rather than go through their website, I purchased a brand new "Everyday Essentials" kit via Ebay. The retail price was about $150; I paid just under $75 for my set. However, since then I've found references to several companies who seem to be highly regarded as well-- and their oils are much cheaper, or the bottles much larger, for a similar amount of money.

Here are a couple of examples of price comparisons as of 07.2009:

Aromatics International:
Cedarwood, 1/2oz/15ml, $10
Lavender, 1/2oz/15ml, $14
Myrrh, 1/2 oz/15ml, $20
Ravintsara, 1/2 oz/15ml, $15
White Lotus Aromatics:
Cedarwood, 1/2oz, $5 (wild harvest) or $7 (organic)
Lavender, 1/2 oz, $6.44
Myrrh, 1/2 oz, $15.21
Ravintsara, 1 oz, $8
Young Living:
Cedarwood, 1/2oz/15ml, $12.83
Lavender, 1/2oz/15ml, $24.03
Myrrh, 1/2 oz/15ml, $85.20
Ravintsara, not available
*YL prices are discounted by 25% if you're one of their "distributors"-- ie, you've paid $40 or purchased certain pricey kits that include membership in the organization. I listed their original price because the cost of buying into the program would take a very long time to work itelf out in purchase of oils-- at least for me.

I have no issue with the apparent quality of Young Living oils-- to my very untrained eye and nose, they're excellent-- but I just don't like the business model, their secrecy on quality, or the relatively high prices.

Both Aromatics International and White Lotus Aromatics were recommended by professional aromatherapists on several discussion boards; AI, in particular, has every batch of oil they purchase tested and publishes those results on their website for anyone to peruse. They seem absolutely passionate about ensuring quality in all their oils, and they have a free "intro to oils" course online for beginners.

It makes me happy that my research has provided me with at least a couple of alternatives. Now to settle in and start experimenting with the oils I already own-- instead of spending more time racking up lists of purchases I'd like to make next!


Friday, July 3, 2009

oil profile: Lavender

Lavender was my first essential oil to obtain; it's considered the "desert island oil", the one you'd choose to take with you if you could bring no others. Its wide variety of claims give a beginner plenty of chances to experience the benefits of essential oils without having to invest heavily in an array of different oils.

Here are ten common uses recommended by

First Aid
For minor cuts and scrapes, apply one drop of pure lavender essential oil directly to the wound (after the wound has been cleaned), then dress with an appropriate bandage. For deep cuts or wounds, consult your doctor or a licensed clinical aromatherapist before applying essential oil. Lavender helps to regenerate tissue and can cause healing from the outside in if used too quickly - again, make sure to consult your physician or a licensed clinical aromatherapist for advice.
For mild burns, place a few drops of lavender essential oil onto the dressing that will be placed over the wound. Also be sure to use any appropriate salve as directed by your physician.
To help reduce problems with insomnia, simply apply one drop of lavender essential oil to the edge of a pillowcase. Take deep breaths, and relax from your toes all the way to your head, focusing on all the major body parts along the way. Eventually, your body will become "trained" to the effects of the essential oil - usually within a week or two -- and you will notice a significantly faster reaction with continued use.
Place 20 drops of lavender in a warm bath and relax. 5-10 drops may also be used in a vaporizer for inhalation. If a bathtub or vaporizer isn't available, simply apply 3 drops to a cotton ball and inhale as needed. If you face a stressful daily commute, car diffusers work wonders: place 5 drops of lavender essential oil onto the pad and plug the unit into your cigarette lighter.
Lavender's analgesic properties help to reduce sunburn pain, and lavender is also useful in the sunburn healing process. For large, lightly burned areas, use about 15 drops of lavender essential oil to 1 tbsp of distilled water and dab gently over the entire affected area. For smaller, more severe sunburns, apply lavender essential oil neat (directly) to the area - but make sure that you only use a drop or two, since essential oil is extremely potent.
Household disinfectant
Lavender has superb antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, making it a great household disinfectant. For cleaning sinks, tubs, or toilets, sprinkle baking soda and 3-5 drops of lavender essential oil onto a sponge and scrub away. After you're finished scrubbing, rinse the area well. For washing floors, countertops, etc., simply add 60 drops of essential oil to a bucket of warm water, and wipe or mop as needed.
Lavender helps to reduce inflammation, regenerate skin tissue, and promote healing of bruises. To ease inflammation, place 5 drops of lavender essential oil into a bowl of cold water, wet a washcloth in the lavender solution, and apply as a compress to the affected area. After using the initial compress, apply a drop or two directly upon the bruised area once a day until the area has healed.
Colic or tummy aches in infants
Place 1-3 drops of lavender essential oil into 1 tsp of carrier oil (such as jojoba or sesame). Rub the oil mixture gently onto your baby's tummy and lower back in a clockwise direction. Repeat this procedure every few hours until the symptoms subside.
After a long day, place 10 drops of lavender essential oil into a hot footbath and soak for 30 minutes. Lavender has a well-earned reputation as a restorative - you'll be surprised how much better you'll feel!
Insect bites/bee stings
Place one drop of lavender essential oil directly onto insect bites or bee stings. Lavender's anti-inflammatory properties reduce swelling, its analgesic properties reduce pain and itch, and its healing properties encourage tissue repair. Frequently, you'll hardly notice the bite at all if you apply the oil immediately after being bit or stung.

...pretty hard to believe that one oil could do all that, isn't it? And smell so good to boot.

Greenfeet recommends two books by Julia Lawless and Valerie Ann Worwood at the end of this passage. I've already got one of Worwood's books on its way to me now.


Bath fizzers, exfoliating scrub, linen spray.

Is there anything you CAN'T find a YouTube video about?? I'm currently steeping myself in all these great essential oil videos. Fantastic.

Lavender was my first essential oil to purchase; here's a helpful, basic little TV interview with a Young Living associate that gives three simple gift/pampering recipes using lavender. For my own ease of reference, I've written out the recipes below.

Bath Fizzers
a. 2T baking soda
b. 2t citric acid
c. 8-10 drops lavender oil
d. spray bottle containing water

Mix a-c; use spray bottle to dampen dry mixture into a moldable consistency.
Press into candy molds, ice cube trays, or shape into small balls by hand.
Invert onto waxed paper and let dry thoroughly until hardened before packaging.

Linen Freshener
a. 4-8 drops lavender essential oil
b. 4 oz distilled water
c. small spray bottle

Combine a & b in the spray bottle; shake before spraying to make sure oil and water are combined thoroughly. Use as a room freshener, linen spray, etc.

Exfoliating foot scrub/Body soak
1/4 c sea salt, epsom salts, or raw sugar
1/4 c enhanced vegetable oil complex (v-6 or massage oil)
1-3 drops lavender essential oil

combine all three ingredients, stirring thoroughly; store in sealed container.


Fuzzy Finds What, Exactly?

Hmm. A new blog.

I have a neglected little personal blog, the sad younger sister of one I had years ago that received all kinds of attention and regular posts. It languishes over at, the product of our move away from Florida (and full-time ministry) into an old house in my hometown where I hoped to put down roots and thereby forget all the indignities which we suffered in our previous life. It's intensely self-focused, a little defensive even. That was what I needed back then.

It served its purpose, and still does-- about twice a quarter, when I want to write something for my kids to read someday or think through a difficult moment inside my brain.

But I have new reasons to start recording information online again, and I'm excited to open this little spot to record that journey.

I have two new passions of late, things I'd like to pursue further.

One of them is my new little vintage shop at Etsy, which gives me convenient license to buy things I love but don't have room for in my home. They say it takes time to build a clientele there, so I'm trying to cheerfully ignore the fact that I've yet to make a sale. :) If it works, I hope to be able to make a little extra money and joy by acting as a kind of Flea Market Shopper for folks who'd like to enjoy my finds. This is a fabulous part of the country to find great vintage items cheap. So, this address will be a place to chat about that journey, those finds, and about how I use vintage finds in our home-- in hopes that others will find it inspirational. (If the Etsy shop falls flat, I will likely to continue to babble about this, because I'm pretty adamant about using old things rather than buying newly produced ones, and pretty certain that my my vintage stuff is better-made/more long-lasting/more earth-friendly than consuming new stuff at Target/Wal-Mart/etc.)

The other is one that's surprising me, because of my suspicious nature. I am not one to take up a fad or be easily convinced that some new Thing is the Key to Health. I love cultivating a simple lifestyle for my family, but I have a healthy suspicion of what I think of as Health Food Store Babble. I usually turn a fairly critical eye on these things.

But a friend invited me to a little class on the use of therapeutic-grade essential oils, and I'm fascinated. For one thing, they're completely natural and very effective at cleaning your home; you can make all kinds of your own cleaning supplies, scrumptious air fresheners, insect repellants, and much more out of materials that are simply and purely derived from familiar plants. (ie, They smell awesome and won't fill your home with unknown chemicals.) As a gardener and mother of two precious toddlers, I really dig that.

The other side of the coin is the health benefits of using essential oils-- what I'm hearing is that they penetrate the cells of our bodies completely differently than other substances (like chemicals and medicines), that they connect with our brains in instant and mysterious ways, that we may be able to cure many of our bodies' illnesses-- minor and possibly major-- with these oils. I just checked out a book from the library that examines the uses of essential oils and aromatic plants in the Bible. It occasionally makes some pretty outrageous claims, but on the whole, it is absolutely fascinating. I feel like I'm being introduced to a whole new world of knowledge, and I need a place to record all the things I'm learning and picking up here and there. Why not do that online in a place where others may benefit from it too?

So I'm lumping all my current fascinations-- vintage shopping and decorating, gardening discoveries, home-care revelations, knitting adventures, and essential oil recipes and knowledge-- right here into one little blog. Fuzzy's Finds.

Perhaps someone other than myself will find it entertaining. If not, I'll enjoy jabbering and sharing photos with myself over here in this little corner. Like this little urchin from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, I'll keep relentlessly hunting down my treasures and bringing them home to this little blog-- whether they're appreciated by anyone else or not.