Thursday, December 31, 2009

Everyday Uses for Essential Oils- Part 1

I find myself reaching for a bottle of essential on almost a daily basis, especially this time of year when fresh, fragrant herbs just aren't available. Two of the most useful to me are peppermint and lavender.

Lavender has a clean, relaxing scent. Depending on the cultivar used to make the oil, it can be fruity or resinous in character.
~ I keep a little roll on bottle of lavender essential oil handy for minor burns and zits.
~If you are stressed, can't sleep or are exhausted try a little lavender to help revive yourself. ~Add a few drops to a warm bath.
~For a more portable solution, sprinkle a couple of drops on a tissue or cotton ball to take with you.

Peppermint is next on my list of favorites. Its cooling, refreshing scent is perfect for relieving mental fatigue.
~Freshen the air in a sickroom with a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball in a small dish.
~Place a couple of those peppermint cotton balls in a plastic bag to take with you when traveling. The scent helps many with motion sickness and can help with mental alertness.
~I use a few drops in my mop water to freshen the stale winter air and to keep mice and ants away.
~Avoid using peppermint oil if you are pregnant! Consult with your midwife before using any essential oil when pregnant.

Always keep in mind- essential oils are concentrated and potent so a little goes a long way.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I did my last market of the year yesterday. Now it's time to pamper my much neglected family over the holidays- maybe even put up some decorations, cook something yummy, just enjoy each others company without the sound of the sewing machine or timer to interrupt our conversation.

I have learned to love the winter months.This is the time to reflect on what went right with the year and what needs improvement, what the goals are for the coming year, reestablishing much needed balance. It's time to cocoon- read, eat too much, stay in bed under the warm covers and watch Cary Grant movies in pajamas.

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all my new friends!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

How To Make Cinnamon Spice Ornaments

This is a fun and fragrant project for kids of all ages.

Put 1 cup of smooth, unsweetened applesauce in a medium sized bowl. Gradually stir in 1- 1 1/2 cups of ground spices. I used a mix of ginger, cloves and cinnamon for this batch. The spices don't have to be top quality for flavor, but you want them nice and fragrant. You can usually find good deals at the Dollar Store for this project.

Keep adding spice and stirring until your dough is non sticky, but not too crumbly. A good test is to roll a little ball of the dough. It should hold together but not stick to your hands.

Form your dough into a large ball, flatten slightly and place on a sheet of waxed paper.

Place another piece of waxed paper on top and roll with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick.

These are the cookie cutters I used to cut out the dough. Choose simple shapes without too much detail for the best results.
Make a hole in the top of each ornament with a small diameter straw so you can add a ribbon for hanging after they are dry. A swizzle stick works great. Form little balls 1/2- 3/4 inches with any leftover dough, adding a hole to them also.
Place your ornaments on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet and place the tray in a warm, dry place. Air dry for several days. add a pretty ribbon and you'll have fragrant ornaments for your Christmas tree!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Etsy Treasuries

I caught an Etsy treasury spot this morning! It's all Christmas Trees.
Here is a link

My allspice berries are featured in another chosen by enchantedhue!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Corn Fed Squirrels

Yes, it's true! We invite the squirrels into our yard by feeding them tasty treats!
We started out feeding the birds and my husband quickly became VERY unhappy with the amount of birdseed the squirrels would go through in a day.
Then I found this whirly gig corn feeder for squirrels. The dried cobs of corn attach to the ends of the arms with a large screw. This devise along with weighted bird feeders keeps the squirrel out of the birdseed, happy and well fed as you can see from their round little bellies in these photos! Now they are welcome visitors who are a great source of entertainment and laughter!

Some classic squirrel poses.

Blue jays also eat a LOT of seed, but like the corn, too.

Cleaning up what the birds dropped- good job guys!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Apple Simmering Potpourri

Simmering potpourri is one of my favorites this time of year! It quickly adds a nice fragrance and refreshes a stale room while adding moisture to the air.

  • 1/4 cup diced apple (or apple peel left from that pie!)
  • 1/3 cup allspice
  • 1/3 cup star anise
  • 6-8 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips or broken sticks
  • 1/4 cup ginger root, dried pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried orange peel
  • 1/4 cup cloves
Mix all ingredients except the apple. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture and your apple dices to a non reactive pot and add 1-2 cups of water. Simmer over low heat or on top of the wood stove adding more water as needed. Store the dried ingredients in a closed container for future use.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Craft Show Season

It has been a busy couple of weeks! It was like the holiday season started the day after Halloween this year. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! I love the hustle and bustle of making orders and getting ready for holiday farmers markets and craft fairs. My house is full of the scent of balsam, frankincense, myrrh, vanilla and spices. I'm sure there's some lavender in their too, but my nose no longer recognizes it as I have been working with it so much.
This weekend is the Fox Hospital Ladies Auxiliary Craft Show. There are over 100 crafters signed up to do the show! The level of creativity at this show is out of this world. Stop in if you're in the area! I'll be next to Dr Brody's office as usual. The hours are Sat 9-5 and Sun 9-3.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yarrow is on of those fool-proof perennials that works in most any garden. While it does spread, it is light and airy and the secretions from its roots actually increase the disease resistance of nearby plants! One leaf will help speed up the decomposition of one wheelbarrow load of plant material making it quite useful for those who compost. In the garden, yarrow helps repel, flies, Japanese beetles and ants.
The proper name, achillea millefolium, comes from the warrior Achilles who used the plant to staunch the blood flow in his wounded warriors. In the language of flowers yarrow represents "health".
The Druids used yarrow to divine seasonal weather and it is used to foretell the future with the assistance of IChing.
Personally, I like to dry it for use in flower arrangements. The white variety adds a nice lightness to compositions while the yellow variety adds a substantial golden pop. All varieties of yarrow are easy to dry. Gather small bunches, wrap the base of the stems together with a rubber band and hang upside down in a warm, dry, dark place until dry.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hot Oil Treatment

Giving your hair a hot oil conditioning treatment doesn't have to take any more time than it takes to finish your shower! Simply mix 1/2 cup of olive oil or jojoba oil with 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Lavender or rosemary are especially nice. Put the mix in a 4 ounce plastic bottle with a squirt top. To use, put your bottle of conditioner in a cup of very hot water while you prepare to take your shower. Thoroughly wet your. Shake the bottle well and apply the conditioning treatments to the ends of your hair only. Do the rest of your shower and finish by washing your hair with your usual shampoo. Your hair will be soft, silky and shiny! Use once a week.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Peachy Oatmeal Mask

Take the time this week to treat yourself to a nourishing, skin smoothing facial mask! This mask is good for all skin types and can be followed by a moisturizer if you like.


Peel and mash one half of a very ripe peach in a small bowl. Add 4 teaspoons of finely ground oatmeal and 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream or buttermilk. Apply to your face and neck avoiding the eye area. Leave on for 20-30 minutes while relaxing. Rinse and glow!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cloves- Syzgium Aromaticum

The very fragrant cloves you find on the spice shelf of your kitchen start their life in the tropics. They come from a tender evergreen tree that reaches 30'. The tree has large, glossy leathery leaves and gets red bell shaped flowers twice a year. The cloves on your kitchen shelf are actually the pink flower buds that turn brown and hard after drying!
Here are some uses for clove buds-
  • use in pomanders and potpourri
  • chew to freshen breath
  • put a clove bud on an aching tooth to help relieve pain until you can get to the dentist
  • infuse as a tea for nausea- gently boil 10 cloves in one cup of water for 10 minutes.
Clove oil is antibacterial, antiseptic and analgesic. The oil is quite powerful and has been used in the past to sterilize surgical instruments. Always dilute it before using on the skin. Clove oil makes a great addition to a soap for the kitchen and to add a spicy note to potpourri.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Chamomile is one of those herbs most people are familiar with. Because it is so common, I sometimes forget just how useful it is. The active ingredients in chamomile are anti inflammatory, antispasmodic and a smooth muscle relaxer- which makes it a good choice for gastrointestinal woes. A nice cup of chamomile tea will go a long way towards soothing the following complaints-
  • indigestion
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • colic
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • sleeplessness
  • canker sores
Externally, chamomile infusions can be helpful for eczema and skin irritations. You can make a compress to apply to a specific area or put a handful in a muslin bag or piece of cheesecloth and run the water through it as you are filling the tub. It makes a lovely smelling, skin softening bath!
Chamomile is also good for gardening! Plant it near an ailing plant to help revive it. Make an infusion to spray on seedlings to ward off damping off or add to your compost to help activate it.
While generally safe, there have been rare instances of allergic reactions to chamomile. If you have an allergy to the Asteraceae family- ragweed, asters, mums- it is best to avoid chamomile.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Head Lice- Eeew!

It's that time of year again! The kids are back in school and head lice are looking to expand their territory. Most of the commonly available treatments are harsh and rather toxic. The best way to deal with lice is to discourage them from taking up residence on your or your child's head to begin with. Fortunately, this can be done safely and fragrantly!
These essential oils are suitable for people of all ages-
  • lavender
  • rosemary (should NOT be used during pregnancy)
  • lemon
  • eucalyptus
  • geranium
Pick one or two of your favorites and blend equal parts of each. Add 2-3 drops to the final rinse after shampooing or put a couple of drops in the palm of your hand and massage into the scalp and hair after washing. The oils add a subtle shine and a pleasant fragrance that lice just don't like!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How To Make A Sleep Sachet Mix

Little pillows filled with fragrant, sleep inducing herbs have been used for hundreds of years to help encourage a restful nights sleep. It's easy to make your own and they make a thoughtful gift.
One of my Farmers Market friends had the wonderful idea of making the project at her little girl's sleepover! The girls mixed the herbs and filled the little pillows Lisa had stitched up ahead of time. As the children sewed the fourth end of their pillow closed, the herbs worked their magic, everyone got a good sleep and the guests had a pretty favor to take home!


Start by adding 1/4 teaspoon each of bergamot and lavender essential oils to a fixative such as oak moss or cellulose fiber chips. Shake well and let set in a glass container with a tight fitting lid for at least two days. This allows the fixative to fully absorb the essential oils so their scent will last longer.
Next, mix your dried herbs. I usually use 2 cups of rose petals, 2 cups of lavender, one cup of chamomile,one cup of lemongrass, one cup of lemon verbena and 1/2 cup of peppermint. Other herbs you can use are sweet woodruff,marjoram, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon chips and hops. Use care with the hops. The scent can become a bit unpleasant if you use too much!
Add your scented fixative to the herbs and blend thoroughly. You can add the mix to the pillows at this point or let it age in a container with a tight fitting lid for 2-6 weeks to let the scents blend. If you age it, the scent will last much longer.
The pillow can range in size from 6"x6" (which is a good size to tuck into your main pillow) to 12"x16" (for the serious insomniacs in your life!) The larger pillows can be used on top of the main pillow or tucked underneath.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By Special Request

I have been getting quite a few e-mails asking where to buy some of the items required to make the projects I have been sharing. I didn't realize they aren't readily available at a reasonable cost everywhere. So, I have started to add them to my website. They available quantities will be limited as I want to make sure you get fresh, fragrant herbs and spices. Look for more selections in the coming weeks as I get my stock built up. Here is some of what is currently available. Click on the name to get a full description and pricing. If you have a special request, drop me a line and I'll see if I can get it for you!



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mug Mat Directions- Part 2

Now that your mix has aged, it's time to make the cover for your mug mat. This one has a removable cover so you can wash it as needed. You will need fabric as follows-

~lining- one piece of muslin 9 inches by 4 1/2 inches (7 x 13 for a 9 inch trivet)
~cover- one piece of cotton fabric, pre-was
hed and preshrunk, 5 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches (10x 24 for trivet)
-Fold short ends of muslin over 1/4 inch. Pin and press
-Fold muslin in half, matching fold
ed edges then stitch raw edges.
-Trim corners, turn to
the right side and press.

-Fold short ends of fabric over 1/4 inch then an additional 1/4 inch to make a narrow finished hem. Press, pin and stitch close to edge of fold.
-With right sides together, fold cover into thirds overlapping finished edges in the middle. -Pin and stitch raw edge
s to form an envelope.
-Trim corne
rs, turn and press.

-Add about 1/4 cup (One cup for trivet) of you
r aged spice mix to the muslin liner. Don't be tempted to overfill or your cup will tip over!
-Pin and press. Y
ou are done!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Skunk Scent Remover

The skunks in our neighborhood are moving about quite a bit now. I think they are trying to get that last layer of fat on before hibernating for the winter! While they don't usually create any problems, now and then my dog, Heidi Bear, gets way too curious and ends up getting sprayed. Fortunately, there is a simple remedy to remove the smell.
Add a bottle of peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and a few drops of dish washing detergent to a bucket of warm water. Thoroughly bathe then rinse your dog, avoiding getting the mix in the eyes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How to Make Spice Filled Mug Mats

Spice filled mug mats and trivets make a thoughtful, fragrant gift. While they are not hard to make it does take a little time if you age your mix properly. The secret to long lasting fragrance in any potpourri type mix is sufficient aging. You can vary the spices and oils in this recipe to suit your own nose.

Mug Mat Mix
  • 1 cup of allspice
  • 1 cup of cinnamon chips
  • 1/2 cup of cloves
  • 1 cup of dried orange peel
  • 1/4 cup of star anise
  • 1/4 cup of dried rosemary
  • 1 cup of oak moss or cellulose fiber chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon of orange essential oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of clove and cinnamon essential oils
Mix the first 6 ingredients and put into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Make sure it is large enough to allow for future mixing by shaking. Place your oak moss or cellulose fixative in a small jar with a lid and add your oils. Shake well and let sit for several days until the oils are fully absorbed. Add to your spice mix, put the cover back on and shake gently to mix. Let age for at least 4 weeks, shaking gently now and then to redistribute the scents. Your mix will be ready to use after the aging period. I'll give instructions for sewing the mats later this week. ~Gail~

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Giving Western Medicine a Try

I so totally believe in the ability of nature to provide a cure for all our ills, but have been frustrated with finding that cure for rheumatoid arthritis for over three years now. I have tried gluten- free, night shade-free, gin soaked raisins, accupuncture, accupressure, weight training, visualization, cherry juice, etc, etc.
I give! I had my first Humira shot yesterday and I am hoping it will prevent permanant damage to the tendons and joints that are so necessary to create for a living. Wish me luck!- or tell what has worked for you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Natural Body Powder Recipe

I just love to use a nice powder after a shower, but don't want to worry about the effects of talc so I created my own using all natural ingredients. You can vary the herbs and oils used to make your own signature scent. You can find arrowroot powder in the natural foods section of most larger grocery stores or at Jean's Greens. They also carry powder cylinders with a shaker top to package your fragrant creation for gift giving.

Lavender Body Powder
Mix dry ingredients thoroughly with a whisk. Gradually add essential oil a couple of drops at a time, mixing thoroughly each addition. Put your mixture in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and age at least a week before using to allow the scents to mellow and mingle.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lavender Rose Milk Bath

The tradition of milk baths goes back to the time of Cleopatra. This bath is soothing, softening and makes a thoughtful gift. Package in a pretty jar with a muslin bag and directions for use.

  • 1 cup of powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup of powdered goat milk
  • 1/2 cup of ground lavender
  • 1/4 cup of rose petal powder
  • 1 cup of finely ground oatmeal
Thoroughly mix all ingredients and store in an air tight container. To use, place 1/4- 1/3 cup in a muslin bag and hang from the faucet as the tub is filling.
You can find the lavender and muslin bags at

Monday, September 7, 2009

Artwork at the Iroquois Museum

These photos don't even scratch the surface of the wonderful collection of contemporary and traditional artwork at the Iroquois Museum in Cobleskill, NY. It is definitely worth the time to visit if you are ever in the area. If you have children, they have many hands on and outdoor activities to keep them happily occupied. Hope you enjoy this small peek!