Directions For How To Make Rose Oil Using The Cold Infusion Method

Calendula Infused Oil

Calendula is a golden glory early in the summer and then throughout the summer and even fall in warmer climates. The flowering heads made into oils, salves, and creams are centuries old favorite for healing wounds and burns.

Apply this beautiful golden-colored oil directly to your skin to soothe rashes, sunburns, and skin irritations, or use it as part of a healing herbal salve or cream recipe. Store for up to 2 years if kept out of light and in a cool place.

1 cup wilted fresh or 1/2 cup dried calendula flowers

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the flowers and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear glass jar, cover, and place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. Shake the jar vigorously every day for 2 to 3 weeks.

Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible, and compost the herb.

Bottle and label the oil and store it away from heat and light.

Calendula Oil

Marigold has much value today and in traditional cultures as a homeopathic remedy, but the oil extracted from the flowers, called calendula oil, is not far behind in providing benefits. Learn more about this oil distilled from the petals of the pot marigold or Calendula officinalis, and how you can harness its health and practical everyday uses.

WHAT IS CALENDULA OIL?

calendula jarMarigold is a genus of about 15 to 20 species of plants in the Asteraceae family. This flower is native to Southwestern Asia, as well as Western Europe and the Mediterranean. The common name “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary, to which it is associated in the 17th century.
Apart from being used to honor the Virgin Mary during Catholic events, marigold was also considered by ancient Egyptians to have rejuvenating properties. Hindis used the flowers to adorn statues of gods in their temples, as well as to color their food, fabrics, and cosmetics.
calendula-officinalisPot marigold or C. Officinalis is the most commonly cultivated and used species and is the source of the herbal oil. “Calendula” comes from the Latin word “calendae,” meaning “little calendar,” because the flower blooms on the calends or the first of most months. It should not be confused with ornamental marigolds of the Tagets genus, commonly grown in vegetable gardens.
Calendula, with fiery red and yellow petals, is full of flavonoids, which are found naturally in vegetables and fruits and are substances that give plants their lovely bright colors.
Calendula oil is distilled from the flower tops and is quite sticky and viscous. It has a very strange smell described as musky, woody, and even rotten – like the marigold flowers themselves. This smell does not readily appeal to many individuals, even in when used in a remedy.

USES OF CALENDULA OIL

Here are three classifications of calendula plant and oil uses:

    1. Health and wellness – It has tonic, sudorific, emmenagogic, and antispasmodic properties, but it is mainly used for skin care and treatment. It has great anti-inflammatory and vulnerary action, making it helpful for stubborn wounds, acne, ulcers, bed sores, varicose veins, rashes, eczema, and related conditions. It addresses sore, inflamed, and itchy skin conditions.Calendula massage oil also greatly heals, soothes, and softens skin, making it a good addition to massage oils or when preparing a carrier oil blend.
    2. Cooking – Since the Middle Ages, the petals of marigold have been used as “the poor man’s saffron” for coloring cheeses, butter, and dishes. During the Elizabethan era, both petals and leaves were used in salads, although the latter showed to be very strong. The petals flavored soups and stews.
    3. Practical uses – Marigold has been used as a dye. Dried petals can also be added in potpourris.

COMPOSITION OF CALENDULA OIL

calendula-oil-760x428 (1)

In a study, calendula oil was obtained in low yield (0.3 percent) by steam distillation with cohabitation from flowers and whole plants. Identified by the researchers were 66 components, mainly sesquiterpene alcohols. α-cadinol was the main constituent, about 25 percent. The essential oil from the whole plant was found different from that of the flowers through the presence of monoterpenes hydrocarbons aside from the alcohols.
The principal constitutes of calendula essential oil are flavonoids, saponoside, triterpene alcohol, and a bitter principle. The useful components of calendula itself include a volatile oil, carotenoids, flavonoids, mucilage, resin, polysaccharides, aromatic plant acids, saponins, glycosides, and sterols.

BENEFITS OF CALENDULA OIL

Calendula oil is traditionally used for abdominal cramps and constipation. It’s your skin that will receive a good bulk of the benefits, thanks to the oil’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and related properties. Here are some of the promoted benefits of this oil:

  1. Skin dryness or chapping – Calendula oil is a great moisturizer for dry skin and for severely chapped or split skin. It soothes the area and reduces the pain.
  2. Inflammation – It works well on swelling sprained muscles or bruises; its anti-inflammatory action helps lessen swelling from injury. Calendula oil also helps treat spider veins, varicose veins, leg ulcers, and chilblains.
  3. Baby care – The oil helps relief diaper rashes, which can extremely irritate an infant.
  4. Minor cuts and wounds – The antiseptic and antimicrobial action of the oil help speed up healing of wounds and minor cuts, and also benefit insect bites, acne, and bed sores.
  5. Skin issues – Eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin problems can be soothed using calendula oil, applied topically. Calendula oil’s antifungal action is also great for treating athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch.

HOW TO MAKE CALENDULA OIL {Recipe 2}

Calendula oil is extracted by steam distillation. There is almost no way to obtain 100 percent pure calendula essential oil, so this makes calendula essential oil an infusion and not a pure extract. In order to get the oil from the flower, the petals are steeped in oil, preferably olive oil. The oil left over when distillation is done is calendula oil, which should be a golden orange color.
You can create homemade calendula oil using the following instructions:
What you will need:

  • Dried calendula petals
  • Carrier oil (olive oil, almond oil, or sunflower oil are some great options)
  • A clean glass jar with a lid

There are two methods to infuse the oil:

  • Cold infusion method – This is the usually preferred techniques because it protects the delicate calendula from heat damage.
    1. Put your desired amount of dried calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar.
    2. Fill the jar with your carrier oil of choice to cover the petals by an inch.
    3. Put in a sunny place to infuse for four weeks.
    4. Drain the petals from the oil and store the oil in a container with a lid for up to one year.
  • Hot infusion method – This method is much quicker than the cold infusion method but won’t have the same strength because of the presence of heat.
    1. Put your desired amount of dried calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar.
    2. Fill the jar with your carrier oil of choice to cover the petals by an inch.
    3. Dump the entire contents of the jar (the petals and the oil) in a small saucepan or slow cookers. Heat on low for four hours, stirring occasionally.
    4. Let cool. Drain the petals from the oil and store the oil in a container with a lid for up to one year.

You can use the homemade calendula oil as an after-bath body oil, salve, baby oil, lotion, or home remedy for dry skin, inflamed areas, or rashes.

HOW DOES CALENDULA OIL WORK?

Calendula oil is used in various products, oftentimes as a great base for lotions, salves, creams, several natural cosmetics and personal care products, and herbal ointments. It also very commonly works as a base oil in aromatherapy. Furthermore, you can use calendula oil in an all-natural herbal hair color recipe.
You can create an infused oil by filling a jar with the dried flowers, which you cover with a carrier oil. You can get more out of these flowers by macerating the mixture in a blender. Leave it infused for two weeks or more to extract the flowers’ beneficial properties. When ready to use, filter the oil through cheesecloth, and use it directly in a balm or as part of a homemade cream or lotion.

IS CALENDULA OIL SAFE?

Calendula oil is generally safe for use, but I advise you to heed the following safety guidelines and considerations:

  1. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should generally avoid using calendula oil. Do not take calendula by mouth, as there is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage. Avoid topical use as well.
  2. An allergic reaction may occur in individuals who are sensitivity to ragweed and related plants, such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, and daisies. Before using calendula oil, check with your doctor if you have allergies.
  3. Combined with medications used during and after surgery, calendula use might cause too much drowsiness and should be stopped at least two weeks before surgery.

SIDE EFFECTS OF CALENDULA OIL

If you are not pregnant, nursing, allergic, or about to undergo surgery, you can use calendula oil with likely no side effect. It is best, however, to consult your healthcare provider, especially for therapeutic use.
Remember, though, that sedative medications or CNS depressants interact with calendula. The plant extract might cause sleepiness and drowsiness, and taking it with sedative drugs might result in excess sleepiness. Some sedative drugs include clonazepam, (Klonopin), phenobarbital (Donnatal), and zolpidem (Ambien). I advise you to also explore safe, natural ways to get a good night’s sleep.

What is Yin?

Yin is not yang, yet both are necessary for wholeness. Yin is feminine energy, though not exclusive to females. Yang is masculine energy, though not exclusive to males.

Yin_yangYin is, among other aspects, collaboration, cooperation, nurturance, integration, kindness, compassion, softness, sensuality, flow, flexibility and intuition. It is our connection to our heart, the heart of others and to Earth. Yin can only be experienced and felt. It is unseen, unmeasurable, untouchable and is the “beingness” of our reality and is dominated by the right hemisphere of our brain.

Yang is, among other aspects, independence, strength, manipulation, alteration, force, governance, separation, hierarchy, rigidity, and logic. Yang helps us to change the physical world in which we live in ways that can be measured and detected by our five senses. Yang is the “doingness” of our reality and is dominated by the left hemisphere of our brain.

Ideally, each person, family, society, and culture would be balanced in their yin and yang aspects. Imbalance toward yin or yang sets a system up for failure. Cultivating yin attributes in each individual and pairing them with yang actions leads to purposeful changes infused with integrity, authenticity, power, and health.

Early societies were peaceful, goddess-based, hunter-gatherer in nature and egalitarian, though progress and development were slow for tens of thousands of years. About 5,000 years ago humans started to domesticate and own animals. The “capital” in capitalism means “head” as in head of a sheep, cow, or goat. Progress and development during this period increased significantly.

In fact, anthropologist John Hawks estimated that positive natural selection (the tendency of beneficial traits to increase in frequency in a population) just in the past 5,000 years alone has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period of human evolution.

I think many of us can see how using the land, eating the animals, burning the fuel, and otherwise consuming the resources while advancing in the material world at lightening speed is unsustainable. I think it’s time, and I do believe it’s already starting, to take the best of the early egalitarian societies and the best of the capitalistic societies to create a new society that will evolve both in the spiritual and material worlds, the seen and the unseen, the measurable and the unmeasurable, the doing and the being.

How do we do this? Not by women becoming more man-like or men becoming more women-like, rather each of us becoming  whole and balanced in our yin and yang: pairing, appreciating and using both our masculine and feminine energies.

 

Essential Oil Spotlight: Lemongrass

AromaTools™ Blog

Lemongrass

Lemongrass essential oil is steam-distilled from the leaves of the Cymbopogon flexuosus. Its lemony, earthy aroma may promote awareness and purification.

Historically, lemongrass has been used for infections and fever, as an insecticide, and as a sedative to the central nervous system.

The French use it to treat bladder infections, fluid retention, edema, and varicose veins and to heal the digestive system and connective tissue.

Lemongrass is believed to support the immune system and strengthen muscles and bones. Other possible uses of lemongrass are to improve circulation, wake the lymphatic system, treat respiratory problems, and improve eyesight.

Use topically, aromatically in a diffuser, in capsule form, or as a flavoring in cooking.

To learn more about lemongrass essential oil, see the book Modern Essentials™: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils.

Source: Modern Essentials™: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 7th…

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Clean And Green Series 2

Clean And Green Household Helpers

Ever wonder if those commercial cleaning products and indoor pesticides you use might do more harm than good? You’re not alone. Natural homecare products {many of which contain herbs} are growing in popularity as more homemakers become aware of indoor toxins. The use of certain cleaning products has been linked to higher rates of asthma, inducing the condition in some people, as well as aggravating the condition in those who already have this chronic inflammatory disease. And although you can buy many excellent nontoxic products for your home, it’s easy and fun to make your own. Just remember that even plant products can be toxic under some circumstances, and the same cautions given for other herbal uses also apply here.

SIMPLY CLEAN SOLUTIONS

With just a few basic ingredients, you can make safer “green” cleaning products for a fraction of the cost of the commercial products and without the scary ingredients. Distilled white vinegar {which contains acetic acid} has antifungal and antimicrobial properties and can eliminate mineral deposits from sink and bathroom fixtures, as well as cookware. Acidic lemon juice kills germs on countertops, cutting boards, and more. Baking soda deodorizes and dissolves grease and dirt. Mixed with other ingredients, it makes a gentle but effective scrub. All-natural castile soap made for centuries with olive oil, not only washes dirt and grease from your body, but also from household surfaces and laundry.
Many herbs have potent disinfectant properties, too. Basil, bay, cardamom, clove, coriander, eucalyptus, ginger, hyssop, lavender, lemongrass, oregano, peppermint, rose geranium, rosemary, sage, spearmint, and thyme are cleaning powerhouses. All contain a multitude of plant chemicals that possess antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral actions. By adding a few drops of these essential oils to your homemade cleaning products, you can boost their cleaning power and impart a delightful fragrance that makes cleaning more pleasurable.
Because essential oils break down plastic over time, it’s best to store your homemade cleaning products in labeled, dark glass containers. Plastic spray bottles are fine for short-term storage of smaller quantities. Also, remember to store all cleaning products, even those made with natural ingredients, in a cool, dark location where children and pets cannot reach them.

KITCHEN COUNTERTOP SPRAY

Use this fragrant solution to disinfect countertops, refrigerator shelves, and painted surfaces, including walls and wood trim. Feel free to experiment with other antibacterial essential oils, such as basil, thyme, or lemon.
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
10-12 drops rose geranium essential oil
In a small, dark glass jar, combine the vinegar, water, and oil. Stir. Pour small amounts into a spray bottle as necessary.

GENTLE SPEARMINT SCRUBBER

This non-scratching, chlorine-free paste is perfect for cleaning cookware, countertops, and porcelain sinks and tubs. Lemon and lemon verbena essential oils also work well in place of the spearmint.
1 cup baking soda
1 tablespoon liquid castile soap
10-12 drops spearmint essential oil
Warm water {90 to 110 degrees F}
In a small, dark glass jar, combine the baking soda, soap, and enough water to form a thick but pourable paste. Stir in the essential oil. Apply to surfaces, wait for 5 minutes or more, then scrub with a sponge. Rinse off the residue with water.

Clean And Green Series

Green Beauty Guide

It would make sense, I suppose, to start from the top with hair care products, but instead I’ve decided to start with your skin (not including the face just yet, that’s a whole other thing). Your skin is your largest organ, and what we put on it has a lasting impact on your body chemistry and the buildup of toxins in your blood and tissues. But before I go too much further, I want to preface with a few founding principles. 1. The studies on the effects of chemicals and toxic ingredients in skin care vary greatly. It seems for every study that says something is fine, another will say that it is toxic—it’s a confusing landscape. Science operates under a system of absolute proof, which is necessary, but the downside being that if something is suspected as toxic, with good reason, it can still be declared safe—innocent until proven guilty. This is good enough for some, but in my mind, why expose our bodies to unnecessary, even if just potential, harm? 2. Not everything absorbs into the skin. More on this later. 3. An argument often used when talking about risky ingredients in skin care is that at low levels, it’s not toxic. True enough, except… I’m not sure we truly understand how well our bodies are able to excrete chemicals (and I know of a few that our bodies can never excrete). It depends on each individual, what they eat, where they live, how healthy they are… you get the picture. When you consider a lifetime of exposure, I think it’s fair to say this is an area that we should, at the very least, proceed with caution—Gillian Deacon calls this chemical body burden.

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Now for a bit of science which harkens back to my days studying physiology at university (see, I knew it would one day be useful!). Our skin is comprised of layers: three major ones with several sub-layers. Each layer has a super specific purpose, but the overall function of the skin is to protect your inner soft tissues and prevent loss of moisture. But skin is not impermeable… it’s actually a semi-permeable membrane, which means that under the correct conditions certain molecules can be absorbed. Typically, small, fat-soluble (dissolved in fat, not water) molecules are readily absorbed, whereas large, water-soluble molecules are not. I personally am not sure which chemicals are which, and outside of a chem lab I’m not sure you’ll ever know, but understanding how skin absorbs things is useful information to know in order to make your own informed decision about products you are willing to use on skin. It’s also worth noting that although some chemicals are too large to pass through the skin to reach the blood or lymph streams, they can still be absorbed by glands in the skin, build up, and then excrete into the body when the concentration inside the gland becomes elevated. So while this process is slow it still occurs—this is the main concern with aluminum in antiperspirants.

Now, let’s think about the function of skin care products: to nourish the outer layers of skin so that we appear on the outside to have nicer skin. This is usually accomplished with water, which plumps up the outer layer of skin cells so that they literally swell up and look smoother, and a host of other ingredients designed to nourish or improve the appearance/regeneration of skin—it’s a temporary fix, and it breeds dependence. Unfortunately, as it turns out, many synthetic ingredients have a habit of not staying put and find themselves in our blood where they can potentially cause harm over time. Also, other ingredients used purely to increase shelf life or scent moisturizers are often where the most harmful chemicals are found… something to think about.

It also should be mentioned that whether an ingredient can be absorbed into the skin or not, there is an added cost and consideration: When we wash in the shower, the creams and lotions are carried down the drain where they break down into tiny particles that are difficult to remove by water processing plants. Thus, they end up in our bodies anyway via our drinking water and they end up in fish and aquatic life / ecosystems, which are known to be sensitive. The effects on aquatic ecosystems have been studied and the results, my friends, are not pretty.

 

WHAT TO AVOID

There are hundreds if not thousands of ingredients in skin care and it would be impractical to discuss them all. Thankfully, studies have been done on some of the most common ingredients and we now have a group of worst offenders to avoid. I’ve read several books on the topic and reference David Suzuki’s “Dirty Dozen” list often, but my favorite list is from Gillian Deacon’s book There’s Lead in Your Lipstick (2011, Penguin, Canada). According to her research, here is a list of products to avoid (abbreviated from her book by Treehugger):

Note: not all of these chemicals are specific to moisturizers or skin care, but I wanted to include them all for future reference.

 

  • Coal Tar: A known carcinogen banned in the EU, but still used in North America. Used in dry skin treatments, anti-lice, and anti-dandruff shampoos, also listed as a color plus number, i.e. FD&C Red No. 6.
  • DEA/TEA/MEA: Suspected carcinogens used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps.
  • Ethoxylated surfactants and 1,4-dioxane: Never listed because it’s a by-product made from adding carcinogenic ethylene oxide to make other chemicals less harsh. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found 1,4-dioxane in 57 percent of baby washes in the U.S. Avoid any ingredients containing the letters “eth.”
  • Formaldehyde: Probable carcinogen and irritant found in nail products, hair dye, fake eyelash adhesives, shampoos. Banned in the EU.
  • Fragrance/Parfum: A catchall for hidden chemicals, such as phthalates. A Fragrance is connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma, and allergies.
  • Hydroquinone: Used for lightening skin. Banned in the UK, rated most toxic on the EWG’s Skin Deep database, and linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity.
  • Lead: Known carcinogen found in lipstick and hair dye, but never listed because it’s a contaminant, not an ingredient.
  • Mercury: Known allergen that impairs brain development. Found in mascara and some eyedrops.
  • Mineral oil: By-product of petroleum that’s used in baby oil, moisturizers, styling gels. It creates a film that impairs the skin’s ability to release toxins.
  • Oxybenzone: Active ingredient in chemical sunscreens that accumulates in fatty tissues and is linked to allergies, hormone disruption, cellular damage, low birth weight.
  • Parabens: Used as preservatives, found in many products. Linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity.
  • Paraphenylenediamine (PPD): Used in hair products and dyes, but toxic to skin and immune system.
  • Phthalates: Plasticizers banned in the EU and California in children’s toys, but present in many fragrances, perfumes, deodorants, lotions. Linked to endocrine disruption, liver/kidney/lung damage, cancer.
  • Placental extract: Used in some skin and hair products, but linked to endocrine disruption.
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG): Penetration enhancer used in many products, it’s often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, both known carcinogens.
  • Silicone derived emollients: Used to make a product feel soft, these don’t biodegrade, and also prevent skin from breathing. Linked to tumor growth and skin irritation.
  • Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES): A former industrial degreaser now used to make soap foamy, it’s absorbed into the body and irritates skin.
  • Talc: Similar to asbestos in composition, it’s found in baby powder, eye shadow, blush, deodorant. Linked to ovarian cancer and respiratory problems.
  • Toluene: Known to disrupt the immune and endocrine systems, and fetal development, it’s used in nail and hair products. Often hidden under fragrance.
  • Triclosan: Found in antibacterial products, hand sanitizers, and deodorants, it is linked to cancer and endocrine disruption.

SO, WHAT TO DO?

I am not proposing you forgo putting anything on your skin… due to lots of external environmental factors, we often need to give our skin a moisturizing boost. It’s known that our skin most easily accepts and makes use of plant-based oils that resemble its own natural oils.  Here is a rundown of the Pure Green moisturizing body skin care routine… it’s tested, proven, and works wonders, chem-free.

  1. Drink lots of water and hydrate from the inside out.
  2. Exfoliate: this removes the outer layers of dead skin and reveals softer smoother skin underneath. Exfoliation should always be a gentle process, however. Our favorite method is to introduce body-brushing to your routine just before you shower.
  3. Heat helps to improve the absorption of oils into the skin, so moisturizing right after showering or bathing, or before bed (our body temp elevates at night) is a good time to do so. If using plant oils, heating the jar gently in some hot water also helps (and thins the oils slightly as well as helping them to glide on).

WHAT PLANT OILS TO USE: the three most popular are pure coconut, sweet almond, and sesame. Ayurvedic practices believe that one is better than the other according to your specific dosha, and suggest applying them in a certain way to benefit the body further… it’s called Abhyanga.

If you would rather use a commercially formulated product, that’s fine too, just make sure you check the ingredients against the list above (there’s a handy guide you can download here). Basically, though, the ingredient list should read pretty straightforward—plant and flower based ingredients are typically listed after the latin name in English and you should be able to recognize each of them.

MORE RESOURCES:

EWG’s Skin Deep: I LOVE this resource. It allows you to search individual products and check their ingredients for toxins. It’s a great way to see what’s currently in your bathroom cabinet or a product you’re unsure about purchasing.

HOW TO MAKE A FLOWER ESSENCE

While there are a number of variations on the theme, below you’ll find a simplified two-part method for creating your own flower essence. While you might choose to add other aspects to your flower essence creation process (such as prayer, chanting, placing the bowl on the ground instead of on a table, or surrounding the dish with crystals), for safety reasons, please be sure to hit all the main points in the following directions.

PART 1: THE MOTHER ESSENCE

  1. Obtain the following tools: a medium or average-sized plain glass bowl, a large or average-sized glass jar with lid, and a small (1 ounce) glass bottle with a dropper lid. Sterilize each object by placing in cold water, gradually bringing it to a boil, and boiling for at least twenty minutes. Then dry each tool with a clean cloth.
  2. Fill the glass jar with spring water. Also, gather a bottle of brandy, a small stool or table, a large organic nontoxic leaf or bed of leaves such as lettuce or chard placed on a plate, and some garden shears.
  3. In the morning or midday, on a sunny day without a cloud in the sky, take all ingredients to a serene natural or botanical setting where the flower of your choice is growing. Place the bowl on the stool or table in a place where no shadows will fall on the bowl for 3-4 hours. Fill the bowl with the water, being careful not to allow any part of your shadow to cross over it.
  4. Shears and plate(with leaf or leaves) in hand, locate the flower you would like to make an essence from. Sit or stand comfortably near the plant as your relax and take some deep breaths. Come fully into the moment.
  5. When you feel centered, silently tune into the flower and request that she assist you with you essence creation. Honor her, respect, her, and simply be with her for a moment.
  6. As you feel intuitively guided, snip between 3-6 blossoms, allowing them to fall onto the leaf.
  7. Lovingly take the flowers to the bowl of water and, without touching them, spill them in so that they float on the surface. Place the leaf or leaves near the base of a tree.
  8. Allow the flowers to merge with the energy of the water by leaving them undisturbed for 3-4 hours.
  9. Fill the dropper bottle with brandy. With the dropper cap, add two drops of the water from the flower bowl. Snugly replace the cap.
  10. Pour the remaining water from the bowl, along with the blossoms, near the base of the flowers.

You now have what is known as “the mother essence.” This is not the essence and should not be consumed or magically employed. Rather, it is the concentrated stock for creating the flower essence, which brings us to part 2.

PART 2: THE FLOWER ESSENCE

This portion of the process may be repeated with the same mother essence until the mother essence bottle is empty, provided you use the mother essence within two years after it is created (after that, the mother essence may begin to lose its potency). You may do this anywhere that feels right: in your kitchen, near your altar, or out in nature.

  1. Sterilize an additional small bottle and dropper (as above).
  2. Fill the bottle halfway with brandy and the rest of the way with spring water.
  3. Add two drops of the mother essence.
  4. Replace the cap.

AGATE ELIXIR

Agate is the name given to numerous varieties of banded Chalcedony, a mineral of the Quartz family. Its name comes from the Achates River in Sicily, where Agates were first found. Usually banded in layers, or stripes, some varieties have “eye” markings or specks of color, some have fossilized inclusions, and others are solid. Called the earth rainbow, the concentric bands of Agate form in nearly every color the earth can produce, including a colorless form.

Historically, Agate has been discovered with the artifacts of Neolithic people and was used as healing amulets and ornamentation dating back to Babylon. Its medicinal uses continued through the ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations and spread throughout Africa and the Middle East into Russia. Agate sparked a world renowned stone cutting and polishing industry in Germany that flourished from the 15th to the 19th century and exists today.

An Agate elixir can be prepared easily.  The stones are not toxic so you can use the direct method. Take five or six small Agate tumbled stones (any agate of your choice).  Clean them well, just like your dishes. Add them to about 1/2 cup of spring water.  Cover.  Place the container of the stones and water under sunlight or moonlight for several hours.  After about 3 hours, remove the stones. Cover the container of water and place it in the refrigerator. Once cooled, the elixir will be ready for use.  When you wish to use it, add 6-10 drops of the elixir to any beverage. Use it 3-5 times per day.  If kept in the refrigerator and covered, it will be good for several weeks.

 

MOSS AGATE PEONY CLEANSING SMOOTHIE

Moss Agate is a cleansing crystal, useful for clearing personal energy systems. Its green color ray of renewal provides rejuvenating and recharging qualities.  Moss Agate stimulates the digestive system, relieves gastritis, and aids in the elimination of toxins from the body.

Energetically, peony is an excellent cleanser, bringing freshness and healing to the emotions and the physical body by removing blocks, old patterns, and challenging attachments. For this purpose, it is extremely beneficial to add a few drops peony essence to this drink.

Ingredients

  • ½ pear
  • ¼ avocado
  • ½ cucumber
  • ½ lemon
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 1 cup kale (packed)
  • ½ inch ginger
  • ½-1 cup moss agate water
  • A few drops peony flower essence (optional)
  • 1 scoop protein powder (hemp, pumpkin or pea works great!)

Blend until smooth. Taste the smoothie. If it’s too thick, add more water and blend again, until it reaches the desired texture.

Tinted Lip Balm {DIY}

THIS PROJECT IS SIMPLE—so very delightfully, splendidly, simple. In the beginning stages of my personal transition to living a more sustainable, healthy life, skin care and cosmetics were among the first of my products to change. What you place on your body absorbs through your skin within 30 seconds, and personally, the thought of my bloodstream accumulating the hundreds of chemicals we use on our body was downright scary (keep watch for a post on greening your cosmetics in the near future). As of late, I have been taking things a step further and focusing my efforts on living zero-waste, which means trying to reduce the packaging I bring into my home, even if it is recyclable. I’ve also been exploring how to live sustainably on an even more stringent budget than ever before, and all things point to making things myself (turns out it’s almost always simpler and easier than I thought).

This particular recipe is one I’ve been making for years. It goes on smooth and coats your lips without getting too thick or waxy. The mineral pigment I use is actually my mineral blush, produced by a company I know well and trust completely. In fact, just in case, this is something you would like to make for yourself. You can, of course, leave out the pigment completely, but I truly love it as it elevates the look of plain lip balm ever so slightly, giving your lips a lightly berry-stained look that’s perfect for fall. Feel free to play with the quantity of pigment, what I’ve used here is just enough for a sheer hint of color.

 

Ingredients

  • 3 tsp. organic olive oil
  • 1 tsp. shaved pure beeswax
  • 1/4 tsp. natural mineral pigment
  • vitamin E

Method

If you have a solid block of beeswax (as I did), either use a box grater or a knife to carefully shave off flakes of wax.

In a very small pan or heat-proof dish over low heat, gently heat the oil, being careful not to overheat and destroy some of the healing properties of the oil. Add in the wax. Once it has melted, stir in the mineral pigment and a drop of Vitamin E (as a preservative).

Pour the mixture immediately into two 1/4 oz. tins and place in the fridge to solidify (only takes a few minutes). Use at will!

TIP: clean the vessel you used to make the balm immediately, while still warm. Use a paper towel, tissue or soft rag to wipe it clean, then clean with soap and water. DO NOT wait until the mixture has cooled, you will have a real mess!

Calendula Belly Balm

CALENDULA HAS A VERY LONG HISTORY AS A HEALING HERB—it’s a staple in herbal gardens, not just for its usefulness but also for its sunny disposition. Easy to grow and self-sowing, it also helps repel garden pests, making it a beautiful plant for novice and expert gardeners alike. As a healing herb, use is varied and plentiful, but it is perhaps best known for its skin healing and soothing properties which are why you will often see it incorporated in healing salves and balms.

This particular DIY is inspired by Ashley’s ever-growing third-trimester belly. Despite the magic of the experience, the sensation within that is akin to nothing else, the reality is that housing a growing baby comes with, shall we say, some discomfort. While it’s all too easy to focus on that discomfort, it has been my approach to everything I can to naturally and holistically soothe those symptoms, framing them in my mind in such a way that simply the daily practice of soothing them morphs the discomfort into a form of self-care. It’s as though our bodies remind us to slow down and take care.

As the skin across pregnant bellies stretches tighter and tighter, the accompanying itch and skin irritation is hard to ignore. Always a fan of making things myself from scratch and enjoying the benefits of organic, simple ingredients, I set out to perfect a belly balm that does it’s best to soothe (and hopefully prevent stretch marks—calendula is also known for helping scars and stretch marks to heal and fade). The result is a soft balm that I rely on morning and night to help ease the insatiable itch and (so far) keeps stretch marks away, allowing me to focus more fully on the pleasant side of pregnancy like those gentle kicks and nudges! Simply warm by rubbing between your hands and massage onto your belly (and breasts)—take a moment here to marvel at how your body has changed, it truly is a miracle (if even a sometimes uncomfortable one—most transformational life experiences are in some way or another!).

Not pregnant? Make this balm anyway to soothe dry, chapped skin, other minor skin irritations, or as a gardener’s hand balm. It also makes a lovely, thoughtful gift!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup organic shea butter
  • 1.5-2 Tbs grated beeswax
  • 1/8 cup organic, raw coconut oil
  • 1/8 cup calendula infused organic olive oil*
  • 1 tsp vitamin E oil
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil (optional)

METHOD

In a heat-poof glass spouted measuring cup, combine the shea butter, beeswax, olive and coconut oil, and calendula infused oil.

Fill a small saucepan with warm water and place the glass jar in the water, ensuring that the water level stays below the lip of the jar (a 3/4 immersion is good—you don’t want water getting into your balm as it can spoil the batch or cause separation issues).

Heat on the stove on medium heat ensuring the water stays at or below a gentle simmer. (You don’t want to overheat the oils as this can alter the molecular structure of the oils.) Stirring occasionally with a spoon or popsicle stick, continue heating the oils until they are completely melted. Remove from heat and remove measuring cup from water (you may need tongs or a towel to do this, be careful not to burn yourself!). Stir in the vitamin E and lavender essential oil. Pour into a 4 oz jar and allow to set either at room temperature on in the fridge for a faster set.

After testing the texture, you can either soften or harden the mix by reheating the balm and adding either more beeswax or more oil. This recipe can be multiplied or divided to yield smaller or larger batches depending on your needs and intended use.

To clean up: while the balm is still melted, wipe out all utensils and tools used with a paper towel, after which everything can be easily washed. Skipping this step or allowing the balm to harden results in a very difficult to clean the mess!

*To infuse calendula oil: the slow way is to fill a small, 4 oz jar loosely with calendula petals and fill with oil until completely covered. Place on a sunny sill and shake jar daily for 4-6 weeks. The fast way is to again fill the jar with petals and oil, and then place in a slow-cooker immersed in water for 12-24 hours. When infusion is complete, strain the petals out of the oil, squeezing to get all the good stuff and compost. Your oil is now finished!

A NOTE ABOUT LAVENDER—Inclusion of lavender in this recipe is optional but the purpose is more than because it simply smells nice (although I don’t particularly care for the smell of pure shea butter). According to Nadine Artemis, a true visionary, and expert in her field, lavender is extremely effective at calming anxiety, enhancing relaxation and promoting an increased sense of well-being, happiness, and peacefulness. Be intentional about applying this balm, rubbing your belly slowly to ensure absorption and taking a few moments to simply be with the baby.