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I often refer to what I do with Scented Journeys as “playing”.  The other day I had some ladies over to the house to “play” and in addition to having a wonderful time, we also made a few items that are really helpful this time of year. Craft time is important long after nursery school is over!

Sometimes it feels as if no matter how much lotion and cream you apply to your hands they still feel dry and cracked. I find this to be the case particularly during heavy gardening season and during dry winter months.  The solution is not necessarily to be found in the aisle of the drugstore, it’s actually in your baking cupboard. Let’s make a sugar scrub!

Sugar scrub is useful for gentle exfoliation and is an excellent and intense moisturizer due to the natural humectant properties of sugar. Sugar scrub can be used on your entire body, including your face.

While commercial options are plentiful the basic recipe is so very easy why not make it yourself? Why subject your subject your skin to chemical colorants and artificial fragrances when the two basic ingredients already smell so great. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and the result only gets better!

I have the following flavors available on my Shop page: Lavender, Joy (a beautiful floral blend) and Citrus.  Or find an empty container and follow the simple recipe below.

Sugar Scrub Recipe

2:1 Sugar to jojoba oil by weight

Essential oil of choice to desired strength

Take a small amount of the sugar and oil, massage into hands, feet, face. Rinse gently and enjoy the new found softness!

Note: I always use organic jojoba in my recipes because I find it to be excellent for the skin and very versatile. Any other carrier oil should work just as effectively.

Perhaps this Valentine’s Day you’ll surprise your sweetheart with sugar and fat in a slightly different form. Luckily, this kind won’t find its way to the waistline so you can use as much as you want!

For the past two years I have been playing with this idea of really making Scented Journeys into a business.  My response to that ever-present question of “What do you do?” or worse yet, “Are you back to work now that the kids are in school?” is usually something along the lines of “Well, I started this little hobby-business….”.

Scented Journeys started for me as a hobby, making my own concoctions of essentials oils, base oils and butters. But as with any journey, the path changes. Now I have customers! I have started to keep at least a small inventory of the basics and have had a presence at a handful of craft fairs with very positive results!

So, as the next question from folks is usually “Can I order your stuff online?” it’s time for me to respond to that too.  I have set up a very rudimentary ordering system on my Shop Page. You can fill out the form which will generate an email to me with your order.  At this time I am only offering lip balms in a variety of fun flavors and my new seasonal oil called Modern Magi.

Modern Magi is my own fun take on the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn babe of Bethlehem.  In a base of organic jojoba oil I have blended frankincense and myrrh with some tiny gold glitter flecks which shimmer gently when applied to the skin. I think a tiny sparkle on the neck, collarbone and shoulders is fun this time of year! In addition to being fun, this blend has the potential to make this holiday season less stressful as both frankincense and myrrh have grounding, meditative properties. Will you be om-ing in the aisles of Target, not likely, but it might take the frantic edge off of an otherwise hectic time of year.

Back to School

Back to school means back to the routines and schedules; sports, music, homework, et cetera. It also means back to the lice and germs and illnesses that run rampant in many schools.

We had a lice notice from the nurse the second week of school; someone in the class has it. Although we’ve never had an outbreak in our family, we figured an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so we applied a 1:1 mix of lavender and tea tree to the kids’ scalps in the evening and then again before heading to school.  So far so good and we smell great too!  In the event that someone in my family did get lice, I would mix  the same oils in jojoba oil and saturate the hair with it, cover the head with a shower cap and let it soak for the length of a favorite movie.  Shampoo the hair well to get the bulk of the oil out. The end result will be a lovely shiny head of lice free hair! No chemicals.

We are starting to use our Thieves more regularly as the school year also started off with fevers, stomach viruses and general sniffles reported in both schools. Knock, knock on wood, we are still healthy and strong!  We’ll keep up with the Thieves again this winter. Last year we had another successful year of avoiding most of the sicknesses from school.  At just over $40 a bottle I think it’s well worth it for a healthy family, no doctor visits, no prescriptions to fill and no missed days from school.

Another  common complaint among kids is earaches and ear infections. We like to ease the pain and prevent an ear infection from getting worse by using lavender and rosemary essential oils.  At the first sign of any ear pain, I warm up about 1/4 ounce jojoba oil and add a few drops of each lavender and rosemary. Testing for temperature, I gently drop the oil mix into the ear canal using a bulb or plunger style medicine dropper. Once the canal is filled the warm oil acts as an internal heating pad for the inflamed area. The lavender is soothing and calming, the rosemary is very antimicrobial.  As the oil cools, I place a cotton ball at the ear and tip the child’s head over to drain the oil. Then I proceed to the other ear. I find that doing this 2-3 times a day during a painful ear infection is enough to move it in a healing direction. Again, no prescriptions filled.

It’s been a few months since I’ve added any posts. I am hoping to get back to this more frequently. In the meantime, if you have any questions on my posts or need advice on other uses of essential oils please contact me directly at scentedjourneys@gmail.com.

Thieves is an essential oil blend that is reported to support the body’s natural immune system. Used regularly during cold and flu season Thieves can help ward off those pesky seasonal illnesses which is particularly helpful if you have a short person in your house who attends that all-day germ fest called school!

Last year, you may remember, was the year of the dreaded H1N1 flu strain. Despite having two short people enrolled at two separate schools and foregoing the flu vaccine, we did not get sick once! Ok, there was one 24 hour stomach thing but I’m quite sure you don’t want the details of that. So what’s our secret? And what do I plan to do this year? Read on…

Thieves combines Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus radiata, and Rosemary for a wonderful, spicy and potent essential oil blend. It smells like a warm winter kitchen, a simmering pot of mulled cider or wine.

The story goes that in 14th Century Europe during the times of the plague, grave robbers and the looters of the sick and dying would anoint themselves with aromatics while “on the job” to prevent getting the dreaded illness themselves.  One of the many  stories tells us that in exchange for a smaller punishment the thieves had to reveal their secret.  However there are also many versions of this story.  And many recipes for the Vinegar of Thieves.

I tried making my own Vinegar of Thieves this year and have been steeping garlic cloves, cinnamon sticks, clove buds, rosemary sprigs and black peppercorns in a mason jar of red wine vinegar. Wow, is it ever potent! I can’t imagine any germs living in it, but I think I’ll stick to my lovely essential oil blend, thank you very much.

Last year, my daily Thieves routine was to apply Thieves (diluted for the kids, full strength for the adults)  on the bottoms of our feet every night before bed. In the event of a sore throat or other symptoms I add a second application to the feet in the morning for an extra boost.

Particularly with oils that may be irritating to more sensitive skin, the feet are a great option. Essential oils will absorb through the skin and reach the blood in 20 minutes, regardless of where you apply them, so why not get the benefits and take care of stinky feet at the same time?

This year, I’m well into the routine of Thieves Feet again and…well, I don’t want to jinx ourselves, so let’s check back in after the winter and see how it went. Want to join me in my rather un-scientific but oh, so wonderfully smelly experiment? Contact me at scentedjourneys@gmail.com to get your own bottle of Thieves.

Frankincense

Warm and spicy?  Bright and vibrant? Both descriptions describe one of my favorite essential oils:  Frankincense.

Frankincense  is distilled from the resins that are harvested from a very hardy, shrub-like tree in the Middle East and North Africa. Superficial cuts are made on the bark so that the tree bleeds “tears” of resin that dry up over a few days. Harvesters return to scrape the tears from the tree and the resin is then steam distilled to produce the essential oil. The trees are not harmed by this process.  I can relate very well to this process because as a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest I would often play with the bubbles of sap that were just underneath the bark of the Douglas Fir trees that grew abundantly on our property.  These are the playthings of children who grow up with 5 acres of trees, but not a single neighbor under the age of 50!!

Frankincense trees

Frankincense is good for so many things particularly cuts and wounds, respiratory problems both chronic, like asthma, or acute like bronchitis. Frankincense has excellent anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-tumoral activity. It is an excellent skin toner and very beneficial to aging skin. And based on it’s history, it must be good for diaper rash too! Just kidding… it actually enhances spiritual awareness and meditation which is probably more likely the reason it was a gift from the wise men.

I use Frankincense blended with Lavender in my facial moisturizer and because of it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties  I like to apply a few drops at the base of my neck and allow it to drip down my spine, just to be on the safe side.  And if I do have any respiratory discomfort I will apply Frankincense directly to my chest, usually blended with a little Lavender and Eucalyptus to help calm the bronchial muscles and open up the airways. On cuts, scrapes or other open wounds I will apply it directly and have never had any reaction other than very mild stinging, more mild in fact than that of hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or iodine!

Many plants that survive harsh climates or strong elements have a very potent and powerful essential oil for humans and can help in overcoming some “harsh environments” of our own.   Essential oils are produced by the plant to protect it from these very dangers it encounters every day and can be used by us for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing and protection.

At this time of year my primary supplier of oils, Young Living, offers a free 15ml bottle of Frankincense for purchases over 225PV. I always look forward to this time of year and take advantage of this offer because Frankincense retails for over $91! I usually use this promotion to stock up on other regularly used oils like Lavender, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Thieves and Rosemary. Stored in their original bottles and kept in a cool environment essential oils will last for years and years.

Please contact me directly if you’re interested in learning more about Frankincense or other essential oils.

Holiday Craft Fairs

It has been a busy fall of testing new body care recipes, playing with new essential oils, taking classes and getting ready for my first craft fairs! Back in August I decided to sign up for a two day fair at our local arboretum in December. Then an opportunity came about to also do a vendor fair at my daughter’s elementary school in November. Thinking that there was a month in between it would be feasible to do both. Funny how the calendar works though… Mid-November and the first weekend in December aren’t exactly a month apart! Yikes.

So, I’ve been spending the last few weeks madly making batches of body butter, lip balm, waterless hand cleansers, facial spritz and moisturizers, blemish serum, a newly formulated anti-wrinkle cream as well as some standard green-cleaning products and aromatherapy room sprays.

My wintertime body butter recipe uses a coconut oil base which is solid at room temperature but gets nice and soft quickly for easy application to dry winter skin. Coconut oil absorbs nicely into the skin so you don’t feel greased up.   The batches I’ve made for the fairs are a wonderful all purpose Lavender-Rosemary and a more earthy but exotic Rosewood-Cedarwood. YUM.  I’ll post my summer time body balm recipe as the weather warms. You don’t want to use a coconut oil base for summer balms because coconut oil melts at 76°F which would end up a goopy mess in hot humid NJ summers.

My Winter Body Butter recipe:

46 grams coconut oil, 4 grams jojoba oil, 5 grams beeswax per 1 oz body butter tub. 3-10 drops essential oil or blend to desired strength.

Another fun thing I’ve been working on are lip balms! Dry cracked lips be gone with fun flavors like Vanilla Citrus (yes, think Creamsicle!!), Green Tea Spruce or Rosemary-Peppermint. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how fun lip balm would be to make so I only ordered 100 lip balm tubes! I have a feeling the lip balms will fly off my table at this first craft fair!

My lip balm recipe:

50% jojoba oil (or other base oil), 35% beeswax 15% Mango Butter.

Rosemary-Peppermint is a 2:1 ratio

Vanilla Citrus has a vanilla bean infused jojoba oil + Citrus Fresh blend to strength.

Green Tea-Spruce is a green tea infused jojoba + Spruce essential oil to strength.

This month, you can find me at the Woodland Avenue School Holly Berry Boutique on November 18th 6:30 – 9:00 PM

Next month you can find me at  the Frelinghuysen Arboretum Craft Fair on December 4th and 5th 10 AM – 5 PM both days sharing a table with my friend and fellow crafter Magdalena Urbankova who makes really lovely tote bags and children’s clothing from re-purposed fabrics.  While you’re at the arboretum, stop in to see the amazing Gingerbread Wonderland!

Jitterbug Perfume

Book Review

In classic Tom Robbins style, Jitterbug Perfume, first published in 1984 is crafted with humor and wisdom intertwined so cleverly that you’re not always sure if one trumps the other. While the book isn’t exactly a “how to” guide to essential oils, it is a fun and somewhat educational read around the topic of essential oils and perfumery.

Whenever I read Tom Robbins I always want to dive so completely into his world that the characters and events take on such a quality that I have to take a conscious step back to re-evaluate reality.  Jitterbug perfume had me believing in ancient Bohemian customs, fountains of youth, the sacred quality of beets and Pan the goat horned Man-God.

Follow the epic journey of Alobar, Kudra, and Pan through the centuries in search of a life altering scent. Join Bayou born Seattle-ite  Priscilla and the one-of-a-kind bottle that started it all. You’ll never think of beets in the same way again.