The Art of Preservation

With the holidays quickly coming to a close I wanted to talk about the art of preserving.

This is the month out of the year that I go most out of my way to slow down and to take the much needed time to sit down and create something with my hands.

As I have mentioned before, December is my favorite month out of the year and winter my favorite season.

I much prefer rain and clouds over sun and blue skies and suffer from summer blues opposed to the normal winter blues that I often hear people talking about.

So as December is ending and the time for winter is also coming to a near end I am trying my best to preserve these lovely, cold and cozy feelings and memories in whatever ways I can.

As beautiful glass balls and soft, felted snow men are wrapped up and tucked away into storage until next year I find myself needing to have something to hold onto.

Something filled with the wonderful feeling that I feel this time of year, something that will spark that memory and bring those feelings back even when all have moved on to the next big event.

I wear those much loved knitted pieces of clothing until the weather turns too warm and turn up the cool air indoors as I light a candle and continue to bake as though Christmas was right around the corner all over again.

One of my favorite things that I have found to work with this month is wax. I have been melting it down and dipping just about anything and everything that I can get my hands on, into it.

The way that I am preserving this time of the year is to not only take time off and to simply enjoy the slowness but to also preserve the bits of this season that I love the most.

Leaves have been drying near the windows and I have been dipping other little bits of nature into beeswax scented with cinnamon or peppermint essential oils.

Preparing these little bits of natures, natural beauty in coats of velvety wax in hopes of future projects and something pleasant to look back on as other seasons come upon us.

This is how I prepare myself for the changing of the seasons and weather.

How do you preserve your seasonal memories?

 

 

 

An Honest Talk About Essential Oils VS Fragrance Oils

As a soap maker I wanted to talk about the differences between fragrance oils and essential oils in soap making.

The argument between the safety and efficiency  of natural oils vs fragrance oils can spark quite a reaction from many and as a soap maker who has chosen to only use essential oils and resins, I wanted to be able to go into detail about the pros and cons of both options.

As long as the person handling the oils is making sure to use skin safe oils, then both fragrance and essential oils are considered to be safe for most skin types which begs the question of what the difference between these two oils really is.

Fragrance Oils | First of all lets take a look at what fragrance oils are exactly.

Fragrance oils are a combination of various chemical components, some are natural, being extracted from plants and even animals occasionally as well as some synthetic components.

Pros | Fragrance oils are very cheap which means that anyone who uses them in their products will most likely be able to provide the most affordable options of products.

Fragrance oils often smell amazing and come in an endless variety of scents that do and do not come naturally in nature such as apples and lavender or sugar cookies and winter wonderland.

Most fragrance oils are much stronger in smaller quantities than essential oils are and also have a longer shelf life when it comes to scent fading.

Cons | Fragrance oils however, are not natural which not only exposes the user to more chemicals, whether they are considered bad or not, but also makes them more likely to be irritating to sensitive skin types or people with serious allergies.

Sellers of fragrance oils are not required to give out a full disclosure of the ingredients that are used in their fragrances which can not only gives the person making the soap less control over their product but also the customer. Someone who is allergic to specific things will most likely have to avoid products scented with fragrance oils since no one can be certain about the specific ingredients included.

 

Essential Oils | Essential oils are steam distilled plant extracts that come from the natural oils in plants such as cinnamon bark and orange rind.

Pros | Essential oils as you might have already guessed, are all natural and are considered by many to be the least harmful way of scenting products.

Essential oils not only scent soap but they also provide a number of natural health benefits that fragrance oils cannot provide such as tea tree which is anti-bacterial as well as many other oils that provide their own specific health benefits.

Much like the ability to provide health benefits, essential oils can also provide a variety of mental wellbeing and aromatherapy benefits that synthetic fragrance oils have yet to achieve. For example, a lavender fragrance oil has not yet been created with the same ability to relax and sooth like the origin lavender essential oil.

Cons | Since the extraction of essential oils is a lengthy process that provides a small amount of oil, they are more costly and so create more costly products.

Essential oils in their undiluted state are considered to be irritating to certain skin types which make the formulating and measuring of the oils very important for soap makers. Certain oils should be avoided by individuals who have a history of irritation but thankfully most soap makers will give a full ingredient list with no irritating oils hidden.

 

I hope that this list of pros and cons of fragrance oils vs essential oils has been found useful to some of you and has perhaps, helped you to better understand which oils you prefer.

 

Winter Bath Salts

I don’t know about you but once the weather starts to get chilly and its grey and rainy outside, all I want to do is soak in a hot bath before curling up in bed with something warm to drink.

December is by far my favorite month so I always try to fill it with the most enjoyable of things and make it as cozy and relaxed as possible.

One might think that bath salts are merely meant to be an added bit of luxury to an already luxurious treat but in reality they do much more than that.

Sea salt as well as epsom salt add much needed minerals to your bath water as well as helping to cleanse and soften your skin as well as aid in the relieving of sore or cramped muscles.

Not only do the bath salts have benefits for your bath but the essential oils do too.

Lavender and peppermint essential oil both help to relax and stimulate blood flow to your skin while cedarwood essential oil has a relaxing scent and helps to heal minor skin abrasions or breakouts.

I hope that perhaps this winter bath salt recipe will inspire you to set some time aside for yourself this blustery season or will give you an idea for a lovely handmade gift for a loved one.

Recipe |

– 2 Cups Epsom Salt

– 2 Cups Sea Salt

– 15 Drops Cedarwood Oil

– 10 Drops Peppermint Oil

– 12 Drops Lavender Oil

 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well until all of the essential oil has been dispersed amongst the salt.

This bath salt recipe is simple which makes it very easy to customize so you can add in extra ingredients in at this point if you prefer. Such as baking soda for added bulk or lavender buds for prettiness.

Once it is to your liking you can pour it into an airtight jar for later use. It should last three to four baths depending on the amount that you prefer.

Mindful Gift Ideas

We can all admit that we have at some point completely forgot to buy someone a gift for the holidays and if your reading this you might have as well.

I have put together a small arrangement of gift ideas that are a bit more personable and thoughtful and I hope that you will be able to find them useful for at least a few people this holiday season.

Scent | Most people can appreciate a nice scent such as a candle that you make yourself or purchase and there is a wide variety of handmade candles to choose from to make that certain someone feel special.

Essential oils are also an amazing gift idea for someone who has dabbled in them or has spoken about their interest in using essential oils.

Scents such as peppermint, lavender, and orange are a few great options for most people and are also really lovely when combined.

You could even consider gifting them an essential oil diffuser to further enjoy their essential oils with and to brighten up their home.

Taste | One thing that I know that I also appreciate in a gift, is something edible.

With food you can rarely go wrong especially when you have a good idea of what that person likes.

A fragrant tea or specialty coffee blend make a lovely gift especially when gifted in a mug and can be widely personalized to that person’s specific taste.

Baking treats for someone is also a wonderful way to show them your love or even just buying them some of their favorite chocolate or guilty pleasure. The art of creating a plate filled with a beautiful arrangement of cookies and fudges will never get old and will most certainly be appreciated.

Mind | Another option of gifts that requires a little more though is one that can stimulate their mind, whether that be a book that they might like or even a coloring book to help them relax and pass the time.

Maybe you could pay for an Audible subscription for them or subscribe for a monthly magazine to be delivered to their home.

Or  you could buy them a gift card to enjoy a spa day, get a massage, or take a trip to their favorite coffee shop or restaurant to promote their wellbeing and give them something to look forward to.

 

It is important to remember this time of the year that the holidays aren’t about getting presents or even giving extravagant gifts. It is about truly appreciating the people around you and taking an extra moment of time to let them know how special they are to you.

Gift giving is such a small part of that so remember to not just focus on the material side of things but to also give the gift of yourself and your time to the ones dearest to you.

Skin Care Basics | Shea Butter

Today I decided to write about one of my favorite natural butters, which is shea butter.

The term butter can be quite confusing if you’re not used to hearing about hard oils such as cocoa butter, shea butter, and mango butter.

They are mostly the same as soft oils such as olive oil and sweet almond oil, only they become solid at room temperature and tend to feel more heavy and indulgent on the skin.

The texture of these butters are perfect for whipping up into a lotion like consistency without the slippery feel of soft oil or the stickiness of lotion.

Intense Moisturizer | Shea butter is known for its intense ability at being moisturizing, so much so that it can also be used to treat very a dry scalp and hair.

It has a natural SPF factor which makes it a perfect ingredient to go into your natural sunscreen for extra protection and it provides a barrier of moisture to keep your skin protected and nourished.

Skin Superfood | Shea butter is also known for being a natural skin super food with its richness in vitamins A, E, and F.

It provides the necessary fatty acids and nutrients needed for collagen production which in time helps to reduce wrinkles and strengthens and softens the skin.

Shea is also very healing to the skin which can help with acne, small wounds, and skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Repairing | The anti-inflammatory properties in shea butter help to not only sooth but also to repair inflamed skin and skin conditions such as dermatitis and rosacea.

It can also work wonders to gently repairs skin damage such as sunburns and rashes.

Shea is considered to be one of the best anti-aging remedies for skin either to help reduce aging in mature skin or to prevent premature aging and fine lines.

It helps to increase circulation to the skin and encourages cell renewal to help replace damaged skin cells.

 

Butters can for some skin types, be a bit heavy so some of my favorite ways to use shea butter is as a heavy-duty moisturizer for areas with drier skin such as feet, elbows, and hands.

Any kind of butter can be combined with softer oils to create a smoother texture at room temperature if so desired.

I personally always buy my shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs.