Tag Archives: essential oils

Test Kitchen: Combine scents for your own scent

I had my own test kitchen experiment this week and it was right up my alley. I set out to make my own scent. Hey, if J-Lo and Diddy can do it, why can’t I? Creating my own personal blend a perfect way to use some of the skills I’m learning in my studies. I think this is what I love best about going back to school at this point in my life: I am doing practical, applied experiments that I use in my everyday life.

I decided to create my personal blend by ensuring that I had a top, middle and base note in my fragrance. I chose my four essential oils based on the oils fragrance that I liked best. This was a unique way for me to create my blend. Typically, I have chosen my projects and experiments based on the oil’s therapeutic action. I tended to lean more towards choosing essential oils solely based on how they made me feel. If I was feeling stressed, then a calming Lavender Lavandula augustifolia bath was in order. A few drops of a wonderful citrus oil does wonders in providing a fresh scent to laundry.

This is what I came up with as my final blend:

  • Top note – Bergamot Citrus aurantium var bergamia 60 drops
  • Middle note – Geranium Pelargonium graveolens 15 drops
  • Middle note – Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile 10 drops
  • Base note – Sandalwood Santalum album 10 drops

When I first started my blend I started out with 30 drops of Bergamot as the top note of my fragrance, and five drops of both Geranium and Roman Chamomile as the middle notes. At this time, I blended all of these and smelled them together. I liked this and thought that these three blended well together. I then added base note Sandalwood of just five drops. I really liked the way this smelled.

I probably should have stopped at that.

But, hey, it’s a test kitchen right? Gotta play with it. Who would’ve thought I’d nail it right out of the gate? All four of the oils blended really well together. The citrus aroma was definitely the dominant odor, but the Geranium and Chamomile offered a very nice floral/spicy undertone. The Sandalwood seemed subtle enough at this point of the mixing process.

As I said I probably should have stopped here, but I decided to utilize the blending instructions I recently learned. I added more, did more fussing with it and well…

I feel that my final blend lost the citrus aroma that I enjoyed at the beginning. It was too sweet. And, as I write this pondering what might have gone wrong in the blend. I will make some new adjustments. I would adjust the Geranium to ten drops and the Sandalwood to five drops.

In the end, I will use this blend but probably not as a perfume. I envision using this in the bath and definitely as a cleaning product. I also might try using it in my laundry. I won’t waste it that I know for sure (I live with my husband after all).

But my scent? I was closer the first time and will soon double back and try some new ideas. Like my husband’s quest for the perfect dough, I guess I’m still after my perfect scent.

Morning Revive Formula: soak in when needed

You know those 5-Hr Energy commercials that prey on our reality that we all crave a bit more energy (well, except the Husband, maybe… I don’t think he needs another gear)? Well, I’m a sucker for those. That “two o’clock feeling” gets me every time.

So yes, I hit the coffee pot again after lunch. And we often take the afternoon away from our various work to go for a run, hike or bike ride, all of which really helps to invigorate me. Nevertheless I was thrilled in my recent studies to find a recipe of essential oils that can give me the burst of energy I need in a natural way.

On a recent groggy day, as my second cup of afternoon coffee wore off, I had a strong desire to nap and nothing more. I decided to take a break and take a shower. Grabbing a wet washcloth, I added the following essential oils to the washcloth:

  • Rosemary Rosemarinus officinalis 15 drops
  • Lime Citrus aurantifolia 10 drops
  • Neroli Citrus aurantium var. amara 4 drops
  • Peppermint Mentha piperita 2 drops

Rosemary’s therapeutic actions assist emotionally for a “lack of concentration, exhaustion, and mental and/or physical fatigue.”

Lime is a “refreshing all-over body splash.”

Neroli is “a wonderful antidepressant essential oil, renowned for its uplifting aroma, which counteracts an absence of cheerfulness or diminishing functioning activity.”

Finally, Peppermint is very intriguing because it is known as an adaptogenic oil. It can sedate or stimulate depending on what is needed, a pleasant addition to the Morning Revive blend.

As I breathed deeply into the washcloth the scents overcame me. I decided to place the washcloth over my entire nose and do some deep breathing exercises so that the scents became slightly overpowering to me. I took five deep breaths and then released entirely out of my lungs. At the conclusion there was a noticeable difference in my mood. I instantly felt uplifted and awake. My energy level did seem to be elevated in such a simple, natural aromatic fashion.

I am excited to know that I have an alternative to a sluggish mood. I am glad that in lieu of coffee that just a few essential oils blended together on a washcloth can provide the energy revival that is required to get me through the afternoon.

Try it for yourself and let me know how you like it!

Essential experiments with essential oils

It’s been clearly stated here I’m not much for the kitchen. But I’m increasingly finding my own experiments that add beauty and peace to our lives, much like my husband’s artistic efforts. But my experiments now revolve around essential oils.

Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways. I have only begun to scratch the surface of their use. The knowledge that I am gaining on a daily basis through my studies has given me the confidence to experiment in so many different ways in my home.

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Essential oils can be used to enhance baked dishes in the kitchen. For example, I recently substituted vanilla with the essential oil of Geranium in a batch of sugar cookies.

Geranium Sugar Cookies 2

The Geranium left a subtle, floral note to the taste of these light sugar cookies. My husband was very enthusiastic, saying they had a surprisingly elegant flavor. But one of my daughters pretty much ridiculed me. It seems there was no in between, but the oil created a new twist that leaves plenty of room for experimentation.

I have been using essential oils quite extensively in my bath products. For example, for the past six months I have been making my own bath salts and body scrubs. The essential oils of Lavender, Roman Chamomile and, on occasion,  Sandalwood have all been useful in my bath products. The scent allows me to escape into a world of relaxation. It calms the mind and reduces stressful thoughts.

Essential oils are not limited to the kitchen and bathroom in my home. I have started to use essential oils when washing clothes. I place a few drops of Lavender or Sweet Orange oil in the washing machine with my soap. It releases a very subtle scent to my freshly cleaned clothes. I also drop a few drops of Pine oil on a cotton ball and add this to my vacuum filter. The very woodsy pine scent floats throughout the room on cleaning day. Pine is fitting in our home, since we live in a mountain cabin at 2,500 feet elevation.

Not every experiment works. But in each my confidence grows. So, I continue to experiment. Lately I’ve been doing more with essential oil combinations. I am learning how to batch certain oils that complement one another (for example Lavender and Chamomile both have very calming properties).

It’s easy to see why they are called “essential.” I find myself relying on them more often than ever. Some just to add aromatic beauty, some to add new tastes, but more often than not, to add properties of health that essential oils contribute.

Geranium sugar cookies make for flavor and conversation

The vegetable focus we’ve had in our home has been invigorating to me. It’s become a vital focus of our meal planning and overall health routine. But… let’s face it. The cravings still kick in time and again for something far less good for me.

That’s where baking comes in. The hubby has commented often here — and rightly so — that I’m not much for cooking. He’s the chef in our family. But, I love baking. Be it cookies, cakes, pies, whatever I feel like making, I’m usually in the kitchen mixing it up. Baking has turned into such a therapeutic experience for me. I really enjoy it. As much as I get pleasure out of the process of baking, I enjoy even more the ability to pass along my baked goods. Recently my brother and his wife, had a baby. What better occasion to present an exotic new sugar cookies I needed to try for a homework assignment! (Can you believe it… school homework is making cookies? I love school).

The assignment called to replace vanilla with geranium essential oil. I didn’t know what to expect. My first reaction was to ensure that I had the proper Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil in my kit. Next, I wanted to take the time to perform a thorough test of it using my sense of smell as the guide.

Upon first smell I was hit with huge floral notes. A symphony of flowers. As I sat in my quiet room, at my couch, which sits under my big window, I paid attention to the experience of how I felt with each scent. At first, a sense of calm came over me, followed by a general happy or satisfied feeling. The scent was just colorful to me. Based on the sensory experiment I was excited about replacing the vanilla in the cookie recipe.

Since it is just me and my husband at home, the two of us would have to suffice as the test cases. After I baked the cookies and let them cool for a couple of minutes, I asked my husband to try an unfrosted cookie first.

“Wow,” he said, which I took as a very good sign.

I tried it next (I’m always afraid to try my baking first, who knows why…). Wow, I thought. Really wow.

He said this would be a recipe you could bring to an upscale party, where gourmet food was being served, because the unique flavor would be interesting conversation.

I had decided that I would frost these cookies, and chose a very generic cream cheese frosting. The frosting called for vanilla, and I contemplated substituting the vanilla with the Geranium Pelargonium graveolens but I’m glad that I didn’t. I think that it would have been overboard if I would have used the geranium in the cookie as well as the frosting.

I handed him a frosted one and he grew more expansive.

“The cookie is light and flaky, which is perfect for the unusual, subtle flavor. These are elegant. Really elegant.”

I tried one with frosting. “Wow,” I thought. I wasn’t as expansive, but I admit, I felt really, really happy with my effort.

I was amazed at the subtle floral flavor that it added to the cookie. So different from the vanilla, and a bit unusual, but something that you could serve to people to give them a different take on your standard sugar cookie.

When my husband made me leave him a dozen of the cookies, I knew I had succeeded, even though my brother and his wife’s present will be a bit smaller now.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself and share your experiences in the comments below. Thanks!

Geranium Sugar Cookies 2

Old Fashioned Geranium Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 drops of Organic Geranium Essential Oil Pelargonium graveolens
  • 4 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Cream together thoroughly butter, oil, powdered sugar and granulated sugar
  2. Add eggs and 2 drops of Organic Geranium Essential Oil Pelargonium graveolens and beat until smooth
  3. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.  Blend well.
  4. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes
  5. Roll teaspoons of dough into balls
  6. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet or parchment paper
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes
  8. Leave cookies on cookie sheet for 2 minutes after taking out of oven, them move to wire racks. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 5 tablespoons soft butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar

Instructions:

Mix all of your ingredients until you reach your desired consistency.

 

From pampered to practitioner in aromatherapy

For a long, long time I have been a dedicated practitioner and devotee to the healing powers of spas.

I know, I know… what that really means is I love spa treatments and rarely gave much thought to all the philosophy behind it. I practiced nothing but being treated wonderfully, which I still think is important. But this journey the hubby and I are on has widened my worldview and led me, of all places, back to school to study holistic medicine. My first assignment in my class on aromatherapy caused me to look behind being  a pampered client to someone who cares and learns the philosophy and practice of natural treatment.

As I sit and think of the word “aromatherapy” I define it as using scents to aid in therapeutic ways. More specifically, I think of how I make my homemade bath salts using the essential oil Lavender Lavandula augustifolia mixed with a combination of Epsom salts and sea salts. The relaxing effects and calmness that it brings is something that I look forward to at the end of every day.

I would define essential oils as the plant materials distilled into oils for use in therapeutic ways. Essential oils are easily absorbed into the skin via different pressure points or targeted areas of the body.

When I researched various definitions of aromatherapy I find that the majority of the definitions refer to aromatherapy as “essential oils therapy.” Many of the definitions that I found were very similar in that they reflect aromatherapy’s use of plant materials (for example, flowers) to produce the oil. According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy the oils are used “to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.” Many of the definitions that I reviewed view aromatherapy in the same manner using similar definitions that include natural oils from plant items. Plant items that are noted include flowers, bark, stem, leaves and roots. I also found that many definitions discuss the effects that the smell of an essential oil triggers within the brain responses that effect mood and pain.

Upon review of different definitions I’m aware that my limited view of aromatherapy needs to be expanded. While I do understand the general idea of aromatherapy and essential oils in my day-to-day life. I see that it can be used in my life, not just as a way to enhance my mood, but as a natural pain reliever. With that my expectation with educating myself in the field of aromatherapy grows wildly and expands my imagination.

After the gamut of beauty promises, a DIY scrub that works

if you spend any time perusing the Effinartists.com website, you’ll know the hubby and I have adopted this attitude of reduce, reuse, recycle — and restore… that’s important… — whenever we can. This runs the gamut of furniture, art, food, so many things, what the hubby calls “hoof-to-head” wholeness, wellness and a lot of other “ness” stuff he’s constantly prattling on about.

Well, near and dear to my heart lies any and all things beauty. I am a self-prescribed beauty product whore (that seems harsh, so let’s just say, junkie). In my heyday I could be swayed very easily on any beauty product scheme and fad. Latest science tells us that this little know berry grown in the remote valleys in France holds the key to the fountain of youth (I fell for it many times). I was Alice in Wonderland falling prey to “drink this, and you will grow.” “Eat this, and you will shrink.” “Use this and stay young forever!”

It didn’t matter the cost, I fell for it. The more costly, the better I swore it worked. What a dummy.

I’ve had a change of heart. I’ve adopted a new lifestyle, one that I’m proud of, one that continues to grow daily, so my beauty philosophies have grown right along with it. My growing awareness started with dabbling into homemade body scrubs. You know the ones. You can buy them at your favorite department store for $20, $30, some even 50 bucks! I’ve no-so-quickly learned to spend even $10 on one of these store bought ones seems ridiculous. You can make it from home with natural ingredients for pennies. Why wouldn’t you give it a shot? You control what you put on your skin, and take satisfaction that you made it yourself. Be proud in your womanhood. I sure am!

The experimentation process has been challenged at times. It remains a work in progress. A fun one, though. With continuous change through trial and error, I’ve so far tried many variations on beauty scrubs: Epsom Salts, Sea salts, brown sugar, white sugar coupled with Almond oil, grape seed oil, olive oil, coconut oil along with your favorite essential oil (I’ve tried lavender, lemongrass, and sandalwood so far..) you name it I’ve slathered it over my body all in the name of experimentation.

Here are my experiences so far:

  • Epsom salts. I prefer to use a combination of Epsom salt with sea salt. For some reason my sensitive skin doesn’t seem to handle well pure Epsom salts. I love Epsom salt for its natural ability to detoxify the body, and it’s great for muscle soreness. But again, I like the combination of Epsom and sea salt in my scrub.
  • Brown Sugar is messy. I decided that I most likely will not use brown sugar in my scrubs any longer. It turns your water (if you are taking a bath, which I so often do) a nice brown color, and leaves your nice white towels a little dingy. Plus, I decided I wasn’t thrilled with the smell. Just my oh so humble opinion.
  • Coconut Oil in a scrub. So, coconut oil smells so yummy but in a scrub? Well I don’t think I’ll use it again. It’s solidified, and it’s darn hard to get it into its liquid phase as you bathe or shower. I read where some just allowed the steam from their bath/shower to liquefy the oil. I tried this, but my pruney fingers felt numb at the end of my waiting game. I don’t think I’ll use it again.

I will continue to be the guinea pig, but for now, I’m using the following basic recipe:

  • ½ cup sea salt
  • ½ cup Epsom salts
  • ½ cup grape seed (or almond) oil
  • a few drops of Lavender essential oil

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First combine the salts in a large bowl, and then add the oil. A few drops of your essential oil and you are done. You can tweak it to your liking. Prefer a more solid scrub? Use less oil. The nice thing is that with this basic recipe you can do no harm. I like to keep it in a pretty glass jar to display in my bath. Just one natural item that continues to make me feel like the queen that the hubby tells me I am in my humble home.