That Dirty Dawg, Norman Reedus [Daryl Dixon]

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

Good advice, Daryl

I’m a fan of the AMC series THE WALKING DEAD. I’ve seen all the episodes at least twice. I think that Norman Reedus’s character, Daryl Dixon, has adapted well to being around various types of people. Last season, he was adamant about Beth not drinking peach schnapps, and rightly so! He’s also efficient when it comes to taking care of zombies. He’s bonded well with fellow survivor Carol, and she’s toughened up ever since we met the abused housewife in episode 3, Tell It to the Frogs. Of course, a zombie apocalypse will change a person significantly.

In Georgia and other parts of the country that are zombie-infested, being able to access hot running water is probably difficult, especially as the years go by. But don’t they have hot springs in Georgia? Well, the internet’s not working so they can’t go to http://www.soak.net and find out that there are seven listed hot springs with water temperatures ranging from 68 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Which is a shame, because soaking in hot springs is good for more than bathing and most zombies aren’t able to swim, so it’d be a safe place.

Watching Norman Reedus strip off his sweaty shirt and jeans and jump into some bubbling hot water would be great for viewers and increase the already astronomically high ratings.

Snorman reedus as daryl dixon in the walking deadee Norman on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Stay calm, people!

Other than watching Norman splashing around in the springs, my next thought was what kind of soap would he use? Something exfoliating and natural. Moisturizing, too. A soap with the ability to clean dirt and zombie residue. And something that smelled clean and fresh…

I used to make and sell a soap I called La Brea Tar Pits Glycerin Soap as it removes tar. It’s named after those great big fenced in pits of tar located in Los Angeles, California. The soap weighs 6.5 ounces and is filled with oatmeal, pure Bulgarian Lavender and Australian Tea Tree essential oils, cornmeal and extra shea butter. It’s gently exfoliating due to the addition of whole rolled oats and cornmeal. This soap is for those rugged outdoor types who stab or shoot arrows at zombies and are in dire need of a really super cleansing soap. la brea tar pits glycerin soap everything shea lisa maliga

 La Brea Tar Pits soap would probably help remove any kind of zombie goo that Daryl gets on him after he yanks those arrows out of zombie skulls or during those close contact encounters. The lavender and tea tree essential oils are antibacterial and while they aren’t strong enough to disinfect a bite, any user of this soap would smell a lot nicer afterwards. They wouldn’t look or smell quite so ripe…

Looking forward to watching more of Norman Reedus as that dirty dawg Daryl Dixon on Sunday night. And I hope you are too!

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Interview with a Soap Crafter – Amanda Stevens, Homayd Natural Care Products

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2014

Hello soapers and other crafters!

Apple_Pumpkin__94473.1411229695.1280.1280
Apple Pumpkin Soap

Meet Amanda Stevens of Homayd Natural Care Products. This very talented lady is from Arkansas and she makes some beautiful soap. Here is what she has to say about the joys of making soap and how she got started. [Click to enlarge images].

What prompted you to start making soap?

It all started when I got pregnant with my daughter. My husband and I were already trying to reduce chemical exposure through foods and cleaning products, which naturally led me to examine the products I used on my own skin. Since our skin is our largest organ and absorbs about 60% of what we put on it, I decided to start making my own soap as a way of reducing my family’s exposure to harmful chemicals.

What other types of soap do you craft? Do you also make bath & body products?

I mainly make cold-process soap, but I also make diaper wipe concentrate for babies, hand sanitizer, and a few fabric items.

When did you decide to sell your soap?

Once our daughter was born, we made the decision that I would not return to my job as a software developer. I started noticing that God was blessing us with lots of people who were wanting to try (and even pay for) my soap, so we turned it into a full-fledged business in January 2014.

Do you also sell your soap at crafts fairs/markets, stores, etc.?

Yes, we sell at an online Farmer’s market and various fairs and organized race events. We also have a few stores and salons that carry Homayd products.

What are the advantages to selling online?

The customer base is much broader. Also, most people prefer to buy items from the convenience of home, so it helps us be available to those who may not come to any local events.

What is your favorite fragrance or essential oil? What are your most popular scents?

ExSpearimint Soap
Ex-Spear-I-Mint Soap

I love the traditional lavender and tea tree essential oils, but my recent favorite for soap is spearmint essential oil. It’s so refreshing since it smells like a pack of Wrigley’s in your pocket.

What soap crafting books have you read?

Oh boy, I’m a book nerd. I’ve read about all of the soap books I could find at our local library. To name a few…

Soap Making by Sarah Ade

Soap Crafting by Anne-Marie Faiola

The Natural Soap Chef by Heidi Barto

and of course…The Soapmaker’s Companion by Susan Cavitch

 What soap crafting videos have inspired you?

I like the Soaping101 channel on YouTube. When I first started making soap, I watched a lot of her videos for ideas.

Where do you get your soap/packaging ideas?

Most of the soap ideas I just make up, usually by season or holiday. I think of what I love or what captures the season best, and I play around with those ideas. The packaging was born out of necessity of using cheap packing material and has morphed into a handmade look that streamlines my wrapping process.

What advice would you give to new soap crafters?

Definitely start out simple. If you try to get too creative before you’re comfortable with the process in general, you’ll make a few expensive mistakes and may get discouraged. Master the process, the craftiness will follow.

How did you come up with your company’s name?

A few years ago I decided to make my entire family’s Christmas gifts. Being a slightly type A personality, I decided to make up a little product name to go with the gifts. I love putting the letter “y” in the middle of names (both my husband and daughter’s names have a “y” in the middle) so I just threw a “y” in the word “homemade” and shortened it a little. The rest is history.

Bunches of Honey Oats
Bunches of Honey Oats

Name: Homayd Natural Care Products

Owner: Amanda Stevens

Location: Maumelle, Arkansas

Website: http://www.homayd.com

Blog: http://www.homayd.com/blog

Social Media:

http://www.facebook.com/HomaydNatural

http://www.twitter.com/HomaydNatural

http://www.pinterest.com/HomaydNatural

http://www.instagram.com/HomaydNatural

Do you make and sell your own soap? Do you have your own online shop and want to be interviewed? If so, just send me an email: lisa_maliga@msn.com Please use “Interview with Soap Crafter” in the subject heading.

Basic Aromatherapy, Part 3

photo of essential oils by lisa maligaBy Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2008-2017

Continued from Basic Aromatherapy, Part 1 and Basic Aromatherapy, Part 2

Aromatherapy In Your Environment

The following methods are for those of you who wish to be able to change the fragrance environment of a room, car, office, closet, drawer, etc. There are psychological benefits to entering a room that has the crisp aroma of citrus, or a subtle scent of fresh blooming flowers.

Aroma Lamps – Aroma lamps are either electric or operated by a tea light or votive candle. There is a small cup shaped portion that is usually made of glazed ceramic and holds a few ounces of water. However, other materials may include glass and stone. Warm or even hot water should be used; as that is less work the candle has to do. Only a few drops of essential oil are added to the water, thus making it ideal for costlier essential oils. Care should be taken to see that the water doesn’t boil away.

Atomizers – Requiring no heat, atomizers, sometimes referred to as nebulizers or nebulizing diffusers, disperse the essential oils on a revitalizing current of air as it passes through an intricately engineered blown glass chamber. This course naturally suspends and ionizes the oil into extremely fine molecules, causing them to remain suspended in the air for longer periods.

Many aromatherapist practitioners and others who utilize the finest essential oils choose atomizers. It’s important to be careful with the atomizers. Since there is a continuous mist emitted it should not be used for more than a few minutes at a time. Many of the models do have built-in timers to avoid any problems like overuse. Also, make sure that this is done in a clear area, away from furniture, [varnish can be worn off] wall hangings and other objects.

Candles – Candles create a more romantic ambiance and do double duty in helping disperse your preferred aroma[s] throughout a room. In the spirit of true aromatherapy, it’s advised to use beeswax, palm wax or soy wax candles as paraffin contains carcinogenic chemicals. Wicks should be trimmed, and the essential oils need to be added at the top of the candle, but never on the wick itself. You can add the essential oils after the candle has been lit and there’s a small pool of wax at the top of the candle. Don’t add the oils to the flame itself as oils can catch fire.

Diffusers – You can buy diffusers to plug into your car’s cigarette lighter, as you can also find those that plug into any wall socket. The atomizers suspend a fine mist of essential oils into the air for aromatherapy is the best method of using essential oils for therapeutic treatments. Many aromatherapists believe that this is the most effective method of enjoying the aromas.

Sachets – If you want your linens to smell clean and fresh, the addition of a smell sachet filled with your favorite aroma will create a pleasant smell whenever you open the drawer or closet. You can buy them already made, or make them yourself. Highly recommended would be a small muslin or organza bag filled with dried lavender buds and a few drops of lavender essential oil. Not only is lavender a universally pleasing aroma, it also serves as an all-natural way to keep moths away.

Carrier Oils:

The most common way to dilute a pure essential oil is with a cold-pressed carrier oil. Carrier oils allow the essential oil to slowly permeate the skin, protecting it from irritation. Jojoba, sesame, sweet almond, rose hip, refined rice bran, shea oil, wheatgerm, evening of primrose, grapeseed, kukui nut, sunflower, hazelnut, safflower, avocado or apricot kernel oils are commonly used. Several of the carrier oils can be combined and when essential oils are added, this makes for a very nutrient-rich bath oil.

Determining Quality of Essential Oils:

Read the label. If purchasing rosemary oil, for example, you would expect to see that name on the label. However, here are the four facts that you will find on any bottle of essential oil from a reputable supplier/company. 

1. Botanical/Latin name. In this case it would be Rosemarinus officinalis.

2. Part. What part of the plant has the essential oil been extracted from? For rosemary, that is the leaf.

3. Method of extraction. Is it an absolute, enfleurage, carbon dioxide [CO2], or has it been steam distilled? In this case it has been steam distilled.

4. Country of Origin. Rosemary comes from many different countries, such as Corsica, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, and France. Location may make a sizable difference for many reasons such as climate, type of soil, high/low altitude, etc.

Aromatherapy isn’t government regulated. Products can claim to be “natural” when in fact distilled water is the only untainted ingredient. Any reputable retailer of essential oils will be very knowledgeable about their product and capable of proving its purity. They will and should be happy to answer your questions.

Basic Aromatherapy, Part 2

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2008-2014

Continued from Basic Aromatherapy, Part 1

photo of essential oils by lisa maligaBefore 1993, you wouldn’t have been able to find the word ‘aromatherapy’ listed in a dictionary even though this art/science has been effectively used for thousands of years. In fact, the word was invented in the 1920’s by a French chemist by the name of René-Maurice Gattefossé who studied the cosmetic properties of plants. He soon learned that plants contained organic antiseptic elements that worked better than inorganic antiseptics. His interest was further ignited when he there was an explosion in his laboratory; badly burning has hands. Immediately he poured lavender essential oil [one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly on the skin] on them and made the not so astonishing discovery that his hands healed quickly and with no scarring.

However, the usage of aromatic plants has been going on for thousands of years. From the civilizations of ancient Egypt, India, China, Greece, and Rome, floral and herbal oils have been used in many ways from flavoring food and beverages to being poured into baths and massaged into the body.

The Romans weren’t shy about employing scents. They inundated their baths and banquets with floral concoctions from scattering rose petals on floors to anointing their bodies with floral perfumes. After bathing their bodies were massaged with aromatic oils. Their beds and clothing, bodies and hair were scented with perfumes. Even men scented themselves with balsam and cinnamon oils.

The natural healing system of ayurveda, meaning “science of life” was established approximately 4000 years ago in the Himalayan region. Plants and all their properties are a relevant part of ayurvedic medicine that continues to be practiced where it started and has now spread around the world.

Hippocrates is known as the “father of medicine”, and this Greek doctor was a noted advocate for the usage of essential oils, especially in the form of daily baths and massages. Resins of myrrh and oils of cinnamon were often applied to a patient to soothe inner and outer complaints.

Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils:

Pure, unadulterated essential oils derived from the leaves, roots, seeds, flowers or bark of a plant or tree are the source extracted directly from nature via a form of steam distillation. When you first begin working with essential oils, take care in handling them. Lavender essential oil is quite safe for the skin, as is tea tree, but some people can have allergic reactions to them. When handling essential oils, it’s wise to do a skin test. Simply apply a tiny amount on your wrist, and if there’s no reaction within 24 hours you are safe. As these oils can be costly, you must take care that they’re always kept in a cobalt or amber colored glass bottle and stored in a cupboard [out of direct sunlight] and kept in a cool, dry place. When you buy an oil, write the date on the vial. Most essential oils can last from one to three years. Citrus oils have a shelf life ranging from six months to less than two years. Essential oils can last for several years, but the freshness disappears. There are some exceptions with the darker colored, “heavier” oils or resins. Patchouli Oil is known to improve with age.

You should know about fragrance oils and what they really are. I visited an e-group for soapmakers and when someone asked for a company where they could purchase essential oils, a person gave the name of a company that sold only fragrance oils! Obviously, to this uninformed person, the terms are interchangeable. They’re not. Fragrance oils are synthesized in a laboratory. They are sometimes referred to as “nature identical.” If you’re looking for an inexpensive scent, then fragrance oils fit the bill. But fragrance oils are not therapeutic grade essential oils and never will be.

From personal experience, I’ve learned that sniffing an essential oil right from the bottle and diluting it with a carrier oil such as sweet almond or jojoba, makes a huge difference. I smelled my favorite, vanilla absolute, a thick balsamic oil derived from the pod of the vanilla plant. I determined that the first whiff brought out the usual vanilla scent I was accustomed to, but a millisecond later there was a stronger, harsher scent. I then added a few drops to a bottle of sesame oil and the change was magnificent! I had the aroma I equated with the spicy-sweet scent of a dried vanilla bean pod. The carrier oil had combined perfectly with the essential oil!

You should always dilute essential oils in carrier oils when applying directly to the skin, or even in the bathtub. This is a necessary safety precaution. Essential oils are very strong and need to be diluted. Also, some essential oils [and fragrance oils] may smell good enough to drink, but are for EXTERNAL USE ONLY!

Basic Aromatherapy, Part 3 

Interview with Mountain Rose Herb’s Aromatherapist Christine Guerts

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013

photo of essential oils by lisa maligaMeet Mountain Rose Herb’s Certified Aromatherapist, Christine Guerts. This interview was originally conducted in 2010. Why is it just appearing now? Recently, I was sorting my Word files when I discovered it in a folder for an aromatherapy eBook in progress. I probably won’t have time to publish the book this year, so I’m going to share this valuable aromatherapy information that Ms. Guerts has so kindly provided. 

1. How and when did you get involved in aromatherapy?

My interest in aromatherapy started while working at Mountain Rose Herbs. The essential oils always fascinated me. Why did we sell so many and what were they used for? Why did some people love one oil and others dislike it? When I became a part of the QC team, I started working with the oils on a more intimate level which brought up even more questions. Why does the quality vary so much? What qualities should different oils have? I had the privilege of taking some classes and now hold a Certificate in Aromatherapy from The American College of Healthcare Sciences. Throughout my studies I was able to focus on the quality of essential oils, which I now apply every day at Mountain Rose Herbs.

2. How has aromatherapy helped you?

I find that aromatherapy has given me a new appreciation for all of the odors you come across throughout the day. It has given me a professional focus within the herbal / alternative medicine world. It has also enriched my personal life. I am constantly experimenting with new blends to use around the house and in personal care products.

3. Is aromatherapy being properly represented commercially in department stores, drug stores, health food stores, and bath & body shops?

I obtain most of my aromatherapy and essential oil supplies through Mountain Rose Herbs. I prefer to make most of the products I use myself, so I haven’t had much experience with mass manufactured items.

4. What essential oil[s] do you prefer?

There are many oils that I use for different reasons. Some of my all time favorites are Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum), Neroli (Citrus aurantium), and Lime Peel (Citrus aurantifolia).

5. What essential oil[s] do you sell the most?

Some of the most popular essential oils at Mountain Rose Herbs are Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), and Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis).

6. What is your preferred carrier oil[s]?

I enjoy working with Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) and Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera).

7. What method[s] of [non-body] application such as diffuser, candle, lamp, jewelry, etc. do you recommend most?

I find the use of diffusers and aroma sprays to be very helpful and easy. There are many types of diffusers on the market to choose from, so I find that they appeal to most people. A quick spray can brighten up your day!

8. What method[s] of [body] application such as massage oils, lotions/creams, baths, powders, etc. do you recommend most?

Topically, I prefer oils or lotions and baths. An essential oil blend added to a carrier oil can be applied directly to the skin as a massage oil or added to a bath. This way you can take the time to relax in the bath or apply the blend directly to the desired area.

9. Have you noticed any trends in aromatherapy?

The interest in organic therapeutic quality essential oils is on the rise in the aromatherapy community. I have been receiving a lot of questions about organic products, and the use of the term therapeutic quality. At Mountain Rose Herbs, we strive to supply organic materials whenever possible. Over the last year or so, I have also noticed a growing interest in aromatherapy jewelry.

10. What do you feel is the future of aromatherapy?

As people are becoming more aware of their environment and what goes into the everyday products that they use, I believe that the interest in aromatherapy and essential oils is going to grow. There are many preventative applications in aromatherapy, and essential oils can be used around the house in many ways from refreshing a room, to cleaning, and disinfecting.

11. How can a consumer tell fake aromatherapy from real aromatherapy?

When purchasing essential oils, you should look for “first distillation” oils that have not been diluted or rectified. Other important things to look at are the Latin name and plant part used for the oil. Most importantly, you should work with a company that you trust.

12. Do you feel that aromatherapy has been given fair press?

There are many publications devoted to aromatherapy that provide readers with up to date information. Some aspects of aromatherapy are very opinion based, and information on the subject has become quite prolific. I feel that it is important to read and research as much as possible to form an educated opinion.

13. Any advice for someone interested in making aromatherapy a career choice?

The field of aromatherapy is growing. It seems that there are new courses popping up all over the place. If you have the privilege of taking classes in person, that is ideal. If not, there are a number of on-line courses you can take. Also, look into your community for practicing aromatherapists. Ask them about their training and any insight they might be able to offer. Taking an introductory class is also helpful in giving a general overview of the field.

14. Are there any aromatherapy books you would recommend?

Advanced Aromatherapy-The Science of Essential Oil Therapy by Kurt Schnaubelt

Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (Second Edition) by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green

Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals by Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless

Visit Mountain Rose Herbs to learn more about their fine  aromatherapy [and herbal] products!

Confessions of a Fragrance Fanatic

By Lisa Maliga

© 2008 – 2013

I attended a flower festival at the age of four and my mom couldn’t keep me from trying to sniff all the fresh and fragrant blooms. When it came to food, I didn’t taste first; I used my impressionable sense of smell. The beef stew always got an unhappy sniff, while anything dessert like was allowed to linger, appreciated by my fussy sense of smell.

My quest for the simplest yet most compelling scent of all, vanilla, led me from the avenue of pure aromatherapy grade essential oils into the streets of synthetic fragrances. I had found a marvelous vanilla absolute from Madagascar but when my supplier vanished, I was left minus the sensuous aroma that I adored.

I ordered my first vanilla fragrance oil [commonly referred to as an f.o.]. When it arrived, I opened the bottle and took a hesitant whiff. Surprised, I took another, longer sniff of the vanilla f.o. It smelled like vanilla, no question about that! The cost was kinder on my credit card, and the amount was larger, too. But what happened when it was poured into a batch of soap? Would it hold up in my new concoction of oils that were blended into whipped shea butter or melt and pour soap? I’d read of scents smelling great out of the bottle [OOB] but turning into something quite different when added to bath & body products.

The world of aromatherapy is comprised of scents that originate directly from plants and their various parts: flowers, roots, fruit, bark, or leaves. If you buy a bottle of lavender essential oil [abbreviated as e.o.’s] from a reputable source you will find it has four attributes listed on the label: country of origin, Latin [botanical] name, part of plant used, and method of distillation. [Cold pressed, steam distilled, etc.]. Highly principled suppliers will even provide a fifth element, the principal constituents in classifying their essential oils. I was accustomed to this type of information readily provided for me. When I saw that plain brown glass container with just the words “Vanilla fragrance” and the supplier’s name and address, I knew I had taken my first shaky steps down Fragrance Street.

Tuberose absolute, $200 per oz., was another costly floral that I wanted to add to my list of favorites. This white flower’s petals were so delicate that their sweet aromas were removed in a process that involved solvents, classifying it as an absolute, rather than a pure essential oil. Still, an absolute was superior to a mere fragrance. I decided to try a tuberose fragrance for a few dollars an ounce and when it arrived, along with some buddies doing impersonations of rose, jasmine and sandalwood, I was in a state of nasal bliss. The tuberose resembled those fragrant white buds, and the other florals sung a sincere imitation of their live counterparts. Sandalwood from India or even Australia was beyond my means [back then] but the sandalwood f.o. was reputed to contain Indonesian sandalwood e.o. and so it was somewhat natural.

bridal bouquet glycerin soap honeysuckle tuberose jasmine white florals lisa maliga everythingshea
Bridal Bouquet Glycerin Soap ~ Tantalizing aromas of sensuous white florals such as tuberose, honeysuckle, gardenia and jasmine.

Blending became another passion that was easily indulged with less costly fragrances. I made my first sandalwood-rose combination and came up with more blending ideas, including a few citrus essential oils that I had bought. I searched the library and the ‘net to find ideas and soon had pages of notes of what fragrances were able to be combined to create layers of scents. From fleeting top notes such as neroli [orange blossom] and lemon to middle notes that would involve longer lasting scents like lilac and sweet pea to the deeper and sultriest notes such as vanilla and patchouli. Perfumery was based on music and a perfumer was considered the conductor.

While I wasn’t a perfumer, I bought fragrance duplications, a/k/a dupes. I soon amassed a supply of impressive dupes to store in my kitchen cupboard: Chanel, Thierry Mugler, Guerlain, Bvlgari, Burberry, Viktor & Rolf, and Vera Wang. Also filling my shadowy [essential oils and fragrances needed to be stored in a cool, dark place] storeroom were imitations of Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret scents. My fixation on various fruits like mango, coconut, pineapple, banana, and several berry scents were being stocked in an expanding collection of alphabetically ordered scents. The fruity phase morphed into desserts and now I had calorie-free chocolate, variations of vanilla, brown sugar, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon bun scents.

It’s confirmed, I’m a fragrance fanatic!

You can read more about fragrance and essential oils in The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting.