Thursday, January 6, 2011

Infusing Oils

One of the things I like, is herbs herbs, and MORE HERBS.

Herbs are nature's healers and comforters.  And if you haven't already guessed, my household is only Au Naturelle, from our cleaning supplies down to our medicine cabinet.

One of the most interesting things I have done is that I have began infusing oils.  I found this awesome wholesale company called Frontier where I was able to buy herbs in bulk.  They have a wide selection of herbs, and also coupons for repeat customers.

Infused oils can be used in soapmaking, but not just for their scent quality, but their benefits.  They can also be used as natural colorants, depending on the herb that is used.

You can liken infused oils to the making of tea.  When you boil regular water with a specific herb, what occurs to the water?  The herb infuses with the water.  So, let's take chamomile for instance. Both German and Roman Chamomile are wonder herbs, said  to calm frayed nerves, treat various digestive disorders, relieve muscle spasms, and to treat a range of skin conditions and mild infections.  In the same way you can transfer these same benefits to a carrier oil, such as olive oil or grapeseed oil.  From there, it can be used as a massage oil or in soap.

If you decide to infuse your own oils, it's best to use Grape-seed oil.  Why? Because the aroma is virtually not there.  I once used Extra Virgin Olive Oil to infuse Peppermint Oil, and although I could smell a lovely peppermint aroma, the olive oil aroma stuck around ( and I mean STUCK AROUND).  If you are going to use olive oil I recommend using a less virgin oil.

I also recommend using dried herbs because it reduces the molding factor.  And trust me, you DO NOT want to wake up one morning and see a mason jar full of fuzzy nasties.  Fresh herbs are great, but make sure that they are slightly wilted, washed, and dried before placing them in any oil.

So, now, you may want the instructions right?  I have made three batches of infused oils recently, so if you want to start, and don't want to use the herbs I talk about today, be sure to research the benefits and properties of the oils and herbs you are using, to find what's best for you.

Get three sterilized mason jars and get started.  It's sooooo easy.  Get some herbs, a carrier oil, and whatever amount you are using, make sure you use enough oil to cover them.

Rose Pedal Infused oil:
Rose Pedals are used for their skin softening and soothing properties.
In this batch I used dried rose pedals, and it's on what I call its second strength cycle.  When you make IOs, you can use solar infusion or heat infusion.  Solar infusion just involves placing the herbs in a carrier oil, and letting it sit in a sunny window for a while.  The more days you leave it, the more potent it will be. Hot infusion just involves sticking the mason jar (after you have your herbs and oil in it it) in hot water (kind of like how you boil tea).  You can also make the oil more potent by repeating the process every few weeks.  So I did the hot process, then let the roses sit for a few weeks.  Then, I strained out the roses, and put a new batch of roses in it.  I'll keep doing this until I get to the potency I want.

Peppermint Infused Oil
I started out with a fairly yellow carrier oil, and as you can see, after the infusion process, the oil turned green.  It has a very STRONG menthol aroma, but that's what you want.  I'm considering putting this batch through a second cycle to make it a little stronger.

The menthol leaves a tingly feeling on your skin and is said to help stomachaches, colic and gas. The menthol also increases blood flow to the area when applied to the skin.

Apple Cinnamon:

Once again, I started off with a fairly yellow oil and the cinnamon and apple peels turned the oil amber.  I will definitely be putting this one through another cycle.  The cinnamon aroma is strong, but the apple has slightly diminished since I first made this.  For the apple scent its best to use dried apple peels, or you could use dried apple peel powder.  Cinnamon can be a skin irritant, but I've only experienced that with Cinnamon EOs, but can be very beneficial, and I've even heard of it being used to treat Eczema and itching skin when diluted or made into a paste.
So far I'm digging the oil infusion...
All material on this post is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

Joyous infusing!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm Feeling Knitty!!!!

Okay, it's been about two weeks since my last post.  I was on winter break (as well as I'm sure the rest of you were) and catching up on work and mommy time!  My daughter is talking more and more everyday!

But that's for another post...

So! I've been feeling a little bit, back-to-basics and have been itching to add another project to my 10,000 back-to-basics things I'm going to do before I die list. So, I took myself to Walmart, carefully strolled down each aisle, and when I came to the crafts aisle, I carefully inspected the merchandise.  Between the glitter-thing-a-gingies, and the ribbons whose-a-whats-its, there was so much to do, I could hardly decide!

Then, it hit me.  I stopped.  There was a pleasant looking woman dressed in a white outfit wearing a knit bolero and leg warmers.  She called out to me.  She said "I taught myself how to knit!"  The call was so strong that I picked up the magazine she was on, bought some knit needles, a HUGE ball of multicolored yarn and went home.

So for all you wives out there, here's where you may laugh because you may know what I'm talking about.

So after my Knitty adventure, I come home and my husband is there.  I unload the groceries.
"Look! Honey! Look what I got! I'm going to start knitting!"

Moment of silence.

"Ahhh, here you go again with this 'do-it-yourself'' stuff." 

He and I begin to laugh (after I prove my case on why I should knit).  And besides, he may just be thankful when it's time for him to have a new sweater.

So, I got started THAT NIGHT.  And I am very pleased to say that with reading Boye's I Taught Myself Knitting book, and watching the instructional DVD (more than once), I mastered the hand movements in two days.  As you can see, I need to work on making the knits tighter, but hey! I'm an amateur.

This post will kind of turn into a review. While the Boye's book helped, and it came conveniently with knitting supplies (with the exception of the yarn), the instructions were a bit confusing at times (maybe that was because of my brain).  It was much better to watch the DVD (even though the woman showing you how to knit, doesn't really slow down while she's "showing" a beginner to knit, then she laughs saying "I don't know how to go slow")  But after watching it a few times, then I was able to understand some of the instructions in the book.  The book comes with a lot of knitting ideas and instructions, and I can say that I have fun doing this now.

It's been a couple months since I started this, knitting is a slow process depending on your skill, but well worth the satisfaction you get (if you're like me) when it's finally completed, or even when it starts to look like a sweater.

So you maybe wondering what I'm making...I wonder that too.  Maybe a scarf I'm thinking, or maybe going to make a sweater.  But one thing is for certain, I hope I finish before winter is over.

Joyous knitting!