Thursday, July 30, 2009

Essential Oil Safety

Essential oils are becoming more common as more of us start to look for natural alternatives to common commercial products. It is important to remember that essential oils are concentrated and they should be treated with care and caution. For example, I was mixing up some oils over my stove and I learned a good lesson. I had recently painted my drip pans black because I thought it would look nicer, I got the high heat good paint that they use on grills and the pans looked really sharp. So, I was using lemon essential oil and spilled a few drops which I immediately wiped up. I also wiped the paint up too! It was quite a shock, but it took the paint straight off and let the pans bright shiny silver in those few drops. So, here are some good tips:

  • Never use an essential oil directly on your skin (except lavender), always dilute it in a carrier oil first. Some oils are more potent and should be diluted more.
  • Citrus essential oils cause photosensitivity and should not be used on skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Always consult a doctor if you are pregnant or have any medical conditions.
  • Conduct a patch test before using a new oil on your body to test for allergic reactions.
  • Severe reactions should be treated by medical professionals.
  • Common sense is always helpful: if you are allergic to cinnamon, you will be allergic to cinnamon essential oil, stay are from it.
There is a lot of literature on different conditions that can be treated by using herbs and essential oils. However, if you wish to treat a condition it is not a good idea to self-treat. Visit a trained herbalist or aromatherapist.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Deodorant Recipe

I do not like commercial deodorants. I mean they smell good and they keep me from getting stinky, but I do not like what they do to my skin. I have tried degree, dove, suave, and they are all the same. I get clogged pores (that's really gross and uncomfortable) and after I shave I have a horrible problem with rashes and irritations, and the ingrown hairs were horrible. It didn't matter what kind of razor I used, the direction I shaved in, or even what kind of after shave cream I used or didn't use. I'm pretty sure that since I was having lots of problems with clogged pores, the deodorants were clogging my hair follicles as well and causing ingrown hairs.

So, I decided to try making my own. I found Lush's version and figured I could do something like that. I didn't want a cream I needed to smear on with my hands, I still wanted it in a tube. So, I did a little research and played a little and this is my recipe:

.5 oz cocoa butter
.5 oz beeswax
1 oz of any oil you like (I used almond oil and fractionated coconut oil cause its what I had)
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp baking soda (I've read that this can cause redness, so I think I'll decrease it to 1/2 next time)
Essential oils of your choice (I used 20 drops sweet orange, 10 drops lavender, 5 drops rosemary, and 3 drops thyme and it smells like a spicy chocolate orange)
container (I used a 2 oz natural tube)

1. Melt your cocoa butter and beeswax in a double boiler.

2. Add liquid oils and powders and mix well. Add essential oils and mix very well.

3. Pour into container and allow to cool.

Some essential oils are irritating to sensitive skin, it is a good idea to do a patch test with all essential oils before using in a product (do not forget to dilute in oil).

Monday, July 27, 2009

National Milk Chocolate Day

According to The Bizarre American Holidays page today is National Milk Chocolate Day. Now, I know we've all heard that chocolate has many health benefits and that by eating it we will be protected from heart disease and all sorts of other things. I even had someone tell me that if you eat chocolate you won't gain weight (some people really do believe everything on the internet). While I agree that eating chocolate can help to relieve stress, I think that might be a learned thing, but who really knows. The problem I see is that when chocolate is said to be a health food, few will look at the small print. Instead, they use it as an excuse to eat more chocolate.

I am so in love with chocolate that its not funny, but the truth is that processed chocolate with all the added sugar and who knows what else is not anymore healthy than a bowl of ice cream or a bag of chips. Its really is still junk food. Pure cocoa is where the health benefits can be found. The really good dark chocolate that only has cocoa butter is the stuff that has health benefits. (FYI: plain, unprocessed cocoa butter is great for the skin too) However, this is not a case of more is better. Studies have shown that small amounts of pure dark chocolate (like 1 oz a couple times a week) is good for you. Large amounts of dark chocolate have large amounts of fat and should not be consumed.

So remember, there are things that all of us like that are good for you (red wine anyone), but it is usually in its simplest, unprocessed form and in small amounts.

Christmas In July Show

I just did a Christmas in July Show this past weekend. It was put together by Krista who is a Scentsy consultant, check out her site She did a great job for a first show and I have to say a HUGE thanks to her for everything she did. The best part was I got to meet some other great crafters!

I met Nicole who does some really cool crocheting, she makes the cutest tops and dresses. There were even reusable swiffer sweeper pads. They fit just like the store bought pads, but go in the wash to be reused! How cool is that? She also had some dish scrubbers that were nice and thick. I was really impressed by her creativity. Let me know if you're interested and I'll get you in contact with her. She does custom work too. I hope to get some pictures of her stuff up soon.

Misti is a Stampin' Up consultant, but also does custom wedding invitations. She is so very creative! She had simple, yet gorgeous journals. It was so cool. I could see young girls having a blast making those and personalizing them. She had some very patriotic coasters that I just loved. Her work is very nice and so easy to personalize.

I also met other Amy from BeautiControl and the instant facelift they offer is so unbelievable! Jessica is with Lia Sophia, her jewelry was just lovely. Laura had her Pampered Chef stuff, which was so much fun to play with, plus I didn't break anything! Jennifer is a Chocolatier and her chocolate was AMAZING. There was also some beautiful woodworking, it was all handmade, even the woodburning and coloring was done by hand. I couldn't believe how nice it was.

Overall, I think it was a success. Its always so great to meet new people and get to share ideas and information. Thanks again to Krista for putting it all together and thanks to all the wonderful ladies that I got to visit with.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Christmas In July

When: Sat July 25th
10 am -3 pm

Where: 6170 Lehman Dr
Colorado Springs!

Who: Honu Naturals (of course)
Nikki Stitch Crocheting
Pampered Chef
There will also be woodworking, jewlery, and other fun stuff!

We will have a raffle. You get one ticket just for coming and you can get more tickets from vendors when you make purchases. There will be some great deals and specials, so come on out and get your shopping done early.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Make an Herb Garden from Recycled Plastic Bottles

How to Make an Herb Garden from Recycled Plastic Bottles

by yiddle on Jun.20, 2009, under The Geekery |

Herb Garden made from Recycled Plastic Bottles

Herb Garden made from Recycled Plastic Bottles

I’ve been tossing around ideas in my head lately about how to reuse, recycle and remake. Lately I’ve been drinking SoBe Lifewater 0 Calorie after my workouts. It comes in these really cool spiral shaped bottles. The bottles are really sturdy and I’ve been trying to figure out what (other than recycling) I could do with them. I thought the first thing I’d try was an herb garden.

I live in a townhouse, and I don’t have a lot of yard. What I do have is really really shady, so I can’t get much to grow back there. I do love using fresh herbs, so this was a good solution for me.

Note: If you’re not sure whether the bottles you have on hand are food-safe, you may want to plant flowers or something non-edible. Some think it’s never a good idea to use plastic for anything food-related. You could always turn this project into a flower garden instead of an herb garden.

What you’ll need:

Supplies for this project

Supplies for this project


Step 1: Cut the bottles

Step 1: Cutting the bottles

Step 1: Cutting the bottles

The most important thing I can say here is BE CAREFUL. Ok, actually the most important thing would be empty the bottles first. But if you’re a kid or a clutz, find a steady-handed adult to help you. The plastic on the bottles I used was pretty thick. I started with a saw and the bottles wedged into a mitre box. I managed to cut myself. Not badly, but a nick. So after that I switched to starting the cut with the saw and then using scissors to do the rest.

The second most important thing I can say here is DO NOT USE YOUR GOOD SCISSORS. Cutting plastic will dull your scissors. I don’t know how many times as a kid I heard my mother say “You’re not using my sewing scissors for that, are you?” and I am repeating that here. Don’t use your mother’s sewing scissors!

The third most important thing to remember is to measure the height if you are making multiples to make sure you get them all the same size. I eyeballed the first and then used it to measure and mark the rest.

Don’t worry if your edge is rough. We’ll take care of that later.

Step 2: Wash the bottles

Yep, that’s right. It’s easier with the tops cut off, but be careful not to cut your hands on the rough cut edge.

Step 3: Measure and cut the bias tape

Wrap a piece of bias tape around the cut edge to see how long you need to make it. Cut it so that it will cover all the way around and overlap by about an inch. I cut mine on an angle. If you’re making multiples, use this first piece as a template for the others.

Step 4: Gluing on the bias tape

Step 4: Gluing the bias tape

Step 4: Gluing the bias tape

Step 4: Tops On

Step 4: Tops On

Lay the bias tape with the folded side up (see picture). Lay a strip of glue down each side. I used regular old craft glue. Then glue the bias tape to the bottle, with one half of the folded tape on each side of the plastic.

Step 5: Foil the tops

Step 5: Foil the top

Step 5: Foil the top

After the glue on the bias tape has dried, wrap some foil over it. This seems kind of stupid, but it’s going to protect your pretty bias tape from getting all dirty when you pot your herbs. If you don’t want to use foil you could probably use some newspaper, foil just holds in place nicely. I re-used the same small strip of foil for all 4 bottles.

Step 6: Plant your herbs

Chocolate Mint, Purple Basil, Cilantro, and Thyme

Chocolate Mint, Purple Basil, Cilantro, and Thyme

I chose to plant Chocolate Mint, Purple Basil, Cilantro, and Thyme. I didn’t even know that Purple Basil existed! I’m excited to use that and the Chocolate Mint, and D will be happy when I make pico de gallo with the Cilantro and chicken ravioli with the Thyme.

After you plant them, you could embellish them with some nice labels. I chose to keep mine plain. Aside from cutting the bottles, this was really simple. In fact, it took me longer to write this how-to than it did to make my herb garden! I think I may make more with flowers for my desk at the office :)


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Natural Ingredients Not Right For Everyone

With all the "all natural" or "nearly natural" products coming out, it is easy for the consumer to assume that it will be better for them, but that's not necessarily true. For example, I can't use Burt's Bees Lip Balms because I'm allergic to lanolin. I know plenty of people that rave about Burt's Bees and I like their products too, but they irritate me. If you are allergic to nuts, then products with sweet almond oil are probably not for use and I use it in most of my products. I can't use anything with lemon essential oil on my skin. I know some people that can, but not me. I choose to use essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances because I have had plenty of bad reactions to synthetics and some have given me headaches. I love Bed, Bath, and Beyond because its just so much fun, but I can't spend more than 5 minutes in the store.

The most important thing consumers should consider is what works best for their skin and what do they like. If you can use a lotion with cucumber melon scent and you like it, then use it. You can even find indie businesses that make nearly natural products and use synthetic fragrances that are just as good as anything made with essential oils. I do recommend looking for products that do not have mineral oil or petrolatum because they do not have the same benefits as vegetable oils. Always read labels carefully before making any purchases, all ingredients are listed in order highest amount to smallest amount.

Side Note:If you are looking for a product for aromatherapy, it should only contain the highest quality ingredients and only pure essential oils. Aromatherapists will tell you that synthetics might smell good, but do not actually offer any therapy benefits.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Must Have Cleaners

If there are any two cleaners that every house has to have it would be vinegar and baking soda. Besides being much cheaper than your average household cleaners, they are also green (and work better in my opinion).

I use vinegar for just about everything. I have a spray bottle with vinegar, some water and a few drops of orange essential oil for a degreaser and it smells good. I use this to clean my kitchen and bathroom. I also this to clean tile floors. It get dirt and food off without a lot of elbow grease. Any citrus essential oil will make this great of grease, so I use it to clean out my microwave. It's is so amazing, I can clean the entire kitchen in no time flat! Please make sure you only use a few drops of the essential oil, more is not better when it comes to essential oils. I also use vinegar in the laundry in place of fabric softener. It gets the soap residue out and leaves my laundry soft and its scent free so its perfect for sensitive skin. Don't worry, your laundry will not smell like vinegar when dry.

I also love baking soda for everything else. I use a baking soda and water paste to scrub tubs, toilets, showers, and even the litter box. It removes soap scum, hard water build up, and that icky smell that can linger in litter boxes (or toilets). I also use baking soda in my laundry to get it brighter and cleaner. Before vacuuming sprinkle a little baking soda down to absorb any smells, or sprinkle it in your trash cans to help control the smells.

The list of things you can do with baking soda and vinegar is just about endless! These are so cheap to buy and the do not contain any questionable additives that we need to worry about around pets and children.

I found another blog that has a long list of ideas. Check it out at and have fun experimenting. You will not be disappointed in the results.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shea Whip

By:Allison B. Kontur

You will need:

2.5 oz Shea Butter, Unrefined (Virgin)

1 oz Kukui Nut Oil (Organic)

5 ml (1 tsp) Vegetable Glycerin
5 ml (1 tsp) Natrasorb Bath (Tapioca Starch)

5 drops Rosewood Essential Oil

20 drops Lemon Essential Oil

5 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Phase 1:
In a double boiler, over low heat, melt shea butter until liquified. Remove from heat, transfer to a glass measuring utensil and add Kukui Oil. Place glass utensil containing the oil/butter mixture in a cold area and allow it to sit until a "skin" begins to form.

Phase 2:
Once a "skin" has formed on the oils, add vegetable glycerin. Using a hand mixer reserved for formulating, begin to whip with a whisk attachment. Mixture will turn white and become firmer.

Phase 3:
Stop mixer and add Natrasorb Bath. Mix by hand to incorporate the Natrasorb powder before reactivating the hand mixer or you will coat your work area with Natrasorb. Whip for about a minute and stop to add essential oils. Begin mixing again and continue until product takes on the consistancy of whipped cream (i.e. appears "fluffy").

Phase 4:
For best results, package in a wide mouth container like our Heavy Wall Jars.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Technorati Code


Sorry, but I had to do that.

Foster Puppies

I volunteer for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region ( as a foster parent. I've also volunteered in their evaluation center and I have to say that those ladies in there are awesome. They are so dedicated and work so hard, I don't really know how they do it sometimes. Anyway, back to my point. I'm a foster parent and I love it. I had a puppy mill mama dog, Gidget, who had her three puppies with us. I was so attached to those guys, it really hurt to give them back. We then had 5 kittens that were such a handful! I wasn't too upset to send them back because my cat did not appreciate the company :)

The other day I got 3 more puppies. They are border collie mix puppies. I didn't get the whole story about where mom is, but they are 5 weeks old and so very cute. I'd almost forgot how much fun potty training is. We have a couple of piddle accidents, but I don't think that's too bad. Its also very cute to watch them try and navigate the stairs from the deck. We've haven't tried going down them yet, but all three can make it up without tumbling down. I think the hardest part right now is thinking of names for them. I'm starting to run out of names for all my fosters. Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mystik Studios

So, I decided that I would like for everyone to meet the person designing my labels, logo, and even working on my website. I'm so lucky to know a designer! Her name is Karen Brown of Mystik Studios and I think she's awesome. She also did Camp Monakiwa's website if anyone is interested. Mine isn't up yet, but the background is cool. Check them both out if you have time.

ME: What is the best part about your job as a graphic designer?
KB: Being creative! Being able to release my emotions through my art and put something down on paper that I have running around in my mind.

ME: Where did your interest in art and design come from?
KB: I've always liked art, it didn't necessarily come from anywhere. I loved to draw as a kid and when I was in college I was really unhappy with my major. I had a couple of classes that allowed me to be creative, so I decided that was better for me.

ME: What's your process for designing anything from a logo to a website?
KB: I speak to the client and see what they want, then sit down and do small designs called thumbnails. That's the concept phase. I then get approval from the client on the concept they like. Then, you go into production. This is all based on the initial concept and get approval again. If everything is good you go into final production.

ME: How do you decide what will work for different clients?
KB: The client decides that. I try different concepts and let the client decide. Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board and keep trying. Sometimes you start to narrow down what they want and sometimes they will change their mind. But, its just a process of coming up with new ideas and giving them lots of choices.

ME: Well, thank you for joining us today! I really appreciate even more of your time. Good luck and hopefully we'll talk to you again soon.
KB: Thank you!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

National Sugar Cookie Day

I think its absolutely perfect that today is National Sugar Cookie Day. I've been thinking of making sugar cookies for our upcoming Christmas in July Show. So, I think I'll share my favorite sugar cookie recipe. Some are just too sweet for me, so I love these cookies! I got the recipe from my mom's very old Better Homes and Gardens' Cook Book.

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tsp milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy ( I really like the phrase light and fluffy:) Stir in the milk. Mix dry ingredients and then blend into the creamy mixture. Divide the dough in half. Cover and chill for an hour.

Lightly flour the surface and roll out half the dough into about 1/8 in thickness. (Keep the other half chilled until ready to use) Cut the dough into shapes and bake at 375 for 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm Back

So, I got back yesterday and I'm sooo happy to be home. I love going to camp every year and I love working with the kids, but I am always glad to get home too. I had lots of fun and I'm sure the kids did too. I also got to hike one of the local peaks called Hermit's Peak. Its not terribly difficult, but its not easy either. But, the view is incredible and always worth the sense of accomplishment.

Just a little random side note. While at camp I borrowed one of the books another counselor was reading (books are my weakness, if I can get my hands on one, I'll devour it). It was a little surprising, but she was reading New Moon. I know its popular, but the person reading it surprised me. I'd already read Twilight when a friend loaned it to me and I'll be honest, I didn't much care for it and I didn't have a burning desire to read the others. But, a book is a book sometimes, so I picked up her copy and started reading. I finished that the first week and then bought Eclipse for the second week, which I gave to my friend at camp. I have to admit I enjoyed both books. It is not the best thing I've ever read, but the story was intriguing, the characters interesting, and worth the read. I also picked up the 3rd Maximum Ride book. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. That one I finished in a day, it may be a little redundant at parts, but I just can't help myself!

Anybody have any other suggestions for books that you can't stop reading?