Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lavender in the Bath

Lavender! I am a soap maker of 5 years, and this is by far the most asked for oil and scent in my market.

Apparently, even the word lavender is associated with the bath. It comes from the Latin work "lavare", which means "to wash". The Greeks and Romans used lavender water with which to rinse their bed sheets. Lavender water was a popular face wash 14th through the 19th centuries. (1) And, it was a popular strewing herb for its insect & mice repellent properties, as well as the long lasting fragrance of the plants. (2)

Keville & Green (1) write that is a good oil for all skin types. They say it is a cell regenerative that actually helps in preventing stretch marks and skin scars. It reads to be a pretty awesome skin herb and oil.

Lavender also enjoys the reputation of a "balancing" oil, which means that if you are tense and stressed, lavender tends to relax; and where you are lethargic or even irritable, lavender can "raise the spirit" and stimulate into action.
Mind, Body, & Spirit write "lavender is the perfect bathroom will relax your mind and muscles after a hard day's work, and is also good for your skin and hair."

I read in three sources out of three that lavender is good for acne, burns, and for delicate and sensitive skin; it also speeds cell replacement.

It is not the only oil and/or herb good for the bath, skin, and hair, but it is a good one with which to start a new regime of natural products. From lavender, you may want to go more woodsy (cypress is my favorite), more flowery (rose geranium comes to mind), or more fruity (LEMON, yay!), but I think Lavender is a great place from which to begin your aromatherapy adventure.
I have also read that lavender is one of two oils that seem safe enough to use undiluted. The other being Tea Tree oil from Australia. When I go out in public, I use a drop as my natural deodorant - it works very well without fear of negative side effects. And, I KNOW it
keeps me de-stressed, because my reputation seems one of a "friend to all". Now, I know me better than that. But, it seems, others don't know my ugly side...probably thanks to this lavender deodorant. *laugh*

I had a customer at the market yesterday who found all my lavender products too weak. Someone had given her a lavender spray that made her feel so good she said, but it was much stronger than any of my products. Odd. I use between 2 and 3%, the high end on the aromatherapy scale. I found out she had been given a lavender "fragrance" spray - not essential
spray. She was convinced she had the real deal when in fact, she had a man made synthetic fragrance - not plant derived at all.

Does this make a difference? Yes, it does. Lavender has molecules of alcohols, ketones, and esters to make it what it is. These molecules actually attach themselves to some of our own cells and effect change.

The molecules of fragrance oils linger and hang out, but do not connect. When a molecule of plant oil connects to other molecules, it can and does effect change. This is what gets rid of odor molecules - change the molecular structure. Fragrance oil or man made molecules do not connect to other molecules, and therefore do not effect change. It masks odors but does not eliminate them. Plant oils actually eliminate them as they connect and effect change. This is my understanding of how aromatherapy works.

So, when you pick up your lavender product, read the label. If it reads a bit "fishy", then it is probably fragrance oil. If the real lavender plant oil is used, somehow this reads out pretty boldly, because those of us who use the real oil want this to be known.

Do I have lavender oil in my products? Oh, yes. I don't own one bottle of Lavender fragrance oil. All my lavender is Essential oil. I think the price is fair enough to use even in soap. What products do I make with lavender oil? Oh, my gosh, several. Take a look...

Lavender Spray, 4 sizes of this lovely french lavender spray are offered.
Lavender Powder without the talc
Lavender Provence Salve two sizes, 2 oz. and 1/2 oz. I'm getting ready to list a 4 oz. too.
and several soaps and one shampoo bar
Lavender Shea is the shampoo bar
Lavender Lemon is a nice hand soap with poppy seed
Lavender Rose Buds is a cocoa butter bath soap
Lavender Peppermint, another cocoa butter bath soap
Lavender Rose is a avocado oil bath soap
Lavender Oats is just lavender oil alone
and several soaps have lavender in it as part of a blend, such as
Pine Tar bath soap
Marshmallow Mellow Shampoo bar
plus more...

And, as always, Thanks, kathleen

(1) AROMATHERAPY A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville & Mindy Green, The Crossing Press, 1997
(2)HERBS with contributing editor Lesley Bremness, Reader's digest, NY, 1990
(3) Natural Healing, by Mind, Body, & Spirit

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thyme In Vinegar

I've made a few herbal vinegars in my time, but the one I enjoy most is Thyme.

Don't is true.

I make a thyme vinegar every year with fresh dried thyme. I pack quart jars with this year's dried thyme and pour apple cider
vinegar over it until covered. I cover them with a lid and place in a sunny window for up to two or more weeks. I shake them at least once every day.

And, while it may be true that creeping thyme has the strongest medicinal qualities, garden or common thyme is most commonly used in cooking, so it is my thyme of choice. I use my thyme vinegar for cooking, a digestive tonic, and a medicine for colon viruses. Using garden thyme allows me to use only one thyme vinegar.

I can share a few ways right off my mind...substitute it for use in barbecue sauce recipes, use it on cooked greens, use it as the vinegar in oil and vinegar dressings for salads, and a few drops on baking fish does a good job, too.

Also, after a heavy meal, like lasagna or spaghetti, or eating too much, I will swallow a teaspoon or two of this vinegar to prevent getting heartburn. The heavy feeling in my belly subsides, too.

Until I made this vinegar, I used lemon juice on colon viruses. Now, I use this vinegar. Thyme is reported to have strong disinfectant qualities, and may be the reason it helps my family.

Oh, btw, while I was outside taking pictures today, I had to take this one. I like to try and capture bees and butterflies on flowers, but rarely remember to do so. I went over to take my first pics of sunflowers this year when I saw this bee. Isn't it a nice pic?

Until next

Monday, July 6, 2009


A little-known herb. A common weed for some. Many, who do remember it from their childhood days, say their grandmothers grew and, now that they think on it, used it.

I did not grow up around herb usage. I stumbled upon herbs as an adult. But, it was love at first stumble. I am still fascinated by the properties of so many of our herbs. There seems to be many definitions of that term: herbs. But, I find I like this one: whatever plant material that benefits the body. This means edible flowers, veggies, fruits, and mushrooms, too.

But, catnip is an herb not commonly used. I think it should be. Here are the many reasons for thinking so.

Catnip as an Insect Repellant

Catnip is a very effective insect repellant against mosquitoes, other kinds of flies (like gnats and no see-ums), and cockroaches. I find it works just slapping the branch of a catnip plant on my person. However, catnip macerated in an oil works, too; as well as catnip essential oil in a spray (even though it is catnip, do not use this on your cat – they do not process essential oils through their liver very well). Studies back this natural insect repellant claim. Check the following sites out:[1562:CNCLLC]2.0.CO;2


There are many, many sites you may explore for more studies of this type. Google catnip studies. You may also be interested in the strewing properties of catnip.

Catnip as a Nervine Tea

The first few books I picked up on herbs indicated Catnip tea would settle the nerves. I had also read bee balm (monarda) tea relaxes the muscles. I thought – what a magnificent pair. So, I made tea from these two herbs many, many times. It is a knockout flavor with a wonderful feeling of contentment when I enjoy this brew. I also think you shouldn’t drink an herbal tea on the run – it is to be enjoyed thoroughly while relaxing and putting our feet up to do so. Now, some say that is what relaxes a person – sitting down to drink the tea. Well, and if it is? I, personally, think the combination of sitting and drinking the tea is what does the trick. They both work toward relaxing our bodies.

My infant son also knows catnip tea. By the dropper, he learned the benefits of catnip on the colon and digestive involuntary muscles – relaxing them so that he could pass gas.

The following sites indicate others who advocate drinking catnip tea. This is also a controversial subject.

Catnip with its side effects

This is a new side of catnip for me. My books only mention women expecting a baby should avoid catnip because of its effect on menstruation. I had a customer who is taking neurontin to check online to see if it is okay to also drink catnip tea. Well, I did, and first I found this:

ith+catnip&source=bl&ots=wFfVNmVRRg&sig=gjRpsuaeOipqJCKRtgY7F3B7WgI&hl=en&ei=AQBSSufmD4OGtgeWjMyyBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6 on page 155 – reads the warning I found the day I researched this for her. Today, I’m trying to find that same site – and I cannot find it after several, several searches. But, instead, I found a few serious sites that back data that there are no serious interactions documented that deal with catnip. See these sites: (at this site, I checked the interactions page – and none came up.) (this site indicates catnip is not very powerful, period.)

So, I have to go back with my gut feeling and say catnip is safe. But, I sure would use low doses if I took other medicines just to be safe. I wonder, too, if we are only pawns in some power game, and really must decide this for ourselves. ?

This is a long blog – and I apologize. Catnip is not a very simple herb. But, it is wonderful. I hope you have a chance to experience it sometime.

Today, I’m listing a new product – Catnip Oil. I macerate my own catnip leaves in extra virgin olive oil and hemp seed oil. When I bottle it, I add a bit of jojoba for a longer shelf life and a thinner application. It is awesome for me in repelling no see-ums. And, this is one the studies seem to back up, esp. for mosquitoes and cockroaches. $8.00 for a 2 fl. oz. glass bottle of pure catnip oil, no fragrance or essential oils added, so that our young people may use it safely, too.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New Products Listed in my Etsy Shop

Good Sunday morning to you all.

This morning, I'm in the process of listing some new items at my shop on Etsy. I've listed my handmade Gardener's Salve and Gardener's Lotion Bar for two.

My Gardener's Salve is made with a rich herbal oil consisting of 5 herbs of calendula, chamomile, st. johns wort, nettle, and green tea macerated in extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, and jojoba.

It has a heavy cocoa butter base and a nice amount of wheat germ oil to work on your skin without penetrating very quickly. Essential oil of Lavender, Rosemary, and Tea Tree (of Australia) are historically used to aid the salve in healing cracked skin. The reason for this salve is the cracked skin of hands and feet.

I've been making this salve for several years. I thought to discontinue it this year, because it is a salve then tends to melt in the heat of summer (at market and shows). This gets the tin oily and messy to handle.

I had a protest on my hands. The customers of this salve are quite loyal to it. I guess it not only helps their skin, but they have told me it repels biting and annoying insects. Wow! A side effect that is NOT harmful!

I decided then to go back to the drawing board and strengthen the salve's hardness and endurance for the heat of summer. And, so I did.

It was a couple more steps to make it a lotion bar. This is a new product for Sweet Creek Herbs. The lotion bar is based from the recipe of the Gardener's Salve, but with some tweaks to create an awesome lotion bar for the hand washing sink (or travel, etc.).

$10.00 for a 2 oz. tin, and
$5.00 for a 22 gram bar in a labeled tin.

Thanks for coming by and seeing what's new. :)kathleen

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Herb Gardening Delights

Good day!

And, it is!! I'm out walking my herb beds and taking pictures. Have to share.

Jewelweed. Grows wild here. I use it as a fresh tea for my Poison Ivy Soap.

Hostas beginning to bloom.
Echinacea in bloom.

I must say we are behind on our weeding, but I am overwhelmed by profusion of flowers in my herb garden this year.

Hope you enjoy.

Oh, btw, I'm studying on catnip for a near-future blog. Stay-tuned.