Top Five Essential Oils –what are they and how do they work?

What are essential oils?

A-essential oils are compounds extracted/obtained from plants via distillation.

What is distillation?

A- distillation is the action of purifying something through heating and cooling or the extraction of the essential meaning or most important aspects of something.

I’ve been using essential oils for a very long time. I bought my first essential oil a long time before essential oils became a billion-dollar business. My first essential oil was rose oil and I used to use it diluted partially with water as a face mist. My second essential oil was orange blossom oil and I used to steam it and/or put it and a bit of water in a pot on the stove and call it aromatherapy. The year was 1985 and I was experimenting with plants and oils and aromatherapy. Both of these oils worked wonders. To this day I still use them the same way I used them 33 years ago only now instead of steaming them or boiling them in water,  I use them in diffusers.

Time and money constraints keep me from buying every single oil I hear someone rave about. I don’t have the time to look into every recommendation or use, and I don’t have the money to waste trying every single oil to see if it works for me like it worked for someone else. That said there are five essential oils that I have used for a long time and would never be without. They are–

  1. Lavender essential oil- my husband uses this to fall into a deeper sleep at night and by using it and falling into a deeper sleep he is better rested and snores way less.
  2. Copaiba- I use this for pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
  3. Frankincense- Frank loves skin and I use Frank for all skin issues.
  4. Lemon Balm- I use Lemon balm for pms, inflammation, and upset stomach.
  5. Bergamot- this oil is so good–smells wonderful and mixed with mandarin orange is the perfect cologne.

Recipes for my five favorite oil

I put 10-15 drops of lavender in a roller bottle and fill with coconut carrier oil. I roll this oil on my husband’s big toe (underside) every night and roll a bit on his pillow an hour before bed.

I mix bergamot with orange oil and use as a cologne. I put 10 drops of bergamot with 10 drops of mandarin orange oil in a roller ball and fill the rest of roller ball with coconut carrier oil.

I use copaiba straight out of the bottle on my feet when I massage them with coconut oil. So for each foot I drop 2 drops in palm, add coconut, mix and rub. I have arthritis in my feet and this helps with the pain and inflammation. I have used ibuprofen for years but grew tired of worrying about the adverse effects of using nsaids.

I use frankincense on my skin. I put 10 drops of frankincense in a roller ball and fill the rest with coconut oil and use on my face, neck, and hands. I also use frank on cuts and burns. Lavender is good for burns as well.

Recently I purchased a Lemon Balm hydrosol online from someone I follow and buy tomato seeds from (yougrowgirl on Instagram). I use lemon balm to help me manage pms, tummy issues, and inflammation. With the hydrosol (yougrowgirl handcrafts her herb waters herself) I can add to water, or spray on the area of skin that has issues. So as far as Lemon Balm goes I am going to continue to buy it in hydrosol form vs. oil from here on out. I love that the hydrosol I purchased is user-friendly and so pure smelling that it’s unreal. The benefits I get from using it seem to come faster using the hydrosol vs. the essential oil.

Disclaimer- everyone that uses and sells oils or knows someone that does has a different opinion about them and may or may not use them differently than I do. In the section prior to the recipes I listed what my five favorite oils are used for in my family. You may or may not have the same experience as I do. I’ve been using these five oils and the rose and orange oil for a long time.  Aside from these oils I do not use any other essential oils. I purchase my oils from a couple of companies online finding good quality oils at both companies.  Please consult your physician before trying anything new.

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Lemon Shaker Tart

Shaker Lemon Tart

This weekend my husband and I are looking forward to celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary. Wow, you know sometimes when I say that it seems like just yesterday, and then other times when I remember everything we’ve been through together I think ” No, 21 years is about right.” We’ve actually been with each other 22 years come this July, so ya a long time. We know each other very well, and I think as compatible couples go we are right up there with the best.  We want to celebrate this special day with friends that feel like family but I don’t want to do any cooking. So we’ve hired a local catering company- Upstairs Downstairs Catering -to do it for us. One of the desserts they’re  serving is a beautifully simple and delicious lemon tart. We’ve had this tart at another party they catered that we attended. The recipe for it is here. We’re ordering box lunches from their business menus, and although it is a bit pricey we feel it is so worth it.

When asked what I wanted for an anniversary gift I paused about 2 minutes and said -” All three season’s of A Chef’s Life“. It’s a series I found on PBS that features a couple who relocate to South Carolina and start up a farm to table restaurant. Every episode features a new ingredient and how it fits into southern cuisine.

Another show I found quite interesting is called Steak Revolution and it’s on Netflix right now. The narrator’s of this documentary (two chef’s) take tours through different countries in search of the most mouth-watering steak. I liked this documentary because it featured sustainable farms and ranches, responsible breeding and gourmet cuisine. They were able to locate the best steak in the world. You’ll just have to watch it to see where it’s at. 🙂

And last but never least this week I began watching Cooked, a documentary featuring Michael Pollan, adapted from his book (one of my favorites) of the same name. This documentary features different cuisines and the elements of fire, water, earth and wind in cooking. One of the main points of the documentary is how little time Americans are spending in the kitchen cooking.  More and more Americans are letting restaurants feed them their daily meals.

My husband and I eat in a restaurant on average once a month so it is hard for me to relate to the statement above. About 60% of our diet is homemade food that I create from locally grown organic fruits/vegetables, and grains. The other 35%-meat, produce, and dairy is produced for us by local farmers. A mere 5% of our diet comes from eating at restaurants that are not farm to table and/or locally grown organic and the occasional snack food (i.e. candy bar, chips, popcorn).

This week my husband and seven of his fellow co-workers were honored for perfect attendance. In my husband’s case he was honored for 16 years of perfect attendance. There are three things that I feel strongly are responsible for this admirable and fascinating feat – 1) My husband has a strong work ethic 2) he is in excellent health- so he doesn’t need to call in sick 3) His commitment to eating better food and living a better life(cutting down on processed food and sugar) is paying off (see #2).

 

Lemon Curd

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My lemon tree has been producing in overtime. But that’s o.k. because every holiday season many of the goodies I bake call for the zest of lemon or lemon curd not to mention it’s used to clean so many things in my home. I also make up a batch of lemon curd, then pour into small Ball fruit jars, and wrap some up for homemade gifts. If you’re new to my blog I talked about my lemon tree here. I also looked around on Pinterest and found some great recipes to use Lemon curd in. Like Lemon Thumbprint cookies for the holidays or deliciously fresh and creamy Lemon Curd ice-cream.

Recipe for Lemon curd

Recipe for Lemon Thumbprint cookies-(grain and gluten-free)

Recipe for Lemon Curd Ice-Cream 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Cream Fillo Napoleon

lemon-8Whether it be oranges or lemons the smell of something citrus is my favorite smell in the whole world, right next to hay and fresh cut grass. We began growing our Meyer Lemon tree three years ago from seed. This year is the first year it has produced fruit.  I use lemons for cleaning, cooking, and baking. And there is nothing in the world like growing your own food. It has been a real pleasure growing our lemon tree. We’ve even started two more from seed. Along with the lovely lemon balm, I grew for making soap, everything in and around our home, at this time, smells like our lovely lemons.

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So I couldn’t resist catching an episode of Ina Garten where her and a friend are making Lemon Cream Napoleons. This dessert is a real favorite of my husband’s. In the Netherlands, they add vanilla cream between the fillo wafers which is good, but not near as good as the lemon is. The episode can be found on Netflix on Ina Garten’s Back to Basics Collection. Or you can go to the Food Network site and find it here. I have several of Ina’s cookbooks, including her Back to Basics (my favorite), but find watching her show to be very helpful to my getting everything called for in the recipe just right.

This weekend we had fun at two local fall festivals, we also experienced walking through a corn maze and drank lots of fresh apple cider. I also bought extra cider and cider donuts and froze both to enjoy this winter. I use the apple cider for pancakes, marinade and to make bbq sauce from.  I add it to my homemade bbq sauce for pork and the meat just falls off the bone- so tender and so full of taste.

October is passing by so fast, it’s already the 4th. Speaking of October, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Even though I think often of those around me dealing with cancer, or that they have family dealing with it, I’m especially aware of it in October. Around here we have the 5k Cancer Run, the Think Pink 5k, and the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. Though I have known two women in my life, both co-workers, who were diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I have been fortunate to remain breast cancer free (so far, fingers crossed). Cancer was one of the biggest reasons I quit smoking at 39. That said when I was in my late twenties and also in my early thirties I was diagnosed with skin cancer.

The first time it was found on my leg, it was caught early and excision ( it was cut out) was used to remove it. I was really scared, and unfortunately, this happened before I met my husband, and I had to go through it alone. About a year later another growth was found on my elbow and this time cryo-therapy (frozen off) was used to remove it. The last time a growth was found, again on my leg, cryotherapy was also used. It should be noted I’ve never laid out in the sun or used a tanning bed. However, people who have fair skin, light hair, and eyes and have ancestors from places like England, Norway, Sweden and Ireland often end up with skin cancer. I have used sunscreen for years and now faithfully check all my many hundreds of freckles, moles and even keep a close eye on my age spots. I’ve been lucky now for over fifteen years. As far as my husband goes, I won’t even begin to discuss how covered in moles (hereditary) he is and how much time each month it takes to look at them all. Some we have to take photos of and keep track of etc. We have had a few doctor’s appointments where we’ve had to wait for the results. So tormenting, but thus far he has been lucky. Be vigilant, check yourself often and definitely seek a doctor’s opinion if you notice anything unusual or changed on your skin or any lumps anywhere on your body.

Until next time, enjoy what’s left of fall in your neck of the woods!

Lemon Cheesecake bars

My husband and I have spent the last two Saturdays walking at the Necedah Wildlife Refuge. He took this beautiful picture this past Saturday.

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It’s so peaceful here and for avid birdwatchers like us a virtual paradise. I have a lot more time on the weekends to walk, birdwatch, even bake now that I am no longer buried in homework.  Of course besides picture taking, chatting with my husband, and birdwatching, walks are good for planning what we’ll have for dessert with Sunday’s dinner. My husband is a lover of all things cheesecake and I love all things fruit. So, once home I perused Pinterest and discovered this yummy recipe again.  I believe I have made this one before, it’s so easy and so good. I followed the recipe to the letter but omitted the optional food coloring because we don’t do food colorings in this house.

lemon cheesecake

Friday we leave for our week-long stay in Door County so I will not be posting until I get back. That said I do have a couple of drafts I may schedule to publish before I go.  Until next time– enjoy June!