When you can’t see the Roses for the Weeds – Appreciation is the Key!

Each year I have the absolute pleasure of working at Hever Castle, in Kent, during their summer event: ‘Hever In Bloom’ -it’s a week in their calendar when the gardens are in full bloom and I give daily talks and run workshops for visitors about essential oils.

I can not help but appreciate my surroundings here and every day I enjoy a walk around the walled rose garden that smells so heavenly in the warm sunshine. And here I am reminded of an anecdote on the importance of appreciation that Natalie Benhayon shared at a presentation for women earlier this year, it goes something like this…

You have the most beautiful rose garden, you’ve put lots of work into it leading up to the summer and there is an entire rainbow of coloured flowers on show, delicious scents that make you swoon and an abundance of wild life enjoying the full blooms in all their glory. It’s a stunning sight and everyone that passes by is impressed and can’t help but enjoy it.

But – there has to be a ‘but’ – and that ‘but’ is a very small patch of weeds, tiny infact, just a few sprouts, but they’re really annoying you, so when anyone pays you a compliment about how beautiful your rose garden is, you respond with “Oh, but look at those weeds, I really need to get on top of them”, and when the person responds with “What weeds? I hadn’t noticed any.” all you can do is remain focused on the weeds: “Oh they’re all over the place, those darn weeds!”. And, yet, the garden is breath takingly beautiful. Yes, there are a few weeds to deal with, and if they were ignored they may begin to affect the beauty in the rose garden, but by bringing all the focus to them, you miss out on the beauty and joy in the garden – When you can’t see the roses for the weeds, it seems even a few weeds have taken over the show…

It’s worth considering how much we bring appreciation into our daily life. How often do we bat away a compliment by playing it down, ignoring it, completely denying it, or possibly admitting it with a ‘Yes, but…’ deflection. What would happen if we actually accepted that compliment and realised the importance of showing and sharing our natural, unique and lovely qualities? We are taught to not blow our own trumpet, but what if the more we blow our own trumpet, the more others will realise it’s ok to blow theirs and before long we’ll have a full blowing orchestra of people shining. The music is then enjoyed by many, just as the beauty of the rose garden is, and we too can enjoy and cherish ourselves with out holding back or playing small.

If it feels a little awkward to accept a compliment and enjoy the rose garden in full (while still taking care of the weeds) then we can start to bring appreciation into our daily life. This can be as simple as taking a moment in between the day’s tasks and recognising the completion before rushing onto the next task. We can easily get caught in the overwhelm of ‘things to do’ but if we were to appreciate each little step along the way, then the whole day doesn’t need to pass by under the pressure of trying to get a ‘to do’ list done, with a view to only appreciating and feeling satisfied if we complete it -which never happens as the ‘to do’ list is always never ending!

Appreciation can then begin to really bloom, with our rose garden showing the depth of the beauty that resides in us naturally, what ever kind of day we are having.

‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, but there is no trying to be sweet, the sweetness is just there, so take a moment to stop and enjoy it.

Click here if you would like to book a place at the Natural Perfume & Aromatherapy Workshops at Hever Castle.

If you enjoyed this post then you might like to check out details on a ‘Rose Retreat‘ in Bulgaria, May 2018 – an opportunity to deepen your understanding of appreciation in a place that will constantly reflect this. Click here for more details.

   

 

Natural Perfume and Aromatherapy Workshops – Summer 2016

Natural Perfume Making Workshops this Summer, make your own unique & completely natural, organic perfume, with the finest quality essential oils.

Audrey Hepburn
Stop, breathe gently, smile and appreciate.

There are so many beautiful scents in the air at this time of year here in the UK, walking down the street or through the park, the air is perfumed every now and then by some flower or other coming into bloom. It always makes me stop, breathe gently, smile and appreciate… nature has such a sweet way of reminding us of simplicity, joy and bringing us back to the present moment.

I’m also appreciating the magical venues I have picked for my Natural Perfume Workshops this Summer; firstly there is Mayfield Lavender Farm just outside London. The scent at this venue will be obvious before you even arrive at the farm, as the fresh, lovely smell is carried in the air around the field. You will also be blessed with the truly stunning sight of the iridescent lavender as well as the gentle humming sound of bees. It is a truly inspiring setting for learning about essential oils and making your own unique perfumes, in the midst of the beautiful purple flowers under the gazebo -featured in this image:

Lavender Perfume Workshop
Mayfield Lavender – venue for Summer Perfume Workshop in Surrey on Saturday 23rd July, 2016.

The next venue for my Natural Perfume Making Workshop is at my favourite florist – Kate Langdale’s Flower Studio in Brighton. The reason I’m so in love with this place is because of the unusual scented varieties of many plants and flowers she supplies, many of which yield their own essential oil. Not only does she have some incredibly beautiful scented roses (quite rare in florist these days) but I’ve manage to purchase pink peppercorns and scented geranium leaves in the past. It is a joy to be surrounded by such a gorgeous array of seasonal flowers when making our bespoke perfume blends.

Kate Langdale Florist Brighton Workshop Venue Kate Langdale's Flower Studio - venue for Summer Perfume Workshop in Brighton
Kate Langdale’s Flower Studio – venue for Perfume Workshop in Brighton.

Here are the full details for the workshops this Summer, spaces are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment:

Mayfield Lavender Farm in Surrey on Saturday 23rd July, 2016 -10am -1pm

1 Carshalton Road, Banstead, SM7 3JA (15 miles from London).

Kate Langdale’s Flower Studio in Brighton -date to be confirmed (get in touch to set new dates to suit you).

84 Bath Street (just off Dyke Road), Seven Dials, Brighton BN1 3JD

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Cost: £60*
  • Price includes
    • 2 x 10ml bespoke natural roll on perfumes to take home, made by you, using the best quality oils.

To book a place, please contact me by email at:

laura@essentialoilsandyou.co.uk or telephone 07828954020

For more information on this workshop read my blog post on Natural Perfume Making.

I also run perfume workshops for private groups and parties, they are a really lovely opportunity to be with friends, family and even colleagues while enjoying making your own beautifully scented perfume to take away.

Audrey Hepburn flowers

For a little inspiration on breathing gently and appreciation, check out the free meditations on Unimed Living health & wellbeing website.

How to Make Your Own Natural Oil Perfume and Aromatherapy Blend

Here are the notes from my Natural Perfume & Aromatherapy Workshop, for those of you who would like to make your own unique, natural fragrance, but are unable to make the workshop in person.

Introduction

It’s actually very simple to make your own natural perfume as there is no need to use any alcohol, fixers or preservatives, you can just use natural essential oils for the scent, and a nut or seed oil as the base. It really is that simple, and the rest is just play time.

So this workshop/ blog post is really about introducing you to the endless array of possibilities involved in making your own natural perfume and to let you experiment and get confident with the ingredients. There are so many amazing essential oils to choose from and the real beauty is that they actually have a huge array of benefits, way beyond the scent that you create -which in itself can have dramatic effects on the way you feel.

How to make your own natural perfume blend

Container ~you can make your perfume blend in any container you like, there are lots of lovely bottles to play with, I’m often searching for old vintage perfume bottles in antique shops, or waiting for friends to finish there branded fragrance so i can use the bottle but I find using a ‘rolette’ bottle (as pictured) is very practical. It comprises of a small glass bottle (10 or 15ml), a roller ball top (that releases a little oil across the skin when you pass it over), and a cap.

Lasting effect ~Natural perfume does not have the same staying power as an alcohol based fragrance, so you can carry these little bottles around in your handbag or pocket and retouch the scent throughout the day.

Recipe 

~5% blend strength for 10ml bottle

 10ml base oil e.g. apricot or jojoba ~you can choose just one or blend as many as you like.

0.5ml essential oils (10 drops) ~you can choose just one or combine as many as you like (see below for how to choose essential oils).

Essential oils are very concentrated and a 5% blend strength should be plenty strong enough. However, if you have sensitive skin or are making a blend for children or someone with fragile skin, then I would drop the percentage to 1% or 2.5% (2 or 5 drops in 10ml).

Instructions

Measure the quantities of base oil (eg. olive or almond) and pour directly into the bottle, then drop approximately 10 drops of essential oils directly into the bottle, fix the roller ball cap and lid and give it a shake to disperse the oils evenly. If you’re using resinous essential oils like myrrh or benzoin, you will need give the bottle a shake each time you use it as they can sink to the bottom.

Make a label for the bottle so you don’t forget what it contains.

perfume bottles

Ingredients

Essential oils and base oils have a multitude of health and wellbeing benefits, so you can either design your perfume with the focus completely on the fragrance you want and then check out the added health benefits, or vice versa: choose oils for their properties and let the scent come together that way.

Choosing Base oils

Apricot oil

I like to use cold pressed vegetable oils as they are more natural with more nutrients but they can have varying degrees of smell to them so I go for something with a light scent so as not to interfere too much with the fragrance. I would recommend almond, apricot or jojoba. You can use ‘refined’ oils which have usually been heat treated to high temperatures to remove the scent, in this case olive oil would be just great.

For help choosing a base oil click here for my webshop.

Choosing your blend

To make your unique fragrance, you need to choose the essential oils you want and the number of drops of each to use. Use some ‘smell strips’ (I get mine from a company on ebay called Scent Blotter Strips) or unscented tissues to put a drop of the oils you like on, and then see how they smell together. To avoid wasting too many drops of precious oils, use separate strips or tissues for each oil you try and write the name of the oil on them, then put the strips together under your nose to see if you like the combination. If you add an oil that you don’t like with the others, you take out the strip, and try something else, rather than have to start again.

Now the playing around really takes off, you might find that you put 3 oils together eg. rose, lavender & myrrh, you like the smell of the lavender and rose  but you can’t really smell the myrrh, in this case you could try 2 or 3 drops of myrrh as it is more subtle in scent compared to the others.
It pays to be organised here, so that when you have your perfume ready on the strips, you know which oils you want and how many drops of each to add to the bottle. Depending on your ratio you can go a couple over or a couple under the 10 drops, the drops sizes can vary anyway so it is just a guide.

If you only have one or a few essential oils to play around with, then this is not a disadvantage, start with a couple of your favourites and build from there.

Keep it simple. There are so many possibilities and different essential oils to choose from that it can feel a bit overwhelming, don’t make it complicated. Try using 3 oils to begin with and pick a top, middle & base note, this is a good formula used in perfumery to give a well rounded scent (see my previous blog for details on top middle & base notes). If you start to get confused get some fresh air, and come back to it.

Don’t aim for perfection, the magic of using these natural ingredients means the blend will change with time, different people will pick up different scent notes, and when you wear it on your skin it will unfold throughout the day, so just trust when you’ve put something together that it will be great.

The following blogs will help you to choose which essential oils to put into your fragrance:

The Art of Blending Essential Oils

A List of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses and Cautions

Blending Essential Oils using Top, Middle and Base Notes.

 

Workshop

If you would like to attend a Natural Perfume Making Workshop in person, or arrange one for a group then click here for further details and up and coming dates.

natural perfume making workshop      IMG_4026

Recipe inspirations and practical uses for the ‘rolette’ bottle:

You can use this exact same principle to make oils for health related purposes that  still smell amazing. I have used the 5% blend strength in the recipes, but if you are using on children, people with a delicate disposition or sensitive skin I would use 2.5% (5 drops in total).

See if you can spot the top, middle & base notes in these examples:

Nail oil ~apply on the skin just before the nails begin to grow, this area supports healthy nail growth, as it is where the new nail is being formed.

nail oil

Nail oil recipe, this for a 5% blend strength (10 drops of essential oil in 10ml base oil).

Ingredients

5ml organic macadamia oil*

5ml organic almond oil*

4 drops of myrrh essential oil (helps to heal dry, hard and cracked skin)

3 drops of rose essential oil (deeply nurturing, nourishing and hydrating)

3 drops of mandarin essential oil (great for the skin and gives the scent a lift)

*If you can’t use nut oils due to allergies then I would suggest using organic apricot, olive or argan oil instead.

 

Anxiety, stress, panic attacks ~with a soothing, calming blend you can roll across your wrists or even under your nose as a preventative or when you feel symptoms coming on.

Ingredients

10ml organic olive oil

4 drops of neroli essential oil (soothes & calms nervous system)

3 drops of lavender essential oil (relaxing, clearing & calming)

3 drop of frankincense essential oil (supports breathing gently)

 

Hay fever ~ with a soothing, calming blend you can roll across your chest or even under your nose as a preventative or when you feel symptoms.

Chamomile

Ingredients

10ml organic apricot oil

5 drops of benzoin essential oil (soothing, comforting)

2 drops of chamomile essential oil (anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, soothing, calming, helps with itching)

3 drop of orange essential oil (to give the scent a lift)

 

Nausea, morning sickness ~ with a soothing, calming blend you can roll across your wrists, tummy or even under your nose as a preventative or when you feel symptoms. The recipe here is for a 2% blend strength which is suitable in pregnancy, but you can increase it to 5% if it is for perfume use.

Ingredients

10ml organic apricot or olive oil

2 drops of neroli essential oil (soothing, relaxing, calms nervous tension)

1 drops of cardamom essential oil (refreshing, soothing, calming)

1 drop of spearmint essential oil (refreshing, soothes feelings of nausea)

 

Colds & sinus problems ~with a blend of powerfully clearing respiratory oils you can inhale the blend or roll across your chest & neck, e.g. eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme.

IMG_4499

Ingredients

10ml organic olive oil

4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (clears respiratory system, very anti-microbial)

2 drops of peppermint essential oil (clearing & calming)

4 drops of thyme essential oil (powerful anti-microbial, clears mucus and great for chesty coughs)

The Art of Blending Essential Oils

My main purpose with this blog is to help you to develop your own relationship with using essential oils and experimenting with blending is one of the most fun aspects of this, there is constant opportunity to learn, be creative and experiment.

Introduction – choosing ingredients.

IMG_2610

Creating a blend can be a lot like cooking, I like using this analogy as most people are familiar with making things in their kitchen and blending essential oils is very similar in lots of ways. Instead of using the dried herb or seeds to season your meal, you’re using the oil, that has been pressed or distilled from the plant, to enhance your bath oil or face cream etc. One of the main reasons I choose and use essential oils on a day to day basis is to nourish and support my body, often the same reason I choose to eat certain foods (although I have to admit -sometimes I eat for comfort or distraction but that’s another story).  Ultimately, my intention when cooking or blending essential oils, is to make something that supports my body, wether it’s specific symptoms I’m addressing or I just want to enjoy the oils in a nurturing, confirming way through out my day.

Inspiration

Honey And Rose Panna Cotta with subtle flavours of rose and cardamom. Photo care of Unimed Living
Honey & Rose Panna Cotta with subtle flavours of rose and cardamom. Photo care of Unimed Living

Food often inspires me when I’m creating blends too and this recipe for Honey & Rose Panna Cotta is a great example, as after my mouth stopped watering, I made a blend of almond oil with rose and cardamom essential oils. It gives a middle eastern feel, very soothing, refreshing, deeply nurturing and nourishing in the bath, or as a massage oil.

Click here > for the Panna Cotta recipe and more inspirations.

Preparation

I love putting together blends of oils and I also love cooking, but I don’t always have as much time as I would like, and I can allow it to feel like just another task I have to fit into my day. So, for moments like this, I like to have some pre-made blends that I can use so that I’m not making things in a rush, or with out the quality and integrity I know I can bring when I make the space to do so with out any pressure. Just like when I don’t feel like cooking, I have lots of soups or curries in the freezer I can eat, so I still get a lovingly prepared meal, when I most need it.

Blending rules

The rules are there are no rules! -Well, that’s not quite true, because essential oils are incredibly potent, so you do need to observe any cautions they may have, (see List of Essential Oils for cautions).

Your essential essence…

IMG_2604

Whether I’m making something for a specific medical condition or just a lovely bath blend, I like to go with what ever I feel. I have noticed that different people have their own style when blending and when watching them I have been surprised at the combinations they come up with, things I would never have tried myself, yet they work perfectly. Each person can bring their own unique essence to a blend,  a little bit like with cooking; if a group of 100 people made a lasagne, not one of the meals would turn out exactly the same, they would each have their own way of doing it, from ingredients to presentation and all the details in-between. In the same way, if I asked someone  (even a qualified aromatherapist) to make a blend for a cold or for eczema, they would each end up making a unique product. Even if they did happen to choose the exact same oils, they could still have a different ratio, a different base and different method of application, each person brings their own essence and style to the blend.

The oils are so versatile, with many varied properties and effects, so there is certainly no right or wrong oil in any circumstance (apart from using an oil when there is a caution). Some oils have a more intense scent than others so you might choose a lower ratio to allow more delicate oils to come through, but then the scent could still work with even ratios, it would just have a different character and balance -for details on balancing the blend see my blog post on Top, Middle and Base notes.

Good practice

Photo care of Self-Love Affair
Photo care of Self-Love Affair

As you play around and get to know essential oils, your style, what you like and what works for you, I recommend that you record your recipes. I have a little ‘blending’ note book to write everything in, and I make sure I record the number of drops and the rest of the ingredients. This is because you might end up with something you really love, or a blend that someone asks you to re-create, then you have all the details handy to make it up again. I’m speaking from experience of course which is why I have developed a slightly more organised way of working. It means if I decide I want something to be a little more lavender, I can refer back to how many drops I used, and increase them.

I am also a big fan of the ‘Jamie Oliver’ style of making recipes, a shake of this, and a splodge of that as I have sometimes found myself stuck using the same oils and techniques in the past. Just watch out for essential oils that have maximum blend strength cautions and most of all, have fun!

Useful blogs for blending:

How many drops should I use? -this blog will help you to choose the appropriate blend strength depending on the purpose of your product.

List of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses and Cautions. -this blog will help you to choose which essential oils to use, depending on the purpose of your product.

Blending Essential Oils using Top, Middle and Base Notes – this blog will help you understand the practise of making a well balanced blend.

Thank you to Unimed Living & Self Love Affair for sharing your beautiful photos!

How to Blend Essential Oils using Top, Middle and Base Notes.

Smelling a blend of essential oils on ‘scent strips’ during a perfume making workshop.

Many people like to put a blend together by using a top, middle & base note. This is typical in perfumery, but also popular in aromatherapy, as people like to get a ‘well rounded’ scent. It basically means that the blend is put together with a range of oils or scents that will come into play at different times -at the beginning, middle and end. It’s not something I consciously try to do, as I like to focus on the purpose of the blend and choose oils for their qualities, but it can be a useful guide especially when you are building confidence and experimenting.

Top notes you will smell immediately, I like to think of them with their molecules widely spaced and jumping around a lot, so when you take the lid off a bottle of perfume, they are straight out of the bottle and are the first to enter the nasal passage and be recognised by the sensory nerves. Examples would be oils like lemon, lime and other citrus oils.

Middle notes will come through after a little time, I like to think of their molecules as more evenly spaced and a little more stable. A middle note would often be floral oils such as lavender and rose and herby oils like basil and thyme. Put simply, something in-between a top and base note.

Base notes may not be immediately apparent.  As their molecules don’t move around very much it takes time before you are able to recognise the aroma. They have the benefit of lingering long after the top note has disappeared and often at the end of the day, if you still smell perfume on your skin then you are just left with the base notes. Examples would be woody oils like sandalwood and myrrh. If you smell these from the bottle the scent is very subtle, if it comes out of a cold place you often can’t smell a thing but when it’s warmed on the skin it begins to take shape.

Don’t feel like you have to make the blend tick all the boxes to get it right, you don’t want it to reign in your creativity, so if you feel like putting 3 middle notes together or just base and top notes, then go for it, the blend will have it’s own unique quality.

Useful blogs for blending tips:

How many drops should I use? -this blog will help you to choose the appropriate blend strength and number of drops to use depending on the purpose of your product.

List of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses and Cautions. -this blog will help you to choose which essential oils to use, depending on the purpose of your product, including which ones to avoid.

How to Use Essential Oils in the Car

I noticed my car smelt a little damp when I got in the other day.  This is not surprising considering the #weather in the UK the last few months -which seems like constant rain, and my car is just a little old thing so it doesn’t cut me off from the environment outside.

Anyway, I decided that apart from a clean it needed a little freshening up with some essential oils.  When I first bought the car, I didn’t like the smell, so I chose some strong, fresh, cleansing scents -Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Lemon -because I wanted something to overpower the current smell and to make an impact.  I literally just sprinkled drops of each oil throughout the various surfaces of the car.  The beauty of these oils is that as well as the refreshing aroma, they will have a cleansing and anti-microbial action in the car.  Later on I got a little lavender bag to hang from the mirror, this is a bag filled with lavender flowers which hold essential oil in them and produce a beautiful scent).  When I turn the car enough for the bag to swing, I get a little whiff of lavender from it. This is the one I have, handmade ‘by sally’ and available at www.bysally.co.uk, but there are plenty around, to choose from.

lilac butterfly bag by sally ~containing lavender flowers which hold essential oil in them to create the scent.
Lilac butterfly bag by sally ~containing lavender flowers which hold essential oil in them to create a beautiful scent.
After quite a while I stopped noticing the scent, so I sprinkled some lavender oil on to the bag to refresh the smell.  Every so often, when the scent fades, I will repeat this, and I will generally choose different oils depending on how I feel. I keep a couple of bottles in the glove box and on a long journey, I might sprinkle 2 or 3 drops of peppermint oil on the bag, as this will keep me perky throughout the drive.

Caution: Make sure you avoid any oils that have sedating properties, as this won’t work well when driving (avoid valerian, carrot seed, clary sage & vetiver).

Using essential oils to freshen the smell of your car is a lovely way to look after you and your environment, and I would say it’s preferable to the usual car trinkets as some of the ingredients I have come across include nasty chemicals.

You can also use lavender bags to freshen and scent your home; I have them in my wardrobe, and various draws and cupboards throughout the house.  Use the same technique of adding drops of essential oil every now and then to freshen them up.