Flax Seed Cracker Recipe – with a sprinkle of lavender flowers.

This is a Super Simple Flax Seed Cracker Recipe…

A slightly strange post for an essential oil site but I’m sharing this recipe after several requests because I usually make them for my Perfume and Aromatherapy Workshops to have as a snack during the ‘fragrant’ tea break. They are literally just made with flax seeds and water as follows:

Ingredients
2 cups ground flax seeds,
1 ½ cup water
That’s it!

…but you really need to add some spices and herbs (2-3 tea spoons) to the recipe other wise they would be pretty bland.
I usually sprinkle lavender flowers on mine (which smells amazing when they’re baking!), and a few spices like turmeric and caraway seeds. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds give them a bit more bite. Black pepper and rosemary is a nice combination, but really you can add anything you like – chilli powder, lemon zest, fennel seeds – (Check out my blog ‘The Art of Blending Essential Oils’ for some more tips & inspiration).

Method
♥ Preheat oven to 160⁰ C
♥ If you have whole flax seeds put them in a blender and grind to a fine dust.
♥ Blend the ground flax seeds with spices and herbs (and other seeds) in a bowl and then add the water and mix until it becomes a gooey mess.
♥ Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the seed mixture in the centre. Cover with another baking sheet and flatten with a rolling pin. Try to make it as thin as possible but be quick or the mix will stick to both sheets..
♥ Once flat, you can sprinkle with sesame seeds, lavender flowers etc., press down with your hands so they stick and place in the oven.
♥ After about 5 minutes, remove from the oven and run a knife or a pizza cutter along the tray to score your desired cracker shapes.
♥ Bake for one hour then turn the oven off and leave the crackers in there as long as possible as this dries them out further.

The crackers are tasty on their own but event better with dips, here are some recipes for delicious accompaniments:

Guacamole recipe
Hummus recipe
Parsley, lemon and macadamia dairy free pesto recipe
Beetroot dip recipe

 

If you have a sweet tooth you could turn them into healthy biscuits by adding things like dried fruit (very small pieces), vanilla or cinnamon powder, desiccated coconut and even orange zest. Let me know how your experiments go…

Click here to see up and coming workshops (which generally include fragrantly themed healthy snacks).

Plant to Perfume – Natural Perfume and Aromatherapy Workshops

Natural Perfume Making Workshops, make your own unique & completely natural, organic roll-on oil perfume, with the finest quality essential oils.

Stop, breathe gently, smile and appreciate.

There are so many beautiful scents in the air to appreciate, especially in summer, 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 connect back to my body and how I’m feeling… nature has such a sweet way of reminding us of simplicity, joy and bringing us back to the present moment.

This is one of the many reasons I love to run my events at beautiful, nature filled venues, so that participants get to appreciate the magic of the plants that yield the essential oils we then use in perfume making, and the perfumes more likely to support in the same way nature does.

Some of the amazing places I run workshops, courses and retreats are as follows:

Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Scotland, an absolutely stunning venue in the centre of Glasgow. The workshops usually take place inside the South Wing of Kibble Palace glass house which has a ‘Canary Island’ theme, so the temperature is kept at 18 degrees. I find it gets too hot in Summer and too cold in Winter, so workshops are usually in Spring or Autumn, although there is an indoor venue on site too which can be used. The Botanic Gardens are free to enter all year round. For more details on the beautiful venue see the website: www.glasgowbotanicgardens.com

Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) Gardens, currently I run workshops at RHS Rosemoor in Devon and at RHS Wisley in Surrey. They are usually day workshops, which include lunch and refreshments, and allow you some time to enjoy the exquisite gardens. I usually run them in July, when the rose gardens are still in full bloom.

Upper Vobster Farmin Somerset – Plant to Perfume is part of the weekend retreat I run at this heavenly space in North Somerset. It is possible to come for the morning of the retreat for this workshop only, but I would recommend giving yourself the whole weekend to enjoy the alchemy on offer. Upper Vobster Farm is a beautiful country property lovingly restored and created to help you take a rest from the stresses of life, somewhere where you can allow yourself to have a moment to be yourself again. They have 60 acres of land, including a 6 acre wood, which is a nature conservation area and preservation area for birds of prey. Nature, the woods and the sounds of the birds will make you stop in your tracks and feel the magic around. As well as the buzzards you may well see the resident kingfishers on the stream or by one of the ponds, or hear the woodpecker at work in the ancient oak tree. Tricia Nicholson, the owner of the farm with her husband Michael, has a fondness for roses, as do I, so this retreat takes place early in July, to catch the final bloom of the many roses planted all over the farm. In fact, this event was set to offer an alternative to the Rose Retreat I run in Bulgaria, as I know not everyone is able to travel or make that investment.

Lavender Perfume Workshop

Mayfield Lavender Farm, in Surrey, just outside London. The scent at this venue will be obvious before you even arrive at the farm, as the fresh, floral smell is carried in the air beyond 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.

Seckford Hall in Suffolk – with its enchanting history & glorious gardens, a 16th-century listed country house with a unique combination of comfort & luxury, completely steeped in Tudor charm & history, located in 34 acres of Suffolk countryside. This place  is bound to bring a sense of the past into your perfume.

Borde Hill Garden in West Sussex – the workshops here have a focus on health & wellbeing and include a short walk through the gardens covering how the aromatic plants were used in Tudor times, with specific reference to the physician from Borde Hill who treated Henry VIII. As well as a stunning Italian Garden with aromatic herbs it also has rose gardens with over 750 David Austin Roses.

Kate Langdale’s Flower Studio in Brighton, Sussex – my absolute favourite florist. 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, chamomile 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. The flower studio is usually a venue available for workshops by request, and only during Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons at Winter can be a little chilly.

Field Studies Council – I run a series of workshops and courses all over the United Kingdom, in association with the Fields Studies Council, they have 28 centres all based in and around stunningly beautiful natural environments, some with accommodation on site. Dates for 2021 will be announced soon. There are also online courses available. Click here for more details on my work with the Fields Studies Council and workshops held at Field Study Centres around the UK including Devon and Suffolk.

Click here for full details on up and coming Plant to Perfume workshops and other Aromatherapy Events. Spaces are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

For more information on what happens at a Plant to Perfume workshop, read my blog post on Natural Perfume Making – it also gives you instructions on how to make your own perfume with essential oils.

I also run Plant to Perfume workshops for private groups and parties by request, 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. I am always happy to arrange events at new locations or suggest some in your area.

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 Face and Body Cream

rose creamsThese are the notes from one of the workshops I regularly run, with instruction on how to make your own completely natural face & body cream, with out chemical emulsifiers or preservatives. Please ask any questions as these notes are designed to go with a practical session, but they should be clear enough for you to re-create your own version of this yummy cream yourself…

Introduction – During the workshop we will go through the process together of making your own completely  organic, natural face and body cream, without using any chemicals, emulsifiers or preservatives.

cream 3

When the cream is ready, and you have your own pot to take away, you can choose to mix in essential oils or not, and if so, you can choose one or a few different essential oils to mix in, and a blend strength that suits its intended use (up to 1% for the face, and up to 5% for the body). See blend strength chart in my previous blog for more details.

If you decide to make your own cream after the workshop, then you can follow the recipe used, but you may like to vary the ingredients a little according to your skin type, or to get a specific effect.

Just be aware that you need to keep the ratios of different types of products the same -so keep the amount of water, oil, butter and wax products used the same.  There is room for a little variation here, you just need to be aware that if you use more water products, the cream will have a thinner consistency, and if you use more solids then it will be thicker in consistency, so you can tailor this to your desire too.

The recipe we will use is for a simple cream involving no chemical emulsifier.  Most cosmetic creams will use an emulsifier of some kind -usually emulsifying wax.  This is because to make a cream, you need to mix oil and water together, two substances that don’t like to mix with each other.  An emulsifier kind of thickens the two and makes them like each other.  They are made from chemicals, and cannot be natural or organic. So this recipe is a little tricky, as it involves mixing the ingredients carefully so they don’t split.  But, with patience and care, it is possible (it is in fact similar to how mayonnaise is made).  You will need to use a fairly good blender, whereas with an emulsifying wax you can usually just whisk the ingredients. The recipe does include beeswax, and this has some naturally emulsifying properties which helps the process.

Ingredients:

  • 200g Floral Waters/ Herbal Infusions –  or blend of both.
  • 70g Butters/ Wax – I like to use 35g of Shea Butter & 35g of Coconut Oil.
  • 130g Base/Carier/Vegetable Oil – I use a blend of different oils including Olive, Apricot, Avocado, Macadamia, Rosehip (see my range of carrier oils for inspiration).
  • 10g beeswax

Optional Extras

  • Aloe vera gel or Aloe vera water –include this with the water ingredients (50ml aloe, 150 floral water).
  • 5ml vitamin E
  • Essential Oils: 0.1 – 2% blend strength for face creams and 1 – 5% blend strength for body (see blend strength chart in my blending blog for more details). For this recipe 1ml (20 drops) of essential oils would be approximately 0.25% blend strength which is usually enough.

About the ingredients:

Waters:

The water part of the cream is the problem area, when a product contains water it means it is prone to growing bacteria, as water contains oxygen, and bacteria thrive in this environment. Don’t use water from a tap, buy bottled spring water or try the following:

Floral waters

There are a few versions of floral water, you can often purchase the water that is produced during distillation of an essential oil, this is known as the by-product, but in the workshop we use a rose water that is distilled from organic roses in the Bulgarian rose valley, and the process is carried out for the sole purpose of making rose water (rather than a by product of making essential oil). This gives a much stronger scent and longer shelf life. The copper still makes a much better quality product than the more commonly used stainless steel stills. This Rose water is available to buy from my webshop. You can also use a handmade version, which is spring water mixed with an essential oil, left for a week or 2 and shaken intermittently, and then filtered.  Floral waters are similar in action to essential oils but much gentler and can be applied directly to the skin, they really enhance the cream and because they have natural anti-bacterial properties, they help to protect the cream from going off.

Infusions

An infusion is just like making a cup of herbal tea (a proper cup of herbal tea that is not made from a dried up old bag of dust).  You place your choice of herbs in a tea pot (or cup) and pour boiling water over the herbs (make sure the water is ‘spring water’ and not from the tap to avoid contaminating the cream).  One heaped teaspoon (double the amount if using fresh material rather than dried) to 175ml of water is a standard therapeutic infusion. If using a cup, make sure you cover it to keep the volatile oils from escaping with the steam. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, and strain before use (any little bits of plant material will contaminate the cream so ensure it is fine strainer).

Oils:

Carrier Oils (base oils)

These are cold pressed from the fruit nut or seed of a plant, for example olive (fruit), almond (nut) or sunflower (seed).  Make sure you use good quality organic oil that has not been refined, as the refinement process will have destroyed many of the nutritious qualities of the oil. However, you might choose to use a refined oil if the smell is not to your taste, they can be quite strong for example coconut or avocado.

These are some of my favourite base oils to use on the face:

  • Avocado ~ rich, nourishing, hydrating.
  • Rosehip ~ one of the best base oils for helping scars to heal.
  • Apricot ~ gentle & suitable for all skin types.
  • Macadamia ~ rich, nourishing –has a gorgeous nutty scent.

Macerated oils

An infused oil is carrier oil that has been ‘infused’ with the qualities of a herb or flower for example marigold/calendula or St. Johns wort. Generally the plant material is immersed into a carrier oil e.g. olive or almond oil, and either left in a warm dark cupboard over a period of weeks, or heated gently in a bain-marie for a couple of hours.  The oil absorbs many of the plants properties and the leached plant material is strained out of the oil through muslin cloth after 2-3 weeks.

Butters

Again, these have been cold pressed from part of the plant, and include Cocoa, Coconut, Mango, and Shea.  They are solid at room temperature, and bring a creamy effect to the product and have a nourishing effect on the skin, usually high in vitamins and fatty acids.

Beeswax

This is what helps the cream to emulsify, try to find a good quality and trustworthy source.  It is also an emollient, very soothing and protecting for the skin. If you are vegan and want to avoid beeswax you could try coconut wax or candelilla wax.

Vitamin E – optional

This is a great natural preservative.

Essential oils – optional

Essential oils are normally steam distilled from various parts of plants such as flower, leaves, fruit, roots and bark. With citrus oils it is usually just pressed from the peel, and for some delicate plant material (usually flowers and blossoms) will use a solvent to gently extract the oil.  They have a strong scent to them, so are a lovely way to personalise your blend, but also have very potent healing properties that affect the body on a physical level as well as the way we feel.  Even though the cream is complete on its own, the essential oils will bring another dimension to the effect and can also help to support the shelf life as they are naturally anti-bacterial to varying degrees.

These are some of my favourite essential oils to use on the face:

  • Rose ~ hydrating, nourishing and deeply nurturing.
  • Lavender ~ cleansing, clearing, gentle, antimicrobial (see my blog post on Lavender for more details).
  • Benzoin ~ protective.
  • Chamomile (Roman chamomile)~ soothing, calming, delicate, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, (see my blog post on chamomile for more details).
  • Myrrh ~ deeply healing, great for scars (avoid in pregnancy).
  • Mandarin ~ gentle, toning, light.
  • Geranium ~ balancing, feminine, supports hormones.
  • Neroli (orange blossom) ~ calming, gentle, soothing.

See my webshop for more essential oils that you may like to use.

Equipment

  • Scales
  • Bain marie/ double boiler
  • Measuring jug
  • A decent blender
  • Spatula
  • Pots or containers for finished product -make sure they are cleaned and sterilised by rinsing with some boiling water, and completely dry.

Instructions

Prepare the ingredient first, measure and weigh the amounts so they are ready to add in at the appropriate moment.

Melt all the solid oil base products by gently heating them in a bain marie or double boiler.  Then add the liquid oil products to this, you may need to heat it through a little more, as the cool liquids can cause the mixture to begin solidifying again.

buttery blending

When they are completely melted pour this mixture into a blender and let it cool down for a few minutes.  The melted mixture should become a little opaque in colour, but not to the point that it is beginning to solidify, see it has a buttery appearance.

Milky blending

Put the blender on a low setting and add just a little of the water based products at a time. You will see it become milky in appearance:

 

Creamed

…and eventually thickens to a cream:

Take your time when adding the water and blending, as adding too much water initially will make it difficult to emulsify and it will be more likely to split.  If the cream splatters up the sides of the blender, use the spatula to get all the mixture in the bottom each time you add more water, so the entire mixture is evenly blended.

pot of cream

If you decide to add Vitamin E and essential oils to the cream, do this at the very end as you do not want to expose them to heat.  Pour the mixture into some little pots or jars.  Ensure they are clean and dry –I usually pour some boiling water into them to sterilize them first and then dry them.  Pour the cream as soon as it’s ready, as it will become thicker as it cools, and more difficult to get out.

As in the workshop, you can add essential oils at this point too–if you have several containers and you want to create different blends for each one, then it’s ideal.  I find it quite practical to use a chop stick to stir them through.

Shelf Life

Because this cream is very natural and does not contain chemicals or preservatives, it is likely to only last 2-3months.  I would recommend keeping it in a cool dark cupboard or in the fridge if you can.  It will usually only go off if it becomes contaminated somehow and this can often be due to bacteria in the water based ingredients.  Make sure you don’t use any water from the tap if making an infusion, use spring water. Ensure all equipment being used is sterilised.

Using your cream

Having made the cream from scratch, and knowing all the wonderful ingredients that go into it, it can help me to be a little more focused on my skin care routine, to be more appreciative of this time with myself.  It’s particularly lovely to massage gently around the jaw, and to take this time to let go of any tension held in this area.  In doing this I become more aware of the tension held in other areas in the face –including cheeks and eyes!  I also use the cream on my neck across the top of my chest, massaging just under the collar bones which delicately allows me to become more open around the chest area, I can feel the difference in my whole body especially my posture, when I do this. Basically, just enjoy and appreciate using it on any part of your body.

Here are some ingredient variations for inspiration when designing your own versions:

Rich, hydrating and nourishing, for dry and mature skin

  • Rose floral water
  • Avocado, macadamia
  • Coconut, shea
  • Rose, frankincense, myrrh

Gentle and soothing, for sensitive skin

  • Neroli floral water, chamomile infusion
  • Apricot, camellia oil
  • Coconut
  • Neroli, Chamomile, Mandarin

Eczema, delicate itchy and damaged skin

  • Lavender floral water, chamomile infusion
  • Evening Primrose, starflower/borage oil
  • Coconut oil, shea butter
  • Chamomile, lavender, benzoin

Light and balancing for young, oily, combination skin

  • Geranium floral water
  • Grape seed, apricot oil
  • Coconut oil, shea butter
  • Geranium, lemon

Creams for Sale: I make versions of these natural face and body creams at regular intervals, so if you would like to buy one CLICK HERE to view the bespoke products on the webshop. Feel free to request specific ingredients, or preferred effects (eg. very hydrating or very gentle) as I am more than happy to design it to your requirements.