Dream Balm – aromatherapy in a tin

July 13, 2011

Dream Balm What’s a Dream Balm? I often get asked this question when people check out my products and come across this Lovely in an aluminum tin. Quite simple! A Dream Balm, or a Tranquility Balm, as I sometimes like to call it, is aromatherapy in a solid form.

The balm is an effective way to utilize the power of pure botanicals for aromatherapeutic uses: rub on the temples or under the nose to ease tension headaches, ease into sleep or a state of calm, relieve anxiety and stress, use in ritual manner to induce a state of relaxation. I find this an incredibly effective balm for all of these reasons, and more.

It can also be used as a lip balm or body balm. And it is certainly safe for children. In fact, children love the nighttime ritual of a scented balm to ease them into dreamland. It is perfectly safe for babies, especially those infants who get fussy at the dinner hour or at bedtime. Just rub a little onto their temples or perhaps a little dab under the nose. You may even treat patches of dry skin or eczema on children, babies, and adults with this great skin salve.   

The base of the Dream Balm itself is made from nourishing natural oils and waxes (beeswax). Safflower and sunflower oils, are not clogging and have a nice consistency and shelf life. The oils have been infused with organic herbs, including lavender, chamomile, rose, and mugwort. Rosemary oil extract & vitamin E are added as potent anti-oxidants to protect the balm.

Chamomile provides wonderful anti-inflammatory action (topically) and has aromatherapeutic qualities all by itself. It’s a remarkable, calming herb that not too long ago deserved a post all its own.
Lavender is one of my absolute favorite herbs for all reasons, and its aromatherapeutic, calming activity is well-established. Topically, lavender is an analgesic, which means that it helps relieve pain. Lavender is a wonderful herb and essential oil for topical application to scrapes, insect bites, and burns, and I include it in my All-Purpose healing salve. Need I say more? The balm smells strongly of lavender.
Mugwort is a wonderful herb that grows everywhere here in the NorthEast, favoring waste places and empty lots. However, it’s an herb with an old history as a “dream herb”. People would hang it over their beds to bring good dreams at night, and the dried herb has traditionally been stuffed into dream pillows. I have a special love for this fragrant member of the Artemesia family.
Rose imparts a feeling of comfort and well-being, lifting the spirits and easing the mind. It’s a romantic touch to the Dream Balm, and a welcome addition.

Once again the balm is an excellent, alll-purpose body salve, so you can *certainly* use it to soothe the skin, including insect bites, scrapes and scars, dry skin, and eczema conditions. Lavender is excellent on burns for its analgesic properties, as noted above. The infused chamomile also makes the balm anti-inflammatory. So I tend to think of it as a medicinal balm that also has aromatherapy — these plants give us gifts from all angles, as you can see.

SALE! In honor of the lovely Dream Balm, you can purchase a nice 5 oz container of it in my Etsy store right now for $11 ($3 off!). This size tin will last a long time and travels well. You’ll love it!


Favorite Tea Accessories: Atelier Oker

April 13, 2011

Atelier Oker is a stunning Etsy shop by talented Belgian ceramicist and teacher, Jeannine Vrin. Each piece in her shop is a beautifully designed work of art that is meant to be used functionally. They all seem to fulfill the mission of this studio, in finding the “poetry of ordinary things.” Her exquisite ceramic tea strainer is no exception. It’s a gorgeous piece that would truly turn every cup of tea into a special tea ceremony. I am a great proponent of the need for such rituals in every day life. Be forewarned: Jeannine tells me that these tea strainers sell almost as soon as they are posted, so if you see one and like it, snap it up quickly! If not, contact her directly to pre-order if possible. Dank u, Jeannine!


Favorite Tea Accessories: Moon Spoons

February 15, 2011

Tea Strainer in "Cathedral" design

"Cathedral" Tea Strainer

I love tea. And there are so many great accessories out there to make tea drinking into a ritual. Just look at the wonderful history of the Tea Ceremony in Japan if you want a reminder of just how sacred and special tea drinking can be. I thought it might be fun to bring some wonderful additions to the personal tea ritual to your attention.

Honey Stick

Honey Stick

For Valentine’s Day I came across these amazing tea strainers from Moon Spoon After looking at their gallery, I realized that I already own some of the wooden baby spoons, one of which I now use as a sugar spoon, and I’d love to add their Honey Stick to my collection as well. I love the delicate honeycomb pattern.


Featured Seller: Organic Quilt Company

December 1, 2010
organic cotton burp cloths

organic cotton burp cloths

Wow! It’s been ages since I last featured a seller from the handmade community. In fact, it was nearly a year ago. I guess it is around the holiday that we hone in on the best and brightest artisans out there.

Becky Stone of Organic Quilt Company

Becky Stone of Organic Quilt Company

I probably first saw the fine work of Becky Stone on Etsy‘s front page, as in May of 2009, she was a featured Etsy seller. Her beautifully photographed works consist of organic cotton baby blankets, burp cloths, hand crafted quilts, infant hats, and bibs, all found in her etsy store, Organic Quilt Company. The fabrics are absolutely beautiful and certainly drew me to her shop instantly to peruse for gifts. My brother’s baby Maya and a  friend’s baby Samantha are two recent recipients of her gorgeous creations. Just look at this beautiful Woodland Friends blanket below (Samantha snagged that):

Woodland Friends Baby Blanket

Woodland Friends baby blanket

Passionate about her quilting addiction, Becky lives with her husband, three kids, and two fat cats in Hudson, an idyllic small town just outside of Montreal, Canada. Color and fabric, “in all its tactile glory”, have always been the main sources of inspiration for her projects. Becky tells me that she began quilting fifteen years ago because she really wanted to own a quilt and couldn’t afford to buy one. Her first attempt was a huge, very difficult quilt that she did finish, but she claims that “‘primitive’ would be a very grand compliment for it.” Fortunately, Becky stuck with it to create the beautiful pieces she designs today.

organic cotton blankets

organic cotton blankets

When I asked Becky about why she chose to work with organic materials, she said she had become concerned with the “chemicals devoured by the textile industry, and the quilting industry in particular.” Wrapping her three wee bairns in chemically-coated textiles at bed time was simply not appealing!  Becky chose to focus on baby quilts because, as I well know (!), everyone loves to buy beautiful things for babies. Here, here! It was a marriage made in heaven: organic fabrics and baby quilts. In addition, a baby quilt would provide a more affordable price point than larger, full-sized quilts, as they are already such labor intensive products.

handmade organic cotton quilt

organic cotton quilt

Shipping times from Canada are around two weeks, so you are *just* in time to order for the holidays. Pop on over to Organic Quilt Company and buy something beautiful for a baby you love.  You can mix and match lots of options to create the perfect bundle of organic goodness.

organic infant knot hat

infant knotty hat

Other posts you might enjoy:
Looking for something unique? One of a Kind Art
Featured Seller: Motley Mutton
Eco Head ware for the Wee Ones


The wonders of Salt in culinary creations

November 23, 2010

coarse grey salt I discovered how fantastic salt can really be –and how vital to flavor– when I first sprinkled coarse grey salt on a hubbard squash from my local Greensgrow Farm. Combined with a little rosemary, olive oil, and garlic, and roasted to perfection, I felt I had come across one of the most delicious foods *ever*, but the key to this roasted bliss was the salt! An absolutely critical ingredient, it shattered my previous snobbery about not “needing” salt to achieve flavor in favor of herbs and spices. Now, I wisely combine wonderful salts with herbs to great ends.

Fleur de Sel caramels by The Caramel Jar: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCaramelJar

Fleur de Sel caramels by The Caramel Jar: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCaramelJar

Usually thought of as a savory addition, salts are often fabulous additions to sweet foods as well.  Artisan-made caramels sprinkled with Fleur de Sel (the “caviar of salts”) abound, and with good reason, because they are absolute heaven on earth. In fact, just in writing this, I remembered some dark chocolate caramels I had recently received and quickly paired them with some Celtic grey salt for a special treat. Yum! But specialty salts are increasingly found used in baking recipes such as this rhubarb upside-down cake.

Fortunately, Herb Companion recently published a wonderful article on “Perfect Pairings: Marrying Herbs and Salts” that doesn’t need to be re-written by me! Not only does author Tabitha Alterman outline every kind of salt you may come across, but she tells you the herbs that make the best pairings for complex herb-salt blends. Creating a seasoning like this will not only ultimately reduce your total sodium intake by increasing flavor with herbs, but the taste of better quality salts will also encourage the use of less total salt. Herb Companion helpfully lists resources for such special finds as Hickory smoked salt and gourmet salt blocks. During a recent visit to Boulder, Colorado, I fortuitously came across Savory Spice Shop and found myriad herb-spice blends (as well as plenty of salt-free butcher’s rubs, etc), sold to my by the nicest sales person on the planet. One blend I am really excited about is their County Clare Seasoning Salt, which brings happy thoughts of my favorite Irish county, and lots of exciting possibilities for future culinary creations.


Top 50 Blogs for Learning about Herbalism

August 2, 2010

cilantro and basil herbs Yeah for me! Lilith’s Apothecary ~ this blog ~ was recently listed as one of the Top 50 Blogs for Learning about Herbalism, much to my delight. The blogger, Rachel Davis, divides her list of blogs up into categories of  1) General, 2) Farming, 3) Herbalists, 4) Herbalism & More, 5) cooking, 6) Medicine. The final category of blogs is where my own appears. There are lots of great blogs to check out on this list, and some great new discoveries for me include:

1. The Herbwife’s Kitchen, a blog written by a traditional Appalachian community herbalist based in West Virginia
2. Herbs from the Labyrinth, a blog from a community herbalist out in Lancaster, PA, about an hour outside of Philadelphia.
3. Rosemary’s Sampler, a lovely blog from The Rosemary House, a charming establishment in Mechanicsburg, PA, and a place I’ve been wanting to go for years. They often have great little workshops and herbwalks with well-known herbalists such as David Winston.
4. The Medicine Women Gather: five herbalists from the Pacific NW gather to share recipes, wildcrafting, and the gifts of the earth.
5. Joseph Alban: an acupuncturist in NY who teaches us acupressure points to use for ourselves and our children, as well as other info about chinese herbs, etc.

Share some of your favorite herb-themed blogs with me! I’ll write a future post on some of the most useful herb blogs, including those by Michael Tierra & Leslie Tierra, Stephen Foster, and other master herbalists. Michael Tierra just blogged about Richo Cech, a “plant whisperer” and author of The Medicinal Plant Grower.


Winter Wonderland Etsy Shop S A L E

January 13, 2010
"devotional" by Skoonberg on Etsy

"devotional" by Skoonberg on Etsy

This is a SECRET SALE for my loyal blog readers and Facebook fans (or anyone who happens to drop by) for my Etsy store, Lilith’s Apothecary!! I am getting ready for a new year, including new products and an ever more refined facial care line. In the meantime, you can get some oldies but goodies on sale — and perhaps for the last time, as some of these products will not be returning. They are wonderful items using the best quality ingredients available, but anyone in the Bath & Body Care business will tell you, quite simply, I offer Too Many Products! Oh well, I view my business more as a service to you than as a corporate-headed profit making endeavor. Be aware that each sale price below is only good  while supplies last, so order soon to get your special deal!

The savings below are between $1-5 off the regular price, which really adds up!
So my SECRET WINTER SALE includes the following:

cleansing porta bidet My fabulous Cleansing Porta Bidet (a product I don’t think I could personally do without) for cleansing refreshment in the boudoir. This is one of those golden products that has so many uses. Be creative! Also ideal as a Post Partum Sitz Spritz.
2 oz @ only $4
4 oz @ only $7

cleansing elixir Balancing Cleansing Elixir for Normal to Oily Skin ~ the perfect all-purpose cleanser for those who want to balance oil production, combat acne, and use a product that both gently cleans and tonifies skin. I’ve been using these elixirs for years with fantastic results. You’ll never get such high levels of quality ingredients (read: no “fillers”) anywhere commercially. This size is perfect for trial use or travel.
2 oz @ $4

Dead Sea Clay Facial Mask An amazing product if you really want results :: the ever popular Dead Sea Clay Facial mask does quick work of problem skin — or even just oilier types — by deep cleansing, detoxifying, and actually working to achieve balance. This product is wonderful when used at least once a month up to once a week.
4 oz $11 (that’s $5 off!!!)

Calendula and Milk Facial Mask Calendula and Milk Facial Mask ~ Perfect for those sensitive skin types who are afraid to try anything on their faces. Don’t fear! You too can get the deep cleansing, skin revitalizing effects of a clay facial mask but in a way that is non-drying, non-irritating, and even provides gentle moisturization and healing. A lovely, smooth and glowy mask that I’ve always thought of as “the nectar of the gods”.
4 oz @ $11 (that’s $5 off!!!)

Cocoa Butter Body Balm My luscious Cocoa Butter Body & Belly Balm :: this is a popular product that many would never choose to do without. Wonderful as a belly balm for new mothers or as a fabulous skin protectant and deep moisturizer for all, including babies and children. It’s unscented for the most sensitive skin types, but contains a high level of natural cocoa butter that imparts a delicious scent all its own!
2 oz @ only $6
4 oz @ only $11

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Bright, refreshing, and winter-moisturizing Lemon Mandarin Body Polish for glowy skin. Awesome for revitalizing dull, winter dry skin and adding an extra layer of scented moisture!8 oz @ only $8 (some stores charge even $24 for such a product!)

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Smoldering, sexy and luxurious Osiris body polish ~ one of my most popular unisex scents with hints of cedarwood, vanilla, and subtle spice.
8 oz @ only $8

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Spicy, revitalizing, and zesty Spiral Dance Body Polish ~ a fabulous scent for all of you who adore spicy scents, including cassia, clove, and even hints of juicy tangerine.
8 oz for $8

Lemon Mandarin Shaving Soap Need something bright, refreshing and wonderfully sudsy? Try my Lemon Mandarin shaving soap. It’s made of pure, high quality glycerin for a bath soap that is very large, scented only with 100% natural citrus essential oils, and certainly not drying whatsoever. You’ll love it!
1 generous bar $4

Liquid Castille Soap Pure natural goodness for a hand soap, shower soap, or any other purpose needed. This organic liquid castille soap has a lovely texture and lather yet remains non-drying and safe for all skin types. This 8 oz, cobalt blue glass bottle of soap is unscented (great for sensitive skin, including babies) and fully re-usable.

 8 oz @ $6.50

 

TO GET YOUR SALE PRICE:
When you check-out on ETSY, type in “WINTERSALE” in the message to seller box and I’ll refund your savings via paypal refund right away! Please also note whether you heard about the sale via FB or my blog. If you want to pay by other means, just ask me to send you a new invoice. Thanks for joining me in this Winter fun, and of course, I love hearing from you any time with product suggestions, requests, ideas, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Happy 2010!


Looking for something unique? One of a kind art

December 5, 2009

Lilith, by Clayrew

One of a kind fiber arts are not something I set out to find, but somehow (and I’m not sure exactly how), I came upon this amazing artisan, Robin E. Whiteman of Clayrew (etsy), who makes unique, one of a kind fiber art pieces, such as this lovely rendition of Lilith with her animal familiar, the owl. Lilith, the inspiration for my business, has a magical aura about her, just as Robin’s artworks do. I wanted to share her work with my readers, as this time of year I tend to blog a bit more about amazing material finds and one of a kind wonders. Robin’s pieces include fiber and ceramic sculptures seemingly drawn from Jungian psychology, the archaeology of Marija Gambutas, who pioneered the concept of goddess religions pre-dating patriarchal religions and culture in human history, bits of human artifact (such as leather from crete) and her own intuitively creative inspiration and sculptural musings.

Fetish art piece

Fetish 1

For instance, the Fetish 1 piece, pictured here, is at first glace a representation of fetishes favored by paleolithic and early neolithic cultures, but a closer examination reveals a face emerging from the belly of the female form, a surprising revelation that lends further mystery to the piece.

Dark Goddess ceramic art piece

Dark Goddess

I also love her ceramic Dark Goddess, a piece that I would love to have in my fantasy home, one with hallways with quiet niches where such pieces could be properly and reverantly placed. The Dark Goddess is coated in bronze encaustic wax, a material favored by Jasper Johns that has always fascinated me as a material I would love to work with. Encaustic provides a textural effect that adds another dimension to two-dimensional art, such as many of Johns’ paintings. In this piece, the bronze encaustic on ceramic provides a sense of ‘the ancient’ (that ellusive, undefinable ‘ancient’ that we can’t even really pinpoint except in the minds of Jung and in the texts of myth) that gives it the not-quite-tangible aura of an artifact of an ancient goddess religion. Just the kind of chills I love to get from a material object. Maybe this is why I married an archaeologist. Hmmmm


Winter Spirit…The Gift Guide

November 13, 2009
GrassHopper from Grazim's Shop on etsy

"Grasshopper" by Grazim

 

The autumn already seems to be ebbing away, though there are still a few wee tomatoes on my urban-dwelling vines. Still, many of autumn’s bright and colored leaves have fallen. Though I don’t usually create a treasury of beloved handcrafteds for this most herby of blogs, I was perusing through etsy favorites and felt inspired to share these lovelies with my dear readers. You may not want to spend that much on a chandelier, but you must admit….it is amazing! And if that is out of your price range, you might invest in a wee felted grasshopper, such as this one created by Grazim, and etsy shop located somewhere in Europe, and also the home of the sweetest felted slippers you’ve ever seen. 

Peaceful afternoon dress by SarahSeven on etsy

"Peaceful Afternoon" by SarahSeven

 

The Peaceful Afternoon dress, and other poetic creations, can be found in sarahseven‘s etsy shop. One must pay for luminous handmade creations, but would we artisans have it any other way? 

"Safe Keeping" by The Haunted Hollow Tree on etsy

"Safe Keeping" by The Haunted Hollow Tree

 

There are many beguiling images by The Haunted Hollow Tree etsy endeavor, but this one demands a frame and prized wall space at my humble abode. 

"mutant bunny" mask by Alma Pottery

"Mutant Bunny" by Alma Pottery

 

Alma Pottery claims to have art + attitude in the shop’s clever creations. I think this absolutely bizarre-fairytale-meets-the-surreal Mutant Bunny mask certainly fulfills the claim. I love it! 

"Cherry Root Chandelier" by Fiko Arts

"Cherry Root Chandelier" by Fiko Arts

 

Well, this is that (albeit *slightly pricy*) chandelier by Fiko Art I was talking about. I wish I lived in a house that could handle it! Maybe a converted one-room schoolhouse? Well, you’d need some lofty ceilings for this magical centerpiece. Take note of the absolutely amazing details, including the carving. This is an absolute work of art, and probably museum quality as well. 

Raven Terrarium by Doodlebirdie on etsy

"Raven Terrarium" by Doodlebirdie

 

I find terrariums absolutely enchanting, I have to say. I recently made a few without reading any directions as to the actual process (duh) and needless to say they didn’t work out that well. The keys are 1) not letting the moss touch the glass (fog), and 2) using charcoal to absorb moisture and also making sure there is some rocks at the bottom for a bit better ‘drainage’. Next time I’ll get it right! But in the meantime, check out Doodle Birdie for some lovely creations. 

Branch necklace by After Winter on etsy

"Branch" by After Winter

 

Ok, so let me send a subtle message into the ether. *I want this necklace for Christmas* Too bad my husband doesn’t read my blog! Alas. But still, this has been a favorite since it first appeared on the scene, at least a year ago. After Winter’s proprietress makes these absolutely amazing molded pieces using nature + pure sterling silver to create the most gorgeous pieces of adornment. These are heirlooms. 

"Tire Swings" baby booties by Wooly Baby on etsy

"Tire Swings" by Wooly Baby

 

I absolutely adore the vintage look to these handmade wool baby boots, complete with leather sole for those new walkers. I mean, I either have to buy these for some random baby I come across, or I need to have a new baby so I can shod its feet in these grey woolies. Either way – these booties must be worn by a baby that I know. Thank you Wooly Baby. Thank you for subtley pressuring me to have another baby so I can pay another $12,000 a year in child care costs. 

"Tree Sisters" by Sarah Ogren on etsy

"Tree Sisters" by Sarah Ogren

 

Is this a save the best for last moment? I’m not sure, but I can say, from one Sarah to another, Sarah Ogren is one of my absolute favorite etsy sellers. I do often wear a necklace creation, not unlike this amazing image, but I adore all of her animal headed Victorian creations equally, and someday soon, I want one for my walls (or at least my three year old daughter’s bedroom, where it would be most precious). Hint, Hint. 

You know, most etsy officianados like the lovely Scoutie Girl blog (thank you, Tara Gentile) create things called ‘Gift Guides’. Even etsy has its own Gift Guides to help overwhelmed and confused shoppers. I create Give-me-this Guides, apparently. I’m laughing out loud here because I’m not serious (but kinda am). I will say this. Nobody needs to buy me the Chandelier or the $500 frock, but…my three year old, Maeve, could try her hand at making a terrarium perhaps? Daddy? What’dya say?


Educational Partnership: Lilith & Blossoming Bellies

August 4, 2009
Post-Partum herbal sitz bath

Post-Partum herbal sitz bath

First of all, dear readers, I must thank you for your generous response to my “restructuring” post and for all of your wonderful support for your favorite products!

One of the reason for making more room in the Lilith landscape is so that I can move forward with my herbal study, a path that has been certainly aided but also hindered by an ever-expanding herbal bath & body business. I spend so much time processing orders and preparing products that I can’t properly focus on my true love: herbal medicine.

Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to reach out to some local services supporting natural childbirth and mothering–to let them know that Lilith’s Apothecary products for pregnancy, post-partum, and new baby exist, but also just to perhaps engage more with a community of services very much in line with my own interests in herbal medicine. I was incredibly fortunate to have made contact with an amazing woman, Brittany Sharpe McCollum CCE(BWI), CD(DONA), the trained and experienced doula behind Blossoming Bellies birth services.

Far beyond a mere introductory exchange, Brittany and I enjoyed an enthusiastic conversation that progressed into plans to create curricula around the use of herbs during pregnancy, labor, delivery, post-partum, and childcare, with intended audiences of doulas, midwives, and possibly new women. Just in the same way that Brittany advocates the empowering of women to take control of their own bodies in the natural birthing process, I am an advocate of empowering women to use herbal allies at these critical times. Along similar lines, I believe, the hegemonic medical ‘establishment’ has created fear about and certainly a medicalization of birth that takes women away from the control of this very natural process, and certainly has created fear around the use of even the safest of herbs during pregnancy and childbirth. It is important that, through education, we advocate the use of safe, empowering, and natural approaches toward natural pregnancy, child birth, and mothering. In this, Brittany and I are brilliantly in alignment.

B.S.McCollum_HeadShot2As for Brittany and Blossoming Bellies, her story is a wonderful one. After the birth of her son in 2006, Brittany discovered a passion for women’s health, informed decision making through the process of labor and birth, and the need for support in the postpartum period. Moving away from her roots in journalism and creative writing, Brittany began devoting much of her energy to the study of natural pregnancy and childbirth. Her fascination with the body’s amazing abilities and her desire to aid women in rediscovering these abilities inspired her to enter the world of the birth professional.

Brittany completed childbirth educator certification with Birth Works International and completed birth doula certification with DONA. She now teaches several different formats of the Birth Works childbirth education preparation class series and supports women and their partners in labor through emotional, physical, and informational support. Brittany is also trained by Birth Arts International, a program based on the midwifery model of care, which includes basic information about the ancient wisdom of herbs. As a breastfeeding advocate, she has also completed breastfeeding counselor certification with Nursing Mothers Alliance. Her services also include postpartum doula support, in which she fills the traditional role of assisting the new mother transition into parenthood through breastfeeding support, discussion of infant care, and help with household necessities such as laundry and pet care.

Through regular attendance at workshops and conferences and through hands-on support, Brittany continues to embrace her passion for informed decision making and the power of the female body in birth. In supporting families through pregnancy, labor, and postpartum, Brittany helps ease the transition into parenting and build confidence in childrearing in both the mother and her partner. Information about all of the services Brittany offers can be found on her website at http://www.blossomingbelliesbirth.com. Her services and workshops are supportive of the Philadelphia region, but if you are trying to find a doula in another region of the country, Brittany would no doubt be of assistance in directing you to a good resource.


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