a Scented Muse

{Tuesday, 15 January, 13}   Essential Living

book cover Aromatherapy Recipes for Health & Home

Andrea Butje

Call me shallow ~ but I do judge a book by its cover.  Sprigs of lavender on the cover invite your fingers to caress it’s glossy surface.  The virgin binding creaks, as if in protest, to protect the contents within…but with gentle persuasion gives way.  Whether you are just beginning to dabble or are a serious “sniffer” of Essential Oils, the author, Andrea Butje draws the reader into the world of Aromatherapy.

As the pages turn, Andrea charms the reader with photos from her visits of various distillers around the world, while in search of the highest quality Essential Oils.  Every recipe is keyed as a beginner, an intermediate or an advanced level with straightforward instructions ~ so pull on your kitchen tool belt, learn blending techniques and whip up various body butters, a nasal congestion relief inhaler or headache relief oil.  The possibilities are endless!

Essential Oils are not the unsophisticated liquid that one simply pours from a bottle.  Much like we humans, oils have a humble beginning; first as a seed; then as a sprout with a little soul; finally a complex personality.  Andrea encourages you to “experiment with the aromas.  Discover which scents become your BFF and which scents are meant to simply serve your purpose at hand.  One learns to coax each Essential Oil’s personality to its full potential through careful manipulation, layering notes and final composition ~ one drop at a time ~ an “olfactory orchestra”.

Whether a novice or an “old hand” with blending, Essential Living – Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, is simple, elegant and an enticing invitation to discover, craft and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.


{Wednesday, 18 July, 12}   Neem Oil

REEKS!  The smell has been compared to a very strong garlic and/or sulfur.  I have tried many “natural pesticide potions” in the past without great success. Desperate to save my Basil from being chewed by something other than me – I made a conscience decision to expose my delicate ol’factory system to pure STINK – all in the name of saving my plants.

A little history on Neem Oil and its uses.  Neem Oil comes from a tree called “Azadirachta Indica”, a large evergreen tree related to mahogany.  The tree is grown in tropical climates native to South East Asia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.  I was first exposed to Neem Oil during my studies in Ayurveda medicine while at Kanyakumari Ayurveda and Wellness Center near Milwaukee and in India.

I learned that while its leaves, seeds and bark have been used for many centuries to treat such ailments such as diabetes, pink eye, mouth ulcers, psoriasis, eczema, warts and moles; it is also a wonderful natural fungicide and insecticide.  If I was a bug, the mere smell would keep me away; however, it is more scientific than that.

Basically, Neem contains a component called Azadirachtin that reduces the insects ability to feed, acts as a repellent, and that it interferes with insect hormone systems ~ in essence, a contraceptive for insects ~ though practically non-toxic to mammals, birds, and the humble pollinators found in nature.  Neem can be used against pests like spider mites, black spots on roses, powdery mild (such as that growing on my bee balm), aphids and rust.  It can also be used against fleas and mange on dogs – but that is for another time.

I mixed 1 teaspoon Neem oil into a 1gallon of water, poured the mixture into a repurposed spray bottle and whoo hoo – bug spray.  Armed with spray bottle in hand, I stepped out into the heat.  Even diluted, the smell nearly keeled me over.  My plants were shivering from fear – now what?  I laid my hand upon them, assuring the Basil that this was hurting me more than them (sound familiar to anyone?).  Beads of the concoction landed upon the leaves and bugs scattered.  With excitement, I moved on to the tomatoes, the geraniums, then the mums ~ oh, the possibilities were endless…alas, I ran out of spray.  Now all I could do is wait.

Two days later, I checked on my little friends ~ not only were there no bugs feasting (those darn Japanese beetles), but the leaves were growing back healthy.  Once again, nature has proven to me that all one requires to protect, fight, or heal – exists within the natural world around us.

{Thursday, 12 July, 12}   The man…

…stared longingly at the Harley parked vertical to the sidewalk.  Nothing stood out about him.  He, as most business men, was undistinguishable from any other you would see standing around in any big city.  The look upon his face said it all.  An unfulfilled dream lurked somewhere within the depth of his spirit ~ as one often does within each of us.

 I wondered what he longed for.  Was it to conquer the desert dirt bike race or to simply don his suit for a pair of chaps, ride the wild highway as the flap of his bandana wrestled with the wind?  Could it be that it was only a reminder from a time when he was free; unburdened from the corporate noose society calls fashion~ the “neck tie” ~ impeding his every breath?  Whatever it was, his face mirrored the constrictions of his current life.

 The moment passed.  Afraid to ponder where he had lost his passion for life, he allowed the numbness to settle in ~ squishing the thought as quickly as he had done so often to his fellow board room opponents.  Gathering himself, he brushed his sleeve, straightened his tie and turned to walk back through the office building doors.  Without so much as a glance back at the bike, I saw his hand quiver, ever so slightly, as he reached for the door handle.  Was the tremble from his forgotten self making a weak attempt to shake him back to life?  It makes one wonder.  Do you?

{Thursday, 28 June, 12}   Tea Tree Essential Oil ~ my hero!
My house is over 50 years old and prior to moving in, I don’t think the basement had ever experienced the hum of a dehumidifier.  Side note: I am paranoid of mold in a basement – it is costly to remove and threatens the re-sale value of one’s house ~ not that any was found, but better safe than sorry.  My quest was to rid the basement of “that damp smell”.
Once… again, I turn to Nature.  Alive with chemical components of protection – why would an essential oil diffusion not work?  What to use?  After re-evaluating all my oils, I concluded that Tea Tree EO was the winner. Tea Tree is best known for its Anti-infectious, Anti-biotic, and Anti-fungal properties. What did I have to lose?
I decided to put Tea Tree to the test.  Using my favourite diffuser from Diffuser World, I loaded the bottle with undiluted Tea EO, turned the diffuser on, simultaneously running the dehumidifier, and closed the door behind me.  Every day I would cautiously venture down into the darkness, empty the dehumidifier bucket and refill the diffuser.  Both machines sputtered and coughed along ~ 24/7 for 3 weeks.
The day of reckoning had come. I shut off both machines… silence filled the air and I took a DEEP breath.  The air was not only dry, but very fresh smelling.  I jumped with joy!  Mission accomplished.  I, to this day, continue to diffuse with Tea Tree EO 1 day/1x month.  Do you have any experiences to share with Tea Tree Essential Oil?

{Friday, 11 May, 12}   Girls’ allowed only!

It has been a long-standing tradition to set one week aside each year to simply BE!  The sign on our suitcase reads, “NO MEN ALLOWED!”  In the past, we have explored islands and temples, lounged leisurely on house boats, and experienced many other adventures. However, this year she is not feeling her best, so we set out for a simple road trip out East.

While driving, I look in wonder at the woman beside me…my Mom.  Everything in the car vibrates to the Enigma song blaring through the car speakers—and she is lost somewhere within, eyes closed.  For the moment, she throws her hands side-to-side, face upturned in pure joy, swaying to a beat only she hears.  I glimpse the free spirit that is so often caged within—of her as a young woman with her whole life waiting to be discovered.

It is the small things I notice about Mom on our trips together.  Not only do I see the woman who taught me to maneuver my way through life, but a woman that put her own wants and desires aside to pursue what society expected of her—like many women of her generation.

We talk about her past dreams.  Did she have any regrets?  Her answer remains consistent. “I would not have the 4 wonderful children I have if I had made other choices. No, I am very content with my life.” 

We laugh, we cry, we argue (like most Italian families) and we talk about our bucket lists.  “What happens when her bucket no longer has a list inside of it?” I silently wonder to myself.  Quietly, I say a prayer that she will continue to add items so we can grow to be old women together, helping each other out of the car seat and adding another sticker to our suitcase:  NO OLD MEN ALLOWED!

I would not be who I am today had you not taught me to laugh and not take myself so seriously.  Thank you for swaying to your own music and teaching me to do the same.

Happy Mother’s Day!

et cetera