Things I Love Lately

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I’ve made lots of new discoveries of fabulous products lately. Here are just a handful of my many latest favorite that I thought deserved some love.
Limited Edition Birchbox - From the Garden

From the Garden Birchbox – Birchbox is a nifty site for those of us that love to try new products. You can get a monthly box subscription for just $10 a month that includes trial-sized samples from both well-known brands and emerging gems for everything from beauty products to home and garden. There’s currently a four week waiting list for the women’s monthly box and a two week waiting list for the men’s.However, in the meantime, you can browse their shop and even pick up their limited edition From the Garden Birchbox filled with seasonal picks. It’s an $89 value available for just $32. I purchased this exclusive box for myself and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. I’m also on the waiting list.

They also offer free shipping on products from the current month’s box, free shipping on full size product orders of $50 or more, free returns within 90 days of purchase and free samples and gifts from their bonus shop.

Adagio Thai Chai Tea – It wasn’t that long ago that I purchase a 40 oz. glass pitcher from Adagio Teas along with some Mango Iced Tea pouches when they were offering a special bundle at a reduced price. You simply add one iced tea pouch to the pitcher, fill with cold water and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you have delicious iced tea with almost no work. This has now become my new favorite way to make tea especially since the fibro can make some of the simplest task one of the worst chores.However, you aren’t restricted to their iced tea pouches. You can use any tea you like. I’ve done with with other teas from Adagio that aren’t offered in the iced tea sized pouches as well as teas from other brands. If you buy the 40oz. (4 cup) glass pitcher, simply use four tea bags and allow to “steep” overnight removing the tea bags the following morning. For a plastic quart sized pitcher, use eight tea bags.

Love iced chai? I’m particularly fond of Adagio’s Thai Chai Tea (pictured.) I simply put four tea bags in my 40 oz. pitcher, fill with water and leave overnight. The following morning I fill my glass water bottle three fourths of the way with tea, add a dash of half and half, and a little bit of sugar, then shake. Then I take it with me to work for lunch!

I love that Adagio offers free shipping on orders of $49 or more or the option of low flat rate shipping of just $3.75 for all other orders. Shipping is always super quick and they also offer a rewards program where you can earn points toward free gift certificates.

Eco Friendly Reusable Snack & Sandwich Bag Set from Colorful House – If you’ve been looking for more ways to go green then I recommend the handmade reusable snack and sandwich bags from Colorful House. The color combinations of these cotton bags are modern and all grown up and the inner water resistant ripstop nylon shell keeps food fresh for lunch. Colorful House also sells super cute children’s stuffed toys – including stuffed Dachshunds! – and children’s room decor.

I also love the affordable unpaper cloth napkins from Little Green Nest.

Divide and Conquer Purse OrganizerDivide and Conquer sells an entire line of brilliant handmade purse organizers in all shapes and sizes to keep the purse digging to a minimum. I think these are especially brilliant for busy moms who carry everything for those “just in case” moments and fashionistas who like to have their beauty products handy at all times.

For more of my favorite finds, be sure to follow me on Pinterest!

DIY Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas – Pint Sized Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas You Can Make and Buy

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Sometimes the smallest gifts mean the most. One of my favorite things to shop for at Christmas is stocking stuffer gifts because sometimes the biggest gifts are the easiest. To fit something very special inside a stocking it can’t be too large, but it can be more meaningful. Following are some of my favorite ideas for handmade stocking stuffer gifts for women and girls that you can make yourself or purchase from a handmade artisan.

DIY Handmade Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas

DIY Handmade Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas - Handmade Stocking Stuffers You Can Make for Christmas Gifts

Handmade Stocking Stuffer Gifts for Women

Holiday Handmade Christmas Gift Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Women and Girls
If you enjoyed this selection of gift ideas, please check out my other Holiday Gift Guides and Christmas Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas for things you can craft and things you can buy to support handmade. You can also follow me on Pinterest. And don’t forget to check out my own shop, Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen, for handmade bath and body products all perfectly sized for stocking stuffer gifts!

DIY Bath and Beauty Recipes with Mountain Rose Herbs

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One of the first places I discovered to shop for natural, organic ingredients online when I first started making handmade soap and my own bath and body products was Mountain Rose Herbs. It has since remained one of my favorite online shops for purchasing natural, organic ingredients when quality is of the utmost importance. Additionally, I also turn to Mountain Rose Herbs for 100% organic loose tea blends, medicinal herbs and spices for cooking.

Natural Organic Bath & Beauty Skin Care Ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs

Since 1987, Mountain Rose Herbs has been known for its uncompromising commitment to organic agriculture, sustainable business practices, and a steadfast focus on the pure aesthetics and freshness of botanical products. Their wide range of certified organic product offerings includes bulk herbs and spices, aromatherapy and essential oils, tea and tea supplies, and natural health and body care. Every aspect of product creation is carried out in accordance with strict quality control and organic handling procedures by employees who care. From fragrant and beyond-fresh organic herbs and spices, to soothing essential oils and delicious herbal teas, the quality and integrity of Mountain Rose Herbs is unparalleled – with smiles guaranteed.

Classic Certified Organic Essential Oil Kit from Mountain Rose Herbs

With that said, if you are wanting to get started using essential oils for the first time, then I highly recommend checking out Mountain Rose Herbs’ Classic Essential Oil Kit. This classic kit is perfect for beginners and features the world’s most renowned and popularly used essential oils in one convenient sampler. It is beautifully packaged with usage guidelines on the back of the liner tray and contains an extra bottle with a glass dropper for experimentation. It contains one .25oz. bottle each of the six following certified organic essential oils:

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) Essential Oil: Cool, clear, and exceptionally refreshing. Effective vapor rub and air disinfectant for colds and flu. Dilates nasal and bronchial passages. Mild stimulant and antiseptic. Beneficial analgesic for sore muscles. Blends will with peppermint, lemon, and lavender.

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) Essential Oil: Highly refreshing and relaxing oil that is clear to light green. Helps the body restore balance and harmony. Mildly sweet, fresh, and warm. Works well with the nervous system. Mild analgesic, sedative, astringent, and skin tonic. Blends well with Rose, Citrus, Rosemary, Lavender, and Basil.

Lavender (Lavendula spp.) Essential Oil: Fresh, floral aroma. Classic ingredient in soaps and perfumes. Helps alleviate stress, induce sleep, and overcome anxiety. Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, spasmodic, anti-depressant, and stimulates new cell growth. Excellent preventative against infections. Mild enough to use by the drop on cuts, scrapes, bruises, sprains, and insect bites. Blends well with many oils adding a smooth, sweet top note.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Essential Oil: Stimulating, refreshing, and bright. Anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Used for indigestion and nausea. Excellent for some headaches, fever, colds, and flu. Soothing in steams or massage oils. Classic breath freshener. Blends well with Lavender, Rosemary, Citrus, and Rose.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Essential Oil: Physical and mental stimulant. Blend with carrier oil for a soothing hair conditioner, invigorating massage oil, or bath oil. Effective preservative. Stimulates memory and mental faculties. Good for muscular sprains, arthritis, and rheumatism. Do not use if you have high blood pressure.

Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) Oil: Impressive and powerful oil with anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Used for infections, sunburn, acne, athlete’s foot, and many other applications. Do not use on inflamed, broken, or sensitive skin.

The possibilities of this kit are endless. You can use these essential oils to make everything from salves, soaps, scrubs, and body butters to lip balms, solid perfumes and natural, non-toxic household cleaners. Or simply use them for aromatherapy!

Here are just a few super simple recipes I use essential oils for that you may want to give a try:

DIY Basic Bath Salt Recipe

2 cups coarse sea salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil (or other carrier oil such as sweet almond, jojoba, rice bran, or fractionated coconut oil)
1 teaspoon essential oil or essential oil blend of choice

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

DIY Basic Solid Lotion Bar Recipe

Equal parts shea butter, beeswax (or candelilla/Carnauba wax as a vegan alternative), and sweet almond oil (or other carrier oil)
2-4% of your recipe essential oil or essential oil blend of choice

Melt your shea butter and beeswax, then stir in the carrier oil and essential oil and mix well. Place in molds such as cupcake tin until hardened.

DIY Basic Body Butter Recipe

24oz. refined shea butter
2oz. cocoa butter
1oz. rice bran oil (or your choice of carrier oil)
1/4oz. – 1/2oz. essential oil or essential oil blend of choice

Melt the shea and cocoa butters then stir in the rice bran oil and essential oil. Fill desired containers and allow to cool completely.

DIY Basic Lip Balm Recipe

1/2 oz. (by weight) refined cocoa butter
1/2 oz. (by weight) refined shea butter
2 Tablespoons beeswax (or Carnauba Wax/Candelilla Wax as a vegan alternative)
1Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other carrier oil of choice)
2-5ml essential oil or essential oil blend of choice

Melt your beeswax and butters then stir in the carrier oil and essential oils. Using a pipette, fill lip balm tubes or pour into tins.

To learn more about Mountain Rose Herbs please visit them online.

 

DIY "Cancer" Teas and Other Exotic Teas You Can Make Yourself

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How I Make My Own Cancer Tea and Other Exotic Teas

By Guest blogger, Cheryl Dolby of Healing Woman Blog
Pineapple Mint and Chocolate Mint-Freshly Harvested
Pineapple Mint and Chocolate Mint-Freshly Harvested
I love making my own teas because it gives me the versatility of creating exotic herbal blends, not found anywhere else. I’ve even gone so far as to create my own teas for particular ailments or diseases. I bought a book years ago that has been my guideline for creating teas to help with cancer, intestinal tract problems, nervous system difficulties and a variety of other health problems. The book is called “Healing Teas from Around the World”by Syliva Schneider.

Of course, I use the book only as a guideline. I prefer to study effects of different teas and create my own elixir.

When my daughter, Kelli, found out she had multiple myeloma cancer 8 years ago, and after the initial shock, we decided to follow conventional therapy as well as look into alternative methods. Kelli is thriving today and I believe that the teas could have played a roll in her recovery.

You may want to check out an earlier post on how I prepare my herbs. The post is titled “Now is the Thyme” found here.

Dried Herbs After Removed From Brown Bags
Dried Herbs After Removed From Brown Bags
Basically, I dry my herbs in brown sandwich bags, place them in my car and wait a few days to remove. They dry quickly and impart a wonderful aroma at the same time.
Tea Being Placed Into Small Tea Bags
Tea Being Placed Into Small Tea Bags
After the herbs have dried, I scrunch up the brown bags until the leaves are thoroughly pulverized. I remove larger stems and then add them to purchased tea bags that can be found online (from Mountain Rose Herbs) or specialty herb shops.

I used spearmint, pineapple mint and peppermint tea leaves for my pictures for the post.

The tea bags are then ironed closed and are ready for brewing. I then place tea bags into zip lock bags with my logo and list ingredients.

The bags Are Sealed Closed by Ironing Them.
The bags Are Sealed Closed by Ironing Them.
Below is a bit about the ingredients and the recipes I used for Kelli’s cancer teas.
Lapacho tea is made by using the bark found on the lapacho tree found in South America. It is reputed to have great results when used for asthma, stomach complaints and cancer and impede the growth of tumors.
Eassiac Tea or Original Indian Essence. This tea was reportedly used by the Indians in southeast Canada and many claims are made touting it as a cure for cancer. The ingredients are, roots of burdock and Turkish rhubarb, sheep sorrel and slippery elm bark. These are herbs that help strengthen the immune system.
Bark and Root Cancer Tea: 
1. 1 t. each of the burdock, Turkish Rhubard, sheep sorrel and slippery elm bark or you could buy a box of Eassiac tea with these ingredients sometimes found in health food stores.
2. 2 t. crushed lapacho bark
Mix together and add to tea bag. I use several of these bags in a pot of hot water-let them steep for about 10 minutes or so. Tea is a bit bitter so honey can be added to your cup if preferred. Alternately, if you want a stronger tea, let herbs steep for about an hour and reheat the tea before drinking.
In a later post on Healing Woman Blog, if there is interest from my readers, I’ll give more information on methods we used to help Kelli keep cancer at bay. She is and has been in guarded remission for several years now but we, and I say we because I am her coach, continue a strict regimen to insure her continued remission and phenomenally good health. Her orthopedic surgeon has told us that he thinks Kelli is a miracle case.
Mint Tea All Ready for the Market
Mint Tea All Ready for the Market
If you’re interested in crafting you’re own herbals teas but don’t have an herb garden, you can purchase dried, certified organic herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.
 
About the author: This post is by guest  blogger, Chery Dolby of Healing Woman Blog. Cheryl Dolby, a native of Warren, Ohio, now resides in Roanoke, VA, where after spending 15 years as a stained glass artist, teacher, and shop owner, became interested in clay sculpture. Her interest soon became an obsession and since 1984 she has exhibited her sculpture at shows and galleries throughout the country. Currently, she sculpts, writes and participates in the arts. She has studied her craft in Italy, Greece and France. Be sure to visit Healing Woman Blog to learn more about Cheryl, her work and her journeys.

Artisan Loose Leaf Teas from The Cozy Leaf

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I am a huge fan of loose leaf teas, but my favorite teas are loose leaf artisan teas. I love sampling new teas blended up by handmade artisans and have been on the look out for even more great teas since my favorite tea artist closed up her shop. Recently I discovered a new shop with hand blended loose leaf artisan teas located in Wichita, Kansas called The Cozy Leaf.

I purchased Abby’s – of The Cozy Leaf – Sample Pack of 6 Artisan Loose Leaf Tea Blends and received my purchase on Friday. I’ve been sipping ever since! According to the February 2012 issue of Reader’s Digest Magazine – my mom is a devout subscriber – black tea, dark chocolate and fish can help to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. So I’ve really decided to up my daytime consumption of a quality black loose leaf tea to at least once a day. (I believe the article recommended four cups a week.) Besides, there’s just something about a cup of fresh brewed, hot tea that relaxes you despite the caffeine. My favorites thus far from The Cozy Leaf are the Organic Fit and Active Loose Leaf Tea – this is an Oolong tea blend – and the Organic Peaceful Dreams Loose Leaf Herbal Tea. I always love a nice cup of herbal tea before bed! Abby also has an organic Cream Earl Grey Tea in the works which is my very favorite tea of all time! I’m super excited for it to become available so I can try it out!
I like a hefty, strong cup of tea so rather than the recommended 1 teaspoon per 4oz. cup I generally opt of a rounded Tablespoon of tea per 6-8oz. of water. Herbal teas I steep for a good 10-15 minutes to reap the benefits of the herbs in the blend. I also really like the Traditional Medicinals herbal tea blends. While not an artisan tea, they are organic and their Organic Cold Care PM has been fabulous with this last cold I caught! Plus there’s a coupon for $1 off in February’s Reader’s Digest. (I buy mine at Kroger.) I’m also a big fan of the artisan, flavored black loose leaf teas at Tea for All Reasons.
If you’re a fan of tea, but not the caffeine, and your favorite artisan teas aren’t available in decaf, you can decaf the teas yourself. Simply bring your cold water to a boil, brew your tea for about 30 seconds, then immediately remove the tea, drain your tea leaves and re-brew with a fresh dose of boiling water for the recommended 3-5 minutes. This method removes most of the caffeine from any of your teas – just as much as a commercial decaffeinated tea – but won’t result in a loss of flavor for oolong, green or white teas. Black teas on the other hand can lose some flavor and may need to be steeped longer. Also, keep in mind decaffeinating your tea can cause a loss in the health benefits of your tea. I brew all of my loose leaf teas in T-Sac Tea Filtersas I find them easy to use for whatever amount I choose.
You can also make your own tea bags from coffee filters. A Beautiful Mess Blog has a simple DIY tutorial for doing so with a decorative touch that would make them great for gifting or as favors. Love tea as much as I do? Check out my Everything Tea Board on Pinterest for more tea related projects, products and ideas.

Are you a tea drinker? What’s your favorite tea to drink and when is your favorite time to drink it?