Harnessing summer’s energy for winter days

As we are approaching the winter equinox and the days grow shorter, we start to feel less active and perky, maybe even apathetic at times. It is the natural body’s reaction to the limited exposure to light during the winter months.

This can be however diminished by using mother nature’s remedies – the vibrant flowering plants that are in full bloom during the longest summer days as they bring the much-needed energy of the sunlight to our cells. Think of St John’s wort, yarrow, calendula, chamomile. To alleviate the winter’s harshness on the body and soul, try making a skin-loving massage oil or a perfume blend using herbal infused oils of St. John’s wort and calendula enriched with essential oils of chamomile, yarrow or frankincense.

Massage the whole body or apply on the wrists. Pure bliss. ๐Ÿ’–

Plant-based oils – essential, carrier, infused?

I regularly get questions about the oils I use in our skin-loving products and I realise there is a lot of confusion regarding the types of oils used in skincare. So I thought I would dedicate an entire post to this topic.

What is an essential oil? What is the difference between carrier oils and infused oils? Steam-distilled, cold pressed, solvent extracted, CO2, fragrance oils? I hear you, it is quite complicated to navigate confidently through this web of notions.

Let’s go through them one by one:

* Carrier oils are vegetable oils, cold or heat extracted from oil-rich nuts, kernels, seeds or fruits – we have here the olive, coconut, macadamia, avocado, jojoba, sesame, rosehip, almond, hazenut, grapeseed, castor, sunflower, neem, safflower oils. And the list remains open. They are also called base oils, fixed oils or fatty oils. The term of carrier oils comes from their purpose in carrying an essential oil since this is not supposed to be used undiluted onto the skin.

* Essential oils are concentrated oils containing volatile compounds from plants. They are also called volatile oils right because they have a higher evaporation rate (depending on this, they are classified as top, middle and base notes). They are obtained through steam-distillation or solvent extraction of plant material such as flowers, leaves, bark, roots, twigs, heartwood. The essential oils contain all the water soluble compounds found in plants. Citrus oils are the only essential oils extracted mainly by cold pressing their peel, however the solvent extraction method is also used in the industry. Essential oils are not fatty oils, thus not greasy to the touch. They are NOT to be used straight on the skin as they can be highly irritant or cause an allergic reaction.

* CO2 (carbon dioxide) oils are similar to essential oils in the way that they are a concentrated extraction of the plant compounds. Pressure and carbon dioxide are used to separate the plant material and extract most volatile compounds.

* Infused oils are herbal oils obtained through infusing the plant material into a vegetable/carrier oil which gets to extract all the oil soluble compounds. They are also called macerated oils and are obtained through either hot (on the stove) or cold (solar) infusion. As you know I only employ the slow solar infusion method as it is the gentlest way to extract the natural goodness of the plants. It takes between 10 to 18 weeks to obtain a good quality herbal infused oil which can be used straight/undiluted on the skin.

* Fragrance (aroma) oils are synthetic oils which simulate the aromatic profile of natural oils. Steer clear of them (though it can be challenging as they are widely used in cleaning products, perfumery, personal care products, candles, food flavourings, beverages).

I hope this puts some light into the notions of plant-based oils. Feel free to add a comment below if you have any questions or would like to share more details on this. Thank you ๐ŸŒป

Minty days

These days I get a little nostalgic. Just because I love summer’s brightness, along with its long, warm days. But when I see the first mint tops becoming white and fluffy like cat’s tail, I know the summer is well past its peak. The cooling, yet sweet strong aroma is a powerful consolation though. It soothes my senses and my spirit alike. It’s such a profoundly intoxicating and invigorating scent. Pure delight.

Second time when I get this same vibrant kick is when I strip the dried leaves off the stems. My drying room becomes the most exciting herbal apothecary on earth.
To get and preserve all this goodness I pick the mint gradually as it goes into bloom, as that is when the plant reaches its maximum potency. I let dry in the shade until it becomes crumbly and then get it into jars with pure EVOO to slow sun-infuse for about 10-12 weeks.
That is when it is ready to go into the baby balm to provide much needed comfort, as well asย into facial oilsย (such as the ones for combination and oily/acne prone skin) to balance the natural production of sebum.

Your food for skin this Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, we thought of letting you know about expected delivery dates for those beautiful gifts. If going to WA, QLD and NT, we advise placing your order before 14th December. For the rest of states, we will be processing last orders on the 18th December. So be quick and send your wish list through asap.

We know how much you love our products, so if they can’t make it to you before Christmas, you will be surely pampering yourself in the New Year.
Until then, enjoy the wonder of Christmas!!
๐Ÿ’–

Markets we are attending before Christmas

With only a few weeks left until the summer holidays when we get busy with picking, drying and making herbal infusions, we are now making the final arrangements for the last weekends of this glorious year.

We have been asked which markets you can find us at in the next weeks leading to Christmas. So here they are:

25 November (Saturday) – Lancefield farmers market (9am – 1pm)
26 November (Sunday) – Patchwork to Pickles fair @Buda House, Castlemaine (10am – 4pm)
2 December (Saturday) – Woodend farmers market (9am – 1pm)
3 December (Sunday) – Eltham craft & produce market (8.30am – 1.30pm)
9 December (Saturday) – Kyneton farmers market (9am – 1pm)
15 December (Friday) – Castlemaine artists twilight market (4pm – 8.30pm)
16 December (Saturday) – Asburton / Boroondara artisan market (Ashburton Library, 10am – 2pm)
17 December (Sunday) – Eltham craft & produce market (8.30am – 1.30pm)

Markets are fun, but if you can’t make it to the market, don’t stress, our online store remains open throughout this period and thereafter! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Love for Lavender


We are well into spring now and lavender is one of our garden’s beauties to unfold its splendour. The colour, the scent, the bees busily buzzing around, it is hard not to love lavender. There aren’t many herbs around which can claim being as well known and widely used throughout centuries and cultures. With its both relaxing and stimulating energy, lavender seduces one at the first sight, enchanting both the body and the spirit.

Used in and on the body, in cooking and around the house (ah, those aromatic linens!) or just for the pure pleasure of the eyes, lavender has countless benefits and qualities. It is soothing, calming, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-microbial, healing and rejuvenating. More on its properties here.

Lavender is my go-to for wound nursing, headaches, respiratory issues as well as a sleeping aid, to perfume my daughter’s bathwater, for a lovely evening tea or when I feel under pressure or a bit down. And if you haven’t tried a fresh lavender champagne, it should be on your must-do list this summer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Lavender is amazing in itself, but it also blends beautifully with bergamot, sage, peppermint, chamomile, geranium, rosemary, eucalyptus, palmarosa, juniper. No wonder it’s so widely used in mists and nourishing balms for skin. And, of course, you can find most of these combinations in our facial oils.

Stay fresh and enjoy your spring! ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ˜‡

PS. Pictured above it’s a flamboyant Victorian bred lavender called The Princess, which is the first lavender (or shall I say pink?) bush to bloom on our property. ๐Ÿ˜

 

To market, to market ๐Ÿ˜Š – updated

To market, to market!Spring is nearly here and we are making it to markets again this season. We really have been missing our lovely customers and market goers. We are going to be at ย Lancefield & District Farmers’ Market this Saturday. Weather is going to be beautiful with a top of 20oC and maybe a few showers, but who cares? It’s Spring!
Looking forward to seeing you there!ย ๐Ÿ’

Love,

Stefania & co

No claims or promises

I will never promiseย my products will make you beautiful – you already are!! Nor my products won’t make you bright – we wouldn’t have met unless you had already been so bright. My products won’t make you look younger either. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wrinkles, they make you look authentic and tell all the feelings and experiences you have been through. They are there to remind of beautiful moments, fears, delights, stress and exhaustion. Because you fully give yourself to every emotion, with no reserve.

I am not making any promises here. It is not my business to afford ground for expectations. ย I am only claiming one thing, that we all deserve to enjoy the nature’s goodness to care for our bodies and souls. Just saying…ย ๐Ÿ˜‡

With love and joy,

Stefania

The beauty of simplifying

The question I get most when I get to meet with people at the markets is about my skin-care routine. I am an uncomplicated person and my skin-care routine is even more so. And I am not at all missing the days when I used to cleanse, scrub, tone and moisturise my skin with patience every night only to find it patchy and pore-clogged the next day.

One thing I’ve changed is the time when I put something on my face, always in the morning as the best moisturiser we have already built-in (aka the sebum) is produced at night. This way, in the morning I only top-up the natural reserves. Just because nothing beats nature. (I’ll talk about the illogic of rich night creams soon, promise!)

The other thing I’ve changed is the number of things I put on my skin. From many to just a couple. The first I ditched were the cleansers and scrubs. I used honey instead. Until I didn’t feel the need for it either. I just have a few splashes of water at night and in the morning. Then a spritz of sandalwood hydrosol which is totally optional, but I love the scent and it actually helps the oils to absorb deeper into the skin. And, at last, a few drops of facial oil massaged nicely for a couple of minutes onto my face and neck. Eyes included, of course. I don’t need to have a separate eye cream or serum, my facial oil is more than gentle to take care of the delicate skin around my eyes too.

Another important shift is the frequency of “pampering” the skin. While I moisturise my face and neck every morning and my whole body once or twice a week (we live in a dry area, so my skin gets thirsty, particularly in summer), it’s only once a month or even less often that I use a treatment that does all the nourishing, exfoliating and deep cleansing at once. However this is rather a treat than a real need for happy and healthy skin.

I know I’ve said it before, but I really believe “less is more”.

Much love,

Stefania

Summer throughout

It is the midst of the summer here in country Victoria and it may seem like we have more of an idle time since we don’t do any markets. It is however the busiest time of the year on the backend of Thornhill Lane. We pick. We dry. We bottle up. Then we strain and start again.

Summer is when timing is really essential as we have to pick the herbs at their maximum potency, generally leaves right before the plant gets into blossom, while flowers are to be picked when they are fully open. Usually late morning, after the dew dries up. Then straight on the drying racks on single layers, in the dark. For a few days or until the plant material is crisp-dry. Followed by 6-8 weeks of sun-infusing. Or sun-blessing.

This is a time when we are delighted with the most amazing scents and colours. Which are later imparted graciously to our herbal oils.

If our products are so loved and revered, the secret is no doubt intrinsically hidden in these luscious herbal oils. They are the true heart of our handcrafting.

Ps. Above pictured is St. John’s wort freshly wildcrafted from a clean local source. The herbal oil obtained from these gorgeous flowers is insanely dark red with a sweet berry aroma. More like a syrup than an infused oil. Cheers! ????