Thieves

It’s aromatherapy week, how exciting!

I thought i’d share with you my very own thieves recipe. But first a little history lesson, indulge me because I find this fascinating.

The story goes that during the 15th century when the plague was endemic throughout Europe. The traid routes through Europe and Asia were closed to try and stop the spread of this awful disease. The wealthy merchants of the time had their livelihood ruined. Four such merchants turned to a life of crime stealing from wealthy plague victims to earn their fortune. Amazingly they never contracted the highly infectious plague and became legendary. The king of the time put out a ransom for their arrest. Upon their eventual arrest he offered them a deal, their secret for their lives.

Lucky for us they took that deal and shared the secret of the spices and herbs they had once traided and now used to protect them from the plauge. The recipe was shared and Dr’s at the time used it in the beaks of their plague masks to protect themselves against infection.

In 1997, Weber State University did a study that found the Thieves essential oil blend to have a 99.96% success rate at killing airborne bacteria.

Weather of not the story is true or just legend history and now science has proven the essential oils in thieves are truly antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral. They will stimulate the immune system benefit the circulation and respiratory systems. And help protect against disease.

Above is a traditional Thieves recipe. Since I have young children and some of these oils (most noteably eucalyptus) are not safe to use around children I researched alternative and created my own child safe thieves blend*. Which I find brilliantly effective and use (diluted) in the sick room via inhalation and as a ingredient in my homemade cleaning products (see previous posts)

You will need a small coloured glass bottle with a dropper lid or pipette to mix and store your thieves blend in. I used an old bach flower remedy bottle.

To make up my bottle which I have had almost a year now and I’ve used less than half of it you will need

  • 80 drops of clove essential oil
  • 70 drops of lemon essential oil
  • 40 drops of cinnamon essential oil
  • 30 drops of pine essential oil
  • 10 tea tree essential oil

*please do your own research about essential oils before you use them. This is a blend I have designed based on the ages of my own children and the particular circumstances in my own home. Please seek advice from a trained professional if you have any doubts.

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Essential oils a simple guide.

What are essential oils? How can I use them? Are they safe? How do they differ from any other scented product?

We all know a couple of drops of lavender oils can help aid relaxation and a good nights sleep. Maybe your midwife recommended it to promote healing after you had a baby or maybe you’ve used tea tree to cure a skin condition but did you know there are 100’s of essential oils all with their own unique properties?

It’s no secret I love essential oils. I have turned to them since childhood, throughout my teens and into adulthood. As an adult I have studied and increased my learning of these potent oils, always mindful of the safety of my young family.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in traditional remedies to enhance health and wellbeing. Essential oils are highly concentrated plant essences each with its own unique chemistry and distinct therapeutic properties. The quickest way for the body to absorb essential oils is by inhaling their aroma which has a direct effect on the brain and allows them to be absorbed into the blood steam via the lungs. Other routes include massage and bathing.

It is the therapeutic properties of essential oils that make them radically different to other fragrance products which use synthetic compounds to create a nice smell but have no therapeutic properties.

How can I use essential oils in my day to day life?

I use essential oils every day – research has found people who use essential oils regularly have a stronger immune system than those who don’t, amazing hey! I use oils in a diffuser to scent my home and help my mood, in my cleaning products to fight germs, in my beauty products (shower gel, deodorant, face cream, soap etc) and for first aid where appropriate. They are wonderfully versatile and powerful when used correctly

Are they safe?

I am VERY big on safety so I want to be really clear on this do your homework before you start using any oil. ALWAYS dilute your oils well they are extremly concentrated and powerful! As a general rule as a beginner start with a 1% dilution of essential oil to carrier oil (good news your precious essential oils will last a LONG time).

NEVER EVER ingest oils. This sadly is a new craze promoted by some unscrupulous essential oil companies every independent aromatherapy governing body in the UK is very clear ingesting oils is not recommended.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, using oils around young children or pets please do your own research about the safety of the essential oils you are using.

Finally make sure the oils you are using are the real deal and not synthetic – they should list the Latin plant name as the primary ingredient. Buy from a reputable company. I like to buy organic where possible because to me it makes no sense to have pesticides mixing with your essential oils.

So there we have it. That’s my quick guide to essential oils. I hope you can see why I think they are so amazing and why I enjoy using them.

I wanted to finish with a quick overview of the essential oils I use most often in my natural cleaning products as I have shared quite a few recipies on this blog lately.

Lemon

A great degreaser and natural antiseptic with an uplifting and invogorating fragrance that helps promote clear thinking. I use it a lot in the kitchen

Pine

Pine is antiseptic, purifies the air and repels insects and has energising properties.

Clove

Used during World War 2 to disinfect hospitals! Clove has a warm and scent and soothing effect on the mind.

Bergamot

Antiseptic, cooling and soothing. Also an effective de-odorizer that repels insects.

DIY magnetic poster rails

Lovely contemporary posters are easy to find and cheap to buy. I picked up two botanical illustrations that were being sold as wrapping paper at Cambridge Botanical Garden but present indicative has a brilliant range. I wanted to keep them light and hang them using poster rails rather than framing them. Posters rails I discovered are not cheap. I didn’t want to be paying over £30 to hang my £3 posters. So I made my own and you can too. This project cost me £11.06 and was a very easy afternoon project.

I bought 2 lengths of decorative edging/dowel at my local hardware shop. It’s cheap as chips at less than £2 for a 2.4 meter lengrh. For each poster you wish to hang you will need 4 lengths of wood the width of your poster. My posters were 50cm wide. I cut the wood into 55cm lengths so there was a little over hang at either end. 1 length of wood was enough to hang 1 poster.

I chose to stain my wood with some varnish I had left over from another project to match the console table the posters are going to hang above. Painting or varnishing the wood is optional.

I didn’t paint my nails for this photo I’m just the kind of person who is stupid enough to paint her nails and then go varnish some wood.

Once varnished or painted cut the wood to the length you want and sand the ends so they are smooth and even.

Stick magnetic tape (you’ll need tape with both polarities so it sticks to itself) cut to the same length as your poster is wide to the inside of each piece of wood. On one of the rails attach some fine string, cord or braid so you can hang your posters. You should have 4 equal lengths that look like this.

Sandwhich your poster between the 2 rails ensuring the rail with the string is at the top of your poster. Hang using a picture hook then Stand back and admire your handy work. You could Sandwhich 2 posters between the rails so you can flip the rail over and have different art work whenever you fancy a change.

3 ingredient wood polish

I am really pleased with this wood polish I made. For surfaces other than wood I use the lemon enzyme cleaner I shared in the previous post but for wood this polish is really nourishing. The nicest part is that you can scent it however you like with essential oils of your choice, I use my own theives blend.

Like most of my cleaning products it’s wonderfully simple just 3 ingredients.

200ml Olive oil

200ml White vinegar

15 drops essential oil

Add to a glass spray bottle (I store all my cleaning products in glass because essential oils can degrade plastic) and shake gentle to mix.

To use spray on the surface you wish to clean, leave for a few seconds and polish with a soft cloth.

Natural cleaning

In 2018 we made the switch to more natural cosmetics and really felt happy about banishing some pretty nasty chemicals from our home. 2019 has seen us made the switch to natural cleaning products and the difference it has made is quite startling. The main benefit for me personally is in my skin, particularly on my hands. Usually by this point in the year my hands are extremly dry, cracked and painful. Since switching our cleaning products to natural alternatives they are soft, not irritated and not cracked. It’s so lovely!

My reason for switching to more natural products is two fold. The first is for environmental reasons. The second reason is for health. I am increasingly concerned about the ingredients used in cosmetics and cleaning products that have been linked to cancer and blamed for interfering with the endocrine system in humans and animals. We have all been healthier since we made the switch.

Today I thought i’d share the first thing I made, a multipurpose cleaner I use on the tub, tiles, sink, stove, pots and pans. It can be used to pre treat laundry stains and on carpet stains too. I am very pleased with it.

Multi-purpose cleaner

115 ml castile soap

105 grams bicarbonate of soda

5-10 drops of essential oils

Mix the ingredients to a smooth paste and store in a glass jar. Clean surfaces with the paste using a soft cloth (I like eco egg re-usable bamboo towels). For stain removal apply the paste and spray with hydrogen peroxide before laundering.

Depending on where I am using this cleaner I vary which essential oils I use. I like lemon for the kitchen for its fresh scent and antibacterial properties. For the bathrooms I use organic defence by Neal’s Yard Remedies. It’s a blend of lemongrass, niaouli and thyme and has antibacterial and anti-viral properties as well as supporting the bodies immune system and purifing the air. It has been specially blended with cleaning in mind.

DIY shower jellies

I have two daughters and they LOVE a certain shop full of multicoloured bath bombs, shower jellies and candy flavoured lotions – you know the one I mean.

I can see the appeal, I really can and there are MUCH worse cosmetics out there but there are still ingredients in their products that i’m not happy about my girls using. Ingredients that have been linked to fertility issues and cancer. In reading a lot of their ingredients lists it occured to me I could make these products quite easily at home and so without further waffle from me I give you DIY shower jellies.

Ingredients

240ml water

120ml Neal’s Yard Create hair and body wash (£6.50 for 250ml)

1 sachet Gelatine or Aggar if you prefer a vegan option

Essential oils of your choice (again I choose Neal’s Yard for their quality)

Food colouring (optional)

Silicone moulds/clean plastic container/jam jar

In a ban Marie begin to warm your water when it is just starting to bubble add the create wash and stir.

Add a few drops of your chosen essential oils (I recommend you do a little research about these super oils, their properties and dilution guides this book is extremely helpful).

Stir well and then add a tiny amount of food colouring – don’t use too much or you’ll colour yourself in the shower. The soap will cloud slightly this is normal.

Stir well whilst continuing to warm gently.

When your ingredients are well mixed and heated but not boiling remove from the heat, pour into a measuring jug and sprinkle in the gelatine (follow the instructions the pack).

Mix well and pour into your chosen moulds.

Allow to cool to room temperature and then put in fridge to fully set.

Turn out of the moulds and store in a jam jar or similar container. You may want to avoid keeping your jellies in a warm room such a the bathroom in case they melt before you want them to. Enjoy!

DIY lime wax

I’ve been on the lookout for an old pine farmhouse table FOREVER and earlier this year I finally found one on a local selling site for £30 hooray! It was heavily varnished and extremly…orange but well built by a local company and just what I was looking for.

Here is the before

I set to work stripping the layers of varnish back and sanding the legs. I painted the lower half of the table and legs in a country cream but wanted to leave the top to look like stripped pine.

Even after two coats of stripper and a good sand the wood was still too orange for my tastes so I decided to lime wax the top but I didn’t have any lime wax so I decided to try use what I had to hand. It worked brilliantly so I thought i’d share my “recipe” here with you.

Mixed 1 table spoon of finishing wax with a generous table spoon of chalk paint in a clean container – reuse a plastic food conatiner or take away cup.

Apply this mixture this with a brush (I have an ordinary household paint brush that I use specifically for applying wax) to your prepared wood surface. Go with the grain of the wood and let is sit for 10 mins. You can leave it longer depending on the effect you want.

Then using an old cloth – I used a child’s vest from my rag bag that had sprouted holes. Rub the wax into the wood removing any excess to achieve your desired effect. Again go with the grain of the wood at this stage.

Allow to dry thoroughly. Keep adding layers, waxing on and off until you are happy with the effect. Leave to dry. Once thoroughly dry apply a final coat of just wax with no paint added and buff with an old cloth until you have a slight sheen. Leave to dry and your done.

And so here it is. I found some chairs also second hand and painted them to match. All in all this project came in under £100 and i’m pretty pleased with it. My next job is to tackle our ugly kitchen lino which was here when we moved in and we all hate.