Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Do you know the best thing about joining in on educational functions? The awesome opportunity to hang with old friends and a chance to make new connections as well.
Botanica Friends
I have always loved being a part of a group, sharing like interests. In the past that has meant vegetarian societies, meditation sangats and community visitor associations. In this instance @ Botanica 2012, was all about plant medicine lovers! You can imagine there was no shortage of compassionate, forward thinking, intuitive folks present. All traits, that in my experience, are generally found in complementary care givers.

So, by day we were graced by one impressive speaker after another and by night, the fun continued as we met up with other conference attendees to compare notes, share case studies and business know how. Such a fabulous combination!

The next speaker was Ann Harmon, a distiller from the Pacific North West and owner of Morning Myst Botanicals. I have long appreciated the quality of her hydrolats and after meeting her in person, see why the caliber is so high. Her confidence and love of plants was alluring. She talked about the importance of using organic plant material when distilling, as pesticides and herbicides are water-soluble. I was lucky to not only hear her general lecture, but take the 3 1/2 hour workshop post conference. We enjoyed a wonderful slide presentation of the copper stills in action and played with hydrolats of Lemon Thyme, Helichrysum, Holy Basil, Yarrow and more. Instructions on how to home distill (on the stove-top) were introduced…which I am eager to try! Liz Fulcher, a friend and colleague, recently blogged about these healing waters. Click to check out her informative writings.

Botanica Friends 2

Enjoying the Dublin Gala with dear friends from my home town.

Other perks of the event were a wide array of vendors with goods that ranged from distiller direct essential oils, to natural skin care to published author works on the subject of backyard remedies. Old favorites included Aromahead Institute highlighting their Aromatherapy Scholars program. This 400 hour certification is available in person and online and is second to none in comprehensive, holistic essential oil education. Aromatics International flew in from their home base of Montana and exhibited a wide range of GC/MS(Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) essential oils that ranged from Gingergrass to Vintage Patchouli. A new-found supplier was Tunupa, a family owned operation from Brazil. Not only were they charming, the line up of exotic essential oils and carriers from their native country was enough to make any aromatherapist giddy. My top two must haves:

Baru(Dipteryx alata)-from the minute I tried the sample, I knew this liquid carrier was something very special. It immediately penetrated the skin and felt so nourishing (unlike anything that I have tried before). It is also known for:

  • High Omega 6, Omega 9 and Vitamins A, B’s and E.
  • Helpful for rheumatism, arthritis and eczema conditions
  • Skin Nourishing


Brazilian Cherry(Eugenia uniflora)-I love wood, especially Cherry. So my curiosity was peaked when I saw this single. Unique in fragrance and known for the following properties:

  • Emollient
  • Astringent
  • Restorative (especially for hair)
  • Highly antioxidant potential

The story of Botanica continues with more posts, speaker snippets and insider tips. Stay tuned.

Dublin Girls

From left to right: A Microbiologist from Poland, Me, an Essential Oil Importer from Long Island & an Aromatherapy Educator from Slovenia having fun post class.

Until next time…
Breathe Joy,

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Bud Therapy

Photo credit: David Lev

Gemmotherapy was presented by Nick Churchill at Botanica 2012, in Dublin, Ireland. When I saw the title in the presentation roster, my initial thought was that it was related to gemstones. As a lover of both precious and semi-precious gems, I was excited! But, I quickly found out that the subject was very different and equally as intriguing.

The topic was on remedies created from the material gathered from embryonic tissues found in buds and young shoots (plant stem cell therapy). Gemmotherapy was started in France over 50 years ago and now is very popular in Italy and Romania.

Unlike other herbal harvests, the embryonic material and marrow stem (undivided cells) are harvested during a very short window of time, in some species that can mean 2 days, in others 2 weeks, in order to capture the most vital components before rapid development. Interesting to note that the meristems have the potential to become any other part of the tree. Imagine energetically how that potentiality infuses the remedy and then in turn the recipient!

The very nature of buds is expressed in an “outward energy.” Not a coincidence that the functions of many of the remedies derived have emunctory healing properties on our organs. Mr. Churchill referred to them as a “cellular chimney sweep”, whereas these unique photochemical components act on our biochemical pathways in a drainage, detoxification and tissue regenerating manner.

Mulberry Bud

Mulberry Bud
Photo credit: HM Vanderbeek

Examples mentioned:

  • Black Current(Cassia), known as the “Jewel of Gemmotherapy”-for it’s cortisone like behavior on allergic states, such as Hay fever
  • Mulberry-for diabetes support
  • Cedar-for scaly, dry skin conditions
  • Japanese Creeper-for arthritis of the small joints

The remedies are delivered in a maceration of glycerin and pure alcohol. A dose example would be 3-5 drops taken in water 2-3 times per day, over a period of time(weeks or months, depending).

This was one of the most fascinating subjects of the conference and definitely got my eyebrows raised! For more information, feel free to visit the following links:

Gemmotherapy School
Gemmotherapy Information and Remedies
Gemmotherapy Forum

Until Next Time…
Breathe Joy

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Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba
Photo credit: http://www.pfaf.org

It was heart warming to witness eager attendees from 33 different countries, with the common goal of experiencing the most cutting edge information and case studies in herbal and aromatic medicine. Each of the four days of Botanica 2012 the audience was packed with a wide array of professionals ranging from doctors, nurses, herbalists, microbiologists and clinical aromatherapists. The networking opportunity was fantastic and provided an invaluable view of how each country practices their trade based on culture, government and legal structures.

Anne Varley, a medical herbalist from Ireland, spoke about “The Map is not the Territory.” I did appreciate her insight on being open to the actuality of the case and time at hand. She talked in-depth about how not to confuse models of reality vs. the actual reality in regard to phytotherapy and complimentary medicine. I think this is a very valid point for life in general as well. What looks logical on paper or data that was compiled years past, may very well not be the most efficient way to handle the current situation. I like the quote from Deepak Chopra, “Instead of thinking outside the box… get rid of the box!” Politics of Irish herbal practice were discussed, including the herbs of Ginkgo Biloba and Hypericum’s ban and the campaign to have them re-instated as valuable healing agents. This talk gave me a feeling of gratitude for our current ability to use herbal and aromatic medicine in the United States, as well as a sense of fragility on the topic.

Love FlowersSwitching gears, we had the great pleasure of listening to a heart centered talk from Judith Hoad, a herbalist who also combines acupressure and homeopathy in her work. It was an honor to witness this loving being and her respect for all life. ‘Eco-kin’, a term that she coined, illustrates her deep respect for all living beings, including the plant world, our relationships with one another and how we communicate. She spoke about the intelligence embedded in all living cells and how this intelligence exists in plants as well(although not the same as humans, nonetheless still present). Co-creation Gardening, a book written by Machaelle Small Wright was recommended and Stephen Harrod Buhner’s teachings.
I had an opportunity to visit with Judith and her spirit was bright and demeanor humble. This woman, who as a side note has lived “off the grid” for over 50 years, was my all time fav of the event!

Lots more to come!  Stay tuned for Part 3.

Until next time…
Breathe Joy,

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Wow! I can’t believe it has already been 2 months since my trip to Dublin, Ireland for Botanica 2012. Time has literally flown by! Well, I’m just now getting to sharing some of my experiences there. Luckily, it feels like just yesterday that I was walking briskly along the cobblestone streets admiring the bountiful flower scapes draped out of each window box.

Botanica was organized by an industry top gun, Rhiannon Harris, owner of Essential Oil Resource Consultants and founder of the International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy, an invaluable resource for clinical aromatherapists world-wide.

Because this event was so rich, I thought that I would break up the posts in parts, in order to share more.

So, Part I:

Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles. Photo credit: Wikipedia

The International Celebration of Plant Therapeutics was kicked off with a cheerful Ireland lassie, Vivienne Campbell. She spoke about a variety of the native plants and herbs, including their uses throughout history. One in particular was Stinging Nettles; an iron rich herb common in Irish dishes. Known for it’s detoxifying & tonic qualities, as well as strengthening the kidneys, nourishing to the blood and much more. She suggested using it in the form of tea(steeped 10 min.) or even cooked up with cabbage. I am very interested to try it and more so to wild forge some in my own backyard! Her side note tip: Wear rubber gloves to avoid getting “stung.” If you enjoy using nettles, comment on this post, I would love to hear your experiences.

A couple more of her suggestions: Ballymaloe, An Irish Cookery School, advocating using fresh, local wild herbs.  And, Wild and Free: Cooking from Nature by Cyril O’Ceirin; a great book on wild foraging. Some of their local picks:

  • Tormento-an astringent herb, helpful for IBS.
  • Silver Wheat-nutty flavor, helpful for sore throats.
  • Black Thorn-a type of plum and a traditional, valuable food source.
  • Primrose-good to relax nerves & ease insomnia.

This speaker was so full of life and her enthusiasm for plant medicine just poured out of her. For more information on Vivienne, check out The Herbal Hub.

Irish Wildflowers

Irish Wildflowers. Photo credit: Dennis Flood

During my stay, I had the fortune of traveling from Dublin to Galway, a three-hour tour from the East coast to the West coast, with some of the most magnificent sights(now I know why they call it the Emerald Isle!). Plus, we had an awesome guide sharing juicy tales of myths and legends going as far back as the medieval times. We hiked over the Burren terrain-A one of a kind view of very interesting rock formations along the coast, home of native and rare Irish species. It has even been said that over 70% of Ireland’s wildflowers can be found there in the limestone array, many of which are used in the creations found at The Burren Perfumery. We unfortunately did not have time to stop at the perfumery, Ireland’s oldest perfumery and soap making shop. But, it is definitely on the list for my next visit.

More to follow in Part 2: Coming Soon!

Until next time…
Breathe Joy,

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So, I am sitting here in a little french espresso shop waiting for my cafe mocha(with soy) & grilled veggie panini.  The shop owner is a petite, soft-spoken woman who’s first thought was, “We must put on some nice music for you to enjoy.”  Awww…NYC!!  The sounds, the scurry, and the best people watching in the Northeast.

We are exhibiting at the NYIGF, where over 35,000 international buyers from all industries; ranging from gift to hotel, spa, airlines, corporate amenities, department stores, etc.  Everyone eager to find the next, perfect link to make their quarter.  We connected with our longtime customer Henri Bendel, and made some other great contacts, soon to unfold.

Happiest Happy Uplifting Room Mist

I brought along Happiest Happy; a room spray I designed to uplift, while purifying the air.  Such a delight to mist throughout the day to keep our booth fresh, and inviting…not to mention the side benefit of enjoying pure essential oils of  bergamot, grapefruit, lime, and rosewood.  A multi-functional, must have on the travel check-list.

Today, I am going to explore EX*Tracts, a division of all natural bath & body care products within the gift show.  Looking forward to scoping the scene, and being on the other end(as a customer) for a change.

Stay tuned***********************************************

…And the story continues: 

Ex*Tracts was the most beautiful part of the show.  Smaller companies, with the love for handmade, and the utmost attention to detail.  Of course, my first question was how PURE the product lines offered were.  It was an interesting mix of bumbling, and rationalizing; with one response that pretty much generalized all “really natural” products being more of an allergy hazard, than the synthetic variety.  Ha!

But, one company stood out from the crowd- Farmhouse Fresh.  A Texas based company known for their “Country Cool” appeal.  And that it was.  Packaged in old-fashioned glass milk bottles & ice cream dishes, this line was fresh & clean, with a touch of intellectual whimsy.  Each product is clearly marked if it is vegan or gluten-free, and what percentage the all natural portion is(ranging from 88-99%).  Plus, every item is paraben, and sulfate free.  Great to know main stream retailers like The Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astorias, & The Mirage are now offering their line- which is so awesome for us savvy consumers!

Hmmm, back to the homestead.  The month of trade show travel is now complete!

Until next time…

Breathe Joy,




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Well, what can I say, there was never a dull minute in Chicago! We flew in on the day of a blizzard, with over 700 flights cancelled(luckily, our plane was the last one approved for landing), and proceeded to catch a cab to the Merchandise Mart.  Over 3 hours later(for only 17 miles), we reached our destination, and were ready to set up. Somehow a trade show in the Windy City in the dead of winter is like a sauna in Las Vegas, in July–there is bound to be one melt down!

The week continued to stay interesting, with very colorful neighbors.  One in particular was on the reality television show; Wife Swap.  Her life consisted of an unruly homestead with 10 dogs, 4 cats, 2 birds, and a 200 pound goat(that lived inside the house)…oh yeah, and a husband and a daughter.  Needless to say, you can imagine the stories that arose over the course of the show.  Kept the time rolling. :o )

During the evenings, we found some great veg. eats:  Karyn’s Cooked, a longtime favorite, that did not disappoint.  Their extensive menu ranged from Kombucha, to at least 12 delectable deserts(all vegan!)….can you say YUM!  Chicago Diner is another must – a little off the beaten track, but worth it. With entree’s that resemble any carnivores delight, using seitan, tofu, etc.  High quality & super fun.

A new spot, Green Zebra, was a real treat to experience.  Vegan nouveau with items like Pink Peppercorn & Thyme house made soda, to Crispy Sweet Potato Dumplings with crabapple ketchup, walnut-sage pistou + honey crisp apple.  Unexpected pairings put this gourmet cafe high on the “will return” list.  And to top it off, I was able to meet up with a fellow aromatherapist–BIG BONUS!

As far as my picks @ the show-

Green Daffodil takes the cake for soy candles, soy lip balms & other natural body care items.  Their line is handmade, and vegan with a fresh look & feel.

As far as collectible art, glassworkonline took my breath away.  With much of the inspiration coming from the sea(a spot close to my heart), artist Vaughan Anderson has an angel’s touch when it comes to glass.  Of course, with my passion for sea turtles, I had to indulge in this piece.   The attention to detail is mesmerizing!  + it’s always such a pleasure to connect with the artist in person, and share stories of common threads.

And the journey continues to the Big Apple.

Next Stop: The New York International Gift Fair

Until then…

Breathe Joy,



Travel Tip:

If you are sensitive to synthetic fragrances, I would avoid the W hotel in Chicago.  They have a “signature scent” sprayed throughout the property on a daily basis, that is more TOXIC than CHIC!

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Well, back from yet another jaunt on the trade show circuit.  This time, home of monogrammed everything, bubblegum pink, and black & white polka dots.  Yes, you guessed it…Atlanta, GA. Don’t get me wrong, I love the southern charm, manicured nails & all.  First stop was Whole Foods to stock up on vegan yummies, protein powders, and fresh squeezed juices to stay healthy when on the road. Among all the super foods in my cart, I did stumble along a little bit of indulgence to top it off. Homemade, vegan chocolate coffee cake.  OMG!!!  So super moist, delicious, and just what the doctor ordered when a bit of comfort is top priority, after a long day.  This was definitely the find of the market, and at only a buck a square to boot…jackpot!

OK, time for work… off to America’s Mart.  The “World’s Global Market”, 3 buildings jam-packed with over 4,000 permanent showrooms, and hundreds of temporary vendors with goods from soup(literally) to the rarest of diamonds… and everything in between.  We were exhibiting in Building 2 West Wing, where only Gourmet was showcased.  Organic raw honey, mixed with fresh raspberries, lemon, or cacao to the front of us & upscale pecan goodies to the side, made the week of selling our wares ultra palatable.

Of course, what’s a girl to do around so much ‘retail therapy’ but partake.  Cash and carry jewelry department here I come. :oObsidian Jewelry has been a favorite for years. Jeff Kohnfelder, is the talented designer, where his tag line reads “It’s all about the stones”, and it is.  After years in the field, he still gleams with excitement to talk of the latest find from some obscure mine, or the newest nugget uncovered.  My eye zoned right in on one of those gems, an Amethyst Sage pendant chunked over purple drusy quartz, and amethyst.  Yay, baby…you’re coming home with me!  This piece, a type of lavender chalcedony, is riddled with manganese dendritic inclusions, and truly is a one of a kind.

Next, the spa floor.  Soothing auras filled with soft shades of pastels, the latest lip shimmers made with resveratrol for anti-aging, candles galore, and all things zen.   One new item caught my eye; Moso Natural.  A small, young company that has created an air purifying bag filled with 100% bamboo charcoal.  This capture from the Far East helps remove odors, bacteria & allergens naturally.  www.mosonatural.com for more info on this eco-friendly little number.

And, the tour continues.  Next Stop: Chicago

Until then…

Breathe Joy,



PS: Very grateful to travel with

Pink Himalayan bath salts with pure essential oils for soothing comfort & deep rejuvenation. Ahhhhhhh………..

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After settling into winter, and the hustle & bustle of the holidays is over, I am ready to forge ahead into the New Year with gusto.  Kicking it off with trade show travel for Angelic Gourmet, my first stop was the Philadelphia Gift Show.  Of course we were there exhibiting our handmade confections, but as a side perk I got to see all the latest, and greatest products & packaging.


With thousands of lines, from hundreds of national manufacturers, I was most enticed by Sallye Ander Soap, a long time favorite.  The company only uses pure essential oils, and all natural bases in their handcrafted soap, and boasts to create “The World’s Best Soap”.  Just the mere fragrance when you pass by their 20 foot booth is enough to turn your head, and lift your spirits.  Plus, it always amazes me just how pleasant plant people are!  Maybe it’s all the inhaling of essential oils, or just the deep overall respect for nature, and ecology.  Either way, it is like a magnetic pull to betterment, and a sweet comfort to be around.


Another high quality, all natural manufacturer(and personal show buddy) is Honey House Naturals.  Known for their Bee Bar, a solid lotion made with shea butter, royal jelly + other natural anti-oxidants. The perfect lube to seal in moisture, and protect from the elements. It’s no wonder it has a slew of devout followers, since 1994.

Well, here’s to a fresh & smooth start to 2012.

Next Stop: Atlanta

Until then…

Breathe Joy,



PS: One thing I won’t leave home without–

All Natural Hand Sanitizer

Purify Me!  A waterless hand sanitizer made with organic aloe vera gel & therapeutic essential oils.  Alcohol free, non-sticky, long lasting, and delicious smelling! A *must have* for all your traveling!

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Busy at Play @ Aromahead Institute

I am just returning home from Aromahead Institute, School of Essential Oil Studies, in Ithaca, NY.  It was a fabulous 3 day elective on the art of Aromatic Blending, where we dove deeper into the interplay between 100 essential oils from all over the world, and studied carrier bases which included African oils like Baobab Seed oil, Coconut oil, Kombo Butter, Kpanganon Butter and more. Such fun!!

In any event, I rented a room while I was away, and on the first morning I woke up to what I thought was my housemate snoring. After a few minutes, I realized it was a slow and consistent chirp from outside.  I kept my eyes closed, and just listened to the rhythm.  It was as if mother nature was breathing.  You could feel the inhale…a pause… and a slow released exhale.  What a lovely way to arise.

It got me thinking about breath and the plant part associated with air: the leaves.  Leaves are responsible for the intake of oxygen and nutrients for the plant(essentially the lungs at whole). During photosynthesis, sunlight, water and carbon dioxide are used to produce oxygen and energy through the leaf organ of the plant.  Leaf derived essential oils have an intimate relationship with contributing to the health of our lungs; clearing congestion being one positive attribute.

Examples of leaf derived essential oils are:

  • Eucalyptus(Eucalyptus globulus)
  • Peppermint(Menta x piperita)
  • Tea Tree(Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Ravintsara(Cinnamomum camphora ct 1,8 cineole)

Radiant Eucalyptus

One of the most simple methods of application, especially effective for lung issues, is an aromatic steam inhalation.

Directions for an Aromatic Steam Inhalation:

Step 1: Pour boiling water in a glass or stainless steel bowl.

Step 2: Add 1(ONE) drop of any of the leaf essential oils mentioned above.

Step 3: Drape your head with a towel and lean over the steaming bowl(approximately a ruler’s length from the top of the bowl).  Closing your eyes, inhale deeply and enjoy the steam for 3-5 minutes, or as comfortable.

Use caution with the steam.  If it is too strong or hot, loosen(or remove) the towel drape. Useful up to 3 times per day when cold, congestion and/or sinus symptoms are present OR once a week for preventative maintenance.

Note: Not recommended for children under 5.  Consult your medical practitioner before using this application, if you have asthma.

Until next time,

Breathe Joy…

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Salt Water that is!  

Me & A Very Large Stingray!

Salt is the common name given to Sodium Chloride(NaCl), a naturally occurring chemical compound.  One source of extraction is from underground deposits of sea water.  It is said that salt is essential to life and good health.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy the benefits of salt water is scuba diving.

The healing, warm waters of salt water destinations immediately transform me into another being…lighter, free and so “in the moment”.  It has the power to “dissolve” tension headaches, improve muscle fluidity and clear sinus passages.  In my experiences, the most jaw dropping view of salt-above & below sea level-was at Salt Pier, on the Island of Bonaire.  The first time I saw this panorama, I was in awe(for a good long time).  It was at dusk, the sky was a mystical pink, the Caribbean Sea was it’s natural brilliant turquoise and this landscape was contrasted by peaks of pure white pyramids of salt. It felt like a projector slide from another world; perhaps a shimmer from the astral plane.

Salt Pier, Bonaire

Angel Fish, taken 40 feet below

You don’t have to be ‘out of this world’ to enjoy the benefits of salt. A simple warm bath in the comfort of your home is the perfect arena to melt some troubles away, and begin transformation. Hydrotherapy, through daily bathing, has long been a healing ritual, dating as far back as 4500 B.C..

Therapeutic properties can vary greatly depending on where salt is harvested. A few varieties of salt include pink himalayan, grey, black, dead sea, dendritic, and sulfur. One of the prettiest, in my opinion, is the pink himalayan salt.

Some of Pink Himalayan Salt Benefits are:

  • Contains 84 trace minerals
  • High in energy rich iron(responsible for it’s luscious pink color)
  • Minerals exist in an easily absorbable form(colloidal)
  • Stimulates circulation
  • Soothes sore muscles
  • Helps normalize blood pressure
  • Controls water levels in the body
  • Encourages blood sugar health
  • Helpful for sinus conditions
  • Detoxifying

Fun Fact:

Epsom Salt is not really a salt at all.  It is a pure mineral compound of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen.  The combination is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, aiding the absorption of calcium, healthy bones & teeth, nervous system impulses, muscle relaxation and function, heart health and sleep comfort.

Edible Insight:

A total YUM is salted caramels.  Voges is known for their Blush Caramel-where a hint of Hawaiian Red Sea Salt is added to sweet caramel…a delectable taste sensation.

Simple Action~

Take 1 cup of Epsom salt(found at most grocery stores) and swirl into a warm bath.  Soak for 20 minutes.  Relax and Release.

Original Essential Oil Recipe~ Detoxification Bath Salts-

3 cups of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

1/4 cup of Hawaiian Red Sea Salt

Juniper Berry(Juniperus communis)-16 drops

Grapefruit(Citrus paradisi)-16 drops

Cypress(Cupressus sempervirens)- 12 drops

Lavender(Lavandula angustifolia)-6 drops

Mix the above ingredients.  It’s nice to store in a pretty glass jar & use a special scoop.  Stir before using.  Light a candle.  I invite you to take a moment for yourself and really create a healing space.  Use 1/4 cup per bath to cleanse, rejuvenate, detox and release. Soak for up to 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Breathtaking Bonaire Sunset

Until next time,

Breathe Joy…

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