Sunday, May 31, 2009

Neem Oil

It's that time of year when I start mixing up Neem oil for spraying on the garden and sprays for us & the animals.

Neem oil is the oil pressed from the seeds of an evergreen tree Azadirachta Indica that originated in India and the surrounding south Asia region. The medicinal properties of Neem have been found in texts dating back thousands of years. Use of this oil can benefit gardens, pets, and people.

Neem oil can be used in the home garden and approved for organic farming because it has insecticide properties that are safe to use on vegetables and fruits but doesn’t harm pets, children or the environment. It will repel a variety of garden pests such as the mealy bugs and Japanese beetles. It will also control black spot, powdery mildew and rust, and it does this with no harm to any mammals, birds, or helpful insects like the honeybee, ladybugs, nor will it harm earthworms. Neem oil can be sprayed around areas for mosquito control, and even used on skin as a repellent.

For a botanical pesticide use 1 teaspoon of pure Neem oil per quart, or 4 teaspoons per gallon of water.

Neem oil is high in Vitamin E, contains emollients, amino acids, and fatty acids. It is soothing to dry, cracked, and damaged skin and can help restore skin's natural elasticity. Neem oil has much in common with tea tree oil in that it also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can be useful in combating acne, eczema and fungus. It can also help in the lightening of scars and pigmentation, and be used in shampoos to relieve itchy scalps and control dander.

This oil does have a bitter taste along with an unpleasant odor that has been described as a mixture of garlic and sulfur. Blending additional essential oils with Neem can help to mask the scent, Tea Tree oil and Lavender essential oil are a couple that work well in masking the scent and share similar properties.

With spring approaching you may want to consider having this oil handy to use in your gardens, on your pets for flea control, and in your soaps and lotions to soothe irritated skin.

Please remember if you choose to add this to a product you are selling for skin care avoid phrasing such as insect repellent, healing or anything similar will knock your product out of the cosmetic category and into a pesticide or drug catagory.

Some formulas to get you started—

Garden Spray
Neem oil does not mix with water, so adding some liquid soap to the water will helps to emulsify. For a general purpose spray mix at a rate of 0.5% to 1% Neem oil to water. If fighting a severe problem you may use up to 2% Neem oil. For a 5% dilution you would use 1 teaspoon of Neem oil in 1 quart of warm water with a ½ teaspoon of liquid soap. Shake frequently while using. Spray early in the morning or early evening; spraying both the top and underside of the leaves. Keep in mind Neem does not work like a ‘kill it now’ pesticide. It interferes with the hormones of the chewing and sucking insects that interrupts the life cycle. Applications may be repeated in 5 days and after rain.

Neem oil can add to the shampoo that you are already using at a rate of ½ oz Neem oil to 8 ounces of shampoo to sooth dry itchy scalps and control dandruff.

Neem oil mixed in a carrier oil may be used for direct skin application. ½ oz of Neem to 8 ounces of oil.

Keep ringworm, fleas, mites, and biting insects from making your dog miserable by adding some Neem to the doggie shampoo. Hot spots and mange treat spots with a 1:1 ratio of Neem to a carrier oil and apply.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Broccoli/cauliflower salad

My sister fixed this and it became an instant favorite of mine----can accompany a meal or be a meal in itself.

3 heads of broccoli (3 good size heads from large stalk)
1/2 head cauliflower
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds kernels
1/2 pound of bacon
1 cup of golden raisins
2 or 3 green onions chopped
1 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons white vinegar

While you are cooking your bacon, wash & chop veggies. You remove the tiny heads of the broccoli & cauliflower from the stalk so they will look like this-

Add the sunflower kernels, raisins, & chopped green onions to the broccoli & cauliflower. Crumble cooked bacon into the mix.

In a separate bowl mix the mayo, sugar, & white vinegar. Pour & stir dressing onto your veggie mix. Can be made the night before-but wait & add the dressing before serving.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Basics of the Fragrance Wheel

Perfumer Michael Edwards developed the fragrance wheel in 1983 to help simplify the relationship of each fragrance category.

(click on picture to enlarge for better viewing)

Scent like color has its categories. The fragrance wheel above shows the four main categories and with their sub-categories, along with a center place called Fougere.

Familiarize yourself with the categories Fresh, Woody, Oriental, Floral, & Fougere and their position with each other on the wheel. Of this five, Fougere is the only one that is not sub-divided; it has more of a universal appeal & generally blends well in any group. Lavender and Oakmoss fall in this category, along with the marine notes.

Basic blending rules-

Side by side fragrances on the chart blend well.
Selecting opposites on the wheel are complimentary.
Selecting 3 fragrances that will create a triangle while looking at the wheel will generally compliment each other.

This guide becomes very useful to me when I find myself with little dibs and dabs of fragrance oil or one that just didn’t meet expectations once it was used. It also gives you a chance to have a unique fragrance blend.

Recently I blended 3 different fragrance oils that had just a little left in each bottle. There was about an ounce of Pearberry, two ounces of Ripen Raspberry, and two ounces of one called Fruit & Nuts. The Pearberry and the Raspberry both fell into the floral; the Fruit & Nuts had more woody notes with maybe a floral note. Woody being across from the floral on the wheel, they should compliment.

Since the amounts I had were working out to a 1 part for the Pearberry, and 2 parts with each of the Rasberry and Fruit & Nuts; that’s what was tried first. I dipped one end of a Q-Tip in the Pearberry and put it in a baggie. Using a new Q-Tip I dipped each end in the Raspberry, and did the same with another new Q-Tip with the Fruit & Nuts. Placed them all in the same baggie, and let them set for a little while so the scents would blend. After awhile was able to sniff inside the baggie, and it turned out to be a lovely blend. Carried through very well in a batch of soap, had a very nice berry fragrance with floral notes -perfect for springtime. It may even be one that I will keep blending.