Essential Oils that Blend Well with Vanilla Oil

Posted on: November 20th, 2017 by
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Spice and citrus essential oils blend well with vanilla

Spice and citrus essential oils blend well with vanilla

Vanilla absolute or vanilla CO2 extract blends well with a wide variety of essential oils, adding a sweet, balsamic, “creamy” note to an essential oil blend. It is a popular oil to use in Holiday blends, as it is reminscent, for many, of the season. Think about the purpose of your blend, the product base you are blending it with, and then compose a blend to fit that purpose.

As I discussed in last week’s post, there are alternatives to vanilla oil but, if you want to use true vanilla, here are a few suggestions with which to blend it.

Spice Essential Oils

Spice essential oils are popular during the Holiday season and the winter months because of their “warming” qualities. Spices such as nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), ginger (Zingiber officinale), cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), and clove (Eugenia caryophyllus) are also used in many Holiday dishes, so their individual and combined aromas are familiar to many.

When using spices as essential oils, remember to check individual cautions for use, as these particular essential oils are often more “volatile” than others and in some cases should not be used with seniors, pregnant moms, and with babies and children.

Balsam Essential Oils

As I suggested in last week’s article, Peru balsam (Myroxylon balsamum var. pereirae) can be used as an alternative to vanilla oil. However, essential oils of the “balsam family” also blend well with vanilla oil. Balsam essential oils, such as Canadian or fir balsam (Abies balsamea) and copaiba balsam (Copaifera officinalis), are also beneficial for respiratory problems.

Citrus Essential Oils

Citrus essential oils from the Rutaceae plant family, such as sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), lime (Citrus aurantifolia), lemon (Citrus x limon) and even neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara (flos)), blend well with vanilla oil, in addition to other essential oils with a lemon aroma.

Citrus essential oils add an uplifting, “happy” note to a blend. Many are also beneficial for digestive problems.

Mint essential oils

I think that mint is a quintessential aroma of the Holiday season and, when combined with vanilla, adds a yummy note to any Holiday blend! Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) are the two most common types of mint essential oils used. Avoid using peppermint essential oil around babies, young children and pregnant moms; opt for the less “reactive” spearmint essential oil.

Vanilla Blends for the Winter Season

In the final post of my trilogy on vanilla oil, I will give you three vanilla blends to use during the Holidays and into winter. Don’t forget to check back next week!

The Study of Essential Oils in Aromatherapy

To learn more about how essential oils are used in aromatic blends, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM program!

References:

  • The suggestions in this article are drawn from the author’s combined 20 year experience in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom and school room for on-site workshops on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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Alternatives to Vanilla Oil for Aromatic Blends

Posted on: November 13th, 2017 by
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Vanilla Pods for Vanilla Oil

Vanilla Pods for Vanilla Oil

If you are a frequent user of vanilla oil (as in the absolute or CO2 extract), you will no doubt be aware of the current shortage of this valued aromatic, which is either making it hard to source quality vanilla oil, or making it even more expensive to purchase it than it has been in the past.

In this first article of a new trilogy on vanilla, I will be suggesting some alternatives to vanilla itself, purely from an aromatic perspective (although, in fact, true vanilla does not posess any real therapeutic benefits with regard to aromatherapy practice). I will follow up this article with oils that blend well with vanilla, and suggest a few vanilla blends for the upcoming Holiday period.

The Aroma Of Vanilla

Vanilla typically has a sweet, rich, balsamic aroma. The chemical component responsible for the aroma in vanilla is vanillin. Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) is a tropical plant which is today mainly cultivated in Madagascar. However it is the vanilla bean itself which is extracted to produce either an absolute or CO2 extract. Vanilla absolute is produced with the aid of a solvent; it is not possible to distill the bean to produce an essential oil. Vanilla oleoresin may also be produced.

The vanillin content of the final extraction may vary; the higher the vanillin content, the more intense the vanilla aroma.

I have been asked to create a vanilla note in several custom blends but the price of vanilla itself (when available) often makes a blend not viable or cost-effective. Trying to reproduce that elusive vanilla-like aroma using natural ingredients can sometimes prove a challenge! However, it is possible to infuse vanilla beans themselves, or the oleoresin, in another oil such as jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) for oil-based blends – or add an alternative essential oil or absolute.

Balsam of Peru Essential Oil

Balsam of Peru (Myroxylyon balsam var. pereirae) is a tropical tree of the Fabiceae plant family which produces a distilled essential oil from the resin of the tree. The essential oil has a surprisingly rich, sweet vanilla-like aroma, although its chemical conponents principally consist of benzyl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, and cinnamic acid.1

It is a viscous oil and it will give your aromatic blend a distinct vanilla-like aroma – at a fraction of the price of vanilla itself. Additional therapeutic benefits include uses for stress, respiratory conditions, and skin issues.2

Benzoin Absolute

Benzoin (Styrax benzoin) is, not surprisingly, another tropical tree but this time of the Styracaceae plant family. Again, the resin is collected from the tree and prepared into an absolute using solvents. Benzoin absolute produces a rich, warm, sweet, balsamic aroma with a hint of vanilla and, some would say, chocolate. The principal chemical components of benzoin include benzoic acid and benzyl benzoate.3 According to Lawless, benzoin does contain vanillin.2

Benzoin absolute is another thick, sticky, but vicous liquid which fixes a blend with the sought-after vanilla note, as long as it is used in moderation. Additional therapeutic benefits of benzoin include uses for stress, respiratory conditions, joint pain, and skin care.

The Study of Essential Oils in Aromatherapy

To learn more about how essential oils are used in aromatic blends, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM program!

References:

  1. Eden Botanicals, Balsam of Peru COA, accessed from: https://www.edenbotanicals.com/product_documents/COA/80_Balsam_of_peru_Oil_COA_14.pdf

  2. Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorson

  3. Eden Botanicals, Benzoin COA, accessed from: https://www.edenbotanicals.com/product_documents/COA/117_Benzoin_COA_1.pdf

  • The author of this article has a 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom and school room for on-site workshops on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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An Introduction to Grape Seed Oil

Posted on: November 6th, 2017 by
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Grapes for Grape Seed Oil

Grapes for Grape Seed Oil

Grape seed (Vitis vinifera) is not a carrier oil that I have used much but it is often preferred by massage therapists because of its non-greasy application. It doesn’t have a long shelf life, so it is best to use it within a short time frame. Here’s a quick introduction to grapeseed oil.

Botanical Profile of Grape Seed

The grape plant belongs to the Vitaceae botanical family. Its Latin name is made up from the Latin word, vitis, meaning vine and vinifera which means wine bearing. The grape is a deciduous, climbing plant and reaches a length of 70 to 100 feet. According to Maud Grieves, in a Modern Herbal, some grape plants have been reported to live for hundreds of years. The grape plant has green-colored flowers but it is from the seeds of the the fruit that grape seed oil is extracted.

Production and Extraction of Grape Seed Oil

Today, the main producing countries of grape seed oil are Spain, Italy and the U.S. (California), although France was the first country to produce grape seed oil. Grape seed oil is extracted from the left over grape seeds, after the distillation of the grapes for wine. Grape seed oil is not a cold pressed carrier oil, unlike the majority of carrier oils used in aromatherapy practice; it is pressed with heat after the grape seeds have been washed, dried, and crushed.

Chemical Components of Grape Seed Oil

Grape seed oil is high in linoleic acid, in addition to vitamin E, flavonoids and antioxidants. Linoleic acid is excellent for use in skin care use, and therefore aromatherapy massage, because it is said to regenerate and restructure the skin and cell membranes. Grape seed oil has virtually no aroma, making it conducive for combining with other carrier oils, for additional therapeutic benefits, in aromatherapy use.

Cosmetic and Aromatherapy Use of Grape Seed Oil

Grape seed oil is light and non-greasy to use for aromatherapy and massage; it smooths the skin. It is often added to cosmetic creams and lotions for skin care use due to its regenerative and moisturizing properties. In addition, grape seed oil is non-toxic and is not known to cause allergies or sensitization in skin care use.

Cautions for Using Grape Seed Oil in Aromatherapy

Len Price, in his book Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, records that grape seed oil is non-toxic with no known side effects or contra-indications for use in aromatherapy and massage. As always, consult a certified aromatherapist before using unfamiliar carrier oils if you have any concerns for use.

The Study of Carrier Oils in Aromatherapy

To learn more about how carrier oils are used in aromatherapy practice, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM program!

References:

  • The author of this article has a 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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Native American Use of Plants in Spiritual Healing

Posted on: October 30th, 2017 by
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Healing through plants and herbs

Healing through plants and herbs

Following the latest trilogy of aromatically witchy themed articles, and with the advent of the Mexican Day of the Dead almost upon us, I thought that it would be interesting to take a quick look at some of the traditional plants and herbs used by the Native American people.

Various plants and herbs are used for spiritual rituals including sage (Salvia spp., Artemisia spp.), bear berry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), sweet grass (Hierochloe odorata) and tobacco (Nicotiania spp.). Other sacred plant mixtures used are cornmeal and pollen, and a Kinnikinnick.

The Use of a Kinnikinnick in American Indian Ceremonies

The ancient Algonquian Indian word of Kinnikinnick means a ceremonial or ritual botanical mix of various herbs and plants; the bear berry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) plant, in particular, may be used individually in this ceremonial offering or in a mix of other plants and herbs, sometimes a mix of as many as thirty different plant species. Each plant or herb used in the botanical mix is prepared and dried separately, before being blended together and placed in a leather pouch.

A Kinnikinnick is used in a number of different ways:

  • it is used for smudging (the sacred practice of burning herbs)

  • it is worn to keep substances away which may be harmful

  • it is carried as an offering

  • it is packed in bags and baskets with items used in ceremonies in order to keep them healthy.

Plants and Herbs Used in a Kinnikinnick

The following plants and herbs are an example of those used to make a Kinnikinnick:

  • Bergamot* (Monarda spp.) - all plant parts may be used

  • Angelica* (Angelica atropurpurea) – use of the leaves

  • Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) – use of the needles

  • Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)- use of the leaves and blossoms

  • Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) – use of the leaves

  • Sage* (Artemisia spp., Salvia spp.) - use of the leaves and bark

  • Sunflower* (Helianthus annuus) – use of the leaves

  • Tansy* (Tanacetum vulgare, Tanacetum huronese) – use of all plant parts

  • Willow (Salix spp.) - use of bark and leaves

  • Yarrow* (Achillea spp.) - use of all plant parts

  • Mountain Mints (Pycnanthemum spp.) - use of all plant parts

  • Juniper* (Juniperus spp.) - use of leaves, bark and berries.

*plants used as essential oils in aromatherapy practice.

The Native American Practice of Smudging

Smudging is a sacred American Indian practice which involves the burning of herbs for both purification and prayer; this is a practice which is carried out by most American Indians. The burning of the herbs releases many fragrant aromas from the oils released by the plants which enhances the experience.

Prayers are then offered within the smoke of the herbs. Smudging is a time of spiritual healing and may involve a gathering of people for the passing of the burning herbs from one to another in collective prayer to the Creator. Two common plants used in smudging are sweet grass and sage. Other herbs used for smudging, either individually or in blends, include bergamot (Monarda spp.), yarrow (Achillea spp.), mesquite (Prosopis spp.), bear berry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and tobacco (Nicotiania spp.). In spiritual rituals, the smoke from the burning of sage and sweet grass is said to take prayers and sadness up towards the spirits.

As an alternative to smudging with burning herbs, particularly in a restricted area and you want to “clear a space” as oppose to smudging for a spiritual purpose, I recommend using hydrosols as discussed in this article.

The Study of Plants in Aromatherapy

It is interesting to examine how different people use plants and herbs and compare the practices to how we use plants in our own practice, as either in use with the herb itself, or as an oil in aromatherapy practice. We can also value the use of that plant in our own aromatic gardens. Plants truly are versatile and healing in many ways, when we examine the number of ways in which they are used. To learn more about how plants are used in aromatherapy practice, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM program!

About the Author of This Article:

  • The author of this article has a 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

For further reading:

  • Kavasch, E. Barrie, Baar, Karen 1999 American Indian Healing Arts USA: Bantam

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Aromatically Witchy Blends from the Garden

Posted on: October 23rd, 2017 by
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Aromatic Blends from the Garden

Aromatic Blends from the Garden

In concluding our aromatically witchy-themed trilogy for October, I am sharing three aromatic blends from the garden which could be regarded as aromatically witchy (aka healing). The garden, or the area where plants were naturally found growing in the neighborhood, has traditionally been the source of many aromatic potions over the year, and it is here where many “witches” drew from to make up healing blends, before the availability of modern day medicine.

In this final article I am taking a brief look at the name “hedgewitch” and sharing three aromatic blends from the garden (note: these plants may not be in season at the time of writing, depending upon where you live in the world, but save the recipe for a future blend when you need it!)

Hedgewitch or Healer?

Life could be considered much “simpler” in the past and many people did not go past the “border” of their own town, village, or homestead. Such borders were traditionally marked by fences or hedgerows.

The hedgewitch lived on the edge of the community, often on the boundary marked by the hedge; hence the term hedgewitch. A hedgewitch made her living through herbalism, healing, blessings and spells, midwifery, magical charms, and curses. A hedegwitch had a very close relationship with nature which was not widely understood by everyone. However, she was generally respected by the community.

Although the practice of aromatherapy may not be directly related to hedgewitchery, it can be seen that hedgewitchery has a similar relationship with plants and nature just as an experienced aromatherapist and herbalist should if they are to truly understand the tools of their trade and use them to their full advantage. In essence: All “witches” are healers, and they really do not deserve the negative connotations associated with the name witch.

Aromatic Teas from the Garden

Aromatic and herbal teas are one of the easiest blends to make direct from your garden. Just be aware of the therapeutic properties and/or cautions associated with the plant which you use. Some examples of herbal and aromatic teas that you can make from the garden include chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, and lemon balm (melissa). The following basic recipe can be followed:

  • Collect two tablespoons of fresh plant material* from the garden.
  • Add directly to 8 oz of boiling water.
  • Allow to steep; the longer the steep, the stronger the tea.
  • Use a strainer on top of a cup and pour.

*check which part of the plant to collect. For example, in the case of chamomile, collect the flowers but in the case of peppermint, collect the leaves. 

Tip: Add honey to sweeten. 

Aromatically Infused Waters from the Garden

Bach flower remedies and hydrosols can also be made with plants harvested from the garden. Different plants have different purposes, so if you go this route, make sure you know the plants suitable for making flower remedies and/or hydrosols (which requires distilling equipment).

Another fun way to enjoy plants from your garden and aromatically infused in water is to add aromatic petals and leaves to your bath water. I would suggest using rose petals, lavender buds, or chamomile flowers/plant parts for a relaxing bath. Add one cup of your chosen plant material to a warm bath and let it infuse around you as you relax!

Aromatic Ice Cubes from the Garden

It might be past summer, but save this aromatically witchy recipe for next year for summer drinks with both design and flavor! Borage flowers make a pretty (and healthy) addition to any summer drink with this simple recipe:

  • Fill up ice cube tray with water.
  • Add one borage flower to each compartment.
  • Freeze.
  • Add to summer drinks and/or cocktails.

Learn More About Using Aromatic Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about aromatic plants, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.

  • The author of this article has a 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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An Aromatically Witchy-themed Garden

Posted on: October 16th, 2017 by
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Witch Hazel is a great plant for an aromatically witchy-themed garden

Witch Hazel is a great plant for an aromatically witchy-themed garden

In the second post of the October trilogy related to Halloween and all things aromatically witchy, we are taking a look at some of the aromatic plants which could cast a spell on your garden visitors in one way or another. Some have traditionally been used for love spells and potions; others, by my own interpretation and assessment, conjure up an image of magic in one way or another. And, above all else, don’t forget the aroma of many of these plants, which is, to me as an aromatherapist, the most bewitching power of any plant!

Some of these ancient plants, although used for their therapeutic properties in one form or another, were not as closely analyzed and scruntinized for their chemical make-up as they are today. Common people did not have access to the science of plants and it is probable that for this reason certain species were perceived to be “magical.”

This article takes a look at some of the folklore and magic associated with certain aromatic plants and it is by no means intended to be scientific “proof” of the historical claims of each plant. It is simply a guide to planting some aromatically witchy plants for your garden!

Aromatic Herbs for Love Spells

Many plants have been used to conjure up a love spell or two, including the herbs basil, lovage, and fennel.

According to folklore, a gift of basil (Ocimum basilicum) would cause the recipient to fall deeply in love with the giver, and they would never stray. In Romania, folklore goes as far to say that a gift of basil represented an official engagement. In Italy, a woman who places a pot of basil on her balcony is said to be looking for love – so be careful, where you place your basil!1 Basil has a sweet, herbaceous, even spicy aroma.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a common herb which has been used in love charms, perhaps in part to the tendancy to break down its name into “love-ache.”2 Some say that lovage can aid in both love and sexuality and it has an ability to draw in a new lover.3 Lovage is another plant with a similar aroma to basil, so it would compliment it well within a herb garden.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is often used in rituals to awaken love, 4 along with acacia. Fennel has an anise-like, camphoraceous aroma and its umbels of yellow flowers make a show among many of the more traditional, green herbs of the garden.

Aromatic Plants which Inspire Love and Magic in the Garden

Nature sometimes has a way of indicating its purpose with subtle indicators to be found in its plants – or is that how humans interpret them? Take lilac (Syringa spp.) for example. Several lilac species have heart-shaped leaves. Common lilac flowers in the spring in a variety of colors that includes lilac, deep purple, white, and pink. Lilac is a deciduous shrub or small tree with an amazing aroma. It can probably cast its own love spell through aroma and appearance alone, whether or not it has been used in an ancient love spell!

Then there is rose (Rosa spp.). As a member of the Rosaceae plant family, rose has pinnate leaves, with serrated edges, that are arranged spirally. The flowers have five sepals, five petals and several stamens that are arranged in many ways. However, take a close look at a rose petal. Although not a true “heart” shape, you can see how rose petals are used as a symbol of love through their shape, texture, and (if aromatic) fragrance.

Viola, of the Violaceae plant family, does have heart-shaped leaves, and although not aromatic, it is used in herbal medicine. Its beautiful flowers consist of five petals, arranged in a memorizing symmetry and I find these little flowers bewitching in the garden as they are one of the few flowers here which continue to bloom through both sun and snow in the winter months.

Finally I would be remiss in closing out this article without mentioning witch hazel(Hamamelis virginiana), as an aromatically witchy plant for the garden. Witch hazel is one of the few plants in the aromatic garden which blooms from Fall through early winter with, in my opinion, some witchy looking flowers! It has spidery-looking flowers of white, yellow, orange, or red. The flowers have a spicy fragrance. It has alternate, oval-shaped leaves.The fruit is expelled upon maturity from its capsule – hence its name, snapping hazel. Perhaps a magical plant in more ways than one!

We can all use a little bit of love and magic in our lives and the garden is a great place to create an aromatically witchy theme for year-round enjoyment. Add in some plants which are traditionally used in broom-making, and you have many ingredients at your disposal to cast a spell on those who choose to wander through the plants. My closing thought is that aren’t all aromatic gardens a little witchy, given the aromatic ingredients, and their subsequent therapeutic powers? Enjoy!

Learn More About Aromatic Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about aromatic plants, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.

References:

  1. Witchipedia website, Basil, available from: http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:basil

  2. Alchemy-Works website, Lovage, available from: http://www.alchemy-works.com/levisticum_officinale.html

  3. Herb Magic website, Lovage Root, available from: http://www.herbmagic.com/lovage.html

  4. Egyptian Witchcraft website, Magical Properties of Herbs, Plants, and Trees, available from: https://www.egyptian-witchcraft.com/magical-properties-of-herbs-plants-and-trees/

  • The author of this article has a 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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