Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wondrous White Fir Essential Oil

If I had to list my top five favorite Essential Oils and Blends, I'm not sure just where White Fir would rank, but I'm sure it would be pretty high up on the list. 

If you can be in love with an Essential Oil, I am in love with White Fir! 

It had me at hello....well, at first sniff anyway! 

White Fir Essential Oil

I use it in my deodorant, several of my diffuser blends, my arthritis blend and anything else I can get away with using it in. I especially love to diffuse it with other woodsy oils, such as Cypress, Frankincense and Birch. I know that Birch's main scent is a mint smell, but if you give it a chance, you'll catch the wood smell in there too...it is from a tree after all, you know!

Now that we've cleared that up, however, on to White Fir! 


White Fir is distilled from white fir needles, this oil has a crisp scent and comes from Austria. White Fir is a powerful anti-oxidant with a high ORAC score. It has been use for deodorants, disinfectants, rubefacients and stimulants. 

If you're wondering what on earth ORAC is, it is the "oxygen radical absorbance capacity", which measures the free radical destroying potential of a particular food. 


Analgesic, Anticatarrhal, Antiseptic, Anti arthritic, Stimulant

Historical Uses:

White Fir essential oils have been used for tense muscles, fever, chills, coughs, and help with the body's natural defense system.

Possible Uses:

Diffuse to fight airborne bacteria, germs and to stimulate the mind while allowing the body to relax. Apply topically to reduce aches from cold and flu and exercised muscles.


Can be used aromatically and topically(apply NEAT)

White Fir is very reasonably priced with Spark Naturals at the following prices:

 5 ml bottle - $6.99
15 ml bottle - $18.00

Also, with coupon code PATTI, you get an additional 10% off at checkout! 

Fabulous deal for a fabulous oil!

White Fir can be substituted for Frankincense in most cases, and it has been referred to as the Poor Man's Frankincense.

Here are three of my favorite ways to use White Fir, my Arthritis Blend, My Walk in the Woods Diffuser Blend and my Woodsy Winter Day Diffuser Blend.

Arthritis Blend

A Walk In The Woods Diffuser Blend

Woodsy Winter Day Diffuser Blend

If you don't have this oil, give it a try! You'll find it will quickly become a very often used oil I bet! If you do use this oil, I'd like to hear your favorite way to use it.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Birch is Back!

Breaking News on Birch!

Betula Lenta~Sweet Birch


Birch Essential Oil will be available on the Spark Naturals website as of 8 a.m. MDT Wednesday, July 24.

The supply is again limited, remember this is a very hard to find oil. Don't miss out on this opportunity to buy the best pain relieving Essential Oil available!


Betula Lenta

How exciting! Birch Essential Oil is very hard to find these days but Spark Naturals has found a source and is making it available for purchase.

This is NOT A LIMITED TIME OFFER, however, supplies are limited, so from time to time, inventory may run low and the oil may have to be backordered. Don't take any chances, get yours now!

This species of Birch is Betula Lenta(Sweet Birch).  It's aroma is similar to Wintergreen. It blends well with citrus and woodsy oils.

Click on price link below to order your Birch today!

Be sure and use coupon code PATTI at checkout for an additional 10% off your order.


BODY - Sweet Birch is mainly used to treat joint and muscle pain. It has powerful pain relieving, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties that are beneficial for conditions such as lumbago, sciatica, neuralgia, gout and fibromyalgia, etc. It can be used in massage blends and is also often added to liniments and ointments to help ease aches and pains. It can also be used in inhalations for respiratory conditions to open the airways, clear the sinuses and stimulate the mind (blend with Eucalyptus for this). It has detoxifying and diuretic properties, helps to stimulate the circulation, improves digestion, and can reduce fever by promoting perspiration.

MIND - Sweet Birch can be help to stimulate the nervous system and lift feelings of depression. It can be invigorating and uplifting.

SKIN - Often used in preparations for problem skin conditions and as a skin softener. It has an astringent action and can be used as a skin toner to tighten the pores and to reduce wrinkles and saggy skin. It also has antiseptic, disinfectant properties that can protect the skin from bacterial and fungal infections. 



Good For

Bone spurs
Joint pain
Muscle pain
Skin toner

Sweet Birch should be applied only topically and aromatically. It should never be taken internally. 

Precautions - Sweet Birch Oil may cause skin irritation. It should always be used with caution and in the correct dilution. Its main constituent is methyl salicylate (the active ingredient in aspirin) so it should not be used on anybody who is sensitive/allergic to aspirinhas liver problemsis on blood thinning medication, has epilepsy or is subject to seizures. It should also be avoided with children or the elderly and while pregnant or breast feeding. 

A summary of information is gathered from several sources and articles by various authors and it is not intended to replace advice or attention from competent healthcare professionals.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Woodsy Winter Day Diffuser Blend

I don't know about you, but I've never been a big fan of Summertime. Of course I enjoyed not going to school for three months when I was a kid, but I do remember being so glad when those crisp Autumn days started showing up. It meant Winter wasn't far behind.

Walking in the woods was always a peaceful experience for me, even as a child. I've always loved the trees and since I was raised way out in the country in the middle of the deep Piney Woods, I suppose it's just natural that I love the woodsy scents so much.

Well, it's still the middle of a normal, hot Texas summer and I can only dream of Winter....and diffuse a little Winter feeling and atmosphere in my home.

If Summertime heat has you longing for a crisp, cool late Autumn or Winter day, try this blend in your diffuser. The Cypress and White Fir are such lovely woodsy scents and the Birch adds the crisp coolness to the blend with just a hint of the woodsy in there too.

I'm pretending it isn't 90+ degrees outside and there are no weeds to be pulled from the flower beds. So far it's working.....haven't thought about those weeds but two times today.

Woodsy Winter Day Diffuser Blend

You could also add a few drops of Frankincense to this blend, it also has a wonderful pine smell. If you were unable to get the Birch, you might try Peppermint, Spearmint or Wintergreen in place of the Birch. It will be almost as good!

It's not Winter, but this sure helps makes the summer heat a bit more bearable until Winter finally rolls back around.

You can purchase these oils at Spark Naturals

Be sure and use coupon code PATTI at checkout for an additional 10% off your order.

Unfortunately, Birch EO is temporarily out of stock at Spark Naturals, but as soon as it is available, you'll be among the first to know!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Making Your Own Almond Flour and Almond Flour Tortillas

I'm pretty sure some of you are asking why I don't just buy the almond flour. That's one option, of course, but since I'm making my own almond milk, I have the pulp and it seems like a waste to just throw it out when it can be used in this way.

If you're not familiar with the Whole30 eating plan, it is a plan to rid your body of anything that can cause inflammation. That includes all dairy, grains, sugars and many more items. The almond milk you buy in the stores has some sort of sweetener in it, so it's not acceptable for 30 days. This eating plan literally resets your system and flushes all the toxins out of your body. It also breaks the addictions we have to these harmful products.

As promised, Part 2 of the Almond Milk journey....

In a previous post about how to make almond milk:

How To Milk An Almond...

I left you with a picture of my almond pulp dehydrating and a promise to share my recipe and very messy method of making tortillas from the pulp.

Before we can make the tortillas, we have to make the flour. Some people call it meal, but I try to grind mine fine enough I can call it flour.

Pulp in dehydrator

This really worked out better than I thought it would, the pulp does tend to fall through the holes, but since the bottom is solid, it can't escape. You just spread the wet pulp around as well as you can, it will be in lumps of course, but it will dry nicely.

Dehydrated Pulp in large container ready to grind.

Since the dried pulp is so easy to lose in transfer, it's best to have large container to shake it off in. I use one of these handy busing pans that they use in restaurants to clear the tables. You can find these at Sam's Club. They're one of the best purchases I've ever made, they come in handy for so much.

The Flour Making

Add small amount of dried pulp to blender

I choose to grind the dried pulp in my blender rather than the food processor in order to get it as fine as possible. I find putting about a cup or two of pulp at a time is the best way.

Sometimes you get a dust storm in there.

Stirring the flour away from the blades

I take the handle of a long wooden spoon and loosen the flour that has settled around the blades and then blend some more. Make sure the blades have stopped completely before doing this please!  You'll want to blend this on the highest speed you have.

Finely ground Almond flour
The finished product....a finely ground flour that used to be almonds that you've already used to get milk from, and now they're working for you again! You are definitely getting your money's worth from these almonds.

Almond flour in a jar

You can freeze the pulp and grind later, but I like to do mine as often as I make the almond milk, we're eating a lot of these tortillas around here, I'm gluten free and several relatives and myself are on the Whole30 where you can't eat any grains. This is like totally awesome to us. Seriously!

Making the Tortillas

Assemble the ingredients

Assemble your ingredients

3 cups Almond Flour
1 cup Tapioca or Coconut Flour
(I can't have the coconut, so I use Tapioca, it works well for me.)
4 teaspoons Olive or Coconut Oil
(again, can't have coconut, so I use an alternative)
1 cup Warm Almond Milk
2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Mixing the dry ingredients
In a large bowl mix your flours and salt together and mix. 

After the oil is added
Add the oil and mix. It should look something like this.

I have to confess....I forgot to take a picture after I mixed the milk, so you'll have to use your imagination here, ok?

After mixing the previous ingredients well, then add the cup of warm almond milk and mix well and form into a ball.

A nice almond flour dough ball
Turn the ball of dough out on a well floured board, I use the tapioca flour to coat the board. Knead the dough for about two minutes.

Back in the bowl to rest for 30 minutes
Put the kneaded dough ball back into the mixing bowl and cover with paper towels or a dish towel and let set for about 30 minutes.

And the fun begins!

16 pieces of dough ready to roll

Once again, I forgot to take a picture, the one where I show you how to separate the dough. Use that imagination again here. I take a sharp knife and cut the ball into two parts, then cut those two pieces into two parts, and so on until I have 16 pieces. If you want to make really big tortillas, you can cut eight pieces. I recommend staying small with these, because they are a little hard to handle if they're too big, and sometimes they tend to fall apart while you're working with them.

Let me just say this here...never in a trillon years would I have a cooking show, BUT if I did...I'm pretty sure they'd call it 

A Southern Mess

So, I'm warning you, these pictures are gonna get messier as we go on. I tend to be covered in flour when I'm finished with these.

My very messy cutting board filled with very messy tortillas

Take each little dough ball and mash each one down with your hand and then with a very well coated rolling pin, shape into the best tortilla shape you can get. You can see from these that some look way better than others. I'm more concerned with getting them to stay in one piece here than how they look. Some recipes call for an egg or two, but I'm allergic to egg whites, so that's not an option for me. Some call for honey, but honey is a no-no on the Whole30.

This one needed a little extra help

Sometimes you have one that just refuses to co-operate so I just give it a little spritz with my homemade non-stick spray(olive oil and water). They usually straighten up and act right after this.

Spraying the grill

I cook my tortillas on my stove top grill, you can use a large iron skillet or an electric grill. I keep my non-stick spray handy to spray each time before placing the tortillas on the grill. Start your grill on high, but if they start getting too brown, you'll need to adjust the heat. I usually turn it down on low before I'm finished.

Tortillas on the grill...one nice, one messy! That's the story of my kitchen.

 As you can see, some end up with a little too much flour, but no worries, they're still yummy!

16 ready to eat warm Almond flour tortillas

The finished product. When you can't have bread, these are seriously worth the trouble and the messy kitchen that you end up with.

We're thinking up all sorts of things to do with these....I'm thinking chicken pot pie, some sort of fruit roll, etc. They have a sweet nutty taste, but not a strong one, they are really very, very good.

Adron, aka Boy....he's a bit messy too. He takes after his Nana I think!

I had a helper in the kitchen today, my grandson, Adron. He loved the tortillas and he actually ended up with less flour on him than I did. He's a great helper, but he doesn't have an off switch if you know what I mean!

In simpler terms, here's the recipe

3 cups almond flour
1 cup Tapioca or Coconut flour
2 tsps sea salt
4 tsps Olive or Coconut oil
1 cup warm almond milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, mix and add the oil. Mix and then add the warm milk. Form into a ball, turn out on a floured board and knead for two minutes. Place back into the bowl, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Turn out onto floured board, with a sharp knife, cut ball into 16 evenly sized pieces. Taking one at a time, press the ball to flatten slightly, then with a well floured rolling pin, roll into tortillas of desired thickness. On a hot griddle or large cast iron skillet sprayed with non-stick spray, place the tortillas, brown quickly, turn and brown other side and remove with a spatula to a plate.

Note: If you want to make these with regular flour(which isn't really good for you, you know) simply use four cups regular flour and no additional flours. You will also need to increase the milk amount to 1 1/2 cups. You can use regular milk if it's acceptable to you. 


I think that's Spanish for Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How Do You Milk an Almond? aka Super Easy Make it Yourself Almond Milk & Creamer

I told someone I was making almond milk.

I should have expected it.

"How do you milk an almond?" 

Seriously, I never thought I'd be making almond milk, I have said over and over, I don't like almond milk, it tastes like nuts and milk isn't supposed to taste like nuts.

So there.

Or so I thought.

A few years ago, I thought I couldn't live without my milk...I would drink a gallon a day if I could. I love milk.

Simply. Love. Milk.

But, when my allergy and food sensitivity blood work came back... there it was on the foods to avoid list...milk.

I was depressed. But I gave it up. I was willing to give anything up to feel better and for the headaches to stop. You do what you have to do.

I learned to love Rice Dream Milk...hey, you take what you can.

However as time went by, I picked the milk habit back up, then after a time I realized I needed the lactose free so I went that route.

Then we were introduced to the Whole30 plan. No dairy, no sugars, no grains, no additives. It's an awesome plan designed to reset your system and rid your body of all the toxins and junk we've been shoveling in for most of our lives.

No dairy means no milk, lactose free or not. So I had to come up with something, No Rice Dream either, since rice is a no-no on the Whole30.

Almonds are a yes-yes.

I searched until I found the basic process for making the almond milk.

Most recipes call for some sort of ingredient that has sugar involved, I had no vanilla beans and vanilla flavoring has either corn syrup or sugar, so I left that out.

Here's my recipe, for the milk and for a richer version you can use for coffee creamer.

For milk:

2 cups plain almonds(not salted or roasted)
2-4 dates, no sugar added
3 1/2 - 4  cups water
Sea salt to taste
Vanilla bean(optional)

Most recipes call for 1 or 1 1/2 cups almonds for this amount of water, but I wanted mine a little richer. It's a matter of preference, the 1 1/2 cups was a little weak tasting to me.

Cover the almonds and soak for 8 hours, if you don't have this much time, they will do ok, I soaked the first batch for about 4 hours.

Drain and rinse the almonds.

Add almonds and 3 1/2 cups water to blender. If your blender is large enough, add all four cups water, if not, you can add the last 1/2 cup later.

Add 2-4 dates, depending on amount of sweetness you want and the size of the dates, you'll want to experiment with this. I used 3 large dates. If you're using a vanilla bean, chop and add with the dates. If you're not worried about the sugar, you can just use some vanilla extract. You can also choose to just leave the vanilla flavor out, it's still very good without it.

Add sea salt and blend on high for one minute.

This is what you have after blending.

Now the fun begins!

I take a large strainer and strain the blended mess....there will be a lot of pulp. I strain back and forth several times from measuring bowl to blender until there is very little pulp left in the mix. Be sure and rinse your containers and strainer each time to cut down on the pulp left in the milk. Be sure and have a bowl sitting close by to dump the pulp in each time.

Then I strain it through a cheesecloth, squeezing to get all the milk out.

You have just milked an almond...or in this case, a bunch of almonds. 

If you've only used part of your water and you want to add more, this is the time. Do a taste test, if it's too rich, add a little water.

Shake well to mix before drinking, as the milk will separate a bit.

For Creamer

The process is exactly the same, you simply reduce the amount of water.

For 2 cups of soaked almonds, use 3 cups of water, you really can't use less, you won't have any milk to speak of. If you're a person who has to have some sweet in your coffee, you might increase the dates, this is the only sweet you're going to get in this recipe, unless you're using vanilla flavoring. However, if you're going totally sugar free, the vanilla flavoring is a no-no.

This is what you're left with, this is actually what I saved after making about four batches. You can add it to your compost or dehydrate it and make almond meal, an excellent alternative for flour. This is totally gluten free too! It's a win-win!

UPDATE:  After making several recipes of this today, and using six cups of almonds, I was about to set the large bowl of pulp aside to dry a bit before placing in the dehydrator when I had a brainstorm.

...no worries..the damage was minimal.

I put the pulp, in small amounts, back in the blender, added water and gave it another spin in the blender. After re-blending all the pulp, I had another almost half-gallon of good almond milk. So, if you have the time, run it through the blender again before discarding or drying. You get double for your money!

The pulp on the dehydrator racks.

I have one of these round stacking dehydrators and wasn't sure how it would work, but the pulp is moist enough that you can clump it up and it doesn't fall through the holes too bad. The bottom is solid so it will catch any that does. The almond meal process is a matter for another day and another blog.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sweet Summertime Diffuser Blends

It's Summertime in Texas and I understand it is everywhere else too....except Australia and the South Pole anyway. Most people long for those lazy, hazy crazy days of Summer and I admit, they do have their moments. Kids are running free, lakes and beaches are full of boaters, skiers, and swimmers. Backyard BBQs are filling the neighborhood with delicious smells, gardens are providing all sorts of healthy things for us...it's a wondrous time of year really.

I find myself not using my diffusers on these long Summer days like I did during Winter and Spring. I'm not sure why, maybe because there isn't as much sickness going around. My diffusers got a big workout during cold and flu season this year and incidentally, they did a great job keeping those nasty bugs away.

I've also found myself being a bit lazy these days, not wanting to do anything much. I'm not a "hot weather lover." I tend to hibernate more in Summer than I do in Winter. Summertime might mean more time to play, but to me it means 100+ days of oppressive humid heat....uggghhhh.

Sooooooooooo...Patti's Place needs a good perking up this morning. I've got work to do and it's not going away.....and what better way than to get those diffusers going with some great combinations of Spark Naturals PharmaGrade Essential Oils.

One word comes to mind here....


Then two words come to mind....Peppermint and Spearmint....and then another...Wintergreen. These are all great cooling oils that also have the ability to wake you up and get you going.

Great starting oils for a Summertime Perk Me Up Diffuser Blend

Rather than list a lot of recipes for a Perk Me Up Blend, I'm just going to give you the basics and let you do your thing.

Take you some mint oil, either Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen or a combination of the three and add you some citrus, any you have on hand, any combination, just find what works for you.

For example....for a

Perk Me Up Blend


4 drops Peppermint/Spearmint/Wintergreen or combination
3 drops Citrus Oil of your choice
1 drop Rosemary

Here's a list of Citrus oils you might try

Wild Orange

Let's look at the other side of the coin here....

Maybe you don't need perking up, maybe you need slowing down. Even if you don't I just bet those kids home for the summer may need a little restful stuff diffusing in the house before the day is over.

Restful Blend

I recommend blending a recipe of this and keeping in a small bottle labeled "Restful Blend" so you don't have to open several bottles when you're needing this. This is also a wonderful blend to diffuse in a bedroom at night to help with sleep.

10 drops Lavender
10 drops Ylang Ylang
10 drops Bergamot
10 drops Vetiver
10 drops Marjoram
10 drops Roman Chamomile

Use 5-10 drops in diffuser. If you don't have all these oils, just use what you have, you'll still get great results, I promise!

I was raised in the Piney Woods of East Texas and spent the most part of my childhood roaming those woods. I still love a walk in the woods, it's just a peaceful place for me. However, it's not always possible and for many of you it's never possible. I have found several oils that have the ability to transport me(beam me up, Scotty!) to a woodsy place in my senses and I love the smells.

A Walk in the Woods Blend

2-4 drops White Fir and/or Frankincense
3 drops Cypress
2 drops Vetiver

Can you imagine the sheer loveliness of being able to stroll past this every day and just breathe in the fragrance? Most of us don't get that opportunity, but you can bring a bit of it into your home with this simple flowery blend.

Flowers at Epcot Center, Disney World

Go Smell the Flowers Blend

2 drops Geranium
2 drops Black Pepper(combined with Geranium, you get a carnation smell)
2 drops Lavender

Got canning, cooking, etc that has to be done....try this to get you "in the mood."

Cookin' in the Kitchen Blend

2 drops Marjoram
2 drops Lime
2 drops Ginger

And, just because I like it... one of my favorite diffusing blends, and for no other reason than I like the smell of Lemongrass Sage, is

Lemongrass Sage Blend

4 drops Clary Sage
4 drops Lemongrass

Happy Diffusing!