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Jan 062011
 

Samara Botane has embraced a number of changes to lower our carbon footprint and hold to our commitment of stewardship and ecology. You can see the progress we’ve made here, including eco-policies we have put into place in the last several years.

christmas tree2One of the small things we do personally each year has been to steam distill the twigs/needles from our Christmas tree.  This trick was taught to me by my friend Carrol who is in tree care in Marietta GA. This gives us healthful aromatic products that serve us throughout the coming year, extending the precious benefits of the tree.  How easily Westerners quickly discard their  trees, perhaps with no realization of the years of growth and energy Nature has invested on our behalf.  I hope you will consider exploring the additional uses and benefits, beyond the magical decoration for the holiday season, and save some of those branches to make delightful and healthful products for yourself and your family.  This year, we will again be distilling the gorgeous Noble Fir that blessed our family this season and offering the hydrosol for sale after it has rested for a few weeks and passes scrutiny.  I decided to look for other ideas to share, in order to savor our Christmas trees, long after the season.

Firs, Pines and Spruces are the most preferred Conifers for use in aromatherapy, and in most culinary applications.  In this blogpost, I focus on Fir which includes Abies procera (Noble Fir) pictured,  Abies grandis (Grand Fir),  Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir), and Abies alba (White Fir).  Olfactory attributes as described in perfumery for Firs are: strongly balsamic, slightly fatty-oily reminiscent of a pine forest and fruity-balsamic undertones.  There are subtle olfactory nuances for each species. Chefs, like Rene Redzepi of Copenhagen describe Fir in culinary terms as  having a pungent, citrusy flavor with green-minty backnotes.

If you do not have distillation equipment, you can make a simple aromatic herbal infusion by simmering the chopped needles (ratio: equal parts fresh water to needles, but make sure needles are covered completely by water)  in a covered pot on the stove for 10-20 minutes, reduce heat and let cool in tightly covered pot to avoid loss of aromatic oils.  Your infusion can be used to make simple herbal syrup of medium thickness (add equal parts of your infusion and organic sugar, bring to a boil stirring frequently, reduce heat and simmer until candy thermometer reaches at least 185 degrees, but no hotter than 220 degrees.  You want to ensure the sugar is completely dissolved, but mixture does not turn to candy.  Allow the syrup to cool gradually and do not refrigerate until entirely cool.

You can glaze a sponge cake for an unusual dessert sure to delight guests, or use this pungent syrup for a tasty fish or mussels dish to top rice.  Native Americans often prepared fish wrapped in Pine needles, cooked over an open fire.  You can grind needles with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder dedicated to herbs and mix with other savory herbs, salts and peppers for a tasty mixture for soups and stews.  Experiment and share your favorite ideas back with us!

The infusion, as well as the ground botanical, can be added to a bath along with sea salts and a few drops of Fir essential oil for a reviving soak.  You can make an aromatic spray for your home or car with the infusion, again adding a few drops of the essential oil for strength.  The dried botanical is also a lovely incense, burned on charcoal.

herbal syrups 402x229I made a few herbal syrups towards the end of the growing season.  They were great gifts for friends and family.  These include Spearmint, Orange, Lavender and Rugosa Rose.  All but the Orange were from my garden.  Pictured at right, they are made with organic sugar, with no added color, but strengthened with a few drops of the requisite essential oil.  We are offering one of each as a bonus to our Facebook group members – the first four to submit orders of $100 or more with the Coupon Code will receive a 5-oz. bottle, randomly chosen.  You can join the Samara Botane Facebook Group here to get details.   Take a look at other aromatic offerings at our website here.

We will be holding another Treasure Hunt in the coming months, and watch for Rob’s upcoming report on aromaconnection exploring the affects of climate change on aromatic plants and crops.

I and the rest of the staff at Samara Botane welcome the New Year, bracing for its challenges.  We wish you a very good twenty-eleven and remind you to use your aromatics, especially for stress and anxiety, sleeplessness and combating pollen and viral pollution.

Inhale Deeply and Breathe . . . Breathe . . . Peace.
Marcia

 Posted by at 11:43 pm
Mar 242010
 

For Schools To Open in Spring 2021, Teachers and Students Need to Mask Up

Americans are rightly concerned about the negative educational effects of the pandemic, especially for underserved student groups like low-income students of color and students with disabilities. All across the country, there is growing pressure to find ways to safely get as many children as possible back in schools. Despite our best efforts, online learning is just not as good as in-person, and the consequences of a full year online may be devastating. At the same time, the pandemic is spiking all across the country, threatening school reopening plans in many places.

One policy solution that will keep Covid-19 transmission rates low and help get students back into schools is mandated mask wearing, and state and district leaders who want a return to in-person teaching and learning might be mulling such a policy. There are certainly school districts that have been open throughout the fall without mask mandates, and we don’t yet know whether the most recent spike will affect district policies after the holidays. But we know that masks have become increasingly politicized and partisan, so we have been studying a range of data to understand the prevalence of, and support for, masks in schools. Based on our analyses, we think that mandated mask wearing is the most feasible and highest-leverage policy to get kids back in the classroom.

Back to school on a budget: 11 back-to-school savings tips

Cash-saving tips for back-to-school shopping without busting your budget.

  1. Take Inventory—Consider what you’ll actually need before hitting the stores. Has your child grown out of their schools clothes or will they do so by September? Can you reuse last year’s school supplies or will you need to replace some items?
  2. Set a Budget—Create a shopping list and stick to it, so you avoid impulse purchases. That fancy-schmancy Transformers’ Trapper Keeper can push your budget over the edge. Find out the best budget deals like this domtar cougar paper.
  3. Use Coupons—There may be great deals, but coupons can make them even greater.
  4. Shop Early—Stores are rolling out their best deals of the year early in the shopping season. As they say, the early bird gets the worm.
  5. Go Mobile—Tap into your mobile phone with apps like “RedLaser,” which allows you to scan bar codes and find any cheaper prices online or at other retailers.
  6. Check Social Media—Twitter and Facebook are great places to find deals offered to a brand’s social-media fan base. “Like” or “Follow” the merchant and keep an eye out for coupons and sales announcements.
  7. Buy in Bulk—Take advantage of bulk offers on pens, crayons, paper and other items your kids will burn through over the course of the year. You might team up with other parents for bigger bulk purchases that will bring prices down even lower.
  8. Spend more to save more—Sometimes it costs money to save money. For example, retailers often offer a 15-percent savings pass for purchases of a set minimum amount.
  9. Exchange—Gather your family and friends — along with their kid’s school wardrobes — for an exchange night of hand-me-downs that will save everyone money.
  10. Wait until Labor Day—Labor Day is the traditional time for big sales on school clothing. You might take a chance and wait until then to buy items for a fall and winter wardrobe for your child.
  11. Buy for yourself—Back-to-school sales aren’t just for kids. You might stock up on office supplies, jeans and other items that traditionally go on sale during this season.

First, the simple truth is that parent support for mandatory masking in schools is high and growing. For instance using the nationally representative USC Dornsife Understanding America Study (UAS), we found that parent support for mandatory face coverings in schools has increased substantially since the summer, from 45 percent of households when we first asked in July, to more than two-thirds in October (69 percent) (for more on our methodology, see here and here).

Perhaps the increase in support is due to the large number of students currently in schools with mask-wearing policies—our most recent wave of data (administered in November, 2020) found that 90 percent of students currently in attending school in person or hybrid were required to wear masks. If you’re experiencing masks in school and finding that the benefits outweigh the costs, you may be less resistant to the policy.

Second, despite popular perception, mandatory mask-wearing in schools is supported by a majority of all racial/ethnic, regional, and partisan groups. When we last asked in October, 82 percent of Democrats supported mask-wearing and 51 percent of Republicans. Mask-wearing was supported by the majority of Asian (85 percent), Black (82 percent), Hispanic (75 percent), and White (62 percent) families, as well as 58 percent of families living in rural areas and 79 percent of families in urban areas. While support was higher in some groups than others, the vast majority of families across all groups support mask-wearing policies.

What explains the variation across groups in support for masks? One factor may be experiences with Covid and, relatedly, beliefs about the risks of Covid to children. When we asked parents whether they agreed that children are at serious risks of Covid health effects, 89 percent of Black households agreed, compared to 70 percent of Asian households, 69 percent of Hispanic households, and only 44 percent of White households. Black households were also less likely than other groups to agree that school closures were more harmful to children than the risk of Covid. We found similar patterns across other demographic and regional groups, echoing these groups’ support for mandatory mask-wearing.

Third, we can’t open schools without teachers, and recent evidence suggests that teachers are overwhelmingly supportive of mask policies. A recent survey of a representative sample of Los Angeles-area teachers, for instance, found that mask wearing was the single most critical need for teachers to feel comfortable returning to the classroom—75 percent of teachers said it was critical (compared to just 36 percent who said a vaccine was critical, for instance). Teachers also supported smaller class sizes and spacing, which likely can be achieved given that not all students who are welcomed back to the classroom will actually return. In short, teachers are by-and-large comfortable returning to the classroom if they are protected with masks and adequate spacing.

Where does this leave state and school district leaders? On the one hand, our results suggest that parents are mostly on board with mandatory mask wearing in schools, particularly in urban and democratic areas. At the same time, urban districts tend to serve more low-income students of color whose parents may be more reticent to send them back to school. As urban districts do start to hatch their reopening plans, they should consider how they are going to address parents’ concerns and serve students whose parents opt for at-home or hybrid options.

Certainly, the win from Biden might begin to reshape the conversation around masks and in-person learning. At the very least, we can expect a Biden Department of Education might project a more favorable rhetoric around mask wearing in schools. And the new administration will likely take their role in Covid monitoring much more seriously, perhaps by creating a federally mandated national data tracking system to study the impact of school reopening on Covid transmission. But state and district leaders shouldn’t wait for the U.S. Department of Education to tell them what to do. They should work with health experts in their state to safely reopen their schools, with masking and appropriate distancing, as soon as possible.

 Posted by at 7:02 pm
Jan 152010
 

I put my arms around him yes
and drew him down to me so he could
feel my breasts all perfume yes
and his heart was going like mad
and yes I said yes I will Yes.
James Joyce

According to the New Advent Encyclopedia Section, there were at least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs. One is described as a priest, another as a bishop and the third suffered in Africa with a number of companions, although nothing further is known. The popular, and now modern, customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day have their origins in conventional belief in the geographical regions of England and France during the Middle Ages. This belief stems from the observation that half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair.
Thus, in Chaucer’s Parliment of Foules,
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s Day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

For this reason, the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and the proper occasion for writing love letters and sending tokens to one’s object of affection. The French and English literatures are rife with allusions to the practice in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Those who chose each other under these circumstances called each other their Valentines.

One romantic legend, according to History.com contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II believed that single men made better soldiers and outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius after realizing the injustice of the decree and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

The oldest valentine in existence is thought to be a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the tower of London in 1415. Valentine greetings and tokens of affection were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, although written valentines didn’t appear until after 1400. The first commercial valentine in the United States is attributed to Esther A. Howland who made elaborate creations with lace, ribbons and colorful pictures, known as ‘scrap’.  The scanned image at right is one of several elaborate, lacy valentines belonging to my long deceased great grandmother.
A typical verse:
I send you this, with hope and fear
With hope that you will tender be;
Yet all the while, I tremble dear,
Lest you should not be fancy-free
I could not bear the hopeless fate
To hear the cruel words – too late.

Would that we could have such tender Romeos today to bare these fragile inner feelings and show such deep emotional love. Certainly not in this age of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Resident Evil 4.

In Roman mythology, Cupid (meaning ‘desire’) is the god of erotic love and beauty, aka Amor, and son of goddess Venus and god Mercury. We have exploited this young deity in art, literature, confection, adornment and perfume at this time of year, some would say to excess. And, while we moderns are probably not going to participate in the elaborate ancient celebration of Lupercalia, which occurred in ancient Rome on February 15, and when some of the weirdest customs were indulged, it is perhaps another precursor to our modern celebratory immersion in romance and fertility.

Those of us who garden in the northern climes can’t ignore the fact that February 14 is also the approximate time for the beginning of the Spring thaw, another significant allusion to fertility.

While we may never know all of the facts of the history that lies behind Valentines Day; most of us are smitten with the idea of heartfelt expression and indulgence to bestow favor and admiration on those we care deeply about or wish to have a romantic relationship with.

Any expression of universal love in light of the overwhelming humanitarian disaster in Haiti must include our commitment to the brave and beautiful people of that impoverished country.  During the first quarter of 2010, Samara Botane will donate 10% of all all sales (not just web sales) to Partners in Health.  PIH works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. Their work has three goals: to care for patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world. Partners in Health has been in Haiti for over 20 years and its hospitals are untouched by the recent earthquake. They have been the first medical response to the disaster and their doctors and medical personnel are primarily Haitian citizens. Based in Boston, PIH employs more than 11,000 people worldwide, including doctors, nurses and community health workers. The vast majority of PIH staff are local nationals based in the communities we serve.

Valentine Gift Suggestions

Amoretto™ Parfum Mist, 7.5 ml in brushed silver atomizer

Soft florals of Rose Otto and Ylang Ylang with hints of zesty Citrus, grounded with Vetiver & Sandalwood and a mere whisper of Black Pepper, Clary Sage and Juniper make this a lovely fragrant poem of innocent love. This fine perfume is a 30% perfume composition in certified organic perfumers alcohol, with moderate silage and a uniquely soft, sweet scent for young and old alike. Festively packaged in chic acetate pillow with sizzle fill.

Relax in the tub and treat your skin to nourishment and renewal

Renew Milk & Honey Bath Ensemble

The additive dissolves in your bath to create a beautiful skin softening therapy – a few drops of the essential oil blend make it aromatically restful while adding additional skin healing, and the aromatherapy body lotion completes the experience of skin rejuvenation and renewal. Packaged in a charming little reuseable suitcase. Delightful luxury for the love of your life. There are many of sites to guide on it.

Please explore our website for lovely naturally fragrant gifts and indulgences for your loved ones. If you have difficulty finding what you are looking for, or need some ideas or explanations, or want to put together a custom gift, you can always email or call me.

Free shipping to you or your recipient on orders placed before February 8th, with an additional bonus gift for the purchaser of one of our recipe booklets for refreshing skin, hair and body treatments and aromatherapy ideas for health and beauty. dont forget to add that meaningful romance quotes for him.

Sending fragrant thoughts your way for this beautiful Valentine’s Day! Share your love abundantly with all you touch.

Marcia and the Samara Botane crew

 Posted by at 6:56 pm
Uk meds