One of my favorite things about living in a coastal city is the fog, especially on warm days when it peels back slowly to reveal a cloudless sky and leaves just enough gauzy mist to cool the air and soften everything in view. That was true of yesterday. After three days of confinement from illness, it was a glorious day to finally venture out, and it seems these crocuses, along with the rest of the neighborhood, felt the same! I live steps from the beach, which despite its numerous residents, is a very quiet place in the winter; I hadn’t seen it this busy since Labor Day. Traffic tangled at intersections and crawled along the Avenue, and Seattleites desperate for some Vitamin D thickened the sidewalks and lounged, fully clothed, in the sand.
It was a day that made it easy to forget we are only a third of the way through winter.
And while I am not sure those of us in the Pacific Northwest will be experiencing anything quite like the polar vortex of our Midwestern and East Coast friends, winter is bound to return with its stretches of rain and unyielding grey, which always makes me begin to crave some serious aromatherapy.
I find that my desire for certain scents changes with my emotional and physical needs, as well as with the seasons. A few years ago, I went through a phase where I couldn’t get enough rose geranium. I sprinkled the oil into every shower or bath, added it to my body lotion, and wore a perfume whose main note was geranium. Looking into the healing properties of the scent, I found that it helps to alleviate stress, balance female hormonal shifts, and aid skin ailments. Some research has shown that it stimulates the adrenal cortex, which mediates stress in the body. When your adrenals are overworked, your defenses are lowered. It made sense given the challenges of the time that I would be craving this restorative oil.
The body is a great source of its own healing, and tells us all the time what we need to balance, repair, and recover. If we take the time to focus and listen carefully to our body, we can often unearth a natural remedy in the foods, scents, sounds, images, or physical environment with which we interact.
So if you are in need of a serious mid-winter boost, or just want something new and delicious, here are some recommendations, any of which would also sweeten up a Valentine’s gift, along with a handcrafted card, of course!
Valentina’s Homebrewed Spells & Potions
Hands down, these products have been one of my most delightful finds in the last few months. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Valentina’s crafts delectable scent combinations, my favorites being Protection, Habit Breaker, and Sweet Dreams. The rich perfume oils come in little roller bottles which I dab on my wrists throughout the day whenever I need a little lift. Her formulations are not flimsy; they endure and maintain true to their profile when on the skin. There is some variation, as is usual, among the perfume, spray, and oil.
Her line of True Love products would be perfect for Valentine’s Day, if you love the scent of chocolate, cardamom, and roses, that is!
Speaking of chocolate, my next pick for an uplifting seasonal scent (and sweet treat) is Lulu’s Chocolate from Arizona.
I fell in love with Lulu’s handcrafted raw chocolate years ago, and couldn’t get enough of her body butter. It truly is good enough to eat.
No winter season is complete for me without her Mexican Chocolate mix, which local coffeeshop Hotwire uses for their mochas.
Next up, essential oils.
Not all essential oils are created equal. I am sure you have smelled some and wondered at the incongruence between the name on the label and the emanating odor that makes you want to cap the bottle quick! Two brands I turn to over and over for their quality and consistency are Seattle-based Uncle Harry’s Natural Products and Pharmaca’s line of oils.
Here are a few of my favorites in each brand:
Additionally, I am drawn to anything Eucalyptus. It’s one of the most invigorating scents I can imagine.
Both Pharmaca and Uncle Harry’s have solid eucalyptus oils. A few drops in the shower and suddenly the morning, or your head cold, become a little more manageable. For a double dose, Dr. Bronner’s eucalyptus liquid or bar soap is a must if you love Eucalyptus as much as I!
What a Little Candlelight Can Do…
Lastly, whether you are looking for uplift or romance, what is better than the glow of a candle? I have tried many brands, and the best one I have found for the money is from Aquiesse. Their candles burn evenly, cleanly, and completely, leaving no trace of wax behind; the scents are so saturated they fill multiple rooms, lingering even after being extinguished, and the gorgeous packaging makes them a delight to adorn any shelf. My top picks? Most of the time I tend toward a woodsy, musky scent with notes of vanilla, tobacco and sandalwood, or mandarin and spice, especially in the winter. The Cinnamon Tabac, Sandalwood Vanille, and Mandarin Tea all fit this profile perfectly; no matter what you prefer, though, they likely have the scent for you.
So have your senses been tempted yet? I hope I’ve offered some tantalizing options for you to explore!
When spring seems so far away, what revives your mind and body? I’d love to hear some of your scent-sational recommendations!
Thanks for stopping by, and may everything in your little corner of the world be coming up roses.
Here’s a sweet poem to send you on your way…
Spring and All
William Carlos Williams
By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen
patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees
All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—
They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind—
Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined—
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf
But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted they
grip down and begin to awaken