Make Camellia Hydrosol at Home

"Could it be that only those things are considered worthy of being learned with which one can earn money or prestige, and that love, which "only" profits the soul, but is pointless in the modern sense, is a luxury we have no right to spend much energy on?" Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

So good, it feels like an age old dilemma, personal satisfaction vs. professional progress, spirituality vs. science, and in this case love vs. money, I actually don't think there is any "versus" to speak of necessarily, but we somehow create separation between things in our mind, and I might argue that these things can be separate, they can also comprise different pieces that make a whole human experience. That there are both love and money and sometimes they overlap, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes things are isolated, but most often the things we love work in tandem with other things. Some activities are solitary, until we bring them to a community, and sometimes we practice, as I do for example yoga, mostly alone, and sometimes in a group. It doesn't have to be either or, either you live a life your passionate about or your make money. I think the love vs. money idea is gone for me. I'll gladly open the door for it to leave, and create a spinning void for some new ideas, and a new experience of life. 

I've been thinking life is lousy with absolutes.  And I just don't think they're all that relevant. 

So it's had me thinking, do we as a society really think that only the things that will earn us money are worth learning? I guess this is a question mostly for myself as I continuously study the use of herbs and how to make more and more things out of them is, is the overlap of passion and finance really so terrible? I don't think so. In short, I think passions are well worth pursuing, and all things in life can mesh together seamlessly. 

On to what a hydrosol is, I like this explanation from Mountain Rose Herbs: "Hydrosols, also known as "flower waters," are produced by distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers, and other plant materials. With similar therapeutic properties to essential oils, these aromatic waters are much less concentrated. Their aromas are often soft and subtle when compared to their essential oil counterpart. These aromatic products usually have a scent similar to their essential oil, but also can have a greener note. This comes from the water soluble constituents in the plant material that are not present in the essential oil."

To me a hydrosol is basically a plant infusion, but without having to drain out the plant material. It's a little bit cleaner of a process and hydrosols for me last a bit longer. I keep them in the fridge for up to a month. I also think the smell of hydrosols comes out a little bit cleaner too, a little less perfume-y and a bit greener which I can appreciate. Much like essential oils you can pick which plant is compatible with your skin's needs, but essential oils are far more concentrated than hydrosols which I primarily use for toners or to thin down lotions or just mix up with some aloe vera for some after sun care. 

They're super easy to make, but can be a little bit time consuming depending on how much hydrosol you need.

    Here's what you'll need:

    • Plants to distill - I used camellias I couldn't find any dried varieties but you can buy camellia oil, which is getting more and more popular and add it to your hydrosol
    • about 1/2 gallon of distilled water - distilled water is important, it's the least likely to grow bacteria
    • a large pot with a lid
    • two small bowls
    • ziplock bag full of ice. 

    Directions: 

    • In a large pot place one bowl upside down in the center, and the other bowl on top right side up. The bottom bowl should serve as a table for the bowl that collects the hydrosol. This way you keep your hydrosol away from direct heat. 
    • Place the plants you chose inside of the pot and cover with water. You can use more or less than I did depending on how many plants you have to distill, but make sure they're covered with water. 
    • Place lid on the pot upside down and put the bag of ice on top. 
    • This facilitates the process although I've heard it's not entirely necessary. I always use the ice anyways. 
    • Place on medium heat and allow the mixture to stay at a very low simmer for the beginning of the process, and then reduce to low trapping the heat inside. 
    • I let mine go for approximately 4 hours and got about 2 1/2 cups of hydrosol from it. I replaced the ice as needed. 
    • When you have as much as you need remove from heat, and keep the lid on as it cools, it's likely that as it cools you'll collect a little bit more hydrosol. 
    • Store in the fridge in a jar with a lid, use it to make lotions, or you can even use it in place of rose water in recipes. 

    Rose Avocado Body Scrub or Soak

    I never know what I am going to write until I sit down to do it. I have a love/hate relationship with this fact. I love the spontaneity. I love that there is always something in me whenever I stop to check. I guess the only thing there is to hate about it is, the things I try to take mental notes to write about never seem to come to fruition, and that's less hate-worthy, and more just confusing. But I guess it's a flow that I better just surrender to because I obviously have no other options. 

    rose scrub 5 (1 of 1).jpg

    I guess, a long bath is the same in a way, as is meditating, or spending time in nature. You're just not quite sure what's in you, until you give it a chance to come out. All the different directions in which your mind is spinning, might as well be a mystery, until you can slow yourself down enough physically to take the space to look at them. Baths satisfy this pretty well for me. Sitting somewhere warm and supported to just let it all roll out as it will. 

    rose petal 7.jpg

    This overwhelming need to hide and fulfill some norm in an industry, in life, inside, it's all nonsense, and really nothing compared to slowing down, and feeling, earnestly feeling, well, everything, and anything, and unapologetically at that. Taking a minute to soak in a bath, read a book, sit outside, and realize that everything that moves through is a part of you, being something beautiful like compassion, or love, or something with a bit more of a shadow like fear, rage, or judgement. It's all just stuff moving around being part of a bigger and more complicated experience, and all the parts make up the whole. There's really nothing wrong with that, it's not fragmented. It's complete.  

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    Here's what you'll need:

    • 2 cups of epson salt - I use one that eucalyptus scented
    • 1/2 cup of avocado oil
    • rose petals - dried work better, these are fresh and they'll lose their pigment if they sit in the salt for too long. 
    rose scrub 4 (1 of 1).jpg

    Directions:

    • Mix all ingredients together

    Tips to Create a Succulent Arrangement

    There's something so satisfying to me about working with my hands. It gets me out of my head and into some other space where there just seems to be so much more fluidity. Even when dealing with the irritating obstacle of having to deal with all of the little splinters from succulents, there's just something nice about creating something new. Something that grows and changes, and becomes part of your home, and you can see it daily, and then bring your friends over and give them the museum tour that is everything you've made in the last month.  

    So, I have a few tips that I've learned from having to work with these little monsters. A few practical. A few design. Hopefully, all relevant. 

    1. Pick your container: You're going to need a container for container gardening, in case that was news. :) This one was a few bucks from a thrift store, and I think it has a bit of a Moroccan feel, which I've been into recently. I've seen a lot of other cute styles, glass is popular and it feels a little more modern, or a cool tin container could be awesome if your style is more rustic and vintage, but for me this was the first step, and it kind of sets the whole tone. A few things to think about: How much of the dirt is visible? Do you want to layer it with rocks? Spend some time getting some inspiration, then let it go and see what container finds you, and go with it. Don't rule out old bowls or containers that look a little hopeless, everything can have new life with plants in it. It's magic.

    2. Pick your tone: This might be the most important part. When I look through all of my favorite succulent arrangements on Pinterest, they all have this in common. They're built using either all bold colors, or all pastels, or all greens, or something that looks more mixed but is just a wisely chosen color choice used over and over. I took my bowl with me to the store to see what looked nice inside it. I settled on these matted tones with a few pops of color. But find the mood of your own succulent bowl and see what you think fits. 

    3. Pick a color scheme: Ok, so color scheme. Obviously it seems like green would be involved, but it doesn't have to be. There are plenty of succulents that are peach and purple, and a whole variety of colors so that you could avoid green and pick a different color for your neutral. Mine is this matted green with red, and pink accents. You can even see some red in the prickly parts of some of these cactus. There's also a good amount of white which in succulents always has kind of a dramatic effect that I like. 

    4. Vary in Height and Shape: Since I used all matte looking plants and limited the colors, the place where I varied the most was in the size and shape of the plants. I think this could work the other way too, using more colors and picking plants of similar shapes and sizes. I prefer the ones that choose consistency in color or tone than in the shapes, but that's just me. The point is the plants should look like they go together in some way.

    5. Arrange in the planter before planting: Ok, so the picture below doesn't look great, but it gives you and idea or what goes in the front and the back, and which go nicely together, where to add height and whatnot. All those things you want to think about before you pull out your gloves and start running the risk of having to move these guys and their splinters over and over. You kind of want to have an idea going in, so you don't have to handle them too much, because as adorable as these bowls are ultimately, it's not great to sit in the bath for an hour with a pair of tweezers finding splinters in your hands, thighs, face, and so on. 

    6. Wear gloves: Gloves aren't 100% fool-proof, I think there are some gloves particularly for succulents, I don't have them, but sounds like a good idea. I used plain gardening gloves which give a fair amount of protection, especially from the smaller more invasive little ones. The big ones are easy to find in your skin, but it's the finer, tinier ones that cause a huge nuisance.

    7. Don't plant your succulents too deep: Keep them at the same soil level they've been growing at. Planting them too deep will cause them to deteriorate or erode from water and moisture, especially when they're first planted. You want to keep their environment reasonably the same to avoid transplant shock, or too much moisture sitting on the top of the plant. 

    8. Give them a few days to settle: Every time I make a succulent arrangement it never looks amazing at first. There's always dust, and the plants have to kind of figure out where they are, but they settle in pretty quick and regain their full luster, which a few days of love and patience.

    Here are the varieties I used in no particular order:

    Aloe

    Argentine Opuntia

    Mammillaria Mystax

    Cereus Species (the tall one)

    Polaskia Chichipe

    Chamaelobivia Hybrid 'Rose Quartz'

     

    Just an adorable picture of some sweet notes sent to me recently.