Archives for April 2011

Craving and obsession

While each of my pregnancies has accompanied the typical heightened sense of smell that many women experience, this one has been extreme.  My poor family, and especially my husband, have had to put up with so much from me.  During my second trimester I had this disgusting issue with gagging.  All sorts of smells gagged me and I couldn’t help but make these awful loud gagging noises, especially when changing diapers.  Jonny ended up taking on diaper duty for a couple of months because I just couldn’t handle it. 

My boys have been instructed more than usual to “go brush your teeth.”  And when I’ve been feeling really sensitive those orders include mouthwash (that’s good stuff by the way-so effective.)  It’s also possible that I have made requests that no one do any “open mouth breathing” near me.  Yes, it’s been really bad.  I have tried to be nice about the whole thing.
On the other hand, there are certain scents that I have totally craved.  These have all been strong non-food smells.  When it comes to food I haven’t dealt with major nausea or food aversions, I just haven’t been that interested in food–absolutely no food cravings.  On the other hand I love the smell of rubbing alcohol, the natural oil wood finish that Jonny’s uses (fancy non-toxic stuff,) and citronella.  At the top of my list are two things though:  the strong eucalyptus scent of Burt’s Bees Hand Salve, and Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh peppermint toothpaste.  I am so addicted to brushing my teeth with that toothpaste!  Sometimes I have to brush twice in a row it’s so great.  I know-this is really weird;  I am a little obsessed. 
Yesterday I decided to try to replicate Burt’s Bees Hand Salve by creating a recipe based on it’s ingredient list and the way it smells.  I gathered almond and olive oil, some herbs and essential oils, and of course some beeswax, and made my own hand salve. 
My version turned out pretty good, and I know it will get used up quickly by my husband who has super rough “man hands” as he calls them, but it isn’t exactly what I was aiming for.  Next time I make it I will make a couple of changes, mainly replacing most of the olive oil with almond oil, and maybe cutting back on the herbs I simmered in the oil so that the scents from the essential oils stand out even more.
Here’s the recipe I created, following the same basic steps that I did when we made chickweed salve.
1/2 c. almond oil
1/2 c. olive oil
dried herbs simmered in the oil:
4T lavender flowers
2T rosemary leaves
2T comfrey leaves
1T comfrey root
After simmering the herbs in the oil and straining them out I added:
10 drops rosemary oil
10 drops lavender oil
25 drops eucalyptus oil
finally I added two generous tablespoons of beeswax pastilles, waited for them to dissolve, and then poured my salve into a tin.
This is definitely a great hand salve, but again, not perfect in the scent department.  I am going to keep trying.

Remarkable Trees of Virginia: Alexandria Holly

We visited this tree a couple of weeks ago, and I am just now managing to go through the pictures and make an attempt at composing my thoughts.  I can’t say that my kids got as excited about this American holly as they do the really gigantic oak trees we have been visiting, but Seth especially was determined to see it nevertheless.  American hollies (Ilex opaca) are slow growing evergreen trees, and are not particularly long lived, the oldest specimens being about 150 years old.  The cemetery that this tree resides in, in Old Town Alexandria, has tombstones dating from the early 1800s, so the tree most likely was planted after the cemetery was established.
One of the interesting facts about American holly trees that we learned from our Remarkable Trees of Virginia book, is that George Washington was particularly fond of them, and planted them at Mt. Vernon. He mentions them frequently in his diaries, and the fact that he planted them from both saplings and seeds. Sadly none of the trees that he planted are living today. And just in case you didn’t know and assuming you want to… only the female holly trees produce berries, and they do require a male tree to bear fruit (they are dioecious.)


My kids were feeling pretty silly this day, so while I took dozens of group photos with the tree, there is not a single one with all five of them looking “normal.”
My girls have just about as much fashion sense as I do…
and of course I let them dress themselves most of the time.


The boys agreed that this hollowed out Sycamore tree was “cooler” than the holly tree.
Classic Seth–I have so many photos of him with this expression on his face, even when he was a toddler.


(this cemetery is adjacent to the one the holly tree resides in)
I felt a little nervous taking my children to visit a tree in cemetery.  I was concerned about things like teaching respect for the dead, but then it dawned on me, that were I buried in that cemetery that I would like nothing more than to have laughing children running around and even dancing on my grave.