by erin stewart -879

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

I love putting together these gift guides for you each year. I try to keep a running list of things that I’m loving throughout the year so that I can then narrow it down and share some of my favorites with you. I know how hard it can be to come up with good gift ideas. If you’re like me and you enjoy supporting small businesses and shopping for unique items, I think you’ll really enjoy this collection of products. I’m even introducing you to a few of the business owners themselves!

Handmade Soaps

I really love artisan soap. I probably buy way too much of it and I’m always trying new brands. Our local co-op carries Camamu Soap (made here in Oregon) and I’ve been loving some of their scents this year. The Calendula Sun, Unrepentant Rose, Queen Bee, and Spicy Chai are my favorites at the moment. They also have a whole line of men’s shaving and skin care products, so if you’re still looking for ideas for the men in your family, this small business’ products could be a great option.

Bar soaps average $6.

Handmade Shelves and Home Decor

You might know that my husband, Jon, who hosts our Herbs & Oils podcast, teaches in the foraging course, and works with a lot of our magazine authors, is also a full-time artisan woodworker. He makes raised beds and planters for local garden stores, smaller boxes for florists around the country, and beautiful geometric shelves that he sells direct to consumer. He recently added these delightful hexagon shelves that perfectly fit 5ml essential oil bottles to his shop and they make lovely gifts. They’re currently on sale too!

Prices vary by size and shape.

Flower Elixirs and Mists

Jon bought this gift set for me earlier this year and I have loved using it so much. Katie Hess, author of Flowerevolution, is the owner of Lotus Wei and I absolutely love her products. The aura mists she formulates smell divine. This gift set comes with two aura mists and a flower elixir. It’s lovely – it would make a perfect set to give to a friend who wants to experiment with flower essences.

Seedspark Gift Set, $65

Watercolor Paints / Art Supplies

If you have a friend or loved one who enjoys painting botanicals with watercolors, I highly recommend the watercolor paints made by Sennelier. The L’Aquarelle collection is my absolute favorite paint to use when I’m doing botanical illustrations. They’re made with a honey base and have the most delightful consistency and vibrant colors. Your artsy friends won’t be disappointed.

Prices vary by set size

Books

This is such a beautiful, sweet little book. It’s filled with gorgeous watercolor illustrations and inspirational quotes that will stir up gratitude and an appreciation for the beauty of living. It would make a great stocking stuffer or just-because gift and I love the cover – it has pretty pink foil accents in the watercolor flowers!

$12.95

Botanical Illustrations

I love botanical prints and posters. I saw this one in a local boutique earlier this year and Jon noticed that I was admiring it. He went back and bought it for me for my birthday and it’s become one of my favorite pieces of artwork. I love older botanicals, especially the ones on black backgrounds. The darker color really makes the artwork pop off the paper. You can get this exact piece in a ready-to-hang kit here.

$24.95 for the poster + a hanging kit

Herb Seeds

One of my favorite organic herb seed suppliers is Richo Cech’s company, Strictly Medicinal Seeds. They offer so much variety and their seeds are of excellent quality. They’re also local to me here in the PNW, which is always a bonus!

Prices vary

Locally Distilled Essential Oils

If you don’t already, I highly recommend purchasing essential oils from small local farms whenever possible. Being able to visit the farm and see the plants and witness the distillation process will change the way you view and use your essential oils. If you don’t have a farm near you, you can ‘borrow’ one of ours – this exquisite Lavender angustifolia essential oil is handcrafted by hand in copper stills by our friends Sue and Derek Owen of The English Lavender Farm. It’s the finest, most beautiful Lavender oil I’ve ever encountered (and I’ve tried dozens!).

Lavender Essential Oil – 10ml, $24

Handmade Mugs

I love handmade mugs. I usually buy them locally (we have a great pottery community here), but some of my favorite online shops include kilnedwithkindness.etsy.com (I have 6+ of her pieces and love them all – this one in the center was made by her) and swellceramics.etsy.com (she made the cactus mug on the right).

Prices vary by artist

Gift Sets from Juniper Ridge

I first came across Juniper Ridge at an earthy, boho boutique when we were living in California and I fell in love with their woodsy colognes and scented body care products. I’ve been hoarding the last bits of my favorite cologne because it’s no longer available for purchase and it’s my most favorite scent of all time. (We ended up moving to the region where it was made!) Juniper Ridge has expanded their product line since I first found them, and it now includes tea (the douglas fir tea is amazing), incense, field-distilled essential oil blends, body washes and beautiful candles.

This year they have some amazing gift sets available, including this one called Holiday. It includes Christmas Fir incense sticks, pure essential oil, and a body wash, all made using sustainably harvested plants on the west coast. Each product in the set smells wonderful. You can learn more about how Juniper Ridge makes their essential oils and fragrance products here.
Price: $34

Interview with Hall Newbegin

Hi Hall! Thanks for taking a few moments to visit with us today. Could you tell us a little bit about your story? What inspired you to start working with plants and to use them in your products for Juniper Ridge?

I’ve spent my entire adult life learning about plants and places. I dabbled in some medicinal herb classes but found the classroom setting a little inappropriate given the material. I wanted to be out there. I spent my twenties learning plant names and wild mushrooms, learning about harvesting from various teachers and fellow wilderness junkies. I spent my thirties working with plants and getting more intimate, and now, well, it keeps getting deeper and more interesting.

I feel like nature is this giant book and I’m only a few pages into the first chapter. It feels like, the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. I’m really into paying attention to my intuition when I’m out there now, if my nose is telling me “wild bolete mushrooms,” I dive off trail and start looking. I don’t know if it’s something I smelled or some kind of primitive hunter-gatherer thing I’ve awakened; I just know my instincts. I’m really interested in developing that intuition.

I’ve always seen the world through my nose but have never seen myself as a perfumer because I’m so grossed out by what passes for perfume these days. I’m thinking about the Sierra Nevada mountains of California right now because I’ve been working on a seasonal blend that evokes those beautiful mountains. If spending time in those mountains, and swooning over the smell of freshly cut cedar boughs and the way the sunlight warms up the forest floor and releases this intoxicating rush of sweet coniferous beauty makes me a perfumer, then I guess I am a perfumer!

We see nature through our noses. Enjoying scent doesn’t just belong to me, or the 12 folks who work here, or the handful of perfume noses in the world, or the best chefs…it belongs to all of us. It’s our heritage as humans. “Scent” doesn’t happen only at a department store perfume counter, it happens when you’re eating, drinking wine, beer or coffee, gardening, and hiking. And please do pay attention – your nose has so much to give you.

I didn’t have a business plan or philosophy or anything when I started my business. I didn’t envision a fully fledged plan, I just wanted to make something beautiful. I had my truck, clippers, a copy of Jepson’s Guide to California Plants and I just spent time out there learning. Smelling, crawling around on the ground and sticking my nose in the dirt. I’ve never been very good at the marketing / businessy side of industry. For me it’s all about the plants, the places and that quiet feeling that I get when I’m out on the trail – come to think about it, that’s it – that’s the germinal idea that that inspired the beginning of Juniper Ridge – that rich quietness that descends on you after you’ve been out backpacking for two or three days. I live for that feeling.

What does your creative process tend to look like when you sit down to create a new product?

My process is so embarrassingly un-scientific. It’s intuitive, really. I daydream about wild places. My brain has worked this way my whole life. Places inspire me so much. I don’t have to think about it too hard. It’s just sitting there in my memory for me to choose wherever I want. When we’re looking for something new, the right place always presents itself to me. We get out there. We observe what makes the place smell the way it does and we sustainably harvest those ingredients and distill them ourselves in our workshop.

Tell us a little bit about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

All the base oils and alcohols we use are always organic. The aromatic ingredients are made from real plants sustainably wildharvested by us from the places they naturally thrive.

We go out to our favorite places, usually the mountains, coast, and deserts of the West, with permits in hand, and we harvest wild plants sustainably and formulate beautiful products for your home and body with those aromatics.
It’s the weird, wild way we’ve always done things. Today, as our sales grow, we’re finding ourselves in a difficult spot. We can’t simply order up more aromatic oils; we have to get out there and harvest them ourselves. It’s a simple but complicated arrangement for a business, but we’re doing our best.

Which of your products do you use most often? Why do you love it?

I really love our soaps, body oils and perfumes because I love wearing these wild places on my body. Incorporating these aromatics on my person enables me to interact with those deep places and plants all day no matter where I find myself.

It’s the one constant thing about our products that keeps me going: bringing those magical places into people’s everyday lives. Frankly, it helps save me from the regular day-to-day grind of being a human in our modern world.

Where can our readers connect with you online?

Instagram is the best way to see us out there doing our thing @juniperridge. You can sign up for our newsletter to stay up on everything newsworthy. Our website (juniperridge.com) is the easiest way to shop our products and read more about us. And if you’re interested in pictures of me hiking and sticking my face in the dirt, my Instagram is @crawlonwetdirt.

Gift Sets from St. Fiacre's Farm

Jon and I love the teas from this sweet shop (their Coastal Cranberry Spice made with Oregon cranberries, apples and mulling spices is one of Jon’s all-time favorite tea blends) and they have a beautiful, customizable gift sets available this year. You can choose your tea flavor and lip balm scent (the options are so yummy) and the set also comes with some beautiful raw honey sticks for your tea and a skin nourishing balm for your winter-dry skin. It’s a beautiful set and you’ll also receive a coupon toward your next purchase with it!
Price: $24.99

Interview with CeAnne

Hi CeAnne! Thanks for taking a few moments to visit with us today. Could you tell us a little bit about your story? What inspired you to start working with plants and to start your business?

Our company started in 2014 right after we moved from our rented city duplex to our current home on our 2 acre micro farm. While in town I had spent lots of time learning about herbalism and how different herbs worked. I learned and practiced the ins and outs of making salves, infused oils and teas. Moving to our current property gave us the ability to grow so much. With all of the learning and experimenting, one lip balm turned into 30 lip balm tubes, then 60 and so on. Tea flavors went from one to fifty. Eventually there was too much to gift and use and so our online store was born. We started with Etsy and eventually migrated to our own website.

Complementary medicine has always been on my radar as I’ve had life-long health issues, food allergies, and so many adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs. I also love helping people and it’s nice to be able to do that in a natural way. We wanted a home business where we could work, learn and live together as a family. Out of our four adopted children, two have Asperger’s and will probably live their adult life with us. This business helps to get all the children on their feet and give them something to do as we enjoy time together as a family.

As we took our products to the Farmer’s Market, we quickly realized that tea was more popular than salves and balms so we went with it. I soon became known at the local craft shows and markets as the “tea lady.” Since we started, our branding has changed quite a bit as we went from more therapeutic teas to pleasure teas for drinking.

This year, in the spring of 2018, we started launching our new line of teas called FarmHouse Teas, which are geared toward those who love the farmhouse style of decorating and the farm life. We hope to do a full launch in the Spring of 2019 with some of the most popular teas from this line and introduce them into the grocery market as well as boutiques.

Can you tell us a little bit about your holiday gift sets and all of the customization options customers can choose from when they order?

Our holiday gift sets are our most popular item this time of year. Our high end teas are perfect for gifting to that person that might have everything or maybe you’re not sure what they would like. Each set provides the perfect amount of relaxation in a box and we hand make them here on our farm, per customer order.

We have several gift boxes to choose from. Our Tea and Herbal Care set is the most popular because it has both a small trial of loose leaf tea (10-12 cups) along with one of our all natural lip balms, local raw honey sticks and our popular winter balm salve. It has a little bit of every thing so it makes the decision super easy when checking off gift recipients from your list. Customizable options include tea and lip balm flavors, making this a very personalized gift. We also offer a service upgrade that includes wrapping the gift, handwriting a note and shipping direct to the gift recipient.

We have gift box options set up for men too, which include a beard balm, arnica salve or joint/back salve along with tea of choice and 2 edible goodies. Another set is available for pregnant or new mama’s and that includes a sitz bath blend, lip balms, diaper salve, nursing salve and a belly balm with a bag to store them in. We also have an all tea sampler set with three seasonal teas as well as our new Farmhouse Teas Sampler set. This set includes 7 vials of our newest blends. Gifting is our thing and we hope that one of our personalized gift sets will be just the right item for your loved ones. We are always happy to customize a box as well based on your wants and needs.

What does your creative process tend to look like when you sit down to create a new product?

My creative process tends to involve too many ideas and lots of trial and error. I constantly have running lists of tea blend ideas, oils to infuse, salves to make and herbs to add to our ever-growing collection. Usually the projects that get picked off the list have to do with a couple of things. The first of is what our customers want or have requested. Those always get bumped to the top! Secondly, it has to do with the time of year – a focus on iced teas in the winter isn’t necessarily going to go over well with our customer base, just as Christmas would not be very popular in June.

Once a product is decided on I will do a bit of research. I like to keep my products original, if possible, and not just make what everyone else is making. I’ll read reviews of other teas and see what customers liked and didn’t like, then see if I can use that information in my own blending. The research stage includes seeing which local ingredient(s) I can source to add to the blend. We love helping out other local farms and families and if I can’t find something locally, we’ll often grow it ourselves.

After gathering a bit of research, I have to consider cost of ingredients to make sure it’s within our budget and price range. That affects the blending a little bit, then I move to building a recipe with a base and adding in complementary flavors. Then taste! Taste! Taste! Sometimes it takes 10 cups to get the flavor right and sometimes just one. If I have other family members around, I’ll make use of their taste buds as well. Everyone has such different flavor preferences that it’s good to get other opinions! I always tell customers at the market that those who don’t like tea just haven’t met the right tea yet. Each tea is as different as each person on the planet. Some will love one that another person won’t be able to stand. That is where the artistic element comes in, being able to create all of those different flavor profiles.

Tell us a little bit about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

Our ingredients are sourced from all over the world. Our Camellia sinensis generally comes from Asia, though that sometimes depends on the supplier we use. Our herbals are similar, though some we source locally here in Oregon. We have lemon balm from Oshala Farms in southern Oregon, lavender from Eagle Creek, Oregon, cherries from just outside of Salem, peaches from a beautiful organic farm in California, low bush blueberries from an organic farm in Maine, Aronia berries from Mollala, Oregon and so on. So as you can see our ingredients can come from far away or from 20 feet from our house out in our garden.

We grow a few of the things in our teas. At the moment most of those are flowers, though we do supply some blackberry leaf from our farm as well. My husband dubbed this the year of the flower. Every other row in our garden was filled with flowers. Some that we use in our tea are calendulas, bachelor buttons and marigolds. We hope to continue to expand our herb growth on our farm and continue to add homegrown ingredients to our teas. All of our ingredients are either organic or local – I would say 90% are organic but there isn’t always a local farm that is also organic. It’s so hard to pick between the two when a choice has to be made between supporting the local economy and having conventionally grown ingredients or going abroad for the organic certification. The dream is that that choice won’t have to be made some day.

In terms of the actual use of the herbs, my preference is always an herbal tea blend. I’m ultra sensitive to caffeine so it makes it hard to do a 10 cup tasting to get that black or green tea right without health issues on my part. Oregon has an abundance of beautiful berries. Those natural flavors come through much better in an herbal tea than they do in a black or green tea. I also occasionally work with organic or homemade extracts to enhance flavors when the profile I’m going for just can’t be achieved with raw ingredients.

Which of your products do you use most often? Why do you love it?

This fall/winter my favorite product is probably our Mountain Hazel Not Coffee. I use to be an avid coffee drinker, full on espresso with every syrup in the book. My health started shouting at me that I shouldn’t be drinking that stuff and eventually I ended up with tea. Mountain Hazel Not Coffee is a deep dark blend of roasted chicory and dandelion root that gives a full bodied tea with a coffee-like flavor. Paired with that base are some ground local hazelnuts which is where this tea gets its name…Hazel Not. I’ve included maca powder to support hormonal balance, some ashwagandha for emotional health, and other herbs. It’s more of a tasty daily tonic and I especially love it latte-style. We have another version of this same not coffee called Chocolate Conniption Not Coffee. This is pretty tasty but a little higher in caffeine with the cocoa powder.

When I’m not drinking the Mountain Hazel Not Coffee, usually our Farmer’s Wife Blend is my go-to. It’s a base of green rooibos, red raspberry leaf, hibiscus, nettle and a few other goodies. It’s a nutritious blend. The green rooibos is like a light green tea flavor without the caffeine and the health benefits of red raspberry leaf are amazing for women. I love that these two teas not only taste fabulous, but that they are so good for me too – the best of both worlds!

Where can our readers connect with you online?

If readers would like to connect with us we are most often found on Instagram at St.Fiacres.Farm or FarmhouseTeas. We usually have an IG story of the day or a post on our grid. We are also on Facebook under the same names and on YouTube under St. Fiacre’s Farm. Loose leaf teas and herbal care are available on Azure Standard, Amazon and of course our farm store online or www.FarmhouseTeas.Store

Use the coupon code AROMA2018 to save 10% in our store.

I would also like to offer you two free guides:

  • A free ebook on cooking with tea, some fabulous recipes on using tea in your food to add some new flavors and benefits to your cooking.
  • 10 Ways to Steep Tea and a free printable Tea Steeping Time chart.

Apothecary Products from Mayernik Kitchen

Mayernik Kitchen is a new apothecary brand to me this year. This small business, owned by herbalist Shannon Mulligan-Mayernik, offers beautiful handcrafted apothecary products like salves, tinctures, teas, syrups and honey. Since everyone has been a bit low on elderberry syrup this year, Shannon’s spiced elderberry syrup made with raw honey would make a lovely gift for family and friends! She also offers some beautiful gift sets that would be great options as well!

If you purchase the elderberry syrup, make sure to pop it into the fridge as soon as it arrives.
Price:  $15

Interview with Shannon

Hi Shannon! Thanks for taking a few moments to visit with us today. Could you tell us a little bit about your story? What inspired you to start working with plants and to start your business?

Hey Erin! It was about seven years ago when I went to a medicine making class in the Hudson Valley of New York at a small herb shop. The teacher that evening was Robin Rose Bennett. It was from that one class that I fell in love with herbalism and plant medicine. Since then, I’ve apprenticed for three years with Robin Rose Bennett (who is my now friend and mentor) and have recently graduated from the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. My husband and I started Mayernik Kitchen in October of 2015 and make herbal products that we sell on our website, as well as in our community. We are beekeepers and educators of all things local and homemade.

What does your creative process tend to look like when you sit down to create a new product?

Ahhh, it seems I am never sitting down when a new product jumps into my head. I am usually out in the garden or out on a nature walk. My husband and I work on creating new products together, so it’s always a joint effort and agreement. We jot down our ideas and then map out what we’d need to create it and give it a shot. It’s trial and error until we make a product we are happy with, to then share with our customers and community.

Tell us a little bit about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

I love to use plants we grow or forage locally. Of course, that is not always the case as some plants don’t grow in Northern New Jersey so we then purchase organically from places we know and trust. Some of our favorite plants to use (that we grow) are comfrey, mints, sage, white pine and tulsi. We forage mugwort, goldenrod and mushrooms locally to create some of our products also.

Which of your products do you use most often? Why do you love it?

We use our Elderberry Syrup and  Fire Tonic to help boost immunity and keep us healthy throughout the year. We turn to our tinctures to help wake our brains up in the morning and to help us sleep at night. We also turn to them if we have digestive issues, headaches, or a bit of anxiety or stress. I love that we are able to turn to our homemade plant remedies daily!

Where can our readers connect with you online?

Our website is www.mayernikkitchen.com and you can find us on social media @mayernikkitchen  (IG & FB)

What have you been loving this year? Leave your own suggestions for gifts in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin

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bio-photo-18

Erin Stewart is an herbalist, NAHA certified aromatherapist, organic gardener and urban homesteader. She grows over 150 kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants for her own apothecary and distills essential oils and hydrosols in her PNW garden. Erin is the founder of Floranella and of AromaCulture’s herbalism + aromatherapy magazine.

Want to learn more about herbalism and aromatherapy?

AromaCulture Magazine is filled with educational articles, case studies and recipes written by practicing herbalists and certified aromatherapists. New issues are published each month and issues are available individually or via subscription. Visit www.aromaculture.com for more information.

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