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Tea tree oil: Nature’s Disinfectant

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Tea tree oil might be the most essential of the essential oils. Native to Australia, the oil of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) was issued to infantry men in that country in the early 1900s to treat infections. And they were on to something. Scientific studies have shown when used in combination with other oils on wound dressings, tea tree oil can inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus like Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. And, when combined with geranium oil, tea tree oil inhibited the growth of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

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Dad-Gift-Guide

A Guide to Gifts Dad will Dig

Let’s agree dad deserves something nice this year, not the same-old, same-old. Put down that chain-store leather wallet, and let this be the year you go above and beyond for your old man. Start your shopping right here. And if you’re celebrating, check out our Dad’s Day Brunch Menu.

 

AM Leonard Stainless Steel Soil KnifeAM Leonard Stainless Steel Soil Knife
Buy

Every gardener needs one of these for those tedious tasks in the yard. This tough tool can dig into the dirt, slice through thick stems with ease, and the orange handle makes it easy to find if you set it down. The built-in ruler helps you measure the proper depth for seedlings.  It comes with a sheath for storage and to protect this knife from the elements.

 

Cork and Canvas Dopp KitCork and Canvas Dopp Kit
Buy

Dopp kits are trending very hard in the world of men. And this one can work as a toiletry kit, cosmetic bag or shaving kit. It has a cork top that’s water-repellent and stain-resistant. Sleek, durable and made with sustainable materials.

 

Green Envy Garden HoseGreen Envy Garden Hose
Buy

Though attractiveness may not be the most appealing quality in a hose for dad, you can back up this purchase with a lifetime warranty. This hose won’t kink under pressure and remains flexible in sub-zero temps, but let’s hope it never comes to that. It’s drinking water safe and lightweight.

 

Sweet and Spicy Glazed PecansSweet and Spicy Glazed Pecans
Buy

Lambrecht is a company committed to quality, and by that, we mean they consider every aspect in making these incredibly addictive Sweet and Spicy Glazed Pecans. Southern-grown pecans are glazed in sugar and salt, then given a pinch of heat from red pepper, black pepper and chili powder. Dad will inhale them so fast, you might consider buying two. He might remember to savor the second package. Maybe.

 

Pop Top CoastersPop Top Coasters
Buy

You need coasters to protect your furniture, and this one is made to look like old pop tops. It’ll make dad smile every time he sets his drink down. These reproduction soda caps have an aged finish to add authenticity.

 

Folk Art Crows Wall FountainFolk Art Crows Wall Fountain
Buy

This authentic –looking homage to folk art sculptures becomes animated as a wall-hanging fountain. Plug it in to watch the crows move when the pump activates a trickle of water through their beaks. The closed system recirculates water to cut down on waste.

 

Long-Handle Cape Cod WeederLong-Handle Cape Cod Weeder
Buy

Ideal for row crops or raised beds, the steel blades are nearly indestructible and the handle will save your back during long weeding days. This tool is effective, comfortable and durable. Built to last a lifetime.

 

Garden Home Travel MugGarden Home Travel Mug
Buy

Fans of P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home show will love this mug. It has a bright, spill-proof lid that’s easy to spot among the lid drawer. Holds approximately 12 ounces of caffeinated goodness.

Say Happy Valentine’s Day with Flowers

Giving flowers is the perfect way to let someone know you are thinking about them on this love-filled holiday. Whether it’s your spouse, partner, child, parent or closest friend, everyone loves to receive a bouquet of elegant flowers for Valentine’s Day and know they are in someone’s thoughts. The folks are Stargazer Barn have orchestrated some beautiful handpicked bouquets to brighten your loved one’s home or office this holiday. Add a small batch package of coffee, or an artisanal chocolate bar and hearts are guaranteed to flutter. Here are a few of my favorite bouquets available in the P. Allen Smith shop

P. Allen Smith’s Exclusive Love in Bloom Bouquet

A dozen long-stemmed Jumbo Pink tulips and a dozen Telstar Irises are sure to get hearts swooning.

Lilies For Lovers

The Lilies For Lovers bouquet of Stargazer and Oriental lilies packs a colorful and fragrant punch when the enormous buds burst open with beautiful pink and white petals.

Valentine’s Tulip Kiss

There is nothing more romantic than long stemmed tulips. This gorgeous combo includes 12 stems of the variety Ile de France and 12 stems of Jumbo Pink tulips to add sweeping romance to any room.

Mr. and Mrs. ring dish

Valentine’s Gift Guide from Shop.PAllenSmith

We have your Valentine’s Day gifts wrapped and ready in the P. Allen Smith shop! Whether your Valentine is a gardener, foodie or just loves nature we have just the thing for them.

“I Dig You” Gift Basket

This gift basket is perfect for your favorite gardener. We’ve hand-selected some of our favorite gardening necessities to satisfy any green thumb. This basket includes a Joseph Bentley Stainless Steel Hand Trowel, “Love Grows” Journal, “Seeds From My Garden” packets to organize your seed saving, and an 8-piece Lambrecht Gourmet Fleur de Sel Toffee. It is creatively packaged in an Arkansas-made peck basket with a handle for easy toting, and wrapped in clear cellophane and tied with raffia ribbon.

I Dig You Gift Basket from Shop.PAllenSmith

P. Allen Smith Candle Collection in Rose

We’ve launched a delightfully fragrant line of candles based on inspiration from my own garden! I love this rose scented fragrance, and it’s here just in time for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to check out all eight scents!

P. Allen Smith Rose Scented Candle

Bubbly and Berries Goat’s Milk Gift Set

Treat yourself, a friend or a Valentine to indulge in a little aromatherapy with this Bubbly and Berries Goat’s Milk Gift Set including handmade lotion, soap and lip balm with a bubbly berry twist. We also have a Rustic Spice fragrance set for those who like a warmer, spicier fragrance.

Goat milk lotion, soap and lip balm

“Love Bird” Gift Basket

This gift basket is perfect for the birding someone in your life. It’s filled with some lovely bird-themed treats including a lightweight pink scarf printed with colorful birds, “Love Sings” journal, little bird letter organizer, and 8-piece Lambrecht Gourmet Fleur de Sel Toffee. It is packaged in an Arkansas-made peck basket with a handle for easy toting, wrapped in clear cellophane and tied with raffia ribbon. Sure to get their feathers ruffled!

Gift basket for bird lovers

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Cleaning with Vinegar

The cabinet underneath your kitchen sink is probably full of all kinds of cleaners that each have a specific purpose – glass, wood, carpet, bathrooms – but I like to use vinegar as a fix-all because it’s a safe, inexpensive, all-natural household cleaner.

There’s loads you can do with vinegar when it comes to cleaning up your house, and it evaporates quickly so you don’t have to worry about your “clean” furniture smelling like vinegar.

Vinegar Uses

Vinegar cleans glass beautifully. I use it for my coffee press when it starts to build a film. All you need is an old rag and some vinegar to clean windows, tabletops, kitchen appliances, etc. It works wonders on gunky buildup.

My scissors tend to get a little sticky with all the different projects I use them for, but pure vinegar eliminates that problem immediately.

If we’re talking germs, think about that computer that you use every day. You can wipe off your keyboard and computer screen with vinegar and not only will it clean things up, it will also reduce dust and static.

As for that constant chore of cleaning blinds is a bit easier if you just get an old sock, dip it in vinegar and just methodically wipe your hands across each of the blinds blades.

And believe it or not, it’s a great cough syrup component! Mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part local honey and take a shot of that a couple of times a day and you’ll clear your throat right up. After all, its all-natural, so why not try it?

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Uses for Baking Soda

For something so simple, it’s really amazing just how many uses baking soda has.

I like to use baking soda as a deodorizer – if you keep an open box in your refrigerator or sprinkle a little in your trashcans, not-so-pleasant smells will quickly vanish. This is also true if you’ve had a spill on your carpet – just make a paste of water and baking soda to rub into the carpet, and when it dries you can vacuum up the smell and the baking soda.

Baking soda does a lot more around the house than deodorize. It’s the perfect tool for putting out grease fires in the kitchen, and it works wonders when you’ve burned something to the bottom of a pot or pan. All you have to do is remove as much of the burnt food as possible, add an inch of water and 1/2 cup of baking soda, and let it sit overnight. The reaction of the soda with the burned food loosens everything up so that doing the dishes is not such a chore. All of these are a result of calcium carbonate, or baking soda, being a base. When it’s combined with an acid it creates carbon dioxide and fizzles or bubbles up. Who knew that cleaning house could be a science project, too!

Other Uses for Baking Soda

  1. Apply to a damp sponge to clean vinyl shower curtains.
  2. Use it to freshen up Fido. Lightly sprinkle over your dog’s coat and then brush it all out to remove odors.
  3. Mop a tile floor with 1/2 cup baking soda diluted in I gallon of warm water and rinse clean.
  4. To remove odors from upholstered furniture, sprinkle with baking soda and vacuum.
  5. Polish silver with a soft, clean cloth and a paste of baking soda and water.
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Lemon Eucalyptus Potpourri

I like to make this simple citrus and eucalyptus blend because its fresh, light scent is a great way to brighten my home any time of the year.

The materials used in this potpourri are readily available at any crafts store.

Potpourri Materials:
eucalyptus leaves
cedar shavings
dried ginkgo leaves
dried lemon slices
essential oil of lemon grass

Gift Packaging Materials:
4″ clay pot
clear cellophane wrap
tape
raffia
scissors

Directions:
Potpourri
The first thing to do is dry your lemon slices. You can do this in either a dehydrator or in the oven. To dry the lemon slices in your oven set it on 175 degrees F, place the slices on a wire rack and let them cook for about 4 to 6 hours.

Next mix the foliage together in a large bowl. Eucalyptus leaves are a nice choice because they hold up for a long time and I like to use the seeded variety because it has berries, which adds a nice touch. And ginkgo leaves are a favorite because of their shape and color. For a little textural contrast, add some cedar shavings.

Mix in the lemon slices with the foliage and to carry on the citrus theme, toss in some dried lemon balm leaves. I gathered leaves from my garden, but if you don’t have lemon balm readily available, mint leaves work just as well.

Gently blend all of this together. Now, to make the aroma last much longer, give your potpourri an extra boost with essential oils. These are concentrated fragrances from flowers, herbs and spices. You can buy essential oils at crafts stores or health food stores. Since this potpourri follows a lemon theme with the aroma and color of this blend, you may want to choose a citrus scented oil such as lemon or my favorite, lemon grass.

Adding the essential oil is sort of like baking chocolate chip cookies. If you want to increase the flavor, add more of the essential ingredient, chocolate chips. Only with this, you just add more oil. To make this blend extra lemony, add about four drops per double handful of the potpourri. Then toss the leaves and cedar to make sure that it is distributed evenly.

If you decide to give your potpourri as a gift I suggest you package it in a simple clay pot to give it a fresh from the garden look.

First cover the drainage hole with a piece of tape so that the leaves and eucalyptus berries won’t drop through. And then fill the pot with potpourri. A nice touch is to place a bottle of the essential oil on top for refreshing later.

For wrapping, just pull some clear wrap up around the pot, tie it at the top with raffia and accent it with some greenery. You just want to make sure that the potpourri is completely dry so it doesn’t cloud the plastic. What a perfect gift from the garden!

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Making Beeswax Candles

In spite of the growing commercialism of the holiday season, I still find gift giving to be one of my favorite traditions. In an environment where it is so easy to go overboard with purchases, I think that the best presents to give and receive are the simple, homemade ones. There is just something about spending an afternoon creating gifts to share with friends and family. And if you pick an easy project that you enjoy, it is a great way to relax during what can be a very stressful time.

This project for making beeswax candles is nice because there is nothing to it and a pair of these beautiful tapers tied with a raffia bow makes such a nice gift.

All you need are sheets of beeswax and wicks. You can purchase these supplies at craft stores, bee keeping supply companies or from an online source. To find an online source I had the best luck by searching using the words “candle making,” “wax sheets,” or “beeswax sheets.”

I like to use the honeycombed wax but you can find it smooth as well. Sheets are also available in a wide range of colors. The cost for an 8″ x 16″ sheet will run you about two dollars.

Determine the size wick to purchase by the diameter of the candles you plan to make. Most sources will have a chart or recommendations to help you pick out the right wick. Wicks come in flat braid or square braid. For the most flexibility, you may want to purchase a range of wick sizes.

Buy enough wax and wick that you will be able to do a few test runs and of course, keep a few candles for yourself.

To get started warm the wax in the sun until it softens a bit or you can heat it by placing it on a towel lined cookie sheet in a 250-degree oven. It just takes a couple of minutes for the wax to soften and become pliable.

Determine the height of the candle you want and cut the sheet accordingly. Next cut a piece of wick about 1 1/2 inches longer than the height of your candle. Place the wick 1/8 of an inch from the edge of the wax sheet. Crease the edge of the sheet over the wick and press firmly so that it is well sealed. Now gently roll the sheet tightly, making sure the ends are even. When you have created the diameter desired, use a utility knife to trim any excess and a warm metal spatula to seal the edge. Trim the wick down to about 1/2 inch on top.

To increase the diameter of a candle, simply roll the first sheet with the wick as described, then line up the edge of a new sheet with the unsealed, outer edge of this candle and begin to roll again. Continue these steps until you have the diameter you prefer.

It’s amazing how popular candles have become particularly around the holiday season and to think, the essential ingredient here is from our friend, the honeybee.