Tag Archives: Gifts

Tis the Season Five Reasons to Buy a Beeswax Candle

At this time of year, careless flip-flop days and intense summer skies seem hopelessly far away… At least, December’s twinkling holiday lights have replaced the gloomy darkness of November evenings.

Impossibly short days are the perfect time to gather friends around a dinner table for long conversations fuelled by hearty red wine and slow cooked savoury meals.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

However, table setting is part of establishing the mood. Wine does not taste the same from a plastic glass, and an overly lit table can feel like a cafeteria. We turned to artisan creator Jill Smith at Bees Wax Works to share her five reasons to buy a beeswax candle for the holidays.

  1. Dark days bring the need for warm light.  Beeswax burns in the light spectrum of the sun. If summer seems far away, the light aura from these artisan candles will remind you of those days.
  2. The natural smell of beeswax – a reminder of the heavenly smell of warmer days spent outside – in the comfort of your living room.
  3. Innocent times with the tradition of beeswax candles at holiday times. The aroma is a trigger for many.  Especially for my European customers, the smell evokes childhood memories of a time when candles were hand-dipped by mums and grandmas.
  4. Beauty and simplicity in an effortless gift.
  5. Warmth: Brisk outdoor activities and quieter nights – beeswax candles bring an authentic heating to our indoor season.

Jill’s beeswax candles are handcrafted in her Salt Spring Island workshop, a place that she describes as “The best smelling garage on Salt Spring Island, with lovely windows and views of the Salish Sea.” The candles are made from blocks of 45-pound blocks of 100% Canadian beeswax (sourced in Alberta).

Beeswax Works candles are crafted following traditional methodologies (read about the art of chandlery). Jill describes the steps as easy enough, however, after wax patience is a critical ingredient in the process.

Warm up your winter days with one of these candles from the Beeswax Works custom collection:

Key to My Heart:

The Key to My Heart #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Simple Fern:

Simple Fern #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Vintage Bee:

Vintage Bee #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Image credits: Candle photos provided by and published with the permission of Jill Smith @ Bees Wax Works

Find Out What Makes Lavender Essential Oil So Popular

When it comes to lavender you fall into one of two camps (pro or con), but that is likely because of your exposure to over-processed, or worse, chemically created scents that try to mimic nature.

Lavender essential oil is expensive, although not quite as much as a return flight to France (from North America). Having participated in the harvest and watched the distillation process, I fully appreciate how much product (lavender) needs to be grown to produce that little vial of essential oil.

Lavender fields in Provence

Here, is a summary of the distillation process for traditional lavender growers:

  1. The flowers are cut, bundled and left to dry in the field for 1-2 days.
  2. Tractors loaded with dried bundles haul their purple loads to the distillery.
  3. This is where the bales of flowers are stuffed into enormous vats. It is incredibly hard work, but you smell terrific at the end of the day.
  4. Once the vat lids are closed, steam is pumped through the tubes (think large pressure cookers) until the flowers are hot enough to release their essence.
  5. This liquid has two components; a clear heavily scented essence and a fractional amount of essential oil. Both parts are collected and sold for commercial use.

Lavender distillation essential oil

What is the lavender essential oil used for?

lavender-wands-from-provence-by-lua-williams

Our friend Girl Gone Gallic wrote about 33 Uses for Lavender Essential Oil.  Yes lavender scent is used in everything from ice cream to floor cleaner, from lip balm to massage oils.

  • Household UsesShop here for 100% lavender “wands” for your linen closets.
  • Beauty Uses – perfumes, scrubs, balms
  • Relaxation Uses – massage, baths
  • Food Uses – syrups, cocktails, cookies, ice cream
  • Medicinal Uses –  cuts, bug bites, eczema

GGG and I are wondering could there be 100 uses for lavender essential oil? Please read her post here and let us know what to add to the list.

Dream of Drifting Away to Provence with the Scent of Lavender

Lavender is big business in Provence.

There is a significant agricultural industry built around the purple plants, which includes farmers, distillery owners and manufacturers (cosmetics, food). The is also an enormous impact on the tourism industry with countless visitors clamoring to get to see the rows of lavender plants at the peak of the blooming cycle.  There are tour groups and private guides who count on the lavender playing a part in their summer business.

Lavender Fields in Provence #Lavender #Provence

So, where do you see the fields? When is the best time for lavender viewing? Is there a driving route that you would recommend?

Franco-American blogger, Girl Gone Gallic  answers all of those questions in her post:

Tantalize your senses… Visit the Lavender Fields of Provence

Lavender has always grown wild in Provence…

Every year thousands flock to the hills and valleys of Provence to visit the famed lavender fields.  There are several different lavender routes (six official itineraries to be exact) that can be followed depending on the time of year and your interests…

Keep reading Girl Gone Gallic’s post here for details on lavender itineraries, drying tips and much more.

Can’t travel to Provence? We have the answer SHOP NOW! for lavender “wands” these make beautiful gifts, dried bouquets and they last forever.

lavender fuseaux

Settling a Purple Question What is the Difference Between Lavender and Lavandin

To the untrained eye, and certainly the uneducated nose it would be a challenge to know the difference between lavender and lavandin. What is lavandin?  Don’t worry you are not alone! We turned to our friend based in the “land of lavender” (Provence) and asked  Girl Gone Gallic  for her expertise in settling our slightly purple haze (not the Jimi Hendrix kind).

What is the difference?

There are actually 39 different varieties of Lavender.  Lavender has always grown wild in Provence, and maybe you’ve been lucky to discover the wondrous sensory experience that are the lavender fields in bloom. Cultivation has been around even in ancient times, and was one of the holy herbs used in biblical times to prepare holy essence. During the Roman period, the price for one pound of lavender equaled a full month’s farmers wages.  But can you tell the difference between Lavender vs Lavandin ?

Keep reading here… for the rest of Girl Gone Gallic’s post here to find out what the difference are and why real lavender products are worth the price.

Shop here! For 100% pure French lavender “wands” – shaped like a baby’s rattle – these are beautiful keepsakes, gifts and they will keep your clothes smelling of sweet Provence.

Lavender Fuseaux #Lavender #Provence #Handmade @atelier_boutiq

 

5 Reasons Why to Choose Beeswax Candles over Paraffin

Most of us would admit that Ikea furniture shared a place in our homes at one stage. Whether it was for your first apartment or outfitting kids rooms the renowned Swedish brand with the DIY, feel still is an affordable option. Ikea’s tea lights – sold in bags of 100 – are strategically placed on your way to the checkout. An impulse buy? Maybe.

Beeswax versus paraffin

Recently, we finished our last bag of tea lights and have yet to make the trek to the furniture warehouse. The thought of battling the parking lot and crowds to pick up some cheap paraffin candles started us thinking about the ecological impacts of these little light sources.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

What we discovered was the benefits of beeswax candles far outweigh mass produced paraffin versions.

6 Reasons to choose beeswax candles

  1. Beeswax is a natural product. Produced from the wax glands of honey bees (females) it is a natural, renewable product. Although, it is hard work for the bees who must fly long distances collecting nectar for honey. From 6 to 30 pounds (estimates vary) of honey is formed to produce a single pound of wax. Regardless of the number, you begin to understand why the wax is expensive.
  2. The expense equation. Beeswax candles may be costly to purchase, but due to a high melting point, the wax is slow burning and lasts much longer than paraffin versions.
  3. A clean, smokeless burn. Now, that we understand the impacts of second-hand cigarette smoke on our health. What about the toxic fumes from paraffin candles? Paraffin is a refined petroleum by-product. The black crude sludge is bleached, then acrolyn and stearic acid are added to provide texture and hardening properties. You can read more here.
  4. Light quality. Beeswax candles produce a brighter light than paraffin candles.
  5. Reinforcing traditions. For centuries, versatile beeswax has been used as a sealant, a lubricant, for artwork (think batik), in cosmetics and candles. Archeologists have identified traces of beeswax in Roman ruins and Egyptian tombs.

The Key to My Heart #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Check out Salt Spring Island’s Bees Wax Works story on our creator’s page here and the beautiful candles made with 100% Canadian beeswax, to enjoy the benefits of this natural wax.

Image credits: with permission from Bees Wax Works

3 Reasons to Visit Bowen Island and Handcrafted Wooden Serving Boards

Bowen Island was a discovery for Kathy Clarke when she and her husband moved to the coast from British Columbia’s interior (Okanagan). In her words, “I could not believe that this paradise was in such proximity that my husband could commute into the city, and I could work from home. We moved here on a whim about five years ago and now cannot imagine living anywhere else.” The best part was that Bowen Island also fulfilled her lifelong dream of living on an island.

Kathy Clarke Schooner Lane Designs Bowen Island

Kathy says she continues to be amazed by Bowen’s artisans – the talented craftspeople – who have also chosen this west coast island for their home.

Reasons to Visit Bowen Island

“There are so many reasons to visit Bowen and to pick a top three is nearly impossible! There’s a stepping back in time feel to it. The Island has a great history, the pace is slower, the people are friendly, and the sense of community is apparent. There is something for everyone; great hiking and beaches, unique shops, wonderful restaurants, an incredible arts community, an award winning golf course, community events. The list goes on.”

Heart Handle Schooner Lane Designs Wooden Serving Boards

Bowen Island Artistic Inspiration

Harnessing her creative talent and inspired by her surroundings, Kathy launched Schooner Lane Designs.

“The first boards I made were for Christmas presents. I loved making them and was pleased with how they turned out, so I decided to make a few more and take them to our local Christmas craft fair. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Schooner Lane Designs wooden serving and cutting boards are made with Canadian food-compatible hardwoods — walnut, maple and cherry. Kathy chooses rough off-cuts of timber that have lots of interesting knots, grain and rough edges. All of the boards are made from a single plank of wood (no gluing or laminating), and hardly any wasted material.

Schooner Lane Designs Wooden Serving Boards

In her outdoor studio (see below), Kathy cuts each piece freehand without a template. Once she finds a shape that she is happy with the wood is sanded to a smooth finish before preserving with beeswax and mineral oil paste. “That’s my favourite part you never know just what the wood is going to show you until it’s oiled and all its beauty shines through.”

Workshop Schooner Lane Designs Wooden Boards

Schooner Lane Designs “Board out of my Mind” ~ Cheese, Chopping & Serving Boards. Are available in several shapes and sizes: small, medium, large and baguette.

Perfect for gifts, for your home these one-of-a-kind boards are sure to be keepsakes.

Image credits: photos provided by and published with the permission of Kathy Clarke

Looking for the Perfect Hostess Gifts? Buy Lavender Wands

Elsa Lenthal  spends her summers in Provence making  lavender wands  (fuseaux). Her grandmother taught her how to take 100 stems of just-picked lavender and thread the ribbon through each stem. Elsa spends passes hot summer days creating these wands to with a goal of keeping an artisan tradition alive.

Each fuseau is shaped like a wand or a baby’s rattle. The lavender flowers are “trapped” in the centre and the stems adorned with a weave of bright coloured ribbons. These beautifully scented objects are 100% natural, as only freshly harvested flowers are used. There are no artificial additives, and each fuseau will last a lifetime.

  • 100 stems
  • 100 % French lavender
  • 100 % handmade

These lavender wands are perfect hostess gifts or beautiful as a dried bouquet.

What Are the 10 Things You Should Know About Lavender

If you polled an audience for their opinion on the scent of lavender, you might get a split vote. Personally, I think that is because many people are only exposed to highly processed, concentrated potions. Regardless of where you sit on the lavender fan scale, there must be something to this herb that the Romans called lavare (“to wash”) and the Greeks called nardus (after Syrian City Naarda).

Here are the 10 things that we discovered about this ancient plant.

  1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), a member of the mint family, does grow in the wild, but given the global demand for its flowers there is a large agricultural industry at 80-90 metric tonnes/annually (although production has decreased by over 50% in the last decade).
  2. The Mediterranean environment is perfect for the cultivation of this plant that loves dry, rocky soils and warm, arid climates. Slightly acidic, the bugs do not like lavender allowing for agriculture without the use of pesticides and fertilisers.
  3. Lavender essential oil is extracted as a byproduct when the dried flowers come in contact with scalding steam (steam distillation). A single acre of planted lavender produces “300 to 1,800 pounds of dried flowers (12 to 15 pounds of essential oil – about 2 gallons)” *
  4. Continuing the theme of “to wash” lavender often found in products such as perfumes, soaps, shampoos, cosmetics and creams.
  5. Lavender has some medically tested benefits that include reduced hair loss, eased anxiety and the ability to shrink canker sores.
  6. However, there are also many antidotal lavender uses that are yet to be proven such as relief from itching (eczema), insomnia, depression, colic, nerve pain and others.
  7. Lavandin, which might be considered a gardening mistake, resulted from crossing two lavender strains (there are 30 species) with the herb aspic. The benefits of lavandin from a commercial standpoint are obvious as the plant can grow at lower altitudes starting at 200 metres and the flowers produce more essential oil per tonne. However, purists do not consider lavandin to be “true” lavender. Lavender Wands from Provence Photo by Lua Williams
  8. Inventive chefs and bakers infuse sauces, cakes, ice creams, soups, and honey with lavender flavour and colour.
  9. Think of lavender and picture Provence? Not so fast! Bulgaria, not France is the top country for lavender production as of 2014. France’s production used to top out at over 50% of global production, but it has been falling in recent years due to diseased plants. Despite declining production, the agro-tourism industry is holding steady with plenty of visitors along les Routes de la Lavande.
  10. Lavender is not one of the flowers in the wedding anniversary chart. However, in Provence lavender wands (or fuseaux) were often included in dowries in the middle ages as it was thought to be an aphrodisiac – the herb of love. As a bonus, mites and other critters do not seem to like the scent so they stay away from the linen closet.

Lavender Fuseaux #Lavender #Provence #Handmade @atelier_boutiq

Check out our handmade lavender wands here. Made of 100 stems of 100% pure French lavender these will last forever. Lavender fuseaux make excellent hostess gifts.

*source: ATTRA Lavender Production, Products, Markets and Entertainment Farms 

** Vase photo credit: Lua Williams, Canmore