Friday, October 26, 2012

Natural Skin and Scalp Therapy With Tea Tree Oil

Melaleuca alternifolia
For years, I have struggled with an itchy scalp and red, sensitive skin that is prone to irritation. I've tried it all for relief, from prescription creams to oatmeal baths to hydrocortisone sprays. The one thing I have recently discovered to help calm my skin and scalp is Tea Tree Oil, from the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia.

To be more precise, I should say, rediscovered Tea Tree Oil; as a soap maker, I have know about it for years, but I shied away because of the potent, medicinal smell. Honestly, when I tried it years ago in a facial soap, I found the scent to be overwhelmingly herbal and somewhat strong and offensive. After getting desperate to find something that would help my itchy, burning skin, I decided to give tea tree a second try. Much to my delight, it worked so well for my scalp, that I was soon adding it to lotion and dabbing directly on blemishes! I got better relief from adding Tea Tree Oil to my haircare products than I have from any RX or over the counter medication. With relief like that, I can certainly put up with the stench. In fact, the smell is actually growing on me.

So, how does one go about using Tea Tree Oil and where can it be purchased? I bought mine at Walgreen's for 8 dollars an ounce. You can find it much cheaper on the Internet in bulk. Make sure you are purchasing 100% Tea Tree Essential Oil. Do NOT buy "fragrance oil", "scented oil", or "potpourri oil". Only buy 100% pure essential oil.

I began my experimentation by adding 1/2 oz of the essential to my shampoo and conditioner (16 oz bottles). This is enough to counter the scalp itch and not make my haircare products too runny. Now, I am using the full 1oz of essential oil in a 16oz bottle of conditioner, but it does make the product noticeably thinner and more watery. For intense scalp itch, I apply a liberal dose of the conditioner after washing and massage it vigorously into the scalp. Then, I put on a plastic shower cap and let the conditioner remain on my scalp for 2-3 hours before showering it out with a long rinse. Other ways to use it are to apply directly on blemishes with a q tip or to use a dropper to mix some in with lotion. Advanced bath and body makers can use the essential oil in cold process and melt and pour soaps and in made from scratch lotions and hair products. You will need professional emulsifiers and preservatives to make your own body care.

If you find the smell too pungent and herbaceous, there are a few essential oils you can blend with tea tree to counter the smell. The downside is that many essential oils are more expensive and that you will cut down on the potency of your homemade beauty product by diluting the tea tree with other essential oils. Some essential oils react poorly with sunlight if used on the skin, as well, mostly citrus oils. Always research the safety of essential oils you purchase before using them on the skin. A few essential oils that might counter the medicinal smell of tea tree are patchouli, lavender, and lemongrass.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Party Tips

Pick a Pumpkin to Carve!
Halloween and harvest time, a great time to throw a party and celebrate the abundance of nature! Carving pumpkins is a family friendly activity that can easily be the theme of a party. It is good, clean, affordable fun for adults and kiddies alike. If you are thinking of having your own Jack-O-Lantern party, here is a list of tips to get you started.

1) Have the right equipment on hand. There are now pumpkin carving kits in the major stores that come with mini saws, scrapers, and patterns. While these utensils generally work well and are safer for children than regular knives, make sure to have some old-fashioned workhorse type knives and metal serving spoons for the scraping. Kids will need adult supervision with this, but can use the plastic saws in the kit on their own after the pumpkin lid is off and the pumpkin is scraped.

Painted Pumpkin
You can also have other craft supplies on hand to decorate pumpkin without actually carving and cutting them. Be sure to have these items available:

-pipe cleaners
-sharpie markers

2) Find an outdoors area to do the cleaning and carving. It is a messy activity and you want to make sure everyone has plenty of space when handling knives and sharp objects. You might have more pumpkin waste than you can resuse for food, have a compost bin handy.

3) Save your pumpkin "guts". You can make soup or pies with the innards and toast the seeds. Toasted pumpkin seeds fresh from the oven are the perfect snack to end your carving party. Be sure to serve up some hot apple cider with cinnamon and other fall snacks. See this link for how to toast the raw seeds:

4) Get a variety of sizes and shapes of pumpkins to encourage creativity. Kroeger grocery stores here in Middle Tennessee have white pumpkins and gourds available too.

5) Don't forget a box of tea light candles and a long lighter to get your Jack-o-lanterns glowing! Some stores now carry electronic flame less candles.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thinking of Hosting a Giveaway to Promote Your Handmade Goods?

Have you been brainstorming ways to promote your handmade goods, and seem to spend hours each week on Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media sites trying to drive traffic to your handmade site? Maybe you have thought about hosting a giveaway or donating your products to one. Recently, in the Middle TN Etsy team, we had one seller host a massive giveaway, with many team members participating. This has sparked some interest with other people curious about how to start their own giveaway. Today, we will be talking to Amy Averitte of FAveritte Creations, a Middle TN mom and seamstress, who organized a huge giveaway with over 20 prizes. Her Etsy shop received an award from a women's business site as one of the top woman-owned small business of the year!

Handmade Peace Sign Bags
Here is a link to her shop:

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions about your giveaway, Amy. Starting a giveaway seems overwhelming, and you helped to answer my basic questions. I hope this interview helps anyone else who is struggling on how to get started with a giveaway.

Custom Made Peace Sign Pillows

1) Please tell us a little bit about your creations, how you got started, and what you sell in your etsy shop?

My creations are bright, cheerful, a mixture of colors and patterns that tend to be on the silly side and most are custom made and personalized specifically for each customer. I create kids bedroom decor items from personalized pillows, custom prayer flags, personalized pillow cases and more. I also have tooth fairy pillows, unique hobby stick horses, silly stuffed toys, baby security blanket loveys and more fun creations.

My main goal is for the young at heart that receive a fAveritte creation as a gift: that at first they smile and then find enough joy in my creation to drag it around with them everyday...until the corners become a bit frayed and they may become a little dingy from all of the adventures they traveled on together.

fAveritte creations was started in 2009 when I found out I was pregnant with my first son. I wanted to make all of his nursery decor: monsters with primary colors. I was also in a college fibers course at the time and I presented all of his decor for one of my projects. A fellow classmate suggested Etsy to me...and I have never looked back!

2) Why did you decide to do a giveaway?

I love participating in giveaways because it is a great way to get my products out there PLUS it does bring quite a bit of exposure to my little creative world.

I decided to put together my Handmade Holiday Giveaway for the simple goal of trying to spread the love of handmade this holiday season. I hope that the entrants were exposed to new handmade artisans on Etsy and will keep them in mind for their holiday shopping and gift giving. I have discovered hundreds of fantastic shops here on Etsy and let's face it...I spend many hours on Etsy so I can easily share any great creations I find with my friends, families and followers.

3) I saw that you were recommending not to do a giveaway on Facebook; is it against their policies?

I had found a few articles online explaining the rules that facebook requires for giveaways...the following link best describes their rules and regulations with giveaways.

I already have a blog and quite frankly it is easier for me to administer and host a giveaway from my blog than on facebook.

4) How did you find sponsors for your giveaway?

I simply posted an explanation of my giveaway and goals in the many teams I am involved with on Etsy and asked any shops interested to contact me. I also asked a few of my creative Etsy friends and shop owners if they would like to participate.

5) How much of an increase in traffic and blog/facebook followers did you see?

I personally saw an increase of about 80 facebook likes during the duration of my giveaway, BUT the last two days of my giveaway I also participated in another giveaway on a different blog that brought traffic too.

I also gained over 10 new blog followers and over 60 new twitter followers.

Adorable Tote Bag

6)What do you think about the Rafflecopter widget? Where can one dowload this to do a giveaway? How easy was it to use?

I like the Rafflecopter widget because it is easy to use and makes it so simple for anyone to enter the giveaway. You control how you want the participants to enter and Rafflecopter makes it simple to copy the giveaway widget. Rafflecopter uses to choose a winner and allows you to announce it directly on the widget on your giveaway. Just simply check out to start your next giveaway!

7) When is your next planned giveaway?

Well that may just be a big secret...BUT I can say it will be sometime in the spring and I will definitely put together another Handmade Holiday Giveaway for next October also.

8) Where else can we find you on the internet (blog, twitter, facebook, pintrest....)

Facebook -
Twitter -
Pinterest -
Blog -

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oct. 7th Winning Team Treasury

'Long Shadows' by Mylana

Grey, black, and brown to welcome nightfall and cooler weather.

Printers Draw Chalkboar...
Cowboy Trail Dust Jars ...
SALE 30% - Nursing Neck...
Misty Boardwalk - Fine ...
North to the Orient, Bl...
Simple Silver Colored N...
COLUMBUS Sale Black Lea...
Original black ink draw...
Grey Wool Felt Earrings...
Black and white origina...
mother of pearl button ...
Men women crochet slouc...
Bridal Cuff Swarovski C...
3 DIY Halloween Favor B...
Lace Witch Boot Ceramic...
Hand painted Plate. Cir...

Oct. 7th Team Meeting Notes

Lisa, A Vintage Seller From TheTreeCricket
 Sunday's meeting was a small, but cozy affair at Hasting's in Murfreesboro, with plenty of hot coffee and chatter about the the upcoming holiday season on etsy and in local craft venues. The next meeting is Friday Nov. 16th at 2pm in the same location. Feel free to bring business cards and samples, but it is not obligatory! Here is a blog post about the Nov. meet up, with a list of main points from the meeting to follow:

-If you are interested in a Nashville meetup, please post in this discussion and thank you, Becky, from TheMonkeyButtons for asking :)

-Need to promote? Feel free to post one listing a week and one sale or promotion on the team facebook. Share your latest pictures and upcoming craft shows. Please limit posts that are only a product listing to once a week.

Samples and Business Cards For Excange
-Get a free ad here in the team blog and a feature written about your shop, just convo Mylana, the team captain.

-Welcome new members! Thanks for joining and feel free to ask for marketing advice or a shop critique on the team boards.

-Vintage sellers, watch the team boards for a vintage only promotion thread.

-Christmas is coming on etsy, make sure to have plenty of products made and shipping supplies on hand. Change your item tags to winter/holiday theme tags at the end of October.

-Part of our team mission is to promote local businesses. Please tell us if your products are for sale in any local venues, or you know of new stores that sell local and handmade products. Becky, from TheMonkeyButtons is going to be writing a blog post soon about her sister's new brick and mortar baby boutique opening in Nashville. They will be selling local, handmade, eco-friendly baby and mother items. We also like to see who is at any local craft fairs and festivals.

-Zadzukki is organizing an MTSU craft fair for sometime in November. Please see the team boards for updates.

-New team treasury games are coming!

A Christmas Gift Bought on Etsy

Monday, October 1, 2012

Murfreesboro's Hot Friday Night Hangout

Drool-Worthy Selection of Quality Yarns

Knit Bag from Nancy K of
 Where's a lonely, young widow to head on a Friday night for fun, friendship, and a great time? How about the Naughty Knitter on North Thompson Lane in Murfreesboro, TN. They have a Friday night knitting circle from 5-7. Thank you to my friend Nancy, owner of Fine Linen and Scarlett, for taking me to the group! I proudly knit for my very first time with her instruction. While the knitting circle is free for all skill levels, it is a social get together and the staff does not provide knitting lessons during this time, so bring your own teacher if you are a newbie, or sign up for their 4 week beginner course. You can find everything you need to know about this Murfressboro business here:

Mustartd Cowl in Progress by MTSU Faculty Member

More Colorful Yarn