Eucalyptus Is Magic

Tuesday was 60 degrees. Wednesday it rained buckets. Thursday I snagged my husband’s furry flap hat and bundled up to stay warm for the full-on 24hr icy blast.  Friday? Still a question mark.

 After 5 winters in New Jersey I’ve learned three things:

  1. Washing your hands is the key to family health.
  2. My husband is NEVER getting his furry flap hat back!
  3. Winter weather does whatever it bloody hell wants so you just have to roll with it, stock up on winter remedies, eat well, and hibernate when necessary.

{On snow days I put out a tray of strawberries, broccoli and soy sauce for my boys to snack on. Soy sauce is my
Mary Poppins trick to get my kids to eat green veggies!}

While my stash of balloons, legos, craft supplies, and copious amounts of Netflix eased my kids’ cabin fever, Eucalyptus essential oil was my go-to  for cold symptom relief. From December onwards I bought it just like I buy weekly groceries so that I always have it on hand for the first sniffle. 

{Eucalyptus Bloom Spritz + Winter Sun + Warm Hat = Bliss}

Now,  I don’t play with certain symptoms. If anyone has wheezing, a wet cough, or a high fever it’s straight to the doctor’s office! But, for normal colds it’s all about easing discomfort so that we can rest and let the body naturally recover.  

My regimen is simple: a warm lemon chamomile tea with loads of honey followed by a eucalyptus steam bath.  When I’m sick or overtired I put eucalyptus essential oil straight into my bath. However, when it comes to my kids I prefer to sprinkle it onto cotton, run the shower on hot to get some steam, and then draw them a warm water bath. That way, the eucalyptus-soaked cotton pad can disinfect the air and open their nasal passages. Afterwards the kiddokes get a massage with shea butter and little lavender.  It may seem OTT for young ones, but afterwards they are knocked out, guaranteed. And although I love to pamper myself, there is nothing more soothing for me than to see my sick little guys snoring away.

 

{Eucalyptus tree leaves / I use cotton pads and hot running water to diffuse eucalyptus oil}

Although, many associate eucalyptus’s herbaceous camphor scent with cold remedies, the plant does so much more.  It’s antibacterial, analgesic, aromatherapeutic and anti-inflammatory properties have made it useful for everything from insect repellants to mouth rinse.  Because my goal is to create versatile products for Bloomsbury Sq’s busy customers, it was a    no-brainer to include eucalyptus in an aromatic body spritz.  

{I share the Eucalyptus Bloom Spritz for the first time at small B Sq launch party in Nov. Image by Danielle Guenther }

I’ve come to think of the Workout Afterglow Eucalyptus Bloom Spritzer as my 1 oz multitasker. It’s been fascinating to hear how customers are using it. I’ve heard post-gym muscle soother, face skin toner, air freshener, and decongestant remedy. Some are even using it as a perfume.  Wow!

 I originally made the post-workout spray as a skin refresher for a Zumba classmate, Yali.  She’s an uber busy writer and founder of the “I Am” Project*, a workshop-based program that brings the practice of mindfulness to schools. (Go Yali!)  She has a full-on workout schedule and sometimes there’s no locker room to refresh. So, I wanted to create a spray that she could use to quench her skin after our Zumba sweatathons, sooth tired muscles,  AND ease the daily stress of city life.  

Witch hazel was the perfect base because it’s a natural skin toner and reduces redness. I source witch hazel that is double distilled and alcohol-free to ensure that it is extra gentle.  To boost the spritz’s skin rejuvenating factor, I added one of my all-time favorite beauty secrets for youthful skin: rice bran oil. Geranium essential oil was another must-have ingredient because it works wonders for itchy, extra dry and sensitive skin. Plus its heady floral aroma is the perfect counterbalance for eucalyptus’s woodsy note.

I topped it off with lemon essential oil to give a hit of aromatic sunshine each time you inhaled it.  I had no idea how what kind of winter we were in for, but I’m delighted that the eucalyptus + geranium + lemon combo gave a beautifully fragrant pick-me-up for all those that used it.

 

{My friend Laurie loves the spritz’s geranium and shares it with her son, Kai while we savor cappuccinos and convo at La Isla in Hoboken.}

Now that we’ve had the first signs that Spring is on it’s way, I’m all about a massive Spring cleaning (that means dusting y’all!) and getting my fitness in gear. Eucalyptus Bloom, let’s get our glow on!

                  *Spring is an awesome time for fresh starts!
    Wanna be inspired? Visit Yali Szulanski’s fab "I AM" Project website.
            Make sure to check out the Blog and Student Work pages. 

 

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First Give Love / Grow Love gift pack delivery. For a bday weekend getaway. Bundled it up in fabric for the road trip.

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Finding Green in a Polar Vortex

Anyone need a reminder that there is life after Winter? I keep reminding myself that the chill cracks open all the seeds underground. But morning sleet? Do we really need to wake up to icy rain? 

February’s images of warmth and love can seem a bit at odds with what’s happening outside our front door. Perhaps that’s why my thoughts these days escape to all things green.

{The paperwhite bulbs that I used for the Give Love/Grow Love Gift Pack image now sit on my kitchen table and instantly de-stress me when I come into the room.}

Although a city girl by choice, nature has always been my touchstone.  I think it has a lot to do with my KY roots.  In Autumn I would walk out the back door into a yard lined with pear and crabapple trees. My friends always made fun of the way that I’d polish a pear down to the string. (Not even the core was left!) In the summer my mom sent me out to grab  handfuls of wild mint for her sugary sun-steeped tea. And I’d watch her from March till August care for Spring’s first daffodils, her hardy tulips and creamy white irises. Oh, and I can’t leave out my nana’s plum tree. My favorite!

{My grandmother could make anything grow and always looked sugar sharp!)

At the time I didn’t pay much attention to all that lushness; it was just a backdrop. Nowadays I’m nostalgic about life in Kentucky.  Growing up there shaped my view of nature as an at-your-fingertips resource for health and happiness. As I think of my own trust that nature knows best for our bodies, I’m coming to understand that it wasn’t just about using plants; it was also being surrounded by things that grow.

A garden’s restorative power is something that I keep coming back to, both for the business and for my family life. While researching eco-packaging I discovered plantable paper. I instantly connected it to those lush afternoons in our backyard.   When my seeded paper order arrived I went out to plant a tester in my back garden. “And while you’re at it, I thought, why not jot down a goal on the paper to plant that as well?” So, I wrote down an intention. Like a birthday wish, I didn’t tell anyone what it was. I planted it in my backyard and followed the paper’s directions to keep it moist. After 7 days and a sprout, I was hooked! 

About a month later, I saw an instagram photo of a Bloomsbury Sq tag that someone had received with their gift soap.  

              

                                                  {Wow!)

Now that Bloomsbury Sq products are out in the world and folks are enjoying them, I am experimenting with ways to encourage women to actually use the tags.

The idea for February’s gift pail came - where else? - from the NYC Flower District. In the wintertime, when I’m craving green I pop over to 28th St. The crates of wholesale blossoms, succulents, and tubs of fresh cut flowers give me an instant shot of Spring. And now that “polar vortex” has become part of my vocabulary, I need green more than ever.

I hit the garden supply stores to find a couple of options for the flower pail.

{I always finish off a trip to the flower district at the cafe, A Little Taste. Delish!}

There were so many lovely pots to choose from but I love the rustic, minimalist look of the one that I chose for our February gift set. I’m going to give one for a good friend and fellow mom. I used my first tag to bloom my wish. I wonder what she’ll wish for.

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Putting the blooming tags on products for display in Ariele Apothecary. The new Hoboken location is such a jewel box that I didn’t want to leave.

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Treating myself at Love & Yogurt while I twine up my last delivery of the day. #metime #bloomsburysq #tistheseason

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Lavender and MacGyver Moments at the JC Holiday Market

Last Monday I took Bloomsbury Sq to one of my favorite places: the street market.

I’ve done the occasional market for over a year and it’s always a great to way to share my products with new customers. But market days also help me get the honest feedback that is so essential to my creative process.  

So, for the last week, I poured myself into prepping for the Jersey City Downtown Holiday Market at Grove Plaza. On Sunday I was in NYC running last minute errands when I stumbled upon Greeley Square’s “Broadway Bites” food stalls. Granted, the drizzly weather wasn’t ideal for an outdoor food market experience, but the way that the grey misty backdrop set off the ropes of strung lights was so beautiful. And the burst of seasonal street culture encouraged busy New Yorkers to pause and actually enjoy city life.

That moment reminded me how fab it is that I get to be a part of the festivities in my community. At that moment I realized that, while Monday Nov. 18th was an ordinary evening for most, for me it was going to be a Jersey City debut.

The day’s colors also inspired me to make the Bloomsbury Sq palette pop by mixing in slate gray and silver.

           

      Inspiration is everywhere when you are open to it.

By Monday Market Day, every detail that I could think of was ready.  On my way to Grove Plaza I was relieved to see that even the sunny forecast was still in play. What I didn’t factor in was that it was near a river. When I arrived the brisk riverside wind was whipping aluminum tray lids in the air, tent sides were flapping, and promotional postcards were flying. I had brought a portable easel to prop up a large board with the Bloomsbury Sq logo. Let’s just say that a lightweight metal easel from the office supply store was no match for the November winds.  I even tried to anchor the easel’s legs with cans of beans, a bag of decorative sand and mad amounts of duck tape.

       Every market day has a MacGyver moment.
    I’ve learned to improvise and it keep it moving!  

As I type, I’m sitting here crackin’ up at the memory of it. I’m sure my fellow vendors got a kick out of that one. Next market? I’ll bring the banner. 

Luckily, I arranged everything in time to watch Jersey City’s Mayor Fulop flip the switches for the Grove Plaza Menorah and Xmas tree.  After all of the prep, the set-up, the wind-flopping easels, and the holiday buzz, the evening was about doing what I really love: getting folks to take a moment to nourish body and mind with Bloomsbury Sq’s indulgence-packed goods.

I had thought of every detail, except how to get busy commuters to stop and smell the bergamot crème on their home. Oy! In a show of solidarity, a fellow vendor suggested that I spray one of my fragrant skin toners around my area, at the escalator entrance, on the stone pavers. I grabbed the 24/7 Life Spritz refresher. Spritz. Spritz. Spritz.  And Presto.

This is not a shameless plug for my products. I kid not, I watched people follow the invisible lavender citrus trail from the PATH escalator into the holiday market tent and ask : “where is that scent coming from?”

I couldn’t have dreamed up a more splendid way to start a conversation. Love it!  

Click here to view the photo gallery of the holiday market and lighting ceremony.

 Bloomsbury Sq has will also be at the following holiday markets:

The Jersey City Project Holiday Market on Sunday, Dec 8th  10am-7pm

The Jersey City Downtown Holiday Market  Thursday, Dec. 19th 4pm-8pm

 

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Goodbye Storyboard Bath & Body (Originally Posted On BloomsburySq.com Oct. 2nd 2013)

 


Storyboard started out as an experiment to see if I could take everything that I have learned as a community builder and share it through a bath and body company. As I met more and more women through Storyboard’s DIY Spa Socials I was so amazed that we’d begin the gathering as strangers and, by the end of the night, were exchanging hugs and phone numbers. Those fragrant evenings were filled with beauty, warmth, discovery, and uncanny connections. I was hooked!

The Socials also gave me time to listen to women in my community and to really hear their need for wholesome, quality products that transformed shower time into Me Time. I’ve always thought of myself as a teacher. Slowly I began to understand how my handcrafting products inspired by the people I encountered were a way of bundling and sharing up the positivity associated with those evenings. I knew that I wanted to bring my products to more people. 
 
And so, right in the middle of our buzzing DIY Social blitz, I did something really uncomfortable. I took a step a back, did some soul searching, loads of convos with friends, my husband, supportive customers and all who had cheered Storyboard on for the last year.
 
The name Storyboard, I loved. LOVED. It was hip, a nod to graphic design peeps and had the word “story” in it (which as you can see, I’m kinda all about. Lol!) Plus it evoked my process of working with my clients to create meaningful gifts. Still, in my gut I knew that the name kept me safely at a distance. I dug deep to figure out how my products would reflect my intentions for a heart-centered business.  Storyboard came from my head.   This time ‘round I needed a name that came straight from my heart.
 
With much handholding  from the marketing team at Hanabee Creative, I let go of my cherished name Storyboard. OMG, It was surprisingly easy!  I stopped being afraid to change and began to dream. One word kept showing up: Bloom. And in fact, that word was already all over my life and my business. It was in my long-time motto “Bloom Where You’re Planted”. It was in my obsession with incorporating eco-friendly plantable paper. I became aware that I was reading books with “bloom” in the title. Most of all, it’s sums up my wish for my sons, Remy and Basile.
 
So, “bloom” was the start, but this word led to weeks of word lists (including loads of made-up words!). All the names were so lovely, but not The Name. Not me.
 
Then one rainy Tuesday morning I took a dance class in the city. It was the hardest choreography I’ve had in years. But I got through it by releasing  my fear of making mistakes and of  dancing differently than everyone else. It was so much fun and, although I was surrounded by dancers (with a capital D!)  my dancing was joyful, a little quirky, soulful, and all me. Afterwards I sipped a cappuccino and stared out the café window for a while. A while, y’all.  Thoughts flowed of all the things and places that help me reconnect with myself the way that dancing does.
 
While sitting there, “Bloomsbury” came and brought with it a spark of possibility. Bloomsbury was the name of my neighborhood where I studied in London. Oh, and it was the place where I met and fell in love with my husband, Marc. Why didn’t I think about that before? What else?
 
And there it was. Bloomsbury Sq.  This enclosed garden was the perfectly bite-sized slice of  heaven where I would escape from the hubbub of school and fast-track London. This is where I would go, so so many afternoons to find my calm.
 
Bloomsbury has been in the background of so much that is good and healing in my story. I’m excited to see how it will allow me to continue to share, to grow to blossom.
 
So goodbye Storyboard Bath & Body. Welcome Bloomsbury Sq.  

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Field trip to my favorite essential oil store, Enfleurage NYC for oils that warm up citrus n florals. The astonishing Christina introduced me to Peru Balsam, Cistus, & Tagetes (distilled from marigolds). Love!

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Some quick pics from my soap delivery at Sheraton Parsippany for a pop-up gift shop at the Sweet Adeline’s Vocalfest. Someone mentioned that there were 48 singing groups coming in. i am always amazed where my soaps and sundry take me. Can’t wait to hear all of the singing in the halls mañana. Special thanks to Liz Clarke for all her help and convos today! After the set-up frenzy I took a moment to be still in the warm twilight. Now I sleep…

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Got the damask crock pots going as I finish up batch of custom music-themed graphic soaps. The essential oil blend is sunshine x 2 with lemon and tangerine.

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Life in full bloom

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