No matter what season of the year it is, I just can’t get enough of the smell (and, sometimes, taste) of spruce, fir and cedar. Maybe it’s because I live in the Pacific Northwest, but most of the time, I want my home to smell of the forest. Evergreens give off such a grounding yet uplifting, comforting and calming scent that seems to appeal to both genders in general. I mean, have you ever met someone who hates the smell of a Christmas tree or a fresh mountainside covered in trees? I think it’s universally pleasing! Anyway, as we’re on the tail end of winter, I wanted to share my my favorite products flavored and scented with conifers. The vast majority are made by small companies in the American West, and they’ve nourished my physical, emotional and spiritual being during these dark, winter months and will probably continue to do so the rest of the year!
(Note: I am not being sponsored by any of these companies :))
–Douglas Fir Facial Tonic, $23, from Evan Healy: This was kind of a splurge for me. I don’t normally spend $23 on a hydrosol, but when I recently went to the Loyly Sauna & Spa in southeast Portland, I saw a bottle sitting on the reception counter and it was calling my name. I had never seen a Doug Fir hydrosol before and the skin specialist at the spa raved about their product line and had gone to visit their farm in Washington. The company is certified organic and sources their material from the wild, small family farms or woman co-ops around the world. The scent is woodier than I expected–an essential oil will probably give you more of a “Christmas-y” scent–but so far, I’m really enjoying it! Hydrosols help moisturize the skin (and maintain moisture), especially if you’re being dried out by your heater during the colder months. I’m cold most of the time, so I keep my heater on steadily, but it’s really affecting my skin and hair during these winter months. So I’m trying to spritz hydrosol all over my face throughout the day to help keep my skin more supple, especially before applying my oil serum, as it helps your skin absorb the oil. Water + oil is a key component to skincare. And let’s talk about Loyly Sauna for a moment here–if you’re in the Portland area and need some pampering and relaxation, you gotta look into this little, Scandinavian-inspired slice of heaven! So good!
(Note: Evan Healy’s Doug Fir hydrosol is now out of a stock, so I feel kinda bad about raving about an unavailable product. But you should check in with them later this year to see if they’ve made some more! I’ve heard nothing but great reviews about the Evan Healy company, so you might want to check out their other hydrosols, like rose geranium and sandalwood. Also, good news, Mountain Rose Herbs has JUST started selling a Douglas Fir hydrosol! I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll definitely be putting in an order soon.)
–Balsam Fir incense, $5, from Paines: I love, love, love this naturally-scented incense! If you want your house to smell like a cozy hearth with fir logs ablaze in the fireplace, this is your jam. It makes me so dang happy. Note: This incense take forever to light! At first, I thought I had received a faulty batch, but after reading some online reviews, you just have to hold up a lighter to the incense stick for about 30 seconds (or you can hold the incense over a lit gas range). Not ideal, but seriously worth a little patience!
–Loyly Sauna’s spruce foot/bath soak, purchased at Palace in Portland, Oregon: Sorry, this isn’t available online, but I bought mine from Palace, an amazing clothing/homewares/natural beauty/lifestyle shop if you’re in the area. If you won’t be passing through Portland, I would try blending a little bit of spruce essential oil with a cup and a half of epsom salt, and add a handful of cedar, fir or spruce needles, and a small handful of lavender buds in a warm or hot bath. Ideally, if you don’t have have a drain filter, you can stick the herbs in a muslin, cotton or disposable paper tea bag and steep it in the tub to avoid clogging your drain with all that nature.
–Douglas Fir tea, $13, from Juniper Ridge: What does fir needle tea taste like, you ask? The first time I tried it, I was expecting more of a resinous, “piney” flavor, but the tea is lighter, citrusy, herbal and just lovely.
–Western Red Cedar essential oil from Ring Botanicals: I don’t often use this favorite essential oil, except to uncap it and take a whiff every now and then. It’s grounding, relaxing, and just smells so healing. I love it! I bought it from a lovely woman who wildcrafts the cedar and distills it at her Oregon farm. They’re also out of this particular essential oil (aghh, I don’t mean to be a jerk!), but they have Douglas Fir in stock. Hopefully, Western Red Cedar will be available again (see below for an alternative). She also sells hydrosols!
–Canopy Essential Oils, $15: While I haven’t purchased these oils, I love to smell their entire collection at New Seasons Market. I’ll have to buy something from them as soon as I run out of my evergreen oils, but so far, I am loving their Western Red Cedar, Grand Fir and Douglas Fir scents!
–Spruce essential oil from Ananda Apothecary: Love this high quality but reasonably priced, therapeutic grade essential oil company.
–Lewis and Clark cologne, $24-60, from Ring Botanicals: A woodsy, leather-y scent that’s not overly “masculine.”
–Douglas Fir Eau de Vie, $50, from Clear Creek Distillery in Portland: This spirit right here is an excellent gift for that fancy friend of yours! I first tried it in a cocktail at Departure, a Paleo-friendly, fine dining restaurant in Portland that serves up Asian-inspired cuisine. The cocktail I had is called the Bonsai and is a blend of gin, prosecco, lemon, rosemary and the doug fir eau de vie. According to the distillery, this eau de vie is “made from an infusion of springtime buds picked by hand into a clear brandy.”
-Douglas Fir simple syrup, $11, from Dram Apothecary: This syrup does contain cane sugar, but it is a lovely, inexpensive way to give your cocktail a Doug Fir flavor! My husband, a couple of friends and I sat around the dinner table one evening and created a cocktail as a group. We kept tinkering with a glassful of gin, pear brandy, lemon juice, and this simple syrup and passing it around until we came up with a pretty awesome cocktail that we named the Lumberjack. It literally tasted like fresh wood and fir needles, in the best possible way! I didn’t write the recipe down and sadly forgot the proportions–a bad culinary habit of mine I’m working on! But as soon as I figure it out again, I’ll be sure to share 🙂