The Magical Scent of the Holidays

By Tom Havran
It’s a wonder that I don’t equate the scent of a live Christmas tree with the smell of chaos, frustration and desperation rather than holiday cheer. I grew up in a nine-member Iowa farm family, and a Christmas tree wasn’t necessary to our livelihood; if anything, the cost and trouble associated with it was a burden for our working family to endure.

Our Christmas tree in one of its better years.

Our Christmas tree in one of its better years.

Some years, we splurged and made a trip to a garden center – where I hurriedly picked out a tree and dragged it into the car headlights for illumination. Two quick honks from my family waiting in the car meant ‘yes’ while one long, dismal honk meant ‘keep looking’. Other years, we’d resort to culling a scruffy, prickly red cedar from a ditch or fence row on the farm. Continue reading

Creating a Sustainable Future for Sandalwood

By Tim Blakley, Aura Cacia aromatherapist/educator


Tim visiting Aura Cacia’s sandalwood supplier in Australia

I recently attended the International Sandalwood Synopsis in Honolulu to discuss the future of one of my favorite oils – sandalwood. This was the first conference on sandalwood in over 20 years.

The story behind the conference began about 18 months ago, when someone approached me at a trade show with a bottle of sandalwood essential oil made from Hawaiian sandalwood. I was a bit surprised, as Hawaii has a brutal history regarding sandalwood (massive exploitation between 1810 and 1830 resulted in a near elimination of the species in all but the most remote parts of the islands), and I had no idea anyone was harvesting it today. With the supplier’s permission, I visited the land where the wood was being harvested. Continue reading