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Fantastic Friday with Alpenglow

Susan Houlihan, owner of Alpenglow, came up to the Wynn Nature Center to demonstrate how to make her signature Cottonwood Balm for a recent Fantastic Friday event.  Her business started as a personal project to develop natural skin care products she could feel good about using.  She made some of her creations into gifts for friends who immediately requested more.  Word spread and she was soon perfecting her formulas of natural botanicals and creating a line of products she could market.  Former Park Rangers, Susan and her husband moved to Homer, Alaska, and are now raising a family and running the Alpenglow business.  The kids even help in the harvesting of local wild plants to be used in Alpenglow products.

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A jar of almond oil with cottonwood buds and calendula flowers.

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Calendula flowers from Susan's garden.

The Cottonwood Balm Susan demonstrated started out as a jar packed with sticky cottonwood leaf buds she collected in the spring, combined with dried calendula flowers and almond oil.  She usually cooks this concoction over low heat for a while to infuse the oil, but this jar she "cooked" on a sunny windowsill for a couple months.  

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Almond oil infusion put through a strainer.

She carefully poured a bit of the infused oil through a strainer, measured out a bit of beeswax, and melted the two ingredients together in a double boiler.  

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 Just enough beeswax added to make the balm (about 15% by weight).

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 Pouring the hot liquid into containers before it sets up.

Before cooling, Susan poured the hot liquid into tiny containers that quickly solidified into this aromatic balm.  Cottonwood is said to be beneficial for healing a variety of skin ailments such as mosquito bites, cracked fingertips, or blisters.  The smell is fresh and springy.  The end product is a real treat for your skin and your peace of mind.  Susan's skin care line can be found online, or at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies main office, or at the Wynn Nature Center.  Thanks to Susan for coming up the hill to show us how to make this terrific balm!

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Beautiful AND beneficial!

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