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Journal

Inspired by Portugal, made in California. Online shop offering premium quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, herbal teas, artisanal honey, hand-blended salts and botanical skin care. Occasionally, specially curated handcrafted and vintage items from Portugal are also available.

Olive Oil + Essential Oils for Eczema

Nuvea Santos Cobb

One of the most common skin diseases both men and women of all ages suffer from is eczema or dermatitis. Most often found on the arms, elbows, legs, knees, cheeks, and forehead, it can show up almost anywhere on the body and can create painful itching and burning that is difficult to treat. Most everyone I've talked to who has this condition has tried some sort of over-the-counter medication with minimal results. Olive oil is safe to use, affordable, and commonly found in local supermarkets.  And since most people are not allergic to olive oil, it can be a safe alternative to drugstore products that can irritate sensitive skin even more. While extra virgin olive is best for its antibacterial properties, and can be used on its own as a deeply penetrating oil, a combination of olive oil and certain essential oils can be even more effective. Below is a list of some of my favorite essential oils to use in a simple blend that you can make at home. I recommend starting with one or two essential oil blends until you find a combination that works for your particular skin condition and creates the scent you prefer the most. Add 3-4 drops of essential oil to one tablespoon of olive oil. While you can make a large bottle to keep in the bathroom to use right after showering while skin is still moist, it's a great idea to purchase a small vial or bottle with a dropper to carry around with you to use throughout the day.  

Best Essential Oils for Eczema

With a sweet, floral aroma that lifts the spirits, geranium is known to be one of the best essential oils for skin health with anti-inflammatory properties that soothe and calm irritated skin and help it to heal. 

Lavender essential oil is arguably the best known and most commonly used essential oil in skin care products. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, is known to be antiseptic and antibacterial. Lavender is typically one of the first essential oils people try at home. It has a gentle scent and is safe to use for most people with sensitive skin.  

Growing wild on our property in Portugal, thyme is another effective essential oil to treat eczema. More invigorating than lavender, it is very aromatic and has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal properties.  

A gentle and soothing essential oil and known for its calming effects, German or Roman chamomile helps relieve dry, itchy skin and has a light, fruity scent.

Tea Tree or Melaleuca is probably one of the most recommended essential oils for its purifying and cleansing qualities. Antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory, it has a cooling effect on dry, irritated skin. Since many people with eczema also suffer form asthma and seasonal allergies, its scent also helps to open up airways and relieve congestion. 

Helichrysum is recognized to promote healing of the skin and can be effective in reducing the appearance of scars. The downside is that it is one of the more expensive essential oils on the market and can be hard to find. It's a powerful oil that can cause a burning sensation when used undiluted, so make sure to test a small patch after blending if you have sensitive skin. 

Cedarwood has a grounding aroma that is warm, relaxing and perfect for the winter months.  Especially effective on seborrheic eczema, it helps to balance sebum production and fight infection.

One of my favorite essential oils with an ancient and mystical history, frankincense is widely used in both natural beauty treatments and to enhance spiritual experience. It's often used to help improve and smooth skin conditions. Because anxiety and stress can worsen symptoms of eczema, many people find that the comforting scent of frankincense helps prevent flare ups. 

Have you tried using olive oil and essential oils to treat eczema? I'd love to hear your experience with any of these oils and let me know in the comments if I've left out one of your favorites! 

 

Culinary Arts Food Education

Nuvea Santos Cobb

I just realized I never shared with you the swell time I had teaching the seniors from the CAFE (Culinary Arts Food Education) culinary academy at Rancho Mirage High School. I showed them how to do a basic olive oil tasting and it was so cool to see teenagers interested in the process of sensory evaluation, and even in the cultural and economic role of olive oil though out history. Of course, the best part was getting to wear my fancy chef uniform. Chef Merrick who tirelessly runs the program, was kind enough to ask me to come back and do another presentation, which made my day. They even gave me a very official looking certificate when I went back in the spring... Mentoring kids really is fun and I hope to do it more often in the future. 

 

Renovation Update

Nuvea Santos Cobb

They say the most important part is to begin...

I thought some of you might be interested in seeing how the recent renovations have come along…Such slow progress but at least there is hot and cold running water now and electricity and a full bath. I was able to actually sleep in the cottage for the first time when I last visited and it felt like such an achievement even though there is still so much to be done. 

Come in and take a look...

Probably the most satisfying accomplishment was the addition of a fully functioning bathroom. Once it's painted and the stonework polished and sealed, it will look so much better. I bought linseed oil to refinish the floors with, but ran out of time. They're in surprisingly good shape considering, so I'm thrilled to be able to save them at all. It's so frustrating to have such a short time frame to get everything done. I can't wait to paint the walls with a traditional whitewash. That'll brighten things up a bunch. And the powdery feel of the whitewash always reminds me of childhood days at my grandparents' home. 

I loved collecting my grandparents things, long abandoned and forgotten in the barn, like the old weight that's been turned into a handy door stopper. All the furniture is handed down, some of it vintage, some just used. Here's a peak into the bedroom. Right now there is only one, but I plan on adding a sleeping loft upstairs, as well as renovating the barn to allow for more guests to sleep over. We added crushed gravel from the local quarry to keep from tracking in dirt and mud. Eventually I plan to add lots of lavender, rosemary and other herbs that are grow locally to frame the entrance. This is the view from the front room out to the pastures…I love how there isn't a building in sight. The door has a shutter on the window which I can close tight when there's a storm, especially when the north wind blows, which is often.

The textiles are all original and made by my grandmother and great-grandmother. The fabric is called Chita de Alcobaca, a kind of chintz traditionally used by working class Portuguese families. Also, some creative handiwork made by my great-grandmother, most likely using old bits of scrap wool (possibly burel, an extremely warm and water-resistant wool felt) from worn out blankets and clothes. Nothing went to waste in those days and I admire her desire to create something decorative out of discarded material.

I couldn't believe how strange it felt to sleep without my dogs close by, so I brought along a ceramic one from my grandmother's house. I think he looks a lot like Finley, don't you?  

In the original kitchen an old bread sack hangs on the door knob to take to the bakery, along with traditional cookware on the hearth. The header over the fireplace is still in good condition, but also needs to be refinished. The yellow door was the original one I modeled the front door after. It has a little mouse hole we covered up with a photo of a cat to ward off any masked-mouse marauders... And the stairs lead up to the attic/sleeping loft.

Then there is the original "shower" from my grandmother's house. It's really just a bucket with holes punched through for the water to drain. Exquisite simplicity. The windows will eventually need to be replaced as well, but for now the light coming through the bathroom window in the afternoon is perfect. You can also see the base of the vanity, made from the local limestone. 

The lovely lady in the last photo is the daughter of the original owner of the cottage who came by for a visit one afternoon. She shared many fond memories of growing up in that house along with her siblings; a family of seven. She was happy to see it being restored and cared for, after sitting abandoned for so many years. 

(I also included a photo of the electrician from the utility company, whose highly anticipated arrival was met with much relief because as we all know, these things can move very slowly in Portugal). 

So there you have it. It's not much, but of you saw the first photos, then you know how much dirt and dust had to be swept out. Not to mention the cobwebs. 

I mean there were sheep living in the house at one time. 

Thanks for following along on this journey with me. Some of you have been reading about this little passion project for some time now, and I just want you to know I'm very grateful for your support! 

XO N. 

 

Starting Over

Nuvea Santos Cobb

Welcome to the new, bright and shiny Casa da Nuvea blog! Well, we've been up for a little while but as anyone who creates a site/business can tell you, there are always updates and constant revisions...While I loved my old site on Wordpress, I was ready for a fresh look and one that was more flexible. When I first started Casa Nuvea, I really had no idea what direction I wanted to go in, other than I wanted to share updates on the restoration of my little olive farm. But I also wanted to share stories about my horses, adventures with my dogs, day trips to the beach, photos of flowers from my garden, etc. It was starting to feel a little schizophrenic; was it a blog about olive farming? dog hikes? gardening? horses? camping? Who knew? Certainly not me. I also wanted to move forward with the house and farm and take it on a more entrepreneurial direction. I wanted to be able to share our olive oil with people, open up the house to guests, teach classes, collaborate with local artists and farmers. So, I decided to create a new site for Casa Nuvea and narrow its focus to just the farm and its olive oil. At least for the most part, anyway. There will still be snippets of other parts of my life, because, well, I like to tell those stories, too. I'm still keeping the original blog as well, and using that to share more about my personal art projects, and new teaching collaborations on nature and art. And of course, horses and dogs. I hope you'll follow along here, as well, and read about all our plans and new offerings…I'm really excited to start this new chapter in my life and see where it all goes.

Thanks for visiting!

These are some photos of the surrounding stone walls covered in moss and lichen, with a view of the eucalyptus grove beyond the property.

I think they're beautiful. They've been neglected and are falling into ruin but will be lovingly restored this coming year. As you can see, the weather here in the serra gets a little chillier, even in summer when these photos were taken. It's a little more wild and windswept than other nearby areas.

A Great Read, Cultural Heritage and a Winning Recipe

Nuvea Santos Cobb

Happy November, everyone!  Today I want to share with you some inspiring work created by a couple of very talented people on matters near and dear to my heart: namely, olive oil and Portugal. Plus, I've included one of my recipes for a delicious (and easy) seasonal meal.

If you're into olive oil at all, you've probably come across the New York Times' bestselling book on the olive oil trade by Tom Mueller. It's a fascinating read, well-written and researched, documenting the cultural history of olive oil (did you know archaeologists have found evidence of olive oil dating back to 5,800 BC?)  and the ongoing battle for authenticity between the mass globalization of olive oil production and the small, independent artisan producers.  While some critics have accused the author of exaggerating the claims of fraudulent EVOO labeling,  I think it's still a great  resource for learning about the significance of olive oil around the world.  Plus, he gives you lots of insight on how to choose your own olive oils to ensure quality. Entertaining and informative. Be sure to pick up a copy of Extra Virginity: the sublime and scandalous world of olive oil at your favorite independent bookshop.

.

Want more natural history and cultural heritage? Check out this

inspiring video

about one of Portugal's vanishing traditions.

Ricardo Guerreiro

is a Portuguese filmmaker and photographer who has produced documentaries for National Geographic Portugal and written books on natural history.

While most of Ricardo's videos are in Portuguese  

Arrabida

,

Almada

, and

Al-Rabita

are in English.  

To see more of his beautiful images, be sure to check out his

website

 and follow him on

Facebook

.

autumn recipe

Recently, I submitted a photo and recipe to Pelican Hill Resort for their annual

Festa dell'Autunno

 contest and won! Here's the very easy and quick recipe:

Autumn Vegetables with Proscuitto Roasted Sea Bass

2 medium, diced potatoes (2 cups)

3 diced parsnips (2 cups)

1 butternut squash (2 cups)

6 diced carrots (2 cups)

olive oil

salt and pepper

4 cloves of garlic, minced

6 fillets of sea bass (about 7 - 8 ounces)

6 slices of Italian prosciutto or Portuguese presunto

(this was for an Italian event, so I chose prosciutto in this particular instance but would normally choose the Portuguese version)

small bunch of fresh picked rosemary

1 stick of butter

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

Place all the vegetables in a roasting pan or sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes in a 400 degree preheated oven, being sure to turn over the vegetables at least once. Add the garlic and continue roasting for another 10 minutes to make sure vegetables are cooked. Brush the fillets with olive oil and place on a baking rack over a foil-lined sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap each fillet with a slice of prosciutto all the way around the middle. Roast for 10 - 15 minutes until the the center of the fish is flaky. Melt the butter over low heat and add the rosemary. After 5 minutes, remove the rosemary and add the lemon juice. Serve the the fish surrounded with vegetables on a platter and pour the rosemary butter over the fish.

Enjoy!

*If your grocer doesn't stock bass, you can substitute halibut, cod, or orange roughy.

Photos: NuveaPhotography