Posts Tagged ‘herbs’


wish I knew who to give credit to – hilarious!

This whole “the mosquito is Alaska’s state bird” is getting me a little freaked out.  I mean, I don’t like mosquito’s (who does?!).  I’m not really scared of getting some freaky disease – the itchy welt is enough to scare me.  And we have a wee babe!  How much would it stink to see sad little white bumps on his tiny little chubby body?  No thanks!  But what are the alternatives?  Chemical-laden sprays?  Did you know your skin is the largest organ of your body and since it’s porous, absorbs most of what you put on it?  I don’t want that stuff on me, or in me – or contaminating my littles!

So here’s what I did: I made some bug repellent.  I really hope it’ll work, and isn’t just a “feel good” alternative.  But the things I know about the essential oils I used (and if you know me, I’m not into the essential oil rage – more below) are pretty solid.  So I headed to my oil cupboard, where I keep all of my soap and body product makin’ goods.  Here’s what I mixed together and put into a 4 ounce dark glass spray bottle, to be shaken before each use and stored in a cool dark place:

  • witch hazel, filled to half of the bottle
  • quality water, filled to half of the bottle
  • 20 drops of clove
  • 20 drops orange or lemon
  • 10 cinnamon
  • 10 eucalyptus or peppermint
  • 5 rosemary
  • 5 tea tree
  • 1 teaspoon of glycerin, if you choose (I didn’t bother)

I won’t lie, I didn’t count out drops.  In fact, I suspect I was a little exuberant and over-did it, using closer to double what I called for in this recipe.  I love that this is something perfectly safe to use on my wee one (keeping out of the face, of course).  If nothing else, we’re going to smell amazing – leaving that travelers funk to the birds!

Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve had a pretty wet, lengthy Spring.  That means a lot of damp places, and I suspect a lot of summertime mosquitoes here as well.  The rumor mill (weather man) says that this coming week will bring sunshine and warm temperatures.  I’m not sure I believe him, but I suspect we’ll be hearing that incessant, annoying, awful buzz sooner than later.  We’ve little time to put this spray to the test, but we may have a good opportunity to try!

Now folks, here’s where I want to share my concerns about the essential oil fad (pyramids) that y’all probably have at least one friend pressuring you to join… (more…)

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These are just two of the homemade items we keep on hand at most times to relieve aches and pains.  Thought I’d share.

Ocean Spray

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T. himilayan pink salt
  • 1 pinch magnesium flakes (you can use epsom salts)

Mix together until dissolved, then put into amber or cobalt spray bottle.  I made this first in 2013, after reading up on the incredible healing attributes of ocean (salt) water and dealing with a wee rash.  Now to step it up a notch and work on a soaking tub of sorts. 😉

Healing Ointment (our alternative to triple antibiotic ointment)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 T. comfrey leaf
  • 1/2 T. plantain leaf
  • 1 t. calendula flowers
  • 1/2 t. rosemary leaf
  • 1/2 t. yarrow flower
  • 1/2 t. echinaccea root
  • 1 T. beeswax pastilles
  • 1/2 t. grapefruit seed extract (GSE) or vitamin e

I infused the herbs and flowers into the olive oil (sometimes I add/use emu or coconut), then lightly melt in beeswax.  Mix in the GSE.  Now and then I add a few drops of egyptian rose geranium essential oil.  We use this pretty often!

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In a quest to learn more ways to strengthen my internal girlie parts, I purchased two new herbal books last week about women’s health.  It sent me on multiple quests – one of which I’ll share in my depth in my next post.  I’ll start here…

I tend to get very overwhelmed very quickly when it comes to herbs.  There are so many.  And they’re all “magical” and important and necessary and exciting.  I get a little lost.  In reading, I get way ahead of myself and learn too much, leaving little to actually be absorbed and remembered.  And I make things that our family may never need or use.  Then I heard someone say this fantastic line that kept me on point:

Replace store-bought items with homemade as you run out.

That’s it.  That’s all I needed to step back and focus.  Instead of putting all of these awesome sounding herbal recipes into hibernation at my house, we’re trying to make herbs a living part of our lives.

We are nearing the end of our aerosol can of “First Aid Spray” that we use for cuts & scratches.  A perfect opportunity to put the above guidelines to work.  I pulled out a pint of rubbing alcohol and have started a 6-week process of macerating herbs to create an anti-bacterial, pain relieving spray.

I like this.

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It Burns, Burns, Burns

cutting kefir curds

fire cider in the making, recipe here

Summer Farkas Takács-Michaelson CH (aka Gertrude Snicklegrove) has, once again, put on an immensely power-packed workshop at Preserving the Harvest – a great kickoff to this years (hopefully full) line up of excellent learning opportunities and community gatherings.  Teacher Summer packed this “Pantry Pickles” workshop with several potent ways of knocking out colds & flu’s like there’s no tomorrow.  Which is great, because it’s been a doozy of a year for lingering coughs, eh?!

farm workshops

farm workshops

Everyone went home with a self-made jar of these fantastic ferment(ing) pantry pickles.  And notebooks full of great information to research and expound on, and to use at home!

hungarian fire cider

beautiful, vibrant hungarian fire cider

Watch for more events like this on our farm Facebook page!

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Uncle Michael stopped in yesterday right about as we were about to sit down to a late brunch.  Lovely!

Taking the autumn off, everyone is starting to produce again!

Taking the autumn off, everyone is starting to produce again!

After we ate, the kids cleaned up the kitchen.  Michael washed dishes.  What young man does that without being asked?!  That guy.

working boys

working boys

We played some Mario until it was football time.  Then Michael offered to work on some shelving Scott had started for me in the basement cellar.  Scott went to work making home-grown beef stew.  Adyn & Michael got to workin’ on the shelves, having some boy time to talk and play on the drums between the drill’s battery charges.  The two younger boys played in the living room with Christmas loot.  Kendra stayed in the kitchen, concocting a new blend of tea to share.  I sat at the couch surrounded by books about sheep rearing, making notes, and working plans onto the calendar for shearing and worming and lambing and more.  That is, before I went downstairs and played with herbs to my hearts content.

mixing tea

mixing tea

Just as dinner was being served, a few more friends popped in.  We filled a few more bowls, and all mingled in the living room until the evening was finished.


my apothecary runneth over

All of the seeds, barks, roots, leaves and seaweeds are sorted by category and alphabetized.  Scott & Michael are already talking about making a second one for the salts, clays, mushrooms, berries, tea bases/blends and “made up” concoctions.

I just may put a rocking chair down there and never leave.

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This past week we’ve been busying it up in the kitchens!

Here are a few things that we’ve been making, both to offer to customers, and some for stocking our own apothecary and cellar.  All excellent ideas holiday sharing!


raw propolis

Propolis.  Dubbed Russian Penicillin by many, it’s pretty magical.  It’s antiseptic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory…  Good for pain relief, hair, nail and dental health, blood booster…  It’s rich in amino acids, bioflavonoids, minerals and vitamins….  The list goes on a while.  It isn’t magic, really, but is a healing powerhouse.  Read this link about some of it’s touted benefits or Google others.  It’s pretty awesome.  But yeah, there are plenty of websites about plenty of magical potions that will solve all of life’s problems, right?  I know, I know.  But in this one I’m a believer.  I’ve seen it at work personally on some pretty nasty flesh wounds, and when healing some pretty intense internal ailments.

Propolis itself is a red or brown resin used to fill crevices and to seal and varnish honeycombs.  It is a natural byproduct of honey production.  It is not mass produced, but rather scraped off in small portions from hives at harvest.  It’s (rock solid) gold.  And very hard to get your hands on unless you have a hive of your own.  Even then, it’s hard to get enough to satisfy your desires!

I was lucky enough to score some raw, local propolis from (now if not before!) my favorite bee keeper ever.  She was super generous, and so I’ve been able to make rather large, shareable batches of both tincture and oil.  And so I’ve gathered my supplies (scale, jars, ingredients) and have put up a 20% tincture, and am starting some propolis oil for salves and toothpaste.

One thing I found online that I think we’ll try our hand at soon?  Black tea and honey lollies with propolis.  Great for the winter season for boosting the immune system and soothing roughed up throats!

propolise in it's tincture liquid... moments later

propolis in it’s tincture liquid… moments later already turning golden

Next up: We’ve made large batches of both Essence Spice and Pumpkin Pie Spice, as well as some of your favorite tea blends from Preserving the Harvest, our homestead.  Find us on Facebook or Etsy!

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Today we celebrated a special birthday.  One of the young men in our circle of close friends turned 21 this week, and being a non-drinker, we still wanted to commemorate the moment with bubbly celebrations.  So we made REAL root beer!

gathered around making root beer

gathered around making root beer with friends

Now, I looked up a lot of recipes over the last week in preparation for todays big event.  There were dramatic differences in each “favorite” recipe online, most with a very small hand full of similarities.  Wanting to stay as authentic and pure as possible, we landed ourselves this one below.  But first: gather supplies.

I went down to Bader’s Beer Supply in Vancouver and loaded up on items needed:

  • bottles
  • caps (if needed – and capper)
  • labels (and pen, if needed)

I usually use flip top bottles for my water kefir, kombucha, and other crazy homemade beverages – but wanted to get 12 ounce amber bottles for this so we could share less expensively.  That, and get the fun cold sensitive caps.  The capper itself was not too pricey, reusable in a big way, and super easy to use.

capping bottles

capping bottles

Once everyone arrived, we watched (more…)

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