Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lady's Mantle- Alchemilla Vulgaris





Lady's Mantle, also known as dew cup, is a tough perennial with an airy, delicate appearance. The proper name comes from the plant's healing reputation while "dew cup" refers to the plants habit of collecting dew. This dew was used by alchemists in their potions in days gone by.
The name Lady's Mantle refers to its use for female ailments during the Middle Ages.
To use topically, infuse the dried leaves in spring water and use as an astringent or facial steam. Use the infusion cold to decrease large pores and sooth acne. Dew cup is also used in creams to soften skin and decrease inflammation.

Lady's Mantle Bath

Place a small handful each of Lady's Mantle, comfrey and calendula in a muslin bag. Hang over the faucet as the tub is filling so the water flows through the herbs. At the end of your bath, gently rub the bag of herbs over your skin for added softness.
As always, if you have sensitivities to herbs, do a patch test before using.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Love you, Mom!




My Mom is the bravest person I know. She greeted every day with an attitude of acceptance and understanding without any of the martyrdom that can accompany that outlook.
While she lived her life by her own rules, she always took into consideration how her actions and choices would affect those she loved.

She never had a lot of material wealth, but was always willing to share what she had with anyone in need.
She was always there for a shoulder to cry on.
She was willing to listen without passing judgment or even offering advice unless asked for.

Mom asked for so little and gave so much in return.


In honor of my Mom, go visit that person you have been meaning to see. It really won't take that long and will mean SO much.

Love you Mom!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hemp Uses and NORML Gathering


I have started using hemp oil in many of my soaps and all of my lip balms. The oil contains high levels of essential fatty acids including linolenic acid which aids skin healing. It is quickly absorbed and highly moisturizing making it a good ingredient for all types of products for dry skin.
There is still quite a bit of resistance from many about using a product containing hemp in spite of its long history of being a useful herb for textiles, skin preparations and food for livestock. If you would like more information about the history and uses for hemp visit the NORML at CCSU website. They will also be holding an informational gathering on April 20th at Central Connecticut State University.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Asparagus Chowder


This delicious chowder is quick and easy to make. The timing for the ingredients couldn't be easier. Simply chop the veggies one at a time and add them to the pot in the order listed. The onions cook while you chop the mushrooms which cook with the onions while you chop the celery, etc.

Asparagus Chowder

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one medium onion
  • 12 mushrooms
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 12 baby carrots or one large carrot
  • one sweet potato, peeled
  • 2 white potatoes(no need to peel if the skin is thin)
  • 1/4 pound of ham or turkey ham
  • 12-14 fresh asparagus spears, tough end removed
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Chop and add veggies one at a time. After the addition of the asparagus, saute for 3-4 minutes or until the asparagus is bright green and everything is fragrant. Add one quart of good quality chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 10-12 minutes or until the veggies are tender. While the veggies are simmering make the cheese sauce as follows.
  1. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat
  2. Stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons of flour . Cook and stir one minute.
  3. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk- skim, whole 2%- whatever you have on hand
  4. Bring to a bubble stirring and cook until thickened stirring constantly.
  5. Stir in 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Stir over heat until cheese is melted.
  6. Slowly stir the cheese sauce into the rest of the soup and serve.
Yield- 4-5 main dish servings

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lavender Balm


This is an easy to make balm that is wonderful for healing and preventing dry, cracked skin.

Lavender Balm
  • 1/4 cup apricot kernel oil
  • 1/4 beeswax
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vitamin E
  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender essential oil
  • one 4 ounce tub or jar
Melt the beeswax and cocoa butter along with the apricot kernel oil in a double boiler stirring occasionally to thoroughly blend. Remove from heat and let cool until you can see your mixture just begin to harden on the sides of your pan. Keep a good eye on it so it doesn't get too far along. Stir in the vitamin E and lavender oil and pour into your pot. Let cool and harden with the lid off.

You can substitute another light oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil for the apricot kernel oil if you like. Don't care for lavender? Use your favorite fragrance or essential oil instead. If you don't have access to bottled vitamin E add 3 vitamin E capsules by poking a hole in them and squeezing the liquid into the balm.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fragrant Floral Wedding Toss


Make this fragrant blend of flowers as a substitute for rice for a wedding. In the Victorian language of flowers roses represent love, lavender is for devotion and chamomile means "may all your wishes come true"
You will need about 1/4 cup per guest, which is a good handful. Simply mix equal pa
rts of dried rose buds and/or petals, lavender buds and dried chamomile blossoms. Place 1/4 cup of your mix in the center of a tulle circle. (You can find the pre cut circles in the wedding section of most craft stores) Tie the top with a satin or organdy ribbon and you are done!
You can find the dried flowers here

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Earth Friendly Practices


I believe that no step towards lessening our footprint on the Earth is too small. We keep the thermostat set on 62 degrees in the winter, hang clothes outside to dry whenever possible, use washable, reusable items like shopping bags, un-paper towels and mesh produce bags. Composting and recycling are second nature and trips to town usually only happen when there is more than one reason to go there.
All that being said, I do use the dryer when it's rained for days and in the winter. Sometimes I forget the shopping bags and I never think to put junk mail in the recycling. The important thing is to make an effort and to not beat yourself up when you forget. Every time we remember or take the time to do these things, the World is a little better off!
What environmentally friendly things have become routine in your life?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Better for You Chocolate Chip Cookies



I have been experimenting with cookie recipes to see just how much sugar can be cut out and how much white flour can be replaced with whole wheat flour. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of chocolate chips. I cut it back to 3/4 cup and added omega-3 rich walnuts. There is just enough chocolate to satisfy that craving and the walnuts add a nice crunch. You could use margarine instead of butter in this recipe, but I have been trying to more closely follow the "eat real foods, not food-like substances diet".

Better for You Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar- loosely packed
  • scant 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter. Add eggs, honey and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add salt and baking soda and blend thoroughly. Mix in flours starting with the whole wheat and gradually adding the white until you have a stiff batter. You may need a little less white flour than called for. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons on a parchment lined baking sheet. The parchment makes for a softer cookie. I have baked them on an ungreased cookie sheet and the result was a crunchier cookie. Bake 12-15 minutes or until light brown. Do not over bake! Cool on a rack. Yield- 3 dozen cookies.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shabby Chic Dog Bed


I went looking for a new bed for Heidi Bear yesterday and couldn't find one I liked. Apparently, if your dog is large you must want plaid, or so the available selection suggested. So, I decided to make one in a fabric to suit our space. Basic sewing skills are all that's needed for this project.

Start with one twin sized egg crate mattress pad. Cut it in half across the short side to make two pieces that are roughly square. Whip stitch the two pieces together with the smooth sides together. This will keep the pieces from shifting around in the cover.

Cut a piece of fabric 38" wide and 74" long. Use a sturdy, washable fabric for best wear. You can use old curtains from the thrift store, denim or what ever suits you best. I used an old slip cover from a sofa we no longer have. I love re purposing from an environmental as well as budgetary standpoint!

Add a 5/8" hem to each of the short sides of the fabric.


Cut 3 six inch pieces of Velcro and pin evenly spaced across the hem on the back side of the fabric. Place it slightly inside the edge and stitch in place.


With right sides together, pin the long ends together and stitch. I serged the edges for extra durability, but it's not necessary if you don't have a serger.

Turn the cover right side out and press. Insert the egg crate foam and press the Velcro together to close.

Voila! One extra large, shabby chic dog bed for less than $20!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Flea Free


I don't like using pesticides on my pets any more than I like using them on the rest of my family. Luckily there is an all natural way to keep your dog flea free- brewer's yeast! I have been giving it to my dogs for over 20 years now, and we have yet to have a flea.

When we brought Heidi Bear home from the shelter she was crawling with fleas so we started giving her a brewers yeast tablet every day . Before long she was flea free without the use of potentially harmful chemicals. I give it to her as a treat once a day. She actually starts to drool when she hears the bottle rattle, so they must be pretty tasty!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Molasses Drop Cookies


This old fashioned soft molasses cookie recipe is full of flavor without being too sweet. It's been a favorite at my house for years. You can use whatever type of molasses you have on hand. I especially like blackstrap molasses as it's got more calcium and iron than the regular.

MOLASSES DROP COOKIES

1/2 CUP SOFTENED BUTTER
1/2 CUP SUGAR
1 EGG
1 CUP MOLASSES
1 TABLESPOON VINEGAR
1/4 CUP BOILING WATER 1/4 CUP SOUR CREAM 3 CUPS FLOUR 2 TEASPOONS BAKING SODA 1 TEASPOON CINNAMON 1 TEASPOON GINGER 1 TEASPOON NUTMEG 1/4 TEASPOON GROUND CLOVES 1/2 TEASPOON SALT
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper
  3. Cream butter and sugar
  4. Beat in the egg then add molasses and mix thoroughly
  5. In a separate cup, combine the water and vinegar
  6. Add spices, salt and baking soda to molasses mixture and mix thoroughly
  7. Add one cup of flour, mix well, then water and vinegar and mix well
  8. Add another cup of flour, then the sour cream and lastly the third cup of flour. Mix thoroughly after each addition.
  9. Drop dough by the teaspoon full on your prepared cookie sheet. Leave about 2 inches between each cookie.
  10. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until firm to the touch. Cool on a rack.
If you like a sweeter cookie you can sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar before baking or add a little icing after they have cooled. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Make Your Own Bath Salts


Bath salts are a good way to experiment with different combinations of essential and fragrance oils. It doesn't take a lot of oil to fragrance the salt, just be sure you do your homework and use oils that are safe for your skin. Lavender is a nice scent to start with. You can find the sea salt in the spice section of most grocery stores.


BASIC BATH SALTS
  • 2 cups of sea salt
  • 10-20 drops of essential or fragrance oil of your choice
  • color-food coloring is fine (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil- coconut,jojoba and almond are nice (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dendritic salt (optional)
~Blend essential or fragrance oils with the dendritic salt if using. Dendritic salt is very fine and very pure. It helps maintain the true fragrance of the oils. It isn't necessary to use it if you plan on using your bath salts within a month or so. ~Add sea salt and mix well. (add fragrance directly to sea salt if not using dendritic salt) ~To color- add color one drop at a time, mixing well after each drop, until desired tint is achieved. ~To make a more moisturizing salt add one teaspoon of oil at this point. Careful! The tub may get slippery! ~To use, add about 1/4 cup of salts to a warm bath. ~Store your fragrant creation in ajar with a tight fitting lid.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter Garden






How peaceful my garden is in the winter - resting, covered in a blanket of sparkling snow.






Sunday, January 3, 2010

Myrrh and Patchouli


Before I get into the uses for these wonderful essential oils I would like to share the importance of doing a patch test before using a new botanical in any of your preparations. It's simple and only takes 15-20 minutes to find out if you or someone else is sensitive to an oil or botanical. Put a drop of the essential oil in question on a cotton ball and dab the inside of your arm right below the elbow. If any redness, itching or irritation occurs within the next 15-20 minutes avoid using that substance in any of your creations.

MYRRH
~Myrrh has a warm, resinous scent that is soothing in states of stress, panic, fear, confusion and apathy. To use for this purpose, place a drop or two of the essential oil in a diffuser or bowl o
f hot water to help disperse the scent throughout the room. A more portable solution is to take a whiff or two straight from the bottle.
~Myrrh is anti-inflammatory, anti fungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic making it a good addition to topical preparations for dry, cracked skin and athletes foot.
~The tincture and powdered forms are commonly used in mouth washes for treatment for gingivitis and canker sores.
~ While it isn't associated with any side effects ,myrrh should be used in moderation and not at all during pregnancy.

PATCHOULI
~Patchouli is a useful addition to preparations for use on the skin as it is anti inflammatory, anti fungal and antiseptic. Put a few drops in lotions and bath oils or with tea tree oil for a
soak for athletes foot.
~If you have a problem with bookworms or silverfish, put a couple of drops on a cotton ball to keep them away.
~Patchouli stimulates the pituitary gland and can increase feelings of euphoria and is an aphrodisiac.
~Patchouli is an excellent deodorant.
~Use as a fixative for other scents when formulating your own perfume or making potpourri.
~Great for keeping moths out of woolens and smells way better than moth balls- that is if you like patchouli.