Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ALL YOU HALLOWEENIES, I NEED YOUR IDEAS


Autumn is my favorite time of year and Halloween/Samhain is my favorite holiday (if it can be called a holiday). We are looking for some fun ways to celebrate Samhain this year and I'm hoping my bloggy friends can help.

Of course our family always carves pumpkins. The kids usually go to a couple events before Halloween night. I'd like to make the holiday stretch as far as possible this year, maybe do something each day leading up to it. So if anyone has any fun, cool ideas that they would like to share, maybe something your family does each year, I'd sure appreciate it if you shared it with me. Please, please, please post any and all projects, crafts, traditions, etc... in the comment section :) If you post something, I promise to do it, take pictures, and share it with you shortly after Halloween!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HERBS OR SLEEPING PILLS, YOU BE THE JUDGE


Although I could talk about every single tincture I make, I don't want to over saturate your mind with this herbal hoopla. Once you learn about tinctures you pretty much know what you need to know, but I must share a little about lemon balm for those of you who suffer from insomnia.

One confession, I'm not a good sleeper. Never have been, never will be. Sure, I can get a good night sleep now and then but more often than not I don't sleep through the night (not sure if any mothers actually do). If I want to get a good nights rest I usually need some type of sleep aid. I was once medicated, years ago, to sleep through the night, but have chosen to avoid those types of treatments. Instead of being medicated I chose to not sleep. By a total fluke I drank a tea that helped me get a restful nights sleep and initially I didn't realize it was the tea but once I noticed the correlation between drinking the tea and sleeping I started to investigate a little further.

The tea was lemon balm. Depending on the literature you are reading, lemon balm may or may not be affective at promoting sleep. I can attest that it does act as a sedative, as some literature suggests. I learned the affects of lemon balm before I ever read about it.

Lemon balm is wonderful for many things, including: promoting conception, for painful menstruation, hot flashes in menopause, burns, blisters, anxiety, nausea and vomiting and panic attacks (plus much more).

I use it solely to help anxiety and to promote sleep.

Depending on where you get the tea, it may or may not work. My herbal studies have taught me that not all these medicinal plants are created equal, all depends on where they are grown, what species of plant they are, condition of soil, etc... To make sure I have the best lemon balm I grow my own. I know the soil, how well I've cared for the herb, whether or not it is stressed or healthy. I have two beautiful bushes that are thriving well in my backyard.

I thought that the herbal tea was the best thing that ever happened to me but I recently learned that the tincture will do me much better than the tea. Dried herbs tend to lose much of their potency so I've been advised to make a lemon balm tincture, giving myself 5 drops (under the tongue) when I'm anxious or before sleep. I've decided I will do the same before meditation.

So many people have trouble relaxing or sleeping, especially women, so for anyone looking for a natural sedative, lemon balm is great! As with all herbs or medicinal plants, please read up on the dangers associated with the plant and whether or not you have any medical conditions that make the plant inadvisable for you. People with hypothyroidism should avoid lemon balm.

Tincture:
Gather enough lemon balm leaves to fill your jar.
Pack the jar well, leaving a 1/2 inch space form the top of jar.
Fill the jar with 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (I use 80 proof vodka)
It will probably bubble a bit as it settles in the jar so you'll need to add more.
Make sure you cover all the leaves with vodka, leaving none sticking out.
Fill to the top of jar and cover with tight fitting lid.
Label with date & herb name.

Susan Weed suggests 6 weeks for all tinctures. I tend to think she's the gospel on herbal meds so I trust her judgement.

MATTHEW WOOD one of Minnesota's wonderful herbalists, has some good information about lemon balm on his site. Click on his name to read more.

Here is a great video from learningherbs.com/mountain rose herbs on making a tincture. They are using another great sedative plant called valerian.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

WORRIED ABOUT THE FLU? TRY ELDERBERRY

I'm not a proponent of vaccines so you won't see me and my family lining up for the H1N1 shot. I do however believe in herbal medicine. When your family has used herbal cures for centuries and passes along the positive benefits, you tend to listen. My great grandfather was blind until a native woman healed his site with crushed herbs. Now that is something I can't ignore.

I always incorporate herbs and essential oils into my body products, been self taught on EO's for years but recently I decided to take my education on their usage a little more seriously. I enrolled in herbal and aromatherapy studies beginning next week. I've also just begun taking classes with Lise Wolff, a local registered herbalist.

My goal is twofold. I want to be able to treat my family holistically, whenever possible, and I want to further my understanding of the things I use in my products.

My class with Lise this weekend was about learning to make an elderberry tincture and identifying medicinal plants in the wild. THE VERDICT: I learned much more than I had anticipated.

I knew how to make a tincture but didn't really understand the science behind it all but Lise was great at explaining everything. The reason I chose the use of elderberry as my first class is because of that "looming" threat of the H1N1 flu. My first reaction was to ignore all the reports about H1N1 because I think it is overhyped but then worry set in. I figure, I must at least protect my children.

Elderberry has been scientifically proven by Israeli researcher Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Ph.D, of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center to help prevent the flu and also lessen the duration.

Here are a few articles if you are interested in the studies on elderberry:
WebMD

Israeli Research

Ice News

Blackberry.com

To make an elderberry tincture you must first gather the berries



2nd, you would carefully pull the berries off the bush and place into a bowl or directly into a jar (whatever you wish). I say carefully because although the berries are little they are full of dark purple staining juices. My fingers were purple the entire day.





3rd, if you didn't put them directly into a jar you should pour them into one. (Use glass not plastic)

4th, pour vodka into the jar until it covers the tops of your berries. You don't want much air between the top of your berries and the lid of the jar. Use 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (for preservation). I used vodka.



5th, Cover with a tight fitting lid, label it (name of plant/berry used and date you made it) and let your tincture sit on a shelf for 6 weeks (no need to shake it in between). In 6 weeks you strain it into a bottle and then fill your dropper bottle with the amount you will need. I purchased a 4 oz dropper bottle for my family (and will refill when it runs out).

Our family will be using drops of this tincture under the tongue. Hubby and I plan on using 3-5 drops 2x's a day for ourselves and 2 drops 2x's a day for the kids.

Next... lemon balm tincture :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I FEEL PRODUCTIVE

I rarely feel like I get anything done. I keep doing and doing and doing but have nothing to show for it. No, this isn't a whine fest, just seriously feel like I get nothing done. LOL!

Well, we harvested our veggies the other day and I must ask my domestic blogging friends a little question. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY HARVEST???

My onions were suppose to get big but they didn't. The largest was probably golf ball size and my celery is huge (length wise) but the stalks are super skinny.

I'm no master gardner but I do believe I did everything right. We have clay soil so to make it worthy of a veggie garden we built ourselves, with untreated cedar wood, a little garden bed. We put in organic soil, fertilizer and some other thing to make the soil breath (sorry, the name escapes me). Our tomatoes and strawberries came out fine, our cucumbers ripened very fast and were big enough for the jolly green giant to eat, but something went wrong with the onions and celery.




I do have a proud moment to share. My youngest child Aiyana is very much into fairies right now. I decided to make her a little fairy bag with fairy goodies inside (buttons, thimble, miniature trinkets, etc...) Not a unique idea in the least but one I knew would make her happy.

Um, since I no martha stewart or whatever I knew I'd have to find a tutorial for the bag. Can I sew? Sure, I know the basics. I know how to thread a bobbin, thread a sewing machine, push the pedal and do a basic stitch. Do I know sewing terminology? Not at all. Can I follow visual instructions? Absolutely.

I was fortunate enough to find this lined bag tutorial by HAPPY THINGS on the internet. I knew how to do a basic bag but had no clue how to line it so this tutorial was perfect. I hit a snag along the way but emailed the author of HAPPY THINGS begging for help, she responded right away, and I was able to finish my bag.

Here it is:





Don't worry, you can be honest. What do you think? It is my very first lined drawstring bag. I had a little issue on the casting, thread bunched up and all that baloney, but I blame the sewing machine and not myself. LOL! I'm just happy that baby Yana is happy. That makes it all perfect!

Friday, August 28, 2009

SHOUT OUT TO A DOMESTIC GODDESS

Yup, this is me :)


Not too long ago Amber over at AMBERS AMBRY blogged about an apron she made, stamping it with rhubarb and strawberries. Well, of course I had to have it.

View that blog post HERE

I wanted this apron because I have fond memories of rhubarb and strawberries. Seems silly but it is true. My great aunt, who has passed, use to make many things out of the strawberries and rhubard she grew in her garden. The recipe that was my favorite was rhubarb/strawberry crisp. Then later when I was married with children I moved next door to a woman that would make us rhubarb and strawberry crisp for Christmas. Tasted just like aunties.

BTW/if anyone has a rhubarb/strawberry crisp recipe they are willing to share with me, I'd really appreciate it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'M THANKFUL 3 MONTHS EARLY.

Who said we have to wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful. Actually, our family boycotts Thanksgiving. I would explain it but it's a long story. So, while I haven't been blogging quite as often as I should be, I've accumulated several things I'd like to say "I'm thankful" for.

#1 My blog followers. Today I peaked at my blog and found yet another follower. It is a great feeling when I discover someone new is following my blog. It wouldn't be any fun to post if no one was reading. I love to talk and write so it is certainly a wonderful feeling knowing I'm not sitting here babbling away to myself.

#2 Pow Wows. Every year my family and I try to attend at least one pow wow. Why? It is an educational opportunity for our children, it reminds me that the native community is still among us and should not be forgotten, they have a beautiful culture, and there are many issues they still face today that need to be recognized. Through the pow wows we not only see beautiful dancing and costumes but a beautiful people full of pain and yet full of promise and I'm grateful that they share a piece of themselves with those of us who might not otherwise understand them.



#3 Food. I'm forever thankful for food. Of course, without food none of us would be here. Recently I joined a group of "domestic goddesses" on facebook. This groups members inspire me to be as domestic as I can possibly be (or as domestic as I wanna be). When I think of being domestic I think of food and food + domestic = cooking. So for my domestic pals I share a recipe:





My MIL's Chicken Soup

48 oz. chicken broth
48 oz. water
6 chicken legs
7 sliced carrots
2 bundles of scallions (sliced)
1 bundle of cilantro (chopped)
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 cup rice
2 limes (large slices)

bring chicken, water, broth, carrots and rice to boil. Cover then let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until chicken can peel off bone easily).

Remove from heat and scoop soup into bowl.

Add fresh chopped tomatoes, scallions and cilantro. Squeeze a slice of lime into soup.

This recipe feeds 5.

Ok, that was my first recipe posting. Not sure it was clear, I hope it was. I'm a domestic goddess in progress so please be patient :)

#4 Soap. If it weren't for soap, I wouldn't have blogged. If it weren't for my blog, I wouldn't have met such wonderful cyber friends and so on and so forth :) BTW/I do make soap in case you were beginning to wonder. LOL! I often wonder if I make soap too when I read my blog. So, I guess in conclusion of all my thankfulness a promise to post more soap shall be made. Here is one of my soaps in all her glory.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

ESSENTIAL OILS VS. FRAGRANCE OILS


I was reading a blog this morning and although the pictures are beautiful I found the content a little unnerving. The blog post was about Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils. Now, I'm not trying to slag off on the person who blogged this information. They might be a very wonderful, generous, caring person - I have no idea. They might make great products that I would even want to buy. Who knows. What does bother me is the misinformation presented on the site. Now, I'm not calling the person a liar, in fact, I'm assuming they just don't have all the facts.

On the blog the author states that although Fragrance Oils are synthetic they are very safe to use unless you have an allergy or sensitivity to them. She then goes on to state that Essential oils are more likely to cause allergic reactions and certain EO's are actually dangerous.


First, lets explore Fragrance Oils:

FO's are a combination of synthetic materials used to create a fragrance that closely resembes that of a flower, fruit, etc... Most often the chemicals used come from petroleum. Today there exists thousands of chemicals to help create a fragrance oil. Many of these chemicals cause cancer, birth defects, etc...

My favorite is Hormone Disruption. Fragrance Oils can contain phthalates and synthetic musk. Phthalates disrupt estrogen and testosterone leading to thyroid problems, damage to the sexual organs of a fetus, and synthetic musk attacks living tissue. Phthalates have been found in cancer tissue, our blood, and breast milk. Phthalates are also known to affect our moods.

FO's are responsible for environmental, respiratory and neurological disorders.

You don't have to take my word on this, just google scholar and you'll find many research articles on this.

Now let's talk about Essential Oils:

Essential oils are extracted from plants, flowers, stems, roots, etc... by distillation or other method. EO's contain the true essence of the plant/flower that it was derived from. Essential oils also provide therapeutic benefits.

Because EO's are so concentrated you cannot apply them directly to the skin, you would dilute them in a carrier oil, cream, diffuser, etc...

Are EO's dangerous? They definitely can be. If you are allergic to a particular plant, flower, etc... and you apply the EO to your skin you may have an allergic reaction. Some citrus EO's can increase your sensitivity to sunlight.

list of dangers associated with EO's

I'm not trying to sway readers into buying EO's over FO's. I've used both in my products. I'm a scent junkie and although 99% of the time I try to buy FO's that have no phthalates I know that phthalates aren't the only synthetic chemicals in the fragrance. I do believe in transparency. I think if we discuss the dangers of one then we must discuss the dangers of the other. I think people have the right to know what they are using or what they are buying. If someone asks what the benefits of one is over the other, I think they should be told the truth.

Up to 60% of what we put on our body can get absorbed into our skin. FO's and EO's can cause allergic reactions. You should always do a skin patch test prior to use.

Skin Test
You should always conduct a skin test before using any new product on your body. A skin patch test should be done to know if you are sensitive to a particular product. Apply the product on the inside of your elbow and wait for 24 hours to see if it leads to any redness or itchiness (With an EO you apply a small amount of diluted oil to the inside of your elbow). If you develop any type of irritation you should not use that product.


Just because you do a skin patch test and don't develop a reaction doesn't mean the ingredients in the product doesn't enter your blood stream upon use. What happens externally is quite different from what happens internally. That is why FO's can cause negative health affects and why EO's have positive health benefits.

Whether absorption through the skin is an issue with products like soap that sits on the skin for a matter of seconds has not been researched.