Making Caledula Oil: Adding Quality to Your Life

This is part two of a series on Calendula’s amazing uses.

Whether you are using Calendula for it’s myriad health benefits, or in your cooking adventures, you are only limited by your imagination or Calendula’s benefits, both 1395432270_calendula-acneof which seem limitless! Continue reading

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My Favorite Soap Colorants Found In Nature

It’s that time of year again, where the summers get crazy with soap making, trimming, packaging, labeling, and the enormous amount of preparation for 6a00d83451c80d69e201901be1a48e970b-800withe Farmers Markets as they start at the close of summer, and into the Fall.

I love this time of year, as my creative Mad Scientist comes out, but after Christmas as things settle down, I’m going to love that time of year for the exact opposite reason!

I’ve spent a lot of time this year harvesting my plants, roots, and even local clay, preparing them for colorants in soap, so I thought I’d give you a list of my favorites for soap coloring and how to use them!  I’ll show you some of my projects, and I would love to see some of yours!

Red:     Madder Root creates anything from light pastel pink to a deep brick red.  a_natural-dye-plant-madder-roots-0572a_2The roots are the used parts, which are then dried and powdered and then infused in oil.

paprika-tracemadder root powderPaprika: Infused in oil creates a warm coral red,  Depending on the age of your spice, and the amount of times you choose to infuse the same oil (once, twice, or three times), you can get a variety of shades.

Clays:  Moroccan Clay is one of my favorites for not only coloring soap with a deepMadderRoot_CPGel_2014 Terracotta red, but also adds slip to the soap creating a luxurious feel of silkiness to my skin.  This can be added directly to the oil mixture before adding the lye water mixture.

il_340x270.476208452_rpjoLocal Clay:  I have right here where I live, some beautiful red oxide clay, that I prepare and use.  It always makes me happy to use what is a local resource, and although it takes time to prepare, I find a great deal of satisfaction in knowing a products origins.  Why not lear_20150523_140755n what you have locally and post your ideas and success here!

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Brown: Cocoa: this can make the most earthy, warm colored soaps!  Depending on how much you use, you can again, achieve a light brown to a deep chocolate.  HeIMG_20150810_095734437re’s how I used several shades of cocoa in mine.  I mix the cocoa with a little of the soap batter until I like the shade.

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Yellow:  Calendula:  I like to double infuse my oils with Calendula, so that I gain a nice deep yellow.  I gather my flowers in the morning (and while it’s IMG_20150727_231600961true that I dry them, you can also IMG_1926-1024x768use them fresh.)  Then I use the oil as part of my recipe.

Turmeric:  This is the perfect orange-yellow color yIMG_20150723_155302663ou might use for a tiger turmericstripe or a Halloween pumpkin soap.  I add this directly to my soap batter.

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         Alkanna_tinctoria2Blue: Alkanet Root:  The color of the flower, gives a very good indication of the beauty of the blues this root makes.  It can create an almost purplish-blue to a gorgeous sky blue color.  IMG_20150723_155724630(1)

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Activated-Charcoal-PowderBlack:  Activated Charcoal:  This is one of my favorite ingredients for a myriad of reasons.  Added directly to the soap batter, it tends to create speckles and flecks, so I usually dissolve it in a little bit of oil IMG_20150805_172501689from my soap recipe first and then add it at trace.  It’s a great ingredient since it binds to toxins on the skin, while at the same time, it opens your pores and allows them to absorb the nutritional oils of your superfatted soaps.

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Green:  Dwarf Mallow:  Getting a deep dark green is more difficult, so I usually OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAinfuse my oils three times, or I go with a lighter green, by harvesting my mallow plant, placing it (after washing of course…and please make sure of your source, you don’t want mallow that has any kind of pesticide on it…) in my bullet blender, adding 1water, and then blending a green juice with it, before pouring the mixture into ice cube trays that I will later use as part of the liquid in my soap.

So there you have some of my favorites!  Enjoy your adventures! 

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This site is for educational information only.  No article or information on herbs are intended to be a substitute for any medicine or drug, legal or otherwise.  Please do your homework before proceeding with any herb or formula.

Creating An Infused Oil For DIY Massage, Salves and Balm

One of my favorite things to have on hand, especially if you have kids, a spouse, or like me, you’re just accident prone, then hIMG_5993-300x400aving a healing salve of some kind is important to have on hand.  The question is, out of all the wonderful herbs available, what is best for what cut, injury or emergency?

My favorite includes Yarrow since it’s great for clowhite-yarrowtting a bleeding cut, it numbs the area you rub it on, decreasing the pain, and if you make it strong enough, you could (oh, worst case scenario!) stitch up a decent sized cut (although my secret weapon for stitches, is plain old duct tape, it will hold some of the worst cuts together until they can begin to heal, but of course useCalendula-salve-537x407 your best judgement.)

Another is Calendula, one of my favorite all-around herbs.  It’s anti-inflamatory properties, helps with any swelling, and it’s gentle fragrance is comforting, and especially gentle for babies and elderly skin.

comfreyA staple in any first aid kit is Comfrey.  But, as is always the case, a word of caution.  Comfrey will heal up an injury with incredible speed, and if the wound hasn’t been cleaned out properly you could trap the infection inside.  So make sure you’ve cleaned the wound well, and then place the salve and bandage over it.  I love comfrey, as an ingredient for wound salve, and wouldn’t be without it.

892493973_origNow, for Mullein! With it’s gentle and soothing ability to cleanse a wound, and on sensitive baby bottoms, help with urinary tract issues, it is a wonderful addition to a wound salve.  If you were to use it by itself, it would be excellent for respiratory infections, by rubbing it on a congested chest frequently and at night, rubbing it with some garlic (crushed) on the bottom of the feet, and then placing (if possible wool) socks over the mixture and leaving it on until morning.  This simple treatment was used on my own children as they grew up, and it saved a lot of doctor trips, although your own gut feeling should tell you when it’s time to seek out a doctor for further help.images

Finally, I love making Dandelion Tea, and putting that in my salves.  It soothes aching muscles and sore joints.

Use your imagination and personal needs to decide which ingredients will you put in your salves.

To prepare for making your salve, the first thing you need to do is decide which herbs you’ll use, then after cutting and crushing them up, cover them in a jar with extra virgin olive oil. images Olive is a very obedient oil, it tends to take on the characteristics of what ever herb is infused.  Make sure your herbs are completely covered with oil, and then shake it daily, and put it in a warm window where it will heat up and cool down for 4-6 weeks.  You can put single herbs or a combination, and when it’s done, strain the herbs out and use the oil for making your own wound salve.

Heres one of my favorite recipes for wound salve, it’s okay to tweak it so it meets your own needs!  Enjoy!

1 Cup infused oil

1/4 Cup Beeswax

30 drops of Essential Oil

Melt the Beeswax and the Infused Oil in a double boilerwhatchamacallit_doubleboiler, and once that has melted, take it off the boiler and add your essential oil.  (For a great blog on essential oils and their properties, try Vagabon Velda’s).

After mixing thoroughly, pour the contents into your containers, and don’t forget to label them (Been  there.  Done that!) and most of all, don’t forget the use them!

Let me know how it works out for you!

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No article or information on herbs are intended to be a substitute for any medicine or drug, legal or otherwise.  Please do your homework before proceeding with any herb or formula.

Settle Those Nerves-The Calming Effects of Skullcap

Just By It’s Looks…

It’s always interesting to me how an herb, often just by the way it looks, gives an idea of what it’s good for.

Skullcap is the color of soft twilight, and that’s exactly what is needed when our nerves are jangled, and we face another sleeplskyllcapess night.  We need that soothing restful feeling that normally comes at the end of a wonderful, but busy day.

Skullcap is a member of the mint family, and can be gathered in late summer all through North America, using the flowers, leaves and stems for tincturing or drying. Personally, I prefer a tincture.

Skullcap has been used for trouble with sleeping, anxiety,  even stroke paralyses. 

 It can help with:

  • Lowering fever
  • Epilepsy
  • Nervous Tension
  • Menopausal Anxieties
  • Topical Infections
  • Arthritis
  • Lowering Blood Pressure
  • Lowering Blood Sugar
  • Exhaustion
  • Diahrehea

Continue reading

Are You Using Soap…or Detergent? You Might Be Surprised!

Next time you go to the store and wander down the “soap” isle, take notice of something I bet you’ve never noticed before.  Does your soimagesap call itself a “beauty bar” or a “deodorant bar”, or something akin to it?  As you search, do you notice there are probably few, if any, labeled as “soap?”

It boils down to this; If it doesn’t use the actual imagesword SOAP, then it is a detergent.  Only soap that is made from natural products with all of it’s components intact is allowed to call itself “soap.”  Some manufacturers hide this from you by labeling their detergent bars as beauty or deodorant bars.  Here’s why… Continue reading

I Don’t Have Time To Wash My Hair! DIY Dry Shampoo

We all have them.  I know I do.  Those dreaded mornings or forgotten events that require your presence!  Getting up late for work, taking someone a forgotten lunch…whatever…it’s life.  So how do you leave the house without feeling awful all day? 240px-Arrowroot1

My favorite, my daughters, and my daughters-in-law love our dry shampoo for those days.  We make ours from Arrowroot.   It’s easily found at a health food stores, online, or depending on where you live, you can grow it…but for now, here in the desert, it’s not happening for awhile!

There are some who use cornstarch for this, but with corn being one of the predominant GMO crops, I don’t want any more genetic grown “Round-up” in my body orarrowroot on my skin.

After all, your skin in the largest delivery organ you have.  It absorbs nearly 70% of what you put on it; right into your system, not even waving hello to your immune system before it begins breaking down your DNA, literally.  Dr. Rebecca Carley M.D. does a great job of explaining these results, although so does Natural News.  Ok, I know my soap box is getting tall, so I will call it good and leave the rest of the research up to you!IMG_20150330_150333112

Because Arrowroot has always been used as a “drawing” herb, those tribes in South America, and Florida used it for sprinkling into arrow wounds.  It did a great job of drawing out the infection and posions.  It’s still one of my favorites for sprinkling the dry root on wounds or injuries and I always carry that and Cayenne Powder with me for emergencies.  I’ll write more on that next week.

So here’s the low down on this awesome dry shampoo.  Using an old blush brush or similar, and dipping it straight into a container of the arrowroot powder and stippling it directly to your scalp in small amounts, all that remains is to brush it through your hair, and style as usual.  It draws all the oil and dirt to itself, giving you that extra day when you need it!

For blonde hair, use the arrowroot directly.63

For Darker hair, add enough cocoa to darken arrowroot as needed.

There’s no exact formula, it’s a trial of what amount you need, to generally match your hair tone. I have light brown hair, and for me, I use 1 T cocoa, and 2 T arrowroot.

Let me know what tweaks you make, and how they work!

Move Over Burt’s Bees! DIY Lip Salve

Burt’s Bees…move over! I love that stuff so much, and wish I could afford it more often!

Then one of my sisters gave me a challenge; could I duplicate it? IMG_20150314_122451139

Well, here it is, and in the end it was so simple. All the fails were due to me, making it harder than it had to be.  It made 13, .25 oz pots.  I’m good for at least six months…or a year!

And without further ado, here is the recipe:

All Natural Lip Salve (Compare to Burt’s Bees)

  • 1 part beeswax (I used an ounce)
  • 1 part shea butter or coconut oil
  • 1 part Olive Oil
  • 15-20 drops of extract or oil (I used Lavender)
  • ½ t Vitamin E Oil

In a double boiler, I placed my beeswax and olive oil, till melted and stirIMG_20150314_123248874red well.
Lastly I placed my Shea Butter in, and dissolved it.

Taking it off the heat, I put in my Vitamin E oil, and the extract or essential oil in as well.  You could put a little Cocoa powder or Beet powder in for a blush of color.

Mix and pour! That’s it!   Enjoy!

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract: You’ll Never Go Back!

Never in my life, did I think I would want to drink my homemade Vanilla!  It smells so heavenly every time I open the bottle.  In fact when I’m baking, my Hubby, and last daughter left at home, will remind me to 10088638306_d0cda98c66_zgo easy on the Vanilla!  But it is so hard!

I had never tasted real Vanilla until just four years ago.  I didn’t know what I was missing, but now that I do, and I realize it’s less expensive to have real vanilla than the weird, chemically laden substitute, I’m sold.

Making your own Vanilla is a snap.

1You’ll need:

  •  100 proof Vodka (50% Alcohol or stronger)
  • Vanilla Beans (The volume of Vanilla Bean is up to you.  I usually buy 1/2 lb, and divide them up between 3-4 qts, although some recipes only call for as little as 2 or 3 Vanilla Pods per quart.  I would rather concentrate those flavors, and use less, store less, and get better flavor, so I put quite a few in my jars.)

Instructions:images

  • With a sharp knife, slice your vanilla pods lengthwise to open them up, and if they are longer than your jar, cut them in half so all your pods are immersed in the liquid at the end.
  • Divide your pods between your jars (I like quart size or larger)
  • Cover pods with Vodka until all bean are covered.
  • Put your lid on.1033249144001_2759315659001_video-still-for-video-2753386966001
  • Store in a cool dark place.
  • Shake Daily for two weeks (its more vital the first few days…)

When is it ready?  You could begin using your vanilla as early as six weeks, but I am a stickler for taste.  So mine will steep and age for nearly six months before I begin using it.

It makes all the difference in the world in baking, candies, and everything homeade-vanilla-6else.  Enjoy having enough Vanilla for years to come with practically no effort and minimal cost!

Try giving it as a gift!

 

 

Spring is Coming and so is the Knotgrass! An Herbal Wound Cleanser

Knotgrass is very nearly world-wide and inescapable! pigweed or knotgrass A common weed with uncommon abilities.

Used for centuries and maybe millennia, common Knotweed is an edible, medicinal and remarkable resource.

Knotweed is often used as a diruretic (to increase urine output and reduce water retention.)  A great aid for those with gout, as less uric acid is retained and doesn’t continue building up in the body.

ProstratePigweedAmaranthusBlitoides19July08_2Knotweed’s leaves act as an emollient, to soothe and soften the skin; they are also an anthelmintic used to expel worms Continue reading