Eclectic and Eccentric, Spiritual and Sublime

Archive for the Natural and Noteworthy category

H. A. O'Connor

I Heart Argan Oil

Earthy, Natural and Noteworthy, Natural Beauty No Comment
I Heart Argan Oil

Dear RSO (Rosehip Seed Oil),

You haven’t seen my face for about a year, so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that there’s someone else. You see, Argan Oil and I were introduced at about the same time you and I started having troubles. I thought it was a rebound thing, at first, or maybe infatuation, but it’s real. Everyone has an oil that’s right for their face, and as much as I love you, Argan is the one for me.

Image via pixabay/oceanverde

Argan Oil has staying power, not that you don’t. Still, women in the Mediterranean have been pampering their skin with it for centuries. It’s full of Vitamin E, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, plus it’s great for my hair. That makes it multi-faceted, a truly deep kind of oil. It’s generous, too–it helps with anything from eczema and rosacea to fine lines and wrinkles. You can’t find support like that just anywhere. Not to mention how light an oil it is, or how easily it absorbs into my skin. It’s like wearing nothing at all…very freeing, you understand.

I know some people pay a fortune just to have Argan Oil in their life, but I still get mine from *Mountain Rose Herbs. They’re every bit as trustworthy as when I first discovered you among their online shelves, Rosehip. I believe in my heart of hearts that others will find you there, too, and appreciate you for all that you are.

Before you ask, of course I still need a third, for the moisturization to be complete. Water has been fine–I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that I always begin my moisturizing with clean, damp skin–but I think Argan and I have found something that takes what we have and makes it even better. White Rose Hydrosol…maybe you’ve heard of it? I understand, the rose thing probably hurts a bit, but you know the scent of roses has always been one of my favorites. It always will be.

Dear Rosehip Seed Oil, please try to remember: it’s not you, it’s my face. Honestly, I’d love to stay friends and keep you in some of my other skin products, but I’ll understand if you’d prefer that we go our separate ways. No matter what, we’ll always have body butter!

Love you, my special friend.

HAO

 

See what I mean? Even goats love Argan.

Images via pixabay/jackmac34 and remilozach

*Mountain Rose Herbs is not a sponsor; I’m just a fan. Natural products are not regulated, so it’s difficult to know if you’re getting what you pay for. I trust MRH and have always been pleased with whatever I’ve ordered from them. Just an FYI, in case you’re shopping around.

H. A. O'Connor

Herb’s Garden

Earthy, Living Sustainably, Natural and Noteworthy, Neighborhood Homesteading 2 Comments
Herb’s Garden

How do you say it: herbs (pronounced like a man’s name) or (h)erbs (silent h)?

I usually say “(h)erbs,” (silent h) because I’m from the US. Still, when my family and I visited a lovely, family-owned plant farm near Lancaster, PA, Groff’s, the conversation in the car went something like this:

Husband: What are you getting at this place, again?

Me (wearing an overly giant smile): Herbs.

Husband: did you just say herbs?’

Me: Hm. I did. …Maybe they sell ‘Herbs’…as in the guy. A garden of Herbs.

Husband: Who says ‘herbs’…the British?

Me: Yes. And Martha Stewart.

Well, I’m neither British nor Martha Stewart, so I guess I’m not supposed to say herbs. In honor of my mistake, I’m unofficially dubbing our garden: Herb’s Garden. Now, my kids are sure to have as much trouble remembering which way to say it as I apparently do. You’re welcome, kids. 🙂

Anyway, I left with a nice little haul of (h)erbs and companion plants, and thought I’d share some helpful info I’ve dug up on each. (Bad pun intended. Very sorry.)

*By the way, although the edible herbs I’ve mentioned below offer various health benefits, they can also have some pretty significant side effects, especially if taken in large amounts (particularly for pregnant/lactating women). I plan to eat them as part of my meals, in amounts typically consumed.

Basil

Image via pixabay/tookapic

Have any tomatoes? Mozzarella? Well, then. You need basil. In addition to tasting delicious, basil contains Vitamins K, A, and C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, among other nutrients. It also contains DNA-protecting flavonoids and acts as an anti-inflammatory. It is antibacterial as well, and has been found to be effective in treating drug-resistant bacteria strains. Basil also acts as an adaptogen, to help the body fight the effects of stress.

·

Cilantro (+coriander seeds)

Image via pixabay/Hans

Since it is high in antioxidants, cilantro not only benefits our health, but also prolongs freshness when added to other foods. It is also antifungal, promotes skin health and may help combat the effects of UV B radiation from sunlight. In addition, it is antimicrobial, and is believed to help detoxify the body. Coriander (the seed produced by cilantro) has anti-inflammatory properties, but studies have found that imported coriander is often contaminated by salmonella; I suggest growing your own.

·

Comfrey

Image via pixabay/ustalij_pony

Due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) it contains, comfrey is toxic to the liver and is not recommended for internal use. (*Note: the levels of PAs change, depending upon the time of year, age of the plant, and throughout the different parts of the plant–e.g. newer leaves have more PAs than older ones and the roots contain the highest amounts by a large margin.) However, comfrey serves many other purposes in the garden. It is a great healer and has been acknowledged as such for thousands of years (dating back to ancient Rome). This is due to the allantoin it contains, which is known to aid in cell formation. Though it shouldn’t be applied to open wounds, comfrey’s crushed leaves, poultices, or creams can be applied externally to injuries, to promote healing. *Note: the toxins present in comfrey can be absorbed through the skin, so care must be taken not to overuse. It is not to be taken while using acetaminophen or similar products, because of the heightened risk of liver damage.

·

Dill

Image via pixabay/ruslanababenko

In addition to tasting delicious in pickling recipes and egg salad (which is how my grandmother used to make it–yum!), dill contains Vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants. It is also a good source of calcium, manganese, and iron. Dill was once believed to harbor protective forces, which would help ward off witchcraft. Handy, no? Today, it is sometimes used to treat problems with digestion, menstruation, sleep, urinary tract disorders, and to help boost the immune system. Not for use by diabetics, pregnant/nursing women, or by those with allergies to plants in the carrot family.

I can attest to the fact that dill is highly prized by swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. This cute little guy and his buddies ate all of ours.

The parsley in the background survived the onslaught; the dill, sadly, did not.

·

Echinacea

Image via RGBStock/Babykrul

All nine known species of echinacea are native to North America and were used by Native Americans medicinally. All parts of the plant are used, and can be taken internally (as teas, tinctures, in capsules, etc.), as well as applied externally. Echinacea boosts the immune system, in order to help ward off the common cold and flu, and also to help fight infections. Its widespread popularity declined with the introduction of antibiotics, but appears to be growing once more, particularly in Germany, where it is approved for medical treatment by the government.

Longterm use has not be evaluated, and some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to echinacea. (It may also increase allergic reactions to other stimulants). Contraindicated for use by individuals with auto-immune issues and not recommended for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

·

Fennel

Image via RGBStock/AYLA87

Fennel has a delicious, licorice-ish scent and flavor, which I love. I particularly love the coloring of the bronze fennel, so I picked some up to add to my garden. Its leaves are gorgeous and feathery (they look like actual feathers as they start to emerge). Fennel’s a perennial herb, which can be used in foods and teas. It’s not only attractive to the birds and the bees, but is also a host plant for the Anise Swallowtail and the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies. Cheers to more butterflies!

·

Holy Basil (Tulsi)

Image via pixabay/shajis001

This plant has been grown in India for over three thousand years and is revered as a symbol for the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. It is valuable medicinally because of its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and pain-killing properties. It acts as an adaptogen, improving the body’s response to stress. It can be taken as a tea (safe for daily use), pill, tincture, etc. It is used to help regulate diabetes and also to promote wound healing. It is believed to help lower cholesterol, ease joint pain, and protect the stomach, as well. It should not be used by pregnant or lactating women.

·

Lavender

Image via Unsplash/Ray Hennessy

Sure, its fragrance is absolutely delicious, but it tastes good, too. Dried lavender buds can add flavor to your desserts, from ice cream to baked goods to yummy summertime drinks. (I found some great recipes from Country Living.) I love adding lavender to my soaps, and I often wear lavender essential oil on a clay diffuser necklace. Its scent is calming and soothing, perfect for combatting stress or promoting sleep. It can be brewed in a tea and cooled, then sprayed over burns, bug bites, or troubled skin, to bring relief and aid in healing. Lavender plants in your garden can also help keep mosquitoes and other pests away from the area. Bees and butterflies, on the other hand, tend to love it. I’m with them!

·

Lemon Balm

Image via pixabay/cocoparisienne

Lemon Balm is an herb in the mint family, with a bright, lemony scent. It can add flavor to foods or teas and has been used since the Middle Ages to help relieve anxiety. Likewise, it works well in promoting sleep (often paired with valerian) and regulating stress. Lemon balm is also used to help treat stomach upsets, including cholic, and has shown promise in relieving some of the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. In cream form, it is used to treat cold sores. Lemon balm seems safe to use medicinally in limited amounts and durations, even by infants, under the guidance of a physician. However, long term studies have not been done and, as with any herb, it is probably best avoided by pregnant women. It may increase the effects of sedatives, as well.

·

Lemongrass

Image via pixabay/sarangib

Lemongrass smells like a fresh, sunny summer day, don’t you think? Go ahead and smell some; I’ll wait. Lemongrass is full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds. What’s not to like, right? Hang on, because there’s more. It’s also antifungal, antimicrobial, and can help regulate cholesterol levels, as well as detoxify the body. It is good for digestion and for regulating blood pressure, plus it also helps boost your body’s metabolism. Its vitamins benefit hair and skin, and its nutrients can help treat joint pain and fever, as well as colds and flu. Due to its ability to stimulate the uterus, it is not safe for pregnant women; also, because it can lower blood sugar, it should be avoided by people with diabetes.

·

Milkweed

Image via pixabay/ballonimals

First and foremost: monarchs! Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed, so without it…no caterpillars. No caterpillars means no adult butterflies. You get it. You know how this nature thing works. Second: they’re beautiful plants, and there are over a hundred species native to North America. Mine, however, are perennials, which seem to be more readily available (since native milkweed was often considered a “pest” and chased off the land. Shame on us humans, once again.)

Besides being essential for the monarchs, milkweed can be beneficial for us. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the strong fibers of milkweed were used to make rope and fabric, and the fluffy floss of the seed pods was used to stuff bedding or to act as tinder for fires. It was even used to stuff lifejackets during WWII!

As useful as milkweed is, the plant is mildly toxic, so only experienced foragers should ever consider consuming it. The juices of milkweed can also be a skin irritant, so wearing gloves while handling is recommended.

I hadn’t even planted my milkweed in the ground, when the first monarch appeared. She immediately started landing on the leaves and curling her abdomen around to lay her eggs on the undersides. Which means…we now have a monarch nursery!

Six babies in this pic and I found a dozen overall!

Cute, chubby baby monarch!

·

Mint

Image via pixabay/strecosa

What’s better than mint, I ask you? Chocolate mint, of course. While I love peppermint (and have some growing in a container, currently, because mint loves to spread), I thought my kids might be more apt to enjoy the chocolate variety. Truth be told, it smells more chocolate-y than it tastes, but I’m not complaining. I love mint and I love chocolate, so there can be no loss if the two are involved.

Mint is of course used to flavor foods, from savory dishes to ice cream. As a tea, it is said to help reduce stress. Mint compresses can help cure headaches and the herb can also be added to personal care products, such as a vinegar-based hair rinse or witch-hazel face toner, to increase their benefits. Dried mint also works well as a pest repellant. Use with care, though, because in large amounts, mint can affect the endocrine system, and like many herbs, over-use by pregnant or lactating women is warned against.

·

Parsley

Image via pixabay/AllNikArt

In addition to adorning plates and combatting breath issues, parsley is also high in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, magnesium, and iron. It helps promote healthy bones and good vision, while boosting immunity. It is also believed to help prevent diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and even some types of cancer. It is not safe for pregnant women to consume large amounts, as it can promote uterine contractions.

·

Rue

Image via pixabay/Justugly

This plant has been used throughout history as an herb, although it is said to have some toxicity and should never be consumed in large amounts (it’s probably best for pregnant/nursing women to avoid it completely). So, like many others, I’ll consider rue an ornamental herb and just hope it brings all the butterflies and bees to the yard.

Rue works well as a companion plant, because its scent often keeps animals and pests like Japanese beetles out of the garden. (In fact, the dried leaves can be kept as a bug repellant.) It’s important to wear gloves when handling rue, because it can cause rashes and phototoxicity (which may create blisters in response to sunlight).

·

Sage

Image via pixabay/marionkollmeier

Got ghosts? No problem. Do a sage rubbing and drive off any unsavory spirits. My tongue may be in my cheek right now, but many people value sage for this use. I’ve never had the need, but if I did? Point me to the nearest smudge stick.

In addition to being a ghost-fighter and a culinary herb, sage is also used medicinally. The leaves are said to help relieve digestive problems, menstrual issues, and possibly even combat the chemical imbalances that cause Alzheimer’s. It can be applied directly to the skin to help treat mouth and nasal irritation. Sage tea can be used to dry up breast milk during weaning. It can also darken graying hair (with repeated use), and be used topically to help combat oily skin or acne.

Because sage contains thujone, a chemical known to cause seizures and/or damage to the liver and nervous system, large doses or prolonged use are to be avoided. Not safe for use in pregnant women, those with diabetes, hormone-sensitive conditions, or blood pressure issues.

·

Thyme

Image via pixabay/Hans

I bought the creeping variety of thyme, hoping it will act as a ground cover in my garden. Anything that helps control weeds is a friend of mine! Also, though I don’t have any issues with deer, it acts as a deer repellant and may deter them from consuming nearby plants. Like other types of thyme, it is edible. Either the leaves alone can be harvested or sprigs can be snipped off and dried, and the leaves removed later. It smells and tastes fairly similar to mint and can be used to flavor foods or in teas. Last, but not least, it is loved by bees!

 

That’s it for now, as far as our garden grows, but how about you? Do you have an (h)erb garden or a Herb’s garden? What herbs do you like best? I’d love to hear recommendations!

 

**For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

Sources and recommended reading:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266425.php

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277627.php

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/comfrey-leaves-zmaz74zhol

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/comfrey

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/285/

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/echinacea/ataglance.htm

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/Echinacea

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/grow-bronze-fennel-25058.html

http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/basil-benefits

http://www.naturallivingideas.com/reasons-to-grow-lavender-in-your-garden/

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-437-lemon%20balm.aspx?activeingredientid=437

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lemon-balm

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-719-lemongrass.aspx?activeingredientid=719&activeingredientname=lemongrass

http://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/7-wonderful-benefits-of-lemongrass-tea-the-healing-brew-1459468

http://blog.nwf.org/2015/02/twelve-native-milkweeds-for-monarchs/

https://www.almanac.com/plant/mint

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/health-benefits-plain-italian-parsley-16735.html

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/rue-plants-used-for-49380.html

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/312/

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-504-sage.aspx?activeingredientid=504&

https://www.healthbeckon.com/sage-herb-benefits/

http://www.healthline.com/health/health-benefits-of-thyme

H. A. O'Connor

Hot Process Soap – *Ready to use quickly!* – Green Marble (Citrusy Bergamot)

Earthy, Living Sustainably, Natural and Noteworthy, Natural Beauty, Neighborhood Homesteading No Comment
Hot Process Soap – *Ready to use quickly!* – Green Marble (Citrusy Bergamot)

When I recently noticed my family was running low on our homemade soap, I knew hot process was the way to go. Why? It’s easy to make (as long as you don’t mind dedicating a slow cooker to soap making–you might pick one up secondhand, if so). It’s also ready to use much sooner than cold process soap. Instead of taking four to six weeks (or longer) to cure, as cold process soap does, hot process soap is technically ready to use within days. That said, allowing it to cure for a week or two will help any remaining moisture evaporate, making the soap harder and longer-lasting.

I really enjoyed making this soap and hope you’ll enjoy watching! Even better, maybe you’ll even give this homemade, hot process soap recipe a try!

*Note: I used a recipe from one of my blog posts to make this soap, which includes the lovely scented Aroma Foundry Bergamot Essential Oil. The original blog post can be found here.

*In case you have any trouble finding the recipe in that post, I’ll share it again here:

Citrusy and Simple Bergamot Soap: (formulated using the lye calculator from soapcalc.net)

8.36 ounces distilled water

3.24 ounces lye (NaOH)

10 ounces coconut oil

8 ounces grapeseed oil

4 ounces olive oil

0.5 ounce Aroma Foundry Bergamot Essential Oil

optional–approx. 1 tsp clay (e.g. rose, kaolin, bentonite, etc. – I used green zeolite clay)

optional–mica (as desired, for color)

Directions: add the lye to the water (NOT the water to the lye)–*Important: lye/water solution will heat up quickly and give off fumes, plus it can burn skin (so, do this step in a well-ventilated area, wearing protective eyewear, gloves, etc., and allow the solution to cool quite a bit before using–I find it easiest to work at somewhere between room temperature and 100 degrees F). (Note: lye reacts to aluminum, so don’t use any while soaping.)  Melt the oils together over a double boiler, add clay (if using; clay can also be added later, with the essential oils). Once the lye/water solution has cooled, mix into the oils, using an immersion (stick) blender. Add essential oil. Color with mica (if using). Pour into a soap-safe mold and allow at least 24 hours for soap to set and 4-6 weeks before use.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy!

H. A. O'Connor

Saving the Green: Earth-wise, Budget-friendly Choices

Earthy, Living Sustainably, Natural and Noteworthy, Neighborhood Homesteading 2 Comments
Saving the Green: Earth-wise, Budget-friendly Choices

Green is one of my favorite colors. I like it in terms of growing, planty things, and I like it in terms of cash. Nope, I’m not materialistic, but I am a realist (as much as reality requires, anyway).

Since nature and I are already on pretty good terms and because I’m trying to form a nice, healthy friendship with money, I’ve been looking into ways people can help save the green (both kinds). Here’s what I’ve found, so far:

Image via pixabay/terimakasih0

General Household:

Reusable/washable “paper” towels – leftover fabric (flannel, fleece) can be cut into squares and used to wipe counters, tables, etc., as an alternative to paper towels. Some people go the extra mile, add a terry cloth backing and store them in a pretty basket, but I’m easy (lazy): I keep mine in a drawer and, once used, throw them in the wash.

Hand towels – if you’re not already using hand towels in your kitchen, trust me, they work just as well there as they do in the powder room. I usually hang two: one for drying hands and the other for drying dishes. Again, they’re easy to toss into the wash and they further reduce the need for paper towels.

Stainless steel straws – have you seen the video of the poor sea turtle with the plastic drinking straw lodged in its nostril? No joke, I ordered my stainless straws the day I saw it. Here’s the video, if you want to see. You may never be the same again. *Warning: contains strong language and graphic images. 

Stainless/glass water bottles – bottling your drinks at home is cheaper than buying bottled water, etc. No plastic is even better than recycled plastic.

Reusable bags – we use these whenever we can; however, when we do get plastic bags from the store, we reuse them at home (and recycle the torn ones). That said, our goal is to reduce (and hopefully eliminate) our use of plastic bags in the future.

No-throw lunch items – when packing lunches, we use washable containers (plastic or glass), stainless steel bottles (rather than juice boxes, etc.), and forks/spoons from home–no need for the use-and-toss stuff. Beeswax-coated fabric is a great alternative to plastic wrap, too (from what I’ve heard–I still need to try it), and a cloth napkin can be brought home and washed. Also, we use insulated lunch bags, which usually last a couple of years (and we save brown paper bags for school field trips).

Image via pixabay/falco

Food:

Back to nature – in terms of food, closer to nature is generally better for our health and the environment. This is especially true with locally grown food–there are more nutrients in fresher foods; plus, when food travels a shorter distance to get to you, that equals less pollution. You can trying growing your favorite herbs, vegetables, fruits, berries right in your own back yard (or in containers on a patio or balcony). Good soil, clean water, and sunlight are pretty much all it takes.

Foods as medicine – healthy foods, even right down to common yard weeds, have traditionally served both as preventative healthcare and as medicinal treatment. I say, Eat your weeds! (Too far? Sorry if you’re not with me on that one yet.)

Image via pixabay/terimakasih0

Personal care:

Safety razors with replaceable blades – these are on my wish list, because I haven’t made my way through my plastic razors yet…

Simple oils as moisturizers – I just apply a simple oil to damp skin and it keeps my largest organ happy and healthy. For my body, I’ve been using grapeseed oil, which is light, absorbs easily, and contains a lot of skin-loving Vitamin E. It’s also inexpensive and easy to find, plus it’s not loaded with chemicals or preservatives. Likewise, for our faces, my husband uses rosehip seed oil and I use argan oil, which I adore… (More on that in another post.)

DIY self-care products (from the same basic ingredients) – I make soaps, body butters, balms (including lip balms), homemade deodorant, and much more, using a fairly small group of ingredients (things like coconut and olive oil, beeswax and essential oils)…I’ll share the list once I compile one (a task which I’m now adding to my to-do list…) *By the way, as I mentioned in another post, milk of magnesia also makes for a great, safe deodorant…one without chemicals or additives.

DIY makeup – although I still buy foundation and mascara, I make the rest of my makeup myself. As I’ve shown in my YouTube video, I use colloidal oatmeal tinted with cocoa for face powder, activated charcoal for eyeliner, and arrowroot powder, mica, and cocoa powder for eye shadow. Yes, that’s right. Food on my face.

Cloth diapers – I absolutely love my babies (as big as they are now), but I changed my millionth diaper long ago and grandkids are still a long way off, so you’re on your own with this one…

Feminine products – menstrual cups and washable cloth sanitary pads are becoming increasingly popular; they’re two options for women which not only benefit the environment, but also protect us from the harmful chemicals that can be found in many mainstream products. These items can also help save money (after initial purchasing costs).

Image via pixabay/terimakasih0

Cleaning:

White vinegar = use in dishwasher as a drying agent, and in clothes washer in place of fabric softener

Vinegar (diluted) = windows, tile floors, etc.

Vinegar (diluted) + baking soda = scrub tubs and sinks, helps clean out drains (*Also: hydrogen peroxide + baking soda = stain-removing scrub, safe for some surfaces)

Vinegar (diluted) + essential oils (peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and lemon are some of my cleaning favorites–they kill germs while freshening the house) = cleaning spray for counters, cabinets, etc. *Vinegar may not be safe to use on some surfaces, so please do your research and use with caution

Vinegar (diluted) + essential oils + liquid castile soap = great when you need a little soapy-ish boost (although castile soap doesn’t really lather, so don’t expect bubbles)

Image via pixabay/Alexas_Fotos

Pets:

Pet towels – we’ve designated old bath towels for use on the pets, for bath time or muddy feet. They also double as great picker-uppers if the pups get sloppy with their water bowls or if one of the humans spills a drink.

Dawn dish soap – this works well if you have a flea problem–wash, rinse, repeat (and then probably repeat again in a day or two)

Security system + smoke detector + fire alarm + crumb cleaner-upper + stress reducer + cheerer-upper + seat saver + foot warmer + all-around snuggly cuddler = pets (*Note: cats reserve the right to leave all–or most–crumb cleaning-upping to the dogs)

Images via pixabay/teadrinker

Last, but never least: Reduce, reuse, recycle always and in all the ways you can. (At least that’s something to strive for.) Those three Rs will reduce landfill fill, while saving money. Win, win. No question.

This is what I call a “living list.” It will evolve as my knowledge and experience do. All in all, though, I think the best rule of thumb for saving the green (if that’s your goal) is to make the transition how and when you’re able. Rather than seizing everything you own and dumping it all into a landfill somewhere, make good use of the items you have and recycle or reuse them as you’re able. When the things around you need to be replaced, that’s the time to go for the green–doing some research can help you find the eco-friendly items which will best suit your needs.

It might take some time to adjust to a greener life, but I’ve found it addictive in the best way. I can’t help hoping it’s contagious.

H. A. O'Connor

Homemade Happenings…with Aroma Foundry Essential Oils

Earthy, Natural and Noteworthy, Natural Beauty 1 Comment
Homemade Happenings…with Aroma Foundry Essential Oils

I recently received an invitation to sample some essential oils from Aroma Foundry, so of course I immediately broke into my mad scientist laugh and began plotting world domination planning what I would do with them. *Here* (<- click) is an accurate portrayal of my reaction. No lie. 😉 (Anyone who loves essential oils will completely understand.)

CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=638306

I cackled and paced my way into some semblance of self-control, and then I whittled down my intentions to a few favorites (which, by the way, I’ve listed below.) Before sharing them, though, I wanted to mention some of the things that are particularly exciting about Aroma Foundry’s Essential Oils. They are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*100% pure–undiluted, with no synthetic additives

*Sourced in individual locations–in the US or wherever the native habitats are (each source location is shared on the website and individual bottles)

*Hand-bottled in the US (Sunny Cali)

*Guaranteed to be of consistent quality

*Produced in small, artisanally crafted batches

*Reasonably and competitively priced

*Good looking! From the bottles, to the labels, to the individual boxes

*They’d make great gifts (*wink wink, nudge nudge*)

Now, get ready…’cause we’re cookin’ with oils! 

Bergamot

Image via pixabay/JPSSantos
*Warning: cold-pressed Bergamot is phototoxic, which means it can produce a bad burn if left on your skin and exposed to the ultraviolet portion of sunlight. For safety’s sake, I’ve opted to use it in a soap recipe.

Citrusy and Simple Bergamot Soap: (formulated using the lye calculator from soapcalc.net)

8.36 ounces distilled water

3.24 ounces lye (NaOH)

10 ounces coconut oil

8 ounces grapeseed oil

4 ounces olive oil

0.5 ounce Aroma Foundry Bergamot Essential Oil

optional–approx. 1 tsp clay (e.g. rose, kaolin, bentonite, etc.)

optional–mica (as desired, for color)

Directions: add the lye to the water (NOT the water to the lye)–*Important: lye/water solution will heat up quickly and give off fumes, plus it can burn skin (so, do this step in a well-ventilated area, wearing protective eyewear, gloves, etc., and allow the solution to cool quite a bit before using–I find it easiest to work at somewhere between room temperature and 100 degrees F). (Note: lye reacts to aluminum, so don’t use any while soaping.)  Melt the oils together over a double boiler, add clay (if using; clay can also be added later, with the essential oils). Once the lye/water solution has cooled, mix into the oils, using an immersion (stick) blender. Add essential oil. Color with mica (if using). Pour into a soap-safe mold and allow at least 24 hours for soap to set and 4-6 weeks before use.

Eucalyptus

Image via Unsplash/Annie Spratt
Mentholy-Mix Balm: (*adapted from humblebee & me’s “Cool & Clear Eucalyptus Balm”)

.4 ounces beeswax

1.28 ounces olive oil (*mine was infused with broad leaf plantains–I have a how-to video on infusing oils, here)

15 drops Aroma Foundry’s Eucalyptus Essential Oil

5 drops Aroma Foundry’s Lavender Essential Oil

5 drops Aroma Foundry’s Peppermint Essential Oil

5 drops Aroma Foundry’s Rosemary Essential Oil

Directions: melt beeswax into olive oil over a double boiler. Add essential oils, stir. Pour into a container. (*I’ll use one of my Infinity Jars, so it will keep as long as possible.) Allow to cool before using.

Lavender

Image via Unsplash/Callum Cockburn
Lavender Lotion Bars (*adapted from The Nerdy Farm Wife’s Calendula Lotion Bars)

3 ounces beeswax

3 ounces shea butter (or other butter of your choice)

3 ounces sunflower oil (an infused oil is even better–I used a wild violet infused oil. Watch my YouTube video on infusing oils, here).

10-20 drops Aroma Foundry’s Lavender Essential Oil

Directions: melt beeswax, butter, and oil together over a double boiler. Mix in essential oil and pour into small molds. Allow to cool before use. Refrigerating will extend the life of your bars.

Ylang Ylang

Image via pixabay/mayapujiati

Ylang Ylang Body Butter (*adapted from Wellness Mama’s Natural Whipped Body Butter)

6 ounces shea butter

6 ounces cocoa butter

6 ounces coconut oil

6 ounces sweet almond oil (or other skin-friendly, light oil)

10-20 drops Aroma Foundry’s Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Directions: melt oils and butters over a double boiler. After heating, stir in essential oil. Chill until oils begin to harden, then whip until light and fluffy. Store in containers and refrigerate to prolong the life of the body butter. *Remember when applying: a little goes a long way; best when used on damp skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you have fun with these recipes if you get a chance to try them! Can’t wait to get to work! Mwuhahahahaha… 

H. A. O'Connor

Some Essential Oil Essentials

Earthy, Natural and Noteworthy 3 Comments
Some Essential Oil Essentials

Essential oils. You’ve heard of them, right? They’re being used all over the place, these days. Yet, they’re not always being used safely.

Recently, Aroma Foundry invited me to sample some of their essential oils and share my thoughts. I’m really looking forward to trying them out (they smell absolutely delicious!), but I thought that even before I share my experience with them, I’d better go over some essential oil basics.

So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I mean, what are essential oils?

Image via pixabay/kerdkanno

Essential oils are made by plants and stored either internally or on the plant’s surface. They serve a number of purposes: to attract pollinators, to help plants compete with other plants (e.g. by limiting or preventing the growth of other, nearby plants–“allelopathy”), to deter would-be predators, and to maintain plant health, through the oils’ antifungal and antibacterial properties. (Information summarized from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA).)

The essential oils are collected from the plant, either through steam distillation or cold pressing. During the distillation process, plant materials (leaves, flowers, etc.) are suspended over boiling water; the steam pulls out the plant’s essential oils as it rises, and then it is gathered, via a tube, carrying the essential oils with it. During cold pressing, essential oils are collected from applying pressure to plant material, to express the oils (e.g. citrus oils are pressed from the skin of citrus fruit).

Image via Unsplash/Jonathan Pielmayer

A very large quantity of plant material must be used to obtain essential oils. For instance, Mountain Rose Herbs says that 60 whole roses are used to produce only one drop of its rose essential oil. It is this factor that makes essential oils anywhere from 50 to 100 times more concentrated than those oils in the plant (Tisserand).

It is because of this high concentration that essential oils must be respected and treated with care.

It may help to think of it this way: if you drink a cup of tea for health benefits, it is made from only about a teaspoon of dried leaves, diluted in water. You’re only consuming a very small amount of plant constituents. However, if you add even just a few drops of an essential oil to a drink, you’re getting a very, very strong dose of that plant’s components. Furthermore, essential oils don’t dilute in water, so you are likely to be receiving a fully concentrated dose, which has the potential to be very dangerous.

Image via pixabay/mitchf1

Since essential oil safety is so important, I’d like to share some Basic Essential Oil Safety Guidelines:

(*There are literally books upon books published on this subject and I am in no way an expert on essential oils, so I can’t go into any real depth here. Please consult a professional aromatherapist, herbalist, and/or doctor before using essential oils; also, please refer to the resources at the end of this post for additional information.)

*Don’t ingest, unless you really, really know what you’re doing (*most people don’t have this level of knowledge about essential oils, so I would strongly recommend against ingesting any essential oils. I do not ingest them.)

*Don’t apply to mucus membranes, which, as Robert Tisserand (one of world’s leading experts in aromatherapy) says, is another way of saying don’t put them in your mouth

*Don’t apply to skin “neat” (undiluted)–always dilute with a carrier oil, before applying to skin. (*Some examples of carrier oils are avocado oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, hemp oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, etc.)

*There is a risk of allergic reactions with essential oils, which increases with use, especially if ingested or applied neat

*Even when properly diluted, you must always be careful about the types of essential oils you apply to skin (some oils are phototoxic, which means they react to sunlight and can give you a very, very bad burn–even if diluted properly; some oils can cause allergic reactions; some can cause irritations)

*Essential oils do NOT dilute in water, so drinking them or using them in a bath exposes you to the full concentrate of the oil and can be very dangerous; essential oils must be diluted in carrier oils (such as jojoba oil, olive oil, etc., as mentioned above)

*Don’t inhale directly for an extended time (15 minutes or longer); diffused oils are safer to inhale, but exposure still should be limited and only used intermittently

*Essential oils are flammable; do NOT use near an open flame

*Keep in a safe, secure place, away from children

*Don’t use with babies or young children unless very, very diluted and even then, with extreme caution. (I would not use on or near babies or young children, personally.) Always do your research and err on the side of caution when using with older children, as well. (*Also, never use on or near children who aren’t your own, without first obtaining parent/guardian consent–I’ve heard many stories of people being furious with nannies or daycare providers for exposing children to essential oils when it wasn’t approved)

*Be extra cautious about essential oil use during pregnancy or while nursing (consult with a professional first and do your research)

*Be very wary of applying to pets (consult with your veterinarian beforehand; take precautions as you would with a child)

*Be careful of using around people with allergies

*Be respectful of the fact that not everyone will enjoy your essential oils as much as you do

*Essential oils, like many other natural products, are not regulated and therefore, you may receive something other than what you’re expecting. Essential oils that are not pure (mixed with unknown substances) elevate the risks listed above. Do your research and choose a reputable company as your source for EOs.

*Tisserand and others offer reference charts for essential oil dilutions, etc.

Image via Unsplash/Katherine Hanlon

Whew! Now that we’ve gone through the worrisome stuff, here’s a little intro to the fun part…Some Essential Oil Uses:

*Aromatherapy

*Homemade personal care products (things like soaps, body butters, sugar scrubs)

*Homemade cleaning products, to boost cleaning power

*Pest deterrent (e.g. ants don’t like cinnamon or peppermint, etc.)

*Diffusers, including wearable clay diffusers (here’s mine: I put a drop of oil on the side of the clay pendant that doesn’t touch my skin)

 

I’ll be revisiting essential oils soon, with more of the fun stuff to share!

For now, here are some great resources for more information:

FREE Aromatherapy courses: from Aromahead Institute, Robert Tisserand’s FREE mini-courseThe School for Aromatic Studies, and others

Some good sources for learning more about essential oil safety: Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals by Robert Tisserand and Rodney YoungTisserand Institute Safety Guidelines

Websites:

plantalkemie.com–Li is a qualified aromatherapist and herbalist, and she gave me some great recommendations while writing this blog (Thank you, Li! :)) She just relocated to this new website, and plans to offer online classes soon!

roberttisserand.com

National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA)

H. A. O'Connor

Happy (Belated) Beltane!

Earthy, Ethereal, Natural and Noteworthy, Searching for Inspiration 4 Comments
Happy (Belated) Beltane!

Well, spring was here…and gone…and here…and…so I’ve decided it’s all right that I’m a little late with my Beltane wishes, which should have happened around the first of May. Beltane is one of a number of seasonal celebrations based on ancient Celtic festivals (and often practiced by modern pagans–and others, like me).

The Celtic festivals centered around the seasons: four of them mark the change of season (solstice or equinox) and four mark the midpoints between. Beltane marks the point between the spring equinox and summer solstice, also known as one of my absolute favorite times of the year.

By User:The Wednesday Island, after en:User:Brenton.eccles –
Based on en:Image:Wheel_of_the_Year.gif but redrawn, Public Domain,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5293620

I consider myself essentially to be a Celtic mutt, based on mostly a mix of Irish, Scottish, (probably) Welsh, etc. ancestry, so I’ve long been interested in these ancient festivals. Since I’m refreshing my memory on them, I thought I’d share.

The word Beltane is Celtic for “fires of Bel.” Belenus was one of the most widely worshipped Celtic gods, apparently known as “The Bright [or Shining] One.” Beltane was celebrated at a time when the barren landscape of winter had begun to burst forth again into life. The Hawthorn, or May-tree, was showing its abundance of snowy white blossoms and the land was coloring itself a fresh, vibrant green. People would be preparing to turn out their livestock into summertime pastures, so at Beltane, they’d burn ritual fires for the animals to pass between. This, they believed, would help protect the livestock and ensure their fertility. Fertility for the people themselves was also of the utmost importance, so Beltane was often a time for couples to court or marry.

Hawthorn, or May-tree, in bloom

Some of the ways people celebrated (and continue to celebrate) Beltane, was by lighting these bonfires, which were central to the festival. The merrier the bonfire bash, the better, no? Also, maypoles aren’t phallic by accident. They represent the fertility of Beltane, with its burgeoning life. People have historically danced around maypoles, while decorating them with colored ribbons and flowers, including those of the Hawthorn.

I’m not an ancient Celt or a practioner of paganism, but I’m perfectly prepared to celebrate Beltane (even belatedly). I can offer gratitude for the physical fertility I’ve had in my life (no need for more of that, thank you very much), but I can also welcome in other types of fertility and abundance–creative and spiritual fertility, and maybe some financial abundance would be nice. Spring is here, with its new beginnings, and bountiful summer is on its way. I don’t need a better reason to celebrate, do you?

If I dance around my May-tree, you’ll join me, right?

H. A. O'Connor

Liquid Gold–My Favorite Golden Milk Recipe

Earthy, Natural and Noteworthy No Comment
Liquid Gold–My Favorite Golden Milk Recipe

Turmeric has apparently been used medicinally for about 4,000 years…so you might say I’m hopping onto the turmeric bandwagon a little late. It’s all right if you are, too, though. There’s plenty of room!

Previously, I’ve taken turmeric as a supplement and even added it to my homemade cosmetics for a touch of warm color, but I only got around to trying Golden Milk a week ago. Here’s the picture to prove it:

I was so excited, I posted a photo to my Instagram account

For that first attempt, I went with a basic cow’s milk recipe: Wellness Mama’s turmeric tea/golden milk. Very simple and tasty. Next, a really nice friend shared some of her Golden Milk Powder from Gaia Herbs with me. (Thanks again, Colleen!) That was yummy (I especially liked the spices) and it was also super easy to make–just add a teaspoon of the powder to whatever kind of warm milk you prefer and give it a stir. Another recipe I tried and enjoyed was Minimalist Baker’s Easy Vegan Golden Milk, which used almond milk and coconut milk, rather than dairy. I thought this one was pretty great, but I still wanted to make my own version. So, I did some tweaking and came up with this recipe–a yummy, decadent-ish drink that’s good for your health, to boot.

(*Adapted from the Minimalist Baker’s Easy Vegan Golden Milk)

Image via pixabay/Ajale

My Favorite, Easy-Peasy, Yummilicious Golden Milk Recipe:

400 ml (about 1 ¾ c) coconut milk (*canned or from carton—I used 1 full can)

400 ml (about 1 ¾ c) unsweetened almond milk

1 ¾ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 ¼ TBSP coconut oil

Pinch ground black pepper

½ tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)

Honey, maple syrup, etc. to taste (optional; also, don’t choose honey if you want the drink to be vegan)

(*Those are the basic ingredients, but if you’d like to spice things up a bit, here are some options:

pinch cardamom

pinch ashwagandha

very small pinch cloves

very small pinch saffron)

 

In a saucepan, combine the ingredients over medium heat. I chose to combine them with a stick blender (while heating), until everything was emulsified and frothy; however, you could also use a regular kitchen blender to combine (before heating) or whisk by hand (while heating). Makes at least two, guilt-free, good-for-you servings.

*Note: black pepper and coconut oil are believed to aid in the absorption and/or delay the breakdown of turmeric and prolong exposure–therefore both increase turmeric’s numerous benefits (which are listed below).

Cheers!

Image via pixabay/Mareefe

FYI–Health benefits of the spices in golden milk:

*I’m not a healthcare professional, so please check with your doctor regarding these ingredients if you have any concerns. 

Turmeric (thanks to its main active ingredient–curcumin) is the star of golden milk. It is anti-inflammatory (helps treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases), antibacterial, and antioxidant; it can increase levels of the brain hormone BDNF (which boosts the growth of new neurons and fights degenerative processes); it helps fight heart disease (anticoagulant, regulates cholesterol, etc.); it may help prevent and even treat cancer; may also help treat Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, and depression; acts as a digestive aid; helps manage pain; and has anti-aging properties. Risks: anti-coagulant, large doses may increase risk of bleeding.

Ginger takes on the role of best supporting actor in golden milk. It is great for stomach upset (reduces nausea and vomiting); anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant; stimulates circulation; acts as a digestive aid and helps prevent stomach ulcers. Risks: contains oxalate, so people with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones may need to avoid.

Cinnamon contains antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal; reduces high cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as high blood pressure; helps fight diabetes by improving sensitivity to insulin and lowering blood sugar levels; helps improve brain function and defends against neurological disorders; may help lower cancer risk; boosts immunity; boosts oral health; helps fight allergies; improves skin health. Risks: may cause skin irritation; cassia cinnamon in very high doses can be toxic, especially to people with liver problems; lowers blood sugar, so this will need to be considered by diabetics taking cinnamon supplements.

Black Pepper increases the absorption of nutrients (*note: some say black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric, while others say it helps prevent the breakdown of turmeric in the gut and liver and allows it to remain in the body longer; either is a benefit); aids digestion; contains antioxidants; helps fight cancer, arthritis and depression; benefits oral health. Risks: can cause skin irritation or respiratory irritation if inhaled; use is contraindicated for people taking certain drugs (cyclosporine A, cholinergic, digoxin, and cytochrome P450); can cause stomach upset.

(Additional/optional spices):

Cardamom aids digestion; is antibacterial and contains antioxidants; helps fight cancer; helps treat asthma symptoms; helps detoxify the body; high in heart-healthy minerals. Risks: in large doses can cause problems for people who have gallstones (can cause spasmodic pain/gall stone colic).

Ashwagandha boosts immunity; combats anxiety and depression; helps treat infertility, inflammation, diabetes, and cataracts; stimulates thyroid; is antibacterial; helps strengthen the heart and manage cholesterol. Risks: should not be used during pregnancy, because of the risk of miscarriage; should not be used by nursing mothers; should be avoided by people who are allergic to nightshade plants (Solanacea sensitivity); patients with hyperthyroidism should consult a doctor before use.

Cloves help improve digestion and treat nausea and vomiting; treat joint pain and respiratory problems; improve headaches, earaches, and acne; help treat stress. Risks: overconsumption can thin blood and increase risk of bleeding; lowers blood sugar; may cause sensitivity in the mouth or skin; can cause allergic reactions or respiratory issues; large doses can cause seizures.

Saffron is high in minerals, such as copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium; aids in digestion and can work as an anticonvulsant; contains antioxidants and can help combat depression and anxiety; may help treat PMS and Alzheimer’s Disease. Risks: sleepiness, headache, upset stomach; in higher doses, may thin blood and also cause mood swings; should not be used by pregnant or lactating women.

Image via pixabay/pexels

Natural supplements are not regulated, so it’s best to buy your ingredients from a reputable source. I bought my spices (in bulk–yay!) from Penzeys and am really pleased!

H. A. O'Connor

A Wealth of Weeds

Earthy, Living Sustainably, Natural and Noteworthy, Neighborhood Homesteading 2 Comments
A Wealth of Weeds

Have you heard the one about the weird lady who walks around her yard, staring at the ground? Hey, wait a minute. That’s me. As if I didn’t already have my share of quirk, this is my new favorite hobby–except I’m not staring at the ground, I’m staring at lawn weeds. Much more normal, you see.

Why the sudden interest in weeds? Well, first off, it’s not sudden. Happily, a few years ago, a friend mentioned a name to me: Rosemary Gladstar. (Thanks, DMC!) Unhappily, I forgot this all-important name until a few months ago, when I came across a video of Gladstar discussing Elderberry. (I’ve since become addicted to her herbalism teachings and would like to grow up to be her one day.)

If I could pick one of Rosemary Gladstar’s most meaningful lessons regarding common weeds, it would be this. When the colonists left their homelands to come to North America, they only carried their most valuable possessions with them. As Gladstar says, “A prize that always went was seeds…. So, the plants that we are out there digging frantically to get out of our gardens were carefully brought over because of their edible and medicinal properties and because they had a tenacity–they would grow. So, some of our most valuable plants are our weedy species.” (Abridged quote taken from Gladstar’s video on History of Herbalism in America.)

If for no other reason, this marks weeds as something to be celebrated. Still not convinced? Here are a wealth of other reasons: (I’ll alphabetize the following list of common lawn weeds, because I’m also that kind of weird.)

*Note: Some weeds are poisonous, so you should never consume or use any weed medicinally if you aren’t completely sure of its identification. Also, I’m not an herbalist or medical professional of any kind. I’m offering this information purely to help develop an appreciation for weeds. If you’d like to learn more, I’d suggest checking with an herbalist and, also, discussing any new herbal/weedy habits with your doctor.

Broad leaf plantain (Plantago major)

By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=10887031

Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: draws toxins from body, liver stimulant, blood purifier. As a poultice, can be used to treat wounds and infections, rashes, bug bites/stings, burns. Can also be used to draw out splinters/slivers. Can help check bleeding, internally or externally. Root is said to be a remedy for rattlesnake bites(!), used in equal portions with White horehound.

Edible uses: seed, root, leaf. Can be eaten raw (in salads, smoothies, etc.), cooked (soups, stews, etc.) or made into a tea. Seed can also be harvested and ground into a meal.

(Edible) health benefits: mucilage, fatty acids, protein, starch, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, allantoin, bitters

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Hazards: leaves contain saponins. These are toxic, but are poorly absorbed by the body and usually don’t cause harm. They are also broken down by cooking. Still, not advisable not to eat large quantities. *Not to be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding women; also not to be used medicinally by pregnant women.

Medicinal uses: (whole plant) as a poultice, can treat any kind of itching skin condition, cuts or wounds, or eye inflammation. Can be added to a bath (fresh or dried) to help reduce joint and other inflammation and to encourage tissue repair. Taken internally, can aid in chest complaints, circulation, kidney or liver issues, and digestion. Believed to help with water retention and to stimulate metabolism; used in weight control.

Edible uses: leaves and young shoots–can be added raw to salads, sandwiches, and/or drinks; also cooked into soups. If cooking, stems and flowers can also be added. Fresh leaves can be steeped in water to relieve coughs, hoarseness, etc. Similar in flavor to spinach. *I also have it on good authority–from my girls–that chickens love it (as the name suggests)!

(Edible) health benefits: chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, Vitamins C, A, and B Vitamins.

Creeping Charlie/Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) 

Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: appetite stimulant, useful in treating inflammation (helps with joint and muscle pain) and respiratory infections, said to be helpful in promoting kidney function; works as an astringent and to help stop bleeding.

Edible uses: member of the mint family, said to have a mild mint flavor; young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Tea is made from fresh or dried leaves. Also, can be added to beer in place of hops.

(Edible) health benefits: High in Vitamin C and other vitamins, minerals

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Hazards: some people may experience an allergic reaction to the latex in the flowers and stems.

Medicinal uses: effective diuretic–while acting as such, replaces potassium instead of depleting this important nutrient. All parts of the plant, but especially the root, can be used to help promote liver health, purify/detoxify the body, help with digestion. Roots can be used fresh or dried, but the dried root will have a weaker effect. Leaves are harvested when the plant is in flower and can be dried for later use. It has some antibacterial and anti-yeast action.

Edible uses: tea can be made from the leaves, roots, or flowers. Leaves and flowers can be used raw or cooked (less bitterness is found in younger leaves or leaves harvested during the winter); roots can also be eaten raw or can be dried to be used in herbal teas or roasted to make dandelion coffee; dandelion wine can be made from the flowers–no greens should be used, to avoid bitterness.

(Edible) health benefits: very nutritious, containing protein, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C.

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: none known

Edible uses: leaves and flower stalks–can be eaten raw or cooked, added to soups or salads like other greens; root–grated and used as flavoring. Said to have a peppery flavor, similar to broccoli rabe, but milder (not overly bitter).

(Edible) health benefits: Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene, antioxidants, glucosinolates–help remove carcinogens from the body, also said to contain lutein

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: poultice can be used to reduce swelling or for bug bites/stings. Helps with joint aches, used to induce sweating and reduce fever.

Edible uses: Can be eaten raw or cooked; member of mint family, but is said to have a mild, kale-like flavor. Apparently, another favorite of hens!

(Edible) health benefits: high in vitamins, iron, antioxidants, fiber

Indian Mockstrawberry (Duchesnea indica)

By Tubifex – Own work, Public Domain,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7767002

Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: Used as a purifier and fever reducer and antiseptic; also used to treat stomatitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis. Poultice can be used to treat skin conditions, including eczema, burns, infections, insect bites/stings, swellings.

Edible uses: leaves and berries, very mild taste.

(Edible) health benefits: contains Vitamin C, protein, etc.

Lady’s Thumb (Persicaria maculosa)

By Bouba at French Wikipedia – photo by Bouba, CC BY-SA 3.0,
httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=1652454

Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: poultices can be used to help stop bleeding and promote healing of wounds, also to treat joint pain. Crushed leaves are said to help treat poison ivy rash. Can help relieve stomach ache.

Edible uses: leaves and young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked

(Edible) health benefits: assorted vitamins and minerals

Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album)

Hazards: saponins in the seeds are potentially toxic and should not be consumed in excess. Lamb’s quarters contain some oxalic acid. Small quantities recommended if consuming raw; cooking removes the acid.

Medicinal uses: poultice can be used to treat bug bites/stings, minor wounds, and minor burns. Also used to treat swelling and inflammation. Can also help with stomach aches and digestive issues.

Edible uses: Leaves, shoots, seeds, flowers. Lamb’s quarter can be eaten raw in salads or added to smoothies and juices. Steamed or added to soups, etc., treated like spinach.

(Edible) health benefits: Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

Oxalis/Yellow Woodsorrell (Oxalis stricta)

By Rasbak – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=203108

Hazards: leaves contain oxalic acid, which although fine in small quantities, should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body’s supply of calcium, leading to nutritional deficiency. The quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should avoid adding this plant to their diet.

Medicinal uses: helpful in treatment of fevers, stomach cramps, nausea; poultice can be used to treat swelling

Edible uses: leaves can be eaten raw or cooked; flowers and young seedpods can also be eaten raw. Mildly sour, resembling lemons in flavor. Leaves can be used to make a lemony drink or tea.

(Edible) health benefits: high in Vitamin C, also contains other vitamins and minerals

Purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: fresh, bruised leaves can be applied to cuts or wounds to help stop bleeding and promote with healing (astringent and styptic properties). Can also be used to stop internal bleeding; used to induce sweating (diaphoretic), also diuretic and purgative. Can be used as an anti-inflammatory and to reduce allergic reactions. Has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Edible uses: leaves–raw or cooked. Leaves can be added to smoothies, etc. Also useful as a tea to help treat chills. *Since writing the draft of this post, I have braved a single, purple dead nettle leaf. I plucked it in a safe, non-dog loo area and gave it a try. It tasted all right, actually. Sort of salad-y and fresh, a little furrier than my usual salad ingredients.

(Edible) health benefits: High in antioxidants (especially flavonoids) and Vitamin C

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

By Forest & Kim Starr – httpwww.biolib.czenimageid52483, CC BY 3.0,
httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=11046442

Hazards: a similar-looking plant, named “Hairy-stemmed spurge,” (click to see photo and info) is poisonous. They often grow near one another. The hairy-stemmed spurge has (as the name suggests) hairs on its stems and also leaks a milky white substance when stems are broken. (*Note: a milky substance like this is often nature’s way of warning us that something isn’t safe to consume.)

Medicinal uses: helps treat insect bites or stings, skin ailments such as psoriasis. Immune booster, supports heart health and may help prevent headaches. May also be useful in treating Asthma and Type II Diabetes (helps support the body’s insulin supply).

Edible uses: Leaves, stems and flower buds. Pectin makes it work well as a thickener in soups, etc.

(Edible) health benefits: contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable. Rich in vitamins A, C, E; also, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron

Red clover (Trifolium pratense)

By Ivar Leidus – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=50430032

Hazards: blood thinning properties; should not be taken by anyone on heart medications or with blood thinning problems; also should not be used for two weeks before or after surgery. *Not recommended for pregnant women or nursing mothers.

Medicinal uses: used as a blood and lymphatic cleanser; can help treat skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis (whether used externally or taken internally); helpful in treating respiratory infections; helps regulate menopause in women. There is growing evidence that it may be helpful in preventing cancer. Also being studied for anti-diabetic and anti-Aids potential.

Edible uses: flowers and leaves. Flowers are more potent and should be used during their prime (before browning occurs). Can be eaten raw or cooked and in teas.

(Edible) health benefits: calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C.

Slender Speedwell (Veronica officinalis)
Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: leaves and roots–anti-inflammatory, astringent, mildly diuretic, also used to induce sweating, mildly expectorant. Can be used to relieve some types of allergies. Externally used in treatment of wounds, skin irritations, eczema, and to help heal burns and ulcers. Leaves can be dried for later use. Some believe it can be used to treat gastrointestinal troubles, rheumatic issues, to reduce vertigo, increase memory and treat depression.

Edible uses: a bitter tea can be made from fresh or dried leaves, or used as a tonic

(Edible) health benefits: antioxidants, vitamins, minerals

Wild Violet (Viola sororia)

Public Domain, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=640482

Hazards: none known

Medicinal uses: help stimulate lymphatic glands to purify body of toxins, strengthen immune system, reduce inflammation, and treat respiratory infections; can be used to treat minor injuries; poultice was used by Native Americans to treat headaches

Edible uses: leaves and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked, added to salads, soups, teas; flowers can be made into jellies or candied

(Edible) health benefits: high levels of Vitamins A and C, minerals and other nutrients

 

So, there you go. Not a complete list, by any means, and only a teaser of information about each, but I hope it demonstrates just how worthy weeds can be. As for my lawn, I’ve decided I’ll no longer hang my head in embarrassment when the weeds show up. It’s much more fun to celebrate their arrival.

By the way, in case you’d like to continue learning about wild edibles, here’s a post that another blogger reached out to share with me: 62 Edible Wild Plants…. Lots of really useful information in there! (Thanks, Colin!)

 

Sources (and recommendations for additional reading):

Medicinal Herbs, by Rosemary Gladstar (Storey Publishing, 2012)

The Green Pharmacy, by James A. Duke, Ph.D. (St. Martin’s, 1997)

3.Foragers

Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine

Eat the Planet

Edible Wild Food

Healing Weeds

Natural Medicinal Herbs

Organic Authority

Plants For a Future

United Plant Savers

H. A. O'Connor

Infinity Jars (Make Me Infinitely Happy)

Earthy, Living Sustainably, Natural and Noteworthy, Natural Beauty, Neighborhood Homesteading 3 Comments
Infinity Jars (Make Me Infinitely Happy)

Guess what came in the mail today! Yes, it was a present from Infinity Jars! Seriously, how did you guess right on your first try? Oh, I get it. You, too, like to store things and have already heard of the awesomeness that is Infinity Jars.

The beginnings of my new Infinity Jars collection

I have so many plans for these guys, but I know they can stand up to the pressure. They’re Infinity Jars, am I right? Herbs, spices, lotions, creams, maybe some frankincense and myrrh…. I’m telling you, the possibilities seem limitless–infinite, you might say.

Why am I so excited about these little beauties? Oh, let me count the ways:

*They’re made of gorgeous, violet glass, like the kind ancient Egyptians used thousands of years ago to preserve their treasured herbs and oils (Can I get a wow?!)

*The special pigmentation of the glass blocks all harmful visible light rays, preventing them from breaking down and decaying the natural products we want to preserve

*Meanwhile, the glass allows UV-A and infrared rays to pass through, which actually benefit our products–preserving them and extending their shelf life

*The jars and bottles are guaranteed to preserve freshness for at least six months, but depending upon what is being stored, can preserve some products for much, much longer (think: two years!)

*They’re air tight, whether topped with screw-on lids or the glass-on-glass tops of the gorgeous apothecary bottles (which I’m in love with, by the way–click to take a peek: they’re fantastic!)

*They’ve had laboratory tests conducted to prove how well they preserve natural products (click here to see the seven-month tomato test and two-month chive test!)

*They’re scent proof, which means they keep aromas locked in, right where they should be

*They’re perfect for storing and preserving all kinds of things, like:

*spices

*herbs

*teas

*baking ingredients–flour, sugar, etc.

*essential oils

*DIY products, such as lotions, creams, salves, lip balms (I could go on and on)

*cosmetics (including my favorites–the homemade kind)

*perfumes or sprays (I’m thinking…soothing rosewater, mmm)

*and…you guessed it…common lawn weeds! (yup, you read that right…more to come in my next post)

100 ml jar, perfect for storing weedy treasures

*Plus, Infinity Jars are sleek and stylish and deep, deep violet (to me, they look like a really rich black color, although you can catch the violet in the sunlight)

*They offer a variety of different size and style options (from small, lip balm-sized jars and cosmetic applicators with roller balls or droppers, all the way up to two liter apothecary jars. Have I mentioned I’m a fan of those? Oh, and I also love their cooking oil bottles and spray bottles and the covered dish and…)

*The jars arrived in safe, protective packaging, with two unexpected bonuses: soft cleaning cloths for maintaining their gleaming gorgeousness, and a sweet little packet of labels

I was so excited they’d arrived, I took a photo!

No wonder my kids think I’m weird 🙂

*The customer service was great (Thanks so much for your help, Tania!)

*They arrived quickly (so I didn’t have to wait with bated breath for long)

*They sell discounted variety packs and multi-packs, so you can get more for less (which I took them up on, of course)

*They’ve already had tens of thousands of customers and, before I agreed to try out and review their product, I did my homework. I checked reviews (on Amazon, etc.) and they had such great feedback from highly pleased customers, I felt sure it had to be a quality product. I was right! (Honestly, I wouldn’t share it with you, otherwise.)

When the nice folks at Infinity Jars invited me to sample their wares, I was a little greedy (and they were great about it): I chose a three-pack of 100 ml jars and a 15 ml glass push pump bottle. I picked the jars specifically because I’m planning to harvest and dry some medicinal leaves, and I wanted the natural ingredients to last. Also, I’ve long wanted to make a homemade lotion, but was afraid it might spoil quickly. With my new pump bottle, that no longer worries me.

Just waiting to be filled with a natural, DIY lotion

Seriously, Cleopatra would be envious of my new Infinity Jars. I don’t blame her, because at the top of my wish list are…more Infinity Jars. All those shapes and sizes to mix and match. I can see it now: shelves filled with gorgeous, violet glass jars and bottles, all brimming with natural, well-preserved loveliness! Do you hear a choir singing somewhere, or is that just me?

14th century pharmacist, totally jealous of me and my new Infinity Jars.

Should I tell him where to order? (Hint: click here <–)

L0005335 A pharmacist dispensing syropus acetosus in his shop.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
A pharmacist dispensing syropus acetosus in his shop. School of Giovannino de Grassi, Lombary, late 14th century.
Miniature late 14th century Theatrum sanitatis Ibn Butlan (‘Elluchasem’)
Published: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Newest release! Take a peek:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Please follow & like us :)

Instagram

  • Picking up one of his boys from school #puppylove
  • I was right, this one's a boy! (See those dots on his wings?) He's flying (I learned that the hard way), but not well enough to be released just yet. Soon! #monarchbutterfly
  • Our second arrival! Can't tell yet if it's a girl or a boy, but so happy all is well! #monarchbutterfly
  • It's a girl! So excited! She's busy drying her wings, but we're looking forward to releasing her as soon as she's ready! #monarchbutterfly #firsttohatch
  • Having nineties flashbacks #manicpanic

Archives

%d bloggers like this: