Category Archives: herb

health herb herbs homemade gifts recipe seeds

winter sunflower and oats soak/scrub

Heather, from Shivaya Naturals, is doing a wonderful series called “We Deserve This;” reminding mamas to take the time for solitude and nurturing ourselves. I felt the need to contribute a recipe for this purpose and also provide a great recipe for relieving dry itchy skin with ingredients found in the kitchen cupboard- sunflowers, oatmeal, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vitamin E oil. The combination of oatmeal and the oil from ground-up sunflower seeds and vitamin E is a great way to relieve dry skin on these dehydrating winter days; the cinnamon and nutmeg are a little extra punch for circulation and aromatherapy to awaken the senses.

oats, sunflowers and cinnamon

you need:
1/4 cup shelled, raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil

to do:
1. Grind the seeds and the oats in a food processor or coffee grinder. Grind until you have a consistency of whole-wheat flour.
2. Add the spices and vitamin E; mix well.
3. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. This makes about 4 ounces, which is enough for one bath. Pour the mixture into a warm bath. If you don’t want particles to clean up following the bath, you can place this in a muslin/cotton sachet to float in the water.
4. I like to use this as a scrub too when taking showers. Scrub this onto your skin like you would a salt or sugar scrub; then rinse with warm water.

winter sunflower soak

Take time for yourselves mamas and remember to breath.

Recipe altered a bit from Janice Cox’s Natural Beauty from the Garden.

herb herbs homemade gifts lavender sewing

a gentleman’s sleeve pine sachet

By the time we were ready to take the Yule tree outside, we had little fir needles all over the place. They still had a delicious aroma and I knew tossing them outside just wouldn’t do. A special fir needle and lavender sachet, using a sleeve from my husband’s old dress shirt, was in the making. You could easily hand-sew this sachet using a backstitch; but we chose to use the sewing machine this time (a goal of mine this year is learning to sew on a machine).

pine needles

You need:
-long sleeve shirt with buttoned cuffs
-2 cups of herbs- we used evergreen needles and lavender but of course you could use any herb mixture for this sachet; I think fir needles, dried orange peel, and cloves will be our next mix
-thread
-needle or sewing machine

To do:
1. Cut a sleeve off  the shirt making it 15 inches long from the bottom of the buttoned cuff.
2. Leave the sleeve right-side out, sew a straight seam close to the cut, making a pocket for the herbs.

cut at 15 inches, then straight stitch a seam

3. Turn the sleeve inside out and unbutton.

turn inside out

4. Stuff with about 2 cups of herbs.

turn inside out, stuff w herbs

4. Sew a straight seam to close up the herb pocket. This is a little tricky because the herbs will want to spill out, decrease the amount of herbs if need be.

stitch straight seam to close pocket

5. Pull the cuff over the herb pillow so the right side of the cuff is showing, then button the cuff.

pull pull remaining cuff over sachet & button

There you have it, a sachet for the gentlemen in your life. Now, Dave just laughed when I told him it was a gentleman’s sachet, and the little ladies took off with them and put them under their pillows. They were pretty sentimental about them because they were made from Dave’s old shirts.

pine and lavender

Another idea using evergreen needles is Julia Daby’s balsam squirrel, directions at  the wonderful Rhythm of the Home online publication. Be sure to visit all the wonderful articles there! Enjoy!

activities healthy snacks herb homemade gifts Uncategorized

herbal honey candy/coughdrops

We made herbal candy (medicinal drops) for the first time last week. Little bit challenging I must admit, but fun and tasty! Our candy was  basically a peppermint candy with a bit of beebalm, thyme, and sage added for a cold fighting punch.

What you need:
4 cups dried herb(s) of your choice
4 cups water
3-4 cups honey
cream of tartar
candy thermometer
large soup pot
jelly roll pan or candy molds
parchment paper or non-stick spray
confectioner’s sugar or arrow root powder

Directions:
1. Make a strong tea infusion by using 1 cup dried herbs to 1 cup water. Our herb combination was 3 1/2 cups dried peppermint, 1/4 cup sage, 1/4 cup beebalm and 4 tablespoons thyme. Put herbs directly into the water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for about an hour. Strain herbs from the tea. We were left with 2 1/2 cups of tea.

dried herbs

2. Put the tea back into a LARGE soup pot, add 1 1/2 cups honey for each cup of tea. I had 2 1/2 cups of tea so I added close to 4 cups of honey to the tea. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar for each cup of tea.

temperature 300

 3. Turn the stove on high and bring the mixture to a boil. You want the temperature of the honey/tea mixture to reach 300 degrees. This is where the challenge came for us. Once the mixture was boiling, the bubbles wanted to go over the edge of the pot; I would turn down the heat, then the temperature wouldn’t rise. So I would turn up the heat again, more boil over…..vicious cycle. I thought about quiting at one point, but all that honey down the drain would be wrong, so we persevered. We finally found a temperature where the temperature would climb and the bubbles wouldn’t reach the edge of the pan. It took us about 45 minutes to get to 300 degrees!

boil!

 4. Finally, after reaching 300 degrees,  pour the syrup onto a parchment lined jelly roll pan (or use a non-stick spray, you don’t want your candy to stick). There are special candy molds you can use as well, just make sure it can handle the 300 degree heat of the syrup! You could use a spoon and mix the bubble layer into the thicker bottom layer, but I preferred to keep the bubble on top to create a pretty layered look when the candy hardened.

dump and dry

5. The hardest part for the little ladies was waiting for the candy to cool and harden! I eventually put it in the freezer to quicken the process, and to keep the little ladies out of the syrup! Sticky fingers were all around!

mmm good

6. Once the candy hardens, break it into pieces and coat in confectioner’s sugar or arrow root powder to keep the candies from sticking to each other. Our candy is soft and chewy when it reaches room temperature so I store it in the freezer. The candies should keep for at least 6 months stored in the freezer.

herbal cough drops

It turned out very tasty and we will make more in the future. I’ve always wanted to make horehound candy, but I don’t have any of the dried herb right now; I need to order some along with the elderberries! If you are a candy maker and have any advice in this process I would love to hear it! We did do some research on the science behind cooking candy and found this fantastic website- The Accidental Scientist- Science of Cooking. All kinds of good stuff there!

activities flowers herb lavender nature play

lavender/rosemary ink

On our Williamsburg trip, my granny (that’s great granny to the little ladies), bought the girls each a white feather quill pen. The timing was great because I have been wanting to make a lavender/rosemary scented ink. This was a wonderful herbal activity leaving the house smelling great!

What you need:
sprigs of lavender (dry or fresh)
sprigs of rosemary (dry or fresh)
water
enamel pot

Directions:
1. Use enough herbs to cover the bottom of your pan. Use your nose to help get just the scent you want.

lavenderrosemary

2. Add enough water to cover the tops of the herbs.
3. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the water has reduced to a generous tablespoon.
4. Strain and you’re left with a pretty light brown ink. You could always add a drop or two of black ink to darken the color.

lavenderrosem. ink

The little ladies really enjoyed writing and drawing with wonderfully smelling ink and the gorgeous white feathers.

fauna and rain quill pins

Thanks for the feathers Granny!

lavenderrosemary ink 3

You could use any wonderful smelling herb for this activity. I think we will try a peppermint/lavender ink next time; it would be great for writing holiday cards. Who wouldn’t love a peppermint scented card for the holidays!?!?
Oooh, and a handmade gift of  scented ink, a calligraphy pen,  and homemade paper would be a lovely holiday gift idea! If you use the ink as a gift, you must add calligraphy ink to it or the herb solution will mold.

ink and handmade paper

felt health herb lavender sewing sick sweaters tutorial

soothing gremlin softie (free pattern)

The Get Well Gremlins are finished and I have 2 little ladies who are quite excited about them! They are kind of a twist on a dream pillow but you don’t use dry herbs as the stuffing. Each gremlin has a pocket to hold a cotton ball or piece of wool cloth with a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s) for calming or soothing. (Read this post to learn why I came up with the Get Well Gremlins).

rainy gremlin 2

I used thrift sweaters for these happy little guys. No knitting skills needed! ;)

Fauna gremlin 2

What I used to make the Get Well Gremlins:
thrift sweaters- wool and cotton
wool blend felt
embroidery floss
scissors
thick yarn
buttons
needle
pins
stuffing
FREE PATTERN DOWNLOAD 
sewing machine (optional)

Directions:
1. Download pattern,  lay out, and cut pieces leaving a 3/4 inch seam allowance if you are using a sewing machine to stitch up the gremlin. If you use a sweater with a very loose weave like the one shown here, leave a larger seam allowance. This weave likes to unravel if you’re not careful.

  grelin pattern

2. Hand-stitch pupils (buttons) onto the eyes, then stitch the eyes (running stitch) onto the gremlin.

hand sew face

 3. Whipstitch  the pocket onto the belly using a thick yarn. If using a sweater, this pocket will stretch as you stitch, keep this in mind when placing the pocket.

sew pocket

4. Put right sides together and pin, LOTS of pins are necessary to prevent rolling on the machine.  Sew an overcast stitch 2 times (for reinforcement) if you are using a loose weave like this sweater, it will want to unravel if you don’t! Remember to leave an opening for the stuffing! *If you prefer to hand-stitch the pieces together, whip stitch the pieces on the very edge using very close stitches and overlapping. Use a thick yarn to do this. I whipstitched my frog together and didn’t use a machine; so it can be done.

pin right sides together

5. Turn right-side out, stuff and whipstitch the opening closed.  Hand-sew the mouth using a backstitch with the yarn. Hand-stitch the little tooth on; now the gremlin is ready to soothe and heal (or play and cuddle)!

gremlin collage

Essential oils to add to cotton ball or small piece of cloth:

Calming oils- to induce sleep or relieve insomnia: lavender, roman camomile, mandarin, petitgrain
Flu/cold soothing essential oils (antiinfectious, antiviral, antibacterial, antiinflammatory): lavender,eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, thyme, ravensara

 To go with the get well theme, Karin, from Fleecenik Farm, suggested to make the gremlin big enough to go around a hot water bottle! Love this idea, but the girls were set on a softie this time.  Renee suggested stuffing them with flaxseed or rice to warm them up, another great idea!

**Fantastic book recommendation to learn more about essential oils and aromatherapy- Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood

family felt health healthy snacks herb homemade gifts sewing sick

get well gremlin and veggie chili

Can you see Fauna amongst the pink glow of her bedroom?

sick fauna

She is still very congested and this congestion is tiring her out. She spent all day yesterday in bed reading, she is inhaling Gail Carson Levine books right now (no complaints here).  Today was pretty much a carbon copy of yesterday. Araina now has the congestion and sneezing too.  Looks like we will be visiting the doctor tomorrow! I’m feeling back to my old self and so is Dave (after missing 2 days of work). So at least I am able to cater to their needs in a more cheerful way. ;) Thank you all for the nice comments on the flu post. I LOVED reading the things everyone does to combat flu and colds in their households. If you haven’t had a chance to read all the comments I recommend you go back and read them, there are some GREAT tips there!

 Vegetarian Chili

Yesterday Fauna was begging for my vegetarian chili. Usually we don’t have it until Halloween, but when a sick body craves something I feel we should listen! Besides, spicy chili is a great way to open up those nasal passages. I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart’s False Alarm Chili.

chili

3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, chopped in med. coins
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced or 1/4 c canned chopped green chiles
1 pound dried lentils, rinsed
1/3 C tomato paste
1 C or 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 C or 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 C or 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
4 C stewed tomatoes or 28 oz. can
1/3 C chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Sweat the onion, garlic, carrot and peppers in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Stir in stewed tomatoes, lentils, tomato paste, beans and about 7 cups of water. Add chili powder, cumin and red-pepper flakes.
2. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. If the chili starts to dry out, add hot water as needed. Season with salt and pepper. 

Get Well Gremlin (work in progress)

I forgot to mention one more flu comfort the little ladies enjoy. They love to take a cotton ball to bed that has 2 drops lavender, 1 drop peppermint, 1 drop eucalyptus and 1 drop tea tree essential oils on it. This makes their breathing better and opens up those stuffy nasal passages. Now the problem is where to put the cotton ball, it tends to get lost in the bed? Today I came up with this little Get Well Gremlin. He has a pocket to keep the cotton ball in. They are loving this idea!  I will be sure to post them when they are finished and share the pattern. Now I just need to get off the computer and finish them!

  get well gremlin

Stay healthy everybody!