Hello Everyone!
The weather is hitting the 90’s, and that sunshine is dominant.  The strawberry crop is just about done for the season, and my lettuces are starting to look unhappy in the hottest portion of the day.  All around, we’re seeing the beginning signs of summer, and for anyone who knows me well enough, that means I’m about to get a bit unhappy.
You see, summer happens to be my least-favorite 6-9 months out of the year (my fellow Texans, you get it!), and though summer hasn’t quite happened upon us fully, I’m already looking forward to Fall.  Yes, I’m very, VERY weird like that.

I thought this year, we’d do something new this summer, something FUN!  Rather than count the days until this season is over, let’s embrace it, and try our best to see some good in it.  After all, I’d be pretty sad to see my heat-hibernating (and grumpy) traits get passed on to my impressionable kiddos, just because it’s “that time of the year”.  Last year we purchased a forest backdrop, complete with cardboard trees and campfire – and we transformed a corner of our school room into “the forest”.  We laid the ground with pillows and blankets, and to this day, my son still sleeps in there every night (despite it having been changed to a waterfall as of a couple months ago).

This year, I’m thinking bigger…better…sweeter.

So let me ask you this, what is the sweetest part of summer for you?
For me, my mind goes right to ice cream!  Now I happened upon a decent ice cream maker on sale at Costco, and on a whim decided to go ahead and take the plunge.   Thoughts of all those gloriously sweet, refreshing flavors plagued my mind night and day until I realized we had a problem.  The problem being that everyone in the house LOVES ice cream, and in and of itself, ice cream isn’t that great for you.  *Sigh*  But how could I limit myself once I taste that ice cold goodness on a hot day??  That’s just wrong.  But on the flip side, this one machine could be what does both my – and my husband’s waistlines in for good!
What’s a gal to do??

Does this problem sound similar?  Are you in the same boat?
Guess what?
This doesn’t have to be a complete moral dilemma, or our 2 AM mind-racing guilt trips.  It doesn’t have to be modern day torture as we listen to our kids make those “yummy” noises as they guiltlessly enjoy their cones.  Consider today’s post your ticket to Happy Land, and the price – your willingness to change things up just a tad.
First thing we have to do is get past the sugar idea.  For one, it contains virtually no nutrients – in fact, it inhibits our immune systems for up to 4 hours after consumption!  Sugar feeds cancer cells, it stops a healthy metabolism in it’s tracks, imbalances healthy gut flora, contributes to obesity and diabetes, causes cavities, causes energy slumps, and oh, did I mention it’s extremely addictive?  In addition, recent studies have linked sugar consumption to brain fog, and Alzheimer’s!
Ok, do we have the basic evils of sugar established?  There’s a lot more, believe me!  But let’s not go there today –  let’s move on to the good stuff.

I’ve been experimenting a bit, and have come up with some amazing ice cream recipes that are not only great tasting, but also nutritious!!  Let’s get in the kitchen and have some fun!

We’ll start with a good old favorite, vanilla!  But we’re turning this into a gut-healthy version!
What you will need:
3/4 C  Raw Milk
1 1/2 C  Raw Cream (if raw is unattainable, get organic pasteurized)
3/4  Tbsp Vanilla Extract (preferably homemade)
1 C  Organic Maple Syrup
1 tsp  Probiotic Powder
2 tsp New Zealand Colostrum Powder
2 Tbsp New Zealand Whey Powder
1-2 Tbsp Grassfed Collagen Powder

First, you want to blend all your ingredients well so you don’t have any pockets of powder in your dreamy goodness.

20160513_145504

If you have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into your maker per the instructions.  If you don’t, you could use any freezer-proof, airtight container.  You will simply have to stir every couple hours until desired consistency is reached, usually about 8+ hours.

20160513_145847

Next recipe has chocoholics covered, with a twist that provides a rich source of both magnesium and iron!
What you will need:
1/2 C  Organic, Raw (and preferably fermented) Cacao Powder
3/4 C  Raw Milk
1 1/2 – 1 1/3  Raw Cream
1/2  Tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 C  Organic Maple Syrup
Raw (preferably fermented) Cacao Nibs for topping

Simply blend all ingredients except the cacao nibs, then place in ice cream maker or freezer.  Top with cacao nibs when ready to eat!

20160513_145947

And for those of you who want or need a vegan option, you can substitute the milk using a cashew base.  Simply soak 1 C cashews in water for 2 hours, then drain off and blend up.  The cream can be substituted for either organic coconut milk, or organic coconut cream.  Any other add-ins can be omitted if they are animal based.

If you have a peanut butter lover in your house, try the vanilla recipe with 1/2 C almond butter added to the mix.  Then top with cacao nibs, or organic semi sweet chocolate chips.
And if you want to make these recipes just a tad more nutritious, try them with fresh, organic fruit on top!  The possibilities are endless (and scrumptious)!

Is everyone feeling better now?  I sure am!  There is hope that we can have our proverbial cake, and eat it too.
Hope today’s post gets you excited for the heat to come – and gets all that nutritious goodness into you and your family’s tummies!
Oh Happy Day!

 

* Today’s post contains an affiliate link – using affiliate links on this website will earn www.progressviaregress.com  a small commission to go towards the costs associated with keeping this site up and  running.  All earned website commissions help support the great information, recipes, and tips that I am passionate about sharing with you.  Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

Written on May 13th, 2016 , General

Hello everyone!  I hope you are having a marvelous start to the new week, and that this post finds you healthy – and happy!
In fact, that’s what today’s post is all about – feeling healthy and happy!  I know, it seems like there’s a vitamin or lifestyle tip (some old, some new) that always promises to do just that for you, right?  And anxious for change, we’ve tried just about all of them, right?  I’ve got years worth of posts on this site alone that has enough health tips and recipes to make you do a 180 about 10 times over!
But in reality folks, if you really want to feel your best, and I mean feel the most elevated and the most content, the closest thing to super-woman (or man) there is, you’ve got to start out with the gut.  Believe it or not, it ALL starts with the gut.

First, a couple facts.  Did you know that approximately 80% of your immune system resides in your gut?  This fact alone ties your gut health to one of the most important functions needed to survive – the ability to fight off harmful pathogens.
Why else should we give more attention to our gut?  I mean, we live modern lives.  The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard anything out of the ordinary calling to me from that area.
How about weight?  Having a healthy balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your gut can make or break any diet you’re on. Want to lose weight?  Start with the gut.  Struggling with blood sugar issues?  Type 2 diabetes has been linked to an imbalance of bacteria in your intestines.  What about behavior?  Have you ever heard the phrase “the gut is your second brain?”  There is actually truth to this adage – and that is because your gut, among a myriad of other functions, produces serotonin, which is a natural mood elevator.
Wait a minute?  Doesn’t your brain produce serotonin?  Yes…but your gut makes more than your brain!  I know, right, who knew?

Starting to see how important the gut is now?  How about this tidbit.  In Dr. Josh Axe’s new book, Eat Dirt, he talks about the issue of leaky gut, and outlines lifestyle changes that can reverse this condition.  What is leaky gut, you ask?  Basically, it’s varied levels of intestinal permeability, and this condition has actually been linked to the following:
Allergies and food sensitivities
Alzheimer’s
Anxiety
ADHD
Autism
Bloating
Candida
Celiac disease
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Crohn’s disease
Depression
Digestive Pain
Fibromyalgia
Gas
Gluten sensitivity
Hashimoto’s disease
Irritable bowel syndrome
Lou Gehrig’s disease
Lupus
Metabolic syndrome
Migraines
Multiple sclerosis
Liver malfunction
Parkinson’s disease
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Rheumatoid arthritis
Skin inflammation
Type 1 & 2 diabetes
Ulcerative colitis

I know what you’re thinking – the gut is responsible for ALL this!!!  Starting to see how important a happy gut is?

Ok, so now that we know there’s a squeaky wheel we just weren’t hearing, the next question is what do we do about it??  How can we turn a sad gut into a happy gut?

First rule – do no harm.  Let’s eliminate a few common gut-offenders from our diet.  Say bye bye to shellfish, pork, peanuts, and canola oil.  Too many of these guys will take you several steps back.
To focus on healing the gut lining, let’s start with an awesome product I call the “good for everything” powder – Great Lakes Grassfed Beef Collagen Powder!

GL-CollagenHydrolysa-2

Other gut healing nutrients include quercetin, phosphatidyl choline, copper, zinc, l-glutamine,  l-alanyl-l-glutamine, methylsulfonylmethane, n-acetyl-d-glucosamine, licorice root powder, slippery elm bark, and OF COURSE, probiotics!
Now, choosing a good probiotic is ESSENTIAL or you’re just throwing money away.  I know it’s all too temping to buy that under-$10 brand at your local grocery store, or to just stock up on commercial yogurts, but believe me, you won’t be doing yourself any favors that way.

My personal favorite probiotic is Dr. Mercola’s Complete Probiotics

12701260_f260

A close second is Garden of Life’s Primal Defense.  Honestly, I’ve used both of these products before, and not only do I love the brand, quality, and potency, but I love what’s NOT in these supplements.  You know what I’m talking about.. all those “other ingredients” hidden in the bottom corner of the ingredient label in font juuuuust about too small to read.

Now, in addition to supplementation, there are a host of things you can do at home to incorporate live, beneficial bacteria back into your gut.  Things like kefir – both dairy and water kefir!  Remember my past posts on how to make your own live beverages?  Here are the links for quick reference:

Water Kefir
Dairy Kefir

You could also try your hand at culturing vegetables!  This is an easy, great tasting way to get that much more goodness into your body.
Now, fermenting veggies could be done several ways.  One is using whey.  I’ve never tried this method, but it is an option. Another way to go is Celtic Sea Salt exclusively – I’ve made sauerkraut this way, and LOVED it!   Your third option is using a vegetable starter culture, and I recently experimented with this medium, and the results were just wonderful!  What I like about using a culture is 1) the taste.  The veggies actually tasted like a mix between using the salt method (sauerkraut) and kombucha. I know, right?  You’re probably thinking “what is wrong with this girl??”  Trust me, it was good.  But most importantly for this method is the 2) RICH probiotic count.  Using a vegetable starter culture churns out a product with about 5 times the beneficial bacteria than using salt alone – and THAT’S getting the most out of your money!

20160327_152147

So cultured veggies really are quite easy with a starter culture.  You will need clean mason jars, salt, starter culture, water, and vegetables.
Simply shred cabbage, red cabbage, kale, carrots, or whatever else you want to culture.  You don’t want large chunks, so take your time and do it right.  Next step – follow the specific instruction on your culture box.  Each culture has a preferred method, and its best to stick with their science.
You’re going to pack the shredded veggies into your mason jar, and add the culture/water/salt mixture (per instructions). Make sure you don’t fill your jars all the way to the top, or you’ll have a spill when the cabbage water is drawn from the veggies! Ideally, you will fill the mason jars 3/4 of the way full.
Now, you wait.. typically you will let the veggies culture on the counter, at room temperature for a week or so – again, depending on the instructions.  After the initial culturing, you can move your veggies to the fridge.  Note: After culturing, if your veggies have a foul odor, mold growing, or have a pH of  3.9<, don’t risk it!  Like everything else, culturing foods has its risks – and honestly, who wants to give our spouses something else to poke fun at if they have to take us to the doctor over poorly-fermented vegetables?

(Back to now)  Voila!  Just look at these beauties!

20160327_172549

Before you know it, you’ll be putting so much of the good stuff in, your gut will be singing!  Think I’m exaggerating?  Anyone who’s seen my mood the last couple weeks has been hounding to know my secret.

And here it is – just start with the gut.

Hope today’s post motivates you to take active steps to giving your body everything it needs to balance that good bacteria, so you, too, can be on cloud nine.  (It’s just that easy, folks)

 

 

*This post does contain affiliate links – using these links does not change your cost should you decide to use them to purchase from these companies – it simply tells the company who sent you over.  They then send a small portion back to me to go towards the costs of running this site.  (As much as I would like to, I don’t get paid to do what I love to do – inspire you!)  Thank you for all of your support – it’s what keeps these posts coming!

 

 

 

 

Written on April 24th, 2016 , General

Hello everyone!

It’s been a fantastic last couple weeks here, and by far, one of my most favorite (and busiest) times of year when it comes to herbal ventures!  Throw in the fact that this year, we have a full blown vegetable garden alongside the herbs, and that’s a recipe for a sleepless condition that reminds me of that creepy demon-girl on the flick, The Ring.  Anybody remember that movie?  “She never sleeps…”  Yea, that’s me right now.  I’m up at the crack of dawn, trying to beat the birds to my strawberries – and I’m harvesting as much herbs (particularly roses!) as I can for those “fresh from the garden” projects.  Throw in my feet’s uncanny resemblance to dirty hobbit feet (hey, I got the height aspect down just right!), and I’m a sight for sore eyes.  But, my spirits are on cloud nine, and my tummy is very happy indeed.  This is a typical morning harvest for us right now, isn’t it beautiful??

DSC_0329

Now, things look ever abundant right now, but this is the time to start planning winter gifts – and preserving some of those herbs for later.  For example, those roses!  Beautiful now, but when you want an herbal pillow in the dead of winter, not so easy to find!  Yes folks, everyone who’s ever received an herbal pillow from me as a Christmas gift – the work starts in the Spring!

Remember my post on roses guys?  I’ll link it here for easy access.

Since we’re on the subject, let’s consider the possibilities!  Firstly, get that rose petal vinegar started!  Summer is around the corner, and you’ll need something to take the sting out of those sunburns.  Another quick project is to make rose petal honey. All you need is fresh rose petals, washed and dry (not dried), and raw local honey.
Place the petals in a mason jar, and cover with the honey.  You’ll want to either turn the jar upside down a couple times a day, or stir it around well time to time.  You’re going to let this infuse for 3 days or so, and voila!  You have a decadent flavored honey that goes great on homemade bread, in tea, or right off the spoon!

20160413_150326

Moving on – check out my herb garden!!

DSC_0330

My yarrow and plantain are going nuts!  It’s the perfect time to harvest some of those leaves and flowers – when they are green and lush.  The plantain, you’ll probably want to dry to use in balms or sprays for later – I threw mine in the dehydrator.  Be sure to leave plenty on the plant, as plantain is better fresh when used topically.
The yarrow, however, will be used for a variety of projects.  I use it in many of my herbal balm recipes, but for now, my eyes are set on the prize of homemade insect repellent.  Those mosquitoes are already out and angry in TX, and the thought of chemical based repellents makes me cringe more than the insect itself!  Remember how to get the insect repellent started?  Fill a jar 1/2-2/3 rds of the way full with fresh or dried yarrow leaves and flowers (I like mine good and strong!) – then fill the jar with 100 proof vodka.  Let sit for about a month while the yarrow properties infuse into the vodka.  When it’s ready, simply strain off with cheesecloth, pour into a small spray bottle, and add lavender, catnip, and/or eucalyptus essential oils.
No chemicals, effective, cheap.  It doesn’t get any better than that folks!

DSC_0337

So for today guys, the focus is on enjoying the bounty of now – and squirreling away some for later.  If you are unable to store some up for the winter – or you simply can’t grow what you’re needing/wanting, remember Mountain Rose Herbs* is my favorite go-to place for ALL of my miscellaneous herbal needs.  They’re selection is amazing, and the quality unmatched.

Until next post, get in that kitchen, and have a blast doing it!  Have a great week!

 

* This post does contain an affiliate link.  Using this link, or the affiliate banners on my website, does not change your cost should you place an order.  It simply tells the company who sent you their way, and they send a small portion of sales back to cover the costs of running this website.  We all love good, free information – please help keep that possible!  Thank you for your support!

 

 

Written on April 13th, 2016 , General

The sound of Irish music (and loud kiddos) in the background, my spirulina handy on the island**, Irish recipes littering my table, and miscellaneous St. Patrick’s Day unit studies strewn about the dining room.  Yep, it’s that wonderful day when all things green are just so much more fun!

**It’s been a while since my post on the health benefits of spirulina – here’s a link to my original post for your convenience.

My original plans were to have an Irish feast today, but the problem with that vision is that I forget just how slow starting we are in the mornings.  Anyone who knows us well enough knows our breakfast is more like a hobbit’s idea of breakfast.. it just goes on and on, and runs into snack time, “11sies”, early lunch, lunch, etc.  Throw in a nursing baby, a few dirty diapers, school time, and “clean up” time (which just hasn’t happened yet), and we have a full day..every day.  Including this awesome Irish holiday.  But why St. Patrick’s Day?  What’s all the big fuss?  True, we’ve got Irish heritage – but my amazing “Ma”, who’s gone to be with Jesus, really planted that love for all things Irish in me.  She used to have a saying – “a pinch of Irish blood purifies the rest.”  And I say this to myself all the time.   Truly, she was on to something there!  From an early age, potatoes were my favorite food, Irish music always inclined me to start dancing up a storm, and vision of those immense, beautiful green fields of Ireland well.. it’s always been a dream to visit there and run through it barefoot for myself.  :)

So, back to today – I was hoping for some grassfed bangers and cauliflower “mash”, shepherd’s pie, corned beef with cabbage, shortbread cookies, asparagus mushroom sautee, and broccoli cheese soup.  I know, right?  What was I thinking???
So I settled for the 2 easiest today, and added the fun “green foods” for the kiddos.  For breakfast, I started everyone with my famous green smoothie!  Trust me guys, you’ll want to try this one for yourselves, it’s everything the body needs and more!

20160317_114525

So for this smoothie, I included 3 kinds of greens: organic kale (and lots of it!), radish greens from our garden, and parsley.  I know what you’re probably thinking, sounds YUCK!  And what kind of kids would drink that??
Next, I added 3 Tbsp hemp hearts, and 1 Tbsp flax seed.  I also added a handful of fermented cacao nibs, 1 Tbsp rose hips powder, 1 tsp stinging nettle powder, 2 tsp spirulina (green green green!), 2 Tbsp bee pollen, a handful of goji berries – and to cover all that healthy stuff up, 2 bananas, 1 C frozen pineapple chunks, and about 1 C combined strawberries and blueberries.  If you’re worried about the taste guys, remember, pineapple covers it ALL.  Plus it supplies you with bromelain, which helps your body break down and digest all these nutrients!
Follow it up with some coconut water, blend, and serve!

20160317_114915

Ok, so by the time I got the smoothie finished, the kids were wanting more.  (Because that smoothie, plus the yogurt, plus the fruit they had already, just weren’t enough).  Protein time!  I took a tip from Dr. Seuss and made up some green scrambled eggs – again guys, the spirulina does ALL the work for you!  Just use sparingly when adding to eggs or you’ll start to see those picky noses go up in the air.  There isn’t much give when there isn’t anything sweet to cover that algae taste.

**Fast Forward**
After school was finished, craft scraps were cleaned up, and the corned beef and veggies were thrown in the crock pot, it was on to sweeter things.  The cookies!

Here’s my sweet (healthy-ish) gluten-free shortbread cookie recipe:

1 3/4 Gluten free flour blend
3/4 C Powdered Sugar
1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt (yes, Irish salt makes all the difference)
2 Sticks Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (again, the Irish butter really makes it that much more)
Approximately 1/8 tsp Organic Spirulina  (play around with the amounts to make the cookies as green as you like, but don’t use so much it overpowers the sugar in the cookie dough)

Mix the dry ingredients, then beat the butter in until you have a well mixed dough.  I rolled about 1 1/2 inch (diameter) balls in the palm of my hand, then had the kids gently stamp them down with our ceramic Celtic knot stamp.

20160317_134757

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes, and let sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  Now you’ve got a sweet (healthy!) treat everyone will enjoy!

As for the other Irish meals I planned, they’ll just have to follow over the course of the next few days – but at least tonight is taken care of!

20160317_170517

Follow it up with our traditional viewing of the 1959 classic “Darby O’Gill and the Little People”, and we’re a happy group over here!

What are your St. Paddy’s Day traditions?  Got recipes, or ideas to share?  I’d love to hear them!
Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and remember to watch out where you toss your wash water – you may just end up with a changeling tomorrow!  😉

 

 

Written on March 17th, 2016 , General

It’s a beautiful Spring day, and the birds are singing, the wind is blowing, buds are growing, and I am reminded how beautiful everything looks when it is simply alive.  Daring flowers are popping up, with not a care that we may see a late freeze, the kids are in and out throughout the day, and I am busy busy in the garden.

Remember our garden project?  Yes, it consumed our entire Spring last year!  But the rewards were good – and this year, they will be great!  We’ve already planned out literally every square inch of soil in those beds, for the entire year, and I am looking forward to luscious, delicious, and nutritious fruits and vegetables on our table.  Yes..it’s that wonderful, beautiful time of year. But it’s also a lot of work!  Year round gardening means year round work.  And though we didn’t utilize the garden much during the winter, we did have a late tomato crop that we harvested (literally) the day before the first official freeze hit.  We were swimming in green tomatoes for months!!

20151121_122644

I was worried at first, that they would never ripen off the vine, when they were SO green, and SO hard.  I was frantically looking up recipes for green tomato salsa, fried green tomatoes, etc.  I just couldn’t waste all that hard work!  (Not to mention, all that waiting!)  A friend of mine told me to simply lay the tomatoes out (not touching), in a cool place – and when I was ready to ripen a few quicker, to place them in a warm window.  I thought “I don’t know if this is going to work, but it sure beats waste – or months of green salsa!”  So we gave it a try, and sure enough, it worked!  With the exception of literally a few of the smallest, hardest, greenest in the bunch, those tomatoes ripened slowly in the garage – and quicker in the window when we moved them, and we were eating those amazing tomatoes for a couple months “fresh”, and I was able to freeze batch after batch of homemade pasta sauce!  Delish!

Fast forward to a month ago, and there you would have found my husband and I cleaning the garden beds.  All old roots systems have to be removed, the dirt has to be tilled, and soil amendments have to be added if you want healthy produce for the next growing crop.  What we did was add worm castings, compost tea, and an organic fruit/vegetable food to the dirt.  Then we gave it all a good mixing, and voila!  The beds were ready!

So, what’s on the “menu” for this year?  Strawberries, goji berries, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, leaf lettuce, kale, romaine lettuce, radishes, okra, cabbage, garlic, turnips, and parsnips.  I know, right??  Isn’t this exciting!  (Everything listed from okra and on will be a fall/winter crop)

So once we had the dirt good and ready, we started our lettuces, radishes, and carrots by seed.  I went ahead and got broccoli and cauliflower seedlings planted, since we had a head start on Spring already.  And then I left everything to their natural cycle of growing…

Last jump to the present.  We’ve got some exciting happenings in the garden!  Firstly, remember when I first started my 2 mature goji plants into the garden last year?  And I added 2 “baby” goji plants?  Well, those 4 goji plants must have had some pretty wild parties when we weren’t looking, because we now have..get this..16!!!! goji plants growing!!  Just look at this!

DSC_0039

I know, beautiful, isn’t it?  My mouth is watering, thinking of all the berries we’ll be eating this summer.

Speaking of growing numbers, just look at my yarrow plants!  (I planted 2 last winter)  See all those baby yarrow shoots coming up from the ground?  I didn’t see this coming at all – literally – because their seeds are spread from shoots underground.

DSC_0041

Now, my lettuce, romaine, and kale seeds – check out those secondary leaves!

DSC_0036

DSC_0038

The carrots are growing their secondary leaves as well – take a look!

DSC_0043

Now, for the broccoli and cauliflower – I can’t wait until harvest time!

DSC_0040

DSC_0045

Next is our radishes.  Remember how quickly they grew last year?  They’ll probably be ready to harvest in a month or so – such prolific, enthusiastic growers!

DSC_0037

Last but not least is my prized plantain.  Remember the benefits of plantain?  Here’s a little story to jog your memory.  About 3 months ago, my son was playing in the backyard, and he had gotten bitten by (I suspect a nasty spider)  He came in the house, complaining that his back itched, and when my husband and I looked, he had a large, angry, red knot of a bug bite on his back, and it was probably 1/2 inch raised from the rest of his skin.  The skin around the bite was even turning red, giving it a “spreading” look.  As my husband ran to google to try to find what could have caused the bite, I ran to the garden and snatched up some plantain leaves.  I rinsed them off, then stuck them in my mouth and chewed away to break up the cellular wall.  (If you try this at home, try not to swallow the juices, they are put to good use!)
I spit this wad of chewed up plantain directly onto my son’s bite, and covered it with tape to 1) hold it on there and 2) not absorb all the juices away from his skin.
Ten minutes later, my husband decided he would take him to the doctor, as a precaution, since we had no idea what had bitten him.  He began gathering shoes, socks, etc.  Five minutes later, he was ready to go, and wanted to wash the plantain poultice off before leaving, so the doctor could get a good look at the bite.  So he did -and the bite was nearly 100% normal looking again.
With the exception of a little pink area on his skin, and a very minor raised spot, you wouldn’t have even known he had just gotten bitten there!
And this, folks, is where my husband finally, FINALLY had the “aha!” moment.  I wish you all could have seen the look on his face, as he asked “the plantain did that??!”
“Of course it did”, I replied.  “I’ve been telling you over and over that plantain pulls poisons through the skin!  Bites, rashes, you name it.  Didn’t you believe me?”
Still bewildered, he answered, “but I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Yep.

And that, folks is why my plantain is prized.  Because if you have kids, or if you like at all to be outdoors, plantain could be the difference between a trip to the ER (or worse), and a few minutes on the couch with minor discomfort.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t have taken my son to the doctor if we had washed that poultice off, and the bite looked just as it had before applying the plantain – but it didn’t.  It seldom does.

So, the end of the story is that we put a new, fresh plantain poultice on the healing skin, and after another 10 minutes or so, that skin was picture perfect.  And humble thanks to our loving God who put such awesome medicine on this earth for us to use – and respect for the plants He created:

DSC_0042

“Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail.  They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary.  Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
–  Ezekiel 47:12

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written on March 4th, 2016 , General

Hello Everyone!

We are now deep in the heart of February, and in Tx, that means it’s time to start thinking about Spring cleaning!  But I’m not talking about the house – today’s post is all about cleansing the body.  Whether you’re thinking of doing an actual “cleanse”, or you just want a slow detox process, this information is just for you!

Back in the day, before the kiddos came around, before pregnancy and nursing put me in a “no no” place for cleansing, I remember doing a full body cleanse every year.  This wasn’t too involved, and it was typically taking supplements and fiber for 3 weeks while my body did the rest.  Now, there are several types of cleanses – and depending on how much time you have, there’s a cleanse that can fit into your schedule.  I chose the 3 week cleanse because, well, I didn’t want to sit on the toilet all weekend.  😛  My experience was always great – I felt sluggish initially (which is a good thing!  You know your body is working to get the crud out), but by the end, I felt great.  Even my mood was better!

If you’re wondering, my cleanse of choice was by Enzymatic Therapy – “Whole Body Cleanse”.  Like I said, it always got the job done, and it wasn’t too dramatic to interfere with life.
In addition to the routine whole body cleanse, once upon a time I also did a month long metal cleanse, and a parasite cleanse as well.  Why?  Because honestly, there’s always something lurking about in your body that really, probably shouldn’t be in there.  I was reminded of this quite recently after getting a hair analysis test done to see where I stood health-wise.  You see, it’s been a long time since I’ve done an actual cleanse, and as I speak, I’m still nursing my little, so though a body cleanse is still not an option for me right now, it gives me a goal to start on as soon as I can.
The results of my test were quite surprising, and as I stared at my nickel levels (in the red), I thought to myself “what can I do about this??  And where on earth did this concentration come from?”

I still have yet to find the answer to the latter question, but the former, I jumped right on.  If you haven’t learned by now, I’m a real “grab the bull by the horns” kind of gal – and proud of it!
So the ultimate goal is to do a metal cleanse, but again, that will have to happen when I’m finished nursing.  (Or, I should say, when the baby is finished nursing)

Until then, both water and soil testing will have to be done.  But anticipating the worst case scenario, that neither of those sources is the culprit, I’m doing everything I can to limit exposure to not-so-friendly metals, and to gently support the body in exporting these foreign invaders.

Step 1:  Rule #1 is always do no harm!  In other words, make sure I’m not continuing to put toxins (or in my case, nickel) in the body.  Now, since I’m still in the process of finding out where the source is, I’ll start with well known offenders.
Jewelry – costume jewelry is a good source of nickel.  Thank goodness I don’t like wearing jewelry!  So I can cross that one off my list.  Cigarette smoke – again, not that.  Any battery plants nearby?  Possibly, I’ll look into it…
Stainless steel – pots, pans, water bottles, and even silverware!  All of these things tend to leak nickel into the body, and even though it may be low doses (depending on the quality of your stainless steel), I’m taking the safer side of caution.
We’ll start with the water bottles – glass is as safe as safe can be, unless, of course, you break the bottle.

glassbottles

Next up, cookware!  Now, in my defense, I’ve been meaning to switch to cast iron for some time now.  And though the seasoning process isn’t all that fun, and the upkeep is an added step when I use the cookware, I think the benefits far outweigh the extra work.  Besides, I’ve always been borderline low on iron, and these bad boys will add supplemental iron to your food.  Not to mention, you could work out with these things – they’re heavy!
In addition, we have a Himalayan salt slab for cooking on as well.  Again, the prepping process is a couple extra steps, but it cooks meat nicely, and adds a wonderful briney taste to it!

castiron

Silverware..ok guys, it’s time to think outside the box!  But I found a great USDA certified organic bamboo company, and yep, you guessed it…

bambu

(By the way, the bowl is a coconut shell bowl, not bamboo)  I just liked the look of it.  :)

Step 2:  Get as much out via the skin as I can!
Have you ever heard of oil pulling?   It’s actually a very easy process – but make sure you have a good 20 minutes where you don’t have to talk. (Editor’s note – This is very difficult for Ginny to do!)
What you do is get a spoonful of oil (coconut oil preferably), and swish it in your mouth for about 20 minutes, once a day. (Make sure you don’t spit it down the sink!  It can accumulate and ruin your pipes)
What happens here is the oil literally pulls toxins from your mouth and gums, then you spit it all out.  Don’t believe me that such an easy process works?  Try it for a week, and see what happens – I had canker sores the first 6 days, and though it sounds gross and horrible, imagine all that bacteria sticking around inside your mouth!
Another side effect of oil pulling was that I was breaking out more often on my cheeks and upper neck area.  Again, the bacteria was working its way out through the skin!  For this problem, I turned to bentonite clay.  Bentonite clay works miracles in pulling toxins out of the skin!  This clay can also be taken internally, but I’m not chancing that while nursing.  For now, I’ll just use it on the face and neck, mixed with apple cider vinegar for added antibacterial properties.
But what about the rest of the body?  Epsom salt baths are great for detoxing – and as an added bonus, they help sore muscles as well.  So give yourself a good soaking as often as you can!  And make the water good and hot – sweating also releases toxins from the body as well.

Step 3:  Take detox-supporting vitamins and herbs.
Vitamins such as methionine, selenium, manganese, glycine, r-lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, vitamin C, and glutathione all aid the body in eliminating toxins and metals.  In addition, herbs such as sarsparilla root, dandelion root, burdock root, chamomile, and turmeric all support the detoxification process by giving the liver a boost to do what God intended it to do – cleanse our bodies!
What about edibles? Lemon water, apple cider vinegar, cilantro, and parsley all help the body cleanse itself – and as I mentioned a while back, both parsley and cilantro are able to bind to metals to eliminate them.  Cilantro, in particular, has been proven to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier to help remove metals from the brain.
So, how do you incorporate these great herbs into your diet?  Because I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy at all about parsley, and well, I can only eat so much cilantro.   Here’s a couple ideas – 1) parsley/cilantro tea.  Start out with a handful (or several if you want to freeze batches) of each herb, and get them to just simmer in a pot of water.  Turn off the heat, and let it sit for 10 minutes or so.  Drink up!

parsleycilantro

2) Or, if you’re not crazy about the taste, throw them into your smoothie!

What I did with this smoothie was throw in a handful of both parsley and cilantro.  I added mango for added detox benefits, pineapple (to cover the taste of the greens), banana for the fiber, coconut water, flaxseed (to aid the body in removing the metals), hemp hearts, and goji berries (for antioxidant benefits).   It was delish!

detoxsmoothie

As you can see, even the smallest steps in the right direction can accumulate and give you a good head start on the detox and cleansing processes!
Just a couple side notes – to further aid the body in eliminating these offenders, remember that good bacteria (ie probiotics), fiber, plenty of water, and a good night’s rest are essential in making sure your body makes the most out of your efforts.   And when you’re ready to take that next step, look into a good cleanse that meets your comfort level.  Whether you’re a “get it over quick” kind of person, or a “slow and steady”, any cleanse is better than no cleanse.
What I learned from this whole process, is that you can watch what you eat all day, every day.  You can filter your water, and take your vitamins.  You can do everything in your control – but not everything is in our control.  We live in an age where our bodies are bombarded with toxins – in our food, our water, the air we breathe, the radio signals lurking literally everywhere, in the clothes we wear and the beds we sleep on.  There’s simply no way around it – which is why cleansing is imperative to restoring, or maintaining our health.

Hope you all took some great notes, and that this post helps you on the road to wellness!

 

 

Written on February 22nd, 2016 , General

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while, I know!  But it’s been one hectic summer full of family trips, homeschool lessons, garden tending, and whatever other miscellaneous projects that arise between any of the 3 kiddos.  As is, I’m usually up in the wee hours of the night trying to catch up on housework – and GASP! – I’ve even got a yarrow infusion that’s been ready to strain for over a month now, that’s still waiting.  I know, right??  I’m usually counting the minutes until they’re ready so I can bottle it up.  So, that pretty much sums up how busy we’ve been.

Hope everyone’s had a great summer so far – as for us, we’re looking forward to Fall!

Ok, so let’s get on with today’s post – homemade vitamin making 101!  I thought this post would be such a treat for you guys because it’s so easy, so healthy for you, and SO FUN!  (Ok, for a geek like me, it’s thrilling)

So, while on vacation this summer, to make sure I had my daily smoothie with all sorts of herbal goodness in it, that meant a lot of planning.  Preparing/packing individual bags of herb mixture – packing my Nutri Bullet to blend it all with – packing straws, coconut water, and spare cups in case we were on the road.  It was cumbersome, but worth it, considering the natural options we had on the road during our almost 3-week long trip.  Then there was the few times, rushing out in the morning to hit the road, that I just didn’t have the time to make our smoothies.  So I had to lug my blender into gas stations and ask to borrow their outlets because our van outlet didn’t have enough juice to power the blender on.  Not fun.  Washing the blender each time we used it – not fun.  Again, worth it.  But guess what?  Through all that hassle, my husband had maaaybe one or two out of 20 smoothies I had made everyone else.  You see, he, like most guys, just doesn’t like the taste of anything good for him.  And it really bothers me – especially when I see those organic veggies left on his plate every night – but mostly, when he complains of aches, pains, and “getting old”.  Yea..he’s 32.  No excuses buddy.

So taking all the above into account, I thought, there’s just got to be a better way.  A better way to make sure he gets what he needs – and even I do.  Because come on, even I get sick of spirulina flavored smoothies sometimes.  I’ll do it, but I’m sure there were days when I was putting less in there than I could have really used, for the sake of the flavor.

So, what else is there?  The answer?  Homemade vitamins!

This is SO easy guys, you’re going to love it!  I went on Mountain Rose Herb’s website, and found the neatest gadget called The Capsule Machine.  I thought, “what a cool idea!”  Making your own vitamins, who would have thought?  My mind was already racing, thinking of all the vitamins I could make for us that would:
1) Save us money
2) Make us healthier
3) Ensure my husband was finally getting his nutrients!
4) Let me control exactly what was in our vitamins  (because even the best brands sometimes have soy, titanium dioxide, magnesium stearate, etc)  Really??

Not to mention, a lot of the vitamins that are pre-made have herbal material that has been sitting on the shelf for a year or more.  Grinding and capsuling your own vitamins ensures you’re getting fresh nutrients – and, I’d like to add, using herbs instead of isolated nutrients ensures you are getting the best absorption with cofactors from “food” rather than stuff that could have been put together in a lab.

Ok, so here we go!  I ordered the machine and gave it a whirl.  It was just as easy as advertised, and before I knew it, I had bottles of homemade vitamins!

First pick your machine – they run in size “0” and “00”.  Size 0 capsules are more the standard and contain 400-800 mg of nutrients, depending on whether you use the tamper included with the machine.  You’d obviously get a lot closer to the 800 mark if you tampered and added more a couple times.  Size 00 capsules are 550-1,100 mg of nutrient, again, depending on how much or little you use the tamper.  Once you decide what size capsule machine you want, get the same size capsules.  Lastly, pick out what kind of vitamins you want to make, and get your herbs!

Ready??  Let’s go!

My test run was a batch of spirulina capsules.  I really thought my husband would benefit from this amazing superfood right away since it’s something he usually doesn’t get in his diet.

IMG_7052

Once you take your Capsule Machine apart, you  will begin loading it with the capsules.  The capsules break apart easily, and you will place the longer portion of the capsule into the wider part of the machine (shaped more like a box), set on the rectangular base.  The shorter portion of the capsules will go into the thinner part of the machine.  Easy enough?
One thing to note – make sure your hands, and the surfaces are completely dry.  These capsules are made to disintegrate when getting wet, so if your hands have excess moisture, or the machine is wet, you could jam the capsules, or they will begin to break down.  It’s not a fun mess to clean up fyi.

IMG_7053

Using a spoon, place your herbs on the box portion of the machine, and use the included card to move it over the holes so the capsule will fill up.  Tamper down if desired.  Add more herbs, spread it over the holes, and tamper a second time if you wish.  Once the capsule bottoms are completely full, take the herb filled half of the machine off the base, and place it onto a flat surface.  Place the other half of the machine, containing the empty capsule tops, and place it on top. Press down until all four sides softly snap together.

Pull the top half off the bottom half and voila!!

IMG_7054

Now you will push on the top of the piece containing your capsules, and they will pop right out!

Store your homemade vitamins in an airtight container – you may want to begin saving your empty vitamin bottles now!

IMG_7056

Admit it, I was right.  This IS FUN!!  Now, what else to make??  After a not-so long deliberation, I came up with the following “to make” list:

Rosehips (EXCELLENT vitamin C supplement!)  Ten minutes after taking my 1st two capsules, the drainage I had been fighting with store-bought vitamin C for the past week dried up like magic.  You could even add acerola powder for added vitamin C variety.
Stinging Nettle – I’m making this a super green supplement with my home grown and dehydrated kale from this Spring!
Burdock Root – Great for regulating blood sugar, and potent blood cleanser.
Turmeric – mix with some black pepper for much better absorption than turmeric alone.
Beet Root Powder – rich in betaine, which aids your liver and kidneys in processing SAM-e.  Also a natural source of beneficial nitrates.
Hawthorn Berries – GREAT for your heart health!
Calcium – you can make your own calcium powder using eggshells, and a pinch of nettles!

I’m far from done brainstorming all the possibilities, but this project will keep me busy for a little while.

All powders, capsules, and the machine itself can be purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs.  This is an affiliate link, by the way.  If you choose to purchase from Mountain Rose Herbs using these links, or the link on my main website page, they will send me a small portion of all sales made through those links to go towards the upkeep of this website.  So if you like what you read, I would appreciate the support!

Hope this post inspires everyone to start their own homemade vitamin-making projects!  And if you come up with any herbal blend “recipes” you’d like to share, feel free to comment on this post!

 

Written on July 24th, 2015 , General

Today’s post is all about making the most of your home-grown harvest!

When I first started our garden, we planted a small-ish smart pot full of lettuce and kale seedlings thinking “this should be just enough to get us by.”  Boy was I wrong.. after a couple months of eating salads (daily), I was beginning to think it was growing just as fast as we were eating!  Which brought me to the question, “how can we make the most of what we have now – while it is fresh – and make it last as long as possible?”  After all, greens are typically a cool weather crop, and the temperature has been in the 80’s and rising.   Soon enough, it will be summer, and the heat will just kill off what we have anyway.  And I couldn’t imagine wasting any of what we worked so hard for!

So I had that thought in the back of my mind – and then I took the kids to a local organic farm for strawberry picking.  And this was what really pushed me to consider today’s topic.   Because when we got home, I had a boxful of super-ripe strawberries, and try as we wanted to, there was no way we could eat all that in just a couple days before they started to spoil!  Again, I couldn’t bear the thought of wasting a single sweet strawberry.  So.. let’s explore some easy options here:

First method (I prefer) – freezing.  I looooove freezing fruit for smoothies!  And even better is sending pieces of frozen fruit through my juicer, which crushes it and turns it into a sorbet consistency.  It’s the perfect way to fix that sweet tooth late at night, and get some extra nutrients in at the same time!  Now, vegetables, I’m not so keen on freezing for the mere fact that blanching is usually necessary.  And I don’t want to kill all the raw enzymes of the vegetable by heating it up, simply to freeze it right after.  I’ll do it in a pinch, but again, not a fan.

For vegetables, I prefer method 2 – dehydrating.  The reason I prefer dehydrating vegetables is that you can turn your ordinary, run-of-the-mill veges into a snack that even the kids love!  Add a pinch of salt or nutritional yeast with garlic powder to create a cheesy flavor that’s actually good for you!   But for today, I decided to tackle that huge mass of kale I have growing, to make a great smoothie add-in for later!

IMAG1157

Here’s how:

First, pick your kale (or other green).  Wash the leaves, and cut around the thick stem.  You don’t want to keep that part – just discard.  Place the pieces on a paper towel, and blot dry on top with another layer of towels to remove excess moisture.

IMAG1167

Place the kale leaves on the trays inside your dehydrator.  I set mine to 135, and let it dry for about 6 hours.  Sure enough – nice and crispy!  Once all moisture is removed, you can bag the kale “chips” as is, or do as I’m doing, and process them into a fine powder to scoop into smoothies later (or soups, or pasta sauce, or baby food etc).  Any way to get those extra green nutrients into your family’s dinner is your game!

One thing to remember guys, is not to try to dehydrate over-ripe food, or food with bad spots on them.  The drying process can’t keep up with the bacteria that grows on the fruit, so it may look dry – but it could make you sick.   Or it could ruin the whole batch – definitely no bueno.  Always follow the exact instructions that came with your dehydrator – especially since many have different options and capabilities.

Now, as far as using the dehydrator on fruit – not my personal forte.  The main reason is I’m not a huge fan of leathery textures (that get stuck in my teeth).  So, if I’m not freezing my fruit – consider..

Method 3: freeze drying!  Now, I do love freeze dried fruit – especially if they’re berries – and they’re in my cereal!  So let’s take a look at that batch of strawberries we took home and get them started.

IMG_6255

Just look at those beauts!  If only you could smell them.. YUM

So first you wash the fruit, then cut them up into approximately 1/4″ slices.  Place them on dehydrator trays, and put them in the freezer.  Even better is if you have a deep freezer!  If using a deep freezer, make sure it is empty so that the strawberries don’t absorb any odors or odd flavors.

IMG_6256

So I placed my strawberries in my deep freezer, and I let them freeze dry for about a week.   The best way to test if they’re done is to take one piece out of the freezer and let it thaw.  If it does not have the consistency you want, after thawing (dry and crunchy), the batch isn’t done yet – give it more time.  If it holds a dry, crisp consistency after thawing, they’re good to be be stored!  Mine were not quite to that stage of readiness, so I switched gears.

Now, to be fair, my deep freezer was having a circuit breaker issue this week – and for a couple days, it was not running (but everything was still frozen).  So after the freezing time I allotted for the berries – plus a few extra days to account for the power outage, I started to notice some freezer burn starting up.  So I promptly removed the berries, bagged them up, and put them in my regular freezer.  No harm, no waste.

I’ve also come across a method of freeze drying using dry ice – but I haven’t tried that method personally.  Definitely do more research if you’re interested in trying it out!

What’s left?  Method 4: canning!  Now I’m going to be honest.  I don’t have a pressure canner – and I don’t have much experience with canning to feel comfortable telling anyone else how to can.  I’ve canned maybe once in my whole life – and I’m not crazy about having to shell out all the money on canning equipment, or the actual jars/lids.  Is it something I’d like to learn more about?  Sure.  I even have a book on how to can – and a recipe book.  I’ve even read them too.  :)  But again, I just haven’t gotten my hands dirty enough to post about it.  But just so you know, that is always an option.

Last method worth mentioning is method 5: culturing.  This involves culturing (or fermenting) your foods to preserve them.  An added benefit to culturing is that you’re also supplying your body with beneficial bacteria and enzymes when you consume the food!  I tried a simple sauerkraut recipe a few years back that was absolutely amazing!

~This recipe is adapted from “Living Raw Food” by Sarma Melngailis ~

What you need:

1 Small Red Cabbage – cut out core and shred
1 Small Green Cabbage – cut out core and shred
3 Tbsp Celtic Sea Salt
*Optional* 1/2 Tbsp Caraway Seeds (I used them in my recipe and LOVED it)

In a plastic bowl, mix the cabbages with the salt and caraway seeds (if using) with clean hands.  Make sure the salt and seeds are really mixed into the cabbage, then let it all rest for about 20 minutes.  The cabbage will get wilty, and brine will begin to develop.
Place the mixture into 2 quart-sized mason jars (wide mouthed is best), and as you do so, really press the cabbage down until the juices come to above the cabbage.  (A pounder or wooden spoon work fine for accomplishing this)
When you are done, the cabbage should be about 2 inches from the top of the jar – this allows room for expansion during the lacto-fermentation process, and you don’t want any overflowing!
If you don’t have enough liquid to cover the cabbage when done with this step, add just enough filtered water to accomplish this.
Place the lids on the jars, and keep at room temperature for about 3 days.  When you open the jar and see bubbly liquid, it is done, and you can then move it to the refrigerator where the culturing process will continue at a slower speed.
Enjoy right away, or give it another week in the fridge for a stronger flavor.

There you have it!  Easy AND tasty!!

So there you have it.  Just a few (of many more ways, I’m sure) you can keep the goodness of your backyard garden giving back – even when the season is over! Enjoy!

 

Written on June 2nd, 2015 , General

As you’ve seen the past month, starting a garden is HARD work!  But once your beds are finished, you are far from done!  Springtime maintenance is a daily venture, and we’ve had to adjust our already busy schedule to give that extra time to our vegetables.  The good news?  It’s FUN for the kids – it’s educational – and it’s great exercise for you!

I’ve mentioned before that we homeschool, and one thing text books can’t teach is the hands-on lesson of growing your own food.  What have my kids been learning through this whole process?

1: The concept of beneficial vs. unwanted insects.

This is a GREAT lesson for anyone wanting to teach the basics of organic gardening!   From the first day, the kids were learning how the grubs needed to go!  And the worms are welcome to stay.  To this day, my daughter still says she’s going to pitch “stupid grubbies” over the fence if she finds them.  Love it!

Ladybugs are more than welcome to stay – in fact, if we see any anywhere else in the backyard, they carefully get moved to the garden.  They eat the aphids, after all!

Remember my praying mantises at our old house?  We just had to get a new generation going in our new garden!

IMG_6224

Since we have a bigger yard now, we got 5 mantis egg sacs (though I suspect one fell out of its hiding place and got mowed over).  :(  But with each sac containing 50-200 mantises, we are still more than covered!

And what about those pesky caterpillars?  Sure they look gorgeous as butterflies, but when they’re chowing down on your hard earned produce, they have to go! So the kids and I have been going out at least once a day – sometimes more – to handpick them off our greens.  But wait a minute..there’s a great lesson here too: the life cycle of the butterfly!

So we kept those critters, and trapped them in a butterfly cage.  Don’t worry insect-enthusiasts, we’re feeding them fresh leaves, and providing water droplets time to time to keep them growing.  And boy are they growing!  The kids are watching them change daily – and they will be a part of the process of metamorphosis!  This, guys, is backyard science 101.  And yes, it is fun.

IMG_6245

What other life lessons are we learning here?

2:  Fresh, healthy food is HARD work!  But the nutritional benefits more than make up for it!  And all these vitamins and nutrients are going towards their health and growth.  And guess what else?  What you grow tastes fantastic!  After all, it’s just a few minutes old – and picked, literally, at the peak of readiness! Fact:  for the picky eaters in your family – kids are more likely to try new things or eat things they usually turn their noses up at if they were part of the growing process.  It’s worth a shot – what do you have to lose?

Aside from keeping the bad bugs away, the kids are also learning the concept of plant spacing so that roots do not fight for the space they are in – i.e. pulling up the grass and weeds that come up in the beds.  Maintenance is the never ending story here, guys. Thankfully, it’s one of those things that doesn’t really get out of hand as long as you stay on top of it.  Trust me – in our old house, I was not so diligent.  And I remember by the end of the summer, I was overwhelmed by all the tall grass (and spiders living in it!) so much, that I was afraid to go near the garden without two layers of long sleeved clothes on!  Think Jumanji-jungle.. see where I’m going?

3:  Despite healthy food being hard work, it’s a lot of FUN!  The kids get to learn about the basics of healthy soil – and how the plant uptakes the nutrients from it.  They learn about feeding the soil to keep those plants happy.  They learn about proper pH of the soil for certain plants.  They learn about plants needing sun – and water – and love (yes, love) to thrive.  And they learn that gardens make a GREAT place to play hide and seek (lol).  They are learning about bees, and the role they play in the production of our food – they learn about the concept of companion planting, and they learn..get this..responsibility.  It’s not just vegetables I’m raising here, guys.  It’s my kids.  :)

4:  Since I’m growing an herbal garden as well, the kids are going to learn about the medicinal benefits of herbs such as yarrow, plantain, chamomile, calendula, arnica, dandelion, roses, lavender, echinacea, and self-heal.  They’re going to learn how to harvest the plant – and how to use the plant to make balms, syrups, sprays, and tinctures.  First aid kits can’t always be bought at the store, guys – these are practical plants that make excellent healing tools for most minor issues and injuries.  And sharing that knowledge with your family ensures that they, too, understand how to make the most out of what you have on hand.  And that, guys, is priceless.

So, I’d like to hear your stories!  Has anyone been inspired by our garden??  Has anyone started their own garden?  If so, what did you grow?

Comment to this post to share your stories – success – or not so successful.  It’s a process, remember – but it’s not about the destination – it’s about the journey. And how much FUN you have on that journey!

Until next post – enjoy your harvests!

IMG_6228

 

Written on May 22nd, 2015 , General

I’m sure you all remember how we moved last year – and that I was nerdy-sad to have to leave some of my plants behind.  I did get my 2 lavender plants (and I am happy to say they are doing just fine!) – and my goji bush out of the ground (which I was even more ecstatic to see survive the move).  But my precious elder plant had to stay – we just didn’t have the time to move such large plants, and my rose bush stayed as well.  Again, time didn’t allow, and working around the thorny branches would have been a nightmare!

It’s spring-time now, and I’m missing that rose bush for the sweet fragrance – and for the many things I used those flowers to make!  Rose petal vinegar, rose petal facial toner, rose petal hand lotion, and more!  Once I saw those flower buds appearing, I was right there with the scissors, waiting for them to bloom!

So one thing I noticed when we moved to this house, was that the previous owners had also planted a rose bush!  I was more ok with leaving my plant behind, in the hopes that I could still get the cooling, healing properties of roses in our new home come spring.  But there was the problem of the type of roses that were growing.. small roses with virtually no fragrance whatsoever.  Eeek!  Will they still work?  (They certainly don’t have that lovely scent of spring)

But in the last couple days, as the “new” rose bush began to bud and flower, I was amazed to see it was not just one bush – but 2 side by side!  I had no idea!!  The first variety was the dark roses I saw last summer – the ones I was not too crazy about.  (For the sole reason that they didn’t have that great perfume smell)  But the second variety is a two-tone pink and yellow variety, and I was SO happy to find that they smell absolutely amazing!!!

2015-04-19 10.39.04

So of course I got super excited at the prospects of rose-infused projects, and I wondered, “what should I start first??”  Well, I just LOVE the smell of roses for one, so I thought I’d start there since I already had some rose vinegar from last season – as well as toner and lotion.  I thought to myself, “how can I capture the eau de spring?  I know!  Perfume!”

This project, guys, is going to be super easy.  Remember how to make a tincture?  We’ll be doing the same thing today!

First, pick a few flowers – then pull the petals off, rinse, and pat dry.  Pull off any portions that look yucky.

IMG_6216

Fill up a mason jar with the petals, and fill to just above the plant material with vodka.  Cover, and voila!  All you have to do now is shake the jar time to time – and wait about 3 weeks!  Once it’s finished, you will strain off the petals, and use the infused vodka as your perfume!  (Really?  How easy is that, guys?)

Now, I happen to believe in redundancy.  If one is great – two must be better!  (Especially if something unforseen should happen to said one – which is always a possibility when you have kids)

So I’m going to start another batch using fresh and dried rose petals – as well as dried lavender flowers.  With this easy recipe, you could use fresh or dried herb, so just use what you have in excess!

IMG_6218

Looks great, don’t they?   And in just a few weeks, I’ll have the best of spring in a bottle to enjoy all year long!  So make the most of what spring has to offer, and enjoy it while you can!

Written on May 12th, 2015 , General

Progress via Regress is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).

Progress via Regress

Kick off your shoes, let's make life simple again.