Easy Poultice for Insect Stings – What’s your favorite way?

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I taught a class on herbal first-aid recently and we went over a variety of home remedies for simple concerns that arise with more time outside when the weather is nice — bites, stings, rashes, cuts, etc.

IMG_0795One of the topics was bee/wasp/hornet stings. Ouch!  It was interesting to hear all of the ways that people manage this at home.

My favorite is very simple and we’ve used it three times in the past year!

Before applying anything, try to remove the stinger.  Use tweezers or even scrape a credit card along the skin to dislodge it.  This will go a long way in preventing the area from continuing to be painful and irritated.

Then, make a thick paste with equal parts baking soda and clay to neutralize the area and remove toxins that cause the sting.  Seriously, that’s it!

Get a tablespoon or so of both baking soda and clay (I use kaolin), add enough water to form a paste, and apply this to the bite.  Allow to dry and just let it sit there for as long as necessary. You can reapply every 30 minutes or so to keep soothing the area.  Also, I often add a drop or two of tea tree or lavender essential oil to the paste to further help relieve the sting and calm the area.

I have a few packets of the mix leftover if you’re looking to have some on hand!

IMG_2717You can also buy your own baking soda and kaolin clay.  I recommend using Mountain Rose Herbs, especially because they have aluminum-free baking soda!

And, another trick for stings if you’re away from home – grab a leaf of the common weed Plantain (Plantago major), crush it up in your hands (or even chew it!) to release the juices and stick this wad of goopy plant material right on your sting.  It will help to relieve the sting quickly and also helps to draw out toxins.  In fact, it’s a good plant to know for any bug bites you get while outdoors (you should see me while camping, I have tend to have little wads of plantain all over!).

IMG_0622What’s your favorite way to deal with stings naturally?

Come to the next class on the farm (October 8, 2015) where we’ll be discussing herbal remedies to help with the transition to Fall. This class is sponsored by the Holistic Moms Network and it is helpful if you register.

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Homemade Lavender Mustard

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Around here, summer is still in full swing.  It’s been hot, the garden is starting to produce a lot, and we’ve been enjoying our very full days around the farm.

Recently, we had family visiting for a week and I had a request for mustard.

Uh-oh!  I had the mustard seeds sitting right there ready to make a fresh batch, but this summer grilling essential still had not been made.

I decided it was time, and it’s too bad it took me so long because it’s really very easy.  The hardest part is that you must soak the mustard seeds for two days so in this respect it does require a little advanced planning.

I decided to get a little adventurous and try this lavender mustard recipe by Rosalee de la Foret.

Yum! I’m glad I did.

Here are all the ingredients, most of which I gathered from Mountain Rose Herbs

  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds (or you could use only yellow mustard seeds as we did for a milder flavor)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon lavender flowers (omit or choose a different herb if you desire)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

First, the mustard seeds, apple cider vinegar, and water are mixed in a bowl.  Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for two days.

After the seeds have softened for two days, place the seed and liquid mixture in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.

Blend together until you have a mustard paste. Easy!

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This recipe makes about a pint and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

To see Rosalee’s original recipe on Learning Herbs click here.

To purchase ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs click here.

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

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FTC DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary or other compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services within this article. However, it is my promise to you that I am sharing my honest opinion and that I only recommend products or services that I have personally used or recommend and are in alignment with Light Footsteps ideals.

Common Sense Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for educational purposes only.  It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition or ailment.  Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns and before making changes to your lifestyle, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a preexisting health condition.  

“Light Footsteps” by the Emmaus Community

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Light Footsteps

How awesome is this place,

of birds + plants + bees + space.

The humans who share their inner experiences,

give an outer meaning to faces

in a common experience.

So free are the loving owners

that we will return again,

to re-experience awesome

awareness and peace.

-the Emmaus Community

IMG_2462We love to share our land with everyone who is interested.  We opened our home to our first retreat group recently and it was a joyous experience for all.  Contact christine (@) lightfootsteps (dot) com for more information about hosting your own retreat or workshop here.

Summer Wellness

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The days are long and full.

It seems I am filling every moment with work around the farm, food preparation, and in fun family outings. Recently we went camping at the Pollination Festival in Kentucky while stopping for a day in Columbus where we visited the Botanical Garden.

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We also have been very busy around the farm, and I hope to do an update on our farm happenings soon (goats, gardens, solar panels, oh my!)!  However, I have trouble finding time to sit down on the computer and blog very much when there’s so much to do outdoors this time of year.

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One of the things that I’ve been creating is this summer’s share of my Community Supported Herbalism project.  I am really happy with the way the Summer Wellness Box turned out and I think it’s a great reminder that we must still take time to slow down and care for ourselves even during this busy summer season.

I’ve been having a hard time with that myself this summer, but this box is helping me remember how important it is to prioritize finding little ways to pamper myself each day.

And so that’s what this box is about…taking time to breathe with the pace of the natural world and delight in the gifts that nature offers us in abundance.  When you open this box, I’d like you to imagine wandering around my garden with me, enjoying the scents, colors, and beauty that we find while carefully harvesting plant allies to help support our health and beauty.

To that effect, there are a number of botanically-based gifts to help you slow down and care for yourself this summer.

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You’ll find an herb-infused salve to find relief from pesky bug bites and other summer skin irritations, a fresh skin serum with rich botanical oils to nourish your sun-kissed skin, and a honey + myrrh face soap to gently scrub away impurities while boosting your skin with anti-oxidants.

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You’ll also find a cooling cucumber rose spritzer that is best to keep in the fridge.  When you’re feeling overwhelmed with summer’s heat, take it out and spritz all over for a refreshing treat.

There’s also a delicious, herbal (caffeine free) tea blend that is full of vitamins and minerals.  It’s an awesome alternative to over-indulging on sodas or alcohol in the summer.  We’ve been drinking it iced almost daily, and have even made it into kid-approved ice pops.

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Finally, I have included some freshly harvested red clover.  You’ll learn more about using red clover when you get your box, but it’s an excellent source of easily-digestible nutrients as well as a traditional remedy for purifying the blood and supporting the female system, especially if one is looking to improve their fertility or ease the transition through menopause.

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You can learn more about the Summer Wellness Box and order yours by clicking here.  As a blog reader, you can even get 15% off using code BLOGFRIEND through August 15, 2015.  I hope you enjoy!

You can also learn where to find me in person this summer and get one that way.

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Thanks for supporting our small farm and dreams by purchasing a summer wellness box.

Make your own sunscreen at home! ~ Sun Stick Recipe ~

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Now that things are heating up outside, it’s time to break out the sunscreen!

But not so fast…have you seen some of the warnings and fact sheets about conventional sunscreen?

Ugh. It’s not fun news that many of the most common brands contain chemicals that are endocrine disruptors, common allergens, and can be detrimental to the environment.

What’s more confusing is that despite our increased use of sunscreens, skin cancer is on the rise and many Americans have Vitamin D levels that are way too low (vitamin D is critical for healthy bones and a strong immune system).

We certainly still need to protect ourselves from the sun, but maybe we need to rethink the way that we’re finding our protection.

So how do we do this while still staying safe from excessive and dangerous exposure to UVA and UVB sun rays?

Here are some of the top tips:

  • Wear big hats, shirts, and pants to protect your skin from the sun.
  • Go outside in the early morning or late afternoon rather than at mid-day when the sun is most intense.
  • Hang out in shaded areas, or bring shade in the form of umbrellas.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
  • Research sunscreen options and find the best, safest choice for your family when you must be out in direct sunlight!

Continue reading

Revolution Review

It’s rare to find a documentary that appeals to both my interest in learning about the human condition as we live on an Earth with limited resources, and my interest in animal biology and ecosystem health.

Coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef has declined by 36% over the last 25 years. That’s an enormous loss. Photo © Rob Stewart. From the documentary film Revolution.

Revolution did just that with an appealing storyline, gorgeous cinematography, and an important message to share with viewers.

Through a mix of personal history, interviews, and travels to various sites around the world, Rob Stewart, who previously released the award-winning film Sharkwater, shares a compelling call to action.  Our Earth is full of wondrous, magnificent places and beings and we are rapidly destroying much of it.  Not only is this a tragedy because of what we are losing in biodiversity, but we do this much to our own detriment.  To use resources the way that we do in the Western world, we would need SIX Earths to sustain us.

Obviously, we do not have six Earths, but we do have a lot of people who are waking up to our circumstances and are demanding people and politicians to also open their eyes and act accordingly.

Rainforest, Brazil. Photo © Brennan Grange. From the documentary film Revolution.

Expanding from filmmaker Rob Stewart’s background investigating the large scale slaughter of sharks, the film explores the interplay between ocean and terrestrial ecosystem health, why many ecosystems are in trouble, how this impacts us as humans, and what we must do to change the current course of events.

This complex subject is shared in an easily accessible and engrossing format that will leave you ready to make change in the world as well.

The movie is available to watch by following this link.  I hope that you find it valuable and visually exciting as well.

Rob accepting the “Fossil of the Day” award on behalf of Canada – for doing the most to disrupt the climate negotiations at the UN Climate Conference UN CLIMATE CONFERENCE, 16TH SESSION OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES (COP 16), in Cancun Mexico. Photo © Tristan Bayer http://www.earthnative.com From the documentary film Revolution.

FTC DISCLOSURE: As a way to support my blogging and related activities, I may receive monetary or other compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services within this article. However, it is my promise to you that I am sharing my honest opinion and that I only recommend products or services that I have personally used or recommend and are in alignment with Light Footsteps ideals.

Next Hands-On Learning Day & Updates

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Next Hands-On Learning Day: Saturday, May 23.

Come anytime after 11 AM.  Potluck at 5:30.  Bonfire to follow!! Free camping if desired! Bring drums, musical instruments, questions, enthusiasm, and your free-spirit!!

Now for what we’ve been up to and what you may find to help with….

With this being our first official spring on the homestead, we’ve been working long hours trying to get Phase 1 of our plans in place.

This year, we hope to have our educational medicine wheel garden up and fully functional, add 2500 sq. ft. of keyhole market garden space, and start our first area of food forest.

Progress with the medicine wheel garden...

Progress with the medicine wheel garden…

Making progress on the keyhole gardens...

Making progress on the keyhole gardens…

We’ve also added chickens and bees to the farm.  A few new barnyard creatures should be arriving this week.

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IMG_1643Ideally, we’ll also be putting in a greenhouse or hoophouse this season.

Why, you ask?

Because we are absolutely committed to being the change we wish to see in this world, and we are more eager and ready than ever to share why we love permaculture, homegrown food, herbs, and simple living with our community. We’ve been studying these ideas for well over 10 years and it’s time for us to share!!

Here’s the thing. This is a LOT for us to handle on our own.  We really need your help and we’d love to share some of our knowledge with you! And of course, we’d love for you to share some of your knowledge with us!!

Are you interested in permaculture? Sustainable living? Homegrown foods?

Bees? Chickens?

Do you wonder why a keyhole garden is preferable to long square gardens with rows?

Have you ever heard of a food forest?  Do you wonder why perennial crops are gaining more attention?

How have we done all this without tilling? Why have we tried to avoid that?

Do you know why this plant is one of the most valuable medicines in Ohio?

IMG_1765Have you ever wanted to grow your own medicine and are you curious about why I would have designed a medicine wheel garden?

Do you want to meet some awesome, like-minded people?

Please come visit us!! We’d love to have you this weekend for this next hands-on help day, but we are TOTALLY OPEN TO YOU COMING WHENEVER YOU’D LIKE!!

You can even stay for a week at a time if you need a country getaway!  We are open to anything!

Also, let us know if there are specific things you’d like to learn about that would help us entice you to our home!  We are open to any and all suggestions.

See you this Saturday, May 23!!

Herbal Baby Powder

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Recently I made a fresh batch of herbal baby powder as part of a friend’s baby shower gift.

IMG_1360Other than saving money and the fun that comes with homemade projects, why might you want to make your own baby powder?

Unfortunately, many conventional powders contain talc which can be very irritating to our mucous membranes, especially if inhaled.

Here’s what Dr. Weil has to say about talc in baby powder:

Talc is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. The danger is that babies can easily inhale tiny particles of it that are light enough to be carried in the air. When inhaled, talc can dry an infant’s mucous membranes, adversely affect the baby’s breathing, and cause serious lung damage. Studies have shown that talc can lead to shortness of breath and wheezing in babies and can also lead to obstruction of the airways. Some babies have developed pneumonia and some have died as a result of respiratory failure from inhaling the powder. — Dr. Weil, found here.

Luckily, it’s easy to make homemade baby powder with ingredients that are more baby friendly.  This recipe contains arrowroot powder and kaolin clay.  Arrowroot powder is a lightweight powder made from the root of the arrowroot plant and helps to absorb moisture.  Kaolin clay is one of the mildest clays and wonderful for people with sensitive skin.  It is naturally absorbent and helps to stimulate circulation to this skin while gently cleansing.  It does not draw oil from the skin so will not rob the skin of its own healing properties.

Chamomile and calendula powders are also included because they are gentle herbs that have traditionally been used to help soothe sensitive or irritated skin. Continue reading

Spring Foraging Favorite: Ramp Pesto!

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The season for one of my favorite wild edibles will soon be coming to an end.  Ramps, or wild leeks, are a favorite spring green that has a very unique onion-garlic-like flavor I’ve come to crave in the spring.

Although I would like to say that I’ve harvested several times already this year, I missed out on much of ramp season, but just HAD to get out there to make some ramp pesto.

I spotted a huge patch awhile back and finally returned there to harvest some ramps.

In the spirit of the latest consensus about sustainable harvesting, I only took the ramp leaves which are very flavorful indeed. I left the bulbs alone so that they can develop into new plants next year. Overharvesting can very quickly decimate a ramp patch (even one as big as this!), and when you can get away with using just the leaves, why not do that and ensure that this species continues to grace the plates of future generations? Continue reading

Perma-Blitz in Chardon, OH! We need your help!

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Light Footsteps and Resilient Health cordially invite you to a PERMA-BLITZ!

We’re having people over this weekend Saturday, May 9 and the following weekend Sunday, May 17.  Come any time after 11 AM and stay as long as you’d like!  If you’d like to plan around mealtimes, we’ll be having pizza at 6:00 on Saturday and a potluck at 6:00 on Sunday. We even have plenty of space for camping in our field or the woods.  Bring your friends and come have some fun!

What the heck is a perma-blitz?! It’s a convergence of people who get together for a short time to make a BIG project come together.  It’s also about meeting and networking with like-minded individuals, learning about permaculture, sharing what you know, and having fun outdoors.

Here at our homestead we have some BIG ideas for the future, and we’re trying to make a lot of headway this spring.

Some of the projects we’d like help on are our:

  • 2500 sq ft Keyhole garden
  • Kitchen garden
  • Herb spiral
  • Orchard swales
  • Medicine wheel garden
  • Sun garden

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We’ve done a lot of the design and prep work:

  • We sheet mulched a space for the medicine wheel garden in the fall, added more mulch this spring, and it is ready to be planted.
  • In order to turn our lawn into garden beds and orchards, we cut paths by hand with shovels, and rented a sod-cutter to establish the keyhole beds and to prep the swales and sun garden
  • We’ve stockpiled cardboard to be applied to some of the keyhole garden beds that will be covered with soil and planted with nitrogen fixing plants until next season
  • We’ve imported a couple tons of soil and mulch, which need to be applied to the beds

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We need your help, and there are a number of things you might do:

  • Move soil and mulch
  • Plant fruit/nut trees, herbs, vegetables
  • Help to design a forthcoming sun trap, pond, and food forest
  • Occupy our 18 month old

If nothing else, stop by to meet our chickens and new bees!

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Please CLICK HERE to find our address and telephone number to call for more info/help finding us (I prefer not to place them here so I can avoid spam calls and the like!).  Email us at christine (at) lightfootsteps (dot) com.  Please bring shovels and rakes if you can!

Can’t attend, but still interested in helping?  You can donate to our fiscally-sponsored non-profit HERE (it is tax-deductible). Please, also feel free to contact us about volunteering at another time.