Prevent Colds & Flu with DIY Elderberry Syrup

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There are so many great ways to support your winter health with herbs.  Starting with simple dietary additions (like garlic!) and ending with soothing choices to make your cold or flu more tolerable and shorter, herbs are my go-to for prevention and treatment.

One of the tastiest herbal allies, however, is the elderberry.

This shrubby perennial plant has been used as medicine for centuries to support health and well-being.  I often see it growing naturally in moist soils, but it has also historically been planted at the edge of gardens as the protector of the garden.  Even its name, Elder, speaks to its wise and respected role in our collective medicine chest.

Elder’s lacy, delicate flowers, and bright purplish-black berries can both be used for their medicinal properties.  The flowers are diaphoretic meaning that they help to lower fevers by inducing sweating.  It is a common ingredient in many cold-care tea formulas.

The berries are rich in vitamins C & A, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, beta-carotene, iron, potassium, and phytosterols.  They are often used in prevention and treatment of colds because of their ability to boost the immune system.  As an antiviral, they are helpful in treating upper respiratory viruses including colds and flu, but have also been used in treatments for other viruses such as herpes and shingles.  Elderberry’s effectiveness is not just an “herban” legend, but its ability to reduce the duration of the flu and to fight viruses has been published in a number of scientific articles (links to abstracts in the resources below).

As a food, elderberry can be consumed as a jam, wine, or in pies, but it’s easiest to use as preventative medicine or for treating cold and flu when made into a tasty syrup.  Luckily, it’s really pretty easy to do, too!  I even made a handy graphic . . .

Elderberry syrup Continue reading

Our New Homestead!

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After at least 10 years of dreaming, 2 years looking at properties, and 7 months working on closing on this particular piece of land, we finally have our permaculture homestead.  These 23 acres are the land that will sustain us into the future, where we hope our dreams will blossom into fruition, and where we will grow together as a family and into our community.

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Homemade Miso Soup

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It’s the time of year where rich, heavy dishes are becoming less appealing and I am longing for cleansing, lighter foods.  However, it’s still a bit chilly out and yesterday it even snowed again!  I thought we had seen the last of the snow, but I suppose not….

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Luckily, the sun was shining so we had one last frolic in the snowy woods with a friend and her little man.  It was a thick snow that clung to the trees and flew off in puffs in the wind.  I have to admit, it was quite lovely although I do think I am ready to move on and embrace spring.  It’s going to be so fun with a little one around!

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Immuni-Tea: Herbal Immune Support (that’s Delicious!)

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Although we’re getting closer to the end of winter (I think…I can’t tell by looking out my windows today!), it’s still as good a time as any to talk about a tea that was formulated to help prevent the last of the winter (or beginning of spring) bugs that might still be going around.

This tea is very simple to make and it tastes DELICIOUS!

Previously, I’ve provided recipes for a honey and onion syrup to help with coughs, colds, and more, and I have also provided instructions for making an echinacea tincture.  The honey and onion syrup how-to actually remains my most popular post to this day.  Given that, I thought I’d also share this brew that has nipped this family’s winter bugs in the bud.

This tea is composed of three ingredients: echinacea (Echinacea spp.), pau d’arco (Tabebuia spp.), and an herb to flavor the blend (cinnamon, orange peel, licorice root, etc.). I like to use cinnamon — yum! Continue reading

Gratitude Sunday (3/9/14) on Monday

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The weekend was so full that I was unable to put this together yesterday.  However, I’d still like to share what I was grateful for this past week!

Joining with Wooly Moss Roots to celebrate Gratitude Sunday.

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday’s heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 

This week I am grateful for…
  • Celebrating birthdays with family (three of them!).  Seeing my brother and his wife in town for the festivities and visiting the Botanical Gardens, too.
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The Birth of Baby Light Footsteps

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I feel a little strange making this post public because I am actually a very private person and this is a very intimate topic!  However, over the months that I was pregnant with Baby Light Footsteps, I became very passionate about birth and women’s birth experiences.  I want to share this story to add to the voices of women who are telling positive stories about birth.  Birth does not have to be driven by fear, it does not need to be scary, and it can be done without the use of drugs.

These sentiments are much different than what we are commonly exposed to in the media and what we often hear when we are told others’ birth stories.  Every birth is a blessing and I would never want to take away from someone else who experienced birth differently than me, but I am honored to share the story of my daughter’s peaceful and empowering homebirth.

Please also note that my decision to homebirth was researched extremely carefully (obsessively, really) and that my decision to (and preparation for) birth at home is not explained here.  Please email me if you’d like to discuss the decision further, or maybe there will be a future post about why I decided this was the safest choice for me and my baby!

One of the many captions scattered around the house in the month before the birth!

One of the many affirmations scattered around the house in the month before the birth!

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Nourishing Pregnancy Tea

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Our bodies require extra love and care while pregnant, especially nutritionally. Many of the herbs that I made part of my routine prior to becoming pregnant are also great at nourishing pregnant bodies.

Strong, medicinally-potent herbs should be avoided during this sensitive time, but nourishing, food-like herbs can provide essential vitamins and nutrients. Examples of these nourishing herbs include nettle, oatstraw, alfalfa, and red raspberry. They have been used safely by midwives and wise women for countless years to support pregnant mamas. Of course, if you’re a real stickler for FDA approval, you’ll want to find your cup of tea elsewhere (harhar) and in general, it’s always best to talk to your doctor or midwife before ingesting anything.  However, I think you’ll find that these herbs are gentle and safe.   My midwife certainly thinks so! Continue reading

Healing Herbal Liniment

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For me, the word “liniment” conjures up images of a very old-timey medicine cabinet.  But that certainly doesn’t mean that this old-time remedy won’t work well!  The fact that liniments have been around for so long just speaks to their effectiveness.

So what are liniments? Liniments are healing external applications that can be used for a variety of issues, depending on what herbs are included in the mixture.  Liniments can be used as a disinfectant for cuts and wounds, while they can also help to soothe sore and inflamed muscles and joints.  Some liniments are formulated for helping with circulation problems, arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, strains, and bruises. Continue reading

deliberateLIFE – eMagazine Review

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Recently, I received a request to take a look at a new virtual magazine called deliberateLIFE.  I wasn’t sure whether I should accept or not as I already have plenty on my plate at the moment, but when I went to the website and found their manifesto, I decided it was worth a try.

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It’s International Permaculture Day!

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Happy, happy International Permaculture Day! !

Have you been doing anything to celebrate (maybe even if you didn’t know it was today)? Continue reading