Catnip Cloths for Teething

Catnip: it’s not just for driving your kitty a little crazy.

Although its use as a cat crazy-maker is probably the first thing that comes to mind for many, catnip (Nepeta cataria) is actually a useful medicinal plant.  Historically, it has been used for a variety of childhood ailments including cough, asthma, and colic. Indeed, research has found its chemical constituents to have spasmolytic and bronchodilatory properties which provide support for this traditional use (see resources below).  There’s also evidence for its use as a mosquito repellant which is why I include it in my homemade Bug-a-Bye.

Traditionally, catnip is also chosen to gently lower a fever, settle a tummy, and for its nervine (calming) properties that can help ease little teethers (and their mothers).  Catnip, along with chamomile, is an excellent choice to help get through the moodiness that comes along with teething.  Baby LF’s molars are coming in right now and she is certainly letting me know!

I’ve been making Baby LF these really easy catnip teethers by dipping washcloths in catnip tea and freezing them.  She loves gnawing on them!  Plus, they’re really easy to make. Continue reading

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Prevent Colds & Flu with DIY Elderberry Syrup

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

Herbal Hair Powder (Dry Shampoo)

I’ve been procrastinating this post for some time because a) I only have a limited amount of time to write blogs, b) I’m not sure if I should admit that I don’t wash my hair everyday, and c) it’s hard to take good pictures of powder.

However, I am tired of seeing this post on my to-do list, and this project is too useful for me to pass up!  Plus, after making this I learned that some of the major beauty companies sell this for a hefty price!  You can make this on your own for a fraction of the price (and with healthier ingredients).

They tout the ability of hair powder to volumize and texturize, and this powder does do all that, but I will let you in on a little secret…..

It also allows you to skip a hair wash or two (or three). Maybe we should just say “prolong the time between washing” – whatever that means for you.

Sprinkle a little hair powder onto dry hair that has a little shine and POP! — the shine is whisked away leaving fluffy, textured hair for another day.

This homemade version is made with safe, food-like ingredients that you won’t have to worry about putting near your skin (or your face, or your family).  I’ve also added a few powdered herbs to give it my own herb-loving spin that can help improve the overall quality of hair health.

For these blends, I’ve included powdered horsetail (also called shavegrass) and chamomile.  Horsetail is known for its high silica content and is commonly used to help hair grow and stay strong.  Chamomile can help with dandruff and is lightening for hair.  It’s also a relaxing, nicely scented herb that I enjoy adding to my beauty products.

There is a formulation for both dark- and light-colored hair. Continue reading

A Visit to Quiet Creek Herb Farm

A couple weekends ago we made a trek across Pennsylvania to attend the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Herbal Conference. It was inspiring to be in the company of so many like-minded women and I was especially grateful to finally meet one of my favorite herbal mentors, Rosemary Gladstar.  I’ve been an online student of hers for some time, but hearing her speak in person really reaffirmed how wonderful it is to call her one of my teachers.

She has an amazing way of synthesizing the big picture on the interrelatedness of herbs, health, happiness, and our connection with nature into an easily accessible and moving message.  I hope I can be like her when I grow up!

On our way home, we planned to spend several days in the Western part of Pennsylvania visiting old growth trees in Cook Forest.  Serendipitously, as we traveled along the road to our lodge we passed a sign for “Quiet Creek Herb Farm”. Continue reading

Lately

I think we’re finally getting close to having a rhythm again.  We are settling in to this as our home.

As everything around us blossoms and comes into fullness, so do we.

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Homemade Herbal Bug Spray with Yarrow

Recently, we realized the power of this bug spray as we sat on a lawn and watched bugs approach our arms, hover, and turn away leaving our skin untouched. Amazing!

Not only is it effective, but it is made with just a few high quality ingredients that are non-toxic and safe for our families! Continue reading

Homestead Update – We live here!

We’ve been swirling around in the whirlwind that is moving. I am so grateful that we are finally living in our new home.  It’s been a long road here — we put our first offer in on this house early last September.

I guess moving is never easy.  Everything takes longer than anticipated and random inconveniences happen regularly.

Luckily, I have an accommodating family that let us camp there for quite awhile.  I’m too tired to write much else, but I thought I’d share some photos for a bit of a homestead update.  I hope to be back to writing more regularly soon.  Continue reading

Enhance and remember your dreams with Dreamer’s Tea

Our culture doesn’t talk much about the significance of dreams, but to ignore these nighttime messages is to miss out on a valuable way of understanding and growing in our day-to-day and spiritual lives.

Dream symbolism can seem quite strange if it is taken literally, but the patterns, situations, and scenes we find in the night are the mysterious way our minds process information about our past, future, and place in the universe.  Interestingly, many of the patterns that arise in dreams are common across cultures and among people of diverse backgrounds.  The ability to dream is something that unites us all as humans. Continue reading

Our New Homestead!

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

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