I am so proud to live in a GreenStep City. In my hometown we have the “magnificent 7” that have been instrumental in working with the city and educating the public. At a recent meeting one of the members was saying that she was supervised to learn how damaging micro bead scrubbers are so the environment. Those little synthetic beads don’t biodegrade and get washed down the drain and into our water supply.
Since GreenStep is all about identifying small and doable action steps that build to big change this member said looking for an alternative was an action step she wanted to start with.
Unfortunately, our city’s Earth Day Celebration (April 22) was canceled, so I thought in honor of Earth Day I would share my own favorite DIY facial scrub.
This is based off of Rosemary Gladstar’s Basic scrub, also called “Miracle Grains” in some sources. Gladstar’s original recipe has spread far and wide, and I am not sure what the original looked like, but here is the recipe I came up with using what I have on hand.
The flowers might be the hardest items to source but our natural food coop has these in the bulk herb/spice section. You can use whatever your favorites are (rose would be really nice) and even dry some flowers that will soon be coming up.
Clay can also be hard to find. I got mine from Mountain Rose Herbs. But your coop would probably have some as well.
I have a vitamix with a dry/grain attachment I used to grind this up. I store the dry mix in a quart jar, but keep a smaller 1/2 pint jar in the shower (use a plastic lid). For the smaller jar I mix 4-5 TBSP of the mix with 1 1/2 Tbsp honey and enough filtered water to make a paste.
This is what I use to wash my face–no soap. When I was younger I was very acne prone. I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable only using this scrub on a daily basis then but now I love it, it is not so drying and is beautifully exfoliating. Plus not only is it biodegradable but you could eat it is you really wanted to, though the clay is a bit yucky.
More Earth Festivities include planning our new medicinal herb garden. How are you celebrating Earth Day?
I was reading on Facebook how if we are able to be under quarantine in a warm house with a well stocked fridge and pantry, plus plenty of books and TV options we really should be thankful.
This morning I was standing at my kitchen sink washing dishes. A bluejay flew by. Our cats were playing and running in the backyard, ducks were swimming in every little puddle, chickens were scratching and baby goats are in the barn. So I am feeling extra extra blessed. Here are some pictures of our cuteness to bless you.
I was shopping this week looking for a new house plant. It wasn’t on my radar at the time to buy an Easter Lily, though I had thought about it before, until I asked the clerk if they had plants and she mentioned that they had just gotten Easter Lilies in.
My family had always bought Easter Lilies when I was growing up, but it wasn’t until reading Matthew Wood’s The Book of Herbal Wisdom that I realized that you could make an botanical treatment with it. Wood says, “Easter Lily as a remedy for fibro-cystic disease of the breasts, cysts in the ovaries and under the skin, and menstrual problems.”
He goes on to write about its use in Chinese Medincine for respiratory issues and “It cleared the mind (fine, phlegmatous particles are thought to obstruct consciouness in Chinese and other systems of folk medicine).” The interesting part is his case studies that brought him to these conclusions or which he lists several.
I am currently taking a class on Herbs of Women’s Health is Erin Piorier. At a recent class, March 5th–right before everything went crazy– Lise Wolff was a guest speaker on the topic of fertility. Wolff again talked about taking Easter Lily saying it was good for cysts, acne, light or heavy periods and sexuality issues whether promiscuity or the opposite extreme of shame around sexuality to the point where the person is unable to pee in public restrooms.
In my notes from this class I wrote in big letters across the top–Make Easter Lily Flower Essence–Use Brandy! What makes this remedy so interesting is that it is a Flower Essence, not a traditional tea or tincture.
Matthew Wood says of dosing in The Book of Herbal Wisdom, “Three drops of the flower essence dosage tincture, one to three times a day, as needed, is usually sufficient. Response is usually prompt. Women with menstrual problems should take it for seven to ten days before the period, for three periods. It usually takes a few days, or three periods, to complete its cleansing action on the organism.” He also right more extensively about Easter Lily in his book Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers though I have not read this book.
So that is a long way of saying I felt that divine nudge reminding me to make my Easter Lily Flower Essence. So I prompt bought one.
It hasn’t opened yet but I am anxious to try it out. I have a growing list of herbs I want to turn into flower essences, oils and salves, tincture, dry for tea and more. Last year I made dandelion, violet, lilac and crab apple flower essence. The Flower Essence Society has a great guide about what characteristics each flower essence carries.
Last night the Minnesota Governor’s stay home order went into effect. Honestly we have been home for a couple weeks already, so at the beginning of the official stay home order I am already feeling antsy. In a lot of ways things have settled a bit and I am hoping with more Minnesotans staying home things will settle down at the grocery stores and some missing items will be stocked.
But in times like these I am falling back on my comfort foods. I did buy a 25 pound bag of white flour and some smaller bags of whole wheat flour when this all began. While I have been trying to eat more gluten free, Keto meals I rested comfortably in the fact that I could easily make my own bread, noodles, crackers, cakes, cookies, etc. with just this small staple.
So this week I was already tired of chicken breast and ground meat so I decided to do a traditional German dinner with some homemade sausage a friend had given us.
I used to make Spaetlze regularly but finding the right tools to get the egg drop shaped noodles right isn’t so easy. I used to have a pot with a strainer that fit inside and I would push the dough through with the bottom of a cup. Admittedly not the best method and then when I had to throw the pot away I though “no more spaetlze.” Of course at the time I was young and broke and it never occurred to me to buy a spaetlze maker. But then I remembered I had a potato ricer. It worked beautifully, now I am thinking I will have to bring this back.
2 eggs, beaten 1/4 cup milk or water 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp salt Dash of pepper
Mix eggs, milk, flour, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Batter will be thick. Heat 2 quarts of water with a teaspoon of salt to boiling. Press batter through colander a few spoonfulls at a time into the boiling water (I used the potato ricer). Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until dumplings rise to surface and are tender, about 5 min. then drain (or use a slotted spoon to remove if you need to keep cooking). Garnish with butter and parsley (garlic is also amazing!)
Of course everyone has different types of food that bring comfort. It is still cold and damp in Minnesota and soups/stews are what I crave. Proeun puts up with my cravings and I do try to make some foods that are comforting to him as well.
This week I will be working on sourdough with all that white flour that I have. And luckily our 4H cheese order from Ellsworth Creamery still came in. So plenty of good comfort food around here. I can’t wait till the nettle and dandelions are up and my comfort food can switch to some fresh items as well. What foods are bring you comfort right now?
After winter comes mud season on Crazy Boy Farm. While it is not my favorite time of the year with the extra laundry and drying the dogs off before they can come in the house, I am thankful for the warmth. And this year I am extra thankful for the business of spring with the animals and life on acreage that becomes our own park.
Proeun and I were on our yearly gettaway this Thursday. We may be a bit behind but on Wednesday we started getting the strong impression that the Coronavirus would be affecting our family (and community) much stronger then we originally thought. We talked briefly about what our financial plans should be if Proeun’s work closed. We already homeschool and stay home much of the time so that was mostly the extent of our talks Wednesday night.
We went to Duluth for lunch and some shopping. We were enjoying each others company so no radio. In the late afternoon we checked in at our hotel. While we were unpacking and settling in we turned the news on. It was shocking how fast things were changing. States were shutting down schools and declaring a state of emergency. New York had established the first containment area in New Rochelle.
Locally things were changing as well. We went to dinner. Normally there is a 1-3 hour wait for dinner at this restaurant. On Thursday there was no wait and a lot of nervous smiles.
We went to bed Thursday night wondering if we should cut our time short and head home. In the morning we both knew that when we turned on the news more would likely have changed overnight.
We had our breakfast and headed home. We stopped at Walmart on the way to fill our water jugs. I didn’t expect the whole toilet paper thing would be present in northern Minnesota but yep no toilet paper on the shelves. The baby wipe aisle was pretty bare as well, as was the bottled water.
Matthew Wood is one of my favorite resources for herbal health information. He has an email list I highly recommend. His recommendations include standard (but not so standard) practices of early bedtimes, increasing vitamins and minerals and avoiding sugar. He posts updates on the Coronavirus on his home page.
Honestly most of us have no idea what to do when we are sick. There was a young man behind us in line at Walmart with a cart full of 1 liter bottles of Mountain Dew and skittles. He was stocked up I am telling you, probably 20 bottles or so.
But in all seriousness we often are our own worst enemies. I know in our family we tend to have a cycle were we start adding more and more activities and duties then all of a sudden someone is sick. I have a saying that when we get sick it is our body telling us, giving us permission and commanding us to slow down. So we do. We clear our schedules and stay home and rest. Now I am aware that we as a family have a great deal of privilege to have that as an option and we are not in the high risk group for this illness but there are other illnesses and health is about more then avoiding the Coronavirus.
One thing Matthew Wood says is with herbal medicine it is less about killing the virus (or bacteria, illness, etc.) but building up the body’s systems so that it can effectively fight the infection. This is a good practice no matter what the illness. So this is what we are doing to build up our body systems.
Early bedtime. By 10 at least but the earlier the better
Reducing Stress. This is closely related to the first because if you lie in bed at night worried about the Coronavirus you won’t sleep. Stress is very debilitating and we want to build our body up.
Washing hands. I have not tried making hand sanitizer but I have heard there are recipes online and when we stopped at one shop they offered us some when we came through the door.
Reduce sugar. When I am looking for new recipes to try I normally search for Keto or THM recipes as these tend to have no sugar. Here is my favorite THM cookbook. More on THM in a later post.
Increase fruits and veggies. While at Walmart Proeun went to get some vitamin C and Zinc. The shelves were bare! He tried ordering some online and it is out of stock. But there were still plenty of citrus fruits and bell peppers (vitamin C), and don’t forget greens and mushrooms, etc. Garlic and onions are also amazing traditional staples for fighting illness.
Learn the things that make you feel nourished and cared for and do those.
Research and try some immune boosting foods.
When we arrived home I made a batch of elder berry syrup. My favorite recipe comes from this book. But there are many recipes online.
I also started a mushroom bone broth. I had some lamb bones left over from a dinner during the week. I added astragulus root (I got mine from here but they are pretty backed up right now. Could also use this powder), reishi mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, 2 onions, a whole head of garlic and some apple cider vinegar. There are also vegan immune boosting broth recipes online.
If you prefer books. Here are some of my top recommendations to promote herbal health.
I am all about teaching my children how to be healthy. This book not only has my favorite elder berry syrup recipe but lots of recipes and activities to get kids excited about herbs.
I also highly recommend Staying Healthy with the Seasons. This Book is written more from a Chinese medicine/ body systems perspective. It goes through the seasons of the year and which body systems are more closely related to that season with recipes and action steps to promote health.
I told my sister I hope we all are reminded how important our health is. We should also be empowered that there are things that we can do to promote personal and familial health. What are you doing to stay healthy?
I wrote last week about how the storms of 2019 had really paved the way for rebuilding and re-purposing. I have had the book Garden Awakening on my night stand for a couple of years now.
Finally this last month I read it. I am now so excited to get out to my garden. I had honestly not known of any other way to plant a garden but in rows. One herby friend of mine blew my mind a couple of years ago when she planted her garden in a spiral shape.
I am so inspired by the information I am discovering as I delve more fully into the healing nature of plants and well nature . Mary Reynolds is from Ireland. She still lives in Ireland and she writes from this perspective. She doesn’t mind talking about magic and fairies and connections, but from a fully Irish perspective (this just happens to be part of my cultural heritage). While I feel like the majority of European culture has lost its nature connections; it was so refreshing to read a totally engaging book that says it is not lost. It just needs to be reclaimed.
One way to do this is by reclaiming your land (whether a small lot or many acres) and setting your intentions for it. Speak to the land and acknowledge that you belong to it as much as it belongs to you. You were brought together for great things, so embrace that and get moving.
Reynolds writes, “We are drawn to certain locations where the land resonates with us and pulls us towards it. People can spend their entire lives looking for the places where they belong, places where they feel at home, where they fit and can comfortably set down roots. We are simply a reflection of the land beneath us, and nature is always waiting for us to return home.”
I am so happy to have found my home and place to put down roots. That doesn’t mean that it is always perfect, but the connection is just what you need.
As the spring weather kicks into full gear in my north country home I excitedly plan for a new year and a new beginning. I will be adding more elderberry, a hawthorne and mulberry tree but more plans are in the works.
In what ways do you feel connected to your land (whether pots on a balcony, a city lot or acreage)? What ways can you cultivate more connection? Is this important to you?
It was July 17, 2019. Friday of the Chisago County Fair. Avril was showing one of our goats at the fair and we typically spend ALOT of time at the fair. That morning I got an odd call from my sister. She is not a weather buff or even a news buff but she had heard that potentially serious storms could be coming through our area and called to warn us and ask that we keep an eye to the skies. In fairness the weather has been getting more severe over the past couple of years and we have had our share of storms but because my sister called I took it to heart.
After lunch and the dairy show I asked Avril to come home with us to help with chores. About 4 o’clock we went out to feed the animals. It was getting dark so we fed the animals we could indoors.
Then we saw the clouds and went inside to batten down the hatches. It was fast, all of 10 minutes but the high winds and hail left a massive amount of destruction.
In truth it seems like the pressure of life had been building for a long time. We had made the decision to stop doing our CSA but then weren’t sure what our next course of action should be. Then Proeun’s brother passed away unexpectedly and the whole family was thrown into a turmoil. I was also facing alot of pressure and personal issues.
Now I see the storm was the release we needed, the intense focus of energy did cause alot of damage (honestly the repairs are still not completed) but it gave us something tangible to focus on. There were 3 major trees that went down around the house. One hit our car and totaled our car. Another punctured our roof and caused water damage in one of our bedrooms. Other trees went down on fencing and in our field. Right after the storm I would say my home looked a little like what I had been feeling inside.
Now we know how and what to rebuild. So sorry for the radio silence for so long. There have been alot of storms here, but now we are rebuilding and I am very excited about the opportunities.
It has been ages since I wrote. What have I been up to? Well a full summer of swimming lessons, rural school, camping and honestly I can’t even remember what we did except try to get a break as much as possible and try to recover. 2017 was a very difficult year for us as a family and it really felt like we had never been able to slow down and catch a breath. So our goal for this year was to get healthy–mind, body and spirit. But it seemed like I wasn’t really able to get started on that goal until this summer when I came across Sharny and Julius in a Facebook post. I was inspired by Sharny’s story and realized she had a similar number of children, was a similar age to me and we had similar before (only my before picture was actually how I looked at the time). I began to think maybe I had another option then accepting that my body would never be fit again (actually I don’t think I had ever been really fit, only young).
Their program was affordable and I signed up for their 8 week exercise program. Each day was 15 minutes or less and could be done in your home with no special equipment. The very first day was a challenge but I persevered and completed all 8 weeks!
While I began with Sharny’s eating program as well I was introduced to Danette May and her 3 day detox. I had always wanted to do a detox but was told you couldn’t if you were nursing or pregnant. I have been one or both for the past 15 years! But this detox was completely food based so I felt safe doing it. Also my baby was no longer exclusively breastfeeding. Danette May has alot of tragedy in her story. She lost a son at childbirth, followed by divorce, extremely hard economic times and depression so debilitating she couldn’t leave her house. She used health–nutrition and exercise–to change her life around beginning with her mental health and outlook. I really needed help in this area and so I tried the detox. By the end of day 2 I called me mom and told her, “I am happy for no reason!” This was a huge change in my life.
After the detox I started looking really closely at how I was eating. As Danette said nutrition and food is 80% of our health. So I knew I couldn’t go back to the way I was eating before. Around this time my father went in for open heart surgery. Hello wake up call!
Then I remembered Trim Healthy Mama. I had been one of the original mamas back when the book was first published 5 years ago. I enjoyed it, lost alot of weight, and then got pregnant again. Then life hit me full force. This time around there are so many resources (like pictures, and blogs and products!) to help you on your way. This was the one time that Proeun and I could agree on what was healthy and the whole family enjoyed healthy food regularly. So I once again became a Trim Healthy Mama.
Now I am down 20 pounds. While I am not lighter then I was in high school I am wearing a smaller size clothes and am feeling completely satisfied and nourished. It is amazing knowing that you are putting in the time to take care of your health because you are worth it. Now if I were to pick one word to describe how I feel it would be Vibrant.
I was so inspired that I decided to become a coach! I am now a THM (Trim Healthy Mama) certified coach. Here is a link to my coaching page.
So I have been doing THM for awhile and not really talked about it. But I was inspired today. By what you ask? My snack.
As I said there are so many great resources out there. This week I am doing the October Challenge with My Montana Kitchen. This is a Fuel Cycle Challenge which is designed to cycle through different fuel (food) types to rev metabolism. It is not recommended unless you have been on THM for 6 months or over. But that doesn’t mean that you can not enjoy some of the delicious recipes. This snack was so good it inspired my post today! Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies and Secret Ingredient Hot Chocolate (the secret ingredient is okra). I made the salted caramel version.
All the recipes have been great but another favorite is Southwest Chicken Salad. We had this for dinner last night and Proeun took the leftovers for lunch. Literally every time I have talked to him today he has told me how much he enjoyed the salad.
If you are interested in learning more about my health journey or talking about how you can get started on a path to better health–mind body and spirit check out my coaching page.
Over the winter much of my time has revolved around writing and reading. Being a writer it is easy to think I know how I am supposed to be spending my time. But this spring I am reminded of the mind clearing benefits of manual labor. My days have been filled with
scrubbing floors and window
mucking out barns and stalls
clearing winter debris
cuddling children with skinned knees from playing outside
repairing winter damage
Now when I am feeling guilty about taking time away from “work” I am reminded that sometimes it is hard work that is best for clearing the head and starting new. I could definitely use a new start.