December 31, 2015

Balm :: my Hubby's Mustache mender

Recently my beloved was having an issue of dry skin under his mustache area and I just knew I could help him. So into the craft center I went, in a camper that is the kitchen, dining and living room area all rolled into one, and out came... his new Mustache Mender. 

This simple, but mighty balm works great for moisturizing the skin, and for styling that stache. Works on beards too! Just rub a small amount into needed area and style as usual. Make sure you get the mender to the surface of the skin...

I also added a few drops of essential oils, blended just right for that lovely but manly scent. Oils of Cedar and Cardamon would be a nice combo...

My husband really likes it, and guess what - it has worked. No more skin issues! Now he uses it every few days to help maintain things and keep his man fuzz nice and orderly. We plan to offer this balm through our esty shop, however if you are in a {DIY} mood here's the recipe:

Equal Parts: coconut oil, cocoa butter and bee's wax. Melt together over low heat, once melted, remove and add the essential oils of choice - no more than twelve total, per four ounces. Pour into a container of choice - balm tins or glass. Let Cool. Label and Date. 

Remember that herbal preparations such as balms, salves and oils generally have a shelf life of twelve to eighteen months. So please use it before then. Store in a cool, dry place. And if you desire something a little more firm in the mender, add a little more wax... small amounts at a time. 

December 24, 2015

Botanical Safety & Soured Rosemary Focaccia

While herbal home remedies are often considered safe, and I would have to agree, especially when placed along side most 'over the counter' pharmaceuticals. However, there remains a responsibility on the herbalist, to be educated in the area of contraindications and toxicity when working with botanical home remedies that simply can not be neglected.

“Considerable risks are ignored far too often, while theoretical risks are exaggerated as they are passed along.” ~ Jessie Hawkins, Advanced Botanical Medicine, Chapter Six – Vintage Remedies.

Although I do not feel qualified to share an indepth post on botanical safety and all of its faucets. I do feel comfortable sharing about the importance of being equipped and point out a direction to help find information that could be vital in caring for our families. Reliable information.

During my courses I gleaned the names of two 'pharmacovigilance reporting' groups – an adverse reaction reporting system that includes traditional remedies, herbal remedies and pharmaceuticals. While I am sure there are others out there, these two groups were specifically mentioned:

  • World Health Organization International Drug Monitoring Program
  • American Botanical Society

The class text also reminds the student to review the material subjectively, as reports may not be thorough. We should to be diligent to verify if the herb in question was correctly identified and/or if the dosage was correctly used, as well as other possible reasons for the known contraindications.

Let's take Rosemary ~ rosmarinus officinale ~ for an example, known for it abilities in carminative action, being an antioxidant and active in antimicrobial ability. Indicated for enhancing memory, topical wound healing and relieving headaches... however with rosemary there is a need of caution for use during pregnancy. This is due to the connection between the high oil content {type of} that is linked to birth defects in rats... you see, this information needs to be verified by an evidence base, reliable source and not just random places on the net. Including my own.

This doesn't mean that we can not use, nor enjoy the flavor of this lovely herbal remedy. But that we should exercise wisdom on when and how we use it. Like on Rosemary Focaccia Bread!

The Recipe: soured focaccia bread with rosemary & asiago cheese

  • 3 ¼ c flour – I use spelt, whole wheat or any combination of these along with rye
  • 3 ¼ c water – not hot, not cold
  • ¾ t yeast – or ¼ c sourdough starter
  • ¾ t salt – real, celtic or pink

Place all of these ingredients into a bowl, and mix well. Place the dough into an oiled container and seal with a lid. Let the dough sit in the fridge for at least 48 hours, however I opt to leave mine in for 72 hours. This takes some extra planning, but it's oh so worth it.

After the fermenting process, remove the dough from the fridge. Work out the soon to be focaccia with your fingers on a oiled cookie sheet, to your desired shaped. Remember that focaccia is a flat oven baked bread, similar to pizza. Then move on to the...

The Toppings: apply in order shown here

~ A light spray of Avocado Oil – spray pan and top of bread 
~ Shredded Asiago Cheese – sprinkle to desired thickness, this is really personal preferenc 
~ Add Rosemary – I used a couple tablespoons sprinkled about, again ~ preference 
~ Thin slices of Tomato – placed randomly across the top of your focaccia

Once your topping are in place and your focaccia is looking yummy, pop it into a preheated oven, at 350 for about 20 to 25 minutes. Or until bread crust is done, as time may vary.

A note on the dough: I have used this type for a few years now, it's easy, it's yummy, and it's healthier. If you google bucket bread or something like that, you will many variations and recipes. Have fun and enjoy!
~ Blessings!

December 17, 2015

{Advanced Herbal Medince} Five Reason's Not to Disregard Dosing

The topic of dosing can be a somewhat controversial subject among modern herbalist. Often times being one the biggest challenges for an herbalist to face. With the numerous herbal preparations, blend potentials and the various dosing guidelines – it could leave one wondering how to choose the best method for success. But the need to address dosing should not be ignored and here's why:

Five Reason's You Should Not Disregard Dosing:

  • The standardization of herbal remedies use what is called the '150 pound rule'. Meaning that the recommended doses on the bottle of a standardized supplement are for those individuals weighing an average of one hundred fifty pounds. This means if you weigh more or less than that weight, you will need to dose up or down for the herbal remedy to keep it's standardized effectiveness. 

  • Children offer a whole new complexity... for this reason, there are a variety of 'rules' known among herbalists regarding dosing. I personally am focused on two, attempting to commit them memory, as well as keeping them handy for reference. These are known as Clark's Rule and Freid's Rule... you can read more about pediatric dosing guidelines and the formula here. Freid's Rule – similar to Clark's – is for infants and small children, and states... “the child's age in months. Divide by 150, then multiply by the adult dose to arrive at the child's dose.” 

  • Counting drops doesn't always offer the same precise measurement and dose. This is because a drop can vary in remedy strength, due to dropper size and liquid viscosity. It's often fine for home use, with safe herbs. However, it's wise to remember that it is not precise and that drop dosing, when used. should be utilized in the metric system. 

  • No concern for the strength of a herbal remedy, or the quality of the herbal matter or even accurate dosing can result in either dangerous overdosing or inadequate usage. One factor at play here is the use of whole herbs vs. liquid extracts... whole herbs must first be broken down by the digestive system before they are available for the body to use. The bodies ability to break down the herb effects the bodies ability to absorb the supplement. This is just one element to consider when dosing and/or making preparations. 

  • The method of extraction is another important factor to consider in dosing, one reason for this is because using alcohol with water-soluble compounds, such as mucilage and tannins, creates a dilution in the alcohol. Resulting in a lower concentration or potency of our remedy. This in turn effects dosing...

Class also clued me in on this dosing tip: the number's on a standardized bottle of remedy, the ratios like 1:5 is better remembered as the second number equally 1 g of herb. So in a 1:5 ratio – a 5mL dose would result in 1 g of herb. I thought it meant something completely different, so I was grateful to learn the truth!

This post was inspired in part from chapter four of my Advance Herbal Medicine course with Vintage Remedies. If you would like to learn more about evidence based herbalism, blending and dosing along with other home remedies I would highly recommend taking any of their courses!

~ Blessings!

Stared w/: Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth - Homemaking Monday's #84

*This post contains affiliate links and any purchase made through these links blesses my home with a small commission, of which I am very thankful. You may also use the side bar graphic for a link to the Vintage Remedies home page. Also please refer to my side bar disclosure for more information regarding natural health and this blog. Thank you...

December 15, 2015

Low Cost Resources for Alternative Lighting

As I continue to journey along side these Amish homes, I am enjoying my small - but precious interactions with these families. In the midst of the moments I am blessed to be gleaning some priceless information too. Information that helps our learning curves and pocket books, and one of those priceless gleanings was the "Amish Store" – which in reality is just a little shop attached to the back of a home.

I am SO grateful that they have allowed us to shop there... priceless I say! Now in regards to off the grid lighting... which is something we are learning more about... the lantern is an Amish staple. Here they sell mostly Dietz lanterns and replacement globes, 'jar head' lamps, wicks and their globes. And every now and again I run across some candles and their accessories. 

Did you know they use lanterns as lights on the side of their buggies for night time 'driving'...

Low cost you say? Yes ~ I Answer!  Here's a Break Down from My Last Visit

Looking at my last receipt, I spent $4.00 for globes... $2.00 each. $3.00 for lamp heads with wick... $1.50 each and $7.50 for one small Dietz lantern. Please take a moment and look up the price of a small Dietz lantern online – the one I purchased from the Amish was less than half the price you would pay for it online.

In the past, I have purchased the next larger one, for only $10.00. A story – just after purchasing that blue lantern I was heading to town with a friend and we stopped at a gas station where they were selling that same lantern for $35.00. We just shook our head and mentally said no thank you. :)

However - I must admit, I am not too fond of the idea than these lanterns are made in China... 

Anyone out there know of a high quality American made lantern on the market?

So what are some other options?  Readers - what am I missing?

  • Candles – I usually make them myself. I paid roughly $56.00 for a forty pound slab of beeswax and that has lasted me well over three years. And I use it for so many things... but I do need to consider a new source now that we have moved.
  • Solar Lights – okay this was a total splurge... I just purchased a small solar light and I am waiting for it to get here. It's my first. But my friend – the same one mentioned above – she has the same one I just ordered and I have seen it work. It's a great little light.
  • Flash Lights & Head Lamps – honestly, I don't pay much here either. If memory serves me correctly I think the most expensive flash light I purchased was $4.00 and the head lamp... it was $7.00. The cheapies last long enough and work just fine for our needs.

We have a great place to purchase replacement wicks for even a cheaper price than the "Amish Store"... but that resource is for another topic.

Finally, I wanted share a lighting idea that my friend uses in her home, she has a 'glass jar lamp' lit, setting on a corner shelf in her main room, and behind the lamp – is a mirror. This mirror reflects the light back into the center of the room. It is so warm and pretty, as well as functional.

~ Blessings!

December 10, 2015

Romanticizing the Amish

When I moved to this neck of the woods, right next to and among the Amish, I was just filled with giddy. Yes, I came with all sorts of grand ideas about them... most of which were romanticized by media of all sorts. Now that I have been here for little over a year I have come to an understanding that being Amish can mean a hundred different things and some of it does not look like “Saving Sarah Cain”. Sad but true.

Don't get me wrong, living here has taught me a lot about living an off grid life style, and about homesteading. And this experience I would not trade either... but imagine with me a slow drive down Amish Lane.

Plain clothes flapping in the breeze on the line, along the porch at the front of the house. Little ones running about with bonnets and straw hats... white signs of sell-ables at the end of each dirt drive. Chickens, cows, goats and sheep... rolling hills and the faint sound of the horse and buggy clopping down the road. Serene and beautiful. That is until you look in the back of the buggy and see a white Wal-Mart bag filled to the brim with Cheese Puffs and Mountain Dew. 

Yep – those neon green bottles where an image killer. They opened my eyes to see what was really going on beyond my 'romanticized' glasses. Upon closer interactions I have learned that being Amish doesn't always mean wholesome practices, homesteading or other wise. True - I wholeheartedly agree that there is a wealth of information one can learn from their culture and lifestyle... but I don't think one should accept the label of being Amish as meaning completely untouched from modern farming (and living) practices.

I have seen the use of pesticides, and knowing this I have had to work a little harder at learning how to ask the right questions. Taking the time to get to know my local food producers. Because I am an Englisher to them, I think there may always be an invisible wall, or at the very least a language barrier. But through this process comes the gleaning of information... 

Moses kept me there talking for about an hour, telling me of his father's hunting escapes and what they did when their dogs were snake bitten. Lydia, whom told us about the Amish store, sells eggs and shared with us her noodle making process and Abe, always pleasant and approachable. He sells us saw dust for our composting toilets for a dollar. :)

No more are they romanticized characters of my ideal dream life, but rather real souls with families and stories. With hurts and struggles just like the rest of us. With practices that I would love to learn more about and some – I will choose to leave out.

~ blessings!