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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Toast to our Children in the Blessing of Marriage





Weddings are a wonderful opportunity for friends and family to gather, put aside their differences, and focus on the happiness of two people united in love and their new chapter in life. As parents, we can only hope the nervous bride and groom can focus on the service enough to get anything out of its message. The Pastor gave some very important messages for any of us striving for a successful and lasting relationship.

People often view their partner as the missing piece needed to make them whole. We cannot view ourselves as an incomplete puzzle with our partner as that missing piece. It sounds romantic to speak poetic like that but to take it literally puts the partner in the position to feel pressured and in prt responsible for the other person's happiness. We are not a possession of one another.

The secret of a healthy relationship is to not say to ourselves, "Am I loved?", but rather say "Am I loving?". To continually question whether we are loved does nothing but put the other person in the position to feel tested and having to prove his/her love. We are told that love is a verb, which is true. To love is an action, but we have to stop interpreting every little annoying thing our spouse does as failing us in some way. that "if he loved me he wouldn't be so thoughtless" or "if he loved me he would already know that without me having to tell him". That patter of thinking adds to our own insecurity which soon puts a wedge between two people. Insecurity becomes very draining to any type of relationship and the end result is the desire to escape.

To ask ourselves whether we are loving forces us to observe our behavior and how we must appear to that other person. It puts us outside of ourselves in a better position to focus on where our energy is being spent; are we focusing more on giving or receiving.

YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CHANGE A PERSON OR A SITUATION, BUT YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS THAT PERSON OR SITUATION.
There are often occasions that we are up against the wall and come to realize that we just have to "accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference". Once you fully accept "it is what it is", a tremendous burden will be lifted.

When two people both hold their ground over their differences, emotions tend to escalate and things just get worse. Whether the other person is "wrong" or not isn't the point. What matters is that the only thing we can change is our attitude.

FOCUS ON THE FAULTS OF YOURSELF AND THE GOODNESS IN YOUR PARTNER.
Too often we expect our partner to behave as we would in a given situation. It is almost like we wish that person to be a version of ourselves. It is much easier to find fault in someone else or the circumstances of a situation than to stand back and take a hard look at ourselves. It takes work and an open mind to seek self-improvement and self-enlightenment without the defense mechanisms of denial and projection standing in the way.  You'll get much farther with communication if you make an effort to build up that person rather than tear down. The two words you should try not to use are "never" and "always". Those words immediately put the other person on the defensive which can easily send the conversation downhill rather quickly.

TRY TO ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOUR PARTNER IS A GIFT.
Everything about what makes that person a unique individual is now yours to share and vice versa. Obviously, those traits are what each person fell in love with in the first place. Yet it is so easy to loose focus on any of that once the honeymoon phase is past and life settles into an everyday routine with all the pressures and worries of reality. Make a point to regularly stand back and appreciate this person who actually wants to share a life with you. Once you realize that this person standing before you is a gift from God everything about them becomes more amazing and something to treasure.

Everyone has their own beliefs in the existence of a power greater than ourselves. Relationships are so much easier and stronger when both partners share in those convictions. The world doesn't revolve around us and those who share the security of seeking a higher power for strength and guidance relieve themselves of the drain of worrying about that which is beyond our control.

THE RING IS A SIGN OF THE LOVE AND FIDELITY OF THE ONE WHO GIVES IT
That ring was placed on the finger by your partner. Don't think its meaning is simply a love that never ends. It represents the commitment, love and faithfulness of your spouse to you! The wedding rings are never taken off because we're to see it as an ongoing reminder of the promise made to us by that other person.





The tears and emotions flooding through every parent who has witnessed the most memorable, important event in the lives of their children can be impossible to put into words. Years of images topple over one another in a flash of memory as we symbolically hand over our children to begin a life outside of our own.

So now it is time to turn the page and begin another chapter in this book we call life.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Toast to Our Children in the Blessing of Marriage





Weddings are a wonderful opportunity for friends and family to gather, put aside their differences, and focus on the happiness of two people united in love and their new chapter in life. As parents, we can only hope the nervous bride and groom can focus on the service enough to get anything out of its message. The Pastor gave some very important messages for any of us striving for a successful and lasting relationship.

People often view their partner as the missing piece needed to make them whole. We cannot view ourselves as an incomplete puzzle with our partner as that missing piece. It sounds romantic to speak poetic like that but to take it literally puts the partner in the position to feel pressured and in part responsible for the other person's happiness. We are not a possession of one another.

The secret of a healthy relationship is to not say to ourselves, "Am I loved?", but rather "Am I loving?To continually question whether we are loved does nothing but put the other person in the position to feel tested and having to prove his/her love. We are told that love is a verb which is very true. To love is an action but we have to stop interpreting every little annoying thing our spouse does as failing us in some way. That "if he loved me he wouldn't be so thoughtless" or "if he loved me he would already know that without me having to tell him".  That pattern of thinking adds to our own insecurity which soon puts a wedge between two people. Insecurity becomes very draining to any type of relationship and the end result is the desire to escape.

To ask ourselves whether we are loving forces us to observe our behavior and how we must appear to that other person. It puts us outside of ourselves in a better position to focus on where our energy is being spent, are we focusing more on giving or receiving.  

YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CHANGE A PERSON OR A SITUATION, BUT YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS THAT PERSON OR SITUATION
There are often occasions that we are up against the wall and finally realize that we just have to "accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference". Once you fully accept "it is what it is" a tremendous burden will be lifted, and you'll be amazed how much better you feel.

When two people both hold their ground over their differences, emotions tend to escalate and things just get worse. Whether the other person is "wrong" or not isn't the point. The point is that the only thing we can really change is our attitude about a situation. 

FOCUS ON THE FAULTS OF YOURSELF AND THE GOODNESS IN YOUR PARTNER.
Too often we expect our partner to behave as we would in a given situation. It is almost like we wish that person to be a version of ourselves. It is much easier to find fault in someone else or the circumstances of a situation than to stand back and take a hard look at ourselves. It takes work and an open mind to seek self-improvement and self-enlightenment without the defense mechanisms of denial and projection standing in the way.  You'll get much farther with communication if you make an effort to build up that person rather than tear down. The two words you should try not to use are "never" and "always". Those words immediately put the other person on the defensive which can easily send the conversation downhill rather quickly.

TRY TO ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOUR PARTNER IS A GIFT. Everything about what makes that person a unique individual is now yours to share and vice versa. Obviously, those traits are what each person fell in love with in the first place. Yet it is so easy to loose focus on any of that once the honeymoon phase is past and life settles into an everyday routine with all the pressures and worries of reality. Make a point to regularly stand back and appreciate this person who actually wants to share a life with you. Once you realize that this person standing before you is a gift from God everything about them becomes more amazing and something to treasure.

Everyone has their own beliefs in the existence of a power greater than ourselves. Relationships are so much easier and stronger when both partners share in those convictions. The world doesn't revolve around us and those who share the security of seeking a higher power for strength and guidance relieve themselves of the drain of worrying about that which is beyond our control.

THE RING IS A SIGN OF THE LOVE AND FIDELITY OF THE ONE WHO GIVES IT. That ring was placed on the finger by your partner. Don't think its meaning is simply a love that never ends. It represents the commitment, love and faithfulness of your spouse to you! The wedding rings are never taken off because we're to see it as an ongoing reminder of the promise made to us by that other person.





The tears and emotions flooding through every parent who has witnessed the most memorable, important event in the lives of their children can be impossible to put into words. Years of images topple over one another in a flash of memory as we symbolically hand over our children to begin a life outside of our own.

So now it is time to turn the page and begin another chapter in this book we call life. 




Friday, July 24, 2015

Pretty Petals in Pink

We can easily call flowering plants eye candy.

Flowers that are bright are attractive to birds, insects and animals. This attraction is what the plants need to reproduce and continue to survive. Flower colors of red, pink, blue and purple come mainly from pigments called anthocyanins, which are in the class of chemicals called flavanoids. Flavanoids are what give plants their color, found in the genetic hereditary genome of the plants.

That explains the very practical reason for nature's beautiful visual displays, but for us the symbolism of color goes far beyond that. Color has a very real impact on our minds, emotions and attitudes.

The color pink is the color of universal love. Love of oneself, love of beauty, love of warmth and nurturing others. A quiet color, pink represents friendship, affection, inner peace and harmony. Passion and anger represent the color red, purity and openness represent the color white. Those two blend to give us a gentle tint to lessen feelings of anger and unhappiness and surround us with a sense of love and protection. 

Though pink has primarily been recognized as a feminine color and the sweetness of little girls, this color is actually an important symbol for hope and awareness. We see a pink ribbon and immediately think of the hope to conquer breast cancer. In Japan, pink has a masculine association. The pink cherry tree blossoms are a representation of fallen Japanese warriors.

In color therapy, pink is used for grief, loneliness and depression. Pink, along with the color green, is linked with the Heart Chakra, which concerns love and higher consciousness. The Heart Chakra bridges the gap between the physical and spiritual worlds. Therefore, it is no surprise why just being out in the gardens is so therapeutic for the soul.

Nature offers us a wonderful selection of pink flowering plants. If you plan on bloom times you can enjoy the comfort of pink throughout the entire growing season. 





Bleeding Heart is a spring blooming perennial, a wonderful plant for a children's garden to encourage imaginary play.
The little blossoms look like dancing ballerinas.
For the romantic in us, they also symbolize a teardrop dripping from a broken heart.

The Carolina Rose is a shrubby bush which blooms pink in the spring followed by nutritious rose hips in the fall.


Cosmos is a sure to please, easy to grow, drought resistant summer annual. This plant sprawls and has a tendency to look messy since it can fall over, break off and still keep on going. Carefree and tough, as the blossoms go to seed they are easy to gather for next season but often reseed themselves.
Cleome or Spider Flower is a summer blooming annual. If given the room this drought resistant, interesting plant is beautiful as it sprawls. Seed pods burst open in late summer, making it easy to propagate and reseed itself.
BeeBalm or Monarda is a summer blooming perennial plant wonderful for attracting bees and other important pollinators.
Usually found amidst the herbs, this plant makes a soothing cup of tea.


Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate is an old-fashioned cottage garden plant. This easy to grow summer annual has tassel flowers that easily reseed themselves and pop up wherever they can. A tall plant, it is best if planted as a background, specimen flower to blend in a carefree manner.


Penstemons are an elegant border perennial summer bloomer. They look like little foxgloves.
Those who want to attract hummingbirds should include these little beauties.




Coneflowers or Echinacea are a drought tolerant, summer perennial wonderful for pollinators and birds alike.
The porcupine-like seed heads are an ideal winter bird feed.
Zinnias are a popular, showy annual flower loved by anyone wanting to attract butterflies.
Easy to grow and easy to save the seed to replant every year, zinnias come in an assortment of colors.
The Rose of Sharon is a beautiful summer blooming bush.
This variety in particular is a huge shrub and is the size of a small tree.


Joe Pye Weed is a native summer blooming perennial wonderful for the natural carefree cottage garden.
A must for someone wanting to attract beneficial insects.


Spirea is a popular landscaping foundation shrub. This variety is in the medium height range of about three feet and spreads about three to four feet wide. Insects love it and it is a showpiece plant.as a summer bloomer.




Sedums come in a variety of types. This one is a dark, magenta color. Sedums are important as a beneficial plant for fall insects after many of the summer blooming flowers have faded.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice!


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Something Lost, Something Gained! Reinvent, Repurpose, Reuse



Nothing lasts forever and this past spring we had to say good-bye to our above ground swimming pool. After fifteen years the pool served its purpose entertaining our kids during the hot summer months but we were getting tired of the cost of its upkeep. With everything being made of either tin or plastic it was inevitable that the effects of the elements would be a constant battle between cracked hoses and the formation of rust. The water intake area formed a rust spot on the side of the pool a few years ago and it slowly spread downward. One nasty winter storm too many and that weak spot burst, causing the collapse of the pool frame.



Wanting to keep as much as possible out of the landfill we found a use for everything but the plastic support columns. The liner we cut up and stored to use later for something, perhaps as walkways in the garden. The plastic rim that went around the top we used to line around my herb garden which was planted using an old winter pool cover to initially cover the ground and kill the grass so the size was the same. The tin sides were cut up and picked up by a local scrap dealer. What a job all that was!

The remaining sand pit remained and we decided to turn the area into a great spot for garden bedding boxes. Already leveled flat and with great southern sun exposure it was the perfect spot for plants needing at least eight hours of direct sun a day. Being the boxes were on sand we wanted a deeper depth so used 12" wide lumber. These boxes are 8' long by 4' wide which is perfect for my needs. You don't want your boxes too wide or it becomes difficult to reach towards the center. We needed almost four yards of garden soil to fill them so to save money we ordered it to be delivered as a truck load rather than individual bags. It was a mixture of top soil and mushroom soil. What a delight to work with great quality soil right from the start!

With limited space, try to make the most of going up. Pole beans rather than bush beans, cucumbers and my birdhouse gourds all climb so the use of vertical supports really increases your possibilities. I even made use of an old wooden ladder for the gourds.

Think succession planting. If you plant onions in the early spring and pull them as scallions, that area can be later used for something else. By August when the summer squash and green beans may be dwindling you can plant turnips, spinach, lettuce, beets, kale, radishes, chard and winter onions. By October you will have room for planting some garlic bulbs and enjoy fresh garlic next July. When the garlic gets dug up there will be space for something else, perhaps a second planting of green beans.

Bedding boxes don't have to be used for vegetable gardens. You can have a beautiful herb garden. Get creative and have a themed garden. Perhaps one box can be for your cooking herbs, another box can be used for medicinal herbs, another can be for herbs used in crafts such as the Artemisias which are great for making wreaths. You can create a garden aimed to attract beneficial pollinators or for butterflies and hummingbirds. One box can be your night bloomers to attract moths. So even with limited space you can create your own, unique, individualized spot to call your own.

June

July
Sprawling all over the ground is just one pumpkin plant!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lavender Wands, Nostalgic Gift, Centerpiece Idea



Weddings, bridal showers, baby showers are always more meaningful when personal touches are added to the decor. Color schemes and themes add a unique and individualized touch to such intimate celebrations. 

Between Internet sites such as Blogs and Pinterest to give you ideas and instructions, and the availability of supplies from craft stores, it is easy to become excited and look forward to getting involved in party preparations. Don't be so quick to say you aren't crafty. Rediscover the imagination you had as a child and have fun with trial and error. Anything takes practice and what better fun for a craft day than to learn together as a group.

Once you get the knack of how to do these, Lavender Wands are really rewarding to make. Besides being a conversation starter of a centerpiece, having a vase full of lavender wands can benefit anyone near them with their heavenly scent and ability to relax and soothe frazzled nerves.
Not only are they pretty and smell good, they have a very practical use once the event is over. You can keep them as is bundled in a vase to scent the room and add to your home decor. Or you can give them out to your guests as appreciated party favors. Lavender wands can be put into linen or clothing drawers to add a delicate scent as well as help keep out moths. Sachets were very popular in times past as a way to prevent moth damage in stored clothing and blankets. Here is a blog post of the harmful effects of using moth balls and how to utilize herbs as an alternative.

Here is what you'll need to make your Lavender Wands:
Long stemmed Lavender such as the Grosso type rather than the Munstead type used for potpourri and arrangements. 
 An excellent source for bundles of this type of fresh cut lavender is Local Harvest out of Washington state
You want the fresh cut lavender, not the dried. The stems have to still be flexible.
Spools of ribbon in the colors of your choice. Widths of no more than 1/4 inch work best. I found that one roll of 3/16 inch x 6 yards makes about four to five wands if you want a tail of ribbon to drape below the length of the stem. I'd estimate my stems were 8 - 10 inches long. The pictured vase has 24 wands and I used about six spools of ribbon, two each of three different colors.

Below is a tutorial on how to make these adorable lavender wands:



Lavender (Lavandula spp) has been called the 'mother of all essences', and is one of the most well known scents amidst the world of herbs and essential oils. It has often been called the safe "go to" remedy for babies, children and adults alike. Frazzled nerves, sleep troubles, headaches, muscle aches, skin flair-ups, bug bites, first-aid care, the list goes on. 
One of the most versatile herbs, lavender has been used since the ancient Greek and Roman times. It gets its name from the Latin 'lavare', meaning to wash. Its soothing, antiseptic qualities make it beneficial for cleansing and caring for various skin ailments.

Below is a link for the perfect gift for that special someone who enjoys and understands the benefits of this wonderful herb. This gift arrangement includes seven personal care products utilizing the soothing, healing properties of the lovely lavender plant. For the face we have four items: lavender infused honey as part of a honey/glycerin gentle facial cleanse, a raw honey facial mask to perk up tired skin and keep it blemish free, an exfoliating face and body sugar scrub, and a rich moisturizing cream containing lavender and sandalwood essential oils. For the hair, we have a lavender infused apple cider vinegar rinse to add shine, remove build-up and balance scalp pH. Bath time includes relaxing bath salts to soothe away the day's tension followed by a lovely body powder to help one feel dry and fresh. 


Love of Lavender Gift Assortment

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Vanilla, Nector Of The Gods



When you think of Vanilla, what first comes to mind? Mom's kitchen? Home Sweet Home? Holiday baking? Candles? Chocolate and romance? Usually it is the taste and smell factors that are most familiar to us.

Being taste and smell are important components when it comes to love and romance, it is no wonder the sweet, alluring aroma of vanilla is so captivating. We're in love with the idea of love, something we all seek and treasure. Vanilla's sweet, welcoming odor just seems to draw people to it.

According to Valerie Ann Worwood in "The Fragrant Heavens", aroma evokes emotions, as well as memory, and often the two are connected. Emotions run deep, to the very core of our being. Time means nothing to aroma, therefore deep seated emotions are reached immediately when we smell something that triggers a certain memory.

Fragrance molecules are the essential oils from plants, from which we are interdependent and without them life would stop. Worwood states, "plants are the interface between cosmic energies and the earth, upon which we depend." We can capture the aura with photography but have yet to fully understand just what is that energy. Essential oils contain this mystery we call life and their powerful inexplicable energies cannot be fully explained.

Science can study the chemical make-up of plants and record which ones have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and analgesic properties. But understanding their spiritual relationship to us has always been a cause for debate.

The perfume industry thrives on our desires, need for love, captivation for lust and vanilla plays an important role in all of which that entails. Something about the vanilla scent combines sexy, erotic, sweet and innocence all at the same time. You can have a floral bouquet type perfume, or an oriental exotic type perfume, or a relaxing blend, and even a modern, take on the world type scent. Vanilla fits into any of those blends.

Indigenous people are believed to have been the first to have grown vanilla. The Totonaca people of the Gulf coast were probably the first people. The Mexican Revolution nearly destroyed the natural vanilla production in Mexico which led to the beginning of the production of synthetic vanilla. Coumarin was used to disguise the artificial taste which tasted exactly like vanilla. Coumarin is extracted from the Tonka bean. The problem was that Dicumarol, a derivative of Coumarin, is used as a blood thinner, therefore with such safety considerations, it was eventually banned by the FDA.

Today, real vanilla extract is made by cutting the vanilla beans into small pieces and soaking them in hot 65-70% alcohol. There are extracts which are cheaper, called imitation vanilla. It is chemically produced to mimic vanilla with added sugars for better flavor.
Believe it or not, some vanilla labeled as natural actually comes from the castor sacs of beavers. I suppose that is natural enough, but certainly not true vanilla.

Real vanilla is described as "Nector Of The Gods". True vanilla is very expensive and the reason being is that of all the agricultural crops grown, vanilla is the most labor-intensive. The vanilla plant (Vanilla planifolia) will thrive only in tropical areas around the equator.
It is a perennial herbaceous vine to a height of fifteen feet. Being a vine, it needs the support of trees of poles and takes up to three years to flower.
The large white flowers have a deep narrow trumpet that over a three month period develop into long green pods. 
These pods remain on the vine for another nine months before they can be harvested.
Then they need to go through a drying process of curing that turns them into the fragrant brown pods we're familiar with.

In addition to its high demand in the food industry, vanilla has a lot of of health benefits to offer. It acts on the central nervous system and is known to help with sexual desire and function. The sweet fragrance in vanilla is from what is called Heliotropin, and this is largely responsible for soothing emotional tension and anxiety. Such a release when anxious will definitely help with one's confidence and sex drive.

Having a euphoric effect on the brain, vanilla invigorates and uplifts the spirit while having a calming effect of the entire nervous system. 

Vanilla can even help with weight loss by reducing a person's sweet tooth.

Vanilla is rich in both anti-bacterial properties and antioxidants. Using a vanilla infused oil or lotion topically on the skin can be very useful to help deal with pimples and combat skin aging from free radical damage. 

Below you'll find ways to incorporate the enticing vanilla bean as part of your personal care products. Vanilla beans are infused into either 100 proof vodka or a carrier oil such as jojoba or almond oil. The result is incredible smelling vanilla oil or vanilla tincture to become body massage oil, bath oil, face or body sugar scrubs, body lotion, lip balms, even a hair conditioner. Just click on the caption underneath the picture to take you into the shop for more information or to purchase:


Vanilla Massage, Body or Bath oil

Vanilla Jojoba Hair Conditioning Oil
Vanilla Sage Deodorant Spray
Vanilla Face or Body Sugar Scrub
Vanilla Jojoba oil Solid Lotion Body Butter Bars
Vanilla Lavender Hand or Body Moisturizer

Vanilla Lip Balm


Monday, July 6, 2015

Calendula, a Plant with a Sunny Disposition


Cheery Calendula is a definite favorite, not only because it is so useful, but because it was one of my first introductions to the world of herbal plants.

Calendula gazes up at the sun in such a warm-hearted manner. For centuries, this plant appeared in every rural garden as the go to remedy for the family and animals alike.
The many names given to Calendula reveal its history and purpose. "Rampant Flower" is evident with the how easy the plant can reseed and spread. Calendula blooms constantly from June to frost. Her name derives from the Latin calendae, meaning "the first day of the month" because she grows in so many months, hence the word calendis.
Calendula was also used at burial grounds as a symbol for salvation after death. It was said that her inexhaustible botanical energy is a sign of eternal life.

Several plants in the Compositae family are called "bride of the sun", including Daisy, Chamomile, Dandelion, Chicory, and our Calendula. This is because they each turn towards and follow the light of the sun, opening and closing their flowers as the day progresses. Old folk belief is that if the flower heads close up after 7 a.m. it is going to rain the next day. The sun was a sacred symbol of life and deliverance, therefore certain days of the year were celebrated as solar holidays. Flowers that bloomed at these times and resembled the sun's shape were considered sacred. The Daisy during the vernal equinox, St. John's Wort at the summer solstice, and Chicory and Calendula at the autumnal equinox. A plant of women and a plant of love, the English name "Marigold" represents the Christian Mary or the Germanic Freya. A plant that puts forth continual blossoms represents the undying love in one person for another, a love that never dies.

The two most thought of herbs for wound care in the Daisy family are Calendula and Arnica (Arnica montana). They look similar but are different in that Calendula has an orderly fashion to its petals, whereas Arnica looks disheveled. Calendula's scent is faint, while Arnica is aromatic. Calendula is only grown in cultivated gardens, while Arnica is a wildflower.

Calendula is a remedy for all wounds, especially for those that are inflamed and healing poorly. It is an anti-inflammatory and helps prevent the formation of scar tissue. Stimulating to the body's lymphatic system, Calendula can also be applied to swollen lymph nodes.
Calendula oil is  renowned old wives' remedy against breast cancer.
According to herbalist, Maria Treben, varicose veins can be treated with the application of a salve made from Calendula. Such treatments need to be consistent and patience is needed but over time such blood vessel problems may be helped with daily applications.
Calendula is a wonderful ally in treating your pet for not only wounds but to help clear up problems with eczema and hot spots. The challenge with using any salve on an animal is keeping it there long enough to do its job before being licked clean. This herbal balm contains nothing that would harm your pet if ingested.

Calendula is very easy to grow. It is an annual plant and if starting for the first time, plant seeds about 1/2 inch deep, six inches apart after the danger of frost when temperatures average 60 degrees. Here in zone six planting time is in April. After that first year, if you let some of the flowers go to seed you won't have to plant again. The seeds drop, work their way into the ground and easily germinate in the spring. If you do want to save the seed, just pull the seed heads from the plant, spread on a plate for a few days so any moisture evaporates, then store in a ziploc bag or jar; just so they're kept in a dry, dark place.


Throughout the growing season, the flowers are picked regularly in order that the plant's energy keeps them blooming and not go to seed as quickly.

Some of the flowers are infused in organic virgin cold pressed olive oil. After being given about 6 weeks to sit in a warm, sunny location, the flowers are strained, and the oil is put in mason jars and kept in the refrigerator until ready to be used for salves. Pictured here are Plantain, Calendula and St. Johnswort, all wonderful healing oils.

Flowers are also put up in jars containing apple cider vinegar. 
Herbal vinegars make wonderful hair rinses and facial toners.

Extra flowers are dried for later use. They can be air dried by spreading out on a tray until dry or they can be dried using a dehydrator. Once dry, they are stored in gallon size ziploc bags and kept in a dark, dry place till needed.


This sunny, appealing child and pet safe flower appears in many personal care and medicinal products. Below are wonderful ways to utilize this friendly plant. 
Click on the caption under each picture to go into my shop for more information or to purchase:

Sore nipple balm, Radiation balm, Wound care

Pregnant Belly Balm, stretch marks, itchy skin

Calendula, Chamomile, Nettle Hair Rinse for light hair, conditions, lightens

Calendula, Chamomile, Nettles Face Toner, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, balances skin pH

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mint and its Multitude of Uses



Peppermint is just one of many types of mint in the Mentha family. Though very common in the world of herbs mint is certainly not a lowly plant.
Known as the herb of hospitality, mint has long been used everywhere from the kitchen to the sickroom. Peppermint and spearmint are the most common types of mint, but there are several varieties that can be found at your local nursery in the herb section. A good way to identify whether a plant is in the mint family is to feel the stem. If it is squared rather than round it is in the mint family. Mints are low to no maintenance perennial plants. They are so hardy, they'll be happy to take over your entire garden. The roots spread by way of runners, so If you don't want it to continue to creep along, it is best to plant it in buried containers.

Peppermint has a powerful, menthol aroma that refreshes, energizes and improves mental clarity just by inhaling the steam from a cup of hot tea. Have a supply of mint tea on hand as well as a bottle of the essential oil. So many ailments can be eased with this one plant. Nausea can be relieved, cramping belly aches can be settled, pounding headaches can fade away, congestion can open up, aching, tired feet can perk up, heat flashes can be cooled, overexerted, sore muscles can relax, even kill germs in the air.

You probably already have minty products in your home cabinets, such as toothpaste, candles, mint candy, air sprays, soap, cough medicines, even cigarettes. However, it is unlikely that those scents are the real thing, most likely they were manufactured in a lab and what you are smelling is the synthetic version. Unless the scent is from the pure, therapeutic plant essential oils, don't expect to get the health benefits you wanted.

Just a few notes so you understand the difference between peppermint in herb form versus the essential oil. Essential oils are very concentrated and should always be diluted before applying to the skin, used with caution while pregnant, and should not be used with very young children.
Herbal peppermint in tea form is wonderful for pregnant women to help with nausea, but the essential oil may be too strong for the baby. It is okay to apply a few drops onto a tissue and breathe it in but don't apply the spray directly onto your skin.
Peppermint herbal tea is great for children's belly aches, nausea or headaches but in essential oil form it may be too strong for children under the age of eight. Please check with physician
People with high blood pressure, please check with your physician before using this product.

The use of aromatherapy can be wonderful when used safely. Adding just a few drops to a simmer pot releases the plant essences into the air which kill germs and help little ones breathe and sleep better. An old favorite I've used often when my children were small is the combination of:
3 drops lavender, 3 drops eucalyptus and 2 drops peppermint. There is no need to add more than a 10 drop total when using a diffuser, atomizer or simmer pot. The rule with essential oils is less is more. 

Below are wonderful products utilizing either the herbal infusion in olive oil or peppermint essential oil:

 This versatile spray can be used for a multitude of purposes. Liberally spray yourself from head to toe as a way of cooling off should the discomfort be coming from the temperature outside, overexertion from a workout, or in getting through another heat flash.
Spray your counter tops or windowsills to deter the pathways of ants entering your home.
Spray areas you suspect mice are scurrying at night. Rodents detest the strong odor of mint.
Spray a tissue and inhale when feeling a pang of nausea in a moving vehicle.
Spray your fingertips and rub your temples to help relieve a throbbing headache.
Spray a tissue and inhale to open congested sinus passages.

Salt baths are so common that we often forget the fact that "the simpler the better". A soak in warm salt water has long been used for achy joints, muscles, and tired feet, as well as a periodic detoxification. The addition of essential oils add their own therapeutic value as well as the pleasure of the aroma.
The addition of peppermint turns a warm bath into a helpful remedy for relieving clogged sinuses, sore muscles, throbbing headaches, as well as mental and physical fatigue. After a day's work in the heat or hours on your feet, a peppermint bath or foot soak will help bring a bounce back in your step. Realize,however, that being peppermint is stimulating, it will perk you up rather than help you relax for a night's sleep.


We demand a lot from our tired feet, therefore proper care and pampering should not be overlooked. This foot soak salt blend is wonderful to rejuvenate not only your feet but also your mood after a long day. Great to use as a preventative to fungal problems or as a natural treatment if you already are bothered by itchy feet.

Congestion, seasonal allergies, cold and flu symptoms, sinus headaches all contribute to breathing discomfort. Home herbal remedies can make breathing a little easier.
If you look at commercial vapor balms,you'll notice they probably contain ingredients such as thymol, menthol, and eucalyptol. These are components of the essential oils: thyme, mint, and eucalyptus. This vapor balm can be applied onto the chest, back or feet. Should you want to increase its warming action lay a warm piece of flannel over the area.
An option to help open clogged sinuses is to apply just a bit under the nose.


Children's Hurting Tummy Oil is a combination of peppermint-infused olive oil and an essential oil blend of chamomile, lemongrass and fennel. These herbs have a wonderful reputation for the relief of cramping and nausea. Belly massages are wonderful to relax and calm down colicky babies. Painful tightening of the stomach and intestinal muscles, gas and nausea can result from various sources: improper eating habits, emotional stress, or a moving vehicle.




If you have access to fresh mint, try cutting and making your own herbal tea, wonderful cold or hot. Cut enough stems to fill a large soup pot. Be sure the plants you are cutting were not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Mint shouldn't need either one but just know for sure before using the plants. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, cock the lid so it doesn't overflow. Let the tea simmer about 5 to 10 minutes, depending how strong you like your tea. You don't want to simmer it too long or you'll lose the important essential oils in the steam. Strain out the plant material and add sugar to taste. For sweet tea, 1 cup sugar to a gallon of tea is tasty. Enjoy a cup of hot tea right away and let the rest cool and store in the refrigerator for ice tea. This is wonderfully refreshing on a hot day.

Enjoy!