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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Salt, Lemons, Vinegar, Baking Soda...Helping Hand to Raising Children

Though many of us are aware how useful the Fab Four (Salt, Lemons, Vinegar, and Baking Soda) by Shea Zukowski can be around the house for anyone seeking earth-friendly solutions, it is difficult to actually remember which is for what purpose.

I came across this little gem of a book and now I have all these tips in one place for reference instead of forgetting where I read those tips and to where I filed them away. The book is categorized into sections including kitchen, laundry, personal, pet and outdoors. For this post I am just going to center on what can be useful to make life easier in raising children.


1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup vinegar
Fragrance-free liquid laundry detergent

Add the baking soda to the wash cycle along with the detergent. Baking soda helps neutralize the acids in the dirty diapers.
Add the vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften clothes and help remove the detergent.


1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water

Baby formula easily stains clothing because of it's high protein content. Keep this mix in a spray bottle in the refrigerator so it is handy to pre-treat stains as soon as possible. Let the garment air dry in the sun and then wash as usual.


1/4 cup vinegar

Soak a clean cloth in the 1/4 cup of vinegar and wipe down all  non-plush toys. Allow items to air dry. The vinegar scent will fade away.


1/2 cup baking soda

Not all plush toys can be put into the washing machine. To rid stuffed animals of odors, put them in a plastic zip lock bag along with the baking soda. Shake the bag to distribute the baking soda over the stuffed animals and let sit overnight. Remove the toys and shake off the excess baking soda.


2 cups vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup baking soda

Bed wetting can be frustrating for everyone. There are waterproof mattress covers to protect the mattress but if the deed is already done you'll want to get rid of the smell of urine. Mix the vinegar and water and apply with a sponge to the affected areas. Blot dry with a towel and cover the spot with the baking soda. Let the area fully dry and then vacuum.


When kids or pets come charging into the house leaving a trail of muddy footprints behind them, resist the urge to try blotting it up. This could just drive the dirt deeper into the carpet fibers. Take a handful of plain old salt and sprinkle generously onto the messy spots and leave it. Give the salt time to absorb the liquid and once dry vacuum it up.


1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tsp lemon juice OR 1 tsp vinegar

Stained knees and shirt fronts are prime targets for stained clothes. Sprinkle baking soda on the area, followed up with the lemon juice or vinegar on top. As the mixture starts to fizz, rub the fabric or use a toothbrush to rub it in to make sure the mix is getting through the stain. Let it sit a few minutes and then launder as usual.


Before you grab the scissors to cut out gum stuck in your child's hair, try using a lemon. Cut a lemon in half and rub the cut side onto the gum to help it loosen its grip. Gently squeeze the lemon to release some juice. Lemons can cause some bleaching so rinse the hair. This method can work on clothes and carpets as well, just remember to blot it up so it doesn't lighten the carpet.


2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp isopropyl alcohol

After a day of swimming there is always a chance the protective layer of wax in the outer ear canal gets worn away. Bacteria rich water from swimming can get in there and cause an infection. To lower this risk, make a solution of equal parts vinegar and isopropyl alcohol and store in a bottle or jar. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and squeeze a few drops into each ear after swimming.


Inflatable pool toys are susceptible to mold and mildew once deflated and stored away for the winter. To minimize this from happening, let them sit in the sun to thoroughly dry before storing. Sprinkle each deflated item with a handful of baking soda before rolling up.


1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp baking soda
1 cup water

A homemade, very economical fruit and vegetable spray to remove waxy coatings and help clean off pesticides. Fill a spray bottle with the lemon juice, baking soda and water. Shake before use. Spray the produce before eating and rinse it well to remove any aftertaste from the wash. The spray will last about a week.



4 to 5 small bowls of salt
Food coloring of different colors
School glue
sponge brush

Pour an equal amount of salt into a few small bowls. A few Tbsp in each should be plenty.
Add a drop of food coloring into each bowl and stir to create different colors.
Using the sponge brush, coat a piece of paper with a thin layer of glue and let the children sprinkle the colored salt to form pictures and patterns.


1 cup salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups flour

Mix the salt with the warm water and stir to dissolve. Add the vegetable oil and flour and stir slowly to combine. Knead the dough till pliable, adding flour if necessary till not sticky. If desired, divide into smaller balls and add a few drops food coloring to each to make different color dough balls. Store the play dough in a zip lock bag or lidded container. If the kids want to save their creations, let them air dry a few days and paint them with watercolor or acrylic paints. A thin coating of clear nail polish will help preserve them.

Here are three other posts about natural care for adults and children:
All Natural Care for Mom and Baby

The Well Stocked Natural Child's First Aid Kit

Dealing with the Pitfalls of Summer, Naturally

Monday, February 15, 2016

Baths, a Time for nursing the Body and Soul

Ever wonder why a hot bath is such a comfort?
According to this article from Daily Mail Reporter when people feel loneliness they tend to feel cold and the feel of a hot bath can help with feelings of isolation. There is a link between physical warmth and social warmth and it all begins in childhood where so much comfort comes from hot things like soup, hot drinks and the love from those who offer them. Warm water can substitute for desired company and help lift that down in the dumps feeling that is so often helped by being around other people.

You certainly don't have to feel lonely to desire the escape from it all in a nice soak. Perhaps you have had plenty of socialization for a day and just want time to be left alone and nurse your frazzled nerves. Take time for yourself once in a while and close that bathroom door for at least 30 minutes.

Humans have a natural pull towards the sea and the theory is that since the water content of our bodies is so similar to seawater we feel a connection. There is a quote by JFK that says, "We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came."

Warm water is so very therapeutic for not only the soul, but for the body as well. Stiff muscles and achy joints benefit so greatly from the heat and relaxation offered from warm water.
Bath oils offer the silky skin loving benefits of carrier oils such as almond, jojoba, olive, apricot and wheat germ. Essential oils are added which further add quality to a good bath oil. Certain plant essences contain anti-inflammatory properties or help eliminate toxins and fluid retention or do wonders for the weary spirit.
The salts used for bath salts contain necessary minerals such as magnesium which are so often lacking in our modern diets. By absorbing these minerals through our skin, we benefit by way of stress relief and even lowering blood pressure.
Bath salts aid with periodic detoxification and help to eliminate toxins.

Feel better, Sleep better and you'll Do better

Below are some of the bath products found within the Meadow Muffin Gardens shop.
 Here are just a few of the available bath oils, salts and scrubs:

Sensual Earth Patchouli and Lavender Bath Oil

Down in the Dumps Bath Oil

Lavender andYlangYlang Bath Salts

Grounding Earth Bath Salts

Salt Polish Body Scrub

Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine's Sugar Cookies, HeartSweets

A lot of what makes a Home Sweet Home is the positive energy within its walls. And when it comes to showing our love for people, we have a natural urge to feed them.

Valentine's Day is the holiday of love and there are many ways in which to express that emotion. The history behind the Legend, Love and Lore is both romantic and fascinating. Hearts, Cupid, Chocolate, Cards, Flowers and jewelry are all symbols to say "I love you" to that special someone. Baking is another sure way to bring someone back to the comfort of their childhood kitchen memories of love and security.

This recipe for Valentine's Sugar Cookies can be made anytime, using any shape cookie cutter. Their touch of almond and vanilla extracts set them a bit apart from the usual sugar cookie at Christmas.

from Taste of Home magazine
donated by Rene Schwebach

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
red sprinkle sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
Add the egg and the extracts.
Stir in the flour and mix well.
Cover the bowl and chill for several hours.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.
I find it easier to pull off chunks of dough at a time rather than attempt to roll out the entire ball.
Use a heart shaped cookie cutter (2 1/2 or 3 inch heart works well)
 Cut out cookies and place 12 at a time on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Sprinkle with the red sugar sprinkles.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 9 - 10 minutes.
They will brown lightly around the edges.
Let cool a few minutes till hold their shape and remove to a cookie rack to cool completely.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen

Unbaked cookies
Baked cookies

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lamb's Ear, the Bee magnet, Pet a Plant

Once you get hooked on the fun of herbal gardening you soon want to know what the name of every plant you see and what it can be used for. Be it medicinal, edible, cosmetic, insect pollinator, butterfly gardening, companion planting, crafts, aromatics or even just to enjoy as a visual beauty.

One plant in particular that meets most of those criteria is Wooly Lamb's Ear (Stachys Byzantina). This fuzzy, wuzzy fun-loving plant is a favorite for any child's garden. It's thick, fuzzy leaves are soft, easily dried and a pleasure to simply play with whether you are an adult or a child. The soft leaves can serve as "worry stones" to stroke mindlessly while lost in thought. During imaginative play, children often pretend they are beds or carpet floors for the wood fairies. 
On a more practical note, this plant serves as a very good toilet paper, tissue or even menstrual pad if in a pinch.


Lamb's Ear has been used for centuries as a wound dressing on battlefields. Known as nature's band-aid, the leaves not only absorb blood and help with clotting, but they contain antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. 

For eye problems such as sties and pinkeye, knead a few leaves to release the juices and simmer in a small pot of water. Cool and strain (use a coffee filter) the infused liquid and use as an eyewash.

If stung by a bee, knead a leaf to get the juices released and apply to the bite to reduce swelling.

Lamb's Ear is also edible. The young leaves can be eaten fresh in a salad or gently steamed as greens.

Simmered and use as a healing hot tea for relief from a sore mouth and throat, fevers and diarrhea.

For those of you into crafts, you will love, love this herb. With its texture and soft gray color it dries easily and blends beautifully for wreaths, potpourri and can even be made into bows.

As a bee plant this choice is a true winner. Once in bloom you'll be amazed at the number of bees Lamb's Ear attracts. You'll have to resist the urge to cut it back once those flower spikes start losing their appeal and get lanky. You'll find bees on those flowers till the bitter end. Don't be too concerned about those bees becoming pests. They are only concerned about those flowers and really do mind their own business.

Easy to grow, this plant is a perfect solution for a low maintenance rock garden, around a homemade pond or as a ground cover. If happy where it is planted, it will easily spread and though some may find it invasive, it is not difficult to control. With shallow roots, it is simple to pull out and replant elsewhere if desired. Drought resistant, Lamb's Ear actually forms a mat, leaving little room for weeds. With a shallow root system, it doesn't like humid or wet conditions or it'll rot off.

Lamb's Ear happy around a homemade pond

Lamb's Ear easily spreads to thrive in an herb garden