"He causeth the grass to grow for food, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth a man's heart." ~Psalm 104: 14-15


Spicy Mexican "red hot" Tea!

It was a cold and drippy evening, as I set out the supper. It had been prepared in the warmer morning, and left to me to serve later. Chilled chicken salad and a nice cold pudding. Oh! How could I dish that up to all the children, as they'd walk in from the rain? They need something hot to warm them from the inside on out. I know! A nice hot drink...but what? At least start a big pot of water to boil.... With all the colds and sore throats, hot coco won't help them... Tea? It's too late in the day to be serving children tea.... It's almost 6 O'clock now, too late to run back to my house for sweet herbs.... I know!  Add a little of this, a big splash of that~and there! Spicy, hot, "decaffeinated" cup of healthy, heating treat.

*last updated Oct 2014

Spicy Mexican "red hot" Tea:

  • a great big pot of simmering water (at least 10 to 20 cups of water)
  • 1-3 great big sweet cinnamon sticks all broken up
  • 10 small bags tea (I used "decaffeinated" lipton tea; if it's not last minute and your things are closer at hand, much better options would be: 8 tsp organic black tea or 10 tsp red roobios tea
  • a big splash of vanilla extract
  • more than you meant to (but not too much!) Cayenne Pepper Powder
  • 2 cones of Mexican (unrefined) sugar, or use sucanat/rapadura.

There you go! Steaming hot and Mexicanly spicy, with a sweet tingle of toasty vanilla, this tea gives the little ones something to smile about!

This post is shared on An Autumn Tea, the Art of Home-Making Mondays, Wildcrafting Wednesday Christmas Edition  


What I Put in My Herbal Medicine Chest

Herbal Medicine Chest time! 

My herbal medicine chest is getting filled out and refined. 
Over at Mexican Wildflower Nourishing Simplicity I've shared a post about what I'm keeping in it. Listed in order of use, I think I'll print a copy myself, to keep in my herbal notebook, beside my medicine chest, inside my medicine cupboard... (see part 2 next month for more on the cupboard for What to Put in Your Herbal Medicine Cupboard!) 

Wildcrafting Wednesday Featured Blogger


This post is linked in the blog hop Wildcrafting Wednesday, The Art of Home-Making Monday  


A Gypsy's Herbal Toothpaste & Toothpowder

Here are my first two tooth cleaning recipes.
NOTE: These are what I use for my teeth, and may not be the best choice for you; please consult with a professional about what options are best for you.

Homemade Toothpaste/cleaner

  • Coconut oil
  • peppermint Essential Oil
  • baking soda
  • Himalayan sea salt


  • Infuse the coconut oil with cloves and peppermint before you start...
  • Then re-heat oil and mix in salt and baking soda to dissolve...

After combining the oils and powders, store in a neat little tin or jar. (Mine's in a squatty little jar so I  wont tip it over.) And now you have homemade toothpaste/cleaner!

Concocting: Toiletries: Tooth Powder

(as seen on my previous blog)
Here's what I put in my first tooth powder:
  • Baking soda
  • pink salt*
  • peppermint oil drops
  • whole cloves
*although salt is good for the mouth, I'm reconsidering putting it in my tooth powder/paste next
time; it's possibly too abrasive. Instead, I'll try to rinse with warm salt water daily.
Tooth powder with peppermint oil; pink salt; toothpowder with cloves.

Clear jar on the left is explained above. Little jar in back with red/white top is pink salt,
now to be added to warm water as a rinse. Green salt shaker jar is new tooth powder with
 whole cloves. The cloves themselves will not go through the small-holed-top, but the baking
soda in the powder will absorb a lot from them in the mean time.

Bulk Herb Store has a Bentonite Clay Toothpaste......but that's their story! Go read all about it! :~) 
(I like how they dissolve salt into theirs: solves that dilemma!) 


DIY Soothing Rose Lip Balm


I wanted a lip balm that could help with cold sores, fever blisters, and dried, cracked lips. So I made this simulating, healing lip balm recipe for friends to use during times of stress or illness when those symptoms most often erupt. 

Follow these fives steps for your own DIY Rosey Lip Balm

1) At a low heat, simmer the following for up to 45 minutes:
  • 3 TBS coconut oil
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • St John's wort
2) Add in for about the last 20 minutes (or until the color and smell of the herbs has seeped into the oil, leaving the herbs dull and weak), stir occasionally:
  • rose petals
  • lemon balm
3) Be careful, this is HOT! Carefully strain the hot herb-infused oil from the herbs (discard herbs). 

4) Then melt in:
  • 1 TBS coco butter
  • 4 tsp beeswax
  • vitamin E oil
  • orange essential oil
5) Before it cools enough to start hardening, pour off into your tins, jars, tubes, etc.
I poured about half into 1oz tins and the rest into a 1/2 pint jar. Be careful, this is HOT!

For a DIY Gift

Now you have several tins of a pleasant lip balm for healing and soothing which will make lovely gifts. Try pairing it with a Christmas potpourri in a small box, quaint jar, or gift basket for a dear friend. 

For a base idea, I had previously made Homemade Lip Balm from Nourishing Simplicity; she also has a lovely peppermint version!

 Will you make a rosey gift for the holidays this year?

Updated: Dec 2014 previously titled: Stimulating Lip Balm.

This post shared on: Wildcrafting Wednesday Special Christmas Edition, Homemaking Link-up, The Art of Home-Making Monday, Simple Life Sunday


{lice and mercy}

Well, sad story, lice have come to the part of the world where I live...so my entire daily schedule was turned on it's head for a few days. Happily, they haven't gotten to me. But sadly, several of my things where in the building where they popped up. I could get them, but I decided quarantine was the best option! So my camera has been hibernating for a few days, and I think I'll leave it that way for another week or so. Sorry! The toothpaste ideas are multiplying though, and so are friend's natural toothpaste posts! :D I'll leave you with  a short verse:

But I have trusted in your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation." 


Wednesday Photo: Culinary Delights #3

Garden Breakfast

Fresh sugar snap peas, homemade biscuits and omelet, and nice cold drinks!


Toxic as ...toothpaste? Would I eat that?

Toxic as toothpaste? OR Would I eat that?
Article written Dec. 17, 2011

[I've been sitting on this article for a while now, and in light of Modern Alternative Mama's post today, The Seven Myths of Modern Dentistry, I thought it fitting to put it up this evening.]

Some things are edible, some things taste bad but we (might) eat them because they're "supposed to be good for you," (like cooked spinach or raw garlic) and some are, well, yummy (think chocolate).  But other things are just plain toxic. Like lead and arsenic, right?

So, things are either good for you, or bad for you. Aren't they?  Well, there's also this third category; something like "it's safe, but only in small quantities” (i.e. Pesticides: "Mancozeb is a fairly common garden fungicide, and the U.S. EPA regards it as safe, but only in small quantities and with proper protective gear and usage." Seriously now, I would Not want to eat that!)

But to the point; one such cautious item is fluoride. Fluoride-which is found in common toothpaste. Oh yes. (Take a look at this graph I found.) It's the reason we're so expressly told to observe small children while they brush and that if they swallow more than the recommended "pea size amount" they really could suffer and/or die!

"It is now known that fluoride's "Probably Toxic Dose" which "should trigger therapeutic intervention and hospitilization -- is 5 mg *per kg of bodyweight." This means that many dental products found at home contain more than enough fluoride to kill or seriously harm a small child if ingested."  (According to: http://www.fluoridation.com/poison.html *emphasis mine, wording slightly modified for clarity; see link or exact and more detailed quote.) 

(This is starting to remind me of a comic I recently shared with my little brother. It has some contemporary kids talking about how crazy it was that people in China used to deform their feet just for fashion...then you see several girls go by with clunky, strappy, monstrous shoes-which appear to be doing the very thing they mocked in another culture/time. I mean, people look back on the Egyptians* and Victorians and think how precarious they were to include such toxic things as arsenic and lead in their cosmetics-and all for the sake of looks.)

(*July 17, 2012 I just did a search and found this article, addressing several of these issues. "But while their research provides a fascinating insight into an ancient culture, the scientists say the makeup is not something that should be used today. Dr. Amatore said that the toxicity of lead compounds overshadowed the benefits and that there had been many documented cases of poisoning as a result of lead in paints and plumbing in the 20th century." Then the article continues with only an opinion--on something as serious as life and health.)

According to fluoridealert.org:
"The most common contaminant found with the captured fluoride acid (hydrofluosilicic acid) is arsenic."  "Arsenic, which has since been classified as a Class 1 human carcinogen, is now known to cause cancer of the skin, and cancer of the internal organs, particularly the lung and bladder."  "A study from Finland (Kurttio, et al, 1999) found that people drinking water with 0.1 to 0.5 parts per billion arsenic had a 50% greater risk of developing bladder cancer than people drinking water with less than 0.1 ppb." 

So, arsenic--wait, that's on the "it's just plain toxic" list, isn't it?  I thought so. So, why are we ok with putting this stuff (found in florid toothpaste) in our mouths (and even, ingesting it in municipal water) every day???

I'm not. I'm not fine with this. This is why I’ve stopped using fluoride toothpaste as a daily habit. (And I won’t even get into the subject of water.) First I did a lot of reading (still need to do much more), then made my own toothpaste. I don't want to slowly poison myself-but I don't want my teeth to rot either, so I read and read. And when I was doing all this research, I saw that some dentists believe fluoride really isn't doing all it’s supposedly doing for teeth, after all. Hmm, hmm, hmm. There are people who argue extensively on both sides. I just decided not to use it so much. 

Instead, for now, I'm using some homemade toothpaste (check my recipe, click here), or sometimes just some baking soda with peppermint oil.  Because I ask myself: "Would I eat that?"


An Easy remedy for my colds: Drink Elderberry Kombucha and Teas!

Have you, like me, wondered "What to drink when sick?" Now I've my answer; Kombucha made with elderberries, ginger or mint!

Ginger Kombucha & Elderberry Kombucha

I've often read about herbal remedies and just plain healthy foods that help restore health when used abundantly when just starting to get sick. But I hadn't ever succeeded in using them enough or at the right time to actually benefit with a quicker recovery. (Think raw garlic, echinacea tincture...)

That is, until this year's colds started to come on. Now I've finally found something that works for me! I can just grab and drink, no prep needed! :]  Plus it's something tasty, and I like having something to drink besides just water when I get sore throats anyway!

The first happened sort of accidentally really. I had started 3 different flavors of kombucha on their second "ferment"(or when "bottling") the day I started to get sick. So I strained them, tasted them, and drank profusely of the elderberry variety. It shouldn't have surprised me that I started to recover nearly as soon as I started to feel the cold come on! But the real proof to me of the helpful healing power that God has put in this neat little berry was that it didn't develop into a cough-at all! Anyone who's been around me much in the last 3 years could tell you, I get coughs. That hang on. For months. Well, not this time! I first learned about the wonders of kombucha from Mexican Wildflower (now Nourishing Simplicity).

 And I haven't even started to tell you about the summer cold and what helped then. It was teas from Bulk Herb Store that helped with the almost the same results! Lemon Drop Tea, Dr. Cinnamon, and Double-E Immune Booster. I drank those, some more kombucha, and raw milk back in July when I started to get sick. Again, no lingering cough! Yay!

 There are so many other drinks that you can make simply at home: Nourishing Simplicity has a post about tea, Keeper of the Home has this post about making drinks (you can even turn juice into a good soda!), a friend named Lizzy always just puts lemons in her water, and I think an interesting option (added to water) is cucumbers or strawberries with mint!  *Now find over 100 cold drink links on my pin board: 100+ Cold Drinks You Can Make on Hot Days!*

What do you drink when you're sick ~ Have you tried kombucha? What flavors have your made? Any helpful hints you've found?

*You can click on the links above to go to Bulk Herb Store to find the berries and teas I mentioned at, or you can use my affiliate link here - which would give me a small commission without effecting your price at all: Dried Elderberries.*

Shared on Homemaking Mondays Link-Up, About Elderberry {Information, Recipes, DIY's} ~ Herbal Link Up

Penmanship and good ol' fashion chores

   Once upon a time, there was a gypsy who spent the summer with goats.  She milked twice a day and altogether would get a gallon by the end of it! It was fun, though tiring. She had to get up and be ready to milk by 6:00-6:30 every day.  And she noticed in her hands and arms muscles that previously went unnoticed ... When she started out, she couldn't even finish (had to get a bit of help from a neighbor lady) as her hands weren't strong enough. Then one day she found she could push herself and just do the whole milking....she got such good milk when it was fresh and cool!

Jimmy With Goat and Girl
BY Jwinfred

   With that happy story in mind, a friend of mine, who's also an artist and pastor's wife, talked to me about penmanship. She said that one reason that people in the past were able to have good beautiful penmanship is that it takes muscle and strength to write so swirly and fancy...so doing regular chores and working with one's own hands has the benefit of improved penmanship ability! :]

TypeSETit »MonteCarlo« ❖ The Unforgettable Herb Lubalin (for widescreen displays)
BY arnokath

Post Script

A reader just posted this on a facebook comment:
I would LOVE to learn how to write in a beautiful way... Spencerian... something. Don't quite know where to start...
So went searching and found some neat posts! Here's one on In My Own Style called A Lost Art: Pretty Lettering. She talks about her love for penmanship, seeing style on paper. Then she talks about a book on improving your writing, along with sharing some tips on how to start improving your everyday script.

I also found more links and inspiring ideas, so I'll leave you with this, my new pinboard: Penmanship.

Post post script

Aug. 28, 2014
Just read The Blessing of Old Fashioned Work Part 2 @ Strangers & Pilgrims

Concocting: Toiletries: Scent-Prevent #1, on hold now

I put this concoction on hold; I was very excited about it (I made up a recipe, and it works!) but then I read something else about one of the key ingredients, which was worrisome enough to cause me to stop using it, wait to post about it, and do more studying first...

The original contained wild sage.

Do you have any info about it? What have you read? Have you used sage other than for cooking with small amounts? Thoughts...??

So, meanwhile, this concoction is under scrutiny, and I may "recall" the first recipe....and try again later!

(As always, please leave comments with any thoughts you have on this!)

Scat-sack: to eliminate and deter rodents and pests!

I must make some today, since I found some creatures trying to make our home into their home...
I don't know about you, but when creepy-crawlies poke their noses into my home, my reactions is "SHOO!" "SCAT!" "Get OUT of my house!".

Here's how you can make a "scat-sack" to scare away the scaries and get them to skitter along to some other place - not taking up residence in your home!

Easy as 1-2-3 :]
  1. Sew one sachet bag, or use any thin muslin bag, or an odd sock.
  2. Fill with: tansy, bay, lavender, sage, rosemary and peppermint. Stitch or tie closed.
  3. Store in drawers, closets, cupboards, old trunks and chests. (They can also add a touch of prettiness when added to a basket of knitting or other handwork. Especially if embroidered or when made with a calico.)

One of the creatures that was spotted trying to get in:

  Snake creeping right over our door frame!

But when I found this ugly gal in my living room (and the place was recently and well cleaned too), well, that was the last straw!
Black widow by my chair!

What's the worst critter you've ever found in your house?  Tell us how you got rid of them...


Shared on the blog hop Natural Living Monday @ Natural Living Mamma.


Soothing Rose Hand Cream Recipe

My soothing rose hand cream is made similarly to the Body Cream from Shoshana's Kitchen, but it ends up more like an ointment. My first inspiration to use a salve to make a lotion came from Bulk Herb Store. Later I pick out my salve and went looking online for the instructions, and turned out the one I was using had some of the same herbs. :) My ingredients are a little bit different, but if you're a visual learner before I tell you about mine go take a look at this video to see Shoshana make her amazing cream.

To make this cream or lotion, you want to make a salve first. You can start by extracting the great herbal properties into the oil. Then add your wax and harden it. Lastly, it goes in a blender along with the rest of the things on the list.

My ingredients. Take a look at the list of what I included:
  • Rose Petals
  • Calendula Flowers
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Coconut Oil
  • Beeswax
  • Vitamin E oil (I used a capsule full, by poking a hole in it and squeezing it out)
  • Mango Butter
  • Distilled Water (I had learned you can use distilled water instead of the aloe. Since it was cold and wet out, I didn't want to take time outside to cut a bunch of aloe, and so I used a bit of distilled water.) If you use water instead of aloe vera, keep in mind it will have a short shelf life.
Soothing Rose Hand Cream
My salve was made by infusing the three herbs in coconut oil all day in a mini crockpot. After straining out the herbs, I melted in mango butter and beeswax. Then to make my cream/ointment, I put the salve, some vitamin E oil, and distilled water together in a blender. (When I made mine, I only had a large blender, and it was hard to get it to blend enough -The solids stuck to the sides and left the liquids below. I had to start and stop it way too many times. You may want to use a small one, something you can shake, if possible!) In the end, it was more runny than fluffy - I'm not sure if the water was too much for it, or if it was the way I blended it - but it later set up nicely. :)

This recipe is so soothing to dry, cracked and painful hands. The first jar full ended up going to the grandmother of one of my deaf girls; the grandmother works in the strawberry fields, picking all day long. She ends up with black cracked hands that are so painful. She said the ointment really helped her hands feel better!

Will you try making this? Would you be willing to try, even if you don't have exactly what I used?


Soaking Grains: Why and How

Guest post by Katie Mae Stanley of Nourishing Simplicity 

I've eaten her bread - and love it. On the scale of delicious, it hits as high as my family's rolls! (Plus it's more easily digested and healthier for the body.) ;D

Soaking Grains:  Why and How

About seven years ago when I first read about soaking grains I thought the idea sounded ridiculous and unnecessary. I dismissed the idea and didn’t even look furthered into it.  I already ate whole grains like wheat and brown rice. It just seemed like an unnecessary step. Who would want to do that?  It was healthy enough for me. 
Back in the spring of 2009 I was reintroduced to the practice of soaking grains. Now there is rarely a time that I don’t soak my grains before eating them. Sure whole grains are full of essential vitamins and mineral but unfortunately when they aren’t prepared properly our bodies can’t use them.  There are actually enzymes in all whole grains that effect digestion and don’t allow your body to absorb those minerals and vitamins. Soaking grains is an ancient practice that most cultures practiced; some still do. It wasn’t until more resent years that we abandoned this practice.  
Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, clogging their absorption. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion. Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available. Sprouting, overnight soaking, and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important predigestive process in our own kitchens. Many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these procedures.  (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, Pg 25)
When I eat too many unsoaked grains I have stomach and digestive problems. Even without knowing everything I do I would chose to soak grains just based on how it makes me feel.
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed; soaking your grain and flour isn’t nearly as intimidating as it sounds, it just takes a little thinking ahead.  

How to Soak:

You need to use one tablespoon of acid medium added per cup of liquid.
Acid Mediums- The Options:
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Water Kefir
  • Lemon/Lime Juice
  • Cultured Butter Milk
  • Whey
The Grains:
Brown rice, buckwheat and millet: Soak for a minimum of 7 hours. (They require a shorter soaking time because they are lower in phytate) Wheat, barley, spelt and kamut:  Soak for 12 to 24 hours. (They are higher in phytate so they require a longer soaking time.)
Oats: They contain the highest amount of pytate and should be soaked for no less than 24 hours. Whole Grains: Put your grain, water and acid medium in a pot or bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, a lid or towel. After soaking for desired time rinse to remove any bitterness if desired and proceed with recipe. I normally use a little less water when I cook my grains because they will have absorbed some water.
Baked Goods: I grind my own flour and always use it fresh. For baked good I mix my flour together with my acid medium and liquid.  I let them soak for 12 to 24 hours. Then I proceed with the recipe.

Here are some Nourishing Simplicity recipes for soaked grain foods:
She also has sourdough recipes:
There are also recipes for scones, sweets, Thai, Indian & Mexican dishes, lacto fermentes, and more.  Go on over and take a look around! :D

She has recipes using sprouted grain flour too!

Go check out her recipes at Grain Mill Wagon, as well! :)

Now, find even more information on eating grains healthily in her Bulk Herb Store Blog post Feb. 14, 2014:  The Whole Food Guide To Healthy Grains!

Nourishing Simplicity

This post has been shared on the following link-ups: REAL FOOD Friday @ Mary's Kitchen & Organic 4 Greenliving, Simple Life Sunday @ Melissa K. Norris, Natural Living Monday @ Natural Living Mama, Homemaking Link-Up @ Raising Home Makers, nomday Monday @ Measuring Flower Hearts for Home @ Graced Simplicity, Capture Your Journey @ Joy Dare Blog.