In my yard resides a beautiful gnarly grapevine. It grows along my fence and at times threatens to overtake a lovely Italian plum tree I have planted there. Every year perfect full bunches of grapes form all along the vine. In the Autumn they hang heavy, deeply purple and full of seeds. Their flavor is intense and beautiful, almost too much to sit and munch on for longer than a few minutes.Read More
At the coffee shop one recent Fall morning I struck up a conversation with the spunky sweet woman behind the counter. We got to talking about the coconut caramel for sale near the register. I asked her if she thought I could use them to make caramel apples for my kids who are desperate for a gooey creamy apple. Our conversation drifted to how amazing apples are which is when I noticed the apples earrings she had doing a dangly dance from her ear lobes. Before I knew it this wonderful woman handed me a brown paper bag full of delicious red-green apples from her neighbor's tree. A kindly gift indeed....
The very next day, I was blessed to receive another gift. And this was huge for me, in fact the drama queen in me would say it changed my life, or at least my October. My daughter wanted to be "Trixie the Halloween Fairy" from the Rainbow Magic Books. I knew a little girl who had worn that very costume a few years before. I asked her mother if she still had it and could I buy it from her? Not only did she still have it but just she gave it to me. A full costume, complete with resplendent fairy wings. Now, I don't sew unless it is a simple repair job like re-attaching a button. And before I was gifted with this costume, I was looking at hours of potentially trying sewing or trying to figure out how to make the costume without sewing. It was a huge relief to know that I had nothing to do, the costume was done and I was free to focus on having fun with my kids. Another kindly gift...
How could I thank these lovely ladies and let them know how much their gestures meant to me? I pondered a bit before I remembered a favorite "thank you" that I love to give, an aromatherapy spritzer!
Most people love spritzers and delight in receiving them. Spritzers are so easy to make user friendly and bring a bit of plant magic into life. When I make a spritzer for someone who's preferences I don't know, I almost always use lavender essential oil. Most people love lavender and it is one of the safest essential oils. In fact only lavender and tea tree essential oils are okay to put straight on the skin with out dilution (this is called a neat application ~ neat right?).
Here are basic instructions for making your own spritzer
- Atomizer (Spray Top)
- Essential Oils
Fill the bottle almost to the top with water but leave enough room for the sprayer tube to insert into the bottle. You may have to trim the tube a little bit to make it the right length. Then just add you essential oils. You will want to put a safe amount of oils into the bottle. Here is a good guideline for recommended dilutions:
- 1% dilution: 5 to 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of water (this is the safest dilution for the very young and elderly)
- 2% dilution: 10 to 12 drops of essential oil per ounce of water
So basically if you have a 4 ounce bottle for your spritzer you would use 20 to 24 drops of essential oil to make a 1% dilution or 40 to 48 drops for a 2% dilution. Information on proper dilutions taken from the oh so excellent Mindy Green & Kathy Keville's Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art.
Then just give it a good shake. Add a ribbon and a label to make it pretty. That is it! So simple. What a great way to give thanks and tell someone you appreciate having them in your life.
How do you say thank you to the people who have touched your life?
Yesterday... Outside a light drizzling haze of rain has begun which promises to give way soon into a steady downpour. Walking home from the bus will likely be a wet adventure in worm hunting with rain drip dropping on each of our umbrellas. When my kids get off the bus they are worn out, ready to relax and let down their guard. Ready to be home. I love to support and help them relax with nourishing snacks and a hug.Read More
Nature has blessed us with so much. Looking to Nature we can find a multitude of amazing plant allies that can help the whole family stay nourished and healthy during the winter months. A favorite is elder berry which has an extensive traditional use as a preventative for the flu and as a support during the flu. In fact modern research has found elderberries to be active against the flu virus. You can easily make a yummy syrup from elderberries to take on a regular basis during flu season. This is something that most kids really enjoy taking which is a major plus! If you don't want to make your own syrup a ready-made preparation of elderberry Sambucol can be purchased at most natural food stores. And if despite your best efforts, sickness should take hold, syrups can be used during a bout of the flu to hasten healing.
We make the following easy delicious recipe for syrup every year.
~ Elderberry Syrup ~
- One cup of fresh or ½ cup of dried elderberries
- 1 to 2 tsp of whole cloves (use less if you are using ground cloves)
- 1 to 3 tsp of cinnamon chips (use less if you are using ground cinnamon)
- 1 inch of fresh ginger root, chopped
- the peel of one organic orange
- 3/4 cup of raw unprocessed honey which acts as a preservative and enhances flavor
- 3 cups of water
Directions: Simmer the elderberries and spices in 3 cups of water. Once the berries have softened smash up the berries and spices in the water. This is a fun part to have children help with. I use a potato masher and closely supervise my kids while the squish away to their hearts delight! Cook at a low boil for about a ½ hour or until the liquid reduces by one-half. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh strainer. Make sure to get all the seeds out, which can be somewhat irritating to the digestive tract. Return the liquid to the pot and add the honey. Heat until the honey just melts. Then bottle, label (include the date!) and refrigerate your new syrup. It will keep in the refrigerator for about three months. Take 2 to 3 teaspoons for adults and 1 teaspoon for children (ages 2 and up) 3 to 5 times a week as a prophylactic during flu season. If you do happen to get sick with a bout of the flu take the same dosage about four times per day. Only the blue elderberries (Sambucus nigra) should be used as the red ones are toxic. Elderberries are generally considered to be quite safe though they can be drying and irritating for folks suffering from migraines. If you have a reaction, stop taking it immediately.
Recipe and information from Brigitte Mars's Elder.
A highly knowledgeable herbalist, Brigitte Mars lovingly offers her treasure trove of information for us to all learn from. Her classes are lively, fun and interesting. Her books offer an extremely valuable resource to those wishing to study herbs and learn about healthy living.
Make your syrup special
The spices included in this recipe not only make it taste delicious but also help to warm the body, decrease inflammation and support healthy digestion. Other herbs can be added to this syrup to increase its protective properties. Rose hips are soothing and will provide nourishing vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Astragalus has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a tonic to the immune system particularly to prevent illness. However, this herb should not be used during illness as it can drive infection deeper into the body. So do not take astragalus during the flu or cold. A great herb for children’s health is lemon balm. This yummy plant is antibacterial and antiviral, while also calming the digestive and easing nervous energy. Add any of these herbs by the handful to the pot with the elderberries be sure to also add a little extra water during the simmering and a bit more honey.
- calming, relaxing
- good for digestive stuff (tummy aches especially related to nervousness)
- promotes rest
- useful for complaining and whininess.
Contraindications ~ A very few people are allergic to chamomile and other plants in the Asteracea (daisy) familyImportant ~ Only steep chamomile for 3 to 8 minutes as it gets very bitter if left to steep any longer, my kids won't drink chamomile if I infuse it for longer than 4 minutes.
- refreshing and cooling so great during hot weather
- calming for hyperactive children
- helps relieve nervousness and crying
- good for digestive stuff
- antiviral and bacterial so great during cold and flu season
- high in bioflavonoids and polysaccarides
- tonic for blood, eyes, kidneys and immune system.
- Can use as a substitute for raisins.
- helpful for digestive stuff, eases gas and cramping
- extremely high in vitamins and mineral
- whole body tonic especially for mucus membranes and blood
- soothing to nervous system
- high in vitamins and minerals
Rose Hips ~ Tastes yummy, kinda sour… kids say: great!
- high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids
- tones and nourishes mucus membranes
- Soak the hips in juice or water to make a super yummy "jam".
Note: Taste ratings are mostly taken from Kids, Herbs & Health, this is a great reference book for parents!
- A Kid's Herb Book by Lesley Tierra
- Kids, Herbs, and Health by Linda B. White and Sunny Mavor