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Sunday, June 26, 2011

June Wildcrafting

It's a great month for wildcrafting here in PA. We've been gathering early plants throughout the spring but there are so many available in June. Because gas prices are so crazy, and because my yard used to be a field full of wild herbs and strawberries, we decided to let parts of it grow wild this year.
We always start with a beautiful fragrant lineup in the kitchen as a reward for our efforts.  Then the overflow goes to the attic to dry for later use in herbal remedies.  You can read about our herbal adventures on the Herbal Medicine Chest page and various posts.  Use the search box to help you.

Here's what we've been gathering from field and garden this month.
Stinging Nettle - One of my favorites.  It's a good source of iron and vitamin C which helps the body absorb the iron.  The synergy of these two help to clear the body of uric acid crystal formations.  Also used for arthritis.  Nettle is astringent and tonic.  The "sting" is caused by an allergic response to the formic acid and histamines found on the tiny hairs that cover the stems.  While causing a bit of a burn and possible whelts, the practice of "urtication" with the fresh plants is harmless and a quick way to use the healing properties of this plant.  Makes an excellent tea.
Yarrow - The leaves are astringent and promote clotting making this herb valuable on the trail.  The astringent/tonic properties make it helpful for clearing the blood and aiding in menstrual problems, digestive issues, excess fluid, reducing fevers.  Also anti-inflammatory.  It's everywhere right now!

Cleavers - Best used fresh as a juice, poultice or tea, this wild herb is a blood purifier and diuretic.  Can also be lightly steamed and eaten like spinach.
Mints -
Lemon Balm -
Chickweed - my all time favorite used for healing irritations, and eczema.  Diuretic and cleansing tonic.  Also a "drawing" herb.  Good in salads.

Plantain - a wonderful healing agent for wounds and sores.  Producer of the well known phsylium seeds used for bulking laxatives.  Great for bee stings, hemorrhoids and sore throat because of its astringent healing properties.

Chives -
Leeks -
Creeping Jenny - Lysimachia nummularia - is a good wound healing herb for use on the trail
or as a tea for washing wounds.  Tea made from the leaves and flowers is helpful for treating diarrhea according to the Natural Medicinal Herbs website.

Red Clover

Roses - I'm updating my rose water post with pictures of this years harvest.  Go there to learn to make your own rose hydrosol.

Sharing this post with the folks @
Homestead Barn Hop
Wildcrafting Wednesday

Much herbal love,

Greek Pizza

During the aftermath of a busy week @ VBS, a friend suggested takeout pizza.  Her favorite was Greek and I thought she meant spinach/feta cheese.  Imagine my delight when she said artichoke hearts and black olives!  We enjoyed it so much that we decided to make our own at home the next day.  Here's what we did...

My daughter made up a crust.  Use your favorite.

Then she spread a little olive oil over the crust.
Topped it lightly with mozzerella
a small tub of feta cheese
a small can of black olives
a jar of marinated arichoke hearts
slices of tomato

The restaurant version included purple/red onions but not everyone at our ouse likes onions on pizza so we didn't use them this time.

It was yummy and gone in a hurry!

Sharing this post with Alex and friends @ Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
And the folks @ Hey, What's for Dinner? and their Just Another Meatless Monday Hop
and Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday

 Much herbal love,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Poppy Swapping!

It's the newest thing!  An Etsy style shop for herbal products!  Check it out and enter the giveaway @ .  Be sure to visit the Poppy Swap site @, too!

Much herbal love,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another Anniversary Celebration!

Hearth and Soul Hop at A Moderate Life
Some of the nicest folks you'll meet are those who blog about things you love.  The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop is 1 year old.  Hop on over and join in the fun with all kinds of bloggers hopping on the bandwagon weekly to share what's cooking on their hearth or brewing in their soul.  They're giving away prizes that you'll want to sign up to win.  Have fun ~ and Congratulations! to Alex and all the folks who sponsor the Blog Hop!  Thanks for sharing the love!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Herbal Products from the Woodwife's Kitchen

Some of this post may be things you've read here before but I wanted to tell the new folks a little about me and the herbal products that are being made in my kitchen this month.  You can purchase them via email. 

I've had an interest in herbs for as long as I can remember.  It's been a long, lovely journey that has taught me so much.  As a young wife, at first it was a sort of awe...or a reserved idea that I knew they offered valuable healing properties but I was hesitant of an unhealthy interest in them for fear I would be delving into realms that would be contrary to my faith.  I felt safe buying a supplement here and there from commercial sources but couldn't bring myself to ingest anything I'd grown or wildcrafted outside the common culinary variety, even though I was learning to identify more and more plants in the wild.  And with my identification came more knowledge and an appreciation for folk remedies and herbal lore.  More faith in empirical evidence and testimony helped me put things in the proper perspective. I realized...or just put into practice... the fact that every good and perfect gift is from above, put here for our benefit.

Back in 1991, I had my first child.  In a effort to be a stay at home mom who could supplement our income, I had started a dried flower and herb business called The Cat's Meow Herbals and Everlastings when I lost my drafting position in the engineering dept of a local plant due to cut-backs.  Still, mostly only admiring herbs for their beauty and aroma, I crafted wreaths, arrangements and potpourri.   This led to dabbling in aromatherapy with a natural progression to essential oils.  It's been a whole new world ever since!  Our little house was full of bundles of herbs and flowers hanging to dry.  Spices and fragrances filled the air with a wonderful aroma.  My garage was soon full of hanging bundles as my gardens produced more and more.  Then, we started building our farmhouse and the garage loft quickly became my workshop.  The construction crew joked that it was the best smelling garage they'd ever worked in!

With the birth of my second child, it became harder to spend as much time in the shop and I came to the decision that it was not the season in my life to continue a business that took me "away" from home so much.  But I never stopped learning and it soon became clear that as much as I loved that type of craft, I could easily expand right into things like the healing herbal salves, soaps and things that I'd been making on a small scale for our family and as gifts.  All that to say that we've been preparing natural, additive free products for health, personal and home care right here in our kitchen since 1991 from herbs grown organically in our garden, wild crafted in nearby meadows and woodlands or purchased from reputable, like-minded companies.  It's become a big part of our lives and I'd like to share what I've learned and what I've been making. 

I've realized that I don't need to throw the proverbial "baby out with the bath water" when it comes to herbal lore and application. All the wonderful characteristics of herbal remedies and pleasures are available to me without any compromises required. To God be the Glory!

Time to add some items to my long neglected and reworked Etsy shop.  See you there in the near future. 
In the mean time, here's a list of currently available products from my herbal kitchen.  Watch for the addition of other products soon. 
Again ~ any medicinal references are strictly from my education, research and experiences.  I can assure you that all ingredients have been tested on family and friends with wonderful results and no negative reactions.  However, each individual is different and I don't take any responsibility for your health.
If you'd like to order, contact me by email @  

First Aide Salve  $4/tin~ made with organically grown and wildcrafted herbs, essential oils, beeswax and olive oil.  Empirical evidence and research stand behind this wonderful balm.  Use to heal all sorts of injuries, bruises, bites, rashes, diabetic sores and much more.  I even used it to speed the healing of a broken toe!

Pain Relieving Lotion Bar $5/tube~ A helpful blend of healing oils and herbs that can ease the pain of sore muscles and joints ~ great for arthritis and muscle injuries ~ made with oils, beeswax, herbs and xanthan gum.

Bite Away $4/bottle ~ a soothing, mild, blend of essential oils in a witch hazel base to take away the pain and itch of insect bites and stings.  Safe enough for the little ones, too.

Bug Away $6.50/bottle ~ a blend of essential oils that are known to repel insects, including ticks, in a witch hazel base.

Vapor Salts $4/jar ~ a blend of essential oils in a salt base that can be dissolved in a pan of hot water to release vapors that are both soothing and able to break up congestion.

Homemade Herbal Soaps $4/bar ~ Available in the following;

Grapefruit Mud Mask ~ a bar formulated to combat acne and heal delicate facial skin.  Astringent and drying for excess acne.  Use 2/weekly for sensitive skin or up to daily use for troubled teen skin.

Rosemary Shampoo Bar ~ a cleansing blend of oils that give your hair that squeaky clean feel.  Follow with a lemon juice or ACV rinse.

Coco Butter Castille ~ a very mild pure bar of soap that is wonderful for the entire family, even pets.

Gardener's Pumice Bar ~ contains mild exfoliating agents to remove stubborn ground in dirt, healing honey, aloe and tea tree essential oil and a saponified oil blend.

Cold Cream Facial Bar ~ an unscented blend of saponified oils and homemade cold cream for a gentle, moisturizing cleanse that removes makeup while leaving behind a dew kissed glow.

Within the continental US, shipping is $2.50 for the first item and $1 for each additional item.

If you've used any of these products and would like to testify to their effectiveness, please feel free to comment below.  Thanks!

Much herbal love,

Monday, June 6, 2011

Part of the Journey

The more I read about a crunchy, whole foods diet, the more I realize that I have a long way to go.  Ideally, my grocery cart would only contain raw, unprocessed, free range, non-antibiotic, non-growth hormone, non-GMO, totally organic and only when I can't grow or harvest it myself or purchase it directly from a local farmer.  A noble goal to be sure.  For me, that's not always easy or practical to do.  Much as I'd like to do that, lack of availability in my area or lack of funds in my wallet often prevent me from being a purist or as close to one as my limited knowledge will let me be.  The added hassle of not being able to keep up with all of it doesn't help my outlook and even though I know it's the best way to go, it can become discouraging.  So as part of my "New" year's resolutions list, I'm not going to stress about it.  I'm going to do the best I can with what I have and keep a hopeful outlook about the rest.

Here's a list of things I can do...

Let's start with water...we have a well that produces very good water.  It tastes good, it's been tested, it's been worked hard during dry spells but it's always given us good water.  Well, the township has decided to run city water lines down our road.  They're not here yet...but they're coming!  We don't need city water, we don't want city water with all it's additives and we certainly don't want city water that's been contaminated by the frac water that's emptying into the watershed from the dozens of Marcellus shale gas wells that have been popping up in the area.  But, if you think you have an answer for me on all those counts, what have you to say about the hormones in the water? 
Millions of synthetic hormones flood our water supply from the reprocessed urine of women who use hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills.  And while bacteria, parasites, chemicals, etc. are filtered out of the water supply and other chemicals are added to "purify" the water, studies have shown that these leftover hormones slip past all the buffers and travel right back into the pipes!
Since hormones do so many things in our bodies and excess can lead to so many problems with our health and development and even reaching years into the future to affect our unborn children's reproductive organs, it's important to know what we're up against. 
If you think that hormones in beef have contributed to the increased growth of young people and the early onslaught of puberty in preteens, as well as an increase in obesity, how do you think all these hormones in the water will affect them?  Gender confused, over sexed teens in a mental fog with periods of teen rage and depression thrown in...sound like someone you know?  Are you thinking about your kids or your female friends?  Hormones cycle and so does the use of alternating hormone replacement therapy by individual.  But in the water supply it's a steady dose of a hormone cocktail that we can't control bombarding our bodies with conflicting signals.  Our reproductive organs don't know which way to turn so they start to rebel.  Excessive bleeding, problems becoming pregnant or maintaining a pregnancy, irregular cycles, increased cancer risks and other serious problems that are fueled by the fact that our bodies are overloaded with substances that are not natural controlling nearly all our bodily functions.  Xenohormones - which are chemicals that look and act like hormones but only on the surface - are everywhere.  In our food, the air we breathe and the places we live, work and play.  In this industrialized world we live in, with depleted soil and polluted air, there's really no getting away from some of it.  So, we have to eliminate as much as we can...therefore we DON'T WANT CITY WATER!!

But back to my list of things I can do...

I can buy raw milk from a local dairy where I can talk with the farmer about his philosophy on raising his dairy herd.  I can use that raw milk to make my own butter, cheese, yogurt, kefir, whey, sour cream, cultured buttermilk and ice cream.  Yes, it's time consuming and no, I don't keep up with it on a regular basis but I'm getting better at it and the money I save over buying the store brands and especially over buying organic, free range dairy products (all of which have been pasteurized or even ultra pasteurized and most homogenized) is a blessing to my pocketbook and my family's health.  You can read a little about my dairy adventures here , here and here.

I can cook our meals from fresh, raw, dried or frozen whole foods, better if they're organic but still much better than over processed "dead" foods with all the enzymes and nearly all the beneficial vitamins and nutrients cooked right out of them.

I can add the healing benefit of herbs and spices by using them liberally in my food.  I can also create as many of my own herbal remedies, cleaning products, personal care products etc. as I can.  I know that gathering ingredients to do some of these things can sound a bit overwhelming and costly but I've been adding to my basic ingredients gradually as my knowledge has expanded and my purse allowed.  Now, I have a nice inventory to draw from when I need to create a product to meet a specific need.

I can make some of these foods into lacto-fermented, enzyme heavy, nutrient rich condiments, drinks and dairy by taking just a little time to prepare them and adding whey to culture them.  There are many recipes on this blog telling you how to do this. time permits 

I can raise my own free range chickens for meat and eggs or find a local farmer that raises his meat animals with access to the outdoors and unspoiled pasture land, without unnecessary use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
Check...kinda.  Working on this one.

I can plant my own fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs and vegetables and raise them without the use of herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers.  I can extend my growing season with row covers and mini high tunnels.  I can put up my harvest in ways that preserve the nutrients and enzymes. progress

I can purchase organic grain for reasonable prices and grind my own fresh flour.  Or I can sprout that flour to make it in to a vegetable, dry it and grind it giving me a vegetable flour that is full of nutrition and has very little gluten.
Well, I'm working on this one...I'm purchasing organic flour and grain from a food co-op. 

Have I lost you yet?  My list may be overwhelming to some but weak to others who are already immersed in a totally whole foods all the time diet but that's where I find myself today.  It's all a part of the journey.

Sharing this post with Alphabe-thursdays

Much herbal love,

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Well, It's finally here...not that I've been in a hurry to reach this milestone in my life. 

Today is my 50th birthday and the 1 year anniversary of The Woodwife's Journal! Looks like I made it to my goal of 100 followers and then some thanks to the help of my blogging friends Jenny and Alex and fellow Vintage Remedies students who came on board during their 4 year celebration on Thursday!

Turning 50 sounds really old but not feeling too bad so far.  Blogging for a year and wondering if I could find a few people who'd like to read my herbal wanderings has certainly been a fun part of the journey.  It's had it's highs and lows, but my closet blogging friend (who shall remain un-named due to the closet thing) has pulled me through some tough spots, always finding the good things.  She's like that.  Plus, I've met so many wonderful, supportive folks out in bloggerville that have encouraged me and as you can see, are following my blog!  Who knew?  When things started a year ago, I wasn't even sure what a blog was all about.  I mean I blog personally in another place about pondering the meanderings of my heart and mind, but this is different.  I know that God has played a very important part in what this blog has become.  There's so much to learn!  And what you see here is just the tip of the iceburg.

Thanks for all your help and encouragement!
I'm off for the day but stay tuned for the giveaway winners later today and new things in the weeks to come!
Much herbal love,

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The Woodwife's Shop

Preparing small batch natural, additive free products for beauty, health and home right here in our kitchen since 1991 from herbs grown organically in our garden, wild crafted in nearby meadows and woodlands or purchased from reputable, like-minded companies. Dried everlasting wreaths, arrangements and potpourri. Herbal salves, tinctures, soaps, teas and more.