Friday, July 29, 2011

Honey Challenge Wrap Up

This is officially the last day of the initial 2 week Honey Challenge from Crunchy Betty.  But it's only the beginning, really.  If you haven't joined in, you can start today!  Read a little about it here and all about it @

Crunchy Betty's Honey Challenge

I'll admit that I was a little skeptical about the process when I started.  But if you remember, it was the hottest it's been here since like 1960-something with high humidity for about 5 days.  That's like the first time in my life it's been that hot here and I'm no Spring chicken! 
All in all though, I can say that I may not wash with honey every day but I'm certainly going to try to do it 2-3 times a week.  And you know me, I like to fiddle with different combinations of things so I'll keep you posted on that.  Crunchy Betty does, too.  Check out all the info she's shared over the past two weeks.
What I may try is going back to my before honey routine and then starting again without the heat factor.  My skin was a little tender at the start but as I said the other day, that may have been the humidity and the toxins being drawn from my skin.  That's all in the past now and I'm really happy with the results.
My recommendation would definately be to give it a try.  Don't be afraid...you know you want to do it.  Stick with it...once you get past the really deep cleansing that may cause a little irritation, you're in for a surprise!

One more tidbit I'll share is this...
It's like a facelift every morning!  I was going to be selfish with that one but, hey, you needed to know for the future. The honey seems to tighten my skin and close the pores making my face not only smooth and fresh feeling but, really...the skin feels and looks...tighter.

Try it!

Much herbal love,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pack Rats Anonymous

Hello.
My name is Sharon.
I'm a packrat.

Welcome to the first virtual meeting of PRA, Pack Rats Anonymous.

After revisiting my post about Organizing and Time to "Fess Up" and it's follow up, Confessions for last week's Alphabe-Thursday's letter "O", I decided to follow up with some support for those of us who can't stand the waste in our "throw away" society.  It seemed natural to host a blog hop as therapy.  So, today's post is just that.  I'll share some of my reduce/reuse/recycle and more importantly, upcycle ideas and you can join in and share some of yours, practical and otherwise!  It will be like a Packrat Party!

I'll start.  Let's get the worst out of the way...in an effort to use/recycle papers/cardboard as a base for mulch and lasagne beds in the garden, I generally have a supply of empty cardboard boxes and stacks of newspapers in the garage that make my husband cringe.  But, it's all for a good cause!

Here are other reduce/reuse/recycle/upcycle posts I've shared in the past:
There's Snowmen and Angels with recycled button eyes and accessories.

Second Hand about teaching my kids how to be thrifty about clothing.

The posts from last week, like the Greenhouse, about the greenhouse we made from water pipe that was pulled from our well when the pump had to be replaced, parts of an old metal shed and a dog kennel.

Or an Upcycled Old Sock that was my daughter's favorite.  I turned it into a cute plastice grocery bag holder.

I reuse my old cloth diapers or flannel shirts as pads for applying Compresses, Poultices, Plasters and Fomentations.
 
Or for covering a sore throat after applying Clear Head Vapor Ointment, we keep several old stained turtlenecks on hand.


Store bought salsa, etc., jars make excellent containers for the ingredients I keep on hand to make my herbal remedies and personal care products.  See the Herbal Medicine Chest Page for more posts about all of that.
I also use some of these for dry beans, loose leaf herbal teas, etc.  The best ones are those that canning rings will fit.  New lids make pickle jars or others with lingering odors useful.



  
 



We have a stereo in the kitchen. See the speakers? They're hidden inside a couple broken baskets and an old crate. I was so happy to find a use for these baskets because it would have been such a shame to throw them away but they couldn't be used for much else.
The red cupboard is a 1900 Sears and Roebuck that we rescued from a basement.  It was headed for the dump!

Admittedly, this table and chairs could use a little work but they serve as our "picnic table" on the porch.  Add a homey tablecloth and a canning jar of flowers and it looks nice!

An old, rusty cupcake tin makes a place for potpourri and candles or a place to separate jewelry or beading supplies or lined with cupcake papers for candy or nuts.

Old tins (dented sides to the wall), a picnic basket and my kraut crock look homey and make good storage for extras.

Well, I'm feeling better...how about you?  Come on...you know you've done it!  You've kept something that most folks would have thrown away and found a new use for it.  Please share your story with us here.  It's time to "fess up" and admit that you might be a bit of a packrat, too!  And that's okay! 

Just click below to add a reduce/reuse/recycle/upcycle story of your own.
Links should go directly to your post and not to your home page.
Posts can be old or new but...Please be sure to place a link in your post back to this hop so folks can see all the ideas.  All entries must be PG.
If you'd like to run this hop on your blog, I'd love to have you join me.  Click on the text below the linky and grab the code.  Should be fun to see how many folks we can reach and what kind of ideas we can gather.



Sharing the mayhem of PRA with
Homestead Blog Hop,

Jenny and friends @ Jenny Matlock
and Alex and friends @ Baby Steps to A Rockin' Life!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Honey Challenge Update

Having faithfully followed the honey challenge for 10 days, I'm here to tell you that I believe my skin to be more even in tone and smooth to the touch.  The sticky feeling that seemed to hang on for the first few days has disappeared.  I'm guessing that may have been a combination of the humidity and toxins being removed.  I'm really happy with the results and will continue to use honey in my cleansing routine. 
If you haven't visited the Challenge just click on the button below to see what others are saying about their experience and read information posted there about bees, honey and additions you can make to the honey facial that help remove makeup, etc.  Today's post talks about infusing honey for facials, remedies and food.  I love the chart she shares about which herbs to use for your skin type.
Also, there's gonna be a giveaway at the end of the week that you won't want to miss!
Crunchy Betty's Honey Challenge

Much herbal love,
 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot!

According to a site I found, and no, I didn't verify this, the highest recorded temp in PA was 111° back in 1936!  My thermometer hit 105° this afternoon and we're hiding out in the cellar to avoid the heat.  Thankfully, there is a breeze today and the humidity feels lower than earlier this week.  Still a scorcher! 
Looking forward to lower temps later next week with overnight lows in the 60's.  That should be wonderful!  The forecast is calling for scattered rain tonight and tomorrow and I'm praying we're the part that gets the scatter! 

Update...Praising God for winds that blew the heat away and brought refreshing rain that threatened storms but so far has been cool steady showers.  Temps dropped 32° in the past 3 hours.  Bliss!

Much herbal love,
 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Honey Challenge Day #3

Humidity is on the rise as well as the temps here in Central PA.  The very nature of honey doesn't mix well with this weather, but I'm sticking it out..no pun intended.  Yesterday, I massaged the honey onto my face and puttered around doing some preliminary shower stuff, jumped in to take a cool shower, washed my hair and then rinsed the honey off with my final rinse.  Seemed to work well.  But the stickiness returned later in the humidity.
Today, I decided to save my honey facial until evening and simply rinsed my face with water to avoid throwing cleanser into the mix, ruining my promise to complete the challenge using honey alone.  To be honest, the results were the same...still a little sticky mid afternoon.  My daughter suggested rinsing my face with water and applying the honey to moist skin instead.  Seemed to work well although I did a quick honey wash without allowing it to rest a while.  Again, you don't have to it's just one way to use the honey as food on your face.   I like the feel of it.

Tomorrow, I'm preparing for the crazy heat by using a wake-me up blend in the shower.  I mixed 2-3 drops of peppermint eo, the juice of one lemon and a little bottle of seltzer water.  After I shower and shampoo, I'll pour/pat the mix all over my skin, carefully avoiding my face because I don't think lemon juice or peppermint would be good things to get in my eyes.  Then I'll do a final rinse and voila!, I should be cool all day.  We'll see.  Expecting temps near 100 tomorrow...well above normal here in the northeast.

Much herbal love,
 

What is a Woodwife?

Recently, a reader ask me what a woodwife is, so I thought I'd answer her question in a post in case anyone else is wondering.

According to wikipedia...
"The Wood-Wives are female spirits of the forest in Germanic mythology.

They are also known as Moss Women, Wish Wives, Spae Wives or Skogsra (Skoggra) in Sweden.

They are native to and inhabit the deep forests of Germany and Scandinavia. 
Wood-Wives are generally gentle and helpful to humans. Sometimes someone traveling through or working in the woods may see a Wood Wife. They are known to ask favors of travelers or woodsmen, asking to borrow something or have something mended. The wise person will do as the Wood Wife asks, despite the only payment being a pouch of wood chips. Tales are told of mean-spirited men who have not accepted the wood chips, and who never know what they've lost. Good-hearted men who have taken the payment are happily surprised when they learn that the chips turn to gold as soon as they've left the forest.

They were also credited with being able to cause and cure illnesses."

Now if you've been reading here for any length of time, you know that herbal home remedies are very important to me and often a way of life for our family.  My very favorite herbal remedies are the ones I craft from herbs I harvest in the wild - wildcrafting.

You might say that I'm married to the idea of searching for and using these gifts that God has given us to maintain health.  We can find food and healing in the woods and fields that surround us.  All those weeds folks are trying to get rid of contain natural substances that can be used to heal our bodies inside and out.  Pharmaceutical companies and laboratories know this and they often extract the medicinal properties from the plants to "purify" and "qualify" them.  Trouble is that in their perfect design, it's the combination of properties or synergy of the plants that make them powerful healers.  It might be easy to identify which chemical part of the plant is actually the cure but what might not be so easy to see is that there are also other substances and/or compounds that pave the way for the cure to do it's job.  Isolate one without the others and suddenly, your cure becomes much less effective. 
Let's not even talk about synthetic look alikes.

In times when the Village Herbalist was looked upon with suspicion, folks often turned to other sources to find their cure.  These sources may have been healers who practice occult ideals.  Alchemists often held a place of great respect in medieval communities with the result that the common folks couldn't afford their care.  Where could they turn for help when illness strikes?  Another alternative was the healer, generally a woman, who lived in or near the forest, or woodlands, gathering herbs, roots and barks to use as remedies.

Let's see where that leaves us...generally gentle and helpful to humans...curing illnesses...wildcrafting...married...weeds...woodlands...
Woodwife! 

While I have ancestral roots in both Germany and Scandinavia, I'm very much a flesh and blood human rather than a woodland spirit, although I've always admired them in my favorite tales.  And I worship the one, true God, Father of Jesus, who created all these plants for our use.  There's nothing mystical about me or what I do.  But I have to say there is something quite "magical" in the properties of plants and trees.  A kind of peace that settles over me when I work with them.  I love spending time in the woods, studying and gathering.  And it's my passion to use those things I've wildcrafted or propagated to make remedies that I can use to ease illnesses when they strike or create products for cleaning and personal care that are safe from industrialized chemicals that are harmful to our bodies.

And that's why I've taken the name, Woodwife, for myself.  These pages are the chronicles of my herbal adventure....thus,
The Woodwife's Journal. 
Enjoy.

 
Much herbal love,
 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Honey Challenge Day #1

Crunchy Betty's Honey Challenge

My daughters and I are accepting Crunchy Betty's Honey Challenge beginning today.

For the next two weeks, our goal is to wash our faces, at least once each day, with nothing but raw, local honey and water.  "Why?", you may ask.  Because honey is drying for acne, but moisturising (it's a humectant - that means it draws moisture to your face - moisture NOT oil).  Weird, huh?  Since honey isn't a grease cutter, it's not going to remove the natural oils from your skin.  What that means for you is, the natural barrier of oil that your skin secretes to protect you from excess moisture loss and grime/environmental toxins getting in, will not be removed causing your skin to freak out and create a bunch more oil to make up for the loss.  So, natural sebum protection, plus a humectant on top, makes for healthy, moist, beautiful skin.  Honey is also antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, contains pH balancing enzymes and...you know what?  You should just click on the button and go read what Crunchy Betty has to say about it.  Join the Crunchies who enjoy having food on their face!

Here's my experience today...
When I looked in the mirror I realized that I still had a little mascara left over from being a bit lazy in my facial cleansing last night.  I knew that honey wouldn't tackle that so I used a little jojoba oil to remove the mascara before starting the honey wash.  That being said, you should start with a face free from makeup, like in the morning...supposedly.

Anyway, then I took about 1/2 tsp of raw honey, from my trip to the farmer's market on Saturday, and followed CB's directions.  Since I didn't want to take the time to do a mask this morning (you don't have to, it's just an option), I just rubbed the honey all over my face and under my chin and rinsed with a moist cloth (won't do that tomorrow, I'll just rinse with water).
I touched my face tentatively, wondering what I would find.  How did it feel?  Dewy?  Fresh?  Soft?  Yes, to all!  Maybe a little sticky?  Ummm...yes...but I think splashing water directly on my face to rinse instead of using a cloth will fix that.  Now, I have to say that it is extremely hot and humid here in Central PA today so the dewy feeling may have something to do with the sweat that is clinging to the rest of my body no matter where I try to hide...but, my face feels fresh, alive and not exceptionally oily so I think we're good so far.

And since I'm on the honey cart, I looked for more info about this wonder food.  And here's what I found... http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/honey-and-skin-care.html
this site offers lots of info about honey, it's benefits in skin and hair care, recipes for natural products to use on your body, and tons of other Crunchy stuff about nutrition.

I'll keep you up to date with my honey adventure as the week goes on.  Isn't being Crunchy, fun!?

Much herbal love,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I couldn't resist.

This past weekend we celebrated 28 years together and as I prepared a special dinner, I thought about getting out the "good" dishes and dressing things up a bit.  But, as is so often the case, I find my taste turning toward a more simple style.  For the first time, my hydrangeas were loaded with blooms and I just couldn't resist bringing in a bouquet for our table.
The pink, purple and blue ones are from the same bush and the blue/light yellow are from another.
Aren't they beautiful?




Much herbal love,
 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Soaps for sale!

This week I held another soapmaking class for a friend who visits her hometown every summer from the South.  We had a great time and even had another friend from our college days and a few others join us.  It was nice to have a little time together with friends and share something that I love doing.

One of the best things about having the class or a demo is that part of the lesson includes a bit about lye safety.  Well, that's not the best thing but it leads to one of the best things!  We actually mix a batch in class so everyone can experience the reaction.  Because the temperature of the water goes from cold to about 220 degrees in a matter of seconds after the lye is added, that batch is too hot to use during class.  That means that I have lye mixed and ready for another batch after class!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Take a class with The Woodwife - Herbal Medicine Chest 101

This class has been postponed until Sept by request of interested students - date TBA.

What? - Join the Woodwife for a little wildcrafting and hands-on basic preparation of 4 take home herbal remedies to get you started on your own Herbal Medicine Chest
We'll talk about a few remedies that you can make on the spot to ease summertime bites, bumps and bruises.


We'll take a short break for a light, healthy luncheon.

When? - July 30th from 10 AM to 2PM

Where? - email me for directions

Class cost is $45.

Space is limited so pre-registration is requested by sending $20 of the class cost IN ADVANCE to hold your spot with the balance due on class day.

Email me with any questions or for my mailing address.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Much herbal love,
 

Lawns, Yards and Fields

This little ditty sums it up pretty well.

GOD AND ST. FRANCIS DISCUSSING LAWNS

GOD: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
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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.