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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HerbMentor ~ herbal awesomneness!

After you've enjoyed all the free things offered by LearningHerbs, including free courses, videos, recipes, how-to's, You can step things up a notch by joining  For just a few dollars each month, you get a bunch more free stuff starting with a beautiful herb chart that is the perfect compliment to Rosalee's "Healing Herbs" ebook!

Then there's this herbal course...
Free herbal ecourse.

Here's what LearningHerbs has to say about their free herbal course...
"This FREE course is a video eBook (PDF file) that you can download after you sign up for our HerbMentor News.
It takes you through 9 lessons.
Each lesson has a 3-5 minute video that accompanies the written information on the page.
You watch the videos on your computer as you go through the eBook.
The very last page includes a beautiful Herbal Medicine Chest chart for you to print. This chart sums up all the important information in the course.
By the end of Home Remedy Secrets, you will know exactly which herbal remedies to have in your herbal apothecary, how to use them, and WHERE to get them. As usual, we make it super simple."
It's very informative and user friendly for beginners and advanced alike. 

And who hasn't heard of Susan Weed? She offers lots of info from her years of herbalism in this free series to HerbMentor members.   
  Susun Weed Video Interview Series

And that's just a few of the many advantages of joining John and Kimberly @ LearningHerbs as an HerbMentor member.

 Did I mention that you can buy your own kit from LearningHerbs?  It has everything you need to get started right away!Herbal Medicine Making Kit

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Much herbal love,
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Black Bean and Kale Lasagna

Quickly becoming a favorite at our house, Black Bean and Kale Lasagna is something I first tasted at Quiet Creek Herb Farm during The Gingerbread Tour last November.
here's what I did...
In a large flat baking dish, I spread a thin layer of spaghetti style sauce (you could use tomato sauce)
then I placed a single layer of uncooked lasagna noodles on top.  This was followed by half of the mix of ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, 4 eggs, salt and pepper.
A layer of kale torn into small pieces
half of 3 cans of black beans mashed (the first time, I used a little beef and whole black beans)
and last more tomato sauce
I repeated this and ended with a layer of noodles topped with sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cover the dish with foil and bake @ 350 for 35-50 minutes or until it bubbles in the middle.
Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

The only problem is that it smelled so good we ate it before I remembered to take a picture of the final product!

I think this would also be very tasty with a white sauce or a buttery herb sauce.
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Much herbal love,

A passion for organics
Herbal and Tea Supplies

Saturday, June 9, 2012

And the Winner Is.....

Congratulations!  MaryAnn the winner of the Scented Notes Giveaway for Lemon and Peppermint essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs!  Thanks so much for entering the drawing and supporting The Woodwife's Journal!
Please email your mailing address to receive your prize!

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Much herbal love,

Certified Herbal Education
A passion for organics
Herbal and Tea Supplies

Monday, June 4, 2012

2nd Anniversary of The Woodwife's Journal

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It's been two great years even though there have been a few slow spots!  Thanks so much for following along on my journey!  If you're new to The Woodwife's Journal, be sure to follow me, tweet me or pin me so you can join me on the next stage of the adventure!
Be sure to "Like" my Facebook Page
Lot's of new ideas planned for the coming year so don't miss a thing!
Be sure to enter the giveaway for essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs!  You can enter for a few more days!

Much herbal love,

Certified Herbal Education
A passion for organics
Herbal and Tea Supplies

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Scented Notes #1 ~ Make Your Own Incense


Welcome to the first post in the Scented Notes series!
I've always been intrigued by the musky scent of incense wafting lazily through the air.  Occasionally, I'd buy a pack of sticks at a local dept store but always came away feeling like I'd been cheated by the synthetically  scented smoke that filled the room when they were lit.  Being much more into potpourri at the time, I walked away.  But...
The idea crossed my path again during my early mom years but was always tainted by the fear that there may be toxins in the store bought sticks and cones I found locally. It never occurred to me that I could make my own.

Enter teenagers and their interest in saving the Earth, patchouli and the romance of homemade things to open my eyes to the charm of incense again.

My friend, Sadie, @ All Natural Me always has that fresh yet earthy scent around her which seems the most natural thing in the world and prompted my oldest to ask her about her "perfume."
~Nag Champa~
Sadie tucks sticks of her favorite incense around in her life much like sachets and is rewarded with an aura of earthy goodness!

After finding a specialty store nearby, my oldest bought nag champa sticks to cleanse the air in her room.  A wonderful companion to the stretching and breathing exercises she'd begun.

It was great but there's always that little "I can do this myself" thought that continually invades my mind.  I'm afraid my daughters have inherited it, too.

We discovered the how-to booklet at Mountain Rose Herbs but alas, she was off to college before we had a chance to try it because we realized we didn't have everything we needed to make the incense.
Well, since then, the folks at Mountain Rose Herbs have generously pitched in to get me started and look what we made!
I found a recipe shared by Rosalee de la ForĂȘt
@ and we modified it a bit based on the ingredients we had on hand.

Here's what we used:
1 tsp. patchouli powder
3/4 tsp. makko powder
1/2 tsp. powdered orange peel
1/4 tsp. powdered frankincense
1/4 tsp. powdered benzoin gum
4-5 drops sweet orange essential oil
(one for each cone)

After mixing the powders together, add water a few drops at a time until the mixture is moldable.
Form into cones.  Dry 24 hours.
Tip over to allow the bottom to dry out.

Time to enjoy!  Place your cone in a heat safe bowl and light.  After burning for a few seconds, blow out the flame and enjoy the peaceful aroma!

Sleep Aide Incense Cones
After the success of our first incense cones, we thought of using them for a more specific purpose.  Since a few of us had been having trouble sleeping, we decided to substitute valerian root for the orange peel.  And Voila!  
These incense cones, burned about a half hour before bed and carefully extinguished, promoted a good night's sleep!

Check out the Incense Making Kit offered by Mountain Rose Herbs by clicking HERE.
The kit includes various powdered herbs, woods and resins as well as a small mortar and pestle and the Making Your Own Incense booklet
Or you can purchase the  Making Your Own Incense booklet or other incense accessories HERE.

If you already have some of the ingredients on hand but still need a few things you can go to the Mountain Rose Product Index to find what you're looking for by clicking HERE.

A little bit about what Mountain Rose Herbs represents:
Since 1987, Mountain Rose Herbs has been known for its uncompromising commitment to organic agriculture, sustainable business practices, and a steadfast focus on the pure aesthetics and freshness of botanical products. Their wide range of certified organic product offerings includes bulk herbs and spices, aromatherapy and essential oils, tea and tea supplies, and natural health and body care.  Every aspect of product creation is carried out in accordance with strict quality control and organic handling procedures by employees who care.  From fragrant and beyond-fresh organic herbs and spices to soothing essential oils and delicious herbal teas, the quality and integrity of Mountain Rose Herbs is unparalleled - with smiles guaranteed.

And it's all true!

To kick off the new series and help me celebrate my second blogging anniversary on June 4th, the folks at Mountain Rose Herbs are helping me host a giveaway! (now closed...thanks for your participation!)

They've generously agreed to send the lucky winner one bottle of lemon and one bottle of peppermint essential oil to get you started on your own incense adventure or for whatever you like...infusing, making your own cleaning products, herbal remedies, etc!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Much herbal love,

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Hydrosol/Rose Water Challenge

I'm joining Annette Cottrell, author of 
The Urban Farm Handbook for

Each month, with the help of some blogger friends, Annette is presenting challenges from her blog, Sustainable Eats, to encourage you to explore the homestead/farm life by taking small steps into sustainable living whether you live in a country setting or a downtown apartment.  Join me, this month as I talk about turning your flowers and herbs into refreshing, healing hydrosols.'s the Challenge
Make your own hydrosol...take a picture, and share it on The Woodwife's Journal and Sustainable Eats Facebook pages and tell us how it went.

Annette is also doing a giveaway to go along with this challenge.  To enter, you'll need to try out the challenge, then leave a comment or link on her round up post at the end of the month.  Go to Sustainable Eats for more info.

What is a Hydrosol and why would I want to make one? 
Hydrosols are the offspring of the steam distillation process used to make essential oils.  As the steam rises, water and oils combine until they begin to cool when they separate again.  During this process, there's a little something from the oils that remains in the water creating a delightful liquid that can be used alone or added to other herbal remedies or cosmetics.  This special extraction method creates a synergistic fluid that allows the subtle healing properties to be easily utilized.  Lacking the possibly bitter, intense properties of essential oils and yet retaining unique, qualities of those oils in combination with the water soluble properties, hydrosols are unique and highly prized lotions.  Hydrosols are anti inflammatory, astringent acids, that are soothing to the skin and many are pleasing to the palate. In the past, except for rosewater and orange blossom water, this wonderful byproduct was thrown away!
Not to be confused with floral or herbal waters, true hydrosols must be made by steam distillation. Floral and herbal waters, which are made by adding essential oils or plant material to water, do not contain the unique blend of properties that results from the marriage of both oil and water soluble characteristics found in hydrosols. 

Roses are soft, fragrant flowers that lend a unique flavor to many dishes, especially in Middle Eastern cuisine.  
One way to preserve the aroma of these beautiful flowers is to make your own rose water. The old method is quite effective and very easy to do.

Here's how to make your own hydrosol.

You'll need:
2-3 quarts of flowers or herbs (be sure they are pesticide and chemical free)
(My favorite is rose petals!  Turkish delight, muhallabiyeh (milk pudding) and rose facial cream!) 
An old fashioned speckled granite canner with a convex lid 
or a large kettle with a stainless bowl big enough to seal the top of the kettle.
A fire brick that will fit in the bottom
A heat resistant glass bowl
Ice in a large plastic sealable bag

Place the fire brick in the center of the canner.  The purpose of the brick is to elevate the glass bowl above the heat and the water.  Keep in mind that whatever you use will be in the water so it needs to be clean and sterilized.

Place gently bruised petals or herbs all around the brick on the bottom of the canner.
Add about 3 quarts of water to the canner. (just enough to cover the plant material)

Place the glass bowl on the brick.
Put the lid on right side up.

At this stage, you can let the water and plant material stand together (macerate) for a few hours if desired.

Bring to a boil.
As soon as the water boils, invert the lid so that it dips down in to the pan.
Fill the "bowl" formed by the inverted lid with ice (inside a plastic bag for easy removal).
Gently simmer on lowest heat for 30 minutes or until the water is nearly gone.  If you need to open the lid to check, just crack it open without completely removing the lid.  That steam is valuable!
Turn off heat and allow to cool.

Here's what's happening.  You've created a crude still!  While the water and plant material are simmering and evaporating, the steam is condensing on the cold, inverted canner lid, collecting and running down the convex lid until it drips into the collection bowl inside the canner.

Pour the liquid in the bowl through a funnel into a glass jar. (I like to line the funnel with a wet paper coffee filter.)  The hydrosol will flow through the wet paper but any oily residue left in the filter is essential oil!  There won't be much but you can collect what's there with a dropper.

Here's a cut away sketch of what that looks like.
Cap the hydrosol jar and refrigerate.  Varying reports on the shelf life say that the rose water will keep from one month to one year. If it develops a sour smell or taste it's time to discard it and start fresh.
I like to put mine in spray bottles for ease of application.  They make a refreshing spritz on hot summer days!  Rose water was supposedly Cleopatra's favorite!
*I like to use my rose hydrosol after I've applied powder makeup as a moisturizing spritz to "set" my powder.
Rose water can be used in cooking and cosmetics. Besides the lovely aroma, rose water is mildly astringent making it a great facial freshener for dry or sensitive skin types. I've added it to moisturizers and cold creams with great results. If you have a good recipe for Turkish delight, you know that rose water is a traditional flavoring. I recently found a recipe for rose water shortbread cookies I'm hoping to try out soon.

  Read more about making herb waters or hydrosols in

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Much herbal love,

A passion for organics
Herbal and Tea Supplies

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wild and Weedy Infused Oil

It's that time of year when the grass (and whatever else is growing in your yard) draws in all the spring rains and bursts forth with new life!  In other words, your grass needs cutting!
Last year I had this great know, with gas prices so high...I thought I'd be "green" and let my grass grow.  There were a lot of healing plants growing in my field and I was thrilled with the prospect of gathering them to make into some sort of herbal concoction.  I tried to please the neighbors by mowing a generous margin around my wildness and dreamed I was living on the praire!  But if you're not pruning your yard within an inch of it's life on a weekly basis, folks begin to wonder about your sanity.
Seriously, though, we saved on gas because with our 5-6 acres of yard, it takes about 4-5 gallons of gas to cut, weedeat and push mow our entire place.
Plus, I gathered the plantain, chickweed, dandelion, ground ivy, yarrow, violets, strawberries etc. for use in my Herbal Medicine Chest.
It was awesomeness at it's best!

But, in order to keep the peace, we've decided to mow our lawn periodically this year.
There is one particular area growing an amazing amount of healing plants so before the first cutting, we harvested some of the bounty.  Since we've been really busy, we decided the best way to go was to fill a kettle with our harvest and make an infused oil that could be used in healing salves, as a massage oil or even in a fomentation in the future.

We gathered, plantain, stellaria, ground ivy, comfrey and melissa, all of which have wonderful healing properties for sore muscles, drawing infection (caution: comfrey may cause rapid surface healing that would seal in germs so make sure to clean open sores first), wounds and bruising, even broken bones.

Plantain, Ground Ivy, Comfrey...with...

...Melissa, Stellaria all in a kettle with olive oil

After warming on low heat for 3 hours,
the herbs steeped in the covered kettle overnight.

Next morning, the oil was strained from the pressed marc...
To avoid moisture that could cause spoilage, I heated the oil again, gently,
to evaporate any water that was created while steeping...
but not enough to evaporate the essential oils.

Now the oil is ready for final straining and storage until time to use as is
or added to another herbal remedy.

sharing this post @ Wildcrafting Wednesday #39

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Much herbal love,

A passion for organics

Wild Sweet Violet Syrup

When my friend Sadie, at All Natural Me, mentioned making violet syrup for Easter, I thought to myself, "How quaint!  We should try it."  But that was a busy time and who can keep up with Sadie!  Plus my yard was full of wild violets so I put it off for another day.  On our wildcrafting rescue mission before the first grass cutting of the season, I looked for violets and was sad to see that there weren't many left!  We gathered what we could and made a batch of violet syrup and I'll just send you over to Lavender and Lovage for her recipe and beautiful pictures.
  It's really yummy!

Funny husband, who is not really on board with all this herbal stuff, saw the bottle in the fridge and tasted the syrup.  He found me and asked what was in the blue bottle in a disapproving tone of voice.  when I told him he exclaimed, "It's REALLY good!"

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Much herbal love,

A passion for organics

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teaching Kids about Herbs~ Free Webinar

Join some of my favorite folks on a new adventure to celebrate Herb Day!'s John Gallagher, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Aviva Romm, M.D. are teaming up to bring you a free webinar called,

When: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 
Time: 8:30pm Eastern, 7:30 Central, 6:30 Mountain, 5:30 Pacific
Where: Right Here>> (Click to register)

During this 90 minute webinar you will learn:
  • Six fun herbal activities you can share with your kids this summer
  • What to pack in your simple, summer herbal
    first aid kit
  • When to use herbs and when to see the doctor
  • Simple herbal treatments for...
  • Bites and stings
  • Boo-boo's and ouchies
  • Sunburn
  • Poison ivy
  • Allergies
Be safe this summer...naturally.

Join them this Thursday, May 3rd, for Outdoor Kids!

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Much herbal love,

Monday, April 23, 2012

I love hearing from you!

It's so nice to hear from folks who are reading my blog!  I've made some cyber friends that way and I appreciate each and every one of you.  I've tried to make it easy for my readers to leave a comment without having to jump through too many hoops.  Spam filters seem to work fairly well and I'm amazed at the number of comments (and their content) that are stopped in that file.
All this to say that while I realize that some of you would rather comment anonymously, I am going to stop posting those comments that I can't link back to.  In other words, if I click on the "from" and get an error or can't find the sender, due to abuse, I'm going to delete them along with the spam.  I'm sorry to have to do this but I suspect spammers are finding new ways to thwart the system.  Most likely, the spammers will never read this anyway but in case there are those who post legitimate comments anonymously, I apologize if your comment is deleted.  It may be that some of the comments coming through are losing something is translation that make them sound suspicious but....well, I hope you understand.

If you have any thoughts on this problem, please let me know as I'm learning as I go.

I really do enjoy hearing from you so please continue to let me know you're out there!
Thanks for reading my thoughts here at the Woodwife's Journal!

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Much herbal love,

A passion for organics

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Upcycling Plastic in the Garden

With all the publicity about toxins and xenoestrogens that enter our food when we use plastic for food storage, I'm making a few changes.  I've always used canning jars to store lots of things from kefir to yogurt to leftovers and they work great.  But sometimes you need a different shape or size so I purchased some glass containers with plastic lids.
  They are great...until they hit my stone floor!  So I had a nice, sturdy, plastic lid without a home.  I put in in my stash of things that I know, in my bones, will come in handy some day.  Sometimes I'm right and sometimes it's just a sickness.  Click here to join Pack Rats Anonymous!
A few weeks later, as I stared once again at the lidless milk jugs I was getting ready for my raw milk run, I thought, "There has to be a better way!"
A light bulb lit in the back of my mind and began to illuminate a great idea!
Remember the old paper milk bottle discs that came from the dairy?  Why couldn't I make my own with some plastic circles cut from that sturdy red lid I'd saved?
 So I did and they work great!!!
The little tab on each one makes it easier to pull out of the bottle top.

I love it when a plan comes together!
This week, as we were planting seeds indoors, I realized that I didn't have any markers for the flats.  The allusive box of craft sticks was hiding, again.  So I started looking around in my stash box.  Remember the old ice cream buckets?  Yes, back in the day I bought ice cream in them!  Since then the buckets have made their rounds and been used for all kinds of things, broken stained and lost.  Enter the lids!

I cut the rim off the edge and started by cutting the circle in half.

By continuing to half each pie shaped wedge until the circular side was about 3/4 inch wide, I ended up with a nice handful of plant tags that worked well in my seed packs.

You could do this with any larger size circular plastic lid like those on coconut oil buckets or even ~gasp~ Cool Whip tubs.  Oh!  How about the large yogurt tubs from the store?  You could cut the sides into wedges!  Use your imagination to recycle plastic instead of disposing of it.

Sharing this post with the folks @ The Homestead Barnhop #59

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Much herbal love,

A passion for organics

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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.