natural motherhood, part 6: herbal baby care

i know that some of you out there love the super-informative posts, but i also know that there are a lot of folks who really love the project-y d.i.y. stuff—-this post is for both of you but will be a special treat to the latter.  (i’m right there with you, hands-on people!) for this entry, i wanted to take a good long look at all of the stuff we put on our babies (creams, ointments, lotions, oils, soaps, powders, balms…..oh my!) breaking everything down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.  a walk down any baby care aisle in the grocery store bombards us with all this crap (yes, most of it is crap), but because “that’s what you put on babies,” that’s what we all buy.  if you’re at all concerned about what goes into your baby, you should pay mind to what goes on her as well—pores, after all, are like little gateways to the bloodstream. Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 5: breast care

i googled “natural breast care” tonight—just to see what would pop up.  to my great disappointment, seven of the nine links were for breast augmentation or “enhancement.”  i cringed and peeked through one eye as i changed it to an image search—while i was glad to see as many pictures of breast self-exams as  i did pictures of blown-out self-tanned porn-star racks, i was horrified by the wide selection of machines that apparently use intense and prolonged suction for the purpose of “growing” larger breasts for you.  oh, and there were the creams for larger breasts, the contorting bras (watch how your pulled-around back fat can be made into more side-boob!), and the scary mixes of unnamed “herbal supplements” just shipped in from china—and all this from searching natural breast care.  what’s wrong with us? Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: honeys, oxymels, and elixirs

a bee from an egyptian hieroglyph

i figured i would take a short break from the series that i’m doing on natural motherhood and crank back up on a couple of my other projects.   something that i’ve been meaning to add for a while is a basic herbal preparations entry for sweet medicine—for honeys, oxymels, and elixirs.  honey (the common denominator between all three of these preparations) is a mysterious substance.  in the archaeology of beekeeping, author eva crane posits, based on neolithic cave paintings in valencia, spain, that honey has been a food source for humans for at least 10,000 years.  since the beginning of written history, thousands of medicinal and culinary uses of honey have graced the tablets and pages of our past.  yes, dried bee puke has held our interest for quite some time!  it has been used to treat wounds, to aid in the mummification process, to preserve food and drink, to sweeten things, and, as every granny knows, to stop a cough dead in its tracks! Read the rest of this entry »

make your own goat cheese!

in my attempt to revive antiquated kitchen skills, i’ve learned to make chicken stock, pickled veggies, jams and jellies, but one of my favorite d.i.y. things has been goat cheese.   i’m tempted to pick some up every time i go the store.  it just stares at me from the cold shelves of the “gourmet foods” section of the grocery store, all creamy and rolled in exotic herbs.  it says “buuuuy meeeee” (softly, and with the voice of mike rowe from “dirty jobs” lol). i pick it up, and i aaaaaalmost buy it—but then i look at the price—and i put it down.  let’s be honest.  it wouldn’t make it a day in my fridge—especially if there’s melba toast within reach.  i rarely buy it because i can’t justify the expense.  sorry mike. Read the rest of this entry »

food as medicine: herbal chicken stock

i may be in the minority here, but as a been-drenched-in-sweat-for-six-months alabamian, i must say that i’m quite pleased that it’s finally starting to get cold (yes, here in bama we consider 60 degrees cold!).  cold weather means time for root veggies, pomegranates, greens, and squashes.  it’s a sign to everything in nature to slow down and rest.  aerial parts of plants begin to die back and all of the energy and vital force moves down into the roots for storage and for several months of waiting.  we slow down too—after the cold settles in, only the die-hard runners and joggers can be seen out on the roads.  the rest of us put on our robes, waddle to the windows, look out at the frost-covered cars and say “eh, maybe not today.” Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: lozenges

lozenges are one of my favorite herbal preparations because they give nearly instant gratification.  oils and tinctures are wonderful, but there’s all that waiting for the finished product.  with lozenges, you skip the 5 weeks of infusion in favor of a mix and a quick dry.  they’re less like a scary science experiment and more like instant proof that you’re your own herbalist!

there are other, more fundamental preparations that i was going to teach about first, like vinegars and tinctures, but today was my day with kindergartners and first graders, and you can only be coughed on so many times before you take the hint and write about something that folks obviously need this time of year.   the lozenges that i’m going to show you how to make are specifically for coughs and throat irritation, but with a few adjustments (that i’ll mention later) the recipe can be tweaked for stomach remedies as well. Read the rest of this entry »

green up your laundry with soap nuts!

i have been gifted with what i consider to be two fairly fun and healthy qualities….i’m a skeptic when it comes to “miracle products,” those things in life that just sound too good to be true, but i’m also willing to try (nearly) anything once, in order to see for myself.  such a little scientist–i know.  well, when i first heard of soap nuts, i thought it sounded, well….. nuts!  but let me back up a bit.

i’ve always on some level detested the smell of fabric softener and really perfume-y laundry detergent.  (ask my husband to describe the face i make when we walk past that aisle in target! if hell had a smell, it would be that of gain) Read the rest of this entry »

elderberry syrup–for colds, flu, and ice cream!

at the moment, i have sitting before me roughly 50 student papers that need grading, so i’ll blog instead.   seriously, my house is never cleaner than it is when i have papers to grade.  i find myself doing anything but the task at hand, and i often joke with coworkers that i should just give them all c’s…that way i will be mostly right, and when the A students come crying to me about their grades, I can say “oops!” and change them.   just a fantasy, but, you know…. ok so i was thinking of another really good foundational recipe that i could start everyone out on, and elderberry syrup seems to be it.  if you read the post on iron syrup from last night, this will be old hat.  if not, it will still be very, very easy! so a little about elderberries—elderberry is a fruit that we don’t seem to be too familiar with in the united states, and boy is that a shame!  it grows wild on the roadsides, but most people don’t know what it is and don’t know that you can (and should) eat it. Read the rest of this entry »