Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elderberry Syrup -- The Recipe

The local artisan market went very well and I sold two bottles of my elderberry immunity blend syrup.  I am almost finished with my own syrup, so I figured I should make some more, and by popular demand, share the recipe!

Elderberry Syrup -- Immunity Blend

1/2 c. dried elderberries
3 c. filtered water
2 Tbs roughly chopped ginger
15 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp dried and chopped echinacea root**
1 tsp dried and chopped astragalus root**
4 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar
2 c. raw honey

**Both echinacea and astragalus are optional in this syrup as the elderberries do a great job at being antiviral, but they do add some serious immune-boosting properties, and that's why I like to use them!

In a medium-sized pot, add all of the ingredients except for the honey and vinegar.  Slowly bring to a very, very light simmer -- you shouldn't see any little bubbles that are typical of a simmer.  Decocting the herbs in this way preserves their medicinal qualities.  Decoct for approximately 1 hour and then use a potato masher to mash up the contents.  Strain out the plant material and let it cool (it is important that it cools completely so that you don't destroy the beneficial qualities of the raw vinegar and raw honey).  Once cool, add the honey and vinegar and stir to combine.

For adults, take 1 Tbsp every hour when ill. For maintenance, take 1 Tbsp per day.

For children ages 6-12, 2 tsp hourly when ill or 2 tsp daily for maintenance.

For children 2-5, 1 tsp hourly when ill or 1 tsp daily for maintenance.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Elderberry Blend Immunity Syrup

'Tis the season for colds and flu ... what in the world is a girl to do?

... Make elderberry syrup, of course!

The recipe I made is a classic elderberry syrup but with the addition of a couple other immunity-boosting ingredients.  I found some great, concise information on the herbs through Mountain Rose Herbs and thought I'd share them here.

Elderberry --  Elder is touted as one of the strongest anti-viral herbs. "It's flowers and berries have a long history of use in traditional European medicine...Elderberry's real claim to fame is as a cure for the flu.  Israeli researchers have developed five formulas based on elderbery fruit that have been clinically proven to prevent and ameliorate all kinds of influenza..." (mountainroseherbs.com)

Echinacea --  Echinacea (specifically angustifolia) "is herbal medicine's first choice of treatment for colds."  It works specifically through stimulation of the immune system.  "...administered in times of need, this helpful ally can assist the body's immune system in treating a wide range of disorders". (mountainroseherbs.com)

Astragalus -- "...research shows that simple preparation of astragalus...stimulate[s] the immune system in several ways.  It increases the number of stem cells in bone marrow, and encourages their maturity into active white blood cells. [Astragalus] appears to help signal the white blood cells known as neutrophils to migrate to places they are needed to fight infection.  [Astragalus] stimulates the "germ-eating" white blood cells known as macrophages, activates T-cells and natural killer (NIK) cells, and increases the production of immune globulins.  Usually taken with a variety of other herbs, astragalus...eases chronic respiratory infections..." (mountainroseherbs.com)

It's hard to not just drink this stuff for a little pick-me-up during the day.  It is so darn tasty! I decocted the herbs with a variety of mulling spices to come up with a mouth-watering, natural tonic for boosting your immunity. How perfect! It's good for you and it goes down easily, too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

preparing for the local artisan market

This upcoming weekend is the local artisan market here in Grand Haven, MI.  I've got lots of things to bring along (namely, nearly everything) in my Etsy shop, plus a couple of new things that I finished up over the past week and a half.  Some are not posted yet for sale, so I am going to consider this as an exclusive debut for these new knitted items. 


Bellatrix -- in cherry

Bellatrix -- in white

We had a super fun time with these photos I think especially because there were rabbits involved.  Who doesn't like rabbits, anyway? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

what I've been up to

It's been nearly a month since I've posted! How does that happen so easily? I love to try and keep this blog up-to-date, but lately it's been rather challenging.  I am hoping to get some pictures up soon of some new knitted items and such, since that's been half of the bulk of what I've been up to.  The other half has been entirely dedicated to accomplishing my field work for school.  Let's just say that I've done many, many reflexology, therapeutic touch, and polarity sessions within the last month.  This past weekend was my final weekend at school before a holiday break though, and the majority of my assignments are just reading lots of books, which I can do rather quickly, which is good. That means more time for other things like knitting and spinning and enjoying the holidays with my family!

This past weekend, we spent the majority of the school days learning some basic techniques of connective tissue massage.  I got to use all of my new techniques today on a friend who was very ill with an awful headache.  Connective tissue massage, plus some herbs, some hydrotherapy, and therapeutic touch and my friend was actually fidgeting after being sedentary and so uncomfortable for such a long time.  I love being able to help the people I care about to feel better naturally.  I look forward to more amazing experiences like that!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

wild turkey & deer

There are several things that I've always wanted to try but have never done, including butchering and tanning animal hides. Well, yesterday was my birthday and, happy birthday to me, I got to try both! Warning, if you are at all squeamish, please don't finish reading this post!! 

The butchering was on a wild turkey that a friend of mine hit with her car while on her way to work.  As someone who doesn't care for waste, I decided to go and get the turkey to clean it and use for meat.  In school, I was always the one who would happily dissect any animal and wouldn't be disgusted by it, so I knew that this chore of cleaning a turkey would be very similar.  It did help that I didn't have to kill the turkey myself as there would have been a lot more emotion involved, regardless though, many prayers and chants of thanks were said to the turkey for his life and to the Earth Mother for providing this turkey for my family.

Klaus was a little unsure about the process, so he stayed away.

Preparing to gut.

After it was all said and done, I had 9.2 lbs of fresh turkey meat to go in the freezer plus a carcass, head, and feet to go in the crock pot for turkey stock.  In addition to the edible portion, I also salvaged a large bag of beautiful feathers, two huge wings, a fan of tail feathers, and a turkey beard. I feel pretty darn good about turning this amazing roadkill that was just going to rot (and feed other wild creatures, of course) into something that I could use. Humans waste so much, especially with the animals we kill with our cars, and I am happy to represent a different generation of folks who appreciate and use as much of the animal as possible. 

As for the deer, another friend of mine, Stephanie, shot a beautiful doe with her bow and was generous enough to give me the hide and the head for learning and use purposes. I've been really interested in learning the ways of Native Americans and how they preserve hides, so I used the method of tanning called "brain-tanning".  I used this tutorial as my guide to tan, and so far, so good! The hide is currently balled up in it's tanning solution for another 2-3 days, so I will have more updates as soon as I get to see the results of the labor.

deer brain

cooking the brain

Skin side up of the hide

Smearing pureed deer brain into the hide.

I hope that the hide turns out all right! We have a lot more work to do once the tanning period is over--lots of "working" the hide to turn it into something supple and not stiff.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

All-Heal Salve

Happy Sunday!  I spent the day making herbal salves from the different herb-infused oils that I made over the course of the summer.  I made two other salves aside from this one, but I'll save them for another day.

Here is the main ingredient:

A brief breakdown of the herbs used to infuse the olive oil:

Nettle - Urtica dioica:  Used as a specific for childhood eczema as well as other varieties of eczema
Horsetail - Equisetum arvense:  Used as an external wound healer.  Also strengthens hair and fingernails.
Violet - Viola papilionacea:  Soothing for skin irritations, including hemorrhoids.
Red Clover - Trifolium pratense:  Anti-inflammatory and calming for the skin.  Another specific for childhood eczema and also psoriasis.
Comfrey - Symphytum officinale:  Speeds up wound-healing.  Guards against scar tissue development.
Plantain - Plantago major:  Soothes irritation and infection.  Helps stop bleeding.

The end result is nothing short of super for your skin -- I have poison ivy right now and this all-heal salve not only helps with the itching, but it also is limiting the dermatitis that I'm causing myself by scratching! It's perfect for my hands for winter too, especially since my hands are always so dry from working at the restaurant.

I love salve.  It is my go-to for just about every nick, scrape, bee sting, etc. that troubles my skin.  If you've never made it before, I highly recommend giving it a go.  Most of the herbs are very easy to come by (especially plantain, a common "weed"!) for wildcrafting and then all you have to do is be patient while your herbs macerate, add some beeswax, and there you go!

My final result of today's hard work to be later listed on Etsy:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

more etsy updates

Between work and school, I feel like I've been spread out pretty thinly lately...

However, crafting with fiber still gets accomplished and here is what I've accomplished for October (heh, and since the month isn't over yet, perhaps I'll get more done!):

On top of the hats, I also completed spinning 4 oz of camel fiber and 4 skeins of pure angora.  Whew.  Let's see what I can pack in during these last couple of days!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

reminiscing of summer

Though I have been enjoying the autumn, I have found myself reminiscing of summer already.  I know, I know, it's too soon to begin anticipating summer, but for as much as I love the autumn colors, I already am wanting more green. I thought I'd share a couple of photos from this summer that just make me smile at the memory.

Mrs. Bluebird on her nest

A clay-ey lake

My favorite amphibian -- Leopard frog

Female monarch freshly hatched from her chrysalis which can be seen above her

Monday, October 8, 2012

the plants live on

I spent today gathering plants from the garden that would otherwise not fare well in the winter months ahead.  I was under the impression that my white sage and white horehound would live through a Michigan winter, but alas, it gets too cold here for them to survive.

So, in they came.

white sage

white horehound

I placed my new "indoor" plants next to my flowering maple, which is just beginning to grow some new flower buds.  It looked so lovely in the sunlight that I decided to take a picture of it, though it was already living inside.

And lastly... the hats! They just keep coming. Winter is coming, and the wool in this house is flying.  Cheers to cool weather and warm woolens! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

of new (to me) crafts and old

Things have been changing around here, and I am blaming it on the cool and wondrous autumn air. A fellow spinner from the group I meet with had 10 floor looms that she had to get rid of, and well, I happened to drop by (heh, as in drive 45 minutes out of my way) and pick one up.  Another spinner friend was there to pick up a loom for herself and since she was brilliant enough to have brought a small trailer to bring hers home in, we were fortunate enough to have her and her family kindly take ours home as well.

36 inches of pure Leesburg Loom with more tricky heddles and names for all of the parts than I can currently remember:

In addition to the loom, I also purchased a new spinning wheel.  I've had my eye on a Saxony style wheel for a long time now, and I decided that I would sell an item of mine to have money for the purchase of a new one.  

weaving reading materials

etsy items ... slowly, my shop is getting bigger!

hat pattern plans

There is so much to do, and so little time! I am thankful for the time I do have and also for the cooler weather which makes staying inside and crafting that much more enjoyable.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

the queen of insects

Do you like spiders?  I absolutely love them.  I will never purposely kill one -- if they're in my house, I typically let them stay or if they are walking across the floor, I'll take them outside.

However, even though this beautiful Queen was only sitting in her web in the corner of the hallway, I wasn't going to let her stay. She, along with the brown recluse, are unwelcome in my house.

Allow me to introduce you to, the Queen of Insects!

This amazing, female black widow spider was a real treat for me to find this morning.  The last time I found a widow, it was a male, and although he was beautiful, the females are definitely more exciting because of their poisonous bite.

Thankfully no one was bitten.  Regardless, this lovely lady is not going to be released the usual way -- she'll be let out into the woods far, far from my house.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I didn't expect these to bloom this year, but since they did, I'll show you!

tarragon flowers

Sunday, September 9, 2012


The weather has been all over the place as of late.  One day it's very warm and the next it's quite cool.  Autumn is beginning to settle in, and she is clearly a little unsure of what temperature is best.  I'll let her, though, because I still have tomatoes yet to ripen on the vine and I also have more woolens to make before the frosts begin. Autumn, please take your time.

In the meantime, :

first butternuts from the garden -- the littlest that you see was only 4 inches long!

hawthorn leaf

Klaus, prepared (and hoping) to run into some small animal mischief

Mini web that Michael discovered

Who knew that slugs ate fungus? I sure didn't! 

unidentified, but beautiful fungus specimens!

Michael and Klaus

Walking in the woods and happening upon little gems of nature is a soul-deepening experience.  If you haven't been out in the woods lately, I highly suggest it! Since Michael and I both have a little time off this week, I am going to drink in the woods as much as I can.