Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lavender first aid oil

NOW! NEW on our Homestead Herbals etsy shop - a new certified organic Lavender First Aid Oil made with certified organic pure lavender essential oil!  Lavender oil is such an important, multi-purpose healer, and versatile oil, that every home remedy cabinet should not be without it.  If you are only going to have one essential oil in your first aid kit it would be lavender oil.

To use, dilute a few drops of the lavender essential oil in a carrier oil (e.g. a light oil that absorbs well into the skin such as apricot oil, sesame oil, almond oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil) and apply as needed.

Lavender is an excellent essential oil for children and babies, as well as adults.  It can make a beautiful aromatic massage oil that soothes a tired, fussing baby.  It can be sprinkled on a pillow at night to help ease congestion and coughs, as well as insomnia and restlessness.  In Ayurvedic tradition lavender oil is thought to be a balancing oil for all constitutions, and helps with congestion of all types (both physical and mental).

Here are just some of the many wonderful benefits of lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia):
  • soothes minor burns (both kitchen stove, or sun burns, or heat rashes)
  • aids infections and inflammation
  • disinfects and helps heal cuts and scrapes
  • eases headaches and migraines
  • soothes stress and anxiety
  • aids sore tired feet
  • helps insomnia, restlessness, sleeplessness
  • takes itch out of mosquito bites
  • massage for tired sore muscles
  • gentle and soothing for infants and children
  • eases congestion, coughs and bronchitis 
  • eases cold and flu symptoms
(Lavender oil should only be used for external use only.  Information here is based on historical use and for your interest only.)

Making grape juice - the easy method

This year is proving to be THE best grape harvest yet in all our seasons living and gardening here.  Ironically, the falling of two large beautiful old trees in a high wind storm a few weeks ago has helped immensely in the grape success.   Now, where there used to be deep shade for much of the day, we get full sun shining down on our ripening grape vines all day long.  With all this bounty we needed to find quick ways to harvest and preserve. Having a young baby here to care for, means limited time for long canning projects - so we discovered this easy and quick method of making grape juice.  12 beautiful litres done in 30 minutes today!

Easy Grape Juice Method

1) Fill litre jars with 1 cup grapes (cleaned, destemmed and washed).  Concord, or other grapes.
2) Add 1/4 cup sugar to each jar (upto 1/2 cup if you want a sweeter juice).
3) Fill each jar with boiling water, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
4) Top jar with clean lid and canning ring.
5) Process according to canning procedures for 15 minutes.

When you are ready to serve the juice, simply strain it into your glasses and compost grapes.
Makes easy, delicious, beautiful juice.

Our pink and purple end of August garden

Monday, August 24, 2015

Plant Spirit Communication Workshop

Plants are always communicating with us - on an obvious level it's plants participating in the unending carbon-oxygen exchange with us that can be called communication - on on a scientific level it's through chemicals they release to communicate to pollinators, other plants, us.  But on a spiritual level when plants communicate with us it's we who often can't hear them, we who live our lives in a fast pace with minds filled with our daily lists and tasks and little time for slowing down and sitting with plants to learn their messages.  We had a fascinating workshop here on the weekend on this topic, and our facilitator (local herbalist, reflexologist and plant spirit healer Heather Cain) guided us into a time of learning how we can better learn to attune our senses to hear (and see, smell, taste, feel, etc) the messages that plants are giving to us.  I am often drawn to the practical ways of being with plants - growing, tending, harvesting, preparing, using them - and forget to slow down and be with them on a different level, that of knowing them deeply, listening, responding.  Taking time in the workshop to really sit with a plant that was calling me - that day it was Motherwort, the "mother's helper" - and hearing what Motherwort had to tell me, was refreshing and new.

Participants each spent time with plants around the gardens here at Little City Farm - and the plants that chose them were not necessarily ones I usually notice: motherwort, lamb's quarter, borage, dandelion, queen anne's lace, lemon balm, strawberry flower, zinnia, and our old apple tree, to name a few.  We heard messages of abundance and sharing, opening our hearts, letting go of old patterns, remembering that we are all connected in community, releasing our fears, and paring down our busy lives to what is really important.

We each collected a few petals or flowers from the plants we spent time with, and made a room cleansing elixir by adding the flowers to purified water, with a dash of alcohol preservative and pure essential oils.  What a lovely way to spend the morning in my very familiar garden, with new eyes and an open heart, and so much more to learn on this subject.

For another fascinating look at plant communication, check out this short video by a forest researcher describing how Mother Trees are communicating in the forest through their fungal networks.