Friday, October 26, 2012

Garlic Ear Oil Remedy: Does It Really Work?

You may have seen this recipe before and wondered, hmmmm...does this really work?  Especially if you have a toddler who is tugging at their ear, in pain...not happy to say the least.  That's where I was over 10 years ago.  Our two guys seemed to both fight frequent ear infections and I was getting caught up in the habit of running them to the doctors for antibiotics a lot.  Plus, I was hearing "horror" stories of "tubes in their ears" and  on going, recurrent infections from moms all around me.  It made me a bit desperate and willing to try something natural.  Not that I wasn't in to natural, I was really discovering herbs and gardening, but I was still new to the whole medical use of them all.  I also didn't have the internet to do any research and most of my friends thought the herbal stuff was wacky.  That's when I ran across a small article in a homesteading supply magazine.  It was about a garlic oil treatment and how this man had used it on his kids for their ear infections and it really worked!  He was so sincere and humble in his article that I thought, "why not give it a try?"

Little did I understand the power behind this lowly piece of garlic.  How could something that makes awesome garlic bread kill an infection?  I was soon to find out.  The next time one of our kiddos started complaining about their ear, I found the recipe and went for it.

What I love most about this recipe is how simple it is.  No mail order catalogs, no 4-6 weeks of waiting on a tincture...this stuff is ready to go in about 15 minutes after prepping.  Inexpensive and highly effective, it's a hard one to beat.  All you need is a garlic clove or two (depending on the size) and some olive oil.  Mince the garlic clove and place it in a clean container.

Like you see here.  Then cover it with a little olive oil.  

 I actually used too much oil in the photos because I was snapping the shot while pouring.  If this were to happen to you, you can add more garlic.  The more the merrier as it will be more powerful in the oil.

Then let it sit in the oil for about 15 minutes.  The allicin in the garlic is released (thus the strong odor) and this unlocks more of the garlic's potent powers of healing.  

Then gather what you're going to need.  A rice bag or if you don't have one, try using a clean  cotton sock and fill with a cup or two of rice, tie off at the top. To heat, dampen slightly and place on a clean plate in microwave for about 30 seconds.  You can always add more time if the bag isn't warm enough.  Remember to move the rice bag around after heating to disperse the heated rice.

When everything is ready, have your child or ear ache sufferer lie on their side with infected ear up.  Place a 30 minute dvd on for them.  Strain the garlic bits from the oil  and put some in a teaspoon. (I would fill a small mug with hot tap water and place a spoon of the garlic oil gently on top of the water to warm it.  Make sure the spoon doesn't get water in it.)  
After the oil is warmed, use a dropper or the smallest spoon you can find and place 5-10 drops (1/4 tsp) into the infected ear.  Put a cotton ball or a small wad of tissue in ear.  Then here's the part the man who wrote the recipe said, "use a damp wash cloth and place next on the ear.  Then add some warm heat and cover with a towel." (Work with your child on how much heat they can handle and use a hand towel around the bag if it's too hot.) He stressed how this remedy only worked well with damp heat.  I don't know the science behind this, I just did what the man said and....IT WORKED!! I mean, every time!  I would do this treatment on them (usually both ears) at least twice a day for about two days.  After that, they were back to their usual self.  I did give them pain relievers to help them sleep, but that's it.

It worked for us and I used it for a number of years until they outgrew ear infections.  

That's it, that simple and that effective! I would love to thank the man who was willing to share his own experience with this remedy, but I have no idea who he is. So I thank him by passing on my experience with it to you so you can decide for yourself.

Of course, if there is a high fever, or threat of ear eruption, please take your child to the doctor, and I'm not trying to diagnose as a medical practitioner...just passing on a sensible herbal remedy for you to try.

Oh, the leftover garlic oil? I would cover and refrigerate for a few days and discard after that.  It's so easy to make fresh that I didn't need to store it.  Super nice. 
One more thing...I would give the little guys echinacea tea in a bottle or cup while they were fighting off the infection too.  They still love to drink it now and they are 16 and 19! 

(Consider pinning this remedy for when you need it!!)

Hope this helps...blessings!
Linked to these amazing blog parties...Homestead Revival Barn Hop 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall's Floral Post Cards

I finally had some time the other day to get outside and actually enjoy some fall colors and stuff around me.  Fall comes last to our lake front shores, so we usually have to drive a few miles south of here to experience it sooner.  However, I did have a patch of these beautiful zinnias and marigolds that really screamed "fall" to me." Yes, they're not asters and mums, but during this season their colors take center stage in the garden.

These Persian Carpet flowers fool you at first in to thinking they are marigolds, but are actually a unique variety of zinnias.  So cool, and actually they reseeded themselves from last year.  They are only about 12 inches tall and come in all colors and markings.  If you don't have a friend that grows these for seeds, you can find them here.

I called these marigolds "naturalized" because they reseeded themselves and came back in all different ways.  The original seeds were hybrid marigolds, bred for a certain coloring and small size, but when they reseed they start to return to their wild ancestors and grow tall and bushy. I liked all the different paint splotches of color on the petals.

The petals of these marigolds look like crushed velvet...lovely!

 These "Mysotis" or perennial "Forget-Me-Nots" in their lavender purple color look like icing on a cake.  Their delicate petals lend a soft and soothing backdrop to the bolder colors of red, yellow and orange. I planted these once and they come back vigorously year after year.  You'll want to give them room in the garden.

The random fall frosts show their telling signs with wilted petals, but still leave the flower heads with lots of visual interest.  The lavender color of this Mysotis is still strong, but the browns behind it lend an overall designer touch.

Just a few  floral "postcards" for you to enjoy.  It's amazing how fall can show up in a small patch of reseeded marigolds and zinnias...I guess it's all perspective!  Blessings!

Enjoy the photos?  You may be interested in these other posts...Flower photos in the Rain and Amazing Butterflies.

Linked to these blog parties...Homestead Revival 
Hello MondayClever Chicks Blog Hop 
Living Green Tuesdays 
Take- A-Look Tuesday 
Backyard Farming Connection 
Small Footprint Friday 
Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 
Welcome Wednesdays 
Country Homemaker Hop 
Wicked Good Wednesdays
Simple Lives Thursday 
Rural Thursdays 
Insta Friday/Life Rearranged 
A Rural Journal: Your Sunday Best 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saving Sage For Winter...

Right next to the place where I have a clothesline (free solar power!), I have an herb bed and one of the plants in it are my sage plants.  A hardy perennial, I've had these dependable plants for over 15 years.  So, considering their age, I was surprised to see how lush they were for early October. Seeing this, I knew I needed to bring some in to dry.  To be honest, I'm not very good about saving sage for winter use.  I am spoiled by its lush leaves and cold temp. hardiness and forget to put some by. Plus, I often will have useable sage leaves almost into Thanksgiving as it can withstand even some snow.  So, it's a great long season herb an indispensable  for the home landscape. I actually plant it for its flowers as well as for its use as an herb.  (The sage flowers are also edible as well.  You can use them to garnish salads or any dish for that matter.  They only bloom in the late spring.)

Beautiful sage flowers in the spring...
We had some friends over one time in the spring and we were looking at the sage flowers.  One of our friends asked me what the plant was and I told him "sage" and he was shocked.  He then asked, "Why do you need so much sage?  How much do you need for stuffing?"  Now it was my turn to be shocked because I answered, "Just look at how beautiful the flowers are, I grow them for flowers too!"  (I have a whole group of sage plants in a small front flower bed also.)  Herb lovers understand our unquenchable love and appreciation for the many "talents" of the herbal plant kingdom.  They are amazing, hardy, beautiful AND you can eat them...okay, I'm off my soap box. :)

 Back to harvesting...herbs are best harvested right before flowering.  During and after flowering, the plants put all their energy into flower and seed production, so the leaves aren't really the best flavored.  I trim off all the seed heads after blooming so the plants can regenerate and put on another fresh flush of leaves.  And this year was exceptional.  Our May and June were very dry, but mid-July brought back bi-weekly to weekly rains that have extended all through late summer and early fall.  This means my sage is beautiful and ready for harvest.  I would rather harvest late in the season because I won't break into the dry leaves until late November/December.  This way, the dried leaves don't sit on the shelf for as long. 

 Harvesting?  Remember, the upper leaves are the best.  They are tender, insect-free, and the best tasting.  And me having so many plants means I have a lot of sage tops to pick from.  This also keeps the plants bushy and hardy.  

 This was early on in the harvest, I actually filled my dehydrator to the max with these beautiful leaves.  No dehydrator?  No problem.  Bundle the sage with a rubber band and hang upside down in a dry warm place.  Bothered by dust?  Put them in a paper bag upside down, wrap the rubber band around the bottom of the stems and top of the paper bag and hang up to dry.  You may want to poke a few air holes to help with ventilation.  We live by a lake and it seems to be more humid in our house.  So, I invested in a really nice dehydrator.  Looking to save $$?  Check out your Goodwill stores or yard sales, one of my first dehydrators came from there...$3! If it's warm in your area when you are drying herbs, then put them on a ventilated tray/screen and place in your car in the back window.  Instant dry herbs.  My friend did this and it worked out beautifully.  

 Sage leaves have a velvety, almost papery texture, so they dry well and turn a beautiful shade of gray.  I like to store my sage leaves whole or as whole as possible.  I just take out a few as needed and powder them in my hands before using...also known as "rubbed sage."  

 They are great in soups, chicken and dumplings, any chicken marinade or meal and I use them in my Italian seasoning blend.  Overall, a great all purpose herb and one you'll find yourself running out of by winter's end.  Store in an airtight container that is not transparent or I put mine in glass jars but store them in a locker of their own that keeps them quite out of the light.  They have a long shelf life, one year is recommended, as long as they stay dry..  Try sage butter by sauteing (preferably fresh) leaves in some melted butter in a skillet, remove and pour butter over pasta and whatever else you would like to add.  Our favorite use is in our endless pots of chicken noodle soup.  Our guy's favorite soup, I make lots of pots and sage is central to the tasty broth.

Well, there ya go...Sage is saved and ready for winter!  However, I will be gathering LOTS of fresh leaves while this weather stays mild.  Maybe fresh sage for Thanksgiving this year...?!

What's your favorite way to use sage?

For more herb drying info, check out my post;  Ode to Drying Oregano.

LInked to these blog parties: Clever Chicks Blog Hop , Natural Living Mondays  
Hello Mondays 
Homestead Revival Barn Hop 
Living Green Tuesday Link-Up
Backyard Farming Connection Hop 
Take it From Me "Welcome Wednesdays" 
Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 
Natural Living Link-Up #43 
Simple Lives Thursday 
Farm Girl Blog Fest 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Making a Double Lemon Balm Tincture

So many of you have probably not only heard of tinctures, but have already made plenty of your own.  I have made them in the past, (I mean MANY moons ago...) and have recently been making them again.  I stopped making them because life got busy.  However, seeing how easy and inexpensive they are to make and use, it seems silly not to make them.  In this post I will show you how to easily double tincture whatever herb or root you are using.  I found this technique last winter when I was researching on You Tube on how to tincture again.  It makes so much sense, I had to try it myself.

I am using Lemon Balm AND I am tincturing it fresh.  I've dried it before and it tastes like pretty much nothing.  This is one of those herbs that don't hold on to their essential oils very well.  Lemon Balm itself is a calming tonic herb.  It was generally used to help promote an overall sense of well-being.  It's also soothing and sedative, which is why I'm making some!  I plan on using it before going to bed and for those stressful days.  I normally use Valerian to help relax, but that stuff makes me VERY sleepy (not good during the day) and I'm figuring that making a tincture formula will help me regulate how much I need as opposed to using an herb in a capsule.

On to tincturing!  Get your Vodka, and make it at least 80 -100 proof for the best extractive qualities.  I have mine ready to pour...

It's a pretty simple process.  Gather your lemon balm, making sure to use the uppermost leaves for the best quality and pack it tightly into a clean, dry, sterile jar.  I am using the ever popular canning jar, pint size to be exact.  Make sure to macerate or crush the leaves as much as possible to get those essential oils flowing...

Fill to the top with your vodka, label and cap.  Make sure all the leaves are covered.  I usually add more vodka after a day because the leaves absorb some of the liquid.

On my label, I put the date of when the tincture is done.  It's usually four weeks.  You can put both start and finish date if you want.  I sometimes let it go a little longer.  When it's done, you will need to strain your tincture into a clean jar or container.  Notice the leaf color change?

Here's a single tincture of lemon balm. I love the nice amber color.  This is fine to bottle and use right now, BUT we are going to do this again...!

Now, simply follow the first steps again, and add the first tincture to the fresh lemon balm leaves. 

Here we go with Round off with more fresh vodka if your tincture doesn't cover the leaves you have in the jar.

Label for four weeks...

Then strain, you know the drill and this is what you get...can you tell which one is the double tincture??!!!

Single tincture on the left...Double tincture on the right.  Amazing!

Well, there you have it.  A double tinctured lemon balm.  You can of course, do a triple tincture but I doubt the color will show up much darker on camera.  I will definitely triple tincture next summer when my lemon balm is in full swing.  To make more of a concentrate for the same amount of tincture is a great idea AND I'm glad I fell across this little jewel of information on You Tube. 

Remember too that you can use this technique for all your tinctures; just always start with fresh material.  It could be pricey if you are buying the plant material, but if you have your own, like echinacea, valerian, chamomile, peppermint, get the idea.  The cost is minimal.  (Don't forget to pin this so you can save the "how-to's" for later!)

What's your favorite tincture to make for your herbal medicine cabinet?  Blessings everyone!

(Want another great use for Lemon Balm?  Check out this post, Tea-licious with Lemon Balm.)

Linked to Farm Girl Blog Fest , Backyard Farming Connection Hop
Welcome Wednesday , Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways  
Rural Thursday
Simple Lives Thursday 
Natural Living Link-Up
Small Footprint Friday 
Homestead Revival Barn Hop 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Happens when Vegetables Talk?

Couldn't resist this little garden humor that I found on a site on Facebook...I well understand this one as I've cut, sliced, chopped and diced more onions in the last 20 years than I would care to remember.  Not that I don't love onions; I actually do a lot...That's why the tears have flowed! Viva la onion!! Have a great week!!


Linked to:
Life of Love , Welcome Wednesday 
Homestead Revival Barn Hop
Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways

Monday, October 1, 2012

Homemade Deodorant: Does it Really Work?

Here we go; it's a deodorant throwdown.  Don't let the Speed Stick bottle fool's only serving as a useful vessel to hold our natural homemade deodorant.  It's recycling and making your own product in one package.  Okay, so does this stuff work?  This is another favorite item going around Pinterest and on blogs.  I actually heard of this years ago from my niece, but I'll admit, I was highly skeptical.  

So, I came across the recipe on the blog, Homestead Revival (a great blog to check out btw), I was casually telling my husband about it.  He was even more skeptical and resistant to the idea.  I dropped the subject: totally understanding his feelings, but thought I may try it out on one of my teenagers. Well, all these years of being married must have done something, because he went ahead and made his own simple version of it, fairly certain it would be a bust. He just combined baking soda and coconut oil.   Not only was it NOT a bust, he was completely amazed!  He couldn't believe it and made up a small batch to use.  Of course this prompted our 16 year old to try it and try it he did and was in shock.  Well, maybe shock is a little strong, but you get the idea.  He was complaining only the day before how his regular deodorant wasn't strong enough and after using the natural version he was fresh smelling and his clothes were too!  

So amazed was he, that he began to tell his friends about it and THEY were interested.  As a matter of fact, all I heard for days was how great this stuff was.  That's pretty impressive folks.  I mean, to have any product work so well is something to be happy about, but one that is natural and only cost pennies?  This was too good to be true, but it really does work.  I have already been using natural store bought deodorants, so when those run out, I will make up my own batch.  But for now, this stuff is a wonder working product!

Store bought deodorant completely knocked out of the ring...!
When I would do the laundry before, their shirts would be difficult to wash. The waxes and whatevers in the store bought deodorant not coming clean in the wash.  It would actually hold in the odors in their clothes.  Now, with this all natural version, their clothes smell great and even fresh.  Incredible!

So save those old deodorant bottles, let them soak overnight in soapy water and you can put your own homemade deodorant in them.  The natural product is much softer and you only need a light application for it to work. It costs literally pennies, much cheaper than any natural product out there AND this one has no chemicals...perfect.

The cons?  Well, remember it's deodorant, not anti-perspirant, so you WILL perspire, but that's a natural function of the body anyway.  We need to sweat to detox, so preventing it is actually hurting us.  It's better to layer a t-shirt under clothing to help with perspiration.

Here's a basic recipe to get you started.  We changed our formula a bit by adding less oil to make it stiffer to put in the deodorant containers.  It's all depends on you.  The tea tree oil is anti-bacterial; it will help kill the odor causing bacteria and gives it a pine-ish scent.  It's not necessary, but it does help the overall effectiveness of the deodorant.

Here it is: 

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch
4--6 Tbsp of Coconut Oil (Depending on how stiff you want the product to be)
Tea Tree Oil  (You don't need this to get started, but you'll love it.  Tea Tree oil can be found at Walmart.)

Mix together throughly and put in your container. If you're already using this, pass this review along to others, it's a great product....just ask my teenager!

What are your thoughts on homemade deodorant?  Blessings!

Linked to these blog parties: Homestead Revival , Living Green Tuesdays ,  Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways ,   Backyard Farming Connection Hop ,
The Country Homemaker Hop , Simple Lives Thursday , Clever Chicks Blog Hop