We had a super fun time rescuing some tadpoles from the big swimmingpool (which is such a chemical waste) this past spring and many tadpoles made it into the froglet and toadlet stage, then hopped into their futures. After the tadpoles had transformed, I left the kiddie pool out for a while to be certain the traveling frog orgy had not innoculated it with more spawn. When I discovered no eggs or tadpoles, I drained the festering mini swamp, and began plan B. Since I am not a fan of battling the invasions of ever present and truly horrid Bermuda grass into my planting beds in the ground, I decided that the kiddie pool would be the perfect home for my 7 or 8 year old last surviving strawberry plants. My poor plants have been languishing in some ridiculous tiny hanging planters, with no room for expansion. My mother has tried repeatedly to kill them off entirely when I have had them in other spots, and yet, some survived. (I don't know what she has against strawberries? Perhaps she can't identify the plants when they are not bearing fruits?) So, on to the good and some would say terribly tacky stuff-which is just perfect for this cookie cutter suburban beige bland neighborhood we are currently stuck in! After I dumped the gross water out of the pool, I cleaned it a bit. Then, I pulled out the drill and put in the biggest bit we have-which is about a 3/4" I think. It is so old the markings have worn off and the bit case is always a jumble. I drilled holes all around the bottom of the kiddie pool, about an inch or so above ground level. Then, I grabbed the can of cheap black spray paint lurking in the garage and gleefully obliterated the cute little Paw Patrol figures on all the places that would be visible after the pool was filled with dirt and plants. (This was just the sides & rolled out lip of the thing).
I could have gotten uber fancy with the spray paint and given it a faux textured finish or some such to go even further with the disguise, but lately I'm into cheap and easy with whatever is already available sitting around and gathering spiders in the garage. After the paint dried, I plopped the pool down on a likely spot in the yard, threw some rabbit doo doo hay, compost, leftover potting soil & peat into it and mixed it up a bit. Lastly, I plunked in the languishing strawberry plants. I raked some needle chaff from under the dreadful Leyland cypress trees and used it as a finishing mulch. Voila! The catbird will be delighted if the strawberries thrive, and the grandchildren may be as well.
Whew, My family has been blessed with increase this spring! We welcomed our beautiful new grand daughter in April and are now waiting for the birth of our precious grandson! Helping out with my new grand daughter is such pure joy...and..to be completely honest..fatigue..Looking back, I don't know how I managed with my girls! Of course, I had friends but my mother was not the kind to stay up all night with a night owl newborn while I caught a few winks. I must have been raving crazy. I remember how unimportant outfits, makeup, perfumes and being put together on the surface became. I remember grabbing handfulls of dry cereal and stuffing my starving face while burping babies on my chest. The isloation was the worst with my firstborn. It was me and baby, stuck together, day and night it seemed. Her father was off to work, and there we were, trying to figure it all out with ourselves, huddled in a house, tormented by the sounds of workers putting new siding on the thing. The next baby came along when the first was two, and it didn't seem so hard. My mother was around then, to lend an occasional helping hand. I am forever grateful for the times she rocked the new baby, so I could stuff my face or go to the bathroom! My oldest girls were nearly in their teens when the next daughters came along, so they were perfectly happy to watch the baby sisters while I fixed dinner or some such. I don't think I could have managed without the little breaks they gave me. Now it is my turn to give my own daughters little breaks and helping hands. Luckily, I too am a night owl, so a night long baby fest is fine with me! The problem I face is stamina. I might make it through a night, but then I must rest, and expect not to do diddly squat the next day. The arthritis kicks up it's own fuss, and if it gets bad, no amount of herbs will lessen it. Strategic placement of all baby accessories is a must! (This is good for everyone, not just an arthritic grandma) I have to take the spinal arthritis into account and make it so I don't have to bend over much, and likewise, it is far better for me to waltz around with a fussy baby than to sit and rock in a chair. Aren't those velcro diaper fasteners a Godsend? I will not be fastening any diaper pins-whew! Nothing worse than trying to pin diapers on a kicking baby! I think to myself, I have arrived! I am the Grandma now! I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I hold my darling beautiful grand baby and waltz around the livingroom at 3 a.m., knowing that her parents can catch a little rest and worry a little less.
Not all soap is good for all skin. I can't say this enough! I try to not offer soap that has a higher likelihood of causing reactions, but sometimes things do just happen, and then, sometimes I just can't resist the urge to make it! Tomato soap has been touted as a remedy for acne prone skin for ages. Is there truth in this? There may be for some people, but definitely not all people. Tomatoes can actually cause unpleasant skin reactions! It is possible to develop contact dermatitis from tomato plants and from the fruits. This is something to bear in mind if you are considering a tomato containing product for your cleansing needs. My family and I can use tomato soap with no problems, but that doesn't mean it is great for everyone. I made and have been selling varieties of tomato soap for a while with no ill fortune until....recently. This prompted me to put an allergen warning under my product descriptions as well as issue my customer a refund. I felt so badly for the person!
My arthritis has been quite unpleasant for the past few days, and I realised that I had slacked a bit on my ginger and turmeric consumption. I happened to have a huge ginger root sitting neglected in the basket, so I decided to prepare it in a different way. When some herbs are heated, cooked or dried, they lose potency, but ginger seems to endure well. Sometimes, what is good for us is neither pleasant nor easy to consume, so preparing herbs in an effective yet pleasing way can be a challenge! Here is how I make candied ginger root:
2 cups fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup white suger
1/8 cup raw honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
a dash or 2 of cinnamon if desired
1/4 tsp vanilla extract if desired
Put everything above into your pot and simmer until your ginger root slices are tender. (You may have to add a little water along the way, but don't add a bunch. Just keep the ginger off the bottom of the pan a tiny bit) Then, strain your ginger out and roll it in a bowl of white sugar until every piece is well coated, and spread it on wax paper to dry. The liquid left behind should be a nice syrup, and you can use it in other recipes, or for colds.
I do get burned out on tisanes, so a more solid way of consuming certain herbs is a welcome break! Caution: Candied ginger should be treated with respect! Eating too much (and it IS hard to resist, if you like ginger) can cause stomach upsets, diarrhea & heart burn. Ginger can inhibit blood clotting, so I do not advise consuming greater amounts than are commonly used as seasoning if you are also taking pharmaceutical blood thinners.
Hopefully, some shreds of the old Crafted Herbals site will remain after the 21st, but there will be no plethora of soap varieties listed for sale here. The plethora has been dispersed to other selling venues, which is not at all a bad thing! There is So much restructuring to do, and doubtless it will take a while. The look of this may be a bit hodge podge for a bit, as integration progresses. Bubble bath! Yes, this year, it's all about enjoying a pleasant and satisfying bubble bath! How I have longed for bubble bath! There really seems to be no way to make a satisfying bubble bath without some form of sulfate-ish surfactant, but so far, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (a kinder cousin of the oft maligned sodium lauryl sulfate) seems to be a winner for my temperamental skin when it is coupled with some good oils. I have been immersed in test bubble bath formulas for a solid month and it has felt darn good!
I have posted notifications about the fact that this site as it is will not exist after January 20th. Yes, that's true. I have sold more on Ebay in the past couple of months (and it's a totally different handmade product) than I have sold the entire past year on this website. Does this mean that Crafted Herbals is going away? Not entirely! There is just no reason to keep paying and paying for a business site that isn't paying for its self. I would rather put the money that I am going to save in the imminent downgrade into developing and creating new things! Crafted Herbals will still offer great soap, and there will still be a Crafted Herbals website here, but it won't be a fancy Weebly business site. It will be a site with links to places with our soap and other handmade wares available for purchase.
I confess that not everything I make is made with natural things. I have been a semi serious Littlest Pet Shop hoarder for going on 15 years now. It started when my now 17 year old daughter was 3, progressed through her aging out of her Littlest Pet Shop toy collection (which I refused to part with) and continued with my youngest daughter, now 12. Oh yes, my children are my excuse for hanging on to these little critters. No one actually plays with them anymore (unless my grand daughter is over), but No, no, no I won't let go of a single one! In fact, I do sort of play with them. Yes, I make things for some of them to wear, and when the grand daughter is over, I sometimes make them talk. My 12 year old got me into making flower crowns for them. It's a hoot doing a photo shoot. Some of the kitties are down right sassy! Now days, these cute little critters go by the shortened moniker of LPS in a lot of places, and the look of them has changed so much over the years. I'm a snob about these changes. If it doesn't have a good bobble head, I don't want it. And then, Hasbro changed them horribly a few years ago...snicker..lets not get me started on the frogs, and the shapes of their heads, which reminded me ever so much of...well, just turn one upside down and make it stand on its head and I think you will catch my drift! I found a site here on Weebly devoted to protesting those unfortunate changes: stopnewweirdlps.weebly.com/letters-to-hasbro/letters-to-hasbro
My favorites are the ones that came out in the mid 2000s. There was even a Littlest Pet Shop cartoon series. It was O.K., but I think My Little Pony is better. I prefer the free lance You Tube Littlest Pet Shop videos. Remember, before you decide that I'm completely bonkers: I never watch any of this stuff solo. I always have the excuse of catering to a child ready on the shortest notice. If you happen to want a flower crown for your sassy LPS kitty, you can find our work on EBay. (Well, mostly it's my 12 year old daughter's work)
One of the main questions asked by customers is: Will your soap get all soft and goopy? This is usually followed by "I purchased some handmade soap at my local farmers market and it smelled wonderful, but it turned into a puddle of goo after a few days of sitting in my shower stall. I would really like some soap that doesn't do this!" Alas, this is a very difficult thing to achieve without including some unethical ingredients or removing some beneficial glycerin. Stearin is a vegetable derived hardening agent that some soap makers employ. Stearin can be derived from palm oil, so it doesn't happen here. Salt can sometimes help soap with firmness, and it sometimes happens here. Sodium lactate allegedly has bar hardening properties, and it sometimes happens here. The main culprit in the goop effect is glycerin. When soap is made by hand, the glycerin molecules get to remain in between the sodium salt molecules in the bar. Glycerin is aso known as glycerol, and it is the natural result of the "alkaline hydrolysis of esters" which is what saponification does. Most soap makers consider glycerin to be a very beneficial ingredient and they do not separate it from the salts formed during the process. It helps draw moisture to the skin. Glycerin and any free unsaponified fatty acids are the main culprits in the goop factor of handmade soap. They are also key components for skin benefit that commercial soaps do not usually retain in significant amounts. Another element of the goop factor is the age of the soap. A year old bar of soap is harder than a 2 month old bar of soap. The only draw back to aged soap is that any plant material in it will have most likely faded to brown, and some essential oil scents may have departed. As far as hardness goes-the older, the better! There are definitely some techniques that will help to control the goop factor while the soap is in use. It is better to have a soap dish away from the shower stall to put your soap in between uses. It is good to alternate bars of soap so that they get a chance to dry between uses. If you have a big hunk of handmade soap, you can cut it into smaller pieces and alternate between these. Around here, we are generally brutal to soap during batch testing, and the goop factor really comes on after 1 bath and 2 showers in a row every day with no dry respite. (I always forget to take my test soap out before somebody else needs the shower, and usually they use the soap that I am testing!) Here is a link to the description of what exactly happens during saponification and the molecules involved: amrita.olabs.edu.in/?sub=73&brch=3&sim=119&cnt=1
We have really been blessed with tomatoes this year, and so begins the creation and consumption of all things tomato! Tomatoes have been translated into a folk remedy for ridding pets (and sometimes humans) of the smell of skunk encounters, but alas, that tomato juice bath is not scientifically proven to work for that purpose. I have never had occasion to try it myself. Here is an article on that subject: scienceline.org/2006/07/ask-cosier-skunk/
Tomatoes are delicious and good for us in many other ways. Tomatoes are also members of the nightshade family! Here is a link to Organic Facts about tomatoes: www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/tomatoes.html
I'm really not much for canning, but I sure do get a kick out of making soap, so many lovely fresh homegrown tomatoes are being turned into skin cleansers this season. Other than soaps, tomatoes tend to get served on toasted bread with mayonaise, consumed in salads, or just plain eaten like apples around here. I have a suspicion that one of the reasons tomato soap is so good is because the acidic quality of the tomato balances the alkaline nature of soap. We are currently washing with Tomato Thyme soap as we wait for the Tomato and Black Salt soap to cure. Homegrown Tomato Castile soap is on the menu for tomorrow!